A Final Roadtrip

A Final Roadtrip

Davie and I on a cruise to the Bahamas with family.

Losing a family member to sudden death is probably one of the hardest things that one will experience in life. While my sister April and Davie’s twin brother Dannye, have seen our dad, mom, and another brother make this trip before, it’s a little easier for us, but still hard. For all his nieces and nephews, great and great-great nieces and nephews, it’s been a lot harder as he’s been like a second father to all of them.

A little over a week ago we laid Davie to rest, or to many of his kids, Uncle Davie, next to his mom, dad and brother who made this trip before him.

Davie loved life, there’s no doubt about that at all. He was also probably one of the most christian men I’ve ever known in my life. A role model I’ve tried to follow over the years. No, he didn’t attend church on a regular basis and I honestly can’t ever recall him saying a prayer out loud, but instead he lived his faith in love and service to his family, friends and in some cases those he didn’t even know that well. That was my brother Davie.

As with any loss of a family member we all have had our “what ifs” that we must deal with, but I know my brother and he’d be the first to say, don’t even think of going there! When it’s time, it’s time and only the Lord knows. The saving grace in all this is that he didn’t suffer as his dad, mom, and brother did for several years before they passed. I personally think that would have been much harder.

All the family made it to Davie’s Celebration of Life service, even his nephew Brad and family, who are currently serving in the Air Force and stationed at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, were able to take part thanks to today’s modern technology by using Facebook’s video chat feature and our nephew Kenneth who kept the camera rolling through some difficult moments for himself.

Davie’s service was just what the name implied, a celebration of his life and I know he was there in spirit enjoying every minute of it. All the little ones running around, yes running around, and playing, along with family and friends telling funny stories about him and celebrating the life he led. I can see Davie through the lives of his nieces and nephews. I know from the bottom of my heart that he loved us all and is proud of all of them!

Davie, like his dad, older brother, and myself, served his country and the military service and honors given him at the graveside were moving to say the least. I’m sure he’s humbled at it all, because again, I know my brother.

I’ll miss him here on earth, but I rejoice in knowing that we’ll be together someday down the road! Till I take that trip myself, I’ll try to carry on the love that he had for his family and friends.

 

 

 

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A different kind of (rail) Road Trip to Fort Branch, Indiana!

A different kind of (rail) Road Trip to Fort Branch, Indiana!

Me working on shooting CSX railroad changing out a bridge at Ft. Branch, In. – Photo by Dave Kunkel

Earlier this week I set out on a day-long road trip to southern Indiana to shoot what’s called a time-lapse video of CSX Railroad changing out a bridge just outside Ft. Branch, Indiana.

Time-lapse photography is a technique whereby the frequency at which film frames are captured (the frame rate) is much lower than that used to view the sequence. When played at normal speed, time appears to be moving faster and thus lapsing. For example, an image of a scene may be captured once every second, then played back at 30 frames per second; the result is an apparent 30 times speed increase. Time-lapse photography can be considered the opposite of high speed photography or slow motion.

Processes that would normally appear subtle to the human eye, e.g. the motion of the sun and stars in the sky, become very pronounced. Time-lapse is the extreme version of the cinematography technique of undercranking, and can be confused with stop motion animation.

Work was supposed to being sometime around noon, but I wanted to make sure that I was there in case they started early, so I was up at 5am!! Yes, I said 5am!! Any of you know that as a rule my climb out of bed time is 8am, so yes, this was a bit of challenge. 

The drive up was smooth, this early in the morning on a Monday, so I guess that’s one thing that was good about getting up this early.

Weather was wonderful! Only thing I wish was there were a bit more clouds in the sky! I love clouds in my photographs and in a time-lapse they really add to the movement of the overall scene. However, it was mostly clear for the duration of my 6 hours of standing around the site where the work was being done. Yes, I said six hours! 

I had to park a good distance from the location where the work was going on, so at least I got a good bit of my daily 10,000 steps in by walking back and forth to the car for things like water, fresh batteries for the camera and so forth. I packed for the day long shoot with snacks, water, things to read and plenty of batteries for the camera. Only thing I forgot and didn’t think of until I was about 4 hours into the shoot, was suntan lotion! By the time, I remember it was a bit too late so for a few days after I was red faced! I did at least wear a hat and long sleeves! Next time I won’t forget! My face is still peeling!

The crews got clearance to start their work at about 9:50am and by that time I had figured out how I wanted to position my camera and the rate that I would shoot pictures for the final video. In case you’re interested, the camera was set to take a picture every second for the six hours! That’s a total of about 21,600 individual photographs! Once they were combined into individual movie clips I had a total of 23 video clips of the operation with about 15 minutes of video that I edited down to the final clip of just over 7 minutes that you see below.

I really enjoy doing time-lapse videos, but they are time consuming and take a bit of planning. Plus, there as to be plenty of movement that takes place to provide interesting visuals! While it’s not something I think, I could do on many of the longer road trips that my sister and I take, I plan on trying to do some more often for everyone’s enjoyment and pleasure!

