What’s going on Tom?

In recent conversation a good friend asked ” hey Tom, Whats been going on? Haven’t noticed any posts of late”….. got me to thinkin.

Absolutely true, I really haven’t posted here in a trip around the sun, no excuses.  I like to tell folks (when they ask) that I’ve kinda slowed my paddlin pace to “stop and feel the bottom” a while. Maybe I’ve been a little lazy; but about the same time simply trying to figure out just what rhythm life at 60  holds for these two little portholes.  Just feeling the bottom…….

In summarizing the past year or so;

Gray came through on his way to Charleston, SC for a friends wedding in May of 2016. Always good to see the young man that he has become; even if for a short while. Short visits tug at ones emotions but life calls and I understand – I did it too.  The world is ‘out there’ – beyond the vicinity of our little cove at Lake Cherokee.

Of course our world grows when Mom drops by with a peanut-butter cake for her ‘little’ buddy.

Our little universe grew again on the 4th of July 2016 when the Coates and Carrs came for the holiday’s.  There is not a better picture of that particular trip that sums it up better than the one above; a total ‘thumbs-up!’ holiday (thanks Mark/Freda).

Once again, Mom (GGma) came to visit her precious GK’s families – and to see those kid’s fly!!  Mom has always been an inspiration for each of us; she supplies the warmth that carries us.

The Albino Skunk Festival happens twice a year – a simple yet fascinating conglomeration of evolving bands emitting some fine music in a children friendly atmosphere.  What once started as a small Bluegrass festival has continued to nurture budding musicians towards finding their unique foothold among American tunes.  The Lil Smokies Band (from Montana) above is an example of the simplicity found – Billy Strings and the Dustbowl Revival are just a couple of the many favorites.  My sister Kristi and Bob also came to share a festival day and night with us…..

Then to Delaware for a month or so, why? stuff to do. Combined visit time for 2016 was 4 months! – just the right dose of North and South. 🙂 .

Christmas 2016; kids and coins.  It was a special time and nice ride to Colorado….1st night stop from SC was OK City – 6 degrees when we woke up.


Then two easy days to Albuquerque to pick up Gray/Licia . Uphill to PS – Joe/Judy’s and the Carr’s Cul-de-sac den – sure enjoyed the polar Christmas with the Carr’s.

Ending 2016 with a New Years visit at Scott/Patti’s in Kansas. Patti (aka “Scooter”) already had one foot-up (ankle injury) so we helped her with the other one…


Scott supported our efforts – “feet-up”

In February 2017 – we made a return R-U-V trip to Fisheating creek for a creekside visit with Al, Ava, and ole buddy “Hobbs.”

A ride to the Lake Harney property and a @77 mile Topside of the Suwannee Paddle in March; business trip.


Melissa and the boys stopped by the Skunk farm for a day amongst the Spring festivities in April….

Delaware and a @64-mile Pokomoke river Chesapeake Bay paddle in May

Where Kids Fly

The Coates  returned for some paddle time – and some great July 4 fireworks; twice the bang from the boat.

The great American eclipse of August 2017 was pretty neat too – sitting in the middle of the lake – day became night-like, and then returned to daylight once again…. Swallows came out, incandescent to fluorescent, and then back to normal.  Cool….

Also in August Nora Steur came from Cincinnati for a week with her friends –

At the same time we were blessed to have Mike and Beth come for the weekend. Hurting because you have laughed so hard is nothing new when these are around, it can happen. This visit was no different – thanks you two, we needed that….

Somewhere in here Gray ‘manned-up’ and bought a home for his family in Hawaii. I’m kidding when I say that because Gray (he’s a ‘do-er’) and Licia have set an awesome path pretty much on their own in managing their lives for a family in this world.  Kim and I are very proud of each one of our children and the adults they have become.


In September, Mom slowed just long enough to celebrate her 89th birthday – it would be difficult to adequately convey what she has meant to her entire family, she has set the example for us in so many ways. Love you Mom, thanks

Fall 2017 brought another Fall Skunk Festival, had a great time. There’s a thing where all the folks can/will holler “FES-TI-VALL!!” whenever the enthusiasm strikes them (really good band, vibes, or just to get it out!) anyway, it works pretty well….

So this little guy (Abe) wandered by with his family and just couldn’t make those “FES-TI-VALL” words work right – but he could look straight up into the sky and yell something that sounded like “CHI–HEN-BOES!!” so whenever he and I crossed paths during the festival… it was “CHICKEN-BONES!!” to the sky…

Life is good, and festivals can be fun too.


