Rocky’s Testimony as a Life-Long Rambler, with a Video to Take You Around the Western USA

This episode will be a bit different than any to-date, for two reasons. First, the video is not my own work, and second, my comments below will be sort of my testimony as a lifetime rambler. I found this video that will give you a broader look at travel opportunities in the western portions of the USA than I can all by myself. I hope you’ll appreciate this video by VietTin Travel, which I found online.

The Testimony of a Life-Long Rambler: How Rocky Ultimately Started the TV Show, Rocky’s Ramblings.

It is more than a little satisfying to realize that I’ve been to most places highlighted in this video from VietTin Travel! The reason for that is that travel has always been an important part of life in the Rockwell family – a huge reason why I started Rocky’s Ramblings upon my retirement from a more structured  career. So, I thought a testimony of a life of rambling might give you, my faithful viewers and fellow ramblers, a better idea where this show comes from and what my motivation is.

Before departing on my rambling testimony, I need to give you a basic chronology of where I’ve lived: I was born in Wisconsin, but my family moved to Colorado when I was 5 years old, where I lived all the way through school. Right out of college, I joined the Peace Corps and moved to Botswana, Africa, where I was a Wildlife Conservation Education Officer for the Botswana Department of Wildlife, National Parks and Tourism. Upon returning to the US, I looked for work that would allow all of these experiences to remain central to my life. I started as an Interpretive Park Ranger for the US National Park Service in Colorado, which parlayed into a career with the US Army Corps of Engineers, first in Bismarck, North Dakota (yeah, from the heat of southern Africa to the cold of North Dakota within a year). After 6 months, I transferred to Hot Springs, South Dakota, where I stayed for 10 years, married and where all three of our children were born. From there, it was on to Clarkston, Washington, where we lived for 20 years before moving to Bassett, Virginia, nearly 9 years ago.

With that background, my rambling testimony begins by sharing that, because Mom felt that travel was a very important part of our education, my sister, brother and I grew up traveling every summer. Every other year, that trip was to Indiana to visit the extended Rockwell family, taking little side trips along the way. Not quite as regularly, we traveled to Orange County, California (south of Los Angeles) to visit the extended family Hinkley (Mom’s family), again, with  side trips along the way. The years in between we rambled EVERYWHERE in a 1963 Chevy Biscayne station wagon filled with camping equipment! One year we went to Texas and Mexico; another year to British Columbia, Canada. One year we took a mega-trip, from Colorado to the Grand Canyon,  to LA, on down to San Diego, up to China Town in San Francisco, up the coast on Hwy 1 through the Redwoods, along the Oregon Coast to the Rain Forest of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington (state), and up into the Canadian Rockies (which are breathtaking), down through Montana  and home. We were gone virtually all summer. On another trip, we went to Yellowstone National Park. I couldn’t begin to tell you all the places we went.

In the Peace Corps, I was stationed in Maun, Botswana, just outside of the Okavango Delta – THE most incredible wildlife haven on the planet! My job was to teach people the importance of conserving the wildlife that was so central to every aspect of life in Botswana. In recognition of the role of wildlife in Botswana’s economy, I was also delegated the role of acting Tourism Officer in Maun.

Later in life, as parents, my wife and I continued my mother’s travel tradition with our own children. We took our kids EVERYWHERE! While in South Dakota, we took the kids to Mount Rushmore, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Devils Tower and even long road trips to Texas, toGeorgia, and to Florida and the East Coast. Once in Clarkston, Washington, we continued traveling, sometimes down to Orange County to visit extended family, other times finding new places we’d never seen.

My career provided many opportunities to travel, too – for the first 20 years, to training and conferences around the country. On those trips, I always tried to add some leave time to take side trips along the way, sometimes with the family in tow, other times, not.

