Parker's E-Mag

See November Whistler visit in carried over in 2012

Cruise Out of Miami - December 2011
December 2, 2011 - Miami Beach Sunrise- Day 1Miami Beach Sunrise..Dec. 1, 2011

Breakfast at Miami Beach, fabulous open air breakfast.Eat and Stay Miami Beach - So I've headed for a cruise out of Miami once or twice but never taken time to enjoy Miami Beach or even thought about it, but wow, this time we went down and stayed on the beach for a day and I love it. I'll definitely return to Miami Beach for a stay in future. The views from our Ocean front Holiday Inn hotel room were fabulous, as you can see above from the sunrise on my second day there, the day we would catch our cruise to Bahamas. I did take some time to sight a see a little in Miami Beach before heading down the road (literally down the road, a 10 minute drive) to board our cruise ship. I highly recommend a stress free night at the Beach to anyone cruising before the day of your cruise. Enjoy an incredible dinner at one of the many famous and outstanding restaurants right on the strip and an open air breakfast as we did in the morning at Maxine's Bistro and Bar, known for it's incredible all day breakfast. Next time I go I will be sure to get your names of great eats but this time it was kind of whirlwind. Both dinner and breakfast were worth a mention. Dinner was healthy rotisserie chicken found in a small family place on 41 St, on the way in and breakfast was right on Collins Drive at Maxine's Bistro and Bar appreciated by locals and tourists in the know. It was a fabulous breakfast for a great price.

Scenes from the Beach and Cruise (Click the play arrow on slide show) Art Fairs Miami - Miami Beach is one of the hot spots that always has something going on and this weekend was no exception. Art Basel and the Art Now 2011 festivals coincided with our over night stay on the 1st and 2nd of December, so we did go out to view the public art around the parks and hotels.The Art Festivals were focusing on unique art displays around the Collins Ave. area hotels and attractions. I can't say that I appreciated all of it as art, but some of it was fun, others I just couldn't call art. Constructions signs left tipped over during Miami Beach's Art Basel appear to be their own art exhibit.Right beside the Miami Beach Ballet is Collin's Park Museum which had several of the so called art displays you can see in the slide show above. The storm troopers on the balcony was fun, you be the judge of whether it's art, the mish mash of stuff tied with wires... I really don't get as art, the colourful rock, that looks like wax drippings, and then I'm sure the Miami town construction workers were in on the fun with the way they left their construction signs set up. You can judge them all above in the slide show, I'm not exactly an art connoisseur but the purpose was to make it fun and I did have fun running around checking them out. I like the orange constructions signs best. If you're interested in these Art Festivals for December 6-9th, 2012 and all that they bring, the information for Art Basel 2012 will be posted on the link when available and Art Now 2012 link is here. Definitely it's a fun way to spend a couple days before you head out on your cruise.

Couple enjoying their morning coffee on the beach at Miami Beach, Florida, under a beach umbrella.The Boardwalk and BeachMiami Beach Board walk stroll. - No Ocean front stay should be enjoyed without a stroll along the boardwalk and beach. Robin and I enjoyed the boardwalk, both in the evening when we arrived and the next morning before breakfast. So many little nooks to hide away in and read a book or enjoy a fun activity. A super windy morning greeted us with kiters to entertain us as we strolled along. I really want to try kiting. My brother and brother-in-law have been kiting for a few years now. They gave me the opportunity to use their trainer kite but I haven't ventured on to a board yet. Kite boarders off of Miami Beach, Florida.It's on the list. A little further along the beach a couple were enjoying their morning coffee with an umbrella for a wind block... I can't think of a more relaxed way to sip my morning coffee, and then just a little farther along was the now cleaned up spot that big reception and dance had been going on the night before. I believe it was a wedding reception, another great way to use the beach. There is so much to see on a stroll along the beach; a little bird hiding from the wind in a stack of a chairs, a pigeon roosts right on the owl's head that was put there to scare him (Is he saying shit on my fun will you?). I can't wait to return to enjoy Miami Beach for all it has to offer. It was the most enjoyable day of my cruise weekend this time.

DAY 2 - Boarding Norwegian Sky

Lunch Time - Cruising has come a long way since my first cruise back in 2004. The first cruise I ever boarded was a bit of a nasty experience. There was HUGE lines it took 2 to 3 hours to get through everyone waiting. We showed up at 10:30 am, with notes about not being able to start boarding procedures until 11am and it was just a night mare. Carnival couldn't start the boarding as scheduled, people were all squeezed in to one room, lined up and waiting with all our luggage on a hot Florida day and hungry. Customs was slow when they finally started and before boarding they had to take credit cards to cover tips or cash and it all took so long and was so annoying, then when finally after hours getting on board, nothing was open, no food was served and there was no entertainment until you set sail. I had serious doubts on that first day I would ever be able to enjoy the cruise enough to make up for the boarding hassle, but as my story in 2004, Cruising the Caribbean, attests to, I did enjoy the cruise, just not day 1. Day 1 was just as bad on the next couple of cruises, but that's all changed now.

The experience now is like night and day, though some ships are still much better then others at the disembark day. Norwegian has come a long way and the boarding experience was much better then in past, though not my smoothest, but they are listening and learning. No one looked at my Visa and said where's your green card, you can't go, they did excuse themselves after admitting to not being familiar with the visa type, and then returned to stamp my papers and let me go cruising. That was the first pleasant change. The ability to get on the ship as soon as we arrived and then on board the buffet was open and the sit down restaurant for lunch! I really prefer most times sitting down and getting my lunch. Buffets have their place but when you're trying no to over eat and have something healthy it's nice to get a portioned meal. Even our room was available to us from very early this time, but our luggage would be delivered later.

Lunch MenuSo off to the restaurant for lunch. Cruise food is plentiful if not always the best. Again, different cruises seem to have different food qualities. It's nice it's all included and there is lots of choice. Here's the days lunch menu, don't forget you can click any of my photos for the high resolution (large) photo and be able to read the menu. I chose the New York Strip, which they served to me with broccoli as I didn't want fries, the Portabella Mushroom for a starter and Strawberry Shortcake for desert, all my favorites. The mushroom was wonderful and I had it the next two nights for an appetizer also, but the steak, I learned, was a little tough, some grisly bits, not too bad but not what I'd had in past on cruises. My guess is now that they offer paid dining in other venues on board...one being a steak house for $25.00 each, the steak in the main dining room has suffered. All my other meals this weekend were of expected quality but both times I saw steak ordered it was a little lower quality meat then expected. Lesson learned, if I want a good steak I better fork over for one at the steak house. I'll try that next time. Desert was as fabulous as ever. I have a never ending sweet tooth. I don't think I have ever had something bad to say about a desert. I just love desert. The fish and chips were battered and deep fried and just what one would expect from english styled fish and chips. Though it's not on the menu, requesting a bread and cheese plate quickly brought one out also. Don't forget to ask if you don't see something you'd like, they are very accommodating at the restaurant. If you can't decide on desert they will suggest you just get both, so over eating, even in the dining room, is very easy to do. Enjoy the food, it's a big part of the cruise. No cooking this weekend and no going hungry.

Pool and buffet deck open for business while in port on Norwegian SkyWhat to Do - Right after lunch we headed up to the Lido deck with the pool and buffet and there is lots going on, even though we haven't left port yet. This is another change if you haven't cruised in a few years. The pools used to be filled only when you were out to sea.. not anymore. People are enjoying a swim in port, a drink, there's a band playing Caribbean music, the basket ball courts are open and active, and the buffet will be open all day, just in case I didn't eat enough off the menu. The on board gym is also opened if you want to get your work out in. One disliked surprise was there was no juice or milk available through the day anymore. It was served with breakfast only and had to be purchased if you wanted it at any other time. Most don't notice this as soda always had to be purchased but I don't drink soda, so it's typically water with the odd glass of juice. I solved that the next morning when I brought along the water jug I won (yes, I won something on board!) and filled it up with juice and ice the next morning at breakfast. I kept my juice in the cabin's mini fridge and could drink it when I wanted now.

A day at sea on the Norwegian Sky.There's lots on board to do the first day now that things have changed and it's really difficult to just get time to check out the boat and take pictures. The boats are pretty too, like this lit glass window that graces the staircase from cabins to the shopping decks, the scenery around the boat of Miami and it's interesting to watch the dock workers, police boats, pilots and deck workers do their job to get everything ready for the cruise. There was a couple of draws going on in the evening after we set sail when the stores open up, there will be bingo and a nightly show. I think tonight is the crowd favorite, "The Not So Newly Wed Game". You can sign up to be part of the show and they are fun but bring along your sense of humour please. There's still dinner to be had and tomorrow morning we're supposed anchor off the shores of Coco Cay, the cruise company's private Island near Bahamas. After dinner while shopping I entered my name in the draw at the jewelry store and won a nice beach bag full of useful goodies, including my NCL stainless water bottle, a nicer lady won the necklace. Not bad. Fun night, busy day, and time for a good sleep.

