Friday, January 30, 2015

The Great Raid

When I heard about Unbroken, the movie coming out, I had to first read the book to prepare myself. The book had been in my pile of 'to read' books so had been on my radar for some time but I after hearing about the much hyped and much deserved hyped movie, I put it to the top of my list and then went and saw the movie to boot. The movie was great but not nearly as good as the book but I suspect all you already knew that.

Reading that book reminded me that I knew very little about the Pacific Theater part of World War II. I was especially interested after my last trip to the Philippines and visiting Corregidor Island to learn about World War II in and around the Philippines. I searched online, found a half dozen books and read up on the subject. I learned the lot and have a punch list of other places I would like to see firsthand the next time I return.

Having read numerous books on the subject which necessitates many horrible prison camp stories of American's being tortured during their years in captivity, only strengthens my political views and distances me from the majority of the Republican party when it comes to defining what constitutes torture. If we use the excuse that we are saving lives to get information, we are showing other nations that it is acceptable to do these things on our soldiers. It is not acceptable in my opinion.

But what I really wanted to write about in this post is about what is known as The Great Raid. When General MacArthur returned as promised to the Philippines to rid the island of Japanese occupation, he was worried about the fate of the thousands of U.S. and Filipino prisoners in various prison camps. The Japanese fearing the United States return, had issued kill orders to the prison camps that specified that all captives were to be killed if the prison camp was in danger of being liberated by the U.S. In at least one case in Palawan, prisoners were herded into a trench covered in wood, doused with gas and set on fire. Escapees were shot and clubbed to death. Of 150 prisoners, only 11 survived to tell the tale.

Fearing this possibility with other prison camps, the U.S. set in motion a daring plan to have 100 Rangers and Filipino guerrillas sneak in 30 miles behind enemy lines and free the prisoners at Cabanatuan prison camp before they too were executed. The raid was a success and 513 prisoners were freed, many having to be carried, many so malnourished that a ranger would carry two of them upon his back. They were carried and carted behind carabau drawn wagons the 30 miles back to the front lines all the while Japanese troops and tanks tried to intercept them... unsuccessfully.

Back behind the relative safety of the front lines, the prisoners started telling stories of their years in captivity and the world began learning for the first time of the infamous Bataan Death March. This raid took place 70 years ago today and these stories should be remembered. The Japanese are still looked down upon by many in the Philippines for the deeds of their ancestors. Seventy years has not been enough to shape the memory into something less than pain and anger. Will it be 70 years before we are forgiven for waterboarding and making nude pyramids with our prisoners?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Worst Movie Ever

We have subscribed to Netflix for quite a number of years. Back when we signed up, we got one DVD mailed to us at a time which meant we got to see around 4 or 5 movies a month. We pretty much stopped going to movie theaters at that point because we enjoyed watching the movies in the comfort of our own home without all the distractions of a movie theater. These days, we also get Netflix streaming which allows us to watch some movies on demand and television shows that I knew were good but were on cable channels that I don't subscribe too. I really enjoy our Netflix service.

At first, it was easy to fill up our DVD list of movies waiting to be mailed to our home one at a time because there were so many we hadn't seen in theaters. Eventually we got through them and I had to come up with other ways to fill up the list. We watched quite a few movies that were classics that I had seen that my foreign born wife hadn't seen for a time. Eventually that grew old and so I moved on to finding Academy Award winners or nominated movies and watching them. Just watching the movies that have won prestigious awards keeps our list full for a significant portion of the year. The rest we fill in from the movie previews at the beginning of a movie.

Although I can order the movies we receive into any order I desire, I pretty much let them come in as I added them to our list. Last night we opened up our mailer and popped in the DVD to find out we were watching the movie The Bacherlorette. We watched it and I must say it was probably the worst movie I have ever seen. I'm not sure what the plot was really supposed to be about, I found little humor in it, found quite a bit of moral disgust, and couldn't really tell you what it was about. My wife and I even tried to put it in context of how we would pitch the movie to a producer to get it made and were at a loss of what to say.

