Category Archives: adventure

W^2 – history

WARNING: it’s Wednesday so I titled the post W^2, but it’s hardly wordless.

It’s spring break and we’ve escaped then blustery chill of a midwestern early spring for the Florida Keys and sun, wind, and sand. Mostly sun.

I remember my first visit to the Keys with my in-laws in 2002. Our son had recently turned four and my wife was pregnant with our daughter. We arrived in Miami and were picked up by my in-laws at the airport.

Until then, my only experience with Florida had been passing through the airport on the way to somewhere else: Venezuela or England to spend the summer or Christmas with my dad and stepmother.

With my father-in-law at the wheel we wove our way through Miami traffic to Homestead and US1. US1 is the only road from the Florida mainland at the tip of the Florida peninsula to the Keys where it terminates at Key West.

US1 travels along the path of the defunct Miami to Key West extension of the Florida East Coast Railway. Construction of the railroad began in 1903 and was completed in 1913. The railway operated until 1935 when the Labor Day hurricane washed out the rail bed in Islamorada and the railroad abandoned the railroad. Two years later the Florida Highway Commission purchased the right of way and began construction of a highway to Key West. They used the old railroad bridges constructing roadbeds atop the concrete viaducts and bridges built by the railroad. Over the years, the highway has replaced the original railway bridges with wider end more modern concrete bridges.

The view from the bridge to the Atlantic Ocean

The first several miles of the two lane road travel along the path of the old railway. First through the thick mangrove swamps and across Lake Surprise before reaching Key Largo where the highway opens up to the Atlantic Ocean on the left and Florida Bay to the right.

As the highway bridges were replaced, the original railroad bridges were left in place. Most have been repurposed as fishing platforms or observation decks and others have been left to decay and breakdown in the elements. The Seven Mile Bridge has a two mile extension from Knight’s Key Key to Pigeon Key open to walkers and bicycles with breathtaking sunset views.

Anyway, Tuesday afternoon my buddy and I (we are here with another couple) took off on an adventure stopping at the western approach to the Bahia Honda Bridge.

The original railroad bridge on the left and the new highway bridge on the right. Looking west from Bahia Honda State Park – photo from 3/28/2017

The old bridge has been abandoned since the present bridge was completed in 1977. The original railroad bridge is an iron trestle bridge which was only wide enough for a single railroad track and the passage of a single train. The highway engineers decided to construct a two lane road atop the railroad trestle to connect the two keys, or islands.

Continue reading W^2 – history

W^2 – ducky

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, August 30, 2023

It is Wednesday and I am feeling ducky. I am five days into my twenty-fifth year of teaching and feeling like a duck on dry land, or perhaps skewered on a car antenna.

Rubber duckies on a car antenna, Naperville, IL, August 19, 2023 10:30 AM

I spied these rubber duckies on a car antennae a couple of Saturday’s ago while volunteering at Loaves and Fishes. The car’s owner is a regular and she lifts us up with the joy she shares with the world through her personality and her sticker adorned car.

I noticed the rubber duckies were a new addition and I talked to her on her way out.  She shared her story of how the week before she’d been on a trip with her family and collected more than a dozen rubber duckies playing a game and decided to skewer them on her car’s antenna.

A new school year is full of joy and excitement. It’s also change from the carefree life of summer break and audition for retirement. I inched a little closer this year to retirement this school year as I began my twenty-fifth year of teaching. Interestingly, this year also marks the fiftieth anniversary of my own year as a sixth grader, time marches on.

This morning I am more than just ducky; I am filled with joy and passion and excitement for learning. Today is going to be an amazing day, it just might be a million and six times better than yesterday. I get to teach kids and share my passion and curiosity.  So, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the days Count, one day at a time, exploring, learning, and being curious.

How is your summer finishing?

me, first day of school. 25th year of teaching and 50 years since I was a 6th grader, Wheaton, IL August 24, 2023 6:40 AM

July’s peaches make the summer count

Dutch Farm Market, South Haven Michigan Friday July 28, 2023 11:16 AM

July peaches make the summer count. I stopped at Dutch Farm Market in South Haven on the way north yesterday. I only bought three things: peaches, blueberries, and beets. These three multiply the joy of summer from three words in to six, or more. Six Word Saturday Could’ve been,

  • I stopped at Dutch Farm Market, or
  • Summer’s harvest brings peaches, blueberries, beets, or even
  • Farmer Ed’s market sells Michigan peaches

But I settled on the title above. Today is going to be an amazing day and I am thankful for the blogging world to encourage me to stretch, even a little. Making the days count, one day at a time, six words in a sentence.

What six words describe you today?

