Doing anything over and over becomes mind clearing if not mind numbing. When I ride a bike my mind clears and I think of all sorts of things. I’ve thought up inventions and written papers while riding a bicycle. I also formed ideas or plans that were left on some road not making the trip home. The same is true with archery. Those between ends times walking back and forth to pull arrows are intervals where ideas pop into my head.
Recently, while walking on my 3D range my grandkids popped into my thoughts. All are under the age of 10. I began thinking about the common denominators among them. This is what I came up with:
They are at full speed or eating,
Conflict is a reflex,
They’re not having fun until someone is bleeding.
If you have young grandkids, perhaps those three common denominators are applicable.
There are two things we can never really know – we don’t know when we’ll die or how. That said, it isn’t a bad plan to live everyday like it is your last while being prudent in your planning ahead.
One of my sisters recently gave me a family history that was done professionally. A cousin had hired a firm to verify some of the myths associated with our kin. The mythology, fantastic gossip passed down through a verbal history, included an unlikely tale of longevity.
If there was any grain of truth to how long our ancestors lived it was a bit remarkable. According to legend, a great many of my ancestors lived to ripe old ages. I’d heard the tales and blown them off as exaggerations.
Then, I got hold of a copy of this in-depth history of our family. There on the pages were many of the historical names I heard as a child. Most amazing were the data on birth and death records.
As I studied the data I thought that the time between birth and death looked pretty lengthy. So, I took those times and did the math.
The complete data on my ancestors’ age began around 1600. Further back the data became foggy. During the 1600 until the 1800 the average live expectancy was 35 years. At that time the women in our family were hitting 72 years old and the men reached 76 years old on average before they kicked the bucket. One fellow skewed the men because reached 100 years old. Taking him of the mix the men lived an average of 72.5 years.
The old fellow that lived to be 100 seemed like a mistake. On a whim I checked him out on the Internet. Why, not – everything else is there. Sure enough I found him and sure enough independent records confirmed his century of life here on Earth.
I figured if this group that contributed to my genes lived so long must have had money. I didn’t think there was anyway a person could nearly triple his life expectancy in the 1600s if he was poor. Sure enough, the oldest of us was noted as being “very wealthy” on the Internet. Sadly, his wealth didn’t survive to me.
The report my sister sent is extremely interesting. Among the data collected included two brothers that fought in and survived the Revolutionary War and a Southerner that fought against the North, deserted ,walked home, planted fields, then returned to the fighting. It seems a lot of the Southern Army practiced this fight and farm routine. The Northern Army later captured him. He survived the ordeal, too.
Overall, the Lain side of my family lives as long as the myths suggested. All I know of “Mamas” side, the Weatherly side, is that Grandmamma expired at 97 and Great-Grandmamma died at 104.
I certainly don’t know when I’ll die or how it will happen. I do know that we humans have being dying forever. We all have to do it. In the meantime, it is a good idea to treat others the way you’d like to be treated and set in place plans to cover the life you want to live.
Every year Ray Gastin, my father-in-law, puts on a fireworks show that rivals that of the small towns near his home on the Lake at Clark Hill. These aren’t firecrackers and sparklers. Each is at the maximum class he can purchase having around 500 grams of explosive power. It is a big show that takes days to prepare.
While getting ready for the 4th Brenda and I spend time with Ray. We used to stay at his house on the Lake. Now, we take our camper and use it for home base. That doesn’t mean Ray is home alone. The 4th brings his sons home, his grandchildren and his great grandchildren. There is a house full of people getting ready to enjoy the show while swimming, fishing, heading out on a boat, jet ski or kayak.
The fireworks are ignited and launched from the top of Ray’s double decker boathouse. Prior to the show there is dinner of low country boil, smoked ham and desserts for the family and friends that come to watch and eat.
Looking over the crowd this year I noticed that nearly everyone was either a veteran, the child of a veteran that had grown up while dad was in the military, or spouse of a veteran. Ray is a retired master sergeant that after active duty went on to teach ROTC for 20 years.
Just before dark the cove, where Ray’s dock serves as a launching pad for the nighttime spectacle, becomes filled with boats. We don’t know these people that come to watch. But, over the years the number of boats has risen to around 15 to 20. It is hard to get an accurate count. Boats continue to drift in as the show progresses.
During the display you can hear from people yelling with pleasure and boat horns blasting. Along the shoreline more people gather to watch. Other families have also joined the show firing off similar fireworks – not nearly to the same degree as Ray’s. The result is a cove where above there are explosive colors filling the sky while encircling the audience below. It really is awesome.
