Sunday, July 31, 2011

Big Boy, 211/365

We spent most of the day on the road and made it back to Cincinnati today.  For supper, we went to Big Boy.  I've never been to a Big Boy restaurant before, so it was new to me.  I've only seen Big Boy in Austin Powers, and didn't even realize it was a real restaurant.  They make a good strawberry shake.  But, I was disappointed that the Big Boy statue was much smaller than the one I saw in the movie (much too small to secretly be a rocket.)  :-)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Beach, 210/365

We started our day off by driving down to Virginia Beach.  There were a ton of people there, but lots of beach to play on and plenty of room in the water to feel the waves.  The kids loved it.  Then, we started heading back toward the midwest, and are staying in Monticello, VA tonight.

D.C., 209/365

We got off to a rough start touring D.C. yesterday.  We went to the metro station as planned, went to the ticket machines and got six on-day metro passes for $54.  It's worth it to not have to drive and park in the city.  Well, problem is, we didn't know that one day passes can not be used before 9:30 a.m.  Wanting to get an early start, we had no choice but to purchase separate fare to our first stop for the day... another $24.  I was a little upset about that until I happened to find a $20 bill on the ground on the path along the reflection pool on the mall.  FYI, the reflection pool is currently torn up, they're working on it, so no reflection.  Otherwise, everything went pretty well, we saw a lot in a short amount of time, the Capital, White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, National Archives (like in National Treasure), Natural History Museum (like in Night at the Museum II), Ford's Theater, the National Cathedral, etc.  You can't do everything in a day, but we hit so many highlights that I'd call it a success.  Claire had a lucky day too, first she found a lucky penny, then she lost her first tooth.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Arlington, 208/365

When we got to the D.C. area, we decided to get a head start on some of the sites today, although tomorrow will be the big day.  We are staying in Arlington, VA and taking the metro around the city, to avoid driving/parking as much as possible.  So, we went to Arlington Cemetery and then on to Iwo Jima before heading back toward the hotel.

Christ Church, 207/365

We did Philadelphia on our vacation yesterday.  We got there early enough to beat the crowd to the Liberty Bell.  I've never been to Philly before.  We've all seen many images of the Liberty Bell.  But, when you walk around the corner and see the actual bell, there's just something exciting about it.  We got a great tour of Independence Hall, and stood in the same rooms where the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were signed.  The tour guide definitely made history exciting.  We also went to Christ Church and sat in George Washington's pew.  After we left, we went to Hershey, PA for the tour of Chocolate World.  It was a short visit, but the kids loved it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Statue of Liberty, 206/365

Today's adventures started out on the ferry to Ellis Island, then on to Liberty Island.  If you go, I can strongly recommend going from the New Jersey side, rather than New York.  I had no desire to drive in New York City, and successfully avoided that.  The kids enjoyed seeing Statue of Liberty.  This afternoon, we took a surprise visit to Delaware, but that's another story.  :-)

Back in the USA, 205/365

We drove back into the US yesterday morning.  Canada offered a great overall view of the falls, but from the US side, you got a feel of the immense power of all that water.  We took the boat ride into the mist, which was great.  It's amazing how close they take you to the falls.  It felt like a monsoon a couple times.  But, you'll have to wait for those pictures, we shot the boat ride on disposable, underwater film cameras.  Here are a couple shots of the falls, and one that Kim took with me and the kids.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Oh, Canada, 204/365

We hit a couple big things on vacation today.  This morning, we drove into Canada and went to the CN Tower in Toronto.  There was a bit of a wait, as it was after lunch by the time we got there.  But, we went to the observation level and then up to the skypod, 144 stories high.  The tower was impressive, and may be an engineering wonder of the world.  But, I think they should have put some of that money and effort into their highway planning and design.  On the way to Toronto, they had 3 lanes of interstate traffic detour down to 1 lane of two way paved roads through the country.  It was literally backed up for hours, absolutely ridiculous.  Then, leaving the CN tower, it is like hunting for a needle in a hay stack, trying to get back on the QEW going west.  Once we got away from the city, we drove down to Niagra Falls and got a hotel on the Canada side.  There is a great view of the falls from over here, and we were in time for the fireworks, shot over the Horseshoe Falls.  Hopefully, I can get more sleep that last night.  In the morning, we'll have breakfast and then drive across Rainbow Bridge, back in to the U.S.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Michigan, 203/365

We set off from Monticello on our vacation today, drove through Illinois, the tip of Indiana, and into Michigan.  We stopped at St. Joseph for a walk along the beach on Lake Michigan, and to see the light house.  It was a long day of driving, but we don't have to get as far today.  We ended up staying in Druand, MI tonight.  Here's the rest of the family in front of the lighthouse.  And, probably the most unique limo I've ever seen.

