Wednesday, July 1, 2015

My Farewell Column

For several years, I've written a monthly column for "Two-Lane Livin'" magazine, which is distributed to 15,000 readers in central West Virginia. I'm thankful for that opportunity, but my stint in the Peace Corps will interrupt my column for the next two years. Here is my "farewell column" which was just published in the July issue of the magazine:

Farewell For Now

If you have read my columns (or visited my blog) the past few years, you know that I am a proud West Virginian, and that I love traveling around my native state. With the exception of three years working in Washington, DC, I have lived my entire life in the Mountain State. It will always be a defining part of my existence.

However, my life is about to take a two-year detour. I retired from my federal job at the end of May, and left the country in June. I was selected to serve in the Peace Corps, and so I am spending my first two years of retirement teaching students overseas. I have been assigned to serve in the Eastern Caribbean. You can follow my adventure in my new blog at

I had considered joining the Peace Corps while a student at WVU, but didn’t do it at that time. As I neared retirement age, I realized that the Peace Corps would be an excellent way to transition into retirement. I feel fortunate to have been chosen for what has been touted as “the toughest job you’ll ever love!”

The Peace Corps was created in 1961 by President Kennedy. It has three main purposes: 1.) to provide assistance to developing countries; 2.) to help the foreigners we serve to better understand America; and 3.) to help Americans better understand other cultures. I look forward to doing my best to be a good teacher, ambassador, and communicator in order to accomplish all three of these objectives.

In some respects, it would seem that going to an island in the West Indies will be completely different than living in wild, wonderful West Virginia. However, I am eager to see what underlying similarities there may be beneath the obvious differences, and to analyze them in my new blog.

In the meantime, I hope that I have inspired some of you to get out and enjoy the many great places we have in West Virginia. I promise that I will be returning in a couple of years. Despite all my travels around the state, I still have some West Virginia destinations that I haven’t fully explored yet, such as Tomlinson Run State Park, the Sinks of Gandy, the Coal House in Williamson, Lost River State Park, and many more. Following my stint in the Peace Corps, my retirement will give me the time to cross these locations off my list, plus allow me to make return visits to many of my favorite tourist spots.

So as of now, I will need to sign off as a contributor to this fine publication. It has been a lot of fun taking you with me on my journeys around our state. Perhaps I will be able to resume this column when I return in 2017. But in the meantime, please get out and explore all that the Mountain State has to offer. More importantly, please continue supporting this independent publication by spreading the word and patronizing the advertisers.

To close, I’d like to paraphrase one of our state songs: “[although by sea] I roam, still I'll think of happy home, and my friends among the West Virginia hills.”

The mountains on St. Lucia are a bit
different than the mountains back home!