Saturday, October 31, 2015

Photograph: "The Scariest Picture I Could Find"

"The Scariest Picture I Could Find"
by Bruce H.
 Happy Halloween Everybody! 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Photograph: "Walk Of Fall" {Colors Of Fall 2015}

One last photograph in the Colors of Fall 2015 series.
"Walk of Fall"
by Bruce H.
A tree lined walkway displaying the colors of fall.  I little bit of every color on display.

This picture, a part of a series {Colors of Fall 2015}, was taken in Tom Hanafen River's Edge Park in Council Bluffs, IA on the 16th of October 2015

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Appalachian Trail Planning Starts ... Finally

Last weekend I finally got some of my act slightly together, or at least in the same vicinity, and started planning my Appalachian Trail (AT) thru-hike.  I should have started this in August but I've been putting it off over and over again.  I think it's subconscious anxiety.

Anyway, I started by pulling out the 2013 northbound edition of "The A.T. Guide".  This was a gift given to me by Gv soon after my second Camino.  The book gives a detailed description of shelter/hut/campsite locations along the AT as well as towns and what services are available.  It shows distances and elevations.  It notes locations of water sources and scenic vistas.  It is a very handy guide to planning your AT hike.

The first thing I started to do is plan out the hiking stages.  My intention is to walk six or seven days then take two nights off, preferably in a town, to rest, recuperate, and resupply.  I put together a spreadsheet - because that is what I do - and started to measure out the stages.  The hardest thing to do here is to figure out how far I will walk each day.  I decided to start out slow and walk around ten miles a day for the first week or two.  After that I upped the distance to twelve miles and upward so after a month I will be doing fifteen to sixteen miles a day.

Next I looked at where to stop for rest and resupply.  This is where I ran into some issues.  Early on it was no problem.  Around six, seven, or eight days in I would hit a town with hotels and hiking outfitters.  Farther north, though, things got more difficult.  Towns were getting smaller.  Outfitters getting harder to find.  For example, one stretch between days forty-two and fifty there was nothing but tiny little towns.  I finally decided to do eight days of hiking/camping (i.e. a very heavy pack full of food) until I arrived to a place called "Trent's Grocery".  You could camp here and there would be some food available in the nearby towns of Bland and Bastian, VA.  Unfortunately these towns are small and resupply appears problematic so ... this will probably be a place to have supplies (i.e. camp food) mailed to me.  Not an ideal situation but it will keep me going.

The longest section between towns (so far) is nine days but there is a town where I can resupply half way in so it won't be so bad.  In all, most of the stages are around 7 days of hiking followed by 2 days of rest.  Not what I originally planned but the terrain and the spacing of towns dictate where I stop and where I don't.  It all gives me a headache.

By Sunday I'd planned out to day 78.  At that point I needed a break.  I will continue later this week and add another month or two of stops.

Now I know a few of you are rolling your eyes.  Is he really planning out this hike to the day?  Yes I am.  You have to.  I know very well that any planned stages will be out the window after the first week or two.  There are too many thing that can go right and wrong along the trail to mess up with your shiney schedules and plans.  But the plans are necessary.  I need to know roughly when and where I'll be so that I can plan supply mail drops.  I will have to have summer clothes mailed to me and I will have to send cold weather gear back home.  For me to do this I need to know where I'll be and when I will be there.  You can't really play the AT by ear - I wish you could.

So it is started ... finally.  I will keep you all posted on how it's going.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Photograph: "Violet" {Colors Of Fall 2015}

"Violet"
by Bruce H.

A cluster of early fall blooms of a violet hue.

This picture, a part of a series {Colors of Fall 2015}, was taken during a hike at Hitchcock Nature Center on the 9th of October 2015.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Photograph: "Blue" {Colors Of Fall 2015}

"Blue"
by Bruce H.

A Blue Jay's feather on a bed of fallen leaves.

This picture, a part of a series {Colors of Fall 2015}, was taken during a hike at Hitchcock Nature Center on the 9th of October 2015.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Photograph: "Green" {Color Of Fall 2015}

"Green"
by Bruce H.
Not all leaves change color.  This fern's leaves are still a vibrant green.

This picture, a part of a series {Colors of Fall 2015}, was taken during a hike at Hitchcock Nature Center on the 9th of October 2015.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Photograph: "Yellow" {Colors Of Fall 2015}

"Yellow"
by Bruce H.
A set of leaves turning bright yellow for the Fall.

This picture, a part of a series {Colors of Fall 2015}, was taken during a hike at Hitchcock Nature Center on the 9th of October 2015.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Photograph: "Orange-ish" {Colors Of Fall 2015}

"Orange-ish"
by Bruce H.
A set of leaves turning orange-ish, golden brown-ish, for the Fall.

