Weekly Journal

Here's a compilation of everyday thoughts and articles I've written. Many have been published as part of my recurring columns in the News Messenger, the twice-weekly paper in Montgomery County, Virginia.


* * Meeting new friends along the Spine


A couple of weeks ago, Jane and I went to Marlinton and Green Bank to do research for one of the last chapters of the book. While in Marlinton, we stayed at a nice Bed and Breakfast in Marlinton.  We met a man named Nic from Ottawa, Canada.  He was riding a Honda VFR and was touring the Virginias and North Carolina. 

Nic stayed with us for a couple of days before heading to the coalfields, upon my suggestion.  He and I did a nice afternoon tour around Montgomery, Floyd, Patrick, and Franklin counties. 

He did a very nice slide show with captions that you can see here:


(This may take a second or two to load as it converts from French to English)

Thanks to Nic for sharing this with us.




* * Wishing Bob McGraw in Tazewell all the best 


Last week was an emotional week.  As I am continuing to edit the book, I am also working on occasional articles for publication in various newspapers and magazines.  I was asked by the editor for Blue Ridge Country magazine to write an article on Bob McGraw, a Civil War historian and reenactor from Tazewell, VA.

Writing the article was easy because all of the research had been done earlier for his inclusion in the book.

I met Bob perhaps a year ago.  At the time he seemed healthy enough.  He is in his mid-50s.  I saw him again at the reenactment he organizes near the Crab Orchard Museum in Tazewell each spring.

The last time I saw him, I joined him for lunch at his favorite café in Tazewell just a few months ago.  He had a bandage around his ear lobe.  He told me that he had had a brush with melanoma and had a cancerous growth removed from his ear.  I wished him well and didn't give it much more thought.

After completing this short article, I called him to arrange to send it to him for his blessing.  The voice on the other end of the line was barely recognizable.  Bob told me that he was in a hospital and would soon be returning home for placement into hospice care.  His cancer had returned with a vengeance.

I was unable to discuss the article with him and uncertain as to whether to run it.  My gut told me that he would want it printed, as it has been a passion in his life to educate people about the Civil War.

I had met his wife Anita once, and only briefly.  I left a message for her on her home phone which she returned in a few days later.  She told me that Bob, acting quite in character, had likened his situation to General Lee at Appomattox.  Lee's battle against Grant was honorable but ultimately futile.  Surrender was the only reasonable option.  Bob's battle against cancer was similarly futile.  It was time to surrender.

I spoke with my editor again and we decided to move forward with the article.  As of today, I am awaiting a couple of sentences from Bob's wife with her thoughts about him that we can include with the article.  If you'd like to get to know this caring and interesting man, please visit the website Anita has established for him at:


In my blog next week, I will give a progress report on the book.  Until then, best wishes and thanks for reading. 



* * To Lewisburg, Marlinton, and Green Bank

Hello all,

Jane and I rode our Honda Pacific Coast motorcycle this week to Lewisburg, Marlinton and Green Bank, West Virginia, to do research for the penultimate vignette for the book. We had a great ride in mostly clear, hot weather. We met another rider at our Bed and Breakfast in Marlinton who is from Canada. He's coming by to spend some more time with us.

The editing process is still underway as is the search for an appropriate publisher. Thanks for staying interested in my book!




* * Visit to Sweet Springs

Hello All,

I stopped by Sweet Springs the other weekend where Warren Smith is rehabilitating the grand old resort there.  A small crowd had gathered to speak with Warren about his plans.  Being the gregarious sort that I am, I jumped right in and told everyone about the book.  I got this nice note a few days later from a woman in the group, who I think was from Richmond.

Michael, we all enjoyed meeting you over at Sweet Springs last Saturday and were delighted to hear your ideas for a new book. We thought it was fun how you rode up on your bike out of the blue and joined our group --- all cousins for a family reunion in Paint Bank. All the best with your creative projects, Mary Kay Williams

Mary Kay is now on my mailing list to receive notice when the book goes to press.  If you'd like to be on the list, write me at <bikemike@nrvunwired.net>

All the best,




* * Welcome to my new website!

Hello all,

This is my new website for my book, The Spine of the Virginias.  I'm just learning how to program it, but my intention is to fill it with photos, sample chapters, and ordering information.  Please visit often.


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