view

view
Hooded Mergansers

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Back In SE Ohio

I still haven't adjusted to the time change....  I guess it's no big deal...  I haven't had anything I've had to be "on time" for.  I don't know if it's because I'm older or what, but I just don't bounce back so fast.

I have managed to lose the 3.5 pounds I gained on that cruise....  don't know how much I'd have gained if we hadn't have walked over 35 miles.  But here it is, the end of September and we're in Southeastern Ohio.

Autumn doesn't usually hit southeastern Ohio quite this early (at least in my memory).  The prime weekend for the fall foliage is usually the 2nd weekend in October.  But at least in my mind, it's a bit early this year.

We're usually not here this time of year.  Since we became full-time RVers over 11 years ago, we've missed most of the autumn seasons in Ohio.

I'll admit.... I'm a dyed in the wool Buckeye.  I don't mean a fan of OSU...  I mean that my roots are deep in the Ohio soil.  Not just Ohio...  but Southeastern Ohio.  I get kidded about my "hick" accent.  I laugh...  okay...  I was born and raised just over 30 miles from the Ohio River...  West Virginia.  But, I'm not a West Virginian ..... I'm definitely an Ohioan.


I love this time of year....  the leaves start to turn into their brilliant fall colors.  In years past, I've watched the sumac turn their fiery reds first...  then the Virginia Creeper and the Poison Ivy follow suit...

Yep!  This is poison ivy...
And this time it's year it's quite beautiful...

And even better....
The birds will love the berries of poison ivy!
As much as I hate brushing up against this plant while the oils in it can wreak havoc with my allergies, I know that these berries will provide food for several species of birds during the winter.

Juglans Nigra...
Black Walnut....
One of my least favorite trees....
It's one of the last to get its leaves in the spring...  and one of the first to shed its leaves in the fall.  The fruit (walnuts) wreak havoc with lawnmowers.... and if you bother to pick them up before mowing, your hands will be stained black.
But....
The lumber from these trees is one of the best...
Walnut makes into beautiful furniture and other woodwork.

I wrote that it's a bit early for autumn leaves....
Sassafras
It's hardly more than a shrub, but eventually the leaves will turn a mahogany red.....
I've never really cared for sassafras tea but I love knowing that Mother Nature offers us so much.

What's This?
This is what honeysuckle looks like when it "goes to seed".

Most of us are familiar with it when it looks like this...
I think it's interesting that it will still produce flowers into the fall.... maybe it's one of those survival things.
I do know that this vine can choke out and kill the plants that you want to survive.  
It's not exactly like the Kudzu plant of the south, but it's still one of those plants we could have done without here on the farm.

Speaking of such...
While out and about today, I never came across even the first Bittersweet ....  
This plant is also a vine...  
But I liked it because I'd make wreaths out of it each year.

For 18 years, Bill & I sold various items at the local Farmer's Market.  In the fall we'd sell Bittersweet and Grape Vine wreaths... In the winter I'd make wreaths out of the conifers.

Sometime in the last year we had a huge branch come off an oak that is located just at the back edge of the field.
I don't know if lightning hit it or what...  but when I walked back there today I noticed that the Game Trail that has always crossed there has adapted to the dropped tree...
Guess this doesn't show it well....
But the trail is so well traveled I'd have no problem walking it.

We aren't sure how long we'll be here in Ohio this fall so I haven't put up bird feeders nor fed the deer or put out a mineral block for the deer and turkeys.

I've seen (and heard) several species of birds, and today even saw a Tufted Titmouse check out one of the birdhouses.  I haven't been able to get a good shot of the Cardinal
(The Ohio State Bird)
But if I do, I'll be sure to add it to a blog!


When we lived here, we used many "found" fruits to make jelly, wine or anything we could think of....
Pucker Power!
The Persimmon!
We have several trees growing on our property.  If you wait until the first frost to harvest this fruit, you can use it in preserves, puddings or other recipes.  
Personally, it's right up there with PawPaws on my list of "Will Not Eat" fruits.

