Announcement – Future Game Plan

Here’s the game plan for the way ahead for this blog.  I’ve completed my Autobiography through Chapter 7 at this point and now it’s time to start a rotation of topics once again.  For the next couple of weeks I’m going to begin to catch up on some other topics.  I will continue Jonathan’s Dream and finish posting what’s remaining for both Organizational Aerodynamics and Nurturing Organizational Growth.

I’ll also continue again with my online novel, Portraits of Life.  You haven’t missed anything at this point because nothing further has been written.  I have pondered where these characters will go and what might happen to them in the future, and I’ve decided that eventually they will interact with each other and their lives will all somehow meet up, but I’m not certain yet as to how that will all happen for everyone.  So stay tuned!

Then, as Advent is less than six months away now, and Christmas four weeks afterwards, I’m going to start posting the Christmas Songs that I’ve written in order to have them all posted online by Advent.  In many respects, the Christmas songs I’ve written have some of my favorite lyrics, as they tell the story of Jesus’ birth from various different perspectives.

Eventually, I’ll take the DAT (Digital Audio Tape) versions that I have of my songs and transfer them to individual CD tracks so that the simple demo versions of my original songs that I’ve made will be available for any musician to listen to.  They will then have the lyrics, chords and melodies of each song available to them to study and play if they wish.  That may happen eventually, but not until my backlog of historical material has been posted and I’m all caught up to the present day – whenever that will be.  I give credit to a friend of mine at work who is a great music lover, an excellent singer and an avid Frank Sinatra fan, for suggesting that I must eventually put the audio version of my songs online…so despite my inadequacies as a performer and a singer (and there are many, many of them), as a songwriter I would like to have the melodies available for all to use – because as a musician, I would find them invaluable if I wanted to play one of the songs I’ve written.  I think this is what I meant about making myself vulnerable…

Towards the end of June I have the time to start a new project, and I’ll start scanning my photo albums into the computer so that I can post photos that are relevant to my autobiography.  I won’t post anything in advance of the actual storyline (except for the Gulf War photos that have already been posted), but I’ll post the photos as the autobiography unfolds.  All in all, starting after the July 4th holiday weekend, I’ll then go back to a complete rotation of topics and photos, so that I can get everything online in equal measures and at a uniform pace.  That way, both you and I get to sample many different things on a regular basis, and I’ll even go back to writing original articles about whatever comes to mind from the pile of topics that I have “racked and stacked” just for that purpose!  :)

I’ve had time to “ponder” where I’ve come now with this blog, and to think about where it is ultimately going.  Of course every author would someday like to be published, but there is something very profound for me that I discussed in the article, “Expecting Nothing In Return.”  I like the freedom and the expression of posting everything online for free.  I think the internet is the very future of publishing itself anyway – everything will eventually go online and Google will have it all at your fingertips for your reading pleasure where and when you want it.  There is a great amount of authenticity involved in this process.  There is a certain honesty in putting one’s life online, “warts and all.”  This blog will always be rated “PG” because I won’t put anything here that a child couldn’t read for themselves.  The Truth is a very organic approach to life.  Someday, I will no longer be here, and the record can stand as I have written it to the best of my ability for potentially a long time afterwards.  So the ultimate aim of this blog is the Truth, to document how I’ve both lived and viewed life, as but one person of billions of human beings to have experienced the privilege.  In this way, when that final day does come, announced or unannounced as it may be, the result of this effort will be the story of a single life, a single person, who looked for both truth and meaning in what he called, “Life, Love and the Human Condition.”     



In Search of the Meaning of Life – An Autobiography (Chapter Seven, Part Six – The U.S. Bike Trip Continues)

Thursday, October 21, 1976     Day 30     65 Miles, Total: 1010     $14.50, Total: $249.51

We cleared out of the pavilion and traveled east on Highway 250 into Charlottesville.  We stopped at a Humpty Dumpty hamburger restaurant and spent $4.50, but the food wasn’t very good.  The wind was very strong, gusting to 35 mph, and when we saw that Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, was on the top of a hill we decided to skip it.  We continued south on Route 20, the “Virginia Byway” or better known as the “Constitution Route” according to the signs.  Along the way we stopped at a grocery store and spent $10.00 on a lot of canned food.  There were quite a few large old stately southern homes along the route, but later there was a marked contrast of poor, broken down shacks.  About the time we were thinking of finding a place to camp for the night, we came across a house set back from the road and surrounded by the scrub pine forest that blanketed that part of Virginia.  In the driveway was a Cadillac, a Blazer and a Grand Prix; not to mention an inboard/outboard speed boat.  So we decided that this house was just as good as any other to ask permission to camp nearby.  We asked the man at the door if we could pitch a tent in the back corner of their yard, which was huge, and he said ok.  After the tent was set up, he and his wife invited us in for lasagna, and at the time I think it was the best meal that I had ever eaten (JoAnn and Gene – Mr. and Mrs. E.R. Davis, Dillwyn, VA).  In the morning Mrs. Davis invited us in for the biggest breakfast of our lives: toast, eggs, sausage, coffee, orange juice.  Mr. Davis was in the wood pulp business, and came back home for a late breakfast from work.  We stayed for a short while after breakfast to listen to Mrs. Davis tell us her family’s life story and to catch up on the local gossip, then we had to ride on.

(1994 Editorial Comment:  The land in Virginia was changing from the rocks and old forests of the Appalachians, to scrub pine forests and sandy earth.  Gone were the vast mountain vistas and scenic views, but now I was beginning to get the “coast fever.”  I coined the phrase that “it’s all downhill to the coast from here” and must have quoted it a million times between the Appalachians and the Atlantic Ocean.  But the funny thing was that there never was a “downhill to the coast” road, and there was even a sand dune to climb over before making it to the beach once we were at the ocean.)

