Saturday, October 30, 2010


I am now a card carrying member of the Libertarian Party.

The Libertarian Party is America's third largest political party, founded in 1971 as an alternative to the two main political parties.

At my age and having recently been through the fiasco of Taft’s GOP gubernatorial occupation of our statehouse and the absolute shame of what passes for representative democracy in our nation’s capital these days, I’ve had enough.

Frankly, the objective of both main parties is simply to win elections then do all that is possible to be reelected. Any good government that occurs in that process is purely coincidental.

We have a toxic stew in Washington DC of an entrenched bureaucracy, an occupying army of lobbyists, with an electorate that has learned it can vote itself the largess of the public treasury, all wrapped in a political culture that is trashing our country.

Over recent years I’ve taken those tests that go around from time to time which seek to determine what party you should be affiliated with. Guess where my placement has been consistently? Yup. Libertarian.

If you are really curious about what they stand for take a peek here:

Pondering that platform makes me feel like I’ve enjoyed a breath of fresh air.

Are the Libertarians likely to fix this mess?

No; at least not in my lifetime.

But I feel better.
Now, here’s what this really means as an elector.

In Ohio your party affiliation is determined by the partisan ballot you ask for and vote in the primary elections. I’ve been a conservative Republican for about a zillion years. A primary is a nominating election—where each party chooses its candidates for the general election ballot.

I will continue to vote in the Republican primary until such time the Libertarians field enough candidates where my voting their primary ballot would be meaningful.

Then, like all voters, each of us may vote for whomever we choose in the general election.

For the record, I’ve already voted absentee. I cast votes for two Libertarians, one Democrat and the rest Republicans, where I chose to vote at all.

(A clue to how I cast my votes can be seen in my pictured display of yard signs including those which are conspicuous by their absence.)  Remember:  you can click on the photo and see a larger view.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I am now a card-carrying Libertarian.

Politically, that’s kind of like dual citizenship. It’s my way of expressing my complete discontent with our current political parties and the mess they have created in our nation’s capital which, I fear, could lead to our very destruction.

Please stop by Saturday and we will discuss this transcendental experience of mine.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Good grief!

Well! I have trundled into the eighth decade of life—and have never had a more rewarding celebration.

It started several weeks ago when bicycling friend Ken Johnson and I rode 70+ miles one day to celebrate our then rapidly approaching 70th birthdays; his but a week or so after mine.

Just a few weeks later a platoon of square dancing friends joined lady friend Sue and me on a weekend of hiking segments of the Appalachian Trail in four states near a very historic, Harper’s Ferry.

The following weekend Sue did a birthday dinner party for her grand daughter Mackenna (12) and me (*Gasp*).

Immediately preceding the day when my clock struck seventy, I did three assaults on my Rule Rd., hill with the mountain bike and survived another successful attempt on THE day.

That evening Sue treated me to a delightful dinner celebration; a marvelous conclusion to my milestone celebration.

I thought.

The following Friday it was back to our normal events with a square dance scheduled in Fredericktown. Regaled in the costumes of that western dance, Sue and I headed to the Don Karger’s to join our scrum of dancing and hiking companions...

...where I was ambushed by a surprise birthday party. The Kargers, the Matzs, the Meinzers, son Brian and daughter-in-law Kathy were co-conspirators. Dancing, hiking and bicycling friends the Hatfields sent their regrets.

They were on a previously scheduled trip to the Smokey Mountains, but we sensed their presence in our celebration.

I’m still tingling with warm and fuzzy memories, grateful for the health that allows for such geriatric exertions and absolutely thrilled with friends like these folks with whom I share life in all its glory.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

on the Appalachian Trail

Our Appalachian Trail (AT) hiking story was born over dinner on Kelley’s Island this past summer where we were celebrating a day’s bicycle ride on that delightful Lake Erie destination.

Folks asked me that day what I had in mind for our group’s next adventure and I shared my dream of returning to the AT where we could hike in four states over a single weekend.

We accomplished that early this month near Harpers Ferry, WV where some of our group enjoy the sunrise over the Chestnut Hill Ridge in the top photo.

As a prelude our platoon of 10, square dancing friends, met with veteran AT hikers, Roberta Moore of Mansfield and her friend Donna Stowe, who at the tender age of 68 some years ago, became only the second woman at that age to thru-hike the trail.

