October 2012


Here are a few more shots from this weekend’s camping trip.

Baking Bread-on-a-stick

Baking Bread-on-a-stick


In the shot above the kids were baking bread-on-a stick. I usually buy some of that biscuit dough in a cardboard tube – the kind that pops open when you bang it, or twist it, or peel off some of its outer cover. One biscuit slice gets wrapped thinly around a stick, and then it’s roasted over a fire. I love making it, and so do the kids.

After they were all in bed, I set the camera up on a tripod and tried to get an “art” shot of the dying fire.

Hot Coals

Hot Coals


I only took one shot. The camera was actually in the fire pit, and I didn’t want to mess around with it in there for too long.

Meh.

We took the Pathfinders camping at the Hancock Campground in Lincoln, NH this weekend. I led the 2:00 wave here, and some other staff left Concord around 5:00pm with the rest of the kids.

Of course the late wave didn’t arrive before the sun set, so the early wave did all the work of setting up the camp site. There were eight of us (four adults and four kids), but it all went pretty smoothly. We had it set up before dark.

We spent the evening around the campfire singing some songs, and I sent the juniors to bed a little before 10:00pm. Everyone else followed around 11:00.

In the morning after breakfast, we walked over to the Pemigewasset River. We couldn’t see it from our camp site, but we could sure hear it.

At the Hancock Campgrounds

At the Hancock Campgrounds

We were waiting for two other club members to show up, but since they were running pretty late, we didn’t wait too long.

Pemigewasset River

Pemigewasset River

We loaded a couple of backpacks with Ramen noodles, Easy Mac, and instant soup, and then headed across the Kancamagus Highway to the Lincoln Woods Trail. This is where a suspension bridge crosses the Pemi.

Suspended Over the Pemi

Suspended Over the Pemi


We were already on the correct side of the river, so we didn’t need to cross it, but who can resist the allure of a pedestrian suspension bridge?

We hiked in three miles to where Franconia Brook empties into the Pemigewasset. We stopped there for two hours, cooked our noodles, ate them, and threw several rocks into the river. This kids were having a blast. I had originally planned to have church there, but the river was too loud. I figured we’d find a place on the trail on the way back (which we did).

Our next stop was Franconia Falls.

Franconia Falls

Franconia Falls


This place was really cool, but it about scared me to death. The kids were not showing wet slippery rocks above frigid rapids the respect I thought they deserved. After five minutes of this, my nerves couldn’t take it anymore, so I rounded them up and we headed back down the trail. But it was a totally awesome place. I plan to go back some day when I have fewer kids with me, or kids who know to be scared of falling in.

We didn’t take as many rest stops on the way back to our camp site. David needed to scout the area around our site so he could set borders for the “Bible Smugglers” game we were going to play when it got dark. We made it back in plenty of time.

David set the boundaries while some of us cooked spaghetti for dinner (also garlic bread and salad). After we ate and washed up the dishes, the kids began playing Bible Smugglers. Basically, they have to memorize a verse from the Bible at their home base, and then try to sneak to their other base without getting tagged by the other team. If they make it, they have to write the verse in a notebook (including book, chapter, an verse). After 20 minutes they switch sides and do it again.

While they were doing that, the adults lit a fire and we had some S’mores. The kids joined us for that after they were good and tired. That’s also when David played a game of blindfolded chess against Connor. David won.

Evening the Odds

Evening the Odds

I had everyone in bed by 11:00 again. We got up at 7:00, made breakfast, ate it, cleaned up, and then made sack lunches. Then we put the lunches in our cars and broke camp. Sandy was getting closer, and some of the staff were anxious to get home sooner rather than later. We left at about 10:30.

There were no mishaps other than a few minor cuts and one kid with a migraine, so I’m going to chalk this one up as a success.

I was delighted that we managed to get all the tents dry before we struck them. We did have to give the flies of most tents thirty minutes of sun on their undersides to clear up condensed moisture (from breathing). I had one kid tell me she didn’t breath all night, so her fly was dry. Hmmm. I checked it anyhow, and it did need to be spread out on a picnic table. I was sure glad to get them all dry in the morning. It would have been pretty hard to dry them during a hurricane.

I’d better post this while we still have power (Sandy is blowing outside).

It looks like we might have some weather here this week.

My Backyard

My Backyard


Beth’s school did not cancel today, and may have been the only one in the state. I think it was the correct decision, since it was barely drizzling this morning, and the forecast said we wouldn’t see much of anything until late afternoon. They did dismiss as 12:30 though.

