This Is Me--2024 A to Z Theme

My A to Z Themes in the past have covered a range of topics and for 2024 the theme is a personal retrospective that I call "I Coulda Been" which is in reference to my job and career arc over my lifetime. I'll be looking at all sorts of occupations that I have done or could have done. Maybe you've done some of these too!

Friday, April 30, 2021

Zigzag River ( #AtoZChallenge )

 Rivers flow hither and yon, round and about, fast and slow.  Rivers go where rivers go and then the cycle begins again...

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter Z

Zig Zag River

The Zigzag River flows from its headwaters on Mt. Hood( Photo by instagrammer tomgolfkam).

          Zig zagging across this continent as well as continents throughout the world, rivers are everywhere.  The rivers come in all sizes and appearances.   They wind, they snake, they crawl, and often they rampage with an apparent frenzied rage as they persist in getting to their ultimate destinations.
          Some rivers move in a zig zag path while one river is named "Zigzag".  The Zigzag River in Oregon is only 12 miles long but it boasts some formidable whitewater rapids in its final 3 miles before it reaches the confluence with the Sandy River.  In this part of Oregon the Zigzag name is everywhere from the Zigzag Glacier where the Zigzag River begins to the Zigzag Falls along the river course to the small community of Zigzag at the merging of the Sandy River.   You get a larger than normal dose of Z's in this part of Oregon.

         To close my A to Z Rivers of America series let us look at a final river running through New Mexico and Arizona--the Zuni River.   Considered sacred by the Zuni tribe, their namesake river struggles for survival in the arid desert where it sometimes flows.  In drier seasons the river might go from a trickle to apparent nothingness.  Yet the river persists as it has persisted for seemingly as long as the Earth has been around.  From the fossils that are found in the surrounding river basin to the Zuni people who lived on this land long before Europeans arrived, the Zuni River exemplifies the longlastingness of rivers.

        Dream of rivers.  Experience rivers.  Watch the rivers flow and imagine what has been and what will be.  The rivers belong to all of us.  They help economies thrive and ecosystems to survive.  You can't hug a river, but you can love them.  Love them for the life they provide.   Rivers are life.

      Can you think of a river that is more harmful than not?   Do you think it is good to control rivers with artificial measures like dams or channels?    If you could name a river, what name would you like to use?

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Yellowstone River ( #AtoZChallenge )

One of the spectacular aspects of rivers is the presence of waterfalls.  Some rivers have none while some have many. Some waterfalls tower while others merely cascade.  The water flows when, where, and how it must and goes where it will...

  #AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter Y

Yellowstone River

Yellowstone Falls on the Yellowstone River (Wikipedia)

      Rivers are everywhere.  We might tend not to notice the rivers because they have always been there and they are always there.  One river leads to another and another until that one final river merges into the sea.  The Yadkin River of North Carolina joins the  Uwharrie River, to become the Pee Dee River which continues into South Carolina.

      Go to Mississippi and you will find the Yalobusha River which eventually joins the Tallahatchie River to become the Yazoo River.  Mississippi has a number of rivers with names derived from native languages that make for interesting pronunciation challenges.  How about the Yockanookany River – can you say it quickly three times?   Then there is the Youghiogheny River in West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.  Maybe it's time for something simple instead.

       I give you the Yellow River.  Oh wait, there's the Yellow River of Alabama and Florida, and the Yellow River in Indiana, or the Yellow River in Iowa. Apparently that was a popular name back in the river naming days.  And it is easy to say and to spell.

       Thinking of Yellow I turn to one of my favorite rivers--the Yellowstone River running for 692 miles though Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota.  The river runs through Yellowstone National Park where there are some impressive sights such as Yellowstone Falls.  Interstate 94 follows along the Yellowstone for much of the way across Montana as the river heads to its final destination of the Missouri River.  

        Yes the rivers just keep on rolling, one river to the next.


         Have you visited Yellowstone National Park?  Do you have a favorite waterfall?  Which rivers have you followed for considerable distance as you drove a highway?   


