J Jones Reunion 2010

Sunday we celebrated the annual J Jones family reunion at Fairview Park in Decatur!  It ended up being a pretty  nice day out, not too warm, not too cold, and no rain!  There was a fair number of Jones’ that made it out for the reunion and we were happily surprised with Joanna making it from Louisville, KY where she had been working all week!

Everyone had a great time catching up and the old photo albums Aunt Beaulah brought for the gathering were a huge hit!

Covered Bridges in Indiana

Friday after work we headed to Indianapolis for the “Experiencing Mathematics & Statistics Workshop”.  The workshop was scheduled for all day Saturday, but we wanted to get there Friday night so we wouldn’t  have to get up early Saturday morning.

As normal, we didn’t hop on the interstate, but rather took the back roads straight east towards Indiana.  I didn’t think anything of it (and in fact expected it), but shortly after crossing into Indiana, James veered off the back roads and headed out into the middle of nowhere (and trust me, this place does exist everywhere, because James always manages to find it!).

As we slowly made our way along twisty curvy back-back country roads that were mostly gravel or dirt and without road signs, I definitely started to wonder if we were completely lost.  Yet all of a sudden, we pulled up to a covered bridge.  I got out of the car to checked it out and take some pictures, but James quickly ushered me back in the car and said we had to go.  So still unsuspecting, I got back in the car and off we drove along some more winding roads until we got to another covered bridge!

It finally dawned on me that Indiana is known for their covered bridges and James was taking me on a tour of some of them!  With the proverbial “cat out of the bag,” James gave me the map he had created with the bridges on it and let me navigate!

Map of the eight bridges we visited

Map of the eight bridges we visited

We were actually in Parke County, Indiana which is known as the “Covered Bridge Capital of the World” with 30 covered bridges!  For a bit of trivia about why the bridges were covered (from the Parke County web-site), without modern treatment on the wood, regular bridges quickly rotted and and fell apart.  In addition, horses were often leery about crossing a regular bridge, but had no problems crossing covered bridges (which also happen to look a *lot* like barns).  And last (and most importantly), they made great places for young couples to steal a few kisses away from prying eyes!

Unfortunately, with it getting dark we didn’t have time to visit as many of the bridges as we would’ve liked, but we were able to visit eight of them!

We had a great time and the best part was that we pretty much had the bridges to ourselves.  October is the annual Covered Bridge Festival, and while I’m sure it’s fun, I can’t imagine enjoying such a large number of people around the bridges and clogging up the narrow winding roads.

Alone with the bridges!

Our last stop before continuing our trip to Indianapolis, was the Bridgeton Covered Bridge in Bridgeton.  It was basically dark by the time we got there, but luckily by adjusting the camera settings and using a tripod, we were able to get a few decent shots.

Bridgeton Covered Bridge (2006)

The Bridgeton Covered Bridge was originally built in 1868, but it was destroyed by arson in 2005 and rebuilt in 2006.

Bridgeton is a very small community that was completely dark (and dead) by the time we got there @8PM.  Yet, on our way out of town I noticed a lone light was on at the Bridgeton County Store, so I had James stop so we could check it out.  The County Store was a gift shop and restaurant (with amazing ice cream!) that also had live blue grass music in the back hall.  It was all very quaint and old fashioned, and also provided the icing on the cake to an already enjoyable evening!

New technology

Ok, I admit it, I love technology! Especially technology that makes my life easier or is fun to use… and if it is both? Then I’m really on top of the world!

So to feed this addiction, I recently made a *few* additions to my technology collection, starting with a Virgin Mobile MiFi. The MiFi (around the size of a credit card) is a mobile hotspot that uses Sprint’s 3G network to provide a wireless signal for up to 5 devices.