Travel ultimately became a key component of my career when I was selected to be on the National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Team of the US Army Corps of Engineers, and even more when I was asked to become a Congressional Liaison for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Caucus of the US Congress – to the tune of 300,000 miles in the air and probably another 3,000 in a vehicle.  These two jobs had me traveling back and forth, all across the country, as we built the partnerships, commissions and funding mechanisms that would fuel the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial into the largest commemoration in US history! During the planning years leading up to the commemoration (1999-2003), I traveled to virtually every community along the Lewis and Clark Trail, to Vermont/New Hampshire to help put on a Lewis and Clark event there, and even into the southern states to bring them into the national commemoration. During the Bicentennial commemoration (2003-2006) I traveled to the big national events to participate on behalf of the US Army Corps of Engineers, and to portray Captain William Clark on the national stage. These events were in major places along the Lewis and Clark Trail: Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia; Pittsburgh,  Pennsylvania; St. Louis, Missouri; Kansas City, Omaha, Nebraska,

Then, I took my final post with the Corps of Engineers, as the Operations Project Manager of Philpott Lake, just outside of Martinsville/Bassett, Virginia – the most beautiful lake in the country by the testimony of anyone who has gazed at it from the overlook!

So, I traveled many roads, figuratively and literally to get to Philpott Lake. Along the way, I have had a lot of intimate contact with Cinematography, Ad Production, Public Affairs, Tourism, etc. I coordinated and produced an educational video for the Corps, assisted in producing a portion of a national water safety video, acted in and worked with the production team of the Army’s Lewis and Clark documentary video, Lewis and Clark: Confluence of Time and Courage – Camera One.

My combined life experiences allowed me to bring to Philpott Lake a lifetime of travel experiences and 30+ years of experience in providing  outdoor recreation resources and working with tourism entities to help them market those resources. This has been a huge part of the re-invention of the economy in a community devastated by the exodus of manufacturing from the USA, the results of NAFTA.

So, it seemed like a natural transition when I retired after a 38-year career, to start a TV show highlighting tourism and travel sites. My goal for this show has been to focus on tourism from the perspective of the visitor experience, skirting the political aspects (trust me, tourism is highly political).

So, there’s a quick look at how I got to where I am, as the host and producer of Rocky’s Ramblings.

I hope this has encouraged you to get out and do your own rambling! There is SO much to see and do in this country, much of it right in YOUR back yard. It’s there, just waiting for you to get out and do some exploring. And, when you do, make sure that you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle.

Here’s Your Defensive Driving Tip for the Week

Tires: a critical part of safe driving. I’m not going to try to give you a dissertation on tires. I just want to highlight the importance of good tires, with substantial tread and properly aired. Work with your mechanic and/or tire maintenance specialist to make sure your tires will do their job and get you safely where you’re going and home again.

Rocky Rambles to the Greensboro History Museum, in Greensboro, North Carolina

The museum director, Carol Hart, does an eloquent, yet relaxed job of introducing this high quality, and beautiful, museum.  Watch the video, scroll through the information below, and make your plans to ramble on down to see it for yourself.

After viewing the video, I’m sure you would expect to  pay a hefty entrance fee to see this quality museum. But, it’s FREE. What a great place to take visitors to show off Greensboro, a community near the northern border of North Carolina.

You’ll want to scroll down below these important notes. I couldn’t figure out how to get all of the pictures I took into the show. But, I want to share them to give you an idea of just how beautiful, how well maintained, this museum really is. There are also stories that we just didn’t have time to put into the show.  So, read the notes, look through the pictures, go to the Greensboro History Museum website, and then make plans to ramble on over.

Here’s a map that will help you get directions.

2017 Special Events, with links, as Mentioned in the Show

Fun Fourth Festival – July 4, 1:00 -8:00 p.m. at the Greensboro History Museum

Fabulous Fifties Flashback July 8, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

5 by O. Henry 2nd and 3rd Weekends of August (link is from 2016. 2017 details still pending)

National Folk Festival – Sept 8-10 – 2017 will be the Final Year of this event in Greensboro. The National Folk Festival moves to a new community every 3 years. Next year(2018) the festival will move to Salisbury, Maryland.

An aspect of the museum that we didn’t have time to cover is how you go about scheduling a Special Group Tours. If you are interested in scheduling a special tour for your group, click on the link.

Pictures that I couldn’t fit into the show.

This staircase is just one example of the beauty in this magnificent museum.




Furnishings from Belle Meade, a residence built in 1867 and torn down in 1954 were donated to the museum – beautiful and elegant.


Honoring Confederate soldiers.





