Opening Door County

Becky’s Birthday

We gave our daughter a surprise birthday party in our “home”.  It was fun because our grandkids helped decorate and did a pretty good job of not letting the cat out of the bag…

At least Becky acted surprised!

Nothing better than a good bowl of Melting Ice Cream Birthday Cake!

 

Omro Wisconsin

We had a great time for about two weeks at their house, and then it was time to move on.     We were headed for Door County, Wisconsin.  We are trying to have short driving days, to help us remember we’re retired and don’t have to do 9 hour marathon driving days.  So we stopped at a campground in Omro.  No frills, just long level sites and electrical hookups.  Water and dump station near the office.  But only $15.  A great place if you are just passing through.

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Door County

A small peninsula cuts from eastern Wisconsin into Lake Michigan, and creates Green Bay on its western shore.  A couple of miles north of the tip of this promontory is Washington Island.  The small stretch of water between the peninsula and the island looks fairly safe, but storms can arise almost instantly out of nowhere and turn it into a very treacherous channel.  When French trappers arrived here in the early 1600’s, the local Indians told about how many lives had been lost in making that crossing.  They gave the channel the attractive name “Porte des Morts”, or “Door of Death”.  Over the years the peninsula was called the Door of Death Peninsula, and then just Door Peninsula, and now is officially Door County.  We haven’t yet braved crossing the Door of Death, but we sure are impressed with how beautiful everything is here!  We had loosely planned to stay maybe five days… but have extended our reservation to ten days.

It has rained a lot since we’ve arrived, but we still love it here.  We’ve spent a little time riding bikes through the forest, looking at nice beaches, checking out quaint towns, shopping at huge produce markets, and eating very well!  (We have made some awesome scones, and some terrific home made bread in our convection oven.  Our first baking in the convection oven has turned out very well, and we are encouraged!  Some have said you can’t bake in convection… WRONG!)  

Last night was our 43rd anniversary! (Congrats to us!)  We went out to dinner and then to an interesting theatrical venue.  The Peninsula Players have been doing professional Summer Stock productions for 84 years on the shore of Green Bay!  They are the longest running professional summer theater in the country.

The play was called “George Washington’s Teeth”, and I thought as part of my ongoing professional continuing education I really should see it. 😉  It was well done and fun, but the coolest part was the beautiful grounds and facility.  Right on the bay, they have a lot of chairs in a lightly wooded area, and a large bonfire.  I’ve never sat on a log by a lakeshore 5 minutes before curtain time before!  I didn’t take any pictures there, but here is a promo of the company you might enjoy.  If you don’t like it, I didn’t make it, so fine…

 

We are staying at the Wagon Trail Campground near the northern tip of Door County.  They claim to “Specialize in Quiet Nights and Secluded Sites”.  Our spot is both quiet and secluded, and absolutely gorgeous.

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Many trails lead from the campsite off into the forest.  Our bikes really aren’t mountain bikes, but managed these trails adequately.  Absolutely beautiful!

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The water is high now, so lots of docks are low in the water or under water.  We’ve had a lot of rain, and sometimes a lot of wind as well.

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The little towns are adorable.  I plan on shooting architecture photos next week,  but here’s a cute house on the highway.

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We took a Trolley Tour from Egg Harbor up through the Peninsula State Park and around the old town of Ephraim.  The driver/tour guide was a lot of fun, and described almost everything as the “Best in the country” or “Best in the world”.  Who knows? Maybe he’s right!

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State Fair!

Minnesota State Fair

I’ll admit it… I thought it was super crowded at the International Pathfinder Camporee at Oshkosh.  Close to 60,000 people, close to each other… close enough for me.  Well, the Minnesota State Fair has roughly 225,000 people EVERY DAY!  And even more the day we went! (I’m sure they didn’t count us).

It was great fun, and greatly tiring!  Exhibits, Dock Jumping Dog Shows, Lumberjack and Lumberjill Shows, Lots of Carnival Rides, Tons of “Eat only at State Fair Food”, uncountable Animals, and PEOPLE!  I’m sure we saw about 5% of what was available, and that took most of the day!