(2009 Editorial Comment:  We had now traveled 1,010 miles and passed the first really big milestone so far on the trip.  This was our first experience with “Southern Hospitality” and the Davis family took us in as if we were part of their family – as if long lost “relatives” – and Mrs. Davis brought us up to date with everything was happening in their family, in Dillwyn and in the wood pulp industry.  What a fantastic experience this trip was for us, and meeting and talking with people along the way was quickly becoming the trademark experience of this trip.  What had started out as adventure – bicycling, camping and traveling – was evolving into an adventure focused more on life, as we met people along the way that helped us and that we ended up relying on.  Again, Mrs. Davis was extending to us her warm Southern Hospitality as a way to “mother” us while we were out on the road – in what I believe was a tribute to all mothers everywhere.)

Friday, October 22, 1976     Day 31     45 Miles, Total: 1055 Miles     $6.00, Total: $255.51

After we left the Davis’ house this morning, with a gift of a can of stew for the road, we rode down through Farmville and ate at a local restaurant for $5.00.  Then we kept on riding, and met a guy from Theta Kai fraternity at Hamden-Sydney College.  He said that we could crash there for the night, so we ate some bananas ($1.00) and other snacks, and went over to the college.  The frat house was a really bad mess, but we put the bikes in the basement and watched the Ali-Norton fight on TV, and then some of the Carter-Ford presidential debate before going to bed in the basement.  During the afternoon we had gotten in some Frisbee practice in the front yard of the frat house, and there was the usual music playing from speakers propped up in the windows, and guys drinking beer on the front steps.  We slept on a little stage in the basement that was covered with dirt, as it was the cleanest place that we could find.  The rest of the basement was a garbage dump, with cans and garbage all over the place.  We salvaged two warped spring bed frames and slept on them, which wasn’t that bad.

(1994 Editorial Comment:  The sun was shining, the temperature warmed up a bit and we took most of the afternoon off enjoying the chaotic atmosphere of the frat house.  It was time to unwind a little and have some fun, and that is exactly what we did.)

(2009 Editorial Comment:  The basement of that frat house really grossed us out, and was the kind of place that you could hardly walk through for all the junk and trash down there, and where you certainly didn’t want to touch anything.  Despite our surroundings, we managed to find a “sanitary” way to deal with everything and were able to get some sleep.  The frat house environment for a 20 year old that hadn’t partied very much in life was a real circus – and fun.)

Saturday, October 23, 1976     Day 32     55 Miles, Total: 1110     $20.18, Total: $275.69

We slept pretty good last night, got up at 8:00 a.m., and left early.  The road took us up into Keysville, where we bought milk, two boxes of natural cereal, and breakfast rolls for $3.50.  After our breakfast, we rode south on Highway 15 until it became a divided highway.  On that highway there was a very tall forest observation tower that we climbed, and afterwards we ate some cereal at the tower’s base and lay out in the sun, although it really didn’t get very warm.  We continued south on Highway 15, and stopped at a Tastee Freeze for a couple of Sundays – $1.50.  Then we rode on into Wylliesburg and then on to Red Oak.  We found that there wasn’t much in either town, and kept going south until we got to Buggs Island Lake.  We crossed the lake on a bridge going into Clarksville.  We stopped at a police station in Clarksville, and they let us sleep in a side room of the station.  It doesn’t get much safer than that.  We dropped off the bikes and went to eat at a restaurant, and although you won’t believe this, we splurged and ordered a half chicken each with tossed salad, vegetable, potatoes, rolls, milk, strawberry shortcakes with whipped cream and ice cream.  It was all topped off with a bottle of Michelob beer.  The total came to $15.18, which shot our budget for a month, but it was really good.  We decided that we couldn’t live on canned lasagna forever.  I only had $12.00 with me at the time, so I walked back to the police station to get a traveler’s check and came back.  It’s about 7:30 p.m. and we’re getting ready to crash for the night.  If we get an early start tomorrow then Fayetteville, North Carolina, should only be two days ride from here.  I’m sure that we’ll sleep good tonight.

(1994 Editorial Comment:  We were loosening up again, after the challenges of the mountains that we had left behind.  The trip was starting to become fun again, the weather was warming up, and we could almost smell the Atlantic Ocean’s salt air breeze from where we were.  We were resigned to the fact that our money was starting to run out quicker than we had planned, but our attitude was to enjoy it while we could.  Besides, in two days we’d be at Bruce’s brother’s house, and then we could relax for a while.  Still, plans were being sketched out for finding a job, for when and where we would need it.)

(2009 Editorial Comment:  I remember as I wrote the dinner account in the log book that no one would believe the meal that we had ordered and eaten.  In a way we were celebrating having made it through the Appalachians and it was important to enjoy our success – no matter how fleeting or short lived.  What’s the point of going on an adventure if you can’t even enjoy it and celebrate now and then?  The traveler’s check episode was actually funny to read about again.  We carried all of our money in traveler’s checks, and every time we cashed one it was very obvious that our money was dwindling – fast.)

Sunday, October 24, 1976     Day 33     30 Miles, Total: 1140 Miles     $11.00, Total: $286.69

When we woke up it was raining, so we stayed in bed a while longer until 8:30 a.m.  By 10:00 a.m. the rain had stopped, so we decided to take our chances and make a run for it.  About ten miles north of Oxford, NC, it started raining and it continued until we were just about into town.  In Oxford, we went to a Hardee’s hamburger restaurant and spent $5.00 on dinner.  After dinner we went over to the local police station and asked them if we could stay in a back room out of the rain, and they let us put the bikes in a council room.  Afterwards we walked through the town, but there was nothing going on on a Sunday.  We bought some ice cream for $2.00, and then bought some breakfast food and snacks for tomorrow – $4.00.  Back at the police station we made some Jiffy Pop in the council room, but we cooked it a little too long and it smoked the place out.  Then we watched some football games on TV, followed by 60 Minutes, and then decided to go to bed at 8:00 p.m.  All for now.