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

X: You Pick a River ( #AtoZChallenge )

      Since X doesn't really have a river that I can think of then maybe we'll let readers have a break from my thoughts and hear what you have to say... 

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter X

          In my A to Z series on rivers I've been mainly discussing rivers that mean something special to me.  How about some of you?   Do you have a particular river that is a favorite of yours or one that has a special meaning to you?   Let us know your thoughts in the comments...

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Whitewater ( #AtoZChallenge )

        Whitewater presents a thrilling challenge to some while to others it might be the threat of danger or even death.   I mean, seriously--after watching a film like Deliverance do you really want to go down a treacherous whitewater river?

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter W


Scene from "Deliverance"  (Metrospirit)

       After watching the movie Deliverance with my friends in 1972, we were psyched up to find our own whitewater adventure.  Well, they were--maybe not so much wimpy me.  Floating down a river was one thing, but I wasn't sure that I was ready to risk life and limb going through torrential waters.  It looks fun, but living a long life seemed more important to me.  Bottom line is that I never tried shooting any whitewater rapids and now at this stage of my life it is unlikely that I ever will.

        But if I did try whitewater rafting where would I go?   In earlier posts I mentioned the Ocooee, Tellico, Snake, and James Rivers.  They all offer whitewater opportunities along with outfitters who will rent you the necessary gear to shoot the rapids those rivers offer.  Then for an ultimate thrill I might go to the Grand Canyon for a teeth-on-edge trip down the iconic whitewater stretch of the Colorado River.  That one sounds heart-stopping indeed!

        However, since this post is for "Day W" of the A to Z Challenge, let me stay within the parameters of this letter.  One place where I would not go is the Wood River of Illinois.  At only 2.4 miles long running though urban areas near St. Louis MO, the Wood River sloughs along until dumping into the Mississippi River.  This is probably a river not even conducive to a quiet downstream float, but I wouldn't know since I've only crossed this river in a car while driving and didn't pay any attention that a river was there.

        The nearly 300 mile long Washita River passing through Texas and Oklahoma looks like a wonderful waterway for a peaceful float and for a short distance there is even a respectable stretch of rapids through a canyon.   Likewise the over 500 miles long Wabash River of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois allows for a lot of calm drifting upon the waters though in Indiana there is a decent stretch of whitewater that draws many enthusiasts of the sport.

         For the truest whitewater experience one might be better off going to the state of Washington to tackle the Wenatchee River.  Many tourists and serious whitewater fans visit the Wenatchee River region every year for thrilling river experiences.  This river is only 53 miles long but it has more whitewater than many rivers of a far greater length.

        I'll leave the whitewater adventures for those with more daring than I have.  I'm sure it's a lot of fun, but I'll take their word for it.

        Have you ever gone whitewater rafting, kayaking, or canoeing?    What is your favorite film that features whitewater adventures?   Is there something that other people do that you would never try?


Monday, April 26, 2021

Verdant Valleys and River Banks ( #AtoZChallenge )

 The presence of  an abundance of water might make one expect an abundance of greenery and that is typically the case.  Water is an essential ingredient for photosynthesis in green plants hence the greenery along so many rivers...

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter V

Verdant Valleys and River Banks

Photo by Aitor Olaskoaga on Unsplash

         When traveling across the United States from Los Angeles to points eastward one cannot help but notice the striking differences in the vegetation of the more arid West and the lush lands of the East where rainfall is far more abundant.  And with the rain comes rivers.

          Driving toward the Atlantic coast one begins to see larger rivers in Oklahoma when traveling I-40.  Greenery begins to abound from spring bloom to the falling of autumn leaves.  The change is striking after driving in the drier desert landscapes to a world that becomes ever more verdant as one nears the Mississippi River.  Arkansas seems to be a vast carpet of green dotted with cities and towns.  Then after crossing the bridge over the Big Muddy Mississippi the verdancy is profuse in the spring and summer. 

