Friday, December 18, 2015


I always post birthday pictures with some symbol of the age being celebrated.  I didn't do this for my own birthday this year... I could give some excuses on why I didn't do it, but I guess it just comes down to being tired.  I'm old and needed a nap.

Here is a photo taken just a few days before my birthday, so this is essentially what 40 looks like.

Thank you to everyone that posted on Facebook and sent cards wishing me a happy birthday this week.  It was a great day.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Chair of DOOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Over the weekend I decided to finally get rid of the old office chair sitting around.  The youngest and I went out to the driveway with some tools and started dissembling it.

It didn't take long to make this chore into something more fun.  What kind of seats could we make more comfortable with this old chair back?

As we were playing around we realized the chair is on wheels and our driveway is a hill.  It was time to create the. . .

Chair of DOOM!

"Dad, is this safe?", she asked.  I gave her the handles to hold onto.

Next up. . . more victims riders.
If I'm being honest, we were a little nervous about riding down and into the road at this point.  So we were doing short rides and crashing into the grass. But that didn't last long. . .

It's so safe we even convinced a nurse to try it.  Notice she opted for the extra safety of the handles.
Who knew an old chair destined for the trash would be so much fun?  I'm thinking this weekend we all go out with our office chairs and RACE down the hill at the top of the street.  

Trying not to smile in this one....

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Be Still and know that I am God

With mild fall weather the past week I spent several of my lunch hours looking for a quiet place to walk.

My first adventure took me to a nearby cemetery where I walked the paths.  It was quiet around the cemetery and most of the time I was the only one out there.   At one point I approached an area where I could hear the quiet music of some wind chimes.
This was a very peaceful walk and cemeteries are always an opportunity for an interesting story.

Among the graves was this one unique grave stone with the olympic rings etched into the corner.
After a brief search online I found a wikipedia page for this famous fencing athlete.  Norman Armitage competed in the olympics during six olympic games.

Another lunch hour adventure last week took me to the campus of Furman University.

Walking around the lake and listening to the bell tower chime made for a relaxing lunch hour.

I found a sign that pointed back into the woods toward a prayer garden.  On my way out from the prayer garden I noticed a small platform built in the woods, off the trail.  There were two chairs on the deck and a fairly large sign.
I REALLY wanted to know what was written on that sign.  I began walking into the woods and found myself at the edge of a muddy area.  Without getting very muddy or digging my way through thick brush I was not going to discover the words on this sign.

I stood at the edge of the mud for a few minutes.  I had to get back to work and I was not dressed for this adventure.  I had to turn back without getting to the sign.  BUT I will go back sometime in the future.

Taking some time to discover these quiet spaces makes for some of the most peaceful lunch hours.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Carolina Panthers are Awesome

The final highlight of our recent trip was a trip into Charlotte to see a NFL game between the Panthers and the Packers.  This was our first time to the stadium and we were not disappointed.

Before you even get into the place the atmosphere tells you this will be fun.  In every parking lot - tailgating.  Fans for both teams wearing colors, jerseys, and cheese on their head (not panther fans).  Fans on both sides sharing some friendly taunting about who will win (and who has cheese on their head).    A drum line outside of the stadium. . .

We found our seats before going exploring and people watching.  We were near the endzone - which I initially wasn't sure would provide a good view of the game, but turned out it was an amazing view of the game.

The stadium has a capacity of over 70,000 and they said it was a sold out event.  That's a lot of football fans in one place.

A few things I want to mention about attending a game.

1.  It's loud.  I've been to several NASCAR races and, I'm telling you, the noise in that stadium when        Cam Newton threw a touchdown pass is louder than 43 cars in a pack at Daytona.
2.  I didn't realize how much the players communicate and give direction before a play.
3.  It was fun watching the players interact and play to the crowd after a big play.
4.  Oh man!  It's loud.  The sound is part of what made it so fun.
5.  It's pretty rare to use your seat.  You stand up and cheer the entire game.
6.  Charlotte knows how to move traffic for events.  I have been to NASCAR, NBA, and now NFL          events in Charlotte and have never once had a problem parking or leaving an event.

Here is a collection of photos and short videos I took during the game:

Carolina won the game last Sunday and remain undefeated this season.  We had an amazing time at the game.  This wasn't part of our original trip but at the last minute we were gifted these tickets from a great friend.  This made for an awesome finish to our trip.

Monday, November 09, 2015

The Getaway

Cari planned an amazing getaway for us this past weekend.  By planning she planned a specific long weekend for us to get out of town just the two of us.  The specifics were a little light but we are learning that sometimes those trips turn out the best.

We headed up to Asheville on the only day of our trip when rain wasn't expected so we took the opportunity to walk around town with the hippies and check out some yarn stores.
We can also tell you that the best stores were found along Walnut St. Always look for Walnut St on your adventures!

We woke up Saturday to some light rain that came and went with the hour.  We decided to head up to the Blue Ridge Pkwy and see what views were available.

There was some sort of mountain marathon happening this day and traffic was picking up at one of the trail heads.  We went further down the pkwy and did a short hike on a beautiful morning.
 Watch where you step or you may find yourself scraping your shoes on the curb. . .

On the way back toward town we chased the elusive visitor center but never went far enough to find it so we hit the Asheville Outlets.   We found the Outlets pretty un-inspiring and looked for another opportunity to be outdoors.  A ten minute drive down the road lead us to the NC Arboretum.

