Sunday, September 1, 2013

Labor Day 2013 Family Picnic

John reserved a picnic shelter at his neighborhood park. Normal potluck and bring your own stuff for the grill. Great afternoon and good fun.  Mike and Mary came down from Canton/Akron area.  Dwight and July came up from Knoxville.

Mary was adamant that she did not want a baby shower. Instead Anne and Margaret planned a couple standard baby shower games for the men folk. Women were also invited to participate but it was more fun watching the guys. Match the correct names of the melted chocolate candy in the pamper AND the no label baby food to the list provided. Everyone was invited to participate but most of the women have endured these before.  The guys were great sports and competitive on their scores.

We had great fun and good visit.  Here are a few photos from the afternoon.  Note the soon to be new parent faces on Mike and Mary as they contemplate pretend poopy diapers. They have many diapers in their future. Eleven year old Jake scored well because he had no qualms about tasting the diaper chocolate (ick).

Everyone had fun and it was a great visit and afternoon.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ireland 2013

Our vacation in Ireland started at the Shannon 
Airport where we rented a car.  Over the next week
we stayed in Ballyvaughan, Killmare, Ardmore, 
and Dublin.

We first drove to the Burren, an area with much
exposed limestone.  The topsoil was eroded away by glaciers, 
farmers, wind and rain a few thousand years ago.

The first of many castles.  This one is in good
shape.  Most were only ruins.  Somehow we 
missed getting any pictures of them.

 A typical coastal village.

Street performers in Galway.


Obviously Asian, this pair were the only ones I could find playing traditional jigs and reels.  Everything comes from China now.  Even Irish music!

 The Cliffs of Moher.  Quite impressive.

 This lady was probably the best street performer we saw.
She played beautifully and sang in Irish.

 In Lisdoonvarna we enjoyed this band 
over dinner and a pint of Guinness.
Doesn't get much better.

We took a walk in the Burren guided by a local farmer.
He told us of the geology, plants, culture and history.
We learned a lot.

 Typical Irish weather.  

 Craggaunowen, a representation of ancient life in Ireland.

 A particularly lush view.

To truly 
you need to
rent a car
and drive 
on the left
side of
the road.

 We hiked these woods looking for a castle that
didn't exist.  But it worked out OK 'cause we met
a couple local guys who gave us good advice on
where to go and where to avoid.  

 More Irish driving experience.  This road handles 
two way traffic.  Fortunately we didn't encounter
any tour buses coming the other way.

 Healy Gap.

 Bantry House.

 Typical country side and weather.

 Our intrepid travelers in a timed camera shot.

 After touring the Jameson Distillery we got to sample 
the goods.  I volunteered to be a taste tester.  Our guide
is smiling on the right.

  The tide is out in Youghal.
While we were taking a self-guided walking
tour of the town a gentleman introduced himself
and showed us the sights.  Some of the best 
times we had on our trip were interacting 
with local folks.


 Another guided tour.  Jim knew the local farmers and
drove us around places we'd never see otherwise.

Waterford Chrystal being made.

 Street artist in Dublin.

Like butterfly bushes?  They grow everywhere in Ireland.

One of the best things we did in Dublin was 
take a tour bus.  Saw lots more than
we could have on foot. 

 How do street performers power their amplifiers?
Car batteries.

 Our last night we attend a dinner performance
with live musicians and dancers.

Full moon over Dublin.

London August 2013

August 8 we left Knoxville for London.
Our kids joined us along with Laurie's friend, Christine.
The first evening we met some of 
Julie's UK colleagues for dinner.

 The next day we had a guided tour of the town.
Our first stop was Westminster Abbey.

 Photos are not permitted inside the Abbey itself.
This picture is outside a courtyard. 

 We didn't know horses were involved in the changing
of the guard.  This was a couple blocks from 
Buckingham Palace.  I have no idea what the
horses were for and never got a good explanation.
Regardless they were handsome animals.

 Our guide took us to the guard barracks a block from 
the palace.  This is the band marching to the palace
in their bearskin hats.

 Of course, no visit to London is complete without
a picture of Big Ben.

 If you're familiar with the Harry Potter 
movies this was the door they used as 
the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron.
It was painted black for the movie.

 A different view of Tower Bridge.

 The Globe Theater, really a reproduction of the 
theater Shakespeare used.

We skipped the giant ferris wheel, the Eye of London,
and the Tower of London.  Our time was limited and 
we didn't want to spend it standing in line for hours. 

 Sunday we met with the family of Em's friend, Lucy.
The street in front of Buckingham Palace is closed
to auto traffic on Sunday.  Lots of people 
were out enjoying the beautiful weather.

Our motley crew.  Em, Lucy Wilson, Paul Wilson,
Dwight, Anna Wilson, Dan, Laurie, Julie,
Christine Cain, Michael Wilson.

The next day Julie and I left for Shannon Ireland
leaving the kids behind in London.  They stayed
about another week before returning home.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Summer 2013

It seems Blogspot has changed the way posts are generated
(or I forgot how it's done) so this post is in reverse
chronological order.  I suggest you scroll to the 
bottom and read up.  Either way it's all good.

2013 Has been a great summer for us.
However, the best part deserves it's own post.
Watch for our London / Ireland post.

 Julie made lots of new friends.

 And no summer is complete without Family Reunion.

 A tussock moth caterpillar.

 Friday of Reunion we rode the Simon Kenton Trail 
to Urbana.  On the way we found one of the old railroad
mileposts.  This one was covered in vines.

 Some time during the summer
Julie had a baby, one of many.  This is a giant
Leopard Moth.

 Mile 0 on the towpath, Georgetown MD.
From here we rode across K Street in DC 
to pick up a U-haul truck for the trip 
back to our car.

 This mud hole was our nemesis.
We almost had room to go around it but our bike
is so long that the back wheel trailed too close and 
slide into the puddle.  We crashed in the weeds.
Thankfully there wasn't poison ivy.

 Another improvement since our last visit.
This aqueduct was little more than a pile of rocks.
A small steel bridge bridged the creek.
Concerned supporters took on the task of rebuilding
the aqueduct.  They did a fantastic job.
 A typical view of the towpath.

 Saw several of these guys.

We rode the C&O twice in 2008. 
A vast improvement to the towpath was  the creation 
of this concrete path along the "slackwater" section.
Five years ago this didn't exist and we had to climb steep hills 
out of the valley and detour through farm land for a few miles.
Needless to say we were delighted.

 This is a family we met on the towpath.
They came all the way from Arizona to ride it.
A classic case of the tortoise and the hare. 
They rode faster than us but took more breaks too.
We kept leap-frogging until we chanced a mutual break.

 Saw lots of Zebra Swallowtail butterflies.
Tried to get pictures but they don't sit still for the camera
This is the only one that turned out well enough to post.

 Saw lots of turtles in the old canal.

 In May Julie and I traveled to Cumberland Maryland to ride the
The C&O Canal Towpath.  We spent the first day in Cumberland
to hang out and ride the Western Maryland Scenic Railway.

Laurie graduated from UC this spring.
So of course we had to celebrate. 
French Park turned out to be a perfect venue.