Day 2 and 3 - Well Day 2 blurred right in to Day 3 since it was so windy when we woke in the morning and the seas so choppy the captain decided he couldn't safely load passengers on the little boats that would take us back and fourth to the private island so it was cancelled. The ship added extra entertainment for the day and we all had a day at sea. This is just something that happens, since the ships, no matter how large, are still dependant on the weather to some extent. I've seen ports cancelled when the ship can't get safely in to port and this should be taken in stride if you're cruising, it's just something that can happen. Again, they make sure there's fun stuff on board for everyone to do. Check out the slide show to see some of the photos from the on board activities. Poolside games are fun, dancing, bands, there's always something going on. I love the private island and sitting under the palm trees in between dips in the emerald green warm water, shame to miss that but there's always next time and tomorrow, if the weather is warm enough, I'll be in Atlantis for the day in Nassau.

Port of Bahamas sign on the pier.Cruise Day 3, Port Nassau and Atlantis - Finally we're docked! Sunday morning I awoke to the mild thud as the ship landed safely against the pier at Port of Nassau, Bahamas. Bahamas, like most places, has its charm. I was going to book a day at Atlantis but the weather looked like it might be a bit chilly for a water park day. A high of 74 F (23.3 C) was called for and that just isn't swimming temperature for me. I did take a walk over to Atlantis, a few miles of needed exercise from the pier to have a look and check it out. There was very little to see from walking over. If you wanted to even do a walking tour to see the grounds there was a $25.00 fee each, so I chose not to do the walk through, but the brochures sure make it sound fun for when I'm here in the right weather.Atlantis across the bay.There is a casino at Atlantis that you are allowed in side to game at if that's your thing, but you can't see the water park amenities or beaches from the Casino either. It's such a beautiful area, and they have beaches along with all the water slides and lazy rivers they're famous for.

The walk over to Atlantis was lovely, then a walk around town to shop and we had filled our 9 to 5 stop in Nassau. My entire day in Nassau was spent window shopping, first time I wasn't tempted to spend money. I checked out the little dress shop, Cole's of Nassau, I fell in love with last time I was here but, they had no fitting bargains on on the clearance racks for me, so I just enjoyed the look. Seems it's too close to Christmas for bargains. I didn't have a repeat of last time, finding a perfect for me, Donna Morgan dress at 80% off, that fit perfectly. After hitting all the down town shops it was time to head back to the boat via the Bahamas World Famous Straw Market. This is when we found out it had recently burned down.

Bahamas Famous Straw Market Fire -The church and museum adjoining the Bahamas Famous Straw Market also destroyed in the December 2, 2012 fire.The Bahamas Famous Straw Market had been burned to the ground since we visited last year; after being blown over by Hurricane Irene earlier this year and all stall owners displaced, what was left of the market burned to the ground on December 2, 2012. I took some photos of where it had been and the damage done the adjoining church and Pompey Museum of Slavery and Emancipation. On my last visit here a trip through the museum was fascinating. It was full of information on the slavery trade with notes, pictures and artifacts from the slave ships that passed through the Bahamas before heading on to the US. The artifacts lost will be irreplaceable. Remains of the Bahamas Famous Straw Market tent after a December 2, 2012 fire that was the temporary housing for 10 years after a 2001 fire.Some of the locals were saying it was taking the local government too long to rebuild and people were losing money and sales waiting for their stalls to get back into the market. You can see in the slide show that there was still lots of stalls set up hap hazard along the streets. People really want them back in one area where it's neat and tidy. The temporary stalls have been in place since Hurricane Irene went past in the summer and what was left of the market was destroyed when fire struck on December 2, 2011. It does seems the process sped up and the Straw Market reopened in it's first permanent location since 2001 on December 16, 2011. I can't wait to see its new home and permanent structure when I go back. I've added a few photos of the market and fire damage to the slide show, along with other scenes from Nassau.

What a great day. The weather was just perfect for walking and the rain held off all day while we walked and shopped. Time to head back and get dinner on our last night on board the Norwegian Sun. These 3 night 4 day cruises really are a great way to get a relaxing mini vacation to see a few places very inexpensively. The add on of a night in Miami just added to the enjoyment. Nothing left to do buy have dinner and get to sleep ready to depart early tomorrow and head up to Canada for the winter skiing after my mini warm up.

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Fall Fun - A Fall Hike and Fall Fairs
October 3, 2011 (Kings Mountain State Park)First Annual Ace Race Winner.

Kings Mountain State Park Entrance trail map.So just what do you do with your time when you want to stay near home and do day trips? I finally made it to the near by hiking trails at Kings Mountain State Park. Fall has to be the perfect time of year to go on a hike. The weather finally cooled down to the 70's for a few days over a weekend and hiking seemed like the perfect way to spend the day. If you live somewhere that the colours are actually out also, that would make it all the better. I can't complain about the scenery though, above is the view from a look out near the top of the Brown Mountain Trail and King's Mountain Park, SC. You can click the trail map beside here and get the large view you will see that the Brown Mountain trail is 3.2 miles long (that is one way so, 6.4 miles to get back to the visitor center parking lot), and at the top of the trail it is 1045 feet high. That climb is up and down through out the entire trail, starting with going down from the visitor center for quite a ways (all I could think was this will feel like a climb on the way back) and then a pretty steady uphill climb to the lookout shown above and then a little farther to the end of the trail where you turn and head back for the 3.2 mile trip back to the visitor center. I'll definitely be heading back to Kings Mountain for more hiking and also, this month I can't wait to head to near by Crowders Mountain.

What else does fall bring to do? Fall Fairs of course.Food at the Cleveland County Fair.The Shelby Fall Fair (Cleveland County Fair) is the largest in North Carolina and only a 45 minute drive up the road for me to enjoy. The food, candy apples and deep fried everything, the shows, the agricultural displays and all those small town craft and rose contests, who doesn't fall in love with a county fair? We took time to go through the craft and displays of the all the local talent. This is a good old time fair with rose contests, photo contests (next year I'll have to enter), gardening contests, quilting, children's art, local artists, you name it, they have a contest to compete and show case the county abilities. The food, I couldn't resist and enjoyed walking around with deep fried chicken tenders on a stick after passing the above stand, and I took home a candy apple for later. Along with this there's the shows and happenings each day.Curious goat peeking under the fence to see what i'm up to at the Cleveland County Fair. On Monday it was the Youth Livestock Show.

Children from 7 to 21 (actually the youngest was 4, in the under 9 category) showed their goats and were judged on showmanship. For those that weren't winners the judge gave each one tips on how to handle and hold their goat to show it better for next time and in the under 9 category Four children in the under 9 category receiving their first place ribbons for tying in the showmanship contest when showing their goats. they had such a difficult time deciding who should win there was a tie for 1st with all 4 contestants getting blue ribbons.They were so cute. As I have never spent any time near farm animals, I just love to to go in and see the farm animals and watch how they behave. It was so fun to see kids showing their goats. This curious goat kept poking his head out every time I raised my camera and he ended up being the winning goat with his owner in the older children category. This must be really difficult for older children (9 to 17) who might get teased by their friends; they were really terrific. We congratulated the winner, who took time to chat to us some, and he was quite proud of his titles. Nothing like a small town fair to meet friendly people and have a relaxed good time. Have fun with your fall. Go out and do something.Cleveland County Fall Fair, 2011.

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Winthrop Lakefront Disc Golf Course Review - from a novice
Sept. 9, 2011 ( remember,click most photos for higher res versions)First Tee at Winthrop Lakeview Disc coruse or Winthrop Gold Course, both start here.
Lake Course

So this is the first tee for both the Winthrop Lakeview Disc Golf Course and the Winthrop Gold Course (where the National Championships have been held many times). You will want to bring maps to play either of these courses as the baskets are not numbered according to the T-block you are throwing from. Find the Winthrop Lakeview Disc Course map here. You can see Robin is putting in his full effort, like I might some how have a chance to ever throw as far as him. He has been pretty consistently scoring pars or bogies, and annoyed to no end when it's not par, since we started. This is his first few weeks playing. He uses a front flick style and is trying to teach himself to throw as far with the reach back (the way I do it) so he'll be versatile, choosing what way to best throw off the tee. I'm too new to have taken time to learn the lingo and what the correct terminology is for these throw styles, though I plan on looking in to it, and I need a ton of practice to throw a driver farther then I can throw my putter, which is how it's supposed to work, in theory, anyhow. Right now I seem to have one throw and unlike Robin, it doesn't include a long one. You can find a little more info and course down loads on the University web site I linked above or more how to information for beginners here.

