Sunday, January 28, 2024

We Made Our First Trip to the Kansas City RV Show on Saturday to Look Around... Thinking About Future and Camping

Explore 2024 NB20.3
Explore 2024 NB20.3
Carrie and I have been tent camping for a few years now. We really enjoy the experience of tent camping although having a travel trailer would help us to be able to camp earlier and later in the season. We do have long-term plans to get a travel trailer, so this weekend we made a trip to the Kansas City RV Show to look around. 

We had a fun time walking around looking at the different options from small dome options to full motorhomes. It is truly amazing how much can be fit into the various options. Still, we are pulled to the direction of a travel trailer because we can hitch it to our Pilot, get to most any location, and leave the trailer while we site see or go to hiking locations.

Explore 2024 NB20.3 Floorplan
Explore 2024 NB20.3 Floorplan
The travel trailer that we reviewing is the Explore 2024 NB20.3. We are a few years out from doing anything about this new adventure, but it is fun to review and look at options. Some things we need to figure out include towing capacity of our Honda Pilot. I see it has a 5,000 lbs towing capacity, but the NB20.3 lists figures over the 5,000 lbs. Futher research is needed to understand if our Honda Pilot could haul this device not to mention also need to get a hitch for our Pilot.

It is exciting to review and think about getting a travel trailer. We are still a few years out before we do get one though. So, who knows, maybe at a future future Kansas City RV Show we will get a trailer once we have figured out hitch, storage, and exactly what we are wanting to buy.

As we look to camping for the spring, summer, and fall, we already have one spot reserved and talking about getting other dates selected for other camping adventures throughout the summer. We only went twice last year, so hoping to double, or triple, the amount of camping adventures this year. One day, we will have a travel trailer and be able to camp earlier and later into the season which will be a lot of fun.

Have a great week and if you are using a travel trailer, I would love to connect and discuss what you selected and why.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Cold, Snow, Ice, Sweaters, and Spring Right Around the Corner

Oliver Keeping Warm in Sweater
Oliver Sweater
Cold, snowy, and short days the past few weeks but days are getting longer. I did notice this past week when driving home from work that the sun was setting and it was almost 5:30. I had left work late and driving home noticing there was still light in the sky and pink in the western sky. It was beautiful! No, I did not get a picture taken, but I did enjoy the fact that it does mean the days are gradually getting longer.

A few times when letting Oliver out to do his business, he would stand to lift one paw and then the other. He immediately started shivering as it was sub-zero temperatures. Poor guy! Carrie would carry him out to the middle of the yard a few times just to help his little paws. He was a sweater puppy when it is cold and seems to like wearing the sweaters. We did have one day where it got up in the twenties or so and Oliver wanted to spend time outside enjoying the sun. Crazy guy!

It has been below zero multiple days and snow on the ground multiple days which is longer than I recall in the past few years. As a kid, I recall having snow on the ground for days, or weeks, but the past couple of years it seems like it will snow and be gone after a few days. Not with the latest snow falls we have had lately. The temperatures hovering around zero allow the grassy areas, and even some streets/pavement, to keep a covering of snow. 

Last weekend, the Kansas City Chiefs played in one of the coldest games in NFL history. I was glad to watch the game from the comfort of a home and my beer not freezing. It was not a game I wished I was at while watching on television. I spoke to friends who did attend and it sounded miserable although they did say how they can say they were there and stuck it out to the end... well, almost the end. They left partway through the fourth quarter. Stories to tell though of frozen beers, ice for feet, and noses freezing. Good times!

Rest assured that the days are getting longer and it will soon be spring here in Kansas. The warm weather will be here before we know it and Oliver cannot wait!

Stay warm and I will talk to you next week...

Sunday, January 14, 2024

My Flickr Year 2023 in Review and Background on My Flickr Account Through the Years

MyFlickr for 2023 Stats

The majority of pictures posted on my site come from my Flickr page where I upload all of my pictures. I have been a paid member of Flickr since 2007. I have almost 10,000 photos on my Flickr account and trying to take more and more pictures each year. I often go back and look at past years through Flickr to remember what we did during a specific period of time. Of course I also often go back in my blog to review a trip or what we did during a specific week. 

