From: Northwestern Georgia, USA
I'll be hiking in the mountains tomorrow, because that's what inveterate hikers do. The plan calls for 15.5 miles on the Pinhoti Trail near Fort Mountain, which will provide ample time for thinking about nearly everything, including the game.
During a quick, steep little jog today on Lavender Mountain, that's what I thought about. Well, sort of. I actually thought about the Forum; about you guys; and my gratitude to all of you for reading, encouraging, admonishing, suggesting, mentoring, correcting, and traveling off on tangents. Best forum ever. Great men (plus Graffin Zeppelin).
You guys gave advice when requested and, on rare occasions, went quiet when I asked for space to muddle through on my own. A few of you were frustrated when your vision exceeded mine. Sometimes I got testy in return. But mostly the conversations were cordial and fun. You gave great book recommendations and participated in the great female singer vote (who did we choose, ultimately? Stevie Nix? Linda Rondstadt?) crsutton mentioned EmiLou Harris, which prompted me to binge-watch her song videos for weeks afterwards. Someone else (I forgot who, sorry!) tpped me off to The Band's version of "The Night they Drove Ol' Dixie Down," and I probably watched that video 50 times over the following months. You gave tips to great books. We exchanged photos of hiking, cemeteries and other things. You provided feedback or information that helped me write stories. Many of you have been following for more than five years; some have fallen away from the Forum; others are newcomers (and how do they already know more about the game than I do?).
As noted, sometimes things got testy. One of the elite AE players snapped when I posted that I wasn't sure where John's carriers were going as they steamed into the Makassar Strait. "Come on!" he said with exasperation, "we all know where he's going!" Sadly, I didn't.
I learned over and over again that the Forum is a community of smart and thoughtful men (and one woman). You come from all over - Korea, Australia, Canada, Scotland, Germany, Long Island and Maryland. As I've said before, I could call on any of you in a hour of need and would find a willing, gracious friend.
I hope there are many years of comradeship ahead. Thanks you for everything.