Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Congaree Campout - the VIDEO

Did you think the video was never going to get here?  Did you even remember that I recently backpacked in the Congaree National Park?

Well time has been extremely limited since I've returned from that trip and I didn't think you would appreciate the more than 15 minutes of raw footage.  So just for you, I've created the six minute version of our adventure:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

History Book

I found this book in my closet.  It's about ancient history.
 I also saw one of these things at work recently.
I must have stepped into a time machine.

Friday, March 25, 2011

For Japanese Consumers Only

I purchased a small Coleman cooler to keep in the car and inside I found this paper.

At the top it says, "For Japanese Consumers Only".

I looked inside a little more trying to find the paper that was for "American Consumers Only".  I wanted my own secret message.  What kind of thing would Coleman be trying to tell only to the Japanese?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Just when you thought I wouldn't blog today I sit down at the keyboard.

Do you remember a few weeks ago when I said I was going to take on yet another new job at work?  Well let me tell you that I won't be able to post anything about new jobs for a long time.  This is not a job I'm going to be giving up.

Other guys in the company that had no clue what I had even applied for are now jealous of what I'm doing.  That's why you have to ask the right questions and learn when to keep your mouth shut.

When I first heard about this job posting I asked only two questions.  1.  Who will this position report to.  2. What approximate pay level is this job?  After I got my answers I shut my mouth and applied for the job.  I didn't say a word to anyone but my wife and my boss until the job was mine.  I thought I was onto something good and I didn't want any additional competition for the job.

The job I've now done for three weeks is good.  It's really good.  Sure it's going to have its frustrating moments, but compared to what I've had for the past eight years, this is incredible.

So what have we learned?  Work hard every day, listen carefully, and know when to keep quiet.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring. . .Finally

Spring has arrived...

Crab apple
  Yellow thing

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Making Volleyball Better

So I've been watching some 10 and under girls volleyball lately and I've been thinking.

It's not the most intense sport I've ever watched.  Yes, we do get some good volleys once in a while and there are a few good serves.  But this isn't like watching basketball as guys bash into each other for a rebound.  This isn't like football where you encourage your child to rip the head off of another kid.   This is volleyball where there are two squads of girls, one on either side of the net.  Sometimes they smile at each other as they pass the ball back and forth.

I believe I've come up with the solution to volleyball.  What we need is contact among players.  I'm going to move two girls from each team to the other side of the court with their opponents.  They can shove and scream and even swat at the ball to get their team a point.  But they can't leave a 5x8 square painted in the middle of each side of the court.

I'm not saying it's the perfect solution.  But let's try it for a while and tweak on it.  It's time for

Volleyball X-treme!   aka:  Volleyball X

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Issaqueena Tripod

I received a gift of a new tripod from my Cari recently and I was trying to think of a good place to test it.  How about a dark tunnel?  I carried my shiny new tripod, camera, and sis-in-law out to Stumphouse Tunnel to try it out.  
I LOVE using this new tripod.  It is quick and easy to setup and it is SMOOTH to use.  I was so excited we went over to Issaqueena falls, climbed down to the bottom, and started taking more photos.  None of my shots seemed to feel very inspired this day, but it was fun.  We took plenty of breaks trying to climb out of the bottom of the falls and during one break, I snapped this shot of the falls.
Thanks for my new tripod Cari!  I love it!  I love you!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


This poor guy had a rough week leading up to his birthday.  First he had to have six teeth pulled out of his head. That was in preparation for the next appointment, braces.
He has really been brave through all of this.  I would have been freaking out and having a fit.  They would have had to sedate me a week in advance.  Not Randy.  He just went with it without a fuss.  Maybe it helped that his mom traded him his old Nintendo DS for a DSi that he has been wanting.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Boy!

It's that time again.  Time for Randy to have another birthday and advance his age closer and closer to "teen" status.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I came across this link today from one of my favorite places to find interesting things, the Dubious Quality blog.

This is a link to an audio slideshow.  Listen to this BBC photographer narrate some AMAZING photos from around the world.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Just a Number

I decided to hold my first conference call with my team yesterday.  I even invited my boss to the call.  About ten minutes prior to the start I was reviewing my notes.  I was ready.

I dialed the number and entered my pass code.  Pass code invalid.

I did it again.

Pass code invalid.

I had sent the same pass code to everyone that was to be a part of the call.  Everyone except my boss, who had the right number.  He was sitting on the call alone.  I was now late.

I franticly searched my notes for the place I had originally wrote the number.  It was the same as what I was now dialing.  I changed one number and it worked.  Some of my coworkers jumped on a phone and started calling around to get the right number out to everyone.