For 2023, my most viewed picture was from a sunset I took one morning from Washburn University campus as I was walking into work. I entered the picture in a Your Best Shot 2023 group to try and win. I did not win, but it was fun having visitors view and comment on the picture. In the Flickr group, there were over 11,400 members with over 9,000 photos ranging from a variety of photographs. It was the second year I had joined a group for "Your Best Shot" and had fun reviewing all of the member posts with their "Best Shot" for the year.

The picture of the sunset had over 775 views since it was posted on November 3, 2023. The majority of the views coming from being part of the Your Best Shot 2023 group. Overall, I had almost 12,000 views for all of my pictures.

My goal for 2024 is to not only post more pictures to Flickr, but be more active on interacting in groups, other members pictures, and the big one which I have found helps to get views is to include tags on photos. A tag is similar to a hashtag on a tweet but does not necessarily need the typical "#" for a hashtag. Those do show up, but most of my tags are simply "Sunset", "Dog", "basketball", etc. Gives another way for others to search and possibly have whatever was posted show up in their search. I also try to put a title and description on all pictures that I upload. Again, I find that this helps when looking through stats to see how people found a picture.

Brief background into the site that stores pictures I post to this blog that I wanted to share. Hopefully in 2024 I will post more pictures and have more interactions with visitors to my Flickr photos.

My Reading Journey from 2023 with a Goal of 25 Books and I Read 25 Books in 2023... Some of my Favorites in this Update

GoodReads 2023 Goal was 25 Books and I read 25 Books
Goal was 25 and Made 25
I met my reading goal for 2023. The goal was 25 books and I read my last book on New Years Eve. On November 5, 2023, I was at 17 of 25 books (see post), so I had to pick up the pace and read every chance I could get. Even reading every chance I could get, it was close as I was juggling multiple books.

I had a fun time reading this year. The majority of the 25 books I read with my Kindle. Some of the books, I did listen to which I know is debated as whether they count or not in some social media circles. I did find that listening to novels does not work well for me unless I am in the car driving and can focus on the audio book. I decided that audio books I listen to in 2024 will be memoirs or autobiographies as they are easier to follow when around the house and doing other things. I did manage to fit in a few autobiographies this year, so that was fun. 

GoodReads 2023 Books
My 25 Books for 2023

 To the right are the 25 books I read during 2023. Here, I will highlight some of my favorites. Starting at the top which are the earliest books I read in 2023, I enjoyed Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of Women of Pan AM by Julia Cooke. This book entered my queue from a bookclub I belong and I found this an interesting read. I was a good book to start my 2023 reading journey and I really enjoyed the history from the book with facts I had not heard previously.

My next favorite book was Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice by Adam Makos. My Uncle Charlie had told me about the movie that he saw and that it was good, but it also included a sequence in the movie that was exactly what my Dad went through when he served in the Navy. I really enjoyed the book and could feel what my Dad went through in that scary moment while reading the section of the book. I was able to watch the movie this past week and it went along exactly how I remember the book portrayed the story.

My first audio book of 2023 was The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl. This book was recommended to me by Carrie. Dave Grohl being the drummer from Nirvana and Foo Fighters. I loved this book! It was even better because I heard the book read by Dave Grohl. It was really good and highly recommend that if you want to read this book that you do the audio book so you can hear Dave Grohl tell his story. Excellent!

A few books later and I was reading another biography The Woman All Spies Fear: Code Breaker Elizabeth Smith Friedman and Her Hidden Life by Amy Butler Greenfield. Once again, an interesting book about the code breakers, women, of WWI and WWII that I found so interesting. This was one of the books I read during 2023 that I found hard to put down. Interesting facts throughout that I had not heard about before. I believe this was another book from the book club I belong, but I do not recall for sure. It was good nonetheless.

