Thursday, March 26, 2009


We're gonna skip the bowling update for this week except to say that I was one over and two under my average and we lost all the games.  There.  

What I really wanna talk about is being outside, and enjoying nature.  This past weekend we went to Hog Island Wildlife Management Area (WMA).  To access this area, you have to enter through Dominion's Surry Nuclear Power Plant, but once through, it's like you've transformed into another world.   We were given a heads up about an eagle's nest near where we would be, so we were really looking forward to seeing what we could see.  

As soon as we left the paved road, and hit the dirt road of the WMA, we saw an eagle diving into the water to scoop up a fish, and circle around.  He headed off into the trees, so we headed on down the road a ways.  It was a bit far to be the eagle's we had been tipped off about, so it was definitely a treat.

As we got to the location, we found the geocache, then headed out toward the meadow to see what we could see.  We weren't disappointed.  We immediately saw the eagle's nest.    You can't miss it!  It's a big dark mass in a Pine tree.

I looked around and that's when I saw an eagle sitting on a branch a few trees over.  I grabbed the camera, and was making my way across the meadow to see if I could capture him on the branch, but he took off.  We weren't close, mind you.  And while there was a meadow, there was a stopping point where the meadow was too high and thick to trample through.  We watched from the edge while flew and circled for a while.  Tried to get some pics, but without a fancy camera with incredible zoom, it wasn't easy.  Did manage to get a few.  Even on with the eagle flying and the nest in view.

After watching him/them for a bit, it's certainly easy to see why they are a national symbol.   They are beautiful, strong, and majestic.  

This is definitely a place to go and see wildlife, and we'll be back.  We've been told that there are other great sites to see in this area, but parts of them were blocked off due to waterfowl management.  Hopefully they'll be open before all the bugs return.   Hog Island can be BRUTAL in the summertime with the blood-thirsty little buggers...


Friday, March 20, 2009

Wow! What a day...

My friends K and G have been a big part of my life for over 10 years now.  They've always been there for me, and I hope I've been 1/2 as good a friend to them as they've been to me.  They are very special people, and are the parents to three great kids, E(8), D(4) and B(3).  I surely don't see them enough, but they are always on my mind.

Last year, G got called up from the reserves to serve a tour in Iraq for a year.  He left on March 19th, 2008 and was stationed in Baghdad in the green zone.  That doesn't mean he was completely safe, as shortly after he got there, and incident occurred and there were american casualties.  Although G wasn't hurt, he was one of the first responders, it was that close.  I have no doubt that he saw things that no people should ever see.  Not just then, but other times as well.

K, in the meantime, is juggling 3 kids, a home, and trying to find some ways of staying sane while not having her best friend and husband there.  Not to mention all the worry associated with having him in Iraq.  She certainly is one of the strongest women I know and I admire her greatly!

Finally this morning, after 366 days, he came home.  I was beyond honored to be able to go and be a part of this day.  

I cried watching the two younger kids run to him at the airport while yelling "daddy".  I was stunned at the amount of people who stopped what they were doing and watched the reunion, and even saw complete strangers tear up.  I was grateful for the S&R dog owner who took some pictures of the reunion with K's camera so she would have some still pictures.  (She's a picture freak, and doesn't go ANYWHERE without it!)  I was appreciative of all of the folks who came up to him and thanked him.  

We left there, and headed to E's school.  His teacher and school officials knew we were coming to surprise him, and all of them were excited!  We got there a little early, and had to hang out for a bit.  More folks came up to thank G and to welcome him home.

Right before E's lunchtime, we went down the hall to his room.  K had told him she had a surprise for him.  We brought G in, and E was certainly a happy little boy!  He gave his dad a huge hug, and then brought him in and told the whole class, "This is my DAD!".  He introduced him to EVERYONE!  E was certainly a proud son, and wanted to show his dad off to all his friends, and the whole school.  Even Nutmeg, the class Guinea Pig.  

We headed to a local restaurant for lunch, and even then, people came up and thanked him for his service, and were surprised to hear this was his first day home.  We pigged out, and G enjoyed a nice tall cold beer, a steak, and a shared gooey chocolate dessert!

At the end of the meal, our waiter told us it had all been taken care of.  Choked me up again!  G and his family definitely deserved it.

After lunch, they headed home to chill and relax!  

I cannot wait to spend some time with them, now that he's home safe and to stay!  

Please remember to thank these guys who go over there and serve, regardless of your opinions of the war.  These are family guys that are dads, sons, uncles and brothers.  They put their lives at risk every day for us.  We owe them a lot more than we give them!

Love you guys!!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dreaming Big

The weather this weekend was pretty crappy.  Cold, rainy, and just all around miserable.  Luckily, it was the weekend of the annual RV show at the convention center.  Who can go wrong with a day of daydreaming about luxurious campers.

Now don't get me wrong.  We really do like our pop-up a lot.  It's got a king bed on both ends, and a slide-out dinette.  So it feels very roomy.  But we can dream, right?

We got there, and started wandering around looking in newer pop-ups and small towable hard-sided campers.  Most of them actually felt smaller than our pop-up.  And the ones that felt roomy were the great big campers, 5th wheels or driving campers.

Then we walked into this one:
Yes, it's too big.  Yes, we don't need it.  Yes, we're in a recession and we're just as affected as the next guy.  Yes, we'd have to get a truck big enough to tow it.  Yes, Yes, Yes, it's tooo much.

