THIS IS A TRIBUTE TO JOHN DENVER WHO WAS BORN DECEMBER 31, 1943 AND DIED OCTOBER 12, 1997.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Introduction
This book, with all its poetry herein, is written to honor and remember John Denver. He has been gone for ten years now, and he is greatly missed. His love for music, the earth, trees, water and life in general was celebrated throughout the span of Johns life. When I began to write this book, I tried to include the things that influenced the many areas of this great man. It gives me great pleasure today to present to all of you a book of poetry, simply called "Spirit of Mountain John". Sit back, brew a steaming cup, put your favorite John Denver cd in the player, and open the pages after a long hard day. You will find yourself on a cloud drifting high above the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. John loved Mountain life, and he loved Aspen. Some of the poems in these writings concentrate on Aspen, and its magical surroundings.
As you look down, John, after ten years in Heaven, we hope you can see the earth, smile on all your accomplishments, and still offer hope for our planet, and speak the words to help insure life and peace to the world for generations to come. Thank you for your life, your music, and your dreams. This is for you, John Denver.

Boat Ride
The peaceful waves ripple in front of us
Mother Nature all around
Unfolding her wings in all her glory
The gentle rocking aboard this wooden vessel
Sea gulls off in the distance
Singing peaceful songs on the water
This day, oh this beautiful day
One that has been given, once more
Sunshine beaming on the watery landscape
A million diamonds sparkling
Pleasant to my eye
This moment in time
Look now, embrace its perfect splendor
Drop the anchor, let it fall
Til it rest quietly on its floor
Listen as the birds sing
Stop long enough to understand
The language they speak
Take time to sit, to ponder
The limitless possibilities of today
To preserve, to conserve
Tomorrow’s dreams are here today
Casting lines into the sea
Breathing fresh air into my soul
As the sails are lowered
High noon, no winds
Stalled flat with no particular place to go
I find peace and contentment
Staring down below into clear waters
Beyond my splashing feet
Further than I can see
The life existing below in the depths
Fish, plants, all here for a reason
A god given purpose, in a perfect plan
Help us, oh, to understand, Yes
The ways of the land and the sea
The gentle hot summer wind, now begins to blow
A new color takes over my skin
Bronze look of August days
I stand and gaze
As I lead into its goodness
To feel the water surround me
Find myself in one with the Earth
Lying on my back
Not a cloud above
Drifting back to the days of childhood
Oh, but natures great, isn’t it?
Here always, never to leave
From the beginning, to the end
Yet, never-ending
Floating on the water
At peace with the world
Every living creature there with me
As cool rain falls on me
Friends pull me up
Emotions pouring out of me
Like blessings from the great one
Tears of joy mix with beads of sea water
Running off high cheek bones
That wonderful day!
All of us celebrating
The abundant ability
To laugh and sing
To enjoy one another
Feeling each others joys
Heartaches when they come
But most of all, most important
Acceptance as you are
One of a kind jewel
Chiseled out of love for the sea, deep blue sea
Entertain us with unsung beauty
As summer sun sets
On lazy calming waves
Let us realize
As the sea sleeps
All is well, so be it
Then, as we ourselves retire
To unrolled blankets
Under big dipper skies
In peaceful dreams
Conducted by lighthouses afar
We drift slowly from consciousness
Into beautiful sleep
Water is our friend
Everything within it
Partner in life
So share each other, today
Always keep in mind
Though rough waters churn
safety is always in reach
Thank you now for these friends
This life, the boat I ride
The water surrounds our soul

Two Legends
(An intimate poem on John Denver and Steve Irwin)
We’ve traveled the world
Entertained so many
Our names have made the news
Worldwide, in many cities
We have shared the love of wildlife
Claimed them all as our own
Even though we’re not with you now
We’ve still so much space to roam
Our spirits circle around the globe
We live in the hearts of so many people
Let our voices still yet be heard
As low as the pines
And as high as a steeple
"Crikey", exclaims Steve
As he and John ride a star
John sings a song, speaking of love
And how special, we all are
An Australian man who loved his job
Danger he never feared
To tame a lion, or wrestle a gator
Whenever one was near
Steve and John, they are together now
They look down from the sky
John pulls a guitar from the air
With a smile he sighs
He sings of Colorado
Like only he does know
Performs for the angels, "Rocky Mountain High"
Then slows down for "Aspen Glow".
They each had a mission
Followed through, just like they should
How we wish you both were back with us now
We’d love it so, if you could.
No ones really lost
If you know where they are now
You both were special to all of us
Loved dearly, without a doubt
Johns spirit flies high in an eagle
Steve’s within a crocodile
We take the time out to honor you
Meditate with our thoughts for a while.
The world cannot replace you
But we had you for a season
You left your mark on this earth
Gave your life a true reason
So today we remember
Shall never forget
Our thoughts are with you
You’re free as a white tail now, I bet
As we watch the fire in the sky tonight
A smile comes to our faces
I know there’s two spirits
Occupying heavenly spaces.
While time waits on no one
Tis always marching on
We’ve learned from you
With nature, to always get along
To be kind to earths animals
To treat them all kind
Study their habitat
New discoveries always to find
To watch you and listen
The words so light
Johns’ guitar taught him a love song
Made us all feel so right.
Steve’s bravery was awesome
Animals and his family were his love
His special talent was breathtaking
This Australian I’m speaking of
Their spirits soar high above
The wild Blue Yonder
Oh, it seems I can still see them
Whether its mountains or swamp land I ponder
Kindly keep a watch on our environment
Reptiles and the trees
We’ll remember you
As we feel the autumn breeze
Your spirits with the angels
What a sight to see
Heaven is now your home
One day too, ours shall be
We’ll hold on to your memory
And always know inside
This earth, in which, we surely own
Its beauty, deep and wide
Although parting is such sweet sorrow
Things shall never be the same
We honor the company you gave us all
To this beautiful Earth, in which you came.
John Denver Steve Irwin
True Warriors-Rest in Peace

"Aspens Beauty"
There is a place, a beautiful place
Which only some get to see in a book
Oh, Aspen, Colorado
It’s beauty beyond compare.
People enjoying its life
Pure beauty captured on a snow covered hill
Its many cabins and resorts
The special treats that lay in store
For everyone who experiences its presence.
Children stop outside its gift shop
Enjoying a snowball fight
Perhaps to build a snowman
It’s a feeling that is appreciated
Only to be there, and to breathe its air
The skiers as they plummet
Down a trail of virgin snow
The sounds of the ski lift
Carrying anxious ones
To their thrilling destinations
Friendly people, everywhere it seems
The food and atmosphere
Only in Aspen Colorado
Its winters bring blankets
Of new fallen snow
Tourist take in its pleasures
Rocky Mountains, Gods creation
There is nothing like the mountains
In the early spring time
To capture its moments
Walk among the trees.
Hike into its majestic awesomeness
Restoring your mind to better times
Perhaps to a time
Not known of before
Take a friend or a loved one
To a place of sheer magnificence
Let your eyes behold
This place, this Aspen
Each month in the year
Three hundred sixty five days
Enjoy the freedom
Only known from way up high
Way up in the mountains
Pure magic, sprinkled with hospitality
Of the friendly Aspen community
Step out on a cabins’ porch
Or on a wooden deck
With binoculars, take a glance
This is the land
As spring arrives
The trees began their budding
Mountains take shape
Flowers in all their glory
Oh, if just to enjoy it
For a day, you’ll surely say
It was good
Rejuvenated to the maximum level
To feel content
At peace with the environment
With all Aspens opportunities
Reach out, my friend
An experience like none other
To camp underneath a million stars
Sing together around the glowing campfire
The sound of a six string
As darkness falls in the sky
Families enjoying living
Such fun for everyone
Pleasures planned for, so long in advance
Then to know that you’re all here
Memories made each second
Never to leave you
Aspen, Colorado, this wonderful place
An outdoor paradise
Sounds in the forest
So peaceful at times
Just close your eyes
Imagine, you can be anything
The sunsets are as pretty
As the sunrise itself
Each day offering an array of wonder
Each night its superb greatness
All these things
With the family in mind
Ski slopes to shopping
To birds singing a song
As bacon and eggs
Fill the morning air
It’s a good feeling
A feeling only to find
In the place so fair
Come now, it’s something for all
Year round Festivals, art exhibits
It’s all here, for each of us
Explore today, for when you do
Next season is always coming

"A Special Man"
My mind has to go back
Early days of a man
He was so full of life
Big ol smile
Lover of life
A musical giant
He played a guitar
Strung six or strung twelve
Bringing forth a sound
He spoke of his guitar
Introducing him to friends
Taught him how to laugh and cry
Just a wooden shell
With shiny strings
He could tell a story
This mans style
Was one-of-a-kind
High pitched voice
Speaking simple words
Those that could be related
To everyday occurrences
No matter where on Earth
A man and woman did abide
His phrases were layman’s terms
Understood by all
He’d let you know
He was a country boy
Even thanked God for that
John sang of life and love
A seventies icon
Straight blonde hair
He was a true legend
Finding peace in his words
Solemn stare through round glasses
The serious side stirring
His love for his own
The love of his life
He’d write her a song
A song played still today
Lyrics so deep and true
Words for a song
Flowing deep from within
Came forth like a mountain stream
Rivers of knowledge
A young mans mind
Guitars, a special friend
There by his side
Til the very end
A gift from grandma
At only age twelve
Young hands mastering
The beginning of an era
Things taking shape
As this young boy grew
Performed for millions
His fame would endure
Some music comes
Only for a while
Those who touch many lives
Seem to never go
To hear a song
Think of its meaning
Touches hearts in a way
That can only be felt
To think of John
That he had to go
Means daily mourning
Sometimes sad days
Or tearful nights
Knowing John, he wouldn’t want it that way
I figure he might look down
Smile and say
Don’t cry for me
I’m better now
In a place so divine
The waters clear
Trees so green
Streets are even gold
So friends, remember me
Think of all the words
I left behind
Those words you still can hear
You know I’m never far away
My voice, my old guitar
I have left it with you.
Today I think
Of this special man
To know its been ten years
Sometimes it seems like yesterday
When I heard the news
We still see you John
Sometimes in a dream
The stage, the band
Your happy face
We’ve love it all again
My Sweet Lady or Annie’s Song
Finger picking at its best
The guitar, your special friend
maker of your living
Let us not forget
What you believed in
Or what you stood for
Yes, you worked for it
And sang for it
You said yourself
For all of this
I’d like to be remembered
Worker for the land
Our waters and trees
Ever conscious of all these things
To protect our forest
And plant a tree
Think about tomorrow
Plan for generations ahead
Water, the dolphins,
To see a coral reef
The Humpback Whale
The song he hears
All of this now
Is becoming more clear
Things we don’t think of
As we live day to day
We need to be more aware
All areas of life
Embrace all aspects of the living
For a special man, John Denver
Believed, followed through
Today, we say thank you.

The Earth
Have you ever stopped in wonder
Of the beauty that lies before us?
The untouched beauty of nature
Where man hasn’t cut down the forest
The freedom of our wildlife
Still as if it were two hundred years ago
Have you watched a deer take cover
Into grounds they still call home
Or is that home now vanished
Never to return again
Land where the rabbits and squirrels play
In high oak trees round home
Are those trees gone now
Along with the wildlife’s home
There is nothing like
A night in the forest
Let us take the time
A single moment in time
Think of grandchildren
Blessed great-grandchildren
Autumn walks through maple trees
Sounds of leaves beneath tiny feet
Feet that are following you
As you take the lead
Showing the way
Present and past
Insure the best
Innocent ones
Keep our waters pure
Pollution free in every way
For in the Earth
On its land
In its seas
Is glorious life
Be it the deer
Bear, tiger, the kangaroo
Life reigns throughout the world
The fish of the waters
Lakes, rivers, the blue ocean
Long live the great white shark
Swordfish, the eel, the octopus
All depending on us
Ones who plan the future
Or destroy it.
Choices have always been there
Awaiting its call
Build up or tear down
Have you ever noticed the Earth?
Its beautiful sky
Clouds rushing by
Like years of our life
On a warm summer night
To watch a shooting star
Burning through space
To gaze into the milky way
To know the world is ours
Again the future comes to mind
Quickly I realize
It is me
It is I, to make the difference
Coming together as one
In perfect harmony
To know that Mother Earth
Is here with me
And I with her
Today I make a vow
To myself, and humanity
The Earth, protect her
Secure her, love her
For tomorrow, and its challenges
Bring uncertainty to all
Banding together
Like strands in a rope
We can be strong
Shall we make it?
It is up to us
The people of the world
Let peace reign
What great joy
Wars to cease
The gun be silenced
Violence to be no more
Let love abound
In hearts of old and young alike
Preserve our Earth
Starting at home
Branching out to the world
Join hands with brothers
Form common bonds
After all, Earth’s fate
Is up to us all.
I beg of you
Keep the worlds water clean
Every stream
When we cut a tree down
Plant one back
Solutions so simple
Sometimes hard to follow
Take time today
To think of a way
If not for yourself
Your offspring
They depend on you
Watch your every move
Do all you can
Make a difference
Don’t sit back
We must act now
In a day of need
Encourage neighbors
To heed their call
Make a difference
For us all
Its not hard to do
The Earth is still turning
That means there’s a chance
Don’t pass it by
Everyone’s future is at stake
No mistake!
Destiny calls
It kindly ask us all
To consider our help
Secure our future
To be there always
For all to share
Have you ever seen the beauty?
A sunrise slowly coming
The colors displayed
In an early sky
Gods artwork detailed
Only in minutes
Sun has risen
A beautiful day dawning
Bright sun shining
Day time is at hand
Only to bring the night
Hours pressed between
Make the difference
Of day and night
We must follow through
So easy to do
Make a promise
Right now to yourself
Conquer the obstacles
In the way
Earth is our Mother
Its all up to us
The time is now
To help or turn away
Our duties call
Do we listen?
Or do we turn away.
How nice it would be
To know, we do all we can
For Mother Earth
Let your feelings show
Make provisions for our planet Earth.

"Christmas Time in the City"
How great it is
To come back home
To walk the ground
I walked long ago
The fallen snow
A nice warm place
I feel the love of family
All in the air
Its all the same
Not that much has changed
The woods surround
A little house
The drive ways seen
A thousand cars
For thirty years
People have come
They have gone
Nothing stays as it is
Home welcomes you
Like a lost friend
Its doors open
They hug you
Its floors welcome steps
A tree giving gifts
Blinking red and green
Cherish the Moments
Holiday spirits run high
Give without receiving
The rewards are great.
Merry Christmas!

Paradise in the Ocean
A group of jewels
Indian Ocean
Lost between Africa and Madagascar
Green emeralds set
In blue ocean
Sailboats sail across the waters
The face of an ancient race
Giant land tortoises
Stained glass Nativity
Victorias Cathedral
Immaculate Conception
Mission cross raised
On a natural rock
Red-tailed tropicbird
Flying over Aride Island
Stories of the pirates
Long, long, ago
Brendan Grimshaw
Owner of Moyenne
Tells the story
Treasures buried deep within
This place, his home
A young girl from Mahe
Told of her dream
Of knowing the spot
Riches of treasures
Location on the islands
The spirits unrest
Sent a message
Coconuts fell on the ground
As he received the message
Palm trees and the sand
A perfect get-away
Place for lovers
A place to disappear
Take a look, a close one
Of nature, its plants
Covering the hills
Yellow double hibiscus
Rain lily showing off
After tropical downpours
Heavy laden banana trees
On Mahe hillsides
Oh, the beauty
In these Forgotten Islands
Jewels in the Ocean
Mokara Madame Pannes orchid
Cultivated in the Seychelles
Rare and colorful species
Queen Victoria statue
Found in the center of Victoria
Cappuccino Seminary
Portugese-style
Handcrafted model schooners
Countless hours given
To the production of each of them
Woman of the Island
Builders of the trade
Careful hands
Watchful eyes
Each part playing its role
In beautiful, finished products
God Bless these special artists
Dancing is practiced
Under a full moon sky
Beautiful ladies on Round Island
Perform the moutya
Bonfires burning high
In the Ocean
A view beyond compare
Fish dart through leather coral gardens
Dolphins frolic in deep waters
Come drift away
Heaven on Earth
Azure Waters of the Indian Ocean
Whale sharks
Largest sea fish
Find paths often
Shallow waters they come
The flamingo seen on Aldabra
White-face Fruit Bat
Golden sunset silhouettes
The green turtle
All play a role
In tropical lives
Giant land tortoise
Explores limestone
Fairy tern flies the air
Coral Bird Island
Seychellois People
Lucky Breed
Living in a paradise
Unruined by man’s machines
This place, on the other side
Of a globe
Its existence is literally unknown
Sunbathers can be found
Enjoying the rays beaming down
On sands of D’Arros Island
Bronze bodies rubbed in oil
Lay long side the clear blue waters
Blue pigeon of the Seychelles
Fairly common to see
Mag pie robin
Rarest of the unique
Tourist walk down
Palm shaded La Digue
Lofty interior
St. Mary’s church
The beauty and the joy
Riding the waters
Thrills of wind-surfing
Turquoise waters
Yachts ride anchor off
Shores of Anse Lazio
Sun welcomes islanders
Baie St. Anne
Fishing boats
Bringing daily catches
Golden-silver glass fish
Sweep waters
St. Anne Marine Park
Dazzling aquatic delights
Beau Vallon Beach
Those who live
In ocean homes
Find joy in welcoming
Those in foreign lands
Culture at its best
Coconut palms flourish
Abandoned plantations
Smiling faces
Sunshine Islanders
Typical Seychellois beauty
Tea pickers seen
On verdant hills of Mahe
Forested Aride Island
Bird Sanctuary
Silver painted clock tower
Mist busy streets of Victoria
This idiosyncratic landmark
Erected in loving memory
Queen Victoria
Sprawling up slopes
Pralines highest mountains
Home of the coco de mer
Curiously shaped nut
Waves swirl round
Granite rocks
Guarding glistening coves
To walk along a deserted beach
Evening tide retreats
Lone footprints in the sands
Seychelles beckon us all
Therapy for the body and soul.
Ride the waves
Bathe in its warm goodness

Meditation
All days and afternoons
Slight chill to the bones
You and Nature
No one around
Flannel shirts, hiking boots
Feelings of coming winter
Distant sounds of chainsaws
Trees losing its leaves
For winter sleep
Dormant rest
Walking through the forest
The leaves rustling around the trees
My moment with creation
I sit on a hillside
Evening sun slowly setting
Close my eyes
Realize
Calming effects
Over take stressful times
Uprising in my soul
A squirrel leaps
From tree to tree
It seems nothing to do
This daring feat
Never to fall
To Earths ground
From a branch
That seems to be a mile up
The creature jumps
Only to vanish
Within the maze of the forest
Sitting quietly I see a deer
Unaware I am watching
So glad it still has a home
To bed down and feed in
Raise its young
Legs crossed, a deep breath
Fresh cool air
To know the meaning of life
As John sang of
To fill ones senses
Away from the city
Roaring of a thousand cars
The feeling of no one caring
The pollution released
Into our atmosphere
Industries destroying
Our once pure grounds
Once pure streams
We must hold
To undisturbed forest
For they are like land itself
What we have, is all there is
Meditate in the forest
There with all that’s in it
Behold the hawk
Listen to the sound
Croaking bull frogs
Along the banks
Of a still pond
Things that have always been
Since the beginning
Centuries of the way
That it should stay
Please don’t take it away
Let the forest and streams remain
As I left the woods
I could feel completeness
Satisfaction so divine
My time all by myself
Become reborn
Entering civilization once more
Realize the vast difference
Complete opposites
Escape and meditate
Bring your family along
Go fishing or take a hike
Medicine with healing qualities
Wild turkeys gobble
As they scramble along
Stop to watch them
In their home
The land of the trees
Home of the wild
They will remain
If only we allow
They have their rights
As we do too
Be considerate to all
Not just here
In the great U.S. of A.
Reach out to every country
Close your own eyes
Find contentment your own way
Change the world, for the good

Love
No greater feeling
This thing called love
It can be talked about
Always, yet never understood
Love can be your best friend
At times, an enemy
Can bring a heart joy
Or tear it apart
Something we all need
Sometimes never get
Or have it one day
Then gone with the wind
To lose the love of someone
Brings hurting to the heart
Sometimes never to regain
A thing called trust
Live and learn
Another page is turned
Scars still there
A memory never goes
Nor can it be sold
Yet it exist in all
Some people can’t show it
A life span never shown
Others offer love
In all areas so free
It’s something we all need
How can its glory
Be fully explained
The need for love
Both young and old
The touch of a hand
A smile or a word
Goes so far
One can never know
A heart grows cold
Hardens with age
Love can penetrate
Its very surface
Bringing new life
Like dawning of new day
There is hope
Such peace
In real love
Perhaps love
Is the answer
To worlds problems
Within a grasp
Can it truly be?
Hate will run
At the sight
Fathers, sons,
Mothers, daughters
Embrace after years
Tears of joy
Sweet release
In the name of love
Word so simple
Although made complex
Through mans way
Ever watch a bird
Care for her young?
A life dedicated
A nest of straw
To weather all storms
Protect her young
Sacrifice without ceasing
To accomplish the duty
Til the great day
Its time to fly
Spread its wings
For the mother to love
And to let go
Love can change the course
We are traveling
It brings laughter
Feelings so full
A first love
How great are they
Years go by
They still hold a place
Shall be there
Resting in our hearts
To look into eyes
Of those we love
Offer a prayer each day
That’s why we’re here
Why we breathe
Treasure the moments
One day, it too shall pass
Love can change us, the people
It can make the difference
Living and Dying
Experience its pleasures.

