Tag Archives: Adventure

Anonymous friends

We were up at the cabin this weekend working on some fairly large projects.  We were pretty busy running around doing things and trying to get stuff situated.  Nearing the end of the afternoon on Sunday, something came up that was a bit of a family emergency.  It wasn’t huge but it wasn’t insignificant either.  No one was hurt and everyone is ok, but we just had a bit of a freak-out.

Anyhow, we had to do some exploring about the ridge to handle the problem and we were in uncharted territory.  Typically, when we are on the ridge, we go straight to our place.  We don’t have time to explore and honestly, I have been on similar back roads…if you don’t know where you are going you better have all day and a full tank of gas.  Still, we had to venture out and we saw a good bit of the area  in the process.

A WV farm we discovered
A WV farm we discovered on our tour of the ridge

But that’s not the point of the story…we weren’t lost but we needed help and as we drove about, we happened upon some folks on 4-wheelers.  I explained the situation to them and asked for advice on how to take care of the issue.  Really, I just figured they would give me a quick answer and we’d be done.  Instead, they asked if we wanted them to help out and I said, “only if you have nothing else to do all day.”  They said they would help in spite of my attempt at a warning.  They drove all over the ridge to help us out.  I suppose they each burned at least 45 minutes of gas and didn’t give up until we finally got back together at the cabin to report that the issue was handled.

Anyone who says there aren’t good people around is wrong.  I offered to fill them up with gas or give them a drink…they wanted nothing and simply laughed and smiled and moved on.  I didn’t even get their names but I hope they will stop back by the place sometime when we are up there.  I hope I can be such a neighbor and be equally willing to help someone in need.  I know they won’t see this, but thanks to my new anonymous friends and to all folks willing to help a stranger!

Dang devil scooter

So, it’s been a rough go around our place lately.  As you may know, Isaac has had a significant issue with a blood clot in his leg.  It seemed like that was enough to call it a summer, but just last night, Abigail broke at least one wrist and maybe both.

Broken wrists
We call her Splint Eastwood

We were at the local high school walking around the track with Isaac working on building a little endurance in his legs as he prepares for school to start in 3 weeks.  Abigail took her scooter to ride as Emily and I walked with Isaac.  She was scooting along when all of a sudden, she just sort of toppled over.  It turns out, somehow, on a flat paved track, that she rode off the surface into the grass which caused her to fall.  We always insist on helmets but it’s a scooter on a flat surface…we didn’t think wrist guards would be a big deal…WRONG!

Her fall was seemingly gentle so we debated a bit on whether to take her to get x-rays, but when we got home, she couldn’t move her wrists and her hands were trembling.  Emily took her to an urgent care place where they x-rayed both wrists.  One was clearly broken, the other was not clear.  Sometime today or tomorrow, they will go to an orthopedic doc and find out for sure.  So, the debate is, “one cast or two?”

She’s in pretty good spirits so the pain isn’t too bad.  She’s just trying to figure out the logistics of having both arms splinted right now…pretty funny really.  Anyhow, I figure, the dang devil scooter will take a ride over the hill into the weeds as soon as she is able to throw again.  Wear your helmets AND your wrist guards kids!

Angle grinder + finger = bad

Emily and I finished up digging the footer a while back so that left the best part…mixing concrete!  We mixed and poured 184 bags of concrete into the footer ditch.  Just to save you the math, 184 bags of concrete is a metric crap-ton!  When you pour concrete for just about any purpose, you need to add steel rebar which gives the concrete something to which to bind.  You can buy nice pre-cut pieces or you can buy large pieces for about a quarter the price and cut it yourself.

Angle grinder
Not a fingernail trimmer!

The perfect tool to cut rebar is an angle grinder.  I happen to have an angle grinder with a metal cutting blade on it.  Running an angle grinder is a bit of an adventure!  The same blade that cuts steel with ease and throws sparks like a 4th of July show, spins mere inches from the user’s fingers.  Mostly, when the user is not exhausted, it is a simple task to keep separation between fingers and blade.  A few weeks ago, I was in a fatigued state and co-mingled my left index finger with a spinning blade.  I am incredibly lucky to still have my finger and am even luckier to have only cut a nice gouge in my fingernail.

angle grinder finger cut
This is several weeks healed but you can see the potential…
On the next to last bag of concrete for the footer, I dropped the bag and my finger got between the bag and the blade in the mixer…it was an 80 lb bag and yes, it hurts even 2 weeks later

I both cussed and bled, for roughly the same amount of time, before I surveyed the area for a first aid kit.  We are usually pretty conscientious about keeping first aid supplies on hand, but in our fatigued state, we left home without one.  I have always been one to improvise and really, my solution is not terribly new, but I am still proud of my first aid solution…duct tape!

