Here Comes Nate

Saturday morning not even 8:30am and we are already getting the outer bands of Nate. Winds, rain and thunder at the moment. Presently predicted to come through Gulf Shores. Not my home but certainly a favorate spot of my family. Good luck everyone. Stay safe. Hope he moves quickly.

Your Worst Experience 

Well school is well underway and with it is my son’s first essay of the year. His task: Write about your worst experience.  Enjoy.

Far Fence

Last year, a catastrophic event ensued because my mom had the idea of cycling on the levee in the midst of the summer heat. My family and I thought it was a brilliant idea as we were driving toward Baton Rouge. However, we could not have been farther from the truth. As we were preparing to start the event, we found that my sister’s bicycle tire was flat and that she could not ride. As a result, she and my dad left to repair her tire. After she departed, the remainder of our group (my mom, Ms. Andrea, Andre, and I) finally set off on our bicycle trail.

The following hours were some of the most strenuous and physically exhausting that I had ever experienced. It seemed as though the cycling trip went on forever, riding up and down the levee in the summer heat with little water. The only thing keeping our group going, apart from my mom, was the promise of a break once we reached our destination. We cycled and cycled, tiring by the minute, but we were still moving forward. Slowly, everyone’s temperament started to change as fatigue and frustration built. The whole group was ready to reach the park and to take a break.

We had a terrible realization once we cycled the distance to the park. Although my mom presented our destination as a place of rest, in reality, it was Farr Park Equestrian Center. In other words, the “park” was a fence. As a result of this conclusion, many emotions rose up inside me, chief among them being anger and disappointment. As soon as I realized the truth, I biked as quickly as I could in the opposite direction to leave that forsaken place, which I dubbed “Far Fence.” Following in my wake was my mom, who was full of mirth because of my sudden outburst. Unfortunately, Far Fence had one last event for us to remember it by, Andre soon fell ill with heat exhaustion. Finally, after the cycling trip of the decade, we were able to leave Far Fence and were able to have as much water and sleep as we wanted.

Dad’s Note:

While my daughter and I made an honest effort to get her bike fixed, it was Sunday and all the shops were closed. We ended up getting ice cream and visiting the LSU tiger instead. 

This is still an issue in my household. 

 

Black Holes and G-Waves

Packed up for a day trip and took the family out to Livingston Louisiana for Science Saturday at the LIGO Gravitational Wave Observatory. I have to admit, my family is a bunch of Astro-nerds who don’t mind sitting in a science lecture, so this was pretty much up our alley.

We hadn’t been here in a while but wanted to see what was happening with the recent wave discovery they had. For those of you who really aren’t into science or hadn’t paid attention, the science world was rocked with the detection of gravitational waves caused by the collision of 2 black holes in a distant galaxy over a billion years ago. One of them was 36 times as massive as the sun, the other 29 times. As they approached the end, at half the speed of light, they were circling each other 250 times a second. The two holes coalesced into a single black hole with the equivalent mass of 62 suns. All in a fifth of a second, Earth time. That event rippled through space time and was detected at LIGO.

Freakin Awesome! I guess Einstein was right. 

This was a great time for kids and adults. The exhibit hall was very nice with lots of demos and the staff was very friendly and knowledgable. The lectures were very informative covering the history of LIGO and the discovery of the black hole wave. It was nice to see the large crowd and the interest in the facility.

Geocaching

Perhaps the biggest kept secret for a free family fun time is Geocaching. If you have not heard of this by now, Google or YouTube it for more information. It is filled with videos to get you started and gives tutorials and strategies. Basically it’s a big scavenger hunt using GPS coordinates to find caches hidden all over the place (and by all over the place, I mean all over the world) and pretty much all you need is a smartphone. See the website geocaching.com to sign up for free and get started. It has map applications and you can get a good idea of where the caches are located in your area. Also, go to your app center and find a good app for your smartphone. There are a few rules. You have to register and download the coordinates (caches) Many handheld gps units have a geocache feature. Also, upon finding a cache, you have to sign (if they have a sign sheet) and take an item from the find, as well as, leave an item for the next seeker. At the end of the day, you should log back in (geocaching.com) and record all your finds. It can even get advanced where an item from a cache has to make its way to a final destination by way of “cache hopping” or a cache can just be a clue to finding the final treasure. My kids really love it, whether it’s an ammo box out in the woods, or a micro cache with a magnet stuck under a park bench. Great outdoor fun. Reminds me a bit of Pokemon Go. 

Rafting the Pigeon

It was the end of this recent May and school just couldn’t finish fast enough for the start of summer. The plan was already set up long ago for this moment; a trip to the Tennessee Mountains for a rafting trip with the kidos.

