Friday, August 31, 2012

Sanibel Island Table

Chablis and I have been channeling our inner craftiness.  I am not very artistic, so calling it crafty is a stretch.  Last week a tenant moved out of one of the offices we manage.  They left behind a bunch of office equipment and supplies.  I don't know about you, but I love to go through stuff like that.  You never know what little treasures you might find.  One persons junk is another persons joy, right?

Anyway, one of the things they left behind was a nice little table.  Nice in terms of it being well built and sturdy.  However, it was old, outdated and a very unattractive shade of yellow.  Chablis snagged the table and said she wanted to paint it, so we tossed it into the back of my truck and took it home.  I had recently spray painted a shadow box with some periwinkle blue paint, so she grabbed that and sprayed the table.

Unfortunately, I didn't take a before photo of the table, because I didn't think it was going to turn into a project.   But after Chablis painted it, she said it might look cute with some photos decoupaged on top.  Before I knew it, she had pulled out her Sanibel Island folder and found a map of Sanibel and a Bailey-Matthews Museum Shell Chart.  Then she started going through our vacation photos and picked out a couple of Florida favorites.  So this is what we did....

First we sprayed the map and all the photos with some clear acrylic sealer to protect them and keep the colors from running....

Then we applied tacky glue to the back of the map, the shell chart and the photos, and placed them on the table.  Once the glue dried, we started to apply layers of Mod Podge completely over the top of the table and photos....

Chablis ended up applying 5 layers of Mod Podge....

Once the Mod Podge dried she applied a final layer of the clear acrylic sealer.  Here's the finished table....

I think it turned out so cute and tried to slide it into the front room next to my lazy boy chair, but she wasn't going for that and it's now in her bedroom.  How rude!

I'll also show you the shadow box I made.  A couple of weeks ago I found a brand new shadow box, still in it's original packaging, with the original price tag on it of $ 39.99.  It was listed at the garage sale for 5 bucks, so I snapped it up.  I sprayed it with that periwinkle blue paint, decorated the back board, hot glued some shells and sand into it and now I'm waiting for hubby to hang it up for me...

Hey, I told you crafty is a stretch for me but ya work with what ya got!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Q & A With Standing Bear 8-28-12

Current miles hiked - 2066!!!  Mike has only the 100 mile wilderness to complete before reaching his final destination of Mt. Katahdin.  This will probably be our last Q & A with him before he's done with his journey.  I'm looking forward to our final interview because it will mean he hiked the entire trail.  I don't know about you, but I have goosebumps.  Here's this weeks Q & A:

Your last state is Maine. How many miles is that section of the trail?
281 miles. And it is rugged.

You mentioned that there are very few towns along the trail at this point. How does that change your food/water supply?
I have to carry a lot more food because I can't bail out in a town if I were to run out. It has also motivated me to hike faster and longer hours. For example, I hiked over 60 miles in the past 3 days to get to Monson. If I had hiked that portion over 6 days instead of 3 then I would have needed to carry an additional 5 pounds of food. Believe me, you will feel an extra 5 pounds in your bag every day! Water isn't a problem because there are lots of river crossings.
The next portion of trail is known as the 100 Mile Wilderness. It is 100 miles without a town, paved road, or place to resupply. I'm estimating it will take me 6 or 7 days to make it through this part, so I'll be carrying enough food for a week. Many people don't feel like carrying that much food so they will pay someone at the hostel to do a "food drop" 30 miles into the 100 Mile Wilderness. The people at the hostel will drive up a little-used gravel road and hang your food from a tree in a bucket.

Also, there are people who will pay a lot of money to "slackpack" the 100 Mile Wilderness. They will leave their pack at a hostel and then call the hostel to come pick them up whenever they're near a gravel road or logging road at the end of the day.

Personally, I think these people are wimps. Paying people to carry your food for you, or hiking with a cell phone and constantly calling someone to come pick you up is not what most people envision when they picture a thru-hike. I'm old-fashioned, and I have never slackpacked. I will be carrying my food on my back through the entire 100 Mile Wilderness, and I've never hiked with a cell phone so I certainly won't be calling people to come pick me up every 15 miles. I almost consider that to be cheating! lol

Brooke’s section of the trail is finished and she’s gone home. This leaves you alone with your thoughts for the last few hundred miles. What things are going through your mind?
You don't want to know. The other day, I was wondering if I had gone nuts. I asked myself, would I be crazy if I were to talk to a squirrel? I eventually decided that talking to a squirrel wouldn't necessarily make me crazy, but I should be worried if the squirrel started talking back.

