Flowers are to enjoy.  So do it!

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

Wild blackberry

Wild blackberry

by Jim Byous

Wildflowers as well as garden flowers have always been an interest to me, looking for them and at them and studying them, intellectually.  In my younger years I spent endless hours checking floral features off as i poured over a book on plant taxonomy.  Wind poppies that grow around Mount Diablo near San Francisco are among my favorite that I have photographed…  Icelandic poppies from a home garden too.   They create a mood that you don’t have to analyze or evaluate.

You can go on about the environmental benefits or agricultural problems or taxonomic history or medicinal value… The thing about flowers is that you don’t have to say much.  Flowers are to enjoy; to simply look at.  Sometimes we need to slow down and enjoy life… just stop and smell the rhododendron.  So, do it!


This is called Jacobina or Brazilian Plum, justica carnia. Thanks to Sharon Harrison for the help finding the name.

My son in law, Greg McCormick, loves to garden.  Some of these images are from his yard as well as a field nearby.  The others are from the garden of our cousin, Larry Harley.  When we retired we packed everything in to storage and moved into a small garden apartment on his property.  Fortunately he too loves to garden, a talent and ability which neither The Beckster nor I have been able to cultivated.

Here are a few images to enjoy.

Greg’s Garden

Larry’s Garden

If you like travel, history… and images like these, we will feature flowers from our travel locations as we go.  Hope you enjoy them. – Jim and Becky.



Here is what we use capture images for our site.

Camera: Panasonic Gh4 and G7.  Nikon D7000.

Lens: Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4.0 ASPH as well as 14-140mm I.O.S. kit lens, both hand-held. Nikon 18-105mm DX VR lens.

Light: Open shade or cloud diffused natural light

Processing: Adobe Photoshop CC 2018


Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

© All content copyright J Byous Company 2018 all rights reserved



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Filed under Uncategorized, photography, nature, Flowers

The other, an Uzi in his hands, sits on the fender of the patrol car – Panama 1998.

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.  Please comment at the bottom of the page.

By Jim Byous

Child in El Piro

A child walks down the main road in village of El Piro, Panama past palm thatched houses found along the Pan American Highway.

Sweat pours from my forehead, my shirt is soaked from within.  I feel like if I walk I will slosh.  It’s hot.  I don’t like hot.  Our trip along the Pan American Highway is about to be interrupted.  My driver, Pablo, slows as two Panamanian policemen question motorists.  Some cars are ordered to the side of the road, others continue at the officers’ direction.  One policeman stands on the double yellow line, the other, an Uzi in his hands, sits on the fender of the patrol car smoking a cigarette.  The car looks new, about a year old, 1997, maybe 1998.  Cars move forward.  Now it’s our turn.

A hacienda along the Pan American Highway in Veraguas, Panama.

A palm-thatched home along the Pan American Highway in Veraguas, Panama.

My Spanish is rusty… very rusty.  I can barely communicate.  Pablo greets the official.  He instructs Pablo to the shoulder of the highway.

Me, in broken Spanish, “What’s up?”

Pablo, in broken English, “Don’t know.  I’ll be back,” he says and walks slowly back toward to the two well-armed men.

I have two Nikon cameras in my lap.  My instinct is to raise one to my eye and shoot photos.  I hesitate.  The policeman and Pablo are pointing toward me.  It’s a serious conversation.  I put the camera down on the seat.  Pablo jogs back and leans in the window.

“We have to pay a fine,” he informs me.

“How much?” I ask.

Pablo searches for the words then answers, “Cinco dollars.”

An Ngobe mother brings her sick child to the clinic at El Piro.

An Ngobe mother brings her sick child to the clinic at El Piro.

In Panama they use U.S. Dollars.  They have their own currency, the Balboa. But I guess the dollar makes it easier for tourists to pay bribes.  I reach into my wallet and hand him two five-dollar bills.  He grabs them, turns without looking at them and jogs back to the policemen.  They converse a bit more, this time friendlier.  Pablo walks briskly back, climbs into the small pickup with me and we drive away.

“What did we do?  Why were we fined?” I asked.

“Stopping in the highway,” he said, a grin grows on his lips.  “Against law to stop in highway.”

“A bribe,” I say.

“Si, mordida… a bribe.  They make extra money.  Everybody pay mordida,” he says as he hands the second five-dollar bill back to me.  Mordida is a good term.  It means to bribe, but it also means to bite.  I guess they are the same in these situations.

I push the money back to him.  “Para la problema.  Para usted.”  I think I said it right.  He handled the situation well.  I wanted him to keep the extra money.  I would still have to pay for the truck and gas that he “rented” from his cousin.  Later ten dollars would cover the four-hour round trip toward the town of David, near the Costa Rica boarder.

We had started in Canazas, a corregimiento, or small town, in the province of Veraguas, Panama.

Downtown Canazas 1998

Downtown Canazas, Panama, 1998.

I am shooting pictures for a team of doctors and dentists who were organized by a mission group from Southside Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia.  At this time, 1998, the village is supported by the Santa Rosa gold mine.  Protests are now organized as a weekly occurrence by the chief of the Ngobe people, often referred to as the Guaymi tribe.  I will learn later that the mine management would close it down to pacify the locals, only to reopen many years later when gold prices soared.

It is said the Canazas is authentic Panama.  If you want to experience the country at its core, visit by Canazas area.  I agree.  The population of the village is mostly Mestizo people who are a mixture of Spanish and native American.  The Ngobe speak their native language along with Spanish, a necessity for commerce.  In the jungle there are many villages where Ngobe is the only language, making communication with outsiders difficult.

Guaymi Mother and children

An Ngobe (Guaymi) mother and her daughters wearing traditional naguas dresses.

Our road trip to the western part of the country is to find an area where indigenous people offer trade goods.  It’s there that I’ve heard that one can buy a chaquira, a wide, beaded, lacy-looking, traditional neckwear now worn by the native women on special occasions.  And, I want to buy directly from someone who makes them… I want one from a Ngobe craftsman, not imported for the tourists.  My studies have told me that the torque-like jewelry was originally close to twelve to fourteen inches in diameter and worn by men.  That account is from records made shortly after Columbus visited the area in 1502.  I asked one Mestizo man if Ngobe men still wore the ornate neck pieces he laughed and informed me that the chaquira was for women only.  He emphasizes, “only.”  I guess I am 500 years off in my data.  History is corrected and tersely delivered to me.  I will later learn that some men wear the older style chaquira in ceremonies and when doing a traditional dance called the Jeki.  Guess he was wrong.

Right now, I am not sure where Pablo and I are.  I suspect we are approaching La Pita, a wide-spot-in-the-road in the province of Chiriqui whis is an area that borders Costa Rica and has the country’s highest mountain, Volcán Barú.  Pablo knows of one woman who sells chaquiras in a roadside stand.  It’s a long drive, but absolutely stunning landscape… except for the policemen.

The jungle terrain along the Pan American Highway.

The jungle terrain along the Pan American Highway between Canazas and El Piro.

Later I will learn that this area will grow to be a tourist destination.  The Los Quetzales Trail that spans the mountains, Pacific side to the Atlantic side, will become a favorite trek to hikers.  The northern city of Boquete will become a haven to expats, American, European, Canadian, and will become a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts.  Jazz festivals will flourish.  But that’s in the future.  Today few people hike the path.


The glass-bead chaquira from our adventure on the Pan American Highway.

Ahead on the left is a small, palm-covered hut.  On the open front wall, palm fronds flutter in a light wind above three bamboo racks that hold pendants, necklaces, and chiquiras.  A lady in a brightly colored, red and white, moomoo like, naguas dress greets us from inside.  I spot two chiquiras that I like, one is red and white beads in a band about three inches wide.  The other is smaller, around 2-and-one-half inches wide.  It has rows of “X” shaped bead patterns in primary colors.  It’s beautiful.

“Cuantos es?” I asked using my latest acquired local lingo for “How much?”

“Diez,” she answered.

I looked at Pablo. “Ten dollars each… good price,” I say studying the lacy, glass-beaded pieces.

“No,” he said.  “Ten dollars for both.  About right.”

Guayme Girl El Piro Panama

Cultural tradition requires no smiles during a picture. She would stop me if she started grinning.

It is hard to believe, five dollars for a necklace of tightly-woven glass beads.  It must have taken several hours to make it.  I handed the lady a ten-dollar bill and walked to the pickup for the ride back to Canazas.  We do not see the policemen on the return trip.  When we arrive, I settle the final fare with Pablo and he returns the pickup to his cousin.  It was an interesting trip.

Grabbing my cameras, I walked to the local hospital.  Hospital is a loose term.

In reality it isn’t more than a clinic.  An archaic clinic. The Georgia doctors are to be here one week only.  Word has spread across the province, so lines are long.  The locals aren’t in a hurry.  They stand in long lines, chests to backs, as they wait their turns.

Guaymi Boy

An Ngobe boy in El Piro.

Some of the Indian families had walked three days through the jungle to have a chance to see a physician.  Some came that far simply to have their children checked, wanting to make sure they are alright.  This may be their only visit with a doctor or nurse.  Free healthcare is rare or non-existent in this region of the country.

Volunteer Barbara Grimm takes a break in the sweltering heat. Local kids, used to the heat, wear their Sunday best to visit the doctors.

Volunteer Barbara Grimm takes a break in the sweltering heat. Local kids, used to the heat, wear their Sunday best to visit the doctors.

The doctors at the hospital charge everyone regardless of their need… no pay no healthcare.  The clinic physician is already upset because the Gringos are cutting in on his paycheck.  Our free medicine is a major thorn in his cash balloon because he gets a cut from all of the med purchases. We Americans must walk gently, else he may banish us from the clinic.

Ngobe family

An Ngobe mother and her children.

When I discredit the term “hospital” I am serious.  The small, multi-winged facility is mostly open-air wards.  Outside on the sidewalk and in the courtyard chickens and skinny, malnourished dogs walk about freely.  There is no nursing staff.  Families must stay with patients to give them basic care.  Our volunteers who support our medical staff are busy.  They fight the heat and stale air in the poorly ventilated rooms.  Everyone is disheveled and sweaty.

Panamanian who worked on the canal

A Panamanian man who helped build the canal.

I meet an old man who as a young man helped build the Panama Canal.  His strong frame can still be seen under his frail exterior and his face is rutted with character lines.   I snap a few photos as he stands in the corridor.  He is friendly and proud that I am taking his photo.  A chicken pecks its way past his feet.  Excusing myself I say goodbye to shoot a few more images of the corridors, then walk outside to find a breeze.

Canazas is situated on a slight hillside that rises to the northeast.  Most buildings along the highway have open entrances, some with doors, some without, some with chain gates to protect the interior from night visitors.  Many are in bright colors.  I have noticed that many impoverished

A store in Canazas

Stores have wide eves to provide shade on bright, sunny days

countries and cultures use bright colors.  I suppose they help a meager existence feel better.  The tin-roof eaves of the town’s stores jut out several feet to provide shade as the sun moves overhead.

Villagers gather underneath to avoid the sun’s mid-day heat.  One young, schoolgirl leans against a shaded wall.  She is standing on a pile of gravel stored for future construction.  I snap her photo then move on.

Ngobe girl Canasas Panama

A young schoolgirl leaned against the wall to avoid the sun.

Ahead is a small saloon.  It has no glass in the single window and no door to cover the entrance.  The interior is dark with blank walls.  A simple plank bar stretches most of the way across the 10 by 12-foot room.  The barkeeper stares at me for a second, then swats a fly beside a stack of mis-matched glassware.  To my right a man drinks beer from a long-neck bottle.  He is the only customer and is sitting on a simple, strongly built, four-foot-long bench.  It is painted white and shows signs use from many years of service.  I think the man is Ngobe, he looks too short and small to be Mestizo.

Portro is what I think he said

In one work he instructs me, “Portro.” The light from the door is dim so I steady the camera by bracing it on my cheek and brow. Holding my breath, I carefully press the shutter release and take his picture.

