What color water?

Whitewater rafting. I had conjured up a lot of images in my mind pertaining to this event, but none of them matched the actual activity. I guess it’s probably best to list them off as I thought about them.

Fear: Sore muscles and exertion, as well as fear that I don’t have muscles or lung capacity for exertion.

Reality: I saw plenty of, let’s call them, “fans of food” lining up at the waiver table prior to the actual rafting. It turns out that most of the whitewater on this trip was contained to a bunch of short areas and that the rest of the trip was relatively leisurely floating. Don’t get me wrong, “a bunch” was a good many stretches of “better get paddling”, but it was just enough rest in between to get me excited for the next burst.

Fear: I would spend my entire time fishing Sam out of the river and scared to death of someone having to pull me out of the water.

Fact: If you paid attention to the instructions I eventually found that it would be tough to fall out and even if you did it seemed like they were pretty good at chasing people and rafts down.

Fear: One or all of us would not have fun or find it not enjoyable.

Fact: My family is a wide range of interests and abilities in so many things, but every one of us had a blast. Take a look at this picture…everyone is smiling.


Even our guide seems to be enjoying something.

Fear: The water would be freezing or the weather would be bad, and so on…

Fact: Our first raft trip went this way…We woke up at 6:30 am for an 8:30 am launch time. It was pouring rain and we knew from the locals that the creek temperature was 58 degrees. I think that 58 degrees is an agreed upon temperature that they all get together and decide to lie about. I can imagine this is done at a town hall meeting with voting and everything. I didn’t have a thermometer, but if I had to guess the water temp. was about 4 degrees. I know what you’re thinking, but this isn’t science class…it was 4 degrees. I have missing toes to prove it. Anyhow, by the time we got going the skies cleared and the weather was how you see it in the picture. Again…we had a blast. Here are a couple more pictures, but frankly, they all look the same.

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We can’t figure out why Jen has her bored face on.

Where do monkeys go to drink?

This article is interesting. The basic premise is that kids are growing up to big old wimps because their playgrounds are too safe. This made me think of my playground on the school grounds of good old C.R. Hanna grade school. I think about it and I can’t really believe I’m not crippled. I also remember it from the perspective of a 3rd or 4th grader. The slide was about 30 feet tall and super fast. The monkey bars  were not big but they presented a unique challenge. If you couldn’t walk up them and over them without using your hands…you were a major loser…and this was scary as hell. I know because last time I was in Orion I went over there and tried to do it. Let’s see if I can find a couple of pictures to represent.

Oh, here’s the link to the article…  Are playgrounds too safe?

This is def. the slide…


Here is as close to the monkey bars as I could find. The bars of my youth were much bigger and if you got yourself perched up on top, well then you ruled…until someone knocked you off.


For any of you Orion people you will recognize these monkey bars…maybe.


and lastly…if you fell off the monkey bars? You fell hard and into the dirt, not some shredded up rubber, soft on your bones crap. Do a google search for “old playgrounds images” and it’s pretty interesting.

Tour de Sam

Well I didn’t see it coming, but I think I’m done here.

1. Cut cord

2. Stay up all hours “caring” for him

3. Fed, bathed, diapered

4. Learned to walk

5. Feeds himself

6. Pees and poops in appropriate locations (for the most part)

7. Can write and read his own name and a few other words…

Rides a bike!!!!

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He can figure out girls and cars on his own. God knows I haven’t.

Fax machines? Seriously?

This has happened to me so many times I can’t believe I haven’t written about it. It doesn’t matter where, it doesn’t matter who, but inevitably I’m going about my business and BAM “Yeah…just fax it over”. What!*#$

Fax it over?

First…people don’t have friggen fax machines. Well I take that back. Most people probably DO have fax machines, they just didn’t take the time to set up their all-in-one printer to take advantage of that hot 1980’s technology. I can’t believe that the doctor that just ordered me an MRI from the hospital that scanned my palm for identification needs me to FAX him over a form. The even funnier part is that I really bamboozled them by asking if I could e-mail it to them. “We just use fax machines here sir.” The next time I go to an appointment with this guy I’m going to ask if he could bleed me a little to release the bad energy or if maybe I could have some of Mrs. Winslow’s soothing syrup for my cough.

Fax machines…WTF?


The whole idea of our trip, the central theme, was “avoid the heat”. We had decided that after 5 years of summers in Florida that we would do the opposite of what the snowbirds do…we sunbirds would go North for the summer. The problem with Florida isn’t really the heat as much as it is the consistency, here…let me show you our current 10 day forecast.


Now I’m pretty sure that I don’t have to go to meteorology school to forecast the weather for Florida in the summer. When it is that hot for that long a funny thing happens…the water heats up. Ok that was sarcastic…it’s not funny. The pools and even the ocean get up to around 90 degrees. Picture yourself arriving at the St. Petersburg beach, sun shining, waves crashing and you set off on a run to splash into the cool, soothing blue water only to find that you might have just dunked yourself in a tub of pee. Sorry…there was no better way to put it.

