Tag Archives: Phoenix

Four Corners – Into the Valley of Fire

6 Sep

This day started with two people doing something special and two people doing something ordinary. My wife and my stepdaughter’s friend got up before daylight to see the sun rise over the Grand Canyon. My stepdaughter and I stayed in bed.

When they returned to the room, they talked about the spiritual experience, but they also talked about the crazy tourists who climbed over the fencing and walked to the edge of the canyon. They went to pray for the beauty that God created and ended up praying that these people did not fall to their deaths.image-53

Once their nerves were in order, we loaded the car and headed toward Phoenix. This meant doing something that we had not done in over a week – drive on an interstate. This was Interstate 40, which goes through our hometown. I asked if they wanted to drive home, but that suggestion was not well received.

Eventually, we turned south, and I noticed something on the thermometer. For the entire trip, we had comfortable temperatures that rarely climbed out of the 80s. As we got closer to Phoenix, the thermometer kept easing higher. It would eventually reach 112 degrees.

Before the trip, my wife and I decided that we would stop at two places on this day. The first was Montezuma’s Castle, an ancient Native American cliff dwelling. We had visited the site with my parents and thought the girls should see it. Surprisingly, we did not encounter much history on this trip, and we needed to see some.image-55

There is one thing I must say about Montezuma’s Castle. It was named after stupid Europeans who thought the Native Americans in this area could not have built such a thing. It must have been built by the Aztec because everyone knew that they had built a magnificent city. Now, the place is stuck with an inappropriate name.

Our next stop was another place introduced to us by our parents. We had to eat at the Rock Springs Cafe.image-54

This place is known for its pies. They have every imaginable kind, and they are all good. I was going to get something made of berries but ended up getting pecan. It is hard to beat pecan pie.

From there, we drove to our hotel in Scottsdale. It was hot. Really hot. It was dry heat, but it was extreme heat. I love Scottsdale in the winter, but I do not see how people live there in the summer. To beat the heat, we spent the day in the Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall. It was an expensive jaunt into the air conditioning, but the cool air was worth it.

We ended the day by eating at Barrio Queen Restaurante y Tequileria. The food was good, and the bathrooms were confusing. However, that is a political issue, and I do not want to get into that.

The next day, we flew home to Tennessee, but we all agreed that it was a fun trip. The people who followed us on Facebook and Twitter have said that it looked awesome. They were not wrong. It was an awesome trip, and I am ready to go back.


The Great Phoenix Debate

29 Jan

A few years ago, I wrote a couple of posts about Cumberland University, the place where I work and where I have received a couple of degrees. The first post related my opinion that our mascot should be changed from the Bulldog to the Phoenix. The second post explained the importance of the mythical Phoenix in our history.

I must have been clairvoyant because, a few weeks ago, the leadership of Cumberland University decided to emphasize the Phoenix as our mascot and deemphasize the Bulldog. If you read the link to my first post, then you will realize that I have long thought there should be a change. If you read the link to the second post, then you will realize that I have long thought there should be a change because the Phoenix has been the soul of the university since the 1860s. Unfortunately, several people did not agree.Phoenix 2

As word of the decision spread, alumni voiced their frustration on Facebook. Former athletes wrote about how they were Bulldogs and would always be Bulldogs. They disparaged the Phoenix as something to which they had no connection.

People in the community contacted me to ask about the change. They were surprised that the change was made and did not understand why we would go with the Phoenix.

One person who attended school in the 1980s ask me a simple question – what is up with the chicken? Obviously, she did not think much of the decision.

For those who are not happy with the decision to emphasize the Phoenix, there are several points I would like to make.

