Thursday, June 30, 2011

30 June 1969...off to Vietnam, and Rising Early on a Summer Morning

Sometimes I would like to go to bed earlier than I do, and get up much earlier than the 7:30 or 8am I do most mornings....last night and this morning I finally got it done. You will find that the older you get, the less sleep you require or get, and with that the later you tend to hit the sack.  After my retirement at the age of 53 back in 2002, I immediately went into driving RVs for delivery around the country, so my sleep pattern went to Hell.  While on the road I would sometimes go to bed in the RVs at 9pm, but be up and on the road by 3 or 4am.  And of course traveling against the time zones on many of those western trips really screwed up my sleep cycle.  When I stopped driving those, back in 2008, I returned to a somewhat normal sleep pattern.  Go to bed at Midnight and getting up some 7 or 8 hours.  What I would like to do is go to bed at 10 and get up at 5 or 6...but that has not happened for the most part.

Last night, with no games, I had several beers, watched "Die Hard" and hit the hay at around 11....after getting up to let the old Airedale, Reagan, out at 4:30, I went back to bed for another hour or so....then at about 5:45 I awoke, and decided right then and there to get up and go take some photos of the sun rising across Grand Lake St Marys.  I didn't have much time to think about it...the sun would rise over Grand Lake about 6:10, and I had to get to the West Bank Road.  The sun this time of the year, rises in an almost North and East direction over the lake....so I knew I had to get down towards the park to get my shots.

I grabbed the keys to Patricia's Dodge Nitro, and headed out....as I approached the park in the quiet and gloam, a doe and her two fawns jogged across the roadway..."It sure is peaceful this morning" I thought to myself.  I parked the vehicle, and while the Canada Geese and their nearing adult young went on feeding, I began to take photos of the approaching sun coming up through the trees along the north side of the lake,  the trails left by passing jets, and a few skittering clouds.  Some of the results are posted here, and on my Western Ohio Weather Blog(link on the right side border of this post).

Yep, I really do need to get up early more often...my mind says I will do that, my body?  Well let's say, that part of me needs to be convinced....

June 30, 1969...off to Nha Trang, RVN

42 years ago this very morning, I awoke early, much like this morning.  But there would be no photo shoot of the sunrise over Grand Lake....this morning was to be my last spent stateside(except for 5 days in Hawaii the following April).  I would get up, mom, dad, and youngest sister Kelly and I would within the next few hours, head south to Vandalia, Ohio.  Vandalia is where then as today, the Dayton International Airport is located.  We arrived, a connecting flight to O' Hare Airport in Chicago was up next....I said my good-byes and climbed aboard.  The morning, like this one, was clear...and as the flight pattern played out, my American Airline 707 rumbled Montezuma on the shores of Grand Lake...from my window seat I actually saw the lake, the runway at our small airfield on could make out our house just off the grassy runway on the east end.  It would be another year before I would see home again.

Chicago was first, then onto San Francisco, where I boarded a bus for the trip to Travis AFB.  From there it was a whirlwind of paper work and processing, and finally I boarded a Braniff International 727 and was on my way.  After quick stops in Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines, our plane circled over the shoreline and heavy jungle of central South Vietnam....we would set down at Tan Son Nhut AB, or Saigon's Airport.  I really don't recall much of that first day, except I was housed in a transit barracks with maybe 40 other guys who would also be sent to their final in country destinations.  Mine would be Nha Trang, to the north of Saigon, where I would work out of the Law Enforcement division on day shift, or A Flight.  The next 6 months would be the only time I would work LE in my 4 years of Air Force duty...6 months later I would be back at Tan Son Nhut, but not as a "transit"...as a Buck Sergent for C Flight(overnight) Security...

So...it began, this day, 42 years ago...how time does fly by.

The tournament action begins for me tonight...as I have a Winner's Bracket final in the Jr ACME tournament in Convoy at Crestview...tomorrow I will be back there for the final elimination game in the double elimination tournament.  The action will pick up in the Varsity ACME Tournaments as the month of July begins...baseball will draw to a close for another season my next month's end.

back later>>>>

Photos-Three of the 40 some photos I took this morning looking out from the west side of Grand Lake St. Marys....still working on them, to see which are the best, my best guess is I have about a dozen "keepers"....also June 30, 1968 mom and me the morning of my departure for Vietnam....and TSgt Phil Lange my old NCOIC at the Law Enforcement desk at the Airport at Nha Trang....LE with the 14th SPS would be my home for the first 6 months in country, and my favorite duty station in my four Air Force years.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Horsing Around...

Monday afternoon I headed north to Leipsic, Ohio...some 65 miles through the heart of the Old Black Swamp from the early days of the settling of Northwest Ohio.   I usually take a few games, baseball in the Spring or Summer, and Basketball in the Winter, which gives me a chance to stop in and see my old friend Tom, the Horse Groomer/Trainer from Rockford.  Tom works for Suggs Stables in Deshler, Ohio, another 10 miles north of Leipsic, and located on the Wood/Henry County Line.  Deshler, home of Patrick Henry High School is nicknamed "Corn City"...and maybe it should be named "Train City"...at least 40 of those suckers go through at night, and if you are not used to it, makes it rough to sleep, especially in the cool of the Summer, with windows open.

I did the plate in a quick 1 hour 25 minute game, which saw the host Vikings defeat county rival Ottoville, 5-0...then it was off to Tom's place and the famous Corn City Bar.  A monster deep fried Tenderloin and a few draft beers later, I wasn't about to drive the 90 minutes back to Celina, so I crashed at Tom' place in town...where the Train Whistles kept me company, and awake through most of the night.


Tom is usually up and off to the horse barns by 5am...I managed to sleep in until maybe 6, although sleep was hardly what you can call it with the trains...I got up showered, grabbed a large coffee down at the Shell Station/Store, and headed the 3 miles across the county line into Wood County, taking Ohio 18 to the Sugg Stables.  This season they are housing about 8 ponies, down from previous years.  Working the trotters and pacers in the Ohio County Fair circuit, down at Delaware, in Indianapolis, and traveling into upstate New York and Canada.  I talked to the horses, led by "Manny Shuffle", who is having some problems this year as a 3 year old, compared to his excellent season last year...several fillies are in fold, and Tom gave a couple others a 4 mile run around the track as I took some photos, and finished off my coffee.

