5 U.S. Camping Destinations With the Best Views

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 U.S. Camping Destinations With the Best Views

There’s nothing like a camping trip to disconnect from everyday life and get out into nature. Whether you’re looking for an adventurous camping trip or just a leisurely long weekend to unplug and unwind, you’ll want to take a look at these five U.S. camping destinations that have the best views.

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Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park, Maine

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They don’t call Maine the Pine Tree State (yes, that’s a real thing) for nothing. Step into any park inside the state and you’ll find yourself surrounded by gorgeous pine trees. Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island in Maine is no exception. Located on the Atlantic coast, you can get views of not just trees, but the Atlantic shoreline.

What’s really stunning is the view from the top of Cadillac Mountain. If you hike there at sunrise, you can enjoy the thrill of being the very first person in the country to see the sunrise, since that’s the easternmost point of land in the United States. This fact alone makes the trek worth it.

There are three campgrounds inside the park. Blackwoods is closer to the town center and is better for those of us who prefer to camp in a secluded area but enjoy knowing there’s civilization just a short drive away. If you want a more rustic camping experience, you’ll want to stay at Seawall. On the other hand, if you want to enjoy views of the water from your campsite, then you’ll want to check out Schoodic Woods. Know that you can hike anywhere you want in the park, but these are the only three designated areas where you’re allowed to set up camp.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

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When you’re standing in the middle of Washington, D.C., on a busy day, it’s nearly impossible to imagine that just 75 miles away lies an oasis that’s as serene as the D.C. metro is crowded. Shenandoah National Park has over 500 miles of trails. Many of them take you through several miles of quiet and peaceful wilderness, leaving you alone with your thoughts. Others take you to beautiful waterfalls or stunning viewpoints overlooking the trees and Appalachian Mountains in the distance.

The park sits on 200,000 acres of protected land. It allows backcountry camping for the truly adventurous who want to get off the beaten path and away from everyone. If you’re up for a challenge, take the eight-mile hike up Old Rag Mountain. This is the most popular route because of the stunning views at the peak. You can camp in one of four campgrounds during every season except winter. If you want to backcountry camp, you’ll need to get a permit (it’s free).

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park, Montana

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As one of the few places in the country where you can still see glaciers, Glacier National Park in Montana is open year-round to visitors. It features a shocking 1,009 campsites within 13 separate campgrounds, but they’re spread out enough that the park can be full and you’ll still feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere (which, for the record, you are). There are over 700 miles of trails, making it the perfect destination for avid hikers. You’ll traverse through forests, meadows, and mountains while seeing spectacular views of lakes and, of course, glaciers.

If you’re up for a drive through the mountains, the 50-mile stretch known as Going-to-the-Sun Road runs through the middle of the park and connects the east side to the west side. While it’s a good way to get from one end of the park to the other in a relatively short amount of time (one way takes about two hours), the view from the highest point is the real highlight. Logan Pass is the highest point on the road, and it sits at 6,646 feet. From this point, you get a panoramic view of the majesty around you, including the glaciers below. You’ll probably also run into some animals, including mountain goats and bighorn sheep. Note that portions of the road can close at any time for weather, particularly for snow in the winter.

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Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

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Deep in the heart of red rock country lies Capitol Reef National Park in Utah. While we’ve talked before about how desert vacations can be relaxing, this trip is more adventurous. The really cool thing about this park is the Waterpocket Fold, which is a geological wrinkle (officially termed a geologic monocline) on the surface of the Earth that was formed somewhere between 50 million and 70  million years ago. Capital Reef happens to sit at the most scenic part of the fold. The park extends nearly 100 miles and includes canyons, bridges, domes, and cliffs for hikers and adventurers to explore.

Backcountry camping is available with a permit. If you prefer traditional campsites, you can stay at the Fruita campground, which is a developed campground that holds 71 sites. More remote campgrounds are also available if you prefer roughing it. Cedar Mesa and Cathedral Valley don’t have water but they do have pit toilets.

The national park sits on a historic site that has been inhabited since at least 500 B.C. You can even see petroglyphs etched into stone along with some painted pictographs. These remnants of the people who used to live on the land have been preserved as much as possible.

Little Beaver Lake Campground, Michigan

Little Beaver Lake Campground, Michigan

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Michigan’s Upper Penninsula (or simply “up north” to Michigan natives) is an often overlooked place of natural beauty. Little Beaver Lake Campground is particularly noteworthy for its views of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. You’ll enjoy unbelievable lake views and can take your boat around to see the famed pictured rocks. If you’re more of a hiker, you’ll enjoy hiking through the forests surrounding the campground. Backcountry camping is available with a permit, or you can stay at one of three rustic campgrounds.

This campground is open year-round. While summer brings tourists who like to kayak, boat, or do other water sports, wintertime allows for snowmobiling, ice climbing, winter camping, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. If you’ve never seen a frozen waterfall before, consider making a trip to Little Beaver Lake Campground in the winter. Bring your climbing gear and make sure to pack your warmest clothes, and be prepared for snow. Lots of it. The area can get up to 200 inches of snow during the winter.

10 Healthiest Cities in the U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

10 Healthiest Cities in the U.S.

With quality of life, recreation and active lifestyles on everyone’s radar in terms of where to live, work and play, we often wonder where are these pockets of health — and what factors make them so healthy? As with many best and most lists, varying criteria create different outcomes. So depending on what source you choose, different cities may pop up. The most complete and stringent set of factors are employed for the annual American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) American Fitness Index.

The Fitness Index uses strong community fitness — which is easier to gauge — as a proxy for the individual, personal fitness of residents. The top-ranked index cities have more resources that support health and fewer challenges to a healthy lifestyle. Based on the Index outcomes, following are the 10 healthiest U.S. cities.

Boise, Idaho

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Hiking, mountain biking and outdoor adventure pursuits in general keep busy Boise residents in shape — enough so for the population to comprise the country’s tenth-healthiest city. No wonder. The capital city of Idaho is home to the Boise River Greenbelt, a series of tree-shaded trails and parks hugging the banks of the Boise River. With a section of river rolling directly through downtown, the greenbelt trail is prime terrain for urban workouts. Serious trail running is also a serious pursuit in and around Boise. Picturesque, punishing runs await at the forebodingly named routes Harrison Hollow, Five-Mile Gulch and Military Reserve, all highlighted expertly on the Boise section of Rootsrated.com.

San Jose, California

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San Jose is a major Bay Area technology hub, and it happens to have the ninth-fittest population in the nation. So when they aren’t behind computer screens, residents spend quality time outdoors exercising in beautiful natural surroundings. The Visit San Jose webpage for outdoor recreation  provides great tips on the best sites, such as Alum Rock Park in town or nearby at Castle Rock State Park in neighboring Los Gatos, California. Active San Jose citizens can add Zen meditation or a calming jog to their health routine at the city’s Kelly Park Japanese Garden.

