Shared Journeys

Shared Journeys  are an integral part of our marriage of almost 23 years. In fact, my wife and I try to visit a new state in the USA every year on our anniversary.

I am going to use as an example our journey from August of 2008. This trip was a bit unusual, in that we were flying to Salt Lake City in Utah, then taking a bus trip with about 50 other people through some of our wonderful national parks an monuments between Salt Lake City and South Dakota.

The featured image is from the Badlands in South Dakota, near the end of the journey. I think it embodies the love and companionship that we share.


Instead of writing a travelog with pictures of all of the features seen along the way, I will show some of the pictures of the two of us, along with others that shared our journey. The scenery will only serve as a background.

Our first stop was in Salt Lake City. Here we got to meet everyone in the group and spend a day touring the many sites. We also got to watch a rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir pictured below:


The second day we started out northward and made a stop at Bear Lake which straddles the Utah, Idaho border. Here is a shot of my wife Alice with one of our traveling companions, who happened to be a retired police detective from New York City. There were five female detectives taking this trip together. We learned that they were actually the first class of women allowed to take the detective exams in NYC but they were overlooked in the selection process that year, despite their exemplary performance. Only after the next class of female detectives had the same experience and sued the city, was our group considered for promotion. The were having quite a shared journey.


The next morning we woke up to the cold of the Rocky Mountains in Grand Teton National Park. You can check my blog for some scenic pictures of this trip. Here are a couple of pictures of the two of us and the group that morning, when we rafted down the Snake River:


The next day we were off to Yellowstone National Park. Here is a picture of a mass of people gathering for the next showing of Old Faithful geyser. Obviously, not everyone in the photo was on our bus trip.


While we are here, I will show you one picture of Old Faithful in all of its glory:


Here is a picture of our guide (on the right) waiting with one of the couples on our journey for the bus to arrive back at the lodge to pick us up and take us to our cabins for the night.


The next day was dedicated to exploring the park and its many, many features. Here is a picture of our group walking out on the raised walk to see Clepsydra Geyser:


And here is a picture of the geyser:


I thought at this point I would show you another family group sharing a journey.


On the way through Wyoming, we made stops at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming and at Dirty Annie’s in Shell, Wyoming:


Unfortunately, Dirty Annie’s closed this year. The have an interesting story posted in the local newspaper which can be found here. It details how two different couples built and expanded this icon over a 25 year period.

The next day we stopped at Devil’s Tower National Monument in Devil’s Tower Wyoming. This is the site of the dramatic alien encounter scenes in the move Close Encounters of a Third Kind, so I have to show you at least one picture.


The final big day of our journey include the Badlands of South Dakota as well as the the Crazy Horse Monument and Mt. Rushmore. Here are a few photos from these stops that exemplify shared journey:






Overall, it was a wonderful trip where we got to check off the states of Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota on our quest to stay at least one night in every state during our incredible shared journey though life.

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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Stairs, Steps, Ladders

Today we will concentrate on stairs and steps from ancient times. All of the photos were taken in late May and early June of 2001 on a Mediterranean cruise. The photos are stored in a beautiful travel photo book. I have taken out these 4×6 photos and scanned them into my computer. I have seven photos to share today, all taken at ancient sites in Turkey.

Here is the Library of Celsus in Ephesus:


Next is the amphitheater in Ephesus. It is so large that I had to stand well back to get the whole theater in one picture:


Imagine the number of steps in that amphitheater that could seat 25,000 people.

Next we have some shots from the Temple of Apollo in Didim, Turkey.




Next we have two more Turkish amphitheater shots:



I will save photos from other stops on this cruise for future posts. I hope you enjoyed the many steps displayed. Thank you Cee for hosting this wonderful challenge.



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Flower of the Day – July 26, 2016

The crape myrtle is almost to peak. you can still see some unopened buds on the branches, but there are also some flowers shedding themselves onto the ground below. Notice how the once vertical branches are bending over from the weight of the flowers.


Nu Book 1 – The Esss Advance is available via this link on ==> Amazon

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You may also visit the website for more details.

Elusive Speed

Today’s daily prompt, Elusive, brought a scene from my book to mind, so I want to take this opportunity to showpiece this work with my followers. In the passages below, the acronym USpN stands for United Space Navy.

