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Dad’s Funeral at Arlington Cemetery

August 30, 2011 by · Comments Off on Dad’s Funeral at Arlington Cemetery 

Funeral at Arlington

My Dad was a Veteran of WWII and served in the Air National Guard for many years.  Rising through the ranks, he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel—two grades below General. Toward the end of his life, he tragically suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for more than ten years as it inexorably ate away his memory. Like the saying, on July 8, 2011 at age 92, the old soldier finally faded away.

 He was bestowed the privilege of burial in Arlington Cemetery for his valor during combat duty in the Pacific. The National Cemetery schedules 27 internments a day, including burials of active duty soldiers serving in Afghanistan–we waited nearly seven weeks for Dad’s cremated remains to receive a proper military service. Our family opted not to wait until November 3rd, the earliest date available for full military honors including a caisson to carry him to the gravesite.

As anticipated, plans and procedures were meticulously carried out despite the earthquake that hit Virginia a day earlier. We entered the main gates and it was so humbling to see mile after mile, row upon row of perfectly aligned white marble slabs, identifying more than 320,000 servicemen’s graves. The mere sight will snap even a civilian to attention.

We were directed to the Administration building and then to a gathering room for families awaiting ceremonies. A television monitor displayed live coverage of the soldiers guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, something that transfixed the grandchildren’s attention.

My 91-year-old Mother and I handed over the required documents and were given a map with a marker denoting my Father’s plot. We drove to his internment location, past the Air Force Memorial whose spires of steel evoke the vibrant force of flight. A squad of soldiers awaited in formation to escort Lieutenant Colonel John Palmer, Jr.’s urn to the gravesite. Our family and friends followed. A highly decorated military chaplain delivered a brief service with the utmost dignity and care. His speech was passionate and he praised my Dad for serving his country in a courageous way. He honored my Dad and all the others buried in the hallowed sanctuary and hailed my father as a true American patriot.

A three-volley salute was fired by a formation of  seven soldiers stationed to our left. A lone bugler played Taps, a somber farewell muted by the enormity of the endless grounds. The flag, held over the urn during the service, was precisely folded by six members of the unit and delivered to the leader for inspection. He then passed the triangular shaped cloth to the chaplain who presented it to my Mother. Although the chaplain did not know our family, his warmth was genuine and you could feel his sincerity.

An Arlington Lady approached my Mom, a representative of the wives of soldiers buried here, and paid her respects–a truly noble gesture by this group of volunteers.  Then we stood and filed by his remains placing a red rose on the stand.

The ceremony didn’t take long but it was a poignant and most dignified way to send off to a man who loved his country and proudly served. All is well and now he gently rests in the Nation’s shrine.

If you go:

Arlington National Cemetery lies across the Potomac River from Washington, DC and is open from 8 am to 5 pm except from April 1-September 30 when it stays open until 7 pm.  Paid visitor parking is off Memorial Drive. Access to the cemetery is free and visitors may walk to see John Kennedy’s grave or the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; however it is a mile uphill. To avoid the walk, purchase tour bus tickets at the Visitor’s Center to see Robert E. Lee’s house and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Visitor Information at 877 907 8585 or www.arlingtoncemetery.mil

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This poem is authored by Lolete Barlow, the wife of an AF officer who is now deceased. Mrs. Barlow attended the October 2006 dedication of the Air Force Memorial and was inspired to write this poem. She gave it to the Air Force Memorial Foundation so that it could be shared with all of you.

UNITED STATES AIR FORCE MEMORIAL
October 2006

They’re not as tall, nor fleet of foot.
Their hair no longer dark, has thinned
Or disappeared perhaps,
And yet the spark of who they were,
These warriors of old, radiates from each of them,
The skilled, the brave, the bold.

Long years ago when they were young
They flew through foreign skies
And fought for home and country,
For freedom and the lives
Of loved ones left behind.