Which brings me to the point of how in tarnation did it get on our list. I have no idea. I thought perhaps it got nominated for some obscure award like best costume or best makeup but couldn't find any nominations for it. I don't think we saw a trailer for it and found it worthwhile to put it on our list because I don't think I could string together five funny seconds of the entire film much less a minute's worth. My best guess is that I was typing in the name of a movie we wanted to watch in the search bar online and then accidentally clicked on the wrong movie. I hope that was it and I hope I don't mess up that badly again. So now I am off to review my list and make sure I didn't do it another time or see signs that someone has hijacked my Netflix account so that they can watch movies that they would be too embarrassed to watch with their own account!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Painting

It's funny how things work but every time we have bought a house, it hasn't truly felt like our house until we cover all the walls and trim with a fresh coat of paint. Until then, it just feels like someone else's house that we have taken over. With our previous house, we painted all the walls in the main living areas off white and then used colors in the bedrooms to suit whomever slept there. It worked well and was easy to maintain because I only had a few cans of paint. But my wife always looked at the pictures of houses in magazines that had assortments of colors and wished we could do the same.

When we bought our current house, I gave my wife complete control over the color palette and we started in painting. At first we really loved the colors in the main living areas but after awhile, we began to change our minds. We simply had too many colors (four) and it just began to wear on us. It was harder to maintain because with four similar colors, I had to remember which color went where whenever I had to do some touch up work. Because we also started doing accent walls of a different color, it nearly tripled the number of paint cans I had sitting down in the basement. Trying to paint walls, I stretched paint to make a gallon work instead of having most of a second gallon setting around which meant that I didn't have any touchup paint for some walls. Finally, even though we chose fairly conservative neutral based colors, they still felt dark to us especially during winter.

So with a coupon in our hands, we stopped in at the local paint store last week and loaded up on one color of paint for all the living areas again. It is much lighter than our previous wall colors and reflects light much better so it makes the house feel brighter and warmer in the winter time. I dreaded all the work of repainting things but now that I'm a couple days into it, I don't anymore. I think I dreaded it because the first time, I spent hours of time patching holes from the previous owners and sanding down hundreds of paint drips from their paint jobs. This time around, I have little to no patch work to do because things on the wall are going back on the wall for the most part and since I do a much better job painting, I don't have any paint drips to sand down first. The hardest part of it all is keeping the two year old distracted so she doesn't get into the paint for a half hour or so until it dries enough not to transfer all over her. We have had no disasters thus far. It is a challenge now that there is furniture everywhere but I try to do just a wall or two a day which gives me time to slide everything out enough for me to paint, let it dry and get it all slid back in place by evening when my wife gets home.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Inlaid


My daughter is starting to get to that age where she is interested in playing more complex games than Chutes and Ladders or Old Maid and such. So we have been dragging out some of my collection of games and learning them, including Cribbage. I use to play cribbage all the time with my mom when I was home sick or on a cold winter day with no school. After I moved out of the house, I never found anyone to play cribbage so it slipped to the wayside. A decade ago when my mom was doing a stint in the hospital and it was my turn to keep her company, I stopped and bought a cribbage board at a store on the way. It was a cheap pine board with painted on tracks and plastic pegs that broke if you breathed on them wrong. I still have that board including the toothpicks we use to replace the broken plastic pegs.

After teaching my daughter how to play cribbage, it came to mind that I really need a new cribbage board. Since I am pretty handy around wood, I thought I would try making my own in a similar style seen above. Not to go easy on myself, I decided that I would try inlaying a contrasting wood for the pegging lanes and began to research various methods to do that. I found methods for free handing, scroll saw, router and a few other ways. Free handing seemed like it is better suited for small inlays. The router works well for larger and smaller inlays but requires a special bit, making a template and it doesn't do well with inside corners. The scroll saw method seemed like it would work the best for this particular application so I set to work.

The scroll saw method comprises of stacking contrasting woods on top of each other and then gluing on a pattern to cut around. I used scraps of kamagong and mahogany that I had laying around from other projects. You can see my first attempt below before I started cutting. I tilt the table to around 3 degrees so that when I cut around the line, the top piece will sit down in the recess from the slightly smaller piece and sit slightly proud so that you can sand it flat. What I failed to note is that it is important that you cut counter clockwise if my table is tilted down to the right. Attempt one ended in failure. Attempt two was successful but I wasn't pleased with the result. The long straight parts of my patterns just weren't straight and looked like a drunk woodworker had cut them out.