Art of Aspen
The galleries of Aspen
How beautiful to see
There for all of us
Open for you and me
Aspen, Grove Fine Arts
Sardella and Pismo
Are only a few
For us to go
Valley Fine Art
Stanfield at a glance
Come take a tour
Let their art
Make you want to dance
The gallery of Joel Soroka
Baldwin Gallery prints
Museum Works, or the Rodrique Studio
Now can you take a hint?
Let the art here take you away
To a different time, another day
It would take so long
To see it all
Come give it a try
Come one, come all!
Wind River Gallery
Maximillian and 212
Relax in the talents
Isn’t it time you treat yourself?
Harvey/Meadows and Livaspen art too
Come on out
Let it be a part of you
The Omnibus, Royal Street, and Carrie Kaplan are here
To offer up all their Colorado cheer
Aspen Art Museum, Betty Weiss, and Floria Gallery are calling
Come in, get warm, while outside the snow is falling
Elliott Yeary and E.S. Lawrence are two more
Pure elegance in each color when you go through the door
Vail Fine Art in the Hyman Ave. Mall
Come in and see the beauty captured on canvas
There on every wall.
If art is where your heart belongs
With chalk pastels and oil along
With Aspen hospitality too
These galleries are here for you
Each one having a story to tell
On their type of art displayed
They are Aspens Art experts
There’s nothing more to say
When you visit this place
So peaceful and divine
Watch for each gallery
Look for the signs
Make a joyful memory
Visit us now
Come to each one of these places
Put it in your plans some how
You won’t regret their friendly smile
They will make it worth every mile.
So much art, so many places to go
Take it all in, then you’ll know
Why this part of the country
The magnificence to see
From the people who greet you
To the snow covered trees

Just a Cowboy
Should have been born
A hundred years ago
Living out on the prairie
Down in the valley
Smell of the dust
Within the sweat
A feeling of lonesome
Surrounds my very being
I ride the range
My horse and I
Spurs on my boots
Scars on my heart
A love that was lost
Along the way
Without a word
Bitterness consumes the day
With tobacco and jerky
In my saddlebags ride
Days go by
A smile I seldom share
I speak to few
Who knows where I’ll lay my head
As stars cover the night
By a cactus I’ll reside
If only I’d lived
So very long ago
To choose the life
Of an ole cowboy
Riding in the mountains
My gun by my side
To bathe in a creek
Rise at daybreak
The sound of wagon wheels
In a nearby city
Noise of a saloon
Fills the unsettled night
Women and card games
Fill the life
Cowboy long ago
Ride along side
Trains through vacant towns
Forgotten gun battles
Hangmen’s noose
A courtyard tree
Another town
One dollar gold pieces
Pay week wages
Cattle runs
Morgan dollars
Sing in a draw string bag
Tied to my saddle horn
These are the days
Wild wild west
I whistle along
Still, quiet lakes
I am a cowboy
Proud, strong, free
Galloping into each sunset
As it were the last
Suntanned, fit, true
I would not give up this life
For none other

God
Who made this beauty
This land, this place
The hands I use
Or the feet
I walk upon this earth
Who made this galaxy
Planets and stars
Sun and moon
All the people
Many nationalities
Sharing the same feelings
Love and laughter
Communication of life
Who made this
I ask you today
Green pastures
True peace
Blue waters
Every creature, every animal
Snow covered mountains
A cricket, a bullfrog
I ask you now
Who is responsible
Forest in the spring
The gentle breeze
A rain drop falling
On cracked desert soil
No two snow flakes
They always say
Are never alike
Thunderstorms and lighting
Who is all we need?
The beginning, the end
Author and finisher
Who can warm summer days
Chill winter nights
Who has got everyone
Everything in his control?
Who my friend, I ask
Tree’s they grow
Flowers bloom
October rose
Autumn work of art
The bald eagle
Red birds
Blue jays
A singing Bob White
Purple Martins return
In the spring
Who wrote the blueprint
Who made it all
In six short days
Resting on the seventh
The feelings we share
Love for each other
Homes we live in
Money we have
Our very status
With the world today
Who owns this, I cry
Tell me today
Rocky canyons
Fog of the night
Who taught the butterfly
To fly across the meadow
Or gave us our eyes
To behold such beauty
The ability to talk
Walk, think, give
Touch, run, love
Forgive and forget
Who let the love
Of their life
Die on a hill
For someone
As you and I
Love at this Level
Tell me who is this
To give us life
After we die
In a place of peace
Harmony and Grace
Behold a loved one
Hadn’t seen in years
There before us now
Beyond the clouds
A place called, Heaven
Gates of pearl
Walls of jasper
Streets of Gold
This life is but a blur
An optical illusion
To truly realize
Short troublesome life
To endless eternity
Who, I ask you
My earthly friend
We were made in his image
Often we fail
Hide our face
This divine spirit
Full of love
Beckons us
Come home
Suppertime
Who I ask
Tis God
Rock of Ages
Every eye shall see him
In rolling clouds
Our knee shall bow
Now or then
But it shall
Offer thanks
Blessed thanks!
If you can see
These words I try writing
You are blessed.
Be thankful
Give thanks with a Grateful heart
He will hear
Your plea today
Just don’t turn away
He cares for you and I
Though mistakes we’ve made
Too many to count
God will never leave us.

Calypso
Jacques Cousteau was many things
French naval officer, researcher
Explorer was he
Ecologist, photographer, film maker
Captain Cousteau studied the sea
All life forms within the waters
On Calypso he did ride
Exploring great waters
Of the planet
Discovery and new ways
Underwater photography
"Calypso-Phot"
An oceanographic technician
Lover of nature
Co-developer of the aqua-lung
Pioneer of marine conservation
An album called Windsong
Released in seventy-five
John Denver sang his tribute
How true the words
Living here on land
We must learn
From water and its life within
Jacques opened up the world
Beneath the sea
Pleasant French accent
Voice of the sea
He felt like an angel
When he would dive
We honor you on this day
I see your red wool cap now
Extraordinary spirit
Stood in defense of nature
His philosophy influenced
All generations around
Seas as we know them
An enchanter, a legend
Captain, we think of you
Countless accomplishments
Bringing the ocean
And all its glory
To millions worldwide
Seeing this life
From only their home
As you left, sir
From life as you had known
The silent world
Knowledge learned, invested
In your sixty year odyssey
Deep blue sea
Common touch you gave
Man fish you became
The living sea
The ocean world of Jacques Cousteau
Lifetime of invention
Storytelling, exploration
The Cousteau Society
Our tribute
Our love
Our best
A tribute to Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Farewell
I bid Farewell
Infant days
Crying all night
Crawling along
Being carried in the arms
Covered snugly from the cold
Strollers in the park
I bid farewell
School days, puppy love
Days of the golden rule
Proms, dances, graduations
I bid Farewell
Friends who get lost
Along life’s way
Those who touch your life
Only a while
Before they too
Leave to live their lives
Bless the friends
Who never leave your side
Those with you til life’s end
I bid Farewell
To games of love
Usher in the bonds of marriage
To have and to hold
Forever and always
One true love
Children, home, true love
Commitment from one
Last a lifetime
I bid Farewell
To mistakes I’ve made
Those whom I’m loved
Who paid the price
Family and friends
Begging forgiveness
My imperfection, my flaws
Shine through like diamonds
To regain ones trust
Sometimes hard
I bid Farewell
To my job
Security for years
Food on my table
As years toll
Brings retirement
Golden years
Grandchildren, fishing trips
Quiet walks with my better half
Forgotten lanes of my life
Once again, restored
Relived, relished
Years of enjoyment
No time clocks
Alarm clocks no more
Coffee and newspapers
House shoes and Borkum Riff
I bid Farewell
My very life
It comes to a close
The end of an era
Life is a vapor
You see it, then its gone
All you’ve worked for
Your possessions
No longer owned
By the one once having
To slip into eternal rest
Beneath an oak tree
In a cemetery lying
The wooded landscape
Church in the wildwood
A family gathered
Only to remember
Better days
Another time
All dressed in black
Paying respects
To a lifeless man
Once had it all
My Final Farewell
Entering a new world
A new home
Heaven with angels
Home with God
Worth it all
In the end
Smile at the moment
You, too bid Farewell
To an old world
Offers pain sometimes
Hardships
I bid Farewell
Accept total peace

This Old School House
Its all still the same
Fifty years unchanged
Tin roof on a gym
Housing generations
Ball playing and proud parents
The refs whistle
Echoes through wooden bleachers
Old gas heaters
Cold winter mornings
P.E. and kick ball
The gangs all here
Friends that will last
An entire life
Never leaving ones heart
A mind content
Memories bringing laughs
They never end
Playground, see-saws
Swings, merry-go-rounds
Years of happy children
Jumping rope
Softball in the flat
The old school house
Still the same
Wood grain floors
Ancient auditorium
Recital, plays, carnivals
Year to year
ABC’s, 123's,
The sound of a paddling
Heard in vacant hallways
From a near distance.
Smell of lunch
Down the hall
Into the rooms
Day to day growing
Body and minds
Forming from the start
Chalk boards, wooden desk
Teacher always know best
Book satchels and backpacks
Fill classrooms eager to learn
Old metal lunch boxes
Line wooden shelves
Awaiting the twelve o’clock hour
Recess and yard games
To run along the field
By the nearby railroad track
To hear the lonesome whistle blow
Third period Science
Passing notes
Sharing secrets
The Old school house
There’s really no change
Only the faces
All the rest remains
It’ll probably stand
Years to come
Its always nice
To go down
On its grounds
Look around
Remember the times

To Remember Mardy Murie
Bless this lady
For she will always be
In the heart of many
Interest in her land
Blessed Alaska
The love for her beloved
Olaus Murie
Frozen tundra
Dancing in the moonlight
Song for all lovers
Considered by all
Mother of the American Conservation Movement
A life of 101 years
Made a real difference
The world we know today
A Love for Alaska
Lady who took conservation
Along with wildlife
To levels beyond compare
Champion for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Americans wilderness
Mrs. Mardy, she was a member
Wilderness Society’s Governing council
Alaska National Interest Lands Act
Soon was passed
Protecting millions of acres
Wild Alaska
As parks and refuges.
This sweet lady
Heart so big
Made her own mark
In a special way
Relationship of friendship
Grew greatly within
Between Mrs. Mardy
John Denver
Both sharing important issues
Land and forest
Unchanging of the wilderness
A friend indeed
Was he to her
Sweet Kind words
Spoken and sung
In 1998, she was awarded
White House ceremony
Presidential Medal of freedom
God Bless Mardy Murie
Hard work put forth
Never in vain it was
Important stepping stones
Making a difference
In bright todays
Coming tomorrows
To the ages ahead
She left us all
In two thousand and three
Her journey was long
Now at home
We will miss you
Shall never forget
Your tireless accomplishments.

A Longing for Home
I travel the world
I’ve seen it all
Fifty states
Abroad
Other countries
I’ve stood on a stage
Felt the lights
Slept in hotels
Buses, limos
Not slept at all
Meet all the people
Shook hands each day
Signed autographs
Turned and walked away
Tasted the foods
Fine foods, fast too
All of this
I still feel
A longing for home
This fame is great
To be known everywhere
To set up again
In another foreign land
To sing the songs
Play guitar out loud
To smile and dress up
In my wardrobes finest
All these things
So awesome
Most all the time
Bring a thrill
But I stop and wish
I was back home again.
My home is not fancy
No glittering lights
Just a dog
And a clothesline
White picket fence
All around
Clock going tick tock
Quietly in the hall
Small garden
In my back yard
Tomatoes, peppers, and okra
Summertime pleasures
Then its back out again
Leavin on a jet plane
Not knowing when I will return
Leaving family, my friends
Rejoining my musical band
Feeling lonely once again
It’s my life
Joy to perform
Yet hard to accept
Deep within me
Still burns so strong
A longing for home
Sunday mornings
Sound of the bell
Ringing inside a steeple
Families slowly walking,
Greeting one another
Assembling again
To hear Gods unchanging word
Dinner on the ground
Picnic basket
Soft summer winds
Blow our faces
As it feels good
Togetherness
Closeness
To be home
With family or alone
To feel the touch
Of a son
Hugging your neck
Saying "Dad, I’m so glad you’re back."
With all the equipment
Loaded safely in its place
Knowing soon, we’ll be leaving
To do it all again
I, can say and mean it
I’ve got a Longing for home.
To drop by my parents
See Dad raking leaves outside
Or smell the aroma
Of mama’s homemade apple pie
To see everyone
I’ve known for years
Wave and smile
Wishing me the best
People who go back a lifetime
As I enter another strange city
It feels cold again
To try to make a connection
With their feelings is hard
On the stage I’ll try again
Sing my song out loud
Thirty thousand looking at me
The spotlight shining bright
Its just me, and my guitar
I want to do it right.
Through the smoke
All the flashing lights
Screaming voices heard so well
I wonder if its worth it all
As I try and deliver my best
The fans are great
They pay my bills
This is my life
Sometimes I feel the chill
The longing of home
To lay in my own bed
To hold my precious wife
The one who’s raised our children
When I haven’t always been there
To walk out in the yard
Hear a Whimper-will
Sit in my swing
On the front porch
These are the things
In which I Love
Walk down a dirt road
Smell honeysuckles on the vine
Days of summer are here
They are so divine
A moment all alone
In the dark
No one around
My family fast asleep
I walk through the darkness
Feeling the fullness
This thing called love
Like none other
All the fame
The Money
Fancy life style
Means nothing
Compared to this feeling now
This longing for home
Its always here
In my heart
In my soul
No denying it
Nor suppressing it
The love of home
Love of family
Love of my roots
Planted firmly in this ground
Will never die
If all I have
Does ever pass from me
The things that matter
Most of all
Shall prevail
For one things for sure
The longing for home
Shall always be

Old Folks
Ever look into an old persons eyes?
Comprehend the knowledge
Hidden deep within
Some have lived
Around a century or so
The wisdom they have
Within their soul
Some speak very little
Others not at all
There is nothing like
The presence of an old one
They have lived so very long
Any subject they can give their thought
Most of the time they are right
They’ve seen the world
In many conditions
World War two
The Great Depression
To see it now
The shape its in
Brings a tear
To their wrinkled face
Many say we’re near the end
To hold their hand
Spend a moment
Listen to their words
Often overlooked
They surely know
Solutions
In a politically correct world
We surely live
Listen closely
Don’t overlook
They hold answers
To troubled situations
Thin skinned hands
Reaching out
Wanting love
Like those young
Hear then
Listen
Old Folks
Such wisdom possessed
Do they hold answers?
Simple solutions
Gray and white hair
So many is denied
They have made it
This far
Can we do the same?
So when one speaks
Hear what they say
The words they speak
Could make a difference today
Love them and listen
For they have seen it all
Let their words have meaning
Give them a chance
For they’ve been here longer
They have to know
I ask today
Cherish the old.

Mothers
They are in a class
All of their own
The giver of life
Bringer into the world
A love like no other
Stick with you til the end
Even if you’re wrong
They’re by your side
Flesh and blood
This bond can’t stop
The love of a mother
Always there
Never to lead you wrong
Giving kind words
Loving you forever
When the world
Deals its hard blows
A mothers hand
Its there
An entire life
Never-ending
Moments to share
Send a card
A rose today
Never let the love
Of a dear Mother
Fade away
For when she’s gone
You’ll wish you had
Today’s the day
Love your Mom

Peace on Mother Earth
Peace has been a word
Heard all our life
It has been sought for
Never to be grasp fully
Wars through the years
Some never explained
Loss of life
Its been the cost
Mothers sons and daughters
Ended by the gun
It brings to mind
Familiar song
What the world needs now
Love sweet Love
This thing called war
Its been too long
Lives sacrificed
Many with no cause
Let Peace ring
Through every nation
Let the song
Ring loud
High above the plains
Across the waters
War as we know it
History through the dawning of existence
Work to extinguish the barriers
Any situation, quickly resolved
Meet on neutral ground
Coming together
Listen with the peace of love
To achieve peace
Would be so great
To put an end
Needless death
Bring our brothers and sisters
Home again
Safely securely
To the land of the free
Home of the brave
Let peace reign
Not only here
No! But worldwide
Covering the globe
There is hope
Always within grasp
Do your part
My friend, in Love
Support our men, our women
Their duties, their sacrifices
Most of all
Pray for an end
End to war
Violence, terrorism
To all evil
Never lose vision
Let our children
Our generations to come
Begin to see a new world
One where Love is found
And does abide
In the hearts of all

Family Fun
The joy it brings
With the family along
Way up in the mountains
To get away from the hustle
Experience natures paintbrush
Take off your shoes
Walk through a crystal clear creek
Water rippling over the stones
To sit on the banks
No particular place to go
There is no need for a time piece
Golden sun is our watch
Cane and pole
To watch the wonder
Sons and daughters eyes
As the float begins to disappear
Cane bends in their hand
Excitement soars
In your youngsters soul
As your basket begins to fill
From a good day at the water
To hike high up a mountain
Your wife, your kids
Enjoying the sounds
Not found in the city
The sounds of the birds
Singing from a branch
Perhaps the awesome view
Crane sitting atop a stump
In the middle of a solemn lake
To view these things
Beauty found with nature
A view we must keep
To never change or take away
Build a campfire
Listen to it pop
In the summer night
See its burning embers
Sit around its flames
Tell stories, sing songs
Play a stringed instrument
In the middle of no where
Beans cooking slowly
In cast iron pots
A tent stands ready
To bring a good nights rest
With everything there
We think we may need
Tis good to give up
Great comforts of home
To rough it in the great outdoors
Makes one strong
Confident within themselves
Better people, better citizens
Knowing the dangers
One could come across
A snake or a bear
Or a slip down a hillside
Our duties, dear men
Offer help and guidance
For our dear wife and kids
Because you know
That you’ll always be back again

Milt Okun
Another kind soul
John Denver’s friend
He was there with "Jitterbug"
From beginning to end
Loved Johns talent
With him his entire career
Producer and arranger
For John, he was always near
He’d discuss with John his songs
Offer his advice
Sometimes they’d make a change
John would always be so nice
He knew John possessed a talent
That comes few and far between
He also knew John loved his guitar
Almost more than anything
From John’s first audition
Til the day he died
Milt was in his company
Right there by his side
One thing about John’s music
One could hear it, and just feel good
He could make a Gibson talk to him
Something made only of metal and wood.
As Mr. Okun would agree
John’s music and voice
It was the best
Don’t take my word for it, my friend
Listen to him for yourself
Perfectness, and a voice so crisp

Old Man Winter
He’s old as old can be
Since the start of time
He visits us all
One time a year
Bringing cold weather
Sleet and snow
Paints our windows
Each night with a brush
His fancy art
It stays there
Til next days rising sun
He brings out extra clothing
From closets everywhere
Sometimes he even makes us sick
Putting us in doctors care
Old Man Winter
He’s loved by some
In many cases though
He is disliked by many
This man can wave his magic wand
Causing a blizzard
To fall in hours
He closes schools and businesses
In only a few hours
Brings joy in a child’s heart
Endless hours of snowmen
Snowball fights, skating
On solid frozen lakes
To ride a sled
Down a hillside
Along with friends
Laughing as the speed increases
Worth the wait
Walking to the highest point
Only to plunge down
The snow covered incline
The bitter cold
Brings scarfs and toboggans
This brief season
Lasting only a few months
Definitely not denied
Snowflakes falling
Old Man Winter
Calling the shots
Driving sometimes hard
Stalling on the road
Awaiting someone’s help
This season, this man
Will pass as seasons change
December through February
Old Man Winters
Hardest, coldest months
My favorite season
All of nature asleep
The trees, the grass
Stalled in growth
Not dead
Only awaiting
A sunny day
Soon coming
All the cold
The winter threat
Soon to pass
Old Man Winters
Artwork and talents
Soon to be
A distant memory
The chill and agony
Soon filled with warmer times
Keep it in mind
This is but a season
Only to pass
Better days
Coats and gloves
Will pass away
Icicles
Melting off house tops
A gentle reminder
Winter will go away
Its bite is real
Weather so cold
Hard to bear
Look beyond
Surely realize
Driving conditions
Will be relieved
By spring time day
Hold on to the fact
This is only a season
Shots are called
Old Man Winter
He will surely pass away
Soon, there will come
Warm summer days.