Saint Paul, Minnesota

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The state capital of Minnesota, Saint Paul is the other half of the “Twin Cities” along with neighboring Minneapolis. Both cities share a penchant for healthy living, and you’ll find Minneapolis elsewhere on this list. For its part, Saint Paul’s fit crowd enjoys utilizing the Gateway State Trail for biking, running or simply strolling in nature. The 18-mile trail takes advantage of a former rail line between Stillwater and Saint Paul, now a paved path. Generally level thanks to its railway roots, the Gateway route winds northeast through Maplewood, North St. Paul and Oakdale, then continues through Washington County before ending at Pine Point Regional Park.

Denver, Colorado

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As a base for nearby Rocky Mountain skiing, mountain biking and hiking adventures, Denver is a mecca for active lifestyle seekers. As such, it’s no surprise to find Colorado’s capital at number seven for fitness. With the Mile High city indeed sitting at 5280 feet, residents don’t have to head for the mountains for high-altitude exertion. Just consider the bike trail descriptions at Denver.org. These are no short jaunts. Instead there are miles and miles of rides on paved bikeways that let you roll from Denver to outlying towns. For example, the Cherry Creek Regional Trail starts in Confluence Park and continues beside Cherry Creek for more than 40 miles before terminating near Franktown. Similarly, the Greenway Trail is nearly 30 miles of paved bike path along the banks of the South Platte River, connecting a series of pristine parks. As a bonus, the river played such a big role in local history that the Colorado Historical Society has placed along the route some 20 signs with photos and illustrations detailing important places and events.

Seattle, Washington

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With Mt. Rainier National Park in its backyard and the waters of Puget Sound on its front porch, Seattle is a magnet for outdoors enthusiasts, earning it the number six ranking among healthy metros. While the city is surrounded by water, mountains and towering conifer forests, within its limits it contains thousands of acres of parkland. Among the best and most picturesque are 530-acre Discovery Park and the 230-acre grounds of the Washington Park Arboretum. As home to REI, of course hiking, camping, backpacking and climbing are everyday pursuits here, rain or shine. But biking is also a big deal. To that end, The Burke-Gilman Trail wends its way some 27 miles through the city’s northern neighborhoods. Seattle Cycling Tours, meanwhile, offers a 2.5-hour guided bike trek through central city landmarks and neighborhoods including Pioneer Square, South Lake Union and the Seattle Center.

Portland, Oregon

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Spread out in the shadow of snow-capped Mount Hood, Portland is known for its parks, bridges and bike lanes — and for its generally green attitude. It’s no surprise then, that the number five fittest city has myriad recreational pursuits for Portlanders. Surrounding mountains and forests offering hiking, mountain biking and climbing at every emerald-green turn of the trail. Oregon’s largest city sits directly on the Columbia and Willamette rivers, so paddling is a prime pursuit for fitness within the urban core. Another in-city outdoor highlight, Washington Park features both the city’s Japanese Garden and the Oregon Zoo.

Madison, Wisconsin

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Consider the winters in Wisconsin when noting the ingenious nature of the Sett Recreation Center at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Part of the three-story student union building, with the Sett Pub located conveniently on the lower level, perfect cold-weather activities occupy the rest of the space with live music, dancing, bowling, billiards and indoor rock-climbing. It’s not all about the indoors, of course. Madison, which lies just east of Milwaukee, is the Wisconsin state capital, and the city’s Capital City State Trail is a favorite urban exercise outlet. The picturesque paved path winds past Monona Terrace, a lakefront convention center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, providing an architectural treat along with exercise options.

Washington, D.C.

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Hemmed in by the bordering states of Maryland and Virginia and known for its imposing neoclassical monuments and government buildings, our nation’s capital at first glance doesn’t scream fitness. Yet the population of Washington, D.C., is serious about staying in shape, it seems, ranking at number three among healthy metros. The city actually helps with that, providing myriad free outdoor activities, many of which can be found at Washington.org. D.C.’s favorite outdoor exercise space is no doubt Rock Creek Park. It’s 4.4 square miles encompass multiple hiking and biking trails, plus riding stables and tennis courts. Hikers, bikers and runners also enjoy long stretches of the C&O Canal Towpath, with 180-plus miles of accessible trail along the scenic Potomac River between Georgetown and Cumberland, Maryland.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Minneapolis, the major Minnesota metro that forms the “Twin Cities” with the neighboring state capital of Saint Paul, consistently ranks among the nation’s best read cities. It’s per capita bookstores, libraries and degreed denizens help earn that title. Smarts and staying in shape apparently go hand in hand, with Minneapolis sitting at number two for healthiest cities. Bisected by the Mississippi River, the city is full of serene parks and lakes, all of which make for great outdoor recreation. For example, within city limits more than 10 miles of trails traverse famed Minnehaha Park and its environs. One popular recreation route starts beneath 53-foot Minnehaha Falls, from where hikers, bikers and runners can follow the tree-shaded trail through dense woods to bluffs overlooking the mighty Mississippi River, then loop back to the falls.

Arlington, Virginia

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Aerobics, aquatics, seated exercise classes, strength training, core strength, boxing, tai chi, yoga, pilates, walking clubs, tennis and biking are among the programs offered by Arlington Parks and Recreation. And those are just the senior activities. There’s a reason Arlington landed at number one in the nation for fit populations. Active pursuits are provided for every age and fitness level through the municipal recreation department, which also makes it easy to get involved with accomodations for income level and disabilities. At least a part of the population is getting their blood pumping with more extreme pursuits. The adrenaline crowd here is serious about mountain biking, and the Arlington Single Track Tour is an exciting, two-county ride to get in some exercise.

5 Colonial-Era U.S. Landmarks That Are Still Standing

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

5 Colonial-Era U.S. Landmarks That Are Still Standing

How much do you remember about colonial-era America? For many of us, it’s been a while since we studied U.S. history, and specifically the American Revolution. If you live outside of the original 13 colonies, you might not be exposed to constant reminders like historic landmarks that serve as living memories of this volatile time. But if you’re thinking of creating a historic road trip through the original states this summer, you’re going to want to include these five landmarks on your list.

Fraunces Tavern – New York City

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New York City is full of locations where our Founding Fathers met, the nation’s first president was sworn into office, and which was an occupied territory under British rule. If your travels take you to lower Manhattan, you can see all of those places and get a history lesson at Fraunces Tavern. Fraunces Tavern is a real working pub that was originally intended to be the private home of the De Lancey family after the land was first acquired in 1719.

