Sunday, June 30, 2013

Back From the Beach

We got back home yesterday after our annual summer vacation trip to Seagrove Beach, Florida.  For the most part the weather was great, except for a bit of rain on our first and last days there.  Leslie treated Sarah and Grace to a trip to Gulf World to swim with dolphins.  They returned with a great video of Sarah hitching a ride on a dolphin's dorsal fin with the child flashing a peace sign to the crowd as she went by.  The trainer commented on her showmanship.

The crowds were the heaviest I have ever seen in Seagrove, perhaps because we were there the week before Independence Day.  We are fond of Seagrove for the lack of crowds, so I hope this isn't a precedent.  Usually I make at least one trip into Destin to at least have lunch at AJ's, but I stayed at Seagrove the whole week to avoid the traffic.  Sherry took the kids into Destin on one of the days we were down there, and she reported that the crowds and traffic were horrific, although they enjoyed their excursion.

This was our first trip to the beach after the death of my friend Randy, who died on his sailboat down there in May, and we felt his absence.  Dawn kindly offered to let us see the sailboat one last time, but I wanted to remember it with Randy at the wheel barking orders to his crew (i.e. us).  To see it empty seemed kind of sad.  Although we miss our friend, we honored his memory the way I suspect he would want us to, by having lots of fun with the kids in the sun and the surf.

The Tunguska Event

On June 30, 1908, an explosion over Tunguska, Siberia, in Russia flattened an estimated 80 million trees.  It is believed the explosion was caused by a comet or meteoroid.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Camp Creek Lake

We've spent summer vacations for the past fifteen years or so near Destin, Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico, and most of them we spent in Seagrove Beach in South Walton County.  The Walton Sun recently ran a story in which a man whose family built a cabin on Camp Creek Lake in the 1940's reminisced about how the area was in his day.  Alligators were a problem.  I've been in Eastern Lake, but am not familiar with Camp Creek Lake.  I'll have to check it out this summer.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Battle of Sullivan's Island

On June 28, 1776, American soldiers fought off the British fleet at the Battle of Sullivan's Island near Charleston, South Carolina.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Restaurant Review -- T.C. Grill, Maryville, Tennessee

We finally got around to trying out T.C. Grill, 2514 Old Niles Ferry Road in Maryville.  (Actually, it is just outside the city limits.)  It my understanding that it is operated by the folks who used to operate the old Bel Air Grill on Alcoa Highway (not the new one on Keller Lane).  We had breakfast, though they are known for their burgers.  The biscuits were big and fluffy, and the home fries were plentiful and delicious.  Sherry had a ham and cheese omelet, and Sarah let me try her pancakes, which were also quite good.  They had a good crowd on a Saturday morning, but we didn't have to wait too long.  We'll have to go back for burgers.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wacky Races Peugeot Advertisement

I used to love the Wacky Races cartoons when I was a kid, and we still catch them from time to time with Sarah.  Peugeot has a new advertisement featuring characters, and vehicles, from the cartoon.  Our hero, the driver of the Peugeot, drives off at the end of the commercial with Penelope Pitstop, after kicking Muttley out of the back seat of his Peugeot.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Battle of Little Bighorn

The Custer Fight by Charles Marion Russell.

On July 25 and 26, 1876, the United States Army Seventh Cavalry Regiment was defeated at the Battle of Little Bighorn by warriors of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes.  The commanding officer of the Seventh Cavalry Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and 267 of his fellow soldiers died in the battle.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Book Review -- The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst and the Rush to War, 1898

I just finished an audiobook version of The War Lovers:  Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst and the Rush to War, 1898 by Evan Thomas.  The title link will take you to a professional review in the Washington Post, but I will share my impressions here.  I have read (or listened to) several biographies of Theodore Roosevelt, and am familiar with his long friendship with Henry Cabot Lodge.  This book takes a critical view of their actions, and those of publisher William Randolph Hearst, in the involvement of the United States in the Spanish-American War.  It marked the beginning of American imperialism, and was the point in history when the United States began to assert itself as a world power.

