October 2021: Life in the COVID-19 Era

October 1, 2021

We spent the first day of October driving to Morgantown for another football weekend.  And it did take us most of the day to get there.  We left home at 8:00 AM and met our friends Gerry and Lynne Hobbes at Apple Annie’s Restaurant in Morgantown at 6:00 PM.  Imbetween, we did lots of things.

We drove straight from home to Blackwater Falls.  Our first experience there was a one mile walk which took us over another falls, Elakala Falls, not far from the park office.  Then we went to the scenic overlook to see Blackwater Falls, then went to the walkway which takes you directly to the falls.  We were a little disappointed because we hoped the trees would be vibrant in color this time of the year.  Indeed, not far from Blackwater Falls we had seen lots of red and orange in the woods but around the falls the trees were not very colorful.  It was still a very pretty visit especially given the beautiful weather we had today.

From Blackwater Falls, we drove the couple of miles to Thomas, WV.  Thomas is such a neat little town with lots of coffee shops, art studios, music shop, and even an apple shop where we bought two candy covered apples.  I had a very good Americano coffee at the coffee shop.  We spent a while visiting all of the shops along main street (the only real street in Thomas).

From Thomas we drove on back, windy roads to Kingwood because that’s where the annual Buckwheat Festival was taking place.  It was the place to be—like the festival we attended last week, the Pumpkin Festival, there were hundreds and hundreds of people there riding the carnival rides, eating the fatty foods like funnel cakes, observing the livestock displays, and visiting the arts and crafts displays.  To be honest, the arts and crafts section at this festival were the best we’ve seen at any of the festivals this year.

We didn’t eat anything buckwheat but we did walk around town a good bit before heading to Morgantown.  We actually got to Morgantown a little early so we went to Aldi’s and bought some pumpkins before driving to Apple Annie’s to meet Lynne and Gerry.

We had a nice visit and meal with them.  I had an Italian sampler consisting of chicken parmigiana, spaghetti, and lasagna plus a salad.  It was superb.  Lynn had chicken salad.  We talked with Gerry and Lynne for over an hour and a half. 

Afterwards we drove the 30 miles south to Bridgeport to the Hilton Garden Inn.  We’ve stayed at this Hilton many times.  We had previously decided to spend both nights this weekend at the hotel so we’d have plenty of time to enjoy northern West Virginia and the foliage.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 1             Infected                   Died

World             235,039,229           4,805,074

US                     44,443,405              718,984               

Virginia                 869,328                12,806   2,600 new cases since yesterday.

Augusta County         9,468                     110  

            Vaccinated  (Note:  these figures were not updated today—not sure why).

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. 

October 2, 2021

Today was a great day for Lynn and me with one glaring exception—the football game.  WVU once again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.  After falling miserably behind, 17 – 0, in the first half, they played the third quarter like champions and tied the game.  In the fourth quarter, Texas Tech took a 20 – 17 lead but down the field came the Mountaineers with a little over four minutes to go.  A score would have given them a great lead with little time to go.  They got down to the six yard line of Texas Tech.  On a crucial 4th and 1 yard to go play, they were called for a false start.  The replay clearly showed it was offsides against Texas Tech which would have given the Mountaineers a first a goal.  But, alas, WVU had to settle for a tying field goal.  Then we all watched in horror as Texas Tech marched the ball down the field and, like last week, kicked a field goal with under 30 seconds to go to make the final score 23 – 20.  Yuck!

WVU made several big mistakes in the game as they have in all of the close games this season.  The coaching staff didn’t get some plays in on time which forced them to call several timeouts which meant at the end of the game they couldn’t stop the clock.  They had numerous penalties.  The fan base is not pleased.  Oh well, like Lynn says, it’s only a game.

Lynn washed her hair this morning so I went to Panera Bread, about a mile away, to get our breakfast and bring it back to the hotel.  It was a decent breakfast. 

The weather was beautiful today though it was a little cold this morning.  I had found a Bridgeport park nearby with a very, very nice walking trail on it.  The trail went beside/around two different small lakes.  So we started the day with a couple of miles under our belt.

We stopped by a Dollar General on our way back to the hotel.  Lynn found some Christmas decorations she really, really wants for her party.  Like she has done many times in the past, she bought every one of the ornaments she wanted in the store but still needed several more for the party so, as we have done numerous times in the past, we made our route to the football game via several Dollar Generals.  She found some, but not all, she wants so tomorrow on the way back home we’ll be making lots of more Dollar General stops, I’m sure.

The last Dollar General stop for us was in Star City and not far away from where we had decided to park for the game.  There is a church on Patteson Drive, near the Coliseum, which offers free parking.  The walk from there is a couple of miles but it is an easy walk.

On our way to the football stadium, we stopped at the Alumni Building for a bathroom break.  There we also found some neat free pins to wear including some which say “Vaccinated Mountaineer” which we both wore to the game.  I asked the receptionist at the Alumni office if it was typical for classes to have special events to mark landmark years since their graduation.  I asked this becaue next year will be the 50th year since I graduated form WVU.  My roommate Hal Koerner had brought this to my attention when we were in Oregon.  The receptionist responded that, indeed, the Alumni Office sponsored several activities on a week in June.  We will be receiving an e-mail and US mail inviting us to come back to campus for a tour, banquet, and other events in June.  I look forward to that e-mail.  I immediately texted Hal and Paul Porterfield, both whom seemed interested.

At the game, Lynn and I were almost the only ones I saw who wore masks.  There were probably 55,000 people in the stadium but likely fewer than 100 who wore masks.  West Virginia’s COVID-19 infection rate is terrible—I believe it is the worst in the nation right now.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

October 2             Infected                   Died

World             235,417,004           4,811,563

US                     44,490,897              719,674               

Virginia                 869,328                12,806   No update because of the weekend.

Augusta County         9,468                     110   No update because of the weekend

            Vaccinated  (Note:  this data, like the infections/deaths above, was not updated)

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. 

October 3, 2021

We took our time driving home from the Hilton Garden Inn in Bridgeport.  After another breakfast from Panera Bread, we went to our favorite pepperoni roll store, Tomara’s in Clarksburg where we stocked up with pepperoni rolls for the Gutshalls for lunch, small pepperoni rolls for us, rolls, and even some fresh cookies they had made.  Then we started our Dollar General scavenger hunt.

Our Dollar General stops were in Clarksburg, Jane Lew, Buckhannon, Parsons, and Davis WV.  By then Lynn had all of the ornaments she wanted (probably plus some).  We still had a few more stores we could have stopped at along the way home but she got all she needed.  We also stopped in Thomas where I got another Americano coffee and we ate our cookies from Tomara’s.

While Lynn was doing some of her Dollar General shopping, I decided to learn how Americano coffee is made. I learned that it is half expresso, half hot water. It got its name from World War II when American soldiers in Italy thought their expresso coffee was too strong and asked for water to dilute it. I really like it but I do not want an expresso machine. Instead, I’ll enjoy it as a treat when I’m at coffee shops like the one in Thomas.

The drive through Tucker County was especially pretty with lots of red, orange, and yellow trees.  Strangely, just ten miles away everything was green.

We got home around 2:00, unpacked, and did a few chores before meeting the Gutshall family at The Depot in Staunton for dinner.  We wanted to celebrate both Betsy’s and Josh’s birthdays.  It was the first time for us to eat at The Depot in months.  I’d have to say that they’ve made some changes to their menu and service I wasn’t particularly happy with.  But the dinner seemed fine for the others and that’s what matters.

I took over 75 pictures this weekend.  One of them was just a quick shot I took of Lynn as we walked along a trail near Blackwater Falls.  It is one of the best pictures I’ve ever seen of her!  She always looks good to me but this picture really makes her beauty stand out.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers.  Unfortunately, since it is the weekend the Virginia numbers haven’t been updated:

October 3             Infected                   Died

World             235,695,081           4,815,411

US                     44,516,450              719,925               

Virginia                 869,328                12,806   No update because of the weekend.

Augusta County         9,468                     110   No update because of the weekend

            Vaccinated (these numbers were updated since yesterday)

Virginia          10,601,105  (5,164,042 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.7% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.5% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,660  (38,231 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 50.6% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

October 4, 2021

I like that picture of Lynn so much I had it printed today at Walmart then I bought a frame for it so I can look at it over and over.  She is an attractive woman; the picture clearly shows that.

Tonight I had an unusual house experience.  We had just come home from running some short errands (including buying a ticket for tonight’s $685 million lottery) and getting some dessert from Dairy Queen.  When we turned the unlocked latch to enter from the garage into the kitchen, the door acted like it was locked.  I thought perhaps we had inadvertently locked it on the way out.  So I went around the house, through the back door, and tried to open it for Lynn.  It was not locked but it would not open.  The door knob would turn but the latch wouldn’t move.  I was able to take both knobs off but still couldn’t get it to budge.  I finally took the door off the hinges then removed the stuck door latch.  I suppose I’ll get a replacement tomorrow.  We already have a deadbolt on that door so I won’t get a lockable one this time.

Today was catch-up day.  I spent four hours at Central making the weekly deposit, reconciling the four different bank accounts, developing and printing the monthly reports for August, setting up the payroll for the 15th of the month, and paying the monthly federal taxes.  Plus I got a box of food from the Food Lion ministry for Lynn to take to Juan Pablo this afternoon.

