Trump and the Evangelical Preacher Crooks

With the news that Donald Trump has raised $170 million since he lost the presidential election to Joe Biden comes the logical question: How is he different from the evangelical preachers who have been fleecing the ignorant and gullible for a very long time?

Jimmy Swaggart

Consider that he sent an Oral Roberts type of beg following the election (“If you don’t contribute, god will call me home”) and the beg-athon brings up recollections of a rogues gallery: Jimmy Swaggart, James Bakker (I’ll forgive Tammy), Jerry Falwell Sr., Aimee McPherson, Pat Robertson, Ernest Angley, and Billy James Hargis to name a few. There are a lot of others.

They used the money to further their mission, which was to get rich and stay rich, all the while influencing American politics (negative for us, positive for them). Trump already has some horrendous legal bills, which grow daily, and the banks will call in loans often estimated at nearly $1 billion within the next two years. He could well be facing criminal charges in states like New York (and federally if the new AG has the guts to do it).

Will poor Southerners who can’t afford health insurance or formula for their babies contribute to fund this sick sonofabitch?

The simple and easy answer is “yes.”


A Nice Find at Mountain Pond (Lake?)

There were several spots where longs impeded progress on the War Spur trail.

My hiking bud Susan and I discovered a trail that had been right before our eyes over the weekend at Mountain Lake (Virginia’s only lake, though it is disappearing).

Susan works her way through and over a blasted open tree.

“Dirty Dancing” was filmed at Mountain Lake, so you know it, but I’ll bet you didn’t know it is honeycombed with hiking trails, some easy, some extremely steep and difficult. One of the trails is the Appalachian Trail.

The one we hiked Saturday was War Spur, a loop with a nice view of the mountains halfway through. My guess is that when the leaves are full, there isn’t much of a view because the woods are dense here, but with the leaves on the ground, there was plenty to see. Here are some photos of the hike.

This is the old boat house with what’s left of Mountain Lake behind it. It’s more Mountain Pond these days. And it’s Virginia’s only natural lake.
Susan unloads lunch so we can eat on these stones.
Susan loves reading the directions. I leave that to her.
The trail is not nearly as lonely as this black and white photo makes it look.
That’s us, all safe, sound, distanced and masked.
No need to wonder where we were.
Susan crossing a stream.
This is the first glimpse of the best view. Not exactly imposing, but promising.
This is Susan’s superhero look.
This is my “I’m so lazy I can’t enjoy the view by standing up” look.
Susan climbs like a three-year-old: everything.
The eagle has landed.
The old man finally works up enough energy to look at the view.
Susan had a good time. Look at that smile and that dance across the rocky stream.
This was a bonus at the foot of the mountain on the way to Mountain Pond (uh, Lake).
I can’t resist shooting covered bridges.
Susan likes the bridge, too.
OK, so now, it gets to the “ham” stage.

A Steep Hike with Waterfall on the Parkway

Falling Water falls was a real beauty today.

My pal Susan and I hiked Falling Water trail, a bit north of the Peaks of Otter and a steep descent with a steeper ascension. It was tiring and beautiful.


250,000 Covid-19 Deaths: A Perspective

We have now surpassed 250,000 deaths from the Covid-19 virus and for a little perspective, consider the following.

  • America lost 620,000 soldiers from the North and South (combined) during the Civil War.
  • We lost 405,399 military personnel during World War II.
  • World War I was an ironic amalgam: 116,516 total American military dead, 45,000 of them from the Spanish Flu.
  • Korea: 36,516.
  • Vietnam: 58,209.
  • American Revolution: 25,000.
  • Mexican War: 13,283
  • Spanish-American: 2,446
  • Gulf War: 294.
  • Iraq/Afghanistan: 6,626).

Adventure at Bottom Creek Gorge

Meghann found this lovely little creek hidden beside the main hiking trail.

Bottom Creek Gorge is one of the popular hikes in Western Virginia, primarily because the payoff is a 1,000-foot tall waterfall that in times of heavy rain becomes a majestic view. We have had that heavy rain recently and when Meghann Garmany (Margie’s daughter), her partner Rachel Pitkin and I tackled the hike yesterday–in a high wind–it was something of an adventure.

Bottom Creek Gorge waterfall at full pond.

The wind was so strong and the trees so baren of leaves that the swaying boughs had their own distinct soundtrack, including a loud “CRACK!” when one of the old trees came down as we watched. A couple of small limbs fell in my path, barely missing me, and Meg kept saying, “Watch out!” as the wink cranked at about 25 mph high in the trees.

