Sunday, July 25, 2010

Celebration at the Naval Academy

A Celebration in Annapolis, Maryland

My wife and I had been invited by friends to attend the graduation of their daughter’s fiancé from the Naval Academy at Annapolis where he would be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marines. Needless to say, we willingly accepted the invitation, because after their wedding at the Chapel at the Academy, I would be marrying them later back in our church in Ohio for the family members and church family.
The young man, who was going to graduate and receive his commission from the Academy, advised me there were seats left in the stadium for guests who would like to attend the commencement. He assured me that I needed to be early because the President of the United States, George Bush, would be the speaker.
Eager to make sure we did not lose our seats; we arrived early at the entrance, in fact at about seven o’clock in the morning -even though the gate would not open until 8 o’clock. There were probably two or 300 in front of us. But when the gate was opened it did not take long until we were able to get our seats, which was near the top of the stadium. I was glad that I had binoculars and a camera with telescopic lens.
Even though we arrived at eight o’clock at the bench, the ceremony was not scheduled until 10 o’clock. However, before the commencement would begin, people began to fill the stadium until it was completely full. Before the President and his entourage landed nearby in his helicopter, other dignitaries were starting in. It was not long until we began to see more than 1,014 young men and women began to form and march into the stadium taking their seats.
The President of the Academy spoke first, and then turned the commencement over to the Dean of the Naval Academy who addresses the body. Afterwards, he introduced the many dignitaries, including the secretary of the Navy and other renowned individuals present on the stage. Then he introduced the President of the United States who himself had been a graduate of the Naval Academy and was a Naval pilot, who addresses the soon to be officers.
When he finish his address, the President turned to the Academic Dean who began to call out those who were to be highly honored, and after each was announced, thundering applause was given to each. Finally, he began to call each person in the order of their last name, and each came across the platform and shook the Presidents hand as he gave to them their commission.
By now it is nearly 11:30 in the morning, and I was quite tired after having gotten up early, so I began to nod and frankly went to slumberville. However, it was not long until I was awakened with the cheers and applause of 1,013 cadets. I turned to the young lady who would marry later to the new Lieutenant and asked her what was going on. She calmly said “He is the one who graduated last in the class.” I said last in the class? And she said, “Yes.” Then she told me an old Navy custom where everyone would give one dollar to the person who graduated last, because he saved them the embarrassment of graduating last. Now, math was one of my good courses, and it didn’t take me long to calculate that he made 1,013 dollars.

Shortly after the uproar ceased, He had ran to the platform and was jumping and somewhat oblivious to the fact that he was doing so in the presence of the President of the United States of America. However, when he calmed he turned to the President, who had taken off his watch and gave it to the young man, which I doubt was a Timex. He then shook the hand of the young man and gave him his certificate as the young man lost his composure all over as he continued to jump and shout running off the platform with the certificate above his head.
He may have received all the money and the President’s watch, but I doubt that was not what made as much of an implant on his mind, than the fact that he graduated. I could share in his excitement, because I had heard the Academic Dean say earlier that 169 that started with this class did not graduate. He may have been last but he finished and that was all that mattered to him at this time.
Annapolis is a beautiful city and boasts some of the finest 17th and 18th century buildings in the country, including the residences to all for Maryland signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Annapolis is the home of the United States Naval Academy founded in 1845 and also the home of St. John's College, founded in 1696 as King William's School and the third oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.
The United States Department of the Interior has designated the entire downtown section of Annapolis as a Historic District. This distinctive honor was awarded in recognition of the role Annapolis played in the founding of our Nation, coupled with the fact that it has preserved so many of its landmarks and retains so much of its historic atmosphere and charm. Annapolis remains a living, vibrant city, with distinguished architecture spanning three hundred years.
Anne Arundel County, surrounding Annapolis, presents a multitude of interesting sights and things to do, including golf courses, beaches, marinas, and miles of scenic countryside and farmland.
I enjoyed visiting many of the sites in Annapolis but the most excited I was come when I shared in the excitement of the young man who graduated last, but finished.

