Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Long Weekend in Morgantown WV

We returned a week ago from Morgantown where we visited Brendan, Eileen and the kids.  Tom and Sarah came over from Virginia which was a special treat.  We were there for the opening of high school soccer and 11-12 year-old football.  Nobody lost and all three played great.

This is a big year for Braden.  She is a senior this year and captain.  Last year she was named Midfielder of the Year in West Virginia as she and her teammates stormed to the West Virginia Girls Championship.  They only lost a couple of players from that team and figure to make a lot of noise this year.  I have already made my hotel reservations for the state finals in early November.

You can see a lot of photos of Braden's play in their first game which they won 6-0 by clicking here to go the photo album.  This also includes several animated photos.  You can also view them all in a five minute video above.  You can also click here to go to the YouTube channel directly.

This year we get to see two West Virginia Picketts playing high school soccer because Brock began his freshman year at University High.  He is not only on the varsity boys soccer
roster but is starting.  This is a team that also went to the state finals last year but lost the final game.  With only one field player graduating, it looks to be another powerful team.  Surprisingly, however, there are at least three freshmen starting this year which gives you some idea of the talent in this first year group.  They were down two goals with about 10 minutes to go but came back and tied 4-4 against a strong team.  Since then they won their matches and Brock scored his first high school goal.

You can click here to view the photo album.  And you click here to go directly to the YouTube eight minute video or just click the video above to play it in this page.

After a full day of soccer, we all went to see Brady open his football season.  He is the starting fullback and defensive end.  He played a game at both positions.  Here is an animated series showing him converting a two point conversion on a classic fullback dive where he blows through two defenders who find themselves on their back in the end zone.

Here is another where he hurries and just misses sacking he quarterback.

You can click here to view the photo album with all the photos and several animations and two videos.

You can click here to view the YouTube video of all the photos.

We left right after the game and got back to Rochester in time for dinner at home.

INJURY REPORT:  In his second game this past Sunday, he also was playing at an extremely high level with five or six unassisted tackles and another extra point conversion.  Unfortunately on that play, he suffered fractures of both bones in his fore arm.  He will be out at least six weeks and thus will miss most of the season but could be ready for the league playoffs.  He will attend all practices and be on the sidelines as the good teammate that he is.  As grandparents, we wish he loved another sport but he just loves this game...and baseball, his first love...we hope.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Trip to Missouri and Kansas - Kansas City

We spent four final three days in Kansas City.  We stayed with my sister Anola and her husband Peter.  One night the four of us gathered with my sisters, Mary and Louisa.  The weather had begun to
National Weather Service animated radar and total rain fall:  9 PM to 5:00 AM
moderate the day we arrived but that night there was significant rain.  In fact, there were thunderstorms all through the night producing 5-8 inches of rain in the area around their neighborhood.  Marilyn and I received weather alert notices about flash flooding which, in fact, closed several road around us.  The flooding occurred on Indian Creek which runs from Kansas into Missouri at 103rd Street.  Fortunately no one was

injured in this dangerous situation although there were some harrowing rescues and extensive property damage.  Photos show some of the flooding and damage to several car dealers along Indian Creek.

So it turned out that we could have our choice of triple digit heat with no rain or too much rain with more comfortable temperatures.  Experiencing both in five days is to fully experience summer in the Heartland.

Visitors can walk through the kangaroo haibtat...staying on
 the path is important.
On our last day in town, we decided to take advantage of "mild" temperatures in the upper eighties and visit the Kansas City Zoo.  Having grown up in Kansas City, I spent a lot of time in Swope Park with its outdoor theatre (Starlight Theatre), spacious green lawns and picnic areas, golf courses, lakes, and zoo.  The park totals 1800 acres, most of which is heavily forested.  It was a gift to the city in 1896 by Colonel Thomas Swope at the time, the largest landowner in the area.  The title was honorary since he had no military service.  It became part of the overall park plan developed by George E. Kessler, a major force in urban planning and landscape architecture in the first decades of the Twentieth Century.  Working with August Meyer, the first chair of the Kansas City park commission, Kessler produced a comprehensive report and plan (1893) that is considered to the beginning of the City Beautiful movement.  His exact role in Swope Park is not clear.

A Red Panda.  A bit bigger than a house cat.
"In December 1909 the Kansas City Zoological Gardens officially opened with four lions, three monkeys, a wolf, fox, coyote, badger, lynx, eagle and other birds.  Today more than 1,000 animals are available to see on the 202 acre site.  The Kansas City Zoo was honored in “America’s Best Zoos 2008” as one of the top 60 zoos in the United Sates and was ranked No. 1 in the nation for “African Animals and Exhibits.” and ranked in the top 10 in the nation for “Australian Animals and Exhibits” and for “Pachyderms: Elephants, Rhinos, Hippos.” In addition, famed ape expert Jane Goodall complimented that Kansas City has “one of the finest chimpanzee exhibits in North America.” In fact, “America’s Best Zoos 2008” ranked the Kansas City Zoo as the No. 1 zoo in the nation to see both chimpanzees and kangaroos."  (Quotations from https://www.kansascityzoo.org/follow-us/about-us/)

While the zoo is owned by the city, it is supported by an very active Friends of the Zoo.  "The Kansas City Zoo, once struggling, is on firm financial footing after voters in Jackson and Clay counties agreed to join a zoo taxing district in 2011. Residents of those counties pay a 1/8-cent sales tax to support the zoo, which continues to receive a city subsidy."  This why you see the above sign throughout the park.  Also residents of those counties receive a hefty discount on admission fees.

We were not able to cover the entire zoo but were able to experience the penguin exhibit, an aerial tram over the African plains exhibit, the extensive Australian collection.  The original zoo building is still there and in use but we were not able to visit it.  Next time for sure.