September 2021: Life in the COVID-19 era

September 1, 2021

What a day!  We began in Arlington VA, flew to Phoenix AZ, then flew to Portland OR.  Our 49th state!  It was a very good day with no hitches in our plans. 

Well, there was a small hitch back in Arlington.  We went to bed a little later than usual because the Foys wanted to show us some pictures from their wonderful vacation to Yellowstone, Bozeman, and the Grand Tetons.  Around 3:00 AM we were awaken with roaring thunder which seemed to be just outside our window.  It lasted for around a half hour.  When we awoke around 5:00 to get ready for the trip to Reagan Airport, we had no electricity.  Lynn showered in the dark with cold water. Actually, we discovered that only our part of Kay’s house was without electricity but we didn’t want to disturb her or Andy at that early in the day.  When she awoke the found the circuit breaker that needed to be fixed and all was well but by that time we were ready to go to the airport.

Kay kindly drove us to the airport and dropped us off in plenty of time to get through security and obtain our boarding passes.  Our flight to Phoenix left at 8:00 AM and we had spare time to grab a small breakfast in the airport while we waited. 

Both the flight from Reagan to Phoenix and the following Phoenix to Portland were on time.  Neither flight was full and everyone was masked up.  Lynn and I wore two masks including the KN95 masks she had bought for us.  The first flight was on a nicer plane so I watched a movie (Billie Jean King story) on my iPad during its five hours in the air.   Between flights, we grabbed lunch and walked some in the Phoenix airport.  Both flights were smooth and on time.

When we arrived in Portland, we proceeded to the Alamo rental car center where we picked up our car.  From there it was a fairly short drive to the Residence Inn by Marriott in downtown Portland.  Hal was at the door awaiting us; he and Diane had arrived a little beforehand and secured our two rooms side by side.

We had a wonderful visit with Hal and Diane.  It started with sharing a glass of wine in our large hotel room.  From there we walked a few blocks to an Italian restaurant, Piattino, where we enjoyed a very nice meal and conversation.  Lynn and I split a beet salad, shared some bread with the Koerners, then split a serving of risotto. 

After walking back to our hotel, we ate some cupcakes which Hal and Diane had brought with them from a shop owned by her cousin near Seattle.  They have been on a rather long drive which took them from Denver to Mount Rushmore to Glacier National Park then Seattle. 

Exhausted, we were in bed by 9:00 Pacific time which would have been midnight our time.  It was a great start to our Oregon vacation.

I’m not going to try to keep posting the COVID-19 statistics on this blog during our vacation.  Suffice it to say that the pandemic rages on.  We’ll do our part here in Oregon by wearing masks but we’re keenly aware that Augusta County is still a hotbed for the virus, especially with fewer than half of its population fully vaccinated.

September 2, 2021

Our first full day in Oregon was full of scenic beauty and some pleasant surprises.  After a decent breakfast at the Residence Inn by Marriott, the four of us headed east on I-84 in our Chevy Malibu rental car.  The car was big enough for all of us.

We got a very early start; we had admission tickets for Multnomah Falls for 10:00.  I had caught online a few weeks ago that the Falls, due to high demand and COVID-19, was requiring all visitors to buy timed admission tickets there.  They were only $1 each but did serve the purpose of limiting the crowds to what is said to be Oregon’s top tourist attraction.

Since we were early, we decided to get off I-84 and instead drive on what is known as Scenic Route 30 which parallels the interstate.  This highway was developed in the 1930’s for the purpose of taking the traveler near to not just Multnomah Falls but several other beautiful waterfalls and scenic vistas overlooking the Columbia River.  Luckily, we exited I-84 just in time to catch some of these overlooks.  Of course, I was camera-ready.

Our first waterfall was Latourell Falls.  It was a very impressive waterfall that you could walk almost to the base.  In many states this would have been the major tourist attraction though here it was outshone by Multnomah Falls.  Latourell Falls is a 250 foot drop whereas Multnomah is a 620 foot waterfall.  We actually had to skip another waterfall, Bridal Veil Falls,  between the two because it was getting near to 10:00.

The waterfall was so impressive as my pictures show.  We picked up a few souveniers from the gift shop there.  The weather was a little cool at first but remained nice throughout the day.

When we left Multnomah Falls we continued on US 30 and shortly came to Horsetail Falls, another beautiful waterfall.  The scenery is so nice, especially with the huge Columbia River in the background. 

Leaving Horsetail Falls, soon we came to the Bradford Island Visitor Center at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River.  We had plenty of time so we decided to stop there.  It was a great choice because, as it turns out, this is the season where the salmon migrate from the Pacific Ocean up the Columbia River to spawn their eggs.  A ranger was just starting a presentation on their life cycle.  In the background were windows into the “fish ladder” which is what was constructed so the salmon could get up river beyond the locks on the Bonneville Dam.  Through the window you could see the huge salmon migrating.  Thousands of fish per day make this trip.

After that great discovery, we grabbed some lunch in a town called Cascade Locks.  We  then continued east but this time we crossed over the “Bridge of the Gods” to the Washington state side.  We had been told that a few miles north we would be able to get a good view of Mount Hood which was due south of us at that point.  After a good while we were able to catch a glimpse of its dome and took some pictures. 

We crossed the Columbia River back to the Oregon side and drove further east to the town of The Dalles.  There we discovered an ice cream store which made for a good mid-afternoon snack. 

Heading back to Portland, our plans were to catch the falls we had missed before Multnomah but the I-84 exits to it were only in the eastbound lanes so we elected to skip them and go directly to the Portland Rose Garden.

This was another good choice as we were able to find the gardens within Washington Park and spent almost an hour admiring the roses.  My pictures attest to their beauty.

We then came back to the hotel, changed clothes, and headed for dinner.  This time we walked to a pizza place, The Star.  By the time we got back from our pizza dinner it was almost 10:00 so we headed to bed after a great first day.

September 3, 2021

Another good day in Oregon!  We didn’t see as many spectacular vistas today but we did experience a variety of things in our second full day here.  After our breakfast at the Residence Inn, we headed north towards Astoria.

On the way, Hal had found reference to another waterfall.  He had its location on his phone but we didn’t see any signs pointing toward it.  In fact, even when we got to the location there were no signs.  We saw a path that looked promising, so we walked a few hundred feet on it until we ended up at the very top of a waterfall about 100 feet high.  From the top, we could see that the little road we had traveled had a place on it that would give a view of the entire falls so we went back to the car, drove to the location where we got the full view, and took some pictures.  The falls was listed as Beaver Creek Falls but there was not a single sign at the actual location.

We then drove to Astoria, a town on the edge of the Pacific.  This town had lots of history including being where explorers had come by boat prior to the Lewis and Clark overland expedition.  We went to the Astoria Column, a towering hilltop monument with murals depicting area history, which had panoramic views of the area.  In fact, we each climbed the 165 steps to the top of the Column.

From there, we walked around the small town and found some lunch at the Silver Salmon Grill.  Our next stop was at Fort Clatsop, part of the Lewis and Clark National Park. At the park we saw two videos about the Lewis and Clark expedition and walked through a museum about it.

We were at the park for over an hour.  Then we drove a short distance to a Costco where I filled up with gas and all of us did some shopping in the large Costco there.  Then we drove to Seaside, OR, where we got ice cream and viewed our first Pacific coast beach.  Seaside was the ending point of the Lewis and Clark expedition.  We also stopped at a salt works site that Lewis and Clark had created.

We then drove back to Portland with a short side trip to view Cannon Beach.  It took almost two hours to drive back to the hotel.  When we got here, we walked to another Italian restaurant, Piaza Italia. 

September 4, 2021

Today was our first day on the Oregon coast.  We left Portland shortly after breakfast and headed due east toward Tillamook.  This time we were in two cars since Hal and Diane will be going on to Ashland in a few days while Lynn and I explore more of central Oregon.  Our drive to Tillamook took us through the Tillamook State Forest, a beautiful drive with tall pine trees on both sides.  The weather again was gorgeous.

Hal had found another waterfall for us to explore.  This time it was in the State Forest so we had to get off the main highway and drive for several miles on dirt/gravel roads until we got to the trail to University Falls.  It was only 0.4 mile to the falls though the hike took us downhill a good bit.  It was worth the effort—these falls were another in our series of beautiful waterfalls.  My pictures show this.

We drove several miles on the dirt/gravel road until we got back to the main highway and headed to Tillamook Creamery, a well known attraction.  There were hundreds of people in line to get in for the self-guided tour of the facilities, known for making cheese and ice cream.  After we waited our turn, we took the tour, stopped in the gift shop where Lynn got a few samples of the cheese and some caramels, then got in a second long line for ice cream.  It was worth the wait; the ice cream was very good.  I had two flavors, Oregon Dark Cherry and Marionberry Pie.  Lynn had a milkshake of Tillamook Mudslide and Utterly Chocolate.

All during this time I tried to keep up with the WVU – Maryland football game.  Alas, if you’re a WVU fan you’ve got to learn to live with disappointment.  The Mountaineers fell to the Terrapins 30 – 24. 

From Tillamook, we then drove south on US 101, the Pacific coastal highway, for several hours until we arrived at Yachats where we’ll be for the next two days.  Along the way we stopped several times at vistas overlooking the Pacific and its beaches.  We also stopped at a pottery shop and glass blowing store.  One of our prettiest stops was at an old lighthouse.  We plan to do more of this kind of tourism on Sunday.

The motel in Yachats, the Fireside, has a great location.  Our upstairs rooms have a balcony that overlooks the ocean.  The sunset was especially beautiful.  We had 8:00 reservations for dinner at a restaurant so close we walked to it, The Adobe.  I had a huge prime rib dinner and Lynn had shrimp and steak.  We shared a bottle of wine Hal and Diane had brought with them.  It was a fantastic dinner with the sunset over the Pacific in our background.

Worn out, we returned to our rooms to end another fine day in Oregon.

September 5, 2021

Today was Sunday, another beautiful day, weather-wise.  The temperature was cool on the beach when we awoke, probably around 60o, but it heated up to the 70’s during the day.  We have been so lucky with the weather.

Oregon takes the mask mandate seriously.  We were at a restaurant today at lunchtime, waiting our turn outside.  A group of three were ahead of us, none of whom had on a mask.  When they were called, the receptionist told them they’d have to wear masks.  “We don’t have any” came the reply back.  “Then I’ll get you some” retorted the clerk.  “We’re from Florida and make our own decisions” the lady grumbled as she put on the mask she was given.  Many people here wear them on hiking trails, along the beaches, sidewalks, etc.  I wish Virginia residents were as serious about containing COVID-19.

Our first stop of the day was breakfast since it was not provided here at the Fireside Inn.  We found that a bakery, Bread and Roses, was just a mile away.  We were surprised to find that the street in front of the bakery was closed because a Farmer’s Market was taking place there.  But we managed to park nearby and got coffee and a pastry each from the market.  Lynn had to settle for hot chocolate since they didn’t have her favorite ice tea. 