Thru-hikers walk the entire 2,179 mile length of the trail, usually from Georgia to Maine, in one season.  Harpers Ferry is near the middle of that long trail as you can see on the sign Don is photographing near the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers there.  (Remember to click on the image for a larger view.)

Those ladies shared with us their personal experiences and their packs which included everything they needed for food, shelter and comfort for weeks at a time, all carried on their backs.

Our hike was to be the more pedestrian variety; just a day’s walk in the mountainous woods with the comfort of a motel’s hot shower and warm bed every night while folks like Donna and Birdie would be filtering their drinking water out of a stream, securing their food from the bears and dreaming of a warm, dry bed and shower—sometime in their future.

We launched our hiking adventure out of that historic, WV town with an immediate and challenging ascent up Chestnut Hill to the peak of its ridge which hosted the joint Virginia and West Virginia borders allowing us to log hiking the AT in both of those states.

Later that day we were able to cross the Potomac River on a modern foot bridge atop an old railroad structure (right) and head into Maryland where the AT follows the old Chesapeake Canal towpath for a ways along the river. That was state number 3.

Sunday, we drove about 50 miles to the Caledonia State Park, about 15 miles west of Gettysburg, PA and did another hefty ascent with about another hour and a half of hiking up and back to legitimize our fourth state of the weekend.

As we trundled back down the rocky path to Caledonia’s parking area, 10 slightly abused bodies enjoyed a mutual celebration of an accomplishment not often experienced by folks our collective ages.

For that, and for the friends with whom I enjoyed this adventure, I remain extremely grateful!

On the final descent from the 1520 foot elevation above the Caledonia State Park trailhead, the group pauses while Don Karger records the scene.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ten mildly aging square dancers stage for their final ascent in a weekend of hiking four states on the Appalachian Trail--this trailhead being in the Caledonia State Park near Gettysburg, PA.  They are from left; Sue Brooks, Don Karger, Roberta Karger, Mark and Nancy Meinzer (standing), Dick and Rosa Hatfield and Terry Wolf kneeling, and Jane and Russ Matz (right).

The white, brick sized mark on the tree (center background) is a trail blaze found along the entire length of the trail to help guide hikers.  These blazes and other routine maintenance along the trail's 2,179 miles from Maine to Georgia are done by local hiking clubs who are very deserving of appreciation by all of us who treasure this marvelous facility; the grand daddy of America's hiking trails.

Please stop by Saturday for the conclusion of our delightful adventure.  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


It was a beautiful fall morning today with sunshine sparkling the yet colorful leaves and windless temperatures in the low 40s.

My mountain bike pushed our shadow obliquely up Rule Rd., as I measured the few feet I gained on the hill with each crank of the gears—and remembered the last three days.

I had not attempted this hill climb in the past two years having become a rider of the more genteel, recumbent variety this past spring. The benchmark of my 70th anniversary on this earth was rapidly approaching and I wondered...

...and successfully climbed the hill Saturday. But, I had to stop near the top while my respiration rate got itself under control.

Sunday, I made it non stop but the body threatened rebellion.

Monday, I had to stop again before the stop sign up near the ridge when I ran out of breath before leg muscle.

I wondered what would happen this day as I wandered the house, watching the slow rise in outside temperature while I stretched an aging body in a geriatric form of conditioning.

It was a good sign when I blew by the house with the mean little brown dog and he barked but remained seated. Was that his birthday present to me?

Then, I felt a tickle up my spine as I rounded the curve up near that old farm house where the road levels slightly then continues mildly sloping up toward the stop sign.

I gave thanks to God for the blessing of good health as I whizzed through a traffic-clear intersection bumping the gears up to the big chain ring and number 6 of 8 on the rear cassette. I enjoyed the sense of acceleration while I measured how much fuel there was left in the body’s tank.

It’s a soft climb from there for about a mile along the ridge and I dropped back a gear or two when the threat of mild, bodily rebellion returned.

I turned toward home and hoped God didn't mind as my thoughts turned toward spitting in the devil’s eye.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Roberta Karger does a double-take as an exercising lady makes her rounds on the hilly streets of Harpers Ferry, WV where recently we launched our effort to hike the Appalachian Trail (AT) in four states on one weekend. In the lower photo, her husband Don enjoys the historical plaques in the town’s Arsenal Square.

