Saturday, July 28, 2012


52. Locks of Love. I'd love to be able to help someone out by growing my hair long again.

After 14 months of no haircuts, I finally achieved the length needed by Pantene Beauitful Lengths (a program very similar to Locks of Love, but only required 8" instead of 10"). My hair is luxuriously thick and I don't use hair products nor blow dry or flat iron my hair, so it should make a wonderful wig for someone in need. Pantene's wigs still go to patients with cancer.

Here's a before picture:

In process:


And now the after picture:

Monday, I'll ship it off. I sure picked the hottest summer on record to chose to do this particular goal, but I didn't know that when I started it. I'm glad I did it and I'm glad its over. I feel pounds lighter, even though the hair bundle is only a 1/4 lb. I just measured it - the longest strands are about 11" braided, so I may have cut off a larger amount than I thought. Hooray!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

52 Week Project: Week 29

This was a very busy week for me, so I feel like I took this week's photo at the very last minute. I had no idea what I was going to take and hoped I'd meet my self-imposed deadline. One of our 8 events (including 3 performances) in 48 hours was a dinner where the hostess decorated the tables with these glass stones. The early evening light and the indoor lighting provided a unique light setting that caught my eye as I was eating. I only took 3 versions of the pictures, and it was hard to pick which one I liked the best. This was the winner - it was the one I liked the most in camera before upload as well.

Glass on Black Linens

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

52 Week Project: Weeks 26-28

It's 52 Week Project catch-up time, and I'm officially over halfway through!!

Here's Week 26 - the halfway point:

Crayon Crafts

Week 27 - from Cuyahoga Valley National Park:

Brandywine Falls

and finally Week 28 - from Mammoth Cave National Park. I love this one because it looks old fashioned. I'm still not quite sure how it turned out this way, but it did:

Mammoth Cave National Park

Next up? Either chronicling a fun arts and crafts moment or who even knows. I need to remember to take pictures - I've been distracted by side projects and work!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Road Trip, Days 5, 6 and 7: The Saga Wraps Up

Originally, Days 5 and 6 were supposed to be spent in Memphis and traveling home. Sadly, having to temporarily abandon our car in Columbus meant we had to backtrack and pick the car up.

Here's where the saga gets a little interesting - the mechanics couldn't find anything wrong with the car. They tried to replicate it but no dice. They tried for several days. They refused to charge us and asked that we let them know we got home safe. Thusly, we decided to take it easy - what would normally be a one day trip, we decided to break it up in two days.

Day 5 was driving back from KY to OH. We made it back relatively early and decided to explore the German Village on recommendation.  We didn't do much exploring of the entire village but thoroughly explored an independent bookseller: The Book Loft. We came away with far too many books, and a few more in the 'wish list' to buy in the future. We then headed to THE restaurant to eat at: Schmidt's Sausage Haus. Authentic German food and in-store made sausage. Holy cow, it was AMAZING. Mom and I smartly split the enormous Sausage Platter and split a rich slice of German chocolate cake. To top it all off, we had a fabulous waitress who was running around like a chicken with her head cut off but never actually acted like it. I asked for a large glass of water because I was thirsty - and I ended up with an ENORMOUS glass of water. I liked her sense of humor. We walked out of there stuffed and ready to be lazy for the rest of the evening.

Schmidt's Sausage Haus

The next day we went from Columbus to Indianapolis - but slowly at that. There were many stops along the way including visiting Graeter's Ice Cream (amazingly rich and delicious) and Gander Mountain (a R.E.I. type store).

Thankfully we decided to go no farther than Indy because when we got off the highway to head to our hotel, the dang car quit again. This time we'd sat at a light and made it through the left turn before it quit on us. Bad for us, we were in a slightly dodgy part of town. We waited about a half hour and after a few tries, the car started up again. We immediately headed for our hotel while avoiding highways - holding our breath most of the way because we didn't know when it would quit next.

We made it safely to the hotel and checked in for the night. It was this large conference center and was on a property with a large lake. On the way back from dinner (at the restaurant in the conference center vs the amazing Creole we were to have), I saw the lovely sunset and grabbed my camera to capture it:

Sunset in Indy

My mom joined me and took a really awesome photo of me as well.

The final day was the slow trek from Indianapolis to St. Louis - we stopped about every hour or so and gave the car a rest. It didn't act up again and we're still not sure why, but the car has an appointment with our mechanic.

Next Up: Catch up on the 52 Week Project: Photo Project 2012

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Road Trip: Day 3 and 4: Mammoth Cave National Park

Day 3 was the drive from OH to KY. We made what was supposed to be a brief side trip to Maker's Mark Distillery, but it turned into a pretty large detour. It was worth it though. Neither of us are huge drinkers, but we couldn't resist the temptation to visit one of the six major distilleries along the Kentucky Bourbon trail. We arrived too late for a tour, but we visited the gift shop. One cool little feature - you can dip your own top - Maker's Mark has the distinctive wax dip at the top of the bottle.

We arrived in Cave City, just outside of Mammoth Caves and settled in for two nights. We started to look at the tours available and discovered that one of them was only run on the weekend - and it being Sunday, it was the last day available. It was a small short tour but meant for photographers. It was a lot of fun and our Head Ranger was a delight.