These pilots, gunners, bombardiers,
Ground support and engineers
Fought valiantly a world away
Defending what we have today
Half a century later.

From all the missions that were flown
Too many never made it home.
Instead they sleep ‘neath foreign soil
With fellow airmen—comrades all.
None will be forgotten.

To all who wore the Air Force blue,
To all the men and women who,
Though gone before us, live on still
In memory upon this hill.
We gratefully salute you.

Now spires of stainless steel curve high
And yonder pierce the wild blue sky,
A hilltop tribute all can see
A monument to victory
And heroes who secured it.

GOD BLESS THEM ALL

© Lolete Barlow

Chattanooga: Much More than a Choo-Choo

August 13, 2011 by · Comments Off on Chattanooga: Much More than a Choo-Choo 

Scenic Chattanooga

If you are looking for an exciting adventure, a family friendly escape or a romantic getaway, set your sites on Chattanooga, Tennessee.  The city once known for its choo-choo, now volunteers a bounty of activities.

Scenic views and nostalgic barn signs lead visitors to “See Rock City.” The Rock City Gardens opened in 1932 at the top of Lookout Mountain. You can walk among natural stone formations, across swinging bridges, and revel in the panoramic view of “7 States.” The fairyland gnomes entice adults who visited as children to return with their own. I was truly surprised and delighted with the updated venue.

Rock City's Lookout

Ruby Falls endures as another vintage roadside attraction. While the caverns themselves are not the most spectacular, the lighted 145-foot waterfall is worth the underground journey. Every October the staff turn the caverns into a haunted cave.  This event rates are one of the top 10 haunted Halloween houses in the country.  Screams and spine tingling fear guaranteed. Naturally, teens love it!

 

Ruby Falls

Those that seek sheer exhilaration head to Lookout Mountain Flight Park,  the nation’s premier hang gliding school. No prior experience is necessary. Participants and their instructor hook into a glider that’s tethered to an ultralite plane. The plane pulls them to an altitude of 2,000 feet, then releases the daring duo. Take my word on this –you’ll feel like a bird and gain a never to be forgotten perspective on the glorious mountains and valley below. Read about my fantastic aerial expereince here.

 

World-class whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River offers Olympic-caliber thrills and spills just 45-minutes from Chattanooga. Outfitters supply a professional guide to accompany and assist rafters as they traverse class 3 and 4 rapids. Whoo-eee! What a blast. Should you be looking for tamer exercise, think kayaking on the Tennessee River or bicycling a 10-mile pathway through city parks.

 

The Tennessee Aquarium is Chattanooga’s jewel, the world’s largest freshwater aquarium. The facility expanded to a second building: one featuring river ecology and creatures while the other explores the ocean habitat. Your ticket entitles you to come and go at this awe-inspiring aqua world, so visitors can break up the day with dining or other activities. An educational  treat for all ages.

 

Many adults desire a more relaxing vacation and should consider riding in air-conditioned comfort on the Aquarium’s high-speed catamaran. Guests are transported into the Tennessee River Gorge surrounded by a colorful seasonal landscape. While the boat is speedy, the ride is not at all dangerous or scary. Tourists and locals also find dinner cruises aboard the Southern Belle Riverboat  to be laid back escapes.

 

Romantic couples head for the charming Bluff View Art District and find elegant lodging plus refined dining, bakeries, coffee shops and art galleries. The Hunter Museum of American Art along with a hilltop sculpture garden are mere steps away.  The Back Inn Cafe features exceptional cuisine.

 

Don’t leave the diverse city without a peek into the historic Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel, or better yet, stay overnight in one of their railroad cars. The former terminal was converted into a grand lobby with fine lodging–a train buff’s heaven.

 

Chattanooga is quite the opposite of a sleepy Southern city. Her mindset is fun, the streets buzz,  restaurants are hopping and scenic beauty surrounds.  You honestly need more than a weekend to uncover all of the diverse treasures.