           The rivers of the eastern United States abound with vegetative growth and the wildlife that come with those areas.  Passing on the highway, one can look down upon rivers to see them lined with a array of green trees, plants, grasses, and all that contributes to the beauty of the Earth.  Now and then the passerby might see someone floating down a peaceful looking river through a jungle-like wonderland.

          Down on the river the relaxed floater must be in a state of blissful nirvana.  When I've floated down a river beneath over hanging trees with dense vegetation all around, there was a peaceful solitude that was intruded upon only by the chorus of hidden life among the plants on the shores.  One can daydream and be carried away from the normal troubles of the world.  And if the river itself is not threatening then there doesn't seem to be a care that can interfere with one's sense of sanity.

         Verdant valleys and river banks abound in the more rain saturated climes.  The green is worth saving so we can all enjoy this peaceful beauty with all of our senses.  But it's also worth taking care of for the future health of the Earth.   We need to love and respect our rivers.  They represent a Green cause that is very real.

          Where is the lushest most green place that you have been?   Do you have a favorite plant that might be considered to be mostly a river plant?    Would you like to float down a river this summer?

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Underwater Contemplations ( #AtoZChallenge )

       Ever wonder what might be found under the waters of a river?   Sunken vessels?  Lost valuables?  Dead bodies?   Maybe any of these and more...

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter U

Underwater Contemplations

Underwater scenery  (pinterest)

              Decades ago I shared a cabin near the Great Smoky Mountains with three of my friends. We were within easy walking distance of the park boundary which gave us ample opportunity to hike some amazing secluded trails that were not frequented by many hikers.  

            One trail that began near our cabin went to the top of Kelly's Ridge where we found a large spring or outpouring of water that disappeared into a very deep sinkhole.  The waterfall was perhaps 50 feet high or so and the hole maybe was as much as a hundred feet deep.  Relying on memory it's difficult to say.  The water vanished into what appeared to be a cave.  Due to the great depth we never attempted to descend into this sinkhole.  However, along the trail that led up to the sinkhole we found a number of potential entrances into a cave system.  Most of these entrances were far too small to get through, but there was one point near the bottom of the mountain with a large opening that seemed to dead end until we realized that there was a narrow crevice that one could crawl through in order to descend into the cave system that likely connected to the spring some distance away.

          Crawling on our bellies we descended though this crevice for perhaps thirty feet until we could hear what sounded like a rushing of waters.  At the bottom of the passage we found ourselves at the top of an approximately eight foot waterfall that seemed to be coming out of the ground at the higher level and descending into a larger room with a sandy bottom where the pooling water from the fall was draining into the ground presumably to reemerge somewhere further down the mountain where the stream most likely emptied into nearby Laurel Lake.  We never bothered to continue following the stream but it seemed obvious that this waterway had descended mostly underground from the spring at the mountaintop.  

         The waterfall was the highlight of that particular cave.  There were tight passageways that continued for a considerable length, but none of us were particularly enthusiastic about pursuing the exploration.  It was an interesting experience that I did with various friends about three times until I started having nightmares about being trapped underground.  That was it for me.  And anyway, soon after those spelunking treks we moved from the cabin and I never went back there to hike.

        My experience was with what I would call an underground stream, but there are a number of underground rivers that are quite similar.  There are also rivers that don't necessarily go through cave systems, but they just disappear under the ground.  In my research for this River Series I even ran across stories about rivers that are under the ocean or under other rivers.  What we might not fully know the full extent is whether there are layers of rivers that descend deep into the Earth.

      When I think about rivers--especially the larger ones--I am more apt to think about what is under the river waters.  Some rivers are dredged and most likely some of the debris at the bottom is cleaned up in that process.   But what about those rivers that are not cleaned in some such way?   What secrets do they hold?

        A few years ago in East Tennessee the Chilhowee Lake was drained in order to do maintenance on the dam holding back the waters of the Little Tennessee River which formed the lake. Most of the lake bottom was exposed during this maintenance project.  As a result many remnants of the past were exposed such as vehicles dumped in the lake, old building foundations, bridges that had been inundated, and a vast assortment of other refuse and oddities.  

