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Posts Tagged ‘travel’

GPS’s and Geocaching


What would you do with a "day of rest?" I'll tell you what I did with mine. Since yesterday was a university day of rest for the faculty and students not involved in judging the various contests of the AACS National Competition on campus and since on our 33rd anniversary (WOW, a third of a century!) last Friday we didn't have time to do anything more special than grab an Italian sub at Firehouse Subs, my wife took a vacation day yesterday so that we could go to the Charlotte, North Carolina area. We had taken a similar trip one Saturday several months ago and found some places we really enjoyed. So I fired up our GPS, whom we affectionately call Stella, and off we went on a bit of a treasure hunt.

What Becka didn't know was that I was planning to take her to lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, a restaurant chain we had yet to experience. It's our daughter Nora's favorite restaurant. (Now we know why.) Since I'm not familiar with Charlotte at all, I was counting on our GPS to get us there. It had us get off I-85 at an exit south of Gastonia. Becka asked if we were taking a different route to Mary Jo's Cloth Store (her main destination on this adventure), to which I replied, "Yes, I plan to check something else out on the way there." The Cheesecake Factory in Charlotte was miles beyond our exit for Gastonia, but I followed the GPS's instructions, apprehensively. It took us through some "interesting" neighborhoods in Gastonia, and eventually right back to I-85, of all things!

A few more miles down the road, Stella wanted us to get off at the exit for Belmont Abbey, still not in Charlotte proper. I had looked ahead at the list of turns and saw that we were headed toward the Billy Graham Parkway. From trips to the Charlotte airport I knew that that was an exit off I-85 and that we would have gotten there much sooner if we had just stayed on I-85 the whole way, without the two unnecessary Stella-recommended detours. Then when we were less than a mile from the road the Cheesecake Factory is on, Stella told us to turn right onto a little side street, in the opposite direction from what the turn list indicated for Sharon Road! It took us through a hotel parking lot, under the hotel's parking structure, and eventually back out onto the street we had turned off of. 🙁 At that point, I turned Stella off and proceeded by my "internal GPS," getting us there in less than five minutes.

After lunch we made our way back to Gastonia, sans Stella! I worked on this blog post, sipping decaf coffee at Panera while Becka had fun at Mary Jo's, just around the corner. After that I meandered up the street to walk through several stores I knew were there.

picture of geocaching slogan

Several mentions of GPS's last week gave me an idea for a blog post. First a reader sent me a joke about a GPS. Then one evening former students of mine who are now missionaries in Romania and their two children came to our house for dinner. Part of the dinner conversation was about something they're interested in called letterboxing, which sounds similar to geocaching. Rather than explain either of those hobbies in this post, I'll let you click on the links if you're interested. Any way, yesterday's experiences with not-too-stellar Stella confirmed my desire to publish this post now. I wonder if I could ever do letterboxing or geocaching with our GPS without ending up in Zimbabwe!

Here are several jokes about GPS's and geocaching ... something I need to be able to laugh about after yesterday!
Click here to continue reading this post ⇒


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A Saturday not like All the Rest


(This will also be a blog post not like all the rest....) A couple of Saturdays ago, before my teacherly duties began, Becka and I planned to go to the mountains for the day. But alas, I woke up during the night with a bug and instead spent the day in bed sleeping (and losing 3 pounds). 🙁 Yesterday we were finally able to get away, but not before doing several jobs we really wanted to do — washing the car and cleaning the garage. Becka has a post about our day also, called A day in the mountains. Reading both posts will give you a more complete picture of our day.

picture of crossing sign

When I first went out yesterday morning to go to Krispy Kreme to pick up and bring home "hot ones" for our breakfast, I discovered that we ought to find, buy, and put up a sign similar to the one on the right. Apparently when we pulled in or out of the driveway on Friday, one of us ran over a toad. Although I took a picture of it, I'll spare you having to see its flat little body.

