In the background of the pictures are Disney Characters and the Disney Magic (the then new Disney Cruise ship, now nearly 10 years old). This was the first family cruise we ever took and was a blast! But this also keeps in line with my bleachers I’ve been to posts over the last few days. We have wandered to Oak Island North Carolina, liked it so much, we wandered back. We have wandered to Rehoboth, a beach in Delaware, and today we are wandering to a beach of the past Castaway Cay. A private island owned by Walt Disney company, and used as a cruise ship stop on their Cruise line. Located in the Caribbean the island isn’t that big and other than the landing spot, not much of the island is built. There is a lot of old construction equipment rusting on the island as well.
We arrived in the over night hours and when we were done with breakfast it was time to disembark and start our day on the beach. The water as you can see from the pictures was unbelievable. The sand was as bright as day! There was only a few clouds in the sky and we headed ashore. Now, there were a few activities (paddle boarding, sailing, canoe and kayaks) but for the most part this was a sit and relax on the beach day. That meant the boys and Jakki were in the water about 3 minutes after we found a spot to sit. The only reason they waited the three minutes was we had the stroller with us, so we had to maneuver the stroller through the sand.
We relaxed and had a wonderful lunch. The beach was simply amazing. Around the 2 pm time we wandered back to the room. The boys were still young enough that afternoon naps happened still. They were half asleep as we re-boarded the ship and prepared for the evening. Plus, the ship was air conditioned and the island was not, so the ship was a lot cooler! We had a majestic day relaxing and just unwinding. One of my all time favorite beaches!.
Today’s wander project is nearly an Odyssey. The epic poem covers the activities and events that kept a father away from his son and wife for 20 years. Today’s journey is 1 year less than that 19. The images you will see today are of our twins. They were born at Good Sam hospital on March 30th 1998. It seems, now, so long ago. They were premature, as twins sometimes are, arriving early in the morning (4:30 and 4:37 am in fact). It was a Monday morning I remember that well. I was home with the girls (Jakki and Becca) and Barb was on forced bed rest at the hospital. She had been on home bed rest the previous 22 weeks so she was pretty sick of bed rest by this point. She called me around 7 pm. There were pains and the beginnings of labor, the Doctors were trying to stop the labor as the boys were only 33 weeks. Old enough to survive but if you can buy time, it is always better. The older the child is in Utero, the likelihood of survival increases by leaps and bounds. We’d had that talk with the doctor already. Barb called, she was scared, so I came to the Hospital not knowing what to expect. I called the boys future God Mother Joan Hussong and she came right away to stay with the girls.
We moved from Shaffer Avenue the first house we owned in Cincinnati to Mt. Airy (Willowcove) right after the boys were born. The old house was too small. The first year was tough. We nearly lost Nick, he had a horrible infection and was back in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care) at Good Sam just two weeks after he had come home. The boys had been in the NICU for around two weeks after birth and then came home. Nick went right back in and it was a really hard time period. I don’t remember much of the blur of days that happened then. I would go to work during the day, come home and go to the hospital. I do recall though one great moment. I don’t know why this has stuck with me all these years later but the first time the boys God Father Jock held them, he recited Beowulf to them. The old English version of the poem. I remember well sitting in the NICU and some how feeling it was all going to be ok.
We moved to Indiana in 1999. October was the month we actually picked up and moved. But in 2001 a huge milestone occurred. The boys turned 3, Matthew (my sisters son and my nephew) turned 9 and my father turned 66 in the months of March. The boys were born on my father’s birthday something he loved. Matt was born earlier in the month of March. That day was marked with celebrations and festivities.
There are many more milestones that happened along the way. For a time the boys were friends with a set of triplets. That was an interesting mix of doubles and triples. As identical twins, the boys are actually mirror twins. A mirror twin is pretty much as it sounds, one of them is the opposite of the other. As if they were looking into a mirror. One right handed and one left handed twin! I cannot express what a wonderful gift the two of them have been over the years. They are amazing human beings and I am proud of them. Today they turn 19 years old.
Proud father (and traveler)
Our first full summer in Maryland (2012) we wandered to Rehoboth beach in Delaware. We didn’t take Dylan or Raven as the place we rented didn’t allow dogs. Plus, in 2012 Raven wasn’t with us Fran still was. We spent about four or five days at the beach and that was nice. Rehoboth has clean beaches! It is about a 4 hour drive from the house. All the way across Maryland, and then all the way across Delaware. We left early in the morning and it took most of the day. While it wasn’t a horribly long drive, we lost an hour on the Bay Bridge. We would lost nearly 90 minutes on the way back. The Bay Bridge is one of the only crossings of the Chesapeake bay in the Southern part of Maryland.