For some the 4th of July is just another break from work. For Ray, a 40-year Army veteran it means more than another holiday. The same holds true for the other NCO’s, Chief warrant officers, and commissioned officers that share a special bond with Master Sargent Gastin.
(Note: as I write this I am reminded of a group of archers in Maryland. They have a Facebook page. I shared a posting about the 4th of July with them several years ago. That act got me banned from their Facebook page. I honestly have forgotten who they are and have no idea if they remain fanatical about their treasured Facebook page. I’ve imagined them totally committed to the sport of archery by example of the time spent working on and practicing Facebook. As for me I remain unassociated with them. I feel a certain pride in their rejection. Although, I look forward to competing against any of their members.)
(Okay, to took a little liberty from John Irving with that title. Mr. Irving, I’d have asked but didn’t know how to contact you. For those that don’t know, Mr. Irving wrote a book titled, “Last Night in Twisted River.” He’s a real writer.)
We sold our home in North Carolina. It was only a vacation home. It became our permanent home a few years ago. We’d never intended it to be more than a place to get away, relax, and enjoy the water.
The location was great. The views, water, wildlife and tranquility were amazing. But, after a few years we learned it was a bit too isolated, too far from family and best as a vacation home.
We decided to move back to Georgia. We, also, knew that we wouldn’t keep the River House; it was simply too far away to enjoy. So we sold it.
On the last night at the Little River there was nearly a full moon. It was beautiful. There have been many nights with an astounding moon and planets to view, followed by amazing sunrises.
I’ll miss those views and the sounds of the water. But, moving back to Georgia was the right thing.
We were only supposed to be in Georgia for a couple of days. It turned out to be longer. See, there was this property near Athens and it looked right for a move back to Georgia. We bought the land.
There are a number of valid reasons to leave our home in North Carolina. The combined needs to get back home warrant the relocation leaving behind a house where we’ve put in renovations intended for a lifetime. Someone will end up with a dream home. If the North Carolina property were closer to Athens, Georgia we’d keep it. The distance is simply too great to make it worthwhile.
The new home, for me, includes: amazing archery ranges, great cycling roads, and phenomenal water access to rivers and lakes. Athens is the Southern Cycling Mecca.
Georgia, from what I can glean from the Internet will offer more competitive archery than where we live in New Hope (near Hertford, NC). It’s not that North Carolina doesn’t have a fair share of archery events where one can compete. It’s that many of them are so far away from where we live that it requires an overnight trip. Certainly, Georgia is another one of those larger states, but in and around Athens there is an abundance of archery competitors and tournaments to meet their needs.
To top that off there are endurance sporting events, from running to triathlon, nearly every weekend – to supplement my completion fix provided by archery.
For Brenda, my wife – a professional Yogi instructor – being near Athens offers an abundance of Yoga opportunities. There are a number of Yoga studios within minutes of our new property.
Another major benefit will be our proximity to UGA. Since our move to New Hope I have worn out a search for continuing education classes. There’s just too little here to be academically satisfying.
The property we ended up buying is minutes outside of Athens. Its just far enough to be out of congestion and enough to get into the city at the drop of a hat. The “lot” we bought is just over three acres in rural “Good Hope” (Population – 289) meaning archery ranges can be affixed. Yes, that is “Good Hope, Georgia” and we are moving from “New Hope, North Carolina.”
If all goes well the relocation will impact athletic training, hopefully to a minimal. The long term benefit to be so close to other cyclists, runners, triathletes and archers has great potential.
It will be cool to shoot over in Social Circle and Snellville, GA. Since Georgia is our home, we’ll be surrounded by family and one of our two daughters. We hope to be moved back to Georgia by February 2018.
We’re one the road and in Georgia. It’s our annual 4th of July celebration. We’ve been doing this for decades. Since I’ve been writing on this site this marks the third year where our 4th coincidenced with archery. We have a big production here at the Lake House.
My father-in-law, Ray, is the primary instigator of the celebration. He’s retired Army and retired ROTC teacher. The 4th is particularly meaningful to him.
To get to Georgia we stop along the drive and camp. We used to make the drive in one shot. Since we bought our Winnebago, it’s more fun to take our time and enjoy the view.
Our first stop was at Little Pee Dee Campground near Dillon, SC. This makes our third stop at that Campground. Because our trip was just before the weekend of the 4th, we had to settle for the last open campsite. It was really tight. That’s not to mean it wasn’t spacious, it was tight with trees requiring extremely careful parking of the RV.
