Wednesday, April 1, 2020


As long as I can remember, creeks have run through my life story, as surely as blood runs through the veins of my body.  I was born just a few blocks from the banks of Crooked Creek, in Boone County, Arkansas.  As a youngster, I remember my father taking my big sister and I fishing, tadpole chasing, and worm digging, at the creeks around Monarch and Lead Hill, Arkansas.  Here is a photo of one of those fishing trips:
I grew up playing in Crooked Creek, which was just yards from my parents business, in Harrison, Arkansas.  This Crooked Creek closeness turned to Crooked Creek curses, when the creek flooded on May 7, 1961, and destroyed my parent's business. Here is a photo of my parent's business which was located on Scenic Highway 7 South:
I went to a high school, located on the banks of Crooked Creek.  While in college at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, I lived in an apartment complex called Skull Creek, because it was situated on the banks of Skull Creek. The first time my son and I ever floated in a metal canoe, it was on Crooked Creek, with my friend Brenda, and her daughter, Pauline.   When I lived on Scenic Highway 7 North, our home was located on a hill above a creek that had constant water in it due to an all-weather spring, and the family had a little cabin on that creek.  My son did this sketch of the cabin, to combine with the poem his grandfather wrote about his experience along the stream:
My son referenced his memories from his time at the cabin with his grandfather, in an essay he wrote, after he successfully climbed, and safely descended, the famous granite monolith in Yosemite, known as "El Cap":

 The "Creek Expedition" story of my life continues, as I have lived the last several decades, on the banks of Pigeon Creek in north Arkansas.  That came about because my boyfriend and I were hiking along Pigeon Creek, and came to a section he wanted to cross, but I was reluctant, because it meant I was going to get my feet wet.  Being the muscular, strong martial arts expert that he was, he simply gathered me up in his arms, and carried me across the creek, like a groom carries his new bride across the thresh hold.  It was then I told this fine man, (who was raised in New England and knew nothing of mountain folklore), that it was an old Ozark custom that if a guy carries a girl across a creek---like he just did---it meant they were engaged, and would be married.  Turns out---that is exactly what happened!  We got married just yards from that same spot along Pigeon Creek!  Below is a photo of my beloved Pigeon Creek.  Even though its appearance is similar to dozens of other creeks that go through these Ozark Mountains---to me, it will always have a special place in my heart!

Getting back to current day activities, and trying to tie in the previous comments with the next section, it is enough to say that since my son and I hiked many times down to the little "cabin on the creek" of his childhood,  it seemed especially meaningful, when I had the opportunity to once again hike "Cabin Creek" with my son; but, this one was thousands of miles from where we hiked in his youth, when he lived in the Ozarks.  Rather, this hike took place in northern California, and oh, what a glorious hike it was!!

The sign tells us that the hike is within the Shasta-Trinity National Forest ( ), which is the largest national forest in California, at 2,210,485 acres.  It is comprised of 5 wilderness areas, 278 miles of streams and rivers, and 460 miles of trails.  Its major features are Shasta Lake (the largest man-made lake in California), and Mt. Shasta (elevation 14,179 feet). 

This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased!  If those words sound familiar, perhaps it is because it is in the Bible, in Matthew 3:17 as follows: And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."   I am thanking God----for his Son, Jesus---and for my son, Grover!

I want to give a shout out to the editor of the "go-to" on-line source for hiking in this area ( ) for helping me understand some confusion I had with the nomenclature of this area.   This photo shows the "tinier" and shorter Cabin Creek, that runs into the much longer, and more significant Squaw Valley Creek.  During a time when "political correctness" was at its zenith, the forest service tried to move away from using the word "squaw" in their nomenclature.  So they made a decision, that once Cabin Creek ran into Squaw Valley Creek, their maps would call the remaining convergence Cabin Creek, even though common sense would dictate otherwise.  In keeping with that nomenclature, they used the term "Cabin Creek Trailhead", on the official sign in the parking lot (which was pictured earlier in this blog).  The term "Cabin Creek" fit in perfectly with my story line, but to many long-time residents and locals, the name change is annoying.  I remember before we went, my son said we were going to hike the Squaw Valley Trail, yet where we parked, the sign said Cabin Creek Trail.  It was not until I got back to Arkansas, and started writing this blog, that I found out the reason behind the verbiage!