I went to work as usual. The weather didn’t do much until about 3:00. I bailed half an hour early when the wind started to pick up. Hopefully, this won’t hit us too bad. If my Internet connection stays on long enough, I’ll try to provide an account of our camping trip this past weekend. Short version: it went very well.

I am still alive and well, but it would be hard to tell that lately from my blog. I have been busy, and I have not taken very many pictures. I guess it would be fair to say that my camera drives this blog. It would also be fair to say that this blog drives my camera.

Fall has peaked and ebbed here. I was able to catch some of it, but not nearly as much as I wanted to.

Ripe hawthorns (Crataegus spp)

Ripe hawthorns (Crataegus spp)

Sandogardy Pond

Sandogardy Pond

American beech (Fagus grandifolia)

American beech (Fagus grandifolia)

Northfield Town Forest

Northfield Town Forest


The colors here were a lot more vivid in real life. They got better when I switch the camera’s white balance setting to “cloudy” vs “automatic.” It’s probably still on cloudy, as that’s not something I usually think to check.

At the beginning of this month the Pathfinders collected food for the needy. Last week our Church’s Community Services director came in and we helped her sort and store it. We also packed up a couple of boxes for people who requested them. I handed my camera to one of the kids, and he took several shots for me including this one.

Packing a box

Packing a box


I think he did a great job.

That was the same day we did the President’s Challenge Fitness Test. That includes five events – the mile, the shuttle run, V-sit and reach, curl-ups, and push-ups. I always participate in the test with the kids because I think it sets a good example. My own challenge to them was that I would give a dollar to any kid who could beat me in the mile. I also told them that if they wanted to beat me, they would have to run the entire mile, because that’s what I was going to do. I figured I’d be out six or seven bucks, but that motivator only cost me one dollar. I wish it had cost me fifteen. Maybe if the motivator was “whoever is less sore than me tomorrow” it would have.

The day before all that we had our annual induction service. It served as our church service, and I had a ton of work to do to get ready for that. It went pretty smoothly except that I had double-booked one of the parts to two kids. I also forgot to alert the person who had signed up to be the scripture reader that day ahead of time. Sigh.

David played in two more chess tournaments since I last wrote. One was a “quick” tournament where the players had 20 minutes per game. He placed second in that one. The other was a “standard” tournament – his first. In a standard tournament each player gets more than 60 minutes (they had 65 unless I am mistaken). As a result of that tourny, he now has a provisional standard rating – 1843. That’s pretty good. It’s the best rating in his local chess club, and I think he said the 11th best in New Hampshire.

On the heels of all this, we are going to go camping this weekend. I bought all the groceries tonight. I still haven’t packed my things (and Beth has not yet finished packing). Tomorrow I will buy the last few remaining items (such as ice).

The weather is supposed to cooperate, so hopefully I won’t have to dry tents while Sandy blows through New England.

Today I took a long-overdue lunchtime walk. I didn’t walk my usual route though, as I wanted to stroll past a building site in downtown Concord. My office will be moving into this new building in August, which makes the construction infinitely more interesting.

But there are a few places along that route where wildflowers grow.

Hawkweed (Hieracium pilosella?)

Hawkweed (Hieracium pilosella?)


I think this is mouse-ear hawkweed (Hieracium pilosella), but I’m not 100% sure about that. I do know it’s not dandelion though.

I was a little surprised to find some bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara) still in bloom.

Bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara)

Bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara)


This stand also had plenty of fruit in various stages of ripeness.
Bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara)

Bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara)


This plant, unlike a few of its relatives, is poisonous and should not be eaten. It is closely related to the tomato, and it is my understanding that before man intervened with selective breeding, tomato fruits were about the same size as these (i.e., about the size of a blueberry). At one time European Americans were utterly convinced that tomatoes were poisonous (Native Americans knew better). In 1830, Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson demonstrated their edibility to a crowd of people by eating an entire basket of them. His doctor warned him that he would die of “brain fever” and that his skin would stick to his stomach causing cancer. He ate them anyhow, and lived.

Thanks, Colonel Johnson!

Saturday Va took the Adventurer Club to Ken’s farm. I worked on a few patches with my group (Trees and Beavers). Va worked with her group on something else, but I don’t know what. The plan was to go down to a beaver pond after that, and since the weather was threatening, we decided to make the run sooner rather than later.

