Tuesday, June 30, 2009

George Beverly Shea

When a mere tyke, I would hear a booming bass voice on my mom's favorite radio station, and I puzzled over how such a manly voice could come from someone named "Beverly."

George Beverly Shea, or "Bev" to his friends, quickly became my favorite singer. Shea teamed up with Billy Graham and toured the world for nearly 50 years until retiring. He has been deemed "America's Beloved Gospel Singer" and considered the first international star of the gospel world. According to the Guinness Book of Records, Shea holds the world record for singing in person to the most people ever, with an estimated cumulative live audience of 220 million people. Born in 1909, this Grammy-winning Canadian is now a centenarian and still going strong!

Here is a photo from early in his radio career...



... and here is a photo from his 100th birthday party a few months back, singing of course to all his assembled friends, while seated alongside his long-time friend and mission-partner, Dr. Billy Graham...



Shea's father was a Methodist minister and his mother a piano/organ teacher, so his ultimate career should not be considered surprising, although he arrived at it circuitously. You see, he attended college in New York, but after financial concerns forced him to end college after a year, he worked 9 years as a clerk for Mutual of New York Insurance, taking voice lessons on the side. His break occurred after appearing on Fred Allen's amateur hour program. Though coming in second behind a yodeler, he still earned a spot singing popular music on Allen's radio program. In 1933, a network radio director heard Shea sing and was sufficiently impressed to arrange an audition to sing popular secular songs for Your Hit Parade, a national program broadcast on NBC. But Shea turned down the position because he didn’t feel right about performing secular music.

In 1939, the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago (MBI) offered Shea a staff position with "duties that included emceeing, interviewing, news-casting, continuity writing, programming, administration, auditioning, and singing" on radio station WMBI, the first non-commercial Christian radio station in America. Eventually he was heard on 187 different stations in 45 states, as well as in Canada, Latin America and China.

In 1944, Shea began his 50 year association with Rev. Billy Graham, beginning on Graham's "Songs in the Night" weekly radio program from the basement of his suburban Chicago church. It was Shea's popularity that helped Graham's previously financially struggling program become self-sustaining within weeks. Shea then teamed with Graham as featured singer with the Billy Graham Crusades which began in 1947.

Shea recalls how he first met Billy Graham in these words:

"One morning, there was a rap on my office door. I looked out and there was a tall young man with blond hair and we shook hands. He was 21 and I was 31. It was Billy Graham and he had traveled in from Wheaton College on a train just to say 'hello.' He said he listened to my morning hymn show called 'Hymns From The Chapel.' That's how we first got acquainted. "I came into this (Crusades) work with Mr. Graham in 1947 after we had exchanged letters and talked on the phone. He said he wanted me to be his gospel singer. I thanked him, but told him the only gospel singers I've ever heard about would sing a verse or two and stop and talk awhile. 'Would I have to do that?' I asked him. He chuckled and said, 'I hope not.' With that, I said, 'Well, I'd like to come with you. That was in November of 1947 and I've been with him ever since."

Shea has recorded approximately 500 vocal solos on more than seventy albums.



In 1932, Shea composed the tune to "I'd Rather Have Jesus", the words of which were written in a poem by Rhea F. Miller. In his book, How Sweet the Sound, Shea tells the story of his role in "I'd Rather Have Jesus":

"At the age of twenty-three, I was living at home with my parents, continuing to work at Mutual Life Insurance and studying voice. Going to the piano one Sunday morning, I found a poem waiting for me there. I recognized my mother's handwriting. She had copied the words of a poem by Mrs. Rhea F. Miller, knowing that I would read the beautiful message, which speaks of choice. As I read those precious words, I found myself singing the words in a melody that expressed the feelings of my heart."

Here is a video from 1957's New York City Crusade with a very young George Beverly Shea singing his own "I'd Rather Have Jesus"...



Shea also wrote both the lyrics and music of "The Wonder of It All", which was copyrighted in 1956. The inspiration for the song arose from conversation with another passenger who asked, "What goes on at Graham's crusades?" Shea attempted to describe the response that accompanied Graham's nightly invitation to audience members to become a Christian, and then watching people by the hundreds come forward. "Oh, if you could just see the wonder of it all," Shea stated to the stranger, who then wrote on a card and handed it back to Shea: "That sounds like a song to me." Later that night, Shea wrote the lyrics and roughed out a melody to go with them. Here is Shea, at age 97, performing his song, "The Wonder of It All..."



In 1998, North Carolina Public Television produced "The Wonder of It All", a television program on Shea's amazing life story.

Shea was nominated for ten Grammy Awards, winning the 1965 Best Gospel for his album "Southland Favorites" and in 1978, he was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame for his lifelong contribution to gospel music.

In 1956 Shea received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, from Houghton College (NY), and in 1972 received the honorary Doctor of Sacred Music from (now) Trinity International University of Deerfield, Illinois.

Few realize that Shea was the first to popularize what is now a beloved standard hymn, "How Great Thou Art." Here he is, while in his 90s, singing at a Gaither Homecoming concert...



And here he sings the other most popular Christian song, "Amazing Grace"...

Monday, June 29, 2009

My Loveable Losers reign of frustration...

...seems destined to continue.



Nearly halfway through the season and below five-hundred, with seemingly no end to the miserable play of some mighty well-paid ballplayers.

As Ernie Banks loved to say -- Maybe next year!

Mountain Biking Deer Grove

Yesterday after church, I headed over to Deer Grove Forest Preserve for some mountain biking. For 20 years, this forest was a mere 3 miles from my house and served as my main biking and hiking venue. Now that I've moved, I still return several times a year to revisit what I consider the best mountain biking locale in the northern Chicagoland area. (Click to enlarge map.)


Sure, Crystal Lake has its Veteran's Acres/Stearns Woods complex, but it lacks mileage. Lake County has made gargantuan additions to its forest preserve holdings and added amenities to many of its preserves the last 2 decades, thanks to 3 voter supported bond referenda, but though they have dedicated areas for horse riding, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, and dog exercising, they still have no single-track area for mountain bikers.

