Sunday, September 30, 2007

Tagged About Books


A few weeks ago I was tagged by Gautami about books and reading. Sorry, it's taken me a while to get to this. The photo was made by putting together snapshots from parts of my library and was used last winter as my "profile shot."
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My Reading: I love reading a good story. Although a lot of my reading is set in the American South or West, I really enjoy checking out stories from other cultures. I read lots of history, philosophy, theology, travel, memoirs, and some poetry. I have been known to read cereal boxes.
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Total Number of Books Owned: I’m not sure, maybe 2000? (that’s half of Gautami’s collection—I need more shelves).
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Last Book Bought (These were ordered at the same time):
Marilynne Robinson, The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought
Charles Martin, When Crickets Cry
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Last Book Read: Martin Clark, The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living
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Currently reading:
Marilynne Robinson, The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought
Kent Haruf, Eventide
Laura Smit, Loves Me, Loves Me Not: The Ethics of Unrequited Love
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Five Meaningful Books: I agree with Gautami here, there are too many to list. I decided to not include books of Scripture. Here’s my attempt at five, on another day it may be a different set:

1. Paul Woodruff, Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue
2. Karl Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia
3. John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion
4. Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale
5. Noah ben Shea, Jacob the Baker: Gentle Wisdom for a Complicated World
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I am tagging: I’m suppose to tag five of you, but I don’t really like tagging folks, and until a few months ago I never tagged anyone, so if you want to be tagged, just let me know and I’ll put your name here. However, I will make one exception and tag Grundir the Implacable because he’s so anti-tagging and besides, I like living on the edge and taunting those who torment Hobbits.

Friday, September 28, 2007

A Dream, A Field Trip and a 3WW


Our capturers’ identity was a mystery. None of us adults imprisoned in a cold stone building understood their language, forcing us to guess why we were being held. I wasn’t even sure why we were in this place to start with; we must have been trekking as we had backpacks with us. The old town where we were held was situated in a deep valley surrounded by imposing snow covered mountains. Maybe they were Taliban, for they wore head scarves, yet they allowed music and dancing. We were fairly certain they were soldiers of the government. Toward us, they were all business, herding us with the business ends of their rifles into a common cell and locking the door. We were later called us before a tribunal and I was shocked that my daughter understood and could speak some of their language. Although it was frightening and we knew we were in great danger, I was proud of her abilities. When we got back to our common cell, we began to gather that which we’d need to survive the mountains. We collected only what we could carry in our pockets and cached it under a mattress that was on the floor. I had a Swiss army knife, a lighter, some cord, nuts and candy. For some reason I had a pack fly rod and thought I should also take it, for I assumed there’d be streams and lakes in the mountains from which we could fish. We would make our break right after darkness fell, and head for a mountain pass, knowing that if we could get through we’d be safely in another country. Then I woke up, it was 6 AM and I had to get ready to go as a chaperon on my daughter’s class field trip to the Saugatuck Dunes.


I wondered about the dream. I’m sure part of it was my mind drawing on the fact that the evening before I prepared a fanny pack for the trip. Interestingly, I had gone through and taken out things that I had dreamed about saving—the knife and lighter—things I didn’t want in my pack while on a school trip. I’m wondering if the renegade soldiers holding us captive had some connection to the unrest in Burma (Myanmar). I’ve been more interested in Myanmar since reading, a few years ago, Pascal Khoo Thwe’s story, The Land of the Green Ghost: A Burmese Odyssey. However, the mountains in the dream looked more like Nepal than Burma.

As for the field trip, it was great (see the pictures). A naturalist at the park gave a great tour, pointing out many geological features as well as identifying numerous trees, shrubs and flowers and giving some legends and history to their importance.


We were lucky, the rain held off till we were on the way home!


The words for this week’s 3WW are: caught, eager and perfume. I thought I’d spend more time with this, but haven’t been able to get back to it, so here’s my entry, two days late. And yes, before you ask, I do not like strong perfume.

My nose caught a whiff of her strong perfume, which turned my stomach and made me less than eager to meet her.

A late addition to this edition: Go over and wish Joe a happy 30th Birthday. He wrote about all this stuff he remembers happening in his life and I think, gee, that all happened well into my adult years!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living: A Book Review


I’m ashamed to say that I’ve not read John Grisham. Legal thrillers and mysteries don’t often rise to the top of my reading stack. But if John Grisham was a funny as Martin Clark (whom the New York Times referred to as a “drinking man’s John Grisham), I might have to begin reading Grisham. That said, this is the second book I’ve reviewed by Deana’s husband, Martin Clark.


This is one crazy book. My life has been crazy for the past few weeks and it has been a pleasure to occasionally retreat into Evers Wheeling’s world. Wheeling, a young district court judge in Norton, North Carolina is bored and ready for adventure. It arrives one day when the beautiful Ruth Esther English, one of the top car sales associates in the Southeast, seeks his help with her brother’s trial. She must get her brother Artis out of jail to help her recover money and a letter left by her father. Wheeling refuses to do anything illegal to help Artis, but when his case comes up, the police have screwed up the evidence so that he has no choice but to free him. Soon everyone, including Evan’s brother Pascal, are off on a trip to recover the hidden money in Salt Lake City. Pascal, like Evers, had inherited a small fortune from their parents. Unlike Evers, Pascal lived as the Prodigal (except there was no father to come home to), and after blowing much of his inheritance, spends his days living in a double wide, smoking pot. Evers also has a fondness for the weed and seems to get most of his caloric intact in the form of distilled spirits.

When I reviewed Clark’s other novel, Plain Heathen Mischief, earlier this summer, I noted that it had more twist and turns than Lombard Street, San Francisco. The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living tops Plain Heathen Mischief. It has more twist and turns than the highway out of Owen’s Valley and into Yosemite via Tioga Pass. There are many characters and more than a few deaths and a lot of “who-done-it” questions. Those who die include Evers' non-live-in wife (she refused to live in Norton). After Evers discovers her in bed with a “cow farmer,” they are locked in a divorce battle. Although her death seemed to be a suicide, it was also suspicious. At first, Evers seems a likely suspect, but then Pascal confesses although he later recants. Due to the many problems with his confession, he is offered a plea bargain that nets him only a couple of months in jail. Of course, there’s more to the story but to tell it all would be to ruin the story. Read it and laugh. And don’t get too hung up on all the characters, cause some just disappear without explanation and not all questions that are raised by the story get answered. The book may not be neat and tidy in that way, but such is life in a double-wide inhabited by a bunch of lazy pot smokers.