He eyes my cameras, then stands, staggers, holds his hands up as if taking a picture, the bottle still in his hand, staggers again, then clicks his finger as if taking a picture.  “Portro,” he says.

“Portro?” I say confused.  I don’t know the Ngobe or Spanish word for portrait, so I assume he is trying to speak English.

“Si, portro!” he repeats.  His face grows into a slight frown.  He is upset that I don’t understand.

“Si,” I answer.  He sits down on a wooden bench and strikes a pose.  He is content.

Bar patron Canasas Panama

He quickly loses interest and begins staring out the door, so I snap a few more images, then order something to drink.

It’s dark, outside it is heavily overcast.  The light from the door is dim so I steady the camera by bracing it on my cheek and brow.  Holding my breath, I carefully press the shutter release and take his picture.  He smiles and swigs more of his drink.  He loses interest and turns toward the doorway.  I snap a few more shots and thank him.  He does not respond so I turn to the bar to order a soft drink.  It’s an orange soda that I’ve not seen before.  It’s good.  I am thirsty and extremely hot.

Nurse Heather Donnelly in El Piro

Nurse Heather Donnelly bathes a child with a skin rash in El Piro.

It’s time to go back to the hotel in Santiago so I walk back to the clinic and board the small, crowded vehicle for the ride to the hotel.  It smells of body odor and peanut-butter sandwiches left over from lunch.  On the dash a portable, twelve-volt television is duct-taped in place.  We pull out on the road and wind through the hills down to the main road.  The driver’s attention bounces from the road to the TV.  The World Cup is on.  Nothing diverts Panamanians from the World Cup, not traffic laws nor tickets.

On the main highway our speed increases and fluctuates between 60 and 70 miles per hour.  I can see the speedometer.  As the action on the screen increases, our speed increases.  A lull decreases our velocity.  “Gooooaaaal!” the announcer yells.  The driver bounces in his seat waving his fist in the air.  Our speed increases.  He is amazing.  We have not veered nor varied from our lane… though many on the bus are openly praying.  World Cup is king.  We observe the ritual, like it or not.

Savannah Dentist Russ Clemmons listens to symptoms through a translator.

When we arrive at in the hotel parking lot it is late, we are tired and hungry.  A group of volunteers are walking to the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant just down the road so I follow, order and eat.  The smell is the same as home.  Fried chicken is fried chicken, but the words on the overhead menu are hard to translate.  The windows of the business grab my interest.  The Panamanian climate is hot and humid.  The air-conditioned interior causes the large array of plate-glass windows to sweat.  Moisture is thick and blocks the view outside except for the wet lines where the water condenses and runs down the glass clearing the fog.

My friend, Nicky Pipkin, and a doctor that I do not know sit with me.  They have been in small rooms seeing patients all day.  They are two of three doctors and two dentists in Canazas.  Only one of three exam room has air conditioning, so the men switch off.  The other two rooms are windowless.  For the patient’s privacy the door must remain closed, so no air circulates.  It’s hot, energy draining work.


People from Canazas and the jungle regions around wait in line to see a doctor or nurse.  Chickens and dogs wander the corridors of the hospital.

Nicky, a surgeon, is a bit dejected.  A young girl came to him who had a large growth on her neck.  If not removed it would eventually cut off her breathing and she would suffocate.  He does not have the tools nor the facility to perform the surgery.  Conditions are too primitive.  Tools for surgery are non-existent.

“At home it is a simple procedure,” he says.  “But, I can’t do anything about it.”  A father of two daughters, he has a softened heart for others.  He is not handling the hopelessness well.  I doubt that he will return next year.

Waiting to see the dentist

Waiting to see the dentist.

When we walk back toward the hotel it is dusk.  The sun sets before we arrive.  Passing through the lobby I continue to the outside courtyard and the colonnade that leads to my room.  One light bulb illuminates each forty to fifty-foot section of walkway.  It’s dark.  To my left a large, tall, Mestizo man in a baseball cap looms over me.  A sawed-off shotgun held in his left hand rests over his shoulder.  He is not smiling, but I see that he has no intention for harming me.

“Buenas.” I say, using the recently learned local slang for “Good evening.”

“Buenos,” he replies.  He is telling me he is “good.”  But he draws it out gruffly and deliberately, “Buueee…nos,” meaning, I assume, “I am watching for trouble… don’t bother me.”  He is the night guard.

Child in Canazas

A child waits with her mother to see the doctor in Canazas.

I walk on to my room, crank the air conditioner to its highest setting, then fall into the bed.  I am not tired, I am exhausted.  In the morning I awake and step into the shower… cool water, not hot.  It feels good.  When I finish I grab a towel and step out onto the clay-colored terra-cotta tile.  In front of me, between the me and the door, a scorpion.

He is tan to beige colored, about four to five inches long.  His tail is looped up and over his back just as all the photos and drawings depict.  I don’t like bugs.  I don’t like big bugs.  I really don’t like big bugs that bite, or sting or look like spiders.  This guy fits all the Jim’s-phobia traits.  Scorpions are carnivores.  I don’t think he will eat me, but he may cause me to kill myself getting away.  My boots are past him in the next room and stomping him with a bare food is out of the question.  I am perplexed.

Jim in Panama

The author with the “hospital.” Between is the bus with the TV taped to the dash.  Look close and you can see it.

Stripping long strings of toilet paper from the roll next to me I wad them in to a ball, lean over the invader and smash him in to the tile.  He is now mush.  I am a satisfied, naked man gloating over his first scorpion kill.  There was something primal in the moment.  But, later my clothes and boots are closely inspected before I put them on.  I don’t like bugs.

The ride to El Piro is a different vehicle; different driver, different route, with no live World Cup.  We pass miles of jungle hills, cane fields and banana plantations that are spotted with small huts. Most have palm-thatched roofs and mud walls.  On some, the walls are augmented with corrugated-tin panels.  On others the roofs shine with the silver-blue and rust gray metal coverings.  Most buildings here, like those in Canazas, have construction material stacked or piled nearby.  Many Panamanian houses and businesses are under constant construction, assembled as finances permit.  Buy a few concrete blocks and store them until you have enough money to continue.  Repeat until the job is finished; a pile of gravel here, a stack of tin there.

Sombrero Pintada cowboys

Cowboys drive cattle down the center of the Pan American Highway in Veraguas Province, central Panama. Some wear sombreros pintados, real Panama hats made in the area.

We are at the half way point.  We slowly weave through a herd of cattle.  We drive slowly to avoid scaring the animals that cover both lanes of the highway.  One cowboy carries a caution flag several hundred feet behind so drivers have time to slow down.  The others cover the herd’s flanks to hold them in and push them down the road.  All have Sombrero Pintadas, Panamanian style cowboy hats of loosely woven palm with wide brims that are folded up in the front.


One hundred yards in front of them we stop the car.  I need a picture.  Stepping out of the front passenger door I click off a few photos with my telephoto as they walk closer.  As I turn to get back in the car the cattle spook and scatter into the trees and brush along the roadside.  Cowboys scramble.  Cattle run.  I jump into the car.

“Let’s get out of here before I get shot,” I order.  The car speeds away.  I feel guilty, but… I got my pictures.

A few miles farther and we turn off the highway and follow a dirt road a short distance to El Piro.  Huts line the road, partially concealed from view by banana plants and jungle growth.  Half way through the village is a plain rectangular building with a flat roof – the clinic.  Dr. Harry McGee greets us at the car.  He has been treating the locals for the past two days.   He stands tall for his 72 years, especially since he was told earlier hat his heart had given out and he would soon die.  That was several years back.  He had found alternative treatments and defied the experts.  He is still going strong.


Watching the exam rooms while waiting.

Here in El Piro there is no air conditioning to rotate into as do the doctors do in Canazas.  He doesn’t mind.  Harry is also from Savannah.  His home and practice had been in Monterey Square a few doors away from the Mercer House, during the time when Jim Williams’ antics there influenced the best-selling book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  Harry gave up his practice after his diagnosis.  Now he was working for free and seemed to be loving it.  I have not seen him without a smile on his face since we arrived.

Later he asks me if I want to photograph him working in the exam room.  Exam room is a loose term describing a plastered bay with a wide, uncovered window that looks out to the side yard.  Spectators stand outside waiting their turns and watch as the exams run their course.  I continue to click, sometimes blocking an onlooker’s view.  After several patient consultations using tongue depressors, syringes, and blood-pressure cuffs the time comes for a Ngobe woman’s pelvic exam.

“Let’s get started,” Harry says, sliding the lady’s nagua up to her knees as she lay on the table.  He turns to catch my eyes.  He has a glint in his.

“Catch you later,” I say, and leave to find other things to record.

Nearby, under a modern pole-barn-styled pavilion, nurse Heather Donnelly bathes a toddler in a shallow pan.  The basin contains a creamy-colored mixture.  She dips her glove-covered palm in the liquid and rubs it over the rash-speckled body of the child.  The baby is covered with tiny red spots.  A chill runs down my back as I watch and shoot.  The crying child fidgets.  Rashes do that to me too.  I don’t have to break out to start my own fidgeting.   The spots make me itch so I move on.

A few feet beyond is my backdrop.  My intention is to make portraits of the indigenous people.  The bright colored dresses make perfect subjects so I’ll concentrate on that for a while.  I shoot a few portraits of mothers and children.  Only one man volunteers to participate.  Across a patch of grass stands a young girl holding a baby.  I motion to her asking if I can take her picture.  She smiles and nods.  I shoot several frames then approach her to talk.

Young girl and her daughter

An 11 year old Ngobe girl and her daughter.

“How old are you?” I ask.

“Eleven,” she answers.

“Is this your little sister?” I point to the baby.

“No,” she smiles.  “My daughter.”

I find out later that incest and children having children is common in the culture.  There are other practices that I am not accustomed to.  One young woman has lost many of her fingers in a workplace accident.  She severed part of her hand with the swing a razor-sharp machete while cutting sugar cane.

“I will have to have children with my father,” she tells a volunteer.  “With my hand like this no one will marry me.”  She is matter of fact, as if it’s just a fact of life.  Incest is common and the custom if a young woman can’t find a husband.

Harry McGee steps out of the clinic to cool off.  I walk over to talk.  A baby cries from a hut across the main dirt road about 100 yards away.

“Want to photograph a new born?” he asks.

“Sure.  Did you deliver it?”

“No, the nurse did.  Tell her I sent you over.”

The nurse with Tomassasina's newborn.

The nurse with Tomassasina’s newborn in the doorway of the wattle and daub home.

I walk to the hut.  It’s woven bamboo and sticks covered with mud – typical wattle and daub construction, a method that is used around the world.  The nurse meets me at the door.  She is holding the new baby so I pose her in the door and take a photo.  She then escorts me inside and prepares the mother for pictures.  The structure has four small rooms.  Each is no larger than eight by eight feet.  The construction is hap-hazard.  Lines are not straight; the room sizes were obviously sighted and squared without measuring tools.  The nurse calls me into the bedroom where on a plank bed covered with cardboard Tomassasina Mendosa lies holding the child.  She smiles.  I shoot a few frames.

El Piro house

The Mendosa home in El Piro.

With a background in historical archaeology it’s a must do – I ask Tomassasina if I can measure and record her house.  I will pay her ten dollars if she will give me her okay.  Her eyes light up.  “Si,” she says excitedly. Reaching into my pocket I realize I only have a twenty-dollar bill.  The  Chiquiras and the Panamanian-Police-officer incident took my smaller bills, so I hand her the money.

“Here is twenty dollars,” I say in Spanish.  Ten for measuring the house and ten for the baby.”  She is grateful.  I take my notebook and tape measure from my pack and start measuring.  Working my way through the house I follow the rooms to a “porch” section on the back that serves as a kitchen.  A waist-high bench made from bamboo and branches holds a woven-palm cook top where sand and ashes insulate an open-fire stove.  It’s primitive, but genius.

Tomassasina Mendosa and her newborn.

Tomassasina Mendosa and her newborn in the bedroom of her home.

