RIP Marjorie Gerald

Man, it was just a few months ago we were saying goodbye to Dad, and now Mom’s gone to be with him. It’s what she wanted, once he was gone, and she deserved peace and rest, so we let her go with love and gratitude.


Marjorie Ann Brown Gerald took her last breaths in the evening of July 19, 2020, in Memphis, Tennessee. She was 85 years old. Her son, Lee, got to be there for those breaths and told her that he and his siblings, Lucy and Paul, love her, that she did a great job, that they’re going to be okay, and she can go be with her husband and their father, who crossed the same mysterious divide six months before. And with that, she was gone, to be where she wanted to be all along: with her Barry.

But the sadness of her passing, even with the lonely final months this damned pandemic imposed on it, simply can’t stand up to a life so well lived.

Marjorie was born November 11, 1934 in Calhoun City, Mississippi to Albert Yeates Brown and Lucille Fatheree Brown. And while geographically her life didn’t end too far from where it started, few people got to have the journey that “Marge” did. As the daughter of a Methodist preacher, she was raised in – it seemed to her kids – every town between Memphis and Jackson. Then it was off to Ole Miss, where she was one of the first group of Rebelettes, performed in a Sugar Bowl and Cotton Bowl, and also where, as she famously said at a family reunion, “I got me a husband.”

In that sense, Marjorie Ann (as her Mississippi family always called her) was very much of the old school. She wanted to get married and raise a family, and that’s where she drew so much of her joy. But she sought, and got, so much more from life. She was determined to see the world, learn all about it, and then show you the pictures and tell you the stories. She may have been a preacher’s kid focused on raising her own kids – and she did indeed do a hell of a job at it – but she could spin yarns from the Silk Road across China, the palaces of Russia, the villages of Europe, and California’s Bay Area in the 60s.

That desire to learn, see and share drove her long life of volunteer activities, running the speakers’ bureau for Memphis’s historic Elmwood Cemetery (where her parents rest), Wonders exhibitions, Dixon Gardens and Botanical Garden. She simply loved stories, especially when they were about strong women who didn’t “stay in their lanes.” She had a bit of that rebel streak in her, too; one of the family’s favorite stories about her is when she sat down in the “men’s grill” at the country club and demanded to be served because, after all, the whole idea of a “men’s grill” is just ridiculous. She said it was a fine lunch, too.

Tough, sweet, vulnerable, caring, beautiful, flawed like the rest of us, loved greatly and greatly loving, Mom was one of a kind. We will all miss her, and while we are saddened to be without her, and heartbroken we couldn’t all be with her at the end, we did reunite her with Barry at last. Their ashes were laid to rest in Deer Creek in Leland, Mississippi on July 24. As their final containers settled into the mud and began to dissolve, surrounded by cypress trees and ducks and warm delta breezes, the current took them off on one last journey – together, the way they always wanted it to be.

Marge and Barry had three children, all of whom survive her: Lucy Cook of Chevy Chase, Maryland; Lee Gerald of Memphis; and Paul Gerald of Portland, Oregon. She also leaves her brother, Albert Yeates Brown Jr. of Columbus, North Carolina.

The family suggests that in lieu of gifts or flowers, we think Marge would appreciate a donation to Elmwood Cemetery or any effort that gets us a new president in November.


RIP Barry Gerald

An obituary for my father, who passed away January 6, 2020.

With my mom, Marjorie, in Italy.

Each person, while passing through this world, leaves behind them a wake of experiences, little bits of their character sprinkled on those whose paths they crossed.

In the case of Barry Elmo Gerald, whose heart gave out after almost 86 years on January 6, a remarkable pattern emerges in these memories of co-workers, family members, and friends. Each story is a moment shared with a truly lovely human being, who treated them with kindness, respect, compassion, and just enough irreverence to keep things light. Even in the rare story where Barry got mad, it was always restrained, appropriate, and laced with humor and perspective.

He would admonish a wayward child with a tone of understanding and forgiveness. He would suggest a better way forward through some complication without letting on he thought your idea was silly. He would share information without commenting on the quality of yours. When he wasn’t telling one of his many charming stories, he would actually listen to yours. He would be deeply disappointed by an Ole Miss football loss but also remember, and remind others, that it’s just football, and we’ll get ‘em next week. He would even, especially in his final years, express a true intimate feeling or two!

With the family at mom’s birthday, 2019.