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:”- 2 Timothy 4:7

From my weekly column in the Farmington Press and other allied publications. Dr. Alton Loveless is the former CEO/President of Randall House Publications, Nashville, Tn.; He is a freelance writer and has written for assorted publications printed both nationally and internationally. To see photos and read other stories click on

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dr.Loveless in Amish Country

Dr. Loveless in Amish country

Less than 100 miles from where we live in central Ohio, you have some of the most beautiful farms in the United States. All of which are maintained by the Amish community.

You are able to explore the unique culture of the Amish with a vacation in central Ohio, home of the world’s largest Amish community. Enjoy beautiful scenery, visit an Amish farm, savor homemade foods and listen for the clip-clop of a buggy. And be sure to Shop for handmade quilts, artwork and furniture in Millersburg, Berlin or Walnut Creek; all far from the city lights of Columbus, Cleveland, Akron, Canton and Pittsburgh.

You can just feel yourself "unwinding" as you drive down the country roads and rolling hills. Once you get here, you will understand why this is the 2nd most visited tourist destination in the state of Ohio. There is something special in these rolling landscapes.

Ohio Amish Country is a 3-5 county area of Ohio where approximately 40,000 Amish people live and work. It consists of Holmes County, where nearly half the county's residents are Amish, plus Tuscarawas Coshocton, and Wayne Counties. Ohio Amish Country is located in the rolling hills of east-central Ohio.

There is much to do in Ohio Amish Country. Like I mentioned above, the scenery and landscapes are one of the top reasons people come. But there are others: Restaurants - mostly Amish cookin' made from "scratch". Antique Shops, Crafts, Cheese - (some of the best cheese in the US is made here), Quilts which is not only a way of life, but also a piece of art. And the farms are filled with Horses. (There are more horses than people in Ohio Amish Country.) Farmer's Auctions, Furniture - heirloom quality furniture made by the Amish and Lodging - B & Bs, hotels, motels, camping, are all available.

Find that Shopping in unique one-of-a-kind shops throughout the area will help you discover more of their Culture and find out what the Amish do and why they do it.

And O yes, don’t forget to visit the Bakeries where home-made pastries that melt in your mouth are still baked.

But most of all you will find the people to be honest, friendly and hard-working folks.

This is such a unique area, that most people think they can come and see it in a day or two. Big mistake! You need to plan at least a few days, or come back every couple months like some people do. Visit on weekdays and Saturdays when Amish owned businesses are in full operation. Sunday is a day reserved for church and family. Their businesses will not be open on Sundays. However, the scenic roadways are always open. Come view the natural beauty of rolling hills and groomed farmsteads. On Sundays you will see Amish families in buggies traveling the roads between church services and family visitation.

Most people have heard of Berlin and Millersburg, but what about Charm, Farmerstown, Baltic, Walnut Creek, Winesburg, Becks Mills and New Bedford? Each town has its own set of unique features.

And I never go into that area without visiting the village of Sugarcreek. Nestled in the rolling hills of Tuscarawas County, this Ohio town is proud to trace its heritage back to numerous Swiss and German settlers. It is not only a part of Ohio’s Amish Country, but known as the “Little Switzerland of Ohio.”

I would recommend that when you visit Ohio, to include the Amish country that I have described above.