Eventually, the three-story building was transferred to Samuel Fraunces in 1762 and was named Sign of Queen Charlotte (The Queen’s Tavern). The property served as an inn for weary travelers, a place for hungry locals, and—at times—a safe haven for loyalists during the Revolution. As the war progressed, patronage shifted to Continentals and even housed George Washington when he was in the city. Since 1762, Fraunces Tavern has served as a bar and occasional boarding house. Today, you can visit the museum on the upper floors and enjoy a drink downstairs in the bar or grab a bite in one of the historically named rooms.

Old Tennent Presbyterian Church – Manalapan, New Jersey

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Everyone knows that historic battles occurred in fields all across the original colonies. But did you know that one church in a sleepy New Jersey town served as a field hospital after the Battle of Monmouth? In June 1778, the British and Continental armies faced off in a part of Monmouth county known today as Freehold. While the battle wasn’t a deciding point militarily, a historic landmark was made when the Old Tennent Presbyterian Church in present Manalapan became a triage center for the Continental Army.

Army doctors cared for wounded soldiers while the battle raged on around them. And to this day, you can find bullet holes and cannonballs in the church’s walls as well as see marks and blood stains on several church pews where wounded soldiers were treated.

Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson – Winnabow, North Carolina

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Often when we focus on the Colonial Era in the U.S., we think about the Northeast almost exclusively. But the southern colonies were just as active throughout this period of history. Brunswick Town is a port town on Cape Fear River in North Carolina that was once central during the 18th and 19th centuries for sea merchants and businessmen who relied on exporting their goods. The settlement was established in 1729 and helped to drive economic growth in the region thanks to an infusion of wealthy landowners from South Carolina.

But the town is best known as an early site of Colonial rebellion during the Stamp Act of 1765—a law that required any legal documents or commercial publications to feature a stamp that had to be purchased from the Crown. Angry citizens formed an armed mob and prevented a British ship from unloading the stamps. While this temporarily halted trade in the region, the colonists’ persistent protest in Brunswick Town led to the eventual repeal of the Stamp Act.

Nathan Hale Homestead – Coventry, Connecticut

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Who is Nathan Hale? If you’re not an American Revolution buff or a Connecticut resident, you might not know. But for the Constitution State, this young man is a local hero who was born in Coventry. Nathan Hale is considered by many to be an integral member of the Continental spy ring that provided vital information about British activities to the Continental Army and General George Washington specifically. However, the spy ring wasn’t well managed, and Hale wasn’t the best spy.

After infiltrating New York City and gathering critical information in 1776, he was discovered by British forces with drawings and detailed notes—outing him as a spy and condemning him to death. Nathan Hale is best known for his famous final words, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” But these days you can visit the Nathan Hale Homestead, which has been expertly preserved from its humble origins when it was built in 1776.

George Washington’s Estate – Mount Vernon, Virginia

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And finally, if you’re going to create a trip focused on U.S. colonial history, you simply can’t skip Mount Vernon. This Virginia locale is the home of our nation’s first president, George Washington. Step back in time and see how Washington lived as you walk through the plantation’s palatial grounds. Mount Vernon serves as an immersive experience with guided tours and history lessons that help you understand more about the man who would lead a cluster of colonies to independence and what led him into this role. The estate was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1960.

5 U.S. States You Didn’t Know Produce Amazing Wine

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

5 U.S. States You Didn’t Know Produce Amazing Wine

When you’re in the mood for a good glass of wine, which country comes to mind? Maybe you prefer a glass of Champagne from France or a great Chianti from Italy. However, there are numerous award-winning wineries right here in the United States. Of course, most people are familiar with California wine country and places like Napa or Sonoma. But you might be surprised to find that wine is produced across the country. The next time you decide to plan a wine tour while you’re out seeing America, keep these states in mind for a delicious glass of American wine.

New York

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New York often gets overlooked because people only associate the entire Empire State with the city that’s home to the Empire State Building, New York City. And while you can certainly do some wine tasting in the five boroughs, if you’re up for a scenic five hour drive north of Manhattan, you’ll find yourself in the Finger Lakes Wine Country. The region is aptly named as there are 11 long, thin lakes that run north to south below the counties bounding Lake Ontario.

Geography aside, the Finger Lakes Wine Country is known for its award-winning wineries and emphasis on white varietals such as Riesling and Gewurztraminer. There are over 100 wineries in this area, so there’s something for everyone. In addition to producing spectacular wines, this area is a major tourist destination and is especially popular for weddings.

Colorado

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Everyone knows that Colorado is the place to go for world-class skiing and other outdoor sports. But the Centennial State has also garnered a reputation over the years for its wineries. Colorado is home to nine distinct wine regions that are scattered throughout the state. Some of the most notable wineries are in regions like the Four Corners, which is a popular tourist attraction for outdoor enthusiasts and a great excursion if you get tired of hiking through the intense terrain of the national parks in this area.

Growers credit the 300 days of sunshine, moderate climate and freshwater sources as the basis for their celebrated wines. Whether you stick to the Four Corners or venture to any of the other wine regions, you’ll have over 100 commercial wineries to choose from. Create your own itinerary or select one of the popular wine trails created by Colorado Wine, the official tourism organization for growers and wineries in the state.

Pennsylvania

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You might think that Pennsylvania’s biggest claim to fame is Hershey’s and cheesesteaks, but the Keystone State is also home to so many wineries that they promise you’re never more than an hour’s drive from a premiere glass of wine. Pennsylvania has more than 200 wineries within their borders, crafts over 1 million gallons of wine per year, and is the fifth largest grower in the nation for grapes.

These impressive stats are underscored by the depth of wine portfolios you can find here. The state’s temperate climate is more in line with Europe, and as a result, there are more French-American blends being produced every year. Winemaking in Pennsylvania began in 1683 by William Penn. Since then the tradition has continued, with most of the state’s wineries still being family-owned-and-operated to this day.

Virginia

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Virginia may be for lovers, but they also make a serious bottle of wine. The Old Dominion State’s wineries proudly tell visitors that they’re equidistant between Europe and California, with a small step into the American South. That translates to unique wines that borrow on the heritage of traditional wineries but also give it a new twist as a nod to its young American roots.

Virginia wineries pride themselves on cultivating lesser-known European grapes like Cabernet Franc, Petit Manseng, Viognier, and Petit Verdot. Virginia is focused on elevating wines crafted from these grapes to the national stage and staking a claim in the wine world around these particular varieties. However, the state is best known for its red blends in the Bordeaux style.

New Jersey

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Not to be outdone, the Garden State wants to remind visitors that their New York adjacent industrial regions don’t define the entire state. New Jersey earned its Garden State nickname for a reason. Its wineries have been racking up awards since 200 years ago, when London’s Royal Society of the Arts tapped two local vintners for creating the first quality wine in the colonies from locally grown grapes.