Freddie came here after school.  We played on his Wii-U for a few minutes until it was time for me to take Betsy to her dance classes in Staunton.  Poor Betsy—she had dance classes from 4:15 – 7:00 then had practice for the musical she just got a part in, The Christmas Story, in Waynesboro from 7:00 – 9:00.  Ann picked her up after dance and took her to Waynesboro.  After I took Betsy to her dance classes, Freddie and I came back here and played some more.  Then I took him home so Lynn and I could eat dinner.

Tomorrow is not a day I’m looking forward to.  I have a MRI scheduled early on Wednesday AM at Sentara Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg.  I am not allowed to eat anything after 4:00 tomorrow until after the MRI.  I can skip an occasional lunch but dinner is a different matter.

Lynn thought she’d be working at McGaheysville Elementary most of the day today and all day tomorrow.  The school has a new ELL teacher who isn’t trained to test students and she thought she’d have to test several students.  But today they were able to get everything taken care of in just a few hours which means her tomorrow will be unencumbered. 

COVID-19 cases nationally have dropped some, no doubt thanks to more people getting vaccinated. Here are today’s statistics:

October 4             Infected                   Died

World             236,112,710           4,821,917

US                     44,654,167              722,023               

Virginia                 877,090                12,908   Over 7,500 cases since Friday.

Augusta County         9,665                     111   200 cases since Friday

            Vaccinated (these numbers were updated since yesterday)

Virginia          10,609,562  (5,168,716 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.7% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.6% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,682  (38,248 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 50.6% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.  Not enough people got vaccinated over the weekend to raise this even 1/10th of 1%. 

October 5, 2021

I’ve played tennis with many people over my lifetime who hit the ball great during warmups then played poorly once the set began.  Today I was that person.  Warming up, I hit the ball well and felt good.  But once we started play, I moved like my legs were in concrete and sprayed the balls wide, deep, and in the net.  Our foursome consisted of Won, Lewis Moore, Danny Anson, and me.  When I played with both Won and Lewis, we lost.  The only time I won was when I played with Danny.  If I had played well we would have won all three sets.  Oh well, that’s what getting old is all about.

After tennis, I went to Central where I paid two bills, got the mail, and got a large box of food for Elizabeth’s family.  Then I went to Lowe’s and got the door knob set to replace the one that broke last night.  I surprised myself in that when I got home it only took me about 10 minutes max to get it installed.  I’m not a good fix-it person at all.  My skills are just awful when it comes to manual work.  My confidence is even lower than my competence.

Betsy got her first vaccination shot today.  Hooray!  But as I celebrate her good news, CNN has a story today of a Virginia family who lost a ten year old girl to COVID.  The poor girl was perfectly healthy, then got COVID and died within five days.  So sad.

Josh’s parents usually get Freddie on Tuesdays but we offered to trade them for Thursday since we’ll be going to southern West Virginia then.  Freddie has after-school reading now on Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting today, so my job was to pick him up from school at 4:45.  Lynn took Betsy to her dance classes this afternoon.

Before I picked him up, Henry came by the house to work a small set of Calculus problems.  As always, we both worked each problem and compared answers.  It didn’t take him 30 minutes to finish his assignment.  He does very well.

I had a sandwich at 3:45 which was the last I was allowed to eat before tomorrow morning’s MRI.  I am only allowed a swallow of water in order to take my nighttime and morning pills.  That’s it.  Plus, I had to give myself an enema.  Yuk!

Also before I picked Freddie up, I went to the grocery store and got a package of ice cream treats so he’d have one for having spent an extra 90 minutes at school.  He didn’t want to go home; he wanted to come here and play Wii-U.  What could I say?  I didn’t have anything to do and he ended up loving it when we played.  Of course, when he plays against me he clobbers me.  For me, getting clobbered has never been so much fun.

Lynn had an easy day today so she spent it doing some fun things.  She went with Cheryl Kent to Showalter’s Orchard in Timberville to get apples this afternoon.  Then she and her sister Kay went to El Sol in Harrisonburg for Taco Tuesday.  She also transported Betsy twice today; once from her vaccine at Walgreen’s in Verona back to her school.  Then, after school, she took her to ballet.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 5             Infected                   Died

World             236,519,024           4,829,920

US                     44,757,192              724,421               

Virginia                 878,518                12,955   1,500 new cases since yesterday

Augusta County         9,690                     112   25 new cases since yesterday

            Vaccinated (these numbers were updated since yesterday)

Virginia          10,621,554  (5,174,986 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.6% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,770  (38,286 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 50.7% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 6, 2021

If what follows is TMI I apologize.  As I’ve said many times, the reason I’ve done this blog is that it has been a pressure-reliever for me.  I worried about catching COVID-19 for months, complained about the slowness that the vaccines originally rolled out, and lately have been confounded by the ignorance of nearly half of the population who haven’t been vaccinated.  Writing has helped me express those frustrations. 

My MRI this morning was no fun.  With no breakfast nor coffee, I got to Sentara at 7:30 AM thanks to Lynn’s driving and was quickly taken back in to the imaging area.  Lynn dropped me and came back to meet me when it was over but I was on my own for the actual MRI.  They required another enema.  When I was a child I had an occasional enema but now I’ve had two in a 12 hour period.  They also took blood and put me on an IV so they could release the dye into my system for the MRI. 

The challenging part was that I was told I had to lie completely still for the entire time and that it would take between 30 and 40 minutes.  I was strapped to a large bed and inserted into a cylinder like a finger is inserted into a glove.  My head barely stuck out the far side.  I worried that my legs would cramp or that I’d have to go to the bathroom.  Fortunately, neither happened.  All during the experience I could hear loud clanging noises, whirring motors, and feel small hammer-like sensations on my back.  None hurt me and I had headphones to put a dent in the noise.  For many reasons I was happy to return home and fix some coffee and breakfast.  Who knows when I’ll get the results of the MRI.  My follow-up appointment with Dr. Gillock isn’t until December 22. 

When I start feeling sorry for myself, there are always reminders that I don’t have it so bad.  I overheard one man in the imaging area near me tell the technician that he had lost his wife to COVID-19.  Another couple Lynn talked to in the waiting room was dealing with the man’s cancer and a recent doubt with kidney stones.  At her lunch today, Lynn ate with Bonnie Ball and Pat Collins.  Bonnie told them how her husband Ron has now had dementia for the past sixteen years.  While they were there, another couple we’ve known since Kay’s volleyball playing days came in with the husband clearly showing how dementia is overtaking him.

Bonnie told them something that was profound.  They were talking about various people dying and the grief that is associated with that occasion.  But Bonnie pointed out that she had, in effect, been grieving all those sixteen years because her husband was not the man she married.  How sad!

I didn’t do much noteworthy all day long.  I did gather some trash and made a run to the dump between rain showers this afternoon.  And I got our mail held since we’ll only be here one day over the next 12 days that mail is delivered (next Monday). 

Ordinarily on Wednesdays I have Freddie after school.  Today he had a dentist appointment so Josh met him when he got off the bus.  Betsy also rode his bus today because she had a few math problems she wanted help with.  It only took us a few minutes to get it done.  That’s when I made my trash run.

This afternoon I got back the results of the blood test they did associated with my MRI.  I was told that this test would be done to test my kidney function.  There were two values reported:

The first was my CREATININE level.  The normal value is in the range 0.8 to 1.6.  Mine was 1.5 so that should be OK.  But the other value reported was something called POC-eGFR Non African American for which the normal level is 60 or higher.  Mine was 46.3.  When I looked this up online, it said that this value measures the kidney’s filtration rate and that I am in the range “mild to moderate loss of kidney function.”  That is scary.  Who knows what’s going on here.

So with that news to worry about I got another notice that the results of the MRI were posted.  Of course, these postings are in medical terminology not for lay people like myself to understand.  But I did gather this from the report:  I have a “PI-RADS 3 lesion within the left prostate apex.” And it said “Recommend follow-up prostate MRI in 6 months along with PSA trending.”  I read more online what the PI-RADS number means.  A PI-RAD of 1 means the lesion is likely benign.  A score of 2 means it is probably benign.  A score of 3 means it is indeterminant.  A score of 4 means it is probably malignant.  A score of 5 means it is likely malignant.  I’ll talk to Butch this weekend about his MRI but I’m betting this is the same result he got because he told me his MRI was “inconclusive.” 

All this just gives me more to worry about.  My plan is to try to call Dr. Gillock tomorrow and see if he will go over the test results with me via phone since my appointment with him isn’t until December 22 and I do not want to wait that long to find out what the tests show.

In the meantime, here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 6             Infected                   Died

World             236,992,560           4,838,375

US                     44,884,411              726,800               

Virginia                 882,437                12,999   Almost 4,000 new cases since yesterday

Augusta County         9,755                     112   65 new cases since yesterday

            Vaccinated (these numbers were updated since yesterday)

Virginia          10,630,604  (5,179,513 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.9% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.7% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,863  (38,344 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    But that still is only 50.7% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 7, 2021

Today was an unusual day.  It was my sister’s 76th birthday.  Originally, Butch was going to bring her to Bluefield WV where Lynn and I would meet them.  That plan got changed over time.  Mary K. decided that she couldn’t come since she was in the process of moving from the house she and Denny had lived in for nearly 50 years to a one story home near her daughter Kit.  In the meantime, Lynn invited Paul and Sandy Porterfield to meet us in Bluefield.  Then Butch started seeing Jackie.  So it ended up that Butch, Jackie, Paul, Sandy, Lynn, and I met in Bluefield though our only celebration of Mary K.’s birthday was to call her from the Bluefield Inn, the nice B & B in Bluefield where we all are staying for the weekend.

