August 6, 2006

The weather's here, wish you were nice

It's August, a big vacation month, which gets me thinking along those lines.
(as always, you can click pictures to enlarge)

This secluded spot (which shall go un-named) is the antidote to running a blog (as well as the normal brutality, shocks, and traumas of life in the jungle.) Gotta get back there soon.



Mom and her doe walked right up to me one evening, along with two other fawns. The deer were everywhere.


That speck in the picture is a hawk bird.

It's not often you get a shot of a hawk bird from slightly above them. I think he's giving me the eye.


Among the places I hope to get back to is the "Land Between the Lakes" just past the southern tip of Illinois near Paduca, KY. I'd like to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway again, or some part of it. The Vanderbilt mansion, Biltmore, in Ashville, NC is something everyone should see at least once. Savanah, GA is like no other place on earth with shadowy history hanging like the spanish moss, as is Charleston, SC. The barrier islands in GA are really cool. Williamsburg, VA is a place everyone should see, and of course, Boston and NYC are to be experienced. Cape Cod is beautiful, eastern Long Island and the mansions of the Hamptons are an insight into the gilded life of the very rich. Arcadia National Park in Maine is great.

I'd like to get up to Glacier National Park soon as well, before the glaciers are all gone. (they've already shrunk a vast amount). And I'd like to get down and check out the desert and the Grand Canyon, go back to the Virgin Islands or one of the leeward Carribean islands, and check out Costa Rica, among about a thousand other spots I'd like to go from the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota to Key West, from Cape Cod to Catalina Island, from Kodiak Island to Baja California.

Of course a vacation destination doesn't have to be exotic or distant. With gas prices soaring, it's good to know some good and perhaps overlooked places closer to home. I like Backbone St. Park in Iowa, and the Galena area is full of stuff to do, and there's a lot of great parks in Wisconsin, and several great bike trails and canoeing areas as well. And of course, there's St. Louis and the Ozarks in Missouri and northern Arkansas.

Have any readers already taken your vacation?

Where did you go and how did you like it? What were some of your best vacations in the past?

If you were going to recommend a vacation spot, where would it be and why? What's your favorite place within driving distance? What was your experience and what made it such a great place to get away?

21 Comments:

At 8/06/2006 6:36 PM, Blogger Huck Finn said...

Top 3 Getaways:
1. Duck, North Carolina for the seclusion and the fishing. Waking up at dawn to throw a line in the surf and get my feet wet.
2. Florida Panhandle and Orange Beach, Alabama for the country's best beaches. White sand, easy surf, decent diving, good flat cycling. Great golf.
3. Guam, Palau, and Truk Island for the scuba diving. Where else on earth can anyone dive and touch a wreck from WWI and WWII at the same time.

Honorable Mentions: Eperheide (Center Parcs), Belgium; Lake Mousam, ME, Carmel & Monterey, CA; Lake Tahoe.

Top Cities:
1. London. So many sights and so much entertainment, diverse population, easy to get about
2. Prague. Gorgeous architecture (remember the picture?), great people, great history, great nightlife, great bargains on crystal to the south and pottery to the north.
3. San Francisco. Fisherman's Wharf is a tourist trap, but the rest of the city is incredible. Chinatown, Haight-Ashbury, Golden Gate Park, and North Beach are my favorite neighborhoods.

Honorable mentions: Hong Kong, Tokyo, Boston, Chicago, Paris, Montreal, Melbourne, San Antonio.

 
At 8/07/2006 1:24 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Jesus Christ Huck, either you went around the world on Uncle Sam's dime in the military or your Dad was in the diplomatic service. HA!

I'm afraid that itinerary is beyond the means of 90% of us common folk.

But they do sound all like places to go if you had some fantasy magic wand (or unlimited cash)

I'd like to go to the Valley of Kings in Egypt, climb Kilamajaro, and see the Taj Mahal too... but I think that's a little on the forgetaboudit side.

What's up with Duck, NC? Never heard of it. Apparently it's on the coast? What's the story there?

 
At 8/07/2006 9:11 AM, Blogger Huck Finn said...

haha. Unlce Sam paid for Guam and Hong Kong. The rest were on Huck's dime, but we had the advantage of living over there and it was much easier and cheaper to see a lot of places in a continent when we lived there. That's exactly why we chose to live overseas.

We managed most of our personal trips with little kids, and the Mrs. and I could write a book on how to travel the globe with little ones.

There are many other good places my Uncle has taken me, like Perth & Hobart Australia; Dubai, UAE; Singapore; Honolulu, HI to name a few. There's a whole slew of places that my good Uncle paid me to go, but I certainly wouldn't call them "vacation spots." Timbuktu and Tamanghasset among others.

