Thursday, April 24, 2014

Northwest Florida Web Cams

I just added a handful of new links to my Northwest Florida Web Cams page.

Check it out - there are a lot of interesting cameras offering beautiful views.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Eggs and M80s

We spent Easter at my parent's house and as usual we had a blast.

Dad and I snuck away for a quick geocaching run and as we were looking for the last cache, my Mom called to tell us she was putting the food out and that we needed to get back.

They had everything out and ready to eat when we got back so we walked in and Dad said the blessing.

Sadly, I didn't hear a word he said because when I bowed my head I saw a tick crawling around on my shirt. I REALLY hate ticks but I held it together until he finished the blessing and then I went flying out the front door.

When I came back inside my Dad said, “I saw a sign at that last cache that said something about watching for ticks.” Well, there you go. I've never seen a deer crossing at a deer crossing sign but I have now found ticks at a Beware the Ticks sign.

My Dad set up a target range between the pilings from the old dock and the kids – and the grownups - had fun shooting out into the Sound.

I wanted a picture of the boys aiming their guns but even with the men on the deck watching over them I must have said “Fingers off the trigger” a million times while I was taking this.

And it wouldn't be a holiday without blowing something up.

My cousin, the Pie Lady, said she'd been looking for a ceramic bunny or something for us to blow up but hadn't been able to find anything so we decided to blow up eggs.

My BIL is from parts North and even after all of these years he still seems a little surprised by us.

He did his best Jeff Foxworthy impression, saying, “You know you're a redneck if you blow up Easter eggs instead of hiding them.”

For the record – we did hide eggs for the kids earlier but once they found the all of the ones with money in them they lost interest.

Eggs + M80s = a pretty cool little explosion.

I love holidays.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Gulf Coast Kiln Walk Society's Anagama Kiln

The Island King has a new hobby, which is smelting. He's been recycling cans and anything aluminum he can get his hands on and he was determined to build his own furnace – which involved clay.

The creek at Tower Camp has some really nice clay so we brought some home for him to mess with.

Clay became his obsession and all he read or talked about was the different types of clay.

Right about the same time, I read an article in the newspaper about the Gulf Coast Kiln Walk Society, who happened to be having a clay conference and event the next weekend. The event would be the opening of the Anagama Kiln after it's 10th annual firing.

Who better to talk clay and furnaces with than potters?

Our timing couldn't have been better because the event was amazing.

In 2005 the Kiln Walk Society built the 32 foot, wood fired, Anagama Kiln. The kiln, which is the largest wood burning kiln in Florida is huge, holding almost 800 pieces. The kiln fires at 2,400 degrees and they say the kiln glows so bright when firing that it can be seen from a half a mile away.

The pottery that came out of the kiln was incredible.

There were tables and tables of every kind of pottery imaginable and the people emptying the kiln just kept bringing out more.

There were 750 pieces total and I could have happily brought every one of them home with me.

The coolest thing about wood firing is the differences the flame creates in each piece.

It was fun watching them unload the kiln and hearing the oohs and aahs as the different pieces came out.

The Island King was in heaven and got to spend time talking with a master potter, Tom Grow.

He seemed very interested in the bag of clay we'd brought and said he's never seen that type of clay before so we left him a bag to play with.

He sent us a picture of this pot he'd made out of our clay and I was amazed at how beautiful it is. The color is stunning.

He wants more of this kind of clay because it is different from the other types of clay he's found here in Northwest Florida so we'll be taking him up there to get some soon.

We learned so much about clay, pottery, and kilns that I'm thinking about a new hobby myself.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stuck in the New Truck

The Island King's truck died right about the same time his mother had a heart attack and between working and taking care of her, the truck just sat in the driveway.

A blown head gasket and something that he can't diagnose - a screaming noise whenever he tries to crank it but it doesn't crank – it just screams.

The body itself has been beat to hell and back and considering the rust on the underside, it's amazing that the bottom of the truck hasn't just fallen apart.

Two weeks ago I woke up to the Island King telling me that he was buying a new truck – right then.

He's obsessed with old 90's model Toyota 4-Runners and he'd found one on Craig's list for the right price and was going to buy it.

The new truck has a few things that need to be replaced (the driver's door has a small dent, the paint on the hood has faded, the collar that goes around the steering column, etc) but the new truck is the same color as the old one, so he's been able to pull everything that needed fixing off the old one and repair the new one for free.

The only difference between the new one and the old one is that the new one has a manual 4WD shift inside but also has locking hubs on the outside that have to be locked in. Our old one only needed the shift from inside the truck.

The day after he got the truck I convinced him to put it to the test and take me geocaching in the woods.

We got out onto Eglin Reservation, shifted into 4WD, locked the hubs in and off road we went.

Things were going good for about the first 200 yards but then the trail turned into soft sand and 10 feet later the back right tire sunk like a rock.

Hmm. This isn't the kind of sand that a 4WD has problems in so obviously the truck isn't in 4WD.

He spent a few minutes in denial, gassing it, rocking back and forth – things you don't do when stuck.

Once he became convinced that the 4WD was truly not working he cussed a lot and then set about getting unstuck.

First he let a lot of the air out of each tire

But that didn't work. Probably because while he was throwing his little temper tantrum he dug a hole the wheel couldn't get out of.

There was all kinds of stuff in the woods around us that we could have put under the tire but since he was already mad at me for laughing so hard about him being stuck he didn't want to hear any of my suggestions.

Which was fine – I was enjoying the show and if he'd listened to me we'd have been unstuck sooner.

At one point he told me to push and I just laughed. Sure, I can push your stuck truck out of the hole in the sand. Bless his heart, I wonder about him sometime.

We were on a power line with two roads and a small hardpacked area between them. He was convinced that if he could get out of the hole and have a running start he could make it across the weeds and up the hill out of the soft sand.

After an hour and a half he did it.

On the way home I told him that I like the old truck better.

It might be a rust bucket but we've NEVER been stuck and we've taken that truck places no vehicle, 4WD or not, should have gone.

And of course, the hub that's broken is the one thing that the old truck doesn't have.

The funniest part is that this happened on April 1st so I teased him all the way home about the April Fools joke played on him. He bought a 4WD truck that has a broken 4WD.

He didn't think that was funny.