Sunday, June 24, 2018

Hit the beach! Oops, beaches!

Our daughter's husband finally got in from Tajikistan, having packed things up and finished his work there.  They rented a van and drove to Missouri to see his folks there, staying for a week and taking part in the local fun, such as riding tractors,
driving horses,
braving the large insects,
and looking for beautiful but cursed princesses to kiss.
They had a great time with their Sherwood grandparents and relatives,

as well as visiting the Kansas City Temple.
Ending their stay there in Stark City, MO, Brandon, Ashley and the kids drove 18 hours straight to Topsail Island, on the North Carolina coast.
After giving them a day to recover, Paula and I, as well as Brynn and her family showed up and had a couple of great days with all of them on the beach.  
Sunday was quiet, attending church in Jacksonville at Brynn's ward, and walking on the beach in the early evening.
However, Monday morning a New Adventure began!  As a previous blog revealed, Bear Island lies several miles off the mainland, and can only be reached by water craft, such as trusty canoes.
I guess Bear Island on a Monday in mid-May isn't a real hot spot.  We were almost alone on the island, and it was great!
The kids played in the still-cold water, investigated the bath house facilities,
hunted for sea shells,
and finally settled in for the night, though there was some significant giggling for a while before things got quiet.
I guess the weather gods make exceptions for expeditions with little kids, as they skipped the usual stuff they throw at me with the Scouts, and all stayed mellow.
Crossing the three miles back to the mainland when smoothly.
Attempting to fold a Scout tradition in to the family ones, we stopped for fast food, to the delight of the canoe crew.
It was a great trip from the beginning to the calorie- and saturated fat-bomb end!
We hope that yours are as fun, and that the bears stay away from your islands.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

B-B-Bear Island!

There is a barrier island off the North Carolina coast with a long and varied history, that in 1961 became a state park.  It is about five miles long, and has been largely maintained in a pristine state, with access only by watercraft, and with a bath house and small ranger's house as the only structures present.
It's name was originally "Bare Island" because of the absence of vegetation or much else, but through a clerical error at some juncture, it became officially "Bear Island."  This confusion opened the door to confusing my Boy Scouts as to the nature of the island, anything from a place infested by fierce ursine creatures, to suggestions that it was North Carolina's only clothing-optional park.
Whatever it's etymological roots, it's a great place.  As I said, you can only get there by boat, which means canoes at this time of year, when the small ferry from the mainland section of the park isn't operating.  And that means trying to herd such craft loaded to the gills with camping stuff and inexpert Scouts through about three miles of wetland channels.  The true distance several of them traveled was at least twice that far.
Once on the island, there are designated camping sites, 
but absenting any other people due to the season, the young men ranged all over the place, exploring the dunes,
playing soccer,
and Capture the Flag at night.  Meanwhile, us four adults spent most of our time talking and laughing, checking occasionally on the guys to remind them about sunscreen (most forgot) and to make sure the sharks hadn't taken too many.
The former Scoutmaster brought shrimp, potatoes, onions, sausage and a whole can of Old Bay season, and brewed up his famous Frogmoor Stew.
The weather was great, until.... packing up time on the third day, when a strong storm blew through, making everything a sandy wet mess.
But everyone made it back to the mainland safely, and my reputation as the Bringer of Rotten Weather was upheld.  (In truth, when I was Scoutmaster in the past, records were kept that proved that the likelihood of precipitation on one of my outings was about 95%.  It included rain, hail, snow, sleet, and a tornado watch, then repeat.)
So, another brave trip to B-B-Bear Island, successfully completed.  We hope that all your expeditions are as fun, but that your weather is better.  And that you can get all the sand out of your car before your wife gets home.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Christmas in April!

Chad and Brynn and their four kids live in Jacksonville, NC, near the coast.  Their deck was starting to fall apart, so for Christmas we agreed to help them rebuild it.  On Monday morning after Christmas on Sunday, it was off to Lowe's to buy the materials.  Yes, those are 16-footers in a 7-foot bed of Paula's Tacoma.  You just put a bunch of concrete on the other end and drive re-e-e-a-l slowly. 
Chad had already taken apart the old deck, and a couple of pickup loads got it all to the landfill.  Along with a no-longer-repairable piano.
Ever toss a piano in to a 10-foot deep landfill bin?  As the piano crashed in, I smiled and thought of every piano teacher of my youth (the memory of them has probably been poisoned by my lack of practice).
Back to work.  Augers?!  We don't need no stinkin' augers!
Every sixth grader should know how to mix a wheelbarrow of concrete, right?  
Chad gave instruction on the fine art of mixing the stuff.
Once the placement of the posts had cured, the frame construction started.
The guys at Lowes just shook their heads as we loaded up Brynn's minivan with more stuff.
Chad's eight-year-old son Joshuah has a love of all things tools.
He volunteered to help in all sorts of ways.
Despite the gloves and eye protection, we waved him off.
Power tools and 2nd graders - not a good mix.
Annie was caught red-handed. Or pink-handed, I guess.
She arranged her "office" on the under-construction project.
The deck gradually, and I do mean gradually, began to take shape.
Chad proved to be as adept at fine-cutting deck planks as filling teeth.
We finally finished up last week, on the third visit to J-ville to help with the construction.
The benches held up to the test of the entire family plus Grandma.
Old joke - How many gynecologists and dentists does it take to build a deck?  And how much time will it take them?
In the end, it all turned out pretty well, and looks to be very functional.
We hope that all your projects turn out OK, but that they don't take so long.
Dave & Paula

Sunday, April 22, 2018

"We thought you'd started a day care!"

That and other such comments by the neighbors heralded the arrival of Ashley and her six kids from Tajikistan a couple of weeks ago, their departure brought forward about six weeks due to a medical concern that luckily blew over without a problem.  Brandon was left behind to finish things up in Dushanbe, and will come in early May for family leave and training before they all go to Uzbekistan for their next posting.
So, what happens when seven folks with a combined age less than mine show up?  Delightful chaos!
Easter egg hunts!
Untidy rooms!
Gangs infesting Monkey Palace!
Having to put a new edge on my screwdriver tips!
Fishing in the garden pond!
Piano concerts!
Hiking in a local park!
Krispy Kreme!
So once again the house echoes with kid sounds.  It has been just great, and a lot of fun.  And we can make their mother do the dirty work.
We hope your grandkids are half as much fun.
Dave & Paula