Sunday, July 20, 2008


I've been having a great time visiting with family and friends since I've been back. I only have limited net access, so I've been very bad about posting lately and I've also been quite enjoying not spending so much time on the computer each day! Lots of things have been going on and you'll have to forgive the randomness of the tidbits I'm choosing to include.

My Aunt Sonja came up to visit my Gma over the 4th of July weekend. It was lovely to catch up with her and find out about her art, the new addition they are building on the house and all of the news about my cousins, newlywed Ashley and vet tech Jenna. Of course we hit Woody's Pizza in Estherville so she could get her Knutson fix (one of their specialty pizzas - double hamburger and double cheese...not one of my favourites, so I had spicey Italian sausage and pineapple!) and we also went out for a family dinner to celebrate Dad's birthday (July 8) and she gave him this neat portrait she had created in pastels from a photograph she had casually snapped on her last visit.

Most of my days are spent hanging out with Dad and that means a lot of truck time. It's great coz I get to see a lot of the country, meet and chat to a wide range of folks and often we stumble onto some cool stuff.

Emergency Services from several towns responded to a call that turned out to be a broken gas line. A bolt of lighting had hit the house and caused the line connecting to the stove to break. No one was moving too fast, but they had a lot of people milling about. We saw the action from the local NAPA store, a daily stop for us!

While Dad was checking on the crew starting a new job site, I noticed someone had a bit of a menagerie happening in the backyard - this was in town. There were goats, donkeys and a whole lot of other animals milling about so I tinkered with the 100-400 while I was waiting. The goat was having a great time climbing up onto this perch and surveying his domain. And people think we spoil our dogs & cats!

The front lawn at the lake house was a bit uneven so Dad did what any homeowner would do - he ordered a load of new black dirt to be dumped, then got the bobcat and leveled it out before reseeding so it will be easier to mow!

Saturday, July 19, 2008


OK, the first article has nothing to do with me, but a photo of me is in there! Estherville's local paper did a story on Dad and his cars the other day - Rock'n'Roll Forever. It came out pretty well, though I sure wish there was more actual car stuff in it and that they would have chosen photos of the cars, not just the motor! If he didn't have any, he knew I was there shooting some frames, and he could have asked. I think these are more interesting!
Here's three of the cars we wheeled out for the story

And one of Dad showing off the Buick's motor

or just a simple car shot of the Hudson

Yesterday I met Cat in Worthington and we hit Sioux Falls for a bit of retail relaxation. It was great to catch up with her and just hang out as we searched for bargains and must have items! I'm hoping to be able to get together with her at least one more day before I head out (my trip is coming to an end too quickly!)

After dropping her at her car, I zoomed back to the Lakes to try to make the 7:30pm meet time for the movie...I pulled in the lot at 7:28 and was in my seat right on time thanks to a lovely Minnesota man who couldn't read his speedometer :)

Mama Mia was really a fun movie and I laughed out loud a lot! Enjoyed all of it except Pierce Brosnan's singing - he should stick to looking good, imho.

I was very surprised to return to the lake house and see the front page of the Estherville Daily News mostly devoted to a story on me! I had no idea it would be the headline and take up the majority of the front page - clearly a very slow news week in Estherville. But much more enjoyable that the usual doom & gloom headlines, I think. Going Down Under includes a few of my photos and the article is pretty close on most points. I hope people get a kick out of it! When I get a chance, I'll take a shot of the paper itself and pop it in here as it looks better with the images, but here are the ones they used

Dad is getting stopped all over town because of these two articles and it's kind of fun to have people ask questions about the cars, my photography, diving and Australia. With all of this fame, can fortune be very far behind?!?

I've had no chance to organize posts from my excellent weekend down to the Florida Keys for ScubaBoard's Invade the Keys 2008 or anything else that's been going on during this whirlwind trip, so you'll have to keep checking back for that! But it's not often I make the front page twice in a week so I wanted to get some quick links up LOL

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Picnic

The 4th of July festivities don't end with the last of the fireworks. A long-running tradition for us is the annual (well, more or less annual) picnic Sandi & Garald's, two of our friends who live in Estherville. The picnic is held on the Saturday after the 4th and is a combination Independence Day celebration and birthday party for Sandi. Every year there are plenty of regulars plus a whole lot of first timers; this year there were 18 firt time attendees!

Sandi is obsessed with all things Red, White & Blue and the decorations are always impressive and there is always an insane amount of food!

Scrapbooks are passed around to each table and savvy picnic-goers know to study them as there are always games after the meal; usually one trivia of past picnics and a brain teaser of some sort (this year it was selected questions from the new citizenship test - I got 18/20, though I still think one ofthe "answers" they had is wrong!) My Grandma was doing the study for our table

Garald gave thanks before we tucked in. It was a special tribute this summer as they had lost a dear friend and because last year's picnic was cancelled due to the liver transplant that Sandi had on July 11th. This year was a celebration of her renewed health and a time for us all to consider those that are most dear to us.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

4th of July in Iowa

4th of July starts early here on Big Spirit Lake. Our fireworks were on the night of the 3rd; the town’s way to make sure that people turn out and so it doesn’t have to compete with the massive 4th of July fireworks display over on West Lake on the night of 4th (no one in their right mind would voluntarily go anywhere near Arnold’s Park or Okoboji on Independence Day…what a lot of people and craziness!)