Heading home towards Celina at 8am, I stopped in the county seat, Ottawa for another coffee, and drove the back roads in the cool and morning sun home...arriving home just before 10.  The lack of sleep slowed me down, so I grabbed a nap upstaris at about 1pm, climbed out of bed at 3:15 and was on my way to Lima Central Catholic by 4:30 for my final regular season game of the year.  Tournaments began last night, my first of two at Crestview start tomorrow, and after that the as yet unfinished schedule will run through most of July, before my baseball season shuts down on July 28th at latest.  We will head for Wisconsin on July 29th for Patrica's nephew's wedding on July 30th.

A run filled last inning and a half, which saw 13 runners cross the plate(which I worked again), ended with LCC coming out on top of Allen East 12-8...tonight I am off, which will give me a chance to trim the bushes and shrubs around the house...with temperatures near 80 and low humidity, this may be the best opportunity to get that thankless job done.

The July 4th weekend is upon us and Patricia, Anissa, maybe mom, if she decides to go, and I will head down to Centerville to take in the July 4th festivities with Hal and Lisa....Sam will head back to Columbus to work a tournament down there...enough for now it's time to get out and get to those shrubs....

back later>>>>
Photos-"Manny Shuffle" is his stall...The Corn City Bar, Great Food!..Tom with one of the Fillies right before taking her out for the morning run around the 5/8 mile track at the ranch...and a look out east of the Sugg's Stables, when the weather is nice(like yesterday), you could sit in a lawn chair and catch the breeze, without a care in the world....Tom works the horses here in the Summer and Fall, then they head south to DeLand, Florida, for the Winter and early Spring months.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Another Blast from the Past....Venice Florida 1959-60

The Midwest, at least the farther west Midwest, think Iowa,  got clobbered last night with more strong storms...Jim Olson called from Minot, North Dakota, saying the flood waters there, were still on the rise, and would crest maybe by Wednesday...What a season!  Almost makes you wish for Winter, almost...but not quite. We are waiting on storms today, but for now they appear to be hitting Indiana, and wavering as they approach Western Ohio...so we will see how hard and with how much rain they strike us with.

Sam and I headed south to Sidney, some 50 miles south and east on Saturday morning, and worked a American Legion double header with Madison County.  The first game started at 11am, and we were finished by 3, even with a break for the teams to share in some Pizza between games.  I did the plate in the opener, Sam in the second game, and both lasted no more than an hour and a half.  Pitching ruled as Sidney swept both games, 5-1 and 2-0.  We were home by 4:30....tonight, weather permitting, and tomorrow, I finish up the regular ACME Season, and then the tournaments begin on Thursday....those will take me through most of July, along with our usual work helping out in a couple of Pony League Tournaments, the only time I work less that High School baseball, but a fun way to finish the season.  Seems like it just began.


The rest of the weekend was spent entertaining Hal's dogs, mowing lawns, and sitting on the back steps, cooking on the grill between beers and cigars.  I also watched my favorite western "Lonesome Dove" on AMC.  Funny, I have the entire mini series on DVD, but usually watch it when it comes on TV...go figure?  One thing I did notice, with the beers and sitting, I have gained about 7 pounds back this Sp[ring, and am approaching the 195 pound point on my 5' 11" frame.  Sure, that is down from the 220 during my weight lifting days, but still up from the 183 that I hit last summer, and the 187-188 point that I felt comfortable with over the winter.  Guess I better cut back on those grill delights and that stuff in the bottles.  Cut back mind you, not quit.  Hell that's what Summer is all about...

Venice(Florida) Elementary School 1959-60____

One thing about Facebook, despite all the BS and politics, it is a great way to find old faces and names from your past, or for them to find you.  It has worked for me, even without making a concentrated effort.  Type in a name on the FB search or a place, and with the explosion of that Social Network, someone from out of the past is sure to respond.   It has happened to me on several occasions, whether it be folks that I have known from my Air Force days, early Celina, or even back from 50 and more years ago,  finding people that I knew in Venice.  Several have contacted me, or I have found them, usually quite by accident.

One found happened Friday...I was messing around with naming Venice as my hometown.  I have often named that south Florida town, as well as tiny Scott, Ohio, and Celina as my primary hometowns...because I spent more time in those three during my life than anywhere else.  Anyway I came across several old names from the past...one being Ron Dinero.  Ronnie as he was called then, was in several of my classes, and I always considered him on of my friends, along with Mike Graff, Ted Blackburn, Barry Young, Jackie Dye, Mickey Lawrence, and a handful of others.  So this weekend, I not only found Ron, I also found Barry Young.  Ron has a photo posted on his FB homepage, that I had not seen in over 50 years....

The photo, on the top of todays\'s post, was from our 5th grade class, one of three classes in that future Class of 67 at Venice Elementary....Ron is in the second row on the close up cropped photos, he is on the bottom left), I am the last kid on the right, in the top row, with that smirk, goofy, assed "face" I was making.  I sure when our teacher, Mrs Holmes, just below me, saw that mug, she probably wasn't happy.  She had both my older brother Mike, some 3 years before, and me, in her class.  She told mom that she never knew what Mike was thinking, but you always knew what Pat was thinking...{think Big MO-uth I am sure).  I guess I was always the class smart ass in my days at VE(1955-1961).  This photo brought some of those days flooding back into my memory banks.

Funny thing is I can remember almost ever name of every kid in this photo...a couple slip my mind, but most I remember like it was yesterday, some have passed, like Mike Graff(top row, second from left), but most, like Barry Young(on Mike's left) are still alive and kicking.  Many still live in the Venice area, others have moved away, like me.  But I treasure those memories and people, and will until the day I pass from this world.
--------

Tonight I head north to Leipsic, if the game is played, and will probably have a few beers and dinner with my horse training buddy Tom, and crash at his place.  Home tomorrow for one more regular game at Lima Central Catholic....and then it is tournament time.

Back Later>>>>>

Photos-Top Left Venice Florida Elementary School Mrs Holmes 5th Grade Class 1959-60...Me and the Grill....I wasn't as unhappy as I looked in this photo from yesterday...the grill cooking was a success as usual, I was enjoying the cooking and my jungle backyard.  And the cropped portion of that class photo.  Ron Dinero is bottom left, I am top right, just above Mrs Holmes...Harvey Godwin is next to me on my left, and Dave Vandawalker is on Harvey's left.