The trail goes beside and above the creek, to provide a steady roar as you walk along. 

This photo shows my son crossing one of the bridges that the forest service has built, to facilitate traversing the steep sides of the canyon.

Although it is possible to do an 8-mile loop and not do any backtracking of the area, my son and I did the out-and-back option, where the hiker gets to see two waterfalls---one is about ten feet, and the other is about five feet. 

There is a section of the trail, called "The Octopus", where there are numerous signs, pointing in numerous directions, that can be confusing to hikers, especially new-comers who do not know that Cabin Creek Trailhead used to be called Squaw Valley Trailhead!

I was fortunate to be with a seasoned mountain guide, who had studied our route in advance, because I was totally lost!

The Shasta-Trinity National Forest includes a 154 mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail.  The Pacific Crest Trail (stretching from Mexico to Canada) is the West Coast version of the Appalachian Trail.  The previous summer, my son, his wife, and I hiked a section of the PCT near Castella, California.  For more information on the Pacific Crest Trail, check out (or watch the movie, Wild, with Reese Witherspoon!)

When I hiked a small section of the Appalachian Trail, I was disappointed that there were no actual signs indicating the name of the trail I was on---just those rectangular blazes, painted on the trees.  Therefore, I was DELIGHTED to get to have my photo taken with an actual sign, reading Pacific Crest Trail!

Some of the trail has been "dug" out of the side of the steep mountains, on each side of the creek.

This tree was laying across the trail, and appeared to have been there for quite some time!

Moss  Falls like this can be seen in many places in the mountains of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

My feet (right side of photo) appear to be larger than my son's feet!  One description of this hike suggested that the first waterfall was a good place to stop for lunch .   However, since I am old, and eat frequently---we stopped, snacked, and rested at BOTH waterfalls!

This is a photo of my son patiently waiting for his mother to "get her second wind", and continue the hike!  As you can see from the picture, the gorges that the creek crashes though, are very rocky!

There are nice foot bridges along the trail, when it is necessary to cross the chasm created by steep bluffs on either side of the creek.  However, do not just automatically assume that you need to cross every bridge, as some of them are spurs to different trails, and will not get you back to your starting point!

As we were driving back to civilization, the forest road had some great views of Mt. Shasta, so I handed my camera to my son, and he captured this image of the majestic mountain he calls home, without even having to get out of the vehicle!  It is high up on this mountain, where Squaw Valley Creek begins its journey, as it gushes up from a series of large springs at Squaw Meadows (which the forest service has renamed South Gate Meadows).  The creek comes down the mountain and winds its way through Squaw Valley, from which the creek gets its name.  Finally, it flows into the McCloud River. 
I can think of no better blessing than to be able to be out hiking in God's Great Outdoors, with my son, so I am eternally grateful that he took me on this hike!  It gave me "MILES OF SMILES"!!

Sunday, March 1, 2020


I recently had the opportunity to, once again, attend the annual autumn convocation of the College of the Ozarks ( ), in Point Lookout, Missouri.  I have published articles about the college in the past (which can be accessed via the "search box" on the web version of blog), but for the first-time reader of this blog, I want to mention that the College of the Ozarks is a Christian college, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church.  There are over 30 academic majors, in Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science programs.  It charges no tuition for full-time students, due to its student work programs, and donations from benefactors.  (The College of the Ozarks chapel, with its neo-Gothic design, was added in the 1950's, and is shown in this file photo from a previous blog).

I was very thankful my application for a media pass to cover the event was granted, as the free tickets for the October 10, 2019, went very quickly.  As you can see from my name tag, the community convocation is named in honor of two of the college's benefactors, Leonard B. and Edith Gittinger.  Likewise, my nametag shows a photo of the 2019 speaker, Sara Huckabee Sanders.

