Saturday, December 29, 2012


Today we share the final six of our 12 favorite pictures from this year.  In doing this annual series I strive for not only pictures with some compelling interest but diversity in the series as well.  They are not ranked in any particular order, in fact, on any given day an entirely different selection might have been made from the thousands of images made in 2012.  Enjoy!

I like to think of this picture being entitled Desolate Beach.  Actually, that's Sue on a beach just south of Port St. Lucie, FL which shares her name; Brooks.  We were exploring beaches for their sea shelling potential and I liked the fact we were more or less alone here.  I backed up making Sue with her red top very much the center of interest in the photo but presenting her in this diminutive size and alone struck me with a feeling of pleasant contemplation; or, whatever.

A characteristic of a telephoto lens is it compresses planes; making background objects appear closer than they really are.  In this photo it appears the fisherman is making a perfectly aimed cast to snare the lady on the wave runner.  Actually she is far out of his casting range while passing by in the Jupiter, FL inlet.  The photo was done at 1/500th of a second, f/9 and at the zoom lenses' full 200 mm focal length.  The relatively fast shutter speed was sufficient to freeze all motion in the photo (except for the rod tip), the aperture offered ample depth of field to keep the entire frame in sharp focus and the full telephoto length pulled the background and foreground together.

I selected this picture because it demonstrates two compositional tools, 1) getting close to your subject often improves the effectiveness of the photo and 2) throwing the background out of focus helps separate the foreground from an otherwise intrusive background.  I extended the lens to its full 40mm focal length and manually focused it at its minimum distance--then simply moved the camera back and forth toward the spider until it was sharply focused and made the exposure at 1/160th a second; a speed sufficient to help maintain sharpness in this hand-held shot.  It's a pair of banana spiders in Vero Beach.  The female is in the foreground.  As you might imagine the male usually is well behaved.

Interesting creative work in digital photography can be done with software; in this case Photoshop Elements v4.  Believe it or not the above, twisted, geometric spiral of lights is a very conventional Ferris Wheel at our county fair.  Take a peek at the blog story of August 16, 2012 if you are really curious about this technique.

This picture began life as a very conventional composition of my three children posed with son Craig's (right) prized VW bus restoration.  While I was tinkering with the camera some shenanigans broke out which I encouraged to continue and this was the result.  There is a place for nicely posed, conventional group photos but some apparent spontaneity can add lots of real-life interest.

It seems fitting to end an annual series of favorite photos with a sunset view; this one at the pier of the Lobster Shanty, Cocoa Beach, FL.  Before ordering our dinner I scouted the general area as dusk approached then went outside and did a couple of test exposures until I was zeroed-in on this presentation.  Sunset scenes are difficult to arrange on Florida's east coast.  The ocean is in the wrong location.  This one features the Banana River segment of the intercoastal waterway.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Florida style!

This view is a city park in Fort Pierce, Florida taken during the Christmas season there last winter and was featured on my Christmas cards this year.  The lights surrounding the trunks of the palm trees dance in synchronization with holiday music much to the delight of visitors.  May your celebration of Christ's birth be meaningfully enchanting.

Monday, December 24, 2012


Twas the night before Christmas and all through each state,
Coast Guard families were starting to celebrate.

Just then from the White House came an urgent call,
A crisis had arisen that would affect one and all.

In fact the State Department was frantic,
For Santa Claus had just gone down in the Atlantic!

It was foggy and Rudolph had made a blunder.
Santa, sleigh, and eight reindeer were going under.

Though the stockings were hung by the chimneys with care.
Poor Santa gurgled, "I'll never get there."

When what to his wondering eye should appear;
But a Coast Guard Cutter with their rescue gear!

The officers and crew were so lively and quick;
Sure was a lucky break for good old Saint Nick.

With a nod from the Captain they went right to work.
Rudolph was embarrassed, he felt like a jerk.

Poor Santa was soggy, but as anyone could see,
He was very grateful to the U.S.C.G!

And we heard him exclaim as they towed him from sight,
"If it weren't for my weight, I'd enlist tonight!"

                             SEMPER PARATUS

*          *          *

This from my coast guard friend John Estep of Cincinnati; founder of the group Buckeye Coasties.     

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Today we share six of our 12 favorite pictures from this year.  In doing this annual series I strive for not only pictures with some compelling interest but diversity in the series as well.  They are not ranked in any particular order, in fact, on any given day an entirely different selection might have been made from the thousands of images made in 2012.  Six more will appear here next Saturday.

I left my lunch sit while I grabbed my camera to do this shot on a pier in Sebastian, FL on a warm January day.  The exposure was manually controlled with a shutter speed of 1/320th of a second; brief enough to freeze the flight of the birds and the morsel of food thrown by the man in the foreground.  The aperture was f/10; sufficiently small to give abundant depth of field so the foreground man and the background birds all are sharply focused.  The lens was zoomed to 29mm (mid-way in its range) to tighten the composition.  Canon Rebel DSLR T3i camera with Canon EF 17-40mm f/4 L lens; my walking-around combination.

