Saturday, July 30, 2016

Time with Isabella and Eve

On Tuesday, July 26, we traded Jake for Isabella, age 10 and Eve age 9. We spent the next three days together at the lake. We had a blast going out in the boat and watching movies in the trailer.

I continued on with my daily skiing. At the end of our time at the lake I ended up skiing 8 out of 10 days. The good news about that is that I skied my way into shape. By the end, I was not getting sore by the next day and I was really happy about that. I also can say that I did not crash the entire time. I have been skiing safe and at my age that is probably a good thing. The only problem is that I would now like to challenge myself to a slalom course. I may try to do that when I return to Missouri in September.

Isabella turned out to be a great camera person. We played with a more zoomed in picture and I decided to give everyone that watches, a look at what it feels like to water ski from my perspective. I combined the footage that Isabella shot and from a GoPro mounted on a bike helmet on my head. I think it turned out pretty cool. Check it out:

The girls had a great time riding in the tube. They rode by themselves, but they really enjoyed riding together.

Here are the girls posing in the boat for some pictures.

We did a fair amount of fishing. We did not have much luck until the last day. While they were swimming I was fishing along the bank and caught a small bass. They saw that and wanted to fish also. After a while, Isabella caught this nice Blue Gill. She would not touch it, but wanted it to be returned to the water safely.

While they were here we had some interesting bird sightings. First we saw our first Great Egrets in Missouri. We see them all the time down on the gulf coast, but it was cool to see a pair here.

I love checking out these scissor tail flycatchers.

We had some interesting sunsets while the girls were here. Here are a couple of shots.

I got up early one morning and sat outside the the trailer looking out over the very foggy lake. It was a beautiful setting.

This year we are celebrating the 30th birthday of our boat. It is a 1986 Correct Craft Ski Nautique 2001. Yes it is true, this is a 30 year old boat. It is in amazing shape. I have owned it for only 5 years, so all of he credit has to go to the two Mikes that owned it before me. Most of the credit goes to my friend Mike that owns an auto body shop, he did an amazing job restoring it to new. I am doing my best to keep it looking good. It runs like a brand new boat even though it has almost 600 hours on it.

I know it is tough to call myself a full time RVer when I still own this boat. Well, this is how we have chosen to do it. Lucky for us we have a place to store it when we are on the road. I love this boat and plan to keep it as long as I can still ski.

Speaking of travel, it is now time to move down the road. We are heading to Colorado in the morning. It will take us about a week to get to Denver. I know, I know that is too fast, but we have a limited amount of time and really want to get up to the cool air in the mountains as soon as possible. We are done with the heat and humidity.

I will close this entry with a dose of cuteness. We had all of our grandchildren together at Shannon's house on Friday for a couple of hours. It was great to see them all at the same time and a great way to end this time in Missouri. I did get a couple of shots of Amelia in her swing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Time with Jake

Our oldest Grandson is Jacob. Shannon, his mom, brought him to the lake on Thursday, July 21 and took Will back home. We love spending time with all of our grandchildren, but it is very special to get them one at a time. Jacob is now 12 years old and has decided to no longer use that name. He will forever be called Jake. Jake is a very special person. He has intelligence that is very often times amazing. We stared seeing that in him at a very young age. He also has times where he will fixate on things to the point where he gets very repetitive. When he moved back to Missouri to live with us, Shannon took him to be evaluated. They diagnosed him with Asperger Syndrome. The diagnosis has been very good for everyone in the family. We have studied the condition and can better understand what it going on with him. We are positive that he will do something amazing in his lifetime.

Here is the best picture I was going to get of Jake:

In the 4 days that Jake spent with us, we went out in the boat every day except one. We really needed the day off from skiing and the sun and heat. We watched a bunch of movies and watched some TV.

While he was here, we went out in the boat and talked him into taking a ride on the tube. While he was riding, we hit some other boat wakes that were a little larger than I thought. His tube went airborne. He landed just fine and Kim caught the whole thing on video. I clipped a couple of stills out of the video.

Here is a short clip that is also on facebook and my YouTube Channel:

One of the things I miss about my youngest son Mark are involved conversations about all kinds of taboo subjects like politics or religion. The last night that Jake was here we got on the subject of politics. He amazed me with his knowledge of all of the candidates and the issues. He told me all of the state candidates as well as the national ones. He knew which party they were in and what their opponents were saying about them. He has formed his own opinion of which ones he would vote for and which ones he does not like. Remember, he is 12. I loved our time together.

While Jake was here we had some nice sunsets. I did get one shot I liked.