I needed to be perfect backing in because two trees bordered the entrance. One of them leaned in allowing just inches of clearance. Once in the space was just excellent.
In Tignal we camped at Hester’s Ferry Campground. Having a Winnebago means no one has to rent a place for the overflow of family that comes to enjoy the lake, food, and fireworks.
The trip is not a vacation from archery. We have a field where I practice with my bow and Ray practices with his crossbow. This trip I brought a large block. There are two blocks here, both shot to pieces. The bigger block, carried here in the truck, has two sides that will stop arrows. The larger sides don’t even slow arrows.
The block was hauled to the field, balanced on a smaller block that rested on a chair. Once the paper target was attached to the old block I used a 100-foot tape measure to wheel out 50 meters. Before long the range was open for business.
In the past, I’ve said that I prefer warm weather to cold. Well, I got my wish. I think the coolest day during this trip peaked at 93°F. That’s not to too bad. We get similar temperatures on the coast of North Carolina all the time. Sure, archery practice can be a sweaty business.
Cycling, in the case of this trip, was done pretty early and the heat was not a factor. Even bike rides later in the day didn’t feel as hot as did standing still in the sun shooting. Riding a bike creates a nice breeze.
The final day of 50-meter practice here was the hottest of all – over 100°F. The forecast was for 100°F and we surpassed the prediction. Hiking to pull arrows I made sure to put my bow under the shade of a tree otherwise after an hour or so the bow gets really hot. A black aluminum bow is a great thermopile. Still as hot as it was, I’ll take it over the cold.
We begin our trip home tomorrow. Another 4th is history. Thousands of dollars for fireworks blasted. A mess of great food was eaten. I’ve finished a short bit of writing to remind me about it in the future and I am sharing with you.
In a final note there is group of archers on western shore of Maryland who banned me from their site when I shared my 2014 4th of July post with them. To them I say, “Happy 4th of July! And may the blue rubber suction tips on your arrows always hold true.”
One measure of a man’s character, is how he regards his family, and my friend, Guy, held his family in the utmost regard.
A small conversation about meatloaf is a good example of his affection. During our last visit, a couple of months ago in Georgia, I told Guy that I make the best meatloaf. He debated my claim saying, “No, Shirley (his wife) makes the world’s best meatloaf.” I told him, “We’ll see.”
Brenda, my wife, prepared the meatloaf. Then, I cooked it over several hours in a smoker. It is my opinion, that is the best way to cook meatloaf.
Shirley, I have no doubt, makes a delicious Southern style meatloaf in the same manner as did my Grandmothers, my mother, and my wife – before I started smoking them. That is, baked in the oven with a ketchup glazed across the top surface of the meat. It’s good. However, a smoked meatloaf is, in my liberated Southern cuisine, amazing.
Hours after the challenge, of whose meatloaf is the best, mine or Shirley’s, we sat down to eat dinner. The main course smoked, glaze-free, meatloaf.
To get a fair measure for objective analysis Guy ate half the meatloaf. After the meal I asked, “So, Guy, which meatloaf is better?”
He responsed, “Well, your’s is different, but Shirley’s wins; her’s is the best.”
There was no way, whether he believed it or not, would Guy have ever admitted any meatloaf might exceed the treat of his wife’s. He was just that kind character.
Guy passed away unexpectedly May 30th.
I’ve known Guy for 37 years, there was simply no condition where his family wasn’t number one. Whether it be meatloaf or something more relevant. This applies to wife and children.
I have always stated, you can gauge how good a job parents do easily, just take a look at the children. Guy and Shirley’s two boys are among the finest men I have ever known. Those men, Steve and Chris, have families of their own, and their children are the type people that anyone would enjoy meeting.
After spending any time with Guy’s sons or grand children, you leave feeling good. All of them have a knack for making others feel good about themselves. That is a gift. A gift taught by parents, beginning with Guy and Shirley.
I met Guy through my father-in-law, Ray. He and Guy, both retired Army, had been friends 50 years. Their camaraderie is impossible to capture in the space and time allotted. Let’s just say, it was boundless, fraught with bickering, but connected by mutual respect and love.
This isn’t the first time Guy has been mentioned on this site. There’s are article about “Old Lions” that highlights a little about Guy and Ray. Some readers will know Guy personally, some of you don’t. But, what all should know is that Guy Giella was a real bona fide American Hero. You never know it by talkling to him.