Meanwhile, my boss was on the call with me and told me he had to get going.  He said he had other appointments.   We were about ten minutes late starting and still didn't have everyone.  I was just staring at the silent phone when my boss said some introductory words.  He didn't sound upset, but I was freaking out.

I looked at the people in the room with me.  This is not how this was supposed to go.

The good news is that we will use the same number for the next call I host and now we all have the right number.   I'm glad you can only have one first conference call.   

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

No Need for a Menu

It was at the end of my work day.  I was tired.  I was hungry.  I had a two hour drive home ahead of me so I stopped at Subway for a sandwich.

I went in and ordered a sandwich off of their menu.

That's when it started.  The endless questioning.  Whole or half? What type of bread did I want?  What type of cheese did I want?  Vegetables?  Dressing or mayonnaise?

Seriously?  I'm tired.  Just make me the sandwich you have on your menu.   By the time we get through all these questions you might as well let me behind the counter to make my own damn sandwich.  In fact, why do you even need a menu up there?  If I order a Turkey and Swiss sandwich I don't need to play twenty questions with you.  Just make it the way you make it and let me go.  With all these questions there is no need for a menu.  Just start at one end of the counter and start adding stuff as you go down.  All sandwiches are one price. None of them have a name because it doesn't matter.  The menu will say, "Custom Sub" available in 6" or 12".

Next time I'm tired and not in the mood for making any more decisions, I won't be choosing Subway for dinner. It's too much like work.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Camping on the Congaree

When you camp in February you risk camping in very cold weather.  To combat this, we planned our trip farther South than we normally venture.  We were heading into the Congaree National Park.  Going at this time of year served another purpose.  Camping in the swamp before all of the snakes, spiders, and mosquitoes come to life is critical.  

We checked the Park's website and verified the water level in the multiple creeks and in the Congaree river.  The park floods multiple times per year and water can cover 80% of the land.  At the time we took our trip the water was very low and the park was easy to navigate.

We headed out of the overnight parking area and onto the lower boardwalk.  Cypress trees and their "knees" were everywhere.

We left the boardwalk trail where the Oakridge Trail starts and followed it.  We had lunch just before we split off to the River Trail.  We sat on a bridge and dangled our feet over the water.  The water passing under the bridge didn't look very appealing.  It was moving slow and was very muddy.

When we had registered to camp at the visitor center we met a troop of Scouts that were also planning on camping along the river that night.  We were hoping to beat them to the river, but if they beat us we had a plan. We would lure them away from their camp with promises of Snipe hunting.  When they would leave on their hunt we would dump their tents and gear in the river, leaving us with a prime water front camp.
 We set up camp early in the afternoon. The earliest we have ever set camp.  We were located on the river bank along a stretch of sandbar.  The scouts. . . they were our neighbors.  I'm pretty sure one of the boys was carrying a Hello Kitty backpack. . .but that's not important.  We were relaxing on the Congaree river.
So there we were camping on the peaceful Congaree river on a beautiful February afternoon.  We were lounging on the dirt floor listening to the Boy Scouts sing Justin Beiber while Randy was carving a stabbing stick.  Yep, a stabbing stick. He sharpened up a stick to a fine point so that when the wild pigs started moving in on our camp late at night, he could stick his arm out of the tent and stab them all dead.  (See illustration below)

No camp fires are allowed while back country camping in the National Park, so we went to bed early.  The next morning we broke camp and headed back along the River trail.  At the end of the River Trail, we took a right turn and hiked several miles of the Oakridge Trail.  There are some really large trees along this trail and the largest downed tree I have ever seen is on the Oakridge Trail.
We caught up to the Weston Lake Loop Trail and took it back to the elevated boardwalk.  Some of the areas along Weston Lake were dry, but you could see the mud and water lines from previous floods.  Looks like a great place for snakes to live.

We finished our weekend with a great tradition of trying to find lunch in an unfamiliar city.  After chasing each other around the city of Columbia for a while and letting the GPS lead us on wild goose chases, we finally found some pizza.
I really enjoyed hiking and exploring in Congaree.  The level terrain made hiking easy and we didn't try to kill ourselves on the miles.  There were lots of interesting things to see at Congaree and I would gladly return. . . but not during the summer months.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

I'm Clean. . . sure.

I sat down to get some hiking blog typed up and put together, but then I got distracted by the internet.  Specifically, I got distracted by Charlie Sheen.  This guy says he's clean.  I'm not so sure.  See what you think. . .

Maybe we can talk about some camping next time.