Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Vanilla is not my scent

I finished lighting the grill and turned to walk back onto the porch. Cari had followed me out there. I had just gotten home from work. We kept talking as I handed her the matches back.
It was a nice afternoon and we stood out there for a few minutes. She had her hands in front of her, near her neck, and I reached out and gave her a hug. We were standing there for a minute when Cari said, "You smell like vanilla."

I denied smelling like vanilla, but after another smell of my neck she insisted I smelled like vanilla. She jokingly asked me what woman was I rubbing up on that smelled like vanilla. I denied hugging on a woman that smelled like vanilla. After I got a look from Cari, I clarified I had not been rubbing on ANY woman.

As Cari stood back she looked at her hands that were still near her face. The matches! The matches are kept in the drawer full of candles.

Sure enough, the match box smelled like vanilla.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Here is an image from Google Earth. I wanted to show you an aerial view of the waterfalls I visited last week.

If you follow the yellow highway line up to the top 1/3 of the picture you will see the blue circle icon next to the road. That's where the upper falls are. Now, to the lake on the left of the shot. Follow to the right of it and you will see a white blotch. That's some buildings. Just a bit more to the right of the buildings you will see a streak of white where the water reaches up. That's the lower falls.

As I was out there this is one of the views I had:Endless hills and trees. The lake reflects the sun in the distance. So what's taking them so long to develop this land? Would you believe this land IS developed? Really.

As I have been out and about hiking this past year I realized that North Carolina and South Carolina have done an outstanding job preserving these lands. Look at a map and much of the land is blocked off with either State or National forests.

BUT. As I told you last week, we were in land owned and operated by Duke Energy. There is an electric plant in this land. A massive man-made operation to support the cities at the bottom of the mountains. The really cool thing is that you can not see most of it. It's under ground. Duke Energy dug that lake you see in the satellite image. The one on the left with the white bar on the bottom side. It's a man-made lake called Bad Creek reservoir. There are massive rock dams holding up the sides. There are underground tubes taking that water through turbines, creating electricity, and flowing into the lower lake. That reservoir is 1,100 feet above lake Jocassee.

We visited the visitor center last week. The first thing you notice when you get out of your car is the sound of the electricity. Cracking and popping from the enormous transformers. We quickly went into the building. I dared Cari to touch the fence. She wouldn't even look at it. It was pretty creepy.

Here is a model of the plant. The top of the box is the gray control building where we were standing. Everything else is under ground. The only access is one elevator.

The next two pictures are from the pictures describing the construction of Bad Creek. They are plastic, high gloss photos in a fairly dark hall.During the construction, the wall of photos tells us, Duke took care to preserve the environment. They even used helicopters to place wire towers. This meant they wouldn't cut down the trees between towers.

To think of what is going on under the earth is really incredible. The engineers at Duke Energy are amazing. The size of this project is mind blowing to me. Not only does water flow down into the lower lake at six million gallons a minute, but they can pump it back into the lake. At high peak times, the water turns the turbines. At off peak times, they pump it back up.

We have such command over the Earth.

With all this industry happening under foot, I was hiking to see some amazing waterfalls. Out in nature, admiring the forest, the hills, the lakes, I was ignorant to the massive engineering project that had been built.

As we were driving home, I told Cari, "I love Duke Energy!"

If you are interested, here is a little more information at Duke's website.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Accident

We accidentally visited two waterfalls yesterday. We intended on hiking to see the lower Whitewater falls. Driving into the mountains, we missed our turn and ended up in a North Carolina state park. When we got out we saw signs for Whitewater falls. We took the fifteen minute walk that ended at the observing deck. We were at the upper Whitewater falls. Turns out this mistake was well worth it. We were only about three minutes past where we were supposed to turn. If we wouldn't have missed our turn we would have missed this awesome waterfall. These upper falls is also where the sign was that I posted yesterday. Apparently, people used to take a trail over to the top top of this waterfall and try to look over the edge. It didn't work out for about fifteen people. We finished our view safely from the observation deck and then walked back to the car.

We still had not really hiked, so we decided to head back to our missed turn. Back in South Carolina, we pulled up to the automatic gate that lets you enter the land controlled by Duke Power. Down the road, we found the parking area for the two mile hike that leads to the lower falls on Whitewater river.