We returned to our hotel and ate our small breakfast on the balconies outside our rooms facing the ocean.  For my second cup of coffee I walked to the hotel’s lobby where I also noted that they had the kind of tea bags that I use each day to make Lynn’s tea, Lipton, so I made her a cup of tea which she drank later in the day.

After breakfast, we loaded up in the rental car and headed south.  Our goal was to stop at all locations on the way which looked interesting.  It turned out there were plenty of them so we spent the entire day between our hotel and 30 miles south of here on Highway 101, the beautiful Coastal Highway.

Our first stop was at Hecta Head Lighthouse, a lighthouse that was used beginning in the 1800’s.  We had a half mile walk from the parking lot up to the lighthouse.  The pictures I took there were among the most scenic thus far.

The coast was foggy much of the morning so when we pulled over at the Sea Lion Caves spot, we elected to come back there later in the day because the viewing would have been obstructed by the fog.  Actually, when we returned there in the afternoon they had shut down due to a broken elevator so we didn’t get to see the sea lions.

We did get to see much more, though.  Our lunch was at the Fresh Harvest Café in Florence, OR.  I had a grilled ham and cheese sandwich.  Lynn had a BLTA (bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado).  We both had cream of mushroom soup.

We headed back north to what was known as the Hobbitt Beach Trail.  The trail took us ½ mile down to the beach.  The walk was a little tough both down and up but it did give us our first chance to get our hands into the Pacific Ocean.  Though the trail was fairly crowded with people, the beach was so large that it was by no means crowded.

Continuing back, we stopped at a place known as Thors Well.  Here the ocean’s waves had an unusual phenomenon where they alternately filled a circular hole about 50 feet in diameter then sucked the water back out.  I took a video of the action.

We returned to the hotel at that point.  There was a trail just down from our hotel, one that we had walked on in order to go to dinner the night before.  Lynn wanted to walk more on it so we walked about a mile in the opposite direction today.  It turned out that this trail was once the first highway in the area and was known as the 804 Trail.  It overlooked the beach areas so it was a nice level walking path.

We achieved our 10,000 steps while walking on this trail.  Actually nearly every day we’ve been in Oregon we’ve made it to this goal.  Tomorrow we’ll greatly exceed it if all goes well because we’re going to walk on a 7.4 mile loop hike known as the Trail of Ten Falls.

For dinner, we drove to downtown Yachats and found a nice restaurant known as the Drift Inn

Lynn and I split a pizza because we wanted to save room for ice cream at the shop across the street, Toppers Ice Cream Shop.  I had huckleberry ice cream there, the first time I”d tasted that on this trip.  I confess that none of the ice cream I’ve had in Oregon had compared to Smiley’s salted caramel chocolate chunk.

We returned to our rooms and called it a day.  Tomorrow our paths will split as Hal and Diane will drive south on Highway 101 and head to Ashland while Lynn and I will drive northward eventually getting to Silver Falls State Park near Salem which is the location for the Trail of Ten Falls.

September 6, 2021

Today can be summed up with what my Apple watch said at the end of the day:  24,112 steps, 10.46 miles.  Yes, we walked over ten miles today, nearly all of it on the Trail of Ten Falls. 

We began the day with a big breakfast in Yachats at the Blue Whale Family Restaurant.  I had pancakes.  Lynn had eggs and a huge cinnamon bun.  We ate so much that we didn’t eat any lunch.  It was our last meal with Hal and Diane before they headed to Ashland ahead of us.

I can’t say enough nice things about Hal and Diane.  They have been so accommodating for us, making arrangements ahead of time for hotels like the one we just stayed in, agreeing to go where we asked to go, and sharing their wonderful wine with us.  They did get some bad news during breakfast—the ultramarathon their son Hallie was in charge of and we were to help with next week had to be canceled due to smoke from the rampant forest fires in California and Oregon.  Actually he had no choice but to cancel it because part of the 100 mile race went through national forests and they were closed due to the smoke.

Lynn and I returned to the hotel, checked out, and did one final visit to a Pacific coast beach.  Then we headed east through the college town of Corvallis onward to Lebanon where our next hotel was.  We got there around noon but they couldn’t check us in that early.  They were kind enough to store some refrigerated things for us until we returned to check in later in the day. 

We headed for Silver Falls State Park, the location of the Trail of Ten Falls.  I had read that this was the best hike to take in Oregon because it led you to ten different waterfalls, some of which you actually walked behind the falls.  It took almost an hour to get there and get ready to walk but by 1:30 we were on our way to the first waterfall.

I had been warned in my research that the park would be heavily used and this was true.  Even though being outside, some people still wore masks so we had ours with us.  The parking lot was nearly full since it was Labor Day.  Plus, the weather was perfect.

The hike was not easy by any means.  It took us five hours to complete it.  The trail took you way down into canyons for part of the time then up above waterfalls at others.  It was very, very rocky so you had to watch each step.  Of course we stopped and took pictures at each waterfall.  I took around 100 photos. 

As we began our hike, a couple helped us get on the right trail.  They said they lived only ten minutes away and commented that they had never seen the falls so low.  Thinking back, as we drove here we passed brown field after brown field so apparently Oregon has had the drought that we’ve experienced in Virginia.  One of the ten falls had only a trickle of water coming over it.  Another was named Twin Falls but there was no twin, just one waterfall though you could see where the other normally was.

This didn’t take away from the beauty of the falls, though.  I was especially enamored by the waterfalls where the trail took you behind them.  My pictures attest to the beauty of this hike.

We were definitely worn out by the time we saw the tenth waterfall.  But even then we had over a two mile walk back to our car.  We hadn’t eaten all day.  But we made it! 

We had a humorous experience after the ninth waterfall.  There was a Y in the trail and we weren’t sure which way to go.  A mother and her young son helped us as we explained that we had been to all previous falls and just needed to know which way to go to the tenth.  As they walked away, Lynn overheard the young boy say, “They must have started walking early this morning.  They probably woke up and he said ‘Let’s go, honey!’”  Yes, we’re old, but we didn’t start walking in the morning.  I probably did say, “let’s go, honey!” at some point, though.

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped at a Safeway and bought laundry detergent and mousse for her hair.  We couldn’t have flown with either of these due to the 3.4 ounce limit by the TSA for liquids. 

In the same town, we found a Mexican restaurant named Ixtapa.  I ordered a combination dinner with one burrito, one anchilada, and one chili reyeno.  Lynn likewise ordered a combination dinner including a chimichanga.  When the plates came, they were huge.  Even though we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, neither of us could eat little more than half of what we had been given. 

It was almost 8:30 by the time we got back to the hotel and checked in.  This hotel is a Best Western Premier hotel, a step up from the standard Best Western.  It was a very nice place to stay.  Lynn did some laundry before we went to bed. 

After all that walking, the bed was a welcome sight.

September 7, 2021

Today our task was to move from Lebanon OR to Bend OR and visit some sites nearby.  The day didn’t have as many activities and scenic overlooks for us as previous ones but we still had a good day and got in our 10,000 steps.

We had a different experience with Best Western today than the previous day.  Previously, in Lebanon we had stayed at a Best Western Premier Hotel, a very nice and new hotel.  Plus, it hadn’t cost us that much.  Today, as we were heading east near Bend, Lynn noticed that the reviews for the Best Western we had reserved in Bend were not good.  Some wrote that it was unclean, was in a bad neighborhood, and generally made us leery of staying there.  The problem  is that we had passed the cancel-for-free date and didn’t want to have to pay for the room if we didn’t stay there.  So we called Best Western and asked them if they could move us to another Best Western in the area.  One person said she could do that then right as we were finishing the reservation at the alternate location the phone connection dropped.  We called back hoping to get the same lady but we got another one.  She told us that since we had passed the cut-off for cancellation she couldn’t make the change.  I asked to speak to her supervisor who finally took care of moving us to the one in Redmond OR, just a few miles north of Bend.  It wasn’t nearly as nice as the one in Lebanon and cost more but I believe we made the right call.

The drive here took us over some high mountains.  We saw where the road, US 20, was going to be closed beginning on September 8 for construction work.  Luckily, we were one day early. 

The smoke is so obvious here.  You can smell it.  The sun is dimmed by it.  There is no such thing as a panoramic picture because of the haze from the smoke.

We ate lunch at a Dairy Queen on our way to Bend.  Shortly afterwards as we neared Bend we decided to make our first stop at Tumalo Falls, a few miles south of the city.  This summer has definitely been our summer of waterfalls.  This one was quite nice as my pictures show.

From Tumalo Falls, we headed to Smith Rock State Park which was north of Bend.  This park had numerous trails to hike on but nearly all of them involved multiple climbing down and up so we stuck to a beautiful trail around the rim.  This park is a favorite for rock climbers but we didn’t see any.  It was quite hot and we were still tired from the long walk the day before.

We drove back to the Best Western, checked in, then headed to Bend.  There we walked on a very nice trail, the Deschutes River Trail.  As we walked we saw why Bend is a favorite town to so many people.  The river had many people boating in a variety of boats from kayaks to rafts to intertubes.  Most people we saw were much younger than us; most had a dog in tow. 

We had reservations for dinner at The Phoenix restaurant.  It was a great choice.  Lynn had a raspberry salad and French onion soup.   I had a half rack of ribs and a salad.  After our fine dinner we headed back to the hotel and called it a day.

September 8, 2021

Our visit to Crater Lake can be summed up in one word—disappointment. There were so many things disappointing about today and many were caused by one other word—smoke.  Indeed, it was so smoky from the forest fires that you could hardly tell that there was a lake out there from one of the many, many viewpoints of Crater Lake.  On a clear day I would easily have taken a hundred pictures of the lake.  I may have taken five and those were so smoky they were unrecognizable as Crater Lake. 

We tried!  We left Redmond early so we could get to Crater Lake around lunch time.  It was about a two and a half hour drive south down Route 97 then westward on a back road to get to the park.  On the way, we made one delightful stop at LaPine where we went to a state park which had in it the largest ponderosa pine tree ever.  Its circumference was over 28 feet.   

From there we drove to Crater Lake, stopping only to fill up our gas tank since gas is scarce at the park.  But from the get-go we were frustrated that the smoke kept us from getting a view of the lake.  We decided to go on to Mazama Village where our cabin was.  Mazama Village is still within Crater Lake National Park but is about 14 miles from the Visitor Center/Lodge. 

At Mazama we were told we couldn’t check into our cabin until 4:00 so we headed back up to the rim overlooking Crater Lake and drove the 35 mile perimeter road around the lake.  There were many stops along this road and we took some of them but finally bailed since the only thing we were getting pictures of was smoke.  The air smelled of smoke and I know our clothes will be that way.