Redneck Band-aid?
Redneck Band-aid?
Almost done laying the block!

I was able to continue on with work for the day but I was much slower and continued to mumble bad things off and on through the day.  It was not a lot of fun though and I still have a nice bit of concrete filler in the gouge where my fingernail should be.  Friends, I have to tell you, if you feel an urge to trim your fingernails on the work site, DO NOT use an angle grinder.  Stick to a metal file or cross-cut pliers or even tin-snips…but not an angle grinder!

My daughter running a chainsaw

There comes a special time in every little girl’s life when she needs to learn how to run a chainsaw.  For Abigail, my 9 year old, that time was Monday.  <sniff, sniff>  It sort of brings a tear to my eye thinking about how my little girl is growing up.  It seems like just yesterday we were learning how to make proper spitballs and here she is cutting trees with a saw.

My daughter running the chainsaw!
She needs to lean into it!

I had been putting off this important milestone in Abigail’s life but the recent storms necessitated the removal of at least one of our trees that got pretty torn up.  I had promised Abigail I would build her a treehouse and one of the trees is perfect for it.

Emily took Isaac to tae kwon do so it seemed like a perfect opportunity to dig into the project.  What makes this chore particularly interesting is that it is 15 feet from my house and half of it hangs over the dining room and the main power line into the house.  I think that makes this a perfect tree for Abigail to cut upon.

My daughter running the chainsaw
My raspberries got thrashed by the storm…

I think a little appropriate danger is good.  But before you worry too much, we decided to do a lot of initial trimming with an electric chainsaw on the end of a long pole.  It’s still a serious chainsaw that makes quick work of wood, but nothing like a gas saw.  Anyhow, I guided the saw head while Abigail ran the power trigger.  We worked pretty well together as a team.  She was worried at first but once she took that special step of cutting her first branch, she really enjoyed running the saw.  I guess when it comes time to really cut the main parts of the tree, I will use the gas saw and keep her far away.  Some day though, I will have to teach Abigail the special thrill of hanging on a ladder cutting a tree right as the sun is crossing the horizon leaving the cutter to wonder if he is cutting the right branch or the leg of the ladder.  Ahhh…growing up…

I’m in a NC state of mind

My old pal Billy Joel finds himself in a NY state of mind but I have to tell you, I couldn’t be happier to be in a NC state of mind!  We made it to the beach at Topsail Island yesterday and it couldn’t have come soon enough.  There has been much chaos in my world lately so this trip is a long desired, much needed get away.

We made it to NC
The distance from the border to the beach is far too far!
The beach...At last!
The beach…At last!

After staying up pretty late reading last night, the kids brought me breakfast in bed this morning…at 6am.  It was a great start to a great father’s day celebration.  We ate and pretty quickly headed for the beach before it was warm enough for sane people to be in the water.  The kids, not being sane of course, jumped right in and didn’t seem the least bit effected by the cold.  I stayed under the tent some but mostly played in the surf with the kids.  We laid around here and there all afternoon and went out to a really nice meal (before the crowds!  I guess we got the early bird specials…oh crap, 40 has changed me!) and then took a walk on the beach.  It never did get too warm today by beach standards but any day at the beach beats a great day anywhere else!

Constant motion! Constant motion!

I was stupid last weekend and got a sunburn on my back (don’t ask….I told you it was stupid).  Of course, here at the beach, we always wear rash guard shirts so we are protected.  When I had my shirt off on the porch, my peeling lizard skin grossed Abigail out tremendously.  I love grossing her out…and trading jabs with Isaac.  He is growing into a great middle school kid.  He just doesn’t seem to understand that Abigail will not respond like his buddies do.  They are used to trading insults back and forth and trying to out-do each other with “your momma” jokes.  Abigail has no tolerance for that!  Anyhow, I had a great time messing with the kids and doing my fatherly duty to give them material for therapy when they get older!  I love the beach where the rules are few and the junk food is plentiful!

Father and son Skim boarding! So excited! Foxy Momma!

Well friends, a book is calling my name so I will wrap this up.  Just know that my mental health is quickly returning to “normal” and that  I am in a NC state of mind!

Has it been over a week?

