Willis Monie Books

I would never have known the Willis Monie Bookstore was there if it weren't for the lovely Robin. While my brother Don and I spent hours in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, she and Arvilla, my sister-in-law, did some shopping and walking around the town, and discovered this gem. 
I love bookstores like this, with books stacked and crammed in every nook and cranny. I just know there is buried treasure somewhere waiting for me. This store has been in business for more than twenty-five years. As you might expect, they carry a wide selection of baseball books (many of them signed). But they also offer Americana, theology, art, history, fiction (including thousands of titles in Mystery and Science Fiction) and many, many others. They have over eighty thousand books listed in store and online. 
As we were in Cooperstown, home of James Fenimore Cooper, I bought hardcover copies of The Pathfinder and The Pioneers, two of his classic Leatherstocking Tales.

I could have stayed much longer than we did. In fact, I offered myself for hire, but they suggested I should pay them to work there. Good point. 

WIllis Monie Books is located at 139 Main Street in Cooperstown. It is easy to miss, tucked into the back corner of a building housing other businesses, but if you're ever in Cooperstown, look for it. 

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Last Monday my brother and sister-in-law Don and Arvilla took me and the lovely Robin to Cooperstown, New York, for a tour of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
The phrase "kid in a candy store" doesn't come close to expressing my excitement and enjoyment as I finally got to visit this place. Wow. I was thrilled to see things such as the actual jersey worn by pitching legend Cy Young (above), a whole room devoted to Babe Ruth, as well as countless other items (such as the seven caps worn by Nolan Ryan as he pitched each of his seven no-hitters).
A highlight for me (though it was all highlight) was the "In the Books" area, displaying the various records ballplayers have broken and set over the years, including the hit king Pete Rose (above) and the pitching marvel Aroldis Chapman (below).
Arvilla and Robin came and went, doing a little shopping and so on while Don and I went from one display to another, including a set of championship rings (below).
Don and I even got to play a round of "So You Think You Know Baseball," a "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire"-type game, in an effort to win a free one-year membership to the Hall. I tried to help Don as much as I could, but we only lasted six or seven rounds. I think we could've won if we had toured all the exhibits before playing the game. Drat.

Still, it was a dream fulfilled for me, and a joy I will remember for a very long time.

Cooperstown, New York

It's Cooperstown, baby! That's right. Last Monday, my brother Don and his wife Arvilla hosted the lovely Robin and me on a trip to historic, fabled Cooperstown, New York. I was (more or less) excited enough to jump out of my skin. Cooperstown, a tiny (population 1,852--salute!) village in New York's Otsego County. Interestingly, most of the village lies within the town of Otsego, according to Wikipedia. How's that work?
The village is named for Judge William Cooper, father of James Fenimore Cooper, author of The Last of the Mohicans (among many others), both of whom once lived there (as did Samuel F. B. Morse and Erastus Flavel Beadlecreator of the dime novel).
Of course, Cooperstown is best known as the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, which is why we were there. The Hall of Fame is there because of the claim that Cooperstown resident Abner Doubleday invented baseball in a cow pasture within the village--which today is the site of Doubleday Field (above).

Cooperstown is also home to the Farmers' Museum and the Fenimore Art Museum. But we never made it to either of those...because we were headed to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, baby!

The Crooked Rooster

After a memorable hike down the gorge at Watkins Glen last Sunday, the lovely Robin and I joined Don and Arvilla for dinner at The Wildflower Cafe and Crooked Rooster Brewpub on North Franklin Street in Watkins Glen. It's two--two!--two restaurants in one.
We were seated right away, and though it took a little while for our service to get to us, there was a very large party being served as we took our seats, so it seemed understandable.
Though I usually avoid the "specials" when eating out, Robin and I both ordered the apple cider sirloin with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables. It was cooked as we ordered, delicious, and satisfying without being too much (of course, we didn't order appetizers and also declined desserts). A fine meal in fine surroundings.

Watkins Glen State Park

Last Sunday my brother Don and his wife Arvilla took the lovely Robin and me to Watkins Glen State Park for the mile-and-a-half descending gorge trail from the top to the bottom of the famous gorge.
Within two miles, the glen's stream descends four hundred feet, generating nineteen waterfalls along its course. We wound down a 180-step stone staircase at the start (so glad we started at the top instead of the bottom!), strode past, over, and under waterfalls, across bridges, down winding passages, and along dripping cliff faces.
There were just so many breathtakingly beautiful sights. I took dozens of photos, and could have taken many more.
Not only were our surroundings beautiful, but the company, too, as you can see below.
Almost at the end of the walk, Minnehaha Falls pours into a heart-shaped pool at its base (below).
I love hikes like this. So beautiful. So memorable. So fun. I can't wait to do it again.

