Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Fall River Lake Camping

Last year a wind storm totaled out our travel trailer. We replaced it early this year and have been camping out more this year that in recent years. It's been nice.

We had our fourth outing this past weekend.  Packed our tandem kayak, too. We spent Friday scouting out the Fall River as it comes into the Lake. Our Kansas kayaking book tells us of the various put-in points. We scouted out where to go when Amy and Cody come out to visit us on Saturday with their kayaks.

Had a nice chat with a Wildlife & Parks field guy. He verified the book's information. The names for the access points are all correct. Water conditions are low right now so the flow is down. Several riffles would be present, but that was OK. It's an excuse to walk through cool clear flowing shallow water on a hot day. Felt like a little kid again!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

August Lawrence Sketch Crawl

This month was the second outing of this group. Gail organizes them. This time we met at the Eldridge Hotel in Lawrence. On these hot summer days the group wanted some air conditioning, and save the outside sketching for later. This is an operating hotel with roots back 150 years and has quite a history. The restaurant and cafe/bar add a nice touch. Wilma and I have seen the outside of this nice old place for years and we never went inside. Now we can say we have. For our after-sketch gathering we ate in the cafe/bar. Five of us sketchers and Wilma. Could have talked all day, but had to move on. Mowing to do, garden and fruit trees to tend to.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Lawrence Sketch Crawl

I had my first outing with a sketch group in Lawrence this morning. The weather finally turned good so it was a nice outing. We met at the Visitor's Center and sketched for a couple hours. Then met for a meal and chat. Met new people and made new friends. Wilma went to some fabric and quilting shops while I sketched. We like to come to Lawrence for many reasons.

A couple coal trains passed by while I was sketching. The center is a former Union Pacific terminal. The tracks were literally ten feet from my sketching spot. Boy do they make the noise and actually make the ground shake! When you compare the mass of the train to the mass of the earth, I just don't see how there is enough energy available to do that but there is.

I chatted with two different families that were walking by with their young kids to see the sights. The kids didn't like the trains when they passed, but they sure liked to run around the grounds. There's just something that kids like about trains, and some of us don't outgrow it.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Buggy Out

It's buggy out there! The main insect this year is the seventeen year cicada. Internet sources say this is the Magicicada Periodical Cicada, Brood IV. This is the first time I've seen these in Kansas, although my youngest brother says he remembers their last hatch. I think they're cute! They don't bite and are small that our usual cicadas, so they are less intimidating. And their color scheme is much more appealing than their kin. I've never seen their numbers, though! They absolutely cover the trunks of trees, are spread out in the tree canopies, and cover the garage doors at night time. When they sing they can be deafening. I have a dB application on my phone, and at work I measured 98 dB at the base of a tree! The occupationally harmful level is 85 dB. It's more of a constant vibration, too, not like the pulsating vibrations of our typical cicadas.

As for other insects like mosquitoes, the population count hasn't been that bad. We've had a wet spring but for some reason they haven't been bad. I have coworkers that say the ticks are bad this year, but we haven't had a problem yet.

The other insects I sketched happened to show up by our night light on the garage and I found them interesting. I took cell phone pictures of all of them for sketching purposes. Live sketch time just hasn't happened lately. I like to email them to our home account and print them off so I can sketch them over lunch hours at my local coffee shop.

I like to journal about these things because this serves as a timestamp for things that happen around here. As soon as the seventeen year hatch began I knew that they'd end up in my journal. Next hatch - I can count the years and see if it was really seventeen years. Mother nature's timing is amazing.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

More Business Travel

This time I drove to Oklahoma City for an engineering committee meeting. After the day's meeting I like to stroll through the Brickyard, which is a neat area of restaurants, bars and retail stores. They even have a small canal system. However, we had tons of rain this week in the country's midsection. The rain kept me pinned down to the motel's area. I could stroll out some between rain sessions but didn't want to get too far away in case it started up again. Wasn't dressed for it.

For the first day's lunch break I stole away and discovered this American Banjo Museum. What a jewel! They covered the four string banjo the best (it started as a 4-string collection) but had a nice selection of bluegrass banjos, too. They had early banjos or mock-ups thereof, and four long necks from the '60s (Kingston Trio and Pete Seeger style). They did not cover the open-back flailing banjo, though. All the displays were museum quality. They've spend $5 M on it so far.

Next day I HAD to get out, so I skipped over to a Starbucks for a pastry and a sketch. It was cold and misty so I couldn't sketch the Banjo Museum face like I wanted. I fixed that, though, when the meeting ended at noon and I went back to the Museum. Had another chat with the staff. Picked on a couple banjos on display for patrons to use. Bought a banjo T-shirt. Then on the road for home.

Friday, May 15, 2015


I'm trying something new . . . rather it's old. Centuries ago kombucha was created and claims to have healthy benefits. My daughter Amy started making it this year and spurred my interest. So far I've made two batches, a half gallon at a time. I don't know how much is a daily serving, but I'm starting at a juice glass worth. This stuff is easy to find on the east and west coast, but is new to Kansas. Our health food stores in Topeka have it, but most of the population here has never heard of it.

I had the bottle caper from my old beer brewing days, but needed some caps. We have only one store that sells brewing supplies, and it's a guy running a business from a home. I drove up to get the caps and found out he, too, is brewing kombucha. He showed me his gallon jug of fermenting tea, with a smile. We are both cautious with our expectations, since we don't buy into all this alternate health stuff blindly. It's worth a try, though. We both see the similarities to brewing beer or wine. Fermented food is hardly a new concept. Plus there is the fun factor.

I'd be interested if any readers of my blog have experience with kombucha? Let me know. The traditional American medical community isn't buying into the claims, but that's true with a lot of health foods out there.  I figure if it's been around for centuries, if it was killing people the recipe wouldn't be around today.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Plan B

Today was to be the April sketch crawl organized by Kate. We were to meet at Case Park in Kansas City, Missouri, near the merging of the Kansas River and the Missouri River. The forecast started terrible early in the week,  but yesterday made it look rosy, or at least dry. Wilma and I left Topeka in overcast and drizzle. As we drove by Lawrence it was raining. As we drove by Bonner Springs it was raining cats and dogs! Not the weather I like to drive in downtown KC, so we turned around.

We've always heard of the Moon Marble Company there, and my folks had gone years ago and gave it a thumbs up. We had our lunch packed for the planned picnic so all we needed was a picnic table with a cover and we're set. We found the Visitor's Center, a restored caboose, and they had a small gazebo with picnic table. Bingo! We picked up some local info and moved into the gazebo for our picnic lunch. It's raining in a fine mist now, so it's fine to eat out. I bought extra cookies to share with the sketch group, but they'll keep until we can eat them all.

We watched some local pre-teens play around the caboose. As I sketched the caboose, Wilma found an embroidery/quilting store. Then we walked around a little and checked out an antique store. Talked to the owner to get some local flavor. Then off to the Moon Marble company. The owner gives demonstrations of creating a marble, right in front of us seated in bleachers! We then grabbed some Dairy Queen, drove over the Kansas River to see how it looked, and headed home.

It may be Plan B, but it ended up a fun day. Missed the fellow sketchers, but there's always next time.