I'm embarrassed to show a picture of it below. It looks like a middle school shop project but in the interest of being informational, I have included it. I think if I were going to do this method again, I would go with the router but since I have never done inlay with any method, it would be something new for me again. Because I didn't want to burn through all my kamagong wood which long time readers will remember I brought back with me from the Philippines in my luggage, I decided to use some highly figured wood instead and skip the inlay process this time. Instead I am going to just build the box similar to what was up above and call it good. If I have some extra time at the end, I might at least practice some inlay using the router method and perhaps adorn the bottom side of the cribbage box, just in case it still doesn't go well. More on all that later. Right now, I am in the process of building the box.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

January Doldrums

This is the part of the year I enjoy most though the cold detracts from it a bit. I spent the spring, summer and fall working on one big project after another. In fact, the siding project went right into winter and is still being worked upon. The siding is up but none of the caulking is done and must wait for a few warmer days and there are a handful of odds and ends to tidy things back up. It always seems as if the period of days between Thanksgiving and the New Year is always full of obligations, family, school and church. Granted I enjoy attending those obligations but it wears on me after awhile. So when those are over and only a minor blip called Valentines Day between here and spring, I'm excited to relax a bit.

Typically this time of year, I like to do a few oddball hobby type stuff in the garage but I have to work around the weather which hasn't been too cooperative lately. Materials, tools and even my body just don't function well when it is well below freezing for long periods of time. I pulled out a project I started years ago, possibly over a decade and have been storing it in a paper bag ever since. It is making a working wooden toy front loader. I like working with wood and I like a challenge and this seemed to fit the bill back then and still does. So I've been working on making the rest of the uncompleted parts for it.

My oldest daughter is getting old enough now to understand the game of cribbage, a game that I enjoy playing. I drug out the cribbage board I had bought years ago when my mom was spending some time in the hospital and it was my day to keep her company. It is a cheap pine board with painted on tracks and plastic pegs. As I was teaching my daughter the game, I got to thinking that I could build a better cribbage board and if I did it right, it might become a family heirloom that can get passed around for a few generations. I also thought it might be a good opportunity to try doing some wood inlay, something I have never done but think it looks so beautiful when completed. So I found a hole template and am starting that project.

Both the toy loader and cribbage board however, need some thin stock material. I can rip some boards down close but eventually I need to run them through my planer. It is so heavy to manhandle around, I like to get it set up and do all that I need at once before putting it back away to save my back. So I got it manhandles up onto my table saw which serves as the base for doing my planing, powered it up and got to work. However, the in-feed rollers weren't pulling my material end and it was getting to the point where I was having to force it through with most of my strength. Not only is it not safe this way, but the results it leaves behind on the surface is undesirable. After shining a flashlight on the rollers I could see they were working so I was stumped at what was happening. I Googled up my planer model along with the words 'won't feed' and the very first website I clicked on gave me the answer. When it is cold, the rubber feed wheels become hard and can't grip the wood to pull it in. I set up a space heater for four hours blowing air on the rollers and then I was able to finish planing my boards so I can proceed again on both those projects.

When it comes to building things out of wood, I have an incredible backlog of things that I would like to build someday. Everything from furniture to boats to a details of a house. Yesterday I added a new project to that list. While over at the piano teachers house with my oldest, the teacher showed me one of his Christmas presents. It was a violin kit that had all the necessary parts but needed assembly, lots of assembly. He had to cut, shape, mold, adhere and finish all the pieces to eventually get a working violin. Having never heard of such a thing, I asked him if they also produced kits for acoustical guitars and he pulled out a magazine full of them. So now one of these days, I'm going to have to build my own guitar. I did some research online and they actually seem to be quite straight forward to build for someone with a reasonable amount of woodworking skills. Perhaps next January. I still have to balance out my hobbies with plenty of fireplace time and catching up on my stack of books.

Monday, January 19, 2015

How Grandpa Met Grandma

My grandfather has told me this story before but I always forget to write it down and thus it fades away until I doubt myself of the facts enough that I don't want to write it down anymore lest I am wrong. However, this time around I wrote it in my journal only a couple hours after he told it to me so this is probably the best I can do to commit the story for posterity. This is the story of how my grandfather met my grandmother.

My grandfather was ice skating on a Sunday afternoon and met a beautiful young lady his age named Lois. He stayed close engaging her in conversation for awhile before finally asking her out. She politely told him no because she was already going steady with someone else at the time. Not to be deterred, my grandfather went roller skating the following Friday and met another dashing young lady named Arlene whom he conversed with for a time. Deciding he might want to ask her out, he covertly followed her home when she left the skating rink and set his sights on the following day.