I was told that you are almost required (by tradition) to buy a bucket of cookies from Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar.  This Sweetie has three locations on the fairgrounds where you can buy a cup or a bucket of chocolate chip cookies (what other types are there?). Some folks waited 45 mins or more in line to get their cookies!  We got our bucket miles from the entrance and spent only 5 mins in line…  They make well over 2 million cookies per day!! That’s 200,000 per hour! In the 12 days of the State Fair, they go through 54 tons of chocolate chips and 62 tons of flour!  Huge trays come out of the ovens, and while you watch, the workers scoop them into buckets, overflowing the top to dangerous levels!  If you do the math, it seems like everyone attending the fair must eat 10 cookies… As you might guess, I tried to do my share.  Awesome cookies, straight out of the oven…

Here is my attempt to document our day at the fair:

 

The next day we decided to watch Rogers & Hammerstein’s movie “State Fair”.  You’ve got to love the lyrics of the theme song:

“Our State Fair is a great State Fair – don’t miss it, don’t even be late.
It’s Dollars to Doughnuts that our State Fair is the best State Fair in our State”

 

Fun with Less People

A little time bike riding (Some with wheels on feet) took us to a nice park, playground, and a small lake.

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Home Projects

I had the privilege of helping Kevin with an exciting home project… I’ll show you more when it is finished!  We got to use plenty of wood working tools and feel very manly! 😉

I also am working on a couple projects for our Fudge Ripple Home on Wheels.  A few weeks ago I installed a water softener, which provides nice soft water regardless of what the water is like where we stop.  At the same time I got a water De-ionizer, and a small pressure washer, for cleaning the coach.  It removes EVERYTHING from the water (except the water itself).  When you wash or at least rinse with De-I water, it dries without any spotting.  A great way to keep the coach looking new!  The hard part is finding a place to install it!  I wanted to use empty space under the hood (in front of the motorhome) and not take up valuable storage space in the basement.  I’ve had to move the airhorns, and the windshield washer fluid reservoir, and some other small parts, to make room.  So now the pump and tanks are installed, and ALL I have left to do is get water and power to the whole thing.

 

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And so ends another long week…

Doing Duluth

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, Minneapolis

Becky and the grandkids spent an afternoon with us at the zoo.  Giraffes figured prominently…

The conservatory portion is very pretty, but we only saw it from the outside.  Grandkids are more interested in animals… but it did look like Peter would loved to have walked in among the water lilies like the worker was doing.

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Our cute grandkids got to feed a giraffe!

Headed North

With all three families together, we loaded up Kevin’s Polaris General, and headed for a rented Lake House, a bit north of Duluth, Minnesota…

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Lake Superior Marine Museum & Maritime Visitor Center

The focal point of this museum area in Duluth is the Aerial Lift Bridge.  It is one of only two of this type in the world, the other being in France.  Built in 1905, it originally had a trolley car suspended from the top structure, and would take pedestrians across for a nickel.  Horses and carriages and even some cars made the trip.  With car traffic becoming more common, the bridge was upgraded in 1930 by having a roadway that lifts straight up.  The roadway weighs about 900 tons, but with that same amount of counterweights, it is said it takes very little electricity to open or close it.

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A land locked tug:

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Island Lake, Minnesota

Our hosts for the beautiful lake house warned us that some phone wires would be too low for the motorhome… but they have done this before and had a special stick made to lift them so we could drive under!

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The house was on the shore of Island Lake.  You may notice a few islands!

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Sunrise over the lake:

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An early morning double rainbow seemed a great omen…

 

 

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We had several kayaks, a paddle board, a paddle boat, and several tubes.  Time spent playing in and on the water was wonderful!

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We also got some fun rides in “The General”… and it’s never really done till you get stuck!

