Saturday, September 29, 2012

Scrambler Ride

If I point my motorbike north towards Canada I can only get about 75 miles, On dry land anyway.  It was a beautiful fall day so I headed up to the top of Ohio to visit my Dad at Lake Erie.  We had some cold Labatts from the tap and cheeseburgers  at the Beaver House.  I took  a few pictures around Beaver Creek.

150 miles round trip. About 3 gallons of go juice and I watched the sun go down from the bike on the ride home. Sweet. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Archery Notes

This afternoon after work and school Wyatt and I grabbed our gear and headed out to the archery range.  After a long day cooped up inside getting outside to do anything sure does help.  We've also had two days of solid rain showers here in Ohio making us even more stir crazy.
I've been busy adding a couple upgrades to my Hoyt target bow and have been waiting to get out and do some testing.  The riser (middle handle section) came stock with a black plastic hand grip.  While this grip was fully serviceable it wasn't the most attractive part to look at.  I appreciate wood and as an archer who has made my own bows from wood I like  to have the bow-human interface made of wood.  There is some narrow strips of maple in the limbs but it's sandwiched between layers of glass-fibers and so is rather out of sight.  A little bit of wood that I can feel helps bridge the gap and feel the connection to archers in ages past.
 The grip made by Hoyt is called the "Ortho Grip".  It is carved for high wrist shooters with a very narrow throat or the part of the grip that rests firmly in the web of the hand between the thumb and index finger.  This type of grip helps to minimize handle torque by reducing the contact patch between the handle and web of the hand to as small as possible.  In the archery game it's all about consistency and once I start pulling back the string the grip settles into my hand the same way every time. Installation was quick and easy; just unscrew the plastic grip and secure the wood one in place.  Not only does the new one look good it feels terrific.
The second component I changed out is called a sight aperture. Pictured below is the original aperture that came with the bowsight.  It is inexpensive and made of plastic.  What I don't like about it is its small size. The sight window is only about 1/4" diameter and the pin is too fat for my liking.  I was going to purchase a similar aperture but made of steel that was a 1/2" diameter ring.  I figured that would give me a better sight picture downrange and it was only $9.  Unfortunately the one I wanted was sold out so I ended up splurging on a much nicer quality aperture from a company called Titan Scopes.

The Titan recurve aperture is 14mm wide and made from a coated Japanese Hoya 0 power lens for the clearest optics.  Why have a lens with no magnification for a bowsight?  The cool part is that a hole is drilled precisely in the center of the lens to hold a .030" piece of fiber optic rod end wise that becomes the sight "pin".  I like this arrangement  much better than the old aperture with its crude stalk and bigger diameter pin.  When I'm shooting at 60 feet the target I'm aiming at is only about a 2 inch dot so I like an unobstructed view.  The fine .030" pin should work even better when I move back start working at the 40 and 50 yard butts.
So how does the new aperture work?  In the following shots is the nock end of an arrow I nearly "Robin Hooded".  The arrow was stuck in the target bale and a follow up shot hit the nock only about a millimeter from dead center between the two prongs.  The V shaped furrow is visible cut into the hard plastic from the field tip as it glanced off to the side.

After that I decided to just shoot an arrow or two at each spot. 
Here is four shots starting from the top right and working down.  The third shot was a little low.
Two shots at each corner spot.
Wyatt likes shooting bare bow with no sights.  Look at this group shot at 30 feet!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Family Vacation -- Part 5

Sunrise over the Atlantic
A couple mornings we got up before the sun and waited for it rise up out of the Atlantic Ocean.  So very peaceful.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Family Vacation -- Part 4

Water Taxi and the 1% Tour
We found another unique way to get around the Ft. Lauderdale area; the water taxi. During one day of our stay we decided to utilize the water taxi system as a kind of sight seeing tour and to travel a bit farther than our feet and the trolley could take us.  The water taxi makes use of the Intracoastal Waterway and really couldn't exist without it.  For $20 a head and a bit less for the minor we purchased all day passes that allowed us to travel any route and switch boats unrestricted all day long up until the late evening.  Convenient for us the system had recently been expanded allowing us to catch the taxi right across the street at the hotel marina on the IW.
Our goal was simply to take the boat north enjoying the scenery along the way and stop off somewhere for dinner in Ft. Lauderdale.  Each water taxi is crewed by a captain who of course drives the boat and a first mate.  The mate's duties include aiding in docking, collecting fares and helping passengers on and off as well as acting as an on board tour guide and comedian.

As we traveled north the waterway opened up into Lake Mabel and we passed Port Everglades were this behemoth the Oasis of the Sea was tied up.  This boat is the second largest passenger ship in the world and belongs to the Royal Caribbean Line.  They must have been testing the life boats as one of the yellow and white craft can be seen floating beside the towering bulk of the liner.
Everybody has their opinions I'm sure but I don't care for ocean liners.  I think they are big and ugly and I had to laugh when I recently read of them referred to as gigantic floating feeding troughs.  If I was going to spend some time at sea I'd like to travel aboard a ship with masts and sails and rope and rigging; a vessel with some soul. To each his own I guess.
The second boat we rode on had a cabin with windows that slid up and down.  Luck was on our side when an afternoon thunderstorm opened up with torrential rain like a monsoon.  August is the rainy season so it's to be expected.  Eventually the storm past and we managed to stay dry the rest of the day.

Downtown Ft. Lauderdale.

