Wednesday, June 29, 2011

America----What a country!!

(Editor's Note: I originally wrote these words in 2004, as part of a class assignment, when I was attending a writing workshop in Oregon, sponsored by the "Becoming an Outdoor Woman" program. I later found out that the giant flag I was seeing from miles away, is in the small town of Dorris, California. The plaque at the base of the Dorris monument says that when the flagpole was erected, it was the tallest flagpole west of the Mississippi River! I am adding this post to my blog at this time, in recognition of our country's celebration of another birthday on July 4, 2011 )
I was speeding along U.S. Highway 97 in California, going north into Oregon, in eager anticipation of seeing my son, Grover. The factory-fresh smell of the new Ford Focus was still strong inside the vehicle. It was the first time I'd ever driven a car that only had three miles on its odometer. Hertz had granted me one of their brand-spanking new rentals, and I was glad it was the so-called "economy" size, as gas was now up to $2.39 per gallon (or more!) at every service station.
As my mind day-dreamed, I glanced in my rear-view mirror to see that behind me, God had painted snow-covered Mount Shasta, in a soft pink glow. Out my left window, the sun was slowly setting behind the Cascade mountain range, on its journey to sink into the western horizon. At that very moment, an AMTRAK passenger train was nose-to-nose with me, as it traveled on the railroad track next to the highway. It was challenging me to a race, as we both accelerated toward the border, for our designated stops at Klamath Falls. Ahead of me, seemingly arising out of the point where the highway narrowed in the distance, I saw a flagpole with a gigantic U.S. flag, spread out by the wind, against a brilliant blue sky. I breathed a sigh of gratitude, for the thousands of persons in our armed forces, both past and present, who made it possible for that grand "Ole Glory" to brighten the future of our country. And then, just when I thought it could get no better, and I was thanking God to be at this very place, at this very moment, the familiar song came over the radio "I'm proud to be an American". As tears of joy streamed down my cheeks, I shouted, "AMERICA----WHAT A COUNTRY"!!!
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Reenacting a Civil War Encampment

Unless you have been completely blocked off from all types of media announcements, it has probably been brought to your attention that 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. Furthermore, there is a very good chance that your ancestors were either directly, or indirectly, greatly affected by this war. If you live in the Ozarks, as I do, then you are close to where various Civil War activities took place. For these reasons and more, the public is invited to come and see a reenactment of a Civil War Infantry Encampment on the grounds of the Diamond City, Arkansas, Community Center, at the 2011 Parrish-Raley Reunion. Between 10:30 AM and noon, on Saturday, July 2, experienced re-enactors, Gene Waters and Kevin Middleton, portraying soldiers of the 14th Arkansas Infantry, CSA, will be present to meet and talk with those who attend, and tell about the life of the Civil War soldier in this area. They will demonstrate articles like those which were used in the daily life of the soldier and give insight into the sacrifices they made, and the heritage they and their families left. A company of men for the 14th Arkansas was raised at Lead Hill (which is near Diamond City) in the summer of 1861, and its first commander, Wm. C. Mitchell, lived in Sugarloaf Township (also near Diamond City). There is no admission charge for the reenactors' presentation.

This is an approved event of the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, and is listed on their Calendar of Events (along with a great deal of other interesting Civil War information) on their website, Anyone interested is invited to attend, but especially those with connections to the Parrish, Raley, Buckley, & Dunlap families/friends. There will be a pot luck dinner and visiting. So, bring your favorite dish and come ready to have a good time with friends and family. There is a children's outdoor playground adjacent to the building. Besides the Civil War soldiers' camp demonstration and potluck, Dr. Kenneth Threet will talk to us about his career and experiences at 1:00 pm.; Master of Ceremonies for the event is retired Judge Roger V. Logan, and he can be contacted for further information by calling 870-743-4011 or emailing .

Besides the Civil War veterans that belonged to the various families that have been sponsoring this reunion for the last thirty-seven years, there are some "famous" people that have connections with these same families. For example, the large supermarket chain in California, called "Raley's", has roots with some of the same families sponsoring the reunion. Likewise, famous Hollywood costume designer, Rita Riggs, who designed for numerous television sit-coms, such as All In The Family, has connections with this group. Mrs. Riggs has attended the reunion in the past, as well as television actress Donna Douglas, who played Ellie Mae on the television series Beverly Hillbillies. And I certainly do not want to leave out this bit of trivia--- that former U.S. President Bill Clinton also attended one year!