So Deer Grove remains the best mountain biking around. They "civilized" large portions of the loop trail several years ago, adding gravel to eliminate the rocks and roots and ruts, but they didn't re-engineer the trail, so the same places that had erosion issues in the past, still have them, though the runoff gullies are now gravel. Three sections have lengthy re-routes which are single-track dirt through tight, dense foliage, and these sections are the highlights of the trail now, but the dirt gets muddy after rain, but a "mountain bike trail" feel is returning to the terrain in many places. It was a wonderful ride as I biked 12 hilly miles on both sides of Quentin Road, carefully negotiating the washouts and mud areas, as well as dealing with 5 downed trees, the worst of which is seen below...



One of the re-routes had a volunteer trail crew dealing with a large mud area, so I stopped and talked with the leader, Rick, who is the president of the north area of "cambr" -- the Chicago Area Mountain Bikers -- a large group dedicated to expanding and improving the mountain biking venues in the Chicagoland area. Great work, guys -- work that is much needed and much appreciated!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

National Parks: America's Best Idea

Pulitzer Prize author and environmentalist Wallace Stegner called our national parks "the best idea we ever had." With 391 units covering more than 84 million acres and comprised of 58 national parks plus 333 national monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers, recreational trails, and the White House, there's something for everyone. The National Park Service has a presence in 49 of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Only Delaware is unrepresented.

The system employs 20,000 diverse professionals, augmented by 145,000 volunteers. Total recreational visitors to the National Parks in 2006 was an astonishing 272,623,980! The largest park is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska (which I've been to twice) which stretches 13.2 million acres. The smallest is Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Pennsylvania at 0.02 of an acre. If you'd like to see an interactive map of every state with its national park holdings, go here.



The above insignia was authorized as the official National Park Service emblem by the Secretary of the Interior on July 20, 1951. The Sequoia tree and bison represent vegetation and wildlife, the mountains and water represent scenic and recreational values, and the arrowhead represents historical and archeological values.

Yellowstone was the first national park, established by an Act signed by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, as the Nation's first national park. The National Park Service was created by an Act signed by President Woodrow Wilson on August 25, 1916.

I LOVE the national parks. I've been to 36 of them, and more than once to 22 of those. I've also been to dozens and dozens of the other holdings over the years. I've backpacked in 11 national parks, hiked in 17 others, paddled 5 of them, and camped in 17 of them.

It is with great expectations I await a PBS extravaganza: "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," which premieres on September 27, 2009, a 6-part, 12-hour series tracing the birth of the national park system in the mid-1800s and showing its evolution over nearly 150 years. Using archival photographs, first-person accounts of historical characters, personal memories and analysis from more than 40 interviews, and stunning cinematography, the series chronicles the steady addition of new parks through the stories of the people who helped create them and save them from destruction.

The series is directed by legendary Ken Burns and co-produced with his longtime colleague, Dayton Duncan, who also wrote the script, and is the story of an idea as uniquely American as the Declaration of Independence and just as radical: That the most special places in the nation should be preserved, not for royalty or the rich, but for everyone. This duo has given us marvelous PBS documentaries on jazz and baseball in the past, and Dayton relates how he was 30 seconds into his pitch to Ken for this series when Ken interrupted and said, "When can we get started?" Obviously an easy sell this time! And now, after 6 years, it's almost here.

Filmed over the course of more than six years in some of nature's most spectacular locales -- from Acadia to Yosemite, Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon, the Everglades of Florida to the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska -- the documentary is nonetheless a story of people from every conceivable background -- rich and poor; famous and unknown; soldiers and scientists; natives and newcomers; idealists, artists and entrepreneurs; people who were willing to devote themselves to saving some precious portion of the land they loved, and in doing so reminded their fellow citizens of the full meaning of democracy. It is a story of struggle and conflict, high ideals and crass opportunism, stirring adventure and enduring inspiration -- set against breathtaking backdrops.

"Making this film was one of the greatest joys of my life," said Dayton Duncan, who has visited all of America's 58 national parks and who is the author of the companion book to be published by Alfred Knopf. "Each park is unique and has its own fascinating historical story. But they are all connected by the transformative idea that they belong to each of us, providing a shared place that lives in the memory of every individual and every family that has visited them over the years. And they are connected by the notion that individual Americans, in the best possible example of democracy, worked to make sure that future generations could enjoy them."

"There was a sense that in Europe, you had the Roman coliseum or Notre Dame or the Cologne cathedral, but we didn't have anything like that in America," said Dayton Duncan. "But we did have these spectacular natural landscapes that were as unique and ancient as anything in the Old World. So they would become our treasures. They would be the source of our national pride. But unlike in Europe, they did not belong to monarchs or nobility. They belong to everyone."

And that's what I love the most. These wondrous places are MINE! (and yours, of course.)

Here are some sneak previews from the movie series,

Like the idea of freedom itself, the national park idea has been constantly tested, is constantly evolving and is inherently full of contradictory tensions: between individual rights and the community, the local and the national; between preservation and exploitation, the sacred and the profitable; between one generation's immediate desires and the next generation's legacy.

As with all of Burns's films, there will be an extensive educational component, an interactive Web site that provides more information about the film, the parks and related issues, as well as a large-scale community engagement initiative. Four years ago, WETA and Florentine Films, with generous support from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, launched the Untold Stories project, designed to bring to light stories from the national parks focusing on the role of African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans in the creation and protection of individual parks and to engage new and traditionally under-served audiences in the educational richness of the national parks.

Accompanying the series will be a companion book, written by Dayton Duncan and introduced by Ken Burns, which will be published by Alfred A. Knopf, Burns's longtime publisher. "THE NATIONAL PARKS, like our previous collaborations with Ken Burns, will be a signature publishing event," said Sonny Mehta, Chairman of the Knopf Publishing Group. "It is the first accounting of the national parks to weave together dramatic narrative, personal testimony and breathtaking images. Indeed, of all the books we have published in partnership with Ken, this may be the most visually spectacular."