Walking to the front yard of the house I meet Tomassasina’s mother and sister who sit under a palm-thatched hacienda pavilion, caring for several children.  An infant swings in a basket that is suspended on ropes from a cross beam.  The grandmother is upset.  She walks past me and into the house glaring as she passes.  A few minutes later she returns.  She is all smiles, asking if I have any questions and how she can help.  The nurse leans toward me and says, “You gave them twenty dollars.  That’s one month’s salary here.”  We carry on a friendly, translated conversation until the nurse has to leave.

I pack my gear and say goodbye to the nurse and to the family.  Across the street, next door to the clinic, a group of men gather in an open section of one house.  It is the only house that I can see that has electricity.  The assembly’s attraction is a small, compact, black and white television set.  A makeshift wire antenna stretches upward nodding and waving under the palm thatching.  About thirty men have come in from the fields to watch Panama play in the World Cup.  World Cup is king here, too.  In unison they cheer when a player scores.  I smile.  At least they are not driving.

My ride is ready to leave.  I tell Harry goodbye and that I would see him on the plane ride home.  He still looks fresh.  He has beaten the odds for life.  He will die of a heart attack six years later while counseling a friend on the phone.  Harry was a tough and good man.  I miss him.


Grandma was not happy with me at first. It changed later.

In Panama City we check into our hotel rooms.  The group is meeting for dinner in a nearby restaurant.  After having trouble finding my way I arrive late to the dinner, so I order quickly.  It’s decent food.  Nothing to brag about.  Others have ordered coffee.  It arrives in small, white, ceramic cups that hold about eight ounces.  We talk.  They drink.  They finish.  The waiter removes the cups.

“Is the coffee good?” I ask.  Several tell me that it is very good.  They emphasize, “very.”  So, I call the waiter and try to order through my lacking, Spanish vocabulary.

“Uno café, por favor,” I say.

He speaks quickly, but I don’t understand.  I think he is asking if I want a small or large cup.

“Un piquito.” I say.  He looks confused.

“una pequeña taza?” he asks.

“Yeh., I guess.  Pequeña taza.”  He leaves and brings a cup to me.  It’s smaller.  Quite a bit smaller.

“Oh, you ordered espresso,” the lady next to me says.

“Did I? I just wanted a small cup of coffee.”


A line to see the nurse at the Canazas Hospital. Hundreds of people were seen by the mission group from Savannah.

It’s good,” she says smiling, then turns to talk to the lady beside her.  I add sugar and cream and take a sip.  She’s right, it is the best coffee I have ever tasted.  I drink it all.

We return to the hotel and the caffeine kicks in.  There is no sleeping.  At three-o’clock a.m. I am sitting by the pool on the hotel roof smoking a local cigar watching the ships line up to enter the canal.

“She was right,” I say.  “It was a great-tasting coffee,” I take another puff from the stogie.

“This was an interesting trip,” I say to myself.

My plan is to come back and ride horses across the mountains of Canazas Province from the Pacific to the Atlantic.  I never will.

That was twenty years ago.

It was an interesting trip.

It is an interesting memory.

Other things to do in Panama.

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Waiting For The Light

A repost from 2016

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.


“There is only you and the camera.

The limitations in your photography are in yourself,

for what we see is what we are.” — Ernst Haas

Sunset on Isle of Hope, Savannah, GA.  Post sunset using a tripod.  The colors were in the light, but enhanced with Photoshop.

Post sunset using a tripod. The colors were in the light, but enhanced with Photoshop.

By Jim Byous

I love the light in Savannah, Georgia.  It’s different – daylight that is.  The light in California can also be beautiful but it can also be stark and sharp.  It wraps the subject differently.  In Oklahoma it is different as well.  Gorgeous as well, but the colors and shadows and hues for an image are harder to read.

But in Savannah it can be pre-visualized.  It’s not predictable, but pre-viewable.  Over the years I learned to watch the sky on the night before or during the late afternoon just before sunset.  The sky will give a hint of what could come. Faint tints of magenta, violet and other hues of light in the red range will often peak and wave before most eyes can pick them up.  The purpose of a beautiful photo is not to represent what is recorded on the film or sensor.  It is to record and represent the emotion found at the scene by the observer, then convey it in the image to the viewer.  That is a factor that changes recording into an art.

Many years ago, as a young photographer, I heard photo-icon Ernst Haas speak.  He talked of one of his inspirations, painter Claude Monet and his description of the light in paintings.  Monet saw the light when most did not, then put it down on in oils.  Haas was able to see the same light.  It takes time, learning to see it, but it is worth the wait.  I’m still learning.

Battlefield Park

Battlefield Park in Savannah at sunrise. Several shots were taken within a few minutes. They were pre-planned and marked so the images could be made in one setting.

Much of art is in timing.  In all art forms timing can be a hallmark of excellence or a stamp of rejection, a point of beauty or one of mediocrity and can determine the success of the work – or of its failure.  The leap of a ballerina, the swing of a baseball bat, a stroke of pigment across a wet and differing color, timing can dictate the value and desirability and the essence of art.

View of Skidaway Island from Isle of Hope, Savannah, GA immediately as the sun dropped below the horizon.  This was the light without tinting, but enhanced with Photoshop.

View of Skidaway Island from Isle of Hope, Savannah, GA immediately as the sun dropped below the horizon.

Life is like that.  We are put here with free will.  We all are born with differing mediums; oils, granite, speech, dance, light, mathematics.  Each person is the artist and designer of their destiny, the ultimate portrait of ourselves.  Each of us creates the outcome when taking a dull, blank plane of canvas or a shapeless lump of goo or a pile of junk and rubbish and creating something wonderful by turning it into something or nothing or letting it decay into oblivion.  We all start the same, wet and slimy, tied to the past by the cord that fed us and nurtured us and brought us to the beginning.  We all make ourselves what we are.

However, there are always outside factors.  The nudge in the wrong direction, the ball that curves, the paint that will not oxidize or dry, influences to change life’s direction or obscure the purpose.  The art of life is to know the differences or learn them as we progress.  We can wallow in the dung or we can use it as fertilizer that which will help us grow and reach upward.  The art of art is to act similarly, throw out the crap and keep the work that grows inspiration in others but especially that nurtures inspiration in you.

IPC from Kehoe House attic.
This shot is from the Kehoe House attic. The sun was setting behind the Independent Presbyterian Church, but not quite in full color bloom. After a short wait the color and the clouds came together.

Photography is like that. Sometimes catching the moment is instant. Sometimes it requires patience – lots of patience – to hold on beyond the this-just-doesn’t-quite-get-it phase to the shoot-fast-and-shoot-often period.

Sometimes in life and in art you see it forming.  You perceive it and plan for it.  It can be complex.  It can be simple.

Wait for the light.


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Please click the Follow button (right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

© J Byous Company 2018, All rights reserved

Tags: Photography, Ernst Haas, Monet, light, art, Savannah

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The hell-hot, back-breaking, smoke-sucking profession.

Fire season is never the best time to vacation in dry areas.  Still, sometimes you go when you can go.  When you do remember that the people who protect the woodlands are a unique breed. Think about them when you travel through the patches of blackened hillsides and say a prayer for their safety.  It you are lucky you will get to meet a few.

The hell-hot, back-breaking, smoke-sucking profession

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

It’s a hell-hot, back-breaking, smoke-sucking profession – firefighting.  I’ve been around fires.  I’ve experienced bad fires.  For a couple of years, I was a firefighter on a small-town department… long enough to acquire scars still carried.  That was in my youth and those were mostly house fires.  Wildfires are a different colored devil.  They’re mean, like they are out to get you.

0 0 Fire near Sonor California

Smoke above Sonora, California billows from the A-Rock fire in Yosemite National Park in 1990.

Those are experiences I have as well, but always through a camera lens.  And the people who fight those fires… tough.  That’s the only word I can find… just, tough. My fire training helped to know when to stay, when to duck and when to run.  I also learned that when in a wildfire environment you should listen to the crew chief.

From an overlook on Highway 120 just outside of Yosemite National Park had I watched a nearby slope explode in an awe-inspiring display.  The fire caught at the base of the 45-degree grade and climbed 400 feet in four seconds.  No person, no animal, could have outrun the flames.  That was during the Stanislaus Complex Fire in 1987.  Sometime between 2013 and 2014 the same sloped burned again according to images on Google Earth.  It happens often.

Fire near Two Dog Pass Tulomne, California

A CDF crew watches the backfire they set to eliminate fuel from the main body of flames during a mid-1980s forest fire at Two Dog Pass near Tuolumne California.

The latter in my lessons mentioned above, “run” is often the wisest action of the three.  During a fire in California’s central Sierra Nevada I did just that… Well, I didn’t run but I did drive out cautiously.  Following a lead to a location where structures were threatened, I came across a California Division of Forestry crew standing watch.  They were protecting a homesite with a few outbuildings that stood in a clearing that circled a small pond.  The first words from the crew chief weren’t encouraging.

Fire Boss

The Fire Boss and Crew Chief calls the shots, like this Mendocino County firefighter in 1987.

“We’re surrounded on three sides by fire,” he greeted me… smiling.  “If the wind doesn’t change you’ll be trapped with us.”

Interesting greeting it was.  “What will you do if it does?” I asked.

“We’ll drive the truck into the pond and get wet… Want to get wet?”

“If I need to,” I replied.  “But, only if I have too.”  I was well aware that my, now vintage, Nikon cameras would not favor moisture… nor flames.

He assured me he would inform me before it was too dangerous to leave.  I appreciated his candor.  Around the perimeter of the home firefighters sat waiting for the flames to advance.  One, thirty-something-Vietnam-Vet casually puffed on a cigarette watching the fire burn toward our location.

“It could circle around us if the wind holds,” he said.  “We’ll be fine if that happens.”  Smoke scrolled upward from his lips as he talked.  “This is like when I was in ‘Nam waiting for Charlie to attack… It’s tense.”  The fire too was his enemy as it advanced slowly and deliberately toward us.

He returned to puffing the fire stick in his fingers.  A few feet away a pine tree began to crackle, burning from the lower branches the flames then climbed, eating their way toward the top.  He and others grabbed hoses and showered the tree, stopping the flames.  An ember had apparently dropped into the branches and slowly kindled.

Fire Calaveras California c.1999

A fire in Calaveras County, Caliifornia, (c.1990) burned through mountain neighborhoods. Here the fire scorches the underbrush.  In the distance it is growing into a deadly tree-top, crown fire.

The ground below the tree sloped and rounded downward dropping toward the position where the main fire roared.  Some describe that roaring as being like the sound a freight train.  They are exact in their description.  A slow rumble quaked the ground underfoot.  Forest fires are raw power, like a gushing-spring-runoff-waterfall kind of power.  They fill the sky with acrid, burnt-pitch odors that tint light into a yellow-orange fog.  Behind the billows the sun peeks through, looking like a spotlighted, glowing disk.  It’s hard to breath in low-hanging smoke.  The taste of turpentine builds on your tongue.  We can taste it.

Fire Chopper Yosemite NP

Acrid, yellow-orange smoke reduced the sun’s appearance to a small yellow disk.

A few minutes later the crew chief informed me that if leaving was my intention, this would be the time.  It was.  I did.  Wishing them luck I climbed into my Jeep and drove toward the exit gap that lay between to ridges.  As I passed through, the fire was a few feet to my left, slowly burning its way downhill.  If it jumped the road on which I drove it would gain speed and close the circle around the firefighters.

Heat from the flames radiated through the side window.  I pressed the gas and sped past, to safety.  It was months before I learned the situation with those I had just left.  There was no news of fallen firefighters, so I knew they were safe.  Eventually I contacted them for a follow up interview.  Apparently, shortly after my brush with the flames, the wind changed and stopped the inferno’s advance.  Someone was watching over the crew.  No water.  No getting wet.  But, still a close call.

Golden Dragon Stanislaus Complex Fire California

A crew of Walapai hot shots saunter up the hill. I had witnessed them run at a constant speed over three ridges in steep, rocky terrain. They were amazing.