I had the pleasure of meeting and being photographed with Sara's mother, Janet Huckabee, during a tour of the Governor's Mansion, back in the last century. ( In case you cannot tell, Mrs. Huckabee is the tall lady in the photo, and I am the short one!)  Touring the newly-remodeled residence of Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and his wife, Janet, was especially meaningful because the remodeling project received wide-spread media attention and "good-natured teasing", due to the fact that the Arkansas governor and his wife lived in a double-wide mobile home, place on the mansion grounds, throughout the remodeling project!  I even remember seeing the television spot on the late night show with Jay Leno, when Jay and Governor Huckabee joked back and forth about the innate humor of a governor of Arkansas living in a "trailer"!  Besides Mrs. Huckabee, I am thankful I was able to meet and be photographed with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, when I attended a taping of his Trinity Broadcasting Network television program near Nashville.

The convocation was held in the Keeter gymnasium, and this photo shows one of the many jobs that students can perform, in order to meet their work requirements.  These guys are the sound, lighting, and video technicians, and the experience they are getting in learning how to successfully operate such highly technical, ( and ever-changing!) digital production equipment will be invaluable!

I mentioned earlier that one of the things that makes it possible for the college to not charge tuition to the students, is a very large base on donors.  These white chairs represent where those major donors were to be seated, enjoying "front row" views of the speaker.

Each person in attendance was given a very nice multi-page program, telling about the event.  This is yet another way that students can meet their work program requirements---doing tasks in the printing department of the college.  I have some "first hand" knowledge of the history of the print shop.  When I was in high school, I dated a young man who was a student at College of the Ozarks, who happened to work in the print shop.  Although this was long before the days of digital printing, I often got to see the examples of their publications, as we would save "hard copy" souvenirs of items he had personally printed. 

This is a photo of the gigantic screen behind the stage that assures that attendees will be able to get "close-up" views of folks on the stage, regardless of where they are sitting.  The fact that an actual microphone stand is placed in front of Sarah Huckabee Sanders face is co-incidental, but serves as a prompt to mention that Sarah is actually doing what she studied in college, where she majored in Political Science, with a minor in Mass Communications.  She graduated from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, in 2004, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree, and was elected Student Body President.   

College of the Ozarks student musicians performed a beautiful musical section before the start of the speaker.

The words of the hymn they sang are shown in this photo.

This photo shows the cross on the college logo, and logo design reflects the 5 areas college president, Jerry Davis enunciates as their "pillars"---Christian, Cultural, Academic, Vocational, and Patriotic. 

I took this photo to show the actual viewpoint I had from my seat in the Media Section.  I felt very fortunate!

This is a photo I took of the giant screen on stage, as it was projecting a photo of the entire stage, and seated donors/dignitaries.

Likewise, this is a photo taken from the big screen, showing a close-up of President Davis.  Just like Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Dr. Davis is no stranger to controversy.  In September, 2018, President Davis released a statement that the school would no longer use uniforms made by Niki:  "If Nike is ashamed of America, we are ashamed of them."  The statement came following the actions Nike took, regarding showing respect for our nation's flag.

This photo shows
President Davis at the podium, while Sarah Huckabee Sanders looks forward at the large crowd in attendance.

This academic instituted was first proposed in 1901 by James Forsythe, pastor of the Presbyterian Church, of Forsythe, Missouri.  However, in 1956, the high school was changed to a junior college, since high schools became readily available in the area, unlike the situation that prompted its formation in the early 1900's.  Later, in 1965, it became an accredited 4-year college.  In the past decade, the school once again has started offering education for students younger than 18, in what they call their "Laboratory School".  I took this photo from the sidelines, as the young students, dressed in their everyday school uniforms, performed a musical selection for the audience. 

This photo shows the youngsters holding up two fingers, but not to give the "V for Victory" symbol often associated with that gesture.

Notice in this photo the students are holding up all ten fingers.  That is because they were performing a song based on the United States Bill of Rights, sung to the tune of the 12 Days of Christmas. 

I can honestly say their singing, combined with the kinetic learning that goes along with  hand gestures, made me more familiar with the Bill of Rights than I had ever been before!

Sarah Huckabee Sanders was also very impressed with the educational nature of their performance, and indicated she wished they could perform it to the folks who live within the "bubble" of the Washington, D.C. beltway!