Here is a short video recap of our time on the lake and on the trail…

 

Split Rock Lighthouse

1905 saw some of the worst storms Lake Superior has ever seen.  29 ships were lost that year in one storm alone.  With Radar and GPS decades away from being invented, during a storm it was very hard for ships to navigate and stay off the very rocky coastlines.  In response to that disastrous year, the Split Rock lighthouse was created.  The 133 foot cliff was a great spot for a light, but there were no roads anywhere near it.  So a derrick was built to lift all the supplies up the steep cliff to build the beacon.  For years it was only accessible by boat, but now the road makes it much easier (and safer) to visit the lighthouse.  While there we were treated to a torrential downpour, complete with extremely close lightning and deafening thunder!  It added to the mystique of the old lighthouse!

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Music by Bensound.com

 

 

 

 

Making Memories in Minnesota

Nebraska

We spent a lot of last week in Little Creek campground on the border of Iowa and Nebraska.  A short drive south took us to the Platte River State Park; another very pretty park where we saw a wild turkey and a couple of empty teepees.

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The Teepee Village was very picturesque and available for camping… but with it so hot there were no Indian wannabes.

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Iowa

We had to drive the car and motorhome separately for a while, till we got the car set up to be towed. (Is a Suburban a car or a truck? Comments?)  As we were driving, I commented to Cherryl following in the car/truck (by hands free cell phone) how beautiful the farmland scenes were.  She replied with far less enthusiasm than I obviously  had.  I was thinking the cornfields rolling over the gentle hills were gorgeous.  Later, once the car/truck was being towed behind our Fudge Ripple, she said she could see what I’d been talking about… “The view is much better from the motorhome!”  Sitting higher gives a view over the tops of crops and lets you see the shape of the countryside.  Maybe even as high as an elephant’s eye! A great way to travel!

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Cherryl eyeing Soybeans…

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Tasseling

We have learned a lot about Tasseling… it seems that at exactly the right time, thousands of school kids and maybe retired folks work extremely long, hard hours ripping the tassels off of corn plants.  While this might sound like vandalism, it is a necessary step in the production of hybrid seed corn.  Only certain select cornstalks are allowed to keep their tassels and pollinate the pretty little silks of the growing corn kernels.

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Nice scenery for morning walks…

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Minnesota

Midweek we made it to our daughter’s home north of Minneapolis.  Great to see the family!

Thursday evening the city of Champlin had a “Touch a Truck” event.  Tons of the city and county trucks (really, MANY tons!) were on display, and kids were encouraged to climb on them.  And not only climb, but honk horns, turn on lights, and even (if you’re a little boy) rub your hands on greasy tractor parts! (guess how we know that!)

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Dayna got in the ambulance, but wouldn’t get in the patient’s stretcher…

This was not a “brief” case!

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Everything from Ambulance to Zamboni!  Hummers, tractors and tracked toys, blades and backhoes, firetrucks and a fireboat, mega mowers and snowblowers, police cars and even police horses! Great fun for all of us kids!

Even more fun than “Truck Touching” was having my other daughter and grandkids come from Washington!  Now the whole family is here, except poor Loren who has to work a few more days.  He’ll be with us mid next week however…

Breakfast Banana Splits

How cool is that! Build your own Breakfast Banana Split, with many yogurts, granolas, berries, nuts etc… Fantastic!

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L’More Chocolate Shop

An afternoon trip to the cute shop where Becky works as a chocolatier.  So many awesome delightful chocolates!  Rather difficult to get 4 grandkids to decide on what they want now and later… and keep track of all the exotic flavors of truffles!  We left with raspberry, elderberry, peach, key lime, peanut butter, peppermint, and apricot truffles!  Life is Good!

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More Maranatha

64223092_10157373946312380_4495364482846949376_n  We are still hard at work in the cabinet shop, making lots more sawdust and some other stuff too.  Ok, all the desk cabinets are finished, and are being installed, and we are working hard to get drawers finished and bookcases built.

 

In case you can’t read it, the bucket of sawdust and scraps says “Desiccated Coconut”

Here are some of our cabinets being installed in the dorm rooms.  New flooring has been placed, some of it still covered with masking for protection from work in the closet area.

