Grand Canyon, November 2016

A lot later than I would have liked but Imgur was being a jerk. Finally I gave up and just linked things off of Dropbox.

The summary of our trip : We headed down South Kaibab Trail (~7 miles) to the Bright Angel Campground at the bottom. We spent two nights down there and used our ‘off’ day to hike north to Ribbon Falls (~12 mile round trip). Then we packed up early in the morning and headed out via the Bright Angel Trail (~9+ miles). A lot of hiking but a lot of very cool scenery.

I’ve put a few pictures below but here’s a complete gallery (180+ pictures) of the trip – Grand Canyon trip.

 

South Kaibab Trailhead
South Kaibab Trail

 

 

Oh Ah Point
Our View for Lunch
Bright Angel Campground
Ribbon Falls

 

 

Bright Angel Trail (Hike Out)
Victory Over the Giant Hole In the Ground

 

 

Ups and Downs

 

This was supposed to be a nice long post about our recent vacation to the Grand Canyon, complete with pictures and other neat stuff. Unfortunately, a major problem with our ISP has resulted in the speeds at home being so slow that it’s near impossible to upload the pictures. Thus, I got nothing. But once that gets fixed (today? tomorrow?), I’ll get them uploaded and follow with a full recap.

Here’s the short version – walked down a lot of steps, camped under a beautiful sky, went WTF America?, ate good camp food, and then hiked back up a whole lotta steps. Had a great time.

More to come. Honest.

 

Up we go
Up we go

 

Meet Indy

Say hello to Indy.

Indy

Our local humane society had an outbreak of ringworm, necessitating the need for a number of cats to be sent to shelter homes for recovery or to avoid catching the stuff in the first place. Indy first went to our in-laws place. It didn’t take long for us to figure out that a young kitten with high energy wasn’t ideal for a couple of retired folks, so we brought him to our place. Our intention was to keep him out on our porch separated from our cats until the all clear was given to take him back.

But, as cats are cats, introductions became necessary. Bee (our one eyed cat) was the first and she got along with him pretty well. Then we introduced Skye who also got along fine and finally Cici (the blind one). And surprisingly? Indy got along with Cici and not only played with her but also played at her pace. We haven’t seen another cat do that yet. So after that, well, it was really only a matter of time.

After a couple of weeks, Indy was running around the house and hanging out with the girls. So he’s here to stay (I think Friday is the ‘official’ adoption date). And the name? Well, he was originally called Tawny which I hated so we immediately began searching for another before settling on Indy. The name comes from his intense curiosity, his desire to always be on the go, and his habit of digging in the litter as though he were searching for the Ark of the Lost Covenant. It suites him.

Puddle of Cats

A New Old Ball Game

As I approach the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything (more on that later this week), I figured I’d share a new hobby.

Sometime last year I came across an article about Vintage Base Ball. In short, it’s playing baseball using the rules of the 1860s, dressed in the fashion of the day, and all the attitude around it (including spelling base ball as two words, not one). It looked like a lot of fun, athletic but laid back and an emphasis on sportsmanship. A little hunting around and I found a couple of teams about an hour away. Plus it was the off season anyway so I put that on the shelf.

Fast forward to this spring and an article popped up in one of the local news sites – someone looking to form a vintage base ball team here in town. I signed up, along with a bunch of others, and we formed ourselves a team – the Decorah Driftless Dodgers. The rules of 1860s are a bit different from the modern era. To list a few – the ball can be caught off one bounce for an out, the pitcher doesn’t try to throw strikes (and in fact, strikes only count if you swing), there is no leading off of bases, there are technically no home runs so if a ball goes over a fence, you can retrieve it and throw home for the out, and a few other things. It’s interesting and a nice history lesson.

This past weekend, we played our first official game as a team. We beat the Highland Prairie Hayseeds, 10-9, and I personally went 2 for 4 with a couple of RBIs and good plays in the outfield. I later joined the Hayseeds in their second game against the Lanesoro Excelsiors as they were down a man and I was having fun.

So a good start I have to say. I’m not sure how many more games this year the Driftless Dodgers will play. Hopefully a few but it’s early so we’ll see what happens.

The Driftless Dodgers in Red, Hayseeds in White.
The Driftless Dodgers in Red, Hayseeds in White.

Saving Throw vs The Plague

Critical Failure
Critical Failure

 

So as it my annual tradition, I spent this past weekend sick. Because it wouldn’t be Spring and beautiful weather if I were not laying on my couch, miserable and hoping Steph wasn’t about to smother me with a pillow. Or maybe I was hoping she would. My thinking isn’t entirely clear on that.

In either case, what started as a simple sore throat blew up into congestion and aching body followed by ‘Hey, I think I’m getting better!’ and then being unable to keep any food in my body and another day of misery on the couch. I wish I could say that I did a lot of reading but that didn’t happen. Instead, I watched a bunch of YouTube videos, slept (or tried to sleep), and worked on some stuff for the D&D campaign I’m planning.

Oh right – I’m getting back into D&D.

D&D was an obsession of my youth – maybe a little too much so but I have very fond memories of it. From the Basic rules all the way up to 3.5 edition, I played a lot with my friends. After college, I drifted away from it due to the way things go when your friends scatter to the winds. There were a few occasions of online but the tools at the time were clunky and just didn’t work out that great.

