Visiting Boulder

Veeka and ukelele

Veeka and ukelele

Actually this is not all post-2013 material. I did want to add a cute photo of Veeka with her first-cousin-once-removed, aka Brynley, who is about 8 months old at this point. It was fun having her and her mom, Carley, and grandmother Susan come and visit while we were at Oma and Opa’s. And a kind friend brought Veeka a ukelele which Veeka was very happy to have.

Veeka and Brynley

Veeka and Brynley

I’ve talked about New Year’s Eve, but the day after that, we visited Oak Ridge where one of these photos shows a friend teaching Veeka how to jump rope. This is harder than it looks. We were blessed with sunny weather. An update, btw, on the gentleman with the snakes; on Jan. 8, a grand jury agreed he was not guilty, so he was let off. And was he happy about that! Must say I was relieved as I was trying to figure how I’d schedule in and pay for a week or two in LaFollette, Tenn. covering his trial. I spent the last week finishing up the proposal for the book I’m working on about pentecostal serpent handlers; the agent has it now and, God willing, he will be shopping it around to publishers soon. Just in time, as my spring courses at UMemphis start next week. And yes, am taking another course overload although this time most will be online. The one class I’ll physically attend is at a branch campus in Jackson so, thank God, no more twice-weekly commutes to Memphis. Although…I was on campus today and I must say I kind of enjoyed getting to know the place last fall.

Discovery Park of America

Discovery Park of America

One of the more interesting things we did during Christmas break is visit the Discovery Park of America which is an hour north of us in Union City, Tenn., aka the middle of nowhere. It’s right up against the Kentucky state line. The outside looks like a cross between an ark and a cruise ship and inside is a Disney World-like maze of things to do, movies, places to play, exhibits and so on. I took Veeka and a little friend, as it was astronomy month there, so Veeka ended up with a free telescope that I don’t think I put together right but still, there was a cool show on astronomy. I have taught Veeka tons about the planets, so that interests her too. We hope to go back in warmer weather to enjoy the outdoor exhibits.

My Big Journey this month was a four-day romp to Boulder for an academic conference called Media and Religion: The Global View at the University of Colorado in Boulder. I presented a paper on my serpent-handling friends and their use of Facebook and it was well received. I picked up some tips too on better ways to present conference papers and in all, it was a great 3 days there. Sometimes I hung out with a group of Israelis who were there and other times I was with some University of Missouri folks. Veeka was with a sitter back in Jackson who had the bad luck to experience the bursting of pipes in my bathroom while I was gone. Fortunately her family was in town and her dad knew just the right plumber. Anyway…

Veeka and Ava at the Discovery Park. After all the cool exhibits, what they really wanted to do is play in the snow.

Veeka and Ava at the Discovery Park. After all the cool exhibits, what they really wanted to do is play in the snow.

My panel was on “Networking, Space and Religious Experience” and my co-panelists talked about everything from the relationship of Tahrir Square to the Second Temple period and a group of what looked like hippies doing global realignment prayers in the Yucatan. The latter presentation used photos quite well: Note to self – must bone up on PowerPoint. Speaking of hippies, being in Boulder itself felt like a throwback to the 1960s. As one friend said when I talked about it on Facebook: Ah Boulder, how I miss it! Beautiful campus! Downtown is like a time capsule, beats, hippies, paramilitary 60s types, 70s feminists, 80s feminists, 90s lesbians, turn of century greens, etc. Not to mention jugglers, belly dancers, street musicians, horrible mimes, and other distractions. He said that right. I’ve never been in a city where the public transport was so good (well, the DC metro is nice too) but Boulder has buses everywhere. And the 5 zillion trash cans for all manner of recycling: plastic here, trash there, green glass here, blue glass there, etc., and a delicious place near my hotel called Merlot Burger – what a place! It’s quite close to the UC campus and the idea of having wine and burgers together – how unlike Tennessee. This place had smallish burgers with nifty salads and a great wine list and cool burger flavors. The margarita they gave me – maybe it was the altitude – but it’s good I wasn’t driving that evening.

The University of Colorado campus with the Flatirons in the background. Imagine waking up every morning to that.

The University of Colorado campus with the Flatirons in the background. Imagine waking up every morning to that.

The campus was the epitome of political correctness (judging from various signs posted about) and beauty, with Tuscan architecture backed by a sharp set of peaks known as the Flatirons. My first full day there, I caught one of the town’s convenient buses and zipped up to Eldora, a family-style ski area about 21 miles west of town. Yes, I did bring my skis on the plane. It was so pleasant skiing in Colorado again – had not done so since 2006. What wasn’t so pleasant was the $79 adult day rate ticket, especially since I skiied less than 4 hours because of the cold and the wind. When I complained to someone, I was told that was quite cheap. Vail charges $110/day (and that’s the online price) and the other resorts aren’t far behind. I remember the days when a $30 lift ticket was thought pretty obscene. The locals told me they get their tickets the spring before which is how they save.

I just got a magazine article assignment in Denver, so I may be back there sooner rather than later.