Hole 2 will quickly test your skills with trees directly in front of you off the T and then on both sides of the basket. Climbing trees is great exercise if walking isn't enough.Robin's great long shot managed to get him stuck in a small tree near the basket. This wasn't the only difficulty with trees on our first time around the course. On hole 9there is a very wide fairway, seen on the right below, with water hazards on one side and a line or trees on the opposite. Robin's fear of the water(who wants to lose a $20.00 disc driver) tends to find him hugging the tree line on, and Lots of trees on the course, and hole 2 is the first to test you.he hasn't managed to stop that habit yet.The first day I had to climb the tree to get his disc back when shaking just didn't work. Since that first day it seems his discs have fallen to the ground at least.Hole 9 fairway at Wintrhop Lakeview Disc Golf Course, with tree line and water visible.

Hole 3 can find you tossing over a fence with lots of barb wire into someone's back yard. Robin managed barely get his disc back from there the first time at the course. After hole three there is a down hill throw across a road to be dealt with and then Hole 5 finally gives some relief by being tossed into a relatively open field but there is one clump of trees that blocks your view of the basket. Similar obstacles can be found on all the hole fairways keeping everyone honest and the game just challenging enough to be fun. We are really loving this course, though it warns it may not be for beginners, we find it fun. Hole 12 wasn't enough challenge so Winthrop added their built obstacle.There is the fun barricaded Hole 12, shown on the right here, with a special obstacle built just to be in the way. Topping off the course, Hole 18 finishes differently then the map shows and you must shoot down to a basket that is right on the lakes edge. Robin and I usually skip this hole for fear of missing and losing our disc on the last hole.

Summary

My only beef (if it's really a beef) is the potential for losing the discs on the water holes. I will have to try to find floating discs as I have already lost two on the course, but found one so I'm only down one that I had to buy a replacement for. The course and game, in my opinion, is a blast. Really, it's so low cost, courses are free, and what a great way to get out and have some friendly competition. You can pick up a starter set of discs of Dicks Sporting Goods for $27.99 and then we found a fellow at the course that sells used discs for about half price. We have his email and he'll let us know if he's going to be at the course in a particular week. You will also need a bag to carry around your discs. Robin and I both received a small weekender bag at the Ace Race as part of our entry fee and two extra putter discs, so I think it's a perfect way to get your start, but you can purchase much larger bags at most sporting stores, like Dicks, or REI. We're having a lot of fun playing, meeting new people on the courses, and getting fresh air and exercise, what's not to love? I'll have more photos and captions in the Winthrop Photo Album shortly.

Gold Course

The Winthrop Gold Course is the same start and second T but it all changes after that. The hole you throw to on the Lake Course is not the basket you throw to for the Gold Course and the baskets are not numbered according to the tee you are on for either course, so you must bring a map or this handy caddy's book from a Rock Hill Disc Golf club site is really very helpful to find your way around the 9700+ foot course. Robin and I have played the long course once. You need quite a bit of time if you shoot like I do as several holes are 900 feet plus long and my 100 foot long drive takes a little while to get through that. I'd recommend waiting until you can toss the driver disc a 300' plus before playing this one, but I do have to say, I had a lot of fun trying it and will definitely be trying it again soon. Now go get some discs and we'll see you on a course somewhere near you.

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Summer 2011 - Wedding, Visits, Disney and More.
July 9, 2011 (click photos for high res versions)Jeff and Amanda come out of the church, husband and wife.

The Wedding Weekend(July 9, 2011)
The kiss.On the weekend of July 9, 2011 we headed north to attend Amanda and Jeff's wedding. We would also get Alida for the weekend to stay with us as Len had her as part of his every other two weeks through the summer. She was so excited to stay with us for the weekend that we had to forgo the reception, which had no children attending, but we did get to see the ceremony and get some photos from that. Alida was off to a friends Birthday party while we were at the wedding.Jeff and Amanda getting ready for photos.

Amanda and Jeff looked positively perfect and the wedding was as lovely as they are. They had a small ceremony with only close relatives who they have shared their life with. I wish them all the best in their future together and hope everyday together they remember to find some joy in each other. I have added a few photos from Amanda's ceremony to the photo album page for those interested.

Dinner, Fireworks at the Park, The Falls Too

JP helping set off some fireworks.The night before the wedding Robin and I arranged to meet a few friends and family at the park for some good old Kentucky Fried Chicken. Conversation and good times, nibbling on what's left of the chicken.This gave us a chance to catch up with as many people as possible on such a busy weekend, while we were north. We had purchased a box of fireworks to set off with those who wanted to come along at dusk too. The kids all love the park. I love seeing cousins get together to play and make memories. Photos from the park and fireworks will be in the Summer 2011 album.

Sunday we were heading to Niagara Falls for the night before heading back home. Shawn and Amber decided to driveRobin and Jacob and Amber and Audrey checking out the falls as dark just sets in. down and spend a night in the Falls with us. Perfect! We passed Alida back to her daddy Sunday morning (she stayed with us at the hotel to swim and stuff), met up with a couple more friends (Steve and Barbie) for breakfast and then headed down to the falls. Shawn and Amber met us at the Husky for breakfast also and we all headed to the Falls from there. Robin got a room for everyone and we were able to go swimming and do some site seeing with Shawn, Amber, Jacob and Audrey. More fireworks were on the agenda. The Falls was having a large fireworks display every Sunday this month and Robin was given 5 free passes to go up the Skylon Tower for being a platinum hotel member. It was decided we would all head up the tower in time to watch the fire works from the best seat in town. After a walk along the falls avenue we headed to the Skylon Tower as it started to get dark. Fireworks at 10.

Fireworks over Niagara Falls, from the Skylon Tower.With this weekend done it would only be two and a half weeks until I would be back up to get Alida and bring her south for a couple weeks visit for the first time in three years. She was looking forward to seeing her princess bedroom again.

Philadelphia - Pat's or Geno's? (July 12, 2011)

Pat's King of Steaks Philly Cheese Steak sandwih.Time to try Geno's sandwich with a few others we met doing the same thing.Time flies. In the couple weeks I had before getting back up north to pick up Alida I went to Philadelphia with Robin, he had work there for the week after the wedding. I managed a little sight seeing while there, took some photos of a few bridges for Istock and managed to try out the two long time warring philly cheese steak restaurants. We weren't the only people at Geno's and Pat's trying out both stands to see which we liked. At Geno's we ran into a family doing the exact same thing. The decision on who was best remains unsolved. Even with the other family putting in their vote, we had an even split. I liked Geno's (more flavour), Robin liked Pat's (for the more meat), the other family the lady like Geno's with me and her husband liked Pat's. Her children were equally split also so you'll have to try it yourself.

Alida's Visit (July 29- August 12, 2011)

So finally it was time to head back up north and pick up Alida, Audrey sleeping in Donna's arms.and do some visiting before heading back south with her to give her the promised trip to disney and a plane flight home. We weren't sure we would get the passport in time to book a flight home with her but we did, and would fly her back on the 11th of August.

Charlie and Alida get to know each other again.While up to pick up Alida I had time to visit my sister, spending a night with her, my niece's and nephew in Guelph. Shawn came down with the family while I was there and I had more time with Audrey. Babies are so beautiful when they sleep. Alida and I didn't have to be in South Carolina until the following Thursday since her grampa was away until then. She wanted to spend the week at her Aunt Katrina's once she discovered her Miriam from July 7, 2011 cousin Charlie (only 6 weeks younger then her) and the pool. This was one of the few things she totally forgot about in her three years she hadn't been able to visit anyone. She did begin to remember many things as she spent time with people and in places she had been. She would look at me and say, Oh, I was here before I remember playing on such and such or she would ask, "Is this where I had a trampoline?" etc, as her memories of times with us came back to her. Before heading north we visited with her step brother (she calls him her toddler brother) and new step sister (Miriam) and then headed south to be joined in a week by her dad and brother.