I have been absent from here for a few days and I can’t believe it is already 2012!  So, a lot has happened since I last wrote.  It turns out that Santa still comes to our house.  As long as everyone still sees sugarplums dancing in their heads, Santa keeps coming to our house.  So, Santa brought the kids a trip starting the day after Christmas.  I’ll tell you more about that later but it was a big hit.  Aside from that, we had a pretty low-keyed Christmas which was absolutely perfect.

Socks for Christmas A simple Christmas

We had family over for a late-ish lunch and did a little napping and otherwise goofed off.  We had to pack of course.  Santa made reservations for the day after Christmas so there was little time to waste.  Ok, so you want to know where we went?  We went to the Great Wolf Lodge near Cincinatta (That’s how we say Cincinnati here in WV).  It’s a huge indoor water park.  At first, I figured it was going to have a few lawn sprinklers and a diaper-seasoned kiddie pool.  I was soooo wrong!  The park had a wave pool and a lazy river and a half-dozen really awesome water slides!  Water slides used to mean you skidded down on your butt and had to wiggle your way down the bottom half…oh no, not at Great Wolf Lodge.  The rides are awesome and you haul butt around the curves and down the tubes.

Great Wolf Lodge Great Wolf Lodge

Abigail was pretty concerned at first but I assured her that we wouldn’t die.  She agreed to go on a ride with me after that (she actually bought the part about not dying.)  I told her they had not lost anyone in a few weeks.  Once she got a few rides under her belt, we could barely keep up with her running to get back in line again.

Great Wolf Lodge Great Wolf Lodge

Isaac was more diverse in his use of the park.  He spent a lot of time dumping buckets of water on unsuspecting people below.  He really made use of the entire place pretty well too.  For some reason, Isaac and Abigail never got cold.  They kept the air temperature at 84 degrees but I swear the water was 60.  Anyhow, they never got cold but my lips turned blue and my nose hairs froze and broke off.

Great Wolf Lodge - Lazy River
Great Wolf Lodge - Lazy River
Great Wolf Lodge - Water Slide
Great Wolf Lodge - Water Slide

The other cool part of the surprise is that Santa gave my brother and sister-in-law the same gift!  The kids had no idea they were coming so it was a great surprise.  All-in-all, it was a great trip.  We only stayed 2 nights and that was just about right.  Great Wolf is mighty proud of their place so my wallet is glad Santa only sent us for a short time.  We were physically exhausted after two nights anyhow.  I bet we burned a Christmas ham’s worth of calories in three days!

Cart Riding at Great Wolf Lodge
Getting ready to ride!
Cart Riding at Great Wolf Lodge
Just before the near-crash!

When we checked out, my brother and I were sent out into the cold to load all of our loot into our cars for the trip home.  Living up to our 13-year old mindsets (though possibly not my 40 year old body), we returned the luggage carts in typical pubescent-boy fashion!  I have to give props to my brother for using his ultra-manly muscles to prevent me from turning over.  We were absolutely hauling butt across the parking lot hoping to provide an example to my kids and all of the other kids that got the chance to see how grown-ups are supposed to act!

My braces are off!!

A little over 2 years ago, my foray into the world of braces and oral pain began.  I am here to tell you that yesterday, my braces were removed.  I didn’t have braces in the traditional sense because I was fitted with Invisalign aligners.  Part of that process, though, involved the installation of tons of knobs and buttons and bumps on my teeth so the aligners could grab onto something.  So, I had knobs and bumps and stuff removed yesterday and my teeth are straight!


Growing up as a boy with a brother who liked to fight (it was mutual), my teeth were a wreck.  I had chips and dings in my teeth, both top and bottom.  After grinding all of the extra stuff off of my teeth, they ground my teeth too.  I no longer have chipped or uneven teeth!  Although those chips were hard won, I am happy to be free from their unhappy appearance.  I have to tell you though, it was a lot more fun getting those chips than having them ground away.  Holy cow was that awful!

Before Invisalign


After Invisalign…cheesy grin at no extra charge


So, I was fitted for retainers and now I will spend 4 months wearing them 24/7.  If all goes well with that, I will wear them only at night after that period.  I am pretty pleased with how all of this went down.  I would do it again if I had to go back in time.  What I wouldn’t do, however, is use Invisalign.  I would get the regular old fashioned braces and be done with it. Mainly, I like the cool colored rubber bands.  Actually, either way you can see stuff in your mouth.  Invisalign aligners are not invisible and I needed to wear rubber bands anyhow in order to move my teeth and bite around.  With the bands, Invisalign aligners are a ton more work every time you eat or drink anything besides water.  No thanks.  Hopefully I will never know though.