  1. The Bulldog came from a pet that hung around the law school for a few years. That is the same law school that had to be sold to Samford University several decades ago. In other words, the dog has no connection to the university that remains. Heck, we do not even know where they buried that dog.
  2. On the other hand, the Phoenix has been a symbol of the university for 150 years. When the campus was burned during the Civil War, the university rose from the ashes as the Phoenix rises from the ashes.
  3. Some former athletes may think that Bulldog sounds tougher than Phoenix. However, that is not the case. The Bulldog died. The Phoenix is too tough to kill.
  4. Our athletic teams have had the Phoenix emblem on their uniforms for as long as I can remember. It is on baseball caps and football helmets. In fact, opposing teams often ask why it is displayed that prominently. In other words, the Phoenix as a mascot already exists.
  5. There is nothing wrong with having more than one mascot. Alabama has an elephant as a mascot but is known as the Crimson Tide. Auburn is known as the Tigers and the Plainsmen, and they run around yelling War Eagle. Ole Miss is called the Rebels and have a bear stalking the sidelines. Georgia Tech is called the Yellow Jackets and come unto the field behind a car called the Rambling Wreck.
  6. There are a ton of universities who have the Bulldog as a mascot, and Cumberland University just blends in. Being the Phoenix makes our school unique.
  7. When we all received our diplomas, those diplomas said that we graduated from Cumberland University. They did not say Bulldog University. When the baseball team won its three national championships, the trophies said Cumberland University. They did not say Bulldogs. In other words, the Bulldog mascot should not matter. We are not Bulldogs. We are members of the Cumberland University family.
  8. People should not be concerned if we are the Bulldogs, the Phoenix or the Chickens. They should be proud that we have a bright future, and that future is represented by a mythical creature that is the symbol of survival and rebirth. Cumberland University is a strong institution and its graduates are doing great work throughout the world. I believe that strength and work is best represented by a symbol that is recognized around the world rather than a pet that hung around campus for a few years.

A New Year’s Eve Celebration to End All New Year’s Eve Celebrations

2 Jan

Yesterday, my old college roommate sent a text saying that it has been 26 years since the greatest New Year’s Eve party of all time. It was held at our apartment, and I am certain that, in the past quarter of a century, the apartment complex has not seen anything else like it. I will not recount the specifics of the gathering. Just know that none of have forgotten any of it.

After that text, I thought about how I have spent some of the other New Year’s Eves.New Year

There was the one that my future wife and I spent in a swanky private club in Nashville.

There was the one at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida.

There was also the one in the downtown streets of Phoenix, Arizona with the same old college roommate.

Oh yeah, there was also the one spent in a Waffle House in north Georgia.

I almost forgot about the one on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii.

There was also the one when I had the flu.

A lot of New Year’s Eves have come and gone. Some of them have been memorable. Some of the have been forgotten. Some of them have been fun. Some of the have been miserable. However, my favorite New Year’s Eve was a few night ago.

My stepdaughter had a couple of friends over. We had homemade pizza and took selfies. They danced and sang. I slipped off and watched the end of The Magnificent Seven and the beginning of Wyatt Earp, but nothing could keep me away from the fun. We watched the ball drop in New York and the musical note drop in Nashville.

It was a great night spent with people I love. Is there a better way to start the new year?



The Legacy of the Phoenix

13 Jun

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that we attended the Phoenix Ball, an annual fundraiser for Cumberland University. For decades, the Phoenix has been the symbol of our institution. It is represented on the uniforms of our teams and is etched in the stained glass of Baird Chapel.Baird Chapel

This is strange to a lot of people because we are called the Bulldogs. They always ask why we have a bird as a symbol if our mascot is a dog. Well, this is why.

Cumberland University was founded in 1842 and quickly established itself as one of the best institutes of higher learning. Its claim to fame was having the first law school west of the Appalachian Mountains. However, problems arose in 1861 and the start of the Civil War. Most of the students and faculty enlisted in the armies of their states and made their way to the battlefields.

Eventually, the Civil War made its way to campus, and the original buildings were burned.Cumberland Original

Some say that the campus was burned by the Union army. Others say it was burned by the Confederates when they found out that the campus had been used to house African-American soldiers of the Union. It does not matter who did the deed. What matters is that Cumberland University no longer had a home.

When the war ended, the leadership of Cumberland University was determined that the school would continue. For years, classes were held in buildings around town. In 1892, the generosity of others allowed the university to purchase land for a new campus and build a new building. Memorial Hall was completed in 1896.Memorial Hall 2

The university was destroyed by fire and rose from the ashes. That is why the mythical Phoenix became the symbol of the university. However, the university has risen several times from the brink of disaster.

It survived the loss of support from both the Presbyterians and the Baptists.

It survived as students went off to more wars. In fact, it became the headquarters of the Tennessee Maneuvers that trained soldiers for the invasion of Europe in World War II.

It survived a tornado that ripped across Memorial Hall. The scars of its reconstruction can still be seen.

It survived the loss of its law school, which was renown for its graduates. One of those graduates was Cordell Hull, the Father of the United Nations.

It survived the move to become a junior college and returned to being a four-year institution in the 1980s.

Today, Cumberland University has the highest enrollment in its history. We offer undergraduate degrees in many disciplines. We also offer several graduate degrees.

As a graduate and faculty member at Cumberland University, I know the trials that the school has endured and its ability to survive and thrive. It is a special place with a long and proud history, and I can think of no better symbol than the Phoenix.