A post for Six Word Saturday inspired by Debbie at Travel with Intent and my blogging friend Margaret at From Pyrenees to Pennines.

a foggy Sunday dozen

This morning I awoke to a fog enshrouded lake, yesterday it was rainy.  Later today, it will be sunny. We get it all here.

in homage to the last two blogposts, black and white with a pinch of color…

This morning when I first looked out, I could see as far as the speedboat – about a hundred yards, but a couple of hours later we could make out the opposite shore, barely.

I walked to the end of the dock and captured a few images, a dozen or so, before the fog lifted. I’ll let the images tell the story. Continue reading a foggy Sunday dozen

reprise, black and white

In response to yesterday’s post W^2 – black and white, a reprise of sorts.

In hindsight, yesterday was a million and six times better than the day before.

Our nephew arrived with his wife and young children just as the storms began to roll across the lake. A few minutes later his brother, another nephew arrived. It was wonderful to see them. Since my wife’s parents died, our paths only cross for weddings, funerals, and graduations.

The kids were reluctant to get out of the car, but slowly warmed and by the end of their visit they were playing in the water, exploring the lake, toys, and all that our lake home has to offer.

It was delightful to visit, to catch up, and share our home with them.

Then storms rolled across the lake, one after another, and we stayed off the lake and out of the boats. More than once, we waded out to the boats, turning back when we saw lightning until we decided that we would get wet regardless of whether it was raining or not.

looking west northwest, as rain falls gently

While they boated, Fern and I stayed ashore. I waded into the lake and took the photos for this post. By the end of their visit every single beach towel was soaked, and the kids (and adults) were spent.

clouds over the lake, looking west north west in portrait mode

Yesterday WAS a million and six times better than the day before with family – our nephews and their kids bringing color to the lakeshore on a stormy day.

This morning began with steady rain, but the sun is breaking through and sunshine is on the way. Today is going to be an amazing day, it could be a million and six times better than yesterday. So, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the days Count, one day at a time, black and white or in color.

Is it black, white, or colorful where you are?

October baseball and blog atrophy

It has been a long while since I sat down to write a blog post. And sadly, the busyness has sidelined some of my blog reading, too. Embarrassingly it’s been more than a month since my last post. In the interim my unread email has ballooned considerably, so what have I been up to?

this morning, the trees looking up

The end of September marked three weekends in row where I was away from home, the first in southern California, then two weekends at our lake house in Michigan.

BASEBALL
At the end of September, I took a baseball trip to Southern California. I was able to find a weekend when both the LA Dodgers and the LA Angels were in town for home games. The trip added two more stadiums to my list of baseball stadiums where I have watched a major league baseball game. I have ten more stadiums before I have seen a baseball game in every MLB city, but I’ll have to include three teams whose stadiums have changed since I watched a game in their city – Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants, and the Atlanta Braves.

Friday, September 30 – Colorado Rockies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (click to watch the video)

It has been four weeks and I still have “I’m still standing” running through my head…. click the picture for the Dodger Stadium video…

The trip to the Los Angeles area was a great trip, and there were two bonuses. First was the Elton John bubblehead at Dodger Stadium on Friday night and second the choice of a hike along the beach or in the mountains or the beach on Saturday afternoon. I chose the beach and thoroughly enjoyed listening to the pounding surf while I walked in the soft sand of the Pacific Ocean beach.

Saturday, October 1 – Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Angels

That was the final weekend of baseball’s regular season, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Four weeks later and there are at least three games remaining in the season, and possible five.

It’s the World Series and my team, the Houston Astros, is playing the Philadelphia Phillies. Last night the Astros tied the series 1-1 and the two team square off Monday night beginning three consecutive games in Philadelphia. I visited Philadelphia this summer as part of my epic seven-day, seven-game, six-city baseball trip and it was a fun park to watch baseball in but on Monday night the park will be full, loud, and unfriendly place for the Astros.

FALL LEAVES
Yes, it is that time again. Fall and leaf clean up. My wife and I spent the first weekend in Michigan at our lake house to do fall clean up there. Fall begins earlier in Michigan than it does at home in northern Illinois. We also had a weekend football game with our daughter at Michigan State. It was fun to be on campus, but the Spartan football team was not a match for the Ohio State Buckeye football team losing 49-20.

The plan for the first weekend was to get the yard, the garage, and the home ready for the winter by the lake, but we ran out of time and daylight on Sunday. Continue reading October baseball and blog atrophy

Summer’s exit and Fall’s arrival

Autumn officially arrives on Thursday at 8:03 CDT. The sun will rise at 6:40 AM and set twelve hours and nine minutes later at 6:49 PM. We experienced our last 7 PM sunset this past Thursday and its bittersweet.