Ken took us down to his brother’s farm where there was an active beaver pond. I would say they have been quite active by the looks of this tree.

Beaver-cut tree

Beaver-cut tree


It was at least 18″ in diameter. I like how the heartwood never gave up, bending rather than breaking.

In short order we found ourselves at the edge of the pond. They had built the largest beaver lodge I had ever seen. It was at least three times larger than the biggest one I had seen before that day.

Massive Beaver Lodge

Massive Beaver Lodge


This monster was about eight feet tall and a good twenty feet wide at the waterline. It had to have been even bigger beneath the surface.

The kids gathered at the edge of the pond, and I wanted to get a shot of that with the pond, then them at the edge, but with their faces showing. I saw a little spit of land jutting out into the pond, and thought I’d go out on that to get the angle I was after. Bad Move. I stepped onto what looked like solid ground, and my foot began to sink into the mud. Before I could shift my weight to the other leg, I was in up to my knee. It took five minutes to extract my foot. When I did, my boot was still firmly attached to my foot, and I count that as a good thing. My sock was even dry, which is a testament to this boot (a Scarpa if you must know).

The sky opened up before we were done, so we high-tailed it back to the cars and headed for home.

Meanwhile, the Pathfinders were out distributing bags to the south end of Concord as we do every year. It’s phase one of our annual food drive. I did not join them, as I was helping Va with her group. She’s short on staff, and I have an embarrassment of riches in that department. So my staff handled the Pathfinder project quite ably as I helped Va with the Adventurers.

Phase two came the next day. We used to give people a week to gather food, but found that giving them a day works just as well. For as many people who don’t give because they need to go shopping, we used to have as many who would forget because an entire week went by. It all comes out in the wash.

While we were out collecting the filled bags, I spied this awesome plow truck.

Work Horse

Work Horse


I shot that photo through the unwashed passenger window from the driver’s seat, so there’s plenty of room for the photo to have improved. But I was more interested in the subject of the photo than in the artistry.

The Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is in full swing now.

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

I’ve been working on those wooden canoes I bought for the club a little while back. I have one outwale removed from the 19-footer now and most of the inwale too. The gunwales (inwale+outwale) were attached to the hull with no glue, and I needed three different types of screw drivers to get them off (flat, Phillips, and a square S-2).

I bought a 20′ long ash board today at Goose Bay Lumber in Chichester. I went there during lunch, and hadn’t been planning on that trip ahead of time. Thus, I didn’t have a way to get it home. I left it at the lumber yard and asked Va to bring my roof rack when she came to Concord to pick up Beth from school. She obliged, so after work, I went and got the rack and then the board. I also bought some shorter lengths of ash and a 4′ length of maple, I will fashion a new thwart from that.

I need to rip the 20′ ash plank into four 5/8″ pieces now. I haven’t decided if I want to try that on my table saw or if I want to try to talk Ken into doing it for (or with) me. Once I have it ripped into four chunks I will cut scuppers into two of them to serve as inwales. Before attaching them though I will need to resand the hull and probably add some fiberglass here and there. It sounds like a lot of effort, but I don’t think it really is.

I’ll keep you posted.

Tonight I took a lap around my property just before it got dark. The most interesting thing to photograph was the mushrooms.
Tiny mushrooms
After supper, David and Beth were boasting to one another. I don’t remember how the boasts started, but David told Beth, “I could beat you with one arm tied behind my back.”

Puffballs

Puffballs


I asked him to clarify, “With whose arm tied behind his back?” He indicated that it probably didn’t matter, and since he outweighs her by nearly two to one, I think he was probably right.
Orange mushrooms

Orange mushrooms


That’s when I learned it was probably not a contest of physical strength. David called out to Beth, “e4” which is chess notation for a very common opening move. She answered him, “e5!” and the game was on. No chess board mind you.
Triplets

Triplets


The conversation then morphed into us speculating about whether one of us could beat David in chess if he were blindfolded. I was not sure if either of us could beat David, even if he were blindfolded. Beth was excited to try, so out came the board. I watched to make sure Beth executed David’s moves correctly and that she called her moves in proper notation.

Beth dropped her queen in short order, and David captured it. I was impressed. After that her only hope was that the board would get so scrambled that David couldn’t remember where all the pieces were.

Lonely in a lush kingdom

Lonely in a lush kingdom


It was a vain hope. He checkmated her in short order. I’m still trying to get my head around that.

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