Cake, Piano and the Beach. Never however forget the bear. If you do there will be tears…


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We took the kids on the Disney Cruise for a vacation when they were young. Every night our serving crew would come by our table ask make sure everything was ok. The way the ship worked you went to each of the really nice restaurants once and had the same crew of serving staff each time.

The first time they came by and asked Barb and I was everything ok we said fantastic. Then they asked do you need anything else. Lukey shouted “Cake.” He liked cake before that trip but on that trip Cake became an obsession. Every meal he tried different kinds of cake.

On the last night of the cruise the serving crew sings for everyone. In our cake they simply chanted “Cake” everyone at our table (once we explained the why) had a great laugh. Lukey got CAKE so in the end he was laughing as well. Here he is being cruelly forced to wait for everyone else to have cake and is imploring the photographer to let him eat the cake in front of him.

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Music is a huge part of our lives. I personally listen to music at work and in my home office all the time. It helps me concentrate. When we first moved to Greenwood Jakki took piano lesson’s for awhile. She was pretty good – long fingers and all. But her passion was taking pictures. (she is really good at taking pictures, much better than I am. She has my father’s knack for taking the right picture at the moment).

This is from her recital.

Jakki is an amazing artist. She takes projects she sees on the Internet and gets the boys involved in them. They always turn out some of the most amazing art work. They made custom plates that you can eat on with some of their favorite (and my favorite Minions from the movie Despicable Me. I am a huge Steve Carell Fan and I think the two Despicable Me movies are simply amazing. I just also love the side characters.)

You never know what the next fun project she will undertake. The boys love it as well. They enjoy working with their big sister and frankly I am amazed at how often she simply tells them to do something and they do it. Not complaining or doing it because they are scared of her, but simply because she asked them to.

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This is a picture from the Indiana Dunes in 2005. We went back in 2010 the summer before we moved to Maryland. There are a couple of things that you will notice. First off, the camera Barb had back in 2005 was not a great film camera so comparisons are not fair at best. You can see that it wasn’t a great camera in the framing. The picture is framed well visually but the lens of the camera broke up a little on the edges.

Barb took Jakki and Da Boys to meet our dear friends the Hussongs. Joan and Jock are actually the boys God parents and live in Cincinnati Ohio.

I was off traveling somewhere in the world and missed this trip. Actually I was in Chicago and just couldn’t make it around the lake to join them. This is the trip with the Honey Bear incident. On the way home they stopped at the Chucky Cheeses in Merrillville Indiana. Honey Bear, Luke’s great love was left in the booth by accident. That was Wednesday afternoon. By the time (that night) they realized Honey Bear was missing Lukey was in tears. He loved that bear. I ended up stopping on my way home from Chicago Friday and poor Barb had two nights of a boy in tears. All was well in the end.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

What did you guys have for dinner? “Fish sticks”


Pictures from Holland in 2009. I was there working with Heineken. Two week in Holland and I have to say it was an amazing trip. I got to see more of Holland IMG_0118than I had the previous two times I had been. I also got to explore the area I was staying. The only downside was that there were only two restaurants near where I was staying. One inside the Marriott Courtyard and the other in the bowling alley next door. I found out the second night that the bowling alley had great food. So I ate there a couple of nights. I was within a brisk walk of Haarlem as well so I ate there a couple of evenings on the weekends. (it was about 3 miles brisk walk one way). This is from my 2009 trip to Holland.

Holland remains one of my favorite places to visit and Amsterdam remains one of my all time favorite cities. Behind my hotel was a recreation lake where people would swim in the summer. I was still running then so even though it wasn’t swimming weather it was perfect running weather.

I also got to try Ice Cold Heineken. I wish they would bring that variety to the US. It was without a doubt a fantastic beer experience!

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On one trip to Seattle back in 2004 all the Redmond hotels were booked for a Microsoft event so I ended up staying near Lake Union on the North side of Seattle. The commute back to the hotel was terrible crossing the bridge over the lake at night but the hotel had a wonderful view.

