Archive of ‘Pictures’ category

Cannonball 2016 in Photos

For the second time in two years, Grandpa G rode in the Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Race (click here for the 2014 event) which took him through the heart of Kansas.  Half way across the country, riders are given a full “rest” day of no riding (the joke was repeated though that little rest was had, given everyone was working on their bikes to maintain the ability to continue riding…) that was timed to take place right here in Kansas.  The rest day was in Junction City last time; this time it was in Dodge City.  We made the easy drive down there to spend a few days together and couldn’t have had a better time.  Auntie Natasha joined us which made it all the more memorable for all of us.

On the way to Dodge City on Saturday, September 17, we stopped at Mushroom Rock State Park, a fantastic little 5-acre state park (the smallest state park in Kansas!).  Here is it seen from above — the park straddles the gravel road with “mushroom” rocks found both north and south of the roadway.


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Later in the afternoon, we arrived in Dodge City.  We located the bike – Number 19 – before tracking down Grandpa G.

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Grandpa had Dodge City Sheriff’s Deputy badges for each of the girls:

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Later that evening, we ventured over to some railroad tracks behind our dinner location (a fantastic Mexican restaurant in Dodge City) to place some pennies on the tracks in the hopes they’d be flattened over the weekend:

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Much of Sunday, the bike was receiving repairs, including rebuilding the clutch:

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We ventured to a nearby park for a picnic.  This squirrel participated, retrieving one of our discarded apple cores and racing away with it:

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We returned to find our flattened coins later that day!

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Sunday morning, Grandpa G, along with all the other riders, departed Dodge City westbound through the fog…

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…but not before a quick photo op:

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Before leaving town, we again visited the tracks and retrieved a few more coins:

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A wind farm northeast of Dodge City:

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On the return drive Sunday, we detoured to spend a few hours at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve north of Strong City, KS.  Wow – what an incredible site!  We only had a short time to spend there, but it was enough (1) to know that we’d return for a longer visit another time, (2) to enjoy a picnic on the lawn of the main house, and (3) for the girls to, for the first time, become Junior Rangers through the National Parks program.  And the girls made a great new friend – Park Ranger Graves.  They couldn’t get enough high-fives from him.

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The tour of the main barn was fascinating — complete with 18-inch thick limestone walls.  While it was open to the outside, and it was around 90 degrees outdoors around 2pm, it was at least 10 degrees cooler inside.

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Completion of the Junior Ranger booklet; earning their badges:

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The Beach – 2016 – In Photos – Part 3

The final leg of our beach trip included a stop in Asheville before two additional days of driving to get home.  We enjoyed an evening dinner picnic at a rest stop in western North Carolina before pulling into Asheville:
DCIM100MEDIADJI_0015.JPG DCIM100MEDIADJI_0006.JPGUpon arrival in Asheville, Lula was quick to find a little treasure in the woods on Oak Lane:
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Visiting (and meeting new) family down the road: 160528 170 160528 173 160528 194 160528 199 160528 207 160528 239 160528 212 160528 224 160528 236 160528 238

Thanks to Paul and Jenny, rather than getting trapped in holiday weekend bumper-to-bumper traffic in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, which was our original thinking, we instead took a brief detour into Pisgah National Forest the morning we left Asheville.  Specifically, our destination was a peak along the Appalacian Trail:  Max Patch
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The 15-20 minute hike up was just the ticket for some restless legs.  The view from the top was unparalleled on this trip:

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Standing on the USGS marker at the top: 160528 292 DCIM100GOPROGOPR9883. 160528 295 DCIM100GOPROGOPR9908.

For a lunchtime break, we stopped at Cumberland Mountain State Park in central Tennessee for a picnic:
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We stumbled upon a park ranger giving a presentation to several other kids about snakes native to the region: 160528 333

The last overnight stay of our trip was at a hotel in Paducah Kentucky — and one last chance for a swim before getting home:



Day 10 of our trip took us through southern Illinois — including a lunchtime stop at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Preserve in south-central Illinois.  What a gem!  We took a great hike through the woods to a spectacular waterfall along an underutilized and overgrown trail — just the kind we love!  It was a great midday stop to help the trip last just a little longer before the last leg of driving brought us home. 160531 033 160531 038 160531 082 160531 102

The Beach – 2016 – In Photos – Part 2

After arriving at the beach, the girls couldn’t get enough time in the sand.

We checked out surfers that were having more luck than we anticipated in the waves right outside our door: 160524 252

We dug for buried treasure after finding a map in a bottle:

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A midday trip to the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, with a picnic lunch: 160524 374 160524 381


Back at the beach in the afternoon, my dad and his wife visited and we were tasked with burying the girls in the sand.  I am told that when I first visited this beach, I wanted nothing to do with being buried in the sand until Natasha went first; then I wanted to be buried too.  The same held true for Lula and Mae:  Lula was eager, Mae apprehensive, but after Mae confirmed Lula’s approval (see the grin below), she couldn’t resist:
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Evening on the beach, as the sun set behind the house: 160524 496

Shell hunting in pajamas: 160524 501 160524 503 160524 506 160524 513

An evening drone flight over the beach: 

The next day, we started out early, to get a jump on the long lines for the ferry to Ocracoke Island.  It turns out we didn’t have to wait too terribly long and fortunately, the weather was perfect, so the wait wasn’t an issue.  