Another disappointing part of our visit was that many of the signs identifying the vistas had been taken down or stolen.  On the map we were given we could see various named overlooks but when we got to some there was no way to identify it as the same as that on the map.

Another disappointing happening was that several exhibits and buildings that were supposed to be manned by rangers were closed.  The sign on one said that it was too smokey so the rangers had left for the day.  Bummer!  Lynn couldn’t even get her national parks passport stamped because the people working at that venue had abandoned it for the day.

The only bright thing was that we saw the Oscar Meyer weinermobile in the parking lot.  I don’t know why it was here.

Returning back to Mazama village, we were able to check in.  We had already paid for the first night’s lodging and we paid for the second when we registered today.  We learned several things about the cabins that would not go over well with us:  no refrigerator, no microwave, no tv, no toaster, and no air conditioning. 

All afternoon long I had been getting chest pains possibly from breathing the smoky air.  When we got to our stark cabin, we decided that we would attempt to get our money back for the second night here and leave tomorrow.  Stopping back by the office where we had checked in, the people there were very understanding and said we could get our money back for tomorrow night.

Internet is almost non-existent here.  There was supposed to be WiFi at the restaurant but it was very, very slow.  We had gone there to eat dinner.  There weren’t any other places to eat in the park and we found out that they would not be open in the morning for breakfast so basically there was no place to get any breakfast.  More frustration!

We did eat dinner at the Mazama Village restaurant.  Lynn had fish and chips and I had a hamburger.  Then we went back to the top of the mountain where the lodge and visitor center was because we were told they had some internet there.  Sure enough, we were able to send a few texts and even made a phone call to add tomorrow night to our reservations in Ashland for the weekend.  We’ll drive there tomorrow afternoon.

In the morning, we hope to get up early because there is a chance the lake won’t be so smoky then and I can get some pictures.  We might be disappointed again though. 

Full of disappointment, we returned to the cabin and went to bed.  We can say that we were here and even bought a shirt and hat from the gift shop.  But Crater Lake is a lot prettier than what we saw today because of the forest fires ravaging California and southern Oregon.

September 9, 2021

We crossed our fingers that the smoke would be abated at Crater Lake so we could see the lake.  We were told that sometimes the mornings are the best time to view it.  So we got up early in our stark cabin, ate a small breakfast with things we had brought with us, then headed up the mountain to the Visitor’s Center at the rim.  Our hopes were dashed.  It was smokier than ever. 

Undeterred, we decided to ride twenty miles north to Diamond Lake, a lake that yesterday others had told us was beautiful and not smoky.  We got there rather quickly only to find that it, too, was covered with thick smoke.  Ugh!

We drove back to the top of the rim—our fourth trip there.  We faintly hoped things would be better but, no surprise, they weren’t.  The park would normally have hundreds of people combing over it; this morning there were about six of us there.  One was a forest ranger whom Lynn quickly befriended.  The ranger was kind enough to stamp Lynn’s national park passport even though she wasn’t supposed to open anything up.  Yes, even the rangers didn’t come to work today because of the smoke level.  She told us the level was 224 which was very unsafe.  She told us that the lake had been smoky since July 5 when the first fire broke out in Oregon. 

We finally folded our cards and left Crater Lake.  We got a few pictures but all were mostly smoke.  We checked out at Mazama Village and headed for Medford.

The drive to Medford was very scenic with tall pine trees lining the road.  We saw several signs which said “Open Range” but we had no idea what that meant.  Hal told us tonight that it meant that there was livestock unfenced in the area which might show up in the middle of the road!  Apparently this is a phenomenon many places in the west.  Fortunately, the only cows we saw were fenced in.

We got to Medford at lunch time.  Lynn had seen an advertisement for a Harry and David store.  I had never heard of that store before.  We drove straight there and she picked up a few things for the Koerners including Hal and Diane’s grandchildren, Nyla and Issac.

We found a neat restaurant for lunch, the Black Bear Diner.  Lynn had a huge chocolate milkshake for lunch.  I had blackberry cobbler with ice cream. 

From there we droved to the Ashland Hills Hotel where we’ll be for the next few days.  After checking in, I worked on uploading my pictures since we had no internet in Crater Lake.  Lynn washed a load of clothes in the laundry facility at the hotel.  Soon Hal and Diane came along with Nyla and Issac.  The kids had just gotten out of school for the day and wanted to swim in the hotel’s swimming pool.  We had a nice time watching them play with each other and with Hal in the pool.  Halie came a few minutes later and we made plans for dinner. 

We followed Hal and Diane to Halie’s house where we ordered takeout from a local restaurant.  Hal’s friend Sarah joined us for a very nice meal.  Soon it was time for the kids to have stories read to them so Lynn and I jetted back to the hotel.

We made reservations today to stay Sunday night in Eugene OR.  This is one city we haven’t been to and will cut our return trip to Portland in half. 

Oregon is strict everywhere in enforcing the mask mandate indoors.  I have yet to find a single store we’ve been in that wouldn’t do that.  Good for them!

Another interesting thing about Oregon is that you don’t pump your own gas here.  All gas stations have hired workers who do it for you without expecting a tip. 

September 10, 2021

We had several more positive experiences with Hal and Diane today.  After breakfast here at the hotel, we drove to Jacksonville, about a half hour away.  Jacksonville is an old town, founded in the 1800’s, and had lots going on today.  The four of us walked and shopped.  Lynn found a pocketbook she really liked and bought it.

Meanwhile I tried to get the results of my PSA test from Augusta Health.  It wasn’t easy.  They did call me back this morning only to inform me that their online portal didn’t keep PSA records and I needed to call Blue Ridge Urology to get the results.  So I did but was told that they didn’t seem to have the records and would check into it.  After not hearing back from them for a couple of hours, I called them back.  They gave me the bad news that the Augusta Health lab had done the wrong tests on my blood, not the PSA test.  They asked if I could stop by the lab and have the PSA test done today.  No, I said, I was in Oregon and that was exactly why I went on August 30 to have it done. 

I ended up having to move my urology appointment to September 22 and will have to get the test redone at Augusta Health soon after I get back.  Very frustrating!  As bad as Augusta County has been with COVID-19 infections, spending more time at Augusta Health is not what I want to do.

After the Jacksonville stop, we drove further west for a short while.  This was getting fairly near where the ultramarathon was supposed to have started had it not been canceled.  We hoped to get lunch on this road but the place we stopped at was closed so we returned toward Jacksonville and stopped at a neat vineyard named Dancin’.

At Dancin’ we had a wonderful lunch.  Lynn and I split a margerita pizza. The four of us split two appetizers, a stuffed mushroom appetizer and a bread plate.  The grapes at the vineyard had just ripened and there was a crew picking them.  I took several pictures, of course.

After lunch we drove back to Ashland and stopped at Halie’s store, the Rogue Valley Runners store.  Meanwhile Hal went to grab their grandkids from school.  Halie had authored a book, Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning so I bought a copy and had him sign in for Jim.  I don’t know that Jim will ever do any ultrarunning but if he does perhaps getting a book from one of the top ultramarathon runners in the US would help.

Once the kids came, we walked up the street and got some ice cream.  I had two scoops, one of salted caramel chocolate swirl and the other a flavor I had never had before, pear.  Actually it was named Rogue Valley Pear since there are many pear trees in this area and I assume the pears came from there.

We returned to the hotel, got caught up on a few things while the Koerner family swam in the hotel pool.  We joined them for a few minutes then we headed for dinner at a nearby brewery named Caldera’s.  It was another fine meal.  Eight of us were there:  Hal, Diane, Halie, Sarah, Nyla, Isaac, Lynn, and me.  I had angelhair pasta.  Lynn has coconut shrimp then shared her guacamole and chips with others. 

We returned to the hotel after making plans for all eight of us to go to an animal rehabilitation center named Wildlife Images tomorrow.  It will be another fun day, I hope.

September 11, 2021

For our last day in southern Oregon, we spent most of the day with all of the Koerner family.  After breakfast at the hotel, we headed for Wildlife Images, a wildlife rehab center.  The drive north was approximately an hour.   It somewhat doubled as a zoo with lots of animals on display there.  We heard a few short talks while we were there and got an awesome view of an American eagle.

After our visit there, we headed to Rogue Creamery for lunch and a tour.  The creamery was right on the farm where the cows were milked.  After our delicious lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and some crackers and dip, we got a very informative tour of the milking process.  It is all done by robots and is computer controlled. 

From there we went to Woolridge Creek winery for a wine tasting.   Hal is a member of this winery so we got our tasting for free.  All of the Koerners and Sarah appear to be wine experts.  Lynn and I are neophytes in this field but we enjoyed the chance to do this since we rarely do tastings.

We then drove on back to Ashland.  On the way, we learned that Hal and Diane had bought tickets for us to watch a show, The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer, at the Oregon Shakespeare Theatre.  They only bought two tickets because they had expected to be working the race at this time but, of course, it was canceled.  We felt badly about accepting the tickets but felt like it was the right thing to do.  In the meantime, they had made reservations for us at a nice Italian restaurant, Cocina Biazzi for 7:00.  The show started at 8:00 so we had to leave dinner early in order to make it to the show.  Hal III kindly drove us then returned to dinner.

The show was a powerful autobiography about Fannie Lou Hamer, a black civil rights advocate who, in the 1960’s, spent her life advocating for voting rights for blacks.  There was only the one actress in the show and she did a marvelous job. 

Before we returned to the hotel, we made a stop at Zoey’s for ice cream.  Lynn had a milkshake of chocolate peanut butter and I had a waffle cone of salted caramel chocolate ice cream.  We got back to the hotel around 10:00 but even then Lynn decided to do a load of laundry.  We both should have plenty of clothes for the remainder of our time in Oregon.

September 12, 2021

We parted from our company with Hal and Diane today.  They have been most gracious hosts to us in Oregon.  The places they’ve picked for us to stay, eat, and go have been superb.  We both hope to join them in another trip soon.

We started the day eating breakfast with them at a restaurant in Ashland, Morning Glory.  I brought my laptop into the restaurant while eating breakfast so I could show them some of the pictures I had taken plus share the expenses spreadsheet with Hal and pick up some photos from Diane. 

After that, we went back to Ashland Hills Hotel, checked out, then drove to Lithia Park in Ashland.  There we walked with Hal and Diane on a trail in the really nice city park.  The park had just converted some tennis courts into pickle ball courts so I asked Hal to share with me some of the rules and strategies of pickleball because he is an excellent and frequent player.  We also visited some vendors in the park then said our good-byes. 

We drove directly to Eugene OR on Interstate 5.  By the time we got there it was mid-afternoon so we decided to get some ice cream for lunch.  We found an ice cream store with perhaps the most delicious ice cream we’ve had on the trip, Handel’s.  Better still, there is a Handel’s store in Portland so we can have it again tomorrow.