Lake Union is where a lot of the seaplanes are based. They are in the harbor below. There is also a location of my favorite steak house in Seattle, and of the four locations I’ve been two this is one of my top two. The lake union Daniel’s Broiler. My all time favorite Seattle restaurant is Wild Ginger and the black chicken wine but that was a long time ago.

The hotel had overbooked so my reservation got upgraded to a suite. It had the most glorious patio that was the size of 8 or 9 normal hotel patios put together. I enjoyed a couple cigars out on that patio with friends.

Traveling was hard – makes me realize how much harder it was on my dad. He didn’t get to call very often and he was usually gone for a month at a time. I was usually gone for 1 to at the most 3 weeks and I could call every day. That makes a difference when you can call every day. You remain connected to the day to day operations of the family.

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The city of Istanbul Turkey from 2006. This was from the top of the hotel I have quite a few others. This was the only trip I made to Istanbul. Great trip working with a great team and customers. I got to try Turkish Coffee on the banks of the river leading to the Bosporus Straights. I got to touch the great wall of Constantinople. It is a city that presents and old and a new face. The history of the city is quite amazing.

My hotel had a restaurant and lounge on the top floor.

The city reminded me of the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. Where having a car wasn’t always an advantage when it came to getting around the city. In fact having a car could be a deterrent sometimes.

Those, were the days. I learned a valuable life lesson then. Never call your family and talk about the wonderful five course meal you’ve just eaten as many times with young kids they are cleaning up after eating fish sticks.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Move along this couch is property Labrador nation…


Raven was complaining last night that her picture wasn’t featured more on the blog. I really didn’t have a good answer and threats were made so here is a 945A0002picture of her majesty Raven the second Labrador Queen of our house. Like the first Labrador queen there is a sense of honor and order within her majesty’s pose. Raven is a wonderful addition to our family. She is a bit more in control than Dylan or Tamsyn. Well a lot more in control.

Raven’s catch phrase “Move along this is not the couch you were looking for.”

Recently when Dylan and Tamsyn have been playing I tell Raven separate them. She runs over and stands between the two wrestling dogs and barks at them to let them know to stop. That is a trick she learned after only being told to do it twice so I am impressed.

My very favorite Raven trick is when she yells at the boys. She actually tips her head back and yells at them. It is beyond funny. The boys don’t like it much and she doesn’t do it all the time, but when she yells at them I lavish praise on her – simply because it makes me laugh. The couch has been hers since the second day she moved in.

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Dylan on the other hand is still not a huge fan of pictures. I am not sure why. Raven and Tamsyn are hams posing for pictures and being part of everything. Dylan remains more aloof and while he loves to cuddle he is more picky about how often he cuddles. Normally for him it is when everything is settled down for the night and we are relaxing as a family, then he snuggles. He also likes to cuddle during family movie night.

The two of them have become a bonded pair. They do everything together and frankly it is hilarious. Raven is the master of the house and Dylan is the chief security officer. They have split primary walking responsibilities as far as getting dad out of the house on the walk, walk walk. Dylan is still directly in charge of dad however in the walk preparation period. Raven is directly responsible for the boys.

This is a frequent Lab couchification positions in these two photos.

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Tamsyn changes the play dynamic and I will share pictures of her and the other two playing. This is the Raven/Dylan play fighting that occurs every day. Mostly right about time for the walk or time for their dinner. It is hilarious that we go on the walk, come home and they both expect to be fed. (well now all three do).

Dogs can and do change everything. (if you love dogs and haven’t read the wonderful the Divinity of Dogs – get it, frankly a wonderful book about dogs and their impact).