After breakfast, while Becka vacuumed out the car and washed it, I attacked the garage. Even though we don't have a sign warning about toads crossing our driveway, we do have a sign in the garage, beside the door into our kitchen, warning guests about something they'll find in our house.

picture of cat sign

Our cat Adelaide is crazy, but she's not at all dangerous. It was just a fun sign we found many years ago at the Mast General Store, and guests have gotten a laugh from the sign through the years.

picture of black widow spider

I frequently spray the perimeter of the garage because a number of bugs and spiders make their way in from outdoors. Therefore, as I cleaned, I found quite a few dead beetles and other less identifiable, dried-up, dead insects and spiders. As I swept out the garage, I had to kill two black widow spiders and I destroyed their egg sacks! This is not the first time we have found and killed black widow spiders in our garage. I've put a picture on the right of a black widow spider. They (and also the toads) live in the stone drainage ditch that runs the length of the back of our lot. Here a couple of pictures of the ditch whose maintenance seems to be my part-time job.

picture of ditch

picture of ditch

In the bushes on the right in the second picture above, I found a writing spider (also known as an Orb Web Spinner — thanks, Joe). Here's a picture I snapped of it. It's just huge — from tip to tip of its legs is about two inches!

picture of writing spider

After our cleaning tasks were over, we left for lunch in Travelers Rest. Right across the street from the café where we had lunch sits Leopard Forest Coffee, a place I've been wanting to visit. So we checked it out while we were that close. Here's a picture of Leopard Forest Coffee.

picture of Leopard Forest

After lunch and a stop to buy apples near Hendersonville, NC, we headed up to get on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville. Becka shared a few pictures of what we saw, but here a several others. Everywhere you look, it's gorgeous. A few fall colors were already visible.

picture of Blue Ridge Parkway

picture of Blue Ridge Parkway

We saw what we think are mountain laurels with berries. Maybe one of you botanists can confirm if that's what this is. (Added March 29, 2010 — A plant-loving young man told me that the tree is probably mountain ash, not mountain laurel.)

picture of mountain laurel berries

We got off the Parkway at Highway 276 to head down the mountains towards Brevard, NC. We stopped to visit the Cradle of Forestry. Becka has some description and pictures of what we saw there in her post, but I'm going to show you the cool car we saw in the parking lot.

picture of MG

picture of MG

We hadn't planned enough time to do everything available at the Cradle of Forestry. We did the 1 mile hike and saw the buildings that had been part of the Biltmore Forest School — first official school for forestry in America. However, we didn't have time to take the 1.3 mile hike to see the other interesting stuff, including this steam locomotive.

picture of steam locomotive

We'll just have to do it all when we go there next with a grandchild or two in tow.

If you missed my post last year about our trip to that area, it tells some of the other great things to see and do there.

Have any of you tried out any of the places we love in Western North Carolina? I'd enjoy hearing about your impressions of them. Happy Labor Day! In honor of the holiday, we'll be laboring.

quotation...

"In an age that idolizes novelty, we must not despise history." - Eric Newton

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

Before they invented drawing boards, what did they go back to?


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Travel Destinations


picture of cloud formation

With summer officially here, thoughts turn towards a vacation trip (my apologies to those in the southern hemisphere where it's now winter ... which sounds good right now as our temps here are in the upper 90s F!) Each country has areas full of charm and also idiosyncrasies. Today's iv highlights some of those "quaint aspects" of several parts of the USA.

If you get lost traveling, how can you tell where you are?

You might be in Arizona if...
1. You are willing to park 3 blocks away because you found shade.
2. You've learned to open and drive your car without touching the car door or the steering wheel.
3. You can attend any function wearing shorts and a tank top.
4. You can drive for 4 hours in one direction and never leave town.
5 You have over 100 recipes for Mexican food.
6. The 4 seasons are tolerable, hot, really hot, and ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!
7. You know that "dry heat" is comparable to what hits you in the face when you open your oven door.

You might be in California if...
1. You make over $250,000 a year, and you still can't afford to buy a house.
2 The high school quarterback calls a time-out to answer his cell phone.
3. The fastest part of your commute is going down your driveway.
4. You sleep through earthquakes.
5. When someone asks you how far something is, you tell them how long it will take to get there rather than how many miles away it is.
6. You think that you're normal and everyone else is behind the times.