After the ice cream, we checked in at our Hilton Garden Inn in Eugene then decided to find a place to walk.  We found a park known as Dorris Ranch Park not far away which had a very nice trail in it.  By the time we finished, we had each walked nearly 13,000 steps for the day.  The weather, as it has been every day in Oregon, was superb. 

We had been given good advice by Hal to eat at the North Bank McMenamins in Eugene.  It was on the Willamette River and we ate outside with a good view of the river and the bike trail that ran beside it.  We very smartly decided to split a hamburger, salad, and order of fries.  We each got plenty.

After dinner, we found a WalMart not too far away where Lynn found an Oregon shirt and I got some chocolate.  On our way back to the hotel we stopped by Shari’s Café and Pies where I got some apple pie for breakfast.  The Hilton Garden Inn doesn’t have a free breakfast but they do have coffee.  Lynn has some ice tea we picked up at a nearby McDonalds plus some pastry she got back in Ashland for breakfast.

I’ve now uploaded over 800 pictures on this trip.  But I’m not done—tomorrow we hope to return to the beautiful US 30 scenic drive and see two falls we had to skip on our first day in Oregon.  Plus there’s some shopping Lynn wants to do in our last full day in Oregon.

September 13, 2021

We spent our last full day in Oregon catching up on some sights near Portland we missed the first time we were here.  We left Eugene in time to make it to the Pandora store in Portland shortly after the opened at 10:00.  Lynn bought a charm for her Pandora bracelets that had an outline of Oregon on it.  This store was in a huge mall; we spent a good bit of time walking up and down its many corridors and looking in various stores.

From there we drove to the Handel’s ice cream store in Portland.  We fell in love with their ice cream in Eugene.  The store in Portland was no different.  Our lunch consisted of ice cream.  Like yesterday, Lynn had a chocolate peanut butter milkshake and I had a salted caramel chocolate truffle cone. 

After our ice cream, we found a Costco store not too far away so I filled up gas since we’re supposed to turn the rental car in tomorrow with at least half a tank of gas in it.  Then we drove east on I-84 then onto scenic US 30.

We drove on the scenic US 30 with Hal and Diane last week but we had skipped a couple of waterfalls.  Lynn and I wanted to see them.  Plus, I wanted to get a few more pictures of Multnomah Falls.  Our first stop was at the Vista House.  When the four of us stopped here last week it wasn’t open.  Today it was and I was able to get some pictures of the Columbia River Valley from its balcony. 

Next we drove a few miles to Bridal Veil Falls.  This waterfall required a 2/3 mile hike but it was worth it.  Next came Wahkeena Falls which also required an uphill hike to get a good view of it.  Both Bridal Veil and Wahkeena waterfalls were very picturesque.  I’m glad we came back to get these photos.

We then drove to Multnomah Falls where a kind brother and sister aided us in getting pictures of us with the falls in the background.  I can see these pictures showing up on a 2022 calendar.  Then we drove to the Oneonto Gorge and took a few more pictures before heading back to Portland.

We drove straight to another Costco where Lynn bought some Tillamook cheese snack packs which she wants to take back to her friends and family.  Then we checked in at the Hilton Garden Inn Airport where our last night in Oregon will be spent.

For dinner, we drove a few blocks to Shari’s Café and Pies, the same chain that I had bought slices of apple pies from last night for my breakfast today and tomorrow.  Lynn ate a salad, a grilled cheese, and brought home a piece of chocolate peanut butter pie.  I ate some chicken breasts, broccoli, and a baked potato plus a piece of peach pie with vanilla ice cream.  Yum!

When we returned to the hotel, we cleaned out our collection of items we had bought while here so we can make room for everything in our suitcases as we fly home tomorrow afternoon.  Our flight leaves at noon.  Prior to that, of course, we’ll return the rental car and get to the airport in plenty of time to make it through check-in and security.  I hope our flight home goes as smoothly as the rest of our trip has gone.

Here are a few notes on our trip:

  • I believe most people in Oregon have 1) a tattoo and 2) a dog.  We’ve seen plenty of them both.
  • We’ve had excellent weather every single day of our two weeks in Oregon.  The  temperature has not gotten above the high 80’s anytime.  The typical high for a day has been in the 70’s or low 80’s.  It rained one night while we slept but I have not run my windshield wipers once due to rain.
  • The roads here in Oregon have been great and we’ve experienced no traffic stoppages.   Oregon has done a good job of providing plenty of smooth roads with plenty of lanes.  Thanks to Google Maps we’ve had no issues navigating. 
  • Oregon does all of this with no sales tax. 
  • Lynn and I are returning home a few pounds over what we entered Oregon as.  We’ll have to cut back on our eating when we return to Virginia.
  • We’ve seen over twenty waterfalls on this trip.  These aren’t small 10-15 footers; they have been hundreds of feet high.
  • I have driven over 2,000 miles since we got here.  The Chevy Malibu has worked fine though there are several things about the car I don’t like such as that I have never figured out how to open the trunk from within the car (I’ve had to use the key fob every time).
  • Nowhere in those 2,000 miles did I see a policeman checking speed. Quite unlike Virginia!
  • Seeing the sights has been great but even better was visiting with Hal and Diane and their family.
  • The arrangements made by our AAA contact, Mana Walsh, have been perfect.  She has proven to be a great travel agent.
  • I’ve taken 850 pictures in Oregon.  Thanks to the WiFi at each hotel, I’ve been able to get them all uploaded and shared with others.  Plus, I’ve added pictures from Lynn and Diane.
  • The only hiccup on the entire trip was the smoke at Crater Lake which prevented us from seeing its beauty. 

September 14, 2021

Today’s post will be short because all we’ve done is to sit in airports and fly.  We loaded all of our belongings up and were at the Alamo car return center before they opened at 9:00.  Soon we had checked back in the car with no issues and were being shuttled to the Portland airport.  The only issue with Alamo. I had is that the bill showed we were charged $11.36 for gasoline when I brought the vehicle back with a little more gas than I picked it up with and that showed on the receipt.  A quick call to Alamo customer support and we were refunded the $11.36.

The flight from Portland to Dallas was very smooth.  I watched most of a movie, 12 Mighty Orphans, during this flight and finished it on the next one.  It was a soapy movie somewhat based on fact which was set in the Great Depression where legendary coach Rusty Russell leads the football team of a Fort Worth orphanage to compete for a state championship.

That flight took three hours and got us there around 5:00, Dallas time since we gained back two hours as we passed from Pacific to Mountain to Central time.  We had eaten no lunch and knew that we had around an hour before our next flight so we grabbed dinner at Qdoba in the airport.  I had a burrito while Lynn had a bowl.  For airport food it wasn’t bad.

Soon we were boarded and on our way to Reagan Airport.  The flight left on time which was a good thing because Kay kindly had agreed to meeting us at the airport at 10:47 when it arrived.  This wasn’t easy for her since today and tomorrow were both school days for her kids and work days for her.  Today was Georgia’s ninth birthday.  We had a chance to Facetime with her for a short while before we boarded the flight from Dallas to Washington.

I had an interesting time trying to watch the movie on my iPad because it kept running low on battery and though there was a USB port at my plane seat, I couldn’t both hook up the recharger and also have sound come through my earphones.  Lynn has the fancy Apple airpods but I’ve just got the standard old earphones.  But I managed to get it all to work with just a few delays due to the recharging.

On both planes, everyone wore facemasks.  Lynn and I actually wore two, one cloth one and one KN95 one.  I think I needed that on the first flight because the guy beside me coughed several times.

Tomorrow we’ll get up early so we can see Thomas and Georgia before they got to school.  I’m not sure how quickly our bodies will return to Eastern time after two weeks on Pacific.  Shortly after they leave for school we’ll head home.

On the way we’ll be stopping at Red Truck Bakery in Marshall VA which is not far off I-66 to pick up a Shenandoah Apple Cake which Lynn won!  The bakery had a contest where they gave away six cakes to people who took part in their e-mail lottery.  Lucky Lynn was chosen.  Kay had bought me a Shenandoah Apple Cake one year for my birthday so we will enjoy this win.

I’ve got lots of CUMC Treasurer work to do when we get back.  Plus I have to get that PSA test retaken.  I may get to it tomorrow (Wednesday) but it could be done on Thursday if necessary.  My revised appointment with Dr. Gillock isn’t until Wednesday, September 22.

September 15, 2021

Home again, home again.  We got up early this morning to see Thomas and Georgia off to school, especially since yesterday was Georgia’s 9th birthday.  As soon as they left, Lynn and I packed our car and headed home.

It took us a while to get home, not because the traffic was bad, but because we made several stops.  First we stopped in Marshall VA at the Red Truck Bakery where we got a morning snack.  I had an apple donut with maple icing and Lynn had a piece of cake.  Their coffee was superb.  Lynn didn’t tell them she was one of the cake winners because they are mailing the cake to us anyway.

Next we stopped at Dollar Tree in Front Royal so Lynn could buy some wrapping paper.  Our next stop was in Harrisonburg at Aldi’s for some groceries.  Then we stopped at Overlook Produce in Bridgewater where we bought some tomatoes and corn.  Our last stop was at the post office where our mail had been held for two weeks.  We finally got home around noon.

Stopping at the grocery store in Harrisonburg showed us a stark difference between Virginia and Oregon.  At the Aldi’s, about half of the customers were mask-less.  That would not have happened in Oregon.  Apparently, Oregon has a mask mandate.  Virginia has a mask suggestion.  I appreciate Oregon’s approach much better.

Once home, I immediately headed to the Augusta Health Laboratory to get my PSA test re-done.  I was not happy to be returning there and let them know my displeasure.  As I wrote last week, I had a PSA test supposedly done on August 30 for my upcoming visit with Blue Ridge Urology which was supposed to have happened today.  But when I called last week to see my results, I was tod that they had done the wrong test—given me a Testosterone test instead of a PSA test.  Of course, there was finger pointing galore today when I told the lab of their mistake.  The receptionist said it must have been the fault of Blue Ridge Urology or the lab itself.  The lab technician blamed it on the receptionist.  I don’t know whose fault it was but I do know when I get billed for August 30 I will go through the roof.

Back home, I had to cut grass.  My front grass didn’t look that bad and I later learned that my wonderful neighbor Bee Myers had mowed it.  But the back was so high I thought it needed to be baled when I finished cutting it.

I got it cut just before Freddie and Betsy got off the bus.  We had them for longer than usual, actually almost three hours.  But it was good to see them again.  I got my usual whooping at Wii baseball, Wii golf, and outdoor around-the-world basketball though I did manage to win a game of PIG.   Freddie and I also tossed a baseball some so we went through the gamut of sports in one afternoon.

For dinner, Lynn made macaroni casserole and we had some of the fresh corn we bought at Overlook Produce.  By the time we finished it, I was worn out due to the time change.  After I washed the dishes and got the dishwasher going I was ready to shower and go to bed.