I am enjoying the morning outside at my summer office. The day began cloudy, but the clouds have been replaced by a clear blue sky with a light breeze that gently tickles the wind chime the tree branches above me.

a poppa cardinal and sparrow partake at the feeders Sunday morning

The forecast for the week begins with high temperatures in the low 80s and finishes the month with temperatures in the low 70s. It will warm enough by day, but cooler overnight lows dipping ten degrees to the mid 50s by the end of the month.

Fall Hiking
Last fall, I accepted the forest preserve’s challenge to Take a Hike in collaboration with Edwards-Elmhurst Health. Each week I get a reminder email on Thursday get out and move. I enjoyed last year’s challenge, but I have gotten out and hiked this season. Continue reading Summer’s exit and Fall’s arrival

day is done

It Sunday and the second day of a three-day weekend. It’s Labor Day weekend where we spend the weekend working to put away summer and prepare for fall.

the sunset on wide angle

Three years ago, we weren’t here, but our neighbors along the shoreline pitched in and put away our stuff. It’s a community here, a microcosm of what the world can be if all of us could simply get along. I am full of gratitude for that act of kindness and concern and always will be.

There is power in community.

Yesterday we toiled to pull boats, move lifts, unbolt dock sections, and worked together as a family and a community.

Then when the sun began to set and all of us stopped to watch the sun slowly dip beneath the horizon and declare completion to the day.

the sunset on zoom

Last night, I waded into the lake to capture last night’s sunset and it did not disappoint, it never does. The sunset always amazes me as it has countless people going back in time.

It’s Sunday, there is more work to be done. The kids are still sleeping, exhausted from a full day and then being up late with their lake friends. By the time the sun sets this evening, we’ll have summer packed away until next year.

It’s going to be a great day. I know it and I can feel it. Sunday by the lake in early September means making the day count by pitching in and doing what needs to be done. So, I had better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days count, one day at time.

How is September going for you?

three words for the first week of school

What a great week! I am back to school for a twenty-fourth year of teaching. It was a great week for so many reasons, but I am going to share three BIG IDEAS – eight, hike, and inspirational. It was so good I think I am going to go back on Monday for another week.

the early morning air from my summer office

A few weeks ago, I read a blog post by Beth at I Didn’t Have My Glasses On. Her post was a clip of an article about a decree by the president of Turkmenistan concerning the cycle of life. According to the decree, life comes in cycles of 12 years and the cycles are:

  • Childhood (birth – 13 years)
  • Adolescence (13-25 years)
  • Youth (25 to 37 years)
  • Maturity (37 to 49 years)
  • Prophesy (49 to 61 years)
  • inspirational (61 to 73 years)
  • Wisdom (73 to 85 years)
  • Old Age (85 to 97 years)

I find myself on the cusp of prophecy and inspirational. However, when I look in the mirror, I can see all of the cycles, but I can identify with childhood and adolescence. I believe my kiddos see me where I am on the cusp of being prophetic and inspirational. For the next ten months that is where I will spend most of my weekdays working with kids teaching and learning, but mostly learning, bouncing between cycles.

It was a great week for so many reasons, but I am going to share three BIG IDEAS – eight, hike, and inspirational. Continue reading three words for the first week of school

last day of summer break

It’s Sunday and I am sitting at my summer office and listening to the gentle whirrrrr of the hummingbird at the feeder to my upper left. It’s Sunday morning quiet and except for the occasional car, truck, or airplane I can hear the birds singing in the trees. Fern and Ivy laying nearby enjoying the time outside.

Friday evening, I noticed it seemed darker than normal at 8:15 PM. Early Saturday morning, I read the morning New York Times email which confirmed Friday evening’s observation, summer is waning.

Confirmation of my observation piqued my curiosity so, I researched. As it turned out, Wednesday August 9th was also the final 8 PM sunset for this summer where I live. The next 8 PM sunset won’t occur for another 274 days or until May 9th. Being curious, I researched further, here are some lasts and nexts, in case you are wondering:

  • the last 7 PM sunset 9/15/2022, the next 7PM sunset, 3/17/2023
  • the last 6 PM sunset 10/22/2022, the next 6PM sunset, 3/12/2023
    change in daylight savings time occurs 3/11/2023
  • the last 5 PM sunset 11/5/2022 at 5:41 PM but the shift away from daylight savings time makes the sunset on 11/6/2022 – 4:40 PM, the next 5PM sunset, 1/27/2023
  • the earliest sunset occurs at 4:21 PM between 12/3 to 12/14/2022

If you are curious, you can research your location using the Time and Date sun calculator. There is a plethora of information: sunrise, sunset, sun angle, and more.

I am an early riser. At the height of summer, the sun rises early, and it is light before 6 AM. The sunrise has been later each day, too. Summer is waning. Continue reading last day of summer break