WV to PA to WV

Abigail and I went to my parents’ house in Tionesta, PA last weekend so Abigail could stay several days before school started.  Isaac made the middle school soccer team so he has practice 6 days a week.  Anyhow, I took pics along the way and thought the mess of them was pretty interesting…




A landmark a few towns from home

It’s so pretty driving there

What a salad I had!


It isn’t any good without a campfire!

Marshmallows were bigger up there!

Too big for the graham crackers!

It was sort of funny…

Oh yes, there were clouds…not sure why I got so many pics of clouds!   

Well, I made it back Sunday and my Mom and Abigail made it back on Wednesday.  More of a ricochet than a trip but still a pretty good time!

Coopers Rock

A few weekends ago, we went on a little getaway vacation to Coopers Rock State Park in Bruceton Mills, WV.  I was mainly excited for the cabin in which we were staying and the hot tub it advertised on the back deck.  Never did I imagine how cool the park would be.  More about that later.

So, we got to the cabin after navigating the Grand Canyon road back to the place.  The cabin itself was nice and did in fact have a hot tub.  The kids jumped right in as Emily and I unpacked and prepared for supper.  I am not sure why, but the power went out and we were without water or AC.  When you are not prepared, both are pretty important.  Anyhow, several hours later, it came back on and all was well…even the well.  We could shower and do dishes, etc.

On Saturday morning, we gorged on cheap powdered sugar donuts and Doritos then headed to Coopers Rock (it seems like there should be an apostrophe in there but there isn’t).  Little did we know, but there was a celebration of the anniversary of the founding of the park.  The place was teeming with things to do as all sorts of groups offered nature talks, projects,  and hikes.

The kids built cool birdhouses and painted rocks.  We played on the play ground (where I tried my best to dislocate my shoulder).  We saw rescued birds of prey from the West Virginia Raptor Rescue Center and even got to touch a red tailed hawk who was very friendly.  It turns out, she was essentially raised in captivity so was not bothered by people.  The other rescued hawk and owl were not so friendly.  Still, they were awesome!

I think the best part of the park though, was walking the trails under the rocks.  We explored some and saw great rock formations.  The kids and I walked into a cave/tunnel and went all “Dora the Explorer”.  Abigail fell in the dirt and got muddy.  It was perfect and cool and a great time to be together as a family.

If you ever pass through the northern part of WV, stop in at Coopers Rock.  Its views are breathtaking and there is all sorts of fun to be had there.  It turns out that the hot tub was very popular, but it paled in comparison (for me at least) to the beauty of our state, just as it is!

Driving in the hay field

So yesterday, I mentioned that we went camping last weekend.  The spot where we camped is on the back side of our hay field which lays on a bit of a slope.  We drove both vehicles down to the edge of the woods and left them there overnight so we could have easy access to the junk that remained in them.

This was a month ago...before the grass really grew!

Since we knew it was to get hot, we decided to get an early start.  I am so glad there are no near-neighbors because I started the chainsaw at 6:30 am.  Anyhow, we packed up camp and planned to move the car and van to the end of the hay field where I am erecting my bear-deterring fence for the bees.  Emily started up the Subaru and drove right off though the thigh-high grass in the field.  The van did not fare so well.  The tires spun but the van never moved.

It was clear to me that we were not going to simply drive out so we had to go to plan b.  And then it struck me.  My friend Maria over at Chicken Blog sent me a cool book last year called Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do).  One of the things the book suggests is to let your kids drive a car.

So, I climbed out of the van and hollered at Isaac.  He’s 11 (and a year older than I was when I first drove a car).  I told him to get in and drive.  He looked at me with that, “Yeah right” look but I opened the door and pointed.  He climbed in and was terrified.  I think that was the proper response.  We did a crash-course on driving and then I went behind the van.  I planned to nudge it to get it moving while he drove it slowly and steadily across the field.  He started off ok, but when it didn’t immediately move, he gunned it.  White smoke rolled from under the tires.

“Dad, the speedometer showed 60!”  I have no doubt about it.  Isaac drove the car 60 mph in the hay field but didn’t move an inch!  We re-visited our driving lesson and on try #2, he successfully drove the van right across the hay field and up to the dirt road.  The boy was so excited and could not have been prouder of himself.  Although his friends did not believe him when he got back to school on Tuesday, he will probably always remember the first time he got to drive a car.  Sometimes a little (controlled) danger can be a good thing!