We left our home located along the Chattahoochee River north of Atlanta and just across the river from the lands the Cherokee Indians once called the "Enchanted Land".

The river makes a northern swing around rock bluffs and the area has been a river fording spot for centuries.

A mile away is the Etowah Trail which stretched from Chattanooga, Tenn. to Charleston, SC. US 19 is half a mile downstream and is where the Union troops crossed the river before the Battle of Atlanta. To our rear is the estate known as Serendipity and around us are the National Parks of the Chattahoochee.

As we began to travel we crossed the Chattahoochee River, the Etowah River and then the mighty rivers of our heartland... the Tennessee, the Ohio, the Mississippi and then the Missouri River... all in one day of our travel.

Our route would take us through St. Louis, Missouri and by the Gateway Arch on the 200th anniversary of the Lewis & Clarke Expedition.

The rivers were the highways that America was settled and St. Louis is the starting point and spiritual center of the western expansion. Lewis & Clarke chose the Missouri River to explore the western US and started in St. Louis in 1804.

The small town of Boonville along the banks of the Missouri River also played a part in the western expansion. Boonville is near the intersection of ancient Indian trails and the area was known for some of the most fertile soil. Boonille connected to the Sante Fe Trail and today is along the route of the modern interstates.

In 1825, William Ashley led an expedition over the Rockies on a trail that would later become the California & Oregon Trails. 90% of the wagon trains later traveling West would follow this trail.

Ashley's group of rascals would later became known as the Mountain Men of the West. He is known for creating the Rendezvous system. A historical theory of mine is that the Ashley-Cooper connection in Boonville has something to do with the Ashley-Cooper connection of Charleston, SC.

Our destination on this journey to the heartland of America was the Bright Spot for Health, officially known as the Center for the Improvement of Human Functioning International. It is located a few miles NE of Wichita, Kansas.

The center began in 1975 and is a pioneering organization into healthcare while focused on the use of nutrition and supplements for producing improvements in health.

The purpose of our visit was the 31st Touch for Health Kinesiology Association of America annual conference.

Trailblazers and pioneers, Dr. John Thie, DC (left) and Dr. Hugh Riordan, MD are two healthcare professionals that have helped lead the charge in the field of natural healthcare.

Dr. Thie released his book, Touch for Health, in 1973. The handbook for laypeople teaches muscle testing and energy balancing. It has been sold around the world and has been translated into 24 languages and taught in 100 countries. Dr. Thie has personally balanced 500,000 people using his techniques.

Dr. Riordan was the founder of The Bright Spot for Health in 1975 and has led the research and application of using nutrition and supplements to prevent and treat a variety of ailments.

Pioneers themselves, Norma Harnack (left) and Arlene Green are two of the US faculty members and train those that wish to become trainers themselves. Both have been part of the Touch for Health Kinesiology Association since 1975.

Norma is also a Registered Nurse and has in-depth knowledge of both the medical and energy healing aspects of healthcare.

Attendees from around the world participated in the conference including Brenden O'Hara from Melbourne, Australia. O'Hara is a pioneer in the experimental use of the digeridoo, the ancient musical instrument of the Aborigines, for use in healing.

Brendan states, "I treat this spiritual instrument of the Australian Aborigine with respect at all times. I am fortunate, as a white man, to have this gift. I never perform or treat this instrument with frivolity."

Matthew, Carrie and John Thie presented a special award to outgoing TFHKA President, Jan Cole (in white). Jan served as president for the past four years.

The Thies have recently returned from a European tour where they presented their protocol for using metaphors in balancing. They lectured in Zurich and Geneva, Switzerland, Milan, Italy and Cardiff, Wales.

The Thies also surprised us with a special gift for our work with eTouch for Health.

This group of energy kinesiology pioneers received special appreciation awards for their work in the past year in promoting TFH Kinesiology.

They are Dr. Wayne Topping, PhD, Arlene and Larry Green, Adam Lehman, Matthew Thie and Dr. John Thie.

The Olivia Lincoln Gratitude Trail is a wonderful walk around a small lake with many spots to stop and express your gratitude and ponder those people and things that are important to you. It is a very healing exercise to express gratitude and appreciation.

I am grateful that we have so many courageous, loving and caring pioneers & trailblazers that are working to make life better for so many.

The most comfortable that I have been in a long time was while sitting in what I call these 'boomerang chairs' in the bookstore. In this photo, I am barely able to keep my eyes open while both ladies to my side have lost the battle and enjoyed a restful snooze.