I do want to show the latest COVID-19 statistics now that I’m back home:

September 15      Infected                   Died

World             227,203,109           4,672,138

US                     42,465,860              684,890

Virginia                818,804                12,170  

Augusta County       8,715                       99   


Virginia          10,204,734  (4,961,338 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 77.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 58.1% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        72,715  (37,159 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 49.2% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.   

Wow, in just two weeks Augusta County has added 1,400 new cases and 11 more deaths.  That’s so scary! There have only been 8,715 cases in two years but 1/6th of those have occurred in the past two weeks. 

September 16, 2001

It took us a while to get used to Pacific time so I thought it might likewise take a few days to get our bodies back in tune with Eastern time but I think we managed to do it in one day.  We were both exhausted and in bed before 9:00 last night.  Getting up at 6:30, it felt normal again.  I had to remind myself that 6:30 Eastern was 3:30 Pacific.

I had a frustrating morning because we had received notice that Dodson Exterminators would be here between 8:00 and 11:00 to do our annual maintenance for termites.  We had termite issues about 8 years ago but haven’t since so I think it is important to keep the annual visits from them.  I waited the entire time with no arrival from Dodson.  Finally at 11:05 I called them.  Would you believe in five minutes he showed up?  He didn’t find any evidence of termites which I thought would be the case because I hadn’t seen anything, either.

During those three hours, I was impatient because I knew I had tons of work to do at Central.  I occupied my time by doing various little things around the house and working on my pictures.  I selected almost 100 of my 900 Oregon pictures to put in my Favorite Pictures folder.  I have almost 57,000 pictures uploaded to Flickr and have picked almost 10,000 of them as my favorites.

I got to Central near noon and stayed until 2:30. The only thing I got done was taking care of the bills.  There were plenty of them to deal with—almost a dozen—and I didn’t get to other jobs that I put off until tomorrow.  Friday I’ll just go there early and stay until I am 100% caught up.

Lynn had her Cheryl friends over to chat this afternoon.  She worked this morning at two schools in Rockingham County.  She was likewise frustrated because a student she went to Spotswood High School to test was not there.

I had Freddie for about two hours.  He and I did the usual:  Wii golf, Wii tennis, outside basketball, and pitched baseball.  Henry and Gus came to pick him after their open gym basketball at FDHS.

I had a message to call Blue Ridge Urology today.  I did but the person who answered didn’t know the reason someone else had called.  She said that the results from my PSA test were back and she would have the doctor or his nurse call me to discuss them.  No one called.  Ugh!

Tonight, Lynn and I ate leftovers for dinner then headed for Smiley’s for dessert.  Afterwards we went to Costco for some shopping.  When we came home, we watched a recording of the Virginia Governor’s Debate between Terry McAuliff and Glen Youngkin.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 16      Infected                   Died

World             227,791,494           4,683,275

US                     42,628,885              688,462

Virginia                822,985                12,207  

Augusta County       8,819                       99   


Virginia          10,226,850  (4,972,727 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 78.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 58.3% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        72,849  (37,217 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 49.3% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  

That’s over 4,000 new cases in Virginia in just one day with 100 of them in Augusta County.  At least Augusta didn’t have any new deaths.

September 17, 2021

I’m not sure why I’m continuing to write this but I admit it has helped me out.  For example, when I want to know when I did something in the past two years, I can probably find it.  Just today I wanted to know what I had written a year ago about PSA levels and I quickly found it.

PSA is on my mind because I called Blue Ridge Urology today and got the results from my test on Wednesday.  My PSA level hasn’t good, 7.24, so I’m betting Dr. Gillock will want to do something.  So far, after getting the biopsy a few years ago, he hasn’t given me any meds or suggested any treatments but that might change with this data.  So I wrote brother Butch an e-mail and asked him what he was now taking because I remembered he had been doing well with it.  He responded that he was taking Proscar, also known as Finasteride, to shrink his prostate and thus far it seemed to be working well for him.  His PSA is down to just 1.52 now.

I spent about five hours at Central today but got everything done in order to catch up from our Oregon trip.  Since we left home on September 1, Central’s bank statements for August hadn’t come when we left.  Yesterday I had taken care of all the bills including the credit cards.  So today I reconciled all four of the bank accounts.  That all went smoothly, thankfully.   Then I entered into Quickbooks the deposits made to the bank on September 6 and September 13 for the two previous Sundays.  Then I entered all of the personal givings into the software Servant Keeper (which is normally done by the administrative assistant but we have none now).   Finally, I recorded into a mail merge information for donations made to the Memorial Fund in memory of two Central members who recently passed away. 

I was home before Lynn.  She had gone to Plains Elementary School to test students and ended up being there longer than she anticipated.  I think she tested seven students in all, nearly all Kindergarteners.  She was only home for a few moments as she had to meet Juan Pablo in Waynesboro to tutor him.  Also, she took to him a box of food I had put together from Central’s Food Pantry.  I also put together a box for the Jiminez family which Elizabeth picked up from our house this afternoon.

Central has an interesting controversy going on.  The Staff Parish Committee recommended that the 2022 budget contain a 4% raise for our pastor, Won.  But Won passed along some recent information from the Virginia Conference which said that clergy couldn’t be given a raise unless they paid a certain percentage of the apportionment.  Central doesn’t meet that criteria.  2020 was hard for CUMC as it was for all churches and we only paid 46% of our apportionment.  I wrote to the District Superintendent today and asked him if we could at least give Won a cost of living increase and the answer I got back was no.  Won isn’t happy about this.  

Tomorrow is the big WVU – VT football game.  I’ve been wearing WVU shirts every day after we got back from Oregon.  Yes, I’ve done my trash talking already since we have two VT grads in the family, Jim and Josh.  WVU fans have to do their talking before the game because frequently we’re in hiding afterwards!  The game is a sell out and I have to wonder if it will be a COVID-19 superspreader event.  Lynn and I will be masked up for the game.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 17      Infected                   Died

World             228,317,778           4,691,831

US                     42,775,929              690,609

Virginia                827,197                12,242  

Augusta County       8,896                     101   


Virginia          10,385,479  (5,066,266 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 79.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 59.4% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        73,069  (37,413 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 49.5% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  

September 18, 2021

Today was the first WVU football game we’ve been to in two years thanks to COVID.  It was a big one, WVU vs No. 15 Virginia Tech at Morgantown.  We got up before 6:00 AM and were on the road by 6:40 for the noon kickoff.

Our drive there couldn’t have been any better.  For the most part, we had the road to ourselves until we got near Morgantown.  The weather was perfect and the scenery, especially on US 48, was spectacular.  We made a couple of bathroom stops but still pulled into Suncrest Town Center at 10:30.  Suncrest Town Center has free parking is only a 1.3 mile walk to the stadium.

Our seats for this game (and for the other two we’re going to see, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State) were fantastic.  They were on the 50 yard line in a section that is below the press box.  This means that beginning with the second quarter we had shade.  It was appreciated on a hot day.

Now for the game:  the Mountaineers started out like gangbusters, holding Virginia Tech on their first possession then running back Leddie Brown burst open for an 80 yard touchdown.  Again WVU held and this time a long pass worked and soon WVU was up 14 – 0.  They went up 21 – 7 still in the first half, held Tech when they got in the red zone, then marched up field and got a first down on the 2 yard line.  They should have run it in but they tried three passing attempts, none of which worked, so they settled for a 24  – 7 halftime lead.  It should have been 28 – 7.  This almost came back to haunt them.

VT did much better in the second half.  WVU got a field goal but VT scored on the last play of the third quarter to make the score 27 – 14.  Then they scored again to make it 27 – 21.  WVU needed to get a few first downs and run out the clock but, typical of Mountaineer football, they did the opposite.  On third down from their 25, the quarterback threw an interception which Tech ran back to the 17 yard line with less than three minutes to go.  They marched to the 4 yard line with two minutes to go and had a first down.  I was beside myself as I could see Tech scoring in the last few seconds to take a 28 – 27 win but the WVU defense came through and stuffed Tech four straight times.  So WVU won 27 – 21 but it wasn’t much to be proud of because we practically handed the game to VT at the end.  Lynn and I enjoyed singing Country Roads at the end of the game.

We then walked back to our car and drove to Apple Annie’s, our favorite Morgantown restaurant.  It was hard to believe it had been two years since we had been there.  We ate a good dinner since we had very little lunch (only yogurt) and bought some items there for tomorrow’s breakfast.

We then drove to Bridgeport, about 30 miles south of Morgantown, where the Hilton Garden Inn was that we were to stay.  We checked in then did some shopping at Gabes and WalMart.  We also found an ice cream store, Farm House, and got our dessert there.  Finally we picked up some sweet tea from Chick Fil-A and got back to the hotel around 8:30.

Mask wearing is very sparse in West Virginia.  At the football game, Lynn and I wore ours.  I saw fewer than ten others wearing masks out of the crowd of 60,000.  I’m glad we’re safe.  It’s no wonder COVID-19 is still rampant.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

September 18      Infected                   Died

World             228,906,837           4,699,137

US                     42,866,676              691,561

Virginia                827,197                12,242  Not updated on weekends.

Augusta County       8,896                     101   Not updated on weekends.


Virginia          10,430,283  (4,999,139 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 58.6% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        73,252  (37,019 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 49.0% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  

We did get some good news last night about COVID-19.  The FDA approved booster shots for all over 65.  The CDC is expected to approve this by mid-week which means perhaps by the end of next week Lynn and I will get our third shot.  I hope so.

September 19, 2021

We checked out of the Hilton Garden Inn in Bridgeport early today and headed for Tomaro’s Bakery in Clarksburg.  This is a longtime favorite of ours.  Their feature is pepperoni rolls and they are always open on Sunday mornings.  Sure enough, when we pulled up to their store today the line was already halfway up the block with people waiting for theirs.

We got plenty—18 regular sized pepperoni rolls, a dozen mini pepperoni rolls, and a dozen dinner rolls for tonight’s dinner.  We had some BBQ from Central waiting at home so the dinner rolls would be used with it.  We also got two hot pepperoni rolls for lunch though we didn’t eat them for a few hours.

We then headed home.  Google Maps told us to go to Elkins and take US 33 from there which runs you through Franklin WV.  It is a very twisty road for part of the way.  On the otherhand, the new section of US 48 doesn’t connect well to any road in the center of the state but it is such a beautiful road to drive on, four lanes with virtually zero traffic.  So we took back roads from Bridgeport to Davis WV where we got on US 48 for a nice drive through the center of the state.

On our way we stopped in Thomas WV, just three miles from Davis, which is a neat little town with eclectic stores including three coffee shops.   We bought some cookies from one of the coffee shops. 

The remainder of the drive was easy.  Our next stop was at Aldi’s in Harrisonburg where Lynn got some potato chips for dinner tonight.  We then went to Kroger and bought some cole slaw for the BBQ and some yogurt for her.  We made it home around 1:30 in the afternoon.