Friday, June 24, 2011

My Favorite Van....

Cool weather is back....at least for a day or two.  While umpiring at Rockford last night, the wind picked up and on several occasions blew a straight line rain into our faces, at least at me, the catcher, and batter....I had to stop the game twice for 5 minutes, not so much because the amount of rain, but because what the accompanying wind was doing with it.  Still got the game in under 2 hours, as the hometown Parkway team defeated Celina 4-2 to get revenge for a 7-2 loss at Celina(which I had also) earlier in the month.  The season is winding down, at least the regular season.  Starting next week, the Junior ACME and ACME tournaments will begin, and I will be kept busy for the next month or so, working those.  Tonight I am scheduled at Spencerville for ACME, then tomorrow morning, Sam and I will head south 40 miles to Sidney to work a scheduled double header for the Sidney American Legion. 

A crowded house this weekend, with Hal home for a wedding and his two small dogs, coming with him....

My Favorite Van_____

I have written on several occasions about various "road trips" I have taken over the years...with an assortment of friends...Rick Pearson, Rick Tester, Nick, and others, including one back 1975, the summer of that year of "Jaws" the movie, with Jim Olson and Mike Schilling.  That story is posted elsewhere on this blog and can be found with some research if you want to read about those exploits.  Today I write about the vehicle we used on that trip....a 1961 Ford Econoline Van.

While living just a block away from where Patricia and I are located today, and while working as the manager, bartender, and occasional "bouncer" at The Red Door in downtown Celina, I always had a variety of transportation.  One being my Kawasaki Motor Cycle, usually a newer car...in this case a 1973 AMC Hornet with Levi Seats, and another "beater" vehicle...mostly a rusting pick-up truck of varying models and types.  In the winter of 1974-75 I went looking for something to haul the hunting hounds around in, as well as the hound dogs of the two leg variety that I ran around with.  I headed to Coldwater one day and happened to see this ugly assed panel van...ugly green in color, with a cut out window and the usual rust on the bottom sides, like any good 13 or 14 year old vehicle had back in those days....perfect I thought to myself.  I purchased it for the grand sum of $400.

The inside had just the two bucket seats, and a pull down bed, which was hanging from the driver's side wall. I guessed it was used for camping, or use your imagination?....for me, the inside was just right.  It had plenty of room for the Coon Hounds, and the Kawasaki Dirt Bikes.  And it could be used for sleeping, such as the Florida 75 trip, and carrying a large number of cases of beer..again, see Florida 1975.

I had and used that van for about 2 years, until I headed back to college at Nelsonville and Athens...frankly, I don't remember how I got rid of it, or why...but I remember it well, and some of the exploits were legendary in my circles of friends and outlaws that I hung around with.  It, despite it's penchant for dropping U Joints, It, especially for the low cost and grand memories, had to be one of my favorite vehicles that I have had the pleasure and pain to have owned.

Enjoy your weekend...

back later>>>>

Photos-The Van sitting on Fulton Street back in the winter of 74-75, at our place on the corner of North Brandon and Fulton, in Celina, just a block away from where we reside these days.  Then you have me, in the Summer of 75 at Daytona, compete with "Arrive Stoned" license plates in rear view window, a sure asking to get pulled over.  The back was, at this time, filled with camping gear, two Kawasaki Dirt Bikes(for riding on the Daytona Beach) and about 25 cases of beer...which we had no problem going through and more in our 10 day Florida Odyssey.  You really need to double click that second photo for a close up...that was a picture or microcosm of my life some 35 years ago, for better or worse.  And the last, the Van at the OS State Park, just north of my old hometown of Venice, Florida.  We camped here for a few days of fishing and beer drinking before heading north to Disney World(in it youth, like us), and then on to Daytona Beach and Myrtle Beach to round out the trip.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Not much going on...but cooler, fall like temperatures on the way

Got the game in at Coldwater last night, me and my partner from Minster Tim.  Tim worked the State High School Tournament last year, and we both worked the Summer ACME State Tournament last July...other than that I have not be paired up with him much over the past couple of seasons.  In addition to last night, where he did the plate, we will work the Lima Shawnee Sectional together on July 5th...where I will do the "dish". 

The game was a surprising "blow out" with Coldwater defeated rival in a run ruled 4 1/2 inning game, by a 17-5 score...tonight, if the showers hold off or go elsewhere, I will head to Rockford as Parkway hosts Celina..  I had the game between those two county rivals early in the summer season, the game I got hit twice in the same inning, as field umpire...will try to avoid that tonight....

Today has been slow, and I have to admit, I've been on my ass, sitting for much of it.  I did get to work with the new Nikon Camera, my knowledge is coming around, slowly, very slowly, but it is coming....I still miss the ease which the Fuji worked out of the Automatic Mode.  The Nikon seems not to work as well, and I am experimenting with the various Settings to get things right.  Today the subject was some of the backyard flowers, as shown.

Things will be busy this weekend around the house....First off Sam and I will be heading early Saturday morning to Sidney, where we will work a double header in my first American Legion ball of the year.  With taking last weekend off, I missed out for the first time in over 10 years doing the Tawa Run AL Tournament in Ottawa...so this will be the first of the season.

Hal will be home Saturday as well, without bride, as she heads out for the weekend, and Hal comes home to his classmate and our neighbors wedding...he will be bringing the dogs with him, which should keep things moving around here, since Anissa will be with us much of the weekend as well.   I'm just not used to that many bodies being around the house these days...but will survive it...Friday I am at Spencerville for a ACME Matchup, and then finally on Sunday, I plan on trimming the hedges/bushes around the house, they are in serious need.

So that's the plan, for the next few days...and the conditions should be good for just about all activity.  Once the showers move out and on east, cooler, fall like, temperatures will be with us into the weekend.  Only 65 with clouds for a high tomorrow, and sunshine and in the low to middle 70s for Saturday and Sunday.

back later>>>>

Photos-Two shots of backyard flowers with varying degrees of success...getting use to the various modes, will take awhile...but that's the great thing about Digital Photography...the mistakes don't cost you money.  Damn am I glad "film" is dead....because my mistakes are plenty....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blogger Photo Blues/Luebke into Starting Rotation

WTF? Is about all I can say for Blogger these days....yes it is free, and yes it is easy, and yes, it is a pain in the ass on many occasions....