From my weekly column

Dr. Alton Loveless is the former CEO/President of Randall House Publications, Nashville, Tn.; He is a freelance writer and has written for assorted publications printed both nationally and internationally. To see photos and read other stories click on

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Huatulco is a beautiful place of resorts and Beauty

Huatulco a beautiful place

Huatulco is located on the Pacific coast in the state of Oaxaca and has one of the most scenic ports that we saw on the Mexican Riviera. The town is actually 18 miles of rugged coastline with many coves and beaches. Until 1983 it was nothing more than a fishing village until the government began to develop it as a planned tourist attraction.
My wife and I did not venture into the city due to the extreme humidity and heat, but our traveling friends did go into the village returning with a glowing testimony of the beauty of the town and the fascination of the area.
The region is surrounded by many new resorts that are extremely beautiful being developed by the government as their first eco-tourism area. It is very sensitive to the naturalness of the area but creating an allure for the jungle paradise with attractive hotels to stay while visiting the area. Because of this tourist have the ability to shop and learn as he relaxes.
The area is very beautiful and picturesque with its many bays and sun bleached coastline. There are many scenic drives, with a number of shops and towns within 30 to 40 minutes from the beaches. Or if you wish a boat trip to view the flora and fauna, there are many available. All in all it is one of the most beautiful ports that I have seen in some time.
Huatulco's is centered on its nine bays with 36 beaches and you will find a wide variety of accommodations from rooms for rent from small economy hotels, luxury oceanfront villas, vacation condominiums, bed and breakfasts, along with several luxury resorts standing on or near the shores of Tangolunda Bay.
Huatulco is located where the foothills of the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountains meet the Pacific Ocean approximately 500 miles south of Acapulco. The state of Oaxaca is a most diverse area because it was where the Olmec, Mixtec and Zapotec civilizations thrived.
Huatulco grew as a port under Hernán Cortés' control serving as a vantage point for Spanish galleons and a distribution center for supplies on the Pacific coast. The latter half of the 16th Century saw the area attacked by pirates Francis Drake and Thomas Cavendish - both of whom left their prints on the region's history and legends that continue to this day.
Until in the 1980s, Huatulco was little known except as a coffee-growing area. In 1984, a government agency dedicated to the development of tourism in Mexico, acquired 21,000 hectares of land to develop a tourism center, similar to that in Cancun. The plan resulted in the improvement of roadways and other infrastructure. It is one of the cleanest developments in Mexico.
Because the bays and coastline was so beautiful I took many photos with I will cherish for years to come.
And the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up. -- Isaiah 28:4

Dr. Alton Loveless is the former CEO/President of Randall House Publications, Nashville, Tn.; He is a freelance writer and has written for assorted publications printed both nationally and internationally.

Cape of Saint Luke

Cabo San Lucas
The scenic and rugged coastline definitely was impressive to me as we approached this beautiful area.
The high stone formations carved out by centuries of sea surfs have formed unusual sites including the beautiful arch which made this resort area so inviting. I can understand why people come here to this beautiful place. Most of the pictures that I saw in my research of this place did not bring the beauty out causing me to be surprised beyond my expectation.
Cabo San Lucas is known for its white sandy beaches, several world-class Scuba diving locations, and the distinctive sea arch El Arco de Cabo San Lucas. As a result, Cabo San Lucas has become a high-end holiday destination with a number of resorts along the coast between San Lucas and San José del Cabo. The word cabo means cape in English and San Lucas is the Spanish name for Saint Luke.
I was amazed at how large many of the hotels and resorts were and the newness of the area.
Boarding a tender we took about a 30 minute ride to the marina where we disembarked. Here we viewed the many military and policemen whose presence was quite obvious. I suppose this was due to the fact that the drug lords in Mexico have been very active in capturing tourist for their purposes.
After walking around the area and shopping in some of the stores, we decided to go into the town. Because it was so hot there were men who had bicycles especially made with carriages with overhead canopies they pull behind that one could rent. After traveling for nearly a mile, we arrived in the shopping area of the village where we entered into many of the shops and a pharmacy for some cheap medicine. Afterwards we boarded another of these carriages back to the area where we would reload the tender to the ship.
At the tip of Mexico’s 1,000-mile long Baja California peninsula, the longest in the world, Cabo San Lucas & San Jose del Cabo is one of the destinations with a perfect combination of great weather, exotic and spectacular scenery.
Cabo San Lucas was certainly where the sea, sun and desert joined to cast an air of mystery for me. Cabo was once a tranquil fishing village and, in times long ago, a hangout for pirates. Although no longer the fishing village of old and not many of the pirates are seen around town any more, the magic of Cabo remains.
I also found out that Cabo San Lucas offers some of the world’s best golf and sport fishing with many championship golf courses and some of the best marlin tournaments in the world.
The Baja California peninsula is a peninsula in western Mexico. It extends some 775 miles from Mexicali, Baja California, in the north to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, in the south, separating the Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of California. There are four main desert areas on the peninsula: the San Felipe Desert, the Central Coast Desert, the Vizcaíno Desert and the Magdalena Plain Desert.
All in all this was a very beautiful place to visit, and it would’ve been more enjoyable if the heat had not been so elevated. I must admit that from the ship the views of this unique area were very impressive. I took countless photographs as memories of our visit to this area. In fact, I returned home with nearly 1,600 pictures of the places we visited. I only wish that our health and physical condition would have allowed us to have seen more of the area, but we were just happy to take our first trip in nearly 5 years abroad.
“And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.” -- Mark 6:32-33