There were exceptional speakers at the conference. Here are several that have websites with the topic of their presentation listed:

Dr. John Thie
Research Possibilities and Need

Dr. Dale Schusterman, author of Sign Language of the Soul, Hand Modes of Healing

Dr. Jerry Tiplitz
Creating high-energy Websites & PR materials.

Matthew Thie, MEd
Bridging the Gap, using metaphors for balancing.

The flowers to the left hang in the center of the pyramid.

We left the Bright Spot for Health and the TFHKA Conference knowing that we had found pioneers and trailblazers. As we made our way back on our 1,000 mile return journey, we discovered that we were not yet done.

Many people do not know that the first Gold Rush in America was in North Georgia, near Dahlonega. Finding gold in these lands was the final blow for the Cherokee and they were forcibly removed in the middle of winter in 1838 and followed a tragic trail from Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee to Oklohoma in what is now known as the
'Trail of Tears'

At Tahlonteeskee, Oklohma, the Cherokee built a courthouse which would serve as the center of their western nation. New Madrid, Missouri had originally been chosen in 1794, but in 1811, that spot experienced one of the worst earthquakes in US history. It was so bad that the Mississippi River flowed northwards. The Cherokee took this a sign that New Madrid was not a good spot to be.

The pioneer that we found at Tahlonteeskee was the shopkeeper and caretaker of the historical Cherokee Court House. She knew her history and was a good spokesperson for the Cherokee.

When I asked what people could do today to help the Cherokee people, she replied, "Please ask people to buy only authentic Cherokee crafts and not imitations." Here is the link to the official Western Cherokee online store.

We traded a copy of eTouch for Health for a copy of Cherokee flutist Tommy Wildcat's CD.

As you cross the mighty Mississippi River in Memphis, Tennessee, you are greeted by a pyramid. Here, a statue of Ramesses the Great stands in front of the Memphis Arena. After seeing the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the Pyramid at the Bright Spot and now the pyramid of Memphis, I began to think I was seeing a pattern of images.

A pioneer from Memphis that is known around the world is Elvis Presley. On July 5th, 1954, Elvis Presley stepped
into Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee and recorded "That's All right Mama!" and started the Rock 'n Roll music revolution. So, it was befitting to being passing through Memphis on this 50th anniversary as we celebrate pioneers.

Our friends, Chuck and Tricia Kerwin are the caretakers of this poster and it makes its way into hundreds of photos a year at different Memphis events.

When looking at all of the symbols and, particularly, Egyptian motifs, I thought back to our trip just weeks earlier to Washington, DC and the National Mall. Here the Washington Monument is in the form of an Egyptian Obelisk.

When we were first introduced to energy Kinesiology in Montana during 1976, one of the gentleman told us that the Egyptians knew as much about energy healing as the Orientals.

In our travels to the heartland and to the memorials of our country, one of the most moving experiences was visiting the Vietnam War Memorial. This was the war that was going full steam as I graduated from high school.

These names were those of my generation and were the reason that I had decided to major in International Relations. My goal was to become a diplomat so that I could help prevent conflicts like this from ever occurring again.

The pioneer here was the young designer Maya Lin who designed the memorial to be a place of healing.

One of the metaphors Lin used in making the Vietnam Memorial a spot of healing was in the integration of the names and the reflection so that you become part of the names and the names become part of you.

As a 12-year boy many years ago, I watched stone masons carve the stones that were being placed onto the unfinished National Cathedral. These masons represented generations of masons that had worked on the cathedral for over 150 years. Seeing it in its completed state in 2004 provided me with solace in these challenging times.

And, I can see the pioneers, the founding fathers with their wisdom in establishing freedom of religion while at the same time building a government where church and state are separate.

Just a week earlier than this photo, our leaders had dropped their differences and were together in this building.

White houses that we have viewed in the past month include Elvis' birthplace and the White House. I went on an outdoor tour of the White House in 1963 when John Kennedy was President and we were visiting Washington this time during the mourning of Pres. Ronald Reagan.

Photo by Scaled Composites
While we did not visit the Mojave Desert on this trip, we did have a virtual connection with Burt Rutan and his group's attempt to reach space last month. In the spring of 2004, I created a page about these pioneers and trailblazers. A few weeks later on June 21, SpaceshipOne reached space on its history-making voyage.

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©2004 Earl & Gail Cook