The afternoon was spent catching up.  Lynn did laundry, as she always does.  We were ready for the Gutshalls when they got to our house for dinner.  Everyone except Henry came.  Betsy and Ann came straight from Betsy’s performance in Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat at Wintergreen.  Poor Betsy had one show Friday night, two on Saturday, and one on Sunday (the Thursday night show was rained out).  She arrived exhausted as would be expected.  Fortunately Augusta County Schools has a teacher workday tomorrow so she can sleep in.  Ann, on the otherhand, can’t and she’s been at Wintergreen with Betsy nearly the whole time.   Plus, Betsy is auditioning for another show this Tuesday so she remains one busy gal!  I’m looking forward to September 30 when she turns 12 so she can be vaccinated.

I got an e-mail today which showed a 360o panoramic view of the WVU football stadium yesterday.  It was a full house with most everyone wearing gold shirts as it was listed as a “Gold Rush” date.  In other words, someone suggested that everyone wear gold and nearly everybody did.  Strange how others have said that we should wear masks at all indoor or crowded sites but people don’t because they don’t want someone to tell them what to do.  What irony!  They’ll wear a gold shirt but not a mask!  In the panoramic picture you can zoom in so, of course, I did to find Lynn and me.  We were easy to find—we were the ones wearing masks.

Tonight after dinner I played a bunch with Freddie.  We hit tennis balls for a while then played Wii downstairs.  I really enjoy the special time I have with him. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 19      Infected                   Died

World             229,260,563           4,704,927

US                     42,900,813              691,878

Virginia                827,197                12,242  Not updated on weekends.

Augusta County       8,896                     101   Not updated on weekends.


Virginia          10,454,696  (50,012,733 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 58.7% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        73,415  (37,106 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 49.1% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  

September 20, 2021

It took me five hours at Central today to get all my work done there.  I had a deposit to record, bills to pay, a letter to write and print, and some work to be done on the 2022 budget.  I think I got everything done that I can do for a few days so I shouldn’t have to go back for a while.

Meanwhile, Lynn got frustrated with the two jobs she had to do.  She was supposed to test a student at Turner Ashby High School but it turns out the student didn’t come to school.  Lynn had driven there to test the girl first thing in the morning to no avail.  This afternoon she was supposed to have tutored Juan Pablo but he called that session off so her day was basically ruined by two high schoolers.  At least she had time this afternoon to gab with her two good friends Cheryl Kent and Cheryl Wright.

CNN reported today that “In a highly anticipated announcement, Pfizer said on Monday a Phase 2/3 trial showed its Covid-19 vaccine was safe and generated a “robust” antibody response in children ages 5 to 11.  These are the first such results released for this age group for a US Covid-19 vaccine, and the data has not yet been peer-reviewed or published. Pfizer said it plans to submit to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization soon. FDA officials have said that once data is submitted, the agency could authorize a vaccine for younger children in a matter of weeks.”  I believe that Kay and Andy will choose to get Thomas and Georgia vaccinated, Ann and Josh will also want Freddie to get the vaccine and I hope Jim and Morgan will do the same with Faron.   Coen is too young and Betsy will turn twelve in just 10 days and will get it soon thereafter.  Of course, Henry and Gus are already vaccinated.

This afternoon I had the pleasure of taking Betsy to her dance class in Staunton.  Today was a teacher workday for Augusta County Schools but not for Rockingham County.  This way I could help out Ann and Josh with their shuttle bus riding from one place to another.

Afterwards Lynn and I ate a quick dinner then headed to Waynesboro.  There we walked on Waynesboro’s South River Greenway.  It was a two mile hike.  The weather was nice and we celebrated by going to Cook Out and getting milkshakes.  One of Lynn’s favorites was on sale at 99¢, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.  Then we went to Aldi’s for some groceries and returned home.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 20      Infected                   Died

World             229,702,255           4,711,149

US                     43,028,286              693,141

Virginia                 836,140                12,312  First update since last Friday.

Augusta County         9,123                     101   First update since last Friday


Virginia          10,466,754  (50,019,175 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.6% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 58.8% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        73,459  (37,130 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 49.1% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now. 

Since last Friday, Augusta County has had 227 new cases of COVID-19.  Wow!  Thankfully, there have been no more deaths.

September 21, 2021

I got my tennis racket back out after a couple week layoff this morning.  Won, Pat, Marc, and I returned to the Mary Baldwin University courts early today.  We only played two sets but it took us two hours.  Marc and I played together both sets.  We won the first one 6 – 4.  We fell behind 5 – 1 in the second then rallied to tie it.  Then we went back and forth until the score was 8 – 8.  At that point, Won and Pat won a few more points than Marc and me and we ended up splitting sets.  All of us had some good shots.  The weather was perfect.  So it was a good time had by all!

I felt ambitious after that so I came home, made a trash run, got some gas for my lawn mower, then cut the grass.  I didn’t finish until 1:00 but the timing was good because it started raining shortly afterwards. 

Lynn worked a lot today.  She started off at Lacey Spring Elementary School where she had to test a student then she went to McGaheysville Elementary School to help a newly hired ELL teacher.  She didn’t get home until close to 3:00.

We chose to stay home and have leftovers for dinner and not go anywhere for dessert or entertainment tonight.  Frankly, I was a little tired as I had collected my 10,000 steps by 1:00 today.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 21      Infected                   Died

World             230,244,642           4,721,224

US                     43,220,624              696,694

Virginia                 839,475                12,364  Over 3,000 new cases!

Augusta County         9,164                     101   

            Vaccinated  (For some reason, this data was not updated today)

Virginia          10,466,754  (50,019,175 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.6% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 58.8% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        73,459  (37,130 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 49.1% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now. 

September 22, 2021

Today was a rainy day all day long.  At least the next five or so days have a dry forecast but today our well got refilled nicely.  It was also the first day of fall and the fall temperatures are coming.  Over the next few nights the temperatures are supposed to fall in the 40’s with highs in the 70’s during the day.  Looking ahead, Lynn and I will be leaving on Friday for St. Clairsville OH (actually a small town called Barnesville OH) for the pumpkin festival.  The weather looks OK for it.

Neither one of us had any jobs to do today.  We did make a run to Costco in the morning where Lynn got some items as a bargain and I got a few items for Central UMC.  We were back before lunchtime.

My big event today was an appointment with Blue Ridge Urology.  This is the appointment that I needed the PSA test done that the Augusta Health lab messed up earlier in the month.  The appointment went fairly well today.  I was concerned because my PSA number was higher than it has ever been but Dr. Gillock reminded me that it was still within the range of concern but not panic.  Plus, I found out that another statistic from the lab report, my PSA Percent Free was in the good range.  I’ve read lots about PSA testing.  It is a test to alert you to the possibility of prostate cancer but it is not an exact science.  In my case, my PSA value was high but so was my PSA Percent Free value so Dr. Gillock said the best next step for me is to get an MRI.  That should let us know for sure what’s going on.  So I will be having an MRI at Rockingham Sentara Hospital some time in the next few weeks. 

I discussed with him the only manifestations I’ve seen of the enlarged prostate gland; namely, I have to urinate more often and have trouble completely emptying my bladder.  He prescribed a medicine for me, Flomax, also known as Tamsulosin, which should help.

I got back home from my doctor’s appointment well before Freddie’s bus came.  Actually Betsy and Freddie both came to our house today.  Betsy is currently auditioning for a part in a Christmas musical in addition to singing in the choir in the show Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat at Wintergreen.  She is a busy girl!

Freddie and I played our normal Wii games where I tried to beat him at baseball, golf, and bowling.  I was unsuccessful at all though the bowling was very, very close.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 22      Infected                   Died

World             230,825,510           4,731,484

US                     43,394,493              699,622   Over 2,000 deaths per day again!

Virginia                 843,212                12,409   Almost 4,000 new cases!

Augusta County         9,220                     104   Three new deaths since yesterday      


Virginia          10,455,903  (5,085,538 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 79.7% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 59.6% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        73,548  (37,610 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 49.8% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now. 

I waited all day to hear news about the booster shot for Pfizer vaccinated people age 65 and over.  For it to be made widely available, both the FDA and the CDC needed to approve this.  Late today the FDA formally approved the emergency use authorization for it.  Now the CDC must also approve it.  They meet tomorrow.  Lynn and I had hoped to get our booster by the end of the week but that might not happen, it seems.  Maybe next week… 

September 23, 2021

The big news today is that the CDC did approve the booster shot those 65 and over plus those with compromised conditions today.  It didn’t happen until late in the day so although we tried to get some specifics locally as to when we could get ours, we didn’t find out anything.  It will likely be next week when we get it.  We’re leaving early tomorrow morning so we can’t wait around for an open spot.

Tomorrow we’re going to Barnesville OH, just west of Wheeling WV, to their Pumpkin Festival.  Besides walking in a 5K, I’m not sure what else we’ll do.  I’m sure Lynn will want to check out the arts and crafts associated with this festival.  It’s over a five hour drive so we won’t be getting there until early afternoon at best.

Because of the rain, we set our Thursday tennis at 11:30 today.  That meant I had time to go to Central and take care of a couple of bills first thing.  This didn’t take me long. 

Tennis was good again today.  Our foursome consisted of Marc, Won, Darrell Miller, and me.  I won two of the three sets but dropped the third when I partnered with Darrell.  We had an early lead but couldn’t hold it.  It felt good to play no matter what the score was.  The weather was nice and so was the tennis.

After tennis I picked up a prescription from Kroger then came home.  Lynn left soon thereafter to interpret for a student session at her old elementary school, Cub Run Elementary, but the student didn’t show for the meeting. 

Meanwhile, I was here when Freddie’s bus got here.  He and I didn’t have much time because I had agreed to pick up Betsy at her house and take her to her ballet class at 4:15 today.  Freddie and I picked her up at home and had her there on time. 

At 5:30 Henry came by and picked up Freddie.  He returned around 6:15, as we had arranged, to work on Calculus problems.  He had a set of them due tonight.  We were done with all of them before 7:30.  I’m amazed at how quickly some of this Calculus comes back to me; I haven’t taught it since 1989.  With his problem set, given on his Chromebook, he and I both work the problem and we compare answers.  He is doing really well so far so he and I agreed on almost every answer the first time we worked it.  The software checks his answers; he got all of them correct.  There were around 30 in all. 

I thought back tonight of when I was in his seat, learning Calculus for the first time.  He is a high school junior; I was a college freshman.  However, I was only one year older than he is at the time because I started college at age 17.  He is now 16.  Calculus was a struggle for me because 1) I had only a so-so background in math from Bramwell High School  2) the college textbook was very hard to read and understand and 3) my professor was new to the US from India and spoke English very poorly.  But I worked hard and learned it.  Thirteen years later I was asked to teach it at Turner Ashby High School.  This time I had a great textbook, Calculus by Larson & Hostetler, and had a summer to prepare for it.  I worked every problem in the book over the summer.  By the time school opened in the fall, I was ready.