Hurricane Irma ripped through Florida and Al and Ava were spared major damage – they came to the foothills for a week in October. A warm spell delayed the leaves from making the fall color on time, but we had a great time with sunset cruises, College football, and just hanging around at the dock – even had a few of those hearty gut hurting laughs – they sure help (thanks Ava).


Well that’s whats been going on and sorry for the abbreviated version – but just maybe this exercise will help me get back into making some notes about a very ordinary life surrounded by some pretty extraordinary people…


thank you for your interest


A Snow-Bird ‘Loop’


Kim - Tom Haynie

A few months back I mentioned to the wife, “hey, lets make a ‘loop’ through Florida!” – of course being married as long as we, she immediately disagreed that it would be a ‘loop’ – somehow it was important to her that I recognized that!  Being what it was – it was indeed a ‘time-out’ for the winter’s cold; plus it was a ride to my ‘home turf; – whatever the reality of the motion – it’s the ‘ride’ that I love.

I came up with a tentative plan; grab the RV, ride through Plains, Ga – maybe even drop by the Civil War POW camp at Andersonville near there – not sure why, but I wanted to do that.  I wanted to follow the back roads down through Western and Central Fl to the turn-around point in Fort Myers on the Gulf coast – before crossing over to the east coast to visit a cousin along the way.  Kim’s sister visiting Fl added a little ‘fuel’ for her – but the main course for me was a few days in the hometown with long-time friends Al and Ava.


A few days prior to our ride I located a camper cover for my pickup in Jacksonville (at the perfect price) so that blew our initial plans.  We hitched up the trailer and headed down through the backroads towards Jacksonville.  Along the way Kim enjoyed her first RV night with the Walmart zamboni sweeper in Waycross – life is simple (noisy sometimes) but very good.


Second night was a little better, a few miles from Jacksonville we spent an evening with some old friends from NC – Rick and Sue Montgomery, plus their family.  A driveway stop along the St John in the RV (I love the independence and not putting any pressure on folks when visiting). With that I do like to run into old friends, it’s special for some reason – maybe about closing some of life’s ‘little-circles’ as we go.


At Ricks we enjoyed a long overdue visit around a campfire with a family that we hadn’t spent face-time with in 20 years. What a great bunch of kids, er – adults now..

1502-Paynes Prairie

Leaving our trailer at Rick’s Kim and I moved on for another RV night at Paynes Prairie State Park; an unexpectedly peaceful evening in the woods. She also encountered her fist armadillo beside the camper, but her efforts to get a ‘selfie’ with the burrowing critter failed.


A few miles down the road we visited another old friend and school-mate Dan Goddard – we each spent waay too much money on fast cars ‘back-in-the-day.’  Dan always seems to be in good spirits so its fun to visit him each year as I pass through.  His son Danny writes and plays for the band the New 76’ers – talented, and ‘super highway’ tunes.  With a few laughs and hearty tales of quarter-miles that turned into years; Kim and I moved on once again.


From Dan’s we rode towards Crystal river, beings that this wasn’t a trip about ‘schedules’ or doing fancy things; we drove to the Gulf at Inglis and simply stopped!  It was lunch time, so Kim made some sandwiches and we just sat there tantalizing the seagulls and watching the fishermen come and go.

Inglis, Fl

Inglis, Fl

This ride was about ‘enjoying the ride’ and this is exactly what we did; all back-roads – no interstates.

1502-216 gribs

Later in the afternoon we eased over to the Beef O Brady’s in N Lakeland, where we found ourselves head-first in Kim’s first ‘bingo’ gaming session with a flock of grey. After posting on facebook of our visit – I was contacted by my cousin – We had missed on some home vittles and gator ribs just a few blocks away…….. doggonnit!


Fisheating Creek Outpost


Two nights in Palmdale, Fl


Fish-eating Outpost has been a lifelong camping spot – it’s changed little over the past 40 years.  A busy place in the summer – but during February it is possible to find some cool Fla ‘peace’ while camping (few of those ‘doggone people) – just the way I like it.


I love it too that the train is the only noise to break the owl’s calling each night.


In Ft. Myers we had a great three night visit with Al/Ava/Walker, the Stewarts; fine folks and ‘the best of’ friends.



We found (and helped) them do what they’ve been doing for many years; just lingering around searching for items (and people) of interest.




They’ve enjoyed the same back-yard for the past 40 years – where there’s always room for friends (bring some peanuts for the squirrels and wood-peckers). Al had a fire going for us each night, they too had a little owl that kept us company through the night.