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Off to see the rabbit!

Off to see the rabbit!

On Maundy Thursday afternoon we loaded up two vehicles, my sister’s “camper van” (as the kids call it) and my SUV, with my great-niece Tracy and her kids, Jeremiah, Jordan, Journey and Jayden along with her sister Ashley’s kids, Elaina and Damion, and took off to Owensboro, Ky in search of the Easter Rabbit!

Every year their grandmother, Jeanne, has us bring them all down to visit the Easter bunny at her work. They have Mr. and Mrs. Bunny there to pass out gifts to the kids and they always enjoy it. Plus we take them to the Owensboro Riverfront afterwards so they can have some play time on the wonderful playground there.

Damion and Jayden rode with me and it never ceases to amaze me how they entertain each other from the back seat!

On the ride down they both brought their tablets and had a great time battling each other. Even though neither one had the same games, it didn’t stop them! They both still had a ball!

One of Damion’s remarks cracked me up when he said, “Jesus, help me level up!” Afterwards, he said, “it’s not something you really should ask Jesus for though.” How did they get so smart at 4-5 years old? With that being said, a short time later he shouts out “alright, I’m at level 4!” So, was it an answered prayer from an innocent 4-year-old? 

The visit to see the Easter Rabbits at Jeanne’s went very well and everyone had a good time. Jordan wouldn’t approach them closer than a few feet this year, so he’s not in the group shot! Funny thing is that last year I seem to recall it was his older brother, Jayden, that had the issues, or maybe it was one of the other kids.

After we finished at Jeanne’s office we headed off to the riverfront. Sis and Tracy took the van with the smaller kids, while Jeanne and I took the four older ones and walked the three or so blocks to the playground, which made it a little bit more of an adventure. Plus, Jeanne and I both needed to get our step-count up for our family FitBit weekly challenge!

The playground at the riverfront park is really a great place to take kids! Sis took over care of our youngest, Jeremiah, while Jeanne, Tracy, and myself attempted to keep up with the five older kids on the playground. Talk about a job!!! I don’t know how my mom and dad kept up with the 5 of us when we went on outings. It’s a full time job! They all took off in several directions at once, running, climbing, jumping and having a great time! Even Jordan, who is wearing some braces these days, to fix a issue with his left leg, had a great time and didn’t let the braces slow him down at all. Mom Tracy, of course, stuck close by him to help, but he didn’t miss a beat with the having fun part! There’s a gallery at the end of this post of the kids from today’s adventure.

However, all good things had to come to an end and we loaded the little ones back up into the van while I headed back to Jeanne’s work with Damion and Jayden on foot while Jeanne to the two girls by a different route. On the way down they were, of course, full of energy and excited, but as always, when it’s time to head back they were less enthused to say the least! To help make the return trip easier I allowed them to be a little more adventurous. The fountains along the riverfront were, as always, a big hit and, while on the way down, we had told them to stay off the ledge that surrounds them. On the way back, however, under a watchful eye, since they were no longer spraying water, I allowed them to walk on the wide ledges! They seemed to me to be built for that purpose and I’ve seen plenty of other kids doing likewise with their parents help, so I let the boys be boys! 

When we got within less than a block of Jeanne’s office, where we had parked, Damion was pretty much tuckered out and ready for me to carry him. Instead I let him and Jayden take a laying down break on the nice spring grass in front of the Owensboro Convention Center, till they were rested enough to prod them along to the parking lot and meet up with Jeanne, Elaina and Journey. 

After a quick stop at the convenience store to pickup something to drink for everyone, we hit the road back home. The kids, at this point, all tore into the bag of goodies that they got from Mr. & Mrs. Easter Bunny. 

Jayden and Damion finished up the last 45 minutes or so of our trip home by each one telling the other stories, ranging from zombie tales to stories about ninjas and other superheros! One thing for sure, all of our littles have great imaginations! 

Above is about a 4-minute audio file of the boys and their stories. There’s a lot of road noise, but I think if you play with your volume you’ll get the idea. All in all everyone enjoyed the trip and sis and I made it back to town in time for the Maundy Thursday service at church!

A gallery of photos from our trip to see the Easter Bunny

 

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Are We There Yet?

Are We There Yet?

Off we go.

My oldest daughter, Chrystal, lives in Chicago.  She tries to make it home once a month or so to see her only grandson, Xavier, who lives here.  All her other little ones are girls.  Two of them live in Texas and the other two are currently in Germany.  She is Damion and Elaina’s favorite aunt as well.  The timing of her trips depends on what’s happening here and at work.  Things came together this past weekend and we spent the whole time entertaining toddlers.

On Saturday, there was an Easter Egg Hunt and a trip to the movies.  Sunday morning we all went to church, but the real gig was on Friday when we took the three of them to the Land Between the Lakes Nature Center.   

