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June 14, 2017


89 East Center

Kanab, Utah

(435) 644-2601

For the first time in 35 years, we are borrowing an approach that is being used with great success by cruise ship companies to fill their ships with people who are geared to short-notice excitement and growth. Since so many millions of people today are self-employed, working at home, retired, or just plain have a permanent case of wanderlust, here is your personal invitation to join us next Monday through Thursday in Kanab, Utah, the Hollywood of the Southwest. Over a hundred western movies were filmed here.

Zane Grey (1872-1939) is the writer who, more than any other, (in his 70 western books, over a hundred movies, and television series) created the concept that once upon a time there existed a Romantic West, a Western Camelot, in America’s Southwest.

Thirty-five years ago, in Texas, the international Zane Grey’s West Society was born. A laid-back, down-home, informal organization of young-at-heart individuals who like to gather every year in fun places to visit and travel to. Where prices and dues are kept low, where officers all serve pro-bono, where annual conventions are run at cost so that even those who are on fixed incomes can afford to attend. Numbers of attendees are kept down to 75-150 so that smaller towns can serve as venues and so that everything can be run informally. There is no hierarchy: all meet and interact on the same level. Friendships have proven to be lasting and rewarding.

If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to learn more about our great West, you’ll want to drop everything and show up in Kanab next week. If Parry Lodge should prove full, no problem: there are lots of other motels to choose from in Kanab. And you’ll soon see why so many members tie their annual convention attendance to travel destinations they’ve long wished to visit. For instance, Kanab is a jumping-off point to the Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, Great Basin, Bryce, Zion, Arches, and Capital Reef, national parks, as well as Moab, Lake Powell, Rainbow Bridge, Monument Valley, and so much more.

It would be helpful to contact Sheryle Hodapp (15 Deer Oaks Drive, Pleasanton, CA 94588-8236) email:; cell: 925-899-8698) for further information. Hodapp is Secretary-Treasurer of the Society. But even if you should do a last-minute showing up, we’ll find a way to squeeze you in. Believe me, the Society will change the course of your life, enrich it in ways you probably never thought possible.

Do give Hodapp a call, or email her, this very minute!

Just think: if you’d joined the Society 35 years ago, here are places you could have seen and explored (in reverse order of dates):


  • Islamorada [Florida Keys]
  • Mormon Lake, AZ
  • Durango, CO
  • Provo, UT
  • Spearfish, SD
  • Williamsburg, VA
  • Gold Beach, OR
  • Glacier National Park, MT
  • Payson, AZ
  • Lackawaxen, PA
  • Catalina Island, CA
  • Ogden, UT
  • Prescott, AZ
  • Oklahoma City, OK
  • Zanesville, OH
  • Cody, WY
  • Grants Pass, OR
  • Grand Junction, CO
  • Washington, PA
  • Kerrville, TX
  • Taos, NM
  • Great Falls, MT
  • Matamoras, PA
  • Kanab, UT
  • Fort Davis, TX
  • Page, AZ
  • Flagstaff, AZ – and
  • Keene, TX

Next year, we’ll be meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

See all you’ve missed?

I hope to see you in Kanab.


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Elizabeth Goudge’s “Pilgrim’s Inn”





June 7, 2017

Popular Library paperback

Those of you who have been with our club for quite a while may remember our eighth selection, Elizabeth Goudge’s City of Bells, back on September 26, 2012

Now, 58 books later, I’m returning to another Goudge book I’ve loved for many years, Pilgrim’s Inn.

For those unfamiliar with Elizabeth Goudge, prepare for an incredible read. Generally speaking, each of her books is a masterpiece. She was a perfectionist who refused to sign off on a chapter, a page, a paragraph, or even a sentence, until it would ring like a piece of the finest china.

The older I get, the more picky I get about the books I read. When I was young, I’d often read just to be reading, but now, as the sand in the upper portion of my life’s hourglass continues to diminish, increasingly I return to authors I’ve loved more than all the rest. Of these, leading the pack is Elizabeth Goudge. Her books more than stand the test of time.