Our friend Sandi brought her cousin’s family over and we all sat out on the dock to watch the festivities. The display was very pretty, as fireworks are, and the neighbors thoughtfully turned their stereo up enough so everyone on our shore could hear the music to which the fireworks were meant to be synched.

We are still waiting to hear exactly what happened on the barge that night as about 3/4s of the way through there was an enormous pillar of fire shooting up almost as high as the fireworks themselves! That settled down for a few minutes only to be followed by another, larger one.

We haven’t heard anything, so assume nothing serious happened and it is the same barge that did the fireworks on the other lake the following night, so it must have been just one of those things. Never a dull moment!

Morning of the 4th means one thing – the Fly-In at Estherville Airport. This is the oldest fly-in 4th of July event in all of Iowa and the turn out is always good, though the number of airplanes has dwindled from its heyday in the 60s when there were planes parked several deep all along the runway. I was surprised to see so many planes this year with all the doom and gloom we hear about high fuel prices.

Riders on horseback direct the parking (a reminder that one should always just stop and take the photo when you see the scene…by the time I’d eaten, looked at planes and classic cars then headed for the parking lot, the horses were stripped of their tack and the riders were in line for food!) Pancakes, sausages, eggs, milk, coffee, tea for $6; free for pilots. All of the labor is from the various volunteer organizations in Estherville and their numerous members work from before 6am until well into the afternoon. Even one of my Grandma’s friends, who is 90, was going hard by 6am so they would be ready for the crowds! Live music by one of the local jazz bands ranges from the patriotic to the retro nostalgia of the 50s and 60s to catchy show tunes.

There's also a mini-car show gathering in front of the dining hangar; you have to be quick as those who drive their classic cars often eat, mingle and run off to the next showcase!

A few radio controlled fanatics were out, too. It was pretty cool to watch them fly their small craft as a big plane came in for a landing.

And it's fun to hang out by your car as a plane rumbles down the runway and then ambles over to park next to you!

The Fourth of July weekend is the busiest and craziest weekend of the year in the Lake’s area and some of the major attractions are the multitudes of flea markets, antique dealers and garage sales that seem to be every three feet as you cruise along. We joined the masses and covered two of the three biggest flea markets and a couple of “truckload sales”. Coleman had a huge area filled with the coolest outdoor products for the water and camping. I thought this big stealth bomber water sled looked incredibly fun (and maybe a little dangerous) but it weighs a ton and I don’t anywhere near that much allowable luggage left over!

Sometimes I have to shake my head at some of the stuff the vendors display, but I guess there’s bound to be some junk in a place where you can buy vintage water skis, antique farming equipment, rocks (yes, those are rocks for sale) and mini-donuts all within spittin’ distance!

Both Patt and I found new treasures, so the hunt was successful! The day was the perfect wander around outside in Iowa weather – not too hot, not too humid.

Dad and I spent a few hours in the late afternoon down at his workshop trying to get the power steering pump installed in the El Camino which entailed a few modifications and tweaks.

Things went pretty well and we had it bolted on in good time, but unfortunately, it just wasn’t sitting right. We cranked it up on the hoist – this is an awesome thing to have if one is working on cars – and tried to troubleshoot a solution so we didn’t have to take the whole thing apart again.

No luck, so off it came again. Dad really wanted to drive the El Camino so we decided to see what would happen if we started the car without the pump hooked up. A couple of zip ties around the now “extra” hoses and IGNITION!

It went just fine until Dad tried turning the steering wheel back and forth…at which time steering fluid happily spurted out all over the interior of the engine compartment. Guess all the parts DO need to be hooked up after all!

It wouldn’t be the 4th of July at Dad’s without some cool cars out and about. This year the 4th just happened to land on the first Friday of the month and so we headed to the Black Knights Car Club Cruise-In over in Estherville (the Cruise-In changes towns every Friday).

I learned from the best – never make a decision if you don’t have to: we ended up taking three cars this week instead of choosing just one! Dad drove his newest running acquisition, the ’56 Chevy Sedan with the orange custom paint and Rock & Roll detailing; Patt drove her almost completed ’46 Hudson – it’s just waiting for its new seats and maybe one day someone will hook up its turn signals; I drove the ’53 Buick, a cherry and comfortable ride with plenty of Ooomph (she has a 445 under the hood, the largest Buick made).

We had a little hiccup on the road between Spirit Lake and Estherville when Patt thought the Hudson was overheating, but a quick check on the side of the road showed that all things were fine and off we went again.

It was a bit of a trip to have our own little parade of cars and to park them side by side in the last of the evening sun.

Over 25 cars parked along the street in a surprisingly good turn out considering how crazy busy people usually are over the holiday weekend.

The street isn’t closed to traffic for the Cruise-In but that doesn’t deter people on foot, in cars and on motorcycles taking a leisurely pace as they cruise the line and wander across the lanes of oncoming traffic. The car owners brought along lawn chairs and set up camp on the sidewalk so they could gawk at the gawkers. I love small towns!

Some cars are restored to beautiful “family style” and others are a bit more tricked out

One of the cars has a tribute to the owner’s young son who died tragically a few years ago

The group heads out for a mini-parade around the town, usually trying to pass by some of the assited living and old folks' homes, before returning to the street for more schmoozing and car talk. We didn't do the tour this week and instead headed back to the Lakes.