Lynn and I didn’t leave home until late morning because we knew the others wouldn’t be there until late afternoon.  She was nice enough to make English muffins for Butch and pepperoni rolls for Wiley.  She drove because we felt like her larger car would be better in case four of us wanted to ride in one vehicle. 

The ride here was uneventful except for a few miles outside of Bluefield.  Google maps had warned us of a 25 minute delay on I-77.  But there was a way to bypass the incident that caused the backup by taking US 52 for a few miles which we did.  Then we got back on I-77 and came on to Bluefield.

The Bluefield Inn is a large bed and breakfast where Butch stayed previously.  This is our first time here.  Lynn got an e-mail from the owner with directions on how to come in through the locked side door with a code so we unloaded all our belongings in our room without actually checking in.  The directions had told us that the room key would be in the room, which it was.  By the time we were in our rooms, the other four were still on their way.  Actually Butch and Jackie were caught in a delay on the West Virginia turnpike.  They told us to meet them in Bramwell.

Lynn and I got to Bramwell around 4:00.  By 4:30 Butch and Jackie were there.  We walked around town for a while including the During Avenue loop by our old house.  We were back in town by 5:00; Paul and Sandy got there soon afterward.

The six of us had agreed to eat dinner at Casa Familia in Bramwell.  It’s hard to believe that Bramwell has a Mexican restaurant.  I can guarantee you that nothing I ate tonight was ever eaten in the Hill household.  But it was delicious; all six of us enjoyed our meal there.  Lynn and I both had Pollo Loco which was a chicken and rice dish with vegetables and cheese.  We also had fresh guacamole on chips.  Yum!

Bramwell never changes much.  This time there is a bakery on Main Street though it wasn’t open today.  Neither was the train depot.  Both are supposedly open from 8:00 – 4:00 tomorrow so maybe we’ll go back though the weather forecast is for rain most of the day, unlike today where the weather was perfect.  The other defining part of town which wasn’t there when we grew up were the ATV vehicles.  There were plenty of them since the ATV trail is nearby.  Truly, this business has kept Bramwell going in these tough times, especially with COVID-19.

We all returned to the Bluefield Inn where Butch and I called Mary K.  She seemed quite chipper for 76.  It was good to hear her.  Then we turned in for the night with our next meeting at breakfast tomorrow.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 7             Infected                   Died

World             237,513,045           4,848,556

US                     45,016,895              730,136               

Virginia                 885,323                13,031   Almost 3,000 new cases since yesterday

Augusta County         9,802                     112   47 new cases since yesterday

            Vaccinated (these numbers were NOT updated since yesterday)

Virginia          10,630,604  (5,179,513 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.9% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.7% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,863  (38,344 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    But that still is only 50.7% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 8, 2021

Before this morning we really had no plan for the day but it turned out to be quite a nice day.  It began with a delicious breakfast including blueberry pancakes at the Bluefield Inn.  We then sat around and talked for quite a while before loading up and heading to the Bluefield City Park to walk.  It had rained until early morning but the rain stopped just as we began our hike around the park and the weather then stayed good the rest of the day. 

We walked around two miles at the park then headed straight to Bramwell.  We got there near noon.  We decided to eat lunch at the Corner Shop which proved to be a great choice.  Lynn had a peanut butter and chocolate milkshake for her lunch and I had a pepperoni roll and a sundae.  The six of us ate in the part of the building where the Chaparrals used to play on Saturday nights. 

Before going to Bramwell, Lynn, Sandy, and Jackie had stopped at Sam’s Club in Bluefield and  Dollar General in Bluewell to put together an art kit for the son of the proprietor at Casa Familia where we ate dinner yesterday.  During our dinner, this six year old had befriended them and showed them his art work which was really quite good for a tyke his age.  So Lynn had the idea to put together an art kit and take it to him today.  I don’t know who was touched more by this, the young boy or his mom.  They had to wait until he got off the school bus before giving it to him.

In the meantime, we also spent time at the museum at the Bramwell train depot.  I should mention that we also had purchased a new Bramwell book at the Corner Shop.  This book is a picture book featuring great photography by a man named Hal Brainard and a storyline by our old friend Betty Goins.  The pictures really show off Bramwell’s mansions.

After walking around Bramwell for a while, Butch and Jackie came back to Bluefield while Sandy, Paul, Lynn, and I drove to McComas, Sandy’s home growing up.  My how that part of the county has disintegrated!  It is sad to see how people there now live and reminds us all of how far we’ve come.  Indeed, we’ve all been blessed immeasurably.

By the time we returned to the Bluefield Inn, it was time to get ready for dinner.  Butch had made reservations for us at The Vault, a really upscale restaurant in downtown Bluefield.  Lynn and I had eaten there with him and cousin Becky earlier this year.  Our meal didn’t let us down.  I had chicken marsala.  Lynn has salmon.  Brother Butch kindly picked up the tab. 

Tomorrow Butch and Jackie are going to return to Athens.  Paul, Sandy, Lynn, and I will be staying one more night here.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 8             Infected                   Died

World             237,963,890           4,856,142

US                     45,130,780              732,324   Still 2,000 new US deaths each day               

Virginia                 888,159                13,075   Almost 3,000 new cases since yesterday

Augusta County         9,836                     113   34 new cases since yesterday and 1 death

            Vaccinated

Virginia          10,662,568  (5,196,313 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 81.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.9% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        75,058  (38,485 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 50.9% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 9, 2021

Our plans changed abruptly this morning.  We were booked to stay at the Bluefield Inn through tomorrow.  We knew Butch and Jackie would be leaving this morning but Paul and Sandy were going to stay on to Sunday.  But this morning, Paul and Sandy told us they wanted to leave today so they wouldn’t have to drive so long on Sunday.  I think they expected to be charged for the night no matter what.  But when they checked, they were told they could leave with no charge for Saturday night.  All of a sudden, Lynn and I were going to be in Bluefield by ourselves.  So, with nothing to lose, we asked if we could also bail early and were told yes.  So quickly we got all of our things together and checked out.

We began the day with another fine breakfast at the Bluefield Inn.  The people there were very good to us in every way.  For sure we’ll check into staying with them again in the future.

After everyone had checked out and Butch and Jackie headed for Ohio, the four of us drove to Burkes Garden VA.  We took two cars since neither of us was coming back to Bluefield afterwards.  We had heard that Burkes Garden was a very unusual part of Virginia with a high valley and lush gardens.  Its online description is “Enclosed by mountain ranges, the isolated valley is a relatively flat tract high in the Appalachian mountain chain. Created from a collapsed dome, the limestone continues to erode, leaving one of the best farming areas in Virginia.”  It took about 45 minutes for us to get there.

Our first stop was at Mattie’s Place General Store.  The reviews for this place were right on.  We ate a fine lunch there with sandwiches on homemade sourdough buns.  I had a ham and cheese sandwich while Lynn got a toasted cheese.  Lynn also bought some cinnamon buns for us to eat the next few mornings.

After Mattie’s, we drove the 12 mile loop around Burkes Garden.  We made two more stops.  First, we stopped at the old post office which doubled as an artisan shop with nice quilts.  The second stop was at the General Store.  The scenery was especially nice with green farms within the loop and colorful trees surrounding the valley.

We then parted company as the Porterfields headed to North Carolina while we headed back towards home.  However, on the way we were able to get in touch with Jim and met him and his boys at his house.  We went from there to a Chick Fil A for dinner.  It was a short but fun visit with Jim, Faron, and Coen.  The boys are so cute!  I believe school was worked well for them, too.  They seemed to be more outgoing and verbal.

We got home near 9:00.  Lynn did a good job driving.  We may have gotten home a day early but our stay here will still be shortlived because we leave at 7:00 AM on Tuesday morning for Salt Lake City.  We’ve got lots to do before then!

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

October 9             Infected                   Died

World             238,349,712           4,862,807

US                     45,179,209              733,058                           

Virginia                 888,159                13,075   Data not updated due to weekend

Augusta County         9,836                     113   Data not updated due to weekend

            Vaccinated

Virginia          10,677,782  (5,203,751 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 81.2% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 61.0% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        75,207  (38,568 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 51.0% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 10, 2021

This was a normal Sunday for us.  It included Sunday School, Church, going to the grocery store, preparing dinner for the Gutshall family, and enjoying their company for dinner and conversation afterwards.

I hadn’t participated in the Zoom Sunday School for a while but I joined back in today and even played the piano for the group again.  There were ten of us online.  No sooner than it was over, Lynn and I went to Central for the morning worship services.  There were around 35 people present. 