Fast forward to the modern era and the tools exist that make playing online a lot nicer. So I started playing a 5th edition campaign and have been having fun enough to start work on my own. No idea how it will end but hey, I’m having fun so there’s that.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to seeing if I can make my Saving Throw vs Sickness. C’mon natural 20 …

Belated NASA Pictures

Back in December, Steph and I took our usual vacation to Walt Disney World but we added a twist this time – a day trip over to Kennedy Space Center. We’re both big space geeks and neither of us have been to KSC since we were kids (probably 20+ years ago). So this was going to be a highlight of the trip for us.

And it was. It was a cold and somewhat rainy day but that kept the crowds down and we had a good time spending almost the entire day there. So without further ado, pictures!  Here’s a few choice ones but a completely gallery is here: http://imgur.com/a/oI94f

 

Tis the season!
Tis the season!

 

Space X uses some of the facilities at KSC. This is them prepping one of the pads for launch.
Space X uses some of the facilities at KSC. This is them prepping one of the pads for launch.

 

Pads 39A and 39B - the two most historic launch pads at NASA.
Pads 39A and 39B – the two most historic launch pads at NASA.

 

Vehicle Assembly Building - where all the rockets, space shuttles, etc were put together. It's really hard to express how big this thing is. It's huge.
Vehicle Assembly Building – where all the rockets, space shuttles, etc were put together. It’s really hard to express how big this thing is. It’s huge.

 

The Saturn V Rocket that transported the Apollo project to the moon. Big. Very, very big.
The Saturn V Rocket that transported the Apollo project to the moon. Big. Very, very big.
In all it's glory.
In all it’s glory.

Bonus! Since our last visit there, the Space Shuttle program was retired and one of the shuttles – Atlantis – was sent to KSC. This is the first time either of us have seen a shuttle in person and it was fantastic. A very neat addition to the tour.

The Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle

 

Drafty Progress; 2015 Total

The phrase “It’s only a draft, it’s allowed to suck’ really doesn’t fly when that draft is coming through your office window and it’s -6 outside.

It’s been incredibly cold up here in NE Iowa. Yesterday was something around a high of -9 with wind chills in the -40s. It made walking to work quite fun, I must say. That aside, another progress update that’s long overdue.

December: ~2,000

No picture this time because I forgot to take one this morning before leaving the house. December was slow though due to vacation, the holidays, and generally me re-thinking a lot of things about the plot and other aspects of my writing. Hopefully more updates on that later.

Yearly: ~65,550

Wow. That … that is more than I was expecting to be honest.  I wish I could say that was the majority of a novel written but I had major re-writes and re-drafting in there with parts of the story thrown out and completely re-written. But looking at that number now, I’m not upset. I’m hoping 2016 is a better year – with more writing and more frequent updates to the blog. I still owe some vacation pictures from Florida (visiting NASA was awesome) so maybe that’ll get done yet this week. *knocks on wood*

Progress and Going Away

Welp, there I go again. Not updating for an extremely long time. At least I have been remarkably consistent in my inconsistency. As December rolls around, I’m hoping that 2016 will be a better time for blogging and updates. I am finding myself missing the blog and just in general writing about whatever I want to write.

On top of that, I’ll be starting the new year sorta fresh. Why, you ask? Well, that’s because Steph and I are going on first away from home vacation in over a year starting this weekend. We’re headed off to Florida which, of course, means Disney and warm weather but we are also doing a little side trip that both of us are extremely excited about:

JFK Space Center

That’s right – we’re going into space! Okay, close to space. We’re going to see the stuff that makes it possible for other people to go into space so that’s close enough, right? Both of us are big space geeks so this is going to be pretty neat for us. We’ve also both been to the Space Center but it’s been ages. I think I was in 7th grade or maybe even before that. It’s been a really long time. Expect many pictures of big rockets and stuff when I get back and hopefully a re-energized Matt.

Now, onto the progress report:

September

September
September

Total Words: 6,000

October

October
October

Total Words: 6,250

November

November
November

Total Words: 6,500

All in all, remarkably consistent. Just like my blogging 😛

 

May, June, July Progress

I am a horrible human being.

Here I was, planning on making monthly posts (if not more) about my writing progress. Then I blink and three months pass without an update. So … uh … oops? Let’s rectify that.

May

May
May

Total Words: 6,500

Not a terrible month with a strong finish. I stumbled across some good ideas and revelations that made the words flow.

June

June
June

Total Words: 3,750

Ouch. Not a fun month at all. Work threw a couple of big writing/editing projects at me that were due on short timeline. As a result, the creativity and energy that I normally used for my ‘fun’ stuff was sucked away into a pit of withering Corp-speak and frustration. Even when the projects were done, it took some time to get the words back up and flowing again.

Oh yeah, I moved to Stars instead of Dots. Because I ran out of Dots and Stars look better.

July

July
July

Total Words: 4,250

Better but still not there. Work was still annoying and then I had a four day vacation in the middle in which I did no writing whatsoever. Still, I’ll celebrate the upward trend.

So that’s three months. Let’s see if I can do August in September instead of December, shall we?