Barry Gerald was born February 10, 1934, in Greenville, Mississippi. He was a bookish child who always dreamed of being a doctor, like his grandfather. He once said that his father, Elmo, a Leland-area cotton farmer, “Never really understood how I lived my life, but he always supported me to the best of his ability.” It was a lesson he would apply and pass on to his three children, Lucy Cook, Lee Gerald, and Paul Gerald. They are in turn doing their best to pass it on the grandkids – Rebecca Davis, David Cook, Jeff Cook, Jack Gerald, and Max Simpson – and even a great-granddaughter Barry got to meet, Josephine Davis.

He graduated from Leland High School and met his future wife, then Marjorie Brown, at Ole Miss. She was a Rebelette and he on a path to a medical career – both fine catches. They wed August 6, 1955, and Marjorie and the kids followed Barry and his medical career from Mississippi to Houston, Cincinnati, Oakland, Little Rock, Boston, and eventually to Memphis.

The quiet book-lover from Leland thrived in the academic medical world and eventually served as the Chairman of the Radiology Department at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Memphis from 1980 to 1995 and again from 2004 to 2009. He was also Medical Director for Radiology at LeBonheur and St. Jude and Chief of Radiology at The Med. There were many other titles, positions, and honors, and he and Marge enjoyed a lifetime of international travel during their 64-year marriage.

Barry Gerald will be remembered as a good doctor, father and husband, as well as a positive influence on many careers and lives. But mainly folks will say he was just a really nice guy – the same nice guy at home, work or on the tennis court.

The world could use more Barry Geralds, but we must now give him a break, for even in death we assume he’s extremely uncomfortable with all this glowing talk about him. We will let him go, with thanks, love and best wishes, for one last trip down to the delta and a final swim in Deer Creek.

Barry respectfully requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to The Church Health Center of Memphis.

Hiking Silver Falls State Park in the Snow

Visiting Oregon’s Silver Falls State Park anytime is special; going there after a snowfall adds a whole different level of beauty and wonder.

For one thing, there just aren’t that many people around, especially during the week. We visited on a Wednesday and saw four other cars in the parking lot! It had just showed a couple of inches the day before, and the temps had remained cold. So the snow was still on the trees and much of the trail.

The combination of solitude and winter scenery made it a pretty special day on the Canyon Trail, aka “Trail of Ten Falls.” Enjoy the photo gallery below.

Here’s more on hiking Silver Falls State Park

Here’s a summer photo gallery from Silver Falls

An important note: The trails can get real slippery in winter, so bring poles, and consider bringing traction devices. Check the park’s website for the latest conditions.

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Opal Creek Without The Crowds: Hiking Oregon’s Little North Santiam River

We’re all looking for a hike that’s close to home, within our abilities, and scenic without being swamped with people. Does such a place exist in Oregon?

Along the Little North Santiam Trial.

Well, at certain times of year, absolutely. And if it isn’t the peak of summer on a weekend, the Little North Santiam Trail fits the bill perfectly. I think of it as “Opal Creek without the crowds.”

Little North Santiam Traihead is about a two-hour drive from Portland: down I-5 to OR 22, east towards Detroit Lake, then north (left) up the Little North Santiam Road for about 15 miles to Elkhorn Drive. Here’s the West Trailhead on Google Maps.

From there, it’s about 4.5 miles along the river to the East Trailhead farther up OR 22, near Shady Cove Campground. So you could do a shuttle, or some people stash bikes at the upper trailhead, do the hike, then bike back down the road. Or you can do an out-and-back for as much as you’d like, up to 9 miles.

Basically the hike has three sections: the lower 1.5 miles from the West Trailhead, the upper 2 from the East, and the hill in between. But even the hill isn’t too intense, a climb of about 500 feet in a little over half a mile. But the views up there are more than worth it: a deep, narrow forested canyon with mountains all around and a raging river below.

Overlooking the falls in the western section.

In early February 2019, we started at West Trailhead did the lower section, the hill, and a little bit of the upper, to an area called Three Pools, where there will definitely be a lot of people in the summer since you can also drive there on the other side from the trail. So you would see those people but not necessarily share the trail with many of them.

But on our Sunday? We saw three other hiking groups all day, and nobody on the river.

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Here is a video of a waterfall on the lower section, barely a mile out from the trailhead we used.

A little ways beyond that waterfall, you start up the hill. It gets steep in places, and the trail is rocky with lots of roots. So even with only 500 feet of climbing, we were pretty winded when it was over.

View from the top of the hill in the middle of the trail.

