Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Teachers' Lounge

In 1990 we bought a pontoon boat from Torch River Marine in Torch River. We named it The Teachers' Lounge. Over the years we have had many adventures with this boat. When Dad was living, we used to enjoy taking him fishing in the surrounding lakes. I remember fishing in Long Lake, Spider, Arbutus, Green, and Fife Lakes. Mother would not ever go with us - she never did enjoy being on the water.

We sometimes left the pontoon at cottages that Lue rented - and we loved taking everyone for a ride. Even though we had more than one one close call, we never sank the boat. Once on Elk Lake, we made everyone put on their life jackets and we all got our ankles wet because of waves over the bow! Such excitement!

One year we anchored the boat at West End Beach to watch the Blue Angels. Everything went well and we all had a great time and a super view of the aerial activity. After the show a wind came up, and the Bay got very choppy. We had to go north to make our way back to the boat launch. John and Sharon stayed on board to help us get the boat back on the trailer. On our way back, the waves were coming at us from all directions, and we became awash. The motor was completely under water at one point. Once again, we did not sink the boat. Things evened out, we got more level, and the docking was successful. Whew. Talk about memorable moments!

In the summertime, we have had many, many good times on the pontoon with family. At one time or another, every member of our family has been able to go boating with us. When Dylan was little, it was a joy to watch him enjoy being out on the water. When he got a little older, his Grandpa would let him pilot the boat, and he took that job very seriously and followed all directions! When he was older still, Dylan and his Dad enjoyed tubing along behind the boat. It was kind of a bumpy ride, but they liked it anyway.

The past couple of summers, we haven't used the boat so much. One reason is that our summer weather has been a little chilly lately. Another reason is that we seem to run out of time because of so many other activities that we plan together. It seems that the two of us don't use the boat anymore when we're home alone either. It's taking up space in the pole barn, we're paying insurance on it yearly, and we don't use it that much. We wanted to sell it. But - selling stuff is always kind of a hassle, plus you never know who might show up at your house and "case the joint".

One day when we were out riding around, we drove right past Torch River Marine, and Dick stopped in to see how much we should ask for the boat. They made us an offer we couldn't refuse! We bring the boat to them, and they sell it for us for a fee. This really appealed to us as the perfect no-hassle way to take care of it. Today we took it over there and waved good-bye. They have 3 months to sell it, which Torch River Jim said would be no problem. Jim was impressed with the immaculate condition of the pontoon. It has always lived inside the pole barn, so it really is in good shape. We're hoping it will sell right away.

Heading out the driveway for the last time:

Torch River Jim:

Bye-bye pontoon:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Richard the Mentor

We have two Carols at the gym. One we call Carol O2 because she's on portable oxygen. The other we call Carol Kingsley because she lives in.......Kingsley!

Carol Kingsley has shown an interest in geocaching, and asked us if we could introduce it to her. We loved that idea, and we set a date. Dick printed out a bunch of material for her, and planned a route filled with easy caches - each one a different type. After gym, we all went to the Omelette Shoppe, and then we hit the road.

Here's Dick's description:

April 27 by basswoodbend (2586 found)
The Curse of the Blood Diamond by gonfishin

One of the gals at the gym had noticed that I often wear one of my Geocaching tee shirts when working out. She asked us to show her what it was all about.

Her husband thinks that it would be too physically demanding for her. We picked a selection of local caches which demonstrate that the challenge can be more mental than physical.

We picked a couple of park and grabs in town, ("Campus Plaza" and "Welcome to Traverse City") and then stopped by "The end of the line". She was excited and enthralled.

To give her the experience that "If it weren't for Geocaching, I'd never known this was here" we next did "Aerial Photo". "Wow! what a view!"

We added a regular ammo can to the route with a short walk with "Hidden Toy Box". She found it without assistance. To cap off her experience we turned to the Geo Pirates and their unique Patrick Murphy and "Captain Kidd's Treasure". Her shriek when the Captain was exposed brought the Pirates on the run and we had a nice chat.

She is hooked we think. As a finale, she asked to search for one that we haven't found and thus we came back here. She actually spotted the cache first. We were surprised when we opened the log book and discovered that we were also first finders and so we explained the FTF Dance ritual. Luckily we were deep in the woods and so no one could observe three senior citizens waddling around a stump. We took none of the stash, just signed the log at 2 PM and left our sig items and some hand sanitizer. Thanks for an enjoyable finish to a great day.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Second Annual AuSable Expo Meet & Greet

I developed writer's block, so Dick wrote up our first hosting of an event for me!

