Thursday, December 31, 2009

BBQ Chicken!

All day long Cari was promising us BBQ Chicken sandwiches for dinner.  She bragged on it so much that the smell was already getting into my head.  I could almost taste it.  Amanda was getting excited about it as well and we discussed eating our sandwiches.

So imagine my surprise when I walked into the kitchen. . .

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Get OUT!

Well, I dumped my sister-in-law off at the airport yesterday.  After some hugging, we left Amanda at the airport to fend for herself and the rest of us went shopping.

It was during that shopping trip that Cari's cell phone rang.  I heard part of the conversation.
"Uh, huh."
"Did they charge you for that?"

Then she hung up.  Cari looked at me and said we were heading back to the airport.  Due to some weather in Michigan on Monday the flight was cancelled.  I did as I was told and retrieved my sister-in-law from the airport.

It's a good thing for her that we enjoy having her.

Having said that, we'll try and dump her off again on Wednesday.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Return to Virginia Hawkins

Here's a short video of our hike to see Virginia Hawkins Falls.  This is the same place that Cari and I had hiked back on December 15.  We liked the hike so much we decided to take the kids and Amanda to see it.  We offered the kids some hiking poles to help keep them entertained on the hike and this trail also offers some entertainment in the form of several small streams to cross.  This was a success because I don't remember hearing any complaining as we made our way to the falls.  In fact, we were singing Christmas carols on the way.

The last shot of the video is my shoes in the middle of the creek.  I had taken them off to get some photos from the opposite bank.  The water was absolutely freezing.  I tried to stand in the middle of the creek for a photograph, but my feet started to hurt it was so cold, so I kept moving.

Oh, and by the way, there was no singing on the way back to the car.  Everyone started to get a bit tired and yeah, there was a minor amount of complaining on the way out.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's Cold in Here

It was REALLY cold this past Friday.
I guess that's why my car decided to stop spitting out hot air.

In fact, it chose to only give me super cold air.  It was taking the cold wet air of the outside, chilling it about ten degrees cooler and then shoving it at my face.  As I drove home in my new ice box, I fiddled with the controls that control the air.  I pushed them down to cold and back to hot, hoping to reset something inside the heater.  I turned the dial from fresh air to recirculate a few times hoping that one would be warmer than the other.  Nothing changed the status of the air inside the car.

As cars passed me driving the other direction, I noticed how warm and cozy the drivers appeared to be in their cars.  I dreamed of being that warm.  Then I imagined how they were seeing me?  Would they notice the blanket wrapped around my chest and the clouds of cold air that was my breath?  Would they see my thick winter gloves?

For every minute that passed during the next thirty minutes, I became colder.  At one point I thought, "I can't get colder than this." and then a few minutes later, I proved myself wrong.

When I arrived home I complained to the whole family about my car and how it tortured me horribly during my drive.  I got some sympathy and also some laughter in return of my story.

This weekend Cari took my car to the grocery store two miles from the house.  When she came home, she bragged how hot the air got.  She said she even had to turn the temperature sliders down half way.  She laughed and said I should be nicer to the car.

Seriously? It's a car!  If I want (need) hot air, then I expect it.  It's not about being "nice".

Just in case I'm not being quite nice enough, I've decided to either keep all my blankets and gloves with me in the car or just keep Cari in the car on cold days.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Computers are Evil

My newest computer, the Motorola Droid gave me fits last week.  Cari and I went hiking and when I got home I prepared to upload a few videos to Youtube.  But the Droid started coughing as I asked it to show me the video.

Suddenly, there was nothing left on the memory card.  A months worth of video and photos was gone.  I started on a mission to recover those files from the SD card with some software I found online.  Most of that software I learned was only free to the point of finding my files.  To actually have and to hold my files again would cost me around $40.  I hunted down and started using some freeware.  With the freeware, scanning a sixteen gig SD card took almost twenty hours.

A day without my phone. . . that's a blog for another day.  I survived it, barely.

At the end of a long day, I was unable to recover the videos I wanted most from my phone,  but I did get more than 90% of my photos recovered.  I wanted one more try at getting my videos back before I moved on.  I started by looking around on some sketchy sites for some more software.  During that time, Cari got an email from a friend on Facebook that turned out to have been sent by a virus.  The computer started acting a bit weird, and every Google search result I clicked on became an ad.  Now I was starting a new battle.  The phone was nearly complete, but not back in my hands yet, the computer software was slow and awkward, and now I was trying to remove a stupid virus.  The computer had turned evil.  Did the virus come from a foul piece of software I found or from Cari's friend?  It didn't matter.  The computer chuckled at my every move to try and fix it.