Barn Dance
It happens every Saturday night
Guitars, banjos, violins
Tuned to perfection
Sawdust floors
Livestock around us
Bluegrass fills the air
Marked with chalk
Country-style cake walk
Old men trade stories
Whittle cedar sticks
Bails of hay
Chairs for all
Bantam chickens scurry
High loft to roost
As the day retires
Sun setting in the western skies
Music made to enjoy
Children dancing with moms
Laughing, holding hands
To the sounds of strings
Uncle Joe picks up
Mountain Dulcimer
Sings "Grandmas Dulcimore"
Captive audience
Families from town
Lantern lit stage
Every weekend
Unwind from the work week
Sing the songs of long ago
Melodies within a barn
The love of a friend is here

Fall
Most beautiful time
Yellow, red, orange
Fill our land
Leaves blow away
Like years flying by
The familiar chill
Football’s here
Days grow short
As dark falls soon
The colors painted
This time of year
Awesome, beautiful
Pumpkins displayed
Farmers pickups
This time brings a season
Prepare for the winter
Trees become bare
Sleeping six months
Awaiting spring
The sweet sounds
Of the whistling wind
Outside my window
Lying still in bed
Quietly I am made aware
Autumn is here
October bringing a child’s tradition
Ghost and goblins
Hurry down neighborhood streets
Costumed figures
For just one night
Exclaim, "Trick or treat"
All these things
For all they are
My favorite time
To usher away summer
Enter a special time
Hold a love
Within your arms
Under a street light
Burning so bright
Let this season
Celebrate itself
Within all
For soon, winter
In its own way
Shall overtake
Rule the day
With the night
Each season comes
Then it goes away
Autumn, my favorite time
Long sleeve shirts
First time all year
Morning frost on the windshield
Breath steaming as you talk
Early morning sidewalks
Take a deep breath
Relax, enjoy the scenery
Again, enjoy natures show
Just for you
Don’t let this time pass
Take in what’s before you

What does the Future Hold?
How great it would be
To really know
Gaze into a crystal ball
See the future
What really will come
How long will I live
Would it be good to see
Or bring regret to know
The plans for the years
Ahead of our live’s
Our children’s fate
Where they will live
Work, and marry
If one could see
Truly for themselves
To stand and watch
A son drive away
First time alone
Out of sight
Busy highway
To let go
Agree its time
His hands on the wheel
We finally realize
Stage of growing up
We must trust them
For within them
We will always be
What lies ahead
I have to ask
Will they make a wrong choice
Take the wrong road
I wonder still
In time of war
When will it end
And be no more
A mothers heart
Full of grief
A fallen soldier
Their own flesh and blood
May I ask
What does the future hold?
The jobs we go to
Each day of our life
Uncertain and unknowing
If they also shall last
Our money, our checking
Our savings and 401k
The stocks and bonds
Will they pay off one day?
How about our country
The forest and the streams
In a hundred years
Will they remain?
So much development
More land gone
To build another Quick Stop
Next to another one
We see a deer
In the middle of town
Its cover is gone
No where to run
Twenty years ago
It wasn’t this way
The deer had its woods
To live in
Raise its young
Overpopulation
Where will all the people live?
Rising cost of living
Price of oil
Skyrocketing health care
Crime in the streets
No love can be found
If we could only
Look to the sky
To see what the future holds
A man who has his family
Within the walls
Of his home
For at that moment
He has everything
Couldn’t ask for more
For a spirit outside
Always lurking
To destroy or cut down
All we have
The things we believe in
No, it’s true
We know not what the future holds
But know who holds the future
I speak of a spirit
Beyond the galaxy
One who hears
Every work spoken
One who cares for you
He knew you before
You ever existed
If man could trust
This one I speak of
The future itself
Would surely be
In Perfect hands
Who will care for us?
Young and old
Middle aged
If only we could know
Days ahead shall hold
Provisions made
Accommodate hardships
Take pleasure
Today’s joys
Events of life
Have watchful eyes
To see uncertainties
Sense danger
In all its disguises
Know that control
Is the upper hand
Strive to secure
Happiness
Save our future
In all aspects
People
Our planet
The environment

Things Taken for Granted
A goodnight kiss
Old peoples advice
Children’s laughter
Church bells ringing
Hugs from grandparents
A hot meal
A walk through a nature trail
To see a rainbow
Grow our own food
Electricity
Indoor plumbing
Love of a true friend
Warm house
Safe water to drink
New shoes
A gift at Christmas
Phone call just to day "Hi"
Old pictures in the attic
First bicycle
Just some of the things
There’s so many more
The list is truly endless
Ability to open a door
Too many times our love
Gets tossed over to the side
No matter how we make it known
Or how long that we’ve tried
Don’t take for granted anything
It could all be taken away
Live each day like it is your last
It’ll bring you better days

A Faraway Star
Look up in the sky
Pick a star
Give it a name
Call it "Friend"
Each star they say
Larger than our beloved planet
Cast your worries
All your cares
On this twinkling beauty
Make a wish
Gaze at your star
Millions of miles away
Yet close enough
Its light is shown
Existing for years
In galaxies afar
This friend you’ve picked
To talk to
This brilliant shining star
Every now and then
One takes a trip
Across the dark night sky
Shooting star
Its speed is great
Each in perfect pattern
Having a reason
To hang in Earth’s view
Make a wish tonight
May all your dreams come true

Goodnight Wishes
Every night about nine
A bed-time story
Kiss on the check
A precious son
Only three
My best friend
Talk about everything
Build castles
In a land far away
Hunted in the depths
Of the jungle
Right there in his room
One night he called out
"Come here daddy"
Sitting by his side
Eyes big as saucers
Words came forth
Sharp as a sword
I want so much to see
You and mommy together again
Words hard to find
Unlike those of Winnie-the-Pooh
Three Little Pigs, or Little Red Riding Hood
I took him in my arms
Seeing the years ahead of him
Anticipating an answer
I searched for what to say
His head on my shoulder
The lump in my throat
It’s the children that suffer
In a cold uncaring world
Standing in silence
All I could say
Son, I love you
And Daddy will see
That’s all I could do
The minute we shared
With a Mickey Mouse night light
No matter what
You’ll always be
Daddy’s little man
Where life may take you
I’ll follow along
If you ever need me
Know that I will be there
By your side
When you stumble
Let me catch you
When you fall
I will pick you up
Dust you off
Make it okay once again
My son has a purpose
A reason to live
A place in the world
Chance to grow
To be everything he can.
How I wish I could
Wave a big magic wand
Bring Mommy and Daddy
Back together
Just like your wish
Son, in this room tonight
Love is all around you
Protecting you in the night
It sleeps with you
Tis with you when you leave
Although I’m just a call away
Sometimes a call is not what you need
The bottom line
Know that you’re loved
If mommies not with us
The way she used to be
You and I can weather the storms
We are a team
Prevailing above all troubles
Coming out on top
Just as in these bedtime stories
We can be anything
Its true in real life
My precious son
As you get older
You’ll surely see
I am your Dad
This will never change
One day when you no longer
Want to hold Daddy’s hand
Remember my son
You will always be
Daddy’s Little Man
One of these days
My time will pass
No longer to walk on this Earth
My words silenced
To be remembered
Only by those who remain
The mountains I love
Rivers and streams
Forevermore shall be
I am only a man
Earthly being
Born to die
One day a voice will come
An angel on a mission
Beckoning me to greener fields
Clearer waters
Higher living
Until then I remain
Trying to understand
Mans way of life
Disappointments on every hand
Daily battles with the living
Seeking an answer
To yet simple problems
One day shall be no more
For as I leave
Comes a better place
One so peaceful
Full of rest
Joy and love will reside
In a place called Paradise


One Stormy Night
A night filled with heavy rain
Lightning all around
In deep sleep I fell
Thunder shook my window pane
As in my dream you had left
Searching for you
Town to town
A night you left
Saying your goodbyes
In desperation
I longed to see
Your smile once again
Holding you in my arms
Never to let you go
Heart racing frantically
Running down busy streets
Looking for you
Begging your return
Why did you go?
With all I had to offer
My love and my home
You walked away
As the stormy night
Continued its fury
My search intensified
Finally it was over
Standing before me
Your divine beauty
Locks of blonde hair
Braided down your back
On a hillside we stood
Embracing in the moment
A love once lost
Found again
To return to me
Sharing our love once more
As the storm passed
Daybreak
Only a dream
Lying safe beside me
The one I love
Sometimes a dream
Yet seems so real
Dividing it from reality
Often hard
Its message can be taken
Used, or prevented
The stormy night
Dream I had
Gave me a message
Keep love strong at home
Let her know
No one else will do
Help her make
Her dreams come true
Out of everyone
In the world today
She had chose you
Protect, cherish, and love
Three things you must do
Then on all these stormy nights
You will make it through

"Guitar Lessons in Heaven"
Oh what a glorious day
It must have been
The day the angels in Heaven
Got to call John their friend
To welcome him home
And take his hand
Guide him around
In the special land
Where no one gets sick
Death is no more
Peace is all around
Inside each and every door
Seeing folks you know
They all now have wings
This kingdom so limitless
You can do anything
Travel the years
Way back in time
Go forward a century
Letting years unwind
The angels are so happy
Guitar lessons in heaven
Six angels as students,
No, here comes number seven
They sit on a cloud
As slowly it drifts by
He sang, "Sweet Surrender"
While the angels cried
Such beauty in his voice
The music sounding so dear
One angel spoke to us, saying
"John, we’re so glad you’re here"
He taught his secrets to them
On a Gibson Hummingbird
The angels nodded in agreement
Most beautiful music they’d ever heard
Johns spirit and attitude
It still goes unchanged
His playing and his singing
Nothings been rearranged
The angels are really lucky
To have a special man
To teach them all the chords
Encourage them that they can
These guitar lessons are free
Nothing to be bought
All John’s looking for
Is an interest to be sought
His love for people
Shines bright as a star
He tells them as he teaches
Your special just as you are
His class is getting larger
Many angels want to learn to play
There’s room there for everyone
He smiles and says, "We’ll find a way."
So much he wants to share
Willing to give his all
Singing about nature
Or the mountains tall
One day we will see you again
We’re just a heart beat away
So gather the angels together in Heaven
And teach them all to play

My Lady So Sweet
My wife, my companion
Standing by me for years
Overlooking countless imperfections
Only to continue her love
What seems to be til eternity
How do I deserve
A lady such as she
Christian values spring forth
Battling each day
My devilish ways
Thirty years of working hard
In a world that doesn’t care
Only finds me at the end of the day
Hot meal and a smile
That I’ve never deserved
Her Bible rest on her night stand
She reads as I only fall asleep
Praying on her knees without ceasing
While I’m the one dying inside
Why didn’t she get a good man
While assuring me that she did
We all know better
Never admitting I’m the one who is right
She blows out the coal oil lamp
Kissing me goodnight
Sunday comes around
She’s up before dawn
Putting on her Sunday best
As I lay there
Letting her go alone
For I’m the one who needs a touch
Could God even hear me now?
I haven’t talk to him
Since I was a child
I doubt he’d remember
Just who I am
I hear he listens
That he’s always got time
What about for the truly wicked?
I don’t see how or why?
With our two little ones
They ask me, "Dad, are you going today?"
Excuses playing a big part of my life
Casually I say "Daddy don’t feel good"
As my children walk away
My wife deserves better
Why did she pick me
A common man, a sinner
Disgrace for my family
God does have mercy
He goes the extra mile
So maybe he’s not through with me
He could make me loving and kind
Lord, if you’re up there
Not to busy to look down
Have compassion on a hard cold heart
Allow my spirit to come around
One day I will leave here
Too late to change then I know
Mold me like a piece of clay
One day save my sinful soul.

America My Home
I could have been born just anywhere
I know I’m a lucky man
Lives that have been given
So we can have freedom
Often overlooked
Their priceless sacrifices
To die in a land
That isn’t their own
A mother’s cry
So far from home
Suicide bomber
Roadside bombs
Precious lives of our own soldiers
Taken from our families
One by one
It’s sad to say
Sometimes it really seems
As though no one cares
Oh, how can this be
A soldier
Young age, eighteen years old
Killed in line of duty
From enemies blow
I am proud to be an American
It’s time that we all stand
Let the world know what we believe in
Support our men and women
In foreign lands
Let us not forget that day
Nine eleven, two thousand and one
Countless lives lost
At our enemies hands
Our country came together
Bonding closely for days to come
It seems as if we have drifted
Far from hearts of our neighbors
Fallen asleep once again
We cannot forget
It wasn’t a dream
Twin towers under deliberate attack
I still see the smoke
Rising into the sky
The thousands there
In a single day
To their families
Had to say goodbye
Just don’t forget
The brave ones everyday
Fighting for good reasons
Support them
Don’t throw your thoughts
For any of them away
Lets hope for an end
So our people can come home
For they too have families to love
Children they want to see grow
Show your patriotism
Never ever let it die
Support our American troops
Don’t ask yourself why.

Children’s Laughter
How sweet the sound
The joy it brings inside
At the local city park
Schoolyards playground
Hopscotch, skipping rope
Running through a field
Wild flowers in bloom
To hear the sound
Laugh never seeming to end
From those not knowing "Hate"
Free as a sparrow
Living each day
With a new adventure
New songs in their heart
Birthday parties
Candy canes
Daddy’s hat looks funny
Too small for his head
Mom sings a song
A little off key
So we laugh
Have a day
Filled with priceless fun
Laughter is good
It’s a natural thing
A child’s laughter
Sweeter than anything
Cherish and enjoy it
For youth is a blur
Capture it and hold it
Close to your heart.

Mountains of Tennessee
The Great Smoky Mountains
A picture of sheer greatness
Days pass like minutes
So much to see
In such little time
To spend a night at High Chalet
A bear hurries down the road side
Mountain life, how sweet it would be
Stay there for a year
Taking in all
There which is offered
The Comedy Barn theater
Black Bear Jamboree
Blackwood Brothers
So much to see
Triumphant Quartet
Gospel for the soul
Country Tonite
Sweet music
Filling the mountain air
Canoe and tube tours
If the water
Is what you like
Elvis Museum & Gift Shops
For fans of the King
Space Needle
Over three hundred forty feet tall
Breath taking views
You deserve to take a trip today
White water rafting
If you want to take a ride
Ride America’s largest tramway
View the mountain sides
Cade’s Cove Community
Take a beautiful drive
Brilliant fall colors
Spring time waterfalls
Clearest scenic views of winter
Family attractions galore
Dinosaur Walk Museum
Forbidden caverns too
Muscle Car Museum
So many things
Escape and explore
East Tennessee
Endless shows in Pigeon Forge
The fun at Dollywood
This feeling so refreshing
You’ll leave feeling all brand new
Hopefully you’ll find yourself
Coming back real soon
The folks here will do their best
To help in anyway
From the food to entertainment
There’s not much more to say
Most of all it’s the mountains
They cannot be denied
No matter what time of year
This paradise always shines.

"Beauty Deep Within"
Its not a persons possessions
All that they may have
The car they drive
A title after their name
Three story house
Outskirts of town
We judge each other
By all these things
The way that they may look
Beauty lies deep inside
In places you cannot see
For everyone is beautiful
Some having more than others
We must search within ourselves
Revealing our own beauty
Search within the ones
We come together with
Throughout of lives
Material things will always pass away
They are borrowed for a while
Beauty is the words spoken
Actions displayed
Within us all
Although we strive
Having the things we need
Things we enjoy
Never lose focus
True beauty
Living in our minds and souls.

"Often Heard the Stories"
We’ve all heard familiar stories
Hard times of the past
No cars, no shoes
The hard times
Of days gone by
Never locking your home
When going to town
Picking cotton all day long
Little pay, its reward
Walking to and home from school
No matter how hot or cold
Safe from danger
From anyone you would pass
A beggar coming to your door
Only wanting a piece of bread
To take them in and feed them
As they left with a thankful heart
Money was slim
Homes were full of love
As television not yet to be
Sitting around an old radio
Listening to stories
Images inside your mind
Visions as you would see them
One day a week
A trip to town
To get the things you need
To see the first automobile
Pass down an old dirt road
To walk out and see the tire tracks
In front of your three room home
Were people really happier then
Without the luxuries of today
I wonder so many times
For it wasn’t that long ago
To raise all the food you’ll eat
When the ground is covered in snow
The youth today find it hard to believe
What we call the "Good ol days"
Buying the material
To make a dress
Riding a horse
To a sawmill
Raising a family of ten
Would things be better
I really wonder
If it was this way again
When people really loved
Their fellow man
A handshake was better
And meant much more
Than a name signed
On a piece of paper
These days may be gone
To me they still matter
As I too grow older
And hope much wiser
These stories I hold onto
All the days I have remaining.

"Blue Ridge Mountains"
Almost Heaven West Virginia
New River Gorge
Second oldest river
In the world
White water rafting
Great fishing
Rock climbing
Bridge day
Parachute the 876 feet
To its river below
Romantic getaways
Dining and shopping
Town of Bramwell
Mercer County
Three state parks
Railroad and coal heritage
Davis, West Virginia
Timberline Four Seasons Resort
Winter skiing, snowboarding
Allegheny Mountains, Pocahontas County
Forest, natural wonders,
Fairmont in Marion County
Two state parks
Rails to trails
Its all here
Come today
West Virginia
Wild and wonderful
Winter wonderland
In the land of West Virginia

Grandma’s Empty House
Standing inside
Vacant rooms
Once filled with family
Sunday dinners
St. Louis Cardinals
On a kitchen table
Black and White
Pitching silver dollars
In the evening sun
Brothers and sisters
All their children
All the home cooking
Prepared with love
A spoonful away
House built by grandpa
So long ago
Thousands fo memories
Rush through my mind
As now darkness
Fills empty rooms
Silence surrounds a living room
Where Christmas trees
Stood gracefully
Over generations of children
The years have come
They’ve quickly gone
Grandma and grandpa
Already gone on
If I could call back
The good times
I know I surely would
I still see the gang
Here in my thoughts
Sitting on the front porch
I hear grandma calling
Through the front screen door
Her voice almost heard
As I sit on the front steps
Once happy times
Seems they’re gone away
Children grown up now
With children of their own
Never know the memories
I have known
As a child
Wouldn’t trade these times
For silver or gold
Always this empty house
Will be in my heart
No matter how the years go by
Or as I grow old
I walk along the yard
Feel so good today
To know the people
I have known
So proud they came my way
Although this house is empty
I will never forget
The love of my Grandma
She will always be
Within my spirit for always.