The next day he drove over to Arlene's house, parked the car and started up the sidewalk to ask her on a date. Unbeknownst to him, Arlene's mother happened to see him walking up the sidewalk and said to her oldest daughter Lois that "the Abbey boy was coming to ask her out again." All parties were shocked when my grandfather instead asked Arlene out to go see a movie. Lois was shocked that my grandfather had moved on to her younger sister. Arlene was shocked to learn that the previous week my grandfather had asked out her older sister. The mother of Lois and Arlene was shocked to learn that this older Abbey boy was now interested in Arlene, four years his junior. My grandfather was surprised to learn that Lois and Arlene were sisters.

I'm not sure if I was in the same situation, I would have agreed, but Arlene's mother let her go out to see a movie with that "Abbey boy" and he eventually stole her heart, marrying her seven years later. My grandfather many years later would tell me that despite the situation, he came out a winner. I agree.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Salt of the Earth


My great grandfather Victor started off life farming which at the time was the most common occupation but unusual since he came from a line of merchants. His father George owned a grocery store and his grandfather John owned a leather goods store. I don't know why Victor opted to try his hand at farming other than the adage of everyone else was doing so. My best guess however is that he was freshly back from the Great War in Europe and was looking for some peace that would last a lifetime.

Timing however, is everything and my great grandfather Victor's timing was bad. He lost his farm during the day running up to the great depression but was lucky enough to get a job as a salesman for Carey Salt. This job kept him on the road and away from his family for weeks on end which is why during Black Tuesday or the Wall Street Crash of 1929. What money he had from the sale of his farm had been invested in stocks and in late October of 1929, he was rightfully concerned that he could lose that as well. He frantically called my great grandmother Grace and told her to sell everything before they lost it all. Unfortunately for him, she was in the hospital giving birth to my grandfather and was unable to do so. They lost all their money but gained another mouth to feed.

At least my great grandfather had a job and it did pay the bills and feed his wife and two sons. Life moved on and got better. However World War II came along and all available able bodied men went over seas to fight it, including his oldest son, my great uncle whom I helped bury a couple years ago and have blogged about many times in the past. The loss of so many men, put a strain on the salt company who also needed able bodied men to mine the salt. In order to survive, they sent out an ultimatum to their sales staff. Work in the salt mine a month a year or lose your job. My great grandfather opted for the former and for several years, showed up in Hutchinson, Kansas to work the salt mine.

I knew he sold salt but this news of him actually working in the salt mines was news to me until my grandfather told me the story this past visit with him. I imagine it made my great grandfather Victor a better salesman and more appreciative of his job the other eleven months of the year but I also know that his family probably suffered greatly during his long stints at the salt mine. Out of curiosity, I typed in 'Hutchinson salt mine' into the computer and learned that the mine is still there and is now a tourist attraction and the picture above is supposedly taken from it. One of these days, I would like to go for a tour of that salt mine and get a deeper sense of the man whom now shares a name with my youngest daughter whose middle name is Victoria.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fire!


When we bought this house, one of the features we loved was that it had a fireplace. Our old house had one and we loved to spend our winter weekends enjoying family time in front of a fire. During our walk through of the house with the previous owner, he had told us that he had a phobia of burning wood so he had installed an electric insert. Assuming makes an ass of you and me as the saying goes and so I assumed that he had simply slid the insert in place and simply sliding it out would remake it back into a wood burning fireplace. I was wrong.

What he had neglected to say, is that he had removed bricks and part of the metal liner to get the electrical insert in place. My options were to tear the entire thing apart and redo it or to buy a wood burning insert that would fit the modified opening. I chose the later. The insert was put in place and for the most part works pretty good but I've always had a hard time starting a fire in the thing without filling the house full of smoke. I can do it when the weather is milder but when it is really cold, the down draft of cold air is so strong that the smoke ends up rolling into my house and not up the chimney.

Part of the problem which I only discovered after the thing was installed is that the area for the hot air to rise up to the chimney is a slot just two inches in behind the door. The idea was that this creates a layer that protects the glass from getting all sooty which it does well... once the fire is going. However that two inches also means the line between smoke going up the chimney and into the house is pretty fine, especially when starting a fire before a upwards draft has been established.