I went back and picked up two books by C.J. Box as I continue to enjoy reading the series. I read Out of Range and In Plain Sight. The story continues with about 25 books in the series of game warden Joe Pickett. I will probably read a few more from this series during 2024. Easy reads that move quickly and hard to put down.

Finally after many years and multiple friends colleagues telling me I should read the book, I finally read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Nope! It did not disappoint. I could not put it down and read it fairly quickly for my reading routine. I am so glad that I finally checked it out from the library (e-book of course), waited for it to arrive as there was a wait, and read it thoroughly enjoying the book.

Carrie recommended I listen to the audio book of The Woman in Me by Britney Spears. Once again, hearing the book read by the author was a good way to "read" the book. Once again, I recommend if you want to read this book that you do the audio book to hear Britney Spears tell her story. Worth it!

My final book of the year which also happened to be an audio book was Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry. Hearing Matthew Perry read after passing away not long ago (October 28, 2023) was a bit eerie but again it was good to hear it in the authors voice. To start out the book, Matthew Perry says "Hi, my name is Matthew Perry, although you may know me by another name. My friends call me Matty. And I should be dead." Eerie feeling as I listened to Matthew Perry speak this on the audiobook. If you have the chance and can get on the waiting list, be sure to listen to the audiobook of Matthew Perry.

Those are the highlights of my books from 2023. I barely made my goal of 25 books for the year. For 2024, I did another goal of 25 books although I hope to be closer to 30 books on the year as it comes to a close a year from now. I make it a point to read every day and so far I have been able to keep that streak going for two years straight. Even on days where I listen to an audio book, I still make sure to open my Kindle and read a page or two from one of my many books on my shelf.

If you have a recommendation for a book based on those I read or referenced above that I said I enjoyed, I would be interested to hear from you in the comments of those post. Of course you can also reach out via social media to share with me too.

Enjoy your reading journey and if we have not connected on GoodReads, please follow me on GoodReads

Sunday, January 07, 2024

Washburn Basketball, Movies, Weather, and NFL in this Update to Start the 2024 Year

Carrie and John at Washburn Basketball Game on Saturday, January 6, 2024
Carrie and John at Washburn Game

Carrie and I attended our third game of the season. We have missed a number of early games in the season, but hope to make the remaining games of the season. With traveling, holidays, etc., we were unable to make games earlier in the season. We had a great time on Saturday. Washburn came away with the win. We attended the Washburn game on Thursday too and we won that game too.

While we were at the game, we decided we are going to attend one of the home track meets Washburn plays through January. I have never been to a track meet although I have watched them online, so I am looking forward to attending our first track meet at our very own Indoor Athletic Facility on the Washburn University campus.

Friday night, we stayed home and enjoyed watching movies. During the holiday break, we watched a movie, or two, every night. There were a few we did not get to, so we watched on Friday night. We were able to watch The Holdovers and it was fantastic! We watched The Holdovers on Peacock, but I know it is playing at Liberty Hall in Lawrence, KS. Worth checking out as the whole cast did a great job. From the same director who did Sideways (2004), Alexander Payne put together a good story that was heartwarming and brought tears to my eyes. After watching The Holdovers, we decided we would watch Sideways as it had been a long time since we had seen Sideways. Fun low key Friday night for us.

Trees and Lights After Snow in Topeka, KS
Trees and Lights in the Snow

Friday also brought our second snow to Topeka. It was not supposed to amount to much, but it did snow all day long and left the trees and shrubs looking pretty. A wet snow that covered trees, so Carrie snapped a picture of our trees and lit up snowman in front of our house as it was pretty. The forecast is for significant snow fall Monday through Tuesday, so we will see what happens. 

This is the last weekend of the regular season for the NFL. Many teams are playing backup players to save their starters for the playoffs which includes the Kansas City Chiefs who are not starting Mahomes and others to keep them fresh for the postseason. So I am looking forward to watching football all afternoon although Carrie is not thrilled as she will be happy when the season is over and no more football. 

A wondering ramble of topics for this week. Short week last week with New Years Day on Monday, but it was back to work. It was a good productive work week. I hope your year started out well and I will talk to you soon.