The bookcases we are creating now will be stained to match the lower cabinets, and hung on the wall above them.

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Here are some of the beat up old drawers that we are replacing! Think it’s time??

 

I’ve seen a bit of wildlife on my early morning runs around nearby Holmes Lake.  Lots of Tri-color Blackbirds, a Meadowlark, and other nice birds, but one critter stopped me in my tracks!  A cute little skunk was walking across the trail.  As he leisurely ambled away, it dawned on me that I could take a picture with my phone, so here is proof of a peacable skunk encounter.

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Here are better shots of early morning Holmes Lake…

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Becky, Kevin and our grandkids Dayna and Peter drove down from Minnesota to spend a little time with us.  Kevin worked a couple of days in the cabinet shop with us.  Kevin even let us celebrate his birthday with him! Six flavors of iced bundt cakes… fantastic!

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To celebrate the 4th of July, the shop shut down a couple of hours early, and we went to the Lincoln Children’s Zoo.  I told the gal at the ticket booth I’m not from Lincoln and I’m not a child, but she let me but a ticket anyway.

They are rebuilding this zoo, and it was a nice zoo to start with.  There is a very clever area where kids can climb in a structure that surrounds a monkey cage, so it looks and feels like they are really in with the monkeys.  They have a giraffe feeding area that is set up for little ones to be at giraffe mouth level. Kids can buy lettuce, and then have great fun when the giraffe reaches out with an enormously long tongue and eagerly grabs and gobbles. Lots of gobbling and giggling!

The tiger cage has a jeep bisected by the glass of the enclosure.  If you’re lucky, the tiger will sit in the passenger seat and you can sit by him in the driver’s position.  We didn’t get that photo, but did get some of our grandkids and their cousins.

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A couple of rescued Bald Eagles were being fed.  Magnificent birds! I couldn’t get them to move fully out of the shadows and this guy looks ticked at me for asking!

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We saw a Lemur,

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A Fossa,

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A camel who looks like he could use a dentist,

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and someone else with teeth I’d rather not work on…

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Pretty birds,

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And odd birds,

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(I had to cut this guy in half because a cage wire was in the way!)

And what would a zoo be without Peacocks?

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And a Parrot or two.

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Of course the cutest animals in the zoo were the grandkids and their cousins…

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That evening we had a very special cake… decorated by Dayna and cousin Charlotte, it was very surprising when sliced!  Once again, Becky has created a great fun desert!

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Here’s Why You Want To Go To Leavenworth

Far from being a prison like the Leavenworth in Kansas, this Leavenworth is a charming little Swiss village hidden in the mountains of northwest Washington.  The buildings are all attractively old world styled, and beautiful flowers are everywhere.  I could have stayed a month just to try all the inviting restaurants!

 

 

A great little art show was one of the first attractions.

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Gustav’s won our patronage for lunch, and served up a great feast!

 

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I’m not sure what the extremely tall blue striped spire is… any thoughts?

 

We met a VERY TALL Knight:

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We didn’t ride a horse drawn carriage:

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I enjoyed just looking at all the interesting architecture

 

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And the beautiful locale

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But best of all, a Father’s Day on the river!

 

Nearby Wenatchee has a beautiful park on the river, and a sculpture memorial to a legend about the Coyote:  It seems a long time ago, some Swallows dammed up the river so the Salmon couldn’t get upstream, and the Indians upstream were starving. So the Coyote disguised himself as a little baby, snuck in among the Swallows, and while they weren’t looking he sabotaged the dam.  He then guided the Salmon upstream, and everyone lived happily ever after.  Unless of course you were the Salmon eaten by Indians.  I’m not convinced it is a true story…

 

 

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We are now back in Lincoln, Nebraska, where we will be volunteering with Maranatha to remodel some rooms in the girl’s dorm at Union College.  That project starts Monday, and should make a substantial improvement in some of the girls’ rooms.