Alida plays in her old favorite park after making it to South Carolina. Alida and I finally make it to South Carolina with a few days to catch up on some of her favorite places from when she used to come stay with us. There was no way we could get in everything she wanted to do in 1.5 weeks so she agreed to save several things for next summer when she can come again for 2 weeks. She remembered the Salty Beach and wanted to go there along with Carowinds, camping, going up the mountain to Cherokee, and the list goes on. After being given the choice of the Beach for a week or Disney, she decided that Disney would be fine for this year and next summer we can try to do the beach for a week. When her papa arrived she did get her ride on the new motor bike she been eyeing in the garage; she loves motor bikes and goes dirt biking with her step dad and is hoping to get her own dirt bike, she tells us. She found her room untouched, princess and barbie lights in tact and old toys in the box. She was also quite willing to share it with her brother when he arrived and she chose to sleep on the hammock I had put in her room to give an extra bed.

Off to Florida and Disney World

Alida and Lerato arrive in Florida.After much anticipation and waiting, Alida finally arrives in Florida. We found a terrific villa to stay in at Orange Lake Resort, owned by Holiday Inn, with a water park on site for fun when we aren't at Disney. The villa was available for Holiday Inn points. The two bedroom villa had a very well equipped kitchen (even thinking of things like tiny, supplied, salt and pepper shakers), two very good sized bedrooms to make everyone (6 of us) comfortable, a washer and dryer in the unit for pool towels and bathing suits, two full bathrooms, one with a jacuzzi tub if you like that, and sliding doors from the living room and master bedroom to a nice quiet patio (a great spot for the morning coffee). The weather was a bit rainy (on and off between sun and rain) but nothing constant and this would turn out to be a blessing for keeping the extreme heat down on our day at Disney.

Alida and Lerato ready to go to Disney for the day.Morning of Disney finally arrives and our little princess gets her dress and make up on. The beautiful morning sunshine would give way to another day of rain on and off. As we head across from the parking lot to the Disney gates on the ferry the first shower hits. It wasn't enough to dampen anyone's spirit for the day, with even Lerato getting into the princess spirit,check out the photo on the link. By the time we get in and line up indoors to see Cinderella (the only purpose of the trip as far as Alida is concerned), the rain will quit for us to head to the next line up to meet the Alida shows Cinderella how she twirls.ferries (Tinkerbell with friends), and let us get a few rides in. The showers had one more benefit, the crowds were kept to a minimum and rides were usually only 20 minute line ups. Alida lined up to go on Space Mountain with her dad but then decided she really wanted to go see the ferries instead and dad did Space Mountain without her. I was personally happy about this, so afraid she wouldn't like it. We visited lots of princesses and characters (missing a couple of her favorites as weather pulled them early), did some rides, and finally, in the early evening, The glow of the castle as we look back one last time before leaving.we looked back at the castle for the last time today, heading for the gates to meet up with everyone and go home. With Disney done for the year the visit is almost done too.

The next morning it's back to South Carolina to pack up for the flight home on Thursday. We did make a short stop in Savannah, GA on the way home to check out one of my favorite spots, getting a needed stretch, but other then that it was a straight drive home. The flight to Buffalo was mostly uneventful after a 1 hour weather delay on the tarmac to wait a severe thunder storm (74 mph winds) passing. Alida was able to join Robin and I in the US Airways club lounge, but we did not get a first class upgrade they emailed us, because there was three of us instead of two. Alida overhearing this put two and two together, she was a bit disappointed at this (she's listened to her papa talk too much as she should have no idea what first class is) but she was smart enough to say, oh let me grab some snacks for the plane from here and handed her papa and I cookies and crackers from the lounge to take on the plane for her. If her ears bothered her at all, she never said a word and when she accidentally spilled the coke on the plane all over herself she didn't even make a peep, she just told us and waited for us to get her some napkins and wiped it up as best she could. What a little lady she is. She made my summer and I can't wait for the next. There will be lots more photos from Disney, Savannah and the rest of the summer in the Summer 2011 album, and Disney 2011,on the photos page.

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First Annual Midland Ace Race
Aug. 17, 2011First Annual Ace Race Winner.

So you're wondering just what is an ace race? Well let me tell you as best I can as a complete beginner to the sport of Frolf (Frisbee Golf). Disc Craft sponsors tournaments each year in many communities. The person hosting the tournament will set it up, pay for a packages of discs, usually worth quite a bit more retail then is charged, and that bag and the discs contained in it are the only discs allowed to be used on the Ace Race. This bag of discs can vary and the Ace Race tournament will vary according to the discs sent. Your fee to join the tournament will get you the bag and the discs plus water and lunch and the possibility of winning a nice set of discs, similar to shown above, also supplied by Disc Craft as part of the tournament package.

Ace is a hole in one.This years Midland Ace Race was supplied with a bag and two putters. The course was then set with flags at a distance that would be reasonable for the putters to be thrown (like golf a putter is designed to go a short distant (30 to 60 yards). The discs come in different weights with different fly characteristics with similar names to to golf irons. There is drivers for long throws, putters for the short toss. The goal is to get as many aces as you can. The winner will be the person with the most aces. If there is a tie, then the person with the most metals and aces will win. If this left it still tied there would be a shoot off. We had no tie this year and Roman scored the most aces so any metals were of no value. One fellow on my team got several metals and kept hoping he'd finally start getting aces as his metals would only count if he managed to get at least a tie in aces. Didn't happen. I learned to throw my putters as I went (I need a lot more practice) and had fun trying.Learning techniques to toss a disc while we had lunch. I managed to get one metal all day and it made my score card pretty easy to keep. It was empty accept for one metal on hole 2, both rounds. For the official, none tournament rules, check the PDGA Rules here.

The game of Frolf is very inexpensive to get in to, most courses don't charge and there's a huge net work of community courses. I'm sure you'll find a course near you home if you look it up online. Check out Disc Golf Review for one resource and Disc Golf Ontario if you're in Ontario. Once you own the discs, and a starter set can be had for a reasonable price (around $50.00 to $100.00), there is very few courses that charge and until you have lots of practice in you'll not need to go to them. You can find tournaments and leagues in many towns, just have a search. It's a fun way to get outside for some fresh air, a good walk and a little exercise. Give it a try, and then, come join the Ace Race Midland, next year or hold your own. Down load the map and score card for Midland's Little Lake Disc Golf Course here.

As a first time to hold the event, Shawn only ordered 20 sets and hoped to sell out. He sold out in no time and had people asking if they could join in the last week, but he couldn't get more sets in time to add anyone so next year he'll plan it farther ahead and maybe we can get 40 people out. Everyone was lots of help and at lunch there was helpful sorts showing us newbies just how to toss our discs. I will make sure I get out and practice and by next year maybe take that set of discs from my son. Thanks again to Jody of the Pink Slips Car Club for the great lunch from Dino's Deli. Check out all the photos in my photo album. Morning Team photos, Lunch photos and Afternoon Team photos can all be found on the photo page or by clicking the link.The whole crowd.

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Mississippi - Tupelo, Memphis, Elvis Presley, Beale Street, and the Blues
June 17 to 19, 2011 (For a link to all Memphis area and Graceland photos click photo below)Beale Street, Memphis, on Friday night, heading to BB Kings.To complete my month of June in the South, I had the chance to travel to Tupelo, about 100 miles from Memphis and planned a weekend near Memphis to check out all things Memphis. My travels hadn't found their way anywhere near Memphis in the past and I was looking forward to Beale St, BBQ, Blues and a Graceland trip. I'm was never a huge Elvis fan, but certainly he is part of American culture and history that should be known and learned about. After seeing not only Graceland, but staying in Tupelo and seeing where he was born, went to school and church he and his family attended and he first sang at, gave me a whole new perspective of just how far Elvis Aaron Presley went in his short life and how loved he was. He did, indeed, have a very different life for his time in American history as an only child, with an over protective mom and family that struggled but didn't starve. I did end up doing everything Elvis, and learned quite a few things I had never known about him. Did you know Elvis Presley never wrote his own music? Fun stops, make sure if you're in the area, you go see Elvis Presley park in Tupelo, MS also. It's a marked stop on the USA Mississippi Blues Trail and the Mississippi Country Music Trail.

The Church Elvis Presley attended as a child and first sang at, from Tupelo, MS, Elvis Presley Park.Tupelo, MS-- Other then the Elvis Presley connection, I didn't find any greatness in Tupelo. There are some lovely camp sites and the park mentioned but I didn't find any outstanding restaurants, good eats or other interesting things to write about. It's all about Elvis and the Elvis guitars through the town mark special places from the past and are fun conversation. On a side note... I did find Sugaree's Bakery in New Albany, MS. I spent a couple nights there. That was a sweet find and you can order on line. Expensive but worth it. They also had a great park for hiking and cycling, with a public disc golf course at Tallahatchie Trails. An interesting little town. Heading from Tupelo for the weekend to the Memphis, TN, area, that was to be a whole lot of fun with rooms booked in Tunica, about 40 miles south of Memphis on the Mississippi River at Harrah's Horseshoe Casino and Resort in Tunica.