Dr. Alton Loveless is the former CEO/President of Randall House Publications, Nashville, Tn.; He is a freelance writer and has written for assorted publications printed both nationally and internationally.

Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Puerto Vallarta
My first view of the city reminded me that it was just like many other tourist city’s, but to my amazement, I discovered that there was a Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club near the port where we had moored, which was a welcomed attraction for my wife and friends since they needed to replenish some toiletries and other items they wanted to buy.
As my wife and I started back to the ship, we stopped at a taxi stand, and inquired of the driver the cost of the tour to the old town and its highlights. The young man was very accommodating and gave us a long extended tour of the city both the new an old parts. Mile after mile, we went, going from the new architecture of beautiful buildings each story tell to the unique old city.
While the city is known for its sun, sand and surf around a beautiful bay, with a shoreline of nearly 25 miles it was not hard to see why it is one of the most popular tourist cities in Mexico. However, it was not the beach, but the history and old building that intrigued me. After a number of photo stops our driver took us to the famous Cathedral of our Lady Guadalupe. I thought it unusual that the church did not have a normal steeple, but rather on the top were top with a huge replica of a crown that had been worn by Carolotta, the wife of Mexico’s noted Emperor Maximilian.
The old town has retained its Mexican character and ambiance with its many miles of cobblestone streets and back avenues that reveal the authentic colonial town while overlooking the beautiful blue Bay.
The new town is about 3 miles near the Playa Del Oro where waterfront condominiums are in abundance. But give me the old town!
Puerto Vallarta's population is over 225,000. Puerto Vallarta is named after Ignacio Vallarta, a former governor of Jalisco. In Spanish, Puerto Vallaris often shortened to "Vallarta", while English speakers call the city P.V. for short. Puerto Vallarta is quite simply one of the most beautiful, cultured, luxurious vacation spots in all of Mexico, and indeed in the world. Here you will find the ultimate fusion of traditional Mexican culture, from bullfights to grilled marlin served beachside.

One fascinating thing I enjoyed was a beachfront sculpture display of the Lord’s Supper sculptured from the sand. The local Indian culture is prominent, with an abundance of crafts and local wares available to purchase.

This area was buzzing with activity as people visited many of the sites in the area.
“He hath made everything beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”
-- Ecclesiastes 3:11

Dr. Alton Loveless is the former CEO/President of Randall House Publications, Nashville, Tn.; He is a freelance writer and has written for assorted publications printed both nationally and internationally. To see photos and read other stories click on