Monday, October 25, 1976     Day 34     45 Miles, Total: 1185 Miles     $13.00, Total: $288.69

We left Oxford and rode south on Highway 15 after eating our breakfast of donuts at the police station.  It had rained that night, and it was lightly sprinkling when we left.  As we rode south the road went up and down, and never did seem to straighten out.  In a small town we bought bananas, milk, and orange juice for $2.00, and took a lunch break.  Then we continued south on Highway 50 on the way towards Raleigh, and saw one of the policemen from Oxford while he was off duty.  The road continued on like a roller coaster into Raleigh, and we soon found ourselves on a highway that must have had twelve lanes.  In town we went to the Salvation Army, after the firemen in town gave us directions, but no one was there.  It started raining, so we waited for a while under the overhang of the church.  From there we cycled into the downtown area, cashed a check, and stopped in at a Chamber of Commerce office and asked for directions to N. Carolina State University.  We hoped to find a frat house or someplace to stay for the night.  It started raining once again along the way, so we stopped at a sub shop and ate three submarine sandwiches and washed them down with four beers for $5.00.  After asking direction again, we started out in the rain, and I saw a girl riding a bike with touring panniers on it on the other side of the road.  At the light she rode over to us and explained that she and her boyfriend had been riding from Buffalo, NY, and had had some problems and were staying in Raleigh.  She invited us to stay in their apartment for the night.  We were happy to get out of the rain and to get a shower.  Actually it was a bath, and that night we all went out for two more subs and six more beers for $6.00.  Then we crashed for the night in their apartment.  It turned out that the place had fleas, and I didn’t sleep at all, since the fleas were biting me all night long.  Such luck.  They were nice folks though – Dave and Jan.

In Search of the Meaning of Life – An Autobiography (Chapter Seven, Part Five – The U.S. Bike Trip Continues)

Saturday, October 16, 1976     Day 25     45 Miles, Total: 825 Miles     $7.20, Total: $202.41

We woke up early, and were on the road by 9:00 a.m.  Our first stop was a restaurant for pancakes and bacon – $5.00.  Then we rode on past Spruce Knob, the highest point in the state.  We turned east on Highway 33, after having been traveling south, and right away we met a mountain in front of us.  The locals called it Northfork.  After we had walked the bikes two miles up the mountain, a couple of old men in a truck stopped and asked us if we wanted a ride to the top.  They said it was four more miles to go.  As we were limping a bit anyway and quickly calculated that another four miles would probably ruin our ankles, we accepted the ride and put the bikes into their truck.  When they opened the door for us to climb in, a whiskey bottle rolled out onto the ground.  The two of them weren’t feeling any pain – that we were sure of.  We couldn’t believe just how high the road went up the side of that mountain, and it seemed like it went on forever, even by truck.  At the top of the mountain they said that they were going on to Franklin anyway, so they took us the next ten miles into town.  We figured that it was a good way to make up for the lost time that we had spent climbing Seneca Rocks yesterday.  After they dropped us off, we rode on a way longer and later rested by a river to eat four peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  After our lunch, we rode on to Brandywine, where we bought some breakfast rolls, chocolate milk, and ice cream for $2.20.  Just outside of Brandywine, we stopped at the George Washington National Forest to camp for the night.  All the camping spots had been filled, so we camped in a field with all of the extra hunters that were in the area at the time.  There were a bunch of hunting dogs in the field with them, and the dogs were putting on quite a howling concert.  We were given some fuel this morning for our camp stove by one of the climbers, and we used the stove to heat up a can of lasagna and beefaroni.  The meal tasted very good warm, for a change, and the stove worked fine.  There is a shower here at the official campground, but it turned out to have only cold water, and we decided not to use it.

(1994 Editorial Comment:  We had gone through one fifth of our money in less than a month, and still felt like we would be lucky to last until Christmas on the money that we had left.  Florida was looking better all the time, especially surrounded with the cold October weather we had at the time.  This wasn’t Ohio anymore and the further we went into the mountains the farther away from home we were beginning to feel.  We had come 825 miles at this point, and we had acclimated ourselves to the weather and to life on the road.  Even with the nagging ankle problems, which started out from not enough pre-trip preparation because we were working too many hours through the summer and I was recovering from dental surgery, we were starting to feel “road hardened” from the trip.  The process of even pushing one of our heavy bikes miles and miles up the side of a steep mountain wasn’t an easy one, and we knew that we were getting stronger with each passing day.)

(2009 Editorial Comment:  Before the trip we hadn’t purchased any fuel for our brand new camp stove, and as the weather wasn’t really bad at the time we didn’t give it much thought.  Tonight we were glad to have the fuel that was given to us – and a hot meal on the road for once.  I later made a pen and ink correction here, to account for our later financial reconciliation, to indicate that we had really gone through one fourth of our money in less than a month.  Everything that lay in our future was unknown to us, but we were enjoying the present – even with all of our difficulties.  This was for us a real adventure – into the unknown.)

Sunday, October 17, 1976     Day 26     40 Miles, Total: 865 Miles     $7.00, Total: $209.41

It rained all night long last night, and the sleeping bags and some of our equipment had gotten wet.  When we woke up it was still raining, and very cold.  After a short while it started to snow along with the rain, and then it all turned to snow.  It snowed for an hour or so, collecting on top of the hunter’s cars, but not sticking to the ground.  When it finally stopped, we got dressed, and as the showers had only cold water, we made a plan for the morning.  We hitchhiked into Brandywine together and bought $7.00 worth of stew and soup to heat up on the stove, as we were out of food this morning.  The stove is worth its weight in gold.  We started the trip without fuel, and up until yesterday we hadn’t been too concerned, but now it was just too cold and we needed warm food.  Once we got back to the tent, we heated up some chunky soup, packed up our wet tent and equipment, and started on down the road to Harrisonburg.  We walked the bikes five miles up the Shenandoah Mountains, and there was snow all over the mountain tops, and about two inches of snow covered the trees along the road.  It was pretty cold, and we were wearing our warmest clothes with wind pants and windbreakers over everything else.  We cruised down the other side of the mountains into the Shenandoah Valley, and finally arrived in Harrisonburg at nightfall.  We had left the campground area at 2:30 p.m. this afternoon.  We went into town and walked the bikes from one end of town to the next, looking for a place to sleep.  I got a flat tire somehow along the way, probably from all of the curbs in town.  Sidewalks are bad luck it seems.  We came to Madison College, and met a guy named Chris by the library who said that there was an empty room in the house he was renting, so we went along with him.  After a warm shower, we settled down to a good night’s sleep.