Bustling in Antiquity
and pierced by the Appalachian Trail

In 1750 Robert Harper obtained ownership of 125 acres of land at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, then in the wilderness about 50 miles west of what is now Washington DC.

In 1761 he established a ferry across the Potomac River, opening a route for settlers moving into the Shenandoah Valley and farther west—hence the modern name of Mr. Harper’s town; population in 2000, 307.

In 1785 George Washington visited the town looking for a canal route through the mountains which were then effectively blocking migration westward in the newly freed country.

Because of Washington’s familiarity with the town, as president he established a US Armory and Arsenal there in 1794 which produced more than 600,000 musket rifles for the army and turned the town into a vital manufacturing area.

That ultimately led to an historical act for which the town is most famous to this day; John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry on October 16, 1859—a key event leading the nation toward Civil War; a disaster for the little town as it changed hands eight times between the Union and the Confederacy from 1861 to 1865.

General Lee fought there with his army of 40,000 men. Two days later he commanded his troops at the nearby battle of Antietam which had the highest number of deaths among troops in any day of US military history.

Today, tourists meander up and down and around the little town’s very hilly and narrow streets. Many of its buildings are made of stone slab walls and are still bustling with touristy commerce.

The huge stone escarpment just across the Potomac is in Maryland while high atop the ridge across the Shenandoah River, West Virginia and Virginia share a border.

As our little platoon of 10 hikers familiarized ourselves with the town’s geography we discovered the AT enters the town via a walking bridge across the Potomac then wanders up very steep steps toward Jefferson’s Rock.

Russ Matz is pictured (right) descending those steps with a rectangular white AT blaze clearly visible on the light post just ahead of him.

The AT leaves the town by crossing the Shenandoah then does a steep climb up Chestnut Hill toward the Virginia border.

So, with a round-trip across a walking bridge over the Potomac and a level stroll into Maryland and back, then two ascents; one up toward Jefferson’s Rock and the other up Chestnut Ridge we would be able to log hikes on the AT in three states on the same day.

That was our plan with a nifty romp through the antiquity of Harpers Ferry a delightful bonus.

The following day we had a 50 mile drive north into PA where the AT crosses US 30 between Chambersburg and Gettysburg through the Caledonia State Park. A vigorous ascent on the trail there would count as our fourth state of the weekend.

We’ll share that story with you next week. Please stay tuned.

Sue Brooks and Roberta Karger leave a restored residence and head toward St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church (background, and interior right). The wall constructed of flat rock in the background is typical of construction seen in walls and buildings throughout the town.  That's Chestnut Hill in the background; site of our hiking ascent to Virginia.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

On October 25, 1783 Thomas Jefferson stood at this location high above the Shenandoah River at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia and described the scene thusly;

"The passage of the Patowmac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature. You stand on a very high point of land. On your right comes up the Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain a hundred miles to seek a vent. On your left approaches the Patowmac in quest of a passage also.

In the moment of their junction they rush together against the mountain, rend it asunder and pass off to the sea. The first glance of this scene hurries our senses into the opinion that this earth has been created in time, that the mountains were formed first, that the rivers began to flow afterwards, that in this place particularly they have been so dammed up by the Blue Ridge of mountains as to have formed an ocean which filled the whole valley; that, continuing to rise, they have at last broken over at this spot and have torn the mountain down from its summit to its base.

The piles of rock on each hand, but particularly on the Shenandoah, the evident marks of their disruptions and avulsions from their beds by the most powerful agents in nature, corroborate the impression....”

Part of our group of 10 square dancing friends ponder the historical plaques at Jefferson’s Rock in the top photo—each, in his or her own way, sensing the magnitude of our country’s history that occurred here.

