Sunday, July 29, 2007


And now we pause for just a moment to shamelessly solicit ohh's and ahh's over the latest picture of my adorable little granddaughter. Hi Victoria! Grandma can't wait to see you in a few days!!!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Good Times at the Jersey Shore

Spent some time in New Jersey last month.

Good times in Joisey?? Youz wants some good times in Joisey?

Uh, no. Not that New Jersey.

Those of us that live in the Midwest find the misconceptions about our part of the country in the minds of us those who have never been here laughable.You know what I mean. Are there really CORN STALKS growing next to my driveway??? Uh well......actually......yeah, within spittin' distance. But I don't ride a tractor to work, don't own any livestock and I like sushi as much as I like pot roast and gravy.

New Jersey is a state that alot of us Midwesterner's misunderstand in similar fashion. Does everyone in NJ really live next door to Bruce Springsteen and hang out with the E-Street Band? Do people go about their daily business in fear of getting tossed into the river by Tony Soprano?? Name a place in New Jersey other than Atlantic City...............took you a minute, didn't it???

Try telling people you spent a week of hard-earned vacation in New Jersey and see how they react. But that's what I did and it was great.

This is the Walt Whitman Bridge. The drive from Philly airport to Stone Harbor, New Jersy starts with a trip across this bridge. It's an hour and some change along the tree-lined Garden State Parkway. Only my cousins will truly understand, but one can not make too many trips across the beautiful Walt Whitman TOLL Bridge.

Even the most skilled pilot and shot-gun navigators may find themselves, on occasion and despite the best of intentions, defying their internal compasses and contributing multiple tolls to the betterment of New Jersey road maintenance.

Once you finally make it across the bridge (for the last time)it's a green and beautiful drive. When you reach Egg Harbor you begin to see the salt marshes and brackish tidepools of the intercoastal waterway that lead to the Atlantic ocean.

The seven-mile island of the Cape May peninsula offers some of the cleanest, most pristine beaches I've ever seen. These are not tropical beaches such as those found further South. You won't find a palm tree anywhere in sight. Sea grasses line the beaches of Cape May, tall and graceful, the long slender leaves are simple,peaceful and calming in the way they react to the breeze.

It's a really pretty place.

After a hectic few weeks of travel for work, Stone Harbor was the perfect place to snuggle down into a beach chair and mindlessly lose myself in a great book and that's exactly what I intended to do.

I rented a little house in a tiny beach community.....

....full of neatly trimmed yards and blooming flowers.

I brought everything I needed: sunscreen, beach towel and classy straw hat.

And of course, you'll recognize the Achievement Badge of Middle Age, my ever-present pair of reading glasses.

So yes, the plan was to catch some sun, wiggle my toes in the sand and read. Great plan....until I invited a couple of my cousins to join me.

And they're so much fun,I never even opened the book.
Instead we wandered around the island acting goofy, eating ice cream.....

... and learning new stuff about New Jersey. We especially liked the salt-marsh tide pools.

All sorts of cool stuff lives there.
Little crabs, big crabs. Birds. Turtles. And if you know me at all, you know I big-time love me some turtles. In this case we're talking primarily about the Northern Diamondback Terrapin, a humble little turtle that went about it's business for hundreds of years, nesting in the dunes of the Atlantic barrier islands. As their sand-dune habitat has disappeared with the development of the coast, the little mama turtles have taken to nesting in the best spot they can find---which happens to be along the roadways of the island. Unfortunately, this has resulted in the untimely demise of hundreds and hundreds of turtles each year, most of them victims of car tires.

Efforts are in place to reduce the carnage.

Drivers are asked to keep an eye out because apparently turtles don't seem to be so worried about getting hit when they decide to cross the road.

You might even say they are fairly nonchalant about the whole thing. This little guys reaction to our screeching brakes was to stop and crane his neck to see what all the fuss was about.

Lucky for them, the residents of Cape May are not. There are fences along the roadways to protect them, viable eggs are collected from victims of unfortunate encounters with Mr. Goodyear for incubation and school children hold fundraisers to help fund the turtle nurseries.