(1994 Editorial Comment:  That morning in the George Washington National Forest I couldn’t help but compare our situation with that of George’s “rag tag” army during the Revolutionary War, as they waited to cross the Potomac River.  It was so very cold, and we were wet, and out of food.  The situation was looking pretty bleak as we looked out of the tent into a blizzard of freezing rain and giant snowflakes from the confines of our tent.  At times we were faced during the trip with a decision to make, and even if it wasn’t a life or death decision, it often seemed like it was at the time.  Our choice was to go back into town for food that day.  Other times it was to pack up the tent in the rain and make a run for a barn, or to leave a train tunnel for no promise of anything better in the next town.  It is only after being challenged, and successfully overcoming that challenge that you are faced with at the moment, that your life is enriched and grows in new dimensions.  It is a poor life that has never been challenged, that never knows what potential was there all along, and that doesn’t have in reserve the knowledge and confidence of past conquered challenges to provide a foundation for overcoming future challenges.  We were survivors, and no matter what was placed in front of us, we were going to make it through each and every day.)

(2009 Editorial Comment:  We left the bikes with the hunters to hitch a ride back into town, figuring who’s going to steal anything from a field full of guys with guns and dogs?  The clothes we normally wore every day on the trip were Levi’s jeans, a T shirt or long sleeve shirt, a blue jean jacket once it got cold and a down vest over that.  On this occasion we had on our gloves, watch caps, and rain gear over everything.  We layered everything, and as we went through the day we changed layers as necessary.  In this case it was really, really cold; and we had on everything that we could put on.  The only problem with layering was sweating inside all of the layers, but we did our best to let the air flow in without freezing.  We were so used to getting wet by now that it didn’t really matter much – wet was wet – from rain or sweat.)

Monday, October 18, 1976     Day 27     40 Miles, Total: 905 Miles     $12.10, Total: $221.51

We got up at about 9:00 a.m., showered, said goodbye to Chris, and rode on Highway 33 over to the Skyline Drive.  In Harrisonburg we ate breakfast at Burger King for $5.10, and then purchased $7.00 worth of groceries at the local grocery store, buying soups and canned stews.  Once on the Skyline Drive we went south, and the road turned into a roller coaster, going up and down all the time.  We decided to try and make it to a mountain campground that was up ahead, but it was dark before we got there.  The campground was on the top of a mountain, and we had to push the bikes up the mountain a long time before we got to the top.  We finally made it to the top, almost dead from exhaustion, and from the bitter cold.  We got out the camp stove and heated up a couple of cans of food.  After eating, we still had to go higher up another road to find the campground.  No one was there when we finally arrived, and we found that one of our flashlights was dead since it must have been left on in the backpack.  So we set up the tent in the dark with only one flashlight.  The temperature dropped to 10 degrees that night, but we managed to stay warm enough, which was probably because we were so tired that we didn’t notice.

(1994 Editorial Comment:  I remember being so exhausted trying to make it up that mountain, only to find that the campground was never just around the next bend.  There are times when you are so tired that you start to give up caring anymore, and you just want to lie down where you are.  I can also remember being that tired when climbing a mountain in Utah, and again while climbing in the Grand Canyon.  It was so cold that night in the dark that setting up the tent was an almost impossible task.  Had it not been for that hot meal and a short rest, I’m convinced that I would never have made it to the campground, and would have collapsed on the side of the road.)

Tuesday, October 19, 1976     Day 28     40 Miles, Total: 945 Miles     $12.00, Total: $233.51

We woke up in the morning, amazed that we hadn’t frozen to death.  We finished off a box of natural cereal that we had with us, and got up and packed.  I washed my hair in the sink of the campground’s bathroom, which woke me up in a hurry.  We continued on our way, riding south on the Skyline Drive, and it continued the same roller coaster trip from the day before, as the elevation varied from 1900-3500 feet, not quite the level ride that people had told us it would be.  We finally made it to the Waynesboro exit, and ate lunch at a Howard Johnsons for $8.00.  Earlier in the morning we ate two cans of stew for breakfast, and two cans later while resting at a scenic overlook area.  Our route then took us down out of the mountains on Highway 250 towards Charlottesville.  We saw a campground about ten miles east of the Skyline Drive, and stopped in.  After paying our $4.00 fee, we set up the tent and were invited to have dinner in a camper by an older couple.  We had ham and all the trimmings, which filled us right up.  Bruce kept right on eating while I started writing this log book entry, and he cleared the whole table off, even finishing the jello bowl.  Now we’ll go and take a hot shower in the campground’s facilities, and then crash for the night.  That’s all.  P.S. – When we were on the Skyline Drive, some guy went nuts with his camera and took our pictures for about ten minutes.  We also saw someone riding a horse along that scenic, but hilly, route.

(1994 Editorial Comment:  Bruce and I made an interesting observation many times during this trip, and that is that the majority of people can’t give directions to save their lives, much less describe the terrain and condition of a route.  Usually when given directions, we would have to discount most of what we were told because of wrong information.  Every now and then, someone would describe for us perfectly what lie ahead, although that was very rare.  For you see, we studied our maps all day long during the course of the day, and again at night in preparation for the next day’s route.  Then armed with a good understanding of where we needed to go next, we often asked for directions in order to reconfirm what we already though we knew, or for extra detail as to what to expect along the way.  Most of the time we would have been better off asking people to predict the weather.)