The upper view is looking upstream along the Shenandoah River.  In the lower photo the river is visible behind the church steeple where Roberta Karger enjoys the view of its confluence with the Potomac River in Harpers Ferry as it flows on toward the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Saturday, Fogeyisms will tell you more about our visit to the historical treasure of Harpers Ferry where we launched a weekend of hiking the Appalachian Trail in four, adjacent states. We hope you will join us.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nature splashed a barrel of crimson on this tree bouquet in neighbor Norrie and Jan’s pasture;

--a sparkling celebration of this visually poignant season, yet

--as the skeletal branches remind us, life soon will be frozen still

--until Spring’s cycle of renewal.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An annual artsy-craftsy show

After 40 minutes of stop and go traffic for 2 miles Saturday as we drove toward this annual event in the weeds near Butler we encountered

another 30 minute delay while we stood in line to pay for our $6 admission tickets

which allowed us to join a a noisy, stepping-on-your-heels, crowd trying to travel every which direction--all at once--for the privilege of paying top dollar prices for mostly seasonal, trinkets.

As it turned out, a miles-long traffice jam and a caterpillar-paced ticket line wasn't the only place folks had to endure delays that day.

With a grateful nod to the true artists in residence at this event, Fogeyisms would prefer another jaunt somewhere on the Appalachian Trail--anywhere.  

Monday, October 11, 2010

While Jack Frost continues to snooze

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Her heart was larger than her body that weekend.

Jane Matz is one of our group of ten square dancing friends who spent a recent weekend hiking segments of the Appalachian Trail.

She is a large woman and I was concerned for her comfort as we struggled with three challenging climbs on that outing; the first across the Shenandoah River from Harpers Ferry where we found parking up on Chapel Hill Rd.

The AT crosses there then ascends to a ridge line on the border of West Virginia and Virginia.

Our parking area was at 630 feet above sea level and the ridge peak was near the 1170 foot elevation giving us a hefty climb of 540 feet over a distance of likely less than an often switch-backed mile.

We were confronted with heavily forested and rocky terrain as we climbed toward a rising sun which was pushing up the opposite side of the steep ascent.

We soon left she and husband Russ behind as we headed toward the summit where we would set foot in our second state of the morning—Virginia. They smiled as we left them and told us they would rest a bit and enjoy some bird watching.

We stopped and rested often too as the steep grade penalized our aging bodies.

As we reached our summit then headed back I was pleasantly astonished when we encountered Russ and Jane slowly finishing their climb surprisingly close to us.

They were still smiling quietly as they usually do.

We had a similar experience the following day when we climbed out of the Caledonia State Park in Pennsylvania near Gettysburg.

That climb left a parking area at 940 feet and peaked somewhere near 1520 feet.

We were not concerned so much with elevations as we were with experiencing a meaningful length hike on the AT in each of the four states.

Again, we left them with their smiling blessing—only to, once again, encounter them close behind us when we reversed our course.

Our third heart-pounding climb happened right in Harpers Ferry where the AT passes into town from Maryland to the north then ascends a challenging set of worn, colonial period, stone steps up toward Jefferson’s Rock and past the Harper Cemetery where General Phil Sheridan had his headquarters during the Civil War.

I tip my hat to Russ for his quiet chivalry and want to shout my congratulations to Jane for being the kind of lady you would want to have close by when life hurls you one of its challenges.

The general would have been proud of her too.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

OSU 10, Michigan 2--

Ten of us mildly geriatric, square dancing friends recently spent a weekend hiking segments of the Appalachian Trail in West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

On our first morning’s ascent out of the Shenandoah River valley near Harpers Ferry our robust platoon of hikers encountered a young couple coming the opposite direction.

Some of us were resplendent in OSU colors. The young couple was mildly restrained and we soon found out why.

They were from Michigan and hailed from a school somewhere up there near Ann Arbor.

As we stood there mostly surrounding them I sensed we might break out in the Buckeye fight song at any moment.

Turns out we, realizing our superior strength in numbers, set a tone of gentle civility and told them the truth on the hiking conditions we had just conquered and they were about to encounter.

And, so began our marvelous weekend. Please stop by over the next week or so as Fogeyisms tells the rest of that story.

Our slightly bewildered friends are on the left in the photo as we alternate discussions between hiking and rivalry. We parted, smiling peacefully. The tiny piece of red behind the Michigan fellow belongs to Nancy Meinzer’s OSU ball cap. That’s yours truly with back to the camera, Sue Brooks with the yellow jacket tied around her waist, Mark Meinzer with his OSU ball cap, Rosa Hatfield mostly hidden behind Mark, Dick Hatfield and Roberta Karger on the far right.  Out of view are Russ and Jane Matz.
Photo by Don Karger—with a tip of my hat, of course.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

and it's "air force"

I heard the jarring thump of a large helicopter’s blades pounding the air.