MiFi compared to my Sams Club card

So what does this mean? As long as there is a Sprint signal (coverage map of US) we have a wireless Internet signal.  This will be great for when we’re on one of our crazy road trips of the US or even just out for the day.  In addition, and this is the best part, there is no contract required, we can pay as we need/want it, and it’s only $40/month for an UNLIMITED data plan (and no fine print!).

In addition, after going back and forth for a while, I broke down and ordered the new Kindle 3.  I already have the Kindle 2, but there were some aspects of the new one that really appealed to me and to seal the deal, a coworker offered to buy my Kindle 2!  And what you might wonder is the big deal about the Kindle 3?

Well, compared to the Kindle 2, the Kindle 3  is:

  • smaller and lighter
  • has a longer battery life
  • allows for quicker page turns
  • uses wifi and 3G (including global wireless coverage)
  • has double the book storage
  • better screen contrast
  • more efficient web browsing (yes, you can browse the web on your Kindle!)
  • it doesn’t click as loudly when you turn the page (and no, you can’t turn that off because it is a real button that you have to press, and yes it was a big deal because James was constantly complaining about my *clicking* in bed keeping him awake at night!)

I ordered the new Kindle at the beginning of September, it arrived on Wednesday, and I love it! It is small and cute and does everything my Kindle 2 did plus all the extra’s.

Kindle 2 vs. Kindle 3 (isn't it cute?)

But, my only complaint is that the cover I really wanted (which is the same one I had for my Kindle 2, the Cole Hahn) is apparently not as good of quality for the Kindle 3.  Luckily I checked the reviews before buying it (and they were all awful), so I ended up going with the cover from Amazon.  Now don’t get me wrong, the Amazon cover is nice and even has a built in light, but it’s just not the cover that I wanted.  Regardless, I love my new Kindle, my coworker loves my old Kindle, and my mom went crazy and also bought the new Kindle (which she loves, she sent me the pictures to prove it!) and gave my brother her old Kindle (which he better love!).

Yet was this it on my technology loving rampage? Nope, I saved the best for last!

On Thursday morning I realized my phone (which is an outdated Motorola Q) had stopped syncing with my work e-mail and calendar.  This might not sound like much to some of you, but I rely on my phone to keep me updated on any potential problems with Angel (our learning management system) and to make sure that I’m providing the best service as possible to the instructors and students.

I tried fixing it on my own, but nothing I did would fix the problem.  When I got to work I called someone to see if they could help me figure out the problem and they said they’d come down and take a look at it later that morning.  Yet, the longer I waited, the more frustrated I got… and then in walks Michelle (remember her from the BbWorld Conference?) with her iPhone.  And what does she do? She starts selling me on how amazing her iPhone is and how it can do everything I need and so much more.  In all honesty, I had *considered* getting an iPhone before, but just never had the nerve to take the plunge, but now with my phone not doing the one thing I really needed it to do, I decided it might be the right time.

Michelle told me the AT & T store she goes to was pretty good, so I looked up the number and made the call.   Amazingly enough they had just got in an order of iPhone 4’s the day before and could port my current cell phone number to a new phone in about an hour.  My response, I’ll be there over my lunch hour!  So, as of Thursday, September 16th, I made the leap and drank the iPhone Kool-Aid (and wow was it good!)!

Motorola Q vs. iPhone4

And how do I like my new iPhone?  More than words can describe! It has been life changing… and while yes that sounds sappy and ridiculous, it is completely accurate! My new phone and all it’s amazing options and apps have made it even easier to work while I’m out of the office (e-mail, opening attachments, responding to trouble-tickets, etc…), made looking up travel information a cinch (i.e., gas prices, restaurant  reviews,  movie times, etc…), and in general is just plain fun to use!

So, between the MiFi, Kindle 3, and iPhone I have officially tech geeked myself out for at least another couple of months or so…

My technology trifecta!

At least until something new and amazing comes out and I have to have it… 😉

September Walkabout

I wandered around the yard Saturday taking in the splendor of the outside and trying to save it up for the winter.  It had been a while since I’d walked the entire perimeter of the yard, so I started by where James was busy pulling out more trees (yes, more trees!) by the garden and spent the next hour walking all the way around!