One thing I enjoy about visiting with older members of the family, is hearing their stories about long ago. For example, this mural, depicting "Parrish Shoes -- since 1856", painted on an outdoor brick wall, in the town of Keene, New Hampshire, (and also a familiar scene in the movie JUMANJI ) could have been based on the same family of Parrishes that are my relatives! By listening to one of my elderly Parrish cousins tell stores of his childhood, I learned that in the early 1800's, some of the Parrish pioneers had been cobblers---leather craftsmen who make or mend shoes. If you have never been to a family reunion, and are not sure what the "social etiquette" is for such an event, here is an ancient guideline from Leviticus 19:32 that still applies today: "Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God." SOOOoooo, I would encourage you to turn off your iPods, iPads, iPhones, and do an iPause! Ask an old person to tell you a story! You might be surprised what you find out! Miles of smiles! Tricia

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mt. Shasta Caverns Expedition

Mt. Shasta Caverns is a most enjoyable attraction, located just off Interstate 5, a few miles north of Redding, California. It might be thought of as a "trinity" of attractions because it has three distinct parts: first, is the relaxing ride across Shasta Lake in a spacious catamaran, the Cavern Queen (bottom photo); second, is the ride up a very steep and narrow road in a specially designed bus, that takes one to the Visitors Center (middle photo); and third, is the actual walking tour of the cavern itself (top photo).

I was very fortunate in that I arrived at the attraction at 12:25 pm, and was able to board the 12:30 pm boat going across the lake for the next tour. After purchasing one's ticket in the well-supplied gift shop and ticket office, you walk down a shaded path to the edge of the lake, where the catamaran (with its much-appreciated roof to protect you from the sun) awaits (top photo). The skilled captain (middle photo) then navigates the boat away from the landing, while simultaneously giving you information over the loud speaker about the history of the lake, and the geology of the area. Photos on either side of the captain's photo, show that the mooring on the opposite side of the lake where the boat takes you, is just as inviting and pleasant as the first one. The great thing about the boat ride is that it affords you views of the lake and the mountains that you could not see, just by staying on the highway (bottom photo).

After disembarking from the catamaran, one boards the bus that will take you to the top of the mountain, via a very narrow and steep road (middle photo). The bus has large, clean windows that enable to to look straight down at the land and lake below. If one is afraid of heights, it might be best to sit on the "driver side" of the bus for the trip up the mountain! Once at the top, you can tour the Visitors Center, which has exhibits about the area (lower photo), as well as overlooks that give even more views of the lake and marinas hundreds of feet below the location. In addition, there are clean rest rooms located adjacent to the Visitors Center.

At this point, those who purchased a ticket that included the cave tour (which is an option for those who only want the boat ride and shuttle ride to the Visitors Center), take a short walk up some stairs to the door on the side of the mountain that leads into the cave. Once inside, you will see most of the formations typical of a limestone cavern (top photo), and enjoy the benefits of "nature's air conditioning", as it is considerably cooler inside the cave than outside. There are dozens of stairs to navigate inside the cave, but the well-placed hand rails (top photo) and landings with seats (bottom photo) make this a "doable" endeavor. Since one spends most of the time inside the cave, in the "climbing stairs mode", it is not surprising that upon exiting the cave, you are going DOWN steps built into the side of the mountain, which return you to the Visitors Center. Likewise, there are several landings on this part of the tour that provide good photo opportunities (middle and bottom photos). Whenever I visit a cave, I always think of Psalm 139, which I call the "Expeditioners' Psalm" becaue of its verses 7 and 8 that say "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there." People who are afraid of caves can be comforted by these words, reminding them that no matter how deep we go inside the earth, God is with us! Likewise, no matter how high up the mountain top we climb, God is with us! If you would like to plan a trip to Mt. Shasta Caverns, just visit their website, for more information. In addition, you can print off a coupon from the Internet. The coupon was honored at the ticket office, and saved me three dollars off the admission price. A feature that the website advertises, but that I did not get to try is a "Sunset Dinner Cruise", available through the Mt. Shasta Caverns ticket office. Such a dinner cruise sounded like fun, but even if you could not arrange a dinner cruise, the snack shop adjacent to the ticket office/gift shop sells adequate supplies for having a picnic on their lovely, shaded grounds. There are plenty of picnic tables around the property for you to enjoy all the ambience that this mountain retreat provides. All in all, Mt. Shasta Caverns gave me "miles of smiles", and I would highly recommend it! Tricia

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Mossbrae Falls Expedition

Mossbrae Falls is described by Wikipedia as one of the most scenic waterfalls in California. It is 50 feet high, 150 feet wide, and tumbles over a wall of verdant green moss and ferns ("brae" is a Scottish word for "hillside"). The falls are created by springs high up the mountain, which run down the canyon wall and into the Sacramento River, creating the effect of many waterfall streams falling into the river. This collage shows some views of the falls, with my son and I in the foreground. I was thankful for the automatic setting on my camera to get the photo of both of us, since there was not another person there to snap the photo for us! It is a very quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life!