But, something was not right. Its machinery sounded like it was in serious need of lubrication.

I grabbed my camera and searched the sky through the canopy of trees surrounding my home and discovered what looked like an avian escapee from Jurassic Park trying to devour a slice of my east woods.

It was a helicopter all right—but it had a stinger-like appendage dangling from its belly containing a silhouette of black balls that were chomping branches of my 90 foot pine trees into woodsy debris.

Turns out AEP, the local electric company, was using this aerial gizmo and clearing the power line easements that previous, ground-bound crews were unable to reach during recent years of similar effort.

His stinger was a long, skinny shaft that suspended a small engine that spun saw blades some 2 feet in diameter stacked along the lower end of its vertical boom.

The helicopter pilot put on a dazzling display of airmanship. He jockeyed his machine like a yo-yo; the shaft swinging gently back and forth as he exploded branches protruding toward the power lines.

He slowly adjusted his altitude to accommodate the hilly terrain and the height of the trees.

I wasn’t surprised my power was out but I never saw any damage to local lines.

I learned later a line crew worked the same area as the helicopter; standing by to make hasty repairs to any damage that resulted.  Maybe they had the power turned off as a safety precaution.

In an article in the Roanoke (VA) Times on the same day of my experience their power company said one helicopter can accomplish as much as eight to10 ground crews. They went on to explain it costs about $35 per tree to prune a power line’s path with the crews but only $10 per tree with a helicopter and its solitary—but highly skilled pilot.

The aerial apparatus of these airborne lumberjacks can cut through 16 inches of tree and bark with ease according to the news story.

In my neighborhood we have a recurrent history of power outages, so, I certainly applaud this skilful pilot and his employers for their dazzling effort.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Nancy Meinzer (left) and lady friend Sue Brooks enjoy the display of a replica of the Wright Brother’s first airplane in the “Early Years” section of the air force museum. Shown in the smaller photo, lower right is The B-29 bomber “Bockscar” and the replica atomic bomb “Fat Boy” it dropped on Nagasaki Japan to end World War II in 1945.

Wright Patterson AFB--Dayton

As I wandered through the museum that day I was compelled to ponder it was just 66 years from the Wright Brother’s first flight (1903) to Neil Armstrong and man’s first walk on the moon (1969).

On that 1903 day Wilbur Wright flew about 112 feet. The distance to the moon is approximately 238,000 miles.

The museum, located at Dayton’s Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, is the world’s oldest and largest military aviation museum and contains more than 17 acres of indoor exhibit space in three, hangar-style buildings. It has more than 1,000,000 visitors per year.

There is a separate hangar containing the museum’s collection of Presidential aircraft including the Air Force One that returned President John F. Kennedy’s body from Texas to Washington DC. It, too, is open to the public.

Pictured in the next smaller photo is a 1955 Aero Commander, the smallest ever Air Force One and used by President Dwight Eisenhower for personal transportation. That airplane is very similar to the 500S Shrike Aero Commander I flew for the Shiloh Corporation in the late 1970s. Imagine how that discovery rattled my memories.

Nancy also had a fond recollection of a childhood visit to the museum and a photo of her late father with a WWII era bomber named “Strawberry Bitch”. That airplane is still there.

We quietly pondered the Holocaust section which memorialized the victims and survivors of the Nazi WWII concentration camps—including captured American airmen.

We wished we had more time to reflect on the personal stories for which air force personnel had been awarded the Medal of Honor—our nation’s highest award for conduct above and beyond the call of duty.

Overall it was painful to contemplate the fact the majority of exhibits, naturally, involved the machinery of war.

But, that is a proclivity of the human experience and this museum treats it with a palpable, scholarly respect.

Open year-round, daily, 9 to 5 and free.

The silver airplane on the right above is a North American 047B and has been on display since 1978 after it was restored by members of Mansfield’s Air National Guard Maintenance Squadron. The airplane standing on its nose in the center of the picture depicts a flight training accident.