I tried all the tricks people use with conventional wood burning stoves like making a torch out of newspaper and burning it first or buying sap sticks which burn easily and hot or lighting a pile of wadded up newspaper and shutting the door to let it burn first. All of them didn't work for me. The down draft of cold air from the chimney would over power any newspaper torches and blow them out. The sap sticks and pile of wadded up newspaper would burn well but as soon as I closed the door to establish the draft, the cold air would snuff them out filling the firebox with smoke leaving me with two choices. Open the door and try again letting all that smoke out into the room or wait until the fire went cold and try again. However, the smoke still seeped out unless I sat there and held the door tight to the frame. I bought all sorts of fire starters but either they were terribly expensive or couldn't stay lit long enough to start the draft after the door was closed. I kept on battling this, filling the house with smoke and then airing it out before finally setting down to enjoy the fire. I also tried other things and finally found something that works.

In the picture above, you see these pellets of wax and compressed sawdust (looks like a Chinese sesame seed bun) that are readily available in hardware stores. I light one of them in the firebox, close the door and they burn well enough that they stay lit and keep burning after the door is shut. They sputter and produce a poor flame for a few minutes until the draft finally kicks in and then burn brightly. That is my que to start placing some sapwood sticks and split logs in the fireplace and in no time I have a fire going with nary a wisp of smoke in the house. Best of all, a pack of 100 of those only cost me about 15 cents a pellet and one pellet is all it takes to start a fire. Finally after two years of trying, I can now enjoy a fire from the start and not have to first sit in a smoke filled basement waiting for it to clear out before I can start enjoying.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Things You See on the Beach


Another favorite thing of mine to do during our stay on the gulf coast is to get in two or three walks along the beach every day. We can go for walks here and do, but there is something about walking along an ocean beach that make it all the more enjoyable. Along the way we see lots of sand castles, holes and other things left by the tourists but occasionally I see something that catches my eye. Above and below were two side by side sculptures that caught my eye. Someone obviously put a lot of work into them.


I have seen some dead fish and jellyfish in the sand but this is the first time I have seen a dead bird in the sand. We saw this fellow the evening before floating face down in the water but still alive and breathing. He was near one of the high rises so we kind of suspect maybe he flew into a window really hard and fell back to the water. The next morning, I found him washed up from the high tide. He hadn't made it. Chalk one up for the high rise condos. The next time we walked by he was gone. I suspect the high rise unit employs people to clean up their beach front so guests don't have to see the casualties of their high rise.


Friday, January 9, 2015

My Beach House Rant and Some Misc Pictures


Above is another sunset picture that wasn't meant to be.

The first and third years we went down to this area, we rented the same place and loved it. The second year we tried someplace difference but it wasn't near as nice as the first year which is why we went back to it. On the fourth year, my grandparents backed out of coming and we spent some time convincing them to come as we really enjoyed spending time with them. We even told them we would drive the 500 miles one way to pick them up so they didn't have to drive and we would also return them at the end of the trip. They finally said okay but by that time, someone had already rented our favorite beach house. We ended up finding another one that was pretty bad compared to the first two we had stayed on and to top it off, my grandparents backed out at the last minute and didn't show up last year. So this year we again waited until they were sure they were coming but it meant that we had to try a new place this year since the previous two that we liked were both rented out.


This beach house was nice and had a much bigger kitchen than the first one but a smaller living room area. However, the owner was hard to deal with because he never responded. Our first day was on Saturday when his rental business was closed for the weekend. When we arrived, there was a passcode to get in and since he hadn't returned our calls during business hours, we were looking at the first two days of camping out on the deck. We finally called the emergency number and after a bit of waiting, got someone to give us the passcode to get in. Then we found that the pool and hot tub (which we didn't really want but were forced to pay a premium for to get this rental) were not working, the wi-fi system was not working (didn't really affect me any but was a hardship for other members of my family) and the place didn't have even a broom to clean the floor with. The last item doesn't sound like much but when your house is right on a beach of fine white sand, if you don't sweep up at least a couple times a day, the sand just goes everywhere throughout the house and becomes a real pain to clean up. So we once again called the emergency number and eventually got someone to fix all those problems.

 Fishing boats right off shore, something I hadn't seen before in my previous years.

The real kicker for staying at this beach house was in order to rent it, we had to sign a form stating we wouldn't give is bad reviews on any social media site or we would face a fine of several hundred dollars. This was new to me but several members of my family said that it was starting to become more and more common at resorts and even motels to do so. It is a sad sign of the times in my mind to have to stoop to that. There are ways around it though. I will probably wait until later this summer when I can't be identified by having recently stayed there and leave a time unspecific post reviewing the cottage. I really don't have a beef with the owner since he did fix everything after we called the emergency number but I think I will say something about having to sign a form stating that you can't leave a bad review or face being fined. That way people thinking of renting it will take all the good reviews with a grain of salt.