 

We had a tremendous thunderstorm one evening!  Amazing how lightening can flash instantly across the whole sky, every couple of seconds, for hours!

Here is the view from our current motorhome location:

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One other fun thing… While in Florida, we decided to upgrade our Jeep.  We wanted a bigger four wheel drive vehicle that we can tow behind the motorhome, and can fit 6 people and luggage if needed. We decided a Chevy Suburban would be ideal. I called my buddies at Mile High Car Helper for advice only, since I didn’t think they could help me from Denver.  But I was wrong!  They arranged for my Jeep to be picked up, and found a beautiful Suburban for us, and had it shipped to Lincoln to meet us!

 

It looks absolutely brand-new, and is just what we wanted.  If you need to buy a car, Rich and Ryan at Mile High Car Helper in Denver can work miracles!  Even with all the shipping, I saved thousands over what I had been able to work out without them.  Painless and easy.

 

The paint on our beautiful home is all brown and tan swirls, and makes me think of ice cream… so I’ve been calling it “Fudge Ripple”.  Now with the white Suburban, I was afraid we’d have to call it “Vanilla”.  But Becky suggested “Marshmallow”…  So now I guess we live with Fudge Ripple and Marshmallow.  Life is good!

Why Would You Want To Go To Leavenworth?

Our Kids have been talking about the beauty of Leavenworth for a long time now.  The image that came to my mind was this:

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Leavenworth Prison, Leavenworth, Kansas
By Americasroof – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8727865

But it turns out they were right! (Imagine that!)  Leavenworth, Washington is a very charming mountain town that looks transplanted from Switzerland.  We had so much fun, and I took so many pictures, that I haven’t had time to get them together for this blog.  So here are a few pictures from a walk in a park in Leavenworth.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll get the rest of the adventure online…

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Spinning Yarns and Telling Tails

Agricultural and Industrial Plants

SAGE Center is an agricultural museum in northern Oregon.  We combined a trip to the SAGE center with a visit to Pendleton Mills, where they make the most beautiful woolen goods!  Here is a short video with a hint of what goes on there…

 

 

More Flight Time

I was privileged to catch a couple more flights: first to Spokane, Washington and then to Lewiston, Idaho with the corporate jets.

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I also got a couple flights in Loren’s “new” Cheyenne twin turbine zooming machine!  Big, fast and beautiful!

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Self-Portrait in the Shiny Spinner:

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Bridges over Pasco:

 

Towing it back to the hanger from the fuel station:

 

Foxy Flying Wife:

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Safety Video

The family had lots of fun putting together a “Family Airline Flight Safety Video”, which will be required viewing prior to any flight!

 

 

 

Back to JAX

Denver

The last couple of weeks have flown by… Last week I was too tired to put up anything but the cool Sandhill Cranes… Now for a bit that was missed…

Our headquarters while in Denver has been with good friends Lonnie and Laura.  They hare awesome hosts!  We took a few drone shots one day, and then that night we got snow, so a few more drone shots the next morning.

 

Ft Collins

Saturday afternoon was spent in Ft Collins with more dear friends; Giny and Joe.  We took the drone out to play in the middle of nowhere.  My phone/drone interface wasn’t working well, so I don’t have much worthwhile footage, but we had fun!  Here is a picture that proves, at least in Joe’s case, we never really have to grow up!

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Eastward Bound

I decided that because we had two months worth of luggage, including all our SCUBA gear, we would get a big rental car. (See above). However, that Chevy Tahoe seemed far bigger than we needed.  Since we were planning on driving all the way to Florida, when a light flashed on saying it wanted its oil changed, I offered Hertz to swap cars before we left Denver.  I figured we would get a slightly smaller car for the trip.  They were happy to swap, except they didn’t give me smaller… they moved us up to a Suburban.  Same basic vehicle, just about 2 feet longer!  Funny.  We had plenty of room and grew to like the big old thing.