"Wedding Day"
Today I will marry
Be joined as one
In the presence of folks
Smiling faces all around
Organ playing softly
As people assemble
Golden bands
Man of God
Roses and white doves
Beautiful wife to be
Perfect in my eyes
White dress, baby breath
As all stands, and turns
Moment has come
Ceremony begins
Best man by my side
Wedding cast
Enter the sanctuary
Tears of happiness
Flash of a cameras bulb
Making her way to me
Realizing it is meant to be
Joining hands
Taking our vows
Two lives entwined
My sweet lady
Turning to the crowd
Exit the room
To live with the one
God joined together
Two lives forever

"The Dream"
A Short Story


Chapter 1
"Getting There"
The vacation that my family and I needed so desperately had finally come. We had decided through a year-long process that this year it would be Colorado. Never been, so I thought it would be perfect. We waited til summer passed, and the fall of the year arrived. I wanted to wait til the heat wave passed, and also wanted to catch the trees as they began to show off during Autumn. My name is Bob Wilson. I’m your average middle-class guy. I’m married, my wife’s name is Shelley, and we have three children. Robert is sixteen, Tim’s thirteen, and Cindy is ten. I had saved vacation days and money too, for an entire year for this. I’ve always loved the outdoors, camping, hiking, and so has the kids. The only problem I’ve found is that I have never made enough time to do these things. This year, things were going to be different. I had every thing packed that I thought we’d need from snake bite kits and compasses to survival knives and bottled water. I had literally packed our Ford Expedition with enough stuff, I thought, to stay a month or longer. Our vacation was planned for a full seven days. My wife and I took turns on the driving, while the kids slept or played video games in the back. The feeling of being together and the week full of adventure surely was ahead of us. The radiant sun beamed down through our windshield as we entered the magical destination of our long drive. There it was before us, Aspen, Colorado. Only before, I had caught its beauty through magazines or on the net. This was about to all come to an end. A feeling of relaxation began to take over my very being. It was a good clean feeling. One that would have to experience for themselves to the anticipation of everything we were going to do, along with the wife and kids ready to sit by the campfire, and watch the stars, were all about to finally unfold. We arrived late in the evening, and signs of darkness were beginning to show. We all decided the first night of our trip would be spent in a Hotel. We were all hungry and tired. I just wanted to find a nice place to eat, get a hot shower, and hit the bed. We were all tired. The kids, surprisingly were tired also. I found that to be a strange thing, but glad we were all on the same page on this. We checked into a hotel, making this the first thing, taking only the things we needed inside. After we got baths, changed clothes, and rested just for about an hour, we were off to find a place to eat. We ended up stopping at a place called Hickory House Ribs. This is Shelley’s favorite dish, and my favorite thing to fix for her on my grill at home. I can grill some of the best ribs, I think as good as anyone with my own special recipe rub that I came up with myself. Anyway, to say the least, the food there was awesome, the service was great, and we all left stuffed. After eating, all I wanted to do was to go back to our hotel, get a good night sleep, and head up into the mountains. We had seven days to explore this great place and I was going to make it as enjoyable as I could for my family too. We drove back to our destination, watched a little television, and then called it a night. Shelley and I laid there in bed, and discussed where we thought it would be the best place to make our campsite. I was an expert on setting up camp. I had went along on my camping trips back home in Tennessee. A good friend on mine was a boy scout leader, and I had went with him and his group of scouts in the summer and winter both, and spent many nights in the wild. My boys were scouts too, in which I was very proud. It was something that I never experienced myself, as a youngster, so I was glad to see my two sons growing up in such a great organization. I felt so good knowing that finally we were here. The "Beverly Hills of the Rockies", I had read in a brochure. Even though I had never been here before, I knew I would come back again. I slept so good that night, just as the rest of the gang. The next morning, we went down on the bottom floor to enjoy the breakfast they prepare for the ones staying in the hotel. The kids and I loaded up our belongings, while Shelley turned in the key at the front desk. The remaining six nights, we were going to be in the great outdoors, experiencing the magic, the awesomeness of Gods creation here in Aspen, Colorado. For years, friends I worked with would travel to the state of Colorado to hunt deer. They would come back with their stories, their pictures, and their trophy sized game, and year after year, I only dreamed of going there myself. I never took long trips. We lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee, so we had made a few trips to the Great Smokey Mountains in Gatlinburg. For the past three years, we hadn’t even made it there. Aspen, Colorado was a piece of beauty that my eyes loved to see. As I pulled away from hotel, Jerome, a restored luxury hotel that was actually built in 1889, nature and the peace it releases to one’s self was awaiting me, my wife, and my three wonderful children. As we left there that morning, bright and early, we decided to set up camp around a former gold mining camp outside Aspen, known as Independence. Although the distance for driving was on our side here, there was still so many other attractions as far as Aspen and the Central Rockies went. We would set up camp here tonight, and possibly drive another day to Gunnison National Park. I quickly could see that seven days anywhere is a good vacation, but for all I really wanted to see and do, seven days was really not long enough. In a place where only a few cabins remain, we decided to make this place our first night to camp. I really didn’t care where it was. As long as I was in Rocky Mountain country, in which I was, well, that’s really all that mattered. We found a clear open area at the base of a mountain that seemed to provide a great view. It was about noon I guess, when the kids and I had walked the general area, and began to pick the spot to put up two tents. The boys would stay in a tent with me, and Shelley and Cindy would be right next door to us in their tent. We made some pretty good time and was set up in just a little bit. The tents were up, and I cut some firewood to have for a meal a little later. For now though, some granola trail mix I had mixed up, and everyone a bottle of water, maybe this would tie us over til suppertime. After the campsite was secure, and we were happy with the way it was set up, we decided to go on a walk. We ventured up a mountain side, still keeping our campsite in view. Periodically I would glance down at our tents and our vehicle just to make sure it was okay. "Why do you keep looking down at our campsite daddy?", asked Cindy. Lowering my binoculars I told my daughter, "Honey, I’m making sure that no animals come up and try and get into our food or anything." as I laughed. The colors of the trees, and the fall breeze that blew against our faces, was like that of our own town. Autumn truly was my favorite time of the year. During our little hike, the only wildlife that we saw was two rabbits, and one raccoon, but that was okay. The Colorado magnificence was something else. Robert, who always carries his digital camera with him snapped pictures of the raccoon, and pictures of us in our hiking gear. As we started back down our trail, Shelley stopped long enough to pick some wildflowers. I had no problem with a slight pause in walking. My hiking boots were brand new, and needed some breaking in. We had only been walking just under an hour, and it felt like I had already started getting a blister on my left heel. I found a nice spot to sit, and loosen my strings a bit. There wasn’t a cloud over head, the sky was a solid blue, reminding me of a blue ocean. Being with the people that made me happy was all that mattered to me at that moment. We didn’t have a big RV like some people travel in, but to look at my wife gathering some flowers with my daughter, and see my two sons sitting beside me, made me feel like the richest man at the bottom of that hill. "I’m getting hungry," said Tim. I agreed with him completely, since none of us had eaten since breakfast. I suggested we all go back to our campsite, for our first meal cooked over a fire. It was cooling off pretty fast that evening, so we all put our jackets on. I showed my sons how to start a fire using a flint rock, even though we had matches in the car. We cooked some baked beans in a pot, along with some pork chops, and a loaf of French bread. The meal was good, and enjoyed by all of us. The signs of darkness was showing fast, as we watched the sun slowly setting. My oldest son took his scout hatchet and went to bring in some more wood in for our fire. I showed them the importance of clearing the area out around where the fire would be burning throughout the night. Shelley and Cindy were cold-natured, and retired to their tent, til we got the campfire going enough so they could come out and feel comfortable in the night air. I went to the car, took out my guitar, and a couple of bags of marshmallows. As we all gathered around the fire, roasting the marshmallows, I laid back on my rolled up sleeping bag, using it as a pillow. I began to pick my guitar there, in the silence and the stillness of the Colorado night. We sang simple songs together like "Down in the Valley", and "Long, Long Ago". My Wife sang a few gospel songs. After that, I began to play a song that was fitting for the moment in time. It began, "He was born in the summer of his twenty seventh year," the song was "Rocky Mountain High". This song seemed so right for the occasion. The night was still early, although darkness had fallen. I lay my guitar by my side, as everyone had quietened down. The sound of the fire popping, and a starry sky above us yielded such sweet peace. My children had drifted off asleep there by the fire. I got up, and carried my guitar back to the vehicle and placed it in my case. I took out a cedar stick from the glove box, and my case XX Whittler from my pocket. As I sat beside the fire, watching the shavings fall to the ground, I said to myself, "Life is good." Shelley had woke the kids up, and got them in the tents. It was almost eleven o’clock, so I decided to go ahead and retire myself, to the tent there with my boys. After locking up the car, and making sure the fire was completely out, I slipped into my sleeping bag and soon fell asleep, listening to my portable weather radio. I rested fair, but it seemed like every hour or two, I was getting up and checking outside the tent. All in all though, it was a pretty good night.
I arose the following morning at daybreak, to the wonderful smell of eggs and bacon. "How sweet of Shelley," I thought to myself. As I unzipped the front of the tent and stepped outside, I realized it wasn’t Shelley at all. Her tent was still zipped up, and there was no bacon frying there where our campfire was burning the night before. Still, the smell of breakfast was evident. I didn’t see anyone around the evening before. My wife and kids were still asleep, so I thought I would walk away from our campsite just a bit, and see who was around there close, fixing their breakfast. I walked down a trail that really wasn’t that far from where we were set up. Then, off in a distance, I could see someone moving around there in front of me. I smiled as I could finally see the eggs and bacon in the frying pan. This man had not turned around, but then again, he didn’t know I was walking up behind him. As last, there I was standing behind him. "Good morning, sir," I exclaimed. "Howdy," said the stranger. "I noticed the smell of breakfast back at camp, and just followed my nose." The stranger made no comment to me, as he just kept tending his meal. "Nice to meet you sir, my name is Bob Wilson." I still was trying to make conversation with this man who had camped out not so far from me and my family. He was wearing sunglasses, dress was simple. He was wearing a flannel shirt and overalls with a pair of hiking boots. "Do you camp here often?" I asked. At last, he looked up at me, taking his sunglasses off, and replied, "Hello, I’m John, John Denver." I reached our to shake his hand, and said, "Well, Mr. Denver, nice to meet you." Wait a minute, he just said he was John Denver. This brought a eerie feeling to me since the singer we all knew and loved that was named John Denver, had died ten years ago, back in 1997. This guy surely looked like the singer that gained stardom in the 1970's, but of course, anyone would know, there is no way it was him. I asked him if I could sit down a little while with him before I would get my wife and children up for the days adventure. He agreed as he poured me a hot cup of black coffee. "That’ll wake you up", said my new friend. I watched him closely as he took his first bite. Looking to begin a meaningful conversation, I asked a question that seemed to break the ice. "Well sir, do you come to Colorado often?" A gleam in his eyes seemed to light up a distinct expression that I surely recognized. This person that I was sitting with, drinking coffee with as he had breakfast, looked exactly like the legend who had graced all our hearts singing such songs as "This old guitar," and "Country Roads." As he put his plate in his lap, and took a sip of coffee, he smiled and said, "I’ve been here many times. Colorado is where I always end up, no matter where I go." I felt a bit of ease come over me, because even though I was where I wanted to be, I was so unfamiliar with the area. Lack of knowledge, I guess, on my part. One thing, I was out to make the best of it. He proceeded to open up to me in our morning conversation. "I lived in this great state years ago, right her in Aspen." said John. He looked to the sky as if he were searching for something. His hair was blowing in the wind, his cheeks a rosy red, and a big smile that was as big as Texas. "What brings you back here to Aspen again?" I asked. Pouring his second cup, he told me that he’d been gone for a long time, but he had to come back and visit this beautiful land in Colorado again. It was getting time to get back and get everyone up for the day, so I had to tell John I needed to go. In a voice filled with such eagerness, he asked me, "Bob, would it be possible to see you later today, perhaps if you have the time?" He caught me a little off guard, as I had already spent some time with him this morning. This person who called himself John Denver, was waiting for my reply. "Sure, John." I exclaimed. I couldn’t tell him exactly what time, all I knew was I had to go. I nodded, smiled, and turned to walk away. As I headed back to our campsite, I could not get over the resemblance of this man, with the singer, John Denver. He seemed to be him. The looks, even his voice sounded like him. As I arrived back at the tent, my wife and kids were already up, dressed, and ready to go. My middle son, Tim, wasn’t feeling so well, and seemed to be running a slight fever. I gave him some Tylenol, and told my wife that I thought we should just hang around a bit, until Tim was feeling better, then we would leave. Everyone, especially my youngest one, was wanting to go sight seeing, and what a beautiful, glorious day it was for just that. Even though John and I departed for a bit, if he really knew that much about Aspen, I could sure use him later for a personal guide. Maybe I would ask him to show us all around. I mean, he seemed to be okay. I decided that I might ask Shelley later in the day. The day was still young, but we weren’t going anywhere, til Tim was better. After I prepared breakfast for the gang, we all sat down, said grace, and was eating, when out at the edge of the wooded area there was Mr. Denver. As I raised my hand to wave, and began to call him over, he made the notion with his finger on his lips to remain quiet. I felt that very unusual, as he was so friendly, only moments before. He leaned against a tree with his back to us. Since my family apparently had not seen him there, I turned all my attention back to them. "Tim, are you feeling better now?" I asked. "Yes, dad, I think I am okay now," Tim added. This was great. At last things were beginning to seem in order. We had learned that Independence town site is about two miles past Lost Man Campground. This camp ground, the one in which we had spent the night before, was so incredibly awesome. It is situated directly across Independence Pass road from Lostman Trailhead. The campsites are within a lodgepole pine forest at an elevation of 10,500 feet. "Breakfast sure hit the spot!" I said. As I looked toward the woods, there John was, sitting on a tree log, combing his long blonde hair, and whistling a tune. I decided to go on over, and to speak to him, once again. I approached the edge of the woods, and invited him to meet my family. "Hey John, why don’t you come over an let me introduce you to my gang?" I asked. As John turned his attention from my question, and from me, he looked at my two boys, laughing and throwing the frisbee to each other. "I don’t think I should, Bob," exclaimed John. I didn’t understand why John wouldn’t go over just for a minute, and let me introduce him to my own family. It really bothered me that he turned my offer down, so I came right out and asked him why not. "Look, Mr. Denver, it has been great talking with you, and I was even going to see if you could show us around this place, but its not going to work out if you don’t meet my family." I exclaimed. As I was talking to John, he was slowly walking away from my campsite, as if he wasn’t planning on dropping back by to see us anymore.

Chapter 2
"The Big Surprise"
After we had walked to where our campsite was out of sight, John asked me to sit down. A large, cleared, dry area, not far from the picnic tables, I made the ground, Mother Earth, my chair. John likewise, sat beside me. It was at that moment that I heard something from John, that could not be the truth. "Bob, I have a confession to make to you," he said. "I am John Denver, the famous singer from years past and the great lover of this beautiful land, and the beautiful state of Colorado." Well, I had to take a minute to absorb what I had just been told as I stood to the ground. This person, this John Denver, who before this morning, I had never met, is telling me he is John Denver. I clapped my hands, and jokingly began to laugh so loud, my wife yelled out to me from our site and said, "Honey, what are you laughing at?" "Nothing dear, nothing at all," I answered. I looked into this strangers eyes, trying to really read something from what he was saying. I couldn’t quite put anything together that made any sense. "John, I really wish I could help you there, I do, really do, but you see, John Denver is dead." I stated. "To my figures here, John had been gone for ten years," I added. In a silence that filled that Colorado morning, John dropped his head in sadness, to my disbelief. I had always enjoyed John Denver songs, and even listened to them growing up. I will never forget the morning after his weekend airplane crash. I had went to a meeting downstairs at work. A good friend of mine told us that John had been involved in a fatal airplanes accident, and wondered if we had heard about it. As my mind shifted from that October morning, in 1997, to now, he still stood in front of me. It was just more than I could take. "Look, I’m sorry, John, or whoever you are, there is no way you are telling me the truth," I stated. "I don’t know who you are, but I know who you aren’t." A tear began to roll down the cheek of this man, and he seemed as if he was truly beginning to break down. "Hey, friend, I know you mean well, and if I didn’t know any better, I would swear you were really the John Denver we all loved, but I know better." The conversation became a bit quiet, as if we had both said all we were going to say. When in such a polite voice he spoke to me and asked, "Bob, my beautiful friend, would it ever be so possible for you to meet me right here tonight, close to these picnic tables?" he asked. My attention turned back to my family once again, and I knew that they would be wanting to head out soon, and the time for us to be enjoyed. I didn’t feel that what John was asking was too much. So I agreed. I told John that I was thankful that we had met that morning, and that our paths had crossed, and that yes, we could be friends. I had many friends, but none were with me right now. I had my wonderful family with me, but all my friends were back home. I didn’t see any friends, or family with my new friend at all. No wife, no children, no men folks that you would think was camping out here in these hills. No, John had been alone from the very beginning. I am sure though, that many people come up here to be alone. Traveling to the tops of the wonderful mountains, by vehicle, by cycling, or hiking, I was sure that many were sole adventurers. On an agreeing nod, we made our plans. I made it late enough, that the kids and my wife would be asleep. I didn’t want them to know that I was up here talking to a music star while we were on vacation. No, I knew he was no music star, only claiming to be, but the man seemed harmless, and kind of fun to be around. I still didn’t have all the reasons why he wouldn’t walk up to our campsite and say "Hi," but I would search for these answers, as I planned to talk to him more. John disappeared into the forest, and I turned back to began walking back to our tents. My wife had already cleaned up our plates, and cooking utensils, as all three of the kids had jumped on their bicycles for a little morning exercise. I slipped up behind my wife, put my arms around her, and gave her a big hug, lifting her off the ground. "Shelley, I meet this guy this morning, seems to be nice." She never stopped putting our equipment away as I started telling her all about him. Well, everything except the fact of him claiming to be the real John Denver. I figured if I was planning on seeing him anymore while we were in the mountains, I probably needed to leave that part out. If I had told her he said something like that, I’m sure she would have ended our new born friendship right then and there. What I seemed to find so strange though, was at breakfast this morning, he stood just a little way from where we were all eating. I know the kids were facing him, just as I was, as we ate, but they never mentioned seeing him. Why was that? How can this blonde headed hiker remain so mysterious. Why did it seem as though, no one had seen him but me. Had he talked to others who were also camping in the hills? Was I the only one he had spoke to ? Was he really alone, with no one at all? I was letting all these things began to crowd my mind, and actually start consuming my family time. I couldn’t do that. They were my life, my reason for living, and the reason that we ventured to Colorado. Independence Pass, the highest mountain pass in the United States that can be reached by paved road. At the summit, a trail leads across alpine tundra strewn in summer with thousands of tiny wildflowers that is breathtaking in all its unbelievable beauty. Toward the southwest, you can easily recognize the Maroon Bells, the heart of the wilderness that lies between Aspen and Crested Butte. Anyway, not soon after we had cleaned up camp, a group of around seven or eight older folks appearing to be in their sixties and seventies came up to the camp riding horses. They invited us all to go horseback riding with them. Well the kids immediately wanted to go, while I had thought a day kayaking near Aspen in White River National Forest was a great idea. One that I was still planning on sticking with. Well, the kids were stuck on riding horses, so Shelley agreed to go with them. That left me with a great day...alone. It wasn’t really that bad, I just didn’t realize it was going to be that way. "Oh well, Shelley, have fun and be careful." I said. I generally didn’t turn my family over to strangers, but these people seemed to be so nice, and polite, as I talked to them as their horses drank from a nearby stream. We all had our cell phones with us, so I told them all we would meet up later in the day, or in the evening. I figured that this day, being like any other, would fly by, and darkness would be upon us before we knew it. My adventure along the base of the mountains was both fun and enjoyable. The water was cold, as I joined a few others for a ride, along the waters, and large rocks that surrounded us. The art of balance is essential in this sport, and it was at the utmost importance to all of us there. Just to ride the water, the art of kayaking, and to breath this air into our lungs was surely medicine for the body and soul. Some of the ones that were there, talked about their experience in and around the cities and country sides of Colorado. One man, Joey Dodd, told us the fun he had the year before skiing over Crested Butte. A lady and her husband spoke of the enjoyable ride they made on their mountain bikes traveling Scholfield Pass in the Ruby Range of Gunnison National Forest. After our ride and some casual conversation with the other ones there, I thought I’d call Shelley, and check on their horseback riding. "Honey, where are you all at now?" I asked. "Bob, we are back at the campsite." she said. "Everything’s fine, I guess we rode for almost two hours. The horse Cindy was riding was a little bit rough riding, and she was scared almost the entire time." Shelley exclaimed. "She just didn’t want to ride horses at all, but didn’t want to ruin it for the rest of us." she said. "I told them we really needed to head back to our camp and check on things, so we turned back on the trail we were riding, and were back in about forty-five minutes," I could tell they probably hadn’t had the fun that I did on the water. I just wanted to get back to camp, relax a bit, and put some meat on the grill. I felt guilty not spending the day with my family. Yes, we agreed to go our separate ways for awhile today, but I still didn’t feel right doing it. I wanted to get back to my wife and kids, and make some memories with them. So I headed back in our Expedition. The thoughts of meeting John that night just suddenly entered my mind again. I had so much fun today, enjoying the pleasures of nature, and all, and had forgotten our appointment that night. I wonder what kind of ridiculous stories I would hear tonight. I was bound and determined that I was going to learn his true identity. No more of this John Denver stuff. I simply wasn’t going to take any more of that. If this man I thought had become my friend, couldn’t be truthful with me, then I believe tonight, I will tell him, it would be best not to come around our campsite anymore. After I got back to my wonderful family, I washed up, and told the gang to wake me up in an hour. I had a hammock tied between two trees, and I wanted to try it out. I hadn’t laid in a hammock since I was a kid, but I never forgot how nice it was, and how it felt. The sight of the stars is always a plus too, although it wasn’t dark. The comfort was there though. It was a little tricky laying back slowly in the hammock, and then wrap it around yourself on both sides. Once this is accomplished though, relaxation can take over and rest you so well. It was a much needed rest, and in an hour, my son Robert, did as I asked him to. He shook the hammock midway, and brought me out of my peaceful sleep. "Son, what time is it?" I asked. "Its two o’clock, dad, and we’re all ready to eat!" exclaimed Robert. So I raised up, took a sip of bottled water that lay by my side while I took my nap, and slowly raised up out of my netted bed. I took a bag of charcoal from the back of our car, and meat from an iced down cooler, and I prepared a late lunch, or early dinner, for my family that I loved so much. After getting the grill hot, I placed hamburgers and hot dogs over the hot coals, and a couple of nice thick rib-eyes on it for my wife and I. Some baked potatoes, and corn on the cob wrapped in tin foil. "Mmmmmm," exclaimed Cindy. The smell of the food there in the fresh mountain air was so good. I imagined us living there in the mountains. There wasn’t anything wrong with just thinking we lived in Aspen. I knew that a week was really all we had this trip. There would be other trips, yes, I knew that, but this was the first time I had been to Aspen. The first time in my life, I had traveled to the state of Colorado, too. I was just drawn to the magic of Aspen, and its people. There was so much to do, in so little time. After we ate, we all went walking. The kids were happy, my wife and I holding hands walking along, laughing, the togetherness was so right. We were a family that was very close. We had never had any real problems with our marriage, and we had never had any problems with any of the kids either. I was truly a blessed man, and so thankful for the moment. The air was getting chilly in the evening, as it always seems to do, even back home. The Fall of the year, as I have said, is my favorite time of the year. We had gathered firewood to again build a campfire that night. I enjoyed placing the large rocks around where we would gather round, and listen to the wood pop as it would burn. We took out some extra blankets, as it seemed to be a bit colder than the evening before. The kids were in their tents sending text messages to their school friends, and I spent the evening setting up a satellite dish outside our tent, so we could maybe watch a little t.v. before going to sleep. I didn’t want to get to modern, or get wrapped up in all the luxuries we enjoy when we are at home, but setting up a television for a little entertainment wouldn’t hurt a thing. I went and got my old guitar out of the car after getting the signal in for some t.v. and began picking a little bit sitting right there in a lawn chair. Sometimes I would play for hours, forgetting what time it was, and not even caring sometimes. It was my way to relax, and it worked for me better than anything. I got my wife’s mountain dulcimer out of its case, and we tuned up, and enjoyed a few songs together, as the sun began to set in the starry sky. It was going to be a clear night. I was sure a heavy frost would fall on everything that surrounded us. It was just in the air. I built a fire, and sat the television up on a small portable table I had brought along. My wife always watched C.S.I., while I was always a T.V. Land kind of guy. I loved watching all those programs that were prime time from years past. I wasn’t going to argue about what we had the televisions on. I could watch what I wanted to, once we were back home so, it was really set up for her and the kids. I continued picking my guitar softly, and attempting to write a song. I have always wanted to be able to write a song that everyone would like, but have been unsuccessful at doing so. I had played the guitar practically all my life, but I only played songs that were already songs. Oh well, I would always keep trying, no matter how much time would pass. It didn’t matter. It was a good way for me to unwind, and good therapy for the soul. I guess I sat by the fire til nine or ten that second night, watching the fire, and playing. It definitely was colder, and the wind seemed to be blowing a bit harder tonight. We were all dressed for it, so there was little complaining. Around bedtime, I had the kids carry their blankets and pillows inside their tents, and told them it was time to go to bed. I also told Shelley to let the boys get in her tent, that my friend was going to come by briefly, and after he leaves, I would get the boys, and we would get in our own tent. She said okay, as I helped them position everything inside, flash lights, a radio, and zipped them snugly inside. I went to the car, and brushed my teeth, listened to my weather radio a few minutes, and decided to walk down to the spot John told me he would meet me at. It was chilly, but I told him I would be there, and I was anxious to what he had to say.