Hotshot crews are an amazing troop to watch.  It’s almost ballet, coordinated action, shovels scraping, Pulaski picks flying, combustible material being chopped, cut and pulled from the path of the fire.  Crews hike for miles with packs that are close to half their weight, fight the fire, then hike back to base.  Add a few chain saws to the load and the their endurance is a thing of beauty –  dirt, sweat and all.

All of the crews that I have seen have been amazing workers with near super-human abilities.  The most impressive crews for crossing terrain that I have witnessed were the Native American hot shots.  A Walapai (Hualapai) crew from the Bureau of Indian Affairs astounded me for their running ability.  I dubbed the group, The Golden Dragon.  Spotting them two steep and rocky ridges away they appeared to be one chain of golden-orange as they snaked along hillside.

They first came into site as they topped a distant ridge and began running downhill… not walking… running, as a group, single file.  A few minutes later they topped a second ridge across a steep, rocky canyon from us… still trotting at the same speed then again dropped into gap below me.  A short time later they jogged past my location on the trail.  None out of breath, none looking tired, all carrying their filled packs with tools and necessities.  I am still in awe.  A few days later later I ran across them in a Groveland, California restaurant, shook a few hands and felt honored for having done so.

Tough, yep!  I guess, but how does one describe a superhero?

Stay tuned for the second part of this story.

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

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Doc Holliday Trail and Annie’s Tree – a story of darkness and light

Doc Holliday’s Trail and Annie’s Tree – a story of darkness and light.

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

By Jim Byous

At 6,000 feet above sea level I am gasping for air.  I am also, as my father used to say, “getting old and soft.”  Now I’m only two-hundred feet up in my relatively easy three-hundred-foot climb on the Doc Holliday Trail to Glenwood Springs’ historic Pioneer Cemetery.  It sits on a lower ridge-bump of 8,095-foot-high Lookout Mountain that stands above and the Colorado city of around ten-thousand people.  My flatlander-endurance is poor in the thin air as I trudge onward.  The view is refreshing as I pause to take in the scope of the city below… okay… I stop to get my breath.  But, I gotta keep going, The Beckster is getting ahead of me on our upward trek to see the West’s version of outlaw/lawman, John Henry “Doc” Holliday’s grave site.  He was born in 1851 in Griffin, Georgia but died in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  But where is he now?

Looking across the city of Glenwood Springs from the Doc Holliday Trail.

Looking across the city of Glenwood Springs from the Doc Holliday Trail.

What awaits us at the end of short journey is a controversy, but I want to see it.  Even though I am huffing and puffing I continue, The Beckster is tough, so must I be.  The view to the right is beautiful as I stop again to choke down a bit of thin air.  Clouds hang below the surrounding peaks as the occasional drop of rain pops onto my face.  The smell of sage and pine and moist air waft past at intervals as we walk the hard-packed, red-dirt and narrow rocky road.  A couple of walkers pass on the trail.  I assume they are local… don’t know.  Maybe they’re tourists too.  Locals often walk here.  Ahead is the evidence.  On a gnarled pinon pine hugging the upper bank of the cut, hundreds of colorful streamers twist and bob on the light breeze.

On the way down the hill, a walker passes Annie's Wishing Tree, a prominent landmark in Glenwood Springs that is becoming famous around the world.

On the way down the hill, a walker passes Annie’s Wishing Tree, a prominent landmark in Glenwood Springs that is becoming famous around the world.

They are striking as they dance on a background of cloudy-grey sky and remind me of the prayer ribbons and flags you see in photos of Nepal along the route up Mount Everest.   These are wish ribbons.  Most were placed there by Annie Zancanella who lives just down the slope. In her two battles with cancer she found solace in tying ribbons to the tree on which she played as a child.  “I spent my childhood playing on the mountain and walking with my father on his evening stroll up there,” she told me.  “Now that my family has all passed I still like to walk that trail daily and think of them and my happy childhood.”

She started putting ribbons on the tree, using them to represent her own wishes, dreams and prayers in her fight against cancer.  After participating in a successful, non-traditional treatment program at Northwestern University in Chicago, she traveled to cancer centers in the USA to share her success story with university hospital students.  Collecting ribbons from young patients at those hospitals she brought them home and tied them to the tree.

“It was just pretty much my ribbons from my heart being put on it,” she says, “And then I realized that I needed to spread this happiness…”  She started taking bags of ribbons to the children’s hospital where she volunteered each month.  The kids would write their own wishes, dreams and prayers for her to take back to the tree and tie for them. She would then take photos and show them to the kids.  Their words were on display for the world to see.  The project grew.

Annie's Wishing Tree is a landmark along the trail to the Pioneer Cemetery.

Annie’s Wishing Tree is a landmark along the trail to the Pioneer Cemetery.

Now others follow her lead by leaving wish ribbons, prayer streamers and mementos for others who are challenged by health issues.  Since that time she has continued to fight.  “I have had some more recent struggles with cancer but I’ve been able to keep a smile on my face and motivation in my heart.”

Ribbons were added by unknown hikers after Annie created the Wishing Tree.

Ribbons were added by unknown hikers after Annie created the Wishing Tree.

I came to the hill looking for the story of death, of disease and of legend.  Now I’ve arrived to unexpectedly find a story of life, of adversity and of hope.  In my mind I am attempting to blend the two narratives into one.  Annie is my daughter’s age.  Her story strikes a father’s heart.

The record of the tree is strikingly symbolic to the history and name of the route, The Doc Holliday Trail.  It’s antithetical to Annie’s story.  Holliday is said to have traveled to Glenwood Springs for the purported healing benefits in the springs of the area.  His sickness was then called consumption, now we know it as tuberculosis.  It was the reason he left his home and dental practice  in Atlanta to start wandering the west in hope of a climate that would help or cure him.  His travels between Georgia and Colorado would be captured in legend; card games, gun fights, the OK Corral with Wyatt Earp, his death in a hotel room in Glenwood Springs.

The current marker replaced an earlier stone placed in the 1950s that had incorrect information.  Cards, whisky and tokens are often found at the site, left by admirers.

The current marker replaced an earlier stone placed in the 1950s that had incorrect information. Cards, whisky and tokens are often found at the site, left by admirers.

After a life of hell raising, gambling and fighting he would not “die with his boots on.” They say his last words, while looking at his bare feet, would describe the irony in dying in bed at the age of 36 years, “Now, that’s funny.”  He was destined to die a more gentlemanly death, shoeless, and in bed in 1887.  His burial in the Pioneer Cemetery on top of the ridge is a matter of opinion.  Others say he was interred in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Griffin, Georgia after his father had him shipped home to a family plot.  In any event he left plenty of legend for both.

The marker in Glenwood Springs is referred to as a memorial since Doc’s exact location in the cemetery has been lost to history.  He may or may not be here, but still the site and its view across the Colorado skyline is worth the hike as is a stroll through the rest of the burial

Holliday's memorial stands at the point of the cemetery.
Holliday’s memorial stands at the overlook point of the cemetery.

 ground.  The area is a carpet of rocky, iron-red dirt, highlighted with short pinyon pines, cedars, sage brush and white marker stones.  A smattering of lawn covers a central square of memorials and graves suggesting families still visit and care for those interred here.  If the cemetery were a ship, Doc’s grave would be the wheelhouse at the point of the ridge with the balance of the site stepping up the slope toward the top of Lookout Mountain.

Harvey Logan cThere, up the hill from Doc’s spot, stands another marker for a well-known character of western lore, also the adverse of the symbolic tree.   Harvey A. Logan, 1867-1904, is known to most folks know as Kid Curry, an associate of Robert L. Parker, aka Butch Cassidy, and his partner in crime, Harry A. Longabaugh, the Sundance Kid.  Logan rode with Cassidy’s Wild Bunch at the turn of the 20th century.  One account of Logan’s death says he shot himself in the head after being trapped by a posse in Parachute, a town forty miles to the west,

Up the hill from Holliday's marker is the pauper's section of the cemetery where Kid Curry's stone is found.

Up the hill from Holliday’s marker is the pauper’s section of the cemetery where Kid Curry’s stone is found.  If he is really there is disputed.

and was buried there.  Others say he was traveling through Glenwood Springs, became ill and died.  Either way, he died… somewhere in Colorado.  And, now there’s a marker for him in the paupers’ section of Pioneer Cemetery.

Time passes quickly as we survey the grounds.  The sky is looking more threatening.  I am tired and still slightly out of breath, it’s starting to rain.  The view is exemplary and the rain isn’t hard, but it’s time to go.  We need to say goodbye to Doc.  Local ghost stories tell how folks leaving whiskey or cards or tokens for Doc receive a “Thank you,” as they stand and listen quietly.  I have no whiskey, nor do I have a deck of cards nor trinkets.  Perhaps a compliment will work.

Harvey "Kid Curry" Logan, part of Butch Cassidy's gang, has a marker in the paupers section of the cemetery.

Harvey “Kid Curry” Logan, part of Butch Cassidy’s gang, has a marker in the paupers section of the cemetery.

“He Doc!  You have a great moustache!”

I listen quietly as rain drops increase… nothing… not a peep.

“Wait,” I say…  I lean over the iron picketed fence, “That IS you, right Doc?”

Looking at The Beckster I say, “Doc’s not talking.  Didn’t work.  Well, back to the car.  I’ll try the same trick in Griffin, Georgia when we get home.”

She stares at me in mock disgust and turns to the trail to walk back down.  She has a knack for ignoring my jokes.

“But he really did have a great moustache,” I affirm, following her along the path.

She pays no attention to my explanation and continues on.  The lady has class.

 Looking down on the neighborhood rooftops I imagine driving a horse-drawn hearse up this route.  It would be a tight squeeze, but possible.  Was this the main route back in the day?  I don’t know but I do know that another route from Cemetery Creek and our start point is driveable by car, complete with parking spaces… but it’s blocked by a gate.  And, this walk is good, we need the exercise… no… really.

Older marker for cemetery

An carved stone plaque describes the residents of the necropolis including multi-racial immigrants and freed slaves.

We pass Annie’s Wish Tree again.  A long, magenta streamer catches my attention.  It reads, “1 Year Cancer Free * Annie 4/18/14 – 4/18/15.”    The young lady is an inspiration.  Now she is planning a volunteer trip to to impoverished areas in Africa to help children in Tanzania.  When she comes home she will carry more ribbons that will blow in the mountain breezes – waving and asserting hope – 130 feet directly down the slope from Doc’s marker.  Doc Holliday’s Trail and Annie’s Tree are a story of darkness and light.

I hope Annie is doing well.  Her story now lives on with the others who are linked with the trail and the cemetery and the hill.  Her story gleams brightly among them as she illustrates as she says, “It’s an absolute goal of mine to continue to inspire others and for my wishing tree to bring happiness to all who stumble across it!”

I’m glad I did… stumbled here.  For me, I think of my daughters and grandchildren and pray that they will have a measure of Annie’s determination and drive.

Doc Holliday’s story is dark and deadly.

Annie’s story shines with hope.

Annie has grit.

Here are other things to do and study in Glenwood Springs.

Our thanks to Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association for photos and to Annie Zancanella for background in this story.  We were not compensated for coverage of the location and attractions.  – JB

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Time short in Savannah, GA? Five tips on the best photo spots.

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

Time short in Savannah, GA?  Five tips on the best photo spots.

By Jim Byous

What!!?? You only have one weekend to visit Savannah?  You gotta have pictures… but you want something different.  Finding the right spot for pictures can be difficult when you are visiting a place for a short time.  In Savannah, like anywhere else, there are many angles and views.  Unfortunately, most travelers’ photos tend to look like everyone else’s.  Here are five tips on how to make shots interesting with a few places to find them during your weekend photo hunt.

Hist Dist-  Jepson 9538c.jpg

Looking up at Jepson Center for the Arts on Telfair Square.

