Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Night - finally

I think I look forward to Friday night high school football games now more than when I was in high school.

When I was in high school I didn't pay much attention to the game.  There were too many other distractions.  Such as. . . the concession stands.   Now I pay attention to the game.   Many times Cari and I are sitting in the bleachers playing coach.

It's a bonus being in a town with only one high school.  The football game becomes a place where all of your friends and neighbors come together to cheer for the same cause.  Everyone is on the same team and it adds to the excitement of the night.

There's so much more than the game.  It's sitting outside with the stadium lights shining on the field, it's the sounds of the band and of the cheerleaders.   It's the smell of the. . . concession stands.

Tonight is the first game of the season and it's an away game.   Although we are not at home there will still be plenty of friends and neighbors at the game and we'll all be wearing red and black.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hello YouTube

Just trying to play a friendly game of Spoons and someone can't stay focused.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Keep Moving

 Traffic is not a thing I've had to worry about very often but has become a bigger issue for me over the past several months with travel for work.  There is already a stretch of the interstate that I will not drive.   There are news headlines daily about wrecks in this particular stretch, often with lane closures.    As the alternative, I now take smaller highways and other "back roads" to get from place to place.   There is more stop and go traffic and, in some places, endless stop lights but it still better than sitting still on the interstate.  

Occasionally there will be a wreck blocking the highway I have chosen.  In those cases I make a quick turn onto a side road, turn on Google Maps, and keep driving.   Google will quickly figure out where I am and start re-routing me home.   Another innovation that Google is adding to maps is real time traffic updates with the location of accidents and construction.  Now I can review my route home and see where I may encounter traffic and if there is a wreck already in my path.   When I see that little red icon I know it's time to take a side road.

It's not always the shortest way when I invent these detours and sometimes I wonder if just sitting and waiting out the wreck would be faster.   Faster doesn't mean as much as keeping my foot on the gas.  The biggest issue is to be able to keep moving toward the goal of home.

Are you more likely to sit in traffic or find an alternate route?  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Join the Crowd

I've seen a lot of "First Day of School" posts this week so I thought I should join the crowd.

So here I am on the first day of school this week:

This was the first day of high school for the boy and the first day of kindergarten for the youngest so it was a pretty exciting day.

Technically her second day of school, but here's Cari on her way to school too!
Finally, I had to take a shot that Cari started this year.   Every first day of school we'll put her in this shirt and when she's a senior in high school it should fit.  (I just hope we never have to change the year on it).
I would have posted this sooner but I had the day to myself and was too busy jumping on couches and playing loud music.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


This little thing is magic.   I plugged it into the back of my TV that has just been sitting on my wall with nothing to do.  The TV hasn't been hooked to any kind of cable or antenna for a while now.

Once I told Chromecast my wifi password it was ready to go.

Using Netflix, YouTube, or even anything in my Chrome browser I can hit a button and display it on the TV.   This can be done with anything connected to the same wifi in the house!

I now have content displaying on my TV and it works beautifully through the magic of Google.  

More goodies are being developed for this little device and I expect I'll get more usage out of it in the future.

For only $35 I have a good use of my TV again.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Jack's River Trail Adventures - Part II

The next morning I lay in my tent awake.  It was early, about 6:30 am.  I was listening for anything large moving around camp and I could only hear the rushing water of the Jack's river so I climbed out to take a look at our packs.   They were still there and it didn't look like anything had touched them.  Success!  By nine in the morning, we were packed up and ready to head to the falls.

The hike to the falls was two miles and just about halfway there we started seeing more warning posters about bears and additional signs that prohibited camping in the area.  In this same area we encountered three US Forest Service rangers on the trail.  They stopped and talked to us for a few minutes.  Asked us where we had camped and about our trip.  We told them how we had hung our bags and didn't have any problems with wildlife.  They told us that there is a mama bear and three cubs in the area and that she is getting very aggressive toward hikers.  The bear is learning that there is food in the packs and has even scared some hikers into dropping their packs and letting the bear have them.  I asked if the bears are more active during the day or night and was told that the bears are active at all times of day.  If they smell food, they are coming for it.   We also talked about some strategy if we encountered the bears.  Mostly you just want to look bigger and make a lot of noise.  In most cases this would work.   They didn't tell us what to do in the cases where that didn't work.  The rangers finished up by telling us about some other recent encounters between bears and campers.   That was enough to make us nervous.  At the next break we took our car keys and wallets and put them in our pockets.  The bears can have our packs, but not our cars.