Bright and cheerful flowers along the creek

It’s amazing how full of life the yard is and it was quite fun to see how everything had matured from earlier in the summer when I last walked around the entire yard.  Including the spiders! I was amazed at the number of Garden Spiders (yes, this is their real name, I looked it up!) down by the creek.  And yes, this picture does the spider justice in terms of showing how long it is and a little big of their zigzag web (a classic characteristic).

One of the many huge garden spiders I found along my walk

And, of course, what walk around the yard would be complete without some butterfly pictures!  It was so much fun to try and spot them around the yard!

Harvesting the Garden

The wait is finally over! I got to harvest my pumpkins, watermelon, and tomatoes today!!

I especially love this up close picture of the pumpkins… the color is just so vibrant!

Pumpkins fresh from the garden!

While I worked in the garden, James worked on pulling out a bunch of the trees behind the garden.  He’s trying to make room for his new shed!

And of course, what posting of the yard and garden would be complete without some butterfly pictures 🙂

Ford embedded in a barn roof

On our way home from Kewanee, we stopped by Grandma & Grandpa Jones’ house to pick up some plants from Grandma’s garden.  While we were there, John & Linda showed up to pick up some things as well, so it was a nice chance to catch up with everyone!

On our way home, James decided to take a route we’d never been before.  As we wandered around back country roads, taking our time and chatting, I happen to glance up and had to yell for James to stop the car.  To the left of the road was a car embedded in an old barn roof!

1955 Ford Customline embedded in the roof of a barn

James immediately pulled over and we got out to check it out.  There was a fence around it,  so we couldn’t get too close, but I was able to get these pictures with our zoom lens!

Upclose picture of the car

We had no clue what type of car it was, but thanks to one of our amazing friends (who was disappointed that we couldn’t challenge him a little more) we were able to figure out that this is a 1955 Ford Customline.  We have no clue what the back story is to the car being on the roof, but regardless, it made for an interesting find!

Update: We sent our pictures and information to one of our favorite travel sites, Roadside America, and our submission was accepted!  We thought that was pretty cool since we’ve visited a number of places listed on their site and have really enjoyed them!

Hog Day’s 2010

Friday afternoon we left for Kewanee straight from work and 4 hours, 2 Tractor Supply’s, 1 Culvers, and 1 Cold Stone later we finally made it!

Saturday morning we started the Hog Day’s festivities by going to the Boss Glove outlet sale.  There were all different types of gloves spread out over a number of tables, so James and I dug looking for some good ones!  There were hardly any large gloves yet, but James managed to find a few pairs that would work!  We filled up a box lid full of gloves and when we went to pay, the lady looked through them and without actually counting asked how $25 for all of them sounded? James said it sounded like a good deal and quickly paid!

We next headed over to the carnival so James could see the official “Hog Capital of the World” sign and pig.

Then off to Breedloves to look at Hog Day’s t-shirts, the official Welcome to Hog Day’s sign, and the huge grills for the famous pork chop sandwiches!

After all this fun, James took off to Tractor Supply in Princeton while mom and I headed off to the Craft fair/flea market in Liberty Park.  We had a good time looking around and ran into a bunch of people we knew.  My one purchase was a beautiful vase with dragonflies on it.

Awesome dragonfly vase

Mom and I stopped back by the house for some lunch before going raspberry picking at Steve and Chris’ house. When we got back James was there and we all relaxed for a while before getting ready for dinner.

Dinner was at Benny and Kristen’s house out in the country between Kewanee and Neponset. They just recently got married, so it was nice to go out and have a nice meal and congratulate them on their nuptials.

Sunday was a lazy day, but we did manage to get uptown for some pork chops and a little fair food!

For a Hog Day’s it was pretty tame, but not a bad way to break James into the festivities!