Sunday, December 30, 2012


I think it started accidentally. The five year old was just practicing writing her letters when her older brother recognized a word on the page.  The uncontrollable laughter by her siblings encouraged her to continue to write the one word she now knows how to write.


It was funny at first.  She would make you a card and across the top write her word.  Once the newness wore off a little we started to discourage it and told her it wasn't appropriate.   Apparently, we didn't make ourselves fully clear to the five year old.  This morning at Sunday school, as they created a Christmas thank you card for the church, it was my daughter who wrote BOOB across the top.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Double Winner

Cari and I stare each other down round after round of 7 Wonders.  Meanwhile our daughter sits in between us quietly racking up points.  This is the second time in a row that she walks away from the table with the family game trophy after a game of 7 Wonders.  
The funniest thing about this latest win is that Cari (finished 3rd) was giving her strategy advice half way through the game.  Our daughter shrugged off the advice and said she had a plan.

After winning the last two games maybe Cari and I should be taking strategy advice from her.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Where's Chip?

Where's Waldo Chip?

What happens when a guy picks up a cool shirt at a cool cost?  Fun.
Can you believe he picked that shirt up for under $4?  I have seen the receipt! This is an experienced shopper.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Photo

This year our photo session went fairly smooth.  We all looked at the camera, there was no crying, and we pretty much had five smiles.

After I loaded the photos onto the computer I realized I had totally missed the focus point and most of the photos were blurry.

The second session wasn't as good, but was still quick and easy.  I think that's a first for us.

 Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Johns Rock Hike

After a relaxing morning at camp we decided to clean up and take a hike in the Pisgah National Forest.  Chip had the map out and started plotting a hike that wouldn't cross too many contour lines. I felt like the view at the top would be better at requested a hike to the top of John's Rock, a hike that Chip agreed to.  
The trail to the top started at the Cat Gap Loop trail.  There were several creek crossings along the Cat Gap trail, but no sign of any cats (or Beagles).  

We cut off of the Cat Gap Trail where it intersected with the trail to the top of John's Rock.  There are a lot less switch backs on this trail compared to the Looking Glass trail.  We felt pushed for time and moved straight up the hill without many breaks.  We were well rewarded at the top with great views into the mountains.
We also had a great look back at Looking Glass Rock where we had stood the day before.
Just beyond the overlook, I posed for a photo at the summit of John's Rock and then started our way back down.
On the way down we had the option of the 2nd half of the Cat Gap Loop trail or the Cat Gap By-Pass.  After pushing hard to reach the top in record time we both opted for the By-Pass route.

Before we hit the parking lot we spotted a few unique things.  My favorite was this guy in an orange hunting outfit.  He was sitting in a tree stand with a rifle in his lap.  Look to the left of the tree trunk, the one that says "NO HUNTING", and you will see his orange jacket.
Maybe he wasn't hunting.  Or maybe the he felt like the tree itself was the safety zone.   Another sign was posted behind a fence that appeared near the end of the trail.  It says "Research Area Stay on Trail".
 Shortly after the hunter and research areas we found ourselves back in the parking lot.  Just in time to drive back to camp and start some campfire meat loaf.  It was a well earned dinner after crossing over all those contour lines on the map.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Camping in Pisgah

Chip and I camped in Pisgah National Forest just over a week ago, staying at the Davidson campground.

This was my first stay in this campground and on Friday morning we found ourselves to be the only campers in the loop besides the "camp staff" staying in a trailer around the loop from us.   Being the only campers didn't immune us from the rules of Davidson Campground, as we would find out.

Our first mistake was choosing a really nice camp site... since we were the only ones there, we chose the best, and it happened to be a double site.  We called our site 56 "A".  
Sometime after the sun went down and two hours into building our fire the "camp staff" pulled up in his truck and walked over to our picnic table. He asked, "Did you realize you are in a double site?"  Chip and I looked at each other and kind of ignored his question.  Staff held in his hand the envelope that we left in the box earlier in the day.  He pulled our money out of it and studied it for a second.  Then he asked if we intended to stay two nights. We confirmed it.  "Well, I only have enough money for you to stay one night in this spot.  It's a double site and requires double the money per night."  I looked around at the empty sites as he continued to explain the rules.  "If you guys want to stay two nights for this amount of money you'll need to choose another site."