So why not get out there now! Choose one or more of these wondrous locales and make an adventure for yourself. Revel in the scenery and wildlife. Grab a piece of history. Get off the main drag and find some solitude. Whether a vacation or a weekend trip, go experience America's best ideas -- they belong to YOU!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Oxymorons #2

oxymoron |ˌäksəˈmôrˌän| noun

a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (e.g., faith unfaithful kept him falsely true).

ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from Greek oxumōron, neuter (used as a noun) of oxumōros ‘pointedly foolish,’ from oxus ‘sharp’ + mōros ‘foolish.’


Microsoft Works
military intelligence
jumbo shrimp
Advanced BASIC
tragic comedy
unbiased opinion
virtual reality
definite maybe
original copies
pretty ugly
same difference
plastic glasses
almost exactly
constant variable
even odds
minor crisis

Friday, June 26, 2009

Biking the McHenry Prairie Trail

Great day to bike 23 miles on the McHenry Prairie Trail from McHenry north to Genoa City, Wisconsin...



It was 80 degrees when we began pedaling at 9 am, but already 90 degrees when we finished 2.5 hours later.

Daniel Burnham

In 2009, Chicago is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the publication of Daniel Burnham's Plan of Chicago (co-written with Edward Bennett) which served as the impetus for the eventual preservation of the downtown lakefront as well as nearly 20 continuous miles of public parks on the glorious lakeshore heading north and south. It was the first comprehensive plan for the controlled growth of an American city, and included ambitious proposals for the lakefront, the Chicago River, and creation of neighborhood parks so every citizen could walk to a park.



Burnham also worked on other city plans, including ones for Cleveland, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Manila, Philippines.

Daniel Burnham (1846-1912) stated: "Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistence. Remember that our sons and our grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty."

I believe he would be proud to see his prediction was accurate and his beloved lakefront has been preserved for public use, and his name will forever be linked with the spirit of Chicago. For those unfamiliar with the lakefront, see my page for the Chicago Lakefront Trail.




Burnham was an American architect and urban planner and also served as the Director of Works for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and designed several famous buildings, including the Flatiron Building in New York City and Union Station in Washington D.C.



Burnham and Root were the architects of one of the first American skyscrapers, the Masonic Temple Building in Chicago. Measuring 21 stories and 302 feet, the Temple held claims as the tallest building of its time, but was torn down in 1939. Other landmark structures they designed include the Montauk, the Monadnock Building, and The Rookery. Burnham's firm designed over 100 major projects across the country, including civic centers, office blocks, department stores, libraries, and numerous stations for the Penn Central Railroad. The station in Pittsburgh has been described as "Burnham baroque," and one critic sees the beginnings of Art Nouveau in its flowing lines.

Following his death, the firm continued his Chicago landmark tradition and designed the Civic Opera Building, Field Building, Field Museum, Merchandise Mart, Union Station, and Wrigley Building.

Burnham's dream of a public downtown lakefront was subsidized by legendary Chicago businessman, A. Montgomery Ward, who felt Chicago needed to have a publicly accessible "forever open, clear and free" lakefront and therefore personally purchased and donated much of the downtown lakefront land to this purpose.

Burnham Park, which also includes Burnham Harbor, McCormick Place, and Soldier Field, is a fitting tribute to his foresight. This six-mile-long park is located along Lake Michigan south of the Loop and connects Grant Park to Jackson Park, running from 14th Steet to 56th Street.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Trickle-up Economic Plan in lieu of bailouts

Dear Mr. President:

Please find below my suggestion for fixing America 's economy.

Instead of giving billions of dollars to companies that will squander our tax dollars on expensive toilet seats, lavish parties, and unearned bonuses, please consider the following plan. You can name it the "Patriotic Retirement Plan."

There are about 40 million people over 50 in the work force. Pay each of them $1 million apiece severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:

1) They MUST retire. Result: Forty million immediate job openings - Unemployment fixed.

2) They MUST buy a new American CAR. Result: Forty million cars ordered - Auto Industry fixed.

3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage. Result: Housing Crisis Fixed.

4) And since these folks will be off all day and have plenty of money in their pockets, many will go shopping and travel. Result: They will stimulate the economy with their spending.

It can't get any easier than that!

What a great idea. Enough with the old trickle-down economics that gave money to the rich. Let's give it to the working class folks and let it trickle up!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Random Facts #21

  • Babies are born without kneecaps. They don't appear until the child reaches 2-6 years of age.
  • The strongest muscle in the body is the tongue.
  • You’re more likely to be a target for mosquitoes if you consume bananas.
  • The most common non-contagious disease in the world is tooth decay.
  • Charlie Chaplin once won third prize in a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.
  • Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth.
  • In ancient Egypt, priests plucked every hair from their bodies, including their eyebrows and eyelashes.
  • Sound carries so well in the arctic that, on a calm day, a conversation can be heard from 1.8 miles away.
  • The Eiffel Tower shrinks 6 inches in winter.
  • In ancient Egypt, killing a cat was a crime punishable by death.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Comedy of Aaron Wilburn

Aaron Wilburn is one of those remarkable comedians who can get you laughing uproariously without using foul language or dirty stories or belittling his audience. His talents also include song-writing, garnering him Dove awards and Grammy nominations as well as exhibits in the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. His down-home humor and humility are evident when you compliment him on his act, and he then replies, "That's no act! That's who I am!" And Bill Gaither has discovered Aaron and included him on some of the Homecoming performances.

Here's one of his bits, concluding with his song, "If My Nose Was Running Money, I'd Blow it All on You!"



And here is his "Southern Ponderings"...



For more of his performances, go here.

Thanks to Goldenrod for introducing me to this performer, and she learned of him through Craig. Isn't is wonderful how this Internet business works!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day...