The only dog problem we have in our house in the end is the size of our couch. It once (when we got it) seemed too big. Adding two dogs to the mix has made the couch seem small and confining now. Perhaps we should hire someone to install a whole room couch. Then we wouldn’t have to share with Labradors. Because today when I get up to get a drink of water there is a Lab in my spot when I return. Dylan will move, Raven just glares at me.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Another Shameless Review – Canary


Canary is a crowd funded home video and environment system. It was delayed considerably (originally slated for almost a year ago). Its arrival two weeks ago was an exciting moment (I believe in crowd funding).

The unit arrived in a wonderfully designed box. When shipping audio or video equipment you worry about shaking during shipping but that wasn’t the case with the wonderful canary case. Placement of a video camera is important. I have the exceptional Hawkcam for the basement (sorry no pictures but you can imagine why). The Hawkcam is a quick set-up point at the target and go video system. For the front door area though I needed more than simply seeing the door. Our entry way has a few obstacles and I needed a system that not only zoomed but also once the video was on allowed you to pan within the video itself.

What I really love:

  • Packing was awesome!
  • The unit just looks cool.
  • Easy to connect to power.
  • Like the Hawkcam you can set it up from your mobile device. I can’t tell you how much of a killer feature that is.
  • Video field is wider than other cameras in its market space (nearly 180 degrees full).
  • Nice HD
  • easy to record video
  • Intelligence built into the software – you can tell the software when the movement in the space is pet’s people or best of all when something bad is happening it includes an alarm.
  • The software is awesome. I am running it on my Android Tablet and my iPhone/Ipad.

What I would like to see improved:

  • Non USB based power supply

My initial impression is amazing. When you connect to the camera you get a screen that allows you to scroll down to view events the Canary has captured or to press the watch live button. When you scroll down to view events Canary allows you to determine or classify the events so that it can learn. By my front door my other alarm system operates (all three dogs) so they are frequently running to the door during the day. I can identify pet movement and put an all’s clear in the software so it knows its just the dogs.

The home screen also tells me the CO2 levels, temperature and humidity of the house. Overall this is an amazing device and adds to my home security infrastructure. If you need a system you can zoom, pan and have coverage for a large area I recommend the Canary. In the simple, quick point and shoot security requirement buy the Hawkcam.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

A picture of Fran and how do I start my own family history project?


Here is an image of Francine Marshmutt Andersen in her full glory – laying down on a chair and sleeping. She was a grand dog and protected Jakki not only unsorted537from other people but often from herself. Fran was frequently mad at Jakki and often shunned her.  I couldn’t for the life of me ever tell you what Jakki did each time that earned the wrath of Fran but she did it.

My favorite Fran story is the day I realized Jakki had to be hiding food in her bedroom (a forbidden thing so as to prevent a reason for Mice to join our household). Jakki had hidden food all over her room, I was pretty sure but I couldn’t find it. So I asked Fran to turn state’s evidence against Jakki. She happily did leading me around the room showing me the food hiding places. All it took was one piece of whatever food she pointed out (finders fee). For years thereafter she would sometimes come and get me and let me know there was food in her girl’s room. Happily turning states evidence against her girl for a couple of snacks.

Jakki wasn’t ever very happy about that skill. Fran could have been a great bomb sniffing dog she had an amazing nose and was stubborn enough to just sit there and wait for people to figure out she was right in the first place. This is from our house in Greenwood Indiana, looking out over the back yard. The chair did not leave Greenwood with us as we traversed to Maryland. There are times I still see Fran hovering over her girl. I miss her. I always knew someone was watching Jakki and making sure she was safe and not doing anything too crazy. It is amazing how much dogs can not only enter your life but change it for the better. Its hard to yell at the television during a basketball game when somebody bites your feet every time you yell.

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In 2012 we took a trip to Mount Vernon. It is actually only about an hour from Maryland without traffic (3 with traffic). This is how my children reacted on the front lawn of the father of our country, they goofed around like crazy people. We had a blast that day and Nick didn’t even complain about walking around all of Mt. Vernon (we covered nearly 4.5 miles of territory walking that day).

