America the Beautiful-And Your Country is Too!

It has taken me 43 years to get there, but we finally made it to Yellowstone National Park. It is not really an easy place to get to, but the beauty of the place is beyond words. Much of it is one humongous caldera. It is unique and vast and inspiring.

Here are a few photos of the area.

Tomorrow we are driving over to Jackson, Wyoming to see the Grand Teton National  Park. Going to buy a good cowboy belt while I am there!

Take care,


Random Thoughts On A Random Night

Ever since I was a kid, I loved taking a swim in the backyard pool on a very warm summer night.  The stars up above (where else would they be?), the water not too cold, not too hot…Goldilocks perfect.  The night is quiet, peacefulness all around me.  Just float around barely making the water ripple, feeling like everything is one and the same. I just did that.

I was at Costco the other day. It was a hot summer day and their parking lot is always the hottest place in town. The heat just radiates off of it.  People always seem irritated in that big ole warehouse store where everything is sold in bulk. Get 72 rolls of toilet paper. Or maybe, 40 pounds of rice and a pack of sliced American cheese with 500 slices.  It is impossible to spend less than $100.  Their isles leave little room for maneuvering  the jumbo grocery carts and people are always getting irritated with others’ shopping behaviors. As I was checking out, the clerk said something to me, but my hearing is not very good and it took me awhile to realize that he asked me a question. I apologized, telling him I didn’t mean to appear to be rude. He said, “All that’s nothing around here.” I said, “Yeah, I bet you have some stories to tell about people’s rude behavior.” He replied, “Yeah, but they are just stories.”  – I thought, “Wow, what a wonderful way to look at unpleasant events. They are ‘just stories’ and indeed they are. When I was younger some of the stories really hurt, there was a rawness, an open wound.  Now that I am much older, they are just stories of my life.  They still may make me tear up some, but they don’t seem to have the power they used to.  One of those stories is about my mother. I have not seen her in over 18 years…Tomorrow I will be flying into the town she lives in, but will not visit her. I have never met her 3 other children, all younger than me.  Yet, I think soon I need to revisit this story and write another chapter for both us.I know we love each other; it is just that sometimes life plays some cruel tricks on ya…See what a peaceful swim on a warm summer night will do to you, gitcha thinking some.

Tomorrow, heading to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons in Montana and Wyoming.  I will post some photos of this wonderful and beautiful part of America.

Whoever may read this, I wish you the peace of a summer evening swim.


Storyteller and Dreamer: The Great Tree

“Hey, Dreamer…Dreamer…Hey, Dreamer?”

“Oh Storyteller, Why did you wake me?  I was in the middle of a wonderful dream.”

“I didn’t wake you. You are still dreaming. Tell me something, in your dream, how old are you?”

“Oh, uh, …I was…uh…younger than I am now.”

“A child?”

“Yes, I think I was… because I was dreaming of my father and he was much younger than the fragile old man he is today.”

“Ok, so I will fill your dreams with a child’s story about the The Great Tree.”

“Oh please don’t start with a “long, long time ago.”

“It is my story, Dreamer. So, uh, well, uh…a long, long time ago….The Great Tree stood tall and straight with many branches. A new branch had grown every time the People of the Angel’s Song had grown a deeper root for their humanity – roots such as prayer, music, generosity, kindness, poetry, art, and music.”


“Old man, you already said music”

“Oh, One Who Thinks He’s So Smart But Is Not Really So Smart,  How do you like that new name?

“I don’t.”

“Well then don’t interrupt me anymore…and I said music twice on purpose…. because it is so very important. Can you see the Great Tree?”

“Oh yes, it is beautiful and yes, some branches play music, others recite poems, and some have children swinging on the mighty limbs and when the children slip and fall, the other limbs catch the children and softly set them on the ground.”

“That is indeed The Great Tree.  It lives in the center of a large mountain meadow. It was on this tree that Eagle was born in a nest that sat upon the highest branch, a branch which grew for the appreciation of things that can fly.  This was the very first Eagle and The Great Tree  cared for the young Eagle and loved the bird very much.  Eagle would fly back every night to roost in the warmth of The Great Tree’s love.”


“I didn’t know trees could love?”

“You have much to learn Dreamer and it would happen much quicker if you wouldn’t interrupt me so much…. Do you see Eagle”

“Yes, Eagle soars without flapping its wings.  It looks as if  Eagle is actually dancing with the Wind. Eagle also has something on its back.  It is grey with a bushy tail.”

“That is Eagle’s best friend, Squirrel.”