There are also many characters in the book. Paulette is a sharp dressed African American attorney from Charleston, West Virginia. Paulette represents Ruth Ester and later defends Pascal. Ruth Esther’s brother Artis is short and African American and obviously not blood related to his stately "white" sister. There are also boozing doctor and a handful of good ole boy cops. And then there are some mysteriously white tears. A hint of mysticism is found in the pages of the novel and at one point, I wondered if I was reading a legal thriller or fantasy. The mix-mash of characters create lots of humorous moments—such as when Judge Wheeling does a double take when he’s introduced to Artis, Ruth Esther’s brother, realizing there is no way they’re real siblings.

There are a few things in this book that I will have to blog about later. The first is the town of Climax, NC (yes, there is a town and when I was a high school debater, we often drove through it going to tournaments in the High Point, Greensboro and Winston Salem area). Next is William Jennings Bryan. The letter that Ruth Esther wanted was written by Bryan to a “teenage” lover of his, a letter which is real would have tarnished Bryan’s Puritan image. When I was in college, I did a paper on Bryan and discovered that I wasn’t at all interested in the Scopes Monkey Trial (for which he is remembered) but as him being a populist (probably in reality a socialist) candidate for President in 1896. He carried much of the nation. Although many in the religious right revere Bryan for being the prosecutor in the Scopes Trial, they would be horrified to realize that his political philosophy wasn’t anywhere near theirs. The final thing I should blog about sometime is Salt Lake City. I’ve spent a lot of time in that city when I lived in Utah. Two corrections that I might suggest to Clark, you don’t need a cab to get from the Hilton to Temple Square (if I remember correctly, the Hilton is only two blocks west). Secondly, Mormons don’t’ wear crosses.

This was a quirky fun book. Reading it during the chaos of my life over the past month, I found myself wanted to visit Pascal and sit out on the front porch of that trailer and enjoy a beer while we talked philosophy and other nonsense. I hope he brought back a six pack or two of Polygamy Porters from Wasatch Beers out in Utah.
For other book reviews by Sage, click here.
For Semicolon's Saturday's list of book reviews in blogs, click here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Looking for Laura Ingalls, Part 3: Walnut Grove, MN

It's time I finish telling about this trip. In previous enteries, I wrote about DeSmet, SD and the Big Woods of Wisconsin.

After attending the old church where Laura and family worshipped, we left DeSmet and drove east on US 14. The highway parallels the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern railroad, the old Chicago Northwest line that brought Pa Ingalls out to the Dakota territories in 1880. At the time he worked as a paymaster for the railroad, back when they were laying tracks across the tall grasses. All the small towns around here, “out on the prairie” as Garrison Kellior would say, were laid out by the railroads and appear to be cut from the same pattern. Main Street T’s off from the railroad tracks. One end of Main Street would be next to the tracks, the other along Highway 14. The crammed into the ground next to the tracks are grain silos and it appears the railroad is getting ready to haul in this year’s crop as empty hoppers have been positioned along the sidings next to the silos.


I would have liked to have stopped at South Dakota State University in Brookings to see the Harvey Dunn exhibit they have there, but weariness had overtaken us all. Hearing moans, I keep driving toward Walnut Gove, our last scheduled stop along the Laura Ingalls trail.

Walnut Grove is set off from the other communities along the prairie with its water tower. Instead of the old can type tower, held up on steel stilts, the type that looks like the cover shot for Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Walnut Grove has a modern tower that looks like an alien space ship hovering over the hamlet. Pa and Ma must be rolling in their graves.


The Ingalls family lived in Walnut Grove twice. They moved here from the Big Woods back and first settled in a dugout along Plum Creek, a few miles north of town. They later built a small house, but Pa had a hard time making payments on the land. They then moved for a year to Burr Iowa, where they ran an inn and their only son died as a young boy. Afterwards, with some more money in their pocket, they moved back to Walnut Grove and lived here till they moved to the Dakota’s in 1880.


We went through the museum there along the railroad tracks, it consisting of several converted homes and a school. By this point, my daughter was losing interest. One soon reaches a point that you just can’t look at another rug beater or butter churn or scrub board without rolling your eyes. Because Walnut Grove was the setting for the Little House in the Prairie television shows (even though they were shot in California), the museum has a nice collection on the shows and photos of all the actors visiting the hamlet.


After visiting the museum and shooting my obligatory photos along the railroad tracks, we headed north to the site of the Ingall’s dugout. I pulled up into the parking place behind a Honda from North Dakota with a “Sushi” license plate. It seemed such a dichotomy that I had to take a photo.




The dugout is no longer visible, even though there is a depression where it was suppose to sit. It was at the dugout that my daughter finally met her match, a retired teacher from Arkansas, who estimates she’s read each of the Little House books at least 35 times. The two of them had a great chat as we waded in the creek (if that’s possible in 3 inches of water). My daughter kept warning everyone to watch out for leeches, recalling some story from the book On the Banks of Plum Creek. If there had been leeches in the water, they would have had to be pretty small. My thoughts about camping along Plum Creek and taking my daughter fishing were shattered. Plum Creek wasn’t much more than a mud hole. As it was still early afternoon, we decided to keep heading east and spend out last day back again in the Wisconsin Dells. Our “themed trip" had come to an end.




Friday, September 21, 2007

Swamped

I am absolutely swamped… I didn’t get around to doing 3WW this week, nor any of the poetry stuff, and it doesn’t look like I’ll even get enough of a break to do Sunday Scribblings… I'm not doing a very good job keeping up with folks blogs. Oh well, here’s a picture from last month, the road into Leopold’s Cabin along the Wisconsin River. Looking at such roads give me hope.

Speaking of hope, I hope to finish my vacation posts early next week when I report on our stop in Walnut Grove. With OJ back in the news, I wish I had time for satire, but I don't, so I'll refer you to this great quiz about the former running back who seems to have more run ins with the law than he did with defensive tackles. Or I could write about our President’s exit strategy from Iraq, but this poster at Karen’s blog says it all. Or I could do the meme Gautami tagged me on, but I’ll get to that later. It’s about reading and I’ve not had much time for reading. When I do publish that meme, I want to make sure I tag Grundir the Implacable, just because I like living on the edge. And I also should promote Pia’s interview with Jancee Dunn… With all these links, who needs to read my dribble?