After that, we made a quick stop at a Dollar General then went to Kroger.  We just needed a few things for dinner so we were back home for lunch soon thereafter.  Lynn and I then peeled a bunch of apples to be cooked for dinner.  While she got them cooking, I went back to Central to do some treasurer’s work.  I paid three bills, filed some receipts, and submitted the quarterly federal tax return.  It took me around 90 minutes to get all this done.

When I got back home, I helped Lynn fix dinner though she did 80% of the work.  She fixed bacon, sausage, apples, and pancakes for dinner.  The pancakes alone took her over an hour.  She made a huge pan of them and kept them warm in the oven until the family got here.  My biggest job of the day was to run the dishwasher and empty it twice.  It was a good dinner, though, and I think everyone enjoyed it.

Ann, Josh, and kids were here until almost 9:00.  Tomorrow is not a school day for most of them; it is Indigenous Peoples’ Day (formerly Columbus Day).  So Josh is off from work and Augusta County Schools are closed for a teacher workday.  Ann is the only one in the family who has to go to school or work.

Tomorrow will be such a busy day for Lynn and me because we’ve got to get all our chores behind us and bags packed before we go to bed.  We need to be in bed early then because we’ll be getting up around 4:00 AM so we can be at the Charlottesville airport by 6:00 AM.

Looking forward to our Utah trip this coming week, I looked at the weather forecasts for Salt Lake City and Moab.  It will be chilly there.  One day, the high in Salt Lake City is supposed to be 43o with rain and snow!  We’ll be packing some warm clothes.  I believe the same day it is going to be so cold in Salt Lake City it will be 85o here.

The number of cases of COVID-19 have fallen, thankfully.  In 45 states, the rates of new Covid-19 cases either declined or stayed relatively steady this past week compared to the previous week, according to data Saturday from Johns Hopkins University.  Five states — Montana, Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania — had at least 10% more new cases this past week compared to the previous week.

Here are the COVID-19 statistics:

October 10           Infected                   Died

World             238,630,043           4,866,952

US                     45,179,209              733,058                           

Virginia                 888,159                13,075   Data not updated due to weekend

Augusta County         9,836                     113   Data not updated due to weekend

            Vaccinated

Virginia          10,690,584  (5,210,704 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 81.3% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 61.0% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        75,282  (38,614 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 51.1% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 11, 2021

I panicked a little this morning when I noticed that my Symbicort prescription (an inhaler) was almost empty.  With our trip beginning very early tomorrow and today being a holiday, I was worried.   I didn’t know if Kroger’s pharmacy would be open.  Plus, the box said I had 0.67 refills left and I didn’t know if that meant they’d fill it or not.  Finally, Kroger has been awful lately about getting my prescriptions filled, sometimes taking days.  Nonetheless, I called and called them this morning until I got someone on the phone.  I gave her the prescription number and, luckily, she said it could be refilled.  She said it would be ready by mid afternoon.  By 12:30 I had it in my hand.  Whew!

CNN had some good news today about COVID-19.  The number of Americans getting a dose of Covid-19 vaccine has jumped to about 1 million a day, according to data this past week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  New cases are declining, with about 93,814 infections reported each day this past week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Daily Covid-19 deaths are slowly decreasing, with an average of 1,692 deaths per day.  And, Merck said Monday it is seeking US Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization for its experimental antiviral Covid-19 treatment, molnupiravir.  Plus, the booster shot for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson has been submitted to the FDA for approval.  In our family, Butch and Ann both got the Moderna vaccine and are waiting for their booster.

I was determined to get everything done today that had to be done before our Utah trip.  It began with a trip to the dump this morning.  After I got our trash and the Gutshall’s loaded up, it occurred to me that the dump might not be open but it was.  Another reason to be thankful!

I packed throughout the day today.  My goal was to be able to get up and in the car in minutes tomorrow since we’ve got to be at the Charlottesville airport by 6:00 for our 7:03 flight.  I’ve packed lots of warm clothes because the weather forecast continues to be one of cold, even some snow.

I had a 2:40 appointment for my annual physical exam scheduled with Dr. LaGrua but I had an hour to kill beforehand so I cut our grass.  It was quite high; I’m tickled that I was able to get it cut before our trip.

My physical went fine.  Dr. LaGrua was concerned about a few pre-cancerous places on my skin which he froze off.  But I had one place on my nose he thought might be beyond that so he took a biopsy of it and will send it off.  He said that even if it is cancerous, this isn’t the type of cancer that spreads and it can be cut out.  We’ll decide what to do when the results of the biopsy come back.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 11           Infected                   Died

World             238,954,364           4,871,792

US                     45,270,612              734,262                           

Virginia                 888,159                13,075   Data not updated due to holiday

Augusta County         9,836                     113   Data not updated due to holiday

            Vaccinated

Virginia          10,694,251  (5,212,441 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 81.3% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 61.1% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        75,294 (38,621 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 51.1% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 12, 2012

The day started with the alarm going off at 4:15 AM.  Actually I had awaken and gotten up a little before that.  We had to hustle to eat our breakfast, finish packing, load up, and drive to Charlottesville in order to get there by 6:00.  We were out the door at 4:55.

Though the valley was foggy, Afton Mountain was clear so we sailed on to Charlottesville and up US 29 (even getting most every light green) and got to the airport at 5:55.  I dropped Lynn and most of our baggage off so she could go inside and check us in and get our boarding passes while I parked the car in the Economy lot and walked back to the terminal.  Everything went as planned and we were through the TSA security check and onto our gate in plenty of time. 

The flight to Charlotte NC left on time and was very smooth.  It took around an hour.  We got there early so we had sufficient time to walk through the terminal (quite a long hike) to the next gate for our flight from Charlotte to Salt Lake City.  Actually this flight left a few minutes late though it got to Salt Lake City on time.  For the most part, it was another smooth flight.  This one took 4 ½ hours.  Lynn and I kept busy by watching various movies and news shows.

With the two hour time differential, we arrived in Salt Lake City around noon.  It took a while to walk to the car rental kiosk and get our Thrifty vehicle, a Nissan.  We arranged this through AAA in Charlottesville; one advantage of doing so is that not only did we get a discount but we could add Lynn as a driver for no additional charge. 

We were quite hungry by this time since our breakfast had happened long before this (and our stomachs thought it was near 3:00 instead of 1:00 Central Time.  Just before we had exited the plane, Lynn asked the girl sitting beside us if she was local and she said yes.  Lynn then asked for a recommendation for lunch and she quickly said Red Iguana.  It turned out that the Red Iguana restaurant wasn’t far from the airport so we went straight there. 

It was a good choice.  They had wonderful, authentic Mexican food.  We both had combination meals.  For example, I had an enchilada, a taco, and a chile reyeno.  Plus we had chips with guacamole.  Yum!  This was our only big meal of the day.

Next we headed south on I-15.  Our overall plan was to drive two and a half hours south of Salt Lake City today so we could more quickly get to Capitol Reef National Park tomorrow.  Unfortunately there are no hotels anywhere near Capitol Reef so we settled for Richfield UT.  Our drive to the park tomorrow morning will be almost an hour and a half. 

On the way, we decided to take a 30 minute detour to see a nice Utah waterfall, Bridal Falls near Provo.  It was raining at the time so it was hard to get pictures but we got a few good takes of this 600’ waterfall.  Then we drove toward Richfield.  Our drive took us right through the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo. 

It rained for the first half of the drive.  However, for much of the time on I-15 the speed limit was 80 mph and I didn’t drive under that.  We noticed that on some of the distant mountains there was snow on top.  The further south we drove, the closer that snow seemed to come.

Indeed, the thermometer on the car first read around 40o, then it started dropping.  It got as low as 34o especially on some of the higher parts of the road (one summit, for example, was 6250 ft. in elevation).  So the closer we got to Richfield the more the precipitation was snow! 

The temperature never got to freezing so the road conditions were OK but the snow actually came right up to the edge of the road.  Lynn and I both took pictures to verify this.  It was very, very scenic with high mountains, red rock formations, evergreen trees scattered around and white snow covering it all.

We got to Richfield at 6:00 and checked in at the Fairfield Inn.  Lynn had already found us a place for dinner—an ice cream dinner.  We ate ice cream at Ideal Dairy not far from our hotel.  It was good ice cream.  We talked to the girl who served us who was obviously a high school student.  She said that in Utah masks were optional for students and teachers.  We told her how in Virginia this wasn’t the case—masks are mandatory for everyone, vaccinated or not. 

We returned back to the hotel and checked into bed early.  Well, I got to bed around 8:30 which would have been 10:30 in Virginia.  Lynn was fast asleep by that time.

I’m not going to fool with COVID-19 updates on this trip.  I’ll get everything up-to-date when we get back home.

October 13, 2021

What a full day!  We began the day before dawn and ended the day at dusk in Canyonlands National Park.  The day started with a combination of two breakfasts:  one at McDonald’s in Richfield (this is Educator week so McDonald’s is giving free breakfasts) and one at the Fairfield Inn.  Together we both got plenty to eat before heading out for Capitol Reef, around 90 minutes away. 

Between Richfield and Capitol Reef was a stretch of the Rocky Mountains.  This meant snow!  Fortunately the roads were OK but there was plenty of snow all around.  The temperature was 19o at times.  But the drive was very, very pretty as the white snow matched with the green bushes and the red rock formations. 