I find it difficult to dislike Roosevelt, party because of the boyish exuberance he displayed throughout his life.  This book has one of my favorite quotations about Roosevelt, by Cecil Spring-Rice, "You must always remember that the President is about six."  Most biographies leave one rooting for the subject of the biography, but reading a more critical account of Roosevelt's actions leaves one with greater perspective.  I enjoyed the book.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


It is worth four minutes of your life to watch this video of the moon rising over New Zealand.  Beautiful!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Volcano From Space

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station captured this image of a volcano in Alaska erupting on May 18.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Solstice

Today is the first day of summer.  The folks at Stonehenge plan to celebrate.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Crab Corn Dogs

Crab corn dogs are being served in Nashville.  Find out where at Eat. Drink. Smile.  The idea intrigues me.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Restaurant Review -- The Woodlands Bar-B-Que

While we were in Blowing Rock several weekends ago we made the obligatory stop at Woodlands Barbecue, 8304 Valley Boulevard (Highway 321 bypass), Blowing Rock, North Carolina, known locally as "The Woodlands."  It was the Saturday before Memorial Day, and the place was packed, so we had a 15-20 minute wait.  We had barbecue, but I ordered a plate of jerk wings as an appetizer.  Jerk seasoning has become popular in Blowing Rock.
Frazier poses with his nieces.
We lounged at a picnic table outside while we waited.
As you can see from the numerous cookers, they're serious about their barbecue at the Woodlands.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Wildflowers at Cardens Bluff Campground on Watauga Lake

Highway 321 from Tennessee to North Carolina and back is a very curvy road, and we stopped at Cardens Bluff campground on Watauga Lake to give everyone a break from the road on the way back from our trip to Blowing Rock.  The campground was packed.  It is a beautiful place to camp, and Watauga Lake is very clear and cold.  There are many places to fish, and there are also a shooting range and a marina (including restaurant) nearby.
I wandered around the campground a bit and spotted a few wildflowers.  Meadow-Parsnip is pictured above, and squawroot is pictured below.  I also saw some Smooth Solomon's Seal and some more False Solomon's Seal.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Grandpa Isenhour

This is a photograph of my maternal grandfather, Harvey Isenhour, and my grandmother, Eula Powell Isenhour, in honor of Fathers Day.  According to Mom, I inherited Grandpa Isenhour's shoulders.

Granddaddy Ogle

Granddaddy Ogle was a consummate Southern gentleman, but he didn't care much for having his picture taken.  Rest easy dads and granddads on this Fathers Day, duty calls again as our Monday morning approaches.

Mr. and Mrs Phillip E. Ogle and Children

On this Fathers Day, here is Dad posing with Mom, my sisters and I for a family portrait.  I estimate that this was around 1970.

Happy Fathers Day!

I gave Sarah a lapel button with this logo on it a couple of years ago, and she made me put it on to go to the zoo yesterday due to the Star Wars cosplayers event there.  Happy Fathers Day!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Long Time Ago, In a Zoological Park Far, Far Away

Well, maybe not a long time ago, this morning in fact, we visited the Knoxville Zoo, where a group of cosplayers were decked out in Star Wars attire allowed themselves to be photographed with zoo patrons.  Here, Sherry and Sarah pose with Darth Vader, who must have been hot in the 80 degree heat, but then, I suppose he was much warmer after Obi Wan cut his legs off on the lava planet Mustafar.
Sarah and I were taken into custody by a stormtrooper, but we managed to escape.
I felt a little sorry for the snowtrooper, who seemed rather out of place on a hot day.
We ran into this Tusken Raider and Jawa again later in the morning.  Unfortunately, there were no Banthas on display at the zoo today.
Sherry and Sarah pose in the butterfly enclosure.
While Sarah and the other kid with her were in the plastic bubble, this prairie dog jumped up behind them.  All of the adults outside tried to get their attention so they could see it, but we were unsuccessful.
We got to see zookeepers working with one of the elephants, which was enjoyable and interesting.
Sarah poses with a zebra in the background.
This jeep chassis makes for a good photo op every time.
We got up close and personal with this baboon.  He climbed up into a hammock and hung upside down near the glass for us.
This was kind of sad.  This little chimp had an injured left hand, and she was cradling it.  A zookeeper said they were giving her pain medication.
The meerkats, as usual, were quite entertaining.  After we left the zoo, we had pizza and onion rings at Pizza Palace, which has been in business on Magnolia Avenue in Knoxville for 51 years.  Sarah and I ate there during her fall break in 2010, but Sherry had never been.  I asked one of the ladies who works there about the history of the restaurant, and she explained that the Peroulas brothers ran Pizza Palace, the Louis Inn (a competitor to the Original Louis Drive-In, which is still in operation on Broadway in North Knoxville) and Pero's, a steakhouse in West Knoxville that was one of my dad's favorite restaurants when I was a lad.  I just learned that there is a new Pero's on the Hill in Rocky Hill, which we will have to try.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Flag Day