Having been here for the past twenty-five years helps.  I’ve searched hard and often for vantage points that are different.  Still, the five best photo locations in Savannah are hard to describe.  Not because they aren’t there, but because there are so many.  The city is most picturesque.  And, not because I live here, but because it’s a freekin’ beautiful place… even in the heat of August.

z Tybee beach as Hurrican Irene passes nearby sm

Tybee Island is a short drive from Savannah’s Historic District and offers excellent opportunities for photographers.  Here on the Strand, Hurricane Irene created a fantastic backdrop as she rolled up the Atlantic Coast.  Colors can vary widely from morning to noon to evening, just be patient and enhance a bit in Photoshop.

Here we go:

First Tip, Get Close.

First.  Get close.  River Street and the Factor’s Walk area are great places to find different, less-often photographed shots, even though hundreds of thousands of tourists pass them each year.  These two thoroughfares run parallel to the Savannah River and serve as a tourist haven.  There is an abundance of history and dozens of shops for souvenir trolling that will occupy others who are traveling with you.  Scout along the retaining walls that appear to keep the town from sliding into the water. They have great features to capture.


Ballast stone were used to build walls along what is now called Factors Walk. Before the Civil War it was called River Street.  Postbellum the wharves were connected to make an access road on the water and the old “River Street” became Factors Walk, named after the cotton and shipping factors’ offices walkovers that span the gap.

Most were built in the mid-1800s with segments going back to the century before.  Stone from around the world can be seen; limestone with chert nodules from Devon England, basalt from Italy, coral from the Caribbean.  They have unique textures and shapes that are pleasing to look at while telling their own version of history.  Here too are cobblestone pavers that make interesting images.

Factors- ASC_0124

An African-shaped stone serves in the cobblestone ramp behind City Hall.

The stones came in ships as ballast, rocks in the bottom the ships to balance the load and keep the ship upright.  The stones were off-loaded on the docks and the city resold them for building materials.  Walls, cobblestone streets and buildings were constructed over the years using them.  Later in the 1800s ships captains realized they could substitute pig iron that could be sold to Savannah’s iron foundries and the negative-cash-flow stones were replaced with a money-making commodity.

Go Up!

Second.  Find a parking garage and take the elevator, the stairs, or drive to the top floor.  Not too many buildings are open for the use to image seekers, but parking garages usually offer a good, “birds-eye” perspective of nearby streets.  Three of the following images were made on top of the State Street Parking Garage at Drayton and State Streets.


The Lutheran Church of the Ascension and the tower of the Federal Courthouse on Wright Square.  It was captured from the State Street  Parking Garage’s west end.

However, there are several multi-storey walkways and garages in Savannah, so getting good vantage points for overall shots of different squares will mean lots of steps…  or if you are like me, the elevator.


World Famous Leopold’s Ice Cream Shop taken from the east end of the State Street Garage. Taken from Oglethorpe Square parking garage, east end.

z The Cluskey Valuts from Factors Walk

The Cluskey Vaults on Bull Street Ramp taken from the upper walkway above Factors Walk at dusk.


The Talmadge Bridge and Marshall House flag from the north-center section of the State Street facility.

Some attendants are grumpy about folks standing around, so shoot quick and go for the next site… or parking garage.  There are many walls to look off of, giving interesting perspectives to the streets and people walking below.

Go Down and Look Up

Third. Go down and then look up.  Sometimes finding a good and unusual view is simply bending your knees.  By doing so you can combine near objects with those more distant.  Or, you can give a perspective that most folks do not think of catching.


Dottie the Trolley is River Street’s free transport queen.  Her schedule varies since construction, maintenance and construction often interfere with availability.  Here, a bent-knee, lower-angle shot brings the upper storeys of the historic warehouses into the composition with the trolley and cobblestones.

Sometimes it means looking up from a different location.  Factors Walk offers many such views of the “skyline” buildings along the river.  Its mid-way location between the lower, River Street and the upper, Bay Street buildings can give great perspective for shooting.



Here, City Hall’s gold plated dome is viewed from Factors Walk behind  Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub. The gold is said to be from Dahlonega, Georgia.  The stairway that the young lady is climbing is on the site of the original port crane built by James Oglethorpe in 1733.


The often photographed, Lafayette Veranda at the Owens Thomas House takes on a new perspective when shot from a low angle.

z Detail of Federal Court House sm.jpg

Looking up on a narrow street sometimes offers a great shot of detail on historic buildings as is seen on this picture of the frieze of the Federal Court House on Wright Square.

Go Where and When Other Don’t

Fourth.  Go where and when other don’t.  Most visitors follow a set pattern; visit River Street, take a carriage or trolley ride, and walk a few squares.  Some venture out to Tybee Island and the beach.  Highway 80 takes them from the Historic District to the island through Romerly Marsh where most do not see the photographic possibilities.

z Romerly Marsh sm

Romerly Marsh at Lazaretto Creek at mid-day.  The partial overcast sky creates great lighting for capturing the grass, water and sky.  This was taken around 10 a.m. from the boat ramp off of Highway 80.

Savannah is surrounded by marshland that is accessible on the main thoroughfares.  Stop and take a look, especially in early morning and late afternoon.  The beach at Tybee is similar.  If you can schedule to go through or visit at sunrise or sunset


A pelican waits for the sun as it rises off of Tybee’s North Beach.  Sunrise photo sessions are often overlooked by visitors who, in a hurry to see the next attraction, miss the morning’s light show.  Photo by Becky Byous

you’ll have the best opportunities.  Most sunbathers arrive later in the morning and leave just before sunset to avoid traffic.  Little do they know that most everyone else think the same way which leads to… traffic.

z Kudzu on the Ogeechee Canal.jpg

Kudzu on the Ogeechee Canal, located on the west edge of the Historic District.  These types of areas often show signs of litter and trash.  That’s what Photoshop was invented to take care of.  Just do it.

Look for the unusual

Fifth.  Look for the unusual.  As you walk around town look for things most people don’t record on their camera.  Sometimes you may almost trip over them, sometimes they are so ordinary that a closer look is all you need to get a great photo.

z Kehoe gears sm.jpg

Drain grating at Savannah’s Trustees’ Garden is molded in a gear motif to celebrate the Kehoe Iron Foudry’s place in history.  Most passersby do not notice the unique design.


Flamingo on Bull Street add an interesting perspective of Savannahian humor most visitors miss.  Photo by Morgie McCormick.

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A traffic mirror over a walkway between the Visitors Center and the Battlefield Park/Railroad Museum sites adds a different perspective that most will miss.  This location is believed by some historians to be the site where many Patriots were buried in a mass grave after the 1779 battle, The Siege of Savannah.  The monuments to the fallen can be seen in the mirror as well as to the right of the frame.


This view through a window at Clary’s Cafe was a grab shot as an older lady was attempting to ketchup to the rest of her group.  (No charge for the bad pun.)  Clary’s is noted for its appearance in the Clint Eastwood directed movie, Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil.

That’s the five ideas and many more areas to find them, but remember, ALWAYS get the main overviews of the sites.  You’ll want them to illustrate and add context to the differing views you find on your visit.

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You can’t miss with a shot of ships coming and going next to River Street.  On busy days they pass regularly on their way to the Port of Savannah and offer great images in any light.


And be sure to catch the overall shots of important places.  The Owens-Thomas House is a near, must-see.  It’s one of many house museums in the historic city.

If you haven’t, please hit the subscribe button to receive Southeastern Bound in your email box.  We won’t bug you or sell your information… Promise!

Y’all come see us and bring your camera.


© J Byous Company 2018, All rights reserved

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Tips from an old photographer

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

Tips to make your travel pics sing… A re-post from the past

by Jim Byous

Calculate, anticipate, concentrate.

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Sunrise plus 30 minutes. Gearin Road near Dahlonega, Georgia.

Mental notes were being jotted down in the back of my noggin’;  light, sky, color, the fall of shadows.  I had traveled down the same roads in North Georgia a number of times over several days.  As is normal on any other trip, at home or on assignment, I am always searching for pictures.  And, I always carry my Galaxy S 5 cell phone to capture scenes that I may want to photograph later with my Nikon. — In some instances I don’t need the Nikon, but that’s another story.  And no, neither company pays me to mention them. —  Anyway… while traveling  I watch the track of the sun and shadows… if I have time.  Later I retrace my route and when the conditions are right I grab as many images as possible. It’s a bit like harvesting ripe fruit in one outing.  Here’s the first part of my usual game plan.  This series will run throughout the next few blogs here on Southeastern Bound.

Find the right locations

If possible scout ahead and plan your route.  On a recent trip I had passed this ancient mill site,  photo 1, several times on trips to and from the gold mining town of Dahlonega, Georgia.  The old Gilstrap Mill is on the road of the same name a few miles from town.  Each trip the light is high, but the location and composition was natural and easily seen.  The challenge is that the light does not “sing.”  The sky is blue, but dull.  If time was tight I probably  stop to capture what I could.  In this instance it is not an issue.  Later in the evening clouds drift over the area.  After a weather check I make plans for a sweep through the area the next morning.  Clouds should be dotting the sky in the pre-noon hours.

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Photo 1, Sunrise plus 90 minutes.  The old Gilstrap Mill near the gold mining town of Dahlonega, Georgia,

I’m not a morning person but getting great images sometimes requires a sleepy, early-morning, groping walk to the car.  As I drive down the drive the dawn slowly brightened.  As my tires hit the main road the sun’s first rays come over the ridge to the east.  A few blinks-and-yawns later the lighting over the hilly terrain pumps a dose of adrenaline into my system… either that or the coffee finally kicked in.  The day is started.  Great photos seemed to be on every turn.  So many shots, so little time.

Systematically I drive, shooting different locations as the sun slowly crawles above the horizon.  I make sure my route keeps the mill scene within the acceptable time for lighting – the time from sunrise to sunrise-plus-two hours.

As a historian and photographer this is a primary location on my list.  The building has been partially restored by the owner with the historical integrity intact… a handsome relic that seems to freeze time.   Snuggled in a gap beside a sloping hill, a bend in the road and the briskly-running, oddly-named Wahoo Creek, it represents a time in Georgia when many of the small rivulets in the area were harnessed to grind grain.  It is now one of the few mills still standing.

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Photo 2.  The frame of the Gilstrap Mill water wheel remains in the shadows. The water course is now dry and flanked by trees, one decayed to a  stump.

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Sunrise plus 10 minutes.  The intersection of Gearin and Gilstrap Mill Roads, a different angle of the same hill in photos 3a and 3b.

Both history and aesthetics are important to the records that I make.  Too many historical images are simple uninteresting shots, images used for scholarly reports with little concern for artistic qualities of the scene.  I want to record the building but to also create an image that will look great on my – or any – wall, photo 2.  As is true in real estate, in landscape photography the most important thing is location, location, location.  That and light.

Therefore, like finding the right storefront on the right street in the right town, finding the correct picture location can be broken down to within a few feet.  You must find the area, then the site, then the spot, then the square foot that makes the best image in the correct light.  In photo 3 and 4 the difference in showing power lines next to the trees was a matter of moving closer and several feet to the left.

Find the right spot at the spot

You will notice the straight cut of limbs on the tree to the right of the frames.  This was done by the power company because inches outside the edge of the photo the wires were obvious.  My first position of choice, away from thorns and spine laden plants, was directly below the lines.  Unfortunately there was no way to get the photo without them showing.  I had to buck up and push into the brush to get this image.

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Sunrise plus 120 minutes, light cloud-cover in the east blocking the direct light. The Moon with a Lady Reclining Over the Trees, photo 3a on left, was mildly difficult to capture. Positioning under power lines, guide wires, brush and a barbed wire fence required a determined photographer… who carefully watched for snakes.  Taken in at the same stop along Gilstrap Mill Road in another season, phtot 3b shows the same trees complete with power lines, wires, brush and fencing for comparison.

Calculate, Anticipate, concentrate.

Calculate the light for your photos, the angle, the intensity.  Where will the sun move if you wait or come back on another day?  Will clouds enhance the scene?  My most frequent suggestion is “pray for clouds.”

Anticipate which locations you might want to capture at different times.  Will the shadows be better in the morning or in the evening?  Which is the most important scene to catch?