Rehoboth has a boardwalk (like Ocean City in Maryland and Atlantic City in New Jersey) which is always fun to stroll. We were here for Mother’s day in 2012. We walked the entire length of the boardwalk (it is a little over a mile) the first couple of days. On Mother’s day (Sunday) we had a wonderful brunch in a restaurant that looked out over the beach and the ocean. We stayed in a nice grouping of condos that were built on the land side of the area. Not so far inland that you weren’t attached to water, but the water in the area we were staying was actually more swamp than ocean. It wasn’t connected to the ocean other than at the end of the swampy river.
A couple of days on the beach, near the ocean were what the doctor ordered! Well it’s what I ordered and my nickname is Doc, so I guess that is pretty close. We ended up stopping at the beach adjacent fish market and getting fresh fish to make for dinner. It is a luxury to get fresh fish after all the years we lived in Indiana and fresh was the operative part of fish. Suddenly the fresh was fresh and the fish was amazing. Jakki made a mix of fish stir fry that was amazing!
One of the things I tried with the new camera I got in 2014 on our trip to North Carolina was filters. I can honestly say now, that they were a failure then. But at the time I was really excited to be trying new capabilities with a digital camera. I am not the most epic photographer. I do remember my father playing with Polarizing filters when I was younger and getting unbelievable pictures while we were in Colorado. I can now say, I should with filters. I can however, digitally fix the images so that they are no longer purple tinged. I wanted to share them in the original format to show that the beauty of the ocean transcends a bad photographer. The interesting story about why Raven is so far from the water is the focus on today’s wander project.
Both Dylan and Raven are Lab Rescue dogs. They were found, in a bad or lost situation and no one claimed them so Lab Rescue stepped in. We then adopted both of them into our family (or as Raven likes to say she let us into her family). Raven, when we first got her was terrified of water. Something bad happened to her around water I am certain. So the pictures I have early on of Raven and the beach are Raven staying as far away as she can. A water dog that had nothing to do with water. Dylan on the other hand loves water. He wades right in. Raven will now, but three years ago when she first joined us there was a trauma that occurred near moving water. She even hates the open running water in the sewer after a big rain storm.
By the end of the week she was in the water. Water dogs love water! It took her some time to adjust to not being alone. These pictures are Oak Island North Carolina taken the summer of 2014. We went back a little over a year after our first trip. We have taken a number of vacations since Dylan joined us, then adding Raven to the vacation celebration. Dylan likes water, and he loves the ocean. When we first got Dylan we also still had Fran. It happened that one weekend Jakki was working and couldn’t leave, and we went off to Virginia Beach with Dylan and the Boys. First off, Dylan loves the beach. He loves Virginia Beach more than another place. He is a hotel dog. A hotel dog is one that when they get to the hotel, the y are comfortable and ready for vacation. Virginia Beach is a very mature town according to Dylan. They let dogs on leashes into all the stores!
In June 2013 my mom and dad rented a cabin on Oak Island in North Carolina. At the time the entire family stayed together. We didn’t know then, traveling all the way to North Carolina (which was less for us than the folks living in Indiana) that this was the last vacation the entire family would take. It was one year later that my father would pass away. This blog, three years later now, looking back to a different time and a different world now than was there, then. I wouldn’t trade the minutes we spent there for anything. They are precious memories that remind me oft of what was. When I look into the quiet moments that are those memories it makes me smile now.
First off, we’ve been to Oak Island since. In fact the very next year we trekked back to Oak Island and stayed a little North of the house we stayed for the first time. It is one of those places you go to, and you remember. The funny thing is, it is also the name of the island in the North Atlantic, off the coast of Nova Scotia, where there has been pirate treasure buried, or so the legend goes. I love the show “the Curse of Oak Island.” A television show about two brothers sharing their search for that treasure! I have a really dear friend that loves the TV show as well. When we were working for the same company we used to not be able to talk about the show. He watched it live as it first came on, I watched it later via DVR. But we both loved the show. Different Oak Island all though, the same part of the world.
The passage of time dulls the pain of loss. But it doesn’t take away the memories. I am who I am because of the man my father was. I am the man I am because of who my mother was. I stand on their shoulders and move in a new direction. That is the ultimate power a parent can give a child. Not the clarity to understand what they want to do for the rest of their life. No, the, to use my grandfather’s favorite word, gumption, to just get it. To hunker down and get it done. I got that from my parents! Oak Island is a moment in our family history, one that we visited twice. The first time would be different I am sure if we knew then what we know now.