I just about had the virus killed when the computer showed some control in this war and shoved a blue screen of death at my face.  I restarted the computer and Windows Vista would not load.  Things were getting worse.  A few more restarts and I realized that safe mode was useless.  I used the Windows disc to try and recover with no success.  In all of my efforts, I even played around in the Bios trying to coax something to load, the only thing that I could get was a blue screen describing a crash dump.  Yeah, "dump" is the key word.  My computer was taking a dump on me.  A re-install of Windows Vista seemed to be the only solution and it was asking for me to format the hard disc.

That meant losing everything on the drive!  I felt sick to my stomach.  First of all, all the photos I had just spent twenty four hours recovering from the phone were about to be deleted again.  My technology world was collapsing around me.

Cari heard my weeping and came into the office to find me sitting on the floor next to my chair.  Skipping past the parts of me crying and holding my computer through the night, the next part of this story is coming home from Best Buy with a new computer.

Before the new computer could be powered on I took a few minutes to pillage my crashed computer for parts.  I took my video card and power supply from that computer and injected them into the new computer.

The parts that came out of the new computer went into the old one and made a very nice family computer for the kids to use.

Three quick notes:
1. I was able to recover the data from the hard drive of my computer with just a few exceptions.
2. The above photo was a step not described here, which was pillaging an even older computer to finalize the family computer and putting the oldest one to the computer grave yard forever.
3. The Droid is working great again.  Turns out an evil programmer over at Slacker Radio caused the memory card to get deleted and it has since been fixed (probably).

It turns out that not all computers are evil.   Just my old computer.  It was running on Vista, so I am going to go ahead and narrow down the evilness to Vista.  Exorcism complete.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Be Careful Hiking!

You have to be careful when you are hiking.  There are so many hazards looking to get you.  On top of those hazards, if you don't prepare you could make things much worse on yourself.  I always try to minimize the risks when I am on the trail.

Sometimes I seem to take the hazard with me.  Sometimes it's just more fun that way.

You would think he would have seen that GIANT root hanging out above the trail.  You would also think he wouldn't stick his ankle in there.  You would think!

Then again, who would have thought I would have ended up down here, off the trail on my back. . .

. . . but I did. Last words while squished in between tree roots, "I think something is crawling on my butt!"

Not long after I climbed out and checked myself for bugs and critters we caught a panoramic view of the valley below.

When we left the house, there was dense fog, but as we drove to the top of the mountain for the trail head, we found ourselves, high above the clouds.  There were a few areas that offered amazing views like I have never seen before.  It was like being in an airplane.  Dense clouds below us as far as the eye could see.  In some area, mountains poked out above the clouds.  There were ripples throughout the horizon.  It was like looking at an ocean, but this ocean didn't move.  Above our heads was a thin layer of clouds blocking the sun.  We were in this band of clear air and we just stood and watched it for a while.

The view seemed to sober up our crazy antics on the trail but just long enough until we got back to the car!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Yesterday was my birthday and I decided to document the occasion with my camera.  For every birthday the kids have, I take a photo of them holding up the number of fingers of their age.  Now that Randy is ten, I may come up with a new plan for next year.  But for me, I decided I didn't have enough fingers and I'd do better with a few pieces of paper.

After a slight freak out, I realized I had the papers backwards.... whew.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Virginia Hawkins!

On Monday, Cari and I (and baby), were able to get back out on a hike.  This time we headed up to the mountains in search of adventure.

After taking my car on a single lane gravel road for a few miles, we found the parking area next to a partially collapsed ridge.  The adventure had begun!

Other than hiking on an old road bed, we found that the trail wasn't marked very well, and we referred back to our paper notes frequently for the first half mile.  At one point, we backtracked a bit, and then decided we were right to start with, so we traveled that bit again.

Some of the adventures that we came across included:
Jumping three small creeks, bathroom breaks in the woods, losing a baby mitten, and getting chased by a bear.

Alright, one of those may not be exactly true.  But this hike was still a great adventure.

The mile trail stayed near the water much of the time and was a gorgeous hike.  Before long, we arrived at the Virginia Hawkins waterfall and it is an amazing site.

It has been raining a lot here lately, giving the creek plenty of water to dump off the rocky cliff.  I scrambled down a hill to get some photos while Cari stayed back a bit and fed the baby some snacks.

The way back up felt much harder.  Turns out we were headed downhill most of the way to the falls.  During my hike back up the hill, Brenna fell asleep strapped to my back and she slouched over to the side.  She suddenly felt much heavier.