Concentrate  and consider all of the above conditions, locations and options.  To grab a memory card or film roll of great shots, plan it out… even if you have to plan on the fly.

Coming soon, Tips on composition.

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My father never stopped

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

By Jim Byous

My father never stopped at the Grand Canyon.  My father would not stop.  Never.  Ever.  Never-ever… unless of course he had to use the bathroom and then it was a Whiting Brothers gas station to fill up and find relief.  Cruising down Route 66 twice each year I would drool, yearn and whine that we might turn on Route 64 from Williams, Arizona to see the hole in the ground that I’d been told about in school, read about, and wished to visit.  Didn’t happen.  Not once.  The 120-mile round trip would add almost ten percent to our drive to Eastern Oklahoma and the visit with family.  His last trip through was to move there, the destination of all of our trips.  He died a few years later.

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As the sun rolls past the colors change, just like they are advertised to do.  Fabulous.

Well…, not really never-ever.  I do remember one side trip.  We did stop at Meteor Crater after I had hounded for several hours.  I wore them down, I guess.  That’s another story, however… That was when my mom made a statement that would place a bookmark on my eighth year of life… “It’s nothing but a big hole in the ground.”  She actually used an expletive somewhere in the sentence.  However, you think about it, she’s right.  But, oh, what a hole in the ground.  I was hooked on large, naturally excavated terrain with that viewing.

But I digress.


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Meteor Crater, just a big… hole that I find fascinating.  More to come in another blog.

Fast forward fifty-plus years… Okay, make that almost sixty-plus years.  But, I am finally here.  As always, time is short, and to make it worse the Beckster and I have some kind of bug.  I do not feel like touring, I’d prefer to lay in the motel and whine.  But, the road calls.  Time dictates and demands, “See it now ‘cause you may not be back for a while… or ever.”  So we go.

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An odd, pockmarked rock on the south rim.

We leave Sedona in the morning heading out on route 89a and up its famous switchbacks that I dubbed, The Hairpins.  The road reminds me of a shoe string.  It twists and turns and loops, so crooked that, as my father used to say, “You can see your tail lights as you round the bend.”  This road is definitely bendy and loopy, not for the faint of stomach.  The Hairpins climb from the junction of Pumphouse Creek and Sterling Canyon then past 6,639-foot, Mexican Pocket Mountain then dumps you onto the long plateau that leads to Interstate 17 and Flagstaff.  At Flagstaff we follow US 180 to Arizona 64 and we are here – two and one-half hours later.

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Mather Point Overlook.  Nice  folks, but one must look beyond the spilled drinks and crowds because the beauty is there.  It’s worth it.  One look and you forget your immediate surroundings.

We are here.  Yes, we are.  Along with what appears to be half the population of the Western Hemisphere.  At Mather Point we park at the Visitors Center lot.  A short walk and we on the overlook.  People are scrambling everywhere… I mean, everywhere.  Hanging off of the rails to pose for pictures, on outcrops of rocks to our left… posing for pictures, off of the overlook a few hundred yards to the west… posing for pictures.

Selfie sticks flash in the sunlight looking like a rerun of the battle scene on Braveheart.  And, children running everywhere, climbing on rocks, climbing on rails.  My inner-parental-self stands, stunned and silent.  Coffee, or some other brown runny substance rolls from a coffee cup on the concrete path ahead.  The aroma of coffee wafts up, affirming the contents.  I hope that the Beckster doesn’t get a whiff.  We’ll be searching for a McDonalds, because, as you know, they make the best coffee.  It’s a Beckster thing.

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Looking north from Mather Point Overlook.  A man in a red shirt hangs near the edge for a prank photo.  It HAD to be a guy in red.

Then it hits me.  Blamm!  The view.  It’s 10 a.m. and past the “sweet” light of morning and it’s beautiful.  No, bad example, exquisite.  No, not enough, still.  Wow!  That works, just, wow!  Clouds cover the Northern Rim.  Rain falls from the patches of blue and white fluff.  The red-orange banding along the mass of mesas, cliffs and side canyons are like a light show in rock.  Grab a camera.  I alternate between DSLR and smartphone.  It’s hard to get a bad shot.  I am impressed.  I am really impressed.  I wish my parents were here.  They should see this.  They would have liked this big hole.

We no longer feel ill.  Somehow the bad has been erased so we point our pickup east along the rim drive.  As the sun climbs and the clouds move the scene changes.  I had read how the colors change with the day.  Oh, my God, what have you done here?  This is beyond words.  Each turnout and overlook has its own phenomenal view.  At one stop, a raven poses for me, then squawks a rebuke when I’ve overstayed my welcome.  We move on.   If I were shooting film we would have burned through several hundred dollars in emulsion and processing fees.  Man, I love digital.

Navajo Jewelry shop Navajo Reservation

Navajo Jewelry shop Navajo Reservation

Before we know, we arrive at the Desert View Visitor Center, the end of the line.  The views and the images are still great.  Just one more picture and we need to head back.  We’ve burned through the entire day.   Down the road we make one more stop, a Navajo jewelry stand.  Here a Viet Nam veteran and his wife offer beaded jewelry, dream catchers and pottery.  As the sun drops low it is cold so we keep moving, but after buying gifts for the kids and grandkids and earrings for the Beckster.  Oh, and something for me, a stone circle pendant.  I like it.  It’s made by nice people, or at least sold by them.  I wish we had time to stay and talk but the road calls.

Mary Colter's Desert View Watchtower

Mary Colter’s Desert View Watchtower marks the end of the view sites on the South Rim Drive.

It is a great day.  I am ready for a nap but we still have to drive the Hairpins after dark.  The Grand Canyon?  I will be back.

Too bad Dad couldn’t be here.


© J Byous Company 2018, All rights reserved



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Beaufort, it’s a view to dine for.

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

By Jim Byous

Beaufort, South Carolina is Southern, small and sophisticated…. it’s a view to dine for.  The deck where we sit once jutted out over the water.  Today the water is two-hundred feet away, separated from the restaurant by yards and yards of twentieth-century fill dirt.  Since Gus, The Travel Dogg blogger is with us, we’re invited to the umbrella-covered tables in back of the eatery… and the best views.

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The pet-friendly deck at Beaufort’s Panini’s Restaurant is a pleasant waterside venue.

The 1919 Beaufort Bank Building, now Panini’s On The Waterfront Restaurant, still has one of Beaufort, South Carolina’s best vantage points of the harbor.  From our table, past the hoagies, Frogmore penne, and crab cake salad, the boats list lazily as the spring breeze flows in from the ocean to the east… sleep inducing.  Tourists and locals rest in strategically-positioned porch-swings that deliver leisured views from Henry Chambers Waterfront Park.

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Clams and Rigatoni in the center, Chicken Salad Panini on the left with a Meatball Parmigiana Hoagie on the right.  All with Southern sweet tea.  Life’s good.

The scent of the brackish water and marsh mud accent the aroma of clams and rigatoni that wait in front of me.  Dog friendly and a gluten-free menu…  I am in heaven.  Usually they bring a doggy menu for the pups, but today they are out of the pup-centric treats.  Gus doesn’t mind a few nibbles of people food.

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The harbor next to Henry Chambers Waterfront Park.

The spot is fantastic… but the history of the town is even better.  Beaufort was founded in 1711.  James Oglethorpe and the original settlers of Savannah and Georgia had stopped here on their way to start the new colony in 1732.  Though first settled by the English in 1670 , the southeastern corner of what is now the United States, was still a frontier.  The reason for Oglethorpe’s visit was to create a new adjoining colony to prevent the Spanish from moving up the coast from Florida, a welcomed buffer for the Carolinians.

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Bay Street in the downtown section serves as the main thoroughfare in the historic district.

Previously, in 1566, the Spanish created the nearby town of Santa Elena and stayed for 21 years.  Oglethorpe’s actions would act to nullify the Spanish claim to the area.  Before the Spanish, in 1662, French explorer and Captain Jean Ribaut brought a group of Huguenots to the same spot, creating the first Protestant settlement in what is now the United States.

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Greek Revival architecture is common among the homes and businesses in Beaufort.

Ribaut left a few soldiers and sailed back to France to gather reinforcements.  The left-behind troops went to work and built their own ship which took them back to France as well.  Unfortunately, without a compass, they wandered their way eastward and resorted to cannibalism to finish out the trip.  It was the first ship built in America to cross the Atlantic Ocean… eventually.  The location of the town was found under a Parris Island Marine Base golf course.  The Spanish had built their town over the ruins of the French, which is… I am told… par for the Spanish.  A stroke of genius.

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A iron-willed flamingo stands guard at the front of a Bay Street business.

The site is a short trip down the waterway from Beaufort toward the ocean.  Parris Island is a place where US Marines are proud to have been… and graduated… from.  Basic training there has hardened thousands of Leathernecks, both in times of peace and in war since 1915. As a result, Marine Corp caps and bumper stickers are easily found along Beaufort’s Bay Street which serves as the main thoroughfare and attraction in the Historic District.  On the other side of town is the Marine Corps Air Station.  This is a Marine-centric town.

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The chief of Bay and West Streets soaks in sun while waiting for the next tourist to pass.

It’s always been a military town.  The British had just finished barracks for soldiers in 1732 when Oglethorpe dropped in with his hundred-or-so settlers.  The travelers were given the new facilities to stay in while Colonel William Bull accompanied Oglethorpe on a scouting expedition to establish Savannah.  They joined their leader a few weeks later in 1733.  Soldiers and Sailors occupied the location until the end of the American Revolution when they were asked, not too politely, to leave.

In 1861, during the American Civil War, the city was captured by Union troops who held it to the end.  At that time the town was said to be void of white Southerners, leaving it to the black population before the Federal’s amphibious landing.


The John Cuthbert House, now known as the Cuthbert House Inn, was built in 1811.  During the Union occupation in the Civil War it was owned by US Army Brigadier General Rufus Saxton. (Wikipedia)

One rebel resident had been in the thick of fighting before.  William Henry Cory had been born in Chapham England near London.  Before emigrating to Beaufort he had survived the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade made famous by poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson who wrote,

“Half a league, half a league,

Half a league onward…,

and continues later,

“Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to do and die.

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.”

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The 1855 painting by William Simpson, “The Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava,” depicts the battle and cavalry charge in which William Cory participated.

In Cory’s new homeland he served as an officer in the Virginia Infantry in the Confederate Army.  He is buried in the St. Helena Episcopal Churchyard.  Beside his headstone are two flags.  One is he Union Jack, the other is the Confederate Battle flag.

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How much is that Piggy in the window?  I fell in love with the swine.

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I love the rocking horse too… but it won’t fit in a Ford Focus.

Today the town is a favorite of tourists from Hilton Head and Savannah.  Art shops, restaurants and odds-and-ends stores line the main street.  They hold some very good art, great food and interesting treasures that I can’t live without but can’t afford.  There’s a rocking horse and pig that I have my eye on.  They won’t fit in my Ford Focus… oh, well.  I’ll have to pass.  Ooohh!  Ooohh!  It’s an Irish shop.  Irish tweed hats and shillelaghs.  Do I need them…? No… but I gotta look.

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I’ll have to pass on the Irish hat.  Wool is too warm any time of year in Savannah… But the Beaufort hat on the basket head…  it’s mine.

We’ve also “gotta look” at the architecture.  Especially the old styles.  The Verdier House stands on the northwest corner of Bay and Scott Streets.  The Federal-styled home was built in 1804 by a French Huguenot planter and businessman named John Mark Verdier.  To me it looks to have a lot of Greek Revival features, but the former is listed in the guide books.  It was the Union Army adjutant general’s headquarters during the occupation.  Today it is a museum that displays the history of the town as well as household items of the era.

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The vernacular Regency/Greek Revival home of Huguenot,  John Mark Verdier, was built in 1804.  You can find it at the corner of Bay and Scott Streets.

A few blocks to the north is The Arsenal that serves as the Beaufort History Museum.  Built in 1798 it houses paintings, uniformed draped mannequins and docents eager to tell the stories of the area.  On the east is the Old Point neighborhood where antebellum homes sit among moss-covered oaks beside narrow, walkable lanes.  It’s worth the stroll.