So, here is a little I’d like to share in memory of one of those true Americans. Read this and you’ll agree that in his case the term Hero is not an over statement:
Guy was born October 6, 1939, in Mount Vernon, New York, and retired from the Army in Savannah, Georgia, in 1976 after 20 years of active service which included tours overseas in Germany, Korea and two tours in Vietnam. His duties included paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne, drill sergeant and he attended flight school in Fort Rucker, Alabama, to become a helicopter pilot in Vietnam.
He then went on to become a Rotary Wing Examiner and Supply Officer, with the 120th Aviation Company, 222nd Aviation Battalion, Fort Richardson, Alaska. His comprehensive knowledge of Army Aviation instruments and flying procedures contributed immeasurably to the operation efficiency and combat readiness of the U.S. Army. In addition, he was instrumental in developing and teaching flight techniques and doctrine for helicopter operations in an Artic environment. His outstanding performance resulted in him receiving the Meritorious Service Medal. During his career, he received these other following citations: the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Air Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Aviator Badge, Republic of Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/ Palm. From 1983 to 2003, he was in the civil service as a helicopter flight instructor at Hunter Army Airfield.
Guy was an avid hunter and bass fisherman and passed on his love for the outdoors to his sons and grandchildren.
Guy’s affection extended to Brenda and myself, and I’m going to miss coming back to the “Lake House” in Georgia and sharing some aspect of archery, hunting or fishing with him. But his love for his children, my father-in-law, and Shirley exceeded all others.
River and I have a trail we use when running the roads becomes dull. I expect either run is fine with her. But, there does seem to be more to sniff when we’re off road. So, the day started with plenty to sniff.
The “sniff and run” was followed by archery practice at 18 meters. I have changed my stance, as result of my new coach, Charlie Sneed, suggesting I give it a try. Basically, the stance is opened up a bit and my feet are more angled. It’s taking a bit of practice to get the new feel of my feet.
I’ve also been shooting strictly with a hinge release for the past couple of weeks. During 3D the footing is often so bad that I prefer a thumb release. With a thumb, if I slip a little I can control the release and not waste an arrow. I’ve shot using both hinge and thumb during 3D. Essentially, I don’t see a difference and my scores remain the same (that is not statically difference.) So, the extra security I think I get with a thumb probably isn’t real.
Before I shot this afternoon, Brenda and I took a nice paddleboard trip down Little River. As we headed out the wind was to our face so the return trip was a faster paddle. Afterwards, it was more 18-meter practice.
For this session I used three releases, two hinge and a thumb. Again, no difference.
I received an email from my friend, Carl who lives in Virginia. He is also a neighbor here in North Carolina. I asked for his permission to share this and he agreed.
David, I want to share an archery story.
My son Mike and I were going to hunt Thanksgiving morning in Suffolk (about 20 minutes from home). I called Mike at 4:30 A.M. to let him know I was on my way to meet him and he then told me he wasn’t able to go.
Someone had gone through his truck the evening before or early morning and stolen his bow. His bow which he loved (Diamond Marquis) #70 lb. left hand. QAD rest, HHR single pin, Alpine archery quiver and Gold tip arrows, wrist release – all gone. As you know the accessories actually cost as much as the bow. He was devastated.
We took his old #60 Parker, found an old rest, quickie quiver, and fixed sight; I had a few old arrows. He tied in a peep I had in my archery box. He tried it out about 6:30 in his back yard at 20 yards on Thanksgiving evening.
We hunted on Friday and he killed a doe with it. He doesn’t miss very often anyway. Crisis averted except he was still going to have to buy a new bow for his elk archery hunt to Colorado in August. Now back to the stolen bow.
Mike of course checked pawnshops etc. around the area and nothing showed up. In the meantime he posted on face book about what happened and he had an outpouring of offers from friends and strangers to lend or give him a bow if he needed it. In his word, he was humbled.
In the meantime I looked at craigslist time again just in case.
On January 2, l looked and to my surprise I saw a bow that looked like Mike’s. It was left handed – (we could tell by the picture,-not a lot of those around) and it was listed as- Diamond Bow by bowtech.
We reported it to the police, nothing happened; it was still listed a week later. I wrote an email to the police chief and within 24 hours the bow was recovered less the arrows and release.
The guy who had it lived less than a ½ mile away from Mike. He wasn’t very bright either. The police just did a search of his phone number, got his address (he also had a police record for theft). Went to his home and said we are here for the bow. Mike just had to identify it.
A happy ending, other than having to buy a new bowstring.