We took two tours the next day, the New Entrance Tour and the Historic Tour. There is a lot of fascinating info and history about Mammoth Caves.  Such as the Cave is the longest known cave in the world. One of our guides said you could stack it against the 3 next largest/longest caves and it'd still be bigger. There are 390+ miles of explored passageway and more coming all the time.

Besides being a National Park, it's also a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve - and its beauty is not only underground but on top. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in the caves - not only from the natural cave air-conditioning (50-54° F) and the exercise (what goes down into the caves must come up - and there's a lot of stairs involved) and the unique lighting of the magnificence underground. It's fascinating how beautiful it was and how slow the process is to form said magnificence.

There's also fascinating history in terms of previous owners of the Mammoth Caves (prior to being a National Park). One of the most famous guides was a young slave named Stephen Bishop. He was well known for exploring and has discovered a lot of the cave and mapped it out fairly accurately. There was also a sanatorium in the cave at one time. (Sanatorium being a place for TB patients to recover.) One of the owners was a doctor and thought it would be a great place for TB patients to recover - in actuality, it's a really bad atmosphere for TB patients. Many patients died and the doctor who ran it also ended up dying of TB.

Enough with the talk - here's some low-light photos - most of the reason why I had 1100 photos from this entire trip - when you're not sure of the lighting and you're not a professional, you take a million photos for the one or two good ones.

Mammoth Cave National Park   Mammoth Cave National Park   Mammoth Cave National Park   Mammoth Cave National Park   Mammoth Cave National Park   Mammoth Cave National Park    Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park    Mammoth Cave National Park    Mammoth Cave National Park    Mammoth Cave National Park    Mammoth Cave National Park    Mammoth Cave National Park    Mammoth Cave National Park    Mammoth Cave National Park    Mammoth Cave National Park

For more, see here.

Next up: the drive home and wrap-up of our little adventure.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Road Trip: Day 1 and 2: Ohio and Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Continuing on my quest to visit all the National Parks in the Continental United States (Goal #22), I set out on a road trip with my mom this week past. We were to visit Ohio/Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Kentucky/Mammoth Caves National Park and Tennessee/Memphis and Graceland.

Somewhere between Cleveland and Columbus, our 1996 Mercury Villager quit suddenly at 65 miles per hour. For no discernible reason. Mom and I waited for about an hour and a half in the blazing afternoon sun (and 100°+ temps) for the tow truck to arrive. By the time our driver arrived, it was near on 5pm and the shop we were initially towed to was closing. They were, however, kind enough to make some phone calls on our behalf up to Columbus and directed us to a Goodyear. Thankfully, we decided to call them on the way which was a good idea since apparently their tech wouldn't be in on Saturday. We were redirected to one right next to a Red Roof Inn and down the street from a rental car agency. We thought it was a match made in heaven.

Or not. Our tow truck driver, with our permission, helped switch out a woman's tire on our way to Columbus (because no one should be stranded in that kind of heat). He took us to the shop and dropped off the car. That's when the trip became even more interesting. The Red Roof Inn had no rooms. Ohio had suffered through that large straight-line wind storm and many people were still without power — a fact we would discover after calling the nearest 10 hotels. Totally devastated, we were calculating the cost of a bed and breakfast plus a cab ride, when the hotel informed us that they had a two-bed smoking room. Deciding that a smoke-infused room was better than spending the night at the Waffle House across the street, we took them up on the room.

The next morning, we were up far ahead of the rental car place. Hopping over there almost right after they opened, we were immediately disappointed. No cars available. We could check back in a few hours. Devastated, we headed to a Tim Horton's to regroup. We settled on trying to rent online from Enterprise, the company that will pick you up. Turns out, that's a load of B.S. because they don't really. Within a 'limited geographic area' the size of a handkerchief. The place that was closest to us was sold out and not answering their phones. Thinking that we were consigned to staying in Columbus until the car was fixed... we headed back. Finally we decided that it couldn't hurt to try again. Thankfully, perseverance and patience paid off. We ended up getting a Chevrolet Captiva - room enough to store the ice chest and food provisions as well as our luggage.

We headed out and made our way towards Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This park was newly formed in 2000 (having been a Preserve) before. It was the oddest park - you wove in and out of the park without much warning - there were tons of private residences within 'park borders'. Unfortunately for us, it was BLAZING hot still and we were really disinclined to get out and enjoy all the natural wonders that we had wished for.

But we did see the two highlighted ones that I had researched prior. Brandywine Falls and Beaver Marsh. Brandywine Falls was still a respectable waterfall despite the lack of rainfall.

Brandywine Falls   Brandywine Falls

We also visited Tinker's Creek Gorge, a National Natural Landmark. It was beautiful - and it would be stunning in the fall.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park  Cuyahoga Valley National Park

And finally, we spent an evening at Beaver Marsh, just around sunset. No beaver spottings but we were serenaded by tons of frogs.

Beaver Marsh   Beaver Marsh   Beaver Marsh    Beaver Marsh   Beaver Marsh   Beaver Marsh    Beaver Marsh

Beaver Marsh   Beaver Marsh

Part of the fun of Cuyahoga Valley was the fact that it was part of the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath. This is Lock 26:

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Cuyahoga Valley National Park

It was a brief visit to Cuyahoga Valley, and I'd like to return in cooler weather in order to enjoy the hikes and the potentially amazing fall foliage.

Next up: Mammoth Caves!