(2009 Editorial Comment:  We were in a “grind it out” phase of the trip now.  Chris had been nice to let us stay in his extra room two nights ago, but otherwise it was camping out in tough conditions.  The guy with the camera on the Skyline Drive must have seen something in us that really caught his photographer’s eye, probably the “road hardened” travelers that we had become by then.  The Dobson’s were extremely nice and kind to us in the campground as they must have seen a need to take care of us in what probably looked to them as two “road weary” charity cases, as we ate everything that was set on the table before us that night.  Regardless of what people saw or didn’t see in us, we were as immersed in this adventure as if we had fallen into the deep end of a swimming pool – treading water for all we were worth to keep our heads above water.)

Wednesday, October 20, 1976     Day 29     0 Miles, Total: 945 Miles     $1.50, Total: $235.01

Well, it rained all night long, having started out just when we went to bed.  The dirt that we had pitched the tent on the night before became a sea of mud by morning.  My new air mattress must have a slow leak in it, because it collapsed about half way through the night.  We woke up, and I made a run for the showers, and then Bruce worked up enough courage after a while to do the same.  We sat the rain out all morning, while staying dry under the overhang from the roof of the shower house.  At lunchtime we were invited back into the camper for coffee, and our elderly friends actually forced us to stay for lunch, and we almost ate them out of house and home, after they first twisted our arms of course you see (Arthur W. Dobson, Cambridge, MD).  We stayed in the trailer with them (a silver Airstream trailer if I remember correctly), for a couple of hours talking and watching it rain.  Mr. Dobson then suggested that we ought to go down to the campground’s office, and ask them to use the pavilion that we hadn’t seen yesterday.  The Dobson’s insisted on paying for our camping fee of $4.00, and we packed up and walked the bikes about 3/4 of a mile through the rain to the pavilion.  We washed the mud off of the tent and gear, and hung everything up to dry under the roof of the pavilion.  We spent $1.50 on ice cream and amusement games, as there was little else to do while it rained.  The rain is starting to let up now, and we’ll probably go to sleep pretty early tonight.  The weather tonight should turn out to be clear and cold.

(1994 Editorial Comment:  Between the guy taking our pictures yesterday, and Mr. Dobson and his wife taking care of us here in the campground, we must have looked like charity cases.  We had more gear on our bicycles than anyone had ever probably seen before, and our standard blue jeans and blue jean jackets were probably looking pretty worn by now.  The Appalachian Mountain chapter of our trip was now behind us, and we had survived.  The land was beautiful, but the temperatures and the amount of gear that we were carrying had taken a toll on us, and all that we could think of now was making it to the coast, and then on to sunny Florida.)

(2009 Editorial Comment:  I think that Mr. and Mrs Dobson saw in us that familiar parental fear of somehow seeing “their” children or grandchildren out on the road and in a bind as they looked at us; and for all parents everywhere took pity on us and decided to do what they could to help us out.  We were more than appreciative – we were extremely grateful for their assistance in completing this last portion of our Appalachian Mountain adventure successfully.)

Original Song – “Green Eyed Sally”

Green Eyed Sally is a complex song about relationships.  It tells the story of Sally, a girlfriend or spouse who has decided to throw away her current life to go off and search for herself – for who she really is and wants to be.  The story line discusses the age old tale of ‘the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’ and the personal search for meaning and fulfillment.

There often comes a point in people’s lives when they realize that the dream, or song, that they carry somewhere deep inside of them has been deferred too long – to the point where they suddenly realize that they never even attempted to live out their hopes and dreams.  Once they realize this, the tendency is to make an irrational decision to throw everything away and finally chase that dream before it’s too late.  Too often they are too late and ill equipped to succeed in their last ditch attempt to rescue their lives – and in the process others get hurt – spouses, children, family and friends.  How much better it would be to deliberately live a life with purpose and meaning all along, so as to not face a mid-life crisis in a panic after realizing that you never even reached for your dreams.

Green Eyed Sally builds over four verses to peak at the song’s conclusion.  The singer’s impassioned plea is an attempt to build a bridge to her and find some common ground for her to return home, “I’m looking at your rainbow’s end right before our door, I know that you’ve always wanted a little somethin’ more, Maybe you and I can find, Somethin’ worth staying for, Won’t you come back to me…”


I recorded my original song “Green Eyed Sally” on Set Two in 1996, and it tells the story of a woman who has left home to search for herself – while her significant other makes an impassioned plea for her to return back home. If I was to do this song again I would begin much slower, instead of racing from the beginning, but this is simply a snapshot from that day in my life ~ enjoy! ♡ :) Mark


(Emailed versions of these songs lose their chord alignment and formatting, so refer to the original post and/or the scanned lyric sheet as your guide!)

 "Green Eyed Sally" - "You Get What You Pray For", Collected Works Volume XIII, Copyright 1992, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved

Green Eyed Sally

“You Get What You Pray For” – Collected Works Volume XIII, Copyright 1992, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved


E/A     (x4)

D/A     (x4)


Verse One:

D                G   

Green eyed Sally

                D                        G

Won’t you come’ on home to me

D                G

Green eyed Sally

D                       G

Come’ on back to me


You’ve been chasing every rainbow, lookin’ for your pot of gold


You’ve been running around with every guy, that you could grab a’ hold


You turned your back on me, and left me standin’ in the cold

                G7                  D

Won’t you come home to me     (x3)   (End)

Verse Two:

D                G

Green eyed Sally

       D                     G

You know I love you so

D                G

Green eyed Sally

        D                     G

Why did you have to go


You packed your bags and moved away, drivin’ on down the road


You said you’ve got to play the field, before you got too old


You threw away your life with me, tryin’ to lighten your load

               G7               D

Don’t you still care for me     (x3)

Verse Three:

D                G

Green eyed Sally

           D                     G

Where are you runnin’ to

D                G

Green eyed Sally

         D                       G

What are you going to do


You’ve run around this town all night, flirtin’ with every guy


Has it ever crossed your mind to stop, for awhile and wonder why


Guys will take you home but then, they’ll always say good bye

                G7         D

Won’t you still love me     (x3)

Verse Four:

D                G

Green eyed Sally

D                          G

Won’t you think of me

D                G

Green eyed Sally

D                                       G

Home’s where you ought to be


I’m lookin’ at your rainbow’s end, right before our door


I know that you’ve always wanted, a little something more


Maybe you and I can find, somethin’ worth stayin’ for

                G7                 D

Won’t you come back to me     (x3)   (Return to verse one and repeat)

Expecting Nothing In Return

I came across a timely quote today as I was doing some more pondering.  The quote was found on, and is attributed to musician Matthew Sweet: “Creativity is much better when it’s free.  Someone can take it and sell it if that’s what it needs, and from that standpoint, you have to have a label.  If you could make your music and just give it away and somehow make a living – that would be the best scenario.”  Essentially, this blog is all about creativity and providing the fruits of it to anyone who cares to read it for free – my songs, my books, my life story and my thoughts about life in general.  There is a sense of perfect freedom in doing this.  Luckily I have a day job, but that’s not really the point – let me explain.

All of my writings were carefully preserved over the years, and only a select few had ever known about them, let alone read them.  I had thoughts of some day being a published author, but that day had never arrived – and everything was stored in boxes in the garage where no one was reading them anyway.  Then in a moment of serendipity a friend suggested that I start a blog – and I’ve never looked back.  Giving away my writings and songs for free is really the ultimate in creativity.  I work at my own direction, for my own pleasure and for my own higher purposes.  I have no one to answer to except God.  It is like the concept of unconditional love or forgiveness – it costs us nothing but provides us with everything in return.

Over the years when I gave it pause for consideration, I wondered about the value of prayer in an isolated and solitary way, such as monks or nuns living a life of seclusion and prayer.  I only began to understand the power of isolated prayer and works when I began writing songs.  I would work hard at writing a song, putting it on paper and practicing it at home.  As I never evolved into a real performer, all of my work and practice was essentially for myself – but in time I began to see the big picture in what was happening.  Since my songwriting ability began with a prayer, I was always very careful to preserve the work that I did and to treat it with utmost respect – writing everything down carefully, typing it all out, copywriting the work, and even making simple recordings to capture the final result.  I always did the same for my writings, with the notion that I was saving them for some greater purpose someday.

One day while I was practicing my music at home, I began to understand what was really important behind my creativity.  I realized that I spent a lot of time with my songwriting and very few people had actually heard any of my songs actually played.  I was as usual practicing them to myself and for myself.  My wife and son were in the house but involved in other activities and I was alone in a room practicing with the door closed.  It was then that I understood the purpose of it all.  It really doesn’t matter if no one else hears my music, I thought to myself – God hears it.  He is listening and watching and observing, and what God is listening to is the music of my heart.  My songs were a form of prayer, and God was the only listener.  Through my songs God knew my heart and my soul, which in the end is all we could ever ask for.  There can be no value placed on time alone with God – it’s priceless.

I then knew the value of an elderly grandmother living alone in a quiet life of prayer.  I knew the value of nuns and monks praying in isolated communities in a life of prayer and silence.  I knew why when we pray we are to do it in an isolated place and not on the street corner – because our prayers are God’s work and He is their intended audience in a direct link that requires no external measure of worth or value.  There is nothing in the entire universe that God isn’t intimately aware of, so He doesn’t need us to bring anything to His attention.  What God does need from us is to know and measure our heart, our desires, our hopes, our fears, our requests and our petitions.  Through prayer God weighs the intention of our heart, and answers our prayers in ways that are often beyond our understanding.  Our work, our lives and all that we do, is a continual prayer as we offer up to God the very best that our human hands can produce and our hearts can hold.  In this journey, any one piece of it or the entirety of our effort is not where the value actually lies – but it is in our heart and in our prayers that the value of our lives is actually measured – by God alone. 

About Me: Mark D. Jones

Mark D. Jones

Life, Love and the Human Condition 

The Adventures of Sam the Tugboat 

Writing has always been my passion over the years, but it has always taken a back seat to the rest of life.  I was discussing with a friend back in 2009 how little we both knew about blogs and she said to me, “Mark, you should write a blog!”  You always know when an idea hits you across the forehead or the little cartoon light bulb goes on above your head – this was just such a moment for me – serendipity we call it.  That night I struggled with the software to set this blog up, which is actually very easy for anyone with half a clue and wrote my first entry – “Welcome To My World!”  It was an exciting moment for me, and an opportunity to write down my thoughts and perhaps have someone actually read them.

Since I was in the 6th grade I had always wanted to be a Veterinarian and after a challenging year and a half of Preveterinary Medicine studies at Michigan State University, it became clear that Veterinary Medicine wasn’t in my future.  I had never really traveled much from my home state of Michigan, so I decided to go on a great adventure.  The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien were always my favorite books and I yearned to wander off down a winding path into a distant forest like Bilbo or Frodo Baggins.  So I decided to take a journey and go on a great adventure…

Since I didn’t have much money, didn’t own a car, motorcycle or a horse and walking would take much too long to get anywhere – I decided to bicycle around the United States.  Everyone thought I was foolish for dropping out of college, but I didn’t care – and I set about planning my trip.  I had maps everywhere in my dorm room as I pondered my upcoming quest – not quite the search for the Holy Grail but it was to be my own great adventure regardless.  I talked Bruce, a friend of mine, into going on the trip with me and in the Fall of 1976 – America’s Bi-Centennial Year – we rode on down the highway to start our great adventure.