Much, much of Utah is barren.  There is little vegetation, no animal life, no human life, no stores, just good roads.  The roads are straight and in excellent condition. 

Our plan was to spend most of the morning at Capitol Reef then drive the 2 ½ hour drive to Canyonlands and spend the rest of the day there.  We ended up spending a little more time at Capitol Reef, mostly due to the fact that we took a hike to one of its most scenic areas, a rock bridge, the Hickman Bridge, which involved a rather tough hike that was listed as only one mile long but I’m sure it was much longer.  When we got back to the car we had walked over 7,000 steps.  (We ended the day with much more than 10,000 each).

Before that, we had stopped at the Visitor Center and gotten some very good advice.  We were told that we could drive all along the scenic drive, a 12 mile drive into Capitol Reef.  There were numerous places to stop and take photos.  For this park, most of your looking and photos are taken looking upward.  (Canyonlands is the opposite; most are taken looking down).

The drive to Canyonlands took a full 2 ½ hours.  Plus, we stopped for lunch at the Tamerisk Restaurant in a town between the two parks.  We didn’t get to Canyonlands until around 3:30.

Fortunately, the rangers there gave us some excellent advice on how to spend the rest of the day there.  They said to drive along its highway to Grand View Point, stopping at the vistas along the way to take pictures.  Then, work our way back by stopping at the Mesa Arch, which involved a two mile hike, and end up at the Green River overlook.  We did just that.  The scenery was awesome.  I don’t think my pictures could possibly represent the beauty.  Not only did I take around 170 photos but Lynn also took around 80 herself, all of which I uploaded to my Flickr account. 

We left Canyonlands right at sundown.  It was a 40 minute drive to Moab.  Our first stop was at an ice cream store we had found online.  But it was closed!  Fortunately, right beside it was a restaurant which had take-out ice cream which was actually very good.  Lynn got a milkshake and I had a cone.

We then checked in at the Comfort Suites.  This time we are staying on points which is saving us almost $300.  The room at the Moab Comfort Suites was as nice as any hotel we’ve stayed it in ages.

Exausted again, Lynn fell asleep before I could even get out of the shower.  Tomorrow is another full day.  Our plan is to spend it at Arches National Park, probably the prettiest of all the parks we’re seeing on this trip.  But we’ve read that the park fills up quickly and some people are forced to wait hours just to get in.  So we want to get there well before 8:00 AM.

October 14, 2021

We saved the best national park on our trip for the last.  Arches National Park has many more photographic spots and annual visitations than Capitol Reef and Canyonlands.  So we dedicated all day today, Thursday, to Arches.

This meant arriving there by 7:00 because we had heard that sometimes the park is so crowded they stop letting people in.  Several websites said to be there before 8:00 and we certainly were.  The sun was just starting to rise as we passed through the entrance station (using our lifetime national parks pass—something which has saved us tons of money through the years).  The Visitor Center didn’t open until 8:00 but, fortunately, I had found a website which listed the 16 top things to do at Arches.  We ended up doing most of them. 

All three national parks have a center highway with side roads leading to attractions an many pull-off places for photos.  The road at Arches was nineteen miles long with the visitor center at the very beginning.  But since it wasn’t open we drove to a place that had three arches:  North Window, South Window, and Turret.  We walked and took pictures at each of these, then drove to a tall structure called Balanced Rock.  By that time, it was after 8:00 so we returned to the Visitor Center.

At the Visitor Center, Lynn got a second walking stick.  I had bought one for her at Canyonlands which she really liked.  But she wanted a second one so she got a matching one at the Arches Visitor Center. 

There are over 2,000 arches in Arches National Park so, of course, we only saw a small subset of them.  We did get to all of the main ones and, in so doing, walked over 16,000 steps.  We were in the park for seven hours in all.

The weather was great again though a little chilly.  We have been so lucky in the weather during all of our travels.  This park wouldn’t be much fun to visit in a driving rainstorm.  But we had sun a-plenty.  And, perhaps due to the weather and the time of year, the park wasn’t overly crowded.  We were able to park at every overlook and vista we stopped at. 

Arches has more than arch formations.  There are lots of buttes and enormous rock structures reaching for the sky.  We particularly liked Park Avenue, Double Arch, Delicate Arch, Fiery Furnace, Garden of Eden, Pine Tree Arch, Broken Arch, Sand Dune Arch, and the largest arch in the park, Landscape Arch.  My pictures of all of these capture some, but not all, of their beauty.  The pictures I like best are ones that have the snow capped mountains in the background.  Together, Lynn and I took over 250 pictures.

Around 2:00 we had seen our last arch and were at the very end of the 19 mile road at a point called Devils Garden.  We decided to eat a late lunch in Moab then head back to Salt Lake City.

We had heard about a diner in Moab, Moab Diner, and picked that for lunch.  It was a good choice.  We each had hamburgers plus their “Sweetwater Potatoes.” 

The drive back to Salt Lake City was a long one, around four hours long.   The roads in Utah are superb.  The interstates have plenty of lanes with 80 mph speed limits.  The state roads usually have four lanes, all straight as an arrow with 65 mph speed limits.  Our drive back took us across a mountain range where the temperature dropped to 31o and we had some blowing snow though the roads were fine. 

About an hour from Salt Lake City, we were both a little hungry and found online an ice cream store in Provo called Penguin Ice Cream.  It was a very good choice.  We were the only customers in the store and the two young men who were there were very talkative.  We talked with them about mask wearing, vaccinations, and the fact that Provo, with Brigham Young University, had no bars. 

We got to our hotel around 8:00, worn out from a long day of walking and driving.  We both agreed that we had planned our visits to these three parks well and delighted that everything, including the weather, had gone so well.  We are so blessed!

October 15, 2021

Our final full day in Utah!  Our final full day in Utah!  We did our familiar breakfast routine whereby we got the free breakfast from a nearby McDonalds for Lynn thanks to her educator status, and combined it with the breakfast at the Comfort Suites.  The McDonalds breakfast got Lynn her sweet tea and she gave me the sausage biscuit.  We shared the hash browns. 

Lynn came up with an idea of taking a City Tours tour of Salt Lake City.  It proved to be a fine idea.  We had to meet the tour at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City but that was easy to find.  In fact, we found free on-street parking just a few blocks away.

The tour’s bus driver was delightful.  He was knowledgeable and humorous.  He took us to several highlights of Salt Lake City beginning with its iconic train station, known for where the golden spike was driven uniting the railroad from the Atlantic to the Pacific.  From there we drove past several well-known homes on to the state capitol building.  We had several minutes inside the capitol to explore and take pictures.  Notable here was a statute to the first female Senator in the US, Martha Hughes Cannon, who won the election by defeating her husband the other ticket.  We also learned how the beehive came to be the symbol for Utah after Brigham Young had ventured into the area and chose that symbol.  There were two lion statutes outside the building—the driver joked that one was a Republican and the other a Democrat because they are both known to always be  “lion.”

From there we went to a Catholic church, Cathedral of the Madelene, which had spectactular stained glass windows and even an immersion font, unusual for the Catholic Church.  Then we drove to a Pioneer Center named This is the Place.  But the best part of the tour was what came next:  we went to the Mormon Tabernacle for the noon organ recital.  We only made it there for a couple of songs but it was fantastic. 

Temple Square has three main buildings:  the Tabernacle where the famous choir presents concerts and the daily organ recitals are held, Assembly Hall which is a beautiful Church of the Latter Day Saints, and the Temple which is off-limits to the public now as it is going through a major renovation to make it earthquake safe. 

After the tour was over, we drove to a pizza store which was highly recommended to us, Settebello.  This restaurant reminded us to much of Italy.  It had a wood fired grill and had an adjoining gelato store.  We had a magnificent pizza there with olives, prosciutto, and artichokes.  We also had an appetizer with dates.  It was a great meal.

From there, we walked to the City Center in Salt Lake City.  Salt Lake City is a very safe city to walk in.  Lynn found a jewelry store, Kendra Scott, which had a beehive ornament for her Pandora travel bracelet.  We then decided to walk back to Temple Square where young Mormons were giving tours of the Square as part of their missionary work.

Our two tour guides were young girls, both from Texas.  One was bilingual which was good because part of our small tour group was Hispanic.  Their tour included another stop for us at both the Assembly Hall and the Tabernacle.  It was obvious that both girls were very committed to the Mormon Church. 

After that, we walked back to our car and headed for Antelope Island in the midst of the Great Salt Lake.  This journey took us around an hour and we didn’t get there until almost 5:00.  We had hoped to go to the Visitor Center but it turned out they closed at 4:00.  This part of our trip was the only disappointing part.  For one thing, the Great Salt Lake wasn’t so great.  It is stunning how much the lake has shrunk.  There were beaches on Antelope Island but by now the water was hundreds of yards from the beach houses.  Much of the lake had dried up.  We spent little time there because there was little to do.  We did get to see some bison which roam on the island and I got some great pictures of the Rocky Mountains over part of the water with their reflection in the lake.

We ended our day by driving to a creamery not too far from our hotel, Leatherby’s Family Creamery.  It was a busy place.  As usual, Lynn got a milkshake and I got a couple scoops of ice cream.  On our way back to the hotel, we stopped at a Costco where I filled the rental car up with gas and Lynn bought some treats with a Utah connection.

