Saturday, February 28, 2009

Crazy busy

It's been all go here since I got back and my blogging has suffered!  I've been in the dive shop pretty much all day every day and by the time I get home I just don't want to do anything but collapse.

Dave left for Kalbarri on Thursday for the annual fishing competition and he says the weather is beautiful so far.  He'll be home on Tuesday-ish ... hopefully with lots of great stories and a fish or two.  And, yes, one day it would be nice if we could both find a getaway that we both want to do so we can have a holiday together!  Been awhile since we've done that.

I haven't had any energy to work on the next installment of My Big Trip '09...maybe this week.  I have so much to report on and so many photos to share: Ushuaia, Beagle Channel, Chilean'll just have to be patient a little longer!

I've also been busy with enquiries and client meetings for upcoming weddings and photo sessions.  I haven't had much time to get out and shoot, but I have stalked the animals a few times.

Harry really loves being in front of the camera

for about two seconds and then he's pretty much done

He's not too subtle about his feelings, either

Boof was also having a little attitude problem the other day

Lobo was a better, if not eager, poser

but he's so lazy it's hard for him to really stay awake!

Although if something really exciting happens he can force himself to pay attention


The Girls had a big cuddle fest with their Dad one night

MatildaLily is still convinced that Dora just truly can't be without her

The three of us were able to get out to the beach for a good romp one morning while Dave was in the dive shop for a couple of hours. He has his back room set up really well and can tinker up there all day while still keeping an eye on the sales floor and phones...the wonders of technology. One day I'll take some photos but I'll let him tidy it up first!

The beach break was much needed by all involved and both Girls were super good about getting back in the car at the end of it. They expended a lot of energy being the delicate flowers that they are

There must have been some wonderful things buried as both of them spent an inordinate amount of time snuffling and digging

On the whole they were pretty pleased with themselves

There are a ton of kangaroos around. Too bad I didn't have the camera ready as they were sitting on the side of the road, posing perkily. By the time I stopped the car, rolled down the window and had the camera turned on they had hopped into the bush a little too far, but you can still tell they are roos!

Tilly's been moderately good lately...only a little destruction. She's obsessed with all things plastic - especially plastic bottles and tubes of stuff. She scavenged another of Dave's foot cream tubes and completely mangled it

and if you didn't know her better, you'd swear she was really sorry this time

Dora continues to ignore her

which can be difficult

On the up side, Dora gets to practice her "Poor Pitiful Me" looks

We are gearing up for season and expect to start getting busier at the shop in the next few weeks. We have been out diving most days with clients and have also been running a few course. We have a whole new team of dive master trainees and all of them are extremely nice and very keen to pitch in. They really make things nicer all round and we're hoping that the new instructor's we hire will continue to build on this great vibe we have going.

I was able to take a few photos just before the sun came up the other day as I ran some errands before work. Have I mentioned lately how much I detest Daylight Savings Time? It truly sucks for us here in the north. These were all taken just before 7am...that's just wrong to have it that dark, that late during summer! Thank god we only have another month of it left.

This is the multi-zillion dollar bridge out at the revamped Exmouth Marina development.

I trekked to the new addition of the Novotel Ningaloo to see what those units would have as an early morning view and it's just gorgeous, even from the parking lot

Friday, February 20, 2009

Iowa February 2009

I know what you're thinking - why on earth would you go to Iowa in February?  I love visiting Iowa at any time of year because that's where my Dad, Grandma & Sister (OK, MN, but close!) and some other family are.  I knew February would be a bit of a gamble weather-wise, but I totally lucked out and missed the really crappy cold snowy stuff by a week!

By the time I got there more than half the snow was already gone and we had pretty danged nice conditions the whole six days I was there, with little wind and only a couple of days of grey overcast.  OK, the temperatures were still far too cold for my liking - from -10C to about 4C mostly - but I comforted myself with thoughts about how bad it *could* be!  We even had a couple of days with brilliant blue skies.

The lakes were totally frozen when I first arrived so Dad and I headed out to check out the activities. The Queen was all surrounded...a little flashback to my cruise!

West Lake is hugely popular for ice fishing, snowmobiling, ice-skating and other crazy pastimes. I still don't see the appeal of drilling a hole in the ice and sitting there waiting for a fish but it's insanely popular. Some do it with creature comforts including on-site barbeque grill & comfy couch

Others take it way beyond where it needs to go by completely decking out a semi-truck cab:

No need for a fridge to keep the beers cold, of course, just lean the carton against the tire

Inside you've got your twin ice holes and even a rod holder that will jiggle your rig while you're away (getting another beer...)

