Greenville Tractor Parade

Lead the Way Tractor Cruise 2012Officially it wasn’t a parade. Its official title is the Lead the Way Tractor Cruise and its purpose is to raise funds for Darke County’s United Way. But the line of classic tractors that rolled down Greenville’s Broadway on Saturday looked a lot like a parade to me and I hope no one gets too mad if I call it that. This was the seventh time it’s been held and I’ve been there for a few of the previous ones. I did an Oddment page for the second annual cruise in 2007 when there were about thirty tractors. There were 38 tractors registered in advance this year and even more showed up. The first announcement I heard said 44 but, as the tractors approached, the announced number was 43. A mechanical problem perhaps.

Lead the Way Tractor Cruise 2012An early announcement also spoke of a participant in last month’s record setting classic tractor parade in Nebraska being present and leading today’s parade. I believe they said his name was Robert. This 1956 Ford was the first tractor behind the police cruiser and its driver was identified as James. Maybe I misunderstood or maybe Robert had mechanical problems. Maybe Robert was tractor forty-four.

Lead the Way Tractor Cruise 2012Lead the Way Tractor Cruise 2012Lead the Way Tractor Cruise 2012It was a great day for a tractor cruise and all the drivers seemed to be having a really good time. These pictures are just a small random sampling of the field.

Lead the Way Tractor Cruise 2012Although I don’t know whether or not one of the tractors was driven by a world record holder or even, for sure, how many there were, I do know that this was the oldest. I’ve heard the word “doodlebug” used for other things but apparently its definition as an automobile converted to off road use is almost official. There were, in fact, conversion kits sold by Sears and others but most doodlebugs were created with whatever was on hand. The ubiquitous Model T Ford was the basis for many conversions but not all. This is a 1928 Chevrolet Doodlebug.

A tractor has to be at least thirty years old to be considered a classic. It’s just a matter of time.




Greenville Prairie Days 2012Greenville Prairie Days 2012Greenville Prairie Days 2012This was also Prairie Days weekend so I stopped by Shawnee Prairie Preserve to check things out.

Harvest MoonWith all that agriculture related stuff going on, the big Harvest Moon at the end of the day seemed just right.


Washington Park & Music Hall at MPMF.12Some consider Cincinnati’s Mid Point Music Festival second only to Austin’s South by Southwest and some concede even that grudgingly  The eleventh coming of MPMF has just concluded and it was only the third I’ve attended at all. I think I was there the first year and again for the second or third but I’m not at all certain. Whichever ones they were, I know they were pretty early on and know that I’ve spent many years since feeling guilty about not going. Sometimes I was out of town or had another legitimate reason but mostly I was just too lazy. The effort that I shied away from was not the driving downtown or the hiking between venues; It was the effort of determining which venues to hike between.

This year is typical. There are 180 bands playing at 16 venues over 3 days. Unlike most music festivals, MPMF doesn’t book the world’s most well known bands to get you to attend. It books lesser known but highly talented bands to get them and you some exposure to each other. Unless you are an industry pro, you’re not likely to be familiar with many of those 180 bands. You can either show up and hope you stumble upon a couple of performers that you like or you can spend time planning your visit in hopes of not missing your next big favorite. Or you can do what I’ve been doing and dodge the whole thing.

Washington Park at MPMF.12Maybe the feelings of guilt finally caught up with me or maybe it was the addition of the recently redone Washington Park as a venue or maybe it was actually recognizing the performer who would be headlining one of the Washington Park shows. It was probably all the above and more that prompted me to at least dip a toe — or ear — back into the Midpoint Music Festival. I decided to attend one night of the three day festival and partake of only the Washington Park offerings. The photo at the top of this post is of Washington Park a couple of hours before the official opening of the festival. That is the glorious Cincinnati Music Hall in the background. At what I believe was the first concert at Washington Park in July, the bands had played from the permanent stage where I stood to take the picture at left. Yes, the music has started but the crowd is almost non-existent. The opening crowd at festivals, especially those with sixteen stages, is often like that and rain & rumors of rain didn’t help. As it turned out, not a drop fell on Washington park during the entire concert.

Here We Go Magic at MPMF.12Pomegranates at MPMF.12 Bonesetters at MPMP.12The group that opened the show and is playing to a lot of grass in the previous picture was the Bonesetters from Indianapolis. The crowd was significantly larger, though far from large, by the end of their set. With a good performance of very solid original material, they deserved more but, being both new and semi-local, the exposure was still no doubt good for them. Next up was the even more local but well established Pomegranates. I’d heard of them but don’t believe I’d ever heard them and know I’d not seen them. From the white clothes and dyed hair to the Fender Mustangs, there is plenty of formula and gimmickry here but it’s backed with solid music, lots of energy, and impressive vocals. The next band, Brooklyn’s Here We Go Magic, seems to basically be a group of talented musicians delivering singer-songwriter Luke Temple’s well crafted tunes. They sounded good and I liked the material but there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of energy or conviction coming from the stage. It appears that band personnel may vary from time to time so maybe there’s a killer …Magic lineup out there somewhere.

That headliner I recognized was Andrew Bird. I surprised myself by recognizing the names — not necessarily the sounds — of at least eight performers. Eight of one-eighty! I doubt many attendees would brag about a 4% recognition rate but this old man is doing exactly that.

Andrew Bird at