We got back to our hotel around 8:00 and were in bed not long afterwards.  This would likely be our last night in Utah ever.

October 16, 2021

We were up shortly after 5:00 AM but this was Mountain time so I guess our bodies were anxious to get back on Eastern time.  We had breakfast at the Comfort Suites then left shortly after 7:00 for the airport since we had to turn the rental car in and make our way through security on to our gate for the departure.  Having our TSA Pre-check clearance helped us avoid the long lines at the security gates at the airport.

The rental car, a Nissan Altima, had done well for us.  We ended up riding in it almost 1,000 miles on this trip.  The rental was expensive but worth it.

Our flight home did not go as planned.  We flew from Salt Lake City to Dallas/Fort Worth then were supposed to fly to Charlotte and were scheduled to then fly to Charlottesville on the last flight of the night from Charlotte to Charlottesville.  Our initial flight left at 10:00 AM and the arrival was scheduled in Charlottesville in 9:37 PM.  The flight from Salt Lake City to Dallas was on time and smooth.  But no sooner than we arrived at the gate in Dallas for the next flight from Dallas to Charlotte we found out that it had been delayed by 45 minutes, leaving at 4:15 instead of 3:27.  That made it arriving in Charlotte at 7:45 instead 7:06.  The issue was that our flight from Charlotte to Charlottesville was scheduled to leave at 8:25.  I got a text from American Airlines saying “Due to a delay, you may miss your connecting flight to CHO.”   Later we had more delays and didn’t actually leave Dallas until around 5:00.  Plus, we were seated in the 30th row which we knew would slow us in getting to the next flight even more.  We were pretty well convinced that we wouldn’t catch the flight from Charlotte to Charlottesville.  The agent in Charlotte told us there would be an agent in Charlotte who would assist us in getting a place to stay.

The flight from Dallas landed in Charlotte around 8:05.  It took us until 8:15 to get off the plane.  Knowing that the airlines close the entry doors well before takeoff time, we were even more pessimistic about making it home tonight.  Worse, the Dallas plane landed at gate B3 and we had to get to gate E6 for the Charlottesville flight.  These gates were quite distant. 

Nonetheless, we hustled, nudging past people who were riding on the horizontal walkways and walking in a much faster pace than we do in 5K walks.  I can’t speak for Lynn but I was definitely out of breath as we rounded the corner in view of gate E6.  The agent was there holding the door for us with new boarding passes for us in her hand!  We were the last two on the plane and were quickly whisked down the walkway and up the steps onto the airplane.  Someone took our suitcases so we wouldn’t have to worry about them.  We had made it!  We were on the plane by 8:30 and it immediately pulled out.

So this trip had it all…scenery, new places to visit, snow, good food, and now excitement!  Thinking back on all the trips we’ve taken, we have had extraordinary good luck with flights, weather, and itineraries on nearly all of them.  We’ve traveled now to 49 states (all except Hawaii) and 7 foreign countries (Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Panama, Spain, Peru, and Italy).  Travel has always made me appreciate our world more and appreciate my home more.  Lynn is a superb traveling companion.  If anything, we get along better when we travel than we do at home. 

We’ve had two really good domestic trips in the past two months, Oregon and Utah.  I hope we can continue to do vacations like these.  Who knows where we’ll go next?  I am very thankful that we have the health and wealth to be able to make these trips.  And I’m especially thankful to Ann and Josh’s family for accommodating us since we normally help them out more when we’re in Mount Sidney.

The suspense and elation for the last flight from Charlotte to Charlottesville was a fitting end for this trip.  In short, we made it.

The flight to Charlottesville went quickly.  Soon we were on I-64 coming back home.  We were a little hungry so we stopped at the Cook Out in Waynesboro for 99¢ milkshakes.  We got home around 11:30 feeling very good about the past five days.

October 17, 2021

Back to Eastern time and the normal routine!  We both slept in after getting to bed so late last night.  But we both had busy mornings.  Lynn washed several loads of clothes and I did the Zoom Sunday School plus played the piano for it, then picked Betsy up so both of us could do bell choir rehearsal at 10:15 prior to performing at the 11:00 service.  It was my first time playing the bells in over a year and Betsy’s first time ever.  But the prelude the choir (seven of us) played sounded good.

This afternoon, I helped fix some apples for our dinner tonight then did lots of picture work with the 700 photos I took in Utah.  I had to back them up on my external hard drive, copy them to the downstairs Mac, upload them to the Photos app on that computer, then pick out 50 of the 700 as favorites to include in my 2021 Favorite folder. 

The Gutshalls didn’t come over until around 6:00 since Betsy had play practice from 3:00 – 6:00 in Waynesboro.  She is one busy gal!  We had a good supper, thanks to Lynn and chili from Central UMC.  Lynn fixed stuffed mushrooms, quesadillas, and the apples.

We talked to all three children today.  Before the Gutshalls came over Kay called and after we had finished eating Jim called.  It is always good to hear their voices.

I have a busy day tomorrow.  I’ll go to Central and start some my treasurer’s work before Sam Richardson comes to count.  Then we’ll do the count and deposit from today’s service.  I know I’ll have some bills to pay and some data to update regarding our investment accounts.  After that, I have an ultrasound at Augusta Health for my kidneys.  Freddie’s bus comes here at 3:15 then Henry is going to come over for some calculus work.

I haven’t entered COVID-19 data since we left for Utah so I’m going to post today’s numbers here.  The Virginia cases won’t be accurate since this is a weekend and they don’t update them on weekends.  A CNN article I read today told how the number of cases throughout America is down now.

October 17           Infected                   Died

World             241,456,031           4,913,948

US                     45,792,532              744,546   10,000 more deaths since Oct. 11                   

Virginia                 902,938                13,391  

Augusta County         9,884                     114  

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,094,629  (5,288,223 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 81.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.0% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        80,930 (39,044 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 51.7% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.  Nationwide, around 57% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

October 18, 2021

I had a lot of catch-up to do on my treasurer’s duties at Central since we were away nearly all last week.  I worked there from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM.  I reconciled a credit card, entered the deposit from last week (since I wasn’t here when they counted), paid four bills, counted yesterday’s offering with Sam Richardson, made that deposit, got the mail, helped Janet withdraw some money from her personal annuity, and entered data for the third quarter from two of our investment accounts.  You’d think that would be all I needed to do but I ran out of time before I could set up the payroll for the October 31 pay date and pay the associated insurance bills associated with it.  I’ll likely do those tomorrow.

I ran out of time because I had a 1:30 appointment for an ultrasound.  I got to Augusta Health a few minutes early and didn’t have to wait long before I was taken back.  The ultrasound was nothing compared to the MRI.  For the MRI I had to lie perfectly still for around 45 minutes inside a capsule.  For the ultrasound, a technician merely had me lift my shirt while she made numerous pictures using an instrument which she rolled around my bladder and two kidneys.  I tried to see if she would give me an indication about what she found but she wouldn’t.  She did ask me at one point if I ever had kidney stones which I have not.  She said it would take 2 – 3 days to get back the results.

I was home in plenty of time for Freddie’s bus but it turned out I didn’t have to be there because Lynn was also home.  Before his bus came, Henry and Gus pulled up so I could help Henry with a few calculus problems he had.  It didn’t take us long to get them done and then all three boys went home.

Lynn had been cooking a lot during the day including a chicken pot pie meal she made for our dinner.  It was delicious and there is plenty for the next few days.  We also had some leftover stuffed mushrooms and applesauce.  We ate quickly because we wanted to get food from Central for both Elizabeth’s family and Juan Pablo.  Elizabeth had texted Lynn that she would be at home until 6:15 so we had to hustle.

We went to Central and filled two boxes for each of the families.  Then we spent a good bit of time on the road as we drove to Mount Solon to take Elizabeth’s food to her family then drove to Waynesboro to take Juan Pablo’s.  We then got the 99¢ milkshakes from Cook Out and came home.  It was a busy day for both of us!

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

October 18           Infected                   Died

World             241,838,567           4,919,388

US                     45,881,767              745,740   1,200 deaths since yesterday               

Virginia                 907,882                13,486  

Augusta County         9,964                     118   4 deaths since yesterday

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,107,332  (5,292,282 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 81.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.0% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        80,974 (39,063 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 51.7% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 19, 2021

Today was another day for me to do catch-up work as Central’s treasurer.  This morning I set up the payroll for October 31 and paid several “payroll liabilities.”  Payroll liabilities are essentially bills that are paid on behalf of someone who works for you and is entitled to have it paid for them.  For example, federal and state taxes are payroll liabilities.  Today I paid the quarterly Virginia income tax.  I had paid the federal tax last week.  Later I paid the monthly bill for the pastor’s health insurance and retirement which are also payroll liabilities. 

When I came home I cut all of the grass.  Lynn was having her two Cheryl friends over during this time.  I tried to keep my mower away from them as much as possible but they ended up abandoning the pergola for the back porch because of my noise. 

I wanted to get all of these things behind me before my appointment this afternoon with Dr. LaGrua.  He wanted to go back over my blood test results with me, some of which were not in the normal ranges, and he had to remove the stitch he had put in my nose when he did the biopsy on it.  He had four more vials of blood drawn from me today to do additional tests.  The results should be back in a couple of days.