I want to mention, also, how solemn and impressive it was when there was a presentation of the flag of the United States of America.

Of course, everyone was standing in honor of the flag and the national anthem.  In fact, another one of President Davis's decisions this past year involved  the 2016-2017 national anthem protests at athletic events.  The college announced they would refuse to play any team whose players took a knee during the national anthem.  In response, the NAIA chose to move its Division II playoff of men's championship basketball game away from College of the Ozarks.  (The championship game had been held there since 2000)

This photo shows the Chairman of the Board of Trustees holding one of the Head, Heart and Hands Inaugural Awards, presented to honorees on the night of the convocation. 

And finally, it was time to hear from Sarah herself! As former White House Press Secretary for President Donald J. Trump, this position behind the podium must have seemed very familiar to her!

Sarah Huckabee Sanders was just the third woman to ever hold the position of White House Press Secretary, and the ONLY mom to hold this position.  In fact, she has commented on this whenever someone asked how she can stay calm with some of the questions she is asked during press conferences.  She said something to the effect that she was used to being asked the same question over and over, and used to being asked ridiculous questions, because she was the mother of pre-schoolers!  I am ashamed to admit that I would not have had such a good attitude, if it were me being pummeled with hostile questions.  The thought that would have gone through MY mind is actually one of our First Place 4 Health ( ) memory verses, and says, "So may all your enemies perish, LORD!  But may all who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength." Judges 5:31

Just like at a press conference, Mrs. Sanders was presented with some questions, submitted in advance by the students.  One of these was, "What advice would you give to young people today"?  She advised youth to stay strong in their faith, and in keeping with her long history in Republican politics, her second piece of advice was, for those over 18 years old, to vote for President Trump in 2020!

When Mrs. Sanders finished her remarks, she was given a rousing round of applause, and standing ovation, by those in the auditorium. 

Hopefully, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, can keep this big smile as she goes forward in the next phase of her career.  And with her favorite verse being Philippians 4:13, that says, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.", the sky is the limit as to what happens next!  When she resigned her position with the White House, President Trump said publicly he could envision her as Governor of Arkansas.  In keeping with that concept, there is a website one can visit to weigh in on the
In addition, her official personal website is

Having the opportunity to get up close to this public figure that Time Magazine named one of its "40 Under 40" in politics, was an experience that gave me "MILES OF SMILES"!!    Tricia

Wednesday, February 5, 2020


No trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan would be complete without a visit to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum ( ).  It is conveniently located in downtown Grand Rapids, on the banks of the Grand River.  A pedestrian bridge conveniently links it to the hotels and convention center, on the opposite banks of the river.
reflecting pool runs the entire length of the glass wall that looks out onto the river, and adjoining parkway. 

There is no fee to visit the lobby or gift shops, and the fee to tour the entire museum, is very modest, with group rates and discounts available.  Support for the museum is provided by the Gerald R. Ford Foundation ( ).

This statue of President Ford gives a synopsis of the significant time periods of his life, but one needs to go inside the museum to find out what lies "between the dashes", that is, the period between 1913 and 2006. 

One of the most significant of those time periods, in terms of his tenure as a public servant, is referenced in this statement by the U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives, who implies that for our country at the time, Gerald R. Ford was a "gift from God"----the right man at the right time.

This photo of the exterior gardens of the building, depicts a NASA astronaut, and is a nod to the achievements made in space travel during Ford's time in public office.

Inside the museum, there is an identical replica of the Oval Office, as it was furnished at the time of Ford's presidency.

This placard gave some history of the Oval Office.

Seeing the push button phone, with its curly cord connecting the ear piece to the main body, made me curious---I wonder what type of phone sits on the desk of our current president!

