Saturday, July 23, 2016

Paula Stone Tucker and I went to Branson, Missouri, which bills itself as “The Country Music Capital” (Nashville might disagree), and it was stupendous!

10 shows in 4 days and not ONE word of profanity in any of them. Just music, comedy and friendly fun.

One or two stars would come aboard our bus as it pulled into the parking lot, ask where we were from, chat with us a while, then welcome us to their show.

After the show, the star performers would be in the lobby for free autographs and photos of us with them.

When we went to the bus to prepare to leave, more stars came aboard and thanked us for coming.

This is the friendliest show casts I have encountered in all my years. Most stars perform, then walk off the stage and out of your life.

The 1,723 miles on the bus, air-conditioned as it was, is a mite tough. Once we passed through St. Louis and The Arch and got to Branson, Gad-About took us to and from our hotel, to breakfast and a show, to lunch and another show and to dinner and still another show.

And then back to our hotel where it was easy to fall asleep after all that activity.

We liked the Gad-About experience so much that we already have booked the Ocean City, Maryland-Assateague Island wild ponies tour in September, between WVU’s game with Youngstown and BYU. That Mountaineers open date always opens us up for a trip somewhere.

Next trips:

July 25-28 flight to Alpena, Michigan for golfing on the Rogers City golf course and chatting with Bob Kasper, Monongah High (West Virginia) Class of 1950 like me, an annual summer event for two guys who have exchanged the same two Christmas cards every year since 1955 and who have been best friends since we first met in first grade at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School in Monongah. Bob comes to our home in autumn and we go to a WVU game together – Oct. 22 TCU game in Mountaineer Field this year.

Aug. 18-22 in North Carolina with my daughter Monnie Ann of Brunswick and her family on their 2nd home about an hour from Charlotte near Grandfather Mountain. I’ve always been partial to mountains and Mountaineers.

Sept. 11-14 at Ocean City, Maryland and roaming with the wild ponies of Assateague Island and Paula, who like West Virginia is wild and wonderful.

Dec. 5 flight to Orlando, Florida to re-join Paula, who will drive to her 2nd home in The Villages, Florida in October. We’ll return to Ohio for the holidays, then drive down together to The Villages where we’ll stay till late April.

I was Paula’s boss, as assistant State Desk editor under Pat Englehart, the wonderful whirlwind, in the 1970s before she went to California after her husband’s early passing to raise her son, a jazz musician in New York City nowadays. We got together after my wife Monnie passed away in 2004, and will be celebrating our 12th anniversary Sept. 17 … on the road again, just like Willie Nelson.

When I think about all this, I still can’t believe that a coal miner’s son from Monongah has been to 54 countries and 44 states and will play 100 rounds of gold this year.

Life is good. The undertaker can wait.

If you want to see my online photo album of my trip to Branson, Missouri with Paula, click on


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