In the United States, today is Flag Day, a day on which we celebrate the Stars and Stripes.  Long may she wave!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Restaurant Review -- Canyons of the Blue Ridge, Blowing Rock, North Carolina

For supper last Friday, we dined at Canyons of the Blue Ridge, 8960 Highway 321, in Blowing Rock, North Carolina.  When Mom and Ron lived in Blowing Rock, this building housed the Emporium, and the feel of the establishment remains much the same.  The place is known for its beautiful mountain views, and we got to watch the sun set on a clear and windy evening.  I shared the Maui Chicken with Sherry, and sneaked a few of Sarah's fries.
Mom and I drove back to Canyons' parking lot Sunday morning when I took her on a short auto tour of Blowing Rock before we headed back to Tennessee.  The weather was cloudy, but you can see Grandfather Mountain on the right side of this photograph.
The small, pointy peak you see in the middle of this photograph is Table Rock.  Mom, my stepfather Ron, and my friend Tracey and I set off one day in Ron's Cadillac to drive to Table Rock.  This was long before I acquired the good sense to take a map and/or my North Carolina Gazetteer on such a journey.  Ron wasn't a map kind of guy.  We drove in the wilderness on gravel and dirt roads for hours, and the refrain of the trip was "It looks like we're getting closer, but it still doesn't look like you can get there from here."

At one point we were nearly out of gas and clearly spotted the highway from the gravel road we were on.  Thrilled, we headed in the direction of the highway, but were obstructed by a locked gate across the road just yards from where it connected to the highway.  Fortunately, we found another route to the highway and a nearby gas station, and we finally made our way to Table Rock.
If you want to spend a lot of money on food, Blowing Rock is the place to do it.  Canyons, in the spirit of the Emporium, is more oriented to locals and college kids from Boone.  The food is good and reasonably priced, and we found our server both friendly and prompt.  It is a great place to wind down with a sandwich and watch the sun set behind the mountains.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Restoration of the Galileo Seven

The Galileo Seven from the classic Star Trek series has seen better days, but it is being restored.  Take a look at the progress here.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Neighborhood Walkabout

This morning Sarah and I walked from our house to John Sevier Park, where we enjoyed sandwiches for a picnic breakfast.  Sarah celebrates our arrival.

Sarah suggested we photograph this flowering cactus we saw in a neighbor's yard.  The other flowers here are from our house.
A quiet John Sevier Pool awaits today's swimmers.
After breakfast, Sarah took advantage of the playground and swings.  She was swinging pretty high!

When we passed the Everett Park baseball fields there were ballplayers warming up.  I'd hoped we would be able to watch a couple of innings, but Sarah was eager to get home.

Sarah takes a breather on one of the picnic tables near the concession stand at ball fields near the Everett Rec Center.
Mom just dropped by to visit, and I told her about this dianthus.  I thought these plants were annuals, but this one survived the winter despite having been frozen in solid ice several times.

Gerber Daisy

We are awaiting Sherry's return from Nashville.  She's been automobile shopping, and we are excited about seeing her new wheels.