Gerald Ford attended the University of Michigan, where he played football, and helped the Wolverines complete two undefeated seasons in 1932 and 1933.  Ford later recalled that "During 25 years of the rough-and-tumble world of politics, I often thought of the experiences before, during, and after a very memorable game between Michigan and Minnesota, in 1934.  Remembering them has helped me many times face a tough situation, take action, and make every effort possible, despite adverse odds."  Even though Michigan lost, his team voted him Most Valuable Player.  It reminded me of a tough football game my youngest grandson had this year in the playoffs for the Arkansas State Championships.  Even though my grandson's team lost, he was presented with the Brandon Burlsworth Character Award after the game.  (As my grandson goes forward in life, he will probably be recalling the lessons he learned on the football field, and from his coaches, and from those countless hours of practice drills----in much the same way that President Ford recalled his football days!)

Until my grandson Jacob started playing center for his high school football team, I never paid much attention to the different positions the players assumed on the field.  So when I saw that the museum made a big deal out of the fact that President Gerald Ford played "center" on his football team, I took this photo to show Jacob!

When Gerald Ford graduated from the University of Michigan in 1935, he had some tough decisions to make!  After successfully playing in the College AllStar game against the Chicago Bears, in Soldier Field, he was given professional football offers from the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers.  Instead, he took a job as the boxing coach and assistant football coach at Yale University, where he had applied for law school.  Ford earned his Juris Doctor degree from Yale in 1941.  He then opened a law practice in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

This photo of the section of the museum starts with the day the former president was born on July 14, 1913.  (July 14 is also the birthday of my youngest granddaughter, which should make it easier for me to remember the president's birthday).  It is interesting to note that when he was born, he was named Leslie Lynch King, Jr.  His mother separated from his father just 14 days after his birth, due to physical abuse and King's alcoholism.  His mom later married Gerald R. Ford.  It was not until he was 22 years old that the former president legally changed his name from Leslie Lynch King, Jr., to Gerald R. Ford, Jr. 

Gerald Ford had a long history of public service, serving as Michigan's Congressional delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives for 25 years.  He actually met his future wife when he was campaigning for the Congressional seat.  Betty Ford had worked in New York City as a fashion model, and part of the troupe of the Martha Graham Dance Company.  They did not get married until AFTER Gerald Ford won the congressional seat.  They said they waited until after the election because they did not think Michigan republicans would vote for him, if he had a wife who had been divorced and was an ex-dancer. 

Betty Ford always dressed in stylish attire, and some of the outfits she wore at important state occasions are on display in the museum. 

The exhibit in this photo not only shows the formal attire wore at a state dinner, but shows how the table was set for the official meal.

This is one of the sculptures and colorful gardens that grace the exterior of the museum. 

This stone marker shows that the visitor is entering the gated area where both the Gerald and Betty Ford are buried.

The area is expansive, and when I asked the attendant exactly where their gravesites are located, they said they did not divulge that information. 

This stone marker shows the various positions of service that Gerald Ford had for his country, starting with his enlistment in the U.S. Navy, shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. 

Even though I was alive when President Ford took office, I was glad to get a refresher of how he was the only U.S. President not elected by ballot.  This is how that all came about:  In December 1973, two months after the resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew (related to charges of felony tax evasion), Ford became the first person appointed to the vice presidency under the terms of the 25 Amendment, by President Richard Nixon.l  After the subsequent resignation of Nixon, Ford immediately assumed presidency.  His 895-day long presidency is the shortest in history for any president who did not die in office.  Because the stone memorial shows how he asked for the prayers of the people as he assumed the presidency, I am using this as the visual aid for one of my First Place 4 Health ( ) memory verses.  It says, "The LORD is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation."  Exodus 15:2

This statue of Betty Ford outside the museum shows one reason why she was a fashion model---she has a very svelte body frame!

I had not heard of the Betty Ford Daylily before I toured the museum, but I had definitely heard of the Betty Ford Center to help those with substance abuse issues.  The latter is explained in exhibits within the museum.

This ship's wheel was in the Gerald Ford Oval Office, and references a military incident during Ford's term as president. 
This plaque shows one of President Ford's "life verses", and is a fitting way to end this blog post:
I am thankful that the LORD directed my path to tour this museum teaching about the nation's 38th President, and hope you get to go there as well!  This is just one of numerous attractions you can visit in the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and you can go to their website to learn more.  I can guarantee a GRAND time in GRAND Rapids, that will give you "Miles of Smiles"!!!  Tricia