Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fossil Hunting

A couple weekends ago Andrew's brother and his wife came out to visit us for a few days. Of course the weather turned rainy and gloomy the moment our visitors arrived, like it has with every family visit we've had. We all decided to brave the rain and fossil hunt at Ceasar Creek State Park. The place we accidentally discovered while on a hunting trip of a different kind (antiques) in Waynesville, Oh.
You really can't beat the free permits and the ability to take any palm-sized fossil out of the park with you. We found some pretty good specimens this time. I apologize in advance, I don't have the handy booklet that tells you the type of fossils these are and we've kind of made up our own names, and I'm pretty sure none of them are scientific.

We call these ones "corals", but they aren't they are actually some creature that we don't remember the name of, but they sure do look like coral.

My favorite find of the day, that spiral in the middle.
The texture of that one is amazing. Click to enlarge.
Shark tooths. (yeah, tooths.) I told you they weren't scientific (or grammatically correct).

Our haul. It was fun, muddy and it rained for a good 20 minutes we were out there. But, like I said, you just can't beat free fossils and digging around in the mud.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Not, permanent ink on skin tattoo. But, community and Air Force event with live music, food a mini air show and fireworks. Wright Patterson's Forth of July celebration in a way.

We decided to attend this free-for-all event last Friday night due to the draw of country music band Lone Star, the airplanes and of course, the fireworks. It was pretty cool and very busy, apparently with 100,000 people in attendence. We had a plan of attack. Gates open at 4:30pm, and we decided to eat dinner and arrive a little later. We got there at about 6. Everyone seemed to have the same idea and it got packed closer to 7, so we arrived just before a huge rush at the gates.
We found seats and waited for the fun stuff to begin.

The flag on stage if the flag that was pulled from the 9/11 reckage.

The fireworks were pretty cool, they even had music to go along with it. Tattoo took place in a huge field by the Air Force Museum and the fireworks were nice and low. The fireworks we're used to are usually shot really high to get above the tree line.

After the show, there is no need to rush to your car, unless you sat in your car during the fireworks and drive out at soon as it's over, you are not making a speedy exit. I can't speak for the civilan parking. We parked on the side for people with military IDs and it was a madhouse getting out. While everyone sat in their cars in the grassy aisles, we just sat in our car with the windows rolled down and waited for it to clear out. It was 11 when we got in our car and we left the parking lot at 11:50. Patience is key. There were people yelling at other drivers and at the traffic directors, making themselves look stupid and we just laughed.

We had a good time and will definitely making Tattoo a yearly event for us if we're around at the time.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Creature Comforts

I love animals, even the non-furry, amphibious kinds. A few weeks ago while working in the yard we found a cute little toad. See the sandbox that the previous owners so nicely left behind for us? Yeah, well the sand was a mix of algea, water, sand, mud and general rotting material. I think that's why the toad was hanging out in the area. Oh, and I wasn't expecting to be in a picture that morning, hence the no makeup and hair pinned back. I tend to get grubby while working outside.

What a cutie! I'm hoping I'll eventually find a snake and get to play around with it too! Yes, I'm aware of my strangeness. I can't handle spiders, but bring on the toads and snakes.

Last night as we brought in groceries from the car, I found this little guy. I was pretty excited. It's only the second praying mantis I've ever found in the "wild". The first was when Andrew and I were driving around back roads in Texas around Sheppard AFB. That one was 2 1/2 to 3 inches long and was impressively aware. I've never seen an insect so aware of it surroundings. When I got out of the car to take a closer picture, it cocked it's head my direction and watched me. It did this several times as I moved around it.

This little guy from last night did the same, and even pulled it's front legs up, ready for a fist fight. It failed to be as impressive as the giant one in Texas.

All these cute little creatures in my yard and Andrew won't let me keep a single one. If I find a snake, maybe he'll make an exception.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Guest Room Complete

We painted the guest room shortly after we moved in, it was one of the rooms with an ugly color and just had to be fixed. We had all the furniture we needed for this room, the daybed and dresser from my childhood and the side shelf.

We added the pitcher, art and ladder later. We knew this room wouldn't be really finished without a mattress, but we had a plan for that. At least the room looked more pulled together and not purple. My mom came out to visit in May and we played up that the guest room was done except for a mattress, and the couch would have to do, made it sound like the living room was the place to be. When she arrived, we showed her this room last and said "Happy Mother's Day!" as she figured out that it wasn't an empty daybed anymore like she'd seen in pictures.