Pilgrim’s Inn is the first of Goudge’s books I read—and it hooked me for life. First of all, her characters. As is true with the greatest writers, she respects her readers so much that she refuses to pontificate in her books. But rather, she sets her characters free to talk, and thereby the readers can each watch her characters come to life out of abstract print.

Howard-McCann hardback

In Goudge, rarely do we come across cameo characters: reason being, unless each one contributes to the power of the plot, that person is not even introduced.

The cast of characters in the book includes:

Nadine, the beautiful wife of one man, haunted by the love of another.

Lucille, wise and great-hearted, the matriarch of an extended family, who tries her best to keep each one from going on the rocks.

David, handsome renowned actor, shell-shocked and disillusioned by the terrible war, and tormented by loving two very different women.

George, the faithful husband who is deeply wounded by a wife who devalues him.

John, a widowed famous painter who is ever on the search for people he considers worthy of being painted.

Sally, the effervescent daughter of John who falls in love with a man in love with another.

Annie-Laurie, a beautiful young woman who carries a toxic secret with her wherever she goes.

Jim, who yearns for the one love of his life to once again love and value him.

Hillary, the vicar who tries his utmost to minister to and counsel his volatile family.

Jill, who comes out of nowhere to bring structure to the family.

And I haven’t even mentioned the five children: Ben, Caroline, Tommy, and the irrepressible twins who are a law unto themselves. Even the dogs, Poo-bah and the Bastard, have their unique roles.

* * * * *

Goudge is unique not only for her unforgettable characters, but also for her memorable lines—one of the most quotable of all the writers I have ever read. And unlike 99.9% of writers (like most adults, they’ve lost the ability to recreate in characters the life, dreams, and actions of children), Goudge can. Consequently, her children are more often than not the driving force in her novels.

Goudge is also one of the most spiritual of novelists. Spiritual in the joyful sense. Life, in all its multidimensionality, shines through Goudge’s every page, making each re-reading all the more poignant and meaningful. My third reading of the book was just as entrancing and moving as the first (over half a lifetime earlier).

Nor can I forget the role of the two old houses: the Herb of Grace ancient inn and Damerosehay—both essential to the development of the characters and personalities in Goudge’s fictional world of Pilgrim’s Inn.


Elizabeth de Beauchamp Goudge (1890 – 1984) was born in the English cathedral city of Wells. Her father was a professor and administrator in theological colleges, so his daughter grew up in that environment. Her first novel, Island Magic (1934), set in her beloved Channel Islands, was an immediate success. World-wide fame came as she continued to write.

In 2002, J. K. Rowling identified Goudge’s child classic, The Little White Horse, British Carnegie Medal (1946) as one of her favorite books and one of the few books with direct influence on the Harry Potter series. The TV mini-series, Moonacre, was based on this book as well.

* * * * *

I predict that once you have internalized—you must never attempt to read her books fast!—Pilgrim’s Inn, you will be hooked on Goudge for the rest of your life. Since Goudge was so popular during the second half of the twentieth century, you shouldn’t have much trouble tracking down on the Web a nice copy for your home library


Island Magic (1934)

The Middle Window (1935)

A City of Bells (1936)

Towers in the Mist (1938)

Sister of the Angels (1939)

The Bird in the Tree (1940)

The Castle on the Hill (1941)

Henrietta’s House (or The Blue Hills) (1942)

Green Dolphin Street (1944) – Academy Award movie in 1948

Gentian Hill (1949)

The Rosemary Tree (1956)

The White Witch (1958)

The Scent of Water (1963)

The Child from the Sea (1970)

Goudge also wrote many short stores, children’s books, and inspirational nonfiction.


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May 31, 2017

For the last six months, a little dog has ruled our mountain chalet. Not since the passing of Pandora, our beloved Himalayan cat, has an animal ruled over our home. A week ago, our son Greg, who has been relocating, flew out from Florida to reclaim his Boston Terrier, Bailey.

Now we have our house back and we can once again settle into our own routines. But before memories of Bailey grow dim, I decided to write this blog.

Albert Payson Terhune, whose dog novels warmed my childhood, famously postulated that puppies’ mental state stalls out at two-years of age, and dogs inwardly rarely get any older than that. How true!