...is believed to have first been celebrated on July 5, 1908, by Dr. Robert Webb at the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church in Fairmont, West Virginia. Did you know Father's Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June in 52 of the world's countries -- and in other countries on other days? Amazing!

It was a most enjoyable day as Ellen and I began with a delightful and early 15 mile bike ride on the Millennium and Fort Hill Trails (see the post before this one) before the temperature rose too high, replete with sightings of two families of swans with young, and also a number of deer sightings. Then we drove to Scott and Sarah's where Steve and my Mom joined us. We enjoyed the fellowship, their cats, and their landscape improvements, including the new back stairs and patio area being surveyed here by Mom...



We also checked out the progress Scott is making on his basement model railroad layout, as well as the beautiful and functional "potting station" Scott built for Sarah's green thumb. He found the plans online, bought cedar wood instead of the suggested pine, and did all the woodworking in his workshop.


The boys then treated me to dinner at the Wheaton restaurant, "The Bank," in the former Gary Wheaton Bank building.



Here are Scott and Steve, the reason I get to celebrate on this day...



... and here I am with Mom...




Then we walked over to Tate's Ice Cream for a bit of dessert before returning to their house for more conversation. Great day! Thanks, guys!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Biking the Fort Hill Trail of Lake County, Illinois




The first section of a planned regional trail collectively known as the Fort Hill Trail was opened to the public on Friday, June 19. This new two-mile stretch of gravel trail connects Gilmer Road to the Lake County Forest Preserves’ Millennium Trail/Lakewood Forest Preserve trail systems at the intersection of Route 176 and Fairfield Road.

The trail travels alongside the dog exercise area (replete with hundreds of new trees and bushes) and then passes through the property of the former Four Winds Golf Course seen below...





A new bridge has been constructed to cross a water feature of the old course...



A future trail tunnel under Gilmer Road will extend the trail east to Ray Lake Forest Preserve. The Fort Hill Trail parking area is located on the west side of Gilmer Road, north of Route 176.

When completed, the Fort Hill Trail, which comprises Lake County Forest Preserve and Lake County Department of Transportation trails, will connect Lakewood and Ray Lake, the Millennium Trail, Fremont School, Mundelein High School, the new Lake County Fairgrounds, Saddlebrook Farms and Prairie Crossing developments, and the Metra Station at Prairie Crossing.

Fort Hill, for which this trail is named, is a high knoll and historic landmark overlooking Peterson Road in Mundelein. Many know the name from the village’s Fort Hill Historical Society.

Along the trail is a turn-off to an area that overlooks a lake and wetland area. A generous donation by Gordon McLean was given in memory of his late wife who was an avid birder and naturalist, and the funds are being used for habitat restoration work on a 600-acre parcel north of Route 176. This project entails planting native trees and shrubs, removing invasive woody species, seeding native prairie, and beginning plans for drain tile removal. The project will expand wetland, savanna, and prairie habitats near existing wetlands to provide critical habitat for grassland and wetland birds. Lake County already boasts the largest concentration of wetland bird habitat in Northern Illinois, and in excess of 100 species already depend on this habitat area all or part of the year. The restoration will increase that number. The overlook, seen in the photo below, has rock seating and a plaque dedicated to the McLeans.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Worthy Quotes #24

Never have I enjoyed youth so thoroughly as I have in my old age.
--George Santayana

In youth we learn; in age we understand.
--Marie Von Ebner-Eschenbach

We ourselves feel like what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if that drop was not in the ocean, I think the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.
--Mother Teresa

What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow men. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.
--Talmud

Go ahead and do it. It's much easier to apologize after something's been done than to get permission ahead of time.
--Grace Murray Hopper

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
-- Abraham Lincoln

When you are younger, you get blamed for crimes you never committed, and when you're older, you begin to get credit for virtues you never possessed. It evens itself out.
-- J.F. Stone

There is within every soul a thirst for happiness and meaning.
-- Thomas Aquinas

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly. ‘Tis dearness only that gives everything its value.
--Thomas Paine

We find in life exactly what we put into it.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, June 19, 2009

PS22 Chorus

PS22, an elementary school in Staten Island, has a fantastic music teacher, Gregg Breinberg, who has created the PS22 Chorus comprised of sixty 5th grade students. Their YouTube videos have been viewed over 4.7 million times and dozens of tv, movie, and rock band stars have visited, performed with, or commented about their presentations.

They have sung with Tori Amos, opened for Crowded House in New York, and brought Stevie Nicks to tears as they sang her song of "Landslide."

They have over 300 videos online, and here is just a brief rendition of "Eye of the Tiger" sung by the chorus, with Mr. B. on guitar...



Their blog has info about them and dozens of links to other appearances they have made with various stars, including one at Academy Ward winner Marcia Gay Harden's house and their subsequent Christmas Caroling with her.

Here is an acappella rendition of "Let There Be Peace on earth"...



The experiences and opportunities Mr. B. has presented his classes over the last few years are an amazing tribute to a dedicated teacher and his loving, engaged students.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Luncheon and Concert

Yesterday was the summer luncheon for our unit of the Illinois Retired Teachers Association. Bob Lyons, one of our members and a fellow retiree from District 211, is also an elected member of the state Teacher Retirement System board and gave us a "state of the state" report. Seated are our local's president, Len, and his wife, Marlene...

Then last night was a beautiful evening for the first of the summer outdoor concerts by the Palatine Concert Band.



...after which we got to talk to Scott for a bit before heading home...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"A Billion Here, A Billion There...

...and pretty soon you're talking about real money" is often attributed to Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen (R, IL). Though there is doubt he actually coined the phrase, and though a billion is far less than it was in the 1960s, it still is a fitting statement. Exactly what is a billion? Perhaps this will demonstrate the vastness of this number...


A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.

A billion days ago no one walked on earth.

A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate our government spends it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Monarch Butterflies

When I was a kid, Monarch butterflies abounded in Chicago, but a huge winter kill-off in their winter grounds in Mexico decimated the population and they have never fully rebounded and returned en masse to Chicago. But today, I spotted this guy on my front bushes...