I got through just in time to pick up Freddie at school and bring him here.  He and I played a game of “PIG” on the basketball court which he won, as usual.  Then Ann came and picked him up along with a casserole Lynn had made. 

Lynn and I then headed for Harrisonburg where we made multiple stops.  Our first was at El Sol since today was Taco Tuesday.  We tried to limit the amount we ate there because we had plans for dessert later.  She only ate two of the small tacos.  I had four.  She and I split chips and guacamole. 

Then we went to Aldi and Kroger for some groceries then to Costco for gas and a few items.  I had a list of things to get for Janet, the custodian at Central.  After all of our shopping was done we drove to Smiley’s.  Today was the last day for Smiley’s in this location; they will be closed tomorrow then re-open on Thursday at the new location about ½ mile from their current one.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we visit the new store Thursday evening.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 19           Infected                   Died

World             242,306,769           4,928,239

US                     45,996,273              748,674   2,900 deaths since yesterday               

Virginia                 909,499                13,538   52 deaths since yesterday       

Augusta County         9,970                     118   Only six new cases – good!

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,126,822  (5,297,364 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 81.9% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.1% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        81,065 (39,094 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 51.7% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.  That is just inexcusable.

October 20, 2021

CNN reported today that vaccine advisers to the FDA are scheduled to meet next week to consider Pfizer’s request to authorize its vaccine to children ages 5 to 11.  And in a related article, the White House unveiled its plans to roll out the vaccines for these children pending US Food and Drug Administration authorization.  The Biden administration has secured enough vaccine supply to vaccinate the 28 million children ages 5 to 11 who would become eligible for vaccination if the vaccine is authorized for that age group and will help equip more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care offices, hundreds of community health centers and rural health clinics as well as tens of thousands of pharmacies to administer the shots, according to the White House.

Today I spent a few hours working on a project for my sister.  I first looked through pictures that I have of her and her family over the past few years including Thanksgivings, Lancaster vacations, her 50th anniversary, Vic’s wedding this past summer in Maine, and a few others.  I selected twelve pictures that represented all of her family and ones that were decent photos.  I first tried to use a program called Motif to put the twelve pictures together so they could be printed and framed but I eventually gave up on it and, as I have done with the homemade birthday cards I’ve made, I used MS Word to create an 8.5 x 11 picture collage with the twelve pictures on it.  Initially I thought I’d take it to Staples to get it printed but then I remembered what good quality our own printer does with the cards I’ve made so I printed it here.

The result, printed on card stock, looked good so then I started looking for picture frames in the basement.  We have a LOT of frames shelved away and I found an 8 x 10 frame.  The issue is that the one I printed was a little too large for the frame since it was 8.5 x 11.  So then I came back and resized some of the pictures to get it down to 8 x 10.  I printed it again and put it in the frame.  It was OK but I still wasn’t 100% satisfied.  Then I had another idea:  I’d go to Walmart and buy one of the document frames they sell there specifically for 8.5 x 11 documents. 

When I got to Walmart and found a nice frame I had another idea.  I looked in the office section there and found a package of photo paper with a glossy side.  So then I came home, printed it again, this time on photo paper, and inserted it into the new frame I’d bought.  Voila!  I like the result and will be happy to give this to Mary Katherine as a combination birthday and house warming gift since she has moved to a new house.

This afternoon all of the Gutshall kids came to our house.  Henry and Gus came because Henry wanted to do another set of math problems and Gus always rides with Henry from school.  Betsy rode the bus with Freddie.  I really like working the Calculus problems with Henry.  He does well so I’m not just working the problems for him.  I work them alongside him.

I haven’t been forthcoming in something that has been bothering me a lot so here it is.  Within the past month I have had a MRI to find if there are issues with my prostate, an ultrasound to check my kidneys and bladder, and two visits to my doctor, one of which was my annual physical.  The MRI results were that indeed I have a very enlarged prostate and a very, very small lesion which is basically too small to identify as malignant or benign.  The other issue is that my blood tests have not come back as they should have.  I have had lots of blood tests done this past month.  On all of them, the results show that something is not right.  My red blood cells are not carrying enough oxygen to the rest of my body.  I have seen the word anemia several times in reading the results (all of the test results show up on MyChart, a Carillion site, which I have access to).  And the anemia points to something else going on in my body which is not right.  Kidney issues are likely as the blood tests which measure kidney function are not in the normal range.  Perhaps my large prostate is affecting my kidney functions.  Perhaps I have kidney stones.  Perhaps I have something more serious.  I’m not sure yet and, of course, I worry.  I’ve used this blog to be a pressure-releaser throughout the COVID-19 pandemic so tonight I’m using it to do the same for my current medical condition.

I do not have lots of symptoms.  I generally have no pain and do what I want to do.  I plan to play tennis tomorrow morning.  The more I read about possible causes the more I begin to feel strange things in my body but I suspect all of those are psychosomatic.  I do not have the results yet from the ultrasound.  The technician said I should have them by Thursday or Friday.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 20           Infected                   Died

World             242,731,123           4,936,239

US                     46,059,004              751,328   2,700 deaths since yesterday               

Virginia                 911,321                13,585   47 deaths since yesterday       

Augusta County       10,019                     118   48 new cases since yesterday.  Yuck!

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,153,011  (5,303,626 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 82.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.1% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        81,336 (39,150 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 51.8% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

October 21, 2021

I’m really puzzled about the blood tests I referred to yesterday.  I feel fine.  Today I played 1 ¾ hours of tennis and actually played better than I usually do.  How could I do that if I have anemia?  It doesn’t make sense to me.  I’m anxiously awaiting the results of the ultrasound.

After playing tennis, I came home and made a run to the trash dump with a stop at the Gutshall’s house to get theirs.  I had a full truck load.  It was good that I went today because we’ll be in Altoona tomorrow and when we get back on Saturday I’ll have a busy schedule with Jim and his boys going to the Overlook Produce corn maze along with Ann’s family.

My afternoon was boring except that at about 4:00 Ann texted about that she hadn’t heard from Betsy.  Lynn and I didn’t have it on our calendar that we were supposed to take her to dance today which started at 4:30.  Quickly I called Betsy and asked her to ask Henry to bring her to Mt. Pisgah UMC where I’d meet them and take her on to dance.  I was scheduled to pick up Freddie at Clymore at 4:45 but Lynn said she could get him.  Henry and Betsy came to Mt. Pisgah around 4:20 and we made it to her dance just a minute or so late.   Lynn went to Clymore Elementary School to pick up Freddie.  Ann had a faculty meeting after school and couldn’t make it in time.  Josh came by soon thereafter to get him since he had soccer practice tonight.  So everything worked out even though it was a little frantic at times.

Tonight, Lynn and I ate dinner at home consisting of country ham sandwiches we purchased from Henry as a fundraiser for the FDHS basketball team.  Lynn also made both sweet potato fries and regular fries in her new air fryer.  Then we went to Dollar Tree and Walmart in Dayton before stopping by the new Smiley’s ice cream store outside of Bridgewater for ice cream.  Today was their first day at the new location.  Their ice cream tasted just as good here as it did at the previous location.  Yum!

Tomorrow Lynn and I are leaving early for Altoona.  We plan to get there around noon and catch lunch with Mary Katherine.  By mid to late afternoon, Butch and Jackie are set to arrive so we can celebrate Mary K.’s 76th birthday plus her new home.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 21           Infected                   Died

World             243,240,329           4,944,687

US                     46,172,984              753,737   2,400 deaths since yesterday              

Virginia                 913,100                13,624   39 deaths since yesterday       

Augusta County       10,041                     121   3 new deaths since yesterday

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,178,237  (5,308,944 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 82.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.2% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        81,436 (39,180 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 51.9% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

October 22, 2021

Today was our day to visit Mary Katherine in Altoona.  We left home before 8:00 AM and with a stop for gasoline, a couple of stops for bathroom breaks, and one at a Jo Ann Fabric for Lynn, we were at the Comfort Suites in Altoona around 12:30.  We had called Mary K. on the way and made arrangements for her to call in a lunch order at an Italian restaurant which we picked up on our way to her house.

Her new house seems like a good fit for her.  It is primarily a one story home with her bedroom on the same level as the kitchen, living room, and bathroom.  It does have a very large basement and she even has one of those lift chairs for the stairway leading to it.  She should be set in that home for years.  She is partially unpacked though the process will undoubtedly take weeks more.  I can’t imagine how much work it took to get her to this point.  Her daughter Kit and son Joseph said they worked eight consecutive weekends cleaning out the old house.

We had a good lunch at her house and helped her with a few minor details of getting the house ready for Butch and Jackie’s visit.  They got there around 5:00.  Almost simultaneously, Kit and her two children, Leo and Nora, also came.  These three couldn’t stay long, though, due to homecoming activities at their school.

The five of us had a good dinner.  Mary K. was very talkative, as usual, but we all got along well, I felt, and did some planning for our Thanksgiving which will be in Athens, OH this year.