In a previous post, I said all the sunsets were clouded over and they were, but we did get a few hours here and there during the day where the sun was shining and the temperatures hovered in the low 70's. Back in Iowa, we missed one of the coldest stretches thus far this year.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Foodie


I grew up in a meat and potatoes family. My grandfather had to have some sort of beef and potato for almost every meal and during my early childhood, that was the way my mom cooked. Then my step-grandfather had a heart attack and the word cholesterol made its presence in our family meals. Things got healthier but still, everything was pretty basic Midwestern cooking.

I'm not sure how I broke the mold but somehow I did. My parents will eat some seafood but mostly if it is baked to well done or fried. Me on the other hand discovered the joys of eating raw (or rare) seafood and have been doing so for the last couple decades. I started off with sushi and steamed/baked oysters but on this trip, I ate my first raw oyster. It was delicious! I expected a stronger flavor but it was very mild and very tender. They were so good, we almost had them all gone before we took the above photo.


One of the things I always look forward too when hitting the coast of our nation is fresh seafood. I can get sushi back home and most types of seafood but the latter has mostly been frozen at one point or probably a few days old (at best) by the time I see it. Along the coast, I can find seafood that was swimming around hours before it landed on my plate. Above we got a platter of oysters steamed and served with a garlic butter sauce. They were my favorite of the three types of oysters we got on the half shell. Notice that we did better at remembering to take this photo before we had eaten all of them.


Finally we got some baked oysters. They were very good as well. Still we ate some before remembering to take a photo. My wife and mother-in-law ate most of the oysters but I had a couple of each as an appetizer for what you see below, a fried oyster po'-boy which and fresh slaw which was delicious.


The past several years, we have driven straight through on our way back north which equates to 16 hours of driving time and a couple more due to stops along the way. As a result, we always pass our favorite BBQ joint in the continental U.S. sometime in the late hours of the evening. Other times when we have been near it during regular eating hours, the parking lot has been full and a line stretching 50 yards or more around the outside of the building plus the 30 yards inside the building has made us seek a place with shorter wait times. This time however, we pulled off the road for the night in western Kentucky on our way back which meant that we would arrive at our favorite BBQ place in St. Louis the next day 15 minutes before it opened! However a diaper emergency on the littlest one meant we ended up 15 minutes after they opened and the parking lot was nearly full but there were a few spaces. Inside, the line was only about 20 yards long so we got our BBQ fill. I opted for a burnt ends sandwich with Sweet Jenny BBQ sauce and two sides of vinegar coleslaw. It was worth waiting for. So if you are ever in St. Louis near 11 in the morning or in the middle of the afternoon when most people are still at work, stop in at Pappy's Smokehouse on Olive Street and enjoy some great BBQ.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Returning to the Frozen Tundra


This was my fifth year of going to Florida after Christmas to wait out the New Year on a nice sandy beach. When my grandparents sold their RV and ceased driving up to Iowa for the summers, we as a family decided to meet them partway in the panhandle of Florida every year to spend a week with them. Unless something changes, they have announced that even that will probably stop due to their health. I'm not sure what the future will bring but I hope they have another good handful of years left in them even if they can't make the drive anymore.

Where we stay faces the southwest so the sun rises behind the beach and the plethura of high rises that stud the shore. I don't get to see the sunrise while down there but the picture at the top of the post is of a sun rise and was taken by cellphone as we drove down the interstate at 70 mph. It was one of the better sunrises I have seen in my lifetime and I wish I had time to stop and document it properly but vacations and relaxation can't wait.


Every year, my favorite part of our vacations besides spending time with family is watching the sunset over the ocean. Where I live in Iowa is surrounded by tall trees so sunrises and sunsets are always happening out of sight. I don't get to see nearly enough of them. Thus when I am in Florida, I take full advantage of an unobscured view. This trip down to Florida didn't cooperate with my desires and every single sunset was covered up by clouds. The closest I came were these two pictures above and below taken about 30 minutes before the sun set.


Other than that one evening, the rest of the evenings looked like the one below. Cloudy. Though in retrospect, it probably isn't the sunset that I enjoy so much but the solitude of sitting out on a deck, sipping a beer, reading a good book, listening to the waves roll in and if the sun is not covered, taking a picture or two to remember it by. I still got to do everything but the latter.