My parents took us to Mount Vernon the first time back in 1971. Somewhere in the slide scans of my father are some of the pictures. I remember that because I posted on to the history blog awhile ago.

The other day someone wrote me an email asking how to start a family history project. I thought I would share the concept that Jakki, Luke, Nick and I have developed.

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Step 1 – get an awesome team. Done!!! There is the team, they are really great kids and helped move this project forward.

Step 2 – invest in a good scanner. The better the scanner the better the software. That is critical going forward as good software separates the pictures automatically instead of scanning them as a single page.

We started with my grandfather slides and father’s slides. If you aren’t doing slides that releases you from the prosumer scanner grouping, you can get a good scanner for a lot less. Jakki organized the slides into grouping, any pre-labeled slides (my dad or grandfather hand labeling) were scanned with he name attached to them. The rest were scanned by year or by type (slide tray, slide sheet, loose).

The last part of the project is sharing them. Telling the stories that come to you when you see the pictures. Then other family members can chime in with their thoughts or different memories of the events in the pictures. Share all that into a blog. WordPress let’s you have a blog for free so it isn’t costly. Finally the last and perhaps most important thing – backup the pictures. Spend just a little extra and backup your pictures to the cloud. That way you have at least two-three copies at your home and one more in the cloud.

It has and continues to be a fun project – start your family history project today!

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow!

Way back home in Indiana


This is the view from our back porch in Indiana to the pool and apparently some sort of strange growth on the diving board. Not sure what that growth was unsorted452possibly some of the fungal things you have to spray for. Straight back and just over the trampoline was the railroad trestle. The boys and I climbed that a couple of times over the years. It was a working railroad track.

The coal trains for the Indianapolis Power and Light company’s plant on Harding road actually rolled through those tracks twice a day. When we first moved in it freaked the boys out the loud noise of the train. 11 years later when we moved out it no longer bothered them. Amazing what time and maturity bring to everyone.

To the right of this picture was the retention pond. The neighborhood had four or five of them and we were on the last of the front three. Very scenic and beautiful. A creek ran into the retention pond at the end of our property. It cascaded under the rail road trestle and into the pond.

At that end of the pond was where the Natrix water snakes lived. Nasty little buggers they would strike at you. One time while mowing one struck at the mower. Sadly for the snake the mower wasn’t afraid and that was the end of the snake. I don’t like killing creatures, it bothers me and it bothered me that I couldn’t reach fast enough (I was on the riding mower) to avoid the snake. But as I said they were certainly nasty little buggers.

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The same pool just a little to the right. You can see the retaining pond in its full glory. The cool thing about that pond was the family of beavers that moved in one year. Sadly one of the beavers was killed by a car on the road that is at the far end of this picture (you really can’t see Olive Branch raceway but it is there).

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There is the beaver the picture taken on a different day of course. He or she is in our neighbors yard. We had the best neighbors (The Cohen’s) and when they moved out so did a lot of the cool factor of the neighborhood. They moved out about a year before we did. They were as I said the best neighbors for ten years!

Interestingly even though we lived reasonably close to the woods (about two miles South) in the end we see a lot more wildlife in Maryland than we did in Indiana. We just have to pop about a mile down the road near out house to find a lake filled with beavers. Or literally go on our evening walk and encounter deer crossing the road. We actually live in a much more populated area but the rules around the planned communities is green space. Just a little bit of green allows the animals to maintain their habitats somewhat. The down side is we’ve seen four deer hit by cars now while walking. It makes Nick sad.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Bowling with twins, relaxing and on vacation–life is a long tale fit into a short story…


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As this person quickly found out you have to permanently attach the boy to the ball for this to work. Otherwise as happened in this case the boy and the bowling ball get separated. Luckily a gumming up disaster was avoided in this case as the boy and the ball were separated before they hit the ball return.

When bowling with twins always attach the boy to the ball permanently before rolling the boy down the lane. Otherwise you get the problem in this picture – or worse boy and ball separate in the ball return and you have to get the bowling establishment team engaged to run them both through the ball return separately.