Like a two-year-old child, Bailey had only two speeds: on and off–or, perhaps more accurately, Burning Rubber in the Red Zone, and Comatose Dead-Out. With total disregard for our plans for a given day, Bailey demanded breakfast immediately—not even one minute later. After relieving herself, it was Play Time. Time for us to throw her tennis ball. If we ignored her soulful eyes, she would whimper; if that didn’t work, she’d wail. She’d never bark. Impossible to ignore her! So we’d throw her ball until it was too slimy to touch. Not even in the bathroom were we out of range: we’d have to toss the ball down the stairs over and over until she’d finally give up in exhaustion.

And she had no life outside of us. She’d follow us from room to room—especially to the kitchen. No matter how softly I might slip into the pantry, she somehow knew I was attempting to sneak a bite of food into my mouth without giving her any—and she was appalled at my selfishness. If even a crumb dropped from a cracker, it would be devoured before it hit the floor.

She was never a lap-dog; any cuddling had to be on her terms (much as was true with cats that have owned us). But she loved to flop down against us, and was always indignant when we robbed her of our body warmth.

When we took her for a ride, she’d jump up or climb as high as she could so that she’d be able to see everything that came into view. Rarely would she stay still during the ride.

At night, once she was deprived of the tennis ball, she reminded us of a punctured balloon: all the air rushing out of her, leaving her lifelessly limp.

She had an extremely strong sense of “home.” When I took her for a walk, once I turned back toward home, she’d rush me back, in race-mode even before we reached our driveway. When in a car, she’d get more and more excited the closer we got to the house. No chance in the world she could miss our driveway.

But then, Greg flew back from his new place in Florida to get her. Once he came in the door, I was no longer pack leader. Then came the day Greg started packing up. Bailey now became more and more disturbed–whimpering, crying, unable to relax. After he left to get his rental truck, she became more and more frantic: Was he going to leave her again?

So we took her to Pine where Greg was loading the truck from the storage unit. She calmed down, but only a tad. Finally, there came the moment when Greg opened the truck door and heaved her up on the high pillow where she’d be “navigating” all the way across the country. And, finally, we could see her beginning to visibly relax. She was home at last.

After “they” drove off, Bailey without even looking back, I thought of so many things: about Pandora, whenever we’d take a trip and then return, Pandora would often have no voice left: she’d cried her voice out to the extent that not even a vestige of a meow was left. It was after her passing that we’d agreed never again to inflict that tragic separation-anxiety on another pet. Perhaps someday when our wandering days are gone, we might reconsider.

But as for now, we are just left with memories, and marvel at how God is able to pack so much life, so much fidelity, so much intensity, so total a commitment, so strong a sense of “home,” into such a small 14-pound body.

Au revoir, Bailey—until we see you again!

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Who Can You Trust Today?




May 24, 2017

This is no idle question. In this week’s news is a recent study having to do with American citizenry’s search for truth: Conclusion being there is no longer any one source the majority of Americans trust as offering objective truth they can bank on. Can believe.

I have found this to be an accurate summation in terms of my own search for truth. Time and New York Times are center-left; Newsweek (sadly no more) and Wall Street Journal are center-right; on television, MSNBC is extreme left; CNN is center-left; and Fox is extreme right. If I determine to track down truth, I’m forced to consult all of them—which I do. But since the average person is not a historian of ideas, taking time only to consider one or two sources, truth will be out of reach for him/her.

Politicians have long been known for speaking out of both sides of their mouths at once—but never to the extent that we are experiencing today!

This disastrous-for-democracy reality has been a long time coming. For several generations now, print has been an endangered species. Once great libraries dumping primary sources (think books and magazines) in favor of digitizing everything; encyclopedias, dictionaries, and thesauruses also being digitized; even paper maps becoming passé; home libraries—what are they?

Dystopian writers and thought-leaders have long feared dictators who would (a la 1984, Brave New World, or Fahrenheit 451) destroy democracies by getting rid of all printed records. Once that is accomplished, the people cannot disprove the dictator’s version of the truth. But it isn’t just malevolence we’ll need to fear. For instance, just during the last week, hundreds of millions of people across the globe have been hacked into, held hostage, and forced to pay up in order to ransom their computerized records. So now, what-if?