        Shortly after the dam work had been completed and the lake was beginning to fill up again, my brother and I went to check it out when I was visiting Tennessee.  We didn't find much other than a lot of discarded beer and soft drink cans and bottles.  Some of them dated back to the fifties or sixties judging by their designs.  We left the trash where we saw it. I guess we could have gotten trash bags and cleaned some of it up, but that wasn't on our agenda that day.   I guess that stuff went back to being under the water once again.  I'd say that what we saw would be fairly representational of what one would find under the waters of most rivers.

          Still, I dream of underwater treasures and mysteries that I will likely never find.

         Have you ever been underwater exploring in a river?  What would you expect to be the most common items to be found in a river?    Did you ever see a river or other body of water in the depths of a cavern?  



Friday, April 23, 2021

Tennessee River ( #AtoZChallenge )

      Tributaries are the streams and rivers that feed into larger rivers.  Many of the rivers that I've mentioned in my Rivers of America series are tributaries that feed into other larger rivers that are also tributaries of other larger rivers.  It's an example of the motto of the United States "E pluribus unum" or "out of many, one"...

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter T

Tennessee River

Toms River
By John F. Peto - Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Colección Permanente, Public Domain,


         Not too far from my old home in Maryville TN runs the Tellico River which  starts in the mountains of North Carolina then runs into Tennessee where it dumps into the Little Tennessee River which in turn is a tributary of the massive Tennessee River.  All these rivers have TVA dams for flood control and power generation.  It makes for a network of lakes used for all sorts of recreational activities.  

          Back around 1972 I borrowed my mother's station wagon so my friend Vernon Clouse and I could drive down toward where the Tennessee River heads toward Chattanooga. I'd seen on the map where there was a ferry crossing--near Dayton perhaps--and since at that time I'd been trying to find every ferry crossing within a 100 mile radius of where I lived we decided to take that adventure.  We found that ferry and rode across what seemed to be a very wide river with a rather swift current at one point.  It was a small boat that only carried 2 or 3 vehicles.  I'm sure it no longer runs, but if it does I'm not sure that I'd want to cross it again.  

         In the fall of 1974 I set out walking westward from Maryville and the first night I camped under the Hwy 411 bridge spanning the Little Tennessee River near where it is joined by the Tellico River.  This was before the new bridge had to be built when they dammed the river to form Tellico Lake.  I walked onward after the first night encampment, but that's a bigger story to be told elsewhere at another time. 

          If I were to tell a river story in a song then the Tippecanoe River of Indiana might be a nice choice.  It's a musical sounding name with a lot of rhyming possibilities.  After all, Bobbie Gentry found river name magic in her "Ode to Billy Joe" in which she sings about seeing a couple throwing something off a bridge spanning the Tallahatchie River in Mississippi.  Even the Trinity River off Texas offers a lot of potential--I think there's a good country song in that name.

                       This summer I'm hoping that I'll be able to visit my three daughters who live in or near Toms River  in New Jersey.  This city sits along the Toms River.  What a surprise! One of my sons-in-law who grew up in Toms River (the town, not in the river) is named Tom.  Never asked who he was named after.  He did grow up in Toms River so I guess it could be so.  And I named his wife (my daughter) after a street in Knoxville.

              Have you ever traced tributaries to the final destination of one leading to the other?  Have you ever tipped over in a canoe?   Do you know anyone who was named after a place?

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Swanee River ( #AtoZChallenge & #BOTB Results )

       Happy Earth Day!  It's a good day to celebrate rivers which are the circulatory system of our planet.  Sing a river song if you know one.  Or just read on to hear about some river songs or some rivers with other musical connections.  There is music in the rivers...

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter S

Songs, Songs, Songs  (BOTB Results)

        Since we're on the subject of songs let's start right off with the winner of my most recent Battle of the Bands.  The song picks were the similarly named "(Floating) Down by the River" by the group Beast from 1969 and "Down by the River" a 2014 release from German group Milky Chance.