This photo was done along the intercoastal waterway in Vero Beach, FL while a heron-like bird waited patiently for its evening snack.  The camera was rested on a fence post with an exposure of 6/10th second and the lens wide open at f/4 with ISO sensitivity at 3200.  The lens was at its maximum focal length of 40mm which brought the bird and background bridge detail as close as possible.  If I had to choose a favorite of the year, this would be it.  It was particularly nice that my lady Sue and friends Mark and Nancy Meinzer were close by to enjoy the scene as well. 

This photo made the cut because of the spontaneous, near-background activity of the amorous couple while Sue enjoys the view of the inlet from the Atlantic Ocean at the Jupiter, FL lighthouse.  An aperture of f/10 and a 17mm (wide angle) focal length allowed the scene to be rendered in sharp focus from the near foreground to infinity.  A shutter speed of 1/200th of a second simply contributed to a correct exposure.

The violent action of a baseball pitcher was amplified by a relatively slow shutter speed of 1/15th of a second.  Good field lighting allowed an aperture of f/10 at ISO 100 in this night, Class A, minor league baseball, Spring-training game in Port St. Lucie, FL.  This shot was made while I was sitting in my spectator seat along the first base line using Canon's 70-200mm, f/2.8 L lens at maximum focal length.  I was shooting through a protective screen but the long focal-length threw it completely out of focus due to its limited depth of field.

Photo finish to a cross-country race:  "Adopted" grand daughter Mackenna Curtis-Collins (right), judging by the shadow of her foot nearly touching the white finish line, appears to be winning this race.  However, the official camera declared it a tie.  The camera was pre-focused on the finish line and the exposure was 1/1250th sec., f/5, ISO 400 with the same telephoto lens at its full 200mm focal length.

This very-much alive and wild alligator was swimming in slow formation with our air-boat on Blue Cyprus Lake near Vero Beach, FL.  It was estimated to be in the 10 to 12 foot range and continued its menacing presence until we did a discrete course change.  The photo was made with the 70-200mm lens at 155mm; exposure 1/500th second, f6/3.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


MOHAWK DAM; An impoundment without any water

The top photo shows the downstream side of Mowhak Dam near Nellie in Coshocton County Ohio.  Invisible on the far right of the photo, the Walhonding River flows through the dam toward it's confluence with the Tuscarawas River in Coshocton where it forms the Muskingham River which, itself, joins the Ohio River at Marietta.

The dam is inert until flood conditions arise then, its gates are mostly closed restricting the Walhonding's flow and holding the water to help alleviate damaging downstream flooding.  The dam was built in the 1930s and joined 13 others in the Muskingham Watershed Conservancy District; all sharing the mission of flood control.

It's record year of flood control occurred in 2005 when it held back water to the depth of 80 feet behind the dam structure until area flood conditions improved.

The lower photo (above) shows the dry side of the dam as it usually appears when flood conditions do not exist.  For miles upstream the land is cultivated normally.

I once drove through the impoundment area after there had been considerable flooding .  By then, the water was gone but the land looked like a moonscape.  Everywhere, as far as you could see trees, crops, fences, township roads, etc., were covered with the drab gray color of dried mud; residue from the just ended flood awaiting the cleansing of the next rainfall.

*          *          *

I got reacquainted with Mohawk during a recent geocaching outing in Coshocton County.  Speaking of confluences, on another recent cache outing Sue and I experienced a point of confluence where lines of latitude and longitude appear only as whole integers--with all zeroes to the right of the degrees indicated.

This occurs only 866 times in the US, 11 of them in Ohio.  (Remember to click on the smaller image to see a larger view.)

In this case the specific location was in a field west of the truck stop at the intersection of I-71 and Ohio 83 near Lodi.  The debris on the glass surface of our GPS unit was chaff from the brier field we negotiated to get to this very precisely defined location.

You may note the numerics N XX.XXX, W 082 XX.XXX in the little photo.  That is the decimal equivalent of degrees, minutes and seconds; the common notation of latitude and longitude used in geocaching.

*          *          *

A popular place for geocache locations is around cemeteries--where cachers are respectful of the local rules and avoid any disrespect whatsoever to grave sites.  In fact, I often find myself repairing the medallions and flags that are askew on veteran's markers.

It also is interesting to simply pause and reflect on the older grave markers.  This one pictured, for example, marks the grave of Samuel Ziegler who died April 15, 1843 at the age of 82 years, 2 m(onths) and 7 days which means, of course, he was born in February 1761.

That was 28 years before George Washington became president.

In the lower photo, taken on a more recent geocaching outing in a cemetery on Middletown Rd., south of Crestline, this person died in 1845, some 167 years ago.  His stone commemorates his passing at an unknown age.

Then, a tree near his grave site germinated, grew to its massive size--and died as well.  Today only its stump remains yet still seeming to embrace its neighboring tombstone, while yet still another of life's cycles appears in the form of newly germinated plants in the foreground. 


Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Mansfield pedestrians needed umbrellas rather than snow boots when they attended the city's Christmas tree lighting celebration near the downtown Carousel District Friday, December 7th.

Had the temperature been a bit cooler the evening's rain easily could have been multiple inches of snow.

In spite of the challenging weather area parking lots were full and shops in the district were buzzing with activities and customers in a celebratory mood.  The evening activities began with the tree lighting in front of the Carousel--partially hidden in the center of the photo behind the green and white umbrella.

This photo is looking south from the east side of N. Main St., just downhill from the near-historic City News.  The two green, traffic lights are at the corner of 4th and Main.

The tree itself has an interesting history.  It was planted by a city resident some years ago and grew so large it became a safety problem with traffic visibility.  Rather than suffering a severe trim the owner donated the tree to the city for this year's holiday.

Seveal downtown area churches participated in the event by offering open houses so visitors could enjoy their various, Christmas decorations.  A priest at St. Peter's Catholic Church greets visitors in the lower photo at that church's iconic sanctuary.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

my new camera and a new park!

Maybe I better start at the beginning.  In this marvelous hobby of geocaching we find ourselves hiking in some very strenuous locations and more than once I've pondered that husky, digital, single lens reflex camera in my hiking bag with its very expensive attachment in the form of my walking around lens adding both bulk and weight to my burden.

The camera and lens weighs 2 pounds and 5+ ounces.

So, given the modest requirements of most blog/geocaching photography I bought a Canon Power Shot A4000 IS HD, point-and-shoot camera.  It cost about 115 bucks including its very own 8 gigabyte storage card.

It weighs just under 5 ounces and I can stick it in my shirt pocket.  That's it in the small photo (left). 

It took its maiden voyage with me, Sue and our geocaching friends Mark and Nancy Meinzer, Sunday, Nov. 18th in the Wooster Memorial Park.  That's our platoon on a ridge, high above Rathburn Run, the main watercourse through the park, in the top photo.

Below, we have successfully negotiated our descent to the Spangler Trail and another 1/5 mile of hiking back to our parking place.

As you can see this tiny gem of a camera performed marvelously and will be a welcome companion on our often challenging treks.

The park itself was a demanding and rewarding delight of a hiking venue.  Yet, it was unknown to us just 30 miles distance from home and one of life's treasures that would have remained undiscovered had it not been for our terrific new hobby of geocaching.

The park had about a dozen caches.  We managed to discover half of them in this, our inaugural outing there.  We really look forward to finishing the task.  

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Deep in the Appalachian hills of Athens and Vinton counties stories of the paranormal abound to this very day.

In the case of the above tunnel and its neighbor the Moonville RR tunnel reports of apparitions linger from the area's history of death and ghostly mayhem when white-man's presence was first being established there in the 1800s.

Legends?  Maybe.

My lady Sue and I were there on a recent geocaching adventure and stumbled on this account of some geocachers that had preceded us just a few weeks earlier:

"As we got to the (Moonville) tunnel we noticed other flashlights and a guy in a robe in the tunnel. As we proceeded thru the tunnel the guy was dressed up like a grim reaper. At first I thought he was a prop, but as we passed him he turned his head and watched as we went through the tunnel. We then came up on some other weirdos that didn't really talk to us as we said hi."

This from the log of some folks who visited in the dark of night, October 26th last.

"Once we got through the tunnel we found the site of where the old railroad bridge existed and saw the road on the other side. We decided to cross the river down below and follow the road to retrieve the other two caches: Moonville Cemetery and Moonville Rocks.

As we got to the cemetery we started to hear those people chanting and beating a drum. Once in the cemetery there was a pentagram fire in the middle of the cemetery and items on graves. The items were coins and other weird stuff. We quickly found the next cache and decided not to stick around much longer as the chanting and drum beating continued."

When we visited that very cemetery just days later we shivered at the heap of cold embers from that fire and the odd trinkets remaining on the mostly tumbled tombstones.

From the web site we found this illustration (right) featuring the very tunnel Sue is pictured in above.

They explain, "Kings Tunnel was located on one of the more remote and eerie sections of the railway built...around 1857.  It was forged through a mountain-like hill and was almost 350 feet long.  Kings Station was located nearby.  Like (nearby) Moonville and the other ghost towns of the region, it was a small mining town with little more than a schoolhouse, post office, general store and the shack-like houses of the workers."

"The tunnel still exists even if the railway tracks are gone.  The reek of creosote used to preserve the wooden beams permeates the air and nothingness echoes against the walls.  But, if you go there and visit, taking the rocky path, listen closely and you might hear a little bit of the past still lingering in the air.

Or, you just may see a filmy white apparition following you in the darkness of night.  It happened to one railway walker on a dark rainy night.

The young man stated he had left to meet his father and a woman in a white dress walked just ahead of him.  The faster he walked, the faster she walked.  Then suddenly she disappeared completely.

The ghost was later identified as a woman who had, just weeks after giving birth in June of 1878, committed suicide by slitting her throat with a razor.  She had been married less than a year and lived just a couple of miles" from the tunnel.