Seneca Lake

While enjoying a speaking engagement this past weekend at Long Point Camp near Penn Yan, New York, I got to enjoy several prayer and reading sessions on the shore of beautiful Seneca Lake.
Seneca Lake is the largest of New York's eleven Finger Lakes, and the deepest lake located entirely within the state. It is named, of course, for the Seneca nation which once surrounded the thirty-eight-mile-long lake. Folks call it the lake trout capital of the world, although I didn't see any. It is also renowned (due to its macroclimate) for its vineyards, although I didn't partake.
We traveled the length of the lake on the western side, from the city of Geneva (which we drove through to and from Long Point Camp, where I spoke) to the village of Watkins Glen on the south.

It was obviously a beautiful place to stay and pray and sit and read.

Long Point Camp

What a wonderful weekend the lovely Robin and I enjoyed the last few days at The Salvation Army's Long Point Camp on Seneca Lake near Penn Yan, New York.

I was honored and thrilled to give a monologue (as Samuel Logan Brengle, above and below), lead two Bible studies, and give the Sunday morning message over the weekend.

It was a joy to study and worship with such fine music, dance, timbrel, and testimony. We felt at home and no wonder, as so many old friends greeted us after long separation, and so many new friends welcomed us with magnanimity. We will long remember our 2014 Family Camp at Long Point Camp!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Holiday Inn Express, Ashland OH

The lovely Robin and I enjoyed a very pleasant stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Ashland, Ohio.

Our room was excellent, breakfast was more than adequate, and other than the tiny inconvenience of having to park on the side due to the front parking lot being asphalted, everything about our stay was enjoyable.

This one goes on our favorite list.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Hamilton (Ohio) Historic Farm Market

The season is clearly winding down at Hamilton (Ohio)'s historic farm market (next Saturday is the last of the summer, I think), but I made my first visit this morning. As usual, my timing is impeccable. 
The weather was perfect, the selection impressive, the entertainment--well, entertaining--and I came home with some fine-looking sweet corn, blueberries, and strawberries. Cheap, wholesome, and local. 

Pinch Me Places: Storytime

I've visited many places on earth that qualify as "pinch me places"--spots so amazing or celebrated I can hardly believe I'm really there. Such as Machu Pichu. The Western Wall. The Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem. 221B Baker Street in London. And so on.
But a recent "pinch me place" was the couch in my son's living room, where I got to read (on four successive evenings) to my oldest grandchildren, Miles and Mia, from The Hobbit. Since they moved to California in early June, I haven't had that priceless pleasure, so it was a "pinch me place" to cuddle with them and choke back tears as I read of Bilbo and Thorin and Smaug in San Jose, California.

Steinbeck Country

One of the things I love when traveling is discovering history--and especially history with a literary twist. So, of course, I was excited to travel last month (with four of my kids and grandkids!) to the Cannery Row area of Monterey, California, which figures in a couple of American author John Steinbeck's stories (one of which is titled, appropriately enough, Cannery Row). The area was named Cannery Row in honor of the author who made it famous.
Cannery Row today is filled with shops, restaurants, lodgings, and attractions, but one of the shops in the area had a photo on the wall of what Cannery Row was like in Steinbeck's day--actual canneries. Huh.
A bust of Steinbeck sits at the center of Cannery Row, in a square thriving with activity (music, food, vendors, etc.). He died in 1966 at the age of sixty-four, but by that time had written twenty-seven books, including East of Eden (1952), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Grapes of Wrath (1939). He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.
That's also him sitting atop the statue above, just a few feet from the bust, along with other luminaries of Monterey (Steinbeck grew up in Monterey; his father was the city treasurer, in fact). 

My only disappointment on the trip was my inability, believe it or not, to buy a copy of Cannery Row in Cannery Row! (see here)

Matanuska Glacier

On a bright and clear July Sunday afternoon, after a blessed morning of worship and satisfying noon meal at King's Lake Camp near Wasilla, Alaska, the lovely Robin and I set out in the company of our hosts, George and Jeanne Baker, and our friends Eloisa and Jeff Martin, for the Matanuska Glacier. Along the way we stopped a time or two because the scenery was just so breathtaking, we had to take pictures. But scenes like the above were only prelude.
We drove for an hour and a half or so when the Matanuska Glacier came into view. Approximately twenty-six miles long (see the photo of the glacier's length here), and four miles wide at its terminus, it is classified as a valley glacier--a body of solid ice that flows like a river under its own weight through an existing valley.