Doesn't matter if you use Firefox or Internet Explorer, there is almost always something to challenge your patience....today, it's the photo loader...doesn't matter if you have it on either one, the photos won't load, so with my "crutch" this one will be quick.

Problem Solved?  Seems over the years I had ran out of photo space....it was usually just for uploading the sidebar pictures, but now Blogger enforce all the photo uploading...my 1 GB was used up, so I had to purchase 20GB(which should solve any problems)sic, for $5 a year....sooooooooooo, maybe this issue is solved.

First Off...........................

Somehow the major rains and storms missed us last night.  The went south(Reds/Yankees rained out) they went north, they went west, and east...but somehow most of Mercer County was spared, and Sam's game in Celina, and mine in St. Henry were played....we didn't need the rain, and don't need what is predicted for the next couple of days, before things dry off over the weekend and early next week.  Tonight Sam stays in Celina, while I travel to Coldwater for a game with rival St. Henry...should be a good one, if we get it in.

Cory Luebke moves into Starting Role____

Marion Local product Cory Luebke, one of 4 pitchers in MLB, who I umpired behind the plate during their High School careers, has been moved from the Bullpen to the starting rotation.  Cory started nearly all of his High School, College at Ohio State, and Minor League career, before being moved to the bullpen this season with the San Diego Padres:

  http://sandiego.padres.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110621&content_id=20807920&notebook_id=20818184&vkey=notebook_sd&c_id=sd

Cory, who youngest son Hal, coached during summer ACME baseball a few years ago, has had an excellent year out of the bullpen, except for one game against the Reds....I think he will succeed well now that he is back in the starting rotation.  Good Luck Cory!

Speaking of the Reds....for only the fifth time in Great American Ballpark history(opened in 2003) they were washed out...sad for the fans that had tickets, because the game was a sellout.  So today they will do a day/night double header.

The regular game begins at 12:10pm and the nightcap, rescheduled from last night, opens at 7:10pm....so, I'm out to mow the lawn so I can catch game #1...and fret about my "Blogger Blues">>>>

back later>>>>

photo-Cory moves into the rotation at San Diego...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Favorite Places, The Final Chapter/Shelf Road

Strong Storms could rain out games for the second night in a row....after getting dumped on for several hours yesterday, the rains ended and the skies cleared long enough to get Mom's and Anissa's lawn mowed....however my game at Crestview and even Sam's on the artificial turf at Celina were canceled.  Tonight I am scheduled for St. Henry while Sam is once again in Celina...but those are "iffy" with some strong or sever storms moving in from the west this afternoon.

The Final Chapter(for now) of my favorite places____

I have told this story on this blog before, but cannot leave it off my list of Favorite Places...

Shelf Road, Colorado....

http://www.cooney71.com/ 

The above link is Shelf Road in Colorado...it runs from Canon City north to Cripple Creek.  The first time I laid eyes on it was in the summer of 1980, it hard seems 30+ years ago, but time flies as we all know when we reach middle age.

It all began when...

My buddy Rick Pearson, of our mushroom hunting fame, and we being best man in each others weddings, mine in 1976 and his in 1981...we were next door neighbors at Ohio University's College Inn for a while in Athens, Ohio.   We met while working together at Marsh Supermarket in Celina during my Senior, and his Junior year at Celina High School.  After our military years, where we were both Military Police, him a MP in the Army, and me as a SP in the Air Force, we both returned home to Celina...for awhile.

In the late Summer of 1980 I had decided to leave my job as radio news director at KGNO Radio in Dodge City, Kansas...Patricia and Anissa had flown to Wisconsin to stay with her parents for a few weeks, while I was in charge of getting the belongings and vehicles back to Ohio, where I would take over as Program Director at WCSM Radio in my home town.  I U-Hauled the household stuff back to Celina, towing the trailer behind our AMC Hornet vehicle...my Jeep Cherokee was in the garage, and was left back in Dodge until I could return to pick it up.  In late July,  I asked Rick if he wanted to make a road trip.  We would drive my brother Mike's pick up to Dodge, get the repaired Jeep and return.  We could also make a side "road trip" to Colorado, just for the fact we had the time....

We stocked our cooler, and headed west, arriving in Dodge City the next afternoon...the Jeep was a couple of days from being ready, so we headed west towards the Colorado Rocky Mountains.  We arrived in Canon City in late afternoon...talked to some locals about something a couple of 30 year old guys could do for adventure in the surrounding mountains.  One gas station attendant told us about a road they call "Red Horse" or Shelf Road.  Seems the road was a short cut to Cripple Creek, the old abandoned mining town of western lore(no longer abandon, it these days, is a yuppie/skiing area complete with million dollar condos)....so with the afternoon sun starting to set, off we went in the Ford 150 in search of adventure...what we found was "Shelf Road"....{if you have not watched the above video, do it now}...which was more adventure than we bargained for.

At times it seemed we were just inches from dropping off the side, and in truth we were, we met one other vehicle on the way, and we backed up, to let them pass, mainly because we were closer to the drive over/pull over spot.  Finally arriving in Cripple Creek, we stopped at a local watering hole and had a few beers, telling the local bartender about our "adventure".  He looked at us and says.."You guys were handed a line, few people, even locals drive that damn road without a four wheel drive"  Well we were glad we did...after having a couple more, we headed back part way up Shelf Road, and stayed the night, camping in the back of the truck on the banks of the famous Cripple Creek.

In the morning, we took a dip in the cold, cold, waters of Cripple Creek...just to say we did.  We also explored a mine shaft, and eventually panned for gold, Rick being the Geology Major at Ohio U, knows what it looks like, and we did find some dust...all-in-all, the Shelf Road Adventure was something that will stick in my mind, as long as I have one.  But it was a short visit, then it was back to Dodge City.  A day later, cooler's stocked with Coors, soda pop, and ice, we headed back east towards Celina, and the daily humdrum of our regular lives. 

