The Crazy Horse Sculpture….. and Mt. Rushmore

We cut down off I-90 to the Black Hills of South Dakota. We couldn’t just drive by so we paid our entry fee and drove up the long road to the parking area, got out, took some photos and went into the huge visitor complex. After all, this project, The Crazy Horse Memorial, is the world’s largest mountain sculpture.

In 1939 the sculptor won first prize for his entry at the New York World’s Fair. The Lakota chief Standing Bear learned of this and wrote a letter ……”My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes also..” He invited Korczak Ziolkowski to the Black Hills to carve Crazy Horse. The first blast of rock occurred in 1948. It took off just 10 tons. Millions of tons have been removed since… it is today…


The brochure I have says the horse head is 219 feet high…here is a close up of some equipment at the base…


When Brad and I were there in 1977 I took this slide ….sorry about the color. I believe there was scaffolding below the face..

66 Crazy Horse monument started in 1948

Today the same view……




67 still a ways to go



Will it ever be completed?

No trip to the Black Hills is complete without a visit to Mt. Rushmore…I love the view now as you walk up through  the memorial columns to each of the 50 states….


But I loved this sign which was there in 1977…of course it is long gone…

68 Mt Rushmore sign


A Day at Hidden Valley Lake

Ronnie and I lived here for 4 years from summer 2003 to summer 2007. Our friends Lynn and Eric still live on the lake so we diverted there on Tuesday for a boat ride, dinner and  then spent the night. They live right on the main lake which you can see here on the left over Ronnie’s shoulder… P1030822   Here is a lake view from their house… P1030834


Our old house is back in a cove on the other side of the lake. It’s the one hidden in the trees…P1030831  This is still our favorite house. We had  some great times there with family and friends from Caesar Creek. We only lived there 4 years but looking back at the total redo of the house and all the family gatherings it seems much longer.

Here is a slideshow of some scenes when we lived here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Going through all those photos from 10 years ago brought back some great memories….and some of the grand kids have since grown up

Fripp Is. to Caesar Creek Soaring Club

We got the motor home all packed and left Fripp Island for Ohio on May 29th. It’s about 700 miles to the soaring club so we stopped near Knoxville at the end of the first day.. Stayed at a nice campground off I-40 on the Little Pigeon River. Ronnie had marinated a flank steak which we grilled for dinner. Delicious! Here is a short YouTube video greatly speed-ed up.I had a Bob Seegar tune with it but You Tube wouldn’t let me use it so it has goofy music.

The second leg through Cincinnati brought us to the club mid afternoon.  Here is another short speed-ed up video:

This is such a beautiful place. I took my first flying lesson here 22 years ago. It has been a huge part of our lives, both Ronnie’s and mine. Though we no longer live in the area we still spend several weeks here most years. The gliderport is located about 40 miles northeast of Cincinnati. It’s 4 miles north of I-71 between the Little Miami River and Caesar Creek Lake.What a beautiful place to fly and to camp, During the week we practically have the whole place to ourselves, all 140 acres.

Our club owns the property which includes a pond, campground, clubhouse, porch with seating for over 100, all along a beautiful 2800 foot long grass runway .It’s one of the premier soaring clubs in America. Definitely one of the most beautiful..

Here are some photos:

Clubhouse and veranda Cutting Grass The Pond Runway and campgournd Runway and wind sock Pond  view 2

One thing about Ohio in springtime, it can rain a lot….for example we spent all afternoon Wednesday watching and listening to the rain from the motorhome.



I had been looking forward to taking some videos here with my GoPro camera mounted to my dji Phantom drone. However, I crashed the thing on the 4th flight and it is in for repair. I hope to get it back soon.  For now, the still photos will have to do.