Monarch butterflies are the only insect that migrates to a warmer climate that is 2,500 miles away each year, and they are one of the few insects capable of making transatlantic crossings.

Monarch butterflies are not able to survive the cold winters of most of the United States so they migrate south and west each autumn to escape the cold weather. The monarch migration usually starts around October but can begin earlier if the weather turns cold sooner than that. If the monarch lives east of the Rocky Mountains, it will migrate to Mexico and hibernate in oyamel fir trees. If it lives west of the Rocky Mountains, it will hibernate around Pacific Grove, California in eucalyptus trees.

Monarch butterflies use the exact same trees each and every year when they migrate, which seems odd because they aren’t the same butterflies that were there the prior year. These are the new fourth generation of monarch butterflies, so how do they know which trees are the right ones to hibernate in?

Each adult butterfly lives only about four to five weeks. But one of the many wonders of the Monarchs is the annual creation of a unique "Methuselah generation." As autumn approaches, a very special generation of butterflies is born. Unlike their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents -- all of whom had ephemeral lives measured only in weeks -- these migratory butterflies survive seven or eight months. In human terms, given our average life span of 75 years, this would be like having children who lived to be 525 years old! This generation performs the incredible feat of flying from Canada and the United States to the center of Mexico -- after which they begin the northward journey again. Once they reach the United States, a kind of relay race begins: their short-lived offspring, with only four or five weeks to live, continue making the trek northward over several generations.

The common name “Monarch” was first published in 1874 by Samuel H. Scudder because “it is one of the largest of our butterflies, and rules a vast domain." It is sometimes called the "milkweed butterfly" because its larvae eat the plant. In fact, milkweed is the only thing the larvae can eat! Most predators have learned that the monarch butterfly makes a poisonous snack. The toxins from the monarch's milkweed diet have given the butterfly this defense. In either the caterpillar or butterfly stage the monarch needs no camouflage because it takes in toxins from the milkweed and is poisonous to predators. Many animals advertise their poisonous nature with bright colors, just like the monarch!

Do Monarchs abound in your area of the county? If so, where do you live?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Biking the DRT

Yesterday we biked 24 miles on my favorite section of the Des Plaines River Trail, north from Independence Grove to Wadsworth Road. The gorgeous 75 degree sunny day brought hundreds of bikers and walkers out, as well as six equestrians, dozens of boaters on the lake, and full picnic tables everywhere. We even saw a fellow on a unicycle burning up the trail at a fast speed, which was a first! I had hoped to see him again on the way back and get a photo, but no such luck.



One brief trail segment parallels railroad tracks, and we saw an Amtrak train and a freight train as we biked past. The engineer saw me taking his photo and waved and even gave me a double-toot.



Great to see so many people using their forest preserve areas, but I find biking during the week is far more solitary and relaxing, and you don't encounter any idiot bikers who speed past you without announcing their approach from behind -- one of whom nearly sideswiped me as he misjudged the turn we were on as he (unannounced) sped past.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Flag Day

...so please fly your flag proudly!

In August of 1949, President Harry S. Truman proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day. Since then the President proclaims the commemoration yearly and encourages all Americans to display the Stars and Stripes outside their homes and businesses. Individual states determine how they will observe the day.

The American flag has changed designs more than any other flag in the world. The first flag, called the Grand Union, was first flown at the headquarters of the Continent Army on January 1, 1776. Betsy Ross, a seamstress, is said to have contributed to this design.

To date, there have been twenty-seven official versions of the flag, but the arrangement of the stars varied according to the flag-makers' preferences until 1912 when President Taft standardized the then-new flag's forty-eight stars into six rows of eight. The forty-nine-star flag (1959-60), as well as the fifty-star flag, also have standardized star patterns. The current version of the flag dates to July 4, 1960, after Hawaii became the fiftieth state on August 21, 1959.

Called both the "Stars and Stripes" or "Old Glory," the flag is one of the most complicated in the world. No other flag needs 64 pieces of fabric to make. The current flag has 13 red and white alternating stripes (representing the original 13 states) and 50 stars (each star represents one of the states of the Union) on a blue background.

The idea of an annual day celebrating the Flag is believed to have first originated in 1885 when Wisconsin schoolteacher BJ Cigrand arranged for the pupils in Fredonia Public School to observe June 14 as 'Flag Birthday' on the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes.

Flag Day - the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 - was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916, but it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.

Dwight's Annual Pig Roast

Dwight retired from teaching last week and last night hosted his final "end of the school year" party, a tradition he sustained for 20 or more years, always featuring a pig roast. The volunteer chefs began at 10 am, used 140 pounds of charcoal...



...and spent 3 hours carving the meat, much to the delight of the hundred-plus guests enjoying the beautiful Spring evening, the heaping trays of delicious food, the conversation and socializing with retirees and friends not seen for awhile...



...and the music of the DeKalb Footstompers Band...



Hostess-superlative Nita polkas with Len in the above photo. Thanks, Dwight and Nita, for another wonderful party -- and enjoy your well-earned and much deserved retirement!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

If Computers had been around for Abbott and Costello...

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: Thanks. I'm setting up an office in my den and I'm thinking about buying a computer.

ABBOTT: Mac?

COSTELLO: No, the name's Lou .

ABBOTT: Your computer?

COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.

ABBOTT: Mac?

COSTELLO: I told you, my name's Lou ..

ABBOTT: What about Windows?

COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?

ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?

COSTELLO: I don't know. What will I see when I look at the windows?

ABBOTT: Wallpaper.

COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.

ABBOTT: Software for Windows?

COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?

ABBOTT: I just did..

COSTELLO: You just did what?

ABBOTT: Recommend something.

COSTELLO: You recommended something?

ABBOTT: Yes.

COSTELLO: For my office?

ABBOTT: Yes.

COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!

ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows.

COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, let's just say I'm sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?

ABBOTT: Word.

COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: Word in Office.

COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?

ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue 'W'.

COSTELLO: I'm going to click your blue 'w' if you don't start with some straight answers. What about financial bookkeeping? You have anything I can track my money with?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: That's right. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?

ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.

COSTELLO: What's bundled with my computer?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?

ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.

COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?

ABBOTT: One copy.

COSTELLO: Isn't it illegal to copy money?

ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.

COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?

ABBOTT: Why not? THEY OWN IT!

(A few days later)

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?

ABBOTT: Click on 'START'...............

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fox River Trail biking

Today was the long drive to South Elgin, from where we rode south to Geneva and back. Here the group works up the long uphill after the double bridge across the river...



We stopped in St. Charles which was gearing up for its annual "Pride of the Fox RiverFest" and had a tasty meal at Pub 222 in their courtyard venue...


Duct Tape and WD-40

Two great inventions are duct tape and WD-40. If something moves and isn't supposed to, use the duct tape. If it is supposed to move but doesn't, use WD-40. Here's a list of some of the other things WD-40 has been used for:

~Protects silver from tarnishing
~Cleans and lubricates guitar strings
~Gets oil spots off concrete driveways
~Gives floors that 'just-waxed' sheen without making it slippery (a little goes a long way)
~Keeps flies off cows
~Restores and cleans chalkboards
~Removes lipstick stains
~Loosens stubborn zippers
~Untangles jewelry chains
~Removes stains from stainless steel sinks
~Removes dirt and grime from the barbecue grill
~Keeps ceramic/terra cotta garden pots from oxidizing
~Removes tomato stains from clothing
~Keeps glass shower doors free of water spots. If yours is plastic, it works just as well as glass.
~Camouflages scratches in ceramic and marble floors
~Keeps scissors working smoothly
~Lubricates noisy door hinges on vehicles and doors in homes
~Gives a children's play gym slide a shine for a super fast slide
~Lubricates gear shift and mower-deck lever for ease of handling on riding mowers
~Rids rocking chairs and swings of squeaky noises
~Lubricates tracks in sticking home windows and makes them easier to open
~Spraying an umbrella stem makes it easier to open and close
~Restores and cleans padded leather dashboards and vinyl bumpers
~Restores and cleans roof racks on vehicles
~Lubricates and stops squeaks in electric fans
~Lubricates wheel sprockets on tricycles, wagons, and bicycles for easy handling
~Lubricates fan belts on washers and dryers and keeps them running smoothly
~Keeps rust from forming on saws and saw blades, and other tools
~Removes splattered grease on stove
~Shines stovetops
~Keeps bathroom mirror from fogging
~Lubricates prosthetic limbs
~Keeps pigeons off the balcony
~Removes all traces of duct tape
~Relieve arthritis pain in arms, hands, and knees
~Cleans and removes love bugs from grills and bumpers
~Protects the Statue of Liberty from the elements.
~WD-40 attracts fish. Spray a LITTLE on live bait or lures and you will be catching the big one in no time.
~Keeps away chiggers on the kids

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Apple's AppWall Alight

At this week's annual World Wide Developers Conference hosted by Apple, they have a "wall" of computer monitors displaying thousands of icons, representing a portion of the 50,000 applications (apps) available for the popular iPhone from the Apple App Store. As one of the apps was purchased from the store (which surpassed a billion apps sold in less than a year), its icon would pulsate, creating a pulsating "wall" of colored lights. Here's a brief movie of the "wall" from the TechCrunch website...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Million Words in the English Language?

(from CNN) English contains more words than any other language on the planet and will add its millionth word early Wednesday, according to the Global Language Monitor, a Web site that uses a math formula to estimate how often words are created.

The Global Language Monitor says the millionth word will be added to English on Wednesday. The site estimates the millionth word will be added Wednesday at 5:22 a.m. Its live ticker counted 999,985 English words as of early Tuesday evening.

The "Million Word March," however, has made the man who runs this word-counting project somewhat of a pariah in the linguistic community. Some linguists say it's impossible to count the number of words in a language because languages are always changing, and because defining what counts as a word is a fruitless endeavor.

Paul J.J. Payack, president and chief word analyst for the Global Language Monitor, says he doesn't include all new words in his count. Words must make sense in at least 60 percent of the world to be official, he said. And they must make sense to different communities of people. A new technology term that's only understood in Silicon Valley wouldn't count as a mainstream word, he said.

His computer models check a total of 5,000 Web sites, dictionaries, scholarly publications and news articles to see how frequently words are used, he said. A word must make 25,000 appearances to be deemed legitimate.

Payack said news events have also fueled the rapid expansion of English, which he said has more words than any other language. Mandarin Chinese comes in second with about 450,000 words, he said.

English terms like "Obamamania," "defriend," "wardrobe malfunction," "zombie banks," "shovel ready" and "recessionista" all have grown out of recent news cycles about the presidential election, economic crash, online networking or a sports event, he said. Other languages might not have developed new terms to deal with such phenomena, he said.

Language experts who spoke with CNN said they disapprove of Payack's count, but they agree that English generally has more words than most, if not all, languages.

"This is stuff that you just can't count," said Jesse Sheidlower, editor at large of the Oxford English Dictionary. "No one can count it, and to pretend that you can is totally disingenuous. It simply can't be done." The Oxford English Dictionary has about 600,000 entries, Sheidlower said. But that by no means includes all words, he said.

Linguists and lexicographers run into further complications when trying to count words that are spelled one way but can have several meanings, said Allan Metcalf, an English professor at MacMurray College in Illinois, and an officer at the American Dialect Society. "The word bear, b-e-a-r -- is that two words or one, for example? You have a noun that's a wild creature and then you have b-e-a-r, which means to bear left or to bear right, and there's many other things," he said. "So you really can't be exact about a millionth word."