As soon as Henry left, Lynn and I headed for Smiley’s where she got a mint chocolate chip milkshake and I had my usual cone of salted caramel chocolate chunk.

When I look up the daily COVID-19 statistics, I see a graph of the number of cases over time.  There is a large hump where cases maxed out in mid-December 2020 then slowed remarkably until the Delta variant kicked in around July.  Now the hump is back higher than ever.  There is a possibility that it is on its way back down now; time will tell.  At any rate, here are the statistics for today:

September 23      Infected                   Died

World             231,352,880           4,431,603

US                     43,529,377              702,964   Over 3,000 deaths per day again!

Virginia                 846,979                12,463   Almost 4,000 new cases!

Augusta County         9,294                     105   Over 70 new cases since yesterday   


Virginia          10,470,868  (5,093,688 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 79.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 59.7% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        73,734  (37,716 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 49.9% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now. 

September 24, 2021

Today was spent largely in the car driving from home to Barnesville, OH for the Pumpkin Festival.  We left home around 8:00 AM, made four stops including bathroom breaks, gas, and lunch, and arrived at our hotel in St. Clairsville OH around 2:00 pm.  From the Fairfield Inn in St. Clairsville it was about a 25 minute drive to Barnesville.

The drive was beautiful.  The trees haven’t quite changed yet but the air was crystal clear and the temperature was around 62o.   It was a very nice day to travel.  We didn’t have a single car in front of us from Fulks Run all the way to Baker WV where we got on the four lane US 48.

The route today was most interesting giving West Virginia’s geography.  We were routed through Morgantown then to Wheeling which is just across the Ohio River from St. Clairsville.  But to get here, we started in Virginia, drove through West Virginia, then into Maryland to get on I-68, then back into West Virginia near Morgantown, then into Pennsylvania north of Morgantown, then back into West Virginia through Wheeling, and finally to Ohio.

Barnesville is a small town with a 3,500 population.  But it was the place to be today for the Pumpkin Festival.  There must have been twenty food trucks, a typical carnival with rides, two craft rooms, and lots of people walking around without masks.  You could eat most anything bad for you in Barnesville today.  The only thing Lynn and I ate were ice cream cones. 

After checking out the crafts, taking some pictures of the huge, award winning pumpkins, we headed back east.  On the way, we made dinner reservations at Figaretti’s Italian Restaurant in Wheeling.  Lynn and I had eaten there before.  It didn’t disappoint.  She had homemade ravioli and I had the kind sized prime rib.  Our total bill was only $35.  We both had to bring home food we couldn’t eat.  Fortunately our room at the Fairfield Inn had two refrigerators.

When we got back to the hotel Lynn wanted to walk some.  So we walked across the street to the large Ohio Valley Mall.  We spent nearly an hour walking around it.  Then we drove to a nearby Kroger and got some junk food before returning to the hotel to call it a night.

One funny article in today’s news is that the report of the Republican-led “recount” of Arizona’s Maricopa County’s votes from the 2020 election by the biased group Cyber Ninjas was released today.  It actually had Biden gaining 99 more votes and Trump losing 261 more!  I’ll bet the wealthy Republicans who financed this are fit to be tied!  No one trusted this recount anyway but it was shocking that they didn’t come back with an outlandish claim that Trump had actually won the state.  Instead they ended up certifying that the actual count was correct and Biden was the legitimate winner.

Other big news for us today is that we were able to sign up for our booster shot at Augusta Health.  Lynn was on top of this from the get-go this morning.  We are registered to get our third Pfizer shot at 8:20 Monday morning.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 24      Infected                   Died

World             231,860,915           4,750,443

US                     43,665,772              705,237   Over 2,000 deaths per day again!

Virginia                 849,865                12,511   Almost 3,000 new cases

Augusta County         9,341                     108   Three new deaths since yesterday      


Virginia          10,484,719  (5,101,140 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 79.9% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 59.8% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        73,814  (37,766 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 50.0% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now. 

September 25, 2021

This day began with us walking a 5K race in Ohio and ended with me watching the WVU – Oklahoma football game in my basement.  We got up early and drove the 25 miles from our hotel to Barnesville OH where the Pumpkin Festival 5K was held.

This race was much different than the others we’ve done this year.  For one thing, it was much larger.  I think I heard the organizer say there were 380 registrants.  I’d say it was evenly divided between runners and walkers.  But some of the walkers here were as competitive as the runners.  Indeed, the organizer warned the walkers before they left that they were not allowed to run.  Some walked in the Olympic-style walk, swinging their arms, etc.  Lynn and I just vowed to not be last.  We weren’t; in fact, I’d say we were in the middle of the walking pack.  Our time, 53:05, was faster than our time at the two previous 5K’s this year.  The course was primarily flat and the weather was cool but nice.

It took an hour to do the walk; it took much longer for the awards ceremony.  They had trophies and pumpkin awards for nearly everyone, it seemed.  Even I got an award for being in 5th place in the 70 and over among the walkers.  Yet Lynn, who finished with me, didn’t get one though she did win a door prize.  It reminded me of the little league teams where everyone gets a trophy.

Another interesting thing about this 5K is the food.  They had all kinds of food for the runners/walkers:  pepperoni rolls, pasta salad, cookies, fruit, pizza, and drinks.  We ate so much we didn’t stop on the way home for lunch.

We were on our way home around 11:30.  The ride was over five hours plus a couple of stops including an ice creamery in Deep Creek Lake, PA.  We got home around 5:30.   Lynn went to the grocery store to get things for Sunday’s dinner while I worked on backing up my pictures from the weekend.

I spent the rest of the night watching the football game.  The Mountaineers were 16 point underdogs so I didn’t have high expectations.  They did score first but Oklahoma quickly got their game going and tied it.  But the rest of the first half was back and forth with scores until the Mountaineers got a field goal as time expired to take a 10 – 7 lead at halftime.

Oklahoma opened the second half with a long drive to the WVU 5 yard line but the Mountaineer defense stiffened and Oklahoma had to settle for a field goal to tie the score, 10 – 10.  WVU countered with a drive of its own, ending in a field goal, to take a 13 – 10 lead.  Early in the fourth quarter, Oklahoma drove again only to have to settle for a tying field goal.  So with 8:52 to go, WVU got the ball in a 13 – 13 game.  WVU drove to the 30 yard line but then a bad snap cost them a 21 yard loss so they ended up punting to Oklahoma with 3:52 to go.  As expected, Oklahoma then marched down the field within field goal range with under a minute to go.  They ended up on the 11 yard line and called time out with one second to go.  Their field goal kicker then came in and kicked the winning field goal as time expired.  It was Oklahoma’s first lead of the entire game.  The Mountaineers played well but came up empty handed again.  They have not beaten Oklahoma since joining the Big 12 Conference.   Final score:  Oklahoma 16, WVU 13.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 25      Infected                   Died

World             232,245,327           4,756,472

US                     43,725,604              706,058  

Virginia                 849,865                12,511   Data not updated since this is a weekend.

Augusta County         9,341                     108   Data not updated since this is a weekend.


Virginia          10,503,842  (5,111,371 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 59.9% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        73,986  (37,859 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 50.1% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  Today is the first day since the pandemic started that more than half of Augusta County’s population has been vaccinated.  Of course, no one under age 12 can be at this point.

September 26, 2021

This was almost a normal Sunday.  The only thing missing was attending church.  Apparently Pastor Won worked with a member of Central at Wednesday’s Food Pantry and later learned that this man, John Hildebrand, tested positive for COVID-19.  So Won was directly exposed to it.  Both he and John were fully vaccinated and I believe John is doing OK now.  But Won was hesitant to lead Sunday morning worship since he was exposed to COVID on Wednesday so he called off church this morning.

Interestingly, he played tennis with me last Thursday morning.  However, we were outside and never that close.

So, Lynn and I had the day for ourselves.  It was a beautiful day and we decided to go to Showalter’s Orchard in Timberville to get apples.  That was a great decision.  We ended up taking two cars as Ann, Henry, Betsy, and Freddie also went.  Showalter’s had apples for $22 per bushel for already picked ones and $20 per half bushel if you picked them yourself.  I thought this was an unusual pricing scheme and, especially since we were somewhat in a hurry because Lynn had bread cooking in her bread machine, we opted for the already picked ones.  They had our two most favorite apples:  honey crisp and golden delicious.  We got a bushel of each.  Plus we got some of their delicious cider.  The honey crisp apples we sampled were exceptionally large, sweet, and crisp.  Double yum!  We’ll be enjoying our apples for weeks and weeks now.

When we got back home, Lynn started cooking for dinner.  Meanwhile, I went to Kroger in Staunton to get a few needed groceries.  Curiously, there I saw Kroger had on sale two packages of ice cream sandwiches:  salted caramel and mudslide.  The brand was Tillamook.  Just two weeks ago we were at the Tillamook headquarters in Oregon and had the very same two kinds of ice cream.

Ann’s family came over around 5:30. We had a very good meal then the kids played downstairs.  They had brought over their old Wii sets and connected them to our big screen tv.  All four of them could play simultaneously and all were skilled enough that no one dominated play.  It was lots of fun watching them compete at a Mario game.

Tomorrow is such a big day for Lynn and me.  We get our booster shots at 8:20 AM.  I need to be at Central to count by 9:00 though there won’t be much to count since we didn’t have a church service today.  Then, in the afternoon, I’ll help with the Food Pantry delivery at CUMC, be here for Freddie at 3:15, take him to his house and pick up Betsy at 3:45, and take her to dance in Staunton.  I’m glad I can help out.  It gives me a sense of worth, too.

I’m proud of my frugalness today.  Several weeks ago I had made a reservation for Lynn and me in Moab, UT for one night we’ll be in Utah in a few weeks.  The cost was $237 per night at the time I made it.  I checked again and discovered that I could book it for less now.  Better yet, since we are within 30 days of the stay I could use points for the stay.  So I canceled the original reservation and rebooked it with points. We went from paying $237 for the night to paying nothing!

Since mid-September, the number of COVID-19 cases has dropped somewhat in the US.  Perhaps we’re past the worst though there is an ever-present threat, especially locally where our vaccination rate lags that of the rest of the US.  We’re still way higher for the number of cases per day that we were in June before the Delta variant took over. 

Here’s a Facebook post I totally agree with:  It continues to amaze me how many people are convinced that a vaccine has helped MILLIONS OF PEOPLE will kill them, and that a virus that HAS killed millions of people won’t.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 26      Infected                   Died

World             232,576,781           4,761,524

US                     43,750,983              706,317               

Virginia                 849,865                12,511   Data not updated since this is a weekend.