New Jersey has 50 wineries and even offers tours and wine trails to help you create an immersive experience. You can choose from regional wine trails or try to tackle the statewide trail—although you might want to break that one up over a few days.

So, the next time you decide to plan a wine crawl or book a tasting and you want to focus on American wineries, don’t feel like you need to be limited to California. While it has a well-deserved reputation, there are plenty of premier wineries in other U.S. states that would make the perfect backdrop for your vacation.

They Wanted To Explore A Cave In Virginia, Now They Are Trapped

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Five men exploring a cave in southwest Virginia were trapped inside, and authorities are working to get them out safely, according to Billy Chrimes, search and rescue coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

Six men entered the cave in Cleveland, Virginia, on Friday around 7 p.m. and planned to spend an extended amount of time exploring it, he said.
One of those men emerged from the cave, known as Cyclops Cave, on Sunday morning around 2 a.m. and told authorities the others were having difficulty getting out, Chrimes said Sunday.
That man, who is 22, said the other men were exhausted and were starting to have problems with hypothermia, according to Chrimes. The men are not lost and aren’t too far into the cave.
The five trapped men are between the ages of 34 and 59, according to Emergency Management Coordinator for Russell County Jess Powers. Powers said the group was planning to camp in the cave until Sunday, but a heavy downpour Saturday night made conditions muddy and wet and likely contributed to their difficulties.
One of the men was rescued on Sunday afternoon and is being assessed by a local volunteer rescue squad, Powers said. The rescue took much longer than anticipated, Powers said, and the rescue teams have gone back inside to help the other four men.
The cave explorers did not have a lot of extra food or water, and Chrimes said the temperature underground is in the 50s. While that is comfortable under normal circumstances, it can cause problems with hypothermia when you’re not active and moving.

Rescue will take hours

Chrimes said the rescue effort will likely take a considerable amount of time because of the small size of the cave. In addition, rescue teams will have to get inside, assess the situation and report back because cell phones and radios don’t work inside the cave.
An extensive network of cave rescue teams have responded, with additional teams across the East Coast that have been put on standby in case additional assistance is required, Chrimes said.
“With cave rescue incidents, this has the potential to extend to eight, to 12 hours, depending on what all is involved with getting the subjects out, and it may even extend beyond that just depending on the circumstances,” Chrimes said.
“Certainly we’re hoping for the best and that we can get them warmed up, get them moving, get them some energy back and get them out under their own power, but we’re still waiting to see what that situation will entail.”
Tony Smith, who owns a cattle ranch next to the caves, told CNN affiliate WJHL there are five big caves stretching for around nine miles below ground.
The cave where the men are trapped is known as Cyclops Cave and is popular with explorers, though it is on private property. The cave has a “bubble-like formation” inside known as the “eye” of the Cyclops, in which the group was planning to camp, Powers said.

Woman finds two-headed viper in her flower bed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY NEWSPAPER)

 

Woman finds two-headed viper in her flower bed, state hopes to display it in a zoo

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A state agency has arranged for the care of a rare two-headed Copperhead snake found at a residence in Northern Virginia on Sunday night.

The venomous snake, a member of the viper family, is an “extremely rare” find in the wild, state herpetologist J.D. Kleopfer told USA TODAY. Kleopfer is a reptiles and amphibians specialist for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

He said the snake is currently being cared for by an experienced viper keeper, with the hope that it will one day be put on display at a zoo.

Snakes with such a mutation find it difficult to survive in the wild, Kleopfer said. That’s in part because the two heads often want to do “two different things.”

This particular snake was young – about two weeks old, and small – about 6 inches long, according to Kleopfer.

Imaging provided some insight on the physical makeup of the snake: “Thanks to the Wildlife Center of Virginia we were able to determine that the left head has the dominant esophagus and the right head has the more developed throat for eating,” Kleopfer wrote in a Facebook post.

Copperheads often grow to 18-36 inches in length, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While they are not known for being aggressive, they do sometimes attack humans when disturbed.

Kleopfer said the “little guy” probably wasn’t much of a danger. At its age, he said the viper was mainly attacking insects.

The snake shouldn’t alarm anyone, Kleopfer said. It’s his goal to help the snake stay alive.

Stephanie Myers shared photos of the viper on Sunday evening. She said that the snake was found at her neighbor’s flowerbed in Woodbridge, Virginia.

“I wanted to look away but couldn’t stop looking at it. Plays trick on the eyes,” she told USA TODAY in a written message.

Among the hashtags in her Facebook post: #sohardnottolookatit, #nobodyhastimeforthat and #justlookingatthismakesmeswear.

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Jamestown Unearthed: Cellar under church catches experts by surprise

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WYDAILY NEWSPAPER (WILLIAMSBURG/YORKTOWN VIRGINIA))

 

Home  Local News  Jamestown Unearthed: Cellar under church catches experts by surprise

Jamestown Unearthed: Cellar under church catches experts by surprise

The archaeologists have seen remnants of cellars in the fort before, but they did not expect to find one under the church

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Archaeologists uncovered a dagger hilt in the cellar in the Jamestown church. (WYDaily/ Courtesy Mary Anna Hartley, Jamestown Rediscovery)
Archaeologists uncovered a dagger hilt in the cellar in the Jamestown church. (WYDaily/ Courtesy Mary Anna Hartley, Jamestown Rediscovery)

As archaeologists at Jamestown Rediscovery continue to dig into the Historic Jamestowne church that has stood at the site of the James Fort since 1906, they’ve uncovered something they weren’t expecting.

An abandoned cellar lies underneath the holiest place in the church, and it may contain details about life within the first permanent English colony — but archaeologists will have to dig to the bottom of the cellar before they can get to the bottom of the mystery.

Two previous brick churches have stood where the Memorial Church now stands in Historic Jamestowne. Historical records show the second was built by colonists in the 1640s and was in use for more than a century. The first brick church was built in 1617, meaning the cellar and the structure above it must have been built prior to the church’s construction.

“This [cellar] we assume has to be pretty darn early, because it’s already been abandoned and back-filled prior to 1617,” Jamestown Rediscovery Senior Staff Archaeologist Danny Schmidt said. “It’s safe to say we have another James Fort-period building likely dating to 1608 that doesn’t last beyond 1617, and it was a surprise for us.”

Capt. John Smith wrote that the fort’s walls were expanded to encompass more territory in 1608. Smith never mentioned the cellar, but because it was built outside of the fort’s original walls, the team is assuming it was likely built during the expansion effort.

Now that they have an idea when the basement was in use, they can begin to determine what it was used for.