Part if the fun of getting to Mossbrae Falls is the hike to get there. A visitor walks along an active railroad track, that follows the Sacramento River, for about a mile. We only met two other hikers whenever we were there, and we were fortunate that no trains went by during the time we were walking along the tracks. The upper sections of the Sacramento River where the falls are located, often attract fisherman, as evidenced by the photo in the top part of this collage. The sound of the rushing water of the river, coupled with the falling of the spring waters into the the pool in front of the waterfall, bring to mind the words of Jesus that say "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."

You will know you have arrived at the falls when you get to the railroad trestle over the river, with the date "1901" on it. Although you cannot see the falls from the tracks, you will hear them. Look for a trail off to the right through some trees (see lower right photo of this collage), and follow it through the woods a very short distance to the falls.

After we finished the hike, we came back to the charming town of Dunsmuir, California, to have supper at an outdoor cafe that had delicious food, as well as live music outside, on the night we were there (lower right photo). Dunsmuir is known as a "railroad town", and in fact, still has an active Amtrak station there. I have ridden on the Amtrak train that goes through this section of northern California, but it was dark and snowy when we went through, so I could not really get a sense of the beauty the area has. You can find out more about visiting the Dunsmuir area by visiting their website, However, due to safely concerns about hikers along an active railroad track, they no longer give directions to the hidden gem, known as "Mossbrae Falls"on their website. Yet, there are plenty of sites on the Internet that give directions, plus I read about it in a publication called 101 Shasta Things To Do, also available on line at Next time you are in the mood for a little exercise, with seeing a beautiful waterfall, as the reward for that exercise, make a visit to Mossbrae Falls. Miles of smiles!! Tricia

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I have been on a quest the last few years to visit outdoor amphitheaters, and of all those I have visited, the Red Rocks Amphitheater is the most spectacular, in terms of its natural setting. It is located a few miles west of Denver, Colorado; in fact, the Denver skyline is visible in the distance when one is sitting in the upper levels of the amphitheater. This is by no means, a new amphitheater, although its components have been updated to make it "state of the art", in terms of concert and performance venues. Its use as an amphitheater for performances dates back to around 1910, when John Brisben Walker produced concerts there on a temporary platform. Those early beginnings planted the "seeds" for the Red Rocks Amphitheater becoming a world famous entertainment venue. Famous artists have helped cultivate those seeds during the past several decades. This was most famously done because of a video put out by the band U2, from a concert event that they performed there in 1983. People around the world viewed the video, and were in awe, not only of the band, but also the scenic location of the concert. It was later listed in Rolling Stone's magazine list of the "50 moments that changed Rock and Roll." None of the famous concerts held there would have been possible, if the city of Denver had not purchased the property in 1927. With the help of the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) and WPA (Works Projects Administration), the amphitheater structures were built. It was formally dedicated in 1941.

This stunning scene from midway down into the amphitheater shows the seating that is bordered by a huge sandstone vertical rock, angled outwards from stage right. It is called Creation Rock.

The amphitheater holds 9, 450 people. This photo shows that there are other choices for concert viewing besides the typical bleachers. This biker couple is stretched out on the graveled and shaded plaza areas that border both sides of the bleachers. Judging from the number of families with strollers I saw using these same plazas, it is also a good location for a baby to sleep!

This 300 foot sandstone monolith sits at the top of the amphitheater, where there is as expansive concrete plaza with concession stands and restrooms, as well as a sit-down, air conditioned restaurant. It is noteworthy that the restaurant is open daily, even if there is not a concert scheduled. Likewise, one can take a guided tour of the amphitheater, on most days of the year. You can find out information on this, and about all the surrounding park has to offer (such as hiking trails, picnic areas, Visitor Center, etc) by visiting their official website, Since Denver has the nickname of the "Mile High City", and the rocks shown on these photos are even higher than that, I was reminded of the verse in the second part of Psalm 61:2 that says "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Of course, the psalmist is referring to God, yet I would also recommend being led to the high rocks (and rock concerts) of this gorgeous place! It will give you miles of (vertical!) smiles! Tricia

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