Caldwell Fields: If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?

May 15, 2007 at 10:08 pm 3 comments

Kurt Vonnegut talks about his Uncle Alex in numerous writings and speeches.  In particular, Vonnegut applauds his uncle’s habit of noticing and vocalizing the simple pleasures of life.  I know it’s mentioned in Timequake; God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian; Vonnegut’s Commencement Address to Syracuse; and a PBS Interview.  Here’s an excerpt from God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian:

My late Uncle Alex Vonnegut, my father’s kid brother, a Harvard-educated life insurance agent in Indianapolis who was well read and wise, was a humanist like all the rest of the family. What Uncle Alex found particularly objectionable about human beings in general was that they so seldom noticed it when they were happy.

He himself did his best to acknowledge it when times were sweet. We could be drinking lemonade in the shade of an apple tree in the summertime, and Uncle Alex would interrupt the conversation to say, “If this isn’t nice, what is?”

I myself say that out loud at times of easy, natural bliss: “If this isn’t nice, what is?” Perhaps others can also make use of that heirloom from Uncle Alex. I find it really cheers me up to keep score out loud that way.

Yesterday, I worked on-site at Roanoke.  I left the city at 5:30, drove 50 minutes home and I still had enough daylight to take the dogs out on an adventure.  I got home, changed clothes, made a quick peanut butter and jelly sandwich and headed out to Caldwell Fields.

Driving down Craig Creek Road, reaping the benefits of Daylight Savings Time, surrounded by lush green mountains (Sinking Creek Mountain to the left, Brush Mountain on the right), enjoying fresh spring air with my windows rolled down, and listening to Gwen Stefani’s Sweet Escape on XM Radio,  I was happy.

“If this isn’t nice, what is?” I said to the dogs. 

They didn’t reply (maybe they couldn’t hear me over Akon and Stefani), but I suspect they agreed.

And it only got better!  Caldwell Fields was gorgeous.  Though, admittedly, we spent more time exploring the nearby creek and admiring the rock faces. 


Addison CaldwellCaldwell Fields are named for three brothers who lived in the area in the 1800’s.  The most notable is Addison Caldwell.  In 1872, he was the very first student to enroll in the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College.  That college later became Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, which is more commonly known as Virginia Tech (or as annoying ESPN announcers insist on saying, “Vah-Tech”).  So Addison Caldwell was my alma mater’s first student.

From Caldwell Fields you can see remains of the largest known landslide in eastern North America which occurred 10,000 – 25,000 years ago.  Even though one of the slides is 3 miles long, they are difficult to identify with all vegetation that resides on Sinking Creek Mountain.  I couldn’t see it yesterday, but I didn’t look too hard.  This article by the U.S. Geologic Survey explains more.

Our Adventure

We spent about an hour there until it got too dark.  Here are some pictures of our outing:

Creek at Caldwell Fields
Craig Creek has some interesting rock faces

Leaves at Caldwell Fields at Dusk
Some leaves at dusk

View at Caldwell Fields
View from the parking lot 

Wildflowers at Caldwell Fields
Wildflowers at Caldwell Fields

Dried Weed at Caldwell Fields
Dried vegetation at Caldwell Fields

Jimmie at Caldwell Fields
Jimmie enjoys the fields (that fit canine is 10 years old!)

Rock face at Caldwell Fields
Rock face and layered creek bed

As you can see, there were a lot of moments that would have made Alex Vonnegut (and perhaps his nephew) proud!  It was a nice evening and all the simple pleasures did not go unnoticed.

Additional Links
My Caldwell Fields Pictures on Flickr
The Mountain That Moved article by USGS
Virginia Tech History: Addison Caldwell, Virginia Tech’s First Student

Caldwell Geocacheb


Entry filed under: Akon, Alex Vonnegut, Brush Mountain, Caldwell Fields, Gwen Stefani, Hiking, Kurt Vonnegut, Sinking Creek Mountain, Virginia Tech.

Unscientific Experiments on Popularity Hungry Trees

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Hungry Trees « TGAW  |  May 15, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    […] 15th, 2007 At Caldwell Fields, I found more trees absorbing an obstacle.  This time they were eating […]

  • 2. Caldwell Field Pictures « TGAW  |  July 3, 2007 at 10:38 pm

    […] Fields on the way home from a trip to Sinking Creek Mountain.  The flora has changed since my last trip in May.  New wildflowers and new berries were present in the field.  Plus new tadpoles were in the […]

  • 3. Lathrop  |  July 4, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Hi, this weekend is pleasant in favor of me, because this point in time i am reading this fantastic educational
    post here at my house.


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