He didn't give us the impression that this was up for discussion and we agreed to move.  Once Mr. Staff left we continued cooking our dinner and thinking about our next move while we grumbled about the rule.  

We had worked really hard to get our fire going and now we would have to move it across the road to another site.  After dinner we sat at the fire thinking of ways to move it with limited supplies.  Finally we came up with a plan.  We used two long branches parallel to each other and laid the burning logs across them.  We carried the burning wood as if it was a stretcher and successfully moved our fire!
The next day we took our time making up a great breakfast and hanging around the fire on a cool morning.  Once it warmed up we decided to tackle another hike.  I'll write about our hike up Johns Rock in a post later this week.  The story I want to tell you now is what happened once we returned from our hike.  We pulled up and I noticed an empty plastic bread bag near some trees adjacent to our site.  I walked over to pick it up and noticed it was a hot-dog package.  I had left these in a laundry basket at the table. 
A flock of crows were in the branches overhead and each had a beak full of bread.  Also missing from my laundry basket was nearly a dozen oatmeal cookies.  It wasn't the end of the world considering the amount of food we had with us but I was irritated that the birds sat high in the trees mocking me.

Not long after our return to camp Mr. Camp Staff returned to our site in his truck.  I could barely contain myself from rolling my eyes at his presence.  He said, "You boys should learn to put your food away.  The crows had a huge party over here today."  He started laughing as he recalled the visions of that party.  Why he did nothing to save our food I do not know, but whatever.  We acknowledged our mistake and he left us with another hearty laugh.  I started to think about our food and how it was packaged.   This lead me to the conclusion that Staff Man ate my oatmeal cookies and helped the birds to our bread.

That night at the fire, Chip and I discussed all the funny things we would laugh at as it related to the Camp Staff guy.  "Wouldn't it be too bad if his camper burned tonight?"  Oh, we would tell him (with a laugh), "Oh, you should have seen that sucker burn.  Got to be careful around propane ya know."

"Wouldn't it be too bad if someone left a #2 on the hood of his truck?"
"Wouldn't it be too bad if someone choked his truck tire?"
In our laughing fits we noticed Staff Guy come out of his trailer with his small dog and walk to the backside of the truck.  This was not his usual pattern with that stupid dog.  Could he hear us?  Maybe.

We didn't let a little missing food slow us down.  That second night, Chip put together a great meal of camp meatloaf.

The result = DELICIOUS.  This was probably the best we, at least I, have eaten on a camping trip.

Sunday morning we pack up camp and headed home.  I drove through the mountains back to South Carolina under cover of dense fog.
What wasn't foggy was my head.  After two great hikes, many great laughs, and some much needed time in the mountains with a friend, my head was clear and I was feeling great.  Just remind me not to camp in Davidson Campground again.  They have a lot of rules.  And rules need to be followed.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Need More Cake

One candle for each year.

 I think I'm going to need a bigger cake next year.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Looking Glass Rock

This was the first hike of my camping get-away last weekend with my good friend, and camping partner, Chip.
After setting up camp in the Pisgah Forest we headed over to the trail head of the Looking Glass Rock trail and started our way up the mountain on a beautiful December Friday.  As it would turn out, we would be the only people on the trail that day.  

Looking Glass has been on my list of must-do hikes since my first trip into Pisgah so I was really excited to get a view from the top.
Here's Chip taking in the view.

 There were many great scenes along the trail including this rock stairway.

 If one of us became hurt, there is always the option of flying a helicopter into this area to rescue us.  What about pizza?  Is pizza an emergency?
 Old time graffiti.
Getting to the top of Looking Glass Rock didn't disappoint at all and it was a great way to kick off our weekend of camping in Pisgah.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Welfare System

This picture is all about our welfare system.  We learned about it on our hike last weekend.

As one tree starts to fall, it leans on another.  For the rest of the standing tree's life it will support the leaner.  Until at some point the standing tree won't be able to support the both of them anymore and they will both land on the forest floor.  Dead.

And then snakes will make homes in the rotting corpses of both trees.

The snake part isn't really about welfare.  It's more about hiking and watching your step around rotting trees.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Oddly Specific

The Salvation Army puts together an Angel Tree where tags for children in need are hung.  You can go to one of these trees, select a tag, and then purchase a gift for this child.  After you make your purchase, just take the wrapped gift back to the location where the tree is so the present can be delivered.