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Kind of cool to see our present location on the iPhone map as over the water: 160525 064


The rumors of abundant seashells on Ocracoke Island proved true: 160525 019

We may have been a little overcautious with the sunscreen on Mae, but better safe than sorry. 160525 080

Standing on a beach on a sunny, 80-degree day with no other people as far as the eye can see in either direction was pretty incredible.  160525 130

160525 020 160525 138The little specs on the beach are us; the blue car parked on the side of the road is ours.  

An overhead view, looking south from our location.  DCIM100MEDIADJI_0034.JPG DCIM100MEDIADJI_0056.JPG DCIM100MEDIADJI_0087.JPG

We drove south a bit after leaving the beach while briefly considering trekking up the Ocracoke Island lighthouse, but by the time we got there, both girls were completely conked out.  After an exhausting day at the beach, we didn’t have it in us to wake them.  I hustled in for our National Parks Passport cancellation and we made tracks back north.

The wait for the ferry was again relatively brief, as compared to peak times of the day.  We are about 12 or 13 cars back in this line: DCIM100MEDIADJI_0107.JPG DCIM100MEDIADJI_0119.JPG

Back at the beach the next morning, we were greeted by another unexpected sight: dolphins just off the coast! 160528 007 160528 020

And lots of flocks of birds, streaming north: 160528 033 160528 046

Before leaving the beach cottage, we discovered an old pirate flag on the porch that had to be flown before we could depart: 160528 060 160528 085

After leaving the beach, we drove west through North Carolina.  As great as the beach was, some trees (and their shade!) were welcome sights.  Umstead State Park was our midday stop, on the way to Asheville.
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The Beach – 2016 – In Photos – Part 1

In late May, we embarked on the longest roadtrip we’ve taken since the girls were born – a 10 day trip centered on several days on the beach of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Photos will be posted in groups – this is part 1 of three — the trek East.

Lunch day 1 at the St. Louis Arch.  Construction on the arch grounds had a large area blocked off, but we were still able to access the arch and go beneath to the museum and gift shop. DCIM100MEDIADJI_0006.JPG 160520 004 DCIM100MEDIADJI_0014.JPG

Looking West, at the Old Courthouse: DCIM100MEDIADJI_0040.JPG DCIM100MEDIADJI_0054.JPGIn line to get (free) tickets to enter the underground portion of the arch. 
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Heading east through Kentucky…160521 009

Lunch on Day 2 — at the New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia160521 039 160521 092

Adding a cancellation to our National Parks Passport books:
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The small gift shop across the street from the Parks grounds proved irresistible: 160521 146 160521 157

Looking south through the gorge.  We took the narrow winding road down from the Visitor’s Center to the gorge below — the road in the center-left of this frame.  DCIM100MEDIADJI_0009.JPG



Heading east through central Virginia on Day 3: 160521 188

Arrival in Hampton – midday Day 3:

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Arriving on the beach – early evening Day 3: 160522 084 160522 092 160522 096 160522 128

First souvenir stop on Day 4 — a local t-shirt shop. DCIM100GOPROGOPR9568.

Lula wasn’t excited by me repeatedly asking why this chair was so small. DCIM100GOPROGOPR9583. DCIM100GOPROGOPR9599.

The red roof cottage was our home for four days: DCIM100MEDIADJI_0007.JPG DCIM100MEDIADJI_0016.JPG DCIM100MEDIADJI_0027.JPG DCIM100MEDIADJI_0068.JPG 160524 009 160524 029 160524 036 160524 061

Day 4 – Bodie Island Lighthouse: 160524 089

The first beach day’s shell haul: 160524 121 160524 131 160524 156

Late night thunderstorms off the coast: 160524 204

End of Spring 2016

Throughout much of this spring, we’ve made a point of absolutely maximizing outdoor time during the phenomenal weather that Kansas offers during the spring.  Being native northerners means the summers in Kansas can be rather difficult for us.  The term that best describes the heat and humidity in July and August around here is ‘oppressive’ — and even if overused, the term is very apt.  So ahead of the summer heat, we’ve been making a point of getting outside a lot.