Now, these three are roadtrip veterans.  Xavier, the oldest, has gone with his grandmother to visit his Dad in Texas several times.  We’ve taken all of them to the Kentucky Railway Museum a couple of times, most recently to see Thomas the Train.  We have a Pearson Family Reunion in Ohio every year and, usually, take them along there too.  We all love zoos and we’ve been to St. Louis, where they have a cousin, as well as Nashville and Louisville.  Other family members also travel with them occasionally.  So, they understand that, when we tell them it’s a long trip and pack movies, snacks, and books, it’s going to take quite a while.

Of course, they spent the first twenty minutes of the trip devouring most of their snacks. Then they got restless.  In spite of the fact that they’ve been to the Nature Center before and kind of remembered it, they started asking, “Do they have giraffes?  Will there be elephants?” Then, as proof that they were just playing around, “Do they have sharks and octopuses?”  Their imaginations are ten times the size of their bodies and they were in full charge the rest of the hour long drive.  

Even the movies they had chosen to bring didn’t really occupy them for long.  It was like being trapped with the a pack of howling puppies.  They weren’t being bad, not arguing, not whining.  They were having fun, laughing, talking (all at once), asking questions, even singing.  Strapped into their seats, they couldn’t wrestle or climb around the car physically, so they made up for it verbally.  

They enjoyed the Nature Center and were just as amazed and fascinated by it all as ever.  They loved the inside displays.  They hung on every fence and searched for each animal as though they’d never seen one before, even though there weren’t as many as usual and most of them were hiding in their dens.  They especially loved the raptors, but the polliwogs they found along the edge of the garden pond were a big hit too.  They made friends with a dog out front and had to stop to pet him on the way out.

Since it was past lunch time and the grown ups were hungry even if the toddlers were still full of snacks, we drove back to Grand Rivers and stopped at the grocery store for supplies to have a car picnic.   The adults had sandwiches and the kids got lunchables.  

We had planned to take them to see an eagles nest that Jim knew about, but the birds weren’t really flying.  Plus, there was a crowd of serious photographers toting three foot lenses on tripods.  It didn’t seem like a place to release the Wild Bunch, so Jim took a few shots while we waited in the car.  The trip back was just as rambunctious as ever.  The hour or so spent running around hadn’t burned up their energy at all.  We really do love traveling with toddlers.

 

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Pennyrile Hike & Photo Walk

Pennyrile Hike & Photo Walk

View from the top of the dam.

Many times during the year, we all make short trips that seem routine.  We tend not to bother documenting them.  After all, a half hour drive isn’t Really a Roadtrip is it?  But our lives are made up of these moments.  If we only pay attention to the big ones, we miss out on the chances to share our daily experiences with others.  

One of our frequent stops is the state park at Dawson Springs.  Every year, Pennyrile State Park has photo weekends, one in the spring and another in the fall.  Various members of our local photography club participate in these and compete for awards.  However, the park also holds nature hikes and other events throughout the year that we sometimes attend without thinking of them as an actual TRIP.  This past weekend several of us joined Naturalist Becky Clark for a morning hike along two of the park’s most popular trails.  

All trails in the park are clearly marked.

We started out behind the lodge, climbed down the natural limestone steps to the dam, that creates the lake, and walked across the top.  Becky gave us a brief history of the park before we proceeded down to the base of the dam for a quarter mile hike along the Clifty Creek Trail.

 Since our group was familiar with the area, we tended to lag behind, more interested in taking photos than listening to Becky’s talks.  She was very patient with us as we caused her to repeat several times, “Our photographers are catching up now,” before the main group could move along.

From Clifty Creek, we crossed the road and headed up the quarter mile Indian Bluff trail which, while being the same length as Clifty Creek, is a bit more strenuous.  By the time we got back to the lodge, my Fitbit claimed we had climbed up the equivalent of 10 flights of stairs.  The trek was leisurely though and the information Becky presented along the way about various wildflowers, trees, wildlife, and cliffs was interesting.  

The weatherman played an April Fools joke on us with his forecast.  Instead of sunshine and warmth, we got overcast and a chilly breeze; but it wasn’t too cold and it didn’t rain on us.  The cool spring has made some things late in blooming, but we did get some nice wildflower shots and the rocks on Indian Bluff are interesting any time of year.   After the organized hike, Jim and I decided to check out one of our favorite spots in the park.  A small waterfall hidden in the woods at the end of the beach.  It has a nice flow, at present, due to all the rain we’ve had lately.  Overall, it was a pleasant trip shared with friends and natural beauty.

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We tend to dismiss places that are close to us as though travel is required to make a place interesting.  One of the things I hope to do over the next few months is demonstrate the fallacy of that way of looking at things.  Kentucky has many beautiful spots.  In May, we will be paying a brief visit to the Red River Gorge area.  This trip will be mostly reconnaissance.  We’ve never been there before.  Years ago, we talked about making short trips to places in Kentucky and Tennessee, but then we got too caught up in heading cross country.  This summer maybe we will begin to correct that.  

 

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