After dinner nephew Joseph stopped in.  We had a good visit with him and got caught up on his four children.  Daughter Bailey is applying for dental schools for this fall and just had her gall bladder removed yesterday.  She is doing well.  Daughter Jordan is in law school, son Brennan is at Penn State, and daughter Paxton is a freshman at the local Catholic high school, Bishop Guilfoyle.  That’s the same school that their cousins Nora and Leo attend.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 22           Infected                   Died

World             243,729,114           4,953,327

US                     46,262,337              755,647   1,900 deaths since yesterday              

Virginia                 914,755                13,668   44 deaths since yesterday       

Augusta County       10,070                     121   Only 29 new cases since yesterday

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,199,426  (5,314,170 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 82.2% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.3% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        81,609 (39,204 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 51.9% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

October 23, 2021

What a long Saturday!  We both were up shortly after 5:00 AM this morning and on the way home by 6:00 AM.  We wanted to make sure we were home in time for Freddie’s 11:20 soccer game.  Actually, with light traffic and no road issues, we made it home by 9:40.  We only had one stop for gas/bathroom on the way.

We actually had time to go to Waynesboro before his soccer game so Lynn could get some Halloween kits for the kids at Michael’s.  We were back to VSDB by 11:00.

We sure picked a good day to see Freddie play soccer.  Before halftime, he had a hat trick.  He also had a really nice pass to assist a teammate in scoring.  Freddie doesn’t outrun everyone on the field but he controls the ball very well and his shots were amazingly accurate.  He was 3 – 3 on shots on goal past the goalie in the half.  He ended up scoring 5 of the 7 goals his team scored.  They won 7 – 1. 

During his game, Jim Faron, and Coen arrived.  So as soon as soccer was over we headed home so the kids could play outside while Ann picked up some groceries and pizza for lunch.  It was a beautiful day for the kids to play outdoors. 

Soon Ann came with the pizza and we had a fine lunch.  There were 11 of us.  We were able to eat outside.  After lunch, we loaded everyone up and headed for the corn maze at Overlook Produce near Bridgewater.

This was a good activity for us.  All the kids enjoyed it, from Henry at age 16 to Coen at age 4.  The reward for finishing the maze was that each of us got an apple cider donut.  But that wasn’t the only treat for us; we moved from Overlook Produce to Smiley’s for ice cream.

We thought the plan was for Jim to then take the boys back to Roanoke.  But it turns out that both and boys and Morgan expected them to spend them to spend the night with us.  Lynn and I were delighted with this.  In order to make it work, Jim had to take them to Target to get some pajamas and toothbrushes.  Plus he got each of them a toy.  For example, he got Coen a Hot Wheels track which had to be put together.  We got it put together after they got back here. 

Jim gave the boys a bath.  By that time, the WVU – TCU football game was on tv.  I was very tired from getting up so early but I had to watch my Mounties.  They played TCU back and forth in the first half and led 20 – 17 at the break.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 23           Infected                   Died

World             244,087,529           4,958,943

US                     46,294,210              756,205   600 deaths since yesterday                 

Virginia                 914,755                13,668   Data not updated due to weekend      

Augusta County       10,070                     121   Data not updated due to weekend

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,228,950  (5,320,739 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 82.3% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.3% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        82,001 (39,285 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.0% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

October 24, 2021

This was anything but a typical Sunday for us.  We were here but didn’t attend Sunday School or Church since we had Jim, Coen, and Faron with us.  We didn’t have Ann’s family over for Sunday night dinner because we went to a play with John and Ginny Bauman in Winchester. 

Although I wish I had been able to take part in Central’s activities today, it was good to see Faron and Coen along with Jim.  Both boys are at a very cute age.  They love to play hide-and-seek in our house so, of course, I have to do that with them.  We end up hiding in all the same places but somehow it is still fun for them.  And me…

They left before 11:00 for Roanoke.  Lynn and I then got ready for the show we had tickets for at Shenandoah University, Bright Star.  Ginny and John came here at 12:15 so we got on the road early for the 2:30 matinee.  It’s a good thing we did because, to no one’s surprise, we ran into a traffic delay due to an accident on I-81 though we still got there around 2:00.

The four of us had seen Bright Star at the Barter Theatre.  It is a musical written by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell.  Knowing that the roles would be played by college students, I guess I had a lower expectation of the quality of show we’d see today.  I was dead wrong.  The actors and actresses at Shenandoah University were superb.  Their voices were great.  The choreography and casting were excellent.  This was the last performance and you could tell how much of their hearts these young performers put into the show.  I loved every minute of it.  So did Lynn.

The show has an unusual but happy ending after some intense moments earlier in the play.  I highly recommend it especially if the performers are as talented as those we watched today.  This was the best afternoon I’ve spent in ages.

On our way back, we stopped at Sal’s Bistro in Edinburg for dinner.  Lynn and I got what we usually get when we eat there—lasagna.  We weren’t disappointed and brought home enough for tomorrow night’s dinner.

Tomorrow will be a busy day for me.  I’ll have Central treasurer’s duties all morning long.  I have an appointment at the dermatologist to have a skin cancer removed on my nose in the early afternoon.  Then we’ll have Freddie’s bus to meet and Betsy to take to dance after school.

Here are today’s COVID-19 stats:

October 24           Infected                   Died

World             244,409,806           4,963,504

US                     46,312,782              756,362   Low counts due to weekend?             

Virginia                 914,755                13,668   Data not updated due to weekend      

Augusta County       10,070                     121   Data not updated due to weekend

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,248,991  (5,324,523 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 82.3% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.4% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        82,075 (39,310 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.0% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

October 25, 2021

Today was a day I’d like to forget.  I had a very tough night overnight with chills, fever, and acid reflux, probably all coming from the lasagna I had at Sal’s.  I slept miserably and spent most of the entire day today either in bed or sitting. 

I called Sam Richardson and postponed our counting at Central until Wednesday.  I postponed my dermatology appointment until Friday morning.  And because today was an Augusta County Schools teacher workday and Josh took the day off from work, I didn’t have to meet Freddie’s bus or take Betsy to dance. 

Here’s a statistic that shows how much today was worthless for me:  I got a grand total of 676 steps all day.  Beginning in the middle of the night and lasting nearly all morning, I had no energy to move and got dizzy when I tried to.  I did a little better this afternoon but still spent much time nodding off.  I think my body just needed a day off.  I certainly hope tomorrow is a better day.  I’ve already bailed out of tennis on Tuesday morning.

To prevent the chills tonight, I bundled up in long pajamas and even socks.  I wanted to put them on in the middle of the night but just didn’t have the energy to do so.

My total food intake today was a roll Lynn heated up for me at breakfast and a can of chicken noodle soup I ate for dinner. 

Sorry but I have very little to write because I did basically nothing all day.  Lynn made up for my inactivity by doing many things including getting food for the two Hispanic families we help out, washing clothes, walking with her friend Pat, and starting on a craft project tonight.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics.  BTW,  the CDC is getting closer to approving vaccines for 5 to 11 year olds.  Perhaps by next week they’ll be able to.  Betsy gets her second shot tomorrow.

October 25           Infected                   Died

World             244,765,314           4,969,070

US                     46,386,592              757,252   900 new deaths          

Virginia                 918,700                13,745   4,000 new cases; 77 new deaths                     

Augusta County       10,116                     122   46 new cases; 1 new death

            Vaccinated [DATA NOT UPDATED]

Virginia          11,248,991  (5,324,523 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 82.3% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.4% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        82,075 (39,310 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.0% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 26, 2021

Today I felt a little better than yesterday but still was lethargic most of the day.  I did not have a fever today though I did have some chills, especially in the afternoon when the cold winds blew.

I did manage to get a few things done today though none were that significant.  This morning, I cleaned out my clothes closet, replacing my summer clothes (shorts, short sleeve shirts) with winter clothes (sweaters, long sleeve shirts).

My activity picked up in the afternoon.  I led a Zoom meeting of the Central finance meeting at 2:00.  At 3:40 I went to Ann’s house to get Betsy to take her to her dance class.  Then I hurried back home to meet Henry to work some more calculus problems though he didn’t come until 5:00.  His problems were fairly easy and we got them all done in much less than an hour.

Then, Lynn and I ate dinner.  She had brought home some chicken from Costco and fixed some frozen French fries in her new air fryer. 

At 7:00 I had the monthly Central Council Meeting.  As always, I took minutes and distributed them as soon as the meeting was adjourned.

I still did not feel like moving a lot today.  I was not only energy-less, but my muscles ached, perhaps from spending so much time in bed.  I went to bed at 8:00 PM last night and didn’t get up until 7:00 AM today.  I did get over twice as many steps recorded today as yesterday but still much less than my normal daily count.

Good news from the FDA today that they recommend that children ages 5 – 11 get vaccinated against COVID-19.  All that is lacking is for CDC approval which should come next week/

Butch texted today that he is rapidly making plans for Thanksgiving in Athens OH this year.  He’s reserved rooms for everyone at the Ohio U Inn which is also where the dinner will be.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 26           Infected                   Died

World             245,256,304           4,978,191

US                     46,497,603              759,930   2,700 new deaths       

Virginia                 919,999                13,793   1,300 new cases; 78 new deaths                     

Augusta County       10,130                     124   14 new cases; 2 new deaths

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,299,720  (5,334,652 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 82.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.5% of the total population fully vaccinated)          I expect these numbers to grow when kids 5 – 11 are allowed to be vaccinated.

            Augusta County        82,190 (39,338 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.1% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.