That's Sue (below) as we finally found the geocache in the Kings Hollow tunnel then were glad to make a hasty retreat into the normal comfort of a sunny, late fall day.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


The Rocks Don’t Lie by David R. Montgomery

The book’s flyleaf says, “With an explorer’s eye and a fresh approach to both faith and science, Montgomery takes readers on a journey and across landscapes and cultures as he investigates historical dialogue...” regarding the formation of Earth. He questions whether Biblical stories of creation and Noah’s Ark should be read as allegorical or factual? He concludes “I believe faith and science can peacefully coexist, so long as we don’t founder on or cling to the rocky shore of either.” It’s a very, very thought provoking read.

Black Wave by John and Jean Silverwood

This is a true story of a family’s adventure at sea and the disaster that saved them. The story blends nicely between the segments presented by each author. It blends nicely between their disaster and that of an identical, historical experience by a Captain Pond and his square rigger, the Julia Ann with colorful supporting tales from Captain Ahab and Moby Dick. What more could you ask in a tale from the sea? Bravo!

The Best American Travel Writing 2012 by William T. Vollman, Editor

I really like travel stories but this anthology mostly left me cold. Of course, it squeezed the works of 19 authors into its slim 220 plus pages so that made for a batch of very short stories. I couldn’t even warm up to one of my favorite travel writers’, (Paul Theroux) offering of The Wicked Coast. I did, however, enjoy a piece on Chernobyl by H. Shukman and another on hiking the US Mexican border by L. Dittrich. Maybe it was just me.

Why Does the World Exist by Jim Holt

An insightful topic, indeed. And the author was scholarly in his pursuit of the viewpoint of near-countless, informed folks on this challenging, philosophical topic. Ultimately he crashed into a wall when he concluded “nothingness” was the real eternal home. Then, in his epilogue while pondering a Parisian night scene from his favorite foot bridge and the deeply penetrating beliefs of his sources, he flicks his cigarette butt into the dark waters flowing below him and heads home. Good grief!

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Deep in the hills of Vinton County there once was a town called Moonville.  It was born in 1856 when the country was sprawling its way toward the frontier.

The railroad tunnel above was part of that expansion by the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad which itself was grinding its way westward through these Appalachian Mountain foothills in southeastern Ohio.

Coal also was found in the area then and the railroad would be a terrific means of moving that fuel to the marketplace.  Hence Moonville was born in these forested hills where the Civil War was several years away and hostile Indians were in the death throes of maintaining their land against the overwhelming force of this expansion of white people.

The railroad was built and the town made up of railroad workers and miners reached its biggest population of about 100 in the 1870s.  But soon, progress passed the little hamlet by.  By 1887 the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad bought out the M & C line while the coal mines already were becoming exhausted

By the turn of the century the mines were closing down.  The last family left town in 1947 and the town was abandoned.  By 1960 all the buildings were gone and the only things left to mark the town's site were the tunnel and the cemetery which my lady Sue is reconciling with the tunnel's location in the small photo above.

Lookout Rock (below) is a nearby, geologic feature.  Local legend has it about 20 men were passing this area one night in Ohio's early history when they were attacked by a large pack of wolves.  The men took refuge on this rock structure, built a fire and spent the night--safely.

Other local legends tell of ghost sightings, often of people who met gruesome deaths, usually by encounters with moving trains on dark and stormy nights.

Vinton County to this day is the least populated and most heavily forested county in Ohio.  Note the road Sue is standing on above is gravel and one lane.  Not far down this road we passed a place where the road was barely wider than the car and the drop on either side was nearly straight down and unprotected by any form of guard rail.

Can you see the face of a local ghost in the rock above; the broad high forehead and the hooked nose flanked by a disfigured eye on the near side with the other eye hiding under a sharp brow and above a bony cheek with a small mouth and drooping chin below--supported by hunched shoulders and a sunken chest?

All that and the possibility of a slumbering ghost being in the neighborhood added up to our being very happy that we made this visit in the partly sunny daylight.

Friday, November 23, 2012

At the Clay Haus, Somerset, OH

I offered a silent prayer of thankfulness as I celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday Thursday with an assortment of friends and relatives of my lady Sue's family--and was grateful for that privilege. 

I lost my bride over 10 years ago.  Gone too, then, were the stable traditions that are born and grow with a loving marriage and the arrival and maturing of children.

In just a few years, it seems, those children have children and my expanded family now lives from Mansfield, to Columbus, to northern Indiana, to southern Ohio to Jacksonville, FL.

That does not change the meaning of Thanksgiving.  It just makes its celebration different.

There were many years when the male members of the family went hunting while the ladies toiled over the feast yet to come, whether the hunters were productive or not.  Then there were years where about three days worth of televised football rounded out the day of pleasurable digestion.

On this day it came down to my "adopted" grand daughter Mackenna and I roaming around the Junction City, OH area in search of some geocaches before it became time for a rendezvous of our 7-member tribe at the Clay Haus.