But our persimmon trees bore fruit nicely this year.  
The raccoons will love them!

One fruit that Bill planted several years ago...
Several varieties of apple trees.
Two trees that have survived are now bearing fruit.
This apple variety is of the "no-spray" kind.  
I don't remember what year he planted these trees, but they never bore fruit while we lived here.
We've been gone 12 summers.... now the fruit, while not really big, is really tasty!  A nice, tart taste...  crisp!
This apple did not go to waste... I ate it shortly after taking this picture.

One last picture...
One of the maples that has begun it's transformation....

As you can tell, I love being here on the farm during the autumn season.

We no longer live in the old farm house....  haven't lived there for years.  
Don't even live in the house we built..  it's now a rental.
But....
Before we left to travel Bill put in an RV pad with a dump station and a hook-up at the edge of our old driveway.

So...
At least once a year we return...
To visit family...
To visit old friends.....
To check on our rentals...
And...
So I can renew my love of our farm...
And Southeastern Ohio....

That's All For Today!

Monday, September 24, 2012

More of AK and WA

We'll be flying back to Ohio tomorrow and I know that day will be totally non-productive.  Not only that, we'll lose 3 hours and while it will be 7:30pm EST when we arrive, (or are we still on daylight savings time?), my mind and body will think it's 4:30 pm.  We'll wait until we get off the plane before we decide whether to spend the night in Columbus or collect our car and drive the hour or so back to Athens.  I want to make a run to Trader Joe's before we head for Texas and the Columbus store is only a couple of miles from the airport.  Decisions, decisions!

Quite a few years ago I talked Bill into a taking a vacation where we took as many different modes of travel as we could find.  For the most part it was really fun....  except maybe for that little incident on the Greyhound bus.  In case you're wondering...  the bus was packed.....  We had a young mother with an infant and a little girl around 3 years old sitting right behind us.  The young woman didn't speak English...  the baby cried a lot... but the really bad part was that the 3 year old was terribly carsick...  stood up hanging on to the back of the seat in front of her (Bill's seat) and when she wasn't tossing her cookies (now THAT'S an euphemism, isn't it!) she had the dry heaves.  They got off in St. Louis, only to be replaced by a lady who was carrying her mother-in-laws ashes in what looked like Chinese take-out in the seat beside her.

Bill forgave me a long time ago for this vacation (?)...  We still travel; we still meet very interesting people; and we still love taking various modes of transportation.

This trip we've taken a commercial flight, shuttle tram in the airport, taxi, city bus, subway, light rail, various hotel shuttles, monorail, and cruise ship.
And, we walked!
We seldom use the elevators, but this trip I think we rode up maybe a half dozen times in our week on board.

While I'm back on ship, let me show you the speakers at the Genealogy Conference...
Since I didn't go to any of the workshops, I'd have to ask Bill who all these folks are.
I just go to the cocktail party that recognizes everyone at the end of the conference.

And...  because I planned part of the trip around finding geocaches...
Yep!  There was an "Earthcache" at Tracy Arm!
Just for the record, I'll mention that we found five caches in Washington (Seattle), Ten in Alaska, and One in British Columbia.
For any geocachers out there, we also got 3 new Souvenirs...  one for visiting Groundspeak, one for our first cache in BC, and the third for finding caches in Alaska.  
So now we've found caches in 49 of the 50 states....
Do I see a trip to Hawaii in the future?

Today is kind of a laid back day, but we had missed going to Pioneer Square in Seattle last week.  So... this morning off we headed...
Bill at Pioneer Square

Waterfall Park
A lovely little enclosed garden 
Especially interesting because the building all around it are commercial.  This is a quiet spot amid chaos!

More Totem Poles
There are a lot of homeless folks here....
You'll see people sleeping on the ground; some alone, some with others; some with a dog or two.
Lots of panhandlers and buskers...