Chapter 59 – Intercept Above Earth

The United Space Navy had only three fleets. The first fleet (and by far the largest) was stationed in Earth orbit. Its primary function was to maintain order in the near-Earth environs. The second fleet was moon-based, and the third fleet was based in Mars orbit but was responsible for maintaining order everywhere other than on Earth or the moon.

At the moment, First Fleet was on the hot seat, and Fleet Admiral Joshua Brooks was feeling that heat. Brooks had been monitoring the alien flyby of the moon from his quarters aboard the USpN battle cruiser Invincible. When the feed from Governor Winton’s office made it painfully obvious that the visitors were just bypassing the moon and heading for Earth, he moved directly from his desk to the door opening into Fleet Control Center (FCC).

As he entered FCC, his flag aide, Lieutenant Anthony Manzelli announced, “Admiral on the bridge,” even though this was not technically the bridge. In a weightless environment, everyone could not rise and stand at attention at the appearance of a superior officer. The Navy had developed new protocols whereby everyone not engaged in a critical task would turn toward their superior officer and slap their hand to their chest over their heart, similar to the old Roman legions.

“As you were,” Brooks said, and the rustle of everyone turning back to their stations added a bit of normalcy to this otherwise bizarre situation.

“Commander Santos, I need an update on when our visitors will cross our line of defense.”

“Sir, the visitors are proceeding directly in system at approximately thirty-two thousand kilometers per hour and should reach our defensive perimeter in just over eight hours. If we maintain our current orbital configuration, B Wing will be at the approximate crossover point.”

“I assume that means we will have just passed that point with B Wing coming up directly behind us?”

“Yes sir. We will be about eighteen thousand kilometers past the intercept.”

Brooks nodded. “Okay. Notify Captain Greene that I want A Wing to expand its orbit so that we will intercept the three ships just above B Wing. That way we will have at least two wings between them and Earth. Since they are ignoring all of our communications, I think we need to get a little more aggressive and interpose a few of our ships directly in their flight path. Have B Wing running with weapons hot below A Wing while we try to wake them up by blocking their path. I want three destroyers dispatched from A Wing, one for each of the alien vessels. They are to break from the wing ten minutes before intercept and head directly into the incoming flight paths. We are going to play a little game of chicken.”

Chapter 60 – The Esss Change the Mapping Approach

The scout leader detected numerous ships orbiting this planet in what appeared to be a spherical defensive perimeter. This could prove to be a problem, depending on the ships’ capabilities. Since its orders were not to engage with the locals, it would have to find a way through this rather thin picket line. Once through, however, each scout would have to deal with possible pursuit and disruption of the assigned tasks. It was time to split up and use their superior acceleration and speed to avoid any confrontation.

The leader passed on specific orders to the other scouts. Instead of establishing orbits around the planet just above the atmosphere for completing the mapping, they would have to make multiple high-speed passes over the planet from slightly further out. This would use up more fuel, but they had plenty to spare. The biggest disadvantage was that each of the scouts would have to remain in their acceleration tanks during the mapping process. Controlling the mapping equipment was easier from outside of the tanks but not impossible while immersed. Presetting the laser mapping controls before entering the tanks should be sufficient. If any fine adjustments became necessary, the scout leader would suspend the mapping process long enough to exit the tank, make the adjustments, and reenter the tank before the next high-speed pass over the planet.


Chapter 61 – Intercept Failure

“Sir, they’re splitting up and accelerating in three different directions,” Commander Santos reported. “They are already up to almost eighty thousand kilometers per hour, and each has a heading to pass through our screen in less than twenty minutes.”

“Plot the contact points, Commander,” Brooks replied. “I need to know if we will have any of our ships close enough to intercept.”

Thirty seconds later, Santos reported, “They have chosen their breach points very carefully sir. We cannot get any ship close to them.”

“Get me Naval Headquarters.”

Fifteen seconds later, Brooks was connected to Andrea Miller, Secretary of the Space Navy.

“What do you have for me, Admiral?”

“Ma’am, the visitors will breach our perimeter in less than twenty minutes and will be heading directly toward Earth with unknown intentions. They have accelerated to a speed far beyond our capability to pursue or even for a missile to strike. The only thing that could catch them would be a laser weapon.”

“Thank you, Fleet Admiral. Have you seen any evidence of hostile intent?”