At the MiGO Winter Social, Basswood Bend and Dino Duo, (our friends Tim and Susie) were awarded silver coins for our contributions to geocaching. Both of us were thrilled but confused, what had we done to deserve the award? 

Then Dennis of ss-dsk announced that he had to attend training in Grand Rapids to maintain his EMS certification the weekend that he had planned to hold his Second Annual Grayling Expo Meet and Greet and was asking for help. We had attended the first event last year and had a fun time. It was held in the lobby of the Days Inn next door to the Expo conference center. Misty, the Days Inn manager, offered to provide food and some prizes. Since Tim and Susie had volunteered to man the Geocaching booth at the Expo, we figured the least we could do would be to host the event.
We had a great MiGO cake made at Meijer, and got Pepsi and chips to go with Misty's sloppy joes and Susie's beans. For door prizes we put together a cache in an ammo can, one of our coins, and a stuffed fish, in case there were any kids there. Misty added a few items including the grand prize, a night in their finest Jacuzzi suite.
We think the event went well although attendance was slim. We were competing with the opening day of trout season and a big event on Mackinac Island. We think every one had a good time. It only ran from 11 to 1, and who can turn down a free lunch?
For the prize drawing, each person entered their name on a card. We decided that, rather than hold the Grand Prize to the end, we'd let each person chose their own prize and that way everybody had an equal chance. Well the drawing began and we were surprised! The first winner chose - - The Ammo Can! Well she lives in Grayling, is a young girl and said she'd probably not use the free night. The next winner chose - - Our Coin! The third winner chose - - The Fish! What's with geocachers anyway? We were getting embarrassed for Misty but she was laughing as much as we were.
Eventually the suite as well as all the other prizes were selected, even the little plastic boxes we had used to represent geocaches on the cake.
We had a good time on our first attempt at hosting an event and will probably do it again. We left Grayling earlier than we had planned because we were tired, drove straight home and crashed.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sprinkler Sleet

This is what happens in the Spring when you have activated the sprinkler system, but Mother Nature hasn't cranked up the heat!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Last Blast of Winter (I Hope)

Fins and Feathers hosted an event today at the Silver Lake Park. It's a great location - nice facilities and pavilion and everything. They provided food and good company - however - the weather was the absolute worst ever for April! The temperature was in the thirties, and the wind was fierce! There were gusts up to 30 mph.

So there we stood, in the pavilion, with no sunshine anywhere, and a very cold blustery wind. It was the kind of picnic where you have to anchor everything down with stones. Surprisingly, it was quite well attended, and the kids really enjoyed the playground. The adults were shivering in their stocking caps and mittens.

Well, you can have a good time if you've a mind to, and there were lots of interesting people to "meet and greet". I lasted for an hour, and then I sat in the car with the engine running. My parents didn't raise any stupid children! The radio said that the wind chill was 29. Dick bailed out about 40 minutes later and shivered all the way home.

After we had thawed out and rested a bit, we went for a ride. At one point, up ahead, it looked like smoke was blowing across the road - but guess what. It was snow! Boggling! The car thermometer said 45 degrees, but yet we had a miniature blinding snow event.

We were out checking coordinates for Emma's Shrine and the Barnum Cemetery - a very interesting afternoon. We're trying to delve into the history of the Barnum Cemetery and Mayfield in general. Rumor has it that Albert Starr Barnum, who donated the land for the cemetery, was the brother of P.T. Barnum, but we can't find any proof of it anywhere.

Emma's Shrine has been all cleaned up, and all of the trinkets and stuffed animals that people have left are now gone. The cleaner-upper left a note in our cache box saying please don't put any more trash on the grave. Maybe she thought they were our things. She very cheekily removed the urn and the flowers that had been hiding the cache, and just left the cache container sitting on the ground. We were glad we stopped by to rescue it. It has been relocated and enabled, and GeoPirates have already found it!

It was late when we got home, so we did Chinese take-away from the new China Lee at Chum's Corners. They do a really nice job. We couldn't eat it all, so we're having Chinese tomorrow too!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Caching is Such a Good Excuse for a Drive!

A new cache showed up in Elk Rapids, and what better excuse do you need to go for a ride? The Sherwood Forest cache was in the park right by the Chamber of Commerce. It has a wonderful view of the stumps of Elk Lake. (snarky) The bench was all taped up and covered with plastic. When we saw it, we knew why. It has been beautifully hand-painted and really needed to be protected from the elements.