Digging through history

Jamestown Rediscovery’s archaeologists have been excavating the chancel, or sacred altar, of the church since spring 2017, and came across the cellar last fall. Most of the subsoil in Jamestown is orange clay, but as they dug they came across a patch that didn’t match the dirt around it — and was filled with relics from a bygone era.

“We would see a hard line or edge where it wasn’t subsoil but disturbed fill, very typical of cellars,” Schmidt said.

Questions immediately arose as to the cellar’s purpose.

Some cellars in the James Fort were used for metallurgy or blacksmithing. Another was used as a kitchen, and all were likely used for storage, Schmidt said.

Related coverage: The team finished exploring another cellar outside the fort’s original walls in 2016.

One way to determine the cellar’s use is to study the artifacts found within it.

Preservation Virginia has recovered many items from the cellar that document colonial life, including scrap copper, a dagger hilt, oyster shells, gun parts, egg shells, glass beads, pipe fragments and small copper coin known as a Harington Farthing.

The Harington Farthing archaeologists discovered in the cellar under the Memorial Church. (WYDaily/ Courtesy Mary Anna Hartley, Jamestown Rediscovery)
The Harington Farthing archaeologists discovered in the cellar under the Memorial Church. (WYDaily/ Courtesy Mary Anna Hartley, Jamestown Rediscovery)

When basements were no longer needed, they are often filled in with the colony’s trash — a treasure trove of artifacts, but containing remnants from all over the colony.

“The trash layers we’re seeing just teaches us when that cellar was abandoned and filled in,” Schmidt said. “It’s not teaching us the function of the space while it was in use.”

One of the difficulties the archaeologists are facing is sorting through centuries of artifacts from all over the fort that have been scrambled into one layer of sediment.

Archaeologist Bob Chartrand digs into the cellar. “When we’re seeing stratigraphy like this that’s not from a single depository action, that’s definitely from multiple periods of deposition," he said. (WYDaily/ Courtesy Danny Schmidt, Preservation Virginia)
Archaeologist Bob Chartrand digs into the cellar. “When we’re seeing stratigraphy like this that’s not from a single depository action, that’s definitely from multiple periods of deposition,” he said. (WYDaily/ Courtesy Danny Schmidt, Preservation Virginia)

“The cellar was disturbed during the construction of the church,” in 1906, Curator of Collections Merry Outlaw said. “Then, during the construction of the church, features belonging to the earlier structure were disturbed, and also subsequent burials cut into the cellar.”

Colonists had a habit of burying their dead under the church floor, further obscuring the cellar’s remnants.

Preservation Virginia’s current team is also not the first group to dig through the church site.

The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities excavated the church in the early 1900s and then put the dirt back. The APVA were the forerunners to the Preservation Virginia, which oversees Jamestown Rediscovery, and the APVA also left notes regarding their activities on site.

“One of the questions answered for us once we figured out we had a cellar was why [the APVA] were finding so many artifacts in the graves they were excavating,” Staff Archaeologist and Site Suervisor Mary Anna Hartley said. “What they were describing was like what we find in trash layers.”

The artifacts that Jamestown Rediscovery team are now digging up have gone on quite a journey since they were left in the cellar by the fort’s colonists.

“All these thing were getting churned up,” Outlaw said.

Making sense of their findings

The team will continue to dig through the summer, and Schmidt said that more clues might be buried at the bottom of the cellar. Any objects left on the basement floor before it was filled in by the colonists would likely be at the very bottom, potentially allowing the archaeologists to tell what exactly the cellar was used for.

“Sometimes we luck out,” Schmidt said. “We don’t know until we dig the cellar if we’ll learn more how this space was used.”

“It’s hard to say at this point.”

A team of archaeologists from Preservation Virginia has been at work since 1994 uncovering the buried secrets of Jamestown.

When the Jamestown Rediscovery Archaeological Project started, the hope was to find the site of the original 1607 James Fort, which had been written off for more than 200 years as lost to shoreline erosion.

Since then, the team has discovered the fort and more than a million artifacts in the ground.

“Jamestown Unearthed” is a regular feature in WYDaily exploring the latest discoveries in and around James Fort. Click here to read past articles.

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(Real Life Poem) The Roads Of My Life

The Roads Of My Life

 

Born unwanted in the mountains of Western Virginia

Just a poor hillbilly boy taught with a belt and switch

One more mouth to feed and one more back to bleed

Alcohol, hate and anger run generation to generation

 

To the Black Hills of Dakota we stopped roaming for a while

Alcohol, hate and ignorance new scenery doesn’t change

Alcohol a disease embedded in the genealogy of family trees

Faults in the blood help to dilute the heart, Soul and mind

 

Flat grounds of Boone County was cold outside and within

Life in a house is difficult where alcohol and ignorance live

The parent teaches you nothing except, your nothing to them

Hate is like em-breeding, a chain only you yourself can break

 

One’s mind and body must get clear to except that they’re an ass

Understanding then forgiving, is the beginning of your new life

These Kentucky Hills so beautiful with loving Son and Great Wife

Wife and Son know what love is and under the Blue Grass I’ll wait

 

 

The Life And Times Of Blanche Anders Savage (The Cookie Lady) 1930-2000

The Cookie Lady-A True Story of a wonderful person who lived from 1930-2000

 

My name is Blanche, I was born into a poor white family in Benson Minnesota in September of 1930. My mother is Sophie Amanda Hanson. She was born here in Benson Minnesota in December of 1905. My dad is Elbert Anders of Galax, Virginia. He was born in September of 1905. I only have one sibling, my brother Lonnie who was born in January of 1936 in Faith South Dakota. But, I won’t speak of Faith just yet. My mom’s parents came here from Norway in the late 1880’s and had more kids than the fingers could count. Mom was just one of many of the Hanson children but in my opinion was the sweetest of all. Mom obtained a seventh grade education, enough to read and write clearly. Dad was a rambler who was doing just that in 1928 when he and my mom met.

Dad seemed to always love two things most in life, horses and women. I don’t blame my dad for all of his faults; after all, we all have some. Dad never had any education at all and never did learn to read and write. It was the late 1960’s before he learned how to sign his name.

Watching my parents struggle throughout my childhood ingrained in me the determination to get an education and to stay in school and get my high school diploma. This was one of the few goals in my life that I was able to accomplish.  My childhood taught me many things; things like the rich had good educations. And that the rich got rich and stayed rich on the sweat off the uneducated poor man’s back. Even as a small child I was always aware that we were looked down upon by those who could afford the nice clothes, fancy cars and big houses.