You can see the bottom down these holes thanks to the super clear water. Don't you wish I would have focused on the bottom to illustrate instead of on the bobber LOL

All that beer getting and watching an electric jiggler work is just plain exhausting, so of course you have to have a bed (it's folded up here), a fireplace and a kick ass stereo inside, too. You know, so you can relax.

Not everyone is crazy this way. Some are crazy a different way - they do it old school. A bucket, a hand auger and no ice house of any kind.

Aw, they're just kids, you say. Well, let me tell you, there are plenty of moderately insane adults out there, too

How fun does that look?!?!!! I dunno, but these guys look like they're having far more fun to me, even though they won't be bringing home any dinner

The last two are kite skiing for those who haven't seen it before.

Driving out on to the lake is pretty cool. You can see how high the snow is now, just imagine it last week when it was fresh and twice as high!

It's amazing how different things look from this angle. Here's our shoreline

And our house...I didn't even recognize it at first as it didn't seem like we had driven nearly far enough up the Lake from where we started!

A tradition at the Lakes Area is to place bets on when the car will fall through the ice. Winters are long here.

Thanks to a 48F day the top layer melted and turned the ice into a platform for a new lake. This is why ice houses have to be off the ice so early (mid Februaryish), so they don't freeze down when thaws refreeze. Not sure you can see, but there's so much water on the ice here that there are little wavelets!

It didn't last long and the top was solid again that night. I love sunsets at my Dad's and the fading light on the ice is pretty cool

As is usual when I spend time with Dad, we spend a lot of our time in the truck driving around while he works and checks out the local happenings. It's awesome as not only do we get to spend a ton of time together, we often find the coolest stuff. Wind towers are going up all over the area at a crazy clip - one per day in some places! These things are enormous and I should have taken more photos of their parts (each blade comes in on a separate, huge flatbed trailer) and the wind tower fields. To raise these things requires some seriously large equipment and we were lucky enough to watch many trucks bring many crane parts in to build a ginormous crane.

You will not believe what I did, or rather didn't do. My Dad has a replica of this exact crane (well, the next model up, but close enough) in his living room and I failed to take a photo of it! What a gumby I am.

It's not all big stuff that catches the eye as we drive along. How about some peacocks? I had no idea that these birds would do well in an Iowa winter, but these guys are thriving on this farm

There are also some interesting signs

No visit home is complete without checking out the latest cars in the shop. This one is my step-mom's very very cool oldie Plymouth. This paint colour is one she created herself and it's Rootbeer. It is HOT. This is going to be one of the best looking rods out there just because of this colour. I wish photos could do it justice, but they just can't.

Here's the instrument cool is this?

But it got better. Dad took me to his own shop to show me the newest acquisition. It's a '54 Oldsmobile. I looked and thought "Hmm, that looks familiar" but didn't say anything about it. Dad let a few beats pass before asking "Do you recognize it?" I said "It looks like the one we used to for pizza in every Tuesday night when I was a kid."

A huge grin spread over his face "It's the same car! It was Grandpa's" (his) Turns out some lady rang him to see what it would be worth - without knowing it had been in our family, just that Dad knew a lot about old cars - and as things developed he learned it was THIS car. At first the lady told him that her son was going to fix the car up, but when her mom heard that the car was Dad's Grandpa's (still with me?), she insisted that the car go back to the original family! When he went to see it things weren't as expected and the car was missing all its chrome, the hubcaps, the backseat, the emblem, and a whole host of things. Dad thought maybe he wouldn't buy it back as it wasn't in a condition to match what he had originally suggested as a price...but then he started thinking again. When something comes back to you, it's just meant to be. So he called back and said he'd take it after all.

Well, my Dad has the touch. While picking it up, the other family started finding random bits scattered throughout the old chicken coop where things had been stored. The backseat was wrapped up, the chrome was found, all the hubcaps and then some, the emblem...awesome! Dad's started to polish her up and put her back together and it will be so cool to flash back to childhood when I visit next!

Check out the plates

While back I also zoomed up to see my sister and her husband for a night. She has a lot on her plate right now so we kind of had to squeeze the visit in, but it was great. I met her at work and from there we went to the local arts centre where she was presenting a Valentine's Day card workshop.

I am not crafty, as many of you know, so I answered emails and played on my computer while they worked. later we headed back to her house for dinner and photo viewing from both of our recent trips - hers to Cancun and mine to South America & Antarctica.

Mr Jones, their kitty, is a nut...zooms all over the house and jumps at shadows. He's very sweet and soft & cuddly as well as great entertainment.

He's got a great perch in the dining nook window where he can watch the pheasants stroll by

I couldn't go home without taking some shots for my here are the squirrels outside of the window at Dad's

They always commandeer the duck houses

It goes without saying that my time with family was far too short on this journey and I can't wait to get back to them on my next trip!