Family Camping Trip

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When Jaclyn was looking through my phone’s photo library, she asked “Why are you taking pictures of girls in bikinis?” I replied, “That was not my intent, Winston is at the bottom of the waterfall with it splashing on his head.” A picture is worth a thousand words!

We went camping last weekend and I’m pretty sure Benny remembered the smells of Ohiopyle because he was so excited driving into the campground that he jumped out the window of my moving car as we approached the campsite. We quickly pulled over and got him back into the car, but kept the windows rolled up for the time being. It will be interesting to see if he repeats that action again.

The picture below is near the waterfall, Jac is almost hidden under the ledge, Benny is somewhere in the darkness too. The sun was beginning to come done and filter through the trees. It took us about 3 miles to walk to this waterfall from the campsite, Jac had to give a couple piggyback rides to Win & Dalia on the return trip.

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The kids and Jaclyn all enjoyed the camping trip. We all agreed that we would prefer increased seclusion so we could howl at the moon and let Benny roam free, but in the end, we managed to make it through the night without iPads and TV and I enjoyed listening to the kids yammer late into the night as they fought against sleep into the night.

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Jaclyn is obsessed over her Outlander books, she combined the forces of campfire and lantern to read in the darkness.

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We all slept comfortably in the tent with two queen sized air mattresses. In the middle of the night, Winston left the tent to use the bathroom and we had to collect him. Benny also took a stroll in the middle of the night. Dalia woke up around 3AM and starting violently pushing her mom telling her to move. She later apologized and said she thought it was Winston.

This weekend should be a little less adventurous. School starts Monday, Dalia goes into first grade and Winston in third.

Weekend Warriors

Took down the old shed this weekend. Jaclyn rented a 12 yard dumpster and dismantling the shed ended up exceeding its capacity. To be honest, I think I over-estimated the joys associated with demolition. In my mind, the old shed looked ripe for a flying jump kick into the wall which would topple the structure. I imagined this scenario a million times in my head, get a 20 yard head start running at full speed, jumping at a distance of 4 feet from the shed, extend my right foot, leading the collective energy of my 230 pounds traveling at 14 mph, IMPACT; shed explodes. I walk over to my admiring wife, she embraces me and gives me a long satisfying kiss. In reality, I walked around the shed, pushing on a various locations, like a doctor trying to see if it is a break or a sprain, the old structure was stubbornly intact, and I concluded the only destruction associated with a jump kick would be to myself.

The next step was to brandish various implements of destruction and take this beast apart through sheer persistence of brute force. I picked up a sledge hammer, geez, that thing is heavier than I recall, maybe I got weaker, no, that is not possible, this is an exceptionally heavy sledge hammer. I wind it up, rotate my hips to generate torque, the hammer is going strong and smashes a vital joint to the shed, BOOM! The shed shakes, dust flies everywhere, the wood is dented and slightly rearranged, but the shed remains perfectly intact. I become like George Foreman punching Ali like a crazed maniac tiring myself out, I am swinging the sledge hammer like the Tazmanian Devil, drunk with fury, until my body tires and the follow through of my swing leaves me stumbling across the yard, nearly collapsing.

Let’s grab some water. Whoa, it is hot out here. Let’s catch our breath. Ok, let’s grab the giant bar, my favorite tool, a long straight piece of metal that weighs about 50 lbs. and it primarily used to unearth rocks or roots, but I planned on using it as a huge crowbar to pry off walls and roof. After about 30 minutes, the shed was loosened up, but still standing tall. Now frustration began to manifest itself in insults aimed at the dog (“get out of the way Benny, you’re going to get us both killed you dumb dog!”).

During the entire time, Jaclyn remained focused on systematically using a small crowbar to separate key joints of the shed and once the entire thing was loosened up to the point it was about to collapse, she called me over and told me to whack the piece of wood in the middle and it will fall down, I gave it a good hit and the entire wall fell at once. I married a good woman.

Once the shed was taken a part, hauling the debris to the dumpster was another avenue of torture. Throughout the process, I accumulated splinters, scratches, abrasions, and bruises, even a lost wedding band. As I was walking back to the dumpster, my wedding band just slid right off my finger and fell into the lawn. I felt the exact moment it happened, but could not locate it in the yard. Winston and I looked for awhile, trying to conceal our panic from Jaclyn. We gave it a solid 15 minutes when I got the idea to run down to Ace Hardware and rent a metal detector. The device seemed very simple to use, but it proved to be of no use. I thought it might be totally broken, so I threw my car keys down to see if that registered, it beeped about 1 out of 5 times I hovered over the keys, it was not helping. Between, me, the dog, Winston, and the metal detector beeping over my keys, now Jaclyn was aware of the situation and came to investigate. Surprisingly, she was sympathetic but greater parts determined, got on her hands and knees and found it about 10 minutes into the hunt.

