Posts Tagged ‘Vacation’

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.  

160525 028 Pink Bear accompanied us to the island: 160525 043

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

Memorial Day Road Trip: SD

Taking advantage of a three-day weekend, we decided to take a roadtrip to Yankton, SD.  The weather didn’t always cooperate, but we still had fun during the rainy days, including a trip to the Gavin’s Point Fish Hatchery and Mae’s first trip to the beach.

Roadside rest stop in western Iowa:150525 027 150525 040

Memorial Park in Yankton upon our arrival: 150525 050 150525 063 150525 094 150525 099 150525 106

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Mae’s first trip to the beach!  It was a bit chilly and rainy, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm: 150525 197 150525 203 150525 209



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Roadside rest stop on the way back home: 150525 235 150525 239 150525 270 150525 281




Cold As It Is

In early March, we took a short mid-week road trip up to Minneapolis to visit family and to get a single night ‘away’ at a concert of a band we’ve wanted to see for quite some time. We fell in love with the music of The Lone Bellow over a year ago, but their rather extensive touring schedule never seemed to bring them close to Kansas City. So on a bit of a whim, we purchased a couple of tickets to a show being played at a small venue in St. Paul (The Turf Club; Capacity ~350) and made the drive up just ahead of a snowstorm (a rather paltry one, but in the Winter of 2014-15, even a paltry snowstorm was substantial). We enjoyed a great Tuesday with family before letting Auntie Natasha and Uncle TJ watch over the girls while we escaped to the show. The incredibly short visit proved very memorable.

To view on iPhone or iPad: go straight to Vimeo.

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Coloring Easter Eggs with Aunt Amy: 150304 033



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Homemade Play Doh with Auntie Natasha:

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The Turf Club:


San Francisco – Video

The San Francisco trip – in moving pictures form.

Vimeo doesn’t like me any more because I use songs (that I purchased) as background on some of these videos. So to youtube we go:

Goin’ to San Francisco – Photos

Earlier in 2014, I was given the opportunity to select from a few choices of out-of-state conference opportunities from my office. Among the choices was a conference in Huntsville, AL and a brief one in Utah – in August. But also offered was a week-long conference to be held in San Francisco in December. I readily admit that the possibility of having Kelly and the girls join me at whatever city I would be travelling to certainly colored the selection process. It wasn’t difficult to settle on San Francisco.

The conference was scheduled to conclude at noon on Friday, so we decided I would fly out early in the week – solo – and then Kel would join me later in the week. She was scheduled to fly out on a nonstop flight late in the day on Thursday. Just as I arrived there early in the week, forecasts were converging on a very significant storm approaching the Bay area on Thursday. Late Wednesday night, we got word that the girls’ Thursday afternoon flight had been canceled. They were rebooked on a much earlier flight — to depart KCI before sunrise Thursday. That left Kel with very little time to make last-minute packing arrangements, get a few hours of sleep, and then load the girls up for the drive to the airport around 4:30am. [When the girls get older, I’ll be reminding them of the thanks they owe their Mom…on many fronts].

I took the train (BART) down to the airport to meet up with them as they arrived on Thursday morning just as power was knocked out to a quarter of the city by the storm. We then returned via BART and a streetcar through windblown rain to a hotel without power. The hotel had a backup generator to power the elevators and a few emergency lights, but nothing more. They also lack any stairwells that open to the lobby on the first floor (all emergency stairwells only exit to the OUTSIDE via alarm-sensitive doorways). This meant we loaded up into the elevator, pushed “4”, crossed our fingers, and watched the lights in the elevator dim as it began the slow climb. I texted a coworker at the conference that taking that elevator felt like playing Russian roulette. But we made it…

Power was restored early that evening, the storm cleared, and we had an absolutely wonderful Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to explore the city before flying back home on Monday. The entire trip felt like it lasted about 15 minutes – we can’t believe it is already behind us. Here are a few snapshots of the week. I took 750 photographs along with several hundred video clips, so this is just a sampling. A video should follow within a couple of weeks.

For Mae and Lula alike, this trip comprised many firsts.  Their first flights.  First tram ride.  First subway/train ride.  First streetcar.  First boat.  First cable car.  An extraordinary trip indeed.

My Monday flight departing KCI:
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The streetcar from BART to the Fisherman’s Wharf district where the hotel/conference was located:141215 035 141215 042

I took BART back to the airport to meet up with Kel and the girls when they arrived in town a few days later:

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After BART, it was a rainy, windy streetcar trip back to the hotel after a long day traveling:  DCIM114GOPRODCIM114GOPRO

The next day, we ventured down to the bay and caught up with a few hungry birds:141215 079 141215 087 141215 101 141215 105 141215 124

Waiting for the ferry to Alcatraz:
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Lombard Street.  Lula fell asleep on our hike to get to this block, but Mae was a champ in the Kelty backpack.  She was loving it:141215 258 141215 265 141215 268 141215 296

A spectacular carousel at Pier 39:DCIM116GOPRO 141215 310

Checking out the sea lions at Pier 39:DCIM116GOPRO 141215 328

Our last day in San Francisco was packed with sights.  First, a five-hour, 7-mile round trip hike to the Golden Gate Bridge:141215 388 141215 393 141215 408 141215 430 141215 452 141215 458 141215 467 141215 469 141215 512 141215 546 141215 552


After a very short nap back at the hotel midday, we boarded an old cable car to take the hilly ride to Chinatown: 141215 609 141215 641 141215 658 141215 694

The late-night ride back to the hotel: 141215 712Our return flight (which was purchased as a non-stop ticket) was canceled and we were rebooked on a pair of flights (SF to Chicago to KC).  The first flight took us over the Rockies:
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Lula perched atop the BOB stroller in a gate check bag during the brief layover at O’Hare:DCIM120GOPROI wish I could say this photo was representative of all of the time in the air… but it was probably smart to not have taken many photos by that afternoon…

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