Thursday, October 3, 2019

Good Stories or Bad Stories. Hard To Tell.

Our lives are a series of stories, as well as stories within stories which are good or bad. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.
After  a great time at the book signing at  Clayville Fall Festival in Pleasant Plains, Illinois 
and also  visiting my dear high school friends Kathy Jamerison and Sharon Stillwagon last week  in Springfield, Illinois, I had to say good bye and move on down the road. Good or bad, it’s hard to say.

My adventures in this crazy universe, whether planned or off the cuff, whether   positive or negative, make for a multitude of stories, which are good or bad. It’s hard to say.

I believe the universe takes charge and sets the best path for me, once I express my desires. (I think this is good.) So, I cruised  south on I-57 headed for  some quality writing  time in Shawnee National Forest and  to  tour The Garden of the Gods .

When I reached my Lake Glendale  campsite in the Shawnee National Forest I discovered a text from   my friends Sally “Edwards” Warnick and her husband, Michael, whom I had met last year as camp hosts at Giant City State Park  near Carbondale, Illinois. Their text messaged asked,  “Were you traveling south on I-57 two hours ago? ” 

Small world. (This is good.) So, the universe opened up a campsite for them here at Lake Glendale and we’ve spent the last several days catching up. As new homeowners in the area Sally and Michael  became my tour guides.

If you follow my blogs, you already know I look on the bright side and try to see only the goodness in world in which we live. This adventure became not just friends sharing nature’s beauty, it is also became a tale of discovering the beauty of human beings.  

As we drove through the pastoral farmland of Southern Illinois we discovered many small overlooked towns, whose values and community spirit are the glue which holds our country together. Like the courthouse in Golconda, Illinois  

How about Marion, Illinois? Be sure to stop by the Southern Illinois  Mercantile in Marion , Illinois. Check out their Facebook page.  The owners Tanya and Ellen are examples of small-town living.  Not only is the Mercantile a shop that you can spend hours exploring local made crafts and antiques and books by local authors  they have melt-in-your-mouth  homemade ice cream too. But more importantly, They are huge supporters and  volunteers for the Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois  They have raised so much interest and support they are sponsoring TWO   Honor flights next year.  Way to go Tanya and Ellen  and Marion. Illinois!!

The small village of Elizabethtown, known to the locals as E-town, charmed us into have lunch at the E-Town River Restaurant.  Michael indulged in fish which is  caught daily from the Ohio River while Sally and I preferred fully loaded with all the fixin' hamburgers.  After lunch we proceeded on with our tour.   (All is good.)

Cave In Rock Cave In Rock State Park states,  “Few natural formations are as awe-inspiring or intriguing as a cave. The deep, dark recesses immediately conjure up images of adventure and mystery.” And so true.

So many folks insisted that that I visit  The Garden of the Gods. "It is a “must see,” they said and it didn’t disappoint. The views of Southern Illinois were spectacular.

 Camel Rock at The Garden of the Gods.

After oohing and awing at the vistas and The Camel Rock formation, we began our short hike down the path back to the truck.

A young girl, her hair braided and wearing a red-white- and blue bandana as a headband hiked up the path, toward us as I announced to Michael and Sally, “I would like to ride a camel someday.”  

The girl’s male companion whose headband matched hers, followed close behind. From their Harley attire I guessed they  were touring southern Illinois on their Harleys.
As she passed, she looked at me and announced, “I had an affair.” 

I swung around meeting her gaze. (That's bad, I thought.) Her male companion, too, had stopped, and was staring at her as if she had gone mad. Surely, she was joking.

“You did?" I asked. " And why are you telling me you had an affair?” I glanced at her husband or boyfriend who still stood,  his mouth agape, waiting  her answer.

Her eyes darted from me to him. She seemed as startled as everyone, but  then burst into laughter.   “Nooo!!  I said, ‘I did at a fair!’”  She waited, studying our faces. “I rode a camel … at  –  a – fair!”

Relief washed over the young man’s face and we all exploded with laughter. (This is good, I thought.) We talked a few moments and I reached in my back-jean pocket for my wallet to give them my business card.

My merriment switched to panic.
My wallet was gone!

(This is definitely bad.) Hoping it came out of my pocket in the truck, I hurried back to the parking lot. My mind insisted on jumping to the worst-case scenarios -- I could have lost it on the trail or at Cave In Rock or in the bathroom at the diner.  So many possibilities.  (This is bad.)We called the restaurant.

My wallet was there. (This was definitely  good.)

After I had used the bathroom in the restaurant, the right woman, at the right time  used the bathroom after me. She discovered my  wallet and had  turned it in.

Thanking all you folks at the E-Town River Restaurant in Elizabethtown,  Illinois

And thank you my good friends, Michael and Sally 'Edwards' Warnick for your wonderful hospitality.

 Life is good and people are good.

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Safe travels!


  1. Well, now there are more places on my list that I want to visit. Glad you found your wallet.

  2. Just read your blog on the WIT page. The best part of the read was learning you had an angel that turned in your lost wallet and that the restaurant kept it for you. PHEW... I have lost my wallet TWICE ;-( Now I have lots of content photocopies tucked away. HMMM, I need to redo my copies with my updated address. My BAD NEWS is I did a "hide-a-key" magnetic box for my spare car key and I LOST IT! :-0