Memphis, Beale St. -- Friday night it was off to Memphis, Beale Street to be exact. BBQ and Blues for dinner, how could we go wrong. We found a table at BB Kings where we enjoyed some ribs while listening to the sounds from a terrific Blues Band on stage, the The Will Tucker Band. I picked up a tye dye "T" at BB Kings on the way out.What time do you clear your streets at?What a great way to spend a Friday evening.Go see Beale St. on the weekend if you can. Great atmosphere, Robin and I had a lot of fun checking it out. Saturday it was off to Graceland for the day and then to Harrah's Casino in Tunica for the night.

Graceland, Memphis, TN

Long lines to get in to Graceland, TN, even after all these years.Wow, Graceland is still swamped. I can't believe that 36 years after the death of Elvis there is still a steady stream of tourists to the property. Check out the line up in my photos to get in. We waited until we hit the building, about 45 minutes or more in line and then Robin spotted the VIP line with no one in it. He checked and apparently, you can walk right in if you are willing to pay $70.00 for your tour instead of $35.00 and use the VIP line. He quickly moved to the VIP line and I highly recommend it to anyone going to Graceland. It not only gives you priority (we could have skipped the whole long line outside, and we got whisked right on to a tour bus to start out tour), but it gives you a much better tour. Tours are normally guided with a set of head phones that gives you the information on each room as you see it. Elvis costumes must have been heavy, many to see on display at Graceland.The guide moves you along quickly enough to keep room for more groups. Take the VIP tour and you are given a head set and no guide. It is completely self guided, take as long as you want admiring each display and room and move when you wish. You can also go back as often as you want and come and go all day long. Definitely well worth the double price. It was so nice to read each of the trophies and where the outfits had been worn, have time to linger in the Automobile museum and take our time . I could patiently wait for areas to clear out for better photos etc. Loved it. The tour itself, though I'm not an Elvis fan, as I mentioned earlier, was well worth the money. I was really seeing a piece of American history from another time that has been completely preserved. It show how much Elvis lived like a normal person. I have a much greater respect for Elvis Presley and his life after viewing Graceland then I ever had before. Check out all the photos on my photo link... with lots of the inside of Graceland photos, and a couple from his plane. The captions give a little info on each also.

Tunica, MS, Casinos and Riverpark -- Casino's seem to pop up anywhere that Outside Harrah's, Mississippi sits this Texas looking limo.needs a tourism market but hasn't managed to draw one on their own and Tunica is no exception. About 40 miles south of Memphis, Tunica needed a tourism draw. Casino rooms are some of the nicest we stay in. Always the most luxurious linens, soaps and lotions. I went and visited a few casinos with Robin, throwing away my money in their machines to get a free stay and food. I really hate to gamble so I'm not one to ask about casinos but... I really disliked one, Sams Town, that decided I couldn't go in with my back pack, which I carry instead of a purse, but any size purse or bag could go in. Odd thinking, I was even told by this fellow at the door of Sams Town (click for photo of evil staff, lol), I could purchase one of the large bags in the gift shop, put my back pack in it and then go in. I understand security, but this was illogical. There's just not a reasonable difference between a pack or a large purse. Robin went in and used the free gift ($20.00 play) to pull $40.00 out of a machine while I waited in the foyer and then we moved on. The rest of the casinos we went to had no problem with my back pack, though one asked I not take photos on the gaming floor. Fitzgerald's Casino (Fitz's Mississippi) had the best buffet I've even had in a Casino with whole grilled T-bones and baked potatoes fresh for the taking just how you ordered it. They also had great customer that stood out even among the 6 or 7 casinos we went in over the weekend. That's where I'll be looking at staying when I head back in August. Now that I was sufficiently bored, what to do with someone like myself that doesn't gamble. A bicycle ride around the near by trails at Harrah's that lead to the firing range were nice, until I figured out where I was, lol. I took the roads home. Good thing it was evening and everyone had gone home for the day. I did pass a herd of deer in the field behind the casino but didn't have my camera with me to take any photos. I needed the ride after all the great BBQ and buffets of this trip. This month I'll be dieting.

Tunica Queen Riverboat.Sunday was a good day to go explore the near by territory and we found the Tunica Riverpark. Although the museum portion is closed for renovations; they had water damage in the floods this year, the Tunica Queen was sailing or you could take an Airboat ride around the near by coves on the Mississippi. I voted for the airboat and won for a change. What a fun ride. We went close to shore and could see fish jumping out of the water as we went, with one joining us in the boat. The captain got rid of it at the end of our boat ride, which was a very long 30 minute ride. We were taken into grassy coves where we could see birds and a great deal of debris, left over from the spring floods.A goose taking off as we brought the air boat in his peaceful cove on the Mississippi River. They had pulled buoys off their holdings and deposited them in sand bars, uprooted trees, dead heads in the water and just lots of signs of the floods that had only receded a couple weeks before we arrived. There was numerous tugs pushing barges along, probably trying to catch up after the floods also. A great way to spend a hot afternoon. When I return in August I'll be sure to take the evening Dinner cruise on the Tunica Queen. Again, lots of photos of the rivers edge and the boats on my Tunica photos page. Check them out if you're interested.

The week in the Memphis area was the most fun I've had in some time on one of these little trips and I will go again. There seemed to be lots in a 100 mile or so radius that I'd love to do and see. Make the trip and enjoy.

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Chattanooga -- Great Food, Waterfront Festivals and Fun

May 12, 2011 (view all Chattanooga photos by clicking stairs)Waterfall stairs in Chattanooga, TN. view more by clicking photo. Robin had some work just north of Atlanta, about half way to Chattanooga so I thought I'd go visit him for the weekend as he couldn't get away. There's some great stuff goes on in June in the Chattanooga area. Just a quick update to fill in the curious. Have you ever heard of Bonnaroo? Riverbend Festival maybe? NO.... check out their web sites and if you're going that way, what a good time to go. Bannaroo was sold out by the time I heard of it and will be a definite go to location next summer, June 7 to June 10, 2012. The Riverbend Festival was a happy surprise when we arrived for our Sunday afternoon in Chattanooga.

Kayaks playing the water fountains in Chattanooga.On a beautiful Sunday afternoon we took a drive to Chattanooga from where Robin was working just north of Atlanta and thought we'd find somewhere along the river for a nice lunch. To our surprise, the Riverbend Festival was on and practicing on the main stage was The Machine. "The Machine" practicing their Pink Floyd line up of songs on the main stage at Chattanooga, Riverbend Festival.While we walked along the river we were able to listen to this top notch band practicing with the Chattanooga Symphony. I have never heard anyone do Pink Floyd like this lady can. She nailed ever note sounding so much like Pink Floyd. I'd go see The Machine live any chance I get. They were terrific. We couldn't get back due to Robin's schedule later in the week but they were also headline acts like Uriah Heep and many more we would have loved to seen. Again, something to look forward to in June next year. We'll be sure to make it again to this week long festival on the riverfront in Chattanooga. I can't wait to check out the acts coming in 2012 and plan some time around them.

There's lots to see in Chattanooga at any time, between historic parks, the aquarium, hiking and cycling trails and the near by Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina to go white water tubing, kayaking. etc, or just take a nice dinner river cruise right down town, you won't be sorry for stopping in any time. They have a great little park downtown with a stair case water fall and pool, perfect to cool off on a hot afternoon. Nests under the bridge in Chattanooga.People were playing in the fountains that spray into the river on their Kayaks, riverboat tours taking in the scenes and lots of people just out walking along the river where the breeze under the bridge helped keep us a cool for a while. Check out what I think are swallow's nest and the number of swallows in and out of them while we were hanging around. It was all very colourful as things were being set up for the afternoon Riverbend festivities that would start at 4pm, until then it was all still open to everyone. We had a terrific lunch downtown at the Bluewater Grille, a great find an different menu; the lunch was fabulous. I had their Baked Brie, and the waitress and hostess were both friendly with a sense of humour that added to the enjoyment of our lunch. I'll go again for sure, to the restaurant and to Chattanooga.A riverboat waiting to take out dinner patrons in Chattanooga, TN.