Ya’ll take care now, ya’ll here! I'll try to get something original up next week.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Six Days in the Berkshires, 1987


One of my regular readers is getting ready in a few weeks to head to the Berkshires to hike. I’m envious, but since I’ve already covered that ground thought I’d go back to my journals and recreate my hike across Massachusetts back in the summer of 1987. Photo is of Sages Ravine.

Hiking north, I dropped down from Bear Mountain into Sages Ravine where I crossed the Massachusetts line. Its early afternoon on July 13th and I’ve already covered over a dozen miles. The gorge is dark and cool. After a week of hot humid weather and swarms of mosquitoes, it feels good to leave Connecticut behind and the cool air is refreshing. I drop my pack, fill up my empty water bottle from the stream and drop in a purifying tablet. Then I pull out my journal, a copy of Herman Hesse’s Narcissus and Goldman, along with my lunch. I have two cups of steamed rice that I’d made at breakfast along with some slices of cheese and some dried fruit. As I eat, Ben comes along and we chat for just a few minutes. We agreed to meet up again that night at Glen Brook shelter. After eating and reading a dozen pages, I take a nap, only to be awakened by a dog belonging to a young woman out on a day hike. I read some more, then pack up and shoulder my pack and set out northward on the trail. After a short while I run into the woman again, wearing a red swimsuit and coming out of a pool of water. We talk as she dries off and pulls on her boots. Then she joins me as we make our way to Break Rock Falls. Her name is Brenda; she’s from New Milford, CT and is a third year college student, studying Health Education. While at the falls, we begin hearing distant thunder. Brenda and her dog turn around and head back to their car while I keep heading north. A short while later, hiking the ridge between Race Mountain and Mt. Evertt, a strong line of thunderstorms move through. The air turns chilly and the wind blows hard enough to break branches. Luckily it only keeps that up for a few minutes. Then the lightning starts popping around. I pull on a rain parker and with no where to go, keep hiking, praying that my luck will hold out.

The rain stops before I get to Glen Brook Shelter, but the air remains chilly. I quickly changed into dry clothes. Ben is busy sautĂ©ing day lilies and offers me a sample. Over the past few days, I’ve gotten to know him a bit. He’s a former government economist who took an early retirement and then went to culinary school. Divorced and with kids grown, he spent the last two summers on the trail and has worked in a variety of restaurants in ski areas during the winter. On the trail he’s known as Luck Ben. I’m the Sojourner.


The next morning I get an early start. After yesterday’s storm, the air is cooler and there’s less haze, but with no overlooks in this section it doesn’t matter much. Late morning, I pause at a rock marker noting the last battle in Shay’s Rebellion, a farmer lead tax revolt that occurred shortly after the revolution. Reagan isn’t the first tax revolutionary our nation has seen and he probably won’t be the last. In the late 18th Century, the government was burdened with massive debt from the Revolutionary War and raised taxes. This resulted in many farmers losing their land and a group of them fighting back, but their fight was quickly subdued by the better trained state militia. I make pretty good time the rest of the day and stop at South Wilcox Shelter, arriving right before the rain. As I fix dinner, I run out of fuel. Ben let’s me use his stove to finish dinner. I’m hoping to get gas tomorrow in Tyringham. I spend the evening reading from a Gideon Bible and more Hesse.

The air feels cold when I wake up on July 15 and my thermometer reads 50 degrees. That’s a good 20 degrees cooler than it’s been being. The wind howled through the hemlocks all night. It feels like fall. The wind and cooler air reminds me that the summer will soon be gone. I get a quick start hiking as a way to warm up and arrive at the Tyringham Post Office at 10 AM, having covered 8 miles. On the road into town, I pass several large estates. According to a southbound hiker, the widow of Nat King Cole lives in one of them. There are no stores in Tyringham, only a Post Office and library. I stop to write a few letters and to update my journal, leaning against my pack which rests on one of the pillars holding up the porch of the post office. There doesn’t seem to be much going on. Felipe, a reporter for the Union News in Springfield, stops by and chats. He’s assigned to write a story on the 50th anniversary of the Appalachian Trail and is hiking the trail through the state. We talk for a while, with him taking notes, and then he shoots a couple of photos of me leaning up against my pack. When he goes into the post office, I take off heading north.

The trail continues along the road heading out of town and I soon run into Scott, Denver Jane’s boyfriend. He’s driven out to help Jane make miles by shuttling her pack and was trying to reconnect with her. I haven’t seen her in several days and assume she’s somewhere behind me. He offers me a cold Mountain Dew from a cooler and we talk a bit. When he asks if there’s anything he can do for me, I mention that I’m out of fuel and he offers to fill my bottle from a can of Coleman fuel he has stashed in his truck. He continues on to find Jane and I make good time, crossing over I-90 and on to the cabin at Goose Pond, arriving at 2 PM. It’s a short day. I take a swim and a nap. When Ben comes in later in the afternoon, he suggests we hitch into Lee for dinner. We don’t get any rides going into town, but it’s only a couple of miles from the cabin and without packs, we make good time. We eat at an Italian place. Ben, the trained chef, is surprised at the quality of the food, especially for the price. When we get back to the cabin, Felipe is there talking to the caretaker. I hike out around the lake and meet Mary, a bubbling redhead who’s staying with family friends at their cabin for a week. She has a canoe and we paddle around the pond as she talks about her plans for college in the fall. The sunset is spectacular. Shortly afterwards, I head back to the cabin and chat a bit with the caretaker. He completed the trail several years ago and now spends his summer running the cabin for the Appalachian Mountain Club. The job doesn’t pay much, but I can image a better way to spend the summer.

The weather remains cool on the 16th and I quickly clock off the 17 miles to Kaye Wood Shelter, arriving there at 3:30 in the afternoon. This is a new shelter named for a former president of the Berkshire Mountain Club. I spend the rest of the afternoon reading Hesse and being surprised with a visit by the shelter’s builder along with Kaye Wood herself. A number of other hikers come in. We all call it an early night and are asleep by 9:30 P.M. when Felipe arrives. He makes a lot of noise getting ready for bed which grates on Ben’s nerves and the two share some unkind words.