But the area is quite beautiful...
Flowers everywhere.....  hanging baskets, potted plants, flower boxes....  just all kinds.  Colorful and beautiful!

Isn't this an interesting take-out restaurant?
We're not sure what it started out as... 
but now, it's the
Pig Can.

We didn't buy lunch there...  we headed to the boardwalk and ate at Ivar's...
Here's Bill....  paying the tab at the end of lunch.
They specialize in seafood...
I had the cod taco; Bill had an oyster po'boy.
A nice way to end our visit to Seattle.

We walked through the Pike Place Market one last time..
Then we headed back to the Light Rail train station....

Now we're back to the hotel and Bill used the complimentary "office" to print our boarding passes for our flight out tomorrow.

So this adventure is about to end....
It's been great!
But that just means that another one is about to begin!

That's All For Today!



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Alaska Cruise Recap

We just got back into Seattle today.  Although internet was available on the ship, we chose not to have it.  Bill was at the genealogy conference and I really enjoyed the view from our balcony while we were at sea.  There were several stops along the way and we had a great time exploring those towns.  We hardly had time to spend on computers.

In April, 2001, Bill & I put our motorhome on a ferry and made our first trip to Alaska as RVers.  That trip up the Inside Passage was memorable...  with views we'd never seen before.  This trip...  along the same waterway, was quite different.  A cruise ship with planned stops along the way....

We boarded the Star Princess in Seattle
That's Bill in the upper left...  heading to the gangway....  On the upper right we are properly identified with our name tags.  The lower left is the skyline of Seattle.  The lower middle is Bill at the mandatory life jacket instruction session.  And the lower right is Bob Velke...  the person who is behind Wholly Genes, a genealogy company that produces the Master Genealogist program that Bill uses.  Bob has a genealogy conference once a year on a cruise ship.  This year there were around 250 participants.  So I'd guess that our group made up about 1/10th of the total passengers.

During the days at sea Bill goes to workshops, hears speakers and meets other genealogists.  He's been working on his family history for over 25 years now and it's one of those things that is never finished.  

I'm a real slacker about this...  would rather spend my days at sea reading a good book and watching the world float by...

Our first day on shore was at Ketchikan...
We wandered around town looking at totem poles, the old historic buildings and the seaplane traffic coming in and out of the town.  I think most folks take tours that have a guide with all kinds of information, but we really enjoy our walking tours on our own.

Of course, I'm busy with my GPS, and we do try to find at least one geocache hidden in each place.

The day after Ketchikan we sailed through Tracy Arm...
We saw quite a few glaciers, ice floes, snow-capped mountains, and many, many waterfalls.  We got up early that morning so we wouldn't miss a minute of it.  It was worth it!  When I'd get too cold outside, I could go to our room and watch it all from there.  That lower right picture is the view out our window.

Later that day we docked in Juneau...
Again, we wandered through town, checked out the shops, then stopped for a beer at the Red Dog Saloon.
This was a good choice.
By chance, we happened to get there when the man in the lower left picture was the entertainment.  And he did, indeed, entertain!  The saloon itself is worth going into, and we sat there for well over an hour enjoying it all!
Beer was $6.00 a glass...  sound pricey?
Not at all!  You're paying for the fun!

The next day we stopped at Skagway..
Three days in a row walking...  miles!
But looking at these old buildings, reading about the history of the gold rush, and wandering in and out of the shops was very entertaining.  
That picture at the middle right is of Bill.... climbing up a fairly steep trail...  to find a geocache, of course!
The bottom right is of a shop that sells Russian items...  including hundreds of those wooden dolls that you open up to find another one, only smaller...  and another...  and another...  and another.

One fun place in Skagway is...
The Red Onion Saloon
Yep!  That's Bill with one of the "ladies of the night".  We were there too early in the morning to take the tour, but enjoyed the rowdy atmosphere of the place anyway.