What is your average daily mileage now compared to the first week on the trail?
In southern Maine, 10 miles was a good day. The past three days though I averaged slightly over 20 miles per day, simply because the weather was nice (no rain!) and I really want to go home.

Your final destination is Mt. Katahdin. How high is it? Do you plan on climbing it alone or will Brooke re-join you?
I will climb it alone. Baxter Peak of Mt. Katahdin is 5,268 feet. You begin at around 1,000 feet so the climb itself is around 4,200 and the elevation profile shows that it is quite steep. Word-of-mouth is that Katahdin is quite strenuous, with hikers hanging from rebar, climbing up and over ledges, etc. I don't particularly like that kind of hiking, but it does make me feel tough, like I'm Bruce Willis in a Die Hard movie.

Tell us what the countryside in Maine looks like.
Lots of ponds and rivers, some of which must be forded. Maine is the only state that requires fording. The trail also has lots of rocks and roots and it's easy to twist your ankle. I wouldn't be surprised if I sprain my ankle in the 100 Mile Wilderness. If I do, other people can watch as I limp up Katahdin. People are always shocked when you hike injured. Just last night, I stumbled into town and could barely stand. A guy offered me a ride but wanted to chat first. This was fine, but I literally had to sit on the ground while he talked because otherwise I would have collapsed. I have never been the athletic type, and even with all the weight I lost I still feel like I'm walking wounded most of the time. So Maine is a rugged, remote trail with lots of ponds and river crossings and a guy named Standing Bear gamely making his way north :)

I don't know about any of you, but Mike inspires me!  He is so strong willed and amazing.  Let's all pull together and send some good thoughts and prayers his way for a safe journey on his final 100 miles.

Visit Mike's FB page here for more information and photos.  

If you'd like to make a donation to Mike's organization "Hike4Kids" please visit his website.  He's collecting money for underprivileged children who have been neglected and abused.  Mike is no stranger to childhood abuse and has taken up the cause to help children in need.  Will you consider making a donation?

(all photos courtesy of Mike McLaughlin.  Do not reproduce without permission)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

How Not to Catch a Bass!

Here are a few video out-takes showing the proper techniques of "How Not to Catch a Bass!"

Here's the link to You Tube if you're having trouble getting it to play here.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Geocaching at Hillman Ferry

When we were in Kentucky we did a couple of geocaches that were accessible by water, so we took the pontoon boat.  One of the caches was Hillman Ferry.  Hillman Ferry was a ferry crossing of the Tennessee River before they built the dam.

The guys dropped us off on the beach and did a little fishing along shore while we hiked up the trail towards the cache....

It was a short walk to ground zero and we made the find quickly!

After that we rode over to Pisgah Bay to find another cache named "Just Breathe."   I really liked the location of this cache because of all the cool looking rock walls....

We had to do some care maneuvering of some rock ledges to land the boat....

After carefully climbing the wall, I made my way to the cache...

After finding the cache, I did just as the name suggested - Just Breathe!  Isn't this a great view?


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Standing Bear Pushes Through

Mike, aka Standing Bear, has reached the most difficult section of the trail for him thus far.  Vertical rock slabs and precarious ledges abound.  This area of the AT is well known for being the most difficult part of the entire trail.  Mike was able to upload a post on his blog a couple of days ago.  You'll want to take the time to jump over and read it.

Mike, our thoughts and prayers are with you.  I know we'll hear from you personally the first chance you get. Keep safe my friend and keep reaching for the sky!

For more updates, visit Mike's Hike4Kids FB page and consider making a donation to his cause.

(all photos courtesy of Mike McLaughlin.  Do not use without permission)

Monday, August 20, 2012

World Wakeboard Championships

This weekend was the King of Wake/ Rockstar WWA World Championships, presented by Supra.  In plain speak - it was the world wakeboard championships and we had seats front and center on Friday!  This year the prestigious Championships were held in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin from August 16 -19th.  Pleasant Prairie just happens to be less than an hour from Chicago.  Chablis is good friends with Toby who works for the company that sets up the event, and he invited us up to spend the afternoon.

Chablis and I both love to water ski and wake board.  In fact, Toby was the one who taught us how to wake board a couple of years ago.  We've never had the opportunity to attend a wakeboard event, so we were really excited about going and seeing the professionals in action.