What if the next global catastrophe has to do with the destruction of the grid? For some time now, governmental leaders have feared such a thing—but not enough to take serious steps to prevent it. Thus it remains today more of a “when” rather than an “if.” It is said by those in the know that it might take generations to recover from such a cataclysm.

Let’s take the U.S. for instance. With clerks unable to add, subtract, multiply, or divide without electronic calculators (today’s reality for millions), how could businesses function? Just imagine life without refrigeration or air-conditioning, lights at night, heating during winters, gas pumps when traveling, stop lights on streets, air-flights, ability to fix mechanical things—oh one could go on and on.

But more to our point, we have now reached the place where Siri has the answer to everything. Consequently, why have a paper back-up to anything? No longer any need for libraries or printed records of anything. Result: When that grid goes out, with it would go civilization and life as we know it. We’d be back to the frontier, with no one to protect you or your family.

* * * * *

So, before it’s too late, let’s rethink our race to computerize all knowledge and destroy all printed records, books, magazines, newspapers, etc. Let’s each, as a committee of one, begin building our own family libraries, subscribing to our own magazines and newspapers, and purchasing our own books. By so doing, each of us would be able to find truth on our own, and thereby help preserve our fragile democracy so that our descendants may have lives worth living.

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Just in Case We Ever Complain





May 17, 2017

Christina Miller,  Photo by Fernando Salazar, Wichita Eagle

One of the joys of our ministry is our interaction with people of many faiths. Some of them, over time, become cherished friends. One of them is Anna Miller of Hutchinson, Kansas. She, her husband Glenn, and her family are Amish, spiritual descendants of the Anabaptists. For many years, they owned and ran Glenn’s Bulk Food Shoppe and Gospel Book Store in Pleasantville, Kansas—and that’s how we became acquainted. Today, their large family is not only serving the Great Plains but are missionaries all over the world.

She just shared with me a remarkable letter she mailed to family and friends. I’m now sharing parts of it with you. Reason being: it’s a jolting letter than reveals a level of self-sacrifice that few Americans have ever experienced. It was written from Bangladesh:

Sit with me on Ellis’ veranda, see the multitudes! See the constant moving, 4 stories down on the street. See the rickshaws and bikes, hear the continual horns of CNGs, cars, vans, motorcycles, and on more of the main streets, also buses. There are some buses that look nice, but may have cockroaches on the loose. Then other buses that have not fared well with the very crowded streets, and certainly have not seen a body shop recently. Yet the focus is not the transportation, it is the souls, within each of the sixteen million people. Real people with feelings, with a heart, people that live with little. We are grateful for those who spread the love that makes a difference!! Do you know what someone shared is the biggest hindrance to natives? It is the squabble within our circles of “love”. So, where are we in all this? Speaking to myself, first.We are so glad that Joel and Hilda (from Kansas) live here! Hilda’s 40th birthday was yesterday. We enjoyed being a part of it! Hilda’s birthday party was a lovely celebration, 20ish people! Her nieces Christie, Hannah, and then Ellis’ family did a beautiful job of putting it together. Breakfast tortillas, the tortillas were made fresh this morning by one of the house helpers here. She makes the best, including some very good rice ones. Then fresh fruit kabobs, chocolates, punch, coffee. Kara Denlinger made cinnamon rolls. Kara is a nanny for Joel’s girls while Hilda is doing more language studies. There were neat decorations from the States. There also were cards and gifts from her home church and family. If any of those who participated could have seen or felt the warmth, the connecting of worlds for Hilda and family, they would have been very well rewarded. I do not want to ever underestimate the value of encouraging those sharing their lives in this way. Life is real and they do not live on easy street, even when their calling has been and is very clear!

