Several weeks ago, we were watching a KCPT (public television) fundraiser featuring Charles Gusewelle, whose columns I have followed since the '70's. I've always loved his style of writing. He has the ability to paint pictures with his words that allow others to see things as he sees them and feel what he feels at any given time. KCPT was showing a special in which Charles talked about his cabin in the Ozarks, one of many places he has written about over the years. When they took a break to ask for donations, one proposition they offered was this: For a donation of $160 per couple, you could go to his cabin and see it through your own eyes. Cliff also admires Gusewelle and appreciates how much I like the guy, so he agreed to do this thing.
We left yesterday morning in one of the most dense fogs I have ever seen, and it hung around for most of our trip, which wasn't the best thing for Cliff's spirits. I had looked on Mapquest at home and, to my surprise, found out Appleton City is due south of where we live, and that by taking some county roads along the way, we could drive straight down there.
Unfortunately, our GPS refused to acknowledge that route. "No problem," I said to Cliff. "I'll just get Mapquest on my Ipad and it will tell us which roads to take."
That's when I found we had no cellular service; the Ipad was useless. Finally, rather than risk getting totally lost, we allowed the GPS to take us twenty miles out of our way in order to get to our destination. Cliff's spirits sunk even further.
We arrived at the city park a few minutes ahead of schedule in spite of the delays. We were given a name tag, a wrist band, and some nice gifts:
A picture of Gusewelle, an autographed book, and a DVD of the show we had seen on KCPT.
At ten o'clock we boarded one of two school buses and were off to see the cabin. There were actually seventeen no-shows for our group; I imagine the fog discouraged most of them. Most Gusewelle fans are senior citizens like Cliff and I, and as people age, they are more intimidated by fog, slick roads, and anything else that might threaten life and limb.
"No, actually, I live in Greenwood, but Charles lets me hunt here. I used to work on his car."
Everyone had good words for the family.
Gusewelle chatted individually with everyone who approached him. I reminded him of the time he made the news because the Star banned smoking inside the premises, so he had his desk and chair moved outside. He said the boss told him to get his stuff back in the building or he would be fired, but he didn't do that immediately, and he kept his job anyway. He does not, by the way, remember the poems I used to write and send him. I quoted a little bit of one of them to him. The man has written thousands of columns and traveled all over the world, so it's OK if he doesn't remember a few poems some stranger wrote him.
After our visit at the cabin, we boarded the bus and went to see Lake Katie, named for his wife. A couple of people brought their fishing rods along, and one man caught a couple of bass while we were there.
It was one of those perfect days I will never forget.