“But Eagle is majestic and Squirrel is, well, squirrelly.”


“That is the way it is with our true friends. We love them regardless of their craziness…and yes, Squirrel is a very poor decision maker. Tell me what they are doing right now.”

“They are laughing …really hard…and Squirrel is tickling Eagle under its wings … and Squirrel keeps jumping off of Eagle’s back and falling to the Earth…but Eagle swoops down and saves Squirrel just before he hits the ground..and then Eagle scolds Squirrel, but Squirrel does it again, and again.”

“That is true friendship… The People of the Angel’s Song would journey up to the Great Tree every summer to avoid the heat of the valley floor. Life was grand underneath the love of The Great Tree.”

“Storyteller, I see bright flashes in the sky, …  and, oh my, I see lightening in the distance and the People of the Angel’s Song are all screaming and running out of the meadow and leaving the Great Tree alone. What is happening Storyteller. Is this a nightmare?”


“Yes, and no. All sweet dreams have  equally terrifying  nightmares and so it is also with the Great Tree. The lightening you see is from the terrible wrath of the Tree of Ignorance.”

“What is that tree?”

“The Tree of Ignorance has also grown very tall as its roots and branches grew from the People of the Angel’s Song’s less admirable traits such as fear, anger, hatred, jealousy, and …fear. And, from all these things the Tree of Ignorance has created enough energy to form lightening  … using it whenever its branches grow so heavy from holding on to all the pain those traits have caused.”


“Why are the People of the Angel’s song running so scared?”

“Because this time, The Tree of Ignorance had decided to destroy The Great Tree.”

“Why?  I love the Great Tree.”

“That is your answer. The Tree of Ignorance is jealous of all the love the Great Tree receives. If the Great Tree is destroyed by fire, the Tree of Ignorance thinks it will be happier.  Eagle sees the fire approaching The Great Tree, but thinks the lush meadow will protect it.”

“Will it?”

fire“No it will not…The Great Tree is crying tears in an effort to protect its branches from the very fast moving fire…and it is calling out for Eagle. Eagle swoops down in front of the angry fire and frantically  beats its wings to try to move the fire in another direction.”

“Will that work?”

“No, the fire of Ignorance is too hot. The Great Tree knows it will be burned to the ground and while crying her last tears she wraps her branches around Eagle and says, ‘Eagle, I love you. I have loved watching you grow, watching you soar, watching you play with Squirrel…please take my Last Tear and keep it safe from Ignorance of all types.”

“Eagle says, ‘Great Tree, I can’t live without you.’  but suddenly Squirrel cries out in tremendous fear as the fire chased it up to the now smoking trunk of the Great Tree. ‘You must save Squirrel,’ says the Great Tree and suddenly flings Eagle toward the ground to save Squirrel.”

“Storyteller, this is all too sad…it is not a child’s story.  Oh no, the Great Tree is all on fire! And, and, …. it is gone, nothing left. Am I crying in my sleep, Storyteller?”

“We both are crying Dreamer. … What do you see now?”

“Eagle has taken Squirrel to a rocky bluff where fire cannot burn…and the fire is now out…and the People of the Angel’s Song are gone…and the Tree of Ignorance still seems angry and it is not satisfied. Why is that? It got everything it wanted?”

“Because needless wanting is a root of ignorance…and needless wanting can never be fulfilled.”

“Oh no, now Eagle is screaming at Squirrel. What is happening?  They are friends, they need each other now more than ever.”

“Ignorance spreads very quickly…and Eagle is very angry at Squirrel because when Eagle gently laid down the Last Tear, Squirrel  couldn’t help but eat it.”

“What a stupid thing to do!”

“Hmm, it appears ignorance has also taken over your mind too, Dreamer. You see Eagle flying away from Squirrel?”

“Yes Storyteller, Eagle is so angry it cannot soar and it has to flap its wings very hard to stay up in the sky.”

“Ignorance makes it very hard for one to soar and makes one very lonely too. Where is Eagle now?”

“Eagle is sitting on a burned out tree with its shoulders turned away from  where the Great Tree once grew.  It is staring into a darkness.”

“Where is Squirrel, Dreamer?”

“Squirrel is across the great meadow high on top of a cliff with its head held in shame and time just goes on and on with nothing but silence for what feels like an eternity.”

“Are you happy with this dream?”

“No, I am not Storyteller. No I am not.”

“Well listen carefully, what do you hear now?”

“I hear…I hear…I hear the Great Tree’s voice in the wind!”