That morphed into a second gathering at Sue's family homestead, where sister Patsy still resides, for a prolonged period of grazing on some terrific desserts while the ladies mostly discussed the launch, early Friday morning, of their annual shopping blitz ranging somewhere between Zanesville, Newark, Columbus and Lancaster.

The whole thing winds down when Sue, Patsy, Mackenna and I reconvene over lunch Monday and load the vehicle for the trip back to Mansfield.

Or was that Sunday when I was supposed to retrieve the shopping gals?

*          *          *

Click here for an earlier blog story on the Clay House, Civil War General Phil Sheridan and a ghost or two.  (Our group's seating was out of the picture area in the near foreground of the above photo.)


Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Adventure Continues

These photos were taken in Vinton County Ohio where Sue and I centered a geocaching outing in a long abandoned town featuring an also abandoned cemetery and a pair of sometimes scary railroad tunnels.

The story started when I read of the place in the book, Weird Ohio by Willis, Henderson and Coleman.  She agreed it sounded like fun and away we went.  After a lunch meeting with her sister Patsy Love in Newark we headed south and experienced an Earth Cache named Waters of Life near Buckeye Lake.

Then it was on to finding some conventional caches in and around the ladies' hometown of Junction City where Patsy still lives on the family homestead.  One of those caches featured Phil Sheridan who played a significant role in the Civil War and who was born in nearby Somerset.

After an overnight rest it was on to Moonville in northeastern Vinton County.  That story will follow next Saturday.  Meanwhile, these photos were taken near the abandoned town of Moonville where we thought we had found one of the three caches we were seeking.  The one in the top photo was at Moonville Rocks where Sue had to climb up the rock formation to retrieve the shiny cylinder she is holding in the smaller photo.

Turns out the cylinder was not a geocache.  It was a finely machined salt and pepper shaker; the kind favored by hikers, one of whom must have stopped by this rocky perch for lunch then left his nifty and likely expensive gadget behind.  We left it there too.

In the lower photo Sue is examining the only cache we found of the three we we were seeking at the location of this abandoned town.  This cache was a weather proof food container, wrapped in camouflage tape and well hidden in the end of the hollow log in front of her at the edge of the town's also abandoned cemetery.

We were thwarted in finding a cache in the Moonville tunnel (featured in next Saturday's story) because access to the tunnel required us to ford a robustly flowing stream which we could not do safely.

We did find 7 of the nine we were seeking; below our customary average but rewarding nonetheless. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


We wrapped up a day of geocaching in Marion recently with this final effort where Mark Meinzer is pondering his return crossing of a crevasse in an old stone quarry.  When we reached this point on our way to the cache, my enthusiasm stalled--completely.

In spite of many years as a pilot, my advancing age has left me with a strong wariness of heights--in this case about 50 to 75 feet of vertical drop in this big crack and along both sides of this narrow rocky elevation between two bodies of water.  The second large lake is on the immediate left in the photo.

While I loitered on the foreground side of this narrow promontory Mark hopped across and continued another 100 yards or so along the bushy trail behind him in an unsuccessful search for an elusive cache container hidden somewhere on the rocky point.

My hesitation cost us a second pair of eyes in the search and, consequently, a failure to find it.

I felt bad.  But, a geriatric instinct for self-preservation overwhelmed the potential for a relatively minor reward for me.

Click here and take a peek at the web page we use for information on launching a search for such a cache.  Read the cacher's comments on his hide then scroll down to find comments of cachers, successful and otherwise.

As you can see, this delightful hobby is not always a gentle walk in the park. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

 America Commits Suicide

Here lies the United States of America
Born: July 4, 1776
Died: November 6, 2012


The Will of the People Has Spoken, and America Died
The End of an Empire

by Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh - Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"Our Constitutional Republic died a peaceful death on November 6, 2012. Having reached the point of no return in a comatose state after years of progressive and illegal immigration assaults, the fabric of conservative society is now completely unraveled and Uncle Sam’s America is no more.

The United States of America is now relegated to the dust bin of history as a “has been” empire. The Shining City on the Hill, the hope of so many millions since July 4, 1776, no longer exists. What rises from the ashes is a country that few of us will recognize, like, or learn to accept submissively.

After 236 years of existence, a new country emerges today, run by secular progressives who rejected our Constitution, what we stand for, and who we are as a nation. The Supreme Court will be forever altered after its last conservative members will be replaced by the liberal academics who call themselves “progressives.” The rule of law will be implemented by Executive Orders, making Congress irrelevant.

The communist motto “Forward” that resonated with so many ignorant Americans will plunge us into many years of darkness from which we will never be able to recover. We have proven our Founding Fathers right, they did give us a Constitutional Republic and we were unable to maintain it.

The forces of the failed communist fundamental transformation that were driven underground in many places around the world, resurfaced with a vengeance in the United States and have now taken over.

How long we will still have freedom of speech, movement, assembly, and control of our private property remains to be seen. Faith and churches will be driven underground; allowing secularism to prosper and take deep roots among the progressives whose God is Mother Earth.

