Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The many moods


…of the black-bellied whistling duck.








These are not all the same picture over and over.  It’s a sequence of photos!


Monday, March 30, 2015

There is an American bittern


…in this photo.


…and in every photo below it.


This is how they usually look.


…a little hard to spot.


They’re hard to spot,


…because they don’t move much.


…and their camouflage is pretty good in the reeds.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Family Album


Some old photos we found in Mom’s stuff.  These are from a 1945 trip to Michigan.


Brother David was the baby.  I hadn’t even been born yet.



Who can name that car in the background?



David was apparently the star of the show.


Brother Bill.


Brother Tom.


The four of us.  Bill, Tom, David, and me(not pictured).


Mom at 35 years old, something I never got to see.



This looks like Grandma Jesse with Mom.  Would she have been in Michigan then?


I don’t recognize this person with Mom at all.  I do recognize those old vacuum thermoses though.  It sure took a lot of them for one picnic.


And Dad, looking a little blurry to the rest of us, but mighty fine in that shirt!


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Big Daddy's Burgers


Judy and I order the “little” hamburger cut in half so we can split it.  I don’t know who eats the “big” one.  There is a really big one for the Big Daddy’s Challenge.  Eat it in 30 minutes and it’s free.


There were a couple guys up for the challenge while we were there today.





One of them ate most of his burger.  The other ate all of his burger, but couldn’t finish the cheesy chili fries.


So, if I understand this correctly, eat the entire burger and serving of cheesy chili fries, you feel terrible afterwards, but you get your name in the Hall of Fame (there are only two so far).  Fail to eat the whole thing and you feel terrible afterwards, get no honorable mention, AND you have to pay 50 bucks for the burger.  I don’t see enough upside to the endeavor.


Nevertheless, Judy and I announced that we wanted to try it next, but with *Senior* portions.


No deal.


Friday, March 27, 2015



We’ve been back at Sandpipers for a few days, but now we’re really home.


We arrived on Wednesday, unloaded the bus into the house, then went to park the rig on a grassy site for storage.  It rained a lot here while we were gone.  The parking didn’t go well.


We sank the bus.


Plan A, Wednesday, the self-rescue.  We were immediately surrounded by all the guys in the park, each with their own ideas about how we could save this.  The plan we settled on was to dig out the dirt around the right rear wheel, put boards under the right rear jack, lift up the back end and stuff stuff underneath the wheel to get traction.



That didn’t go so well.  We kept pushing down with the jack,  lifting it back up, putting in more wood, and pushing that down into the dirt too.  We got about 3 feet deep of wood pieces plugged down into the ground before we gave up on that.  Guess we needed bedrock and it wasn’t there.


Plan B, still Wednesday, we called the tow service.  They sent a big red wrecker with a winch.


That didn’t go so well either.  They couldn’t line up in front of us on the other side of the road and pull us straight forward.  They’d have sunk into the mud and ended up looking like us.  They couldn’t come around from behind to try to do anything for the same reason: saturated ground.  They couldn’t get a good enough angle to winch us out.  Their efforts to apply some tension to the front axle while I got out under my own power failed.  They didn’t really have the right equipment to keep the winch cables low enough to apply enough tension to help, without tearing up our front end.  About 10 o’clock at night we all gave up and went home.  We needed a better plan.


Plan C, Thursday, the tow insurance people turned us over to the vehicle insurance people.  This is no longer a “tow-out”.  It’s now called a “recovery operation”.  We got word there was a bigger piece of equipment on the way; a “rotator”.  That means a big honking truck with a pivoting winch on the back, capable of lifting our entire bus up out of the mud and setting it back down on the road.  There was also some discussion of placing air bags under the axles, lifting up the entire rig, placing ramps under the tires and driving it out.  The day wore on.  Help never arrived.  We still looked like this; run aground.


The equipment that was supposed to help us, got diverted to a big pile-up on Highway 281 and spent the rest of the day there.


Plan D, Friday, help arrives.  Help does not consist of bigger equipment though.  It’s a big white wrecker

… but smaller than the first.  This wrecker is more suited to the job though.  It has twin winches and the right gear to go with them.  They were able to route the winch cables down through pulleys on the back of the truck to keep the tow lines low enough not to wreck our front end in the process of saving us.


They put a strap instead of a chain around the front axle.  They got good distance from us, way off to the side.


After about 45 minutes of set-up, they pulled.


I drove.


The bus moved.


The crowd cheered.


The generator cabinet pushed out the front is not a problem; I was just getting the generator exhaust pipe out of the way of the tow strap underneath.


We’re saved; back to higher ground.


With the rig out of the way we rescued what wood jack pads we could from the soft ground.

…and covered up the rest with the dirt we first dug out.


Finally, after 3 days, we were able to drive the bus to a different row and parked it on a CEMENT pad.


Now we’re really home and relaxed.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

White-crowned sparrows






Making the best of a rainy day.