(A late addition from Carl “….. a kind string maker in Maryland is making a new string at no charge.”)
For several months I’ve trained with a focus on the vertical 3-spot targeted at the Lancaster Classic. Once the event opened for registration, I signed up, nearly four months ago. After the hotels become available for booking, I secured my room. Everything was ready.
In the weeks prior to the tournament, I competed in the Carolina Classic, a warm-up for the Lancaster Classic. In that competition I shot below my average, but scored enough points to have me feeling pretty good regarding Lancaster. I was psyched and ready to roll. Then, life got in the way or to be more precise death.
For nearly three decades I had a friend that could have been the inspiration for those Bud Light commercials where the main beer drinking character is up for anything. Only in his case, my friend rarely drank beer. He did, on the other hand enjoy good Scotch. We, our wives included, had many adventures cycling, kayaking, and hiking. On two of the kayak adventures my friend hauled me out of tough binds that could have ended badly. He was a much better kayaker than me. Later, I would tell others about the white water mishaps while suggesting Larry was scheming to reduce his budget by lowering payroll – the unfortunate loss of an employee while kayaking. See, he and I worked together for a number of years.
When it came to running or swimming, Larry, my friend, was happy to watch. He and his wife Kathy frequently joined Brenda, my wife, on the sidelines of triathlons and marathons willing to cheer me on as I passed. Larry, an amateur photographer snapped dozens of race photos, which were always better than the event photographers’ pictures that sold online post-race. My favorite race photos are ones that he took.
When Brenda and I purchased our home in North Carolina we got one with plenty of room. Aside from our children and their families, we were thinking ahead toward the visits from Larry and Kathy and the escapades we’d enjoy.
Just before Larry retired, he was diagnosed with brain cancer, and an aggressive one to boot. Within a short time, Larry became another statistic. I was sad and a bit pissed off. Granted, it was selfish but his passing meant years of future quests with him wouldn’t happen. That angered me. Long before retiring we’d spoken about the living we’d do once we left the rat race. Those dreamed up adventures are still alive, but they have become solo campaigns. It is irrational but I’m still pissed about him dying. Sure, I can enjoy the memories, but it is unlikely I’ll find another person so willing to take audacious risks to live the dream.
Larry’s memorial service in Baltimore was scheduled for the 23rd of January, meaning I had to be in Baltimore on the 22nd as well. I tried to work out how to make the back and forth drive to Lancaster so that I could attend both. It was remotely possible, but really pushing travel time limits. I ended up selecting a more practical sense solution and bailed out of the Classic. (Yes, Lancaster returned the registration fee and the hotel was just as understanding.)
The archery tournament travel plan had been to arrive in Lancaster on Wednesday and leave on Sunday. There was a window where I could shoot and still make the memorial service – if everything ran perfectly. But, my focus wouldn’t be on archery. Overall, there was enough travel hassle to put this competition back into the future pile of events. In the meantime, a winter storm was on its way to Baltimore.
Larry loved the snow and cold. Once he took a 30-day kayaking trip into Alaska. If the temperature was below freezing with plenty of ice, snow and wind Larry had some plan that landed us outdoors. He introduced me to downhill skiing and cross-country skiing. To be honest, I don’t like either. Nevertheless, I’d be on the snow with him counting down to the time we’d head back indoors.
I tried to introduce him to water skiing and surfing. For perspective, Larry grew up in Utica, NY and I was raised on Tybee Island then Isle of Hope in Savannah, GA. There were plenty of middle ground activities we both enjoyed, but when it came to winter upstate NY snow fun versus Deep South summer heat activities we remained at opposing sides of the curve.
To be clear, I can deal with cold and snow. I’ve lived in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Baltimore. I’ve worked in Sweden during dark winters and spent time, of course in the winter, in Alberta, Canada. It’s been a decade since we left Pittsburgh and Cleveland (we had homes in both cities) and I’ve nearly thawed. Larry, however, would always trump my winter tales of woe by regaling his experiences in Buffalo, Rochester and Utica. Yea, buddy, you win and you can have it.
Taking him to Savannah one August, well the ‘Flip-Flop’ was on the other foot. For a while I thought he’d actually melt. I’ve never seen a man sweat that much just sitting. I was morbidly enjoying his pain – payback.
The snowstorm in the mid-Atlantic has resulted in the postponement of Larry’s memorial service. I’ve missed both Lancaster and Larry. Larry is probably laughing his butt off at me since once again I’ve been hammered by snow.