Do note of course that in the end the twin will not like being attached to the ball. Be careful that they don’t ruin the adhesive connection by wiggling. Twins are notorious wigglers. They cannot sit still for even the shortest second without wiggling.

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This is Barb and Jakki sitting on our couch in Cincinnati. This photo was taken in the front room of our first house on Shafer Avenue Western Hills, a suburb of Cincinnati. Out the window was our small porch. The house was a Dutch Colonial and pretty small. 1.5 bathrooms for the entire house. Getting ready in the morning was a tough situation at times.

We lived in that house from 1994 to 1998. We actually built another house in Mount Airy and moved to that house in 1998. This first house of ours was built in 1932. The previous owner of the house was a former punter for the Cincinnati Bengals. He had only lasted about two years as the punter before he was cut. The house had gorgeous stained glass windows above the doors, and the window behind Barb and Jakki also had stained glass. It was our first house in Cincinnati Ohio. I did hate the kitchen. IT was a galley kitchen and far too small to cook anything in.

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Starting on the far right of this picture is Aaron. Next to Aaron is Barb’s friend Nancy. Then you have Becca, Barb and finally at the very end little Jakki. Nancy’s father was a Doctor in Fort Wayne Indiana and they had a cottage on a lake in upstate (north of Fort Wayne near Amish Country.) Nancy had invited us to spend a weekend there and this picture was taken as we arrived on the first day.

It was fun to get away from Bloomington for a weekend. Roughly 6 months or so after this weekend we moved to Cincinnati Ohio.

We took the path less traveled and in the end were all the better for it.

 

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Shameless review–The Hawkcam Pro


Its all about the reviews. http://www.amazon.com/HawkCam-Pro-Surveillance-activated-Protected/dp/B00OQOB9BA there are a growing number for this great remove viewing camera.

I wanted to add inside the house video of the entrances to my house. I realize that is geeky at best but it was important to me. I looked around on Amazon and found the HawkCam Pro. First off, watching my house like a hawk appealed to me.

What I loved:

  • There is no monthly storage fee for my video. I can use a number of methods including a local S.D. card, ftp to my computer hard drive or connect my cloud drive of choice to the system – no monthly fee let’s me be flexible.
  • Occlusion detection if someone accidentally (or not accidentally) covers the lens – it notifies you.
  • Remote viewing set-up is simply an account away. Even when I drop down to 4g in my office at work I can still view my back door cleanly.
  • Night vision is great – I don’t need lights turned on to use the camera.
  • Cost is perfect. It was right in the low end of the ballpark I was willing to spend for such a camera.
  • You can have one ore more cameras in the software.
  • Very cool feature – you can set the camera up from any device. I actually stood next to it with my iPhone and had it up and running on my wi-fi network in about 3 minutes.
  • I was thinking zoom would be a critical feature I would miss but in the end if you are observing a set thing (door) zoom really doesn’t add any value to what you are trying to do. In fact I suspect zoom would actually increase the size and make remote viewing tougher.
  • instructions both for the camera and for setting the software were excellent.

What could be better

  • Really only one thing – I wish the base were a little easier to assemble.

Overall this is a great addition to the home security system. I really like the overall view it gives me and frankly in the basement where it is a straight shot I think in the end zoom would have taken away from the value rather than add to it. The software is very easy to use and I like being able to record to the S.D. card on the device. If I need the video – I can run over and grab it. Mostly right now I am using it to figure out when the dogs have muddy feet coming in the back door.

If you need a quick, good and effective video surveillance tool for home use or business use then this is the product to get. I included the link to the page up in the top section. Overall I highly recommend this product. In the IoT expanding world of home security today, all I can say about this device is NO MONTLY FEES. That alone makes it worth twice as much as any of the competitors whose monitoring packages include a monthly fee.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Glory, Joy and a really bad sense of humor…


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The stained glass windows taken from inside the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. You can’t hear them but the choir was practicing as I took this picture. It was an amazing view.