We had visited once before but on this trip we took more time walking the nature trail in the light rain.

My fitbit went over 10,000 steps on Saturday.

Sunday morning we were headed to Charlotte to watch the undefeated Panthers take on the Greenbay Packers.  This was another part of our trip that was initially unplanned.  Just a few days before we were leaving I was telling a friend that we were going to be going away for the weekend.  He told me he had two tickets to the Panther game that he couldn't use.  He gifted those tickets to us and helped plan the last part of our trip.

That portion of our getaway deserves a blog of its own. . .

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Not too late. . .we did Halloween!

At the last minute we made some time in our schedule to stop and carve out some pumpkins on Halloween day.  It was pretty close if we were going to make it or not this year.

We turned on some music and headed outside into the sunshine.

Instead of trick or treeting door to door we headed down to the old football stadium in town where churches, businesses, and groups set up tables around the track.  We participated in giving out candy at our church's table and the kids had fun running around finding their classmates.

The city estimated that about 1,700 people attended last night.  That's a lot of candy!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Internet is Good?

There are so many stories of the internet being a horrible scary place.  And it is!  But here is a story that shows the internet does know how to do good things as well.

There is a young boy that makes YouTube videos about dinosaurs.  He uses a diorama and posts short videos.  He had something like 20 subscribers and someone on Reddit posted about this kid making cool videos.   That post on Reddit took off, found its way to the front page and today the kid has over 70,000 subscribers to his videos.  The comments are overwhelmingly positive and encouraging him to keep doing what he loves.

Here is a video he made yesterday as his subscribers started to climb:
The next part is that another user of Reddit identified another young kid that was an original subscriber to the first dino-kid.  The internet has now started encouraging and showing some love to this kid.  Here's a video of that kid congratulating his friend on his success:

Like most everything on the internet, this love and attention will be short lived, but it's cool to see these boys getting some positive attention and affirmation for doing what they love - making videos about dinosaurs.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Eye on the Prize

I was invited to join an adventure yesterday and, as luck would have it, I was available to go.

We were headed to see Big Bradley Falls near Saluda, NC.  After doing some reading about the dangers of approaching these falls from the top (several people have died here) Mark decided the lower route would be the best approach.

Before you get to the trail you have to drive down the mountain on this steep road:

We started down the trail and had an easy time on the old road bed.  After about a mile we came across this barn and cabin:
 The green structure behind Eric is a cabin completely enclosed vines and shrubs:

We were all carrying our cameras with us looking for interesting things to take photos of when we came across this sign.  Photographers can't resist an interesting sign in the woods, especially if it has bullet holes in it.

I took a shot of it as well!

We continued on the trail which now followed an old logging road and was headed upstream of the Cove Creek.  We came to the end of the trail along the edge of the water and noticed a yellow flag tied to a tree on the other side of the creek.
I took my shoes off to cross the COLD rushing water and we continued down the trail now mostly marked by flagging tape on trees:

There were some areas where the trail was blocked by downed trees that we had to negotiate our way past.  This isn't a state park where park rangers keep the trail cleared for hikers!

The three of us were looking out for each other and helping each other down the trail, but not until we photographed our buddies struggles:

We came along another portion of the trail where it seemed to end at the creek.  We stopped and explored the area of cascades for a few minutes before finding the trail on the same side of the creek we were already on.

Portions of the trail were now steep and required holding onto tree roots to pull ourselves up.  This photo of coming up the hill does not do a good job of demonstrating the incline we faced.

There was a camp site where someone had built a stone chair near a fire ring as we continued up the side of the mountain.

Shortly after passing the camp site we came to a very steep area where someone had tied ropes to assist your way down (or up).  We decided to head down closer to the water:

We carefully made our way to the water where we had a choice.  The trail wasn't very clear at this point but we could tell we were pretty close to the falls.

We could wade through the water and climb the boulders to the next area or we could try and climb the ropes back up the mountain side.  We chose the water and I again removed my shoes to get back in the water.

After climbing the boulders we found ourselves along the bottom of a cliff and could clearly hear the falls.

 We made it!

We spent some time taking photos of the amazing views and climbing around for various angles.

We also took plenty of photos of each other taking photos of the falls.

In the past I always tried to photograph waterfalls with no people in my shots.  Those are still good to have, but I now always try to get a few photos of the falls with people in the shots because it helps give a sense of scale to what we are seeing.

These falls are listed as 75' high and were impressive to see in person. I made a short video while at the falls which helps demonstrate what it is like at the falls (loud!):

The hike out was quiet as we were all getting pretty tired on this ~6 mile hike (total).  Here is a shot from GPS taken while we were about half way through the trail.  You can see we were following the creek up and to the left fork for the falls.  If you are familiar with topography maps you can see the steep canyon we were in near the falls.
Mark has posted his photos on Flickr where you can see photos of me crossing the creek and on the trail here: LINK

Eric has posted a GPS route on  LINK
*update: Eric has also posted photos to Flickr you can see here: LINK

I was grateful for the opportunity to join Mark and Eric on this adventure.  For every obstacle or distraction that we encountered on our trip, Mark encouraged me with his phrase, "keep your eye on the prize".   The prize was great and so was the trip.