“Indeed you do Dreamer. You see the Great Tree had spent many, many years also dancing with the Wind. Now the Great Tree’s voice can be heard in the Wind. What is the Great Tree saying?”

“It is saying, no it is yelling, ‘Eagle save Squirrel’ and Eagle suddenly turns and flaps its wings frantically in Squirrel’s direction but, …wait, Squirrel is not there…Oh no Squirrel has fallen off the cliff.”

“Yes, and Eagle swoops down and catches his old friend once again just before Squirrel is about to hit the ground. Now what do you see Dreamer?”

“Eagle and Squirrel are holding each other and crying many tears.”

“Dreamer, these are Tears of Forgiveness…Look very carefully. What do you see now?”

“The tears are creating a puddle where they stand…and now, now…What is it? Squirrel’s very last tear is different. It sparkles like a diamond and it solid as it sinks into the mud created by the Tears of Forgiveness.  Both Eagle and Squirrel stare in amazement and then curl around to protect where Squirrel’s last tear has fallen. Is this…”


“Yes, Dreamer this is the Great Tree’s Last Tear which has turned into a seed. Without knowing it, Squirrel had actually saved the Last Tear and with Eagle’s willingness to overcome its own ignorance, the two of them have planted the Last Tear. Now is there anything left to your dream, Dreamer?”

“Oh so beautiful. There is another Great Tree where the seed was planted only it is bigger…taller…broader…stronger…and the People of the Angel’s Song have all returned to the love of the Great Tree. Storyteller?”


“Will the Tree of Ignorance try to destroy the Great Tree again?”

“Constantly, Dreamer, constantly. This is why we must never stop dreaming.”


Idiot at the Wheel — Mark Mayes

Well, this just about sums up my feelings about so many things.  Thank  you Mark, again, you have so many amazing gifts…very inspiring to be part of your circle.

Idiot at the Wheel Who made the pot? said the idiot. I did, said the potter. I am the most respected potter in the region. I am a master craftsman. I am an artist in clay. Kings, and others almost as important, commission me. I made an urn for the ashes of the Princess, after […]

via Idiot at the Wheel — Mark Mayes

Well, Time To Shave Off The Beard… I Gotta Egg

Twenty weeks and 4 days ago, I brought home 8 chicks. I wiped their pasty butts. I sang songs to them. I built them a chicken palace. I bought the best organic food I could find and I planted a little garden for their viewing pleasure.

Here is a photo of their garden area.



Today, after arriving home from our journey, I first greeted Gracie-our big puppy – and then went to the chicken palace where … ta-da…I opened up the coop and found my first egg.



I was leaving the beard on until I got that first egg. Time to shave.


The Clouded Mountain Top

Heading back home, Mount Shast is our traveling partner for 100 miles or so.

I realized that most of my mountain photos were always with the hope of having a clear view of the peak of the mountain. Why is that? Maybe because mountains create a sense of awe for me that comes darn close to being a religious experience – and I want my religion to know all the answers…as symbolized by a clear mountain peak. Yet, Life is not like that. Life is mysterious. The mystery exists up high in the “clouds” of our lives…not clearly seen. Still, as in the above photo of Mount Shasta, the base of our “mountain of mystery” is easily seen just by taking the time to observe what is all around us. The clouds that hover over the top of Mount Shasta are a blessed reminder to appreciate the known and perhaps the never to be known…at least on this trip.

Thanks for traveling with us!

Gary and family!

Hiking Day

Last full day in Bend, Oregon. We hiked around a beautiful place called Smith Rock State Park. Great place, lots of daring mountain climbers and scenic views. I think that dead tree is my favorite. 

Heading home tomorrow. 

Take care, 


Day 3

Today we spent in civilization which in our family means … Shopping!

My grandchildren don’t share my fear of heights!

Stopped in at a cool record shop in Bend, Oregon and picked up some favorite vinyl…

This beautiful river meanders through the city of Bend, Oregon. 

75,000 people coming into Bend this weekend for huge festival of music, food, art and bike race. Tomorrow we are heading for a hike outside of town.

Last night I spent some time on the internet reading the fascinating life story of Art Garfunkel. His solo album, Breakaway is in my personal top 10 albums. Released in 1975, I can listen to this album over and over again.  His relationship with Paul Simon is very interesting. His poetry, his struggles with losing his voice, his artistry …fascinating! Teaching math while at the height of his commercial success is just one of many unique experiences in his life.

Check out Wikipedia as background and then watch this recent interview.

Art Garfunkel Wikipedia
Great interview for performers