Augusta County         9,341                     108   Data not updated since this is a weekend.


Virginia          10,514,758  (5,117,614 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.0% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,045  (37,891 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But that still is only 50.1% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

September 27, 2021

Yippee!  Lynn and I got our third Pfizer shot this morning at Augusta Health.  They have the process streamlined now, thanks to lots of volunteers, so we were in and out quickly.  I didn’t mind this at all and if there’s need of a regular booster every few months count me in.

After that I spent four hours at Central doing treasurer’s work.  Actually lots of what I did was secretary’s work since we have no secretary yet.  I mail merged and printed 23 thank you letters to people who gave a memorial gift in memory of Paul Obaugh and prepared each of them to be signed by Won and mailed, including mailing labels.  I also did our weekly deposit, which was small since we didn’t have a service yesterday, and paid a few bills.

This afternoon I had Freddie.  First we took Betsy to her dance in Staunton.  Then we came home and played some Wii-U games he and his brothers brought over last night.  Of course, he annihilated me in the competition.  I certainly wasn’t trying to lose but his skills far exceed mine at games like this.

Tonight, after dinner, Lynn and I took a box of food to Juan Pablo.  I had brought home two large boxes of food from Central’s Food Lion ministry this afternoon, one for Juan Pablo and one for Elizabeth’s family.  Lynn is going to take the second box to her family tomorrow, I think.

After that, we decided to take advantage of Smiley’s flavors of the week.  Lynn loves chocolate peanut butter which was one of the week’s specials so we got her a milkshake of it.  I had my standard:  salted caramel chocolate chunk in a waffle cone.  Yum!

CNN had a sad story today about West Virginia’s poor state of affairs regarding COVID-19.  Here are some excerpts from their story:

West Virginia had been a success story for vaccinations. Back in early March, West Virginia ranked in the top four in terms of the adult population that was vaccinated. The state and Gov. Jim Justice received widespread praise for its vaccine rollout.

Now, West Virginia ranks last in the country for the percentage of the adult population that is fully vaccinated. Just 48% of adults are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This makes West Virginia the only state in the country where less than half the adult population is fully vaccinated.

The slowness with which West Virginians have taken up the vaccine comes despite a governor who has been begging people to get it. The problem is that Justice has been overwhelmed by the demographic and political fundamentals that have plagued the vaccination effort throughout the country. Once vaccines became more plentiful nationally, it became less about how good states (and leadership) were at giving out vaccines and more about whether people were willing to take them.

The issue starts with politics. West Virginia is one of the most Republican states in the country. Former President Donald Trump won the state by nearly 40 points in 2020. The only state that he won by more was Wyoming, which ranks in the bottom three for adult vaccination as well.

As I’ve previously noted, the correlation between the vaccination rates in states and how those states voted in the 2020 election has only become stronger over time.

Less noted is that education rates have also been highly correlated with vaccination rates. Indeed, the states in the top 25 for college-educated adults have on average about 10 points more of their adult population vaccinated compared to the states in the bottom 25 for college-educated adults.  West Virginia has fewer adults with a college degree than any state in the nation.

Perhaps more unbelievably, the low rate of vaccination has continued in September. A lower portion of the Mountaineer State’s adult population has gotten their first Covid-19 dose this month than any other state in the nation.

There are 95 new daily cases per 100,000 residents on the weekly average in West Virginia. Alaska is the one state with more cases, and it’s in the top half for new adult vaccinations this month.

West Virginia also is the worst in the country in current hospitalizations. Second is Kentucky, which is in the top five for new adult vaccinations this month.

West Virginia also has the third most deaths over the last week controlling for population size. The two states with a higher death rate (Alabama and Florida) are in the top half for new vaccinations.

What Justice and West Virginia are teaching us is that politics is trumping public health, even when things are truly dire.  That doesn’t mean that leaders can’t try to move the electorate. It’s just that you can’t make certain people do what they don’t want to do, no matter how bad things get.

The CDC said today that the are only days away from asking for approval for their vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds.  Betsy turns 12 this Thursday so she’ll get hers but today’s news will affect Faron, Thomas, Freddie, and Georgia.  Only Coen will be unvaccinated if this works out.  CNN also had a story about successful antivirals in clinical trials now that are administered once COVID-19 has been detected. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 27      Infected                   Died

World             233,006,820           4,767,678

US                     43,886,822              707,740               

Virginia                 857,852                12,592   8,000 new cases since last Friday.

Augusta County         9,406                     108   60 new cases since last Friday.


Virginia          10,532,362  (5,127,636 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.2% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.1% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,161  (37,958 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But that still is only 50.2% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

September 28, 2021

A Facebook post from Dr. Ashish Jha, who regularly reports on ABC TV, is that the United States is currently 40th internationally in the percent of its population fully vaccinated.  Portugal leads the world at 84%.  Canada has 71%.  Cambodia has 65%.  The US has only 55% of its population fully vaccinated.  Why?  The answer is in one word:  stupidity.

Today was another tennis day for me.  It is interesting how close my matches have been lately.  Last Thursday, Marc and I split two sets with Won and Pat, 6 – 4 and 6 – 8.  Today we played the same teams.  Marc and I won the first set 8 – 6 then we quit the second set with the score 8 – 8.  That took us two hours to play.

Lynn had a busier day than I did today.  She had a Zoom meeting this morning (though the parent didn’t show up), a haircut, and a luncheon with other retired Cub Run Elementary teachers.  I had a Central UMC Finance meeting in the afternoon via Zoom, took Betsy to her dance in Staunton after school, and a Council meeting at night, also via Zoom.  Between those last two events she and I met Ann and Wes Ford at Smiley’s for ice cream.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 28      Infected                   Died

World             233,504,982           4,777,698

US                     44,040,220              711,154               

Virginia                 860,493                12,647   2,500 new cases since yesterday.

Augusta County         9,419                     110   2 new deaths since yesterday.


Virginia          10,544,780  (5,134,276 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.3% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.2% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,258  (37,994 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    But that still is only 50.3% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.  Wow, Portugal is much, much better off than Augusta County in getting its people vaccinated.

September 29, 2021

I’m finishing up today feeling good about all I’ve accomplished.  First, I walked in our neighborhood with Lynn shortly after breakfast.  She had a 9:00 Zoom interpreting session and while she did that I did various chores around the house I’d put on the back burner.  As soon as she finished with her Zoom meeting with a parent and a teacher, we headed for Costco.  There, Lynn got a new air fryer and I got a lot of things for Central that I’d been asked to get for both the Food Pantry and the custodian Janet. 

After we came home, I jumped on my lawn mower and got the grass cut.  I also did weed whacking, finishing just after 1:00.  I immediately grabbed a bite of lunch and headed for Central to deliver the Costco goods and pay bills.  I got everything done there in about an hour and got home in plenty of time to meet Freddie’s bus.

Not only was Freddie on the bus, so was Betsy.  And a few minutes later Henry and Gus drove up.  Henry had asked me if I could help him with math this week and I told him today was the only day I could since tomorrow we have Betsy’s show.  So we had all four Gutshall kids here.  Lynn did some things with Betsy while Gus and Freddie played on the Wii-U downstairs and Henry and I did Calculus problems.  I don’t really help Henry with his math; he is quite capable of doing it himself.  He has weekly problem assignments that are presented by and answered on his Chromebook.  So when we do the problems we both work them and compare our answers.  If we agree, he enters them into the Chromebook and they are immediately checked by the software.  Rarely do we disagree.  And when we do, half of the time I’ve made a careless mistake and the other half of the time he has.  I enjoy doing these problems with him.

After he finished, he also played some of the Wii-U games downstairs with his siblings then he took everyone home.  That was convenient for Ann and Josh and us as well.  They were home shortly after 5:00.  At that point, Lynn and I went to Old Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike for our weekly hamburgers.  As always, they were delicious.

After we finished dinner, Lynn cut my hair.  She does a fine job cutting it and I greatly appreciate her work.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

September 29      Infected                   Died

World             233,965,796           4,786,640

US                     44,155,034              713,572               

Virginia                 863,644                12,696   3,200 new cases since yesterday.

Augusta County         9,396                     109   Cases & death reclassified since yesterday.


Virginia          10,544,140  (5,138,921 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.2% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,320  (38,028 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    But that still is only 50.3% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

September 30, 2021

This post will be short because I didn’t get a chance to start on it until almost 11:30 at night, far past my normal bedtime.  The reason is that Lynn and I spent a great evening tonight at Wintergreen Resort’s outdoor theatre watching Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat which had a children’s choir in it with Betsy.  The show was really cute.  The singers in it, except for the children’s choir and a few in the ensemble, were professionals.  They were fantastic.  The music was catchy as the story retold the Biblical story of Joseph and his brothers.  Of course, we thought Betsy did wonderfully.

Today was her 12th birthday.  She rode the bus to our house with Freddie.  After she got here, Freddie and I went downstairs to play Wii-U.  He said something to me about having a treasure hunt for Betsy’s present.  Oops, it hit me that I had neglected to put one together.  So I told him to play a game on the Wii by himself while I came up with one for Betsy.  In no time I had altered an old one I had done for Gus’s birthday which worked wonderfully.  Lynn had gotten some clothes from Ann for her which were quickly stashed in the last of the treasure hunt locations so she found them when she had figured out all of the clues.

I had come up with the idea of this treasure hunt using the font Wingdings which substitutes a symbol for each letter of the alphabet.  So I could create a card like “your next clue is in the  DINING ROOM in a DRAWER.”  She was given a key to follow with the 26 symbols used by Wingdings.  She had to figure out, given the context, what letter each of the symbols stood for in order to decipher each clue (in the example above, DINING ROOM in a DRAWER).  She did fine with it.

I had begun my day with tennis.  Marc and I played together again and this time we beat Pat and Won in two straight sets.  Marc played especially well while I played normal but Won and Pat had off days.  After we played those two sets, we switched partners.  Won and I were playing together at 3 – 3 in our third set when Marc did something to his hip.  He could barely walk to get off the court and into his car.  Poor fellow!  He was really in pain as he left Mary Baldwin.

After tennis, I went to the dump, stopping at Ann’s house to get their trash, too.  Lynn had her two Cheryl friends over to chat while sitting in the Pergola.  When they had gone, we had a quik lunch then drove to Harrisonburg for some quick shopping.  Among other things, we got cupcakes for all of the Gutshall family and us to celebrate Betsy’s birthday.  We had to be back in time for the school bus and we made it with time to spare.

September 30      Infected                   Died

World             234,559,779           4,797,310

US                     44,314,424              716,847               

Virginia                 866,766                12,750   3,100 new cases since yesterday.

Augusta County         9,421                     109  


Virginia          10,568,255  (5,145,939 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.3% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,320  (38,028 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    But that still is only 50.3% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.  These numbers didn’t change from yesterday; I’m not sure why.