Once we arrived at the falls we found a group of kids swimming and jumping into the water.  There were at least two tiers of swimming areas along the section of falls.  We watched for a while and decided to head down and swim at the lowest of the falls.   As we made our way down we stopped and talked to two other campers that were leaving.  They asked if we had seen the rangers.  We said that we had and asked if they also did.   The older man admitted that he had camped in a "no camping" area the previous night and the rangers fined him for it.  Then I asked if he had seen the bears.  He told us the bears were in his camp early in the morning.  They were sniffing around and eventually found where he had hung his food in a tree.  He said that he hadn't hung it very far from the trunk and the bear got the food without much effort.   Telling that story to the rangers earned him a second fine for "improper food storage".   He wasn't sure who was the bigger nuisance, the bears or the rangers.  All I know is that after losing his food, he had to pay a fine for losing his food, and then when he goes to the store to replace the food he'll be paying for it a third time.

 Swimming at the base of the falls was one of the highlights of the trip.   This is how backpacking should be!  Hike for a half a day and swim for a few hours at the base of a waterfall.  As we were swimming in the cold water I noticed some of the kids had come down and were climbing around on the rocks above this section of the falls.  I started to swim toward Rake when he shouted, "KID!  KID!"  I looked up and saw three kids on the rocks.  Rake started toward me quickly and then a boy's head popped up from the turbulent water.  He had fallen off the rock and went into the falls.  As he came up he looked stunned, but appeared okay.  He climbed over to the rocks and we asked him if he was okay.  He gave a thumbs up and went over to his group.  We didn't see him climbing or swimming the rest of the day.  I didn't the boy slip, but Rake did, and he says it's a sight he will not soon forget.

Our hike out included the final three river crossings before we hit the Penitentiary trail.  For several hours the trail continued uphill and was wearing me down quickly.
We reached our second campsite of the weekend at 3pm.  There were three miles of trail between us and the cars, we were tired, it was thundering and threatening to rain.  After a break and a discussion about sitting in a tent the rest of the day we decided to end our adventure and make our way to the cars.  For those of you still thinking about the bears I can tell you that the threat of bear attacks were not part of our decision to stay or not.  We felt like no bear would leave the easy pickings at the river and climb this rough trail just for a jar of peanut butter.  

While we saw no bears on our hike out we did encounter another scary beast of the forest.  At one point on the trail I heard a strange noise behind me.  A loud noise was coming from the trail we had just passed.  We turned and knew that it was a rattlesnake but we couldn't see it at first.  So we did the first thing that came to mind and each of us reached for our cameras.  Rake spotted the snake first and then I found it coiled up on the side of the trail.  It was pretty scary that I had walked so close to this large snake without seeing it.  I took a step closer as I videoed and the snake coiled tighter and rattled louder.  I knew it was time to get going.

We made the cars by five pm and loaded up.  It had been 24 river crossings, 16 miles, 2 hours of swimming, and some much needed fun but it was time to head home.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Jack's River Trail Adventures

Last weekend Rake and I met up in the North Georgia mountains at the edge of the Cohutta Wilderness area.  Our goal was to hike a section of the Jack's River trail, have a great weekend, and find adventure.   What we weren't looking for were nuisance bears.

Bears ended up being one of the themes during our trip thanks to this sign being one of the first things we were greeted with.

That night at camp we would hang, not only our food, but our entire packs in a tree to try and protect our belongings from bears.  We thought we were being really smart about this.  Rake threw the rope over a really high branch and it was about as far from the trunk as we could get it.   Shortly after securing our belongings in the tree I walked over to my tent and tossed my wallet and keys on the sleeping bag.   Rake looked at me and asked, "You grabbed your keys out of your pack?"  I responded that I didn't want to lose them in case a bear did get our stuff.  At that point he looked up at his pack and I felt like he was weighing the risk he put himself in.  His keys would spend the night in the tree.

But getting to that camp was the fun part.   That's where we hiked about seven miles north on the Jack's River trail. We crossed the river 18 times throughout our day.  The water was COLD and the rocks were slick.  We were carrying all of our gear on our backs and weren't interested in getting it wet so moving slowly and carefully is how we approached the crossings.   Most of the crossings were knee deep and a few were up to the thighs, a few others could have been deeper but we found routes along rocks that kept us from getting too wet.   At first the crossings were spread out but late in the day we were hitting the water every five to ten minutes.  This was a lot different than most other hikes and was a lot of fun.  