My experience in Egypt wasn't as a tourist, which is probably why I don't have fond memories of sitting on a 115 degree airstrip without the courtesy of a beer. But, the scoop on Egypt is to get a personal guide for your tour. I've heard it's surprisingly inexpensive.

Duck, NC is north of the Outer Banks. It's mostly single family homes (huge ones) that can be rented by the week. Most sit up on top of the sand dunes and have a wide beach below. Its relaxing because there's no big "beach strip" nearby, no public beach in most places. There are nice restaurants and shops in the town center a few miles away. There's a nice state park, and Kill Devil Hills (the dunes in Kitty Hawk, NC) has nice museum to the Wright Brothers. Slow living for the family for a week. My favorite vacation so far. Only trick is to pick a weekend several months in advance and not have an Atlantic Hurricane or storm threaten NC.

 
At 8/07/2006 12:40 PM, Blogger DookOfURL said...

Huck, why no mention of Hannibal MO? I guess it's true that you can't go home again. hee!hee!

I have to second your honorable mention of Lake Tahoe----I spent my honeymoon there. It was a fabulous experience for a couple of midwesterners who are also history buffs. Not to mention the----oh, nevermind!

 
At 8/07/2006 3:55 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Boy Huck.. it's not many people in the world who have the chance to be as widely traveled as you are.

To see so much of the world is a form of education and knowledge, and you've certainly seen a big chunk of it.

Duck sounds a lot like Dauphin Island down off Alabama in the Gulf, except that most of Dauphin got wiped out twice in the last few years.

The controvesy is that federal dollars are paying to rebuild most of these private homes which, obviously, are built on a strip of sand which is incredibly vulnerable to storm damage. I think the Feds have rebuilt these people's homes sometimes two or three times in the last 10 years!

But Duck sounds just great. I'll have to look into it.

 
At 8/07/2006 4:17 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Dook,
You shouldn't be afraid to mention that the place had a great buffet. Don't be so shy. ;-)

I almost mentioned Hannibal in my post, but having swung throgh there on the way home a couple years ago, I'm not sure it's worthy of being a vacation destination, unless you're a Twainiac.

It's a nice place with a lot of history, and of course there's the street with Twain related buildings. But beyond spending a few hours, there's not a lot there that I could see.

There is, however, one thing located several miles north on the river that I definitely did enjoy.

That's the Canon Ferry.

I was heading up 61 and saw a sign for a ferry service and pulled off the highway to check it out.

Canton is a tiny rural town on the river and rather than a big ferry dock, there's a boat ramp with a sign. I saw a big grain truck parked there and pulled up.

What I saw was a little tow boat with a flat topped barge out in the river. It has an entire semi full of grain on deck.

The thing was custom made with a gooseneck mast thing that came out and attached to a swiveling post on the boat. This way it could push the barge from the side across one way, then pivot around the push it back without having to untie and retie every time.

I waited my turn and after the big truck drove on, I drove up the rather crude and steep ramp and onto the open deck of the barge and away we went.

It was really cool. You had to know what you were doing as there was nothing to prevent you from driving right off any side of the barge.

The truck driver said that only a few years back, the barge had capsized throwing a semi and it's driver into the river and drowning the driver.

Once on dry land in Illinois, you're in the middle of nowhere in Adams county. But I threaded my way along tiny county roads and managed to find my way to civilization.

The entire purpose of the ferry is to get Iowa farmer's grain across the river to a grain terminal located directly across from Canton and about a half mile south of the 4 square block town of Meyer, IL

If you like such adventures, I recommend you check out the Canton ferry if you're going up or down the river in that area. It's located about 15 miles north of Quincy, IL

I'll post a picture or two if I can dig them up.

 
At 8/07/2006 4:59 PM, Blogger DookOfURL said...

Here's something about Hannibal. When I lived in Moline, I could hear the Arsenal test their cannons (or whatever they were testing) and every time I heard the Boom!, I always thought about Huck and Tom, who heard the cannons booming over the Mississippi from their island hideaway(what the hell is the name of that island!!!)where the good people of Hannibal were trying to raise the "bodies" from the watery grave of the Mississippi.

I know this is really obscure, but please indulge me.

 
At 8/07/2006 5:01 PM, Blogger Huck Finn said...

That Canton ferry sounds cool. I've never tried that one. I'm sure I'd screw that one up and wind up performing an "underwater egress"

Dauphin Island is fairly close to Orange Beach. I never spent any time in Dauphin, but that entire area has been pounded by hurricanes lately. There's plenty of damage all along the coast that hasn't been repaired. Not sure how I feel about Fed $$$ paying to rebuild, especially when it's happening more than once. The folks that own houses down there certainly aren't poor, and I'm sure they're well connected. Great place to go though.