Chapter 3
"Proof"
As I reached the edge of the wooded area, there he stood. I walked up behind him, and called out his name. He was dressed for the weather, with a bomber jacket and jeans with his hiking boots, and he had on a pair of red ear muffs, and a brown felt hat. "Good evening, Bob," said John. As I nodded to his statement, I couldn’t hold back any longer. "John, Mr. Denver, who ever you are, look these games are going to end right now!" I exclaimed. "You seem like such a nice fellow, but you are not, you cannot be John Denver." After my statement, I had to take my own toboggan off for just a moment, and wipe the sweat away that had popped out above my eyebrows."I see," said John. "I didn’t really think you would buy my story, I mean why should you?" John stated. We walked over to one of the picnic tables nearby, and sat down. I took my pouch of Levi Garrett tobacco from my coat pocket, and placed a chew of the fragrant tobacco in my jaw. I offered John a dip also, in which he took the pouch from me, and pulled a rather large amount from the bag, and into his left jaw. There we both sat, on a cold, Colorado night, myself, still in disbelief. I noticed John look up at the clear, starry sky. "Look Bob, at the moon tonight," John stated. "Isn’t it beautiful?" he said. As I looked up, it appeared to be a beautiful, full moon, with a ray of light all around it. "How would you like to go to the moon, Bob?" asked John. The thought had never entered my mind before, but I answered John. "It would be cool, John," I said. John slapped his right hand on his knee, and stood up right there beside the picnic table. "Tonight, Bob, you and I are going to the moon." Well, at this point, I was sure that Mr. Denver had run up on a moonshine still somewhere in the mountains. Playing along I simply said, ", I’m ready, how are we going to get there?" He explained to me that the only way he could ever prove to me that he was John Denver, was to go all out, and do something like this. He said that tonight, while my wife and kids were sound asleep in their tent, we would actually be looking at Earth while standing on the moon. "I hear you, big guy," I said, about the pass out from the laughter. "John, you don’t know what an honor it is, to be going to the moon tonight with a celebrity," jokingly I added. John seemed to not be paying too much attention to my wisecracks, as he began looking around the campsite. "I need a quilt, a big shirt, or something, a big blanket perhaps," said John. I had one rolled up behind my seat in the car, that I still had not took out. I told John to hold on. This was going to be one more big joke, but I had to act like I was going along with him. I honestly didn’t know what he was going to come up with next. "Okay, John, what about this?" It was a blanket my wife and I bought, several years back, for our queen-sized bed. I still didn’t know exactly what John had in mind. He took the blanket, unrolled it on the ground, and said, "This my friend, is our ride to the moon." I looked at him like he had totally lost it. "My blanket is carrying us to the moon." I said to John. John, flattened it out completely on the ground and told me that tonight, not to think of it as a blanket from a bed, but our magic carpet. He said for me not to worry, that my family would be fine, but for once and all, he was going to prove to me that he was the Spirit of Mountain John. He assured me that on our journey he would go into details about why he returned, and where he would be returning, and that he would answer any questions that I may have. I was beginning to believe him for the first time. Was he an angel? Was he just a mountain man pulling some prank on me? At the moment, I didn’t know. I was ready to see. He told me to sit at one end of our "magic carpet," and he would be at the other. He had us to sit where we had our backs together, each gazing out at each end of the blanket, or "magic carpet", as John put it. The moment of realization was upon us, and it was time for John to show me his stuff, or head back in the hills. We sat there for a moment, as John requested total silence. I sat there as quiet as a church mouse. John stared up at the sky, and raised both hands. "I am going to a nearby church first," John added. Right before my very eyes, our magic carpet raised up, off the cold, Colorado ground. We begin to descend over the tree tops, and while the feeling was great, butterflies still were so ever present inside my stomach. I let the pilot take over, and I was just going to enjoy the ride. This must really be John Denver. How else could this be happening. We glided across the black night. I saw a steeple in the distance as we began to make it our destination. John landed in a vacant parking lot, and stepped off the blanket. He walked around a moment, and walked to the front doors of the church. He never spoke a word. He just gazed up toward the sky as if he we making some kind of connection or something. After about fifteen minutes he returned to our magic carpet, and asked me if I was ready. "You bet," I replied instantly. John told me that this journey would never be forgotten, and that he hoped I would really enjoy. In a split second it felt as if we were in the space shuttle, and it had just launched. As soon as John and I left Earth’s atmosphere behind, I glanced down at the downy clouds which appeared to be floating in space as well. I marveled at the sight of the blue ocean and the pastel colors of Australia rimmed with a ribbon of tan I recognized as the Sandy beaches of that continent. I noticed John’s arm reach out and looked to where he pointed. At first, I thought a white star was streaking toward us, until I saw that it was no star. "That’s the International Space-station," John said. Suddenly , the ISS was below us. With ease we kept pace with our companion. "Look like a dragon fly," I heard John exclaim. To me, with its 240 foot Solar Arrays drinking in sun-rays, and service modules snapped together, it resembled a child’s Leg-go set. In an instant, we glided along the spacecrafts 171 foot length. We could almost touch the metal. Our magic carpet stopped at a port hole. Through the glass, we saw the American Astronaut and Russian Cosmonaut waving at us. John gave them a thumbs-up. Then we were off in the opposite direction. "What are we doing?" I asked. "Going to our destination," replied John. That’s when I saw the moons brownish orb, as it floated at the edge of Earth’s limb. My stomach turned a somersault as we increased speed again. In the blink of an eye, the moon grew in size, becoming larger and larger, until its surface spread below. Some of the craters had long like streaks of pulverized rock caused by impacts from eons past, radiating like tentacles away from them. Dark plains, which the ancients once thought were oceans called, "Mare" but were actually smooth lava flows which had cooled and hardened stood in contrast to the bright lunar highlands which flanked them. John smiled. "This is our landing site." We settled gently, and I stood on the airless, water less, rubble strewn, powder gray surface of the moon. "Exactly where are we?" I questioned, not trying to hide the awe in my voice. "At Mare Tranquilitatis. Here’s where the first astronauts landed." I could not believe that this night, and the events unfolding, were taking place. John looked at me and said, "Remember that song I used to sing with a lyric that is so fitting for this moment?" I knew exactly the song, and the line in which he was referring to. He was talking about the line that went something like "Dance across the mountains on the moon." Well, tonight John would get to do just that. He was her, I was here, and it felt so right. My being afraid had seemed to have lifted from me, and I was enjoying my voyage into space. I walked excitedly away from my friend, and stood at the decent stage of the moon lander "Eagle". I saw the American flag on its pole, and the myriad footprints made by Neil Armstrong, and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin. I nudged some of the discarded equipment with my foot and laughed. I felt John’s hand on my shoulder. "There’s home." My eyes followed to where John nodded. Above the smooth distant hills, like a green jewel in the black sky, Earth shimmered no bigger than a thumb nail. I gazed toward our awesome planet, realizing we were so far away. John asked me if I was ready to make the trip back, as I nodded yes back to my new found friend. Without hesitation, we sat down on my trusty blanket that moments before I took from my car. John sat on the other end, and raised both hands above his head. We slowly lifted off from the moon, and was headed back to Earth. The trip back was just as exciting as the one there. I didn’t talk any, as I was still in shock, as to where we had just been. Soon we approached the atmosphere once again, as I could feel a soft rain fall upon me. John pulled his hat down tightly on his head, as if it were going to blow off. As we descended slowly down, I begin to see civilization once again. The lights of cities, rooftops of homes, and businesses, and then I knew that we had made a safe return to our blessed Earth. I seemed to be more thankful for our land, the freedom we all enjoy, but take for granted, each and every day of our lives. Soon, I could see the familiar sights of Colorado once again. Finally I saw the tops of our two tents, and our campfire as it was slowly, but surely burning out there by our camping area. John landed our magic carpet right where we had left, by a picnic table. "Now do you believe me?" John asked. There was no mistaking who he was. It was John’s spirit, who had returned to Earth. For how long or why he had come back, was still unanswered, but just as he promised, he would tell me everything. It was past midnight, and my family had been fast asleep, and hadn’t realized I had ever been gone. I invited John to the campsite, as I begin to build a fresh fire. He agreed to sit, and enjoy a cup of coffee before he would leave for the night. As we sit by the fire, with two steaming hot cups of coffee, I wanted to ask him so many things. I thanked him for such an adventure we had just taken, and that I would never forget it, as long as I would live. "John, I’m sorry I doubted you, I mean, you can’t blame me, can you?" With a big smile, he looked at me, and said, "This land that we all share is truly a gift from God. I had to come back one more time and see it again." He pointed toward the mountains. "For so long, I have spent so many days right here in this great state. Colorado, to me, will always be home." He looked at me so serious as he spoke. "I can only stay for a couple of days," he added. "The beautiful people, the trees, the waters of our country, the environment we must preserve, its our job to see that its taken care of." I had heard John speak of all these things, in the past, not really thinking of how important all these things really are. He had opened up a new understanding to me, as I wanted to do all I could to follow his advice through,. In all of his songs that John left us, an important message was inside all of them. I asked John if he would play and sing one song for me on my old guitar I had stashed in my car. He agreed, so I went and took it from its case, and gave it to him. He told me he would sing one song, a special one to him. "I wrote this going up a ski lift one day, all alone. The words just came out so easily." I felt I knew the one he was talking about, and I was right. It was "Annie’s Song". There was no song that was more fitting for the moment. He began, "You fill up my senses, like a night in the forest." It was him. The guitar music, and a voice that couldn’t be mistaken, rang out there so perfectly. How in the world, did this mans spirit find its way to someone like me. I was as common as I could be, no one of importance, yet I was being entertained by an angel. A real angel. A spirit I could see, hear, and even touch, as I patted his shoulder as he completed his song. This night was the best night yet, on my vacation. I didn’t want this night to end, as I glanced to the sky, only to see the full moon, where John and I had traveled only a few moments before. "I need to go", John said. He assured me that tomorrow was a new day, and that I would see him again. I shook John’s hand, and then he turned to go. I woke my two sons up, and they came to our tent. With all the excitement, I managed to fall asleep there inside my tent, knowing that my experience that night was real, and complete. I could only imagine what tomorrow would hold, and I simply couldn’t wait.

Chapter 4
"A Talk by the Lake"
I got up just before sunrise, and turned on the small t.v. that was outside our tent. I watched C.N.N and wanted share with my family what was on my mind. All the activities from the night before we still so fresh on my mind. I decided to tell my wife this morning. I hope John doesn’t care. I don’t think he does. He never told me not to tell them. All morning, I was just waiting for the right moment to tell Shelley about the friend I had met. I would probably save the story about the trip John and I had taken, but as far as telling her about him, I had set my mind to it. I had planned to carry everyone fishing, after we had eaten, and picked up around the camp. I had bought everyone a new rod and reel the summer before, and hadn’t been since buying them. There was a lake nearby, and thought the fish would surely bite during the early morning hours. After we eat, we decided to head on down and wet the hooks for a bit. I wished I had access to a small boat to use, but we made the best of it. We stayed til after dinner with my wife and middle son, catching the biggest bass. Everyone was going on about the scenery, the colors, and the definite coming of winter. I wished that we could spent our time there, through the winter months. Maybe the day would come, even though I didn’t know how it would. The only time I could see it happening, would be when I could retire. That would still be some time before I would be doing that. As I went back to the vehicle for some water, I noticed the image of someone not far from where I had parked. As I grew closer, the familiar face turned to me, and said, "How’s the fishing?" I was rather surprised seeing John that morning, as his appearances tended to occur after the sun would set. "Pretty good, John, come down and I’ll show you the fish." I said. John stood there and began to explain to me how it was meant to be, as his spirit could spend only a few days on Earth. "Bob, they can’t see me," John exclaimed. I didn’t under stand what he meant. "Why can’t they see you John, they are right there," as I pointed to my two boys. "You’re not following what I said." John added. As I waited an explanation to his words, he laid it all out, plain and simple for me. "I am a spirit, Bob," he said. "You were chosen for me to come to, to be made visible to." Johns eyes began to form tears, and I myself found it hard to swallow. "I could walk right down there with you, and stand right in front of your wonderful family, and they would never know it," John stated. "That’s just the way it is, and I can’t change it." For a minute, I kind of felt let down. I was so anxious to introduce him after knowing that he really was the true, singing, mountain man. Now, if I mentioned any of this to my wife, and she couldn’t even see this person, she would for sure think I was crazy. I had already turned my back to my wife, who was facing me in the distance. I was afraid she would see me standing out here, talking, and wonder who I was speaking to. "John, I just don’t know what to say." Should I continue talking with John? Turn him away? I knew that I didn’t want to. Neither of us would be here very much longer anyway, so I didn’t want to make a big deal about it. I had found a friend, a good one, to share only a fraction of my vacation time with. As time began to again slip by us, my wife was becoming restless out here. I was going to have to rejoin my gang, and again tell John I would catch up with him later "Things ought to be different here," I told John. "Now I can’t even mention you to any of them." Watching Johns reactions made me see that he truly hated that the way things were, he had no control over. The fact that only I could see him, and no one else was mind boggling. "I have got to go, John," I said. As I turned to go toward my boys, I caught a glimpse of John as he reached up into the air with his right arm fully extended, he closed his eyes and spoke something softly to himself. John, then produced a cane pole out of thin air. The illusion was astonishing. He smiled at me, and winked as he said, "Believe I’ll try the Bream while I’m here." I smiled back, and said "Good Luck John, hope they bite for you!" I made it back to the side of the bank where my wife and our three children were, and just took me another minute to embrace the moment with them. It was great being there, at the edge of such a peaceful body of water. Laughing, talking, and seeing a picture fit for any artist to paint. I watched the other side as John stood there, fishing, watching the water. He would bring his hook up from time to time, checking his bait, as I could hear the water, as the bream would come to the top of the water. He wasn’t paying any attention to any of us on the other side of the lake, this moment I knew was between John, and the thing he loved a lot in his life. That was nature. He was at peace with himself. He was here in the mountains, taking in each moment he had, making the best of it, and when I was seeing him from each time, it brought me great joy, because it seemed like he was so unlike any of the rest of us. I didn’t quite understand if it was because of his being a spirit now, or what, but he just seemed different. This man seemed now to be such a stress-free creature. He showed no signs of regret. Each statement that he made seemed to have a message of love behind it. No harsh meanings or intentions. It was just beautiful. As we loaded our car up with all our chairs, fishing tackle, and a large cooler, I knew the day had been a good one. My wife was wanting to go into town and shop. The kids wanted to take in the sights too! I didn’t know as we drove off from the lake, when John would appear again, but I knew that he would. I turned around before losing sight there at the lake, and John pulled the most beautiful strawberry Bream out, and held it up so I could see it. I raised my hand high outside my driver window, and waved, letting him know that I saw the fish, and that I saw him. "Who are you waving at, Daddy?" said Cindy. I looked in my rear view mirror, and saw that my daughter had seen me waving. I just told her it was a man off in the distance by the lake. She glanced back to try and see who I was talking about, but we had lost sight of the water at that point. "I want to go into town tomorrow, Bob," said my wife. "I want to go to some of the art galleries, carry the kids, and get out for awhile." She had heard that there was around 30 galleries in town. "Maybe I’ll stay at the camp, rest or something," I said. My wife Shelley had a love in her for art sculptures, and things. The time seemed to be passing like a blur. We all were enjoying the outdoors. That was for sure. "Roughing it" was always something I enjoyed doing. Not only did it give you a sense of how it was for people years ago, but it brought you closer to nature, and all the things that we so often overlook in our day to day living. I had been giving thought more to things like our wildlife, our environment, and making our own planet a more pleasant place to live. As we drove away and back toward our dwelling, we saw some black bear, and a herd of deer along the roadside. I stopped before we reached them at both locations, and took some very good pictures of them with my digital camera. Shelley was on the phone talking to her mother, while the kids and I stepped outside the car to marvel at their beauty. Tim said, "Look dad, they are not trying to even get away that fast." He was right. They seemed to not be in really that bit a hurry to take cover. We just stood there, watching them, realizing that their right to be here was as equal as our own. As Fall was evident as I had said, I thought it was so amazing how that during this time, as the leaves would fall from the branches, and it would seem that the grass, the trees, everything that showed its beauty in the summertime would become dormant all around us. My children asked me in the past why everything dies in the winter time. I always tried to explain to them that all these things were not dead, that they were only sleeping. I told them that nature had its own way of waking up everything when Spring come back around. The warmer temperature, and the thunderstorms brought it all back to life, just at the right time. Everything is programmed to bud, to bloom, to bear fruit when its season was right. They seemed to understand me. Just as nature has its seasons, I began to think how us, as humans, have our seasons too. We are born, we grow, marry, and have our own children, and they too, grow into adults, and the process continues. I headed on back to our site, and by the time we got there, my family were all asleep. I was a little tired, but I was making it fine. Tomorrow would bring new things, another day in this place known as Aspen, Colorado. The wind was picking up, as me and the boys would gather some firewood to soon build another fire, tell a few stories, and gaze once again into the Colorado sky.