With that same back yard comes the same driveway – one that I have slept in a number of times over the years (for much different reasons) – and yes, it was better in the RV; perfect place and weather.

Paul's yard

Cat-Daddy Moonshine

We enjoyed a perfect visit.


After three fine days of hometown air; it was back to the ‘Creek‘ for another day of ‘feet-up’


– the sunset kinda said it all.

At no time had we been rushed to keep a schedule – heck, thats how its suppose to be isn’t it?


But I really did want to visit a cousin, so off to another driveway along the east coast; Lee and Sandy’s in Hobe Sound


Sandy has an awesome spirit; a friendly soul with an ever present smile on her face


Cousin Lee was busy working on a ‘long-board’ idea – an old ski and set of skateboard trunks from the thrift store came together nicely




The next day we walked to the beach, little more than a mile away.


Kim had a great time collecting shells, I think the Atlantic was the calmest and blue-ist that I have ever seen… folks were fishing and pulling whiting in right and left


 A quick picture for our Moms (Elsie and Marie Hilliard, sisters). Thanks Lee and Sandy for the hospitality and some awesome fajita’s.


After Hobe Sound it was North to Ocala, and a visit with some prairie-birds; Kim’s sister Patti and Scott Atkins




The first day we did the ‘tourist’ thing,’  Glass-bottom boats at Silver Springs


The following day it was on to a more independent experience at Juniper springs


Where we were the ones being watched


It was all good


Four hours of simple paddling, Juniper is a great little ‘run’ if your ever in the area


we survived

Salt Springs

Salt Springs Recreation area


After a couple of days in an Ocala hotel, a ‘resbit at Salt Springs campground in the Ocala National Forest was added to the list – it was also another time to just sit back with absolutely no pressure.  Feeding the squirrels was my biggest task (note: M&M chocolate covered peanuts makes them abit ‘squirrelly’).

Green Cove

Green Cove

Day 16 put us back for the trailer and a fine second visit with Rick.  The weather was right for chili and he had a batch waiting for us, mmmmeat! thanks Rick.  Great place, nice sleep in the RV with more owls through the night



It was a fine ride for Kim and I, long overdue time – yet in the end I think I created a monster, Kim loved the ride and never brought up the fact that it wasn’t really a ‘loop’ again – I guess it really didn’t matter.

the monster? – she wants to do it again……

Where Kids ‘Fly’


Carr's 2014

Carr’s 2014

GK’s = Great Kids.

A fine summer for a couple of old-folks in the foothills of South Carolina; if seasonal weather didn’t start the summer prior to June, then the visit from a few little warm hearts sure did.


The Colorado Carr’s (Jessica and Myron) made their Mississippi crossing eastward to spend some time with us, a fine visit too.  Fourth of July, and fireworks by boat; always the favorite place and time of year – seems watching all those colors spread out over the water provides ‘the best’ of reflections for all.


At the lake, the forth of July is a holiday where kids can actually ‘fly.’…


– and they sure did!

On previous visits there has always been some trepidation before splashdown – not so this week; what we did see (in sort of a blur) was Rylie flyin off just about everything, including the pontoon! Wyatt was right behind her and doing all that he could to keep up – the splashdowns were many.

mid-lake swim

mid-lake swim

We found plenty of time to boat out and anchor mid-lake, for “jumpin in.”  Water’s really nice out there and if your’re lucky, you might even find your own little ‘warm spot.’ With PFD’s in place or just sittin on a cushion in the water – we all just ‘hung-out,’ swam under the boat, while sharing some laughs. “Boatin and floatin,” dosent matter where the bottom is (can’t touch it), it’s a time to just stop, jump in, and float with family. Wyatt was right there with us, paddlin back and forth, and then back and forth again, and again.


Another day and with fingernails white and skin wrinkled – the last to climb aboard was Wyatt.



What a crew; each growing up – Wyatt, Rylie, and the big kid Myron.



The pace of the lake is a demanding one.  On a warm days in the South its never unusual to find the herd laying around in a pocket of shade – recharging those afternoon batteries, same here.



Fireworks are legal in SC, so it wasn’t out of the ordinary to find time for some homegrown fireworks – before the big ones


and plenty of driveway time; write/draw most anywhere you like; please!

Write on....


It is encouraged..

Car's 2014

Car’s 2014

Of course the toughest part of the visit for us was the departure.


Having the kids living on the far side of the big river is tough; we miss those chillin.  We know that the Carr’s have been busy enjoying a new home, while Rylie and Wyatt have been as busy as two growing kids could possibly be; we all know and understand through experience.