Supper in the van, 202/365

We headed out on vacation after work Friday.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Noelle, 200/365

Today was Noelle's 10th birthday, and a big day, it was.  She picked More Than Anything cake for her birthday, which made for a nutritious delicious breakfast.  Then we had to go to Ames, so we ate lunch at Hickory Park.  Noelle got two gift cards for her birthday, Claire's and Walmart.  With the Walmart gift certificate, she got some new fish.  And at Claires, Noelle got her ears pierced!  She's the first one of our kids to get pierced ears!  Between that, and getting glasses last week, her friends aren't going to recognize her when school starts this fall!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Foggy morning at the lake, Fair results, 199/365

There was a little fog this morning, so I stopped at Little Wall Lake on the way to work and snapped a few quick shots.  Then, after the Hamilton County Fair Parade tonight, I got to go into the 4-H building and see the kids' results.  They had a quite successful year.  Here are a few shots of the purple and pink ribbons, as well as Matt's and Claire's rainbow ribbons for their Clover Kids projects, a tie pillow and a stepping stone.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fair judging, 198/365

Rachael and Noelle had judging at the Hamilton County Fair today.  Sounds like it went great, they had a few things held back.  The worst ribbon either of them got?  Blue.  I was at work, but wish I could have been there to see it and hear comments.

Matt and I walked over to the corn field by the park to take a picture of the tassels tonight.  Matt wanted to take pictures too, so I gave him a camera to use.  He actually got a few interesting pictures.  I think he's going to develop and eye for design.  But, for now, here's one of my shots.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The day after Watermelon Day, 197/365

Other than the parade, which the girls had to be in, we did not participate in any Watermelon Day festivities this year.  The thing that I love about this annual festival in Stanhope, is the old fashion rides.  The train and spinning airplanes are not something you see around much these days.  

Clear Lake Sailors 4-H float, 196/365

Everyone is working on last minute 4-H projects, I couldn't even get on the laptop to post last night.  I hung curtains in the girls' room last night, so that is out of the way.  And we got most of Rachael's and Noelle's pictures mounted and matted yesterday, with the exception of one that we are going to try to reprint first.  Final touches are on the telescope, etc.  Here is their 4-H club's float in the Watermelon Day parade in Stanhope.  Rachael carried the sign (because no one else wanted to) and Noelle is at the back of the float, on the far left.  Her and Emily made sure to throw us plenty of candy when they went by.  :-)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Party, 195/365

We had a birthday party over at the park for Matt and Claire, and a few of their friends this afternoon.  Kim came up with a variety of games with a carnival theme.  It was hot, but there was a breeze, which helped.  I worked from home today, so I could run over to the party for a while.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Glasses, 194/365

Boy, I hardly recognize my kids after coming home from work this week.  First, Claire got her hair cut short.  Then today, Rachael and Noelle both got glasses!  I think they both look good in glasses.  But, now I'm going to have to get used to dealing with reflections when I take pictures of them!  The glasses may be anti-glare, but they are not reflection-free...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday, 190/365

Before going for a short, hot run this morning, I let Daisy out in the backyard.  There were two cats sitting at the top of the slide.  Since we don't have any cats and Noelle loves them, I got her up to see them.  Amazingly, Daisy never even noticed them up there when I let her out.  

Rachael's telescope project is getting closer to being done.  We did test it out on the moon last night, and it passed the test with flying colors.  We got a very sharp and clear image which exceeded my expectations for the scope.  Rachael and I went all the way up to about 220 times magnification while viewing the moon, which was pushing it for this aperture.  Regardless, it's going to be a keeper for sure.  Pay no attention to the messy basement, it's a functional "working" basement.  And yes, that is a Lawrence Welk record album cover leaning against the dryer.  We used a couple records to make a smooth, rotating base.  As kind of a joke, the second record is Milli Vanilli, just because those types of music are about as close to opposites as you can get.  :-)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Saturday, 189/365

We had a busy Saturday, after sleeping in.  I needed that, after being up late several nights this week.  I finished up the big bench downstairs in the toy room and did a couple loads of laundry.  Rachael put her telescope together and we are going to try it out with a star test as soon as it gets dark tonight.  I think we'll be ok on our mirrors, but I am concerned with our low-profile PVC focuser.  I don't think it is going to have enough throw to get both low and high magnification eyepieces in focus.  We may have to go back to the drawing board on this one.  But, mark my word.  We will be viewing the moon and stars tonight, even if it's only with one eyepiece for now.  Anyway, we've been so busy working on 4-H projects today that we just ordered pizza for supper.  Then we had a bike ride on the bike trail.  I have been craving the nice bokeh and shallow depth of field of the old Konica Hexanon 50 1.7 lens again, so I shot a few flowers with it this afternoon (when the clouds moved in a little bit.)  I can't get enough of that lens for some reason.  I couldn't pick just one of these.  They both have such vivid contrasting colors that I had to share them both.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Knee high by the 4th of July, 188/365

I meant to get out earlier in the week to show how big the corn is, but July 8th will have to do.  I think I can safely say that this corn was indeed knee high on the 4th.

It's kind of a sad day, the final Space Shuttle launched this morning.  Atlantis lifted off at 10:29 a.m. CST this morning, marking the end of an era of the shuttle program (and an end to the U.S. leading the space race?).

But, the day wasn't all that bad.  I found a lucky penny while walking over to a free lunch in the sculpture park today.  And later won $6 on a 50 cent lottery pull tab ticket.