Mom and dad got married in 1928 in Benson. I never could figure why mom would have married my dad. Maybe it was that she was considered an old maid, going on 23 and still not married. I know she was never happy in her life with the cards she had been dealt. You know, uneducated, poor women aren’t anything except slaves to their uneducated ignorant husbands. Even the children that they bare are just an extension of the male’s property.

Shortly after I was born dad moved us to a little town in western South Dakota called Faith. A saying that I remember about Faith was fitting, “Faith South Dakota, a hundred miles from anywhere”. Dad had a couple of brothers that lived out that away. So I guess it was fitting that he would up and ramble toward them next.

I remember our years in South Dakota as being a pure hell, Faith with its dirt streets and water that had to be trucked in. It seems like I was always cold and dirty there. We lived in several one room shacks, some just lean-to’s on the back of peoples’ houses, seems like we were always hungry and cold. There were several of the places we lived that had dirt floors with walls and roofs that you could see straight through to the outside. I guess Faith was the reason I never did like to do any camping, so many of the places we lived seemed almost like we were camping.

To be fair to the town, maybe things wouldn’t have been as bad as they were if dad would have cared more about his family and less about other women, horses and bulldogs. Dad always tried to keep a horse and a bulldog or two. The horse I could understand, we hardly ever had a car, so the horse was his transportation back in those years. The bulldogs, I don’t know why he liked to have them. I guess it was just so he could have something else to beat on. I was always scared of his dogs, yet I always felt sorry for them. They were always kept chained to a stake in the back yard. Looking back, it might have been that he knew the dogs would bark if we had any visitors. The way he was always chasing after women, I guess that wasn’t such a bad idea.

My brother Lonnie was born there in Faith in January of 1936. It was always nice having a brother. Throughout our childhoods we were each others best friends, confidants and play partners. Yet having a brother was difficult too. It wasn’t just having another mouth to feed and back to clothe. It was also the having to see the hardships put upon yet another one that you loved without being able to do anything to correct it, or stop it.

I remember one night it had gotten dark and dad wasn’t home from his job yet and mom was crying real hard. I didn’t understand why mom was so upset because it was normal that dad didn’t come home before dark. I asked mom what was wrong and she told me about the rent being due that night, and dad being paid that day, but he hadn’t paid the rent or come home with his pay.

This was in the summer of 1937 and I was almost seven years old. My brother Lonnie was just about one and a half at the time. Mom said she had to stay home with the baby, but she told me to go through town and look for dad’s horse, find him and ask him to please come home, pay the rent and buy the family some food. It wasn’t long before I found dad’s horse tied up beside a building that had a lot of music and noise coming from it. I noticed a window on the side of the building with some empty wood crates by it. I took a few of the crates and stacked them up to where I could get up on them and look into that window. What I seen shocked me a lot. There was a naked woman sitting on top of my dad in a chair and he was also naked. They were just laughing and seemed to be having a lot of fun. Well, I was so surprised that I stumbled and fell off the crates onto the ground, with the crates falling after me. I made such a noise that the woman and dad both came and looked out the window at me. Dad was sure mad at me and he whipped me all the way home.

When we got home dad was still mad and he hollered at mom for a long time, I know she cried for hours. Dad said that mom and I had embarrassed him something horrible by doing what we had done. A couple of days after that dad sold his horse and his dogs and he pulled up to the shack we were living in, in an old dilapidated 1922 Ford car. Dad and mom took what few things we had, stuffed them and the four of us into the car and we left Faith South Dakota for a place called Galax Virginia.

I didn’t know anything about this place we were headed, I just hoped it was better than the place we had been. I know I prayed that I would never see Faith or South Dakota again for all I remembered of them was hardship. As it turned out I would see both again, but at least it would wait more than thirty years.

The trip from Faith to Galax is about 2,000 miles and in that old piece of junk dad was driving it took us three weeks to make it to Galax. I learned that the reason dad chose Galax was because he had several brothers and sisters living in and around this town he was born in. The three weeks the trip took seemed like forever. At night we would stop alongside the road and we would sleep on the ground beside the car. I remember being so scared and so hungry, hoping that we could make it to our new home.

When we finally made it to Galax we were broke and hungry. None of dad’s folks knew we were coming but none the less they took us in and kept us alive. I know it embarrassed mom a lot as we moved from one of dad’s kin to another over the first two months. But eventually one of dad’s brothers was able to get dad on at the mine he was working at just across the North Carolina line. Mom got a job at the local hospital changing linens and bed pans for the patients.

After a couple of months mom and dad were able to save enough money to rent a house in “the bottom” there in town. The bottom was a place that the working white poor folk lived. But still the house we were renting was like a real home. It had windows and wood floors and you couldn’t see any stars at night while lying in bed. Even though you could feel the cold air in the winter around the windows and doors at least it wasn’t so bad that the snow would come through them when they were closed. A few years later we were able to buy a different house there in the bottom down by the swinging bridge. That was after the war had started and dad was getting to work regular. It was a two bedroom with an inside toilet and a pot-bellied coal stove in the living room that kept us warm in the winter.

With the move to Virginia our scenery got a lot prettier, the weather was a lot nicer, and the people seemed to be friendlier. Our housing situation was much more stable and mom and dad had regular work. So a lot of things were better, more stable for us now, but there was still many heartaches. The change of location didn’t change any of dad’s ways. We soon had a bulldog staked in the backyard and dad bought himself a horse and paid a farmer money to keep the horse at his place. Any money he had left was always spent on other women.

By now I was reaching an age to where I wasn’t as blind to the reality I was living in. For years I was required to take this little red wagon I had to a building downtown where I got food twice a month. This place handed out some flour, cornmeal, beans, bread, and cheese. If it wasn’t for Mr. Roosevelt, Mom, Lonnie and I would have been very hungry. I guess that is a big reason why I have been a lifelong democrat. I grew up believing that to vote republican you either had to be rich or stupid.

At the age of fourteen, I was able to get a job at the soda fountain inside the Peoples Drug Store in downtown Galax. I worked there three hours each evening and all day on Saturdays. I used this money to buy my own school clothes and the cost of my school supplies. I also worked in the school cafeteria serving food so that I could get my meals there for free. That was a lot better than having to run home at lunch, get a sandwich and a glass of milk then run back to school especially on the cold winter days.

I graduated high school in 1947. It was then I started working full-time at the drug store. I still lived at home and remained under dad’s control. I was never allowed to date. I’m sure it was because dad had his view of what women were and he wasn’t about to let me be anything like the women he had always known.

Dad worked with a man named Wayne Savage whom dad admired a lot because he was very strong and a real hard worker. As things worked out, Wayne had a younger brother named Bill who was getting out of the Navy from his two-year hitch in February of 1948. Wayne got Bill a job there at the mine when he was discharged from the Navy. So I ended up with dad’s insistence dating Bill and then marrying him May 29th, 1948. One truth I was always proud of is that I was a virgin on my wedding night.