Found it 4/11/2010 You found What happened to Sherwood Forest?

With the blue sky and the white stuff gone, did some yard work and then took a break. Saw where this one popped and figured it was a great excuse to go for a ride along the Bay. It was quite dramatic today, four shades of blue. This park in Elk Rapids is a great spot for a cache and we were happy to snag a FTF. Our dancing days are gone so we just sat on the bench and wiggled our toes. Signed the log, scooped up the shilling and left Jack Squat. (OK, A hand sanitizer too) Thanks for the excuse for a drive.

Our dancing days are not gone - we've done FTF dances every time! Harrumph!

Our other cache find today was at the Scenic Trails Boy Scout Headquarters. It only took a minor search. Nice location, and lots of fun.

Found it 4/11/2010 You found Very Scenic Micro

It's good to have the white stuff gone and a warm blue sky. Got some yard work done and took a break for a few caches.This is the nearest to home we haven't snagged. This is an area that isn't on the usual route. ABX Guy used to have one inside the building that was fun. Thanks for the hide.

On the way home we stopped at K Mart. We're in the market for an Atlas that we can keep in the car. No such luck at K Mart. I bought some storage units for my bedroom. My poor room is bursting with crud-ola and needs to be organized. Now whose fault is that?

Friday, April 09, 2010

Did We Imagine It?

Did we imagine that last Tuesday it was 92 degrees? This is what we saw when we got home:

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Bye Kids - We're on the Road Again

Up very early to take Laurie and Dylan to the airport. Just hugs and farewells and their visit is over. Safe travels.

Back to the hotel for packing and breakfast. Then we ventured forth into the Washington D.C. morning rush hour. Yikes! Bumper to bumper for miles and miles. I don't know how people survive that every morning of the week!

We arrived at Baltimore Harbor at 8:45 a.m., which is not bad at all. Dick wanted to come here to the Science Center for the Geocaching exhibit. The Science Center doesn't open until 10, so we had time to enjoy the beautiful harbor area and the wonderful weather. We also found a virtual cache in the area, plus a regular cache in the Baltimore Visitor Center.

This poster explains why we stopped off in Baltimore:
We really enjoyed the warm sunshine and the harbor park.

The Spirit of Baltimore was playing my kind of music - Harry Belafonte and Jimmy Buffet - it was magical!

If they put a cache in their Visitor Center, Dick will find it.

Scenes of beautiful Baltimore Harbor:

On the way out of town, we passed right by Camden Yards! I was excited to see it.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

A Three-Dimensional Day

It was a three-dimensional day because we split up. I wasn't feeling so very well, so I stayed at the hotel. Jana was over-tired, so she stayed home. Meanwhile, Laurie, Dick and Dylan went to town. They walked the Mall from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument. The temperature was 92 degrees, so at that point, Dick opted to rest over by the Natural History Museum, and Laurie and Dylan kept walking over to the Capitol Building.

First of all, by the Market Square Parking Garage, Dick and Dylan found a virtual cache at the Navy Memorial. Here they are with the Lone Sailor.

The starting point at the Lincoln Memorial:

At the Viet Nam Memorial, Dick found Bob Petrimoulx's name on the Wall. Bob was a student of Dick's at BHS.

At the Korean War Memorial - Dick is trying to be the same height as Dylan:

Dylan takes a break and talks to his Dad on the phone.

The World War II Memorial is relatively new. It has a column 17 feet tall for each State and for possessions.

I think this central fountain is absolutely beautiful. You're not supposed to wade in it or throw coins in it - but on this super hot day, many people couldn't resist the temptation to cool their heels!

I was shocked when I saw this picture because I though someone had vandalized the Memorial. But Dick said it was engraved into the stone. Kilroy was such an integral part of the 1940's, especially during the war - so it's really fitting. GI's drew that image all over the world.

On the way to the museum, y ou walk through a sculpture garden - this is a sculpture of a typewriter eraser!

PART TWO: Not so much fun.

Back at the hotel I was resting and trying to feel better. At 12:50 I got a phone call from the front desk. Bear in mind that Dick had reserved our two rooms until April 7th, tomorrow. This is how it went:

Check out time is 12 o'clock. Bring your things down to the desk and check out. The hotel is full and we need your room.


There is no umm - get down here and check out.

Well I assume...

Do not assume. We need your room. Move your things now and check out.

What about our family in the other room?

What other room?

307, the room next door. We have reserved both rooms.