The welfare-dependent Americans, unions, and illegal aliens have chosen for the rest of us the dark path of serfdom to big government and to socialist utopia.

Who would have guessed that the very people who were complaining that the government is not extricating them from disaster or giving them the help they needed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, would vote for the very politicians who turned their backs on needy Americans after the lights went dark when the political photo opportunities ended?

Who would have guessed that Americans were as ignorant and irresponsible as to choose fiscal destruction over fiscal sanity for their children and grandchildren, secularism and communism over faith, dependence over personal responsibility and self-reliance?

Americans have been protesting for the last four years the dismal state of the economy and the direction of our country, the corruption of our politicians, and the loss of personal and economic freedom.

Rallies in support of conservatism overwhelmed venues for Mitt Romney while rallies for our bumbling President became scarcer and scarcer. Yet, miraculously, at the ballot box, our President won all over the country.

We lost seats in the Senate. Americans chose liars and cheats to be their Senators and Representatives, rejecting those who protected the Constitution. The candidate from Massachusetts who claimed direct American Indian lineage to Pocahontas is now a Senator, having defeated Scott Brown. Representative Allen West lost his seat by a narrow margin to the infamous Wasserman Schultz from Florida.

Americans chose high unemployment, reduction of our military, communist indoctrination of their children, and loss of personal freedoms unlike we have never seen before in this country.

I am saddened by the loss of millions and millions of American soldiers who have died to preserve freedom yet we lost it on November 6, 2012. Those buried in cemeteries around the world and at Arlington must be rolling in their graves today. We shamelessly allowed their sacrifice of blood and treasure to go in vain. We have no honor because we let down all the soldiers who fought in recent times and returned home limbless with lives shattered from physical and mental wounds of war.

I mourn today the loss of my adopted country. I have fought hard over the last four years to prevent its overt and accelerated destruction but the darker forces stronger than many of us have overcome concerted efforts by millions of Americans to maintain the Republic. Mediocrity, sloth, godlessness, dependence, cowardice, using the law selectively or ignoring it, and hopeless corruption will define the new country. Only God can save us now with his mercy and grace."

Saturday, November 10, 2012


The land behind Sue (above) is representative of a highly unusual geological formation which exists between Perrysville and Loudonville in nearby Ashland County.  The gentle contours are nicely rounded hillocks known as glacial kames and those in this area are some of the finest examples in Ohio.

They also are very visible on the huge farms along the south side of SR 39 between those two towns.  And, there are a couple more very prominent ones just east of the VFW Post on the east side of Perrysville.

These kames were formed as deposits by the Wisconsinan Glacier about 12,000 years ago.  Lakes build up on the top of glaciers and over geologic time sediment would accumulate and stratify in them.  Then, when the glacier melted, this sediment would be deposited below where the lake had existed.

As I was pondering this I found myself wondering if Mt. Jeeze at Malabar Farm is a large kame.  It pretty much stands by itself and is a very large, nicely rounded formation.

In fact, I have long noticed an unusual ridge formation you encounter when traveling north on Plymouth-Springmill Rd., at the intersection of Dininger Rd.  In that otherwise large area of flat farmland you will encounter a very pronounced east-west ridge.  I remember studying such formations in college geology class and they were known then as moraines.

Today moraines are still described as a ridge formation of unstratified glacial drift.  Could that ridge I mentioned be the product of a bulldozer-like glacier, drifting slowly southward during the last ice age and pushing a small mountain of rocks and soil in front of it until it stopped moving as the ice age was ending and dropped its load along what we now know as Dininger Road?

Recently as I was traveling east on Dininger Rd., toward Bowman Rd., and looking north I noted a large farm complex perched nicely on very distinct, rounded hillocks very much like those in Ashland County.

Makes me wish I had a handy geology professor with whom I might enjoy some discussion.

Then, on that same geocaching day, I had stopped to find a cache in a cemetery near Tiro, Ohio and paused to do the photo (right) to illustrate a log posting showing caching is not just done on sunny days. 

As I was processing the photo I was amused to note the name of the geocache being sought in the photo was "Gc Tstcl Festvl".

The "Gc" stands for GeoCache and the word "Fstvl" showing on the car's GPS is a truncated version of "Festival".

The T-s-t-c-l is a truncated version of the word "testicle."

And, every April Tiro does, indeed, have a festival of that name; making the second half of this story, I fear, a bit less scholarly than the first half.

BTW, most caches we find in this marvelous hobby of geocaching are in the form of small containers with a few trinkets or even smaller containers with just a log for the searcher/finder to sign.  In the case of the kames mentioned above that was my first ever "Earth Cache".