Bill turned out to be a lot of the things dad was, and a lot of things he wasn’t. I think the reason Bill got married was for the free sex, free housekeeper, free cook and an extra paycheck. In my dad’s defense he was a hard worker and a non-drinker. Unfortunately Bill was an alcoholic and he never found a job he would stick with.

From 1949 through 1956 I gave birth to four children. Our oldest Larry was born in my mom’s home in June 1949 with a midwife. Our second child, Steven Ray was born in a hospital in Winston-Salem North Carolina in May of 1952. I have always been so glad that I gave birth to Steven in a hospital or I never would have been able to forgive myself. The doctors said Steven was born with a hole in his heart. In 1952 they couldn’t save him; he lived three days, never leaving the hospital. We buried Steven in the McKenzie Cemetery just outside of Galax. Our third child was our little girl Kay; she was born in September of 1954. Kay and our last child Ted were born in the hospital in Galax. Ted was born in August 1956. He was always sickly and skinny as a rail, at every meal it was difficult to get him to eat. This just made him a target for Bill. I dreaded every meal because you always knew that Bill would start yelling at him and then start beating him. Ted had to put up with that until he was seventeen. He stood up to Bill then and it was plain that Bill got scared, but he never treated Ted like that again. But that was 1973, so I’m getting ahead of myself so I’m going to step back in time to 1961.

Bill and our family had rented many places until we got lucky and was able to get the bank to finance us a small eight acre farm in nearby Woodlawn, Virginia. It was a dream come true for me, our own house. It was a three bedroom, one bath, two-story house with a small detached garage, a full size barn, and a hog house. The property was fenced in so we could have a cow and there was plenty of wild game such as squirrels, rabbits, pheasants and turkeys to keep the freezer full. In 1961 the cost of all this was $8,000.00.

By the time the spring of 1965 rolled around Bill had worked at about every place in the Galax area and none of the employers would have him anymore. That spring one of Bill’s drinking buddies stopped by our house and talked to Bill about the coal mines in Butte, Montana. Telling Bill about the good paying jobs there in the mines and how wonderful Montana was. In less than two weeks Bill was on a Greyhound bus.

The plan was for Bill to go there, get a good job, find the family a place, then in August come back to Virginia, sell the farm and we would move to Butte. Like always things didn’t work out that way. Bill came back on the bus the first of August without a dime in his pockets. He had been living in an apartment and had no place ready for us to move to. He said he had been keeping all his money in his apartment and shortly before he was to come back home someone broke into the apartment and stole all the money.

Bill’s plan was to come back to Virginia, sell the farm, and use the equity money to move with. It was many years later before we found out that the mines Bill was supposed to be working at had closed down. This explained why he was broke when he came back. This also meant that Bill had no job to move us to.  So he came back, we sold the farm for $8,500.00 netting a clear $800.00 to use for the move. Bill’s plan was to stop in Deadwood South Dakota where I had two uncles and aunts, play sick, say he went to a doctor, lie saying he had black lung and that he would be dead by forty if he continued mining. He was one month away from thirty-eight at that time.

So Bill, with no job to go to, sells our home, and moves his wife and three kids across the country headed to nothing. We stayed with my family for three days while Bill found a job in nearby Spearfish at the Homestake Sawmill. We then found a basement apartment to rent nearby the mill. The jobs in Galax all paid the minimum wage of $1.25 per hour. I found a job in a nursing home for, you guessed it, $1.25 per hour. Bills job at the mill paid $1.90 per hour.

This was August 1965, we didn’t escape there until November 1966. A representative from Chrysler Corporation came out there trying to recruit employees for a new assembly plant in Belvidere Illinois. Seems the local people were too offended that Chrysler was going to pay people more than $5.00 an hour with great benefits while the rest of the town was settled into jobs paying less than $2.00 an hour. I know that makes no sense, but a lot of people from South Dakota jumped on those jobs the Belvidere locals didn’t want.

In the fifteen months we were in Spearfish I was so depressed that we were going to end up stuck there forever. I have to admit we had a few good times while we were there. We did visit a few local parks, and Spearfish is in the “Black Hills”. During this time our oldest son Larry went back to Galax to live. He was sixteen, almost seventeen and he got a job at Vaughan Basset Furniture factory. He stayed there until just before we moved to Belvidere. He came back and helped us with the move then he decided to stay in Belvidere and when he turned eighteen he also got a job at Chrysler.

I remember that while we were in South Dakota we visited Mount Rushmore on our eighteenth anniversary (1966). We also took a trip in the summer of 66 to Faith to watch a big yearly rodeo they held. The roads were still dirt and I still saw water trucks, but they did have a good rodeo. On the Fourth of July 1966 we went to the big rodeo show in Deadwood. During an intermission they put on the Wild Bill Hickok Show, the one where he was shot in the back playing cards in the saloon. That’s pretty much all the good memories I have from there. I was just glad to get out of there in November of 66 as we headed east praying that Belvidere would be better.

When we got to Illinois we rented an apartment in the town of Cherry Valley for three months. The rent was $150.00 per month but after we had been there for three months they raised the rent to $200.00 so we looked around and found a nice old house in Belvidere for $85.00 a month. It was right by the city park, real close to the waterfall. If Bill could have ever quit his drinking and acted like a husband and a dad we could probably have been happy there.

We lived in that house from February 1967 till April 1970. We all survived the big F-4 tornado of April 21st, 1967 unharmed while living in that house. Also during that time frame Bill got hurt at work. Bill’s foreman told him to take a part over to a certain bucket and wash it off. Turns out the bucket had acid in it. Bill had only stuck his right hand down in it thank goodness. The acid really messed up his hand and the nerves with it. He ended up missing several months work and we sued Chrysler settling out of court for $10,000.00. We put $8,000.00 down on a home on the western outskirts of town that was priced at $25,000.00. It set on an acre of land bordering a large county park. Once again, if Bill could have just acted like a man we could have been very happy there.

In February 1974, Bill and I were in a car wreck in Belvidere as a man drove through a stop sign and hit us broadside. I wasn’t injured but Bill broke his left hip and cracked his left ankle. The day after Bill had his hip replacement he had a heart attack while lying in his hospital bed. He ended up having to have a four-way bypass operation. While Bill was recuperating he got a check in the mail from Social Security. Turns out that Chrysler went through the process to get him disabled because he had nine years in with them and at ten years guaranteed lifetime benefits would be coming into effect and they weren’t wanting to have to pay them.