We appreciated them warming our summer.


Rylie – Wyatt – James –

But there’s more to our summer of 14;



Sprouts Point

All the ‘GK’s’ visited got to visit Sprout’s point pole.

Melissa, James

Melissa, James

Because Melissa and James came from Hawaii,

chalk time

chalk time

and then Uncle Gray and Hunter came from San Diego; awesome! more warm hearts to brighten our summer!

Happy ride

Happy ride

Better yet, we had an interesting ride in the works – A FES – TI – VULL!.

Fes ti vull

Fes ti vull

The Albino Skunk Festival !

Kim and I couldn’t have been happier about it.  The Albino Skunk Festival in South Carolina is a kid-friendly, Spring/Fall event that we have enjoyed the past couple of years – it’s a lot of fun (next one April 9-11/15). On each visit as we watched the other GK’s run and play around us, we could only hope to share some time here with ours – and in the fall of 2014… we had that pleasure!

in the R O V

– and that meant a trip for/with the GK’s in the R-U-V! (as James called it).


There were plenty of toys around, kids could be kids and run; or – ride if Uncle Gray would push (which he did, alot)

get a face painted

or have their face painted,

buy a t-shirt

or hide-n-seek under the t-shirt stand

ride a shoulder


Hunter had one of the better views, from Dad’s shoulder.

or just playin

There was a place for ‘story time,’

oh yeah, its a music festival

its a music festival

and oh yeah, parents/kids/adults could wander at will back and forth as music drifted through the air – all afternoon and into the night.


Sure there were ‘facilities’ available,


and you could wear any party hat you wanted…..

or have a pb sandwich

Peanut butter sandwiches were available at the ‘R U V’


 or other refreshments.


This is the morning view and stage perspective from our R U V spot; with the music in immediate view; it just seemed a natural place to ‘gravitate to,’

Pumpkin lift


leaving James plenty of time to inspect the toys on the ‘pumpkin-lift’ (James idea)

1410-IMG_2342and Kim a place to sneak-in a few hugs.


But remember, we still had stuff to do at the lake,


water to play in,


things to work on,

1410-rov wash

things to wash


and more family to see.


It was a very good time and year – but once again, there are ‘lives’ to get on with….


In the time since;


the water has become calm – maybe even tranquil; and winter is in the air


– the events of this past year still linger in our hearts


– thoughts of holidays, family, flyin kids, and yes – all those little hearts.  That should warm us through the coldest part of winter; thanks to you each for the lasting smiles.

Proud of you guys.



The Best Cry I Ever Had….

– was with the loss of a pet.

81 A7 - 1981- Margo

In the late seventies we rented a home and inherited the pets that were present; ‘Margo’ and ‘Blackie.’  Two outside dogs that were left by the previous tenants, thus becoming part of our young family.  To shorten the story, in the eighties I had to make the decision to take Margo and have her ‘put-down.’  The drive to Asheville took about twenty minutes, I said my goodbyes and petted Margo as the vets gave her a shot – she went to sleep peacefully.

I opted to bury Margo on familiar land and returned with her remains to our rural home. The ‘ride’ and loss through this pet brought a surplus of stored emotions to the surface. Being alone in my van I was free to express my sorrow, and I certainly did. I cried, no I wailed like a bee-stung baby.

Folks that know me could say that I seem harsh and show little emotions; probably true – but through the emotions of that single ride, forever remembered – was one world of good. Margo had reminded me of something.

There have been other reminders through the years too; beginning with my little cocker spaniel ‘Tippy,’ but Bailey, Jaxx, Shack; each touched and reminded us in their own special very loyal way.

1003 - Jackson

On this date we have unexpectedly lost another fine companion; my heart is heavy and I feel that reminder once again.


Jackson, a ‘grand-dog’ and awesome Irish Setter belonged to our daughter, but has been in our care for the past two years as they experience life in Hawaii. Jackson was their family pet, their loyal family companion.  He became our best friend too.


Melissa and James came to visit several times and on each visit it was clear that Jackson remembered and loved his family. I would be lying if I said that I was always for the arraignment but the caring wife of mine welcomed Jackson in and the dog found his place in our home and earned his way into our hearts.

May add more later – but feeling the emotions right now; while reflecting on the ride; the ride that pets seem to unwittingly direct and remind us to feel; that of deep appreciation, sincerity, how simple it is to love and care, and just how special unequivocal forgiveness really is.

Thank you Jackson.