The Reds lost the opener of their Inter-league match up with the Yankees last night, 5-3, and their home standing slump continues....lucky for Cincinnati, both Milwaukee and St. Louis aren't playing much better...game #2 of three tonight at GABP...

back later>>>>

Photos-A couple of looks at Shelf Road..., the map from Canon City to Cripple Creek, and don't forget to watch the youtube video...this and several others are available at that site.

Monday, June 20, 2011

It's a.......................!

More storms moving in from the west....as it's beginning to look like another wet period.  I know they are having a drought in the southern plains, and I sure wish this crap we have had for the past 4 months would head their way....so it's looking like storms through Wednesday at least, with heat and humidity to go with it.

Father's Day in Cincy____

Patricia and I headed south to Centerville at Noon Saturday to stay with youngest son Hal and wife Lisa.  The plans for the day included supper at the famous Montgomery Inn...there are now several, but we opted for the original location near Cincinnati on Montgomery Road:

 http://www.montgomeryinn.com/

The Ribs are melt in your mouth outstanding..... 

After dining we would head for the Great American Ballpark and take in the Interleague game between the Reds and Toronto Blue Jays...the dining was great, the game?  Not so much...we had seats in left field and high up, but they were cheap($10 each for six of us that went), and under the roof, which worked well, since there was a steady lite rain for much of the game, which ended in a 4-0 shutout by the team from Canada.  This was the second straight game I had seen the Reds shut out, for Hal it was three in a row.  Considering they are the top hitting team in the National League, that is disappointing and rare.

Before all of that however, we, the parents and grandparents to be, all headed for a private salon that specializes in mothers-to-be...our Father's Day weekend event was to join Lisa and Hal in finding out the sex of the grandkid to be.  They have resident Ultra Sound Technicians on site, and within literally a minute of being "hooked up" Lisa and Hal found out that the baby-to-be will be a boy.  So now Hal can begin, not only his new job, started last week, but the painting and the arrangement of the nursery....and hopefully all will go well, and then in about 5 months, the line of Houseworth will reach another generation.  A pretty exciting time for all, to say the least.

After the game, we headed back to Centerville, stayed the night at their parents-to-be's condo, then up early, we headed back to Celina. 

Sam spent the weekend in Columbus, working a 13/14 year old baseball tournament, which they got all the games in, even with the rain and delays....Anissa stayed at her place in Celina..  Tonight Sam is scheduled in Celina, and I am assigned to Convoy Crestview, but at this point, that is not likely to happen...I've also got a couple of yards to mow, Mom's and Anissa's but those may be pushed back as well...for now, it's shower time.

back later>>>>

Photos-A River Boat chugs along the Ohio River heading west past Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati....and the parents in waiting, Hal and Lisa in our catbird seats near the foul pole in left field.  B-T-W...I'll still getting used to the new Nikon, and some shots selections that come with it...I had some good shots, usually with the portrait mode locked in...the landscape and night modes, I'm a work in progress with those..but will get better, hopefully~

Friday, June 17, 2011

My Favorite Places, Part #4{Vegas and others}

Showers were around the area most of yesterday, and we got a few drops, but nothing serious that would rain our games out...Sam got his in up at Antwerp, however, when Pops Grey and I arrived at the Parkway Diamonds...nobody was there.  Seems the schedule got screwed up, and there were no games, no scheduled double header, not even a single game.  So that was a waste of my time....but only a 10 or 12 mile drive for me...unfortunalty for "Pops"...he drove 40 miles each way from near Fort Wayne...and with gas at $3.70 a gallon, it was a lost day and lost money for him...things happen, but in this case, it should not have.  Tonight, hopefully, I'm at Convoy....for a single game, before taking the weekend off to head for the Dayton area tomorrow, and the Reds game, with Patricia, Hal, and Lisa, tomorrow night.  Today's weather looks more summer like, with some humidity back in the area forecast, and then rain moving in for tonight and some over the Father's Day weekend.

More Favorite Places part #4


In my Air Force years, from 1968-72, then again after retiring from the Van Wert County Health Department, in 2002, when I drove RVs around the country and Canada for five years...I got the chance to see and visit many places...some, if only for a short while, others, for extended stays.  And in my full time radio career, which lasted from 1978 through the summer of 1983, I called a few places home.  So, I've been around, small towns, middle sized towns, and passed through the large cities of the country...although not in this lifetime would I ever want to live in one of those.  You see, that kind of diversity isn't my thing...Hell, living in Celina is challenge enough.

(1)  Las Vegas, Nevada.


In the 5 1/2 years of driving and delivering RVs for Hoosier Transit, out of Nappanee, Indiana, my favorite stop, or place to deliver, was without a doubt, Las Vegas.  More times than not, I would arrive, park the RV in the parking lot of the Gold Coast Casino, off the strip, and stay a day or two before I dropped off the vehicle.  Sometimes I would drop it off, and with reduced rate coupon in hand, I would just stay at the GC for a night or two.  Now I'm not a big gambler, but I would play the 3 deck Black Jack tables, drink their reduced or free drinks, and win a few buck on most occasions, lose a few on others.   As I said, I'm not a big gambler.  The most I ever won was about $900 on my first stay at the Gold Coast...the most I ever dropped was about $200.  After a night of drinking and playing cards, I would usually spend the next morning at the downstairs bars, reading the sports bet books, and playing video KENO....my second favorite game.  I probably visited Vegas 10 times in those 5+ years of driving...never had a bad time.  Although I never got into that "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" BS...and I sure the heck wouldn't want to live there...but it was a relaxing time and the flights out were always cheap.

(2) The Rockies


The trips through the mountains always provided an opportunity for some great scenery, and usually some challenges...weather it be driving in the snow, or trying to get a stubborn RV up a mountain pass on I-70 or I-80....I usually varied the trips, depending on location of drop off, and weather forecasts....sometimes I would elect to take the southern route, even 100 miles out of the way, by going down I-40 through Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle...then passing across New Mexico and through Arizona.  Some of my favorite stopping off points were the Route 66 Casino outside Albuquerque, New Mexico, and into the southern Rockies of Arizona, with stops like Show Low, Arizona, and others...I even stopped on the corner of Route 66 in Winslow, Arizona, famous for the Eagles song "Take it Easy" and took a photo of myself standing there....it's is hidden somewhere on one of the floppy disks from my old Sony Digital.  I was actually driving the Jeep back from Vegas on one of the rare occasions that I towed the Jeep Wrangler, when I stopped there.  I never remember a boring trip through the Rockies, whether it be the southern or northern route.