         As for my preference I like both of these songs a great deal.  Either one fits my musical tastes, but the song by Beast definitely is the song and performance I like best.  Back in the early 70s after my friend Vernon Clouse picked up the Beast album on 8 track cartridge we listened many many times as we drove around the mountains (often along rivers).  My friend Marvin Lowe was able to find the LP version in a cut-out bin and he tells me that the album remains a favorite to this day.  I would agree with that assessment.  So many wonderful memories of younger days!

       It was a close race and my vote for Beast puts the contest at a tie!

Final Vote Tally

Beast                    6 votes

Milky Chance      6 votes



More Songs, More Rivers

Jefferson County, West Virginia, State Route 9 bridge crossing the Shenandoah River.
                                                                   (Raymond Whitacre)

           A popular song by Stephen Foster is "Old Folks at Home" or more commonly called "Swanee River".   You probably at least know of the song if not able to sing most or all of it.  The song was a huge hit in its day (1850s) and remains the state song of Florida (with lyrics revised for modern sensibilities).  When the song first came to him Foster was stumped about which two syllable southern river name to use.  His brother first suggested the Yazoo or the Pee Dee but neither of those sounded right to Stephen.  Then, looking at a map, they found the Suwanee River in Florida. The spelling was changed for the song to reflect the way the name sounds when spoken.  Go ahead and say "Suwanee" three times quickly and you'll see what I mean.

           Over the years many other songs have used the Swanee River name in them.  It's a name with a lyrical sound that evokes memories of old times even though maybe those old times were a bit glamorized for music audiences.  Because of the songs this river has gained fame as a U.S. river even though most people probably couldn't even tell you where it is or point it out on a map.  When I was a kid living in San Diego far from the Florida river and having no idea where the river was, I used to often play "Old Folks at Home" on my harmonica or violin.  Undoubtedly you have heard this song or other Swanee songs many times in your own life since they have become so ingrained in popular culture.

           Another river that has been an inspiration for many songs is the Shenandoah River of Virginia and West Virginia.  The most widely known song is the beautiful "Oh, Shenadoah" which is an authentic American folk song with exact origins unknown.  This song has been recorded by numerous artists over the years.  There are many other lesser known songs that refer to the Shenandoah River or region. Even a popular country music group has called itself Shenandoah.  The Shenandoah River and the river valley area are stunningly beautiful places that are deserving of the music they have inspired.

           Across the continent in the wild west of  Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington one can find the Snake River which travels for over 1000 miles through some wild scenic territory.   There are a number of songs that mention the Snake River and some of those refer specifically to the crazy rocket cycle jump that daredevil Evel Knievel attempted over a deep portion of the river canyon.  He survived the stunt though he wasn't totally successful either.  The event became the stuff of  legend so that it inspired mention in a number of songs.

          There are probably at least a few songs that celebrate San Antonio River in the Texas city of the same name. In any event, if you are strolling the famed Riverwalk of San Antonio or riding on one of the boats that are available to visitors you will hear a lot of music playing in the many restaurants, bars, or other establishments situated along this renown river trail in the heart of downtown San Antonio.  This is a must see destination for anyone visiting the Texas city and well worth a leisurely stroll.  

           In the early 20th century composer Percy Grainger wrote a musical piece called "Spoon River" inspired by the popular poetry work Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters.   The much beloved collection of poetry takes place in the fictional town of Spoon River sitting along the real waterway of Spoon River which runs 147 miles through west central Illinois. It's a river I've crossed over a number of times as I've toured the country.

         Near Havre de Grace Maryland traveling down I-95 crossing the  Millard E. Tydings Memorial Bridge  over the Susquehanna River which passes through New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland I always marvel at the grand sight of this wide point in the river and the large bridge that crosses it.  It's a rather breathtaking view that I never tire seeing.  With such scenic beauty and a musical sounding name it would be no surprise to find some songs that mention this river.  I can't think of any extremely well known songs that mention the Susquehanna, but be assured that there are some.  Saying "Susquehanna" kind of sounds nice to me. The name is like a song in itself.