Ben wakes up at about 5 AM on the 17th. It’s still pitch dark, but he starts packing up, making as much racket as possible and mumbling about having been awaken in the middle of the night. He’s trying to get back at Felipe, but he’s now getting on my nerves. He leaves while it’s still dark and I fall back asleep for another hour. We all start getting up and I fire up the stove and begin boiling water for tea and oatmeal. When Felipe gets up, I apologize for Ben’s behavior. I’m not sure what the issue between the two of them is, but they don’t like each other. A little later I head out and catch Ben before he gets to Dalton. There we buy food and also share a washer at the laundry mat. With both of us packing light, we have less than half a load between us. I finish reading Narcissus and Goldman. I’m also about out of pages in my journal, so I stop by the post office and mail both my notebook and Hesse home. As we’re getting ready to leave town, Scott comes by in his truck. Jane along with Slim Jim and Big Daddy Longlegs are right behind us, slackpacking. He’s got their packs and offers to take ours and to shuttle them to the hostel in Cheshire. We take him up on it and knock off the eight miles in three leisurely hours, stopping to enjoy the views of the town from the cobbles. After dinner and a few beers in a local restaurant, I spend some time cleaning up my gear and sewing up a rip in my boots up with dental floss. Before bed, I start reading John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie, a book that Shari had suggested when she was on the trail. I was surprised at the Post Office in Kent, Connecticut to find a letter from her and a copy of the book.

I wake up on the 18th a bit disgusted, having dreamed about my ex-wife. We’ve been apart for four years, yet this was my third dream about her while on the trail. Nothing about the dream made sense as we were arguing about proceeds from selling a house, but we never owned a house as one or the other of us was a student the whole time we’d been married. Maybe the cause of the dream had to do with Ben complaining to me about his problems with selling a house after his divorce.

The accommodations are good at the hostel and Scott offers to shuttle us up to a county road three miles into Vermont and then let us hike southbound to Cheshire. I take him up on the offer; it’s a chance to do a large number of miles without a pack and will allow me an opportunity to hitch into a town and see if I can find a new pair of boots as mine have been falling apart and are held together with dental floss. Yet, slackpacking has its drawbacks. When backpacking, I’m self contained and don’t have to depend on anyone. When slackpacking, I’m forced to depend on someone else for rides and to watch over my gear. Jane and Ben crawl into the cab of Scott’s truck; Slim Jim, Daddy Long Legs and I jump into the back. We’re dropped off on a dirt road and make good time heading south. After seven miles of fast pace hiking, we reach Massachusetts highway 2. I hitch west into the town of Williamsport where I’ve been told there’s an outfitting store, the rest continue on south. I tell them that I’ll see them in the evening. I find the outfitter, “The Mountain Goat,” which is well equipped, but I don’t find any boots that fit. After eating lunch at burger joint, I start hitchhiking back to the trail and am given a ride by a young woman. Between puffs on her cigarette, from which she keeps flickering ashes out the window, she flirts and invites me to a party on some lake. She promises to drop me off back in Cheshire at night and can’t understand my desire to get back on the trail and not to skip a section. I worry that I might have to jump out of the car, but she finally comes to a stop just beyond the trailhead and after thanking for her the ride, I take off heading up Mount Graylock. The views from the top are beautiful and Bascom Lodge looks to be a nice place to stay with incredible views. The cooler air makes me want to linger. This is the highest mountain I’ve been over since Virginia. I spend an hour or so exploring and napping and talking with a young couple in matching Slippery Rock University sweatshirts. They’re both from the Pittsburgh area but now live in Boston. Afterwards, I head down the trail toward Cheshire and am surprised by a porcupine. He freezes and I move down the trail a ways and wait. After a few minutes, he moves across the trail and goes on, but in the shade I’m unable to get a good photograph.

We all leave Massachusetts in the back of a truck on the morning of the 19th. A half an hour later, Scott drops us off at the same place he did the morning before and we hike north, into the Green Mountains of Vermont. After a day and a half of slackpacking, it feels good to have the pack back on my back.

Note about people: Ben was finishing sections of the trail he hadn’t completed and got off the trail shortly afterwards. We would meet up again in Monson, ME. Felipe made many hikers mad and I seemed to be his only friend. I never saw him after the Kaye Wood Shelter, but when I got back in Pittsburgh that fall, there was a letter from him containing the photo of me as well as copies of his articles. As no one else heard from him, I copied the articles and sent them on to everyone else. Jane was having foot problems by this point in the trail, having lost about half of her toenails. I think she ended up quitting and going home with her boyfriend. Slim Jim and Daddy Long Legs and I hiked together through the Green Mountains. Daddy Long Legs decided that he wasn’t ready to finish the Appalachian Trail just yet, so he hiked the Vermont Long Trail to Canada, then returned to complete the AT a few weeks after me. Slim Jim and I split up in Hanover, NH when I took a day off to shop for boots. We’d meet up again in Berlin, NH and hiked together through Maine. On August 30th, we both climbed Mt. Katadhin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail

Friday, September 14, 2007

Looking for Laura Ingalls, Part 2: DeSmet SD



I’m a little late in getting back to vacation posts—as this was almost a month ago—there’s been too much other stuff going on. Last time, we were looking for Laura Ingalls in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. This post is about our trek out to South Dakota. The picture of DeSmet’s water tower is framed by one of the cottonwoods planted by Charles Ingalls when he homesteaded this property in the 1880s.



DeSmet South Dakota was the highlight of the trip. We spent two nights there, staying on Pa’s quarter section homestead and sleeping in a covered wagon. Well, it wasn’t exactly the same type of wagon that Laura and family traveled in all over the Midwest. It was better. This was a sheepherder’s wagon that had been outfitted with extra bunks. It had a screen door, electricity and included a fan! I don’t know Ma and Pa and the girls did it without a fan, for it came in handy when the wind died. The Ingalls’ homestead is a neat place. During the day they have all kinds of programs designed for kids, teaching them the skills Laura and Ma used to on the Prairie. My daughter had a wonderful time, playing with the animals, attending a one room school, talking to all the workers and showing off her knowledge about Laura. She fed an orphan calf milk, played with barn cats for hours, drove a team of horses, shucked corn among other stuff. Dressed in a pinafore and bonnet, she looked the part running out across the grass. Only her flip-flops gave her away.