You might be in Michigan if...
1. Your definition of a small town is one that doesn't have a lake.
2. The word "thumb" brings to mind first a geographical rather than anatomical significance.
3. You learned to pilot a boat before the training wheels were off your bike.
4. You expect to receive Vernors when you order ginger ale.
5. Half the coins in your pocket are Canadian.
6. You drive 80 mph on the highway and pass on the right.

You might be in New York City if...
1. You say "the city" and expect everyone to know you mean Manhattan.
2. You have never been to the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building.
3. You can get into a four-hour argument about how to get from Columbus Circle to Battery Park, but can't find Wisconsin on a map.
4. You think Central Park is "nature,"
5. You've worn out a car horn.
6. You think eye contact is an act of aggression.

You might be in the Deep South if...
1. You can rent a movie and buy bait in the same store.
2."Y'all" is singular and "all y'all" is plural.
3. After five years you still hear, "You ain't from 'round here, are ya?"
4. "He needed killin'" is a valid defense.
5. Everyone has 2 first names: Billy Bob, Jimmy Bob, Mary Sue, Betty Jean, etc.

You might be in Maine if...
1. You have only three spices: salt, pepper, ketchup.
2. You design your Halloween costumes to fit over a snowsuit.
3. You have more than one recipe for moose.
4. You have more miles on your snow blower than on your car.
5. Instead of referring to two or more people as "y'all" or "all y'all," you call them "you guys," even if both of them are women.
6. The four seasons are: almost winter, winter, still winter, and Black flies.

You might be in Colorado if...
1. You carry your $3,000 mountain bike atop your $500 car.
2. You tell your husband to pick up Granola on his way home, and he stops at the day care center.
3. A pass does not involve a football or dating.
4. The top of your head is bald, but you still have a pony tail.

You might be in the Midwest if...
1. You've never met any celebrities, but the mayor knows your name.
2. Your idea of a traffic jam is ten cars waiting to pass a tractor.
3. You have had to switch from "heat" to "A/C" on the same day.
4. You end sentences with a preposition, for example "Where's my coat at?"
5. When asked how your trip was to any exotic place, you say, "It was different!"

You might be in Florida if....
1. You eat dinner at 3:15 in the afternoon.
2. All purchases include a coupon of some kind -- even houses and cars.
3. Everyone can recommend an excellent dermatologist.
4. Road construction never ends anywhere in the state.
5. Cars in front of you are often driven by headless people.

divider

We hope to go north later this summer to see family and for a much-needed "Grandma and Grandpa fix" before the new school year begins. Do you have any travel plans?

If any of you want to make a list for your home state or country or if you can add to any of the above, comment away!

quotation...

"Belief affects behavior, and behavior reflects belief." - Dr. Bruce McAllister

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

Should you trust a stockbroker who's married to a travel agent?


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Rules of the Air


picture of landing

Do you like airports and flying? Flying is a wonderfully fast way to get from point A to point B, but it can definitely include some frustrations and even some scary moments. The picture on the right is of an airplane approaching the Kai Tak Airport, which was the international airport of Hong Kong until their new airport opened in 1998. My wife and I flew in and out of its replacement, the Hong Kong International Airport, in the summer of 2005. It has been repeatedly voted World's Best Airport, and we agree that it is without a doubt the nicest airport we've ever been in. And we're very glad our plane didn't have to maneuver through buildings as the planes had to to get to the old airport!

Some of the rules in the list below are for passengers and some are for pilots.

Rules of the Air

Flights never leave from Gate #1 at any terminal in the world.

No flight ever leaves on time, unless you are running late and need the delay to make your connecting flight.

If you are running late for a flight, it will depart from the farthest gate in the terminal.

If you arrive very early for a flight, it will inevitably be delayed.

If you must work on your flight, you will experience turbulence as soon as you touch pen to paper or when you start to drink your coffee.

If you are assigned a middle seat, you can determine who has the seats on the aisle and the window while you are still in the boarding area. Just find the two largest passengers.

Only passengers seated in window seats ever have to get up to go to the lavatory.