       Another river near where I live is San Gabriel River in California.  Like the other Los Angeles rivers near where I live much of it is lined with concrete and flood control devices.  Seemingly it wouldn't be much to inspire many artistic souls and yet looking on Google I find a few songs that refer to the San Gabriel River.  In fact there is even an EP called San Gabriel by the duo Joseph Bradshaw & Natalie Nicoles with songs about the San Gabriel River.  I guess I'll start looking at this river from a different perspective whenever I cross it.  And I cross this one a lot these days..

         Is there a river near where you live that you've never appreciated much?   What is your favorite river song?    Which river would you like to hear celebrated in song?


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Rocky River ( #AtoZChallenge )


        Rocky River has always conjured a much different image than the river I discovered in my research for this "Rivers of America" series.   Maybe I never actually saw or noticed this river when I was a child, but the name is one I heard frequently.   After all, we lived just a few miles from it...

Rocky River

Rocky River near Cleveland OH  (Wikipedia)

          For the letter "R" I might have featured Rio Hondo which is right up the road from where I live now.  Or maybe Rio Puerco in New Mexico, where you can see the old Rio Puerco bridge on old Route 66.  Sometimes when we're traveling on I-40 we'll make a pitstop at the casino complex that is at the Rio Puerco exit.  But like I did for Rio Grande, since "rio" means river, I used an English translation.  So no rios in this post.

        And I'll only briefly mention the Rappahannock River in Virginia which is another scenic river that played important parts in many American historical events.  What caught my attention in the Wikipedia article is that in the estuary at the  mouth of the river where it empties into the Chesapeake Bay are some fine tasting oysters that are renown in the culinary world.  And I do like oysters so I'll have to keep this in my mind.

      One river that stands out most in my memories of childhood in the nineteen-fifties is also the name of a town near Cleveland Ohio.  Rocky River gets its name from a 12 mile long river called Rocky River.  Since the town lies along the river the name makes sense. The Rocky River is the result of a confluence of the East Branch and West Branch Rocky Rivers after which it travels its short distance to Lake Erie.  The Rocky River has some amazing depth for such a short river.  At places the river is as much as 150 feet deep.

        When I was a very small child we lived not too far from the Puritas Springs Amusement Park in Rocky River (the town).   This was a classic old school amusement park with an old timey carousel and a notorious wooden coaster that traveled through the trees.  We went to Puritas Springs many times when I was young.  It probably kind of warped me for life, but it was wonderful.

          Rocky River the town and the river are still there, but Puritas Springs is long long gone.  It actually closed the same year we moved to Pittsburgh PA which was 1958.  Too bad.  I don't know how kids today would like it, but I sure would like to see it again, smell the axle grease on the rides and the cotton candy scent hanging in the air, hear the snare and bass drums beating to the calliope music on the merry-go-round.  I can experience it all from only a distance.  The distance of my memory.

             Which cities can you think of that are named after rivers they sit on?   Have you traveled some or all of old Route 66?  What do you think might be found on the bottom of the deep Rocky River near Cleveland Ohio?


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Quiet Rivers ( #AtoZChallenge )

       Quiet (or still) waters run deep goes an old saying, meaning a quiet exterior can hide danger or inner turmoil.  That might certainly be the case with some rivers.  Not all quiet rivers are deep or dangerous.  But beware!  Some are...

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter Q

Quiet Rivers

A Quiet River (desktop nexus)

      Some rivers rush and roar as they wend their ways through mountains and perilous valleys.  Then there are those rivers that upon first glance might seem like they are going nowhere.  There are rivers that flow with almost imperceptible movement to the casual onlooker and yet if you study the river carefully you might detect a current.  Throw a leaf or something light into the water and watch it drift away.  The river is moving even though it looks like maybe it's not going anywhere at all.  