Chapter 5
"Johns Tour Across the Skies"
As we slept in a little late, my wife and children got up, dressed, and Shelley fixed a meal for all of them, and left me sleeping. I had told her the night before to let me sleep in a little later. When I got up it was probably around ten o’clock. Shelley, Robert, Tim, and Cindy had took the car and was probably going to be gone most of the day. We all had phones, so we could keep in touch with our plans. I exited my tent, washed up, put on fresh clothes, and started my late breakfast over the fire. It was so peaceful there, so quiet. Nothing but the sound of a slight breeze was all I could hear. I sat there enjoying my coffee, my bacon and eggs. The weather today seemed to be another nice day for sure. Only a few clouds lingered above me. As I finished my last bite, I cleaned up a bit, put the fire out, and was putting some clothes in bags that were inside the tents, when I heard the sound of footsteps as they got closer and closer. I stepped outside the tent, and there he was. "Good morning, John," I said. "How was your night, Bob," asked John. "Pretty good I guess, I’m by myself. The family left this morning, probably for the day." John asked for a cup of coffee, as I poured the last of it from the pot. John was in a very good mood, beginning to open up to me on many different things. It was all the things that he seemed to feel so strongly about, really for the better part of his life. He went on to say that he really had no regrets while he was here on Earth. When he made that comment, I remembered hearing him say several years ago, about the things he would always like to be remembered for. He spoke of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the importance it supports for wildlife and wild places, and protecting them for generations to come. He spoke of his love for Windstar, a non-profit environmental organization that addresses environmental concerns. It was one in which he and Tom Crum founded. He talked about the Eco-system, the habitats in which the wildlife shared, and the continual need for food and water that they all need to survive. All his interest in life on land, as well as the seas. He had a special love for the water. His interest in the whale, dolphins, going snorkeling, how he loved to go fishing. I sat there giving him my full attention. I could clearly see that he had done many things, and went many places, that I will never see or do. He told me how he enjoyed his trip he made to China, and how he always enjoyed going to places he had never been before. "Bob, I had a choice to come back for a few days to any place I wanted to. How could it have been anywhere, though but Colorado?" This was my first time here, but I could see where he was coming from. I knew that he had lived here, so I knew that his love was real and genuine. I nodded to John, as he said that our children, and their children were our future. As he kept talking, I began to get some water from my tent to drink. He was just in a talking frame of mind, and I really enjoyed hearing him. He asked me if I had any idea of how the lions were beginning to vanish right before us. He talked about the very rare Rhinoceros Hornbill, where the Thai rainforest should be a place where man, hornbill and every other wild creature can live in harmony. This seemed to be John’s main issue, harmony. He spoke of all his adventures, and the baseline, I felt all went back to the one thing. As he talked to me, I couldn’t help but hear a series of his songs playing within my head. I only wish that I had taken my guitar out of the car the night before. I sure would like to hear him sing some of his classics. Anyway, it wasn’t here, so I never brought up his singing career. While John was with us, I never sat in a crowd at a concert, but if I could go back to those days, I would have put it on my list of things to do. I had really began thinking of him as a friend. I was the only one he had talked to since his magical trip back to this world, and I knew that time was quickly coming to an end, as his time was soon drawing near. My vacation would soon only be great memories to me and my family, along with some of the videos and pictures I had made. I had taken a few pictures of John when he wasn’t paying attention to me. It was while he was fishing with his cane pole, but unfortunately the pictures had turned up to be an empty bank on the other side of the lake. Everything he had told me was the truth. I was the only one who could see him. The proof was right there when I checked my digital camera. He continued with his conversation with me, saying if he had any regrets, it would be that he would have done more for the Earth than he did before he left. He talked of always keeping in mine, worldwide the importance of always planting trees. "The problem I see is that we aren’t mindful enough, when we cut trees down," John said. "If we don’t replant the day will come that we will all regret." It all made sense to me, and to be honest, I had never give it any thought in the least. I could see the impact that his life had, that went way beyond the songs that he sang. Sure they were great, and all of them had meaning behind them in his words that he had written, but this in-depth talk we were having over Folgers Instant Coffee meant the world to me. It really did. "John, you are so special, I wish you never had to leave us," I said solemnly. He smiled and said, "Me too, Bob, but it was my time, and I couldn’t have prevented it." I didn’t know what to say at that point, as I was starting my third cup of coffee for the day. "I have a special treat for you, Bob," he said. "You know that trip to the moon the other night?" I smiled and asked him how could I forget it. He continued, "Well, today, its not going to be quite that magnitude, but it will be a lot of fun, that is if you want to." I had no idea what he had in store, but I was quick to let him know that I was his for a good two to four hours. I know my wife, and I knew she would probably make a day of it with the kids. He asked me to go inside my tent, and get my sleeping bag. He proceeded to tell me to bring it out and place it flat on the ground of Mother Earth. "Today, Bob, your sleeping bag will become our "magic carpet". I knew that we were going to take flight again, I just didn’t know where. "I am going to take you on a tour of this great state we are in," he added. "We are going to get a view from above the mountain tops high above the trees, the homes of the people." Johns’ appearance was somewhat different. He had a t-shift on with jeans and tennis shoes, and a Colorado Rockies baseball cap on with a pair of Rayban sunglasses. It was the first time I had seen John when he wasn’t dressed like he was going hiking in these mountains that surrounded us. I was dressed about the same myself with my favorite t-shirt. Well, it was time, I knew it was all about John and his magic now. We sat down, back to back, just like our trip into space. I wasn’t nervous at all this time. I knew that we weren’t leaving Earth, and this time, it was a bright sunny day. I could literally not wait for us to lift off. I watched John closely as he sat there for a moment in total silence. It seemed the wind had ceased blowing, with only the sounds of the birds singing around us. Soon John made a notion with both his arms. He raised them high above his head, and within that minute I felt the sleeping bag as it raised off the ground. He turned around smiling, and said, "You okay?" I returned the smile and told him I couldn’t be better. I looked down, and noticed the campsite began to look smaller and smaller. We were going up, and going there fast. "Are you getting that Rocky Mountain High feeling yet?" John asked. I reached around and patted him on his back, and said, "John, this is so awesome, I can’t explain the feeling I have at this moment." As we slowed a bit, the most beautiful Bald Eagle came sailing beside the both of us. Neither one of us saying a word, John held his right hand out from him. The eagle turned to him, and landed on the top of his wrist. I couldn’t believe what I had seen. He gently and slowly brought it closer to him, and was holding it in his arms. He slowly rubbed the top of its head, and held it out once again. They seemed to be communicating with each other or something, looking into each others eyes. Holding it for just another minute or two, John pulled it to him once more, and embraced it in a hug. He slowing extended his wrist out, and we both watched as this beautiful symbol of our great United States of America took flight, returning to its home, sailing through the air. It was something. He had a connection, it seemed, with the wildlife. It seemed to me that they spoke the same language.
As we began to rise faster, and so high above the ground, the view was so great from where we were. John pointed toward Snow Mass, one of the largest ski resorts in Colorado. The view from the ridge top at over 12,000 feet, shows the true beauty of the Central Rockies, including the scenic Maroon Bells. Looking down from above, John was showing me other popular sites to ride the slopes. Aspen Mountains, Aspen Highlands, and the Buttermilk Ski Resort, all were coming into view, as it seemed that we were floating on a cloud by this time. "You know Bob, ski season starts up next month," said John. I shook my head, "Yes," as I held on, as John increased the speed we were traveling even more. As we began to leave Aspen, headed North, and high above the White River, our magical ride made a grand entrance into Steamboat Springs. This town is set on the Yampa River in the heart of Colorado’s Northern Rockies. As John glided toward the ground some of this towns beauty became clearer for me to see. The Routt County Courthouse, F.M. Light and Sons, and the Tread of the Pioneers Museum. "Look at all the folks out today getting some exercise," said John as he pointed down at the Yampa River Core Trail, at the people walking and jogging. We traveled over Fish Creek Falls, one of the town’s most visited attractions. "Hold on," exclaimed John, as we gained speed once again. I found myself admiring the picture perfect landscape below, as John told me we were high above the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. "Wonder how the fishing is today," asked John. I noticed a group of men below, he was speaking of, there in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area. As we raced across the day time sky, we headed southeast, from Steamboat to Boulder. As we entered Boulder, I saw the Boulder Creek Path. Within the city’s core, it was full of people walking and riding bicycles. As we traveled on, John gave me a bit of a history lesson, as we passed Boulder Canyon. "Hey, Bob, back in the 1800s, the first Anglo settlers established a rough camp below Red Rocks at the mouth of Boulder Canyon. Looking down, I noticed in the downtown area, the Pearl Street Mall, and again, the movement of people as they were going to, and from all the places it had to offer. I got to see the Heritage Center, the Fiske Planetarium, and the University of Colorado Museum. Outside of town we sailed across Boulder Mountain Park and the summit of Flagstaff Mountain. Our stay in Boulder was brief, but very enjoyable. A beautiful place. From there, passing over Westminster Arvada, it was a rather quick trip into our next destination. The wonderful city of Denver, the most photographed spots in the city came into view, the Colorado State Capitol. "There she is, Bob, built in the shape of a Greek cross," said John. It was beautiful from my view high above, reminding me of our national capitol. John had been so informative to me, pointing out everything we came up on, going into great detail, even on the little things. I had remained rather quite throughout the days journey, so I decided to speak up, and let John know that someone was indeed taking this trip high above this beautiful state with him, and that he wasn’t alone. I mean, it was I, that John Denver, himself, asked to take this tour with. "Hey John," I said. He looked back at me over his left shoulder, as we slowed down slightly. "Man, this year in March, some big things went on here in Colorado," I added. John raised his eyebrows at me, as if to be waiting for me to give him the details. "Yeah, for starters, your song "Rocky Mountain High," I said. "Oh yes, my love letter to Colorado, what about it?" asked John. "It was made the states second official song," I told him. "Senator Bob Hagedorn pushed for the second tune, saying it had been an unofficial state song for years, and had introduced many people around the world to Colorado," I added. John seemed to be caught up in my story, and we had almost came to a stop, right there in mid-air, high above Denver, Colorado. My mind went back also, to the wild Bison, and to earlier this year. I remember reading about them, being absent for more than a century, that the wild Bison were returned to Colorado’s Front Range in full view of Denver’s skyline. The refuge, was located about ten miles from downtown Denver, also was home to bald eagles, deer, and so many other species. I told John these things. I knew that these were two things that would truly interest him, and true to my thought, I was so right. Just for a moment, my old sleeping bag, that John had turned into our own personal aircraft, had come to a complete halt over the land below. The wind was calm, the sun was high. I watched John closely, as my story-telling had came to an end, as he began to let his emotion run high. Big tears fell from his eyes, running down each cheek, as he sobbed openly, letting his feelings show. I noticed that as he cried, it was true joy and happiness that was being released from him. I knew this because during the moment he set aside for himself, Johns unmistakable smile never left his wonderful face. I didn’t say anything else at that moment. I placed my hand on Johns shoulder, and patted it a few times. I turned back around, as John and I were back to back once again. After departure from Denver, we headed due South to Colorado Springs. On our route there, we passed over Castlewood Canyon State Park, and the Black Forest. As we began to head closer to the ground, we were actually over the downtown area. John told me that the building directly below was once the former county courthouse, now the Pioneers Museum. Another historic landmark that John and I saw was the McAllister House Museum. A few blocks away, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center came into view, as John slowed us down to take this scenic tour. East of downtown, the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Not far at all, John promised a special treat for the both of us. A beautiful tour from above overlooking the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. "There is a great selection of the most beautiful animals," said John. I could see some of the animals that were housed there. Giraffes and elephants walked within its grounds. John was sure to point out all the rare and endangered species such as snow leopards, lowland gorillas, Amur tigers, and orangutans. We passed Seven Falls, and I saw groups of folks that appeared to be climbing a lot of steps that led to an observation platform. For just a moment there, my mind went back in time. I had gotten to know someone myself, from Colorado Springs. She had moved down south, from here, and for a while, we had become friends. As I thought of that time, under my breath, I uttered, "Cool". As we pulled away, John said, "I’m gonna show you the biggest attraction in Colorado Springs." He was talking about the U.S. Air Force Academy. "Off in the distance is Thunderbird Airmanship Overlook," added John. We traveled into Manitou Springs, a nice little town, passing over the Miramont Castle. "Hey Bob, below you right now is Colorado Springs most famous, its called Pikes Peak. I got to see the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, and John showed me where they have the Pikes Peak International Hill climb, once a year. John had out done himself on this "magic carpet ride", showing me so many places that I couldn’t possibly see in one day, or see it from where I got to see it from anyway. He would show me a few attractions in each town or city, and then we would just move on. "Have you ever thought of moving to Colorado, Bob?" asked John. "I would love to live here in Colorado, John, probably Aspen, just like you did," I said. "We will more than likely stay where we are though, kids like their schools, me with my job and all." John studied me as I spoke and nodded saying, "Well, you’ll have to come back again, every chance you get anyway." He couldn’t have put that any better. I totally agreed and told him that I would surely come back. "This is an outdoors man’s paradise," I said. John turned southwest toward a place called the San Luis Valley. The region lied between two mountain ranges. Our tour here was brief, as the hours of the day were clicking away, and I had a family I had to get back to. John assured me that our tour for the day would soon be over, that there would be only one more stop after we left San Luis Valley, before heading back to Aspen. "That’s fine, John," I said. "You’re the pilot", I added. I was having the time of my life, and if I had traveled alone on vacation, I would have just liked to have flown across the entire United States that day. I didn’t understand everything there was to know about John. He seemed to know some things about Colorado that was fairly current news, and maybe other issues, he seemed to not know about. Could he perhaps know everything that had gone on around here since he left? Could he be testing my knowledge, and see how very little I knew about his state? Well, who knows? I wouldn’t ever really know for sure. We passed over the San Luis Valley Alligator Farm. "Look right there, Bob," John said. As I leaned over the edge of my sleeping bag, he told me that right below us was a natural hot spring, that the reptiles put to use during the valleys sub-zero winters. I got to see the Great Sand Dunes National Monument. We then cruised into a place called Alamosa. "Bob, lets carry it super low her just for a moment," said John. "There is a wonderful place, it’s the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge". As we hovered closely to the tree tops, I could see deer below, and sandhill cranes seemed to be plentiful in the area. John told me that bird watching along the Rio Grande was very popular at the refuge. John raised his arms high up into the air. This was my indication to hold on, for I knew that we were about to rise up into the clouds once again. "One final stop before our trip back to Aspen," exclaimed John. As we headed west, John said, "Man, we’re going to the San Juan Mountains." It was full speed across the sky, as the wind felt great upon our faces. "I feel like a song right now!" said John. He reached into the air like a modern day magician, and produced a very nice Fender acoustic guitar, from seemingly nowhere. Again, he raised his right hand, and then produced a pick. "Gotta have my pick, you know?" as he winked. He turned around, facing me. He never asked me what I would like to hear him sing. It didn’t matter to me, anything was fine. He ended up doing two songs. One, a good hand clapping song I enjoyed as a kid, and a slower song to end his personal performance for me. The first one was "Grandma’s Feather Bed." I knew the words to this one, as he asked me to join in. It was wonderful, and brought back some fond memories for myself. He sang all three verses with the chorus in between them all, and sang it perfectly. After that, a very familiar version entitled, "This Old Guitar." I sat in silence, listening to the beautiful lyrics of how he himself, and his guitar had become great friends, and how it had got him through some hard times. Again, the performance was flawless. He sang as sharp and keen as he had sung in the peak of his career. After completing this masterpiece, he looked at me and smiled. He handed me the pick and told me I could have it. I took it gratefully, and gave John a good firm handshake. At this time, he pitched the guitar straight up into the air, and as it left his hands, it was gone. The guitar simply vanished right before my eyes. He made no comment after doing this, and simply turned back around, facing away from me. As we kept our pace with the cruise control on, we had reached our next stop, the San Juan Mountains. These mountains are in the Southern Rockies, and you’re always near a designated wilderness area. We toured the National Forest, and went into the Weminuche Wilderness Area. In the historic downtown area, I got a real good look at the Strater Hotel that was built way back in the 1800's. John made the comment that the Western author, whom we all have heard of, Louis L’Amour, had lived there in the past, and wrote several books during his stay there. It was a very fancy looking hotel without a doubt. Touring this vast landscape, I could hear the sounds of a train below us. The sound became louder, as we begin to slow down. I could see the black smoke, rising high above the surrounding trees. All I knew was, I saw a train. John enlightened me on the more precise details. "That’s the Durango and Silverton Railroad, it travels through Animas Canyon," he said. "Man, that train stops sometimes, and you can get off and hike into the wilderness. Is that not awesome?" It sounded really cool to me, because John went on to say that the train returns to Durango after a couple of hours to pick you up, or you even had the option of riding a bus back to where you are staying. I could plainly see that along the bluffs overlooking the Animas Valley was a view that looked like a painting you might see in an expensive Art Gallery somewhere. John showed me the Mayflower Gold Mill, and the Old Hundred Gold Mine. Another great view was the Silverton Mountain Ski Area. The San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway was something to see, as we slowed to a crawl over Molas Pass. Heading on north, we passed over Box Canyon Falls Park, and marveled at its awesome waterfall. "Let’s go home, shall we?" John asked. "I’m with you," I replied. So we again took to the sky once again. We were really experiencing a Rocky Mountain High, literally. Still Northward bound, Aspen was all that was on our minds. The day had been fun. It had been more than fun. Words could not describe the feeling that I had within my heart. Heading back, John turned around to talk a little bit with me. "Bob, the past few days have really been special to me. I just want you to know that." John said. "Tomorrow night, I must go. I would love to stay, the mountains are my home, but the home I have now, is no compare," he said. "My heart will always be in Colorado, that’ll never change. My spirit will always be somewhere in the mountains. Whether it is high on a mountain top, or in a rushing stream, the Spirit of Mountain John will always remain." I couldn’t speak. I didn’t want to speak. I could only listen as he opened up to me, right there, on the eve of his going back home. On our journey back, we crossed over Gunnison County Airport and the Elk Mountains. The evening hours were upon us. A cool mist of rain began to fall on us as we were getting nearer and nearer to the place I had chose to take a vacation to, but a place where Johns spirit would always be. The mist became a down pour as we arrived back safe, and sound, to beautiful Aspen. The rain was so cold, and I had become chilled to the bone by the time John had took me back to my campsite. We landed not far from where the tents were pitched, and I saw that Shelley and the kids had beat me back. I really didn’t have a clue as to how long they had been back, and was sure I was going to be facing a lot of questions that I didn’t know if I could answer or not. I said my goodbyes to John at that moment, and he told me that he would like to see me the next night if it were possible, and not mess up any plans that I may have. I knew that after spending the day with him like I had, that tomorrow I needed to spend with my family. I figured that Shelley would surely be mad. Had she been back for hours? I was about to find out. I told John that tomorrow night was on and that I would see him then, and watched as he walked off into the black night. As I approached the campsite, the kids were playing, and she was cooking something over the fire. I knew she had been back at least long enough to get a fire going. As I walked up to her, she looked up and said, "Oh, hi honey, where were you?" I knew at that point everything was okay. "Oh, I just went for a little walk," I said. That was all I could come up with. I hated to tell her that, but I had absolutely no choice. "Why are you carrying your sleeping bag?" she asked. "Leaves," I said as my voice began to break a little. "Leaves, as in trees?" She shrugged her shoulders, waiting my next reply. "Yeah, my sleeping bag had some leaves in it, our tents did too. I’ve been getting them out of my sleeping bag." She turned her attention back to a pot of beans she was stirring, and said, "Well get the kids over here, and let’s eat. It’s ready right now. I turned away and began calling for the children to wash up and come to eat. I was glad I got out of that one. It was a close call for sure. I felt kind of guilty, and wished I would have just stayed around there, or even went into town with all of them, but on the flip side, I had traveled a good portion of the state. My wife and kids, my dear family, if they only knew the magic, the kindness I had been shown the past few days, it would be great. What would have made the trip, was if only John could have shared the moments he and I shared, with my entire family. Everyone was tired after we had eaten, so we didn’t stay up late at all after it turned dark. The kids were ready to go to sleep, which was unusual for them. They also seem to be ready to go, and go, and go. So after supper, and some brief star-gazing we all turned in. Shelley and I both were so tired, as she and Cindy crawled into the tent, next to us men’s, we didn’t even discuss what we were going to try and do the next day. We were that tired. Anyway, Shelley and the kids had me all to their selves, that was for sure. Anyway, John didn’t mention showing up during the daytime hours, but rather said he’d see me tomorrow night. The air was cool, and I was ready to crawl into my sleeping bed. The very one I had seen so many places on that Autumn day. "Goodnight everybody, see you in the morning," I said. Another day of adventure had passed, and life was good. With my family all secured in their tents, it felt good nestled underneath the Colorado sky. It rained off and on that night, and at times, our tents shook from the forces of the wind.