Friday's events were as follows:

FRIDAY, August 17
8:00 am                       Amateur Wakeskate Finals – (SA450)
8:30 am                        Masters Women Finals – (SA450)
8:45 am                         Veterans Women Finals – (SA450)
9:00 am                        Amateur Women Finals- (SA450)
9:15 am                         Girls Finals- (SA450)
9:30 am                         Jr. Women Finals – (SA450)
10:00 am                      Junior Boys Beginner Finals- (SA450)
10:30 am                       Junior Boys Finals – (SA450)
11:00 am                       Boys Beginner Finals- (SA450)
11:30 am                       Boys Finals- (SA550)
12:00 pm                      Men I Semifinals- (SA550)
1:30 pm                         Veterans Finals- (SA550)
2:00 pm                        Men II Finals – (SA550)
2:30 pm                         Jr. Men Finals – (SA550)
3:00 pm- 6:00 pm      Jr. Pro Men Quarterfinals- (SA550)

We got there around noon and the first thing we did was grab some lunch and settle in at a tented table right in the middle of the course.  We could not have had better seats.  

Tents were set up along the lakefront at Lake Andrea for all the vendors, like Rockstar Energy drinks, Overtons, and Mastercraft,  plus many more.....

Several boat dealers had boats on display and of course I had to go and inspect them.  I liked this one.  Oh, how I would love to ski behind a boat like this!

There were approximately 200 professional and amateur wakeboarders in the tournament and they ranged in age from five years old to mid fifties.  There were both male and female contestants at every level and many traveled from all over the world to participate in this invitation only event.

These are some of my favorite pictures.  You might have to zoom in on a few of them to really appreciate the action taking place in the shot.

The moves that these guys made on their boards were truly exciting.  It's a real thrill to see them make their leaps, twists and turns, and then nail the landing.

Toby was extremely busy and was constantly running around taking care of business, but he made sure to come back and forth to check up on us.  It was a great afternoon and it was interesting to sit and watch the championships.  We really want to thank Toby for inviting us up and for all he did for us.  It was great to see him.  Hey Toby, I owe you a spaghetti dinner next time we're all at the lake!

For more information visit the King of Wake webpage.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Jelly Belly Fun

Yesterday Chablis and I drove up to Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin to attend the World Wakeboarding Show and on the way we stopped to grab a geocache called The Jelly Bean Forest.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, one of the best things about geocaching is the unexpected places it takes us.  I had no idea that the Jelly Belly Company had a factory right over the border in Wisconsin and the name of the cache didn't tip me off to that either.  So when we pulled into the driveway and saw the Jelly Belly sign, we knew we were in for a treat!

Are you familiar with Jelly Belly Jelly Beans?  They are well known for their wide variety of jelly bean flavors such as root beer, bubble gum, cotton candy, cherry, raspberry, chocolate, buttered popcorn, mango and blackberry.  When you bite into one, the flavor explodes in your mouth.  They are little sugar globs of goodness.  They also have the Bean Boozled Line of jelly beans with flavors like skunk, vomit, pencil shavings, rotten egg and canned dog food.  I did not try any of those.

Right out in front of the factory are a couple of Jelly Belly cars....

We were just about to walk into the store when Chablis spied the sign for the factory tours.  We walked down to the tour entrance and got into line.  The tours are free and only take about 30 minutes.

We got lucky and only had to wait about 5 minutes for the next tour.  They have signs outside marking 30 minute and 45 minute waits, so I felt 5 minutes was a breeze!  As we walked in they gave each of us a paper Jelly Belly cap to wear and we then boarded a tram for the tour....

One of things that I found interesting was the jelly bean artwork.  Each piece of artwork was created using thousands of different colored jelly beans that had been arranged like mosaic tiles....

The tour itself runs around the warehouse, not the factory itself.  It consisted of about 7 different stops and at each stop we sat and watched a short video clip about the history of Jelly Belly's and how they are made....

The warehouse was spotless.  You could seriously eat off the floors, it was that clean....

When the tour was over they gave everyone a free bag of assorted Jelly Belly flavors and dropped us off at the Jelly Belly store.  Inside the store are huge plastic containers of all their jelly bean flavors.  All you have to do is grab a bag, pull on a lever, and fill your bag with as many jelly beans as you want.  They are then priced per pound at the check out counter.  They also had a sample bar where they passed out free samples of every flavor.  We walked down the line and filled our bag with raspberry, chocolate, licorice and caramel popcorn flavors to take home.

Our tour concluded, we walked around to the side of the building and searched for the geocache that brought us to the Jelly Belly Factory in the first place.  I think the cache container was appropriate, don't you?

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