        There's an old saying that quiet (still) waters run deep.  A big wide slow moving river might very well have portions that run very deep. The plodding Mississippi plunges to a depth of 200 feet at its deepest points.  The Monongahela River in Morgantown WV where my relatives lived is a slow moving somewhat foreboding looking river which has an appearance of being deep is probably only 20 feet or less in the parts that I used to frequent as a child.

        Then there are certain slow moving waters where one can see the river bottom.  Often these are smaller rivers with relatively light flows.  One can peacefully float in a boat and fish or just dream without much fear about capsizing.  If the boat tips you can just stand on the river bottom and flip it back over.   

        Mostly when I think of quiet rivers that are larger I think of those rivers in flatter areas like Florida or Louisiana.  Rivers can expand widths until they are more like vast swamps.  However there are larger quiet rivers throughout the Midwest as well as many other states throughout the country.

        Quiet waters do not necessarily mean silence though.  Drift awhile or laze on the riverbanks and listen.  Maybe you hear the splash of a fish breaking the water surface.  Over there is the call of a bird. All around you might hear the sounds of insects or the hypnotic croaks of frogs.  The waters might be mostly quiet, but the world can be a wonderfully textured aural quilt of sounds of nature.

           Some say that the quietest place in the continental  United States is in the Hoh River Valley on the Olympic Peninsula of the state of Washington.  Since the river originates on a mountain I'm not sure that the entire river would be all that quiet, but from what I've read there are parts of this river that are blissfully silent.  Sounds like a place we all could use an occasional dose of in this frequently noisy world we live in.

         Do you have a favorite quiet river retreat?    Are you a bit frightened by the sounds of nature?   What do you do when you want to have peace and quiet? 


Monday, April 19, 2021

Powder River ( #AtoZChallenge )

         Publicity photos of show biz friends and acquaintances always adorned one of the walls in the houses in which I grew up.  I would often think about them as I would peruse this home gallery.  One in particular always stood out for me.  It had the caption "Powder River"...

  #AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter P

Powder River

Movie poster from the film, but not the publicity still I grew up with.

          Over the years as professional entertainers, my parents accumulated a sizeable collection of 8 x 10 publicity photos from acts they had worked with or were friends with.  One picture that always fascinated me was that of a man crouched on a saloon bar juggling three clubs. A caption at the bottom of that photo showed that it was a publicity still from the movie company that made the western film Powder River in 1953.  The juggler was Val Setz, an entertainer who had appeared in a few movies and toured extensively in the 1940s and 50s.   I was hoping to include that still in my post, but alas, I couldn't find it.

         Since I wanted to see this film I would regularly look for it on television, but in all these years I have never seen it playing nor have I found it on video or DVD.  It is available online (like just about most things), but so far I haven't tried that route.  Recently I did find the film online and fast forwarded to the juggling parts.  Fun stuff.  But I still want to see the film in it's entirety on a bigger screen than what is connected to my computer.

         Even though I might not have seen the film Powder River, I have crossed the actual  Powder River in Montana and Wyoming many times in my years traveling with a touring show.  I only know this from reading about the river and looking at its location on a map.  I cannot truly recall having noting my crossing of the river at any of those times, but I would have had to cross it considering its geographical location and the places I was traveling in the seventies and eighties.

         When traveling we likely miss many rivers that we cross perhaps because we're not paying attention or they are not well marked.  On the whole though I try to take note of any marked river or waterway that I cross over while driving. A river like Powder River should have particularly caught my attention since I had looked at the photograph so many times.  Maybe I did notice or maybe I didn't--now I don't quite remember.

         Of course it's probably realistic to expect that I wouldn't remember a great many rivers that I crossed or came across in my lifetime.  There are a lot of rivers one would encounter in extensive travels.  However I do remember many and many of those are because I came upon them so many times over the years.

         One standout river for me is the Platte River in Nebraska.  On our tours we played the most notable towns on that river as we made our way westward on Interstate 80. That river stayed with us for days so how could I not have noticed it?