Driving from Pepin, we took the fast way to DeSmet, dropping down to I-90 and taking it across Minnesota. I thought it might be fun to stop at the Spam Museum in Austin, MN. After explaining that Spam isn’t only unwanted emails but also a famous yet mysterious form of canned meat, I was quickly outvoted. My daughter is on her way toward becoming a vegetarian anyway and probably didn’t need any encouragement which I’m sure the museum would have provided. If ever I again pass through Austin by myself, I’ll be sure to tour the Spam museum. At least it’ll make a great blogging post and since it’s free, what’s there to lose. I drove on into South Dakota and missed my turn (I was going to take the interstate up to Brookings and then to DeSmet) so I ended up coming to DeSmet from the south, passing by the place where Laura first taught in a one room school. We found the Ingalls Homestead, checked out our wagon adobe, and then heading into town for some evening grub. After dinner, we went back to the homestead and a peaceful evening watching the light change on the prairie. That night, storms rolled through the area, but they were either north or south of us. I went outside and spent half and hour enjoying the lightning show. The air was cool and dry, the sky was big, It felt like I was back in the West.


The next morning, we were treated with a beautiful sunrise. We drove into town for breakfast (it’s only a mile or so away), then came back to do all the stuff at the homestead. After we spent the morning there, we went back into town and spent the afternoon touring the town, going through the Surveyor’s House (where the Ingalls’ lived when they first got to town and was the location for the novel, The Long Winter. We also toured the house that Ma and Pa later built after Pa gave up homesteading, the Depot Museum which is in the old station for the Chicago Northwestern Railroad (now the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern). The museum also had information on Harvey Dunn. I’d seen his paintings before and liked his style. “The Prairie is My Garden” is his most famous painting, but he also painted many military scenes for the American Legion magazine as well as even some works depicting the human body. We also went to the graves of Ma and Pa and out to the site where Laura and Almanzo first lived. That night, we came back to the wagon for a cookout (I’d brought my smallest Dutch oven and fixed a cobbler to top off the feast).

Pa's Grave in the Ingall family plot.



Our final day in DeSmet was a Sunday. We decided to go to church where Laura attended, so we headed back into town and found the old Congregational Church which is now a Christian and Missionary Alliance Church. The service was okay even though the pastor (who’d been retired for sometime and was filling in) could have been a contemporary of Laura’s. The Ingalls and Wilder’s attended the Congregational Church and Pa helped raise money to buy the church’s bell. Sometime in the past (it looks to be in the 50s or 60s) the Congregationalists built a new church (one of those hideous A-framed churches that was popular back then). The bell that came out of the old church is now on display beside the Congregationalists Church A frame. After church was over, we left DeSmet for Walnut Grove, Minnesota. I hated to leave the prairies, for I knew it meant that I had to go back East, but it was time. I’ll write about Walnut Grove in a future post.
These last photos are of the replica of the Ingalls' "little house" on their homestead and a picture of the land and sky, looking toward the slough where Pa knew he could always cut grass for the animals. For a poem I wrote after watching the sunrise on the prairie, click here.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Photo, a Triple 3WW, & a Recipe

I took the photo last July, while driving south of Mountain Meadows, heading toward Snow Canyon State Park in SW Utah. Note the prominent cinder cone.

Every week Bone provides a writing challenging. Giving us three words, he asks those of us willing to come up with something creative using the three words he provides. This weeks, our three words are “Original, Racket, and Skipping.” I often find myself immediately coming up with something to write—often using all three words in a sentence. This week I wrote three different pieces… “For what?” “I don’t know.”

1. Bill was proud of Ole Blue. “It has all original equipment,” he bragged as we walked through the parking lot. When we got to an older truck that looked like it was hand painted, he slapped the hood as if to let it know he was back, then crawled in behind the wheel. The doors were unlocked, so I jumped in on the passenger said, and he turned the ignition. After a misfire or two, the engine caught; he put in into reverse and backed out of the parking place. Shifting into first, we headed toward the street. “You sure it’s running okay,” I asked. “Its sounds like that the timing is off, like there’s a piston that keeps skipping.” “Nah, everything is fine,” Bill assured me as he pulled out into the street and gave it some gas and shifted into second. When he pushed the gear into third, the engine started making a big racket and then gave off lots of smoke, then ground to a halt, stranding us in the middle of the highway. “Don’t think I’d be bragging any more about its original equipment,” I said as I got out in order to push the truck off the highway.

2. Paula was proud of her record collection, especially the old 78. “It can’t get any better than listening to these originals,” she assured me as she pulled the vinyl out of its cover, blew on it as if to dust it off, and then carefully placed the disk on the turn-table, touching only the center and outside rim. As the record began to spin, she carefully lifted the arm and set the needle on the spinning disk. With such care, I was shocked at how much skipping the needle was doing. Such a racket came out of the speakers that I wanted to scream. “I think I’ll stick to CDs,” I said as I got up and headed for the door, hoping to quickly find a fist full of aspirin.

3. Although it was an original merry-go-around from the pre-OSHA days, the kids at the park preferred skipping rocks into the pond because the ride was so rusty that it made such a racket whenever anyone tried to spin it around.

Gingerbread Recipe

Jadedprimadonna (Angie from SC in my blog list) recently asked for my favorite molasses recipes. This gingerbread recipe came from my Great-Grandma. She was born in the 1880s and died when I was seven. Last year I wrote a post about her and my great-granddaddy. Even though she had a gas range, she continued to use a wood burning stove that sat next to the gas range in her kitchen, especially for baking, until the day she died. This is great with applesauce!)

½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup molasses
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp cloves
1 tsp salt
1 cup hot water
1 ½ tsp soda

Combine butter and sugar. Add eggs and molasses. Shift flour with soda, salt and spices and add to molasses mixture. Add in hot water and stir until smooth. Bake in a 9” x 12” baking pan at 350 degrees till done. I didn’t write a time down, but I start checking on it after about 45 minutes. (Hint: insert a toothpick and when it comes out clean, consider it done).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

911: Remembering another American Tragedy, Mountain Meadows


I took this photo of the site of the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre this summer when I was my way into the Pine Valley Mountains to backpack. The cottonwoods in the valley (middle left) mark the site of the spring where the wagon train had camped.


Today is the sixth anniversary of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. It is also the150th anniversary of another tragedy in our history, Mountain Meadow’s, the largest massacre of a wagon train in the American West. Both attacks were made by supposedly religious folks acting in a zealous devotion to their leader and, as they mistaken believed, to their god.