The crying baby on board your flight is always seated near you.

The less carry-on luggage space available on an aircraft, the more carry-on luggage passengers will bring aboard.

It's always better to be down here wishing you were up there than up there wishing you were down here.

Every takeoff is optional. Every landing is mandatory.

The probability of survival is inversely proportional to the angle of arrival. Large angle of arrival, small probability of survival and vice versa.

If all you can see out of the window is ground that's going round and round and all you can hear is commotion coming from the passenger compartment, things are not at all as they should be.

Stay out of clouds. The silver lining everyone keeps talking about might be another airplane going in the opposite direction. Reliable sources also report that mountains have been known to hide out in clouds.

Always try to keep the number of landings you make equal to the number of take offs you've made.

In the ongoing battle between objects made of aluminum going hundreds of miles per hour and the ground going zero miles per hour, the ground has yet to lose.

The three most useless things to a pilot are the altitude above you, runway behind you, and a tenth of a second ago.

There are three simple rules for making a smooth landing. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

It's always a good idea to keep the pointy end going forward as much as possible.

Flying isn't dangerous. It's crashing that's dangerous.

Helicopters can't fly; they're just so ugly the earth repels them.

divider

This post about flying came to mind since our daughter and grandson flew into Atlanta this past Saturday evening and will fly out again next weekend. Since Becka and I were going to Atlanta, two of our "campus sons" Tim and Andy who live near Atlanta arranged a little reunion. We all met at Tim's house that afternoon. It was great to catch up with them and it was hard to believe that they were our campus sons 24 years ago! We are hoping to get together here in Greenville this summer.

Here's a picture of Tim and Alice and their family.

picture of Tim's family

Here's a picture of Andy and Carol and their family.

picture of Andy's family

After a nice visit we headed for the airport to pick up Megan and Drew. Here's a picture Megan took of Drew in the airplane.

picture of Drew reading on the plane

Sunday it was nice to have our daughters Megan and Nora and our son Mark and daughter-in-law Katie and our grandson Drew around the table for lunch. After lunch we had an Easter egg hunt in our front yard. Drew didn't like the prickly grass, and so we had to move the eggs onto the sidewalk. Here he is picking up the eggs.

picture of Drew and Easter eggs

Later in the day he took a tumble off the neighbor boy's tricycle. Here he is with his skinned up face.

picture of Drew scraped up

I'll share more pictures later this week as our adventures (and hopefully no more misadventures!) unfold.

Do any of these rules ring true from your flying experiences? I'm sure some of you could share some great stories of flights and airports!

By the way, if you notice anything missing as you click around on my blog (pictures, video, etc.), could you please let me know through the contact link? One person has written me about one set of pictures in a post, and I really appreciate it. I don't have time to look at all 60 pages, especially this week.

quotation...

"This is God's world, and He has the right to make the rules and ask us to obey." - Dr. Jim Deuink

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

Remember, gravity is not just a good idea. It's the law. And it's not subject to repeal.


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(Non-)Olympic Moments?


You would have to have your head totally in the sand not to know that the Olympics are going on. We've followed the first week and a half far more than we thought we would, but the remaining events really aren't our faves.

Undoubtedly the dominant name has been Michael Phelps. The mainstream media has proclaimed him "the greatest athlete of all time" and the debate will rage on until the next "greatest athete of all time" comes along. Michael has definitely achieved wonderful feats in a very tough sport and seems himself to have a good attitude of humility, but there are still many who are asking, "Well, what about __ (fill in the name of their favorite sports figure)?! Is Michael really a greater athlete than __?!"

I found a terrific comic online this morning that I want to share:

Michael Phelps' dominance

For today's iv, I'm sharing two stories - one funny and one thought-provoking - about some runners, Olympic or not.

divider

Two gas company servicemen, a senior training supervisor and a young trainee, were out checking meters in a suburban neighborhood. They parked their truck at the end of the alley and worked their way to the other end. At the last house an older woman was looking out her kitchen window, watching the two men as they checked her gas meter.