Chapter 6
"John’s Final Night"
After yet another night in lovely Aspen, we all rose just as the mornings before. We all cleaned up around camp, washed up, put on our fresh clothes, and had a good hearty breakfast around the campfire. We had yet to talk about our goings on for the day. I was resting over at a picnic table with my second cup of Java, listening to the birds, as they sang so beautifully overhead. Some squirrels were playing nearby, as I got them to come to me pretty close, as I pitched some peanuts still in the shell to them. They love the peanuts, and no matter where you are, where squirrels are used to seeing people and being around them, peanuts are a way to make instant friends with these little critters. I had a small bag, and sat there til I had fed them all that I had. A small group of five had gathered there by the picnic table, and at one point, one of them took the shell from my hand. I figured I could get one to do this, since I could tell that I really didn’t frighten them at all. Oh, the friends of the forest. I sat there for a minute, thinking about some of the things John and I had talked about over the past few days. He was an expert on the outdoors, nature, the environment, but more to me, I guess than that, was the way he could take a guitar, either six or twelve string, and make perfect music with it. His ability to play seemed to me to be so far ahead of his time. Oh yes, there are hundreds of great pickers, Nashville is full of talented people. People who play and sing, as well as the ones who have already made it in the business. A voice that is as recognizable as Elvis. I sat there and remembered all the songs that I could remember myself during the 1970's. This decade was probably the best time of Johns career, although he performed and had faithful fans, right up to the last. Well, beyond the last. Even today, I know his music is still played everywhere. "Rocky Mountain High" is a song that will never go away as long as the earth revolves. This is just a fact. I sat there inside the state he called home, and was vacationing in the very city he and Annie had moved to so many years ago. Thoughts of this being my last night of seeing John also came to mind. He said tonight, was it. It was tonight, that he must return to "Paradise". With that, I knew that the following night would be the last for me, and then leaving out the following morning headed back home from such a wonderful time here in the mountains. "Lets go daddy," said my daughter. We had decided to all go sight seeing in and around the area. "Okay, give me a minute," I said. I spent a little more time there just taking in the beautiful morning. I had found myself in love with the mountains. I guess it was the first vacation I had ever been on that I didn’t want to go home. I was always ready to go home when it was time. I hadn’t experienced that feeling this time. Shelley had wanted to drive around, see some of the homes, and just be together. I was ready, so we loaded up some of our things, and took to the road. I had no particular route laid out, and I guess that made everything that more interesting. With the view of three beautiful faces in my rear-view mirror, and Shelley beside me, well, what more could a man ask for? I had it all, right there with me. I found myself whistling "I guess he’d rather be in Colorado." It was a song that came to mind, and it was kind of the way I had felt. We drove and found ourselves in the area of Aspen Valley Ranch, with a wonderful national forest access. The views from Aspen Mountain to Mount Sopris were completely unreal. Red Canyon and Dry Woody Creek Canyons end on the ranch. Hiking and horseback riding were popular in these areas. We found ourselves in the Snowmass Village area. The beautiful homes alongside the ski areas, where those who live are lucky enough to enjoy the sport, and never think of it as a vacation, but simply a way of life. We stopped along the way, and Robert made pictures of some of the homes. I enjoyed the area close to where we had set up camp. It was River Bend at Independence Pass, with the serenity of the Roaring Fork River. "Oh, honey look at this one," Shelley said. It looked like a mansion to me, showing its beauty across the street from Herron Park. "I could work a life-time and never be able to live here," I thought to myself. I had all the things I could wish for, but I was glad that there were people who could have places like these. Homes in the most awesome place on Earth. We saw the Little Nell Homesite with all its privacy. Homes in the Aspen Highlands, and those on Silverlode Drive. We all enjoyed seeing these places that were home to so many in the area. Fox Hollow at the Highlands, the Lodge at five trees, they were all something else. All the homes nestled within all the trees, the perfect landscape surrounding them all. I drove along the area known as the Chateau Eagle Pines, that is a European inspired residence. In the Roaring Fork Valley, we made our way through Elk Springs. I noticed all the golf courses there. Nature’s beauty shown through there. Since we were so close to Carbondale from the looks of my map, we decided to drive on to this location. After we got there, we got out to stretch and walk around a bit. Some locals nearby came up for a quick chat while we had pulled in to fill up with gasoline and some snacks. We found out that in Carbondale was where most of the working folks in Aspen actually lived. After a brief visit we drove down a nice two-lane highway that carried us right into Redstone. From there we drove into Marble where we visited the Old Mill Site, and also the Marble Historical Society Museum. The sun was high in the partly cloudy sky, and I was wanting to go back toward the downtown area of Aspen. The drive today was great, but to be honest, with a long drive ahead of me, anyway going back home, I just wanted to head back toward Aspen, and go back to our campsite. It was way past my meal time, so we checked out a nice sidewalk cafĂ©. We made two more stops while in town, the Theater in the Park, and the Aspen Art Museum. We had a ball together, all day long. With the evening coming, we had to get back to set up camp again. We made good time with the entire day of events, but we were all tired, and ready to rest for awhile. Two more nights of camping, and our vacation would be over. We got back and me and the boys set the tents up again. Afterwards we gathered firewood once again for the cool night ahead. My wife was exhausted and as soon as her tent was up, she said she just had to take a nap. I was ready to do the same. I could clearly see that I wasn’t as young as I used to be, so I decided that we just all would lay down for a while. I figured if I could get about an hours worth of sleep, I would be good to go for the rest of the evening. The wind was picking up a bit, and it looked like some rain clouds were moving in. As I lay there with only the sounds of nature outside, I fell asleep. We all did. I woke up two hours later from the sound of rain beating against our tents. Everyone else was still sawing logs, and I knew if I didn’t get them all up, that nobody would be sleepy at bed time. "Get up," I told the boys. "Lets all go for a walk," I said. They went next door, and woke the girls up. We stayed in the tents until the rain stopped. With a cool breeze still blowing after the rain subsided, we put our jackets and caps on, and decided to take a short walk. We walked alongside some of the open country areas. With only a few cabins, here and there, this former gold mining camp outside Aspen, had been our residence for several days and nights now. The feeling was in the air. I felt as if John was around there close. No indications were there, but I could sense that his appearance soon would be made known. I also knew that according to him, this visit would be the last. After some brisk walking on the wet ground, the sun was beginning to go down. "Look daddy, the sunset," said Shelley. It was a glorious site, with orange, and red painted so perfectly from above. Since we had made it almost back to our camp, we all sat on some large rocks on the side of a hillside. We watched, quietly at the beauty in the sky. I had never taken the time, I don’t believe to ever watch such a site as the setting sun was performing for us at that moment. Such peace, such an "at home" kind of feeling. It was some of the best relaxation medicine we could have taken that evening. I took pictures of all of us, as the sky became the perfect background. "Only the top of the sun is showing now," I said. I guess we stayed there til some stars began to appear before we left the hillside. As we walked back to camp, the kids were calling their friends back home, as Shelley and I held hands as we walked, until our camp and our vehicle were in sight. My wife and I built a fire as soon as we arrived. "Sandwiches tonight, kids," I said. We had eaten so much for our late lunch today, so none of us was really that hungry. It was peanut butter, chips, and iced tea I had iced down in mason jars in the cooler. Darkness had fallen, and the clouds had moved out. It was a starry night once again above us. If the wind would die down a bit, we wouldn’t even need jackets tonight. My wife retired by the fire with some romance paperback, as the kids were still calling their friends from school, catching up on everything back home since we had left. It had almost been a week, and my thoughts were turning to the long drive home. I tried to get other things on my mind, and not start getting wrapped up with trip back home. It is great here, and yes I wanted to stay. There’s an old saying though. My mind traveled back to an old familiar movie we all have seen. A girl, and her desperate attempt to make it back home. She meditated on the thought, and kept saying to herself, "There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home". Then in the twinkling of an eye, she was there. Well, that was in the movies, but I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself as I wished that it could be that easy. I took my guitar from the Expedition, and just entertained myself for awhile. After a quick tune-up, I began to play and sing the song, "Back home again". As I began to sing, my wife lowered her book, and began to sing with me on the chorus. My voice wasn’t the voice that made the song a hit, but I did my best. I sang it through, all the verses, and ended it just as John himself would. We sat there, and didn’t say anything afterwards. It was the only tune I played, as my wife resumed her reading. I went to the car, and put my guitar in the back. As I closed it, looking over the top of our car, I could see the image of a man off in the distance. He didn’t move, and I couldn’t see his face. Everyone was still up, and I felt that it was indeed John, although I wasn’t sure. I threw up my hand and waved, and turned back to the camp with my family. I went back and sat down by my wife’s side. "You know, honey, I am so glad we came here", I said. We both agreed that this trip had topped any vacation we had been on. "The people here are awesome, and I don’t believe I have met anyone that hasn’t made me feel at home," Shelley said. I smiled in agreement, and put a few more sticks on the fire. The kids had made their calls, and were sitting there with us playing UNO. I went over to the car, rolled the glasses down, and turned the radio on for some entertainment. Although I loved all kinds of music, every now and then, I have to listen to classical music. My wife and kids didn’t like it at all, and often would make jokes about me listening to it. I can’t help it. I had found, after a hard day at work, and a hot shower at home, to put on Bach or Beethoven soothed the stress of life’s everyday problems. The outline of a man still stood off in the distance. I knew it was him, and I knew he was waiting on me. I turned my attention back to the fire, back to my gang, and back to my music playing through the car stereo. I laid back on a pillow there taking in the moment. Shelley turning page after page, the children still playing cards. I lay there looking at the moon above, thinking to myself, "I’ve been there. That beautiful brown circle in the sky". After another hour there at the campfire., my gang said they had enough classical music for the night. I knew they would eventually say something like they always do. The kids had already been listening to their own music on their Ipods, but my wife didn’t have anything for her escape. "I think we are going to go to bed, Bob", she said closing her book. "I’m tired, and the kids need to get in their tents too," she added. I went to the car, and changed stations, finding some good country music, and turning it down a little bit. "Just a little noise for awhile, I’ll be on in awhile. I want to sit here by the fire just a little longer," I told Shelley. "Just don’t be all night," she said. "Okay, honey, I’ll turn in after just a while", I said as I gave her a goodnight kiss. Everyone crawled in, and I zipped the front of the tents. With the music playing softly, I turned toward the edge of the trees. He was still there, just as he had been for some time now. I took a deep breath, and proceeded to walk toward him. As I got closer, I turned on my flashlight to make sure it was John. As I got within a few feet of him, I shined the light in his face. "John," I said. "John, its so good to see you again," as I smiled. "My family and I covered some ground ourselves today. We had such a great time. You were right, Colorado has so much to see, so much to offer." John smiled, and held his right hand out, as I shook it there in the dark. "Bob, you did my song great justice, tonight," said John. I thanked him and told him I sure tried. "Back home again" has such meaning, and its something that everyone can relate to," he replied. "Yes sir, yes sir it does," I said. I could feel such an urgency in what I wanted to say. Things that I felt, I wanted to share with him. I found myself at that moment, not wanting to say goodbye to him that night. He had already told me that tonight was the night. Here I was, wanting to ask him to stay, to be my friend, and to never leave. I wanted so much to say those words to him. Well, as it has always been, on my adventures with this expert musician/outdoors man, he was the one to call all the shots. I was only a mere follower. I decided right then and there to just stay silent with my emotions that were running high, and let John share with me what he wanted to. I stood there waiting to hear what he had to say. Was he wanting to take to the air again tonight, like an eagle in flight? Did he want to go hiking, or maybe show me where he’d been staying, or camping the last few nights? I found myself almost began to shake as he stood there, staring at me, beneath the beauty of a full Colorado Moon. "Bob, its been great, I won’t forget meeting you this week. I couldn’t have met a more caring, nice gentleman, and I’m glad you were the one that was picked for me," John said. Well, I just almost broke down. I felt a lump in my throat that was stuck there. I believe my eyes started to water too. I cleared my throat, and slapped my leg, and said "John, its been awesome, man, that trip to the moon, what can I say?" John threw back his head, and began to laugh so loudly. "Bob, the look on your face, as we passed the International Space Station, you were scared to death, but you hid it well!" He had me on that one. I was scared, I guess he could see it the way I was holding on. "You know, I was given a special gift, getting to come back for a spell you know. Not everyone gets to do that," John replied. The conversation was all headed in one direction. Goodbye. It was coming, sooner than I wanted to admit. I gazed back at my campsite, as John said, "A fire softly burning, may I?" He wanted to sit beside the fire right outside my sleeping family. "Sure John, sure," I exclaimed. We walked over, and sat down, listening to the crackling of the wood. John placed some wood on top of it, and closed his eyes, and said, "Colorado will always be with me, from this night, and all the ones to follow". I looked into his eyes, and took in the genuine expression he had as he spoke these words. How I wished he would sing me another song. It would only be right. "John, would you sing me one more song, I’ll get my guitar, and," John stopped me. "Bob, my time, its here. Can you feel it?" I looked at him at a state of confusion. "My time, Bob, they are calling me." I knew what he meant, even though I wished for more time with my friend. "Bob, I want to do something special for you. I think I have just enough time to do one more song for you. Can you follow me away from camp just a little way?" John asked. I agreed, and was wanting to see what John was talking about. So we got up, and began to walk away from my family, our campsite into the nearby trees. I carried my flashlight because even with the moonlight, it became dark as we entered the trees. We walked along with only the sound of our footsteps in the night. I noticed off in the distance a bright shining light. It seemed to be daytime in a certain area in a cleared spot in the middle of the forest. We got closer, as John began walking faster as if his time was at hand. As we entered this enchanted area, I found that the light was coming from a piano that was sitting there. It was a beautiful white piano and a white stool. The light it was giving off was almost too bright to even look at. He stood beside it for a moment, and said "Bob, here is a song you may have heard me sing before". I stood there beside him, as he sat down on the stool. I didn’t know just what kind of performance I was in store for. I knew that it was sure to be a spectacular one. He sat there for a minute, as if he was going back in time, within his own mind. I noticed that as the light was so bright coming from his piano, he himself was giving off a radiant glow also. This was awesome. Before he began to play, he reached within his shirt pocket, and removed a picture. It was a picture of a beautiful woman, and as I leaned over to take a look, I noticed that it was a picture of the woman that was the only true love that John had in his life. He held it out in front of him, and let go of it. It remained suspended in the air. Floating right in front of him. He stared at it only for a minute, as he looked overhead. "What is this?" I asked. "There are, there are, John, there are angels floating down toward us!" As they glided down beside him, with violins, and a cello. John began to play, and then he sang. Yes, I knew the song. It was the beautiful masterpiece "For You". I stood motionless, as three bald eagles flew down and landed on top of the piano. John continued singing it with his flawless voice. I noticed about halfway through the song, John was taking on a change himself. As he sung, beautiful wings began forming slowly, first around his shoulders, then into a full set of white wings. The wings on an angel. The other angels there kept playing along in perfect harmony. Right there in the middle of nature, Gods creation, John performed his last song, and gave his final performance for someone as unimportant as I. As John got to the last lines of the song, his entire dress had changed. His wings, yes, but a full white gown, and a halo glowed above his head. I listened at his final lines, as he sang, "Just the pledge of my life, my love for you". At that instant, John was gone, the other angels were gone, his piano was gone, all in a split-second, and the woods in which I was standing, turned to pitch black darkness. Then, my alarm clock went off.