In 1857, Utah Territory was abuzz with talk of war against the United States. Brigham Young, the leader of the Mormon Church as well as the practical political leader of the territory, encouraged his followers to get ready for an invasion by the American army. That summer, a military detachment lead by Col. Albert Sidney Johnson (later, he would be the Southern General killed at Shiloh) was assembling for their march west, across the plains. Their purpose was to enforce federals laws in Utah, especially polygamy laws, and also to protect the territorial governors and judges who were appointed by the President. In preparation for the pending showdown, Young ordered his followers not to trade with wagon trains passing through the territory for California, but to store up supplies for war. He also allowed the faithful, along with the Paiute Indians, to help themselves to the goods and animals that accompanied the trains. One train that summer had lost 300 head of cattle to raiders. This policy of the Mormon leaders created hardship for those who were making the western journey. Not only were their goods subject to confiscation, they also were unable to trade extra cows for needed stables, especially flour. To make things even more unstable, Mormon leaders had been traveling the territory that summer, preaching fiery sermons designed to excite the faithful to protect themselves and to avenge the death of a Mormon leader earlier that year in Arkansas. With tensions running high, Utah was a dangerous place to be in 1857, especially if you were not a faithful member of the Mormon Church.

The Fancher party, a wagon train of some 120 men, women and children was making its way southwest, through Utah, late at summer. Why they didn’t go the normal route, crossing Nevada and following the Humboldt River is subject to some speculation (the elder Fanchers had made three trips to California, using both the northern and the southern routes. Maybe they were behind schedule and with memories of the Donner party disaster in the Sierra’s early in the fall a decade early helped them decide to take the southern route around the snowy Sierra passes. Or maybe, the grass was better that year along the southern route, or the Natives were thought to be less restless in the South. Both routes were filled with danger, hostile bands of natives along with long stretches without water. Or maybe they had planned all along to head and settle in Southern California. Whatever their reason, their decision to head south through Utah was a fateful one. As Will Bagley notes in his substantial work, Blood of the Prophets, “Once the Fancher party left Salt Lake, it disappeared into a historical maze built of lies, folklore, popular myth, justification, and a few facts.” All the information on the party’s travels came from those either involved in the murder or the cover-up. We can assume that along the way, they continued to try to buy flour and needed stables, but were denied at every town. According to accounts told by those involved in the massacre, the men of the party began to brag about how they’d be a part of those who had slaughtered Mormons at Haun’s Mill in Missouri. Not to be outdone, another bragged to have the gun that shot Joe Smith, the founding prophet of the church. Because most of the party had come from Arkansas, rumor got around that some of the men had been present when Parley Pratt was killed. Pratt was a beloved Mormon leader had been murdered in Arkansas earlier in the year. (The Pratt murder is an interesting side story, as he was killed by his twelfth wife’s legal husband). Other rumors also circulating said that the party had poisoned springs used by the Pauites (a trick the Mormons had used in their war with the Goshutes a few years earlier) or poisoned animals that had died which they knew would have been eaten by the Indians. With tension already running high, such talk and rumors inflamed the situation and the Fancher party pushed hard to get out of Mormon territory.

On Sunday evening, September 6, 1857, the party staggered into Mountain Meadows, a spot known to wagon masters heading south as a place to rest animals and to stock up on grass for the long journey through the Mojave Desert. The predawn hours the next day, Monday, September 7, 1857, Mormon Elder John Lee, accompanied by militia from Cedar City and Harmony who had donned Indian war paint, along with a band of Paiute Indians, attacked. Members of the wagon train quickly grabbed weapons and surprised the attackers by repealing the initial assault, killing one Pauite and wounding a couple others. As day broke, the party circled their wagons, creating a fort, and sent out scouting parties to find the Indians who had attacked them.

The siege of the wagon train continued all week. Attempts by the emigrants to get word and help from other wagon trains following them failed. By Friday, September 11, the Fancher party was tired and running out of ammunition. At this point, John Lee who was now dressed normally, rode in as a savior, saying that he and his men would protect the party from the angry Paiutes and give them safe passage back to Cedar City. Desperate, they agreed to Lee’s terms. His militia (their war paint washed off), collected their weapons and pretended to protect them from the Indians as they divided the party up into groups of men, women and children. The groups were led them toward the north end of the valley and Cedar City. Before they left the valley, the Mormon Indian allies attacked and were assisted by the Mormon militia. Everyone in the party over the age of six was killed.

Supposedly, Lee had previously requested instruction from Brigham Young, asking if he should exterminate the party. Two days after the attack, word came back with the message to let them go. Although Young may not have given the direct word to attack, his rhetoric that summer had created conditions ripe for such a situation. Justice was long coming for the murders. It took years for full details to get out about the attack and by then the nation’s attention was held by the impending Civil War. In 1877, John Doyle Lee, the leader of the Mormons in the South was offered up as a sacrifice. After being found guilty, he was executed by firing squad at the Mountain Meadows site. No one else was charged with the murders of over a hundred men, women and children.

For years, little was known about the attacks. Lots of materials concerning the attacks are missing and there are no accounts from members of the Fancher’s party. Mark Twain had a chapter on the attack in Roughing It. In 1950, Juanita Brooks, a brave woman historian published her research in The Mountain Meadows Massacre. For the next fifty years, her book would be the best source of information on the attack. When I first visited the site in the early 1990s, there was plaque noting that the worst massacre on the overland trail had occurred there in 1857, but there was no suggestion as to who was to blame and one was left to assume it was either Indians or Space Aliens. There was no mention of Mormon involvement and the only mention of the church involved an acknowledgement that members of the Mormon Battalion after having been mustered out of the army following the Mexican War had traveled through the area. In the late 1990s, the LDS Church did install a new plaque, noting the involvement of Mormon settlers, saying they attacked for unknown reasons. In the past few years a number of books have explored the events surrounding the massacre including Will Bagley’s Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young ad the Massacre at Mountain Meadows (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma, 2002).

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Writing: A True Confession

Today's Sunday Scribbling prompt is to write about writing. The following is a true confession...



About half of my “professional time” is devoted to arranging words into a coherent form. People who read articles I’ve written or hear speeches I’ve composed often ask how I do it, thinking there is some great secret. I honestly don’t know how I do it for I hated English in High School. The excuses I used to get out of class were the only bits of creativity I showed at the time. I didn’t do much better in college. It was a miracle that I got through English 101. Going into the end of my first semester, I’d assumed I was doomed and would be booted out of college and end up in the military or the French Foreign Legion. I skipped the class so many times that the professor hardly knew me. But for some crazy reason, after having resigned my fate to failing my first semester, I decided to take the comprehensive English exam that was given by the University to all 101 students. You had to pass an exam consisting of three parts to get through the class. I would have easily failed, if my scored depended only on the grammar part, but there were two required essays for which I received high marks. I could always tell a story and that’s what I did and to my surprise, those grading the papers were impressed. Since only about a third of the folks in my class had passed the comprehensive exams on the first go around (you got two chances before having to repeat the class), my professor passed me. She gave me a D, and it would be the last one I received in school. English 102 involved a research paper and I sailed through that class. By the time I had finished college, I was still struggling with grammar and the basics, but I always had a secretary or girlfriend to proof my text and to clean up my language (well, not cleaning it up in the way your probable thinking of, but to make sure verbs and subjects generally agreed with one another). Then I went back to grad school. I loved it, but I also realize right away that my language skills were a determent.

