Category Archives: Previous Programs

My October Adventure in Springfield

In October I traveled back to my home state of Missouri to see family and friends. My brother Brian flew to San Antonio and drove me to Springfield. We met Bert at the hotel after a grueling 13 hour trip. During the drive we got (semi) lost in Oklahoma searching for an Arby’s restaurant and also missed a tollbooth.

I hadn’t seen mom since dad’s funeral in July 2017. Therefore I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible. We spent most of the first weekend reminiscing about the time we were kids. One night we brought in Chinese food including my personal favorite, Springfield style cashew chicken. (See my blog post cashew chicken  for more information about this delicacy).

Mom has a difficult case of type one diabetes and suffers with dementia. As a result she must live in a nursing home. She is one of the few that can still walk, albeit with assistance of a walker.

My Life on the Road

I have a hard time traveling.

At home I have a team of caregivers to take care of me. These caregivers know the routine. In addition, my house is modified to accommodate my disability. I sleep in a hospital bed which is easier for me and my caregivers. Motels have carpeted floors and regularbeds, neither of which work well with a patient lift.

Linda is my primary caregiver at home. She prepares and feeds me dinner every night. After dinner she handles all my nitetime ADLs, like brushing my teeth and giving me my meds. She then uses a sling and lift to put me in bed. After I watch TV for any hour or two she stretches my arms and legs one final time before we go to sleep.

Bert handled Linda’s duties this trip. I hired temporary caregivers to handle my morning routine. These temporary caregivers make trips like this possible. Today I want to share with you the inspiring stories of two women that took care of me in Springfield.

Weekend One – Erica

Erica works full-time as a caregiver for Integrity Home Care in Springfield. She has four children ages 12, 8, 4,and 2. Her oldest has
a severe form of cerebral palsy. He cannot walk or speak. She has to use a Hoyer lift to transfer him between bed, wheelchair, toilet, etc. Thankfully, Erica’s husband helps care for their children

Nine years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After receiving treatment she thought she was cancer free. However, the cancer spread to her lower spine. Erica saw a cancer specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida in late October.

Her mother and sister live in Panama City, Florida, which was devastated by hurricane Michael. The first two days she was with me she had not heard from either one. Her mother finally called from a satellite phone three days after the hurricane.

I exchanged text messages with Erica after her visit to the Mayo Clinic. She was a bit overwhelmed with the information she received but had a positive attitude about her path forward.

Weekend Two – Katie

Like Erica, Katie works full-time for Integrity Home Care in Springfield. She also has four children. Her oldest son recently graduated and left home. She has another son, 17, daughter, 14, and son Cameron, 12. Katie’s husband left her when she was pregnant with Cam.

Cameron was born with a rare strain of Osteogenesis Imperfecta (brittle bone disease). As a result he suffers from frequent broken bones and can’t walk great distances without frequent rest. Despite his disability,
Cam leads a full life inspiring others.

Recently Cam went deer hunting. There is a nonprofit organization in Missouri that conducts deer hunts for people with disabilities.

The person who donated the hunt paid for him to take one buck up to six points. The ranch owner authorized the guide to let Cam “shoot a big one”.

Cam’s rifle was mounted on a stand and he controlled the scope using a joystick. Also, he fired the gun by pressing a button instead of pulling a trigger.

On the third day in the blind a large deer appeared on Cameron’s computer screen.  As instructed, he used the joystick to maneuver the crosshairs of the scope into position. He fired his weapon, felling the 21 point buck in one shot.

The hunting party went to check on the fallen game. The guide joked with Cameron, “if we don’t get get him to the vet in 15 minutes he’s not going to make it.” Cam responded “I don’t want him to make it”.

They continued their good hearted laughter: “What will we do if the game warden comes around to check on us?” Cam’s solution “lay me on the ground, put the deer’s head on my stomach, and I will claim self defense.”

We talked about the impact that Cameron had on everyone involved with his deer hunting expedition. How these grown men were brought to tears by Cam’s spirit, attitude and zest for life. He may not have been preaching from a pulpit but Cameron used his deer blind as an alter to share God’s love.

Katie lives in Nixa, Missouri. I asked if Nixa still had an annual festival called Sucker Days. (click the hyperlink to the left for more information). I told her I knew someone from Nixa who may have been a participant in the Sucker Day parade many years ago. Jean, set the world straight on your official role.

This was a great trip. I saw friends and family, some of whom I hadn’t seen in over 40 years. This trip brought back many memories of the first 22 years of my life. I work forward to sharing these memories with you next year.



Big Bend–Chisos Mountains

Chisos Mountains

The Chisos Mountains are a mountain range located in the Big Bend that is contained entirely within the boundaries of Big Bend National Park. This is the only mountain range in the United States to be fully contained within the boundary of a national park. It is also the southernmost mountain range in the mainland United States.

The Chisos Mountains support vegetation that includes Douglas fir, Aspen, Arizona cypress, Maple, Ponderosa pine, and Madrone. Mountain lions and bears live in the Chisos Basin as well as dozens of species of birds.

Daytime highs in the summer rarely exceed 90 in the Basin and there is plenty of shade. The day we went to the Chisos Mountains was the only day I wore jeans and I was glad I did.

That night when we got back to our hotel in Alpine we were greeted with a spectacular lightning storm. It was a weird watching all this lightning without any rain or thunder.

Wide Open Spaces” is a song written by Susan Gibson, and recorded by American country music group Dixie Chicks. The Dixie Chicks are an American country music band which has also crossed over into other genres, including pop and alternative country. The band is composed of founding members (and sisters) Martie Erwin Maguire and Emily Erwin Robison, and lead singer Natalie Maines.

Big Bend–Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive is named for Big Bend National Park’s first superintendent and geologist who served from 1944-1952. He laid out the route to highlight the more spectacular geologic features on the west side of the park. The road heads between Burro Mesa and Chisos Mountains.

Burro Mesa

A plethora of scenic views rewarded us on our return. Burro Mesa is a gently westward-sloping mesa standing high above the surrounding desert floor. At its highest point the mesa reaches an elevation of 4,431 feet above sea level. Its name derives from the many wild burros that once wandered and grazed there.

Tuff Canyon

Tuff Canyon was carved out of soft volcanic tuff (compressed ash). Other rock formations in the area were made from igneous rock.  Clear evidence that volcanoes helped shape Big Bend.

Blue Creek Ranch Overlook

This overlooks provides a view of the headquarters of the Homer Wilson Ranch, one of the largest in the region prior to the
establishment of the park.

Mule Ears Viewpoint

We stopped at Mule Ears  Viewpoint, a beautiful viewpoint along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. From the parking area, the Mule Ears Peaks dominate the view. A 2-mile long trail leads to
a delightful desert spring.

Back to Alpine

Despite the threat of thunderstorms we had nothing but clear blue skies today. Returning to our hotel in Alpine a few cumulus clouds appeared and we were rewarded with a spectacular sunset over the mountains. It was a glorious finish to a beautiful day.

Willie Hugh Nelson (born April 29, 1933) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, author, poet, actor, and activist. He was one of the main figures of outlaw country trauma, a subgenre of country music that developed in the late 1960s as a reaction to the conservative restrictions of the Nashville sound.