This picture, a part of a series {Colors of Fall 2015}, was taken during a hike at Hitchcock Nature Center on the 9th of October 2015.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Photograph: "Red" {Colors Of Fall 2015}

"Red"
by Bruce H.
A set of leaves turning red for the Fall.

This picture, a part of a series {Colors of Fall 2015}, was taken during a hike at Hitchcock Nature Center on the 9th of October 2015.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Book: Blaine Harden's "Escape From Camp 14"

I seem to have a minor fixation on North Korea.  January of 2014 I read "Nothing to Envy" which looked at North Korea from the perspective of North Koreans who had lived in the oppressive society and had escaped to South Korea.  The second book, read in May of this year, was "Without You There Is No Us"  This book came from the perspective of an American teaching in North Korea.  My latest read takes a third perspective, a North Korean who never really experienced the North Korean society but was a product of said society.

The book is Blaine Harden's "Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West".  The main 'character' of the book is Shin, a young man born in a multi-generational work camp known to the west as Camp 14.  In North Korea, when a crime against the state occurs, three generations of the family are imprisoned and sent to work camps.  If a father commits a political crime, his children, siblings, spouse, and parents  all go.  Shin is the child of two political prisoners who were allowed to have sex as a reward for hard work.

Shin grows up fixated on food.  He learns he will be rewarded if he snitches.  He receives a very basic education by strict teachers.  He is unaware of most of the outside world.  He witnesses a teacher beat a girl to death because she had a few kernels of corn in her pocket.  He snitches on his mother and brother and watches them being executed.  All this seems normal to him as it is all he has known all his life until he meets a new prisoner from the outside.

He and the prisoner hatch a plot to escape.  Shin only wants to escape so that he can get more food.  During the escape attempt the other prisoner dies on an electric fence ... and Shin crawls over him to freedom.  He eventually makes his way to China and freedom.

Shin's story is tragic and a bit strange.  He has trouble telling all the truth to the author as he is guilty about what he had to do to survive in Camp 14.  The changing story distracts from the narrative a bit making you wonder what is true and what is a fable created by Shin.

I enjoyed this read despite it's possible veering from the truth every now and then.  I gave it four out of five stars on Goodreads.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Dedication And Music (Elton John And His Band)

Our Queen of Victory Statue
(Cropped from Picture taken by GodSon.
Originally posted on Twitter).
The past few weeks have been busy, especially for the Wife.  It started a bit over a week ago with a wedding shower for the Wife's niece.  The Wife and a Sister-in-Law hosted the event at our house.  The Wife was busy decorating and preparing for the festivities.  My role was a supportive one, namely cleaning the house and keeping Iago calm in the den while the ladies had fun.

This last week was all geared towards the dedication of a statue at the Wife's school.  The Wife and I purchased the statue of May and child (Mary Queen of Victory) for the school and it sits outside the entrance of the gym.  There is a story behind the statue.

After my first Camino I suggested that the Wife do something for herself.  I was feeling a little guilty that I had such an extravagant and somewhat selfish adventure.  I hoped she would find a similar adventure for herself.  After my second Camino I suggested it again.  The Wife had been thinking about it and had not come up with anything she wanted to do ... then an opportunity appeared.  The Wife would buy a statue for the school.  It would cost about the same as what I paid for the two Caminos and she would dedicate the statue to her Aunt Dee who passed away in 2008.

Last Thursday the Wife's clan started showing up.  I picked up the Wife's Aunt C at the airport and entertained her until the Wife and others from her family arrived.  The In-Laws, Matron of Honor, Best Man, GodSon, Altar Boy, the Wife's brother, and others all show up at our house and enjoyed each other's company catching up with all the family news while imbibing their favorite beverages including homemade beer.

Elton John T-Shirt
Logo from Elton John Concert t-shirt.

On Friday we got up early, went to the Wife's school where we attended Mass with the students.  During the Mass the statue was blessed by the priest.  Tears were shed.  Afterwards we took pictures of the statue, took a tour of the school, and went out for lunch.

Friday night was a busy night of Chili, drink, party games (which I could not partake - can't do party games ... nope, can't do it), and had a merry ol' time.  We were joined by more nieces and family.  We had a full house.  Friday, as a whole, was a wonderful day for everyone.  Even Iago had fun when his cousin Cooper showed up to play.

Everyone went home Saturday.  Aunt C was the last to go.  We had breakfast at Lisa's Radial Cafe with Aunt C, the Wife's Brother , sister-in-Law, and niece before we took her to the airport.

By the late afternoon we were both pooped.  We had one more thing to do but it was not work.  It was a Concert.  Saturday night we went to see Elton John.  He was awesome.  We both really enjoyed it and it was sorely needed.  About three hours of good music and singing along with songs from our youth.  It's what we needed after the last couple of weeks.