Don't try to clean your screen, that is a dragon fly in the upper portion of this shot.

We really enjoyed our time with the kid formerly known as Jacob. As with all of the grandkids, we can't wait to see how life turns out for him. I am sure one day we will see him on the news. I am betting it will be for discovering the cure for cancer or some other major contribution to life as we know it.

Next up, time with Isabella and Eve. We have a forecast for cooler temps, but some thundershowers. We are hoping to wrap up our time at the lake with some more skiing, fishing and some paddling thrown in for good measure.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Life at the Lake

We left the ranch on Monday, July 18. We drove the 65 miles to our favorite site at Bull Shoals Reservoir. We stay at this same park because it is the closest park to Ozark. The lake at this point is also very narrow and protected from wind. That makes it perfect for water skiing. We were excited to see that our usual site #8 was available. The only problem with site 8 is that it only has 30 amp electric. That is only a problem when it gets very hot. The forecast for the next two weeks was for near record heat, so that may be a problem.

We went back to the ranch by way of Ozark to pick up Will and then the boat. The plan was to spend time with each of the grandkids. We spent three days with William. We skied each day and had a blast swimming and playing with Will. He is a funny kid and although he is now 7 and growing up quickly, he is still lovable. I asked Will to take a few pictures while I was skiing. He decided to take video and he did great. I did a little editing and posted the video below to my YouTube channel.

Water Skiing on Bull Shoals

Will loves to fish, so we both spent some time fishing. We had some good luck and caught a number of fish.

Here is another shot of Will and Kim swimming.

We had some very interesting views of the full moon. I really liked this one of the moon and it's reflection off the water.

The evenings were still warm, but Will enjoyed chasing the frogs. This one became his pet for a while until he learned about letting it go to allow it to live on.

That boy still has those amazing eyelashes.

We enjoyed our time together. On Thursday, we traded Will for his big brother Jacob. He now prefers to be called Jake. I will write about our visit with Jake in my next entry.

We have our plan put together for our trip to Colorado. We are going to move a bit faster than we normally do. We ill cover the 900 miles in a week. We will keep our daily drives down to around 200 miles, but we will be moving most days. It seems way to fast, but we have seen Kansas many times before, and we will be returning to Missouri via Kansas in September. We have to be back in Missouri for Amelia's first birthday on October 23.

Check back for our always interesting time with Jake.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Leaving the Ranch

I wanted to make an entry covering the last week at the ranch. After returning from my trip on the Buffalo river, I rested up and got settled in back at the ranch. There has been a bunch going on and although it has still been hot, we have had some rain and we have had some short intervals of cooler weather. On Friday, July 15, I took advantage of temps in the 70's to get one last ride in.

I wanted to try out some training methods that some of the regional professionals have shown me. I also wanted to create some new video that I could use to continue to learn more about making videos that I can publish. Here is a link to a video that I produced, that I also posted on my facebook account.

Riding Session Video

The training methods are all about interval training. This means you ride the same section of trail over and over again for time. This allows you to grade your performance and also to learn what makes you faster and what does not. It also makes training more fun. I was able to cut my time riding a section that is about a mile long from 5:12 to 4:39, just riding it 4 times. That would be a huge improvement in a race.

Over this past weekend we again had a couple of the young fast guys at the ranch training. It is so much fun hanging out with them and inspiring watching them train on and off the motorcycles. The awesome thing is they are just as awesome young men as they are riders. We will be watching the results for the National Enduro in Pennsylvania on July 24. Go Harrison and Logan, we will be rooting for you.

I have taken a few pictures of some amazing sunsets and cloud formations that I will post here for those that like that sort of thing, like I do.

We love staying at the ranch, but we have been getting hitch itch bad and needed to get back on the road. We left the ranch on Monday, July 18 and headed back to Bull Shoals Reservoir. We are planning to stay for two weeks and enjoy some water skiing and time with grandkids. We have it planned where we will spend time with 5 of Shannon's 6 kids. Teenagers have to work, so we won't get to spend time with Hannah at the lake during this time.

After the two weeks at the lake, we will take the boat back to the ranch and then head to Colorado to see my folks and brother and his family. We will then head to the mountains for some cooler weather for a month or more. I can't wait, it has been really hot and humid this week. Check back for some fun lake action and more attempts at making entertaining videos.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Buffalo National River

We lived in SW Missouri for over 20 years before we retired and hit the road. The area of SW Missouri and NW Arkansas has some of the best paddling rivers in the world. Kim and I have spent very little time enjoying this amazing resource. Shame on us!