A 1920’s vintage Ford Model-T and a 1908 Cadillac honor the role of transportation in the development of Greensboro.







A poignant exhibit, the inflight manual of Sandy Bradshaw, a Greensboro resident who was a flight attendant on the ill-fated United Flight 93 on 9/11/2001.

And, there is so much more to see – for free. Make your plans to ramble out to the Greensboro History Museum. As you do, make sure you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle.

Your Defensive Driving Tip for the Week

Handling Tailgaters. Space is important, it gives you time to react. We should keep a safe space between us and the car ahead of us, and that is your responsibility. In previous tips, I suggested using the 2 second rule. But, what do you do when someone pulls right up on to your rear bumper? As tempting as it is to slam on your brakes – what we call brake-checking – but, that clearly is not the best alternative. But, you clearly cannot allow someone to ride your rear bumper. The first thing to do is to slow down and make sure you have just that much more space in front of your vehicle. If there is space to let the tailgater get around you, slow down and let him go around. Use your 4-way flashers to get their attention, which will normally get them to back off. When they do, turn off your flashers and continue on. If they pull up on you again, try the 4-ways again. If that doesn’t work, clearly they are not going to back off. Slow down and find a way to let them get around you.

Until my next post, here’s wishing you…Safe Rambling!





Rocky Rambles up to the the National D-Day Memorial to Attend the 73rd Anniversary Commemoration of D-Day.

This episode is a follow-up to the episode recorded in mid-May of 2017 at the National D-Day Memorial. It is excerpted directly from the ceremony, without commentary and without interruption.  Below, you will find the keynote speech by Cpt. Jerry Yellin, given that I could not cover the entire speech in a half-hour episode.

Cpt Jerry Yellin (Ret) Keynote Speech, unedited.

These special commemorations are important to remember the true cost of freedoms. I hope that you will ramble out to attend these events.

When you do, make sure you re driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle.

Your defensive driving tip for this week is to make you’ve had plenty of sleep before getting behind the wheel of your car – make sure you are fully alert. If you find yourself getting sleepy while driving, pull over, take a power nap, go for a walk – something to ‘shake out the cobwebs’ before you continue.

Until my next post, here’s wishing you…Safe Rambling!


Rocky Rambles to the Blue Ridge Institute and Museum on the Campus of Ferrum College in Ferrum, Virginia

The Blue Ridge Institute & Museum is all about preserving the culture of the local area through exhibits, archives, workshops and events. Here’s my episode interviewing Roddy Moore, the institute’s co-director. Below, you’ll find lots of helps to get more out of the video and prepare you for your own visit!


We had a great visit, and I hope you enjoyed the show. More importantly, I hope this video has encouraged you to ramble on out to see the Blue Ridge Institute and Museum for yourself. And, don’t forget to put the Old World Echoes Concert and the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival on your calendar! Scroll down for more information.

For more information about the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum, click on their logo.





We talked a lot about the Crooked Road in our conversation. Click on the logo to learn more about that.




Click on the poster below more information about the Blue Life Folklife Festival.

Here is a flyer about the upcoming Old World Echoes concert coming up on June 9, 2017. At the time of this posting, the information has not yet been updated. Check back from time to time by clicking on this flyer!

We also talked about a traveling show on the Early Virginia Canneries. Learn more about that history.

Many of the displays in the museum come from photography by Earl Palmer. Here is a look at his amazing work.

We discussed some of the key families in the music history of the region. Here are some links that will help you learn more.

Ralph Stanley and Family

Carter Family Article

Carter Family Induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame

Stoneman Family

Make sure that in all of your ramblings, you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle.

Your Defensive Driving Tip for the Week

Avoid Impaired Driving – We all know that driving while under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs is illegal – and stupid. But, there are far more impaired states that should cause us to stay out from behind the wheel of a car. Many legal drugs – prescription or over-the-county – can cause drowsiness or worse. Imagine driving with a severe case of the flu, or other illness. Driving while in intense pain – perhaps a broken bone. Driving while experience a tremendous emotional upheaval. The bottom line is that if there is any condition that has you unable to give driving your best and undivided attention, you should not be in command of a vehicle. Remember, you are driving a 2-ton chunk of steel hurling down the road at up to 70 miles-per-hour.