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First Long Weekend of the Season - New Orleans Bound.
May 27 to June 1, 2011 (the box on the right opens the photos full screen, esc to come back)
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Mom and dad on the ferry to Algeirs, New Orleans.We finally have the first long weekend of the summer season, and Robin took a few extra days to make a whirl wind trip to New Orleans, Mississippi and Biloxi. LA. This would be the first of several mid south trips in the past month. It was good to have my parents down and have them along for a change to.

Since my parents were down and they like to hit the odd casino, along with love New Orleans, it seemed like a good idea to book a few days there while they were visiting so Robin called to see what he could do for room and for some reason the Casino put him up for 3 nights at the Marriott. I don't ask too many questions. Then my mother made a couple calls and managed a couple nights in Biloxi and we were set for a 5 night mini vacation to a beautiful spot. I tossed my bike in the truck so I'd have something to keep me entertained while everyone gambled and we were off.

New Orleans is a place that has to be seen. There is no where I've been that compares to it. It has it's own unique history and current day feeling. Bourbon St where I can grab and alcoholic slushy and take a walk down past all the old homes, look up at the balconies, hear different music from every bar, be it blues, jazz, or an old time spoon band has to be walked to be understood. We did dinner in the park on Bourbon St the first night and it was great. I just had a Roast beef dip which was served on the freshest bread, and, a nice surprise, really inexpensive, under $10.00. I enjoyed it while listening to a very talented Jazz band above, and watched the people as the came and went. This little park cafe also served Beignets, a New Orleans treat, not to be missed, but I waited to have them in the morning from the original maker, Cafe du Monde, on the river so Robin and I could watch the boats and tugs go up and down the Mississippi.

Typical home from the Algiers neighbourhood, stained glass windows and rot iron rails and doors.This trip we also boarded the ferry to across the river in the Algiers neighbourhood.The last time we were in New Orleans it wasn't totally back to full service and we hadn't done the Algiers walk, but we missed out for sure, glad we went this time. Very old homes with people proud to show them off hand out brochures that tell you of many the special homes in the neighbourhood and give you a guide for a self guided walking tour of the neighbourhood. The oldest Fueling Station in the South is also located here in this neighbour hood.The stained glass windows and iron work on the homes is well worth a walk around to view, not to mention the beautiful gardens and big old trees to be found. Don't miss the free ferry across if you're in the area and do the walking tour. Stop at the little bakery cafe for a bite, you won't be disappointed. I had a great, fresh baked Croissant and Robin had a freshly made sandwich that would have been worth the trip on its own.

Biloxi -- From NewThe view from my room.Orleans it was off to Biloxi, LA to stay at the Beau Rivage. A true 4 to 5 star hotel, it was stunning. Walking in the door you are assailed by the scent of fresh flowers that grow through the entire lobby. They are redone every few months to match the season. TheA view of the coast of Gulf of Mexico taken from Biloxi on the pier.pool here was wonderful, my room looked out over the ocean and I just have nothing bad to say of this place. The nicest hotel I've stayed in for some time. It was luxury..the soaps, shampoos, towels, sheets, everything, and the staff were terrific. Fresh baked muffins and pastries at the pool in the morning for breakfast with a great cup of coffee in the Ocean breeze, then a walk over to watch the shrimp boats head out to sea (it was the opening of shrimp season the morning after we arrived) and I felt I had landed in another world. See the photos in the viewer above.The view from my room of the Ocean and the pool...watching shrimpers on the pier tossing their nets, the beach...it was lovely. Tossing a shrimp net so it opens fully and lands is an art all itself. It was fun to watch. We chatted with one of the shrimpers on the pier for quite some time and he says it will be a good year, glad to be back at it after last years oil spill put a real crimp in their season. It's shiny clean now everywhere. The beach if gorgeous and definitely a spot to put on the list of where to go.

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Fun at Maxton Airport, NC, Land Speed Trials -- East Coast Timing Association
May 14, 2011Maxton, NC ECTA Land Speed Trials, Motorcycle side car class, Bomber Busa

Line up of vehicles waiting to head to the start line.ECTA, May 14, 2011 Meet

Sometimes getting to Bonneville is a little far and little expensive. If you're an east coast speed junky or car buff you can still find out what your bike, car, truck, what ever you want can do. If there's no class for vehicle of choice... then ECTA can possibly make one. Check out the rules and schedules on the ECTA web site and come on to Maxton, North Carolina for the next meet on June 25-26, 2011, or one of the fall dates. See the line up on the left here of vehicles out to race in May. They come from all over, the eastern US and Canada. It's a great weekend even to come watch at $10.00 for entry to the grounds, you can't beat it. You can pay an all weekend camp price also, or stay in near by Laurinburg, NC which has several motel and hotels just off highway 74 to suit all tastes and budgets.

Thomas at the start line as his vehicle gets a final check over by ECTA staff, awaiting the go signal.I've been heading to Maxton and meeting up with friends in the SNART race team several times a year over the past few years. The Snart race team started out racing Harley Sportsters, and hold numerous records for the production bikes in several classes now. This year Snart isn't racing their own bike but Thomas Cronan, Thomas' new race gear, from his wife Kim.the kid that was the youngest to make the 200 mile per hour club when he made it, is racing for others and it's still fun to go out for the weekend and watch what people are racing and the records get set. Thomas isn't a kid anymore and I consider him a good friend. This year he's just purchased his first home (he's having it built) and he and his partner will be moving in later this year. Kim (his partner), bought Thomas a new set of full leathers he shows off here. I did get a nice set of photos of the leathers in action also. Congrats are in order also, Thomas will be expecting a little Cronan early next year. Check out all the Maxton photos on Flicker.

This month out at the meet I took the time to get photos of most of the cars running and the take off. I love standing at the start gate and watching the cars leave... the smoke coming up from the wheels,Run Balls out to the Wall or not at all.occasional side ways slip and then the tires grabbing and going. Next time I want to get down to the traps where I can maybe catch photos of the chutes coming out. I have a few sets of shots of the race vehicle in the pits, then waiting to start and a following shot on the course for those that ran more then once. If you find your photos on my flicker link and are interested in prints, send an email to Lisa@simplyphotos.org, and I'll let you know prices for high quality prints or prices for the the high quality digital so you can make your own prints. I had several ask me to email links and interest in purchasing their photos but I misplaced the email list (terrible, I know, but I've busy). I'm posting many of the shots taken on Flicker and if you don't see one of your vehicle, send me an email, I probably have one. I plan on making it to the June meet, and I could arrange to have a print with me if you ordered one.

This meet was great fun. I had a seat on Bomber Busa above while her owner (Ed Powell) took my photo. He races in the side car class with his Busa and I also was given a seat in the Screamliner. The Screamliner failed to make a qualifying run last month in April, when it came out to try for it's first run, but this month, with the chassis lifted so it won't bottom out, Screamliner will make it's first qualifying run and a second run with it's body on if all goes well. So fun to hear all the stories and see people from all over out to see what their vehicles will do. It sounds like next year I'll possibly have The Screamliner getting ready for it's first qualifying run.to travel much farther to have the same fun. The Maxton Airport will possibly not be renewing the contract with ECTA for next year and the ECTA is looking into other possible sites for next 2012. The Army has purchased/rented much of the area where the cars ran and the pits were set up for training and I guess they want more of it. They are probably more lucrative then our racers. I'll have to be sure and get out this year while it's still just a nice bike ride out for the day or night.

To get a more of a flavour of what you'll find in Maxton, have a look at my Maxton photo album on flicker. Lots of cars and people from the day. Again if you have any interest in a high quality print from the album or don't see your vehicle and want to know if I have a shot of you, email Lisa@simplyphotos.org.

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Pink Slips Women's Car Club Photo Shoots
May 17, 2011

66 Mustang driven to photo shoot... up for  Sema award, go vote.The Interviews

On May 15, 2011, I was chatting with my son in Midland when he mentioned he could use a photographer for photos on Tuesday. Well I was able to book a cheap flight so I headed up to do the photos for his company, K&N Systems, out of Midland, ON. I had a terrific day taking photos of an interview Jody and a few of the Pink Slips Women's Car Club ladies were heading to. The Pink Slips Car Club holds events, enters contests and shows and tries to raise money for the Children's Wish Foundation of Canada.

For starters, we show up at a ware house to head over together. We are driving two of the cars over. My son drove the 66 Mustang here (Sally) who's entered in Canada's Best Car Crazy Competition, for a spot to go to the SEMA Awards in Vegas. Help send Sally (the car) and Jody there. First Register here and then Vote for Sally here. What's under your hood?Sally is by no means the only, most or least impressive car in the garage. The door is lifted to reveal 4 shiny vehicles to be driven to the interview. There's the 66 Mustang above, restored to it's original inside and out, then there's a 67 Mustang Convertible, 67 Corvette, and 79 Corvette (Maltese Falcon) with all the power and goodies under the hood too. The 79 vette has an unusual mural under it's hood, so if the car and engine alone didn't impress enough there is that hidden gem still to see when you lift the hood. How often does the fellow filling Happy to full serve this one.your tank look as happy as this guy (click for larger photo)?