Of course I was always on the lookout for wildlife...
We saw several species of birds (no puffins)...  but saw bald eagles in a couple of towns we were in.
A school of porpoises (or dolphins?) swam alongside our ship for a while.
And for a long while, a pod of whales were along both sides of the ship.  I tried to get a good shot of their "fluke", but never got "the perfect shot".  Loved seeing them blow....  
And we had a harbor seal hang out just below us while we were docked in Skagway.
Just in case you're wondering...  the upper left picture is of a slug.  Yes...  you read that right.
In Ketchikan we saw dozens of slugs as we were out walking.  

The weather was fantastic....  no rain the entire week.  It was cold going through Tracy Fjord, but we were dressed for it.  Most days were jeans, sweater and jacket weather.  We had some foggy mornings but never anything that ruined our views.

Now we're back in Seattle.  We still have tomorrow to do any sightseeing we may have missed before the cruise.
Then on Tuesday, we fly back to Ohio.

From there, we'll begin another great adventure.

That's All For Today!

Friday, September 14, 2012

More of Seattle

It didn't seem to take us long to adjust to the 3 hour time change, but, truth is, I think it takes a lot longer for me when I lose hours than when I gain them.  Guess that doesn't say much about how I really use my time, does it?

Bill & I walked a few blocks to a great breakfast cafe around 7:00 this morning.  Neither of us are coffee drinkers, but we both had a cup of decaf.  When in Seattle, you see coffee shops EVERYWHERE!  You smell the aroma of various blends along every street.  About half the people you see walking are carrying a cup of some kind of coffee.  Not only Starbucks, but more brands of coffee than I've ever heard of.

It's sort of like being in a foreign land and learning all those new species of birds....

I didn't take any breakfast photos, but I will say that the dungeness crab omelet was fantastic!

We headed over to the monorail around 9am.  Wanted to go up in the Space Needle.
This is the fastest way to travel between downtown and the Seattle Center
You can see the Space Needle in the center.
It was built for the 1962 World's Fair.
This year it is celebrating it's 50th year.

The views of the city and of Puget Sound are great!
Visibility was quite good today, but not so good that we
could see Mt Rainier.

My favorite views were not of the far-off places,
But of
The Dale Chihuly Glass Garden
Having seen his glass exhibits a couple of times before with my sister, Cynthia, at the Museum of Art in Columbus, Ohio,
I recognized his work even before I saw the massive
glass sculptures.

And looking down onto another building I saw...
These huge spiders.
(Actually, they look more like Daddy-Longlegs, don't they?)

We walked through much of the Seattle Center grounds...
These Straw Gardens were quite interesting....
I'll have to admit that having seen similar straw "logs" holding back water or stuff along highway road jobs, I kind of got a chuckle out of using them for "art".

There are several museums in this area, and lots of other uses of the grounds....
I wish I'd had Bill stand beside this giant shrimp
(hey... is that an oxymoron?)
just to show you how big it is...
Well, I didn't...  but it is huge.  I think that's a bicycle wheel at the top of one of it's feelers.

While we were taking a break, we saw this tour go by...
Segway tours are a lot of fun.
We've done a couple of these in other places and they are a great way to cover a lot of ground and still see things close up.

There are totem poles around in some of the parks...
I was disappointed to see that this one really wasn't carved.
Not only that, there wasn't any back to it.
Oh well...  that's what I get for being a purist...

Living in a small motorhome doesn't give me a lot of room for "excess baggage"
But my collection of Smashed Pennies doesn't take up much room.  Of course I had to have one of the Space Needle.

We took the monorail back to the downtown area, 
then headed off later to Groundspeak
The Home of Geocaching!

While they don't give tours since it is a working office, the reception area is where the Lily Pad is...
That's a huge box that holds lots and lots of Travelbugs and other tradeables.
These folks are sorting through to see what they want to take and hide somewhere else.
I won't go into geocaching in this blog, but it's an international "treasure hunt" kind of game.
Groundspeak is the headquarters of it all.