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Hint: For real Southern iced tea you must add the sugar to boiling hot tea, stir it until it dissolves, then cool it and add the ice. At Panini’s it’s an unofficial umbrella drink.  Photos don’t lie.

If you like the South, sweet tea and old South charm, this is the place.  Sit back on Panini’s deck, watch the boats bob on the river, and enjoy a cool Southern iced tea.

Y’all come back.




© J Byous Company 2018, All rights reserved

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Oatman:  Threading the Needle’s Eye

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

By Jim Byous

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Oatman, Arizona was once the gateway to the promised land – California.  Today it serves travelers and tourists searching for the past.  It fills the bill.


It is legend.  This stretch of Route 66 runs like a thread, winding through the hot desert hills, twisting, rising and dropping in the dry, rocky, near-depleted-gold-bearing mountains between Kingman and Oatman, Arizona.  I have not seen it in the six decades of my life.  I’ve always wanted to.  Now I am.

My wife, Becky, aka “The Beckster,” rides shotgun as we leave our motel in Needles, California.  It is just before the morning sun creeps over the horizon.  Across the Colorado River we can see Boundary Cone on the opposite side of the Arizona state line.  It is already getting hot.  Thank God for air-conditioned pickups.  Our time is short, appointments in the Phoenix area dictate a “flyby” view of the town and route without a scheduled stop.  Now that we live in the Southeast – on the other side of the continent – it is compulsory that we see the legend… the road and the town.

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Boundary Cone peaks above the skyline beside the route from Needles, California to Oatman, Arizona.  It is a sacred place to the Mojave Tribe and has been a landmark for travelers over the years.  Below it are the row crops of the fertile Mojave Valley on the Arizona side of the state line.

I remember the stories told by my parents and grandparents of traveling to California in the years before I was born.  “I don’t like threading the needle’s eye,” my grandfather, Mark Covey, would joke while telling of this road.  “Don’t want to go back.”  He didn’t.

In the 1940s he had crossed the snaking stretch of Route 66 in a cut-down 1931 Hupmobile.  A makeshift “dog house” replaced the back seat and trunk, an alteration designed to carry and cover bored, sleeping kids and grandkids during the long, sun-baked and dangerous trip from Eastern Oklahoma.  Over the previous two decades he and others, who are now called “Steinbeck’s Okies,” journeyed to join my parents who were working in the bean fields of California’s Central Valley. 

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This Arkansas family rides in a truck with a “dog house” on the back.  Mark Covey’s Hupmobile doghouse was much smaller during its trek across Arizona’s southwestern desert.  Library of Congress photo by Dorothea Lang.

But, the gateway to the promised land lay along the twisted, narrow highway through the minaret-shaped rhyolite plugs of the Needles region and the near-abandoned gold town of Oatman, a town that was saved from extinction by supplying the needs of the traffic on Route 66.  As in my grandfather’s time, today the town survives by selling food, drink, and trinkets to travelers and tourists who follow their dreams.  In times before they searched for a new life.  Today they search for the past… just as we are.

Every year in my childhood our summer vacation was in Eastern Oklahoma the place our family called “home.”  We rolled through the Needles area in the warm season, in the pre-auto-air-conditioner days.  On those occasions my brother and I could be seen passing by, holding wet washcloths out of the car window in an attempt to grab a fleeting ration of cool for our faces.  One of our primitive swipes at cooling took place in Needles during an 11 P.M. passing in 1960.  The outside temperature measured 109 degrees Fahrenheit.  Somewhere along the route the cloth slipped from my brother’s hand and swirled off into the desert sticking to a distant, dry tumbleweed.  Mom was not amused.  Neither was I.  I had to share my cloth.

Route 66 had changed by that time, bypassing Oatman and diving straight into the Mojave Desert on the way to Kingman.  Each year, passing the turnoff to the “needle’s eye” my mother would laugh and quote her father’s rebuke of the area.  It was an annual ritual in oral tradition.

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Entering Arizona’s Black Mountains a short distance from Oatman on the Old Route 66.

Now, as we approach Oatman the first rays of sunlight touch the surrounding hilltops.  It slowly creeps downward, crawling across the rocks, rooftops, and road as the town fills our windshield.  The hamlet is quiet, the kind of quiet that seeps into your head the way heat soaks into a Mojave rock formation – slowly and intensely.  The sound of our motor reminds us that we have not lost our hearing.

Nothing stirs; not bird nor dog nor human.  It’s eerie, but oddly inviting.  It feels lonely like the loneliness heard in the howl of a wolf on a dark wilderness night.  The smell of dust and sage hangs in the air as the temperature rises.  The occasional scents of burro dung and automobile oil waft upward from the roadway through the truck’s ventilation system.  

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Oatman from the north at sunrise.  The town is quiet, still sleeping.  No-one is stirring.

The Beckster and I grab our cameras and click away, some from the truck, but other shots require stopping to compose and capture.  Time is short.  We must hurry.  I hate it.  I love this place.  I can feel the history soaking up out the ground and from the wooden framed buildings that surround us.  This place is filled with hidden stories, hidden secrets.

This tiny mining town gained its name from a nearby 1860s mine that honored Olive Oatman, a member of a Mormon pioneer family who died in an Indian raid in 1851.  Her story of capture, enslavement and eventual adoption by the Mojave tribe was well known when the town was settled.  Ironically gold fever exploded the population of the town shortly after Oatman’s death in 1903 when new veins were discovered.  The short-lived boost helped the town survive during the early years of the century.

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The Olive Oatman Restaurant and Saloon.  The place to get ice cream and booze, in one trip.

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Olive Oatman in 1863.  Her fame was widespread at that time.  The mine bearing her name was recorded around the time of this photograph. Wikipedia

Her likeness, which includes Mojave-face-tattoo highlights, is displayed on the façade of Olive Oatman Restaurant and Saloon on the eastern edge of the main street.  The eatery serves sodas, chili and ice cream to sun-parched tourists during the season.  A long banner above the porch boasts, “Air Conditioned.”  Next to it is another sign that reads, “Open.”  But, the eatery is not ready for the day, the business doors are locked.  They are in fact, closed.

Across the street is the eight-room, Oatman Hotel.  It was the honeymoon spot for actors Clark Gable and Carol Lombard when, in 1939, they eloped to Kingman 30 miles across the Black Mountains to the northeast.  Stories are told of the couple’s secretive escape out of Hollywood in an effort to avoid the press of the day. 

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The Oatman (Durlin) Hotel was established one year before Olive Oatman’s death in 1903.  Film stars, Carol Lombard and Clark Gable, shared their honeymoon here and were reported to have stayed here several times in their short tragic marriage.

Old timers told of card games with Gable into the late hours and his enjoyment of the townspeople that drew the couple back to the inn on numerous other occasions.  Apparently he and Lombard didn’t mind the ghost who is said to haunt the place.  The old establishment that they enjoyed has survived several disasters in the town’s history.  But in 1921 the hotel and many of the surrounding buildings weren’t as lucky and were destroyed by fire.  It was rebuilt in 1924.  Some reports say that the adobe walls remained intact and were reused for the current structure. 

As we pass through, the famous burros of Oatman are nowhere to be seen.  We will find them later trotting between the rocks and clumps of sagebrush a short distance down the road.  These locals were introduced to the region in the 1860s when gold was discovered.  Some are descended from pack animals used by The California Volunteers, troopers who moved from the nearby post, Fort Mohave, to search for gold. 

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Burros are protected by the BLM.  They think… or rather, know, you are on their turf.

Over time other “booms” of gold-hungry immigrants would lose or release animals.  Today there are several hundred wild burros in the area that are protected by the Bureau of Land Management.  Some are offered for adoption each year in the Bureaus’ Wild Horse and Burro Program.


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The view from Sitgreaves Pass northwest through the Black Mountains.

Onward we drive, competing with the clock.  The hairpin road seems to spiral as we climb.  To the left, just before the summit, is the Gold Road Mine.  It is currently under study for reopening, giving hope to the owners that they might soon take advantage of the rising price of gold.   A few more turns and switchbacks we are on top of 3,550-foot-high Sitgreaves Pass.  Stopping is a necessity to take in the view toward the northwest.

Three-hundred yards below us is a short, loop road.  We had missed the dirt turnoff to a panorama site with views of the Mojave Valley, the Colorado River and California beyond.  The site is covered with small crosses and monuments to the dead.  The ground is too rocky for graves yet crosses and memorials dot hillside below the overlook.    A local custom is to scatter ashes of loved ones at the site, usually due to a last request by those who passed and had loved the area.  

I would love to study this Sitgreaves site, but we can’t turn around.  Time on this leg of the trip is dominating our plans.  A short photo op and again we are rolling past the sage, rocks, and sand.  Thinking back, I had seen a similar cross-covered site a few weeks earlier above Cripple Creek, Colorado.  There the cross-on-the-hill placement started on the prominent point after cars plunged over.  Families would place memorials to those who died.  Later, as on Sitgreaves, loved ones would scatter ashes because of the beautiful vista from the point.  Both places pique one’s interests and suggest a need for learning more.  Both bring on sadness.

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Onward along Old Route 66 to Kingman, Phoenix and home.

On we drive – the clock commands us.  Another visit will be planned and we will return to this place and to the town and the ice cream in Olive’s Oatman’s Restaurant.  The history and the legends demand it of us.  Plus, there are the burros.



© J Byous Company 2018, All rights reserved


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Southeastern Bound Is being refabricated.

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

We’ve been filming our new vlog for Southeastern Bound as well as revamping this blog.  We will concentrate on the history and culture of our hometown, Savannah, Georgia while occasionally adding a road trip to the mix.

Stay tuned… Southeastern Bound is UNDER CONSTRUCTION.

HOWEVER, Gus, the Chihuahua, has his Travel Dogg Blogg up and running.  If you like a dog’s eye view of the world look him up at for his humorous take on life and things around him.0 1 Gus 'n' BearGus 'n Jim from promo video SM


© J Byous Company 2018, All rights reserved

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It is a petite, striped rectangle of fabric

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

By Jim Byous

It is a petite, striped rectangle of fabric with a field of white stars on blue, six and one-quarter inches by four.  As the grandkids play in the pool, while fireworks flash and crackle above I stare at the small emblem that represents so much to so many.  I can feel a lump grow in the back of my throat as I study the thirteen alternating stripes, red, white, red, white and so on, ending at last with red.  I count the stars of alternating rows, six, five, six and so on to combine in a uniformed rank and filed constellation of fifty.  It is our flag… We the people of the United States.  It is my flag.  The flag of my family.  We have been here since before the creation of this symbol.  Over the years it has been an inspiration across the world for over two-hundred-forty years.  Grandfathers, uncles and cousins fought for, died for, and cherished this symbol of freedom long before I came upon the scene; before, “we” in “our” family.

William Byars, my fifth great-grandfather, died during the American Revolution.  Of what, we do not know.  He may have been killed in battle, he may have died of measles or mumps or another war-related illness, he may have fallen from a horse while trotting home after a night at the local tavern.  We do not know… but… he died after protecting this symbol that I hold in my hands.  His brother, Nathan, who served next to him, lived beyond the war.  Moving from Virginia to South Carolina after the Revolution he bought and farmed a tract of land that had been the site of one of the most important battles of the conflict… a hilly, terraced plot of cleared woodland called Cowpens.  He is buried there in a small family plot a few hundred yards from the location where American forces defeated Lt. Col. Banestre Tarleton of the British Army.

Though “Uncle” Nathan did not fight there, other members of our family did.  Hugh Baskin, a fifth great-grandfather and his brothers were there.  Colonel Andrew Pickens, the husband of their cousin, Rebecca Calhoun Pickens lead their militia unit in an action that was imprecisely but proudly depicted in the movie, The Patriot.  Another first cousin from another line, General Daniel Morgan lead the determined, rag-tag group of farmers, huntsmen and Continental regulars to victory.  For my grandkids, through my wife Rebecca Harrison, the ancestral line of McCall’s was represented as was Cone lineages and the “Fighting Parson” that was also shown in the Mel Gibson film.