On arrival at Rogers cable for the television interview, Jody was briefed on what they would be doing and then she had a few minutes to set up the cars, hang her pink scarves and prepare the ladies to give information on each of the cars they had driven out. Jody is briefed on the interview before they start filming.

Currently Jody is having her Corvette, Dalilah, redone to original. The Hopes are to have the car auctioned and through the process of fundraising, the goal would be to Grant Wishes through the Children's Wish Foundation of Canada. With such a large potential donation she's receiving some well deserved attention and as soon as the first interview was completed a second interview began with more filming. Hopefully it all leads to funds for the children. Pictures in the slide show above cover off the interview day. Complete with what's hiding in the garage when we arrived in the morning, close ups of all the cars and pictures of the interviewers and filming. The rain that threatened held off and the day went well.

Legendary Motorcar Company

The next evening I was preparing to head back south, Thursday morning, when my son called and asked if it was possible for me to meet Jody again on Thursday and do a second shoot for them at the Legendary Motorcar Company home of the Dream Car Garage. I was driving back, not flying, so it was no problem to put the drive off a day and do the second shoot. What a treat to see all the cars on the show room floor, LMC was terrific and gave me free run to take photos until Jody arrived, letting me know nothing was off limits on the show room floor.Cars Packed in tight on the showroom floor at the LMC.

Jody gets one last sit in her beloved Dalilah befor it's painted and donated.When Jody arrived I was taken out back to where they are currently restoring her beloved Dalilah to it's factory condition. The Hopes are to have the car auctioned and through the process of fundraising, the goal would be to Grant Wishes through the Children's Wish Foundation of Canada. I took several photos of the car awaiting paint in the LMC's paint booth but couldn't help taking tons of extra photos of what was near by. Every time I turned there was another great car coming or going. Here's Jody getting one last sit in her beloved car on the left and on the right a look at the team from LMC doing the restore chatting with Jody.The LMC team discussing the work to be done on Jody's car before donating it to the Make a Wish Foundation of Canada.There's also John, one of the graphic designers from K&N Systems in Midland.

I've put most of my favourite photos from the LMC in a photo album on my photos page if you're a car buff. Not too many. Just everywhere was great cars. This beauty just happened to be off to my right.When I finished up shooting in the booth I walked outside to wait for all and to my right sits this beauty of a vette and then when I look left is this beauty pulling out of the LMC garage,This pretty car just pulled out the drive way as I sat on the curb waiting to head out for the day.just restored with it's happy owner driving off for home.

Over all it was a great way to spend the day and what happened next just topped it off. Jody finished up and handed me a beautiful bouquet of flowers and then a bag. In the bag she had gotten me an official Pink Slips Women's Car Club jacket, glasses and scarf. I did model them below and borrowed a prop for the photo from LMC. I'll be sure to join Jody and the other ladies in my outfit later this year for some of their events. Who knows... maybe I'll officially join and just volunteer to drive them around.Modeling the new jacket, glasses and scarf, borrowing a little prop from the LMC.

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Summit County Bears Gathering - time to ski for fun.

April 19, 2011
A few of the 60 bears at the top of Araphoe Basin

Landing at the Denver, CO airport it was 83F but there was plenty of cold and snow on the hills still.I landed at the Denver Airport, April 2, 2011 to the announcement that it was 83F on the ground. The annual western epic gathering was April 2, to April 10th, in Summit County Colorado this year. It was one of the largest on record with 60+ bears (Epic Bears), coming out to Summit County from various points across North America and other world points. No worries about the Denver, CO, warm weather, the mountains were a different story. Amazing that a web forum and common goals can bring so many diverse people together and all can have such a great time. If you haven't checked out Epic Ski Forums, and you love too ski, check it out.

Accommodation and Food

This years Gathering saw us spend two days at Vail, Breckonridge, and Arapahoe Basin. Most of us stayed at the Comfort Suites in Dillon which offered the group and great price for decent accommodations with a couple of hot tubs, a swimming pool, and fitness center and they did okay with breakfast each day too. Dillon was relatively central to all the resorts and it was fun to have everyone together in the evenings to head out to dinner. There was a waiters and waitresses that were happy to see us leave with serving 18 to 25 people each night and trying to seat us all. Most places we went to refused to do separate cheques, though the odd really organized sweet waitress did arrange it, and was tipped much better then the 18% added to the bill for her troubles.

Food over all was fairly expensive both at the resort and in the resort towns. We could have eaten cheaper but we chose mid level type restaurants and most nights found Robin and I spending $50.00 to $70.00 for the two of us each night. Day time lunches at the resorts were about $20.00 each, so another $40.00 to $50.00. Usually I pack a lunch for days but this holiday we just met up with everyone and bought what we wanted at the resort restaurants. They were all about equal in food, price and quality. If any had stood out as fabulous I'd put in a separate little review. Though none were stand out, none stand out in my memory as bad either. This means I found healthy food choices at all (great salads and fruit choices everywhere actually), at prices that were a little steep, but at least the quality was considerably better then old time ski chalet food. If one wanted to eat cheaper they certainly could have packed a Subway sub and eaten at the many available lodges spots on the hills. Bringing water would have saved $3.00 to $5.00 on any given lunch also. All in all the food was decent and no more expensive then I expect at a resort cafe.

Vail

Vail was the first stop in our group meetings on the morning of April 3,Snow piling up outside the lunch window at Vail, CO. 2011. What didn't look very promising for conditions in the morning, it was crispy icy refreeze which gave way to a shut down of the lifts as it started to thunder, turned into a regular dump of snow, dumping a good 6 inches while we waited out the thunder having an early lunch. You can see it starting to accumulate on the right here out the window while we ate lunch. When we hit the runs again on the lifts re-opening around 1pm there was wonderful fresh powder to ski in and the skis would turn again. The back, Blue sky Basin, never did get open and I have to admit, after skiing Castle Mountain all season, the areas open at Vail on Sunday felt pretty flat compared. I did get into some steeper terrain when we returned to Vail on Wednesday, but didn't have the fabulous conditions of the Sunday visit. All in all it was a fabulous day where our guide took us through trees and open bowls that were open and fun was definite what we had. No crowds to wait for this time of year and definitely worth a stop. I didn't stop to take any pictures once it started to snow. I just skied. I have very few pictures of the entire trip as I really just wanted to get in more ski time before my ski year was over.

BreckenridgeSkiing Mustang at BreckenRidge

Breckenridge had the terrain I loved the most of all the places we went to this in Summit County. There was some steeps and walk to upper bowls that were a blast to ski and we found some nice snow in them. The downfall to Breck was boy, was it windy. My entire group actually got frost bite on the Monday, April 4th, at Breckenridge. The T-bar in the morning saw a few get it from being whipped by snow in the wind and then it melting and refreezing and those that didn't get it then, got it when we did the 10 minute hike in 45 mile winds across the very top of Breck to get to Whales Tail and Y-Chute. Even though I had frost bite in 3 small places I loved the run and felt it was well worth the crazy, windy hike we took. I can't thank Doug enough for that hike actually, as it was my most enjoyable run of the week when I stole first tracks down he Y-chute. Thanks for showing me around. We had wanted to head back up Imperial Chair and catch Georges Thumb and some of the non hike to terrain but it shut due to the high winds right after we did our hike and we didn't get back up it. I did get to try these when we returned on Thursday. I skied the day with Robin on the Thursday instead of taking off with a group so I could spend some time with him also.

Arapahoe Basin and Retro Day

Retro Day on the Beach at Arapahoe Basin with the Bears. Arapahoe Basin was my favourite spot in Summit County for the traditional ski resort feel and still had great terrain, though not quite the terrain I found at Breckenridge. The first day at Arapahoe introduced to me to our guide Chris (a fabulous skier) and the terrain that A-Basin (as it's known for short) had to offer. There's steep open bowls up top and when the wind shuts down the upper chair there was lots of steep spring bump runs to be had. I had a great day on Monday and looked forward to returning on the Friday where one of the Bears had rented time on what A-Basin calls the beach BBQ on the Beach at A-Basin, CO.(designated areas to set up a grill and tables). Other bears were bringing the grill and we all would pitch in and bring some food for a great retro day on the hill on our final official ski day (some bears would meet up on the weekend).