Except for reading the sign on the way in. Pickpockets are known to frequent the cathedral. Please be careful with your personal belongings.

Seriously?

Pickpockets frequent Notre Dame? Look up at the beauty, enjoy the beauty but keep your hand on your wallet!!!!!!

Oh well I guess in the end you never know what makes people tick.

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Nick, who says he never remembers anything remembers me shaving off my mustache when they were little and when they were a little older going completely clean shaven for a time. When I was traveling to Kuala Lumpor I ended up shaving off my goatee as it was hot and uncomfortable. Nick still talks about not recognizing me when I got home from that trip.

This is all of us sitting on our old couch in the living room of our house in Cincinnati Ohio. We were, based on Jakki’s expression watching something the boys wanted to watch.  When Jakki was little I used to pick her up from Day Care and at that time we would either have to drive all the way across town to get her older sister or we would shoot straight home and make dinner. No matter which happened Jakki had rules. She didn’t want to miss Shining Time Station and Barney. She would sit on the end of my chair and enjoy her shows. It was the routine she established every early on in her life. Her early years in the end were tougher because of all the transportation to play practice and plays we had to do for her older unsorted148sister. But the bean never complained. She even let me listen to Classic Rock radio the entire time.

My mother has a very very bad sense of humor. Seriously. Its bad. On my 35th birthday this batch of black balloons was delivered to my place of work at the time, The Future Now. Much fun was had at my expense.

Like I said mom has a bad sense of humor.

I am only sharing this to protect those who may yet fall victim to that sense of humor.

‘nough said.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Throwback Thursday blog–lot’s of jumbled memories of the way things were.


I’ve posted this picture before but being that people like to celebrate throwback Thursday here is a blast from the past. I love this picture. The day I found it slidetray015in all the slides my grandfather left I was happy. The more I see this slide the happier I am.  I made it my profile picture on Facebook recently because it reminds me of not only where I once was but ultimately who I want to be.

My father was someone who believed in life long learning. That every day you should strive to learn or understand a new principle or concept. He taught hundreds of students over the years to keep reaching for the stars.

Grieving is a funny process. You wander through days and even weeks without reminding anything that sets off the sadness. Then you sit there and find one thing and it nits at you until the sadness returns. Luckily I have this picture to look at to see and remember my dad as he was simply a great dad and a wonderful person.

This by the way was my Grandfather’s favorite photo place. There are a number of pictures taken here of family members over the years. Never one however at this location of my grandmother. She didn’t like the hiking and wandering around the Dells like my grandfather did.

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Somewhere near IPST in Bangkok Thailand 1972.

It was a different world back then. Perhaps a bigger world. We wandered off to Bangkok for our sojourn there and suddenly we communicated by letters with family back in the US. We called on the phone a couple of times but it was often more like a bad cellular connection, hard to hear and understand. My grandfather gave my mother a tape recorder so that we could talk to them and send it off in the mail. It came back to us two weeks later with grandpa and grandma talking to us.

I once on the tapes said I rolled a 300 in bowling I was so proud. I meant to say over the course of the three games in my league I compiled a 300 series but it came out wrong.  No one ever corrected that error. I guess in the end it was cute.

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Ending today with images of Colorado. Dad’s idea of a great vacation was go somewhere rustic and hike for a week. We did that quite a number of times, Turtle Flambeau Flowage we canoed for a week. Porcupine Mountain State park we were in a cabin and we hiked for a week. Colorado we hiked for a week. Dad took over as our scoutmaster for a year and we hiked as many weekends as he could organize hikes.

In the end Dad the hiking stuck. I love taking the boys on walks every day. I think Dylan as the same philosophy in life about walking as you did. Just walk. So we do!

Every vacation we end up taking has at least one long walk in it. Be it that we are walking along the ocean or walking into town we hike on vacation.

I should probably get a shirt printed that says “Just hike.”

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.