After two years of study in a three year program, I was making okay grades, but I felt I needed a break. I sought out an internship and moved to Nevada for a year. During this sabbatical from school, I decided to go back to the beginning and I enrolled once again in an English 101 class. By this point in my life, I knew the importance of language and immersed myself. After the first assignment, the professor asked me to stay after class. “What are you doing here?” she asked as she waved my paper in the air. “If can write like this, you shouldn’t be in this class.” I told her my goals for the class and she agreed to work with me, being tougher on grammar and the basics. For the next four months, I wrote weekly papers for the class. When she assigned a paper about Woodstock (this was in the 80s, so Woodstock was still in our psyche), I impressed her with my knowledge of history. My essay tied together the community’s past link to weapon manufactures (referring to the wood stocks used on rifles), with the anti-war movement of the 60s. My professor praised my paper to the whole class, saying that she learned new things about the event, only to be embarrassed when I confessed to making the whole thing up. She never said our assignment had to be factual. On another occasion, I found just how conservative the 80s had become when I interpreted the writings of Stephen King through a Marxist lens. It was satire and still think that was my best writing for the class, but my fellow students got so hung up on Marx that they failed to catch the humor. Perhaps I should have mentioned Gaucho.

After a year in Nevada, I headed back east to finish school. My last year was easier, and I found that without doing any extra work, I was easily earning 4.0s. Retaking freshman English had been a good investment. Still I occasionally struggle with details and am a terrible proof reader of my own work, but as this blog is testifies, I no longer hate writing.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Lucky Seven!

Although I am currently overwhelmed at work, I am beginning to feel like a lucky man. Fate has been smiling on me. Last weekend it was an incredible college football game… And now the following things are happening…

I discovered yesterday that I was the last winner in Maggie’s Southern Summer Challenge. Lucky seven! My prize is a copy of Martin Clark’s (Deana's husband) The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living (which I already had and have just started reading) and some pecans. Maggie’s husband wanted to read the book, but Maggie kept it away from his dirty hands so as not to spoil the pages. Now, with my blessings, he will have his chance! As for the pecans, I can now get over my envy of Diane (who won pecans in the contest a few weeks ago).

Back early in August, a local company that makes and rebuild large presses had an open house. I went out of curiosity, jumping at the opportunity to see what goes on inside that big building. Helping them with the refreshments were teachers from a local elementary school they sponsor (many of the businesses here “sponsor” a school). I knew some of the teachers and they nagged me into putting in five bucks in their 50/50 raffle. I tried to beg off, saying that I don’t gamble. They suggested I consider it a donation and if I win, give the proceeds to the school. So I brought a ticket but because my daughter goes to another elementary school here, in playful fashion I designated her school as the recipient. I won second place in the raffle, which entitled my daughter's school to $65 and yesterday I got a card signed by all the teachers at my daughter’s school. I was overwhelmed for it was really such a small gift and it didn’t cost me hardly anything.

Sorry about not being faithful in my posting. The next two months will be very busy for me, but I hope to keep posting somewhat regularly and to keep up with your blogs. However, there may be times like last week where I don’t get around to seeing everyone. Don’t take it personally, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I no longer like you (there may be exceptions!). Have a great weekend and since few of us are going to be in Eastern Pennsylvania at Tim’s wedding, send him an email or step over to his blog and wish him and his fiancĂ© a very special day!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Nice Matter's Blog Award

This award thing is going to my head. A few weeks ago I received the Reflective Blog award. Then on Labor Day, Deana at Friday Night Fish Fry honored me with the Nice Matter’s Award. I’m going to have to get into town soon and buy me some larger hats to fit my expanded head (and expanded bald spot). I was touched by what Deana said about me (and also a little amused that I have her fooled!):
Sage at Sage Covered Hills. If you are a regular at Sage's then you know how nice this man really is. Always recognizing blog friends birthdays or hardships this guy is involved with the youth and his community. He has had posts on his trips away with kids or cooking for some fund raiser. Plus he is just a nice guy with nice posts.

Now I have the hard task of picking out three winners for the Nice Matter’s Awards (that’s the requirement of winning this award, you nominate three other recipients). This is a hard one. I thought about Murf and Ed, for they’re both are really nice, but after doing a reference checks—I called each of their neighbors and got an earful about them blowing their cut grass on their neighbor’s driveway—I decided that maybe I better look elsewhere. There are a lot of other nice folks in my blog and narrowing them down to three is really hard. But I decided to pick out blogs that both are an encouragement to others and ones that I haven’t focused on yet to receive a reward or birthday party. Here are my nominees for the coveted “Nice Matter’s Award”:

Tim at Ramblings: They don’t make them any nicer than Tim. A baker by trade, Tim has supplied cakes for virtual birthday parties for Kevin, Diane and Murf. He enjoys the simple things in life and often shares photos of his regular hikes in Eastern Pennsylvania. He’s always kind in his comments. A Mennonite, he works with the youth at his church. He adores his nephews and nieces. Tim has not been around blogland much lately as he’s getting ready to get married so we wish him our best. (wedding is on the 8th!)



V at Film Literate: V’s blog often contains movie reviews and TV recaps, but he also focuses on justice issues and calling people to help others. On his sidebar is a link to an organization that makes small loans to those in developing countries who need capital to start a business. For a few bucks, you can invest in one of these projects and really help make a difference in a life. V is also where I first learned about the Jena 6—a month before it was picked up by the news media. V’s comments are always encouraging and kind. As a law student, I thought I’d better present this award now, for I’m not sure he’ll still qualify once he passes the bar! (And for that comment, I might have my Nice Matters Award revoked). Since I haven’t seen any photos of V, I’m posting one of my own photos of the Golden Gate Bridge (taken from Berkeley). V lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Carmi at Written Inc comes to us from Canada. Carmi set’s the example of niceness in blogland. He’s always kind and encouraging and his writings and photos are always positive and uplifting. His comments encourage us to be our best. You can tell from the way he writes that his children are his treasure. He’s an all around good guy who makes the internet a better place.