It was a tough weekend, but the body and lawn are probably better for it.

Sleep was not ideal this weekend as Benny got his head stuck in a giant Ikea bag on Saturday night and was dragging it all over the place, then started to cry until I woke up and untangled him. On Sunday night, he got stuck under the bed (I had to lift up the bed while Jack yanked him out), then in the middle of the night he got stuck under a chair. We decided it was just better to stick him on our bed, but he fell off our bed at 5AM and scared the heck out of all of us.

Ohiopyle Camping Trip

Benny Jeep Morning View Benny Rock Benny Trail Trout

Benny & I had a weekend to ourselves and we decided to test our outdoors acumen with a brief camping jaunt to Ohiopyle, PA (yes, the place with the natural water slides that we visited the week prior). We reserved a campsite online a couple days in advance, this was critical as the campsites were all sold out by the time we arrived.

Here are the positives of the Ohiopyle campground:

  • Nice showers & bathrooms, very well maintained
  • Great access to surrounding parks, trails leading to Youghiogheny river
  • Campsites clean, easy to access with vehicle, nice picnic tables and fire rings
  • Very close to the town of Ohiopyle, about a 2 mile drive

Here is the negative:

  • Campsites are close together, I would say 40 feet separated campsites, plus there was a campsite directly across the street. This was not an issue, everyone was wonderful, but it did not leave you with an alone in the wilderness vibe.

When Benny & I arrived Friday evening, we quickly set up the tent while we still enjoyed daylight. We cooked up hot dogs on my portable propane grill and then went to bed for an early night’s rest. When Benny entered the tent, he started to run around the interior walls as fast as he could like a cyclone from hell, he was bouncing off the walls, growling, barking, and picking up steam, I started to yell at him, “Good God Benny, calm down, what the hell are you doing, RELAX!!!” I can only imagine what the campers forty feet away must have thought about the events transpiring inside my tent, fortunately, the commotion subsided within a couple of minutes and we were fast asleep.

The campsite was flat and rock hard, which is absolutely fine if you’re prepared for it…I was not. I had packed a sleeping bag, which was not cushioned enough to make the rock floor comfortable. Benny & I were awake at 4:30AM, it was pitch black, we decided to get going. I grabbed my flashlight, fishing rod, and used the map on my cell phone to navigate down to the river. The trail was steep, but well worn, and we made it fine using moonlight 80% of the time and complimented it with a flashlight for the balance.

When the sun broke through, we were on the river’s edge and saw warm fog coming from the water. The river is framed by huge boulders, in many case, 30 to 40 feet tall & wide.

After a productive day or hiking and fishing, we went into town to grab an air mattress, this made the second night a huge success. I also found a distillery called Ridge Runner and sampled their vodka, apple pie moonshine, and regular moonshine. I purchased a mason jar of moonshine, but haven’t cracked it open yet. I also stopped at a general store in Chalk Hill, PA where I picked up an ice cream cone, two red beet eggs, and a half pound of cheese for my burgers. On the ride home, I ate a red beet egg and it was delicious. I ate half of the other and gave the second half to Benny, he spit it out, it sometimes worries me when I am eating something not suitable to a dog.

On Sunday morning, we hit up Cucumber Falls and it was gorgeous, then got an early start home and started planning the next trip!

Video Games & Natural Water Slides

On Saturday, Winston & I went to the ReplayFx arcade & pinball convention at the Pittsburgh Convention Center. I think we paid about $30 for each of us, but that included free video game playing for an entire day, plus cool inflatable things like obstacle courses, wrecking ball jousting, slides, and this thing where you put on a velcro suit and jump off a trampoline and see how high you can get stuck on a wall. Needless to say, we play games for hours.

Sunday, we all went to Ohiopyle in search of the natural water slides. We found them and it was spectacular! Here’s a video of someone else going through them;

Winston was the first one to brave the natural slides and then after he made it through without significant injury, I decided to give it a shot too. It was a lot of fun, but not for the fragile, lots of little bumps along the way, but worth it all. Benny had an incredible time running around, getting splashed, splashing, and falling all over the place. Dalia swam around the deeper pools, opting out of the slides.

Just a tiny percentage of the hundreds of games available to play.

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Winston getting photographed next to a giant Creeper, this booth was for a Children’s Hospital Gaming Marathon

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Several attendees at the conference dressed up and roamed the place, they generously allowed Winston a photo op

Star Wars

Here’s Billy Mitchell (man in white) who had set several Donkey Kong records – we got his autograph

Billy Win Craft

Dalia and Win found a neat little cave at Ohiopyle

Cave

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Here’s a pic from a previous weekend at Ithaca, my family has been excellent explorers this summer!

Waterfall