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Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Driving Test

This weekend Lovely Daughter took her Driving Test. The test that has been passed down for generations. You pick a city 4-5 hours away, go up on the back roads, spend the night, then come back on the highway. Learn to read and follow maps, follow road signs, generally find your way around and get some experience under your belt.

Yes, we woke up early

Maze of Maize

Hollywood, pure Hollywood

The culmination of 9 months of effort and diligence. She has taken the direction well (sometimes) and has learned the rules of the road (mostly) and can skillfully negotiate any obstacles that may come her way (usually). The task: plot out the trip from St. Louie to the Windy City going up on back roads and return on the highway. The route was masterful--a zig-zag of one-laners through the Illinois corn. A maze through the maize, if you will (and you will--ed). After a day of driving, a few wrong turns, and a couple of adrenaline spikes we arrived at our destination--a slightly scary Econo-Lodge within minutes (if you go the right way--which we didn't) of downtown.

A beautiful city

The Sears Tower

Um...Mr. Crazy-talking-tourista, will you take our picture?

After we arrived, yours truly took over the helm and we went out on the town. We toured the Sears Tower. Built in 3 1/2 years--did you know that? To me, that's impressive. We went to the Navy Pier which was very crowded and very sweaty--but it's still the coolest. I just love to see the throngs of humanity. What a crazy city. Oh yeah, there a river running right through it. And the tourists. Everywhere. Crazy. And we ate at that great Chicago landmark: Denny's. I like a nice Denny's. I had the Chicken Fried Chicken. I would recommend it.

Chicago Skyline from the Navy Pier

L.D. on the Navy Pier

'Man with a Fish' fountain

The best thing we did was go to the Shedd Aquarium. Whoa! We saw the dolphin show (which, to me was overrated--three minutes of dolphin acrobatics and 27 minutes of fluff), the shark tank, and the coral reefs. We saw this electric green moray eel that was just incredible. I never did see the Orange Roughy though...or the Salmon (yes, I really do think about food a lot).

A view of the waterfront from the Shedd Aquarium

Yes, we did find Nemo

The drive home was mostly uneventful. No holding of the breath. No bracing for impact. Just a couple of "hey, you're going 25mph over the speed limit"s. So, yes she passed. Come September she'll be driving among you. I just pray that she slows down.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Yard

Althea (a.k.a. Rose-of-Sharon) Hydrangea I've been preparing myself, both mentally and physically, for the BoyHead's departure to school next month. One thing that I've done is to take over the mowing-of-the-yard. BoyHead has done his duty well lo these many years but, I'll be doing it in a month anyway, so I might as well get a head start. Give the B.H. a break too. It's certainly not as bad as cranium the younger has made it out to be. I'm done in less than an hour. Hour and a half with all the trimming and edging. And I like it. It's given me a new appreciation for my yard. I get to walk every foot of it--mark my territory, so to speak. I can see the progress of growth. I see all the detail that Lovely Wife has done to make it beautiful. So, I wanted to share it with all of you...

Impatiens Wave Petunias and Geraniums with Blue Spruce in background Yard with fledgling trees

Monday, July 10, 2006

Annual Sojourn to the Lake

Sunset at the lake I'm proud of this shot If you ask me why I love the lake, it would be the memories. I have over 20 years of summers spent at the lake with family and friends. My kids have gone there every summer since they were made. It's always fun. And peaceful. And serene. This year was no exception. The sunsets at the lake are tremendous. I even took an "art shot" of this old rowboat. Brilliant!

This year, since we were there for the Fourth of July, we decided to stop at Fireworks World. I've never bought fireworks with a shopping cart, but at this place it was mandatory. And necessary. We nearly had that puppy filled by the time we left. I've never spent that much $$ on fireworks before, but it was worth it. We got enough artillery shells to defend our lake cabin against any foe. Cool stuff!

BoyHead on the Slalom Lovely Daughter on the Slalom Cousin Michael

One thing the kids look forward to are the watersports. This year, however, we had some boat problems. We even had to catch a tow when the ski boat died. Luckily, Cousin Michael had just bought a new MasterCraft and came to the rescue. Very nice boat. Very nice cousin. The kids are good skiers. BoyHead is also learning to shred on the kneeboard. He tore that lake up!

You can't go wrong with a big fat cow

The drive home was uneventful save for one small detail...lunch. We stopped at The Sirloin Stockade in Rolla, Missouri. It was the sign that did the trick. We even made up a song...You can't go wrong with a big fat cow. Turns out we were right. We'll go back to that big fat cow one day. Perhaps next year on our annual sojourn.