Payack said he doesn't consider his to be the definitive count, just an interesting estimation based on set criteria he has helped develop. "It's always an estimation," he said. "It's like the height of Mount Everest is an estimation. The height of Mount Everest has changed five times in my lifetime because as we get better tools, the estimates get better."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Trivia #4

1. What U.S. government agency had a 320-foot-long ladder—the longest in the world—built for its use in the late 1990s?

The U.S. Coast Guard. Its “debarkation ladder,” which can be rolled up for storage, is intended for emergencies, when a ship’s passengers and crew have to climb down to life rafts from the upper decks.

2. In what annual sports competition is the winning trophy called the Claret Jug?

Golf’s British Open Championship. The trophy, more formally known as the Golf Champion Trophy, is widely referred to as the Claret Jug because that’s what it is. The jug was introduced at the Open in 1873, when it replaced the previous prize, the Challenge Belt.

3. What automobile part has an inertia reel?

A seat belt. The inertia reel permits the wearer free movement, but locks on impact or when there’s a sudden jolt.

4. What animal migrates to Texas annually to participate in the largest gathering of mammals in the world?

The bat—the Mexican free-tailed bat. Every spring, tens of millions of them descend on Bracken Cave, near San Antonio, to spend the summer, give birth, and raise their young.

5. In what film classic did Isabel Sanford, who portrayed Weezie on the TV sitcom The Jeffersons, make her Hollywood debut?

"Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner." Sanford played Tillie, the outspoken maid, in the 1967 movie.

6. When did the New York Stock Exchange close for 4 1/2 months—the longest shutdown in its history?

In 1914, as war raged in Europe and stocks prices plunged and financial markets around the world suspended operations. The NYSE was closed from July 31st through December 12th.

7. A photo of which Sesame Street character appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 1970?

Big Bird, on November 23, 1970. The headline that ran with the photo read “Sesame Street: TV’s Gift to Children.”

8. When it comes to American shoes, what woman’s size is the equivalent of a man’s size 8?

American women’s shoes are numbered 1 1/2 sizes higher than men’s shoes of the same length, so it would be 9 1/2.

9. In the 1993 romantic comedy "Sleepless in Seattle", where was the climactic scene on the observation deck of the Empire State Building filmed?

In an abandoned airplane hangar at the former Naval Reserve Air Station at Sand Point in Seattle, Washington. The observation deck was re-created—slightly larger than life-size—in the hangar, with a huge photo of Manhattan’s famous skyline serving as the background.

10. What country has the tallest people?

The Netherlands, where the average man is about 6 feet 1 and the average woman is about 5 feet 7. In the U.S., the averages are men, 5 feet 9 1/2, and women, just over 5 feet 4.

(from Page-A-Day Calendars)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Preacher is Leaving...

A Preacher is explaining that because of the economy, he must move on to a larger congregation that will pay him more. There is a hush within the congregation. No one wants him to leave.

Joe Smith, who owns several car dealerships in the city stands up and proclaims, "If the Preacher stays, I will provide him with a new Cadillac every year, and his wife with a Honda mini-van to transport their children!"

The congregation sighs in relief and applauds.

Sam Brown, a successful entrepreneur and investor, stands and says, "If the Preacher will stay, I'll personally double his salary and also establish a foundation to guarantee the college education of all his children!"

More sighs and loud applause.

Sadie Jones, age 88, stands and announces with a smile, "If the Preacher stays, I will give him sex!"

There is total silence. Everyone is aghast. No one believes what was just offered.

The Preacher, finally regaining some semblance of composure, stands, and though obviously blushing, asks, "Dear Mrs. Jones, whatever possessed you to say that?"

Sadie's 90- year-old husband, Jake, holding his forehead with the palm of his hand and shaking his head from side to side, is now trying to hide, while his wife loudly replies, "Well, I just asked my husband how we could help -- and he said, "Screw the preacher..."

Isn't senility wonderful? Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.

Points to Ponder #17:

  • Cease to struggle and you cease to live.
  • Turn the world upside down, because it is wrong-side up!
  • Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.
  • Deception is a close cousin to lying.
  • It’s too late to change the past, but it’s never too late to change the future.
  • Every path has it puddles.
  • Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
  • Death and taxes are certain, but at least death only happens once.
  • You can’t follow your dreams if you’re asleep.
  • Happiness is something you decide to feel, in spite of what happens to you.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009

Biking a National Recreation Trail...

Today the group enjoyed the beautiful day by biking the 12+ hilly miles of trails in Moraine Hills State Park which is located in the northeast corner of Illinois, three miles south of McHenry bordering the Fox River. Half of the park's 2200 acres are wetlands and lakes, with magnificent forest comprising the remainder. Here are (l to r) Dave, Ellen, Patti, Len, and Marlene...



This trail system of three loops and a connector trail in Moraine Hills State Park was recently promoted to National Recreational Trail status by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, saying, "From coast to coast, the National Trails System helps connect American families with the wonders of the outdoors."

National Recreation Trails (NRTs) have been a touchstone of the National Trails System since the first designations in 1971, now a network of more than 1,050 designated trails totaling over 12,500 miles. The NRTs recognize existing trails and trail systems that connect people to local resources and improve their quality of life, linking communities to recreational opportunities on public lands and in local parks across the nation.

Visitng with Mom

We went over to Mom's, treated her to a nice lunch at Maggiones by Woodfield, and then up to her place to visit a bit...



I also tried to hook up the analog-digital converter box to her television ahead of the conversion to digital, but was unable to get it to work. Looking at her tv's manual, it seems to say that it is digital-ready, though it's a model from 2004 when few sets were digital capable. Guess we'll wait until the switch-over and see, and if it doesn't work, I'll switch her set with one of mine since I'm on cable and won't have that concern.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Elderhostel: Canoeing Wild Florida...

... is an Elderhostel program I have now done twice. The weather conditions this year (two days of high winds) required a change of two venues, so the program actually was quite different from my previous time. Here's a movie showing the highlights of this active outdoor Elderhostel program in Florida's Ocala National Forest...