         In Mississippi and Louisiana I've encountered the Pearl River, most notably in the capital city of Jackson where I've stayed a few times and in other points southward toward the place where the river eventually empties into the Gulf of Mexico.  Or there is the Pee Dee River in North and South Carolina, a river with a funny sounding name that gives me a smile if not a snicker.

       Closer to my Tennessee homeplace is the Pigeon River of North Carolina and Tennessee.  Traveling along Interstate 40 between Asheville NC and Knoxville TN one gets some spectacular views of this river.  After its journey through the mountains on the northeastern edge of the Great Smokies, the Pigeon River joins the larger French Broad River which soon after joins the Holston River to form the mighty Tennessee River.

         Perhaps the most majestic "P" river of all is the historic Potomac River which passes though West Virginia, Virginia, District of Columbia, and Maryland before emptying into Chesapeake Bay.  Legend has it that George Washington once threw a silver dollar across the Potomac.  Anyone looking at the river near Washington DC would see that this would be impossible due to the wideness of the river at that point.  If he did throw a dollar across the Potomac it would have been the more narrow portions of the North or South Branches further inland.  That could have been since George Washington made various exploratory expeditions up the river.  More likely though is that he threw an object--probably a rock rather than a coin--across the Rappahannock River of Virginia.

         For those who are interested in learning more about the Potomac River there is a wonderful documentary film sometimes showing on PBS.  The one hour program Potomac By Air: Our Nation's River gives some fascinating accounts of the make-up of the river and the important part it has played in the history of the United States.  The film has some amazing aerial footage as well.  I highly recommend this film for river or history fans.  It's like a vacation you can enjoy from your couch.

  •      Have you seen the film Powder River?  Has there ever been a film that you've longed to see that you have not located yet?   Are any of these "P" rivers that I've mentioned here familiar to you?   

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Ohio River ( #AtoZChallenge )

 For Battle of the Bands please click this link.

Oh-oh!  Time for a post about the Ohio River!   And maybe another "O" river while we're at it...

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter O

Ohio River    


Ohio River (Hertz)

          At almost a thousand miles long the Ohio River is one of the major rivers of America. Along its route the river passes by the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois until disgorging into the Mississippi River near Cairo Illinois, a town that I've written about a few times or so on this blog.

           Since I was born in Ohio somehow the Ohio River resonates with me.  After all the state is named after the river.  "Ohio" comes from the Iroquois word for "great river" which is pretty much what the river is.  The river has played a major role in shaping the United States and continues to be an important part of the economic system.

         My hometown is Cleveland Ohio which is at the north of the state and about 200 miles from the Ohio River which forms the southern border with Kentucky. Over the years I've frequently crossed the Ohio River.  And as I mentioned in earlier posts of this A to Z series, the Ohio River begins at the confluence of the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh--another place where I lived as a child.

         If I were to pick one river that had the most influence on my life then the Ohio would have to be in the consideration.  After all, I've been aware of this river for so long and seen it so many times.

         A river that is of less personal significance to me, but one that I've enjoyed driving beside a few times is the Ocoee River of Tennessee.  The Ocoee starts out in Georgia as the Toccoa River and then becomes the Ocoee after it crosses over into Tennessee at the town of Copperhill.  

          About fifty years ago when I first went to Copperhill I was rather amazed.  The area around the town had been devastated by the effects of many years of copper mining giving it an otherworldly appearance like certain deserts of the Southwest.   A few years ago I drove back through the area to see that much land reclamation had taken place and much of the ravished landscape had been somewhat returned to its previous state.

         As you drive along the Ocoee around Copperhill you see numerous river outfitters offering rafting expeditions and rentals of various watercraft.  On a summer day the river will be filled with happy tourists floating down the waters.  There are also some more serious whitewater rapids that attract enthusiasts from around the world. 

          The Ocoee River is a far cry from the Ohio River.  They are two extremes of the amazing variety of rivers America has to offer.

        Have you tried any whitewater boating?   Would you rather tackle a river as an individual in a small craft in a river like the Ocoee or cruise a large river like the Ohio in a river boat?   Can you think of a river that changes name after it crosses into another state or country?