I left my Heart in San Francisco

San Francisco’s Beautiful Bay

The captain had advised we had an estimated arrival time at three o’clock in the morning. So I got up early but did arrive on the 11th deck of the ship until about 6 a.m. but hoping I could get shots of the Golden Gate Bridge as we went under it. However, we were already docked so all I could see was the bridge beautifully lit from both ends presenting its outline.
As the sun came up, I was able to get a closer view with my telephoto Lens. This way you get the Golden Gate Bridge in a different perspective, along with the island of Alcatraz, and the Oakland Bay Bridge--which was the bridge that was badly damaged during the last earthquake in San Francisco.
About this time one of my traveling friends arrived and we stood and talked about what pictures he had taken and his observation of a city that he had never been to before. He was quite taken back by the beauty of the area.
I remember well, flying over San Francisco as the clouds lay low and heavy on a day on my way to Hawaii years before. That day I could only see the top of the structure of the Golden Gate Bridge that supports the cable links of this beautiful suspension bridge. But today the weather was clear and everything easily seen.
Hong Kong, Rio de Janerio, and San Francisco are noted to be the most beautiful bays in the world and I can truly say it does represent itself well with the other two cities.
After breakfast, we began our disembarkment which went smoothly. We docked at pier 35 and the famous fisherman’s wharf is pier 39. Between these piers is a small park where we noticed a number of people own seg wheels. They were interesting to watch. Afterwards, we visited the wharf, but were not able to have any of the fish in its many cafes for which the wharf is known. We had previously reserved a limousine to take us to our hotel and made our way back quickly to the pickup zone.
We would spend the night near the airport, which is about 15 miles from downtown because we all had early flights the next day.
There is so much to see in San Francisco that it would take a week just to hit the highlights. But time would not permit it this time.
The City and County of San Francisco is the fourth most populous city in California and the 12th most populous city in the United States and I the second-most densely populated large city in the United States. San Francisco is also the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the larger San Francisco Bay Area, and home of over 30 international financial institutions, helping to make San Francisco eighteenth place in the world's top producing cities and ninth in the United States.
The history starts In 1776 whenthe Spanish established a fort at the Golden Gate and a mission named for Francis of Assisi on the site. The California Gold Rush in 1848 propelled the city into a period of rapid growth, increasing the population in one year from 1,000 to 25,000, and thus transforming it into the largest city on the West Coast at the time. After three-quarters of the city was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire, San Francisco was quickly rebuilt, hosting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition nine years later. During World War II, San Francisco was the port of embarkation for service members shipping out to the Pacific Theater.
Today, San Francisco is a popular international tourist destination, renowned for its chilly summer fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of Victorian and modern architecture and its famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, the cable cars, and Chinatown.
Tourism is the backbone of the San Francisco economy. Its frequent portrayal in music, film, and popular culture has made the city and its landmarks recognizable worldwide. It is the city where Tony Bennett "left his heart," where the Birdman of Alcatraz spent many of his final years, and where Rice-a-Roni was said to be the favorite treat. San Francisco attracts the third-highest number of foreign tourists of any city in the U.S. and claims Pier 39 near Fisherman's Wharf as the third-most popular tourist attraction in the nation. More than 16 million visitors arrive in San Francisco yearly, injecting nearly $8.2 billion into the economy. With a large hotel infrastructure and a world-class convention facility in the Moscone Center, San Francisco is also among the top-ten North American destinations for conventions and conferences.
San Francisco's economy has increasingly become tied to that of its Bay Area neighbor San Jose and Silicon Valley to its south, sharing the need for highly educated workers with specialized skills. With such links with the Silicon Valley, San Francisco became an epicenter of the Dot-Com bubble of the 1990s-2000s, and the subsequent Web 2.0 boom of the late 2000s. Many popular and prominent Dot-Com companies and "start-ups" such as, Twitter,, and Wikipedia among others have established their head offices in San Francisco.
During the years of my ministry I have spoken in the area many times; namely, El Sobrante, Richmond, Petaluma, Campbell, Fairfield, and many other nearby cities.
San Francisco is a beautiful city and the bay is outstandingly breathtaking. I would like two weeks here.
“They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;”-- Psalms 107:23

Dr. Alton Loveless is the former CEO/President of Randall House Publications, Nashville, Tn.; He is a freelance writer and has written for assorted publications printed both nationally and internationally.