I wish each of you could’ve been with us last evening. It was an evening to frame in a memory. We were invited to Rina’s (one of the house helpers) home for supper. The most gracious hospitality was given with sacrifice on their own. They live in a concrete structure, built for 17 families. The families share the cooking area of only 6 gas burners, without countertops. In the morning, there are a few hours of faucet water, otherwise it is by a hand pump. The bathrooms are not American style. I believe 3 showers are also for the whole building. There is a shared area to wash their own dishes and hand-wash all their laundry. Their own personal area is one bedroom. This is where we were served to a delicious meal. Ellis’s family and the host’s two children sat on the bed, Glenn and I were given the only seats with cushions. There was one plastic chair, one chest of drawers for the family of four, and one small, but nice, cupboard for their dishes, and supplies. They do have under the bed storage. A small stand served as a place to put our nice sparkling water glasses on. That later served as a place for our hostess to sit; otherwise she stood. She looked so happy, and was so grateful we came; as was her husband. He had a bowl and a big cup of water. He then went around the circle to pour water over our right hand which we used for eating. The left is the “dirty one” and not used for eating unless you have tableware. Glenn did eat with a spoon or a fork. A towel was also passed to wipe our hands. They placed the serving bowls of food on a tablecloth on the bed. They served rice, delicious cooked vegetables seasoned with salt and tumeric, and meat made in yogurt, very good as well! Lynita filled our plates. While we were eating, her husband went to get a large bottle of cold Sprite. Then, after we were finished eating, they again, did the rinsing of our right hands since there was rice on them. The bottle of cold Sprite was a very good finishing touch! Here the hosts don’t eat, although their children do, until the company leaves. The bedroom is maybe 10′ by 10′, concrete walls, clean, but needs paint. Do you feel rich? Please do, you are!


* * * * *

So next time you and I complain, let’s re-read these lines and realize how incredibly blessed we are!

Anna, in a personal letter, said that she and Glenn took with them on this 24,000 mile trip copies of Christmas in My Heart 25, My Favorite Angel Stories and My Favorite Miracle Stories to give away as gifts to family and friends.

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Emergency! Calling On All Train Lovers




May 10, 2017

In the Sunday, May 7, Denver Post was this alarming article by Forrest Whitman. It begins with these jolting words: “If you see a train, better get on it. The California Zephyr, the Coast Starlight, the Empire Builder, the Southwest Chief, may soon be heading west for one last ride. . . . Of course, it is all about money. The budget Donald Trump submitted to Congress looks like it was written by the Heritage Foundation, a group that thinks the government has no business subsidizing anything, except for the military. Amtrak may cover 94 percent of its budget almost entirely from ticket sales, but still, that’s not enough for those purists.

“What a loss to the West these iconic trains will be. They are not only part of our Western history, but they are also symbols that somebody still cares about the rural West. Trains say you can still get out of town even when a blizzard is moving in. Trains say to the handicapped person that she can have mobility. Trains say to a senior that he doesn’t have to beg a ride from family or a friend but can get down to the station and make his own way. It’s the train that stops downtown that says to a little Western community: ‘You have value beyond what any Harvard Business School teacher would assign.’”

Whitman also points out that “many people living across America’s vast heartland voted for Trump, believing his promise that a trillion dollars would be poured into infrastructure. Now those trillion dollars have evaporated.”

Whitman also notes how ironic it would be for Colorado to have poured millions of dollars into the reconstruction of Denver’s Union Station, then lose its trains! Because of its congestion, the Northeast trains don’t need to be subsidized. But of the 31 million Amtrak riders last year, 19 million never set foot in the Northeast. . . . “The sad fact is that this new budget leaves 144.6 million Americans with no train.”

For a further irony, note that 600 billion dollars have been poured into highways since 1947—141 billion just since 2008!

Whitman concludes with these somber words: “Losing our trains cuts the heart out of the West. I hope we’ll call, write letters, and let Congress know what it means to us if our Western trains are forced to catch the last westbound.”

* * * * *

I am personally enraged by this Federal shortsightedness. Mark my words: For reasons akin to this, rarely do the American people entrust all three branches of government to one party. Whenever an exception occurs, arrogance and over-reach invariably takes place, regardless of which party takes control. I’m personally all but certain that unless the GOP lives up to its promises to all those who believed its promises to the millions who don’t live in Northeast cities—that the Republican Party will lose control of at least the Senate, and most likely the House as well in the 2018 elections. And, if so, it will have only itself to blame.

* * *

But for right now, we have no time to lose. Let’s each respond to Whitman’s call to action: Bombard the White House, Senate, and House with missiles of outrage. Do it today!