One of my favorite bars down there was wiped out last year. The Florabama Lounge and Pacakge started off as a cinderblock liquor store along the highway right on the Florida/Alabama line. Over the years, the place grew and grew with an amazing mass of wooden decks out toward the water. I saw some pictures of the devastation, and it was sad. I heard they rebuilt.

The Florabama was a great place to go, a true "roadhouse." I met guys like Kenny Stabler and Jimmy Buffett there. Buffett used to occasionally wander in and play. They served good oysters and a good Bushwacker (they'd give the regulars a good "topper" of extra rum). The Mullet Toss and Miss Summer events were big draws.

 
At 8/07/2006 6:56 PM, Blogger DookOfURL said...

You know Dope, you do have your charms, but I think you should leave bird identification to the professionals. This is the second time you've mis-identified a turkey vulture. The first time, you said it was an eagle, this time you identify it as a hawk. Both wrong. Know your birds!

 
At 8/07/2006 11:14 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Sounds like a hell of a fun place!

I've never been down to the "Redneck Riviera" as the northern gulf coast is sometimes referred to, but know several people from the area who go there every year. They seem to love it.

 
At 8/07/2006 11:19 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Dook, first of all, that's a pretty cool imagination you must have had. I too remember hearing the big booms coming from the Arsenal testing range, but unfortunately, I couldn't come up with as romantic a scenario as the one you did. (I do indeed recall that scene from Twain's work.. it made an impression on me as a young lad... kinda creepy.)

And.... since you must fancy yourself an ornithologist, tell us just why you think that's NOT a hawk. Be specific.

 
At 8/08/2006 11:30 AM, Blogger DookOfURL said...

Specifically, the bird you pictured has a long neck and a blue head. As far as I know, no hawk has those attributes.

BTW, did you mention where that photo was taken?

I'll try to find some photos of both hawks and buzzards/vultures, but no promises, since my search skills are primitive.

 
At 8/08/2006 12:05 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Hmmm. Methinks you make the mistake of assuming you're right based on your particular perceptions with nothing more than your amateur opinion to back it up.

I can see no blue on the bird whatsoever, nor do I see a long neck.

Are you clicking on the picture to see it larger? Got peanut butter on your glasses?

It looks exactly like a hawk to me.

You must have a large ego or an abundance of self-assurance or something to look at that picture and simply pronounce me wrong based on nothing but your sort of flimsy opinon.

I think you might have buzzarditis... a rare but curable disease where every bird you see looks like a turkey buzzard.

Or worse yet, conservablogatosis, where you're in such a frenzy to spot any mistake made by a liberal blogger that you often jump the gun and fire before you aim. (or think)

This happens often and is usually manifested by righties being in such a froth to find something to attack that they read half a comment or post, while at the same time having some voice in their head interpreting for them.

They then have an "AHA!" moment, and start bitching and whining and giving me hell. They often think they're clever and sometimes witty, though it's often nothing but name calling.

But the problem is that this thing they're attacking me for simply does not exist. They invent a straw man, and then attack THAT rather than anything I've actually written. I guess it's easier that way. But it's a serious mental problem that seems epidemic.

For instance, I might write that while having lunch yesterday, I saw a baby that was really kind of funny looking.

The rightie reads this and immediately writes in with,

"I'm glad I'm not a BABY-HATER like you, going around hating defensless babies! What's wrong with you sick twisted liberals? Thanks anyway, RETARD, but I'm sure not going to go around killing babies just because you think it's a great thing to do.

I bet you're real ugly too. Too bad that baby didn't have as many guns as I do, it should have popped a cap in your ugly face. How many babies have you killed already you baby hating sick, sick, baby-hater????!!!! (only there would have been about 6 misspellings, minimum.)

You get the idea. And that's not much of an exageration either, I'm afraid.

But back to ornithology. Not that it's impossible, but I don't associate buzzards with soaring over a beach.

I still think it's a hawk.

As I said in the post, the location shall go unrevealed. I don't want a bunch of yahoos clogging up the place. (snicker)

 
At 8/08/2006 12:51 PM, Blogger Huck Finn said...

TID, for the lack of ability to correctly ID the bird, I blame you for not taking a better picture. You should be ashamed of yourself for not using better photography techniques, much less for posting a low resolution image.

And as for your secret hideaway...how dare you enjoy a vacation without the rest of us readers! I'm going to subpoena your credit card records to identify this undisclosed location.

----

....how's that for impersonating the frothen attackers? Oh, I forgot the spelling errors.

I think Dook just thought it looked like a bird other than a hawk. Afterall, that fat bird does seem to have a odd neck.

But I did enjoy the resulting rant, reminiscent of the process to select a replacement for Evans' spot on the ballot. I'm looking forward to a higer tempo of fun in about a month or so.