My son in law, Brian sent me a message a week ago and told me about a trip he was planning to do on the Buffalo National River. The Buffalo is an area managed by the National Park Service. They have done an amazing job protecting the river and keeping it in its natural state. The river is 110+ miles of beautiful Ozarks country. It is an amazing resource.

The trip that Brian was doing was with the Springfield Parks and Recreation Outdoors Activities Group. When Brian invited me and my sons to go along, we all hesitated but then agreed to go. This would be a 3 day, 2 nights camping along the river trip. As the time to leave got close, I got very excited. Kim decided this would be a guys trip, so Brian and my sons Scott and Mark were going. Sadly, my son Michael decided not to go.

We met in Ozark at 8:30 AM on Friday, July 8. Here is a shot of our crew:

Scott, Me, Brian and Mark
We were being led by two employees of Springfield Parks, Justin and Elizabeth. They were great. One reason I decided to go on this trip was to learn from them and use that knowledge to plan future trips. We also had 4 others that signed up for the trip, Paul, Larry, Serena and Clarissa. We had no drama on the trip and the group quickly became one cohesive unit.

We put in at Rush Landing, which is the beginning of the 24.4 mile section called the Lower Buffalo Wilderness. It was truly wild. We did not see another person on the entire trip. The solitude was awesome!

Rush Landing
I was using my Sea Eagle 420X for this trip. Using an inflatable for this trip could be an issue and I would have preferred to have a solid boat, but I had no issues.

We left and paddled along the glassy water. There were a few small rapids, but most of the trip was just floating along and enjoying the scenery. There were deer along the shore and many different birds including Bald Eagles, Hawks, Blue Herons, Green Herons and Belted Kingfishers.

Clarissa and Elizabeth in the Green Canoe

Mark and Larry in the silver canoe
Justin, AKA Marty in the light green kayak
We only planned to go about 5 miles the first day. After about 4 miles we hit a major thunderstorm. We had fairly intense lightning, so we stopped and took to the cover of the trees. 

A short time after getting going again we found a place to camp for the first night. There are many gravel bars along the river to set up camp. There are no improved campgrounds, so being ready to filter water and be totally self sufficient are required. My battery for my CPAP did great and was only 50% drained after two full nights.

Brian setting up his hammock
Brian, Scott and Mark slept in hammocks. They had rain flys, which would come in handy on that first night. I slept in my tent which handles rain without an issue.

Mine is the far tent

We all hung out together and cooked our dinners. The food was provided as part of the trip and was different than I would normally eat on a trip like this, but it was very good. We were assigned a cooking partner. I cooked with Brian. Scott cooked with Larry and Mark was lucky to get Serena. After dinner we played a very enlightening game of Cards Against Humanity. That is all I will say about that. We finished the evening with a nice sunset.

We went to bed early and were awoken many times during the night to hard rain and lightning. It was quite a first night out.

We took our time getting on the river the next morning, but we knew we had over 10 miles to go on the second day. Along the way, we saw a Bald Eagle up in a tree overlooking the river. He posed for pictures.

Look Closely for the Bald Eagle
We had a long day of paddling. The scenery continued to be amazing with high rock bluffs and more wildlife. I surprised a mom and spotted fawn right along the river bank at one point.

After the long paddle we spotted our goal for the night, Elephant Rock. Elizabeth knew of a great campsite right across the river from the rock. It made for a great camp for the second night. As soon as everyone arrived and set up camp we hit the water and just soaked for a long time. It was HOT.

Here are a few shots of our camp. I decided to camp next to the boats on the river. Everyone else went up on the bluff. That would prove to be fortunate.

My tent next to the river and Mark making a fire
Elephant Rock looming over our campsite. We spotted an Eagles nest just to the left of the rock.
I went to bed early again, but for some reason awoke at about 1AM. I looked out the tent and noticed one of the boats was floating and one of my stakes was in the water. The water had risen about 2 feet. All of the boats in the picture above would have been in the water the next morning. I got up and moved my tent and all of the boats as far as I could up on the bank. I then shoved a stick in the ground at the waters edge that I could see from my tent. The good news is that the water did not rise any further as we approached morning.

I awoke first and made coffee and enjoyed the quiet morning and a heavy fog. Something caught my eye to the left along the river and then saw a huge Bald Eagle cruise down the river right in front of me about 10 feet off the water. It was a magical moment.

We got moving a bit quicker the second morning. We paddled about 4 miles to the junction point of the Buffalo and the White Rivers. There we saw a very large rattlesnake swimming across the river. Scott and I got a very good look at it. Sadly, no pictures of this impressive creature.