A Drone for Video Photography

Just a week ago today I picked up a Wall Street Journal at the Marina Store here on Fripp Island. The Saturday issue has two sections of non financial stuff and sometimes I find something of interest. This issue featured a story about a man who experimented with a couple of drones on spring break to take video. Here is a quote:

“Flying a drone isn’t just exhilarating; it also fundamentally changed how I think about photography. It is hard to get excited about vintage filters on Instagram after shooting a drone selfie (call it a “dronie) or panning hillside Napa vineyards at sunrise. A drone allows you to move a camera in ways that might otherwise require a helicopter……”

This got my attention. I have a GoPro Hero camera that takes amazing HD video at a very wide angle and have taken many hours of video while flying gliders, riding my bike, etc. I love cameras and the fun of photography. This would open up a new world of video opportunities. I kept thinking about it.

The next day, Sunday, a beautiful spring day, Ronnie and I drove the golf cart over to the 11th hole on Ocean Point. to watch the competitors in the Beaufort Charities golf tournament play the par 3 hole. This tourney is a huge event. They always have a bleachers set up and a margarita bar going there on Number 11 all afternoon. Lots of fun watching groups come through. There was a bit of a gap between foursomes and I saw a lone man on the tee about 175 yards away. I watched, unsure of what was going on, and then a drone appeared in the air about 30 feet up moving slowly toward us. He flew it up to the green and made several take offs and landings. The drone was a DJI Phantom and he had a GoPro camera attached making a video of the happenings. I went over to see it and talked with the  pilot for a few minutes.

Some coincidence huh? Maybe this was meant to be. By Monday morning I was in full Google-search mode looking at all the options and where I might get the best deal. Had one on order by the end of the day on Monday  to arrive Thursday.  Thursday about 6 PM UPS arrived with my new DJI Phantom drone. Anxious to get it going I opened the box and started putting it together…..the debris is still on the dining room table here:


Assembly is quite easy. Four propellers and landing gear to attach and that’s about it. Batteries have to be charged both for the drone and the Transmitter. However the instructions said I should download a certain piece of Assistant software from the Phantom web site and do several things which I didn’t understand so  I slept on it and got into it early Friday morning.

I found 15 or 20 very helpful videos on YouTube. I did all the stuff that needed to be done. It was a total immersion into readying the Phantom to fly and learning how to fly it. By the end of the day I thought I was ready to do it for real. After a little diversion to the Bonita Boathouse for cocktail hour Ronnie and I came back to give it a go. No one was on the golf course and the wind was light so we walked out behind our house on the 13th hole and fired it up. Turn on the transmitter/controller, put the battery in the drone, wait for a sequence of flashing lights to appear and go…here is mine assembled with my old GoPro camera attached. Beside it is the transmitter unit.


Six days from reading the drone story in the WSJ, I had my first and second drone flights. This short YouTube clip below was not uploaded in full HD in order to shorten upload time…I will do some in full HD later

This drone has many amazing features to keep the novice from having a “fly away” or crash on the first flight. The best one is the GPS hover feature. When flown in GPS mode if you become unsure of what the drone is doing, just let off of the two sticks, they return to  a neutral  position and the drone hovers right where it is. Even with a light wing blowing, it will stay put. Then you can gently take back control when you figure out what you want to do next.

However, much to my delight, after only a few minutes in two flights I had a good sense of how to control it. It seemed almost intuitive. More drone blogs will follow with some YouTube video clips.

A Cold Day on Fripp Island

Last Sunday, February 12th,  was the coldest day of the  winter. I went out before 8 AM to get a newspaper and when I got to the Fripp Island Marina the temperature had bottomed out at 28 degrees. Some water in the parking lot there had turned crunchy. The wind was howling off the marsh.

I love to watch the weather and have a favorite internet site that overlays all the Weather Underground stations on a Google Map. It happens that there is a station on Tarpon Blvd.  When I get up in the morning I can check outside temperature here on Fripp. Handy for figuring out how many layers you need if playing golf or tennis. Various local records are kept there too. I saw that the previous coldest day on Fripp Island this year was about 30 degrees on the morning of  January 3.