 

For further information: www.chattanoogafun.com.

 

 


Branson on Dwellable

A Luxury Houseboat on Lake Powell

August 2, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

A Luxury Houseboat on Lake Powell

Spending a week aboard a posh houseboat off the shores of Lake Powell is an exceptionally distinctive vacation option. My temporary “ownership” of a luxurious floating-condo made me feel like Leonardo DiCaprio stretching out on the Titanic as “king of the world.”

 

The jagged shoreline of the massive 186 mile-long reservoir, adjacent to Utah/Arizona border, exceeds that of  the entire western coast of the continental United States. Imagine sailing on brilliant turquoise water surrounded by shimmering red rocks, layered terracotta cliffs, salmon colored beaches and postcard views from every angle. The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area epitomizes the desert southwest– bursting with hundreds of side trails, Indian ruins and awe-inspiring natural wonders.

 

Lake Powell came into existence following years of bitter controversy. In 1956 workers began pouring concrete for the arch dam and didn’t stop the round the clock labors for more than three years. Seven years after groundbreaking, Lake Powell was generating power and opened its gates for recreational activities.  However, it would be seventeen years before the reservoirs water-level reached “full pool.” Today some three million people visit annually for memorable boating, skiing, kayaking and fishing adventures.

 

During the off-season, five-star air-conditioned houseboats can be rented by the night, throughout the summertime a minimum weekly contract is required.  Extended families or multiple couples adopt the immense, up to 75 feet long, boats as extraordinary floating-homes. Each of the four or five generously appointed bedrooms is fitted with double sized, lavish bedding and a flat screen TV positioned at the foot of the bed. Granite and chrome kitchens, worthy of Bobby Flay, sit adjacent to the combination family room/dining room –anchored around a theatre-style entertainment hub.

 

Complimentary transport along with a driving lesson for guests who desire assistance is provided by Forever Resorts, the premier firm offering the opulent aquatic-abodes. Many houseboats set their mooring lines in a romantic cove serving as home base for the duration. Others prefer to pull up anchor and cruise to a new beach or cove every day. Adult vacationers enjoy setting up folding tables and chairs for sunset al fresco dining while kids beg for beach campfires to share marshmallows and stories under starry skies.

Let the self-indulgence continue: lounging in a hotel-sized hot tub, playing bartender on the upper deck or slipping onto the curved sliding board and make a grand entrance into the crisp cool water.

Renting a smaller powerboat offers added mobility and swift exploration of the waterways– think bobbing through the pages of National Geographic. Dawn and dusk outings challenge photographers with dramatic dancing shadows. Surrounding canyons shrink sinuously, the soaring walls caressing the bold adventurer.

 

Poweboating on Lake Powell

My one-night stay aboard a luxury houseboat on this jet-set playground could fill an entire episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Powell’s saffron colored landscapes with their stunning and dramatic formations contrast sharply with my East Coast background, where trees boldly border the shoreline. The simplicity and sereneness of the wind-swept southwest was tranquilizing to my eye. The forces of nature etched into my soul like grooves in the canyon floor.

Rainbow Bridge, Utah

In the afternoon, a rocket-fast speedboat journey to Rainbow Bridge interrupted my tranquility only to give way to an inland excursion ashore and the chance to peer at the vast natural archway– eternity personified. The stone bridge powerfully rises, draws a bold arc across the sky, then descends earthward with grace–a glorious natural wonder worth a once in a lifetime wander.

Next morning, I rose before dawn to watch the glinting sunrays dabble and paint the sandstone temples. While the ritual has repeated over millions of years, for me, this sunrise was profound. I ran back and forth around the top deck not knowing where to look because every direction was equally tantalizing. It would be unimaginable to ever tire of this sunsational way to start a day, truly life on Golden Pond.

Golden Pond

 For rental information

www.antelopepointlakepowell.com

www.ForeverResorts.com


Utah on Dwellable

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