Just hold on a minute... (pause) That room checks out tomorrow. You check out today. Just a minute... (pause)...OK I'll give you an extension and I hope it works.
Wow. She hopes it works? Cheesh. So I sat down on the bed to try to relax, and turned on the TV.
At about 1:15, the door to my room opened, and there was a Mom and two little girls who were very shocked to see me. "305? This is supposed to be our room! " I said, " I'll call the front desk." She said, "No, I'm going back down there."
I called Jana to tell her about it - she said that the hotel should really comp our room after all of that. (It didn't happen.)
Laurie was having phone trouble - no one could reach her. She and Dylan were at the Capitol and they didn't know where Dad was. Dick called to say that he was waiting at the Natural History Museum and couldn't reach Laurie. I no sooner hung up than Laurie called so I could help them connect with each other. Everybody was tired and hot, and they decided to come back to the hotel even though it was just 3 p.m.
When they got here, Dick's key wouldn't work in our door. I told them the story of my afternoon. Dick went to the car and got the reservation papers and showed them at the front desk and got a new key.
Whew. It was a little nerve-wracking, but all's well that ends well! We all rested until dinner time.
I couldn't help but wonder what would have happened to our things if I hadn't stayed in the room today...
Jana drove over to meet us and we went to the American Cafe at the Landmark Mall for our Farewell Dinner.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Hope, Ice Cream, and Modern Art

Such a wonderful, full day!
It began in the National Museum of Natural History. You can't really see it all in one day, so we saw the things that interested us most. Laurie especially wanted to see the Hope diamond.

There are great exhibits of fossilized, extinct animals. I enjoyed all of the exhibits....but the best part was having us all be together!

Posing with a mammoth - look at the size of those tusks!

We all loved seeing the wolverine, and maybe that was our favorite - but...

take a look at this two-toed sloth - it was huge! It looked to be almost the size of a tyrannosaurus rex. Maybe this was our favorite, or maybe we just can't choose one thing.

This is a huge piece of copper as long as a van - it came from the Upper Peninsula!

Jana and I on the mezzanine balcony.

Geocaching out in front of the Museum.

Jana told us about the National Gallery of Art. It has a tunnel over to the East Gallery with a moving walkway and a light show on the ceiling., not to mention an ice cream shop! So we all voted to go over there. It turned out to be the most exciting and engaging part of the whole day. Here's the way Jana described it to Tom:

Not Only! Was Dylan's favorite the art museum. We wanted to just do
a walk-through of the impressionists because of course those are
everyone's favorites. But, the impressionist wing is being renovated,
so they have a temporary home next door in the gallery of modern art.

So, we went through the walkway and down the little elevator with the
secret door and around the corner and up the other elevator, where we
were just outside the impressionists wing.

But Dylan could see through the door into another gallery full of
squiggles and blocks of color, and he went "oooh!" So, we went to
peek in there first. And then that adjoined to another room, and
another and another, and he was so excited we just kept going through
the whole permanent collection of abstract and pop art. The thing
that made him do his little boo-hop across the room to me going
"Auntie Jana! Auntie Jana!" was the Warhol Campbell's Soup can.

And we weren't just looking, he was analyzing what the artist was
trying to do and explaining why it was cool. How one canvas that
looked like a big block of grey with some red symbols on it was the
artist playing with foreground and background, and how an irregular
black polygon lying on top of a white rectangle was symbolic of good
and evil, order and chaos. And, while he was really insightful and
dead-on, he did not take it too seriously -- at one point in his
interpretations I looked at him kinda funny, and he said, "have I gone
too far? Or did you buy that?"

Boo's favorite was this Lichtenstein triptych called "Cow Going
Abstract.". He explained why it was cool separately to each of us:

I'm sure if you ask him, he'll happily tell you why it is cool, too.

We looked for a print of it in the gift shop, but we came up empty.

It was really just a very very neat thing. Who knew??
One of my personal favorites was the pastel ballerina, The Dancer by Auguste Renoir.

Another personal favorite of mine was the Vincent Van Gogh Self-Portrait. It's such a thrill to see the actual, original canvas after a lifetime of looking at prints!

At dinner time we all headed for the Old Ebbit Grill. We finally figured out that the fastest way to get around D.C. is by taxi, so we hailed two cabs and went to dinner.

After dinner we took cabs to Union Station to catch the us for our Monuments by Moonlight tour. The first stop was the Jefferson Memorial.

The Lincoln Memorial is so beautiful all lighted up at night.