On each tag the child has listed one or two items from their wish list.  You don't have to buy the item listed, but at least you know what the child wants.

As I looked over one of these Angel Trees I noticed this tag.

Only one item on the wish list and it seemed oddly specific to me.  Does she already own the rest of the doll?

Saturday, December 08, 2012


One of the topics I've recently heard about at work is how managers talk to and treat their employees.  We must explain the why of our requests.  We (managers) must be there to serve our employees and support them.

Ok, I understand all this,but at some point don't the employees just need to do what they are told no matter how big of a jerk the manager is?  It was pointed out to me that in the 1950's this new attitude would have been laughed away.

In the 1950's the employees did what they were told, when they were told, or they would be looking for a job.  It doesn't matter why I asked you to move those boxes, just do it.

I'm not saying the old way is the best way to do things, but I'm afraid we might be headed too far in the opposite direction.  The Generation Y group seems to me to have a sense of entitlement.  They also seem to be a pain in the butt.  They need more pampering and attention.  I need work to get done.

I'm sure these kind of complaints come around every generation as politics and culture adjusts to the new group.  Then again, maybe it's not the entitled Generation Y, maybe I'm just transforming into a grumpy old man.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Perfect Show

I started a new habit over the past few months.  On Friday and Saturday nights I stay up WAY too late scrolling through the free HBO channels that DirecTV is giving us to stay with them.

One result in this late night movie watching is my discovery of the Game of Thrones series.  I've heard of it, but had never watched an episode before.  I understood that there were a lot of characters and that it could be hard to follow.

The medieval scenes caught my attention as I scrolled channels and I watched an episode.  I had no clue what was happening but it was still interesting.

The following week I caught two more episodes and started to understand what was happening (until some girl showed up with baby dragons).

After watching my fourth and fifth episodes I determined The Game of Thrones to be the perfect show on television.  It has all the elements that are required for that title.

  • - Interesting setting.  The medieval setting scores points here.
  • - sex / nudity.  Sex sells.  Right?  I think there is nudity in every episode of GoT.  
  • - violence.  It's the medieval setting.  Sword fights and battles galore. 
  • - complex story line.  There's a lot going on and after a few episodes you'll start to see the complexity of the characters.  

The next season of Game of Thrones will start in March.  That's around the same time that I'll be cancelling DirecTV.

Maybe by then you'll be able to buy a HBO subscription directly through HBO and watch their programming on line.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Bet

I made a bet.  At the time I was confident that I would win.  If I hadn't been confident, I wouldn't have made the bet.  Now, I admit that winning was going to take some effort on my part that I wasn't sure I would give. Accepting the risk, I made the bet.

I had to find one of those displays of key chains or plastic cups with her name on it.  She said those displays never have her name.  Never.  I was surprised by her claim and certain that she was wrong.  It's not an odd name by any stretch and I know I've seen it.  She said I didn't have to purchase the item if I found it, only to take a photo of it.

Deadline.  Thanksgiving.  On the line was a home cooked breakfast.  Cooked by the loser to the request of the winner. 

As suspected, I never made the effort to go to the mall and search one of the displays.  I thought about the bet a few times over the three weeks I had to locate her name, but never entered a store that might have one.

Thanksgiving evening she came up to me and said, "I'll have waffles".   My girl won a bet against me and it was time for me to honor my end of the deal.

This past weekend I got out of bed a little earlier than I would have liked and started to gather up the ingredients.
 I don't cook very often, so when I do, I follow the recipe exactly as it's printed.  I can't risk it.
After I poured my first scoops of batter onto the waffle maker and closed the lid I realized I left a step out.  One that was printed clearly in the instructions.  I couldn't believe I missed a step.  I didn't do anything to oil or grease up the waffle maker before pouring the batter on.
My first step was to open it and see if it stuck like a huge mess.  My second step was to look in the bowl and see how much I would have been able to make if the first round failed.  Thankfully, after cooking, they came right out without any sticking!

Here is the winner of the bet during her requested breakfast.
Thankfully, I was able to produce more than one delicious waffle, which meant that more people could share in the victory.
Including me.