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Rare Air Episode 18 and January 2017 desktop calendar

An original desktop calendar for January appears at the bottom of this post.

For Beth and me, our conjoined “life before kids” began in about 1989… and before leaving Central Florida for Southern California on New Year’s Day, 1998, we toured the Sunshine State from top to bottom. Just before Amelia arrived in 2001, we returned to the Southeast. Since staking our claim in the Blue Ridge Mountains and welcoming Riley in 2003, we and our kids have continued to experience Florida as tourists. Read more

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Rare Air Episode 11 and November 2015 desktop calendar

An original November 2015 desktop calendar appears below.

We’re going back to Florida! No surprises there, right? Every year since Amelia was born, we’ve been hauling one to four kids along for those 12-14+ hour treks each way, which are even longer when we’ve driven on to the Keys. There are cousins, aunts, uncles, cats – and Gramma Lila – to see along the way. Usually we stop at several beaches and springs, and the occasional theme park. And even though everyone’s always ready to head anywhere warm by the time the dates arrive, it still can be tough to plan and book a trip that everyone gets excited about. Read more

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October 2015 desktop calendar


Featured Image: 2014 photo from our annual trip to Fort Island Gulf Beach in Crystal River, Florida.

I hope you will enjoy this October image selection, featuring a scene from a 2014 trip to Crystal River. We are very happy to be headed back to this area for our 2016 Spring Break. Sunset is spectacular in this spot on Florida’s Gulf coast… and also on King’s Bay, where we’ll be watching the sun descend from our kayaks several evenings next March.

The calendar template used here is courtesy of Aloma Printing. Click the image above to download a high-res October 2015 calendar for your desktop, and please stop back soon to see the newest episode of “Rare Air.”

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Rare Air Episode 10 and September 2015 desktop calendar

Today is September 7, 2015 – the Labor Day holiday Monday here in America. As I understand it, this is a “day off” that was purchased through the efforts of hard-working, far-seeing, community-focused people who were passionate about many things. Together, they were determined to protect their core human rights, and those of their working-class peers, in ways that would benefit their entire generation – and others to come – for eternity. I see that Americans have been commemorating their victory for almost 130 years now, and as wonderful as it is to enjoy this spectacular gift, it’s even sweeter knowing that dedication to hard-work – and appreciation for it – are built-into our future.

Last spring, my own drives to do work and then to honor it led me to the interesting crossroads where “Rare Air” began. Suddenly, there are now 10 episodes, where each one represents a sort of holy meditation to me, while also hopefully holding some meaning for you. This new one was photographed last Saturday during an annual pilgrimage for our family, where luckily we’ve been invited to join a lovely group from Valle Crucis and Boone, North Carolina, a few hours’ drive away in Sapphire, at the one-and-only Camp Merrie-Woode. This classic summer camp for girls is also an idyllic getaway during the off-seasons, and every year when the fates align, we happily stream our ways there in late summer to play, feast, catch-up and make new memories together. Read more

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A very special Throwback Thursday


This photo was taken on Feb. 9, 2002… 13 years ago, when Amelia was about six months old, and we were enjoying a family dinner at our home on Rocky Creek Road. We were joined by our other local family members, including Great Grandma Theresa Julien, Grandma Ginny Martin, Grandpa Bill Martin, Ann Kiefert, Chuck Bowling, and their kids Grace and Claire. I’m pretty sure this was one of the first dinners in this home, which was brand new at that time.

Although we moved from that home “into town” back in 2008, it was so special to us – holding priceless memories of both Amelia and Riley’s earliest years, and many of our own defining life-choices – that we could never bear to part with it. So, we have rented it out all this time, miraculously, to one family. Last weekend, Read more

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Rare Air Episode 6: Sol Duc River

An original January 2015 desktop calendar appears below.

We just enjoyed the most wonderful Christmas at home, and it looks like it will be our last one in Boone, at least from the near-term perspective. In the months ahead, we will move forward on our plans to relocate to Asheville, which is bound to be very exciting but also extremely bittersweet; the memories we have made here since arriving from Los Angeles have generally been wonderful, and with each passing day, they just keep getting sweeter. Still, there is a lot of optimism drawing us toward our family’s next adventure, and since we plan to keep our Boone real estate in our portfolio moving forward, this lovely town is certain to be part of our future as well.

Looking back at our 2014 National Park Tour – and even our 2012 one – I can see the new-growth roots of our kids’ willingness to “get up and go,” and this notion gives me some pride. Read more

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Sep. 24, 2012: Granny’s Little Creek

Granny’s Little Creek
by Roger Darnell

Once, we had no sense of the free-flowing excitement,
the raw and sometimes bone-chilling coolness of the water
as it flowed there, just behind Grandpa’s Smokehouse.
Often less than a trickle, that creek was a haven of life to us kids. Read more

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Fifty words

My family members and many close friends are participating in a special project where words are essential. An early version appears here with more updates coming soon. This one is written by Lila Ridings-Darnell, Heather Turner, Bud Ridings, Tiffany Eakle, Cheri Wynn and yours truly and designed using http://wordle.net.

And here is the final version, featuring additional input from Bob Bingham, Connie Bingham, Riley Darnell, Bernice Lurkins, Jim Darnell, Peggy Darnell, Mike LaHood, Joel Ridings, Nell Thacker, Ann Kiefert, Kristianna Bursa Myus, Sherry Ridings, Laura Darnell, Speed Jenner, Victoria Lynn Soden, Molly Gaffner-Jones, Richie Ridings, Linda Ridings, Bart Ridings, Mike Stoecklin, Liesl McVey Gaffner, Jane Davidson Zappia, Denise VanTassel Smith, Dianna Darnell Rist, Marti Reeser, Sara Jacobs Contevita, Beth Darnell, Judy Davis, Sandy Holzhauer, Michelle Munich, Terri McClung, Jane Hilliard, Cristy Willman, Barb Davis Ridings, Rachel Ridings, Jerry Gaffner, Daniel Ridings, Janice McFarland, Kalonie Farley Caulk, Martha Smith, Melissa Schumacher, Teri (Cruthis) Boehm, John Darnell, Marshall Mollet, Carla Mollet, Susan Darnell, Amelia Darnell, Claire Bowling, Dorothy Ridings, Dan Clotfelter and Nancy Clotfelter.

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2012 photo update

Here’s where to find our newest family photos. Over the weeks ahead I plan to add others from our trip to America’s legendary Theodor Roosevelt, Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Rocky Mountain National Parks.

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April 2011 Photo Set

Photos from a spectacular April.

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