The final act of the trip was a 3/4 mile paddle against a strong current up the White River. The water quickly changed from the 80+ degree water in the Buffalo to about 50 degrees. It felt we went into air conditioning. It was a hard paddle after 3 days on the river, but we all made it without incident. We pulled into the landing at Buffalo City. We got loaded and headed back to Ozark. The trip home was quiet with some of the team sleeping.

It was a great trip and I could not ask for a better group of people to paddle with. I want to thank Brian for asking me to go. I am so glad I went. And a special thanks to Elizabeth and Justin for making the plans and leading us through one of the most beautiful and untouched parts of the US.

I took some GoPro Video along the way and added some music and came up with the video at the link below. Check it out.

Buffalo River Trip

Here is the URL:

We are going to stay at the ranch for about a week and get ready to get back on the road. We are planning to head back to Bull Shoals for about three weeks and then heading to Colorado for about a month. Check back to see how that all works out.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Small Town 4th of July

We have been back at the ranch since June 28. The last day we were at Bull Shoals, Kim and I took a paddle around Beaver Creek that was out our back window. We had a great time. I fished and Kim kept the boat in place.

Nice sized Bluegill
Selfie Time!
When we got back to the ranch, Two local Professionals Riders were at the ranch training for the week. These are two awesome young men and we really enjoyed hanging out with them and watching them ride and train. They will be riding the National Enduro in Pennsylvania in a couple of weeks. Harrison is 23 and Logan is only 17. Man can they ride motorcycles. I wish I had a camera when I was watching them, I could have gotten some great shots. A few local riders came out to train with them also, so things were busy for the first week we were here. The temps were in the low 80's so that was nice. I even got some riding in.

One thing that I have to do each year is take Kim to a fireworks show. We were thinking about going down to the big show in Rockaway beach which is about an hour and a half drive, but on the 4th a friend told us about the smaller show up in Hartville. That is only about 30 minutes away. Kim gave the nod to Hartville.

We got there at about 6PM and enjoyed the free food including ice cream.

They had a couple of local Gospel and Blue Grass Bands playing on stage. It was a very friendly atmosphere. The event was made possible my many donors and volunteers.

We found a place along the lake to see the fireworks. They had someone tell the history of the town and lake and park. It was very interesting. They have a nice park along the lake.

The fireworks show was better than I expected. It went on for over 30 minutes. The only problem was there was not a whisper of wind and the smoke held down in the valley and over the lake. The result is that the fireworks were obscured by the smoke. Oh well, I still got credit for taking Kim to the fireworks.

I was also given extra credit because I showed patience when we left. I didn't even start the car, and just sat and played on my phone until the traffic had cleared. I hate crowds and usually am at my worst when we are leaving a crowded venue and get stuck in traffic. See, retirement has made me a better man. That is my story and I am sticking to it.

Kim and I have been discussing many things related to our lifestyle and potential upgrades and purchases. Every time we discussed it, things got back to the fact we were not sure how we stood on the weights of both the trailer and truck. I have not been sure if we were overweight Vs. the maximum payload ratings. I have been told by other RVers that we were way overweight. So, yesterday we hooked up and went about 30 miles to Cabool to get on a Truck Scale. I weighed the truck by itself and the truck and trailer together with and then without the Suzuki DR 650 on the rail on the back.

The good news is that we are below our weight limits on both the Truck and Trailer. That was a relief. Now we will proceed with some changes and upgrades I will talk about in future posts.

When we got up today, we saw a big storm approaching on radar. When it hit, things started flying. We had some significant straight line winds. We had a few large branches rip off of trees and at least one large tree go down.

Large tree down blocking the trail. 

I made a trip into Mansfield and saw this large old tree had been uprooted.

We were fine other than dealing with no power all day. We finally got power back at 5PM. Of course we are better suited than most living in the Ti. The only issue was that I had emptied my fresh water tank the previous day to get weighed. You should always keep some water in the tank for just such occurrences.

Kim and I went out for a tour of the property on the side by side. We saw very little damage, but we did see this large snapping turtle out in the middle of a field.

The best thing about being at the ranch this time of year is the berries. We have bushes all over the place and I took advantage of the cooler temps today to do some picking.

Well that is what we have been doing over the past two weeks. We have established a new travel plan for the coming months. We will stay here for another week and then go back to the lake for 2 weeks. I have a paddle planned for this coming weekend on the Buffalo National River. I can't wait! Then we will make a trip to Colorado to see my parents in early August. We will stay a month or so. Then we will return to Missouri for the fall riding and racing season. Then in December we will depart for another extended trip to the western US. Follow along and I promise to write more often.