After almost a year and 8,000 miles of pure adventure, no accidents or major injuries and most of our wits still about us, we ended our trip in Seattle.  We had traveled from Michigan to the east coast; down to Key West, Florida; along the Gulf coast to Texas; on to Colorado and up to Seattle, Washington.  Bruce returned to Michigan to continue his life, but I never really stopped living my adventure…it only took on many different aspects and filled many journals and yellow legal pads of my assorted ponderings and writings.

Before my bicycle trip I had written some poetry and had tried without success to write some song lyrics and music.  I knew that I enjoyed writing and during our bike trip I kept a journal of our travels.  After a few years in Seattle and various adventures in the northwest, including co-piloting a hot air balloon – I left on a Pan Am 747 bound for London, England, on a solo bicycle adventure through England, Scotland, Wales and France.  After a few months I flew home to Seattle, but my adventures continued on.  I later decided to return to college to study Business and earned my diploma in Business Administration from Michigan State University in 1981.  Pondering what my future life in an office cubicle would be like, I decided instead to choose adventure once again.  I had always wanted to be a fighter pilot and fly jets, so I joined the Air Force and spent 20 years as a Navigator (Weapon Systems Officer) in the fighter world – I couldn’t qualify as a fighter pilot because I wore glasses.

My Air Force adventure took me to Europe again for 16 more years.  I lived eight years in Germany – where I met and married my wife of 27+ years – and eight years in the quaint English countryside of Oxfordshire and Suffolk Counties.  I flew jets and lived my dream.  I deployed to the Persian Gulf War, so I really did become a Vet – just a different kind of Vet than I had imagined back in 6th grade – a military Veteran of the United States Armed Forces.  While overseas I was able to experience much of Europe, Africa and the Middle East – and what an adventure and experience it turned out to be!

Over all those years I continued to write.  I kept a logbook of my bicycle adventure through England, Scotland, Wales and France, started writing Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) around 1984, created the character of Sam the Tugboat through the bedtime stories I used to tell our son around 1990, wrote 200+ copyrighted songs (music and lyrics) from 1991-1993, began writing my autobiography in 1994 and another novel called The Many Portraits of Life around 2009.  I know my life has been unique and that I have experienced and seen many places in this world – however, I have never stopped thinking or viewing life as a great adventure.  If any of my writings prove to be of assistance to you as you contemplate your own adventures in life, then the entire process will have been worthwhile!

I’m staying close to home these days, but my adventures still continue – only now they’re more philosophical in nature – instead of on a bicycle or strapped into a jet.  I’m content with that…after all, adventures are hard work!  Now I can just sit down at the computer!

As for other interests of mine, my favorite music is Contemporary Christian as well as the Progressive Rock I loved growing up:  Genesis; Yes; Rush; Pink Floyd; Emerson, Lake & Palmer; King Crimson; etc.  My favorite books are the Bible, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  My favorite movies are The HobbitThe Lord of the Rings series and any good Romantic Comedy.  My favorite colors are soft pastels of any shade.  My favorite holiday is Christmas along with the entire Advent Season!

Thanks for stopping by – enjoy your day and come around for another visit sometime!  You can also contact me directly at:


Twitter: @livelovethinkex


Cheers!  :)


The Sailboat

The Sailboat

(Copyright 2004, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

We craft the sailboat;

God provides the materials and ability…

We chart our course;

God provides the wind, water and heavens above…

We reference the compass;

God provided the magnetism…

We navigate by the stars;

In heavens created and sustained by God…

We hold the rudder;

God directs the wind and currents…

The journey is ours;

The destination…God

Life, Love and the Human Condition

When I wrote the first draft of my autobiography, In search of the Meaning of Life back in 1994, I wrote down a phrase that I still use today and also used to title this blog page.  The phrase is Life, Love and the Human Condition.  At first the words defined what I saw as a synopsis of our lives here on the planet earth.  We live, we love and we endure or exist throughout our journey from birth to death.  Everything in our lives fits into this phrase, perhaps not very neatly at times, but everything is in there.

The three terms Life, Love and the Human Condition also set categories or goals for our existence while we are alive.  We desire Life; we desire Love; and we would like to improve our state or quality of living or Human Condition for ourselves and for everyone around us.  So as we think about or contemplate or ponder (I like that word) our existence, almost any subject or situation finds a home in this short phrase.  One thing that I always like to do when pondering, is to go back to the dictionary to define the various terms that I’m pondering about.  In this case I’ll go to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, to define parts of these three terms:

Life – Wikipedia discusses the “organic definitions of life” as well as the “philosophical question concerning the purpose and significance of human existence.”  I like to think about life in terms of our being alive not from the biological processes that enable this to be so, but from the perspective that we have life within us.  We are a vessel in which life has come to us to live in us – a temple in which it dwells.  It is this vessel of ours through which we nurture and protect this life within us – this most precious gift of ours.

Love – Wikipedia defines love in terms of  “a number of emotions and experiences related to a sense of strong affection and attachment.”  I think of love as a gift given to us by our creator that at once is supernatural and beyond our understanding, but at the same time it is physical and organic – something we believe in through faith, something emotional that can inspire the entire range of human emotions, and something physical that can actually cause us heartbreak and pain.  Love therefore has three distinct components: supernatural or theological, emotional and physical.  Through faith, we can believe in love as a doctrine of life.

Human Condition – Wikipedia talks about the human condition as “encompassing all of the experience of being human.”  For me I often dwell in the philosophical part of our existence.  I also spend time in the theological and spiritual portions of our experience.  I contemplate the myriad emotions of our individual and cumulative trials and tribulations.  I exist in the physical realmof what is our Human Condition.  Our Human Condition is at once static and fluid; one dimension and multi-dimensional; ethereal and grounded; understandable and unknown

The more I contemplate Life, Love and the Human Condition; I have come to understand that this simple phrase represents something that is much more and greater than the individual terms and definitions.  The meaning of this phrase is deeper and more profound than anything else that I know.  It defines everything about where we have come from, why we are here and where we are going.  The answer or key to knowing this simple phrase, Life, Love and the Human Condition – is Jesus.   Jesus is Life Jesus is Love.  Through obedience to the Father Jesus was made man.  He lived our existence and experienced our human conditions.  He was both 100% God and 100% man at the same time, in one being – sharing both our world and His.  Through becoming man, Jesus has taken on the experience of our Human Condition.  Jesus knows it and He understands it because He has walked in our shoes, walking the walk, and showing us how to both live and love – simply, purely and perfectly.  On the Cross He reconciled us to the Father by taking our sins upon Himself – giving us the Faith and Hope of being one with Jesus, The Holy Spirit and the Father, three in one,  at the conclusion of our experience that we call – Life, Love and the Human Condition.