Chapter 7
"Moment of Realization"
I lay still in my bed, only to reach up and hit the snooze button. I still didn’t move. "What had just taken place?" I asked myself. My wife Shelley lay quietly asleep there by me. The sounds of cars and trucks were passing by in the early morning hours before dawn, and I realized I hadn’t been anywhere. I lay there trying to collect my thoughts, and put together what I had come to figure out to be only a dream. I couldn’t understand that all the beauty, the places, the campsite, and most importantly John was all played out during the night as I lay asleep in my own bed. My head began to pound, as I felt the coming of a bad headache. As I hit the snooze button a second time, I still couldn’t get myself to slide out of bed. The thoughts of the mountains, the scenery, the lakes, the walks, our trip into Aspen, the stores, the museums, all of this was a dream. It was the most awesome, the most real dream I have ever experienced. I began to hear the sounds of the train coming through just down the road from our home. Another deep breath, and I sit up on the side of the bed. "Oh, boy," I said to myself. I stared into the darkness of my room, trying to find my slippers with my feet. Five a.m. in the morning, and another day at the factory. Well at least its Friday, and no work tomorrow. I went into the bathroom to shower, and as the water hit me in the face, thoughts of my dream became vivid once more. The times it would began to rain in Aspen. The nice cool rain, the fall weather. After fixing a quick bowl of cereal and getting dressed, I woke up the kids to get ready for school. It was fall here for sure. I walked to the end of the driveway to pick up the newspaper, and leaves were falling all around. They had all turned the beautiful colors, and winter was surely headed our way. The kids were up getting ready as they do every morning, and it was just another typical day. Sitting down in the living room for just a moment, I got to glance at the paper and my oldest son poured me a cup of coffee, and brought it to me in my chair. Again, my dream had come to mind once again. The coffee, the campfire, all of us happy as we enjoyed roughing it those few days. "Thanks, son, ya’ll keep it down and don’t wake up your mother," I said. "Sure dad," he said walking away. I always had about ten minutes in the morning to look at the paper before leaving for work. It wasn’t but about twenty minutes to work, so I was lucky to not have far to drive like some of the ones I worked with. Finishing off my cup, I folded the paper up, leaving it on the table for Shelley when she gets up. Leaving the house that morning, it still seemed so real, our vacation into Colorado. All the way to work, I recalled all the details I could remember in my mind. The trip to the moon, my tour over the state, my moments with John. There was a CD case beside me, and inside there was one I wanted to hear that morning. It was John Denver. With enough time to listen to a few of the best, it seemed like he was riding right alongside with me that morning. I sang right along with him on "Leaving on a Jet Plane." It was another great hit that I liked. Well, I liked them all. You see, that’s how you know if you are truly a fan of the artist, or group, that you listen to. In my opinion, if you go out and buy a record, or nowadays, its called CD’s, just for one song, you’re not a fan of that person or group. When you go out and buy a CD because they just came out with a new one, and you don’t have it, now that’s being a real fan. So here I am, heading in tor ten hours of work, listening to J.D., and I’m feeling good. I have listened to this C.D. and all these songs a hundred times, no a thousand! This morning it seems like the lyrics have stronger meanings to me now. Had I overlooked them all along? Did my dream last night just make them become more clear than before? I didn’t know exactly, but today I knew John would probably stay on my mind most of the day. My old car pulled into the same parking lot, and even the same parking space it had, for going on twenty years. I felt good in my heart that morning. Cool breezes blowing my hair and putting a chill in me that called for another cup of coffee. I had a half hour before starting my shift, so I went to the break room to sit a moment, and enjoy something hot. As I pulled my chair up to the table, and took my first sip, I glanced up at the television mounted in the corner of the room, almost ceiling high, which was on the national news. "Our thoughts to all of John Denver’s family, fans, and friends the world over today. For it was on this date, October the twelveth, ten years ago, when the custom built aircraft, known as a Long-EZ, plunged into the waters of Monterey Bay in California, killing the world known singer who got his start back in the 1960's. His love for the land, the animals of the wild, and mountain life made him a success early in life with his great ability as a songwriter. John will be missed by all, and now your local weather." I sat there spellbound for a moment. I had no idea that, it was today. Oh yes, I knew that this year marked the tenth anniversary of his death, but I wasn’t so sure on the day, or the month either. My being a great fan, I had slipped a little, not to remember the date, and only the year. It was 1997. I remember so well two events from that year. My daughter was born in May of that year, and I remember her just being a baby when I heard the news about John. So now, this had turned into a true coincidence. The almost real dream last night, the actual eve of the date that John passed away. As the seven o’clock bell made its familiar sound, and I placed my hard hat, safety glasses, and ear plugs in, my day of welding and grinding heavy steel was ahead of me. All day long, raised high above the ground, either hanging beams, welding, or using my cutting torch, I still could not part from the dream. I knew that it was just that, yes, and they’ll be many more. This one though had just enough realness to it, to make me see things in a different perspective. For one thing, I know somewhere I’m taking my family next year. We’re going to Colorado. That’s just something that we’re going to do. I turned to one of my working buddies and raised my welding helmet. "Joe, hey man, did you ever listen to any John Denver?" He smiled and said wiping his brow, "Oh yeah, I used to like that song about going home or something, supper on the stove, you know." That got a smile and a nod, as I lowered my welding helmet back down in place. All day long I guess I had a warm feeling inside, and couldn’t wait to get home to my family. When the go home bell rang, and I changed out my boots to leave, I noticed the trees around the building there. I noticed the sky, a few birds flying over. I had probably seen these things everyday, but I hadn’t ever noticed it. Not the way that I had noticed it that time anyway. Making it back to my driveway, pulling up under the car port, I reached in the back seat for a vase filled with roses, I had stopped at a florist and bought on the way. They were for Shelley, and the reason was "just because". The kids were all inside watching T.V., and I went in, sitting in the floor and watched it with them. I can’t remember the last time I had done this. I always came in, ate supper, got a shower, and would go to bed early. Some nights through the years, I’d come in and not spend really anytime with them. That was not good to know, but it was the truth. I had made a promise to myself to make a few changes, all for the better. I got my old guitar out of the closet after supper that night, and sit there in the living room, trying to pick out tunes I had learned so long ago. I used to play all the time, but I could tell by the ends of my chording fingers, it had been a long time. We all had a good time that night. The kids were naming songs for me to play that, of course, I’d never heard of. The only ones I could play were those older than they were. All in all, they enjoyed it, even if I was a bit rusty. It was almost midnight before we all went to bed. Before I went to sleep, I had to tell Shelley about the dream I had the night before. I hadn’t shared it with anyone at work that day, and felt like sharing it. She was reading there with her lamp on beside the bed. "Shelley, let me tell you about a dream I had last night," I said. So many times during our marriage, she’d tell me about dreams she had, so tonight it was my turn. "I dreamed we went on vacation, and were camping in the mountains of Colorado." She began laughing, and said, "Bob, you were dreaming!" It kind of hurt my feelings a little, because I knew how she meant it. She was implying that we never get out of town at all. Although she had laughed, I went on with just parts of my dream, and the places we visited, and how so much that I wanted us to go the next year. She lay there listening, but I could tell she didn’t think we would ever do it. We probably talked for an hour or so, until I think I got her to believe me. I didn’t know for sure. All I ever did was just work all the time, and when I would take vacation time, it was always to either do something around the house, or just to rest. I had came up short going on trips with the family, but I truly want to start. I knew I needed to start with the little things, like being a better husband and father. Not that I’d been that bad, I had just overlooked all the things, or some of them anyway, that could be big things in other peoples lives. The next morning over breakfast, I told Shelley that come spring time, I thought I’d plant some fruit trees in the back yard. My dad has good results every summer with his, but I want to try it for myself. I envisioned a spot outside where I wanted to plant some tomato and pepper plants. "A farmer now, huh?" she said as she laughed again. This was going to be hard. Every idea, and a change I was going to make, was being turned into a joke. It was my fault though. My past spoke for itself. I had always worked with steel, with welding as my specialty. One thing was certain, these little things like setting out some trees and plants, I was determined to do it come springtime. A list of things that I wanted to accomplish was being made inside my head. I always had found time to take a few hunting trips with my friends from work, but I had never carried my two sons out for even some target practice, or taught them anything about gun safety, and to respect the "unloaded firearm". I could count on both hands the times I carried my family fishing. That was a very important role, to get up early, and go fishing. One of America’s great past-times. I had lost sight of all these things. Two of my kids play ball, and I hadn’t always been there for them, up in the stands, giving my support. Yes, I was destined to be a better man. "All over a dream?" I asked myself. Well, I won’t say it was all over the dream, but I will say it got me thinking about a lot of things. Number one, enjoy your families. There are a bunch of people we meet on the roads, or in the local supermarket that do not have families. Some of them have no one. My mind can’t help but think of those asking for help. I always turn and look away when I see them. If someone is needing food or some gas to get to their destination, well a few bucks ain’t going to break anyone. Who knows, we could be entertaining angels unaware. Shelley had been carrying the kids to church every Sunday for years, but I have always been to tired to get up and get ready. I mean, I work everyday of the week, and I deserve to have at least one day a week that I don’t have to get up and go anywhere. The next morning was a shocker. I got up before the rest of the family took a shower, and reached into the closet for an out-of-style three piece suit that hang there for weddings and funerals. I took my dress shoes out, and seen they were covered with dust, just like the book I picked up and put by the door. I was going to take with me that morning. I walked into the bedroom, and walked to Shelley’s side. I reached down and kissed her on the forehead. She opened her eyes, rubbed them, and looked at me. "Wait a minute, now I’m dreaming," she said. This time she didn’t laugh. I believe I saw some tears that morning as she reached up to give me a bear hug. This was only a small step, well actually it was a big one for me, but small in a sense of me trying to find myself. I felt like I had failed in everything I had ever set out to do. That morning, as I walked in to the church, I felt like every eye was on me. The people, most of who I knew anyway, made me feel welcome, but it had been years. The songs I knew the words to, and the singing was beautiful, but my faithfulness of being absent for so long, keep me from joining in. This change I was making would take time. Here where I sit, or on a creek bank, or beside a ball field. My family was proud of me that Sunday morning, as I sit there in my suit that was twenty years out-of-date. To them, I was the sharpest one there. In Shelley’s eyes, my suit was brand new. As the days rolled by after that day, I became active in my kids activities. When a game rolled around, unless I had to pull overtime, I was there, encouraging them from outside the fence. I found out that I could always rest after a game, just as easy as I could before a game. I didn’t want them to come to me on down the road and say, "Why weren’t you there?" They could already say it to a certain degree now, so I needed to change right away in this area. Spring did come, and I did put those fruit trees in the ground. The tomato plants grew to almost seven feet high by the summer, and the pepper plants didn’t do too bad either. That was the extent of my garden. I didn’t have the room for a real garden with rows of veggie’s, but just growing what I had grown was a huge step for me. My dad and mom had always grown all of this in the summer, and when they would come from Mississippi to spend the day, they would always bring me a bag of apples or tomatoes, so this year, I carried them some of my own harvest. It would be a while before I would have any apples but, I knew that with care, my trees would yield some beautiful apples just like my dad’s. I grew up each summer eating the apples from the trees he had planted. Each year, there would be more on the trees than all of us could ever eat, and he would give a bunch of them away to family. I believe that everyone could tell I was making a positive change. I had been the "old me" forever, so I knew it would take time. I was once told that people start believing that someone makes a change, only after they see a pattern, for a while. That always stayed with me during the years and I never forgot it. Staying up later during the work week became a regular thing to do. Helping Shelley after supper each night washing dishes after helping the kids with their homework. All these things that I had never seen at all. An interest in nature, the trees, the sea, animals came over me too. No, I knew that I couldn’t change the world. My voice had never really been heard before, and I knew that no one was interested in hearing me now. One thing was for sure, the little things that I could do, and maybe get my family to do, could and would make a big difference with all these big plans, I set out to help in my own way. I talked all the kids in the neighborhood into starting a "Pitch In" program. When I was just a child myself, I remember while being in elementary school belonging to this "Do Not Litter" program. I remember how everyone involved would go around, and pick up in and around that old school house. Another thing that I spoke to some of our friends about was to plant trees. I had planted the fruit trees and also had planted three Dogwood trees out at the edge of our property. Summer was a busy time of the year for me, at work and everything. My two boys had decided to mow and do yard work during the summer months. It was a great way for them to see the value of working, and learn how to also save money too. I tried to show them that to save was just as important as making money. I spent my evenings carrying them to and from different locations for them to do their work. They enjoyed the yard work and, I could soon see that to do this everyday was actually hard work. "Boys, you make me very proud, you’re hard workers, and I like that," I said. "Me and your mom have been thinking. How would you both like for all of us to take a little vacation this fall, or maybe even the winter time?" My sons were all excited when I told them, exactly where I was thinking, about us going. I had never been able to let go of the dream that I had last October, completely anyway. I still think a lot of the different activities and programs I had taken part in, my dream that night, had a part in. The kids were excited about maybe getting to go to Colorado. We’d have to all go when the kids would have a few days off from school. Christmas time would be perfect. We could stay a week or longer since the kids would be off for two weeks, and I could put in for vacation that long myself. Snow Mass would be great during this time of the year, and we all could try our hand at skiing. One thing, if we all decided to go during the holidays, we would surely need to be calling for some reservations pretty soon. Its always good to make them at any large attraction at least six months in advance. The summer heat was so extreme this year. It seems that here in the South, every summer, the temperature tends to be just beyond that of the previous year. We go through several hot months usually without as much as a sprinkle. The day dreaming I found myself doing, seemed pretty nice, as I helped my sons load up their mowers, weed eaters, and leaf blower. "Winter time and a little snow sounds good about now, what do you think Tim," I asked my middle son. "I’m ready now," he said chugging down an ice cold Gatorade. "We’ll see boys, lets head on to the house. Shelley was working on fixing our supper and us working men were extra hungry, after all this yard work in 90 degree weather. Life was good and I was enjoying it now. It seemed more than ever before.

Chapter 8
"It’s all about Family"
The summer months rolled by us all, as summer break for the kids were also closing in fast. Even though they enjoy going to school where they go, none of my three were ready to start back. They were kind of the way I was myself at the end of the summer. It was always that first day. After it passed by, everything was okay beyond that point. It was still very hot weather and I was ready for a break in the temperature which usually didn’t come til September every year. After school resumed, and things began to slow down, I started two days a week volunteer work in the evenings at the local Humane Society. My wife and I had made a donation, small as it may have been, but every bit counts, earlier in the year. The animals there had no home, and I wanted to do what I could to help them find good homes. Going in there, helping in the care of all the animals housed right outside the city limits was something that I enjoyed. To carry them home, or some of them would have been great, but the kids had a dog, Scotty, and three cats of their own which are Lucky, Tabby, and Tom. That was all that we could take care of. It gave me a little something to do, in giving just a little of myself. My focus was to stick with the little things. Taking on big projects always scared me, and I was always afraid that I wouldn’t make the right decisions that would need to be made. Behind our house, I had a small shop where I would do some wood-working when the mood hit me. A carpenter I wasn’t, but I could build bird houses that were nice enough to hang in the trees of the best houses in town. Shelley had a small booth where she would carry things to sell, just a past-time thing for her, in a Antique/Flea Market in town. Me and the boys had put a few extra ones up this year in our yard. I even thought I would try my luck in the spring time with the purple martins, by stringing up a row of gourds, hoping that their journey back from South America would bring a few of them to our home to admire. To watch them glide across the sky, and to hear their unmistakable singing is a real joy. Maybe next spring we would see a few. I always heard that they liked making their home near water, like a pond nearby. That was a strike against me, but I wanted to try it. It would definitely be a while anyway before we would see if they would make our gourds the ones they would raise their young in or not. Fall time was almost upon us once again. The previous year had flown by fast, just as all of them seem to do. Each one of them faster than the one prior. The old saying that the older you get, the faster they go by, is so very true. Sometimes I would say that there was just not enough hours in the day. That in the old days, people had time to do everything. The ladies would cook three meals a day, while their husbands farmed for a living, and they still had time to visit neighbors, or you would see them sitting in swings on their front porches. Where had the change taken place? How was it that now, no one had time for anything? Everyone is in a total rush now, and can’t stand sitting one extra minute behind someone who didn’t see the light turn green. Where has the love gone that once was in the hearts of most people, and now only in what seemed to be a few? The answers didn’t lie within my mind, for I didn’t have them. To go back to those kind of days would be so awesome though, if only we could. This was just wishful thinking. Robert was getting ready for football season coming up. My boy was going to be a senior this year, so we all couldn’t wait for his first game. Tim played basketball, and just needed to build confidence in himself. He had a problem with this since he began playing, but we have got faith in him, and we will keep it there. Cindy wants to start up in the band when she reaches Junior High School, so Shelley and I will support her in this also. My mind was still set on that vacation, probably during Christmas break. At night, I would look up some places there that might be nice to stay. If we were going to stay somewhere in the area where skiing would be our main thing to enjoy each day, we may just stay in a nice hotel nearby. I definitely want to go back when its warmer, and camp in the mountains. It could be a few years before going back for a second trip, but its something to plan on. Something down the road. I was clearly beginning to realize, we work, we spend our lives investing in things to make more money, and there is nothing wrong with that. In my heart, I have made a vow to never lose sight on what God gave us to enjoy while we are here. That is the warmth of a family. All the memories that one can make during their life time with a family. Birthdays, Christmas mornings and Santa Claus, letting go of your child’s handle bars for the first time, on the sidewalk beside your house. These are the things that no amount of money can buy. Its something that a family with very little to their name can enjoy, to the richest people alike. The closeness of a family. You know, for years, I overlooked these things, and even taken them for granted. These moments in time should never be taken for granted in any way, because they can change instantly with one phone call. Even though I was trying to continue being a better person, a better husband, and a better dad, I know that I am far from perfect. I don’t really spend too much time thinking about reaching this level, foremost because it is impossible. Enough time had went by though, that I had established a new me. Shelley, Robert, Tim, and Cindy could tell there was a difference made in my life. My hopes were that they would just forget the times I made mistakes, and just help me stay focused on the future here. Robert and Tim both showed an interest over the summer in learning to play the guitar. We went to a local one-man operated shop where he sold guitars and a few other types of sting instruments. Until I knew for sure that they were going to stick with it, and cheap in price. They sounded good, and I had to buy two of them, because Robert, my oldest, was left-handed just like his dad, while Tim was right handed. Each night for usually thirty minutes, I would go out on our glass enclosed back porch, and I’d began with all the basic chords, and the pick and strum exercises. Back years ago, when I was taking lessons, the songs I began with were simple, and songs that were always in the beginner manuals that were written by Mel Bay. I remember after I learned the basic chords, that I was taught some of the songs that the man in black, Johnny Cash, sang and made famous during his career. My boys had heard them so many times that as I played and sang them, they too, knew all the words. We ended our playing that particular night with a John Denver song called "Country Roads". I was glad they had taken the interest in playing. While most of my own playing was limited to just playing the chords, I had learned the art of finger picking also and, was taught one of John’s songs that was played in this fashion. It was called "My Sweet Lady". Tim had asked me that night what Johns’ real name was. "Tim, his name was Henry John Deutschendorf," I said. I went on to tell him that I had always heard the reason that John had changed his name was because it was too long to fit on a record label. They all knew that John Denver probably ranked in the top five music artist of all time on my list. I still had some of his old albums that I would get out and play from time to time. After we put our guitars away, and my sons went back inside to watch television, I went into the living room to bring up once again to my wife, the idea of going on our trip. "What do you think about going during Christmas this year?" I asked. She told me she was leaving that decision up to me, and whatever I decided, we would do it. That was all I wanted to hear. I had just enough vacation left to add with the days that the plant would be shutting down for anyway, so it would work out just fine if we were going to do it. I needed to either call, or go online, and make plans now. She said she would like to go camping there sometime, but wanted to go back during the springtime for that. We both agreed we wouldn’t get to the following year, but we would do it. She called the kids in there with us and told them that we were going to spend our Christmas this year in Colorado. Although it was still a while before going, we needed to start thinking about it now, and getting ready. Our kids wanted to get some of their friends to go with us, but there wasn’t any way we could this time. We just didn’t have the room. We’d be making the trip in my wife’s Ford S.U.V. and I knew that the five of us would be crowded by the time we had everything loaded inside that we’d be carrying. The boys had saved their money, or the better part of it, from this summers yard work, and wanted to take some of it out of the bank. That was fine with me. They worked for it, they learned how to save it. This was the two biggest lessons I wanted them to learn. Shelley had called a nice place for us to stay at Snow Mass, and the only reason we got it was because of someone’s cancellation. Everything has worked out for me and my family this year. We have covered a lot of ground. I had changed in the past year or so, and become more active. I do more now. My family and I get up on the weekends, and take brisk walks together down the road and back, until we have walked two miles. This fall was as beautiful as the last one. All the trees, especially the maple trees, let everyone know the season that was upon us. My schedule was as hectic as any working dads could be. Friday nights were football, Saturdays turned into still keeping up some yards, from the summertime. Mowing season was over for six months, but all the leaves had fallen. I’d help them some, raking the yards, bagging the leaves up. It was surely a good way to stay in shape. Just as there is a time and a season for everything in life our holiday season came around once again in November, and we all enjoyed Thanksgiving. Time off from work, the kids out of school, and a time to reflect back, a time to be thankful. I felt like an average guy in almost every way, but I was above average when it came to counting my blessings. I had a great wife, three healthy children, and a home full of something that can’t be bought at any price, LOVE. The only thing I guess that I can think of that I wish I could share more of, is time with my family. Sure, we have to work, but still, with everyone going in different directions almost all the time, I’d sure like to be able to slow the clock down, and slow my gang down too. Taking time to make quality memories, that’s all I want to do from here on out. To grow old gracefully, and to be proud of my kids. As the days grew closer, so did my thoughts as they began to go back to the night, a little over a year ago. A peaceful night in cool October. The night that I dreamed in peaceful sleep, of a state and a city. For the first time in my life, I was going to visit this state, this beautiful land, this Colorado. Shelley had made the reservations and we would be staying at Aspenwood in a condo which would be right by the Snowmass Mountain Ski slopes, and two levels above the Snowmass Village Mall. As December was upon us now, as we sat at home, eating my birthday dinner Shelley had prepared for me, I made an announcement. "Okay everyone, today is the 4th, I’m a year older, and who’s ready to go to Colorado?" My family began to cheer and clap, and blew into their little birthday whistles we all had there by our plates. It was a birthday party that Shelley and Cindy had worked very hard to set up, with balloons, streamers, the cake, the works as far as I was concerned. With Christmas only three weeks away, it was time to start putting things together. I knew it was three weeks away, because on my birthday, which is December the fourth. Christmas day is always exactly three weeks to the day from my birthday. It was easy to remember that way, and I had always began Christmas shopping the week following my birthday every year. I couldn’t wait til we traveled to the mountains. I wanted to compare the beauty of Aspen and its mountains to that of those I had that night in the dream. That sounded silly, but it was kind of the way I felt. Would the landscape look as it did to me? Are the people as friendly as they were in my dream? Could I gaze into the forest, and be able to envision a blonde-haired mountain man, with a big smile and round glasses? Can the Spirit of Mountain John really be felt on a cold winters night in the Aspen hills? All these things remained to be seen, and remained to be revealed to me. I almost felt as if I had already been to Aspen. It was only in my mind, but it was about to become reality. As the final bell rang outside the school building, I sat outside, waiting to pick the kids up and give them a lift home. This was something that didn’t happen much. Since I had put in for the extra days before Christmas, I had the chance to go pick the kids up myself. Our plans were to go home, check our last minute list of items and make sure we have everything. We’d get into bed early tonight, get a good nights sleep, and leave out first thing in the morning. With everything packed in tightly, and my wife and kids sleeping, I settled down in the living room before going to bed. I raised the top of my old record player that was sitting in the corner of the room, and went over to my stack of albums. Everything from Mancini to the Disco era, I believe I had a little of all types of music. There it was though, that 1974 release, and the biggest selling studio album of his career, Back Home Again. I put it on the player, dropped the needle to the vinyl, and sat back in the recliner. I felt as if I were on a cloud as I listened to "Annie’s Song, Back Home Again, Sweet Surrender, and Thank God I’m a Country Boy". The next thing I knew, the morning sun was shining through my front window and Shelley was calling my name, and shaking my shoulder. I rubbed my eyes, and saw that my three kids were all outside, wrapped in the coats, and ready to leave. A quick shower, and a cup of coffee later, it was time. I left word with my neighbor, Mr. Grimes, the night before, to keep my newspapers picked up, and to keep an eye on the place. Robert had warmed our Expedition up, and I was ready. As I closed the door, and buckled up, I began to back out of our driveway. We were Colorado bound. A place that I had never seen, only heard of, was going to be the place that we open gifts on Christmas morning. I had it all, everything I could ever want. I had already accomplished those things in life. Now for some adventure and relaxation. I watched through my rear-view mirror, as our home vanished from my sight. The road before me now, and the route to Colorado was all I needed to be concentrating on now. Taking in a deep breath, and gripping the steering wheel, I smiled, and said to myself, "My life truly is a wonderful life, indeed!"

In Conclusion
I would just like to say that writing this book has been quite an experience. It is about a man who I feel was truly loved by everyone, especially here in the great USA I believe that Colorado was truly the great love as far a state is concerned. When Colorado is brought up in general conversation, I believe that the thought of John Denver still crosses many minds, even ten years after his death. While some considered John a country artist, I once heard him say that he was more of a Western artist. How ever I see, or perhaps you see him, and the music he left us, one thing is for sure. With only one or two words at the beginning of any song, and there was no doubt who this artist was. A perfectionist with voice and with guitar alike. Hopefully this book has been enjoyable for you who chose to read it. Maybe you could let a friend borrow it, and read it for themselves. Spread this feeling, this time to remember. For this year marks the tenth year since John was called home. I will never forget the morning I first heard the news. I was in a meeting at work, and a co-worker told a group of about ten people what had happened. My mind went back to a time when I was only a child, but the music of John Denver was hot, and there I began hearing all those favorite tunes I enjoyed so much, come back to me. I ask that during the month of October, for all the true John Denver fans to focus on his music. Play it often, or request it on your favorite radio station. Lets all stand together, and with this small effort, it could show the people of our country, John’s state, the state of Colorado that we are thinking about him, and in his honor and memory we will lift his music up during this special month. Perhaps on the date of his passing, October 12th kindly take a little time, if its only for sixty seconds, and think of John, his love for nature, and the environment, or maybe just your favorite song that he sang during his lengthy career. He left us with so many different ways to remember him. Pick one during this time, and embrace it. Let him know he may be gone, but he will never be forgotten.
I would like to conclude this tribute to John Denver with a book dedication of my own. Back earlier in the year, I had told my grandmother, who I always called "Granny", that I was writing a book on John Denver. She recalled to me that day that she remembered seeing him on television years ago, and talked of his "big round glasses". Before I had the chance to complete my book on John, that I told my Granny I wanted her to read when it was finished, she passed away. She was 88 years old. So, at this time, I want to say, "Granny, this one is for you, I know you would be proud. Also, Granddaddy, Big Mama, and Uncle T.J., one day we will all be together. No more Good byes."

Spirit of Mountain John

Written and dedicated to the blessed memory of my Granny
Silverine Durell Nichols Smith
March 16, 1918 - February 7, 2007
Rest in Peace

THE END

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