Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sassafras Day

With Grace having been very excited about the fishing in the Poconos, but not having caught anything, we decided to go down to The River for the day on Saturday. The weather forecast was perfect (low 80s with no humidity and a nice breeze), and the fishing is almost always active on the Sassafras. As an added bonus, I checked in with brother Dave, and he and his Darling Wife were going to be there from noon-ish Saturday to noon-ish on Sunday. So we'd have company (or they'd have company, depending on how you look at it).
Girls fishing

As it turned out, the day couldn't have been nicer, with great weather, good company, and plenty of fish. Other than help with worms and fish removal, the girls fished independently and had a lot of success.
Early sunset over Ordinary Point

I think the totals for the day were 19 for Grace, 10-12 for Julia, 15-20 for me, and 1 for Amp (who barely fished at all). We mostly caught white perch, with a handful of decent sized catfish, a couple of sunfish, a couple of shiners, and a single yellow perch. The girls were thrilled.
Grace enjoying the fire

Another nice (and relatively new) feature was a fire in Dave's recently built fire pit. How can anybody not like a campfire?
Dave's Firepit

The combination of family, fishing, warmth, breeze, fire, water, sunset, and Dave playing guitar was terrific.
Late sunset over Ordinary Point

The Sassafras is one of my happy places, and we need to go there more often. The kids are already asking if we can go again this coming weekend. Which maybe we can.
Dave, guitar, fire and water

Fair to say that the lack of fishing success at Lake Naomi was more than made up for by the action we had today at the River. Leaving at around 8:50, we were home by 10:00pm. Happy kids were in bed and asleep almost immediately.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Poconos August 2015

We wanted to try something different for a short late-summer vacation this year, so we decided to rent a house in the Poconos from a friend of Amp's. We had the house for 5 days, Monday to Friday. It was located in the Lake Naomi private community. Lake Naomi is a 277 acre private lake community with golf, tennis, swimming, fishing and boating. The house itself was a 3 bedroom, 3 bath house a block and a half from the lake (on the other side of lakefront private property). The nearest beach access was a short walk further down.
Lake Naomi with boats

Monday was driving up (2 hours away), getting settled, doing a little shopping since we would be doing some of our own cooking on the nice big grill. The whole community was heavily wooded, and full of wildlife. The first day there, we saw a group of three 10 point bucks in the neighbors' yard. There were birds everywhere.
10 point buck in the neighbors' yard

Monday night we ate at the clubhouse restaurant. It was pasta buffet night and could best be described as bland. Many varieties of bland. But not horrible.
Grace fishing at dusk

Tuesday, Amp took a tennis lesson at the club, which was her first time out hitting since her wrist surgery back in April. It went well and she was pretty excited. We fished during tennis, and caught one sunfish (me). There were a few other nibbles, but they were tiny. This lake would have been fun to fish from a boat, where you could get to the wooded areas and what appeared to be some nice grassy banks. Grace was very excited about the fishing, which gave me a big smile.
More Grace at dusk

Tuesday afternoon was spent at the lakeside pool, after which we cooked a nice dinner.
Mirror-like Lake Naomi

We didn't want to spend the whole few days at a pool (which we could do at home), so we searched out some other possible things to do on Wednesday. We elected to drive 45 minutes to Bushkill Falls, which is one of the larger waterfalls in Pennsylvania. It is on private property, where the owners have set up a whole little "theme park" area around it. There is the ravine with the Falls itself (and a number of other smaller waterfalls), some hiking trails, gift shops and snack bar, fishing pond, mini golf, paddle boats on another small pons, etc.
Bushkill Falls

Bushkill was worth visiting, but was certainly different under private ownership than it would have been as a state park. In other words, more developed, more touristy, and a lot more walkways and stairs crisscrossing the area than a park would have had. But nice, and well worth an afternoon's visit.
Bushkill Falls area with walkways

The girls especially liked the "gem mining", which basically entailed buying a bag of sand studded with a variety of semi-precious stones, and then rinsing them in a screen in a water trough so that the sand washes away, leaving behind the stones.
"Gem mining" at Bushkill Falls

Wednesday evening we got home with plans to cook dinner, play some board games and card games, and watch a show that Grace likes on the Food Network. But it began to rain as we got home, and the power went out. And stayed out. So we ended up driving ten minutes to a Walmart that was running on a generator, and killing time there (there wasn't much else around...). We got home at around 9:45pm, and the power came on ten minutes later (having been out 3-4 hours). We went to bed.

Thursday was more fishing and then more rain. We found a bowling alley not too far away, and had a good time there. We don't bowl much, which made it fun, and a little comical. On arriving back at the house in the persistent light power. Again. Annoyed at this point, and with a not very good weather forecast for Friday when we were planning to go home anyway, we threw everything in the car (we didn't have much stuff) and drove home, arriving safe and sound by 10pm.

All things considered, it was a decent trip but not great. If we were able to do more outdoors stuff (hiking, kayaking etc) it would have been better, but between the kids' limitations and the weather, we pretty much flamed out on most of that. In retrospect, we should have planned more things to do in the area (like Bushkill Falls) and not relied on the Lake community itself. Live and learn. It was family vacation, and that's never bad.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Underdark Terrain

For me, hobby-wise, things go in cycles, and the last better-part-of-a-year has been a cycle of Dungeons and Dragons. A return to my teen years, I guess.

There is an obvious connection between this and miniatures gaming. While our games have not typically fought out battles as full-blown miniatures battles, we have used tokens and large grid paper to play out these combats. For someone who likes to build terrain related things, I guess it was only a matter of time until I started building terrain that would be suitable to miniatures battles in D&D... I'm kinda surprised it took this long. So I decided to make an attempt at making some Underdark terrain that would be reminiscent of the Moria scenes in the Lord of the Rings movies.

The first step was to try to make a sample piece just to see if it looked OK. So far so good, so the on to the next step of making more. The nearest-to-hand round thing (a mostly use up roll of blue painter's tape) was used to scribe the arches. The rest conformed to a simple template. 8 inch tall pieces. 2 inch thick top surface. 2 inch thick support pillars.
Sample arched piece and scribed others

The next step was to cut out the scribed pieces with a Hot Wire Foam Factory hot wire cutter. (The material was 2 inch thick dense foam insulation board - in this case reused pieces that had been painted green...).
Hot Wire Foam Factory carve-outs

A roughly cut arch-bridge piece looks like this:
A little cleaning up

After the edges are cleaned up a bit with a knife to knock down the sharp edges, the piece is ready for some simple carving just to break up the straight lines.
Softening the edges and adding a little detail

To keep this a nice simple project, the remainder of the detailing will be done with paint (along with some glue and gravel).
Surface detail

Next...Painting and a bunch more pieces...

You Wanna Do What?

Purple hair. You want purple hair? Are you sure?
11th Birthday

I'm blessed with good kids. Pretty fantastic kids, actually. And in the overall scheme of things, purple hair isn't so bad, right? Granted, it comes close on the heels of the birthday-present green-hair failure, but still... (Not that the green hair looked bad, but it faded quickly, and the effective dollar-per-day ratio was distressingly high...)
With cousin Ines

So, with a little trepidation, Amp and Grace set off for the salon today to get...purple hair. Just Grace. Thankfully.

And I have to say, it looks pretty cool.
Loud and proud...

Be yourself Gracie, and be yourself proudly.

So, purple hair?

Sure, I'm in.