These caches are obviously not container sized, rather they are a way for cachers to celebrate the Earth's natural, geologic blessings by finding and being made more aware of their often stunning existence.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Salt to Summit by Daniel Arnold

This is an excellent read about a grueling hike from Death Valley (at 282 feet below sea level) to the peak of Mt. Whitney, 14,505 feet above sea level.  The author, with a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing, is a wordsmith of sizzling quality.  He spent 17 days on this hike avoiding all modern things like roads and trails in his quest to sample the experience of his historic predecessors.  He uses a boatload of very original and illuminating metaphors in constructing his very enjoyable tale.

Basket Case by Carl Hiaasen

To me, Hiaasen seems to write like a guy with a constant grin on his face.  In this yarn he is a veteran reporter permanently demoted to writing for the obituary page after slam-dunking his boss at a board meeting.  He then goes on to validate his journalist credentials by solving a complex murder case and falling in love with his youthful editor after a boat battle on an alligator-infested, storm tossed Lake Okeechobee.  Fun read.

The Confession by John Grisham

Another speed-read by one of my favorite authors who, by the way, continues to write his own material (unlike many of his popular contemporaries) and I salute that.  This tale involves a young black fellow who is wrongly accused of murdering a popular white female classmate and, under extreme pressure confesses.  Wrongly.  Convicted, he spends nine years on death row and despite a herculean effort of defense is executed--just hours before the real bad guy confesses.  Stunning story line!  Thanks again Mr. G.

Expelled by Luke Harding

Harding, a correspondent for the British newspaper The Guardian, shares his haunting account of the perils faced by a principled journalist who dares to tell the truth in describing modern Russian government under Vladimir Putin as a "virtual mafia state".  He story is a compelling portrait of Russian government descending into--and beyond--the corruption of its horrendous history under Communism.  I shuddered during this read in recalling Obama had garnered the support of people like Putin, Chavez and Castro's family in his (Obama's) current campaign for reelection.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Recognize the above location?  It is, what once was, the locally famous Blue Hole in Castalia, OH.  Long closed as a tourist attraction, I have fuzzy childhood memories of this marvelous pool being protected by a pedestrian wall with paved walkways in a nicely landscaped setting.

I remember peering into its ever-darkening, aquamarine depths and pondering the reality of a hole with no known bottom--as the marketing wizards of the day described it; a truly a menacing concept to a youngster and his lively imagination.

Today Mother Nature largely has reclaimed the site and the outflow (foreground) now serves as part of the water supply for the state's Castalia Fish Hatchery.

We were there one recent day during advertised business hours hoping to do a story on the facility but were denied access to all of the interior. We were invited, by a sign in the unoccupied office, to do a self-guided tour then encountered signs on every door demanding we stay outside.

The only human activity was a couple of fellows with high pressure water cleaning this raceway which stretches from the facilitiy's, hatchery buildings to the outlet stream (below)...

--which, itself, hosts this amazing ichthyological phenomenon...

...of hundreds of rainbow trout, evidently escapees of the upstream hatchery, who choose to hang around because they find the location to their liking.  The next lower photo is Sue's view as she stands on the bridge which is located on Homegardner Road at the entrance to the hatchery just off SR 269 north of Castalia.

Really curious?  Click here for a peek at the state's hatcheries including Castalia.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

An apparition emerges from the canal and seems to scratch its head on its mystical return on this day of unexplained phenomena; to which we add--


Actually this photo is of yours truly doing an image in a waterway at the Castalia Fish Hatchery where human creatures also were mostly absent during our recent weekday visit.  Please stop by Saturday for the rest of that story.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Saturday, October 27, 2012


This little jewel sits on the southeast corner of the Port Clinton airport and is a nearly brand-spanking new, spit and polish presentation of aviation memorabilia.

It's also a hangar with a small but world-class collection of historic airplanes and an aircraft factory, more or less, with a 50's era diner attached like a shiny and delectable accessory to its west side.

Tucked into a corner of the hangar a crew of aviation enthusiasts are building a brand new from the tires up, absolutely authentic to the original specifications, Ford Tri-Motor, 3-engine airplane.  That's it in the top photo just coming into almost recognizable form as volunteer Clarence Gilbert of Huron shares details of the effort with my ladyfriend Sue.

You may remember the Tri-Motor was long in commercial service from this very airport ferrying folks and goods between Port Clinton, the Bass Islands and their near-by companions in just off-shore Lake Erie.

I can clearly remember a bone shaking, airplane rattling, wind in the passenger's hair, Tri-Motor flight out to the islands to do a newspaper story on ice fishing those many years ago.

It's newest sibling will be a one-of-a-kind in the world, fully certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, airplane approved for modern flight service.  Already there are two highly experienced Tri-Motor pilots ready to put the incubating bird into action.

They currently are flying one of the few remaining, original Tri-Motor's still in service, this one in Michigan.

The construction crew includes only one paid member.  He is the boss who sees that all of the very, very specific requirements imposed by the FAA before this machine pops out of its mechanical birth canal are met with precision.

Gilbert smiles and shakes his head in near disbelief as he enthusiastically expresses his gratitude for this marvel of a workplace and financial support which promotes this project allowing the volunteers to proceed unburdened by a typically freezing cold, airplane hangar workplace, and worrying about how the next electric bill is going to be paid.