A bit farther than half way the trail crosses a gravel road. As we reached the road, we heard a lot of noise coming from the hill across the street. It was coming from at least two spots. To me, it sounded like something fairly large was walking down the hill. Something as big, or bigger, than a person. Crunching leaves and sticks under foot. We backed up into the edge of the woods to try and conceal ourselves. Cari bent down and picked up several rocks for whatever animal was going to reveal itself. I held my walking stick like a club. Then over to the right, I saw it. It was black and walking on all fours. A wild pig! I was going to take it's picture, but it must have noticed us around that time, because it took off in the opposite direction.

We discussed for a minute if we thought a group of pigs would attack us. Deciding we would not be in much danger, we continued our hike onto the road. We saw one more pig that quickly ran off. Continuing the trail across the street, we saw hoof prints in the mud, but we didn't see any more pigs.

The trail went up and down steep hills and was moderate at best. At the observation platform, we were rewarded with this view.To the left of the falls you can see the wreckage of a small plane. I did a quick search online, but couldn't find a story about this crash.
We rested there for about twenty minutes before starting our hour hike out. The hike out was not interrupted by any wildlife. We weren't disappointed. We were both glad that we missed that turn and accidently saw two great waterfalls.

There are a few more pictures from this hike on Flickr, click the box on the right. Next, I'll tell you a bit about the Hydro Power plant located on this lake. It involves another warning sign.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A celebrity in church

There is a Greenville man on American Idol this year. Everyone around here is pretty excited about it. They are even starting to have parties downtown for him while the show airs.

Chris was known for singing at his church before going on Idol. Now, the pastor says they are getting a lot of visitors to the church because of Chris.

So people choose a church because the hopes of meeting a celebrity?

Guess what people! There's a celebrity at my church. There's a celebrity at your church. He's there every week.

His name is . . .


Give me the remote

Randy got a hold of my camera remote the other night and started hitting the button as I held the camera.

The boy is out of control.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Career Day

I was asked to speak at a local elementary school for their career day. This was not something I really wanted to do. The several days leading up to it I was wondering how I could fill fifteen to twenty minutes of time. I was volunteered to speak to three groups of fourth graders. One of my goals was to emphasize the importance of school to them. This was the direction given by the school counselor.

As I drove to the school on career day, I thought about what I might say. That's right, I still didn't know what I was going to do. I signed in at the school office. I was early, so I found a quiet bench and started making notes. A volunteer came and got me within five minutes and took me to the class.

I allowed the kids to ask questions as we went. This helped with time, because hands were constantly being raised. After I described looking for high school graduates in applications, one boy asked me if I get to fire people. He pointed his finger and mimicked Donald Trump. "Sometimes we have to do that", I told him.

In each of the three groups, a girl raised her hand and asked if women work at my job. "Of course! We need cashiers." I told her.

Ok, I didn't really tell her that.

Some questions were personal questions like who is my favorite football team and what are my kids' names. I decided to be honest with all my answers and didn't hold back anything. Some of the questions were work related. This was my favorite:
"Do you cuss at people?" a boy sitting in the back asked me.

Keep it honest, I thought to myself. "Yeah, I do sometimes. But I try really hard not to." I think I caught the teacher to my side put her head on her desk as I answered his question.

After I completed my work, they gave me a small gift for coming. I got a key chain, a school pen, a school calendar magnet, a nice candle in a jar, and a great thank you card. I gave the candle to Cari. She likes to smell those kind of things more than I do.

Friday, February 16, 2007

My Book

So I wrote a book. It's about forty pages. This is not the project I have mentioned a while back. This is a separate thing I have slowly been working on. The book took a long time to complete because I worked on it here and there an hour at a time.

I didn't make the book so I could sell a million copies of it. I guess I really made it for myself. Feel free to buy a copy if you want to. The book, On My Walk, is a collection of the hikes I went on this past year. If you have been reading the blog for the past year, then you won't be surprised by anything in the book.

Writing a book was fun, and as I was finishing it, I was getting ideas for another one.

The project I mentioned a while back, and again in the first paragraph, isn't really a secret. The reason I won't give out any details is because the project may change before I'm done and I don't want to promise something and then disappoint you.

So my first book is done. I'm going to bed.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Friday night, I'll tell you what I've been working on. Shhh...It's a secret until Friday.