Glen (Mr. Vertical) brought a grill and burgers and Bruce (King Grump) pitched some awesome steaks, Chris (Bump Freak) took over cooking it all up, and the BBQ was the best meal of the week. Lots of the bears dragged Retro day at A-Basin for the bears, Greg and Trish.their great retro outfits from all over, on planes with them to have them for retro day. I didn't have room to pack my retro outfit but it was fun to see everyone in there's. Robin actually took the time to teach a few of the bears just how to ski on those retro skis, as some had never actually had to. He taught them to synch ski also while he was at it. Robin coming down Pallivincini at Araphoe Basin, CO.He managed to get some of his best skiing in at A-Basin as the altitude had quit affecting him. He finally has all his ski moves back but not his prior fitness level from pre-bike accident. Things look very promising for Robin for next season with a full recovery and fitness level back.

As far as the rest goes it was great to see so many of our friends from the prior years Utah gathering and those we met from the Eastern Blue Knob gathering out. Colorado Rockies scenery is indeed, gorgeous and I should have taken more photos. There is always next year, which will include a gathering at Lake Tahoe, some time in February. I'll have to take all my ski photos then. I did get one beautiful sunset shot before heading home and ending my ski season for the year.

Colorado Sunsent when heading to dinner from Dillon, CO>Dillon, Colorado Sunset

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Castle Mountain Winter - Friends, fun and work.
March 31, 2011 (Castle Photo Album for single click photos)

The morning after I arrived, looking up at the hill for my first time. When I arrived at Castle Mountain ski resort on December 8, 2010 I was excited and worried about my choice for the winter. The mountain looked just as scary (exciting) as it had sounded. Long steep runs off the top from a chair you couldn't view while looking up from the ground, as I viewed on the morning after I arrived. The night before it had been too dark to see when I finally arrived from my 9 hour fly time and 3 hours of driving. My trip was nothing compared to the many others that would work here the winter with me. The Chileans, Australians and Kiwi's (New Zealanders) had all traveled longer and farther than myself. I was, as I expected to be, one of the oldest to stay in the staff accommodation. Marie (the lady in charge all things accommodation and many more things), had found me a spot in the staff over flow condo. I shared this 4 bedroom condo with 7 others, 2 per room, with rent deducted from my bi monthly pay. It all sounded great until I went to hook up to the internet and found it was limited. There was no TV and there was no phone. I suddenly felt very very isolated and wanted to cry. Then I wanted to go home and then I remembered I came to ski and I could do this.

Christmas would soon be here and that would mean busy teaching days at the resort.Following Peter and Katie down Lone star.I had one pit stop to make off the resort before that though. I had to attend the custody hearing for my grand daughter who I haven't been able to see in some time as her mother was not allowing her to see anyone in the family. That meant a flight to Ontario from Alberta on December 13 and back on December 15th. That would take care of my birthday and the best present I could have gotten was seeing my grand daughter, which I did and the court ordered access be given to her father so I'll be all set to see her again and have her down for some time in the summer. With the court case taken care of I was all set to settle in at the resort for the long winter. I had no idea that would be one of 5 times I left the resort in the next 3.5 months. Christmas and New Years flew past. I missed the family but made the most of my time, skiing ever spare moment, exploring the mountain with my ski school director, and fellow instructors, and assisted with the children's New Year's Eve party along with three fellow's from Chile, who worked as lifties and spoke very little english. They were a bright spot in my days to come as they always had big smiles and greetings each day at the lifts. We were all settling into the condo fine and the girls I stayed with had there own little Christmas party and gift sharing. They also would become good friends over the 4 months of winter.

Castle grew on me as time went past. Busy days of teaching mornings and skiing afternoons were flying past and somewhere in the middle of January, Garth started staying at the resort and teaching more. He was my age and gave me a ski buddy for the winter along with his friends Brian and Richard. Richard at 73 walks with a limp but skis almost every day, any run, and with style. Garth's wife, Cornelia, had injured her shoulder the first day of skiing and missed out on a epic powder season. Robin showed up at the resort on January21 to 27th and that was our only dry snow spell of the winter. He brought his brand new Rory Silvas, Ninth Wards,(fat powder twin tip) to use on all our powder. I hardly had time to ski with Robin as it was so busy that week; Garth skied with him when I was busy. I had a few request privates that took up my afternoons. The day Robin departed we received 3 feet of fresh snow and my friends asked me to have him back but not let him stay so long next time. It was soo good to see him and I had a really hard time not jumping on a plane and flying home with him, but somewhere in the week before he arrived, I started to fall for Castle Mountain's flavour and stayed.

Veiws from the top of Mount Haig on the rare blue bird day.Castle Mountain has it's own flavor. It's not found in many resorts these days and the board that shares ownership has set themselves the lofty goal of trying to make money while keeping it old time and all about the skiing. So far so good. There is no snowmaking, the upper hill is never groomed (well sometimes the one intermediate run there is) and the busiest day ever happened this year at 3700 skiers on Saturday when we had a powder dump and all the roads to other ski hills were closed for avalanches. During the mid week if we had no schools out there would be no one there and our busiest school day was about 400 skiers. These school groups rarely head up the to the top to the red chair, leaving it unskied accept for staff and a few local regulars most weeks. 3500 acres of terrain, including the chutes but not the cat skiing terrain, even on the busiest day, left almost an acre per skier. I did learn, skiing with a buddy here can be important. In the rare instance you get in trouble, and that's a real possibility on this terrain, you can't expect to see another skier scoot by any time soon. My brother, Ronnie coming through a little powder in the trees.Ronnie, came out for birthday to visit me and two days later learned this the hard way when he heard what he thought was his ACL pop while on the Northern Exposure ski run and spent 45 minutes trying to get himself out, until someone skied past finally (hearing him shout) and then a patroller came and helped him out the rest of the way. He had torn his acl, lcl and fractured his tibia. Some of the damage, no doubt, from his efforts to get himself down. He was just happy I'd gotten some photos of him in the trees and powder before he was injured. I feel just terrible he'll have such a long recovery and probably go crazy not being able to golf, ski and play hockey. I have pictures of everyone and the scenery and will put together a slide show of the winter and post them in the photo album so individual pictures can be grabbed by those that want them.

Powder days were many and when there wasn't fresh snow falling we could find endless days of powder in the trees. When all the steep trees had been skied there was still Ghost Rider Glades and Ambush Glades on Haig that were A little powder in Ghost Rider glades days after the fresh fell.  Feb. 18, 2011.never touched. 5 days after our last snowfall Garth and I found over a foot of fresh snow and constant fresh lines one after noon in Ghost Rider Glades. I sure learned to be comfortable in snow, but that ice stuff I'm pretty shy of now. It didn't take long to convert me from an Eastern to Western skier. Not that I hadn't loved the snow already and spent many days in it when traveling west, but the ice had never bothered me before. The fact that Castle Mountain offers cat skiing made a big impression on me also when I was asked if I might be interested in being tail guide and got to go along a couple times. It was awesome to be able to have that experience,especially after I had to say no a couple times when I had lessons that had to be taught and couldn't go along as photographer when asked. Garth lucked out and got to be photographer quite a few times by the end of the season. Guess that's the benefit of being a part time instructor, you can be available to go. I have many great photos and fabulous memories of the winter now and I'm looking forward to returning for another next year. I won't, however, expect it to be as wonderful as this one turned out. It's hard to top perfection. I do hope to see some familiar faces when I arrive next year and be a little less lonely off the start.

Castle Mountain Accommodation

Castle Mountain has very limited on hill accommodations. There is privately owned condos, chalets, mobiles, and trailers that can be rented and there is a slope side Hotel/Hostel that is only 3 years old and very nice. The hotel rooms are on the upper two floors and compare to a standard Holiday Inn Express type hotel room with two queen beds or one king bed. The Hostel floor is the bottom floor and is $20.00/night for your bed in a room with 6 o 8 beds, has a common area with TV and kitchen for cooking. Don't forget to bring food with you if you plan on cooking, there is no stores at the resort and town is 45 minutes away in Pincher Creek. The hostel is a great way to come with a class or group of friends or rent a full hostel room for a family. The hostel is rarely full midweek and is a very inexpensive way to sleep and ski some great terrain. If you're after night life, Castle is not the place for you but if you're after great terrain and snow, check the forecast and come out and ski, you'll love the slopes.

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Summit County, CO. - Quick update, on the Summit county Bears gathering..

Castle Mountain Photo Album - Lots of ski, scenery and friend shots. Find yourself.

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