I am happy to announce that our Pack is again complete. After we drove to Louisiana to pick him up, Rusty has joined Nellie, Suzanne and me here in South Carolina. Rusty is a red piebald miniature long-haired Dachshund and is now 6 months old.
Rusty is quickly learning the ropes in our household, and is a real “moosh”. He is growing like a weed, and is now heavier than Nellie. His nickname is Bruiser, but occasionally I call him Tank. He is all boy… and he is also a chick magnet!
Nellie, a gorgeous Irish Cream, is 18 months old, and is happy to have her new brother to chase around the house. She looks very sweet and demure here, but she runs like the wind. She will certainly be a contender when we enter her in a Dachshund race. Her nickname is Nellie Monroe… Nellie loves everyone, especially Tony and Irene Vouvalides, our dear friends and neighbors. Nellie also loves their 80 lb Labradoodle Linus, but Linus runs for cover when Nellie arrives.
My Lovely Bride decided that I was getting lazy, so had an idea that I should climb the highest points in all 50 states… okay, so I may not climb Denali, Rainier or a couple of the other highly technical mountains, but I spent a few days recently doing South Carolina’s Sassafras Mountain (3,354 ft), North Carolina’s Mount Mitchell (6,684 ft), and Tennessee’s Clingman’s Dome (6,644 ft). I made myself a deal that I would at least get a three mile hike in each day. The mountains were beautiful, small compared to the 12,000-14,000 footers out west, heavily forested, and with lots of streams. In Western mountains, trees are much farther apart and there are far fewer year-round streams.
The most important stop in that trip wasn’t a mountain. I had spent the first night in Easley, SC, and after reading about the town and its notable citizens, I made a stop to lay flowers at the grave of Captain Kimberly Hampton, US Army, the first woman helicopter pilot killed in combat (2004, Fallujah, Iraq). Our daughter Susan was a Marine Corps helicopter airframes mechanic who was killed in 2006. Both Susan and Kimberly were 27 years old. I could feel Susan watching over my shoulder, knowing that the flowers were for her as well as Kimberly.
While I was in the Appalachian Mountains, Suzanne was having a Messages of Hope Board Members’ retreat with Bev Garlipp and Lynette Setzkorn. Bev and Lynette make Suzanne’s work possible and her life much easier. In between work discussions, the ladies went to Hilton Head for some sightseeing.
When I returned, I presented small tokens of my appreciation to Bev and Lynette – amethyst crystals that I had found in a rock shop in Maggie Valley, North Carolina.
We are still loving our new home in South Carolina, with its beautiful marsh views just five minutes away.
There are several other barrier islands in the area; one of our favorite beaches is at Hunting Island State Park. The beach was empty on the weekday we visited, but there were lots of seabirds and lovely vistas.
Many readers may recall Mike and Beth Pasakarnis, our dear friends and Wolf’s parents (from Suzanne’s book Wolf’s Message). They have visited us several times this year, and we have visited them at their beautiful marshside home in Darien, Georgia. Here we are enjoying a day trip to Savannah in April.
We also visited Okefenokee Swamp/National Wildlife Refuge with Mike and Beth. Lots of beautiful bald cypress trees (Taxodium distichum) here, festooned with Spanish moss, and more big alligators (Alligator mississipiensis) than you could shake a stick at. I had kayaked here back in the 70s and wanted to share it with friends and family.
After Rudy passed, we received a beautiful painting of our little boy from Darcy Robinson, an amazing artist who lives in Wyoming. It captured Rudy’s essence and personality perfectly. We will be visiting Darcy this summer to thank her in person for such a gracious, loving and thoughtful gift. In this photo, Suzanne is holding flowers sent to us by Chewy.com in memory of Rudy.
We are on the road again, heading west for five months from South Carolina through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and back through the South to home. Suzanne will be conducting several events – see her web site for details of our Messages of Hope Tour 2021.
Our first stop was at Strom Thurmond Lake, where there is a military campground. Sharon and Mike Branigan joined us for dinner there… actually, they brought dinner, huge, delicious Black Angus ribeyes and even the sides and salad! (Sharon had attended Suzanne’s event in Camarillo, CA, and thought I was part of hotel security – I must have been looking very stern while standing at the back of the room!)
Our next stop was Alpharetta, Georgia, just north of Atlanta, to visit Lynette Setzkorn, Suzanne’s Scheduling and Interviews Princess, and to hold a couple of board meetings to plan future activities. Lynette and Suzanne did their Spirited board work while I got familiar with our new-to-us bus.
Finally, here are Suzanne, Nellie and Rusty in a rare quiet moment (for the puppies, anyway). We wish you all much happiness and love. Check in with the blog in a week or two – I hope to get better at posting now that we are underway!