Several weekends ago, we went for a hike along the Cedar Crest Trail on the edge of Topeka.  We’ve never been to this park until now and found it to be quite enjoyable.  In fact, we’ve even pegged it for some summertime visits because the trail is densely wooded, meaning lots of shade!  We hiked down to the shore of the Kansas river and were able to get a few overhead shots along the way:



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Back at 4629:



Daisies in full bloom:

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Spring 2016 in Photos

Photographs have been gathering virtual dust on the computer.  I keep taking way too many photographs, but haven’t been taking the time to filter through them all and post a few of the highlights; I just dump the photos onto the external hard drive (as the computer is full) and clear space on the cards for the next event.  Maybe in retirement, I’ll make time to go through each batch.  But for now, here are a few spring highlights.

Fog over our neighborhood, as seen from a few hundred feet above the surface:



Lula in the back yard on a warm Spring evening: 160416 060

A weekend picnic at a local fishing lake: 160416 236




An early morning weekend run, as viewed from above:



Another weekend picnic at another local park:

160501 072…which included spotting this bald eagle fishing in the nearby lake: 
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A midday hike at Clinton Lake State Park outside Lawrence:

A view of Sanders Mound on the northeast corner of Clinton Lake:

Working on a Mother’s Day Masterpiece: 160507 045

Another weekend morning run:



Picking 4 pounds at a local strawberry patch proved to be just enough to get us through the first half of the week:
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Another weekend hike – this time, one at a county park we just stumbled upon on a county highway we hadn’t travelled before – Wells Overlook in Douglas County.




Royals World Series Parade

After coming oh-so-close to a World Series championship last season, the Royals were favorites to win this year; and they did!  It was an incredible series to watch and a combination of factors came together to entice us to make the call to attend the celebratory parade in Kansas City today.  Between the novelty of the experience, the fantastic weather, and the price (free!), we just couldn’t pass it up.  We left the house early with a game plan to enter the metro from the west, avoiding all interstates (didn’t want to be trapped) and opted for Shawnee Mission Parkway into Mission where we then zig-zagged to the Northeast, ultimately landing around 34th and Broadway where we parked on the street facing south.  The last thing we wanted was to be trapped 5 or 10 rows deep in the lawn parking at the WWI Memorial or elsewhere.  We then walked in to the grassy lawn in front of Union Station to take in the festivities.

We realized this may be one of the last times we can utilize the Kelty backpack before Mae outgrows it.  She was a little grumpy to start, but that was nothing that a halloween ring pop couldn’t fix.


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After passing the memorial, we looked back, looking South, to see the terrace of the memorial dotted with ants — I mean, Royals fans.
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Coordinating a shot with a 2-year old and 4-year-old looking into the camera at the same time (with anything remotely resembling looks of happiness) is something tantamount to being perfectly-positioned a half-mile southeast of an F5 as it churns through a Kansas farm field (i.e., I realize it will likely forever elude my capture).

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The back of the lawn was sparsely covered when we first arrived, but quickly filled in.

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A reflection of the magnitude of the event: crowds even gathered on the particularly-steep slopes of the hill beneath the Crown Center Westin.

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The trek back to the car was only about a mile and a half or so; but it was just enough time for Mae to make her way to dreamland.



Kel overheard a father in a large family next to us on the lawn share his take late in the day:  “Something to write in the notes for the World Series Parade 2015, probably don’t do this again.”  We couldn’t have said it better.  That doesn’t say we shouldn’t have gone today; but it may simply be one of those “Great event – can cross that one off the list; been there-done that!” items.

Lunar Eclipse of September 28, 2015

The lunar eclipse provided an easy justification for the girls to stay up well past their usual bedtime Sunday evening.  The usual story time routine was postponed in favor of a walk to the park at the end of the street.  PJs were just the ticket, with temps in the low-70s and calm wind.

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June 2015 in Photos

Cookout in Berryton!


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Early this summer, the annual cicadas made their appearance, but were joined this year by a second brood – a rarer type that emerges only every 17 years: 150607 096

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Plentiful rains this spring meant plentiful MUD: DCIM120GOPRO

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One of many summer days spent in the backyard pool: 

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…and almost always with popsicle-in-hand: 150614 040

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A bike ride to a local park:












A stormy afternoon yielded to a low-slung rainbow to the east: 150705 029

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Independence Day 2015 in Photos

Independence Day 2015 started off like virtually any day off of work begins:  with a family run: DCIM120GOPRO



But from there, it diverged from a normal day off.  We decided to spend the holiday in the small town of Wamego, Kansas — a town known for its Wizard of Oz museum (which we did not visit this day), but also known for it’s fantastic Independence Day festival.  A parade, carnival rides, and fireworks are all included.  We didn’t stick around long enough for the late-day parade or fireworks, but the carnival rides and some time in the sprawling park at the center of town were just the ticket.





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An exhausting day yielded to a 90-minute nap on the drive home which proved to be a sufficient recharge to justify some backyard time in the pool before evening fireworks in the back yard.





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Everyone was up much later than normal to take in a few of the neighborhood fireworks before bed, including Mae, with a great view right from her bedroom window:

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