In fact, when the trail is wet it’s what I would call “sneaky tough,” because it’s hard to get into Cruise Mode when you have to keep an eye out for footing all the time.

Beyond the viewpoint (right) you drop back down to the river and after another roly-poly mile arrive at the Three Pools, another spectacular series of waterfalls. There is also a dramatic rock pillar here, as well as a parking area on the far bank. So if it’s a warm summer day, especially a weekend, there will be folks swimming and hanging out here, but the great majority will be on the other side of the river.

Here is a video I shot from the Three Pools area, with the rock pillar in the trees to the right:

At that point, we headed back, but another mile up the river would have gotten us to the East Trailhead. So you could also start there and hit Three Pools just a mile downstream.

For more on this hike, see its Field Guide entry at

Here is my GaiaGPS track for the day:

And here is a photo gallery from the day:

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Mt. Hood Hike:
Timberline Lodge to Paradise Park

It’s not really possible to name the best hike at Mount Hood, but certainly the loop from Timberline Lodge to Paradise Park has to be on the short list.

This view is just over a couple of easy miles from the lodge — and the photo falls far short of the reality.

For one thing, it’s not just one hike. You can just go wandering around above the lodge and hardly put in any effort at all, but still enjoy great views and wildflowers and trees and little canyons. If you go 2.4 miles you can stand at the top of a massive gash in the side of Mt. Hood with a lovely stream hundreds feet below you. You can climb down there and see the creek and a waterfall.

And then you can go for the whole thing, which is what I did in the first week of September.

Paradise Park Loop from Timberline Lodge

Just a sampler today, thanks!

This is a 13.9-mile loop with 2,800 feet of ascent that took up nearly eight hours and most of my energy.

Starting from Timberline Lodge, which is worth a stop on its own, simply walk up the hill until you cross the Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches some 2,600 miles from Mexico to Canada. The mileages (left) are a bit humbling, and if it’s August or September you’ll probably meet some northbound “through-hikers” doing the whole thing. Turn left, and off you go.

After crossing under a few chairlifts and past a tower of cell phone antennas, you finally leave the ski area and enter Mount Hood Wilderness. It’s gradually downhill for 2,4 miles to the Zigzag overlook, where I shot this video:

A nice enough turn-around, but I kept going, down to the stream crossing and then back up the other side. This is the first hard part. The second, and real hard part is going back up from the creek to the viewpoint, then 2.4 miles back up to the lodge, at the end of the day when you already have about 9.5 miles under your belt. In the middle of the afternoon.

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Beyond the canyon, you climb to the intersection with the Paradise Park Loop Trail (turn right) and then the Paradise Park Trail. Confusing, I know. At the second one, in a beautiful meadow where I took the photo at the top of this post, go up a little farther. I went 0.4 miles up to some rocks, where I had a nice break and shot this video:

The main trail — here a combination of the PCT and the Timberline Trail around Mount Hood — continues over to the site of the old Paradise Park Shelter, a great lunch spot, then wanders through Paradise Park on a nearly three-mile loop, passing meadows and views and forests and flowers and waterfalls. It’s really pretty magical.

Then you come back to the Zigzag Canyon, go down it, cross the creek again, and then you pay your dues. The last 3.5 miles gain 1,400 feet of elevation, half of it in the first mile or so. Good times.

But it is some kind of worth it, if you’re up for the effort. Paradise Park is a beautiful spot indeed, and Timberline Lodge is a terrific place to wind up a hike. I mean, pizza and beer anyone?

Here is my Gaia track from the day:

You can get more details in my guidebook, 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Portland, which is for sale (signed as you like) right here.

And here is a photo gallery with some more details from the day:

Read about more great hikes near Portland. Connect with Paul:


Recovery Share: What is This Feeling About?

Sometimes I catch myself having a feeling and can’t figure out why I’m having it.

A common example is shame or guilt; I will simply be going through my day and realize I feel exactly the way you feel after you screw something up — only I can’t remember exactly what I supposedly screwed up. Or sometimes I am angry, playing out fights or arguments in my head, and don’t remember why I started feeling anger in the first place.

My basic belief about feelings is that they come from thoughts and beliefs. Sometimes they come so quickly that it seems automatic. For example, my team scores a goal and I feel happy. Of course. But why? Because I prefer my team to win — and that’s because of some convoluted belief system that’s probably a whole separate post. (Something about “basking in the reflected glory.”) Continue reading “Recovery Share: What is This Feeling About?”