One night back in 2003...with the wind howling on a October evening, I decided to drive into Portland, Oregon, along the Columbia River, and the River Gorge....the trick was, I had never been to this area, or on I-84 along the river, and accompanying mountains.  And I decided to try this at night...wind, rain, and blind driving through this area, was not recommended...but I drove it anyway.  Call me crazy, and the guys at the RV dealership near Eugene, where I dropped off the next morning told me I was.  The next, and only other time, I drove this route, I took it in the daylight hours...taking in the full beauty of that area.

More later>>>>
 
That does it for the week...I'll dust some more off the memory banks, and come up with some other locations out of the past....enjoy the weekend, I plan on it.  Photos on that and more, come Monday.

back later>>>>

  Me in the Route 66 Casino in 2005 on the way to Califorina. and the Columbia River in Oregon, and "The Corner" in Winslow, Arizona....I've got some photos from my personal trips to go with these locations..."Somewhere"  ?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Favorite Places, Part #3{Lake Front and other waters}

Garry and I headed north about 50 miles last night...the rains that had hit Celina, missed the Putnam County area around Kalida, and we arrived for a game between the home team, with a K, and their opponents, Elida, with a E....quick game, with him behind the plate.  Kalida scores 9 in the bottom of the 5th, to break open a close game and win 14-3 with the final margin coming on a walk-off/run rule Grand Slam Home Run....we took the back roads, and were home by 9pm.  Tonight "Pops" Gray and I are slated to do a 6pm double header at Rockford Parkway, weather cooperating.  The weather gurus say 60% chance of  rain and storms today, with 50% tonight...at this time, the sun is shining bright, with the Radar showing rain back some 200 miles as the crow flies, near the Chicago area.  Tomorrow at Crestview, then the weekend off, as we will be joining youngest son Hal and wife for Father's Day weekend in Centerville and Cincinnati.  Saturday, the sex of the baby, coming in late November will be revealed(maybe), and then we head for dinner at the famous Montgomery Inn near Cincy, then take in the Reds vs Toronto Blue Jays in an Interleague game at Great American Ballpark.

Favorite Places Part 3...Lake Front Property___

Yesterday it was Seashores and Beaches on the list...today, the more quite settings of clear fresh water lakes.  Living near the Gulf of Mexico in my early youth, and then on the south side of Grand Lake in my High School days, I have spent much of my life near water...I guess I have two regrets concerning that...(1) I didn't learn to swim until I was 13, which limited my Gulf experience to staying in the areas of less than 4 feet deep in those days...and (2) a penchant for getting "sea sick" when in deep water in a boat, something these days is controlled by the "Patch".  That patch keeps the inner ear hairs settled down and makes deep water boating more bearable.

(1) Higgins and Kneff Lakes in northern lower Michigan.

Patricia and I found these two lakes back in the days before we were married....we liked to camp and found Kneff Lake, near Grayling, on a trip up that way on Memorial Day weekend back in 1974.  At Kneff Lake we "roughed" it...no showers, but they did have flush toilets, so we would camp and fish there for a couple of days...then move south to Higgins Lake State Park, where we would spend a night and a day in the more community style camping, more people, more noise, but they did have hot showers.  We would take the Airedales, first Rags, then Rags and Max with us, during my Red Door and college days at Hocking/ Athens.  I never can remember a bad time or bad weather for that 4 year run at those two lakes....the dogs loved the water, and we enjoyed getting away.

(2)  Lake In The Woods, Northern Minnesota____

I have only been to the far north area, The Boundary Waters, one time.  But it was a place that I had always wanted to go, and I would not mind getting back to someday, before I'm too damn old to move.

Jim Olson and I met four of his North Dakota friends up that way back in 1978...it was early June and the temperatures were cool...highs in the low to mid 60s for the day, with lows in the 40s at night...we ended up on the small Island in the top photos, which was located in one of the thousands of small lakes in the area.  The highlight was actually getting to the island and finding our comrades.

Jim and I decided to have a few drinks before we jumped into the rented canoe...then realizing we had to portage across a strip of land about a mile wide...not once, but 3 times, with canoe and our overload of gear...try doing that drunk or stoned.  Even at 28 years old and in pretty good condition, which I was, Olson, 25 or so, but not much for physical activity, it was a chore.  By the time we found the island and our cohorts, it was almost dark, and we were envisioning spending the night, with the wolves and bears, lost from our friends.  But find them we did...and after that we had 3 pretty good days of eating, drinking, fishing, and boating, in the wild.  It was indeed a great time.

(3) Delta Lake in Upstate New York____

My Air Force days ended in Rome, New York, at Griffiss AFB.  Although I hated stateside duty, and the Chicken Shit SAC command at The Griff, I did get a couple of things from my days at Rome.  (1) I learned to Snow Ski, at Snow Ridge in Turin, NY...my buddy, the late Jack Friedl, and I learned to ski, and in upstate NY if you love the outdoors, you better learn to ski or snowmobile, or you become a total alcoholic {with the 9 months of snow and cold...},which we were close to becoming anyway.

We also learned, or were stupid enough to try "Cliff Diving" at Delta Lake.  The cliffs above the cold water of Delta approached 50 feet...and we, and a few other knuckleheads, would head there on occasion and dive or jump into the clear, cold, water.  Jack and a few others, with more balls than brains, would actually dive head first into the water 50 feet or more below.  I never would take that chance.  I jumped feet first...figuring a broken back and/or leg was preferable to a broken neck and life in a wheelchair.  Those guys you see on Wide World of Sports had nothing on us....or so it seemed.

Those memories are as clear these days as the Delta Lake water was in 1971.

(4)  Lake Erie___

Nick and I spend many weekends fishing in his 22 footer on "Ohio's Great Lake"...Lake Erie back in the 1980s...Walleye, a few bouts of getting sea sick, and the Erie Island Party Houses were the highlights of those years...the low lights were basically getting sea sick, and those weekends that something would got wrong with the boat...a prop shearing, a prop getting sheared, an engine fire, 6 foot seas, and getting sea sick...did I mention props being sheared and getting sea sick?  Finally after a decade of that, and hauling that large boat up on weekends, the Lake Erie portion of my life ended....and there are some good memories there, but I will venture, just a many pain in the asses, as good memories.