Story coming tonight!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Don't read this. . .yet.

I got a new boss at work. The old one got transferred to a different location. He and I had become friends over the year we worked together. I really wanted to tell him about the blog. My problem was that nobody at work knows about the blog. That's a rule I have tried to keep over the years because I never wanted to worry about what I was writing. If I decide to write something about work, they won't know it. The other factor was that I don't need co-workers knowing this much about me.

So now, the boss is moving on. I sent him an e-mail telling him about the blog. Now that he was moving, what harm would it be if he read it? Also, we have become friends, and I don't mind sharing all my thoughts with him.

A few days after my e-mail, I was talking with him and he mentioned that he had read the blog. He said one of the first things he did was look through to the month that he started working with me last year. He was checking to see if I had written anything, at that time, about the "new boss". I had not.

There are maybe two others at work that I would be willing to tell the blog about, but I think I'll wait until we don't work together anymore.

The new boss? Should I write about him here to give him something to read in the future? Nope.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


This happened last night. Cari was a bit irritated. We were sitting on the couch, both of us tired. I handed her two business cards to a restaurant. The place is called Nanny's. They gave me the cards that were equal to two free meals. Cari said, "Where's it at?"
"In Easley.", I replied. She already knew that much. She asked, "Where?"
I proceeded to read the address straight off the card in her hand.

Oh. I'm pretty sure that wasn't the answer she was looking for. I knew almost as soon as I said it she wanted something else. Maybe she was wanting me to say, "It's across the street from the hospital.", or something descriptive like that. That's not what I gave her, and she wasn't happy about it.

After realizing my mistake I laughed for a few minutes. The laughing didn't go over too well either.

At that time, I realized it was time for bed. If I was asleep, I couldn't get in as much trouble.

Next I'll write a rare story about work and who may or may not read this blog.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Crazy Vet

Cari took the cat to the vet today. Here's a conversation she had with the crazy vet.

Vet: It's time we give her a rabbies vaccine.
Cari: No thanks. She never goes outside.
Vet: You never know when a bat is going to fly into your house and bite your cat.
Cari: (a bit shocked) Are you serious?
Vet: (he turned to a computer and started looking it up on the internet to show her proof).
Cari: No, no. I believe you. I just never heard of that.
Vet: Well, no house is bat proof.

Our cat didn't get the shot.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Got the Power

Cari and I went over to the power plant last week. It's only about a thirty minute drive away. The plant has a learning center building they call "World of Energy". We have always been interested about visiting here. We are hoping it will answer some of the questions we have. Things like, "Why does that fish have three eyes?" or "Is our neighbor that works there glowing?"

It really felt special to be pulling into the Oconee Nuclear Plant complex. I had never been this close to a nuclear reaction. During the tour, Duke Power makes a point to continuously tell you how safe everything is. Near the end of the tour they show you how much natural radiation is around you. I get more radiation by standing in a group of people than if I would go and lean up against the reactor building. That's right, all of you are just oozing with radiation. So if the facility is so safe, why do the workers have to dispose of mops, gloves, and other items in a special garbage can to be sealed away as nuclear waste?

This plant doesn't have one of the large, open ended cooling towers like you see in the Simpsons. After the steam is used to turn a turbine, it goes through a condenser changing the steam back to liquid. That hot water is pumped back into the lake where the large surface area helps cool the water quickly. After the tour, Cari and I went outside to get another look at the buildings. There was a picnic area on the shore of the lake there. We ran down and stuck our hands in the water. On this very cold day, that water was really warm. Warm enough to swim in.

Here's a picture taken inside the World of Energy building. I've added some text to explain some of the buildings.

Telling people at work that we visited resulted in an interesting discussion about how many people from that town have deformed hands. That's what they tell me. As we were talking I pictured that moment I stuck my hand in that warm lake. I'll keep you posted if anything happens.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Just money

I Just spent some more money last week. It's no problem. Just money. I'll go to work and get more.

I purchased a fancy flash unit for my camera. That meant Cari got chased around the house while she was getting ready to go out. She was a good sport about it, as she normally is. I probably took thirty pictures of her putting makeup on. Adjusting the flash a bit every shot. She told me after she got back from her errands that it was hard to drive without a constant bright flash of light in her face. That may have been sarcastic.