I'm not much for tourist junk, but I am proud to have joined the keychain-carryin' I Brake for Turtles brigade.

Our final morning we went to the beach early and spotted a large pod of dolphins feeding just a few dozen yards off the shore. Sailors say that it is lucky to see a dolphin in the morning.

I think it's lucky when you get to spend time with your cousins.

Better than books on the beach any time.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Watch where you step! They're coming, they're coming....!!!!!!!!!!
Listen to the proud ol' bird, she knows of what she speaks.

In the car with the sun roof wide open, coffee in hand and tearing down the road early this morning I encountered nary another soul. It's the 4th of July. I'm sure everyone is at home getting ready for the local parade.

Unless you plan to stay at home today with the shades drawn, you'll be in prime waving position on the sidelines of the Midwest's biggest parade, even if you don't want to participate.

Yes, they're back. Costumed in seed corn hats and 4H t-shirts to lend an air of sincerity to their mechanical waves, exagerrated oh-I-know-what-you-mean-I-knew-a-poor-struggling-farmer-once-myself smiles and gestures, step back from the curb or you're likely to get run over. We'll wave as they pass because it's polite and if nothing else, we're very polite here. Go ahead and shake their hand, let them kiss your baby, even. Just don't expect it will get you a VIP ticket to the Inaugural Ball. The fields and gravel roads are thick with photographers this holiday for the myriad opportunities to catch a candidate doing something noteworthy (or not)and notice how much bigger the smiles get when a lens is in the neighborhood.

As reported in The Newspaper that Iowa Depends Upon, the cast of this holiday's parading characters are like little wandering prairie dogs that pop-up unexpectedly in neighborhoods that the rest of America has never heard of.

In Urbandale, Marshalltown and Sioux City.........

In Clear Lake, Waterloo and Cedar Rapids......

In Norwalk, Coralville and Wellman.......

Not to be outdone, spreading the usual I-Can-Save-the-World message....... Beaverdale.

All I can say is: Be careful when crossing the streets and remind you, when it looks like, tastes like and smells like...................well, uh.............

Now where did I put my apron and dustpan.............

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Just when you thought you'd seen everything.

Do you have trouble picking the perfect give for your friends? Do they already have a Bobbly-head dog or a wiggle-hippy-hippy Hula doll in the rear window and a stinky maple leaf hanging from the rear view mirror? How about something unique and meaningful for the dashboard?? Have your friends got kids????

People, have I got a gift idea for you.

Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "What Would Jesus Do?" doesn't it???

Would Jesus play soccer?

If so, I hope he shows up for practice.

Because it looks to me like he's seriously off-sides.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Note to Self................

My little digital camera is under the weather. While packing for last weekends trip I considered taking my 35-mm camera along but I don't trust the security search to treat it gently if packed in my bag and didn't want to carry it through the airports in a carry-on. So I left it home.

Big mistake.

The town of Jackson Hole and the surrounding Wyoming countryside are magic for me. I love everything about it there. The National Elk Refuge, Moose Junction, Jenny Lake, Signal Mountain, Yellowstone National park and the tiny little primitive cabins at Jackson Lake. I love the trees and I love the mountains, I love the elk and the buffalo and the cowboys and the bikers and all the fun little shops in town. I love coming up on a group of stopped cars on the side of the road, knowing there is a moose feeding in the reeds or a buffalo grazing in the meadow. I love the crisp, clean air. I love the chill mountain mornings and the way the sun warms your hair in the middle of the day. I love the Wyoming night time sky. If you stare up into the darkness long enough, the dark spots fill with stars. I love the memories I have in Jackson Hole. All of them.

So I was quite pleased to find myself flying there on business this past week. Even though I knew it was going to be a short trip with little time for wandering, my heart beats as happy in this place as anywhere on earth and even before we landed at my favorite airport on the planet, I was looking out the window at the rugged Tetons and kicking myself for not bringing my camera.

Thanks to the good people at Verizon, all was not lost.

I figured out how to capture the weekend on my phone.
They're a little fuzzy, a little vague and they don't capture the beauty of the peaks in a way that my 35mm and telephoto lens could.

But they'll do.