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Things You Don't Say to your Wife by Tim Hawkins

Here's a comedy clip I ran across on YouTube. Tim Hawkins explains his comedy in these words on his web site: His art form was honed primarily in churches, with a brief 6-month stint performing in prisons as part of Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship. Since his shows ranged from little kids to youth groups to married adults, he had to develop material that would hit a wide age range. “Survival mode, pure and simple. I learned comedy in front of a lot of multi-generational audiences, so I had to find material that would cater to all ages. It’s a thrill to provide a family connection where they can share the experience… and then take a DVD home for another family comedy night.”

Here's a sample of his work:





A number of other comic bits by Hawkins can be found here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Worthy Quotes #23:

To be content with little is hard; to be content with much, impossible.
--Marie Von Ebner-Eschenbach

Nobody can hurt me without my permission.
--Mahatma Gandhi

We are all pencils in the hand of a writing God, who is sending love letters to the world.
-- Mother Teresa

Courage is very important. Like a muscle, it is strengthened by use.
-- Ruth Gordon

The young man who has not wept is a savage, and the old man who will not laugh is a fool.
-- George Santayana

I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me.
--Roy Croft

The finest piece of mechanism in the universe is the brain of man. The wise person develops his brain, and opens his mind to the genius and spirit of the world's great ideas. He will feel inspired with the purest and noblest thoughts that have ever animated the spirit of humanity.
--Alfred A. Montapert

Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. Second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.
--Samuel Johnson

Live your life from your heart, share from your heart, and your story will touch and heal people’s souls.
–-Melody Beattie

To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.
--Sir Winston Churchill

Things can be better than they are!
--Ancient Proverb

Monday, June 1, 2009

Biking Moriane Hills SP and the two fawns

Today we biked the loops at Moraine Hills State Park with Dave and Patti, and while on the "blue loop" we saw 2 new-born fawns on the trail. I took a couple shots from a distance, knowing they'd bolt off the trail if we approached too close, and then we gradually closed the distance. But surprisingly, they never fled...



In fact they were as curious about us and we were of them. One even came up to me on his very wobbly, spindly legs and smelled my leg and gave me a big goo-goo eyes look...



The other was a bit more reticent and went onto the tall grass verge but didn't go into the woods. We worried the mother doe might be injured or ill or deceased, since there was absolutely no sign of her during this 10 minute interruption of our ride...

...and it is very uncharacteristic of a momma to not be around to supervise and protect her young. We stopped at the ranger office and reported the incident to the secretary who told us, "We know about them. The mom is in the woods watching, but she's there." This sounded a bit too dismissive and nonchalant to me, so we later saw a ranger driving the trail and told him. He said there is nothing they would do. I remarked that if the mom is dead, the babies wouldn't survive, but as I feared, they still wouldn't intervene, for they simply let nature take its course. I hope the doe is in fact around and the babies are okay!

Bike Trails of the USA

Here's a listing of the dozens of bike trails I've biked
across the country
-- both paved and mountain
bike trails --
with photos and trail info on each.


  • Arkansas' Lake Fayetteville Trail
  • Arkansas' Scull Creek/Mud Creek Trail (Fayetteville)
  • Alaska - Anchorage trails
  • Alaska - Juneau trails
  • Arizona's Buena Vista Mountain Bike Trail
  • Arizona's Ghost of the Coyote Trail Mountain Bike Trail
  • Arizona's Rim View Trail encircling Page, Arizona
  • Colorado's Cherry Creek Trail
  • Colorado's Glenwood Canyon Trail
  • Colorado's Grand Junction Riverfront Trail
  • Colorado's Salida Trail
  • Florida's Big Shoals Lands
  • Florida's Cross Florida Greenway Trail
  • Florida's Ft. Clinch State Park Trail
  • Florida's Gainesville area trails (Gainesville-Hawthorne, Depot Ave., Waldo Road, and Paynes Prairie Preserve)
  • Florida's Gulf Islands National Seashore
  • Florida's Guana Tolomato Matanzas Trail
  • Florida's Jacksonville-Baldwin Trail
  • Florida's Lake Minneola/South Lake Trail
  • Florida's Little Econ Trail
  • Florida's Nature Coast Trail
  • Florida's Paisley Lake Mountain Bike Trail in the Ocala National Forest
  • Florida's Munson Hills Loop mountain bike trail
  • Florida's Pinellas Trail
  • Florida's Santos Mountain Bike Trails in the Ocala National Forest
  • Florida's Seminole-Wekiva Trail
  • Florida's Suncoast Trail
  • Florida's Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic RR Trail
  • Florida's Twilight Loop mountain bike trail/Munson Hills Offroad Bike area
  • Florida's Van Fleet Trail
  • Florida's West Orange Trail
  • Florida's Withlacoochee Trail State Park
  • Georgia's Jekyll Island
  • Georgia's St. Simon's Island
  • Grand Canyon's South Rim Bikeway
  • Idaho's Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes
  • Kansas' Levee Trail in Salina
  • Kansas - Topeka's Shunga Trail
  • Kentucky's Louisville Riverfront Trail
  • Maine's Acadia National Park
  • Massachusett's Cape Cod, Nantucket Island, and Martha's Vineyard Trails
  • Missouri's Katy Trail
  • Montana's Hiawatha Trail which straddles the Idaho/Montana border (through 9 tunnels and over 7 trestles in the Bitterroot Mountains)
  • Montana's River Edge Trail in Great Falls
  • Oklahoma City's River Trail
  • South Carolina's Killer 3 Trail in Manchester State Forest
  • Tennessee's Knoxville Trails
  • Utah's Potash Scenic Road
  • Virginia's Virginia Creeper Trail in the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area
  • Virginia's New River Trail State Park
  • Washington's Seattle's Burke-Gillman Trail
  • Washington's Interurban Trail in Bellingham








  • M&M and Spinach

    Should I worry about my cat turning vegetarian?



    (At least she still loves little bites of pork, steak, and chicken!)