Social Progress?

So far this is how the process works for me when writing my blog entries:  I have an undefined concept and start typing.  When I’m finished with the entry I post it.  Over the next couple of days I tweak it a few times, proofread it a time or two, and then I’m finished with the commentary – and then move on to something else.  I’m surprised at what the finished product looks like, because I really don’t have many expectations when I get started, and very few changes occur later on.  After the first draft is completed I post it, warts and all, so if you see something that doesn’t read quite right, I hope to catch it and make corrections in the next read through.  The process is honest because I need to sleep on it before reviewing it a second time anyway.

So tonight the general theme is Social Progress – or lack thereof.  The other day I was Googling topics and stumbled across the book, “The Feminine Mystique,” by Betty Friedan, that launched the feminist movement in the 1960’s.  A few chapters were online, so I read through them.  Two main points came to mind as I read through the well documented commentary of Chapter One:  1.  Women have made tremendous social progress in terms of being able to be whom and what they wanted to be since the 50’s.  They have proved themselves to be just as capable as men in most every career field they have challenged themselves in, and in many cases more so.  2.  The second point is that society has set women up for failure from the perspective that even though they have made great gains in the work environment, they have also retained most of their job responsibilities in the home as well.  Men have not stepped up in many cases – I know there are exceptions to this and American men are more enlightened as a group than men are in many other countries – to shoulder their share of the family duties: shopping, cleaning and child rearing.  This puts women in the problematic condition of trying to live up to the myth of society that they can be, do and have it all – maintain a youthful and glamorous image, pursue meaningful employment outside the home, and at the same time start a family and keep the home fires burning  – without having to spend 18 hours a day trying to make it all look flawlessly accomplished.  At some point the stress of trying to hold it all together can cause a failure at some critical point within the entire house of cards – with very real results, and at no fault of the women who are trying to hold it all together.

Since the 1950’s, the African American population in America has made tremendous social, political and economic progress and is currently riding the bow wave of having elected one of their own to be the current President of the United States of America.  Congratulations!  At the same time, we look at the inner city populations of cities like Detroit, the deterioration of the nuclear family in the African American community, and the effects of the urban rap scene on moral values of today’s youth and ask if the social progress over the past 60 years will continue or stagnate?

We look at the 1960’s hippy counter culture having come of age during this same time period.  Along with the concept of “free love” came a very profound influence on all corners of American society.  This “anything goes” permissiveness over time has loosened many of society’s traditional values and left us with pockets of moral decay, inner city gangs, rampant drug use and drug trafficking, abortion on demand, and no-fault divorce.  Drug addiction and violence have undermined the vitality and safety of society – is this Social Progress?  Millions of babies have perished because of abortion – is this Social Progress?  Single women with children now comprise the largest poverty class in America – is this Social Progress?

The new amazing technology of computers, wireless internet, search engines like Google and Yahoo, iPods, DVDs, YouTube videos, camera cell phones, BlackBerrys, text messaging, electronic games and social networking sites like Twitter, MySpace and Facebook – and even blogs – have been amazing and wondrous, but the distractions have kept many kids from studying hard enough – resulting in lowered graduation rates from High Schools for many communities across the country.  Universities today have more women enrolled than men – because many men just can’t compete academically.  Many young people find it very difficult to replicate the economic gains of their parents or grandparents in attaining the American Dream – a house, two cars, vacations and a job with benefits.  Even now, their parents are being squeezed at the top end of the generational spectrum with home foreclosures and job losses.  Will all of this technological “progress” advance society, or will the trillions of dollars of net worth that has eroded from our retirement funds, bad investments, failed mortgages and the declining net worth of major American companies contribute to the ultimate decline of society from which it will be very hard to recover?  Is this Social Progress?

Will the growth of “Big Government” and the rise of Socialism as an American Value by the far left, along with the Nanny State Mentality where someone else is always at fault – never your own personal responsibility of course – bring a change that “we can believe in?”   Or will the continued appointment of lobbyists and tax cheats to run our government, along with their spending money like drunken sailors (actually worse than that – at least the sailors earned their spending money) undermine the good faith of the average American that they have a competent government that is manning the tiller while the ship of state travels through some of the most challenging waters in the sea?  Is this Social Change we can believe in?

Will the violence that both adults and young children are exposed to on a daily basis, with a level of realism that couldn’t have even been imagined 50 years ago, cause a breakdown of civility in society even worse than it has already become?  Violence against women in any form (such as movies, video games, plays or books) was always understood to desensitize society to the horror that it truly is.  Now graphic violence is glorified in both movies and on TV that violates everyone in society – men, women and children.  Even the TV commercials are an assault on any human sensibility – requiring a disclaimer to warn the unsuspecting viewer – that should trouble anyone that stands for the better virtues of society.  For the people that view, support, produce, televise, direct and act in these assaults against humanity – are your efforts leading to Social Progress, or to the ultimate demise of our way of life?

Are we watching society unravel before our very eyes?  Or do we have the tools at our disposal to create a much better world in our lifetime – and will we use them?  Is Social Progress a guarantee and birthright, or is it only situational, built upon the shoulders of generations who sacrificed for their children and communities to build an American Dream that was unknown before in the modern world?  I wonder what the future has in store for all of us…and where it will take us – only time will tell.