Ronnie and I decided we should brave it and go for a walk on the beach. I took my little pocket camera to record the event

My Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 pocket camera

I got this little camera about 3 years ago so I could have a small digital camera to take with me in the glider. At the time I was thinking mostly about still photos but it does a really good job with HD video too. So, I have taken a lot of video with it including the video in the YouTube video here:

If you watched the video you will see that the camera has good optical zoom ability (12X), another feature that I liked about the camera. The quality on YouTube is only 360p. I could have created the clip at a much higher quality but it increases the upload time dramatically. I save that for better videos.

Just checked the station on Tarpon Blvd and I see that the current temperature is 62 degrees. It’s now 11 AM, Friday, February 17th. A nice sunny day here on Fripp Island.

Soaring in January at Seminole-Lake Gliderport

We had three straight days of good soaring at Seminole-Lake Gliderport January 24 through 26. I logged a bit over 10 hours in the DG-800 in three flights.Temperatures were in the low 80’s, cumulus clouds were abundant, thermals were strong and we were able to get high every day. During the first flight I had the privilege of soaring with a lone Wood Stork and the second day I was in a thermal with two Bald Eagles. Circling in a thermal with these wonderfull birds is one of the great things about flying gliders. The birds don’t seem to mind as long as you don’t get too close.

Wood Stork Soaring

These are both majestic species who love to soar and the Wood Stork in flight is a magnificent sight with legs outstretched and wings spanning up to 6 feet.

On the last day I shot some video clips with my Go Pro Hero . The little Go Pro is an incredible camera. I’ve had mine for a couple years and I continue to be amazed by the quality packed into this little box.

Go Pro Hero

I got mine with the head strap accessory so that you can wear it like a hat. The idea is that the video will be of whatever you are looking at. However, I found that the camera is so small  you can get great results just holding it. That’s how I took the clips in the YouTube video that follows. The field of view is an incredible 170 degrees. So, you can hold the camera out at arms length and take video of yourself for example. Because of the very wide field of view it appears that the camera is several feet away. Of course, this also causes the horizon to look extremely curved. The bottom line is this camera is a lot of fun.

When I returned home from my soaring trip I was out on the Ocean Creek golf course and saw about a dozen Wood Storks. I mentioned this to a member of the local Audubon club and he said indeed they used to be a rare site here on Fripp Island but he thought maybe the gradual climate change in recent years might account for it. I took this photo along the 13th fairway at Ocean Creek

Wood Stork on Fripp Island golf course

The Clifton Gorge of the Little Miami River

This is a real treasure for hikers. In 1851,  Robert S. Duncanson  created an oil landscape there which he titled “Blue Hole, Little Miami River”. This classic painting now resides in the Cincinnati Art Museum. When Ronnie and I lived in Loveland, Ohio we sometimes  went there to hike in the winter. For us, part of the fun was  “getting there” from Loveland to Clifton. It was only about an hour’s drive and we had the option of going through the small town of Yellow Springs which is the home of Antioch College. This small village with its tiny college is worth a visit. It was founded as a utopia and that seems to be present in the culture even today.

But, back to hiking. All of the various trails here are contained within John Bryan State Park and the adjacent Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve. The Little Miami River flows south  through the tiny village of Clifton. Here there is a historic grist mill just before the river starts through a very narrow gorge. The old Clifton Mill, built in 1869 is open to the public.   Here the river channel narrows to a deep gorge carved out of stone and for the next two miles the scenery is spectacular.  The hiking options are many within these two natural areas. They are all beautiful but I think the eastern end where the gorge is narrow is the most impressive. Walking from the parking area in  the village of Clifton you  follow along on top of the gorge with occasional overlooks. Then, after a bit  you have an option to stay on top of the rim or go down steps to the river below. These beautiful spots,  for me, are  most inviting  in winter. The trees perch like skeletons on the tops of ridges, all the craggy overhangs are visible, very few other hikers are  there with you and if you are lucky enough to have fresh snow  it is really special.

We also came into the area on more than one occasion from the western end in the John Bryan State Park. One of the trails following the north side of the river is on the old stagecoach road between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. The vistas here are more tranquil and the views are broader. Here are some photos of us in John Bryan State Park

You can click on the Google Map below and check out the area: