Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Smoky Mountains

IMG_3544Met up with Scott on the first week of November, 2010 to do some hiking near Ashville, NC and then in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

(<<Slideshow) It’s about a six hour drive to Asheville and the last time I made this trip through the Smokys it was dark, foggy and scary. This time it was cloudy, but much more pleasant.  Asheville, NC is beautiful, with a scenic downtown and a couple of good breweries. We first tried the Green Man Brewery or should I say try to find the Green Man. The GPS had an old location and I still haven’t learned my lesson on not trusting them. It’s a redesigned auto garage, you walk in the open bay door and you’re at the bar and the vats are where the lift would be. I remember the beer having a distinct taste and very tasty. They didn’t server food and we didn’t want to drink our dinner so we headed over to the Ashville Brewing Company. The food was passable, thank goodness the beer was better. 

The next morning was an early start. The plan was to hike Mt Mitchell, but leaves covered the wet road, plus the fog, rain and darkness made it somewhat treacherous. Not knowing where the road stopped and the the side of the hill began. We almost ran out of gas. Luckily there was a lone gas station in Busick. The attendant got a kick out of us intending to hike in the rain. Then we couldn’t find the the correct back road (it wasn’t on the GPS and almost unreadable on Scott’s park map) to the trail head. The park was closed for the season, so there were no rangers or other guest to get directions. My Fusion earned off road status that day and deserves it’s own Boy Scout badge. When we finally got to the parking area we walk about a mile down a gravel road looking for a ‘blue blaze’ that marks the trail head. “Where in the blues blazes is the the blue blaze?” We came back to the parking area, crossed a bridge into an empty camping ground and found a map the showed us the trail. It was a descent hike, cool weather, only a little rain, interesting scenery, and the trees still had most of their leaves. We got in about six miles in five hours, but we didn’t get to the top. We still had to make the three hour drive to Gatlinburg. When we got back to the camp and crossed the bridge, Scott looked back and saw the blue blaze on a tree right next to the bridge. We did take time to drive to the top of Mt Mitchell. That’s right you can to the top instead of hike, but where’s the fun in that. There was a little bit of fall color left and many of the pine trees were covered in freezing fog. 

The drive to Gatlinburg was nice. Many of the Tennessee hills still had fall colors and the Foothills Parkway had some scenic pull offs. After checking into the hotel we were staving and eager to try The Smoky Mountain Brewery. The higher your hopes the greater your fall and we crashed at SMB.  I read reviews on Yelp.com and I asked myself, "Did these people really eat here?" I love micro-brews and in every town I visit I give the local stuff a try. I wish I hadn't. The Cherokee Red (which kinda sounds racist doesn't it?) was as bland as white bread. It is one of the few times I wish I had ordered a generic beer. My roasted chicken and cheddar sandwich was cold and then fell apart. I had to eat it with a fork. My Subway sandwich earlier that day was so much better. The pretzels (from a supermarket probably) and beer cheese were forgettable. The cheese had already congealed and the dip was only marginally tasty. Scott’s meal and brew were so bad he complained about it on the trail all the next day. He belched and said, “That tasted about the same coming up as it did going down.” I gave SMB a 1/2 star on Yelp. The next night we went to Calhoun's and found they, along with the Cherokee Grill next door, are owned by the same company and sold the same beer as SMB . We immediately walked out and went to Bubba Gumps. It was excellent. The salmon was delicious and the Yuengling Beer quickly suppressed the memories of SMB’s barely-should-be-called-beer beer. 

Gatlinburg is Gatlinburg. What happens in Gatlinburg stays in Gatlinburg, because you don't want anyone to know you’ve been to Gatlinburg. It reminds me of Myrtle Beach, NC and Sedona, NM;  beautiful scenery surrounded by the gaudiest, tourist trap of a town. If Myrtle Beech is known as the redneck Rivera, then Gatlinburg is an Ohio State fan’s Myrtle Beech. They out numbered UK and Tennessee fans combined.  There is a place on the strip that sells “authentic” moonshine for $24 per Mason jar. If that’s what bootleggers got for 12oz then no wonder they risked their lives running illegal corn liquor. 

The real reason to come here is The Great Smoky Mountains National Park with it’s incredible terrain and trails. I thought it would be warmer since it was the first week in November and much further south. What I didn’t consider is the altitude of the mountains. You could step out of the hotel room in town and it would be wet and look up at the hills and see snow on their tops. I did bring enough clothes to stay warm, but not the right gear to really stay dry. 

IMG_3515The first day we hit the Little River trail. It was an easy hike on a wide trail that covered 5 miles in 3 hours. About an hour in it started to snow and by the time we got back to the car there was an inch and a half on the ground. It was very tranquil walking by the river, small water falls and just listening to the snow hitting the dry leaves on the ground. (Video>>)

We wanted to walk the trail to Clingman’s Dome, but US 441 across park the was closed due to snow. So on Saturday we took on Rainbow Falls, covering 6 miles in 4 hrs with an elevation change of 1800ft ending 4255ft, and Grotto Falls, covering 2.8 miles in 2 hrs with an elevation change of 3600ft ending at 7000ft. We started in snow, with about an inch at the lower elevations, and ended in snow, where there was about four inches on the ground. The trail was covered with slush and mud where hikers had trampled down the snow down. There were single, snow and iced covered logs that lay across the steams; making the crossing precarious. So it was a good idea to keep my head down to make sure of my footfalls.  Both falls had a decent amount of water running over them and with the snow on the trees and rocks it made for a serene setting. 

On Sunday Scott took off early to make the trip back to Memphis. I eventually got up and found that the road to Clingman’s Dome was now open. It was a beautiful drive up the parking lot at 6000 feet, the trail to the observation tower was still covered with a fresh six inched of snow. Between the altitude, the snow, meeting Faron in Lexington for a late lunch and me being a wuss about half way up the trial I turned around and headed home. If I had know what awaited me in Pigeon Forge I would have skipped Clingman’s Dome. It took about an hour to drive the three miles of the strip and this was at 10am on a Sunday. Don’t ever get caught between a Pigeon Forge tourist and his all you can eat Sunday breakfast buffet. If I ever get back I will leave at 4am or take the long more scenic way back. 

Also the next time I won’t wait for three months to write a blog entry. Remind me sometime to tell you about the hide-a-bed sound buffer. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I’ve never been to a playoff game much less go into the clubhouse after a win.

click for slide show I got the call up to the majors on Tuesday for the Saturday NLDS game 3, Cincinnati Reds vs Philadelphia Phillies. Midwest Uplink, a satellite truck out of Indy, was providing the uplink for MLB Network. They needed someone to be on the field for the live reports, before the game, in case something went wrong.  I had to be on site at noon, all the cable had been run the day before, so most of the day was waiting around. The camera crew and producer were from NY and incredibly fun to work with. We did live stand ups, Ken Rosenthal talking to the studio, and some interviews. They sent back footage of Doc Halladay doing sprints in the outfield around 12:30. I asked the producer why he would be at the park so early. He said, “He’s just a beast. Always working out and trying to get an advantage.” Yikes, almost eight hours before a game and, unless something goes seriously wrong, he won’t even play. But there he is working out.

This was the first time I had been on the field of Great American Ballpark. It was great being in the dugout, on the field during BP and warm-ups, and just to see the stadium from the field like a ballplayer. I didn’t watch the game from the camera platform in the dugout. It was too crowded with photographers, video crews and others. So I watched the first two innings from the press box, but it was packed like the stadium and you can’t cheer in the box. What fun is that? So I took a walk around the stadium to shoot some video and just get a feel of the game and crowd. It was standing-room-only just a real big league park should be. During the clinch game it was only 75% full. It takes opening day and a playoff to sell out the stadium, with a few exceptions.

At the top of the 9th inning I met up with the crew in the hallway that comes out of the Phillies dugout, on the opposite end from the clubhouse. Then we moved just outside of the dugout. The Red media handlers lined us up single file against a wall, like we were getting ready to jump out of a C-47 transport onto Normandy. We did all have gear in both hands or strapped to us. It was bottom of the 9th (with the Reds down 2-0) and we couldn’t see the field, but one of the guys had a radio and gave us reports. We heard a roar go up from the crowd. “Brandon Phillips singles” Maybe, just maybe... OOOOOOO, from the crowd. “Double play, 4-6-3.” Okay, maybe not.  After the last out, we get ready to go on the field when security asked us to move to one side so the umpires and get though. I had worn my maroon cap with EKU on the front and as the umps came down the steps the plate umps looks at me, smiles and says, “I like your hat.” “Thanks.” It was a humorous end to a sad game.

We set up our position in front of the Phillies dugout to capture the team celebrating sweeping the Reds. We were hardwired to the satellite truck so we couldn’t move. We did get a shot of the team drenching Cole Hamels in Champaign. But most of the team had already moved into the clubhouse. The 2nd portable unit went with them. Luckily the audio guy had borrowed some rain gear to keep the Champaign off. Our tape runner Marisa was not so fortunate. She looked like kitten that had fallen into the pool.  We never got an interview on the field, but I had a clubhouse pass, so after things quieted down I went to check out some of the celebration. Plastic sheets, with NLDS Champs logos, hanging over the lockers. All the team, reporters, cameramen and our runner were soaking wet.

I’m still not such a grizzled pro that this wasn’t amazing event to me. There’s a lot I didn’t take advantage of. I didn’t walk through the Reds clubhouse before the game, I didn’t watch any of the game from on the field, I wanted to run out to center field as if it were the top of the first in the World Series. Yet, to be there, to be paid to be there and to be on the field of dreams (sorry, I just couldn’t not use it) for the first playoff in Cincinnati 15 years! The first in GABP. It was a first for me.

sights and sounds of the park

A last side story. I was telling the crew about once I held the World Series trophy. The the audio guy, Todd, tells me he’s held them all: World Series, Lombardi,  Stanley Cup, NBA, Masters and a few others. The camera guy Sal, who worked for the NHL, said he got to keep the Stanley Cup for a day and has held a some of the others too. Then the Sat. truck owner Paul tells similar stories. My story is no longer special in this group. Just to all the other people I know. ;-D. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lebanon & UC

click for slideshow The fall of the year keeps me busy most weekends with football. Even if it’s the least stressful and least paid games. Such as Lebanon City Cable. They city owned operator with their owned local origination channel. The pay is only $100, but, because they set-up early, I don’t have to be there until 6:30 for a 7:oo pm game.  Then, after the game, it’s just 30 minutes to tearout and go home. I finally had a decent game. Because of a blocked punt, the game was 14-13 Lebanon over Miamisburg with seven minutes left. Lebanon scored with three minutes left to make it 21-13. Miamisburg made a good drive, but with the ball on the Lebanon 45 the QB hit two receivers who dropped the ball on successive plays. On third down and interception for a pick 6. Ending the game.

Saturday was a 7pm UC game with a 2pm call time. It’s was 111th annual Battle for the Bell for the rivalry that got it’s start in 1888. While Miami leads the series 59 wins to 49 (with seven ties)  UC has won every game since 2006. And this game would be no different. The halftime score was 45-3. In the second half UC put in some 2nd string players and that’s where the score stayed.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Fall into Some Work

slideshow I got a last minute call to be an assistant on a machinery shoot. It was interesting this machine, that was bigger than an M1-A1 tank, spit out little 5 gallon plastic jugs.

Thursday, yet another exciting game for wazoosports. Eastern High School in Louisville beat Shelby Co. 48-6.

Friday I went back to the Reds, but again, the Astros tied up the game. And again, Jay Bruce came up in the bottom of the 9th, then again in the 11th, but this time no heroics, Houston won. We did get to see the Reds pull off a squeeze bunt to score a run from third.

Saturday morning was a little different shoot. I was getting video for a Insight Cable commercial of a bank in Aurora, IN. The bank wanted to show they were involved in the community. So, I went to shoot a parade, while the workers rode the float handing out candy and such. There were so many entries that even after the parade started we waited an hour before their float got underway. But after they got going it was none stop. I’d run up in front of the float, get my shots, and do it all over again for about 30 minutes. I decided to skip my walk that afternoon and for the next three days.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


IMG_3180 If I were to pick just one game to see the Reds play this year, I picked a good one. Tuesday Sept 28th. Wood was pitching a perfect game through 5. Then Houston tied it up. Aroldis Chapman came in to retire the top of the ninth. Throwing 100 and a 101mph pitches. Then in the bottom of the 9th, Jay Bruce was first up and took the first pitch over the center field wall and the Reds win the the division for the first time since ‘95. 30,000 fans go ballistic and explode with more energy than the fireworks going off above the stadium. The chant of BRUUUUUUUCE was everywhere: in the stadium, in the concourse, down the ramp and across the bridge after the game.  My friend Ed said, “This is the most exciting thing in sports I’ve even been a part of.” Amen.

It’s hard to record something and enjoy and be in the moment, but I’m glad I did.

Monday, September 27, 2010

3 Days-632 miles

Working with wazoosports is like having a girlfriend. They don’t tell you everything you need to know, you have to negotiate sometimes, and it takes a lot of work, but in the end there may be a payoff.

click for slideshow Last Thursday I was only suppose to work the North Hardin game. I wanted to work the Friday Lexington Catholic game, but they hadn’t yet set the crew. Wazoo had asked, more than once, me to go to Campbellsville University, but it was so far away and I wanted to get home that weekend. While at North Hardin they called and asked what it would take to get me to Campbellsville. I asked double rate, they countered with 35% increase. I thought about it and called back. I’ll work Campbellsville, with the rate increase, if I could work Friday. Okay, done deal. I hadn’t planned on a 3 day road trip, but I did have some clothes in the car, I just had to figure where to stay. Luckily, Kelly let me flop at his house in Richmond on Friday and that cut about three hours of road time.

Friday’s game, the wazoo crew was 90 late, was the only one of interest. North Hardin lost to rival Central Hardin 10-9. Friday night was a slaughter with Catholic crushing Lexington Christian 62-0!!!! Half way through the third quarter the crew is begging for the mercy rule and we got it not long after. There was no mercy with the weather, it rained during some of the setup and most of the first half. Saturday’s score was not as bad as it might have been. Campbellsville beat Lindsey Wilson 48-30. 2010 is the first year Lindsey Wilson has put a football team on the field and it’s mostly freshmen and sophomores. It was a decent game. The set up for the game did not go smoothly, some of the equipment was missing (there was a second crew in Murray doing a game), other pieces didn’t work, so we improvised, two of  the crew had not run camera on a multi-camera productions (i.e. the director, me, yelling at them), I had to rewire the switcher to get everything to work, and master control, in Atlanta, lost audio at the beginning of the game. Very hectic, but we got it all together with time left to eat lunch before kickoff.

The drive over the three days was beautiful. Friday, I went past Fort Knox. Saturday, it was beautiful morning drive, with the sunrise and fog, through the back roads on the way to Lancaster, Danville, Lebanon then Campbellsville. I didn’t get much sleep Friday night. The train crossing was not far away and the train whistle must have gone off five times that night. When I got home Saturday at 8:30, after a three hour drive, I only lasted an hour before I hit the sack and slept until 7am.

Today, I deposited three check instead of one. Payoff.

Satellite Media Tour

click for slideshow Had my first experience with a satellite media tour last Tuesday (9/20). An expert sits in a studio while news organizations around the US (or world) ask them questions.  In this case we had a researcher who had an new study on women with HIV. There was a 2nd interviewee with HIV who had set up support groups for women. We did 23 interviews with TV and radio stations or programs between 6am to 11:30am. A few interviews lasted 15-20 minutes while others went only a couple of minutes long. Some of the stations were one right after the other. They would say good bye to one and 10 seconds later hello to the next.  The markets ranged in size from number 1 and 2, NY and Chicago, to 172, Hannibal MO,. The difference between radio and television was funny. On TV the two were sitting up straight while smiling and looking in the camera. During radio, they were kicked back and generally not looking at anything, but maybe each other and occasionally with eyes closed . I am still amazed at how productions such as this come together. The producer was from Atlanta, the satellite truck from Alabama, the group organizer Dallas, and the client from New Jersey. Only the researcher was from Cincinnati. Well, most of the six crew (Including myself directing just two cameras) was local.   All these elements come together for one six hour period to get the message out, through a one-on-one interviews, that will reach across the US.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


click for slideshow The last Bengals game I went too was a preseason against the Packers in 2006. The last regular season game was about 10 years ago versus the Patriots the day after a big snow. The Bengals won on a last second TD and the fans were throwing snow in the air. Because of the cold, I couldn’t feel my feet for a few days, but it was a great game.

My friend Fitz texted to see if I was interested in going to the Ravens game. Absolutely. We started the day at Hooters. Of course. They had their A team working that day. Then we took the shuttle boat to the stadium. You can’t park much closer. In the stadium it’s incredible, a packed house, the energy during the anthem, the jets fly over, the player intros, and then the game. The seats were great, right on the goal line, row 22. Not much see, while the Bengals won they did it with 5 field goals and no TDs, but it was a win. Fitz would tell me how much the tickets cost so I just bought the beer at the game. Four beers at $7.75 each. I should have bought the tix outright. .

They only let down of the day was my iPhone. It didn’t work. And I mean it didn’t work. While I had bars, I had no calls. Now just how am I suppose to call my brother, and rub it in his face that I’m at the game, if I can’t call him? The crack up was AT&T is one of the stadium sponsors. The scoreboard had an ad where subscribers could post pictures. It was a professional’s sideline picture. Because NO AT&T CUSTOMER  COULD EMAIL A PICTURE!

Fitz, congratulations. You made the blog. Even if it’s only at the end of the video.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tour de Kentucky Norte’

Monday 9/13 and Tuesday 9/14 I shot some footage for a NKY tourism video.

IMG_3068 Day 1 I drove to Augusta and took the ferry across the river. Then Maysville, Flemingsburg, Goddard, Falmouth, and Lake Kincade. Day 2 it was Dry Ridge, Williamstown, Owenton, Perry Park and Carrollton.  Many of these towns brag about their architecture, but most of the building are just old. The script called for video of The Outlets at Dry Ridge. It described it as a ‘shoppers paradise’, but the place is 80% empty with only a few retail stores, a karate school and a church. The highlight of of Williamstown was The Olde Town Mall with live country music. It was and rundown, old Tractor Supply store that was now a church. Thank God for the disenfranchised protestants filling up empty retail space. With so little to shoot in some places I did what I could. When in doubt, shoot the courthouse. The Quilt Box was interesting. located out in the country down a gravel road, it attracted quilters as far away as Dayton Ohio. I did enjoy seeing the Goddard Covered Bridge again. A friend of mine was married there about over 20 years ago and have always thought it was as quaint and beautiful as Kentucky can get. Owen County had the Elk Creek Hunt Club and Winery. What a beautiful restaurant and scenery. Maybe Trimble County’s will be as nice when it opens. I didn’t get lost once (wasn’t paying attention to the GPS) and the GPS took to a dead-end (never trust the GPS), but it was interesting way to get paid to see the back roads of Northern Kentucky. Oh yeah, the title comes from eating Mexican two days while on the road. 

Bettin’ the Spread

I would guess that some teams wouldn’t want me near their games. I ran camera when Ballard beat Madison Central 42-14, UC dominated IN St Univ. 40-7, and the Columbus Crew was humiliated by Seattle 4-0 (nil). Which, like dog years, in regular sport scores equals 40-0 (nil). So, by my math, that’s a combined score of 122-21 in the past two weeks.

IMG_3022 While in Richmond I decided to stock up on my EKU gear. I bought a T-shirt, a collared shirt (you know, for those nights I like to dress up), another hat and some stickers. Total cost, $70. Now I only get $150 to do camera at the wazoo games, so if you subtract the gas ($20) the taxes ($37), and the clothing ($70). I cleared $27. I got back from Richmond about 12:30am and was up 6am for a 7am crew call to run scoreboard camera for the UC game. These are pretty low key jobs with a great spread of food before the game. Running camera for the Crew game was tougher than I expected. I’m following the ball then a defender kicks it all the way to the other end and I have to pan quickly to follow. Only a little more exciting than having to watch a soccer game.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Labor Day

Thursday I worked another football game at West Jessamine with wazoosports.com. Uneventful game and day. The past few games the producer had made arrangements with a local restaurant for food in exchange for an on air mention. I didn’t happen this time, but we were told the concession would take care of us. Yeah, a hot dog and a coke. After the game I headed home to Bedford
IMG_3037 Friday I drove some the back roads of Trimble County and over to Madison,IN just to get out and enjoy the weather.  Went to see a friend that night and his daughter was at the football game. It didn’t take much to get him to go have a beer. At the bar he told me that it was the first one he’d had since December. DECEMBER! Man, you don’t know how good you’ve got it until you see another man’s problems. On the drive back to mom’s I pulled off the main road onto a gravel lane, shut off the lights, got out of the car and just stare at the stars. I was a clear, windy, beautiful night and the with no moon. I could see the armed cloud of Milky Way. Incredible.
IMG_3075 Saturday Donald had a get together for the UK vs UL football game. He was kinda bent out of shape because some Cardinal fans may be there and wearing their colors. One showed up with a pink “Louisville” jersey on. And the day was saved. It’s fun toIMG_3081 see a UK game with dyed in the wool fans. When the game finished I headed to Phillip’s where I was promptly shanghaied into playing cornhole. I embarrassed myself.  I improved after a couple of games. Marcia complemented me on getting better. Somehow I don’t feel that proud. I did kick 13 yr old Michael's butt in a footrace and that I am proud of.
IMG_3086 Sunday I went back to NKY to work the MDA telethon. Star64 does the local cut-in for the network. It’s a long two days (5-midnight Sunday and 6am to 7pm Monday), but a fun crew. All the years of effort seem to pay off at least for some. There were two kids, ages 16 and 4, there that had really improved with therapy. The stories of others and how hard their daily lives are just make you appreciate life more.
Man, you don’t know how good you’ve got it until you see another person’s problems.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Click on pix for slideshow & on the videos to play in youtube. I took all the photos & videos with my iPhone 4.

July 15th. Took my first trip to Boston Mass. It was an easy flight, with an empty seat next to me, to Manchester NH, of course there was a connector in Detroit. Detroit Metro has some really peculiar art. There's a light show/installation art between concourse B & C and concourse A. Plus there's a jumping fountain.

IMG_3095Kevin picked me up and though it was an hour to his place he said it was closer, by time, than going into Boston airport. We took a long walk along the Charles River, there were lots of sailboats out, past some beautiful boathouses for the college rowing teams, MIT, and then to Harvard Square for food and drink at John Harvard's Brew House. The Bad News Brown & World Cup Wheat were not bad. Afterwards we walked thought Harvard Yard, stopped by beautiful Memorial Hall, then watch some street performers in the square. Now I can honestly say, 'Yeah, I went to Harvard.'

Kevin is big into music, so I trust his instincts on where to hear some good sounds. We ended up at Toad (not The Toad , just Toad ) in Porter Square and really enjoyed Melvern Taylor and His Fabulous Meltones.  They had a large box electric guitar, an upright bass, a simple set of drums and Melvern on a ukulele. In the middle of one of their songs I heard a trumpet. We looked around and the club is so small that she was at a table, at the front of the bar, blowing her horn. Fun and funny.

IMG_3164 On Friday we took in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. An incredibly spectacular building inside and out. So much art work and artifacts: Rembrandt, Singer Sargent, Van Gough, but my favorite piece was J.M.W. Turner’s - Slaveship.  At first look, gorgeous, on closer examination grotesque. Then we walked to Fenway Park to go see the Bosox play. We stopped at Lansdowne Restaurant. This is where I found my new favorite beer. Sam Adams Boston Brick Red. Unfortunately, of course, it's only available in Boston.

The area around Fenway Park has restaurants, bars, gift shops, street performers, umpa bands, vendors and crowds of fans.  It was amazing to walk into Fenway Park. Built in 1912 it’s the oldest park in the MLB. It's been refurbished a few times, but luckily they didn't take away the charm. Our seats were about 20 rows from the top straight up from third base. When I sat down one of the nefarious post blocked home plate. About 15 minutes later a kid said I think you're in the wrong seat. Turned out our seats were one row down. With the post removed I had a great line of sight. Even though my knees were a little tight to the row in front of me. There was rain delay and a grand slam home run by the Rangers, but what a fun night.

IMG_3249 Saturday was busy. We walked the Freedom Trail and just happened on to a moving service in remembrance of the 54th Massachusetts, the regiment from the movie Glory, and the anniversary of it's attack on Fort Wagner in the Civil War. We also stopped at The Old North Church, the site of the Boston massacre, the state capitol, Nathaniel Hall, but most interesting was going on the USS Constitution. Old Ironsides. I don't know how 400 sailors could live on such a small ship. Nearby was the WWII destroyer USS Cassin Young.  It was hot day in Boston and while I was on the ship I put my hand on one of the steel beams on the officers mess and it was like touching the the top of a grill. A whole new appreciation for being stationed on this ship, in the heat of the Pacific, in WWII.

We took the ferry over to downtown Boston and we stopped by The Black Rose Pub. Where a buxom blond 'talked' us into Stella Artios draft competition. Didn't win anything, but we got to keep the glass. IMG_3420That night we were back down in the Fenway Park neighborhood to see Crowded House at the House of Blues. Kevin had some how got free tickets off craigslist from a guy who just wanted someone who would appreciate the show. I remember them from college and I was a very good show.


IMG_3429Sunday, before my flight, we took a trip to Portsmouth, NH. A quaint little town just across from Maine. We mostly walked around town to see the architecture and some famous buildings like the John Paul Jones house.  Had nice lunch and brew at the Portsmouth Brewery and then on to see the USS Albacore. A Navy research submarine from the 50s. Very cramped. An interesting comparison to the USS Constitution was both ships restricted sailors to about one gallon of water a day. Then it was off to Manchester to catch my flight.

IMG_3495 My Flight(s) out of Manchester were delayed/cancelled (see my rant below). So, I got a free night’s stay. Manchester is a nice city to spend a couple of hours. I took a long walk around town to look at some of the refurbished old cotton mills along the river, the ornate buildings downtown and, of course, have a beer. The Strange Brew tavern is unique and the Trout River Red was not bad.

Before flying Delta a new rule for the check list . Always pack extra underwear ‘cause you never know how many nights you’ll have to stay.

Here’s my little rant I tweeted to Delta. Returning from Manchester NH to CVG, on 7/18, I self checked in at the kiosk. I get to the gate to find the flight, DL 2213, was delayed because of mechanical problems and DET connection canceled. After standing in line at the gate for two hours Delta got me room & food vouchers for overnight stay. But why did kiosk issue the ticket when there was a delay? I was at front check in and they could have rebooked my flight instead of waiting in line at the gate. The next day, 7/19, DL 5403 was 1hr delay because of mechanical problems with the door. Then there was a 20 minute delay waiting for the gate in DET to clear before we could offload. I barely made my connection in DET. I am self employed and missed work Monday and lost money because of Delta. Why do I keep flying Delta? I want some kind of reciprocal.

An update. I did get an email from Delta and I got a $125 flying voucher?! But that only means I will have to fly Delta again.

Some extra videos

Portsmouth, NH
Metro, 54th Mass Reg.& DT Boston

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Brew Ha Ha

IMG_3792August 18, 2010. I went down to Sawyer Point to catch some comedians and try some new brew at Brew Ha Ha Festival. Saw some of the guys that I did shows with back-in-the-day and some of the newer ones. It was fun. I only found one decent beer. The Dark Horse Boffo Brown. Most of the beers popular beers that I’ve had before.

It wasn’t all good. There was an idiot that interrupted my friend Jeremy’s set. He was trying to get in the audience to dance in an attempt be on the Ellen. Even when four Cincinnati Police and two security came to escort him away he refused to leave. I hate people that are incapable of an original thought especially if they show no respect for someone whose job is all about original thought.

One stage had shut down, the main stage was on a break, and the third stage had one of the worst comics of the night. He did a 30 second impression of a fart. I was going to give him a tag for one of his first jokes, but after that he didn’t deserve my expertise.

click on pix for slideshow

Marengo Caves

August 6, 2010. IMG_2186 When the weather gets too hot above ground, go underground. Marengo Cave was a  good choice. It's just a short scenic drive just across the river from Louisville and northwest of New Albany IN. Discovered in 1883 by siblings Orris and Blanche Hiestand. (Why don't those old names come back in fashion?) Marengo is a wondrous, small, system that offers two short easy tours; the Dripstone and Crystal Palace.  For the more adventurous there are also exploring tours.

I took the trip one week before school started. When I got there I thought, “why did I take this trip one week before school started?” The kids weren't bad, there just would have been less people on the already small tour. Although, there was one kid who moaned and whined (you know, that just-short-of-crying sound) on part of the Palace tour. One kid has a bad day, we all have a bad day.

Both tours were just over 90 minutes and the formations were beautiful. You get to weave through stalactites, stalagmites, columns and around flowstone formations. Not look at them from a distance. And cavers must get hungry, because of some semi-official names of formations are: bacon, soda straws and taco shells. That could explain why on the Marengo tours the guides talked less about the science of the cave and more about what formations and shadows look like. “Doesn't this shadow look like George Washington? This formation looks like a volcano so we call it Vesuvius. And this looks like the Great Wall of China. So we call it...” You get the idea.
What I wanted to see was the Crystal Palace. So many types of formations in one place. It's suppose to be one of the most beautiful cave rooms in the US. We walked into the dimly lit room, sat on some benches and they begin a video presentation. It was projected onto a wall and was hard to see and, because of the room, almost inaudible. When it's done, the the the lights come up full and TA DA the Crystal Palace! 10 seconds later the lights go down and it's “This way please.” What? Huh? I got less than 30 seconds to see the room fully lit. They spent 10 minutes, later in the tour, trying to throw pennies into the ceiling of the cave and we only go 30 seconds to see the Crystal Palace? That was really the only disappointment. I would have liked to see the room in all it's glory and a little more science, but certainly a trip worth taking. I'm sorry I waited so long to see Marengo Caves. I won't wait so long to get back.

Interesting Marengo facts. Well, according to Wiki anyway.     

On the way back to mom's I stopped in New Albany to grab a bite and hit the New Albanian Brewery. I had some pineapple chicken wings which weren't bad. The beer was a little on the bland side.

Work out the Wazoo

IMG_3723 Aug 21, 2010.  I should have known. I SHOULD HAVE KNOW!!!  I got a call to work a game at South Oldham. I didn’t question once why it was a 6pm start for a Saturday game. When I got there I found out why. It’s was a bowl game, which means TWO GAMES!! For the price of one dayrate from me. I was, and still am, pretty pissed. 50/50 blame though. I shoulda asked and they shoulda told me. If I wasn’t getting paid at the end of the night I would have walked and I only had a 30 minute drive to mom’s not a two hour drive to Richmond.

The first game was close, Conner over Oldham 22-20. The second, Moore vs North Oldham, was a nightmare. It started late because one of the light poles went out, then the passing games began. Moore would incomplete pass, incomplete pass, complete pass then run out of bounds. North got almost all of their yard on the ground. Despite that the first quarter was ONE HOUR LONG! In the third there was an injury that delayed the game 30 miinutes. Even at the end of the game went it was truly over, North won 56-18, Moore insisted on passing. All in all it was six hours of football.

Tuesday was tear-out for tennis. Getting rid of cable that been in the elements for ten years. Luckily it wasn’t too hot of a day

Wednesday, I was back with Wazoo help tape an interview with UK women’s coach Matthew Mitchell. I talked about traveling to Spain to watch basketball and while there they saw some of the Tour de France. Plus they were in Spain when they won the World Cup. He’s the kind of guy if you ask a question he can go on for minutes. A great interview. Afterwards Rick took me to Fayette Mall to look for a new EKU cap. My last one is somewhere in California. Dick’s didn’t have any EKU apparel. There were three stores, in only one section of the mall, that sold only UK stuff. We went to Around Sports and when I walked up I saw Tennesse and, of all things, OHIO STATE BUCKEYES clothing. But did have two, count ‘em two, EKU caps. I felt good.

Thursday it was Doss High School vs somebody-I-can’t-remember. They all run together after awhile. I do remember that I was a sloppy game. Lots of turnovers and interceptions. The setup went so fast that we had about three hours to kill. I would have sent to Iroquois Woods, but the conversation was too good.

Friday night it was Lexington Christian Academy vs Christian Presbyterian Academy from Nashville. They week before CPA had beaten 2009 KY AA champ Ft Campbell. After Friday they added the 2009 KY single A champ to the win column. It was my first time to LCA and it is a huge campus with all the playing fields in one location. The stadium is huge, with molded seat for VIPS, a nice press box and a track surrounding the football field. Can ya smell the money. And I must say, some of the best looking moms of any HS sporting event I’ve been to.

I worked almost 38 hours and 25 hours in drive time drive time. It was a pretty busy week. That doesn’t happen often. And I’ll make sure it doesn’t too often.

Tennis 2010

IMG_3602August 5, 2010. I knew they were remodeling the tennis center, but when I went to the facility, to help set-up for this years tournament, I couldn’t believe that the huge building in the distance was part of the new complex. It looked massive compared to the old building. It is an incredible structure. Instead of being in the dank basement, the interview room is now on the forth floor. So I got a little more exercise climbing up the steps multiple times a day. The crew, at the tourny and on the video side, are fun to work with and it’s a pretty easy gig. Plus on Friday there was a happy-hour in the press box. Sweeeeet!

a maria Now, I’m not a what you call a huge sports fan. I’ve met plenty players and coaches  over the years, but not once have asked to have my picture taken with them. I don’t lose money or sleep over any team. I hate to see my favs lose and sometimes get a little ill because of it. Having said that, I was ‘this-close’ to…Maria Sarapova. A six foot two athletic goddess. After an interview in the press room, as she was leaving, I said, “Good luck.” and she LOOKED ME IN THE EYE and said, “Thanks.”  Try not to be too jealous. In her first match I got some decent pix of her.

During the finals of the men’s side, I went up to see a friend Phyllis. The finals was an exciting match between Marty Fish and Roger Federer. They split the first two sets, stayed on serve and both sets went to tiebreak. After Roger won the second tiebreak 7-1 I thought he’d roll in the third. But again neither player lost server until 4-4 when Roger broke Fish and then served to win the match.

It’s the last year for two separate weeks for the tennis touney in Cincy. Next year the men and women’s will be combined. The complex will be completely redone and bigger. I’m just hoping to be apart of it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


IMG_1394 sac I didn’t get out of the hotel soon enough again. I assumed the museums would open at noon, but when I checked the website they opened at 10am. When I got to downtown Sacramento the traffic was nuts. There was a Pacific Rim Fest. and the exit was backed up. I found a place to park not too far from the festival, The California Railroad Museum, and the Crocker Art Museum. The festival was fun with some great entertainment (video). I wanted some Thai food, but the lines were too long. The railroad museum was incredible. An older gentleman on a Yosemite shuttle recommended it.  It had all varieties of full size locomotives and railcars, life size dioramas, and a nice display of toy trains. There was trestle above the other trains that had a narrow gage train. The Crocker Museum had some interesting pieces, but most of the works were from local artist for a silent auction. The interior of the house was beautiful. I was only allowed to take a picture from inside the lobby, the ballroom was stunning with the railings, molding and woodwork. When I left Sacramento I got some shots of the Crocker house and the state capital, it’s ironic that with all the pictures I took (1200+) the last four were overexposed. I mean completely blown out. (click photo for slideshow)

When I got home it took me two days to recover, just tried and rundown. And maybe just a little melancholy because I’m headed off to someplace new everyday.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ceres, CA

IMG_3091RS It  was a nice drive out of Yosemite to my hotel in Ceres. The canyons, waterfalls and cliffs turned into low rolling hills of grasslands. It look like parts of Texas or Kansas.

Dinner was at Jenny’s Family Dining. I had a new waitress and I asked for the large prime rib. Another waitress came over whispered, “That’s L, G...”

I interrupted, “Are you teaching her how to spell large?”

“She’s new and I’m teaching her abbreviations.”

“So, one blonde teaching another how to spell?”

They both pointed their index fingers at me and said, “HEY!”

It a good dinner, but the restaurant had shrines for Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and George Strait. Also a wall of honor to those service in the armed forces. (click photo for slideshow)


Here are some panos I shot, but couldn’t edit until I got home. (click photo below) Many of them have 6-7 shot merged together in Photoshop. z grassland Panorama1RS

To see each pix full size click here

San Joaquin Valley

IMG_0948 On my drive Sacramento to Sequoia and back, (those green squares on the map are groves) I  noticed miles of groves growing everything from: oranges, almonds, plums, peaches and grapes. What Kansas is to wheat and Indiana is to corn and soybeans, the San Joaquin valley is to everything else you eat. My third hotel was in the town of Dinuba CA. The GPS would tell me I was only two miles away, but all I could see in the distance were trees, vines and green. Sure enough there was a fair size small town in the middle of all this growth. (click pic for video)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Yosemite Vernal & Nevada Falls

IMG_1246yose Saturday was my last day in Yosemite. My plan was to hike Vernal Falls then to the top of Nevada Falls. Yep, that was the plan. The hike was no where near as tough as Upper Yosemite Falls. Though still 3.4 miles one way (compared to 3.6 for UYF) it was not nearly as steep and hardly any switchbacks. It was a pleasant, mild, clear day for a walk. As I got to the base of Vernal Falls the spray from the falls covered everything. Climbing up to the middle of the falls the over rough hewn steps the chill of the water, runoff of melting snow, being driven against my face was numbing. (video) When I got to the top of Vernal and back into the sun I had to dry off my soaked hoody. There was an incredible rainbow in the mist and as the water droplets moved through it, the rainbow looked like flames being stoked in a fire. From Vernal I made my way up to Nevada Falls and I got to within half mile of the top and I turned around. I doesn’t sound far, but I had already been on the trail two and a half hours, it would have been 45 minutes to the top, 45 at the top and 30 down to where I turned around and I wanted to see some other things before I made the three hour trip to my next hotel. On my way down the day had turned from sunny to snowy, You couldn’t tell the mist from the flakes. The trail had become considerable more crowed and less enjoyable. It was still a great walk with two spectacular falls, plus Illilouette Falls in the distance coming off the side of the cliff face.  (Here I attempted to track with my iPhone again)

(click photo for slideshow)

Back in the Yosemite Village the weather had changed. One side of the valley was sunny and the other was dark and in a snow storm. The one landmark I had ignored for the past three days was El Capitan. An incredibly magnificent megalith. I walked up the base just to stare 3600 feet straight up at it’s shear north face. A marvel to look at and I can’t comprehend the the climbers that spend days ascending to the summit. I made one last attempt at getting a valley shot from tunnel view, but that snow had engulfed the most of the park.

Yosemite, what a beautiful place. It had a little of Kings Canyon and Sequoia inside it’s borders. I will try to get back here real soon.

Sunday it’s Sacramento for some museums and the Pacific Rim street festival. I will post that, probably my last for this trip, in a few days.

Thanks for checking out my blog.
Click on photos to enlarge.