Of course, there are many other nice bloggers and I could go on all day pointing out nice things about ya'll. Unfortunately, I can only choose three, but that’s also good because I’m about out of time. Lunch is over and I need to get back to work. When you get a chance, check out these blogs and may we all continue to do our part to make the world a better place.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Labor Day Weekend Stuff

My daughter kayaking on Friday night as my uncle and I fished.



Thanks to Arianna Huffington for saying what I’ve thought about the Larry Craig case. Check out her column. Like Huffington, there’s a lot to Craig’s politics that I don’t like, I just have to shake my head at the details of his crime. I never knew that tapping one’s foot was a signal for gay sex, and it seems to be silly evidence for a case. I can picture the DA telling the judge, “Your honor, he kept tapping his feet and we all know that white guys with rhythm must be gay…” All I know now is that I’m going to be paranoid the next time I’m in an airport bathroom and will make darn sure I keep my feet firmly planted on the floor.

Labor Day weekend was a blast. My uncle and cousin (she’s just a couple years older than my daughter), as I wrote about Sunday. L and I went fishing Friday night and caught a pretty good mess of bass and bluegills. Our daughters got to try out a friend’s kayak and had a good time. After we got back from the game on Saturday, we were beat and spent most of the rest of the weekend lounging around as much as possible. We were bone tired. They flew out yesterday morning.

Yesterday afternoon, I was scheduled to be videotaped on a piece of property that I have a hand in developing. I don’t really like talking into a camera and all those different “takes” drives me nuts. But I got through most of it fine. The last clip was planned to be shot on the top of a hill at the back of the property. I’ve driven up there several times, but this time the field hadn’t been brush-hogged and the grass was high. I didn’t see a boulder that I scrapped. This is mostly sandy soil and the boulder rolled up and lodged under the truck, between the motor and the back axle. I was stuck and worst yet, in dress clothes. Luckily, I keep a small shovel and a blanket in the back of the truck. We got to work jacking the truck up and finding stuff to block it up (I wasn’t going to crawl under with just a jack on sandy soil) and after about an hour was able to dig around the boulder enough so that it dropped back down and I could drive out. Then, when I got back to the highway, there was the great racket when I started to speed up. I again crawled under the truck. A light metal heat reflector from the exhaust had been bent and was resting against the universal joint (where the drive shaft connects to the transmission), which meant that the faster I went, the more noise it made. I was able to pull the reflector away and it appears nothing more is harmed, but I’m going to have to take it to a mechanic and have it put up on a lift to make sure that I’ve not missed anything. Needless to say, we didn’t do any more filming.

Keep in prayers the folks down in Central America as they endure the wrath of a hurricane. It was two years ago that I was in Honduras for a near miss, as I wrote about in my blog at that time.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

How I Spent My Saturday


If you can't read the score, it's Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32 and the game has just ended!

What a way to spend a Saturday…

Yesterday a group of boys from the hills of North Carolina invaded Michigan and got revenge for the South’s loss at Gettysburg. And I was there to watch it all!

On Friday, my daughter and I picked up Uncle L and his daughter at the airport. Uncle L had been excited about the possibility of his alma mater, Appalachian State University, playing the University of Michigan and as soon as the game was announced last winter, he began making plans to travel up here for the game. So yesterday morning, we all got up in the predawn hours for the two our trip to Ann Arbor, arriving there at 8 AM, in time for breakfast at the “official” Appalachian tailgate party before the 12 noon kickoff. I even had a Bloody Mary before 10 AM. When the sun got almost straight overhead, we went into the Big House. In most states, saying you’ve been to the Big House isn’t something to brag about, for in generally refers to the penitentiary. But here, the Big House is where Michigan, the school with the best record ever, plays football and before yesterday, going to the Big House was something to celebrate. Our seats were in the Southeast corner, where we and the handful of App Fans held up for the game.

The game started out like expected. Michigan got the ball and quickly marched down field and scored. But then, Appalachian returned the favor. Michigan scored again and so did Appalachian. No one could believe it, that a small school for the mountains were playing ball with the big boys. Then, even more remarkable, Appalachian scored again and again. Michigan finally got a field goal, and the teams went into the locker room with ASU at 28, Michigan 17. It appeared at the first half, Appalachian had learned how to capitalize on Michigan’s spread defense.


This is me at the game (you can thank my daughter for my extra hair). I had a Pittsburgh cap to wear (it’s the same colors as App State, only with a P instead of an A), but it was so hot that I decided I’d wear my more famous hat. Besides, I knew that if I ran into a certain tailgater, she wouldn’t forgive me if she saw me with any other hat. Unfortunately, Murf’s tailgating crew were on the wrong side of the stadium and with 107,000 people inside the Big House (plus who knows how many outside), it was hard to get around to other areas of the campus.

The second half then started and it appeared Appalachian had lost its offensive magic. They also appeared tired. They did manage to get a field goal in the third quarter. In the fourth, with around four minutes left, Michigan scored a touchdown, putting them up 32 to 31. It didn’t look good. But then, with 30 seconds or so on the clock, Appalachian had the ball with no time outs deep in Michigan’s territory. On first down, they kicked a field goal to put them up by 2 points. Those of us on the south side of the stadium, who all spoke with a drawl, began to feel like the Confederates at Gettysburg when Pettigrew’s men broke the Union line on Cemetery Ridge on that fateful date of July 3, 1863. Things were looking good.

Then Michigan returned the kickoff and quickly got downfield. With six seconds left on the clock, Michigan set up for a short field goal. It looked to be a repeat of Gettysburg, with a counter attack by a bunch of Pennsylvania boys drove back the charge and filled the plug in the Union lines. But this time, the counter attack failed. For the second time in the game, Appalachian’s defense blocked the kick. This time a defender picked up the ball and headed down hill, being tackled by a Michigan player on the five yard line. It didn’t matter, ASU’s defense had held and the clock had run out and David had once again slew Goliath. Needless to say, those in our end of the stadium went wild as those wearing blue and maize filed out quietly.

It was an amazing game and one for the history books. This was the first time in Michigan’s history that the school had played a 2AA college and it was also the first time in the history of college sports that a Division 1AA team has beaten a nationally ranked Division 1A team. It was an exciting game and, needless to say, my uncle and his daughter are extremely happy. They’d been hoping that ASU would give Michigan a good fight; they never dreamed they’d be going back the victors.