Larry had gotten married in October 1968 to a lady with two kids; I think he married her to get out of being drafted into Vietnam, though I’ve always believed she really loved him. Kay got married in August of 1971; I believe just to get out of the house and away from Bill. My youngest, Ted, got married in May 1975. Now I was home alone with Bill all the time. Without the kids there Bill was still as hateful as ever.

In 1977 we sold the big house on the west side and bought a nice ranch style house only a couple blocks from my work in town. It was a beautiful house and I really loved it. Also about this time Bill finally quit drinking and I had high hopes for a better life but that was just wishful thinking. Bill stayed just as hateful and self-centered as he had always been. I had always hoped it was the alcohol, it wasn’t, it was just who he was.

I had a bad left hip during this time and it was real painful to try to work with. I had tried for Social Security but got turned down so I had to go back to work after about eleven months off. I had only been back to work less than a year when Bill came up to the office and told them I had to quit because I had gotten my Social Security. When we got home I found that was not true. It had only been suggested by my lawyer to appeal. Well, during this time our income was not enough to pay the bills. So in 1981 we had to sell the house before we lost it. We only had enough money to buy a new, but cheap single wide trailer that because of zoning laws we had to put into a mobile home court. It was the nicest court in town but losing our home because of Bill’s ignorance just made me sick.

Shortly after we got moved I was turned down again on the Social Security. I had to go back up to that hole I had worked at since 1968 and ask for my job back, to my surprise they reinstated me with full seniority. I did end up getting a left hip replacement on my birthday 1992. The month before my oldest son Larry died of an aneurysm in his apartment in Scranton Pennsylvania. Bill’s health was constantly deteriorating and he died just before Christmas 1993 from heart failure. I ended up retiring in February 1994.

Now I was truly alone except for my daughter Kay who lived locally and was now a Methodist minister. I did have a few people at church that I associated with. My son Ted was a long-haul truck driver who only got to stop in for a night or so about three or four times a year.

My dad died in his sleep in early March 1987. I had a major heart attack on June 1st, 1996 that really set me back physically. But 1996 would only get worse. Mom died all alone in a nursing home in August and my brother Lonnie died that November of brain cancer and heart failure.

The next year, 1997, I had to have my right hip replaced, again on my birthday. It was hard to make do on my own but I made it. Jackie came over and helped me some while I was recuperating and Ted would send me extra money when he could to help me out. He was paying my lot rent for me each month which really helped out. One day when Kay and her husband were over I got a letter from Ted with a check for $690.00 in it, $190.00 for the lot rent and $500.00 to put up for emergency needs. Kay and her husband got really mad at me for “taking Teds’ money” like that. So from that point on Ted and I never mentioned anything about him helping me.

In March of 1999, Ted had to have heart surgery after a heart attack and he was out of work with no income for a long time. So in the summer of 1999 I took a job at a local nursing home two hours per night. My job was to help clean up the dining area and kitchen after supper had been served to the residents. It wasn’t much of a job, I hated doing it but it did make my lot rent payment.

That fall an opening came up for an extra half hour per night to go from room to room passing out cookies. I took on the extra work, but I truly enjoyed doing it. I felt sorry for so many of these people who had been discarded and abandoned here by their family members. I enjoy talking with them each evening, trying to cheer them up. It wasn’t long before I became known as “The Cookie Lady”, I enjoyed that title, it made me feel wanted.

Well, this is Sunday morning August 20th, 2000. I sometimes find it hard to believe that with the life I have had that I would have made it to the year 2000. I just spoke to my son Ted at his home in Florida but I need to get going or I will be late for church. I still need to stop by Kay’s before church and get her newspaper put in her house because they are on a weekend vacation.


Mom never made it to church. As she slowed down and turned into my sister’s driveway a young man driving a four-wheel drive Dodge Ram pickup thought it was a good time to speed up and pass. He hit mom right in the driver’s door at about seventy miles per hour, killing her instantly. He had hit her so hard that the coroner said the impact tore all the arteries away from her heart.

A bright light put out. A life lived in the darkness of others, seldom being allowed to shine. A life lived in so much sadness, put upon by others. So many joys of life denied her. In so many ways, a light, a life, unfulfilled. But a woman who will always be very much-loved, and missed “The Cookie Lady”, our Mom.

Virginia Youth Pastor Is Charged With 3 Counts Of First Degree Murder

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Virginia Youth Pastor Charged With 1st Degree Murder in Thanksgiving Day Triple Homicide

REUTERS/SHANNON STAPLETONNYPD crime scene tape is seen at the site of a shooting at the corner of Marcus Garvey Blvd. and Pulaski Street in the Brooklyn borough of New York.

A Virginia youth pastor has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of his wife, stepdaughter, and stepdaughter’s boyfriend on Thanksgiving Day and is now in being held in jail.

In an incident police are calling a domestic in nature, Christopher Gattis, 58, shot and killed his wife Jeanett Gattis, 58; her daughter Candice Kunze, 30; and Andrew Buthorn, 36, Kunze’s boyfriend, at the home near Richmond that they shared with Gattis just before 11:30 p.m. Thursday night, Yahoo News reported Sunday. The women were found dead in the home; Buthorn’s body was found in the yard.

Gattis, who is a youth pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Chester, Virginia has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He is now being held at Chesterfield County jail without bond. He will appear in General District Court on Monday and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court on Tuesday.

“Members of Grace Lutheran Church are deeply saddened by the loss of life last night as a result of three individuals being shot in Chester, and this tragedy included members of Grace Lutheran Church,” the church said in a statement on its website.

“Grace Lutheran Church has experienced many hardships over the years, but this heartbreak has unique challenges. Grace Lutheran Church asks for the prayers from the community as our congregation begins the process of addressing the grief being experienced by everyone involved.”

Residents of Gattis’ neighborhood are surprised.

“We were all friends. We hang out sometimes [and] cook out in the back,” Mike Brown, neighbor to Gattis, told the Richmond-area CBS affiliate.

“I mean every time I see them, they’re always the same way. [I] had no clue that they were having problems that I knew of, but behind closed doors is behind closed doors.”

Neighbor Larry Patton, who lives across the street from the Gattis home, described the family in Friday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch as “good people.” When he and his wife moved into the neighborhood two years ago the Gattis family welcomed them, and the neighbors often shared meals together.

“He’d do anything for you. He was always quick to laugh. He had a hearty laugh,” Patton recalled of Mr. Gattis, the youth pastor.

The neighbors told reporters that approximately six weeks ago Candice had moved back home from Oregon and brought her boyfriend along with her.

Gattis’ Facebook page listed Grace Lutheran Church as his employer since 2014.

Police say that their investigation into the triple murder is ongoing.

Follow Brandon Showalter on Facebook: BrandonMarkShowalter

Follow Brandon Showalter on Twitter: @BrandonMShow

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