After a family pow-wow and sizing up the skill level of the children, as well as, a good guess on how long we thought they could be on a river, we chose the Upper Pigeon River.

The Pigeon River flows through a beautiful area in the Great Smoky Mountains near part of the Appalachian Trail and is a great place for beginners. Its flow is controlled by the hydroelectric dam in western North Carolina (right on the state line.) For rafting purposes, the river is divided into the Upper and Lower sections. The Lower section features gentle waves and beautiful scenery. We did this portion when my son was just a toddler. “Such a great run to get their little feet wet.”

This time we were doing the Upper section that begins at the powerhouse and features Class III-IV whitewater rapids. We booked the trip through the Nantahala Outdoor Center in Gatlinburg (NOC) that just so happened to have “half off” the regular price. (We had a great experience with these guides and would definitely book with them again)
20160531_131830NOC river site

Well the day was beautiful, the kids were excited, and the water was perfect. Everyone put in at the hydroelectric dam. We were off. First rapid right off the bat is PowerHouse (class 4) and everyone got wet. Then it became a scenic world wind ride through: Aftershave (class 2), Second Helping (class 3), Vegematic (class 3), Big Bend (class 3), Roller Coaster (class 3), Lost Guide (class 4) “funny because a raft did lose a guide here on our trip”, Rooster Tail (class 3), and Accelerator (class 4). Lastly, there is a swimming hole float area so the kids can have a bit of fun in the water. Because they haul you on a bus to get to the Put-In spot, you end where you parked your car. (very small town)
20160601_092005The Bean Tree Cafe
20160601_1345352
This area is quite nice and you can zip-line if you like. We made our way to The Bean Trees Café for burgers. They have a deck on the river and you can watch the other rafts come in. It was such a great adventure.
Oh, did I mention that the river guides were AWESOME.
20160601_091802

Clouds

“Daddy, where do clouds go?”

Where do clouds go? What the hell, why do I get all the tough questions. Why can’t mom tackle a few now and then?

“What’s that Sweet Pea? What do you mean where do they go?” “You know, some days the sky is full of clouds and some days they are all gone.” 

She’s right, where do they all go? That’s something a child would ponder. I remember being a kid and riding in back of the car on long trips along the river looking at all the plants with their smokestacks billowing  all the steam and what not high into the sky. Big puffs of marshmallow like fluffiness. I use to think that’s how clouds were made. Little cloud factories doing their job. 

I was going away for business recently and she wanted to know what the top of a cloud looked like, So I took some pictures out the plane window so she could see them. You have just shared our memory. 

Clark Creek

Looking forward to the cooler weather that Autum brings in and hiking again at Clark Creek MS. This is a rugged state park located off Mississippi Highway 24 approximately 20 miles west of Woodville. It is more than 700 hill laden acres. This is a wonderful place to hike, with high bluffs, water falls and a nice rocky riverbed. It’s not for the timid. Be prepared to take water and a snack for a hike that is sure to be a workout for you and the kids. It is a beautiful nature walk to get the kids moving and enjoying some outdoor photography. If you’re quiet and alert, you might catch a glimpse of a Pikachu (backpack) with my daughter. 

Please Feed the Animals

Day trip to the Global Wildlife Center in Folsom.
It Was a beautiful day. Ran to Folsom, just past Hammond LA to the Global Wildlife Center and grabbed a “Pinz” vehicle tour of the park. The tractor wagons are OK, but the Pinz is the way to go. These are WWII like German all terain vehicles. Like an African safari. We caught a tour at the end of the day so the animals had had their fill (except the zebras) they followed us all over the park and the giraffes were as sweet as could be. Don’t be surprised when they stick their heads in your buckets. Kids loved feeding the animals. On any visit to Louisiana with kids, put this one on your list. 

Swimming with the Dolphins

I often like to write about the great places I have visited, especially those within the driving area. One of the places we have found is the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport Mississippi.

For my Son’s 10th birthday, we booked a “Take a Dip with the Dolphins” adventure. It runs roughly $95 but is well worth it. We went in October and it was 3 kids with a trainer. There was first about a 15 minute orientation where they told you what to expect and at least a full 45 minutes with the dolphin including feeding and handling. You should call ahead for a reservation and consult the website for times and availability. It is available April – October and seems to book up pretty fast. Parents sit in the stands and can watch their kids or enjoy the dolphin show as this happens simultaneously. You are allowed to take all the pictures or video you want but I suggest buying the jump drive of pictures they offer for a fee. you won’t be disappointed. The facility is small but very enjoyable and my kids still talk about all the fun they had there. Another big hit was hitting the Krispy Kream Donut shop before the adventure and watching them make the donuts. After the adventure, make sure you enjoy the beach and a burger at Shaggy’s.