Finishing the meter check, the senior supervisor challenged his younger coworker to a foot race down the alley back to the truck to prove that an older guy could outrun a younger one.

As they came running up to the truck, they realized the lady from that last house was huffing and puffing right behind them. They stopped and asked her what was wrong.

Gasping for breath, she replied, "When I saw two gas men running as hard as you two were, I figured I'd better run too!"

divider

In the late 1990s at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash. At the gun, they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with determination to run the race to the finish and win. All, that is, except one little boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to cry. The other eight heard the boy cry, slowed down, and looked back. Then they all turned around and went back. Every one of them.

One girl with Down's Syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, "This will make it better." Then all nine linked arms and walked together to the finish line.

Everyone in the stadium stood, and the cheering went on for several minutes. People who were there are still telling the story. Why? Because deep down we know this one thing: What matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. More important than winning for ourselves in this life is helping others win, even if it means slowing down and changing our course.

divider

A friend told me that, upon reading my last post about becoming empty-nesters, he thought it sounded like I was saying, "Well, life's all over ... now we can die." I laughed and told him, "Far from it! Let me tell you about Friday of last week...." My wife and I decided to take the day off and "head for the hills" for the day to do some of our favorite things - a last hurrah before my teacherly duties began this week. We headed to Flat Rock, NC, to a shop called The Wrinkled Egg. That day we weren't interested in the shop as much as in the new barbecue place right behind it. It's called Hubba Hubba, and let me tell you - HUBBA! HUBBA! We definitely found a new favorite - or as my wife Becka put it, "yet another reason to go to Flat Rock!" We picked up a cranberry-apricot scone at the bakery in the back of the Wrinkled Egg for dessert/mid-afternoon snack and headed for Carl Sandburg's house. We didn't want to tour the house on this trip - we just wanted to see how this year's baby goats were doing. We took the hike to where the goats are kept and enjoyed petting them. Here's a picture of Connemara (the Sandburg's house) and a picture of Becka with several of the kids.

pic of Connemara

Becka and three baby goats

After that we headed to a quilting shop Becka really likes in Hendersonville. What a nice place - they have an area with rocking chairs and magazines for husbands! I had actually brought along my own entertainment a Sudoku book to pass the time pleasantly, warding off dementia while Becka touched every bit of fabric in the place (of which there is a lot!) After that we went to Lyda farms to get some produce and some early apples. From there we headed off to the Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC, to go to Sliding Rock. It was really crowded, and so I had to wait in line for about a half hour before I could slide down the rock into the 55 degree water in the pool at the bottom. Below is a 10 second video clip of Sliding Rock (viewable on the blog itself, not in e-mail or blog readers).

Here's a picture of me ready to begin my trip down the rock...

Rob on Sliding Rock

The line was even longer by that time and we had some other things we wanted to do, so I changed into warm, dry clothes, and away we went!

On the way back to Brevard, we stopped at the ranger station across the road from the Davidson River Campground. They have done a lot of renovation on the ranger station, and there's a lot for children to enjoy inside. One thing we enjoyed outside the ranger station was watching hummingbirds visit their two feeders. After that, we went shopping at four different stores in Brevard (and bought something in each) before having dinner at the Pisgah Fish Camp. While eating dinner we decided to drive back to the ranger station to take some pictures of the hummingbirds - something we hadn't thought to do earlier.

There were even more hummingbirds when we went back than there had been earlier. And the hummingbirds actually flew right up close to us to check us out! Here's a little video footage of their activity (viewable on the blog itself, not in e-mail or blog readers). Sorry for the talking in the background - Becka's on the phone with one of our daughters telling her all about it.

After that, we drove back to Greenville. Now does that sound like two people whose lives are all done and are now ready to die?! 😀

I can't figure out a way to work up a poll question to get at the following - have you decided to and actually gone ahead and tried out any of the activities and/or places that I've written about in the past several years on my blog? If so, which one/s? Since it's impossible to structure as a multiple choice poll question, please just tell about it in the comments to this post.

quotation...

"What you live for and base your decisions on has the greatest effect on your children." - Dr. Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight, because by then your body and your fat have become really good friends.


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