But the layout, and the convenience, and the comfort is definitely calling!  It's open and roomy, and feels like you could have a grand old time hanging out in this.  Virtually no set required when you get to your destination.  You push a button to slide out the sofa and dining room.  You push a button to open the awning.  Level it.  Stabilize it.  You're done.  Definitely a lot less set up and work than a pop-up.  Check out the floor plan:
Needless to say, we didn't get.  But what we did get out of the whole RV show was that we could definitely make some upgrades to the pop-up camper to get us through for a few years.  Things that will make our set up a little easier, as well as things to make hauling our toys easier too.   But first, we need to get our awning fixed, as it broke off last year when closing up.  Oh yeah, and we need to get it inspected, too.  I don't really see any issue with that, but who knows.

As we do upgrades to the pop-up, I'll post here and show pictures of it's progress.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bowling, Bowling, Bowling

Last night was bowling night.  We're not real sure when it ends, just know that it is sometime in May.  I didn't get my shoes on in time to throw any practice balls, so just had to wing it.

1st game -   138
2nd game - 137
3rd game -  119

Not too shabby for winging it.  My current average is 109 and last night's average was 131. Still no clue what I did different, but was excited to be somewhat consistent.  Our team took 2/3 games and totals.  The team we played weren't that thrilled.  I think they are in 5th place or so, and we are in 38th.  Out of 39.  Ooops.  

Definitely a fun night!  

Oh and KD - the hair looks FAB!


Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I have a feeling this post could turn into a rant.  And a long one.  Bear with me...

We all hate traffic.  There's no argument there.  But what I really hate is how some folks handle bad traffic.  Luckily, I'm not in one of the major metropolitan areas that it takes people hours to get into work (or home) due to traffic.  I'm in a smaller metro area that has it's own traffic headaches.  We are surrounded by water, so we deal with tunnels, bridge-tunnel combos, and draw bridges.  We have 6 tunnels that go under water, and we have 11 draw bridges (that I can remember).  There may be some that I've forgotten.  The draw bridges create traffic in their own right, by stopping traffic to allow boats to pass.  Stopping traffic is never a good thing, as it just allows traffic to back up.  Traffic at the tunnels are an issue, because people insist on SLOWING.DOWN.TO.A.CRAWL. at the mouth of the tunnel.  When really, it's just the same road, just enclosed.  

Granted, the tunnels don't have shoulder lanes, or emergency exits (could you imagine an emergency exit underwater???).  So when there is an incident in a tunnel, it creates havoc by stopping all traffic that enters, so the incident can be cleared out.  Be it an accident or a breakdown, the procedure is the same.  Stop traffic from entering, send in tow or emergency vehicles, wait for vehicle extraction, clean debris (from accidents) then re-open traffic.  Sometimes these can be relatively quick, 5 minutes or less.  With accidents, it's not usually so quick.  All but one of the tunnels in the area are separated so there are different 2 lane tubes for each direction.  So normally, only one direction is affected by said incident.  One tunnel, however, is only 2 lanes, one in each direction.  When this tunnel has an incident, it has to shut down in both directions.

At most of these tunnels or bridges, multiple lanes merge down into less lanes.  For example:  at the "Midtown Tunnel", there are two lanes west bound from one major road that merge into one, as well as three lanes from another road that merge into one onto an onramp, that feeds into the original single lane merge.  Basically 5 lanes that all merge into one.  Confused yet?  Yeah, thought so.

Now throw in that traffic patterns change over the years, so that even locals don't always know which way we are supposed to go, or send us to a part of town we don't drive in that often, and it's easy to end up in the wrong lane.  Add in that we are a military area, and most people aren't from around here originally, so no one knows where they are supposed to be, or how to get there, and again, there is chaos.  And this is on a good day.

Now throw in snow (and ice), something we don't get that much of.  Now you have thousands of people who aren't used to driving in it, out driving.  And you also have the ones who have 4 wheel drive, and think they are invincible.  Combine them all, and as you can imagine, the roads are littered with accidents.  All tunnels and bridges are at a crawl.  And everyone is still in a hurry to get where they want to be.

But here is what pisses me off.  It's all the people that think they are more important than you, or that it's more important that they get where they are going.  You  know the ones.  The guy that drives in the wrong lane, and cuts over illegally at the last minute to get to the front of the back up.  Or the one that makes a turn from a through lane, because he didn't want to wait in the turn lane.  Or the few that go through a green light even though they can't get all the way through so they block the intersection.  So when your light turns green, you can't go because THEY.ARE.IN.YOUR.WAY.   Or the worst ones (in my opinion) the ones that drive one the shoulder lanes to get ahead of the traffic.  Not only does it really suck for those of that have legally sat there, and inched along, it's dangerous.  

Case in point:  a few weeks ago, one of the tunnels was blocked.  Traffic was really backed up.  A state trooper on a motorcycle on the way to the incident in the tunnel was driving on the shoulder to get there.  A student late for class decided she would drive on the shoulder to get to her exit, and she collided the trooper on the motorcycle.  The trooper was thrown from her bike, the bike landed on her.  The emergency responders couldn't get to her, because people were on the shoulder.  See where I'm going here?  Luckily, two men jumped out of their cars, pulled the bike off of the trooper, and help finally managed to get through.  This trooper is a friend of mine, and she is still recovering from injuries and will be out of work for still some time to come.   But all because someone thought they they were more important than following the rules.

Is there a point to all this?  Not really.  It's really just a rant about our local traffic situation.  Transportation issues are always on the agenda in the political circuits, and nothing gets done.  All talk, talk talk...

Now excuse me while I go sit in tunnel traffic to get home.