 

Lincoln

We spent a few days in Lincoln with Cherryl’s family – Jeanne, Steve and Mom Joanne. We even got to see Crista, Josh and William: niece and her family.  No pictures though, so maybe it never happened. 😉

 

Atlanta

The next weekend was spent in Atlanta… I have several places I want to see in Atlanta, and we did none of them!  We had a relaxing day driving in the country, soaking up views of pretty forested areas, spring flowers, and even a few animals.   I had no idea Atlanta could be so beautiful! So we will return!

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We drove to Buford Dam – like most dams, a beautiful lake on one side, a river on the other.  Both sides were filled with people boating, fishing, or looking for wildlife.

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This little guy was with a few others just out of the park.

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About one hour out of Jacksonville, Florida, we were driving our cool big Suburban, when the peace was shattered by the sound of an explosion!  The left rear (portside aft) tire blew, and did it very dramatically!  But no problem keeping it in control; we just pulled off and tried to get the tire changed.  The problem was getting the spare out from under the truck… once we got the trick figured out, it was pretty easy.  A nice guy stopped to help us, and he had a hydraulic jack that saved us using the Chevy’s jack. A nice welcome back to Florida!

 

Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park

This is a wonderful campground!  We’re glad to be back!  We’ve spent some time getting paperwork caught up, doing some trailer maintenance, and even some resting up.

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We haven’t gotten the kayak in the lake here yet, but we’re anxious to go alligator hunting!  There are hundreds of birds hanging out on the little islands in the lake, and great fun watching them this evening.

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Here is an Osprey diving for dinner…

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His take out order is here…

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And now he has to show off by flying it past all the neighbors.

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And so ends another week…

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Celebrations in Colorado

Sayonara Japan

In our last episode 🙂 we were about to leave Tokyo…  Japan was fabulous, but a lot of it is not good drone flying territory.  The views were awesome, but you’re not supposed to fly over congested areas (Tokyo??) or historic monuments (Kyoto??).  So I caught a few aerial shots of Tokyo and Kyoto and quit before I ended up in a Japanese prison.  Or whatever.  Notice the guy wearing a (very common) face mask to work.

 

 

A Beautiful Centenarian

One major reason for the timing of our return to Denver was a celebration for a dear friend, Lucille, on her 100th birthday!  She is such a sweetheart that over 400 people showed up for the party!  I think all enjoyed it tremendously, with the possible exception of my little grandson Peter…  Here’s the evidence…

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Dr. Mike and some of the team with Lucille

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100 cupcakes, and at least 10 large cakes!  A wonderful celebration for a great lady!

 

Escape!

That afternoon some of us volunteered to be locked in a room and not released until we had solved the Cuban Missile Crisis… or a bunch of themed puzzles and riddles to find the key to escape.  We made it with 17 minutes to spare!

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Ukulele Education

My clever grandson is learning to play the Ukulele, and doing an amazing job of it!  So it was decided to get him a better instrument, from Gary, Ukulele master and head of the Rocky Mountain Ukulele Orchestra. ukuleleorchestra.org

After testing many “ukes” and lots of consideration, a beautiful ukulele was chosen.  This is Gary restringing it with better strings.  We all learned a lot!

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Keystone

We spent a few days with one of our daughters and her family in Keystone.  The weather was very nice, and the spring skiing was… well, spring skiing.  The snow was too icy in the morning, perfect a lot of the day, and pretty slushy towards the end of the day.  But in spite of less than optimal snow, we had a fabulous time.  The scenic beauty would be worth the trip even if you didn’t like the skiing!  (But I loved the skiing!!)  This little video was made with grandkids in mind – hope you enjoy it too!

 

Dillon Reservoir

Thursday we spent part of the day exploring the beautiful frozen Dillon Reservoir.  A shot of my granddaughter sitting on a park bench shows how deep the snow still is!

 

Good Friends

Part of the fun of this trip has been seeing lots of good friends that we have missed.  Brad and Bill didn’t think they would end up in this blog, so – This Pix’s for you, Brad and Bill!

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And in the tradition of closing with a sunset, here is the last evening in Keystone.

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