Wildlife along the river trail seemed mostly to be millipedes and gnats.  They were plentiful.  The millipedes preferred to crawl along the center of the trail and the gnats preferred to fly in my eyes and ears.  We also found some very large snails but they weren't a bother.

After five hours on the trail we set up camp.
My next blog will reveal all of the adventures at the falls including stories of Federal employees, almost watching someone die, and encounters with deadly wildlife!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Returning to Home

We've safely returned from our weekend in the woods.  It will probably take me a few days to put together a blog about the adventures and probably next week before I piece together the video.

A few quick notes:

1.  We didn't die.
2.  I only wore sandals during the 16 mile hike and I have the blisters to prove it.
3.  We did not get attacked by bears.

4.  We had an awesome time.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Returning to the Woods

I've been really wanting to get out on anther backpacking trip this year and I have finally convinced my partner in these things to head out on a summer trip.

This trip will be in the Cohutta Wilderness area in North Georgia.   I haven't visited this area previously but when I heard that they have a trail that has you criss-crossing the river over 40 times I thought it would make for a great adventure.

We've created a loop that will cut the river crossings to a meager 18 but I think that should be enough adventure for us.   I've seen some videos from the Jack's River Trail and some of these crossings look like they could get close to waist deep.
There are a few additional concerns about what gear you take and how you pack for a trail that has you in and out of a river.  It's something I have been thinking a lot about this week.  Nearly everything will be bagged in plastic or a waterproof bag.  I already know that a wet sleeping bag is not something I'm interested in having.

I also need to make some decisions on shoes.  I will wear sandals for the watery section of the trail but I'm not sure how hiking the dry section in sandals would be.  I may need to carry my regular hiking shoes to use on the day of hiking in the dry.   At the moment I'm leaning toward carrying the least gear possible but taking care of your feet is important when you are going to be walking for two and a half days.

If everything goes well, we won't be chased by bears, fall into the river too many times, or lose our food to raccoons.   It's going to be great returning to the woods.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

A Visit from Florida

We had some visitors from Florida a few weeks ago. The kids did their best to wear my parents our of energy but mom hung tough with them all day.

After a particularly busy day of entertaining children I decided to teach them how to play the board game 7 Wonders.   They did pretty well... actually, mom did pretty well as she managed two hands.   We shouldn't be surprised that she ended up scoring higher than my dad after she helped make decisions for him throughout.

On another afternoon I pulled my camera out of the closet and setup the tripod for a group shot.

What is it about setting up a tripod that makes people want to climb on furniture?
Goodness that kid is tall!
The visit went quickly and I imagine that my parents will take the next few months recovering before we meet again.

Monday, August 05, 2013


It was bound to happen at some point but I was still surprised when I got the call.

me:  hello.
co-worker:  tell me about duckhunter75
me: (laughter)

Someone at work discovered my YouTube channel.  They were searching for information about a local hike and in their search results they saw my picture in a thumbnail.  That person called over his buddy who called another guy.   These three made it their mission to scan through my videos and share them with more co-workers until, finally, one of them called me to brag about the discovery.

I post all of my videos public, like this blog, so I always knew that my YouTube channel could be discovered.

I immediately had thoughts of locking down my videos but I decided against it.  Over the next few days at work I had to put up with a few jokes and comments about my antics on YouTube and I mostly reacted by telling them I'm glad my videos entertained them.

Up to this point I don't believe anyone from work has come across this blog (also posted publicly). When they do, because I believe it will happen at some point, they will find a treasure of about 1,800 posts (as of this one).   The blog is linked on the older videos, and every video on my YouTube account is tagged with DuckNotes.   Some curious viewer will likely come across this page and that's okay too.

Ultimately, you are not anonymous online.  I wasn't really making much efforts to remain anonymous besides leaving out my name, but I believe everyone can be discovered if they are active online.   If you are using the internet and creating content you should keep that in mind because you will be discovered.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

I'm Building a Boat

A friend from college messaged me the other day and asked if I was okay.  I didn't really understand what prompted the message but assured him I was fine.

Then he told me that he saw on CNN that South Carolina has had a tremendous amount of rain and was sinking back into the ocean.  I assured him I had started building my boat this past weekend and should be fine.

After learning I was building a boat my friend asked if I would be taking the pets.  "Yes, I will have to eat", I replied.