A now deceased Cleveland benefactor via his supportive agent and a generous foundation have built this facility and continue to make its operation possible.

Visitors enter an ultra-modern lobby with a delicious taste of an airport terminal of long ago.  The museum room is to the right of the folks at the admission counter.  The hangar is behind that and the diner is hiding behind the left wall in the small photo and is pictured below.

The Tin Goose Diner is an authentic one built in 1950 and operated for years as the Sunrise Diner in Jim Thorpe, PA.  It became a permanent part of the museum just this year.  All proceeds from the diner help fund the museum's operation.

No, it is not the Air Force Museum just down the road in Dayton but it is a pristine miniature and will repay you many times over it's modest $5 a head, admission price.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Saturday, Fogeyisms takes a look at the Liberty Aviation Museum and the Tin Goose Diner in Port Clinton, OH.  Just an hour or so drive from Mansfield this dandy facility will soothe your appreciation for aviation history and treat you to the delicacies of a 50's-era diner all in one stop.  We also tip our hat to cousins Brad and Karen Crownover for this delicious tip for a blog story.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


It is easy to zoom by this rustic track while you are rolling along SR 97 between Butler and the Mohican State Forest.  It is even more interesting to stop, park the vehicle and wander into the unknown as the muddy lane (above right) disappears into the woods.

This cemetery dates to the early 1800s when more than 90% of the new state called Ohio was covered by old growth forest and a trail as clear as the one above would have been considered a turnpike of its day.

I suspect most of this cemetery's visitors today are township folks who maintain it or are geocachers like me who are in search of some sort of cache that has been hidden back there with its location in the form of latitude and longitude posted on line to help us find it.

Actually, the travel and the final search are much more interesting in this hobby than what actually is found in the cache; usually just a water-tight container with some trinkets and a log book geocachers sign to prove the success of their search.

My day of searching begins with picking what sound like interesting caches; within a 10 mile radius of a nearby town, for example and loading the coordinates in my car GPS which I then use to find the general location of the cache.

I also download more detailed information on the cache in a hand-held GPS unit which I will use to find the specific location as I walk toward it from the car with the guidance of distance and direction information displayed on the hand-held unit; a Garmin Oregon 450 to be exact.

The cache containers range from "nano" sized which can be smaller than a lipstick tube to "large" ones that might be the size of a square foot or so food container.  Surplus ammunition boxes are popular cache containers.  They are robust and come in a variety of sizes.

Some cache containers can be in the form of a hollowed-out rock.  Or a hollowed-out pine cone, for examples.  Imagine trying to find one of them in a pile of rip-rap along a waterway somewhere where all the rocks look the same...or on the floor of a forest covered with real pine cones.

I found a cache in an overgrown woods in hilly and sparsely populated Knox County about which the owner of the cache offered this hint; "Goes up and down as the days and seasons change."  I envisioned a picturesque, vernal pool as I launched into that woods.

After an exhaustive--and unsuccessful--search I leaned against a tree and pondered this challenge.  Then, about 10 feet ahead of me I noticed a white, vertical rectangle about 4" tall, an inch wide and an inch thick on the side of a tree, quite unnatural in this pristine forested setting.  As I walked toward it I could see it visually morph into a thermometer; a very clever cache container indeed.

Other cache containers might be hollow bolts and nuts, magnetized and stuck innocently on a metal post--looking exactly like they are part of the construction.

"Muggles" are another challenge.  These, according to the Harry Potter series are basically clueless folks to be avoided.  Geocachers do not like to reveal the location of caches they are zeroing in on because "muggles" have been known to destroy caches they become aware of or stumble upon.

I met a lady in an alley in Galion who looked skeptically at me--a total stranger--as I wandered past her garage sale.  Rather than pretending I was Sherlock, I confessed.  "Good Morning, I'm a geocacher," I said then explained my mission.  I could see her light bulb go off as she began to understand why people were often snoooping around her neighbor's garage; the location of my quarry as it later turned out.

And, this is a 10 year old, world wide hobby.  There are millions of these things around the globe.  There likely are hundreds within a few square miles of wherever you live.  I've noticed our snow-birding Florida town is a rich depository of caches just waiting for our exploration.

Meanwhile, already I have a half-dozen or so picked out for a planned visit to the Port Clinton area in the near future.

Another benefit of the hobby is simply the signts you may enjoy as you conduct your various searches like this canopy of trees along a gravel road down by the Sodus Massacre Monument.  It was like a green amphitheater in silent reverence to that horrible piece of our history from 200 years ago.

This township road serves one, maybe two residences between SR 603 and the next intersection south and allows quiet transit for the occasional visitor to the monument site, a bit over half-way between the two.  The monument site also was the site of one of our geocaches that recent day.

...or like this early October view along the Clear Fork Reservoir as it begins to exchange its colorful fall wardrobe for winter's starkness; strongly suggested by the silhouette of the foreground trees and empty picnic table framing the passing season's rich colors.