(5)  Grand Lake St. Marys, Ohio____

I can't end this segment without writing about the lake I see on an almost daily basis....

Grand Lake these days is off limits to swimming, the fishing sucks, and boating is all that remains to enjoy.  The smell during certain months is unbearable....the 13,000 acres have become a cesspool by many standards.  But I still get out on it at least once a year, for the Bar Stool Open.  This year Nick will put his pontoon out on August 5th for the 11th annual event.  Other than that, I am not sure how often I will venture out on it....it's just not what it used to be.  Growth in lake population, and uncontrolled farming practices are to blame in putting the 7 foot deep man make behemoth in pearl.

Grand Lake, or the Celina Reservoir, as it used to be called has always been shallow, and has always been rather polluted to a certain degree...but nothing like it is these days.  The mega farm runoffs and uncaring of those in stewardship has ruined a once good vacation spot.

I first visited Grand Lake in 1960....the crappie and catfish fishing were great, the boating and swimming were decent, and I spent my high school days either on the lake or partying and drinking in one of the many watering holes that surround the once "largest man-made lake in the world".  These days I spend a day or two boating, some of my walks next to the rocky shore line, or on occasion stopping by Windy Point to take some photos...otherwise the lake is about 5 blocks from my house, but I seldom think much about it.  Sad as that seems, it is reality...and no matter how much state and local officials try to put a ribbon on this pig, it is what it is...a shell of it's once former self.

Other Lakes I cannot leave off this list include, Lake Tagamung in Ontario, where we fished and camped back in 1995, Lake Tomahawk, and the surrounding lakes near Wausau and Merrill, Wisconsin, and the lakes around Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, where Patricia's parents call home...those all have some good memories as well.

I'm not sure what I'll write about as far as tomorrow...maybe part #4, or perhaps that will wait until Monday....by brain is cramping...and I might need to rest it.  :)

back later>>>>

Photos-Top.."Our" Island in the Boundary Waters...the top photo is from a web site on the Minnesota Boundary Waters, and the second is how our Island looked back in June 1978.  Higgins Lake and Kneff Lake Michigan, the Boundary Water Island Camp Site in 78.   Delta Lake near Rome, NY, as it looks these days.   Me, with a Lake Erie Walleye back in 1984...and then Grand Lake, Nick and some of our "golfing" buddies during the Bar Stool Open, and a peaceful shot taken last summer, when the lake had been declared "off limits" except for a few boaters, like us, who decided to venture out...pretty peaceful at that time.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Favorite Places, Part #2 {Life's A Beach}...the new Nikon Camera

Patricia and I headed out to Wally World yesterday afternoon....needing to pick up some plants for mom's place, a few bananas, and to look at cameras, since the kids decided to replace my less than 2 year old Fuji for me.  If you recall the Fuji took a cold stream bath while I was hunting mushrooms back in mid May, and although it still takes decent photos, after the drying out period, it does not work 100% when setting up the action.  Thus there is no play back and some of the indicators are shot.  Granted it still works, but the family or at least my wife decided a new one was needed.  And with the way the technology changes, I was more than happy to go along.

After talking with the expert at the Wally World electronics area(and this guy seemed to know his stuff)...I decided on a Nikon, with 14 MPs and 3.6x Zoom.  I could have went a bit more expensive with a 16MP and as much as a 10x zoom, but the more zoom, IMO, the more unstable the shots can be.  On his advise we opted for the less expensive version, that takes two AA batteries, rather than the Lithium type, which frankly needs recharged when there may not be a place to recharge them...the AAs, you give the heave-ho and put two new ones in.  This weekend at Hal and Lisa's, and the Reds/Toronto game, the new camera should see it's first real action.

Storms are set to move into west Ohio within the next two hours or so...this may cancel Garry and my game up in Kalida....but you never can tell what these crazy fronts will do....Sam and I both got our games in last night, him here in Celina, and me at Parkway(Rockford).  The home teams won both contests.

My Favorite Places part #2______

I sent a certain amount of time yesterday thinking about where I have been in my life, and the places I enjoyed.  Not only if I lived there, but if I just visited a time or two, for a short while.  That got me to thinking...."This is going to take up a lot of time and space, on this blog".  For I have visited a vast number of places in my years, lived in over a handful for at least 6 months or longer, and traveled through, or at least made a stop in 48 of the 57(up yours Obammy), er, 50 States... in short I have seen a lot of places, at least in the states and Canada, not so many 1n the International setting.

So here goes:

Life's a Beach:

Favorite Beach locations:

Venice, Florida

We as a family took our first long vacation back in 1997...the boys were old enough to figure out what was going on and enjoy the trip.  After stopping in Kentucky at Mammoth Cave, for some cave tours, we headed south to Florida and ended up in my old home town of Venice, Florida(see yesterdays blog).  We had no set itinerary, so we stopped for the night at the Inn at The Beach(which if you look at yesterday's post, is located at the exact spot that old photograph was taken), just across the street from Venice Beach "The Shark Tooth Capital of the World", or so it claims...we ended up staying for 3 days.  Ever since that day vacation, nearly 14 years ago, we have stopped at the Inn for at least a couple of nights on our trips through Venice and on the Gulf of Mexico.

Key West, Florida

That same year, 1997, we headed south from Venice, stopping at youngest sister Kelly's place in Naples, so 90 miles to the south....after a day there, we made the trek down the Tamiami Trail,, old US 41, through the Everglades and then south on US 1 down through the Keys and Key West, at the bottom of the United States.  Key West in not the place for the moral values crowd...but if you know what to expect, it's a fun trip.  The freaks of nature plant themselves in Key West, kind of like the San Francisco set, only sunbaked.  Fruits and nuts abound in the Keys...but you can still enjoy the place.

We  stayed for a few days in 1997 and then again the next Summer as well.  The first year we elected to stay at a Hampton Inn, outside of the main drag on Duval Street, in 1998 we went full tilt, and stayed downtown at the purple behemoth called the Pegasus.  The southern most point, the Hemingway House, Captain Tony's Bar, Sloppy Joes, the now burned down KW Cigar Factory, and others were my haunts...usually opting to have a cold one in the confines of Captain Tony's as Patricia and the kids walked around seeing the sites.