Near where we live in Maryland there are a number of dog parks. My personal favorite is north of us in Boyd’s Maryland. It is called the Black Hill recreation area and includes an incredibly nice dog park. The park is big enough that dogs and run around and the other owners are friendly and willing to grab their dogs should trouble start. That is the one thing that always makes me nervous about dog parks. They aren’t places to drop your dog off and relax. They are places where the dog relaxes and learns to socialize with other dogs. You, as the responsible human are responsible for the dog. If there are problems, you need to intercede. Let them work it out is fine, for short bursts. But if the issue continues you need to separate the dogs.
The pictures shared with this travel blog are from 2014. They are all taken at the Black Hill park. One of the other things that I know Dylan and Raven love about the Black hill park is there is a trail, a lake and a fairly deep creek. When it is really hot outside Dylan likes to wade into the water and cool off. Raven, when we first got her (and this is the summer of her first year with us, 2014) didn’t initially like water. After going with us to the beach for a week in North Carolina, she actually adapted a little and would get into the water.
Two things that we have learned. The first is that in fact there is no trail around the lake that goes all the way around the lake. It looks like there is a trail on the map, but in reality the trail only covers about 50% of the lake. Then you are on the other side and the trail ends. Luckily Black Hills recreation area is really near Germantown so we were able to call Jakki and get a ride home. We ended up walking 4 miles on a trail that was mean to be 3, and were still on the far side of the lake. We liter walked from Black Hill park back to Germantown. Needless to say, Jakki laughed at us.
Our house on WillowCove in Cincinnati Ohio. We owned the house for 2.5 years and we designed and built it. Well we designed it ourselves making choices. It was what they call a semi-custom home. You can control certain things about the house. We designed a bunch of features for a young family that was cramped into a much smaller house at the time. Each kid (except the boys they were in one room) had a bedroom. We also officially had a guest room for the first time. Funny thing is the guest room was only used once (Barb’s Parents) before we ended up moving to Indianapolis. The house didn’t sell for nearly a year, so we continued to own it long after we had moved out!
We built our house in Mt. Airy, and we were in the second group of houses built. The first group were at the far end of the street and had been built the year before. The second group was build and completed in March-April 1998. We moved in (and then started building a pool right away). We picked a lot with a huge hill in the back. It was a bad decision that I regret, but we had never built a house before. I suspect the last house we own, will be the next house we build. For now, we were happy however with the house we had. It is funny how a house shows you things about yourself. This one was perfect for us, it added a little commute for me, but Barb was in a house that was set-up easier to manage twins. The boys had a swing set and a pool. Jakki was in a great school for her first grade experience. Becca was in the school for creative and preforming arts, so everyone got to be where they wanted to be.
Once we were settled in to the house and finished fixing it the way we wanted, we moved! I think that is our tradition. A little about where our house was. We were near the former state hospital that was closed by the time we moved in. At the other end of the road that went by our house was a really cool bar. It was called the 20 mile hosue and was an historic building. Why? It was the 20 mile stopping point for the carriages that used to go between Cincinnati and Indianapolis many years ago. They would runt he team of horses 20 miles and then get a new team. It had over the years been converted from many different things. It was kind of a cool historical market. Mt. Airy was also famous for the land donated by a former resident, land that was now a botanical garden in the middle of an urban area!
We had the opportunity when I was traveling all the time, to spend Marriott points on vacations. One year we decided that we were going to spend miles (United) and points (Marriott) and go to Mexico for a week. We decided, having already been to Cancun that we instead this time wanted to visit the Pacific Ocean side of Mexico. Beach vacations were very important when we lived in Indiana (not much Ocean in the middle of the country). We hopped on a plane, then a taxi and arrive in Nueva Puerto. That is the town just north of Puerto Viarta. The only reason I knew about Puerto Viarta was the old Television Show the Love Boat. Yes, I watched that show when I was a teenager. That show was about a cruise ship that went up and down the Pacific Coasts of Mexico and the US.
The hotel we stayed at was a resort. That meant there were a number of restaurants connected directly to the hotel. Most importantly it was right on the Ocean. The pool area was amazing but being able to end each day as the sun set strolling along the beach was amazing. Restful is perhaps the better word to use. I think my favorite thing was relaxing by the pool. The kids loved the swim up bar, that had all sorts of fruit drinks they could order. Each night we tried a different restaurant. Each night we pronounced that nights food the best we had for that day! Personally my favorite was the Japanese Steakhouse, kind of strange to go to Mexico for a Japanese Steak experience. We actually ate in local places for lunch every day. Back then we had some issues with trying food that was outside the normal (not me, I love food).
When I was 11 we traveled to Thailand for a year. I wanted to make sure my kids saw the world as well. There is so much more to see than your backyard. No matter how cool your backyard looks or is! This trip to Mexico was much more about relaxing than anything. Sitting by the pool, relaxing and watching the world go by. Add to that an amazing food experience (other than breakfast, we kind of grabbed stuff out of the downstairs store for breakfast every day) we had great food, great things to see and a wonderful Mexican Vacation!
Before we set off on today’s wander, my deepest sympathies for those killed and injured in London.
Southern Indiana has an interesting geology. There is a hard shale cap over limestone. The limestone that is Indiana’s bedrock and also its claim to fame. (Indiana Limestone was used to build the Empire State building in New York, New York). It also allows for the slow over time creation of caves. Caves are formed when there are cracks in the limestone or spaces between the various bits and pieces that made up the limestone originally. Limestone being a sedimentary rock that is created by a little pressure and a lot of time. The pictures for today are from Marengo cave, located in Southern Indiana. If you go even further South into Kentucky you will run into the Mammoth cave. But for now we are focusing on the caves of Southern Indiana. As a youngster I used to love to be in caves, not as much as being on the water, but a lot. Many Indiana caves (all in fact) are wet caves. Wet in that the water that falls on the farm land or hills above eventually makes it way down to the cave.
The formations take thousands of years to form in the caves. The saddest thing of all is one human touch of a stalagmite or a stalactite can stop the growth (there are oils on our fingers) forever. The Indiana Park Service takes very good care of the cave now, but in the past a lot of damage was done. As you look at the formations of the cave you can see (or any cave) the flow of water over time. As the water seeps through the ground it gains nutrients. It also comes chemicals. In part the acidic quality of rain water (by nature a little acidic not a lot that is bad) dissolves the primary chemical of the limestone (calcium) and then as it flows into the cave over time it leaves the deposits on the walls, ceilings and floors of the cave.
There are more than 100 caves in southern Indiana. Again that perfect mix of limestone bedrock with a cap of shale over the top makes for a fertile cave growing area. It takes thousands of years to grow the cave. I guess you don’t actually grow a cave. It takes thousands of years for the water to dissolve the calcium in the Limestone and move it a little further down stream. When a cave roof collapses and it is visible above ground that is know as Kharst Topography. You can find that all over southern Indiana or for that matter many other parts of the world. Sometimes they open up in the wrong place and we call them Sink Holes. If there is a cave underneath the sink hole that has collapsed that is Kharst Topography. A fun experiment you can do with kids is get a small piece of limestone and put it in a bowl with water and vinegar (you don’t need much vinegar) watch the crystals grow on the Limestone. It is rather amazing.
I am going to go back into the actual family history pictures. There are more than 54000 scanned images of which I have shared less than a 3,000. So for the next few days I am going back into the past. The first images are of a couple of things. My parents always had students and prospective students come to their house for meals. We did that when I was a young man, we did that when we were in Thailand and when we came back we were a part of Thailand going forward. There are so many people I remember, care for and still communicate with from the land of smiles. But gathered around Teh dinner, lunch or breakfast table at my parents house was always the best. Adjan, is a Thai honorific, it means honored professor, or honored teacher. My father was called that when we were in Thailand and the tradition continued for every Thai student that came to our house, his office or touched us in any way. Adjan Hans was something that made my dad very happy.
My parents loved to travel. Dad and I both over the years traveled for work. His work was for universities and for UNESCO, normally lasting a month or two at a time. Mine was normally two weeks, three weeks at the most over the course of a month. But travel we did. Dad went to countries that wanted to build and improve their educational systems. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Papua New Guinea and of course several trips to Thailand. I tended to travel to traditional established companies, what I had developed was a process to help large companies move their assets to a new mode. Not that it was a competition. But that we both traveled. Dad had so many pictures that he never shared, he never felt they were good never good enough to show other people.
Mom and dad spent a lot of time in Europe and in Asia over the years. It is funny over the years how seldom our travels criss crossed. They did cross one year (2005) mom and dad were in Thailand (Bangkok) and I was in Malaysia. It just happened that the cheapest flight I could get stopped in Thailand and a three day layover cost the same as a 3 hour layover. So the three day option was the one I used. Mom actually picked me up at the airport and we got to hangout in Bangkok for a long weekend. It was an amazing weekend I have to say. We went to dinner, enjoyed hanging out!