Each war afterward was represented by our families… ours and a great percentage of the current population of our nation.  Our combined families built our nation.  They fought for it, they worked for it, they voted for it and in many cases died for it.  But, most importantly they shared it with the peoples of the world.  Their beliefs in freedom created a system where those who did not have freedom in the beginning could, through the words of the constitution, gain liberty that was attainable in no other nation on earth before the Stars and Stripes existed.  This is my country.  This is our country.  My family, your family and many others throughout the past centuries.  They gave it to us.  Most importantly, they gave it to all here today; newcomers and those of original descent.  This is OUR country now.  It was purchased at a tremendous price… a price that dictates, implores and requires that we not squander it.  Those who sacrificed would agree… if we remain true to the principles in which they believed.  That’s what I believe.

So, happy Fourth of July.  Happy Independence Day.



© J Byous Company 2018, All rights reserved

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A Rewrite for Progeny

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

By Jim Byous

This is for my children and grandchildren.  My old friend, A.T. Dowd, has written the following.  It is a rewrite of a guest blog from 2015.  It includes a few more thoughts while re-emphasizing the main points.  So, youngsters, as well as others who may be reading, please study and use as applicable.  I will do the same.

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The Beckster, me and the second-generation progeny.  From left” Papa, Kate, D.P. Debra, Morgan, Eli, Daniel, Tara Rose, Becky (aka; Mammaw, Crammaw, Prammaw, and Hammaw depending upon the child).


Never Look Back: A Reflection on What “They” Say

They – whoever they may be – say to never look back.  That statement is unwise and illogical.  “They” say it’s better to regret something that you do than something that you didn’t do.  That’s complete and utter bull crap.

Always check behind you — that is your vulnerable and blind spot — but, don’t do it continually, you’ll run into something that you aren’t expecting.  Analyze what you have done, the good points and the bad.  Build on the past rather live in it.  Learn from it.  Always look back and analyze what you’ve done.  If the experience is bad, throw it out and refuse to repeat it.

Always regret the things that you did wrong, but only to a point.  Deal with it and move on.  The correct term is, “Don’t dwell on the past.”  If you didn’t do something, it’s done… as in, “it’s gone.”  If it was good, there will be another opportunity.  If it wasn’t then there is no loss.  “They” also like to say, “don’t live in the past.”  This is partially true…  partially.  However, learn to live ON the past, not IN the past.  You, your character and your view on life is joined to comprise what and who you are.  And, what you are is made up of what you have experienced, what you have gleaned from that experience and how you apply it to your life.

You were born at the perfect and correct time.  There is a purpose and a reason for your existence.  Don’t squander what you have been given.  And remember, if you are lucky you will live to an old age.  “Old age” is a gift that many will not and do not experience.  Cherish getting older.  It is interesting that that time in life where you start figuring out what it’s about, it’s time to leave… like a movie or a book.  You can’t quite get the entirety until the last page is finished or the last credit rolls into the black.  Wisdom and understanding come with age.  Respect it.

So, live for today with an eye on the future; the next fork in the road, the next hill or mountain, the next opportunity.  However, occasionally look back to see what has and can hurt you down the road.  And, don’t whine and complain about the path that you are on.  If you get discouraged, sit down and have a private moment of complaint and examination… quickly get out of your system.  It has been my practice to limit those episodes to about five to ten minutes.  My wife has experienced may occasions where I say, “I’ll be back in a few minutes.  I’m going to have a quick pity party and start over.”  An old friend, Walter Grubb, the president of Harrison Chilhowee and The King’s Academy in Tennessee once told me on the slopes of Mount Whitney, “You can climb the mountain, you can kick the mountain, you can cuss the mountain.  The mountain doesn’t care.”  So, deal with it and get on with it.

As far as teamwork.  An adage that is loosely attributed to General George Patton says, “Lead, follow or get out of the way.”  I’ve always said, “Cut your own path; to hell with the parade.”  Cooperate with “leaders,” respect authority and strive in a co-equal goal.  But, remember that people are flawed.  Work together but follow no individual.  Follow God alone.  If you don’t know how to do that, talk to me.  I’ll tell you my experience.

Here are a few more adages to consider:

  1. If you think your opponent is stupid, but your opponent has consistently beaten you, it is time reassess your position in the equation. (See next)
  2. On sizing up opposition: If you pay attention, President Donald Trump has been constantly underestimated.  For good or bad, that is a mistake by his opposition.  Here’s a quote from his book, The Art of the Deal.  It says, “I fight when I feel I’m getting screwed, even if it’s costly and difficult and highly risky.”  I re-emphasize the topic… His resolve is constantly underestimated.  Never under or over-estimate the opposition.  (See above)
  3. Study the opposition.  To understand Donald Trump I read his book.  A famous line from the biographical movie Patton he is shown at the end of his tank-battle victory over Germany’s great General Rommel.  Patton says, “Rommel, you magnificent bastard, I read your book!”  If your opposition has written a book… read the book.
  4. Another saying that I have experienced is this – “Sometimes it takes courage to just show up.”  So,… SHOW UP.

You get but one ride on the carousel called life.  Make it a good ride. – A.T. Dowd

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Lee Maddeford, Alaskan-Suisse music? Lederhosen laden lumberjack? No, wait… that’s cool!

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

By Jim Byous

Lee Maddeford

  Lee Maddeford


Lee Maddeford who are you and where have you been?  You do what you do and it’s interesting stuff… your music that is.

Recently I discovered Lee Maddeford while, of all things, looking for a royalty-free Black Gospel track.  There in the middle of a long list of great spirituals was a tune called “Woman just like you.”   I clicked it (below) and it was immediate and certain, love at first listen.

It’s a melancholy melody that contain verses that any man could sing, wished he could sing or secretly aspired to sing.  It’s reminiscent of a guy’s first love, current love or maybe even a future love.  It summons memories of the first time he met his one-and-only, when he sees his dream-girl passing on the street or when she sits across the bus or the office or a dimly lit bar through a smoky, dream-like fog.

Those who know me will tell you, I am not a “music” kind of guy.  I enjoy lots of styles, but am far from a connoisseur.  But, one can hear several influences in this guy’s music; Billy Joel, French Cabaret, a little Johnny Mercer.  He often sounds like one of my favorites, Eddie Wilson, here in Savannah, GA.  There’s a bit of the blues, jazz and, below, I definitely hear the Beatles at the start of “Be what you wanna be.”   And,… oddly… what sounds a like the strains of Disney animation tunes in a few of his pieces – Dick Van Dyke could do a bit of light kicking and tapping to a couple.   I like all of these styles but can’t be called a super fan of any of them…. except maybe blues and the Beatles of my youth.  I’ve heard enough Disney from grandkids to last a few years, though I know I will miss them terribly as my progeny grows.

Most of Maddeford’s songs are bellowed through soft washes of gravel that ripple downstream to create a handsomely mellow and warm voice.  It’s a great style and is reminiscent of the legendary Russ Taff.  The cut, “Berceuse du temps qui passe,” (Lullaby of passing time?) with its French title starts with a clunk that sound like a dropped studio mic then resonates suspiciously into an Irish drinking song… performed and accompanied by a crowd of inebriated Irish patrons.

I know the sound well.  Being Irish I have participated in said sing-along sessions and recognize the archetypal slapping and thumping that emanates from beer covered, pretzel-crusted pub tables.  But, don’t give up, listen on.  Darned if it doesn’t work… no, really.  It’s an enjoyable, insightful and interesting song that was undoubtedly written for a Suisse stage play.  It’s becoming one of my favorites.

There seems to be little written about him… Lee Maddeford, unless you happen to read French… which I do not.  Other than the French version of Wikipedia about all that I can find is that he was born in Alaska and studied music in Seattle, Washington and worked as a lumberjack at one time, high in the northern woods of Alaska.  He apparently went on a backpacking trip to Europe and stayed.

As of 1981 he resides in Gourze near Lausanne, Switzerland.  Some of that info came from one of his emails that mysteriously popped up online.  And, I read that he writes for choirs, theater and big bands. More interesting is his web site,, which contains at least 150 mp3’s that he has made.  He allows anyone to download them for free, non-commercial usage.  And it’s pretty darn good music – free or not.  Oh, there are a couple of the songs that are, in my aged opinion, pure crap… but I’m sure he would disagree.  You may too.

However, all in all, and a few more clichés… would someone bring this guy to the forefront as he should be?  Maybe bring him to Savannah for a while.  I’d like to hear a duet with Eddie Wilson.

– JB


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Courage: Profundity on a half shell.

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

By Jim Byous

What is courage?  Recently I’ve been reading and studying courage… almost to my chagrin.   I know that courage is a virtue I admire.  It’s noble.  It’s a great ideal for one to aspire.  But, man, it is hard to describe and dissect.  I hadn’t really attempted to diagnose the real meaning and meanings.  Now that I do it’s hard for me to wrap my mind completely around it.  It’s an enormous wrap.

I find that there are variations on the heart of the meaning.  For instance, to be courageous in battle or in times of physical conflict or disaster defines the most common form of courage we think of.  They give medals for it.  The recipient is a called “hero”.

But, courage is more than the charging-in-despite-the-odds actions of an individual or group.  Though those can be great and admirable actions.  The idea of courage, the totality of courage, the essence of courage, is distinct and much deeper.

Sometimes courage is physical.  Sometimes it is mental.  Sometimes it is spiritual; the keeping-on, keeping-on that many around us silently face each day.  Not taking a drink, not shooting up, not eating just-one-more helping can require courage.  It is also a man comforting a friend in trouble or a mother holding the hand of a child wrapped in bandages, surrounded by monitors, invaded with feeding tubes and probes and needles in tiny veins.  Or sometimes it is the act of taking a chance in business or in life or in love knowing the odds say that you will fail, but you continuing on because you know it is the honest and correct thing to do.

That is courage.

Winston Churchill was an advocate and evangelist of courage.  His grasp of the power of will, determination and steadfast continuance helped him lead Britain through the perils of his time.  America lead the battle to defeat fascism in the 20th century but Winston Churchill lead the way by doggedly expounding his call for courage.

One quote attributed to him states, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”  I don’t know if he really said it, but he should have because it holds to his message.  The perseverance to keep on keeping on.  Sloshing through the trudgery and drudgery, to fight on for a righteous cause without giving in.

That… is… courage.

However, the key word above is “righteous”.  Righteousness can simply be the will – the courage – to not give up hope, to hold a grain of, a faint flicker of faith in that which is correct and true.  Often that is the hardest.  And, often one must have courage in order to hold on to that faith or even to grasp its tiny fringes that persistently whip and twist in your mind’s gripping fingers.

Then again, it seems to me that one must have faith and hope in order to have courage.  I suppose they are the totality and quintessence of the subject; the same frame of mind, of spirit, of determination.  But the real power of those three is in the possession and implementation of all, the letting of one germinate, nurture and grow the others.

Courage – positive courage, the courage that is victorious – is a bundle of all; hope, faith, and courage.  See, to have hope without faith is hollow.  To have faith without hope is impossible.  To have courage without hope or faith is a needless sacrifice.

Conversely, standing to fight the indomitable beast knowing that you have no possibility of winning but knowing that you may slow the beast and assure the salvation of others… that revelation is the presence of hope and faith, not in one’s self, but for a greater good.

That is awe-inspiring, skin-tingling courage.

Then again, with all aside, would it not take courage to run and fight another day?  Would that be called wisdom?  Because in order to exercise wisdom one must usually have courage.  So now we have another variable.

And finally, love… love is a progenitor of the first three and sometimes all four.  If implemented alone it can create any and all of the others. But to have love without wisdom… that opens another can of twisting mental-thought worms.

The final decision to delve into the ramifications of what we may find and how it affects us and how we will deal with the acquired knowledge and IF we will implement those findings… that takes… courage.

See?  It’s an enormous wrap.

I think I’m going to lie on the couch for a while and vedge.

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