George and Jeannie, of course, knew just where to go to enter the Matanuska Glacier Park, a privately owned park that is the glacier's only access point.  We stopped at the office to not only pay the entrance fee but also to sign waivers saying any injury while walking on the glacier would be our problem, not theirs. Then we drove a couple miles on a dirt road to the parking area and started walking. At first it was hard to believe we were walking on a glacier, because the ice was largely covered with rocks and grit. But after many steps on the darker surface, we reached the glistening white areas of the glacier, and many crevasses where the deep blue of the glacier glowed up at us!
What a unique experience, walking on the surface of a glacier with the lovely Robin and our relatives and friends. I want to do it again--and I want to take my kids and grandkids, and maybe pay to go on one of the guided tours and ice climbing options that are available! 

Kashwitna Lake

We set out with our hosts and friends (George, Jeannie, Eloisa, and Jeff) to get a glimpse of Denali, or Mt. McKinley as the U.S. Congress named it in 1917. Its elevation of 20,237 feet above sea level makes it the highest peak in North America. But, alas and alack, clouds obscured it that afternoon, no matter how hard we huffed and puffed to try to blow them away. 
But we gave it a shot. And we enjoyed a little time on the shore of Kashwitna Lake along Parks Highway. It is surrounded by private property, except the shoreline adjoining the parking lot off the road. And while there we got to see a float plan come in for a landing. Many small homes and cabins dot the northern shores of this lake, and it so happens that Susitna Air Service was based on this lake for many years. So how about that?

Little Millers

I think it was Saturday evening while visiting King's Lake Camp in Alaska a couple weeks ago that the lovely Robin and I were treated to a visit to Little Millers Ice Cream Shop in Wasilla.

We weren't the only ones to indulge, though afterward it felt like we must have eaten the others' ice cream along with our own. Robin had a banana split, and I enjoyed a chocolate malt. And, word: if you ask for extra malt at Little Millers, you will get extra malt. Puhlenty! It was the maltiest chocolate malt I've ever had.

Most Bloody Piece of Work (#ShakesinthePark)

It was a tough evening for picture taking, but nonetheless wonderful for Shakespeare in the Park last night as the lovely Robin and I enjoyed a Cincinnati Shakespeare Company production of Macbeth at Vinoklet Winery in Colerain Township. The sun sets beautifully--but also in the faces of the audience--at Vinoklet, so the first half requires shades. But no one died...in the audience, at least.
This was the first performance of Macbeth in the Shakespeare in the Park series this year, and as good as any I've seen. Josh Katawick (above) and Caitlin McWethy, in the roles of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth were pitch perfect. Katawick's unreliable microphone was a minor distraction at times, but he strutted and fretted his hour on the stage unperturbedly. 

I loved the portrayal of the "weird sisters" (Emily Sullivan, Courtney Lucien, and Caitlin McWethy, pictured above). The entire cast--which included also Frank Delany and Andrew Gehrlein--did a fine job (as we have come to expect), and the Vinoklet stage offered as always a hospitable setting for the Scottish Play. 

More information about Shakespeare in the Park--and the company's upcoming twenty-first season--can be found at cincyshakes.com. 

Great Seats, Great Friends, Great Night, Great Game

Last night the lovely Robin and I had the joy of spending a few hours with our friends Larry and Janet at Great American Ballpark.
What seats! Second row right at first base and next to the Reds' dugout. Almost caught a ball, too. And Sandy Alomar and Billy Hatcher seemed to really appreciate my coaching advice. 
Best of all, the home team won, 4-0, and took three of four to win the 2014 Ohio Cup from the Cleveland Indians. Yeah, buddy!

King's Lake Camp

The Salvation Army's King's Lake Camp is located about forty-five miles from Anchorage, Alaska, between Wasilla and Palmer. The lovely Robin and I got to visit for a few days in late July, and came away blessed and impressed. 
A sign as you enter the campgrounds displays typical Alaska humor and pride.
The grounds cozy up to a lake--large enough (I can attest) to land a floater plane or accommodate a ski boat. 
I got to speak three times over that weekend--Friday evening, Saturday morning, and Sunday morning. The response each time was sensitive and enthusiastic. The lovely Robin and I got to meet many new friends, and pray with a number of them, and laugh and eat and worship with them all. 
And, as if that wasn't blessing enough, we got to enjoy scenes like this, taken from the deck outside our bedroom at 10:40 p.m., while several hours of sunlight remained.