Still, the hike was all but uneventful until we got to the falls and saw its magnificence. I had never seen it so full in the dozen or so hikes I’ve taken at Bottom Creek over the years and I was glad it saved its best for Meg and Rach.



Celebrating Fall and the Saving of Our Country

Susan shot this beautifully lit shot of me sitting on one of the rocks in the Roanoke River.

The longest election day of my lifetime (Tuesday-Saturday) finally ended around noon today when CNN called the election for Joe Biden, although it had been obvious he would win since Wednesday.

Still, there was plenty of reason to celebrate–even for those who lost–since fall was in full loveliness today with the sun creating an almost neon effect through the trees on the Blue Ridge Parkway. My pal Susan and I took advantage of the double invitation to celebration by driving up to Niagra Dam and hiking down to the Roanoke River and along its rocky banks for a good while.

It was fun. It was lovely. It was such a huge–HUGE–relief. We no longer have to wake up daily with what that man has done to us on our minds. We can go back to living our lives and believing our country will survive intact.

The view of the dam is rarely this clean and clear.
Another clean look at the terraced dam.
Susan and me on the path down to the river.
There were quite a few kids playing on the rocks in the river.
This little girl was quite the adventurer.
Kids scramble over the rocks.
Susan makes her way down to the river with the sun illuminating the trees on the opposite bank.
Susan appreciating where she is and what just happened to our country.
Susan says that since the vote promise of Tuesday, her stress level has diminished considerably … as has that of many millions of us.
Less stress, more celebration, more relaxation.
Even old man Pampa is diggin’ it.

Finally, a Ray of Hope in America

We’re entering the second post-election-day day and we still don’t have a president for the next cycle. It’s promising for Joe Biden, but Trump could still win strictly on voting totals in some hair-thin close states. We could later today or it could take a week or two.

I think the possibility of a Biden win (Las Vegas bettors have it at 85 percent) has helped alleviate a lot of stress among half of our population and increase that same stress among the other half. Not much, I fear, will change with Biden’s election. Should Trump retain the presidency, a lot will change and none of it will be for the better.

Already the Republican Party has re-structured government to suit its far right-wing and has completely eliminated any Republican voice of reason by out-shouting those voices. There are a lot of honest and good Republicans who have no place to go these days (think Lincoln Project). Their own party doesn’t want them and they don’t want to be Democrats, though I suspect many would be welcome.

I think I am most disappointed by the many Latinos and African-American men who voted for Trump, a totally unexpected turn of events from my perspective. I have no idea what these voters expect from Trump or Mitch McConnell, but let me make them a promise: you won’t get it.

Today could have been a mournful disaster. It is not. It offers hope and for many of us, that is an emotion that has almost become foreign.



An Anniversary To Remember (Tomorrow)

Here’s the sign marking the anniversary.

While we’re all concentrating heavily on the election today, it might be worthwhile to take a few moments and remember that tomorrow is the 35th anniversary of the flood of 1985. In Wasena Park, there is a remembrance: blue ribbons on trees marking the high-water mark of the flood — and it was pretty dang high.

Ribbons on the oak trees in Wasena mark the highwater mark of the flood of ’85.

Record Election Running Smoothly in Roanoke

Highland Park had a lot of signs and a lot more voters.

Since I voted in September, I thought I’d take a tour of some of Roanoke’s polling places this morning to see how it was going. And it was going!

Poll workers watch arrivals at St. James Episcopal Church (my precinct).

I discovered that between 6 and 7 a.m. almost all of the precincts had lines out the door and down the block. A worker at Highland Park told me that it had 45 percent of its total voters voting by 7 a.m. and by noon, it was at 60 percent. “It’s been steady all morning since the early push,” he said. He expected a similar mob after work.

Most of the others were similar. There was a very real business-like attitude and I didn’t see any threatening people at the polls.

From what I understand, nearly 100 million voted prior to today and a total vote of 160 million (an American record) is expected. The voting percentage of the population, from what I’m hearing, will be the greatest since women got the vote in 1920.

Voter (right) gets a personal escort from a poll worker.
There is a sign to the right telling voters how to report irregularities or threats.

The Full/Fall Colors of the Cove

A fisherman hugs the bank, framed by yellows, reds, grays and greens.

Carvins Cove is a lovely spot any time of the year, but yesterday in mid-fall, it was unsurpassed in its color and calming beauty.

My friend Susan and I pulled the kayaks from under their tarp for one final run on the cove before cold sets in and we got exactly what we needed: church a day early.

Here is what it looked like. (The first below is Susan’s; the next 19  are mine; the final 10 are Susan’s.)

I’m the red dot at center/right of this panorama.