Now this is more like it.


This is a spot on the creek that we found slow moving water and water that was over 6 feet deep…and get ready for it…58 degrees!

We had a blast playing in the creek and checking out the cool waterfalls.


I even made a couple of friends.


These butterflies followed me for about half an hour…Sam giggled the whole time.

Step 2–Summer 2011

Scroll down if you want to read this in order. It won’t make sense anyhow, so either way….

Still in Bryson City, NC we have a number of things on our list. Curiously a town in the hills of North Carolina has quite a few “things to do”. Today it is the Great Smokey Railroad. I’d love to tell you that we hopped the rails in a fit of adventure and stowed away on some freighter through the Smokey mountains, but we didn’t. In fact I think we paid enough in fares to extend the railway all the way to the “Just OK Smokey Mountains”. Sam is a bit of a train nut and saw one of those brochures and we were screwed from there. We had a good time, but the trip is like 4 hours long and after about 45 minutes of 5 MPH train riding and a couple of bridges you’ve seen it all. It followed the Nantahalla river and we waved at every one of the 500 river rafters and that was also fine for about 15 minutes. The other 3 hours was pretty much a snooze fest. Here are a couple of pictures.

Ok…only one picture…I’ll post the “Pay $20 for a good tourist picture or you can’t get off” photo later.


Stay tuned. Stories of bears, swimmin’ holes, deadly storms and probably more pictures of goats.

Orion update

It occurs to me that some people might check this blog still clinging to the hope that they might find out some info. about my father, the “Larry” in We Love Larry. I guess that’s fair. We almost called it “We Love Tacos”.

Larry and Wilma are in Alaska. No you read that right. This isn’t some new reality TV show. At some point I think my message was received. That’s right I take full credit for them going on an Alaskan cruise. I didn’t pay for it or anything, so my credit doesn’t really mean much. I’ve been kind of living a life of “Oh well, might as well do that” and I think it caught on just a little bit. I just got off the phone with Mom last night calling me from Skagway, Alaska while she was waiting to find out if she could find a spot on the dogsled. I’m not kidding. They are spending 10 days cruising and sledding around Alaska and I hope they have a blast. I’m pretty sure my Mom has wanted to do this for quite a while. I’m also pretty sure my Dad hasn’t, but he’s healthier and always been a good sport.

There’s the Orion update. They aren’t in Orion.

Step 1–Summer of 2011–Bryson City, NC

Hey who would have thunk it…the Dodge Durango made it to North Carolina. It has been a long time since I had driven anything like a trailer and I think as an adult it gives me anxiety. What if one of the tires blows out? Will the brakes hold? I can barely see in the mirror….In my life I have driven almost any vehicle you can imagine. Street sweeper, road grader, cop car, fire truck, the list goes on. I pride myself on my use of mirrors and all the stuff men should be able to do. Along the way it seems I have lost my ability to back up and place a trailer in the proper place. It haunts me as I pull into our campground. How big is the space? Is it backing to the right or to the left? (Trust me, it matters) Will there be people watching? But I digress…If you get a chance, take a look at Bryson City, NC and if you are one of my Orion people, try to find the similarities.

Bryson City Wikipedia link

Of course you have to subtract the mountains and the river…anyhow, our first foray into the wilds is north of Bryson City at the Deep Creek campground.


This place had it all. A creek for tubing, and goats. This is, of course, the kids list of “having it all”. We had a great spot right on the creek and the kids quickly became friends with the “kids”

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I don’t have any pictures of us on “the crick” but here is a stock shot from the campgrounds website…it’s pretty accurate.

All of this was basically located at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park where I got to ride my bike every morning with Sara.


We had a blast at this campground. I’ll post some more pictures later.

What I did this summer….

I know it’s been a while. I’m not even sure people will still look here for my hijinks, but I’m going to write them for posterity.

I think I wrote a while back that we were going to do something interesting this summer, but I’m not even going to look back and see how interesting I might have promised. It didn’t turn out that way is all that I know. Here is some background, some catching up, if you will.

The grand plan  - 3 months

This is best served in map form. I could write about it and never do it justice.


Roughly 3,100 miles…ONE Way…I dedicated an entire spreadsheet to the gasoline alone. Conservative estimates put this at about $3000 in gas alone. Can you see the grand plan fading? We actually booked places to stay, things to do, places to see along the way. The death knell of “the plan” came in the form of a $1000 car repair bill and a $1500 (and growing) hospital bill. The hospital thing is a whole story in and of itself.

The ACTUAL Plan – 4 weeks

Also best served in map form


We set out for the Great Smokey Mountains. We had never been…didn’t have places to see, things to do, and really didn’t book places to stay until the last minute.

Oh did I mention that we were doing this by pulling a 24 foot camper with a 1999 Dodge Durango….145,000 miles on it since you asked.

More to come…