Here I am...
Signing the logbook that we, the RVers, have visited here.

We took the bus back to the downtown area, but not before stopping at a wonderful Greek restaurant...
This baklava was like no other I've ever tasted...
Really delicious!

Tomorrow we have to check out of this hotel by 11am.
We'll head over to the hotel at the airport where we'll meet up with the Wholly Genes genealogy group.

That's the software company that Bill uses to record his genealogy records.  
They "sponsor" a week-long cruise each year.
I'll write more about it later, but that's why we're here.

And here you thought we were just in Seattle to sightsee and have fun!

By the way...  the weather is fantastic!

That's All For Today!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sleepy in Seattle

It's been a very long day....

Our flight from Port Columbus (Ohio) left around 6:30 this morning.  It was running a bit late getting into Chicago and we literally ran to catch the connecting flight.  Naturally it was in a totally different concourse and had started boarding about 10 minutes before we even landed.  So...  we had to hustle our buns to make it.

But...  make it we did...  and we arrived in Seattle around 10am.  The 3 hour time difference made for a very long day.

We will be going on the Alaska cruise on Sunday so decided to come to Seattle a couple days early to do some sightseeing.  We took a taxi from the airport to our hotel...
Our first view of Seattle...  
That's the meter on the taxi racking up $$$ on the lower right.

We chose a hotel in the "touristy" section so we could walk...
The Moore Hotel is right next to the Moore Theater...
In fact, years ago it used to house theater people.

It is an old hotel...
When's the last time you saw a claw-foot bathtub in a hotel?
It kind of reminds me of hotels in Mexico...
Like hotels were in the USA 50 or more years ago...

But, the elevator works...
(we're on the 6th floor)
It actually has a lot of character...
And it's only a couple blocks from...

The Pike Place Market
This is a HUGE market!
Not just produce and fish, but they sell artwork, crafts, gorgeous flowers, souvenirs and more than we could possible see in just a few hours.

Street musicians play so there is constantly something going on.

Our daughter in Texas, was here just a few weeks ago and saw an item she wanted...
I can't remember if she bought it and it got lost on the way home or what...
But...
Celeste, we have those hair thingys you wanted.

The market goes on for several blocks
The buildings across from the market all have lovely flowers in boxes along the edges...
They make the whole area so colorful and festive.

Bill & I had lunch in one of the deli's...
It wasn't quite noon, but all the restaurants were packed!

We spent a lot of time just wandering around checking out the waterfront, the nearby parks, a few of the shops....
Even stopped and had a beer when our feet got too tired to go on.

We came back to our room for a brief rest, and headed back out around 4pm.

I wanted to find a geocache or two while here.
The first one we found after finally getting our GPS to settle down...

The 2nd one on my list was called 
Double Bubble Toil and Trouble!
The walls in this alley are TOTALLY covered with chewing gum!
No kidding!!!!
Somewhere in this gawd-awful mess there's a geocache hidden.
That's me in the lower left picture...
And you know what?
We didn't even touch this wall to start looking!

While it's pretty amazing just to look at it, I'll try my luck at any other cache before I'll touch this one.

We both wanted clam chowder for dinner but the Pike Place Chowder restaurant had closed at 5pm.

So we walked several blocks to a food court in a nearby mall where that restaurant has another place...
Bill, with his
Fish Taco and a cup of New England Clam Chowder...
We may not eat fancy, but we sure eat tasty!

Tomorrow we'll go to the Space Needle in the morning.
We are scheduled to visit Groundspeak in the afternoon.
Groundspeak is the headquarters for Geocaching.

The first geocache was hidden by a guy here in Seattle in 2001.  That hide began an international "game" that now has well over a million caches hidden, and I have no idea how many people like us go out and try to find.

So we'll have a couple of pretty busy days here before we board that cruise ship on Sunday.

Sometime we'll have to adjust to that 3 hour time difference.

That's All For Today!