It was really great to get out and get a good hike with my love.

On top of all the adventure we found today,  I think I found a great location for some future backpacking adventures.  Anyone up for a drive to South Carolina?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Test Number One

I'm trying to figure out the best way to get my blog posted onto Facebook.  There are a lot of options of importing RSS feeds into Facebook and I'm not sure which one will give me the look I want.

Hope this works!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Goodbye Yankee!

I mean this in the nicest way possible. . . really.  I do.


Their house goes up for sale next month!

Gosh I really won't miss them not waving at me.  I really won't miss their kids stomping through the garden on the way to the bus in the morning.  I really won't miss waiting for them to cut that waist deep yard of theirs either.

When the sign goes up, I'll be watching closely at the prospective buyers.   Oh yeah, and I'll also be piling all my trash in that back yard.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Christmas photos - 2009

This past weekend we took our family Christmas photo to put in the Christmas cards.  It took two sessions to try and get the shot, for a total of over one hundred photos.  Certainly, we could get at least one shot with all five people looking at the camera, halfway smiling, and not crying.

After I recover in a few weeks, I'll show you what I captured.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Resting at the Dam

A trip out to the Hartwell dam provided me with an opportunity to snap some photos recently.  The lake is much fuller these days thanks to the tons of rain we have been having and also due to some repairs taking place farther down the Savannah river.  Some repairs are needed at a dam downstream, so the Army Corps of Engineers is holding water in lake Hartwell to allow the other lake levels to drop.

This situation made the lake a beautiful sight, but on the other side of the dam, the river looked pretty pitiful.

When I look out over this lake, I am amazed how man has created and engineered something on such a grand scale.  It's as simple as some planning and building a large wall across the river, but taking control of nature in this way seems much more powerful.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


It's been about a year since our last trip to the flea market.  With Christmas coming up so quick we thought we should head over and see what treasures were on offer.

None of the expired foods and medicines appealed to us, but we did notice a few people that seemed to be doing their grocery shopping for the week at those tables.  Cari didn't have much interest in the dozen tables selling various models of weaponry although those seemed to be among the most popular.

As we walked through the market on that cold morning I spent some time observing the people around me.  I spoke to a few of the sellers and got the feeling that they share the same story over and over, week after week, and that they enjoy telling that story.

Some of the sellers seemed to be motivated at selling and they tried to get my attention as I walked by.  Others just sat back in a chair and watched people mull over their table.  One specific lady sticks in my mind.  She was the one we were trading with to get some wool socks.  She had the socks priced and on her table.  When Cari started asking questions about the socks, the lady got up from her lawn chair and started her pitch.  "Oh, I have priced these too low.  I was just getting ready to mark them up, but I'll sell to you if you buy right now."


We had walked past a few other tables with wool socks but didn't bother talking to anyone.  The prices seemed to fluctuate a few dollars from table to table on the same sock.  I tried to remember the first sock table across the muddy field.  Did he have three packs or two packs for this price?  Was he going to jack his prices in the next five minutes as well?

As I continued the math in my head, Cari made her purchase.  We both now own wool socks.  

It was a cold and rainy morning.  Look close, and you may see the rain drops in the mud puddles in the photo.  If it wasn't so cold I would have revisited that sock table a bit later in the morning to see if she was pulling the same pricing scheme on other potential buyers.

I looked at some binoculars being sold by a guy with a lot of guns and I stood over a table full of old hand tools for a few minutes before heading out.  While I was occupied at the tool table, Cari was across the shed talking to a guy selling jam.  She came away from that table with some Strawberry Rhubarb jam.  When she held it up to me with pride I realized that there are treasures for everyone at the flea market.  But I had to ask,
"Did he just make that in the back of his van?"

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Lighted for Christmas

All my neighbors got theirs done the week before Thanksgiving.  Well, all except the one with crazy teens crawling on their roof.   Thanksgiving day I got out the extension ladder and hung the lights above the porch while Cari and the kids did the low stuff.  

I went out and took a few shots the other night with an almost full moon.  I believe the shots were about a 5 second exposure.  The top shot has the moon and a few stars in it that I thought came out pretty well.  This bottom shot is more straight on to the house, but shows a bit more of the lights. 

Before taking the photos, I ran around the house turning off the lights.  Of course, as soon as I get out there, someone pops on a light upstairs.  After taking photos, I went in and climbed the stairs.  The light was still on up there, but nobody was in the room.  Can you believe that?