The Intracoastal Waterway butts up against many of Ft Lauderdale's exclusive neighborhoods. Definitely the playground of the one-percenters.  We saw mega yachts everywhere even though our water taxi tour guide said that with hurricane season drawing near most of the big boats were evacuated off to safer harbors.

The yacht and the house in the background pictured above belong to the family who publishes Easy Rider magazine.  Just imagine the parties that have gone on in that place.

If I were stinking rich I'd have a big sailboat and a crew to run it.  As far as motor yachts go I like the classic looks from the 50's and 60's like this one:

I'm not a fan of the Gallant Lady pictured above.  I don't like the ultra modern styling of this boat. Too much fiberglass for me.  If I'm remembering correctly the guy who owns her was the first to import Nissan automobiles into the U.S. years ago.  He has a fleet of six of these yachts!

Cracker Bay  Owned by country music stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.  This is what all those sold out concerts buys.

Spanish style architecture is prevalent and I like it.  I'm going to have to start playing the lottery so I can set myself up a little winter place down here.

We enjoyed a delicious seafood dinner at a dockside restaurant and then caught the water taxi back to Hollywood Beach as the sun set that evening.  It was a fun day.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Family Vacation -- Part 3

Night Shots

Here is a few photos we shot around the hotel and the Intracoastal Waterway at sundown. No filters or Photoshop just the warm afterglow of the tropical sunset and the city lights.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Family Vacation -- Part 2

Mangrove Swamps via the Hollywood Trolley

 We flew down to Florida so for the sake of convenience we grabbed a cab to take us to our hotel once we arrived in the sunshine state. Once we got settled in we found much better and cheaper ways to get around the area.

The Hollywood Trolley isn't really a trolley but a little bus disguised as one. The inside is decorated with old-time wooden benches, wood paneling and air conditioning so it makes for a pleasant ride.  The system operates Wednesday through Sundays and originates from a central hub with legs running South and North along the beach and a third running into downtown Ft. Lauderdale.  The wait between pickups was never more than 30 minutes. The best part was the fare which was one dollar. 
One thing I like about traveling to different regions of North America is the chance to observe the various flora and fauna found in the natural places away from the tourist strip.  During the research phase of our trip planning LeeAnn discovered a city park called West Lake Park.  The park lies at the top of the Hollywood Trolley's North route and because the trolley stopped at the front of our hotel we made sure we got out to catch the first one and start our days adventure.

West Lake Park is a 1500-acre restored mangrove preserve.  This coastal wetland area has a network of canoe and kayak trails, a gravel bike path and elevated walking paths which makes it very easy to get up close to nature without disturbing it.  The following picture I took from a five story observation tower at the Anne Kolb Nature Center. 
Anne Kolb was the first woman elected to the Broward County Commission in 1974.  Throughout the rest of the 70's she became an activist and lead many campaigns to preserve tracts of land in a natural state for future generations to enjoy and explore.  Even back then development along the coast was exploding at a tremendous rate and thanks to her efforts a little bit of land remains untouched.  I read in the center that Anne Kolb said that she didn't want students to have to learn about nature by watching it on a screen but be able to experience it in real life.
In the United States there are three different species of mangroves that grow in the brackish to saline backwaters and on the tidal mud flats.  The species are differentiated by the height they live above the high water mark.  Of course it looks like an impenetrable nasty thicket to us but the mangrove swamps are home to all kinds of animal life.
Coastal mangroves play an important role in protecting the land from the relentless power of the ocean by preventing storm damage and long term erosion.  Mangroves grow in a band around the globe roughly following the Tropic of Cancer. Curiously they are one of the few trees that can exist in salt and brackish water.

Mangrove Crab


Friday, September 21, 2012

Family Vacation -- Part 1

With today being the last official day of summer I thought I better get busy and post up some pictures from our family vacation we took during the third week of August.  Once a year the three of us like to take a trip away from home and see something new.  Last year we went camping in Southern Ohio and this year we chose something a little different.  We booked a room at a Westin resort in Hollywood Beach between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
We like Westins and have stayed at a few over the years. This one was extra swanky with a piano man who tickled the ivories on this baby grand in the lobby each evening as the sun went down.

When we were checking in the gentleman behind the desk to our surprise offered to upgrade our room to one with a view of the ocean for no extra charge. Sure! and thank you we said.  I don't know where they were going to put us but this room met my approval even if I did have to turn my head slightly to the left to see the deep blue.

In South Eastern Florida in August in can get a bit warm during the day so of course we spent a good amount of time in the Atlantic.

Wyatt and I discovered a band of seashells and coral reef debris laying about 30 yards off the shoreline under three or four feet of water.  We had a blast skin diving and hunting the pretty ones.


Coincidentally we were in Florida during shark week so when we were in the room we just left the tv play on Discovery Channel. Fortunately we didn't see any of those big mouthed hunters of the sea in real life.  Personally I don't believe the marine biologists who say that sharks don't mean to bite people on purpose.  I'm sure to a shark we humans are a tasty snack no different than a seal.  I've seen the aerial video footage of sharks cruising the beaches just yards from oblivious swimmers frolicking in the surf.  There's a reason they've been around for millions of years. Evolution has taught them how to hunt and go where the food is.  It's just a hunch on my part but I think we will see an increase in shark attacks as time goes on.
We did much more than just hang out at the beach on this trip and in following posts I will document some of the other interesting activities that the family and I enjoyed during our stay.