“No, ma’am. They were ignoring us completely until we interposed our ships between them and Earth, and then they changed their approach by accelerating around us.”

“I’ll get back to you if we have any further orders, Admiral.”

Secretary Miller cut the connection.


Nu Book 1 – The Esss Advance is available via this link on ==> Amazon

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Share Your World – 2016 Week 30

This is a weekly challenge administered by Cee Neuner that gives bloggers a chance to share a little bit about themselves with fellow bloggers. Here are this week’s questions:

Do you prefer a bath or shower?

If you had an unlimited shopping spree at only one store, which one would you choose? Why?

If you could be one age for the rest of your life, what age would that be?

List at least five movies that cheer you up.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

So, here are my answers this week:

Do you prefer a bath or shower?

I prefer a shower. I have a choice of both as seen below from pictures taken before we bought our home:



But the bath tub probably gets used once or twice a year, while the shower sees action every single morning.

If you had an unlimited shopping spree at only one store, which one would you choose? Why?

I would take my shopping spree at Schiffman’s Jewelers in Greensboro. Imagine the haul you could carry out of a top shelf jewelry store. I spend enough there already (just ask my wife).

If you could be one age for the rest of your life, what age would that be?

I think I would pick 40-45 years old. That is young enough to still be in my prime both physically and mentally but old enough to have some significant life experience to start my forever after life (I am assuming I would live forever barring accidents).

List at least five movies that cheer you up.

  1. Aladdin – A Whole New World was our wedding theme.
  2. You’ve Got Mail
  3. When Harry Met Sally
  4. Mrs. Doubtfire
  5. The Martian (starring Matt Damon)

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

Last week my pool team won our last match of the season to take second place in our division. It was a great team effort because we were playing the third place team and the standing were so close, the team that won 3 out of 5 matches got second place.

This week we have a neighborhood social scheduled for Friday evening where we will get a chance to catch up with what some of our friends have been doing this summer.





Mundane Monday – July 25, 2016

What could be more mundane than filling up your car with gasoline (someone across the pond might say petrol). Yesterday, on the way home from Church, I pulled into a Sheetz Gas Station to fill up. I was struck by the bold color of the posts holding up the roof over the pumps.


I also liked the strong vertical lines as they contrast with the white ceiling and the bright orange roof line that moves from upper right to middle left. Let me know what you think of the framing and composition.

Many thanks to PhoTrablogger for hosting this challenge.

Monday Window – July 25, 2016

Today’s Monday Window post is about sacrificing windows. The back of our house has a wonderful South-West exposure, which is great for passive solar heating in the winter. Here is a picture of the back of the house when we bought it in 2008:


We had a total of 19 window on the back, including the bow window in the back peak.

A few years later, we put on a back deck at the level of the main floor. Here is a picture with the deck:


As you can imagine, the deck covers the house’s exposure to the sun on the lower level. The featured image, seen below, shows the shadowing of one of the four main windows:


Also in shadow are two windows to the left (see the second picture above) that give light to one of the two downstairs bedrooms. We had originally planned on having a stairway up to the deck, but that would have shaded the two center windows in this picture, as the stairs would have required a platform halfway down with the steps then being the width of two stairways. So, we decided to nix the stairway to keep some light flowing into our family room on that lower level.

This means that we lost light going to three of the 19 windows. We also lost one window because it had to be sacrificed for a door onto the deck. Fortunately, that door is mostly glass, so that did not hurt very much.

So what did we gain? We now have a beautiful 25 foot by 15 foot deck that can be enjoyed most of the year (with the exception of afternoons in the middle of summer when the heat is just too intense, even under our umbrella). Here are two picture of the deck from the doorway and from the back corner:


So for us, it was well worth the window sacrifice.

Monday Window Home
Monday Window Home


Sunday Trees – 245

The Leyland Cypress tree is a fast growing giant used as a screen for privacy around your yard. We have five of these beautiful trees that screen our deck from our neighbor. They are now about 30-40 feet high and merged together at their base. Here is a closeup of the branches at the base of one of the trees:


Next is a photo from the side where you can see the 5 trees forming the screen:


Now for two pictures taken straight up from the base. The first is with flash the second is without flash:




Finally, a picture of me blogging on the deck with the trees in the background.


Thanks to Becca Givens for hosting this fun challenge.