Nha Trang, Republic of Vietnam

I arrived at Nha Trang on July 2, 1969...the first of my two stops in Vietnam during the war.  The AB and the town still live vivid in my memories, even some 42 years since I first stepped foot on that base at the beach.  Not sure how many days I would wander down to the beach, located just outside our main gate(which I worked on numerous occasions as an Air Force Security Cop)...but in my six months there, I would venture to say I soak up beer, sand, and sun, at least a couple of times a week.  A clean beach with Shark Nets to protect the swimmers.  I was never into getting into the South China Sea...but did get my feet wet on a number of occasions.

Today the Beach and town are tourist traps, at least from what I read and see on you tube and the Internet.  Seriously I have little desire to visit Nha Trang or Vietnam, like many of my fellow vets do...I prefer to remember Nha Trang and it's beach in my memories.  It was after-all, my favorite stopping point in the 4 years of Air Force toil.  War or no war, Nha Trang was then and still is in my memories today, my favorite base and town.

So there you have my favorite salt water beaches....there were others as well, including Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, from my early Air Force days at Dover.  Ormond Beach and nearby Dayton Beach, where mom used to Condo for the decade of the nineties into the early 2000s, and where, along with Venice and Lido Beach(Sarasota), Patricia and I spent our Honeymoon in 1977.  So I've got to admit, sometimes "Life is a Beach".  And finally,  I cannot forget where I spent my 5 days of R&R from Vietnam in April 1970...Waikiki Beach, Hawaii...a few days respite from the sites, sounds, and smells of those days in Vietnam.

On the next blog I will look at Lakes and Streams in my favorite places.

back later>>>>

Photos-top left...A shot I took of a fishing boat off the Key West Pier in August 1997.   The new Nikon Camera, which will be getting a workout this weekend.  The Inn at the Beach on Venice Beach Florida...where we have spent many days and nigbts, enjoying my old home town on the Gulf of Mexico.  The Southern Most Point....we got a couple of "beach guys, looking for a couple bucks in the summer of 97, they needed a couple of beers, and took a great shot of the family...Me with the obligatory Black Label Beer, on Nha Trang Beach, my first week in Vietnam, in July 1969...Nha Trang Beach as it looks today, and finally me in April 1970 standing at the water's edge at Waikiki Beach in Hawaii.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Favorite Places, Part #1

A third straight day of sunny, partly sunny anyway, and less humid conditions, with temperatures remaining in the 70s...it was nice to get a few "normal" Spring days, after the extreme conditions of early Spring, wet and cold, and the past two weeks, hot and humid.  Some showers might appear late tonight and then again through Thursday...but nothing out of the ordinary is in the forecast.

Sam and I worked together, probably for the last time this baseball season(but you never know), at Celina last night.  He took the plate and I had the bases in a well played contest between the Junior ACME Bulldogs and their counterparts from Convoy Crestview...the Crestview Knights remained undefeated, scoring 4 in the 6th inning for a come-from-behind 5-3 win.  Sam is back at Celina tonight while I travel to Rockford for a Parkway Panther JA game.

My Favorite Towns, Places, Locations, etc  Part #1

I got to reminiscing the other day, not only about the places I have lived, but the places I have visited, even for a short while.  In my 62 years they have been varied at the seasonal temperatures this Spring...some good, some bad, some not really either, but all were interesting in their own way.

Take for instance Celina....where I hang my hat these days.  I have always held a love, hate, relationship with this town of 11,000, situated on Grand Lake.  Visiting here for the first time in the Summer of 1960, then moving with the family of mom, dad, Mike, Marty, and 4 month old Kelly, here in October 1962...right at the peak of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  So, off and on, for almost 50 years, Celina has been my home.  Off when I left for the Air Force and when the family moved to the south part of the lake to Montezuma for my High School Years.  Off again for the Air Force, back, then off to Upstate New York...back again for another 4 years, before Patricia and I headed to northern Wisconsin, Kokomo, Indiana, and Dodge City, Kansas...finally chucking the moving around world of Radio News, and settling on Coldwater Creek a couple miles south of Celina in late 1980....and moving into town again in 1990, and finally buying our current home in 1995.  The one thing about Celina, no matter where I lived, I could always count on returning here, and calling it home...some of the best days of my life have been spent in and around Celina, likewise, some of the worst.

I watch as our once middle class neighborhood gets infested by drug dealing rental units at one doorstep, and white trash, at the other...Celina is changing, not all for the better that is for sure, but despite it all, I will probably remain....too old to move, and a bit too stubborn to let the interloping trash drive me out.  Our first house was purchased in this neighborhood in 1974...I moved back into it in 95, and I'll be damned if I will move out...unless somebody wants to give me twice what our old Church Parsonage is worth...then, perhaps, I can be bought!

My other two "Home Towns" are the small bergs of Venice, Florida and Scott, Ohio, where my dad was born in the winter of 1917...and near where my great-grandparents Nelson and Mary Ann Houseworth settled at the end of the Civil War.  Most of the early Houseworths are buried in the Scott or Blue Creek Township Cemetery...I lived in Scott from the time of my birth(in Van Wert) in 1949, and lived there until we picked up stakes, when I was five years old, and moved to south Florida.   Scott hasn't changed that much since I lived there, at least size wise.  But our family ties died out with my Aunt Eva passing in 1998, Scott is not where I would choose to live today....but there is something to be said for small towns.

Which is exactly what Venice and South Venice, Florida were when we arrived in the summer of 1954.  We made South Venice, then Venice, our homes for nearly a decade.  Venice was a small town of just over 1000, when we arrived, a population which would "explode" during the winter months, when the Midwestern, and Eastern folks would come down for the Winter...most of the population were transplants from those locations.  today, nearly 60 years later, the population has exploded year around, and you can hardly tell where south Venice starts and where Sarasota begins some 23 miles to the north.  Venice, while I still enjoy visiting and vacationing there, is not the town of my youth...it is not likely I would move back there.  For one, it's too crowded, too expensive, and frankly, too damn hot 9 months out of the year.


 So there are my three "Home Towns"...Celina and Scott, Ohio, and Venice, Florida....next I will look at the places I have lived at for a short time or visited, and list with photos, my favorites....I believe it will be a long list, which I have not even began to think hard about yet.

back later>>>>