 
At 8/08/2006 1:39 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Huck,

Nice try at imitating a wingnut, but I'm afraid you just don't have it in ya. Take that as the compliment it is.

You probably should have accused me of wanting to "hug" the hawk or question my sexuality for showing an appreciation of nature.

I don't see where anyone sees a long neck on the bird.

To me it's a normal hawk length neck.

I see the bird with it's head slightly turned and looking directly at the camera. Isn't that how you see it?

The black line runs across it's eye and down through it's dark beak, and the white area is the top of it's head.

The bird's eye is just ahead of the leading edge of it's wing and behind the white area.

I think you two must be confusing the bird's beak with it's head or something.

The underside of its wing even looks just like a hawks, as does the side of it's body and the way it's tallons are tucked against it's underside.

 
At 8/08/2006 1:59 PM, Blogger DookOfURL said...

Good lord Dope, you are pathetic. I compliment you on your calm and reasoned comments on another thread and you return with this piece of strawman drivel that you know damned well I don't ascribe to.

So I have to ask: are you bipolar or do you just have that oppositional-defiant thingy? Sheesh!

And please DON'T give me a break when you know I've always had problems with TID way back when the comments appeared yellow on a tan background, then when TID disconnected before it was fully loaded to the more recent appearance, then disappearance of the comment delete icon. I read many blogspot blogs and TID is the only one that gives me any problems.

I took another look at the bird----it still looks like it has a blue head and a long neck. I even checked with the household ornithologist, Mr. Dook before I commented because I wanted to be sure. But do you give me the benefit of the doubt? Nnnnooooooo, you just wanna go craaaaaazy!

And you do it so well.

 
At 8/08/2006 2:16 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

To quote the bossman in Cool Hand Luke, what we have heyah, is a failure to communicate.

I think this happens a lot, and I've meant to address it.

When I went off complaining about those who use straw man arguments, I was NOT thinking specifically of you, though you can be forgiven for thinking so.

I should be more careful to draw a line when I depart from replying to you personally and just talking about commenters or the right, or whatever in a general sense.

You've flirted with the straw man thing a few times, but you're far from the worst offender.

My thought in my reply was how quickly people seem to jump to conclusions, often wrong, in order to attack me somehow. That's all.

I'm sorry to hear about all the techincal glitches this blog has apparently given you. I'm afraid most of that is beyond my control, and I hope that if I could correct any of it, that I did manage to figure it out and fix it.

I guess this is a tomato/tomato potato/potato type of thing.

It truly looks like a hawk to me. And the fact that the picture was taken at such a distance doesn't help. The resolution is amazing considering the distance, but it's difficult to see details with any certainty.

And of course, everyone's monitor shows colors slightly differently, and almost none of them accurately (unless you want to spend a few hundred bucks on a gizmo usually limited to photo or graphics pros which, with a lot of fiddling and adjusting, will callibrate your monitor to true color.)

I must admit though that I began to think readers were getting suspicious that we'd been married for about 15 years the way we fuss and dicker about stuff. Ha!

As to bi-polar... not sure. I really don't think so. I'm usually in a pretty surly mood.... doesn't swing around much. ;-)

 
At 8/08/2006 2:17 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

OH... and yes, I certainly did appreciate your very nice compliment. I think it even made me crack a Mona Lisa like grin. Thanks.

 
At 8/08/2006 2:22 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

PS... I've changed the captions to a term I hope we can agree on.

It's apparently two to one against it being a hawk. Any other readers care to weigh in?

 
At 8/08/2006 3:10 PM, Blogger Huck Finn said...

TID, thanks for complimenting my lack of ability to write like a wingnut. Perhaps closest I've come is to realize that 2006 minus 1993 does not equal 14.

The bird is definitely looking toward the camera. I wouldn't go so far to say that I deny that it is a Hawk. Given the number of pixels, I can't conclusively decide; but if you and Dook held a gun to my head for an answer, I'd say "Red Tailed Hawk with an overstressed fuselage and maybe scoliosis to boot."

 
At 8/12/2006 5:33 PM, Blogger DookOfURL said...

I've been out for a while, but just let me say this about that:

1. I think "bird" is the word we can all get behind. (Bird, bird, bird is the word, well, don't you know about the bird, well, everybody knows that the bird is the word. Bird, bird, bird, bird is the word, etc.)

2. Huck, I'm not exactly sure what your day job is, but I'd say you have a brilliant career ahead of you in either comedy or diplomacy with your comment that the "bird" is a "Red Tailed Hawk with an overstressed fuselage and maybe scoliosis to boot". Hilarious! Made me LOL as we say in blogland.

3. OK Dope, let's call a truce: I promise not to nag you about taking out the trash if you promise not to bitch about how your mother's pot roast is better than mine. Deal?

 

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