There's a full bathroom off this room in the office, so this "wing" is like a private suite. The mattress may have been a mother's day present, but we're very happy that we'll be able to have guests actually have a nice place to stay when they visit. Our next project with this room is to make a trundle bed. That way two people can stay on a mattress in this room, even if they're on different levels.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Birds, Bees and Butterflies

The other morning so many flowers were in bloom around the yard. The butterflies and bumble bees were going crazy for all the nectar and pollen on our property. I had to take some pictures. I haven't figured out this yellow flower yet, but I love it. It reminds me of the yellow desert flowers I saw when I was a kid, so vibrant and soft. Let me know if you know what they are!

This butterfly almost climbed onto my hand, he didn't have a care in the world. I didn't either, until a bumble bee made a bee-line (pun totally intended) for my face and I spooked the butterfly. I feel so lucky that birds, butterflies and even bees like my yard. It assures me that my yard is healthy even if I haven't made much progress with it on my own.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Charleston Falls Preserve

About a week ago we ate our dinner and then had to get out of the house and decided to head over to a local place we found shortly after we moved here: Charleston Falls Preserve. It was super hot outside but it was nice to walk around under trees next to rushing water.

My favorite sign ever: No climbing broken eggshells. Maybe?

We took advantage of the cool water and sat on those concrete pillars and soaked our feet! It was so relaxing.

The trail we took is maybe about a mile around and there are a few more loops we haven't checked out yet. It's a really pretty place and it wasn't busy, until we left. Andrew's magical powers of showing up before a crowd helped out and the parking lot filled up as we left the place.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Great Smoky Mountains NP

Sunday before Memorial day we woke up super early, as in 3:00am and got ready to make the 6 hour drive to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We got on the road about 3:50am and had a 2 hour playlist of newly downloaded music from itunes. Ranging from Otis Redding, to Casey Abrams to Alabama and much more. What can I say? We have a varied taste in music. The drive didn't seem to take long at all, before we knew it we were in Knoxville, TN, looking for the next road to get us into Gatlinburg, the proverbial gateway to the Smokies. We took a wrong turn, completely missed a sign(pretty sure it didn't exist) and added an hour to our already ahead of schedule timeline.
Eventually, we made it back around and into Pigeon Forge and then Gatlinburg. I won't go into too much detail about how much I hate places like Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. We braved the traffic and hoards of people and finally made it into the park. The only free national park in the US, only to find more hoards of people. We thought it might be busy due to the holiday and gorgeous weather and with the help of free admission. Well, everyone and their great-grandmothers second cousin twice removed was there.

We drove around and stopped at a few places for pictures and our packed picnik lunch and rode on to find things to explore.

At one point we pulled over to get a jackass jeep from riding our ass. 25mph in the park douchbag! I'm trying to enjoy the scenery. There was a small trail into the woods and we decided to check it out. It involved a few water crossings, lots of mosquitos and pretty water.

This might be my favorite picture from the trip, can you see Andrew in the back karate-chopping bugs? Ha!!

As soon as you get under the trees it's a humid, hair attacking rainforest atmosphere and I quickly threw my hair in a ponytail and realized from then on my pictures would not be so attractive. Oh well.
Lots of millipedes. Gross, but colorful.
We drove all the way west until we reached a section of one-way rode through Cades Cove, it takes about an hour depending on the amount of cars and if you see any bears. No bears this time, just beautiful meadows.

By the time we got back to the beginning of the park we really hadn't done any hiking and felt like we just drove through the most visited park in America. We decided to head out into Gatlinburg and back into the park to visit a waterfall a park ranger suggested.

We hiked to Grotto Falls, 1.4 is the one-way distance, and it was uphill both ways! Just kidding, it was uphill getting there. I only got injured once, climbing over a muddy, slippery tree and bruised my foot and knee, and got a nice gooseegg on my foot. That's what I get for hiking in flip-flops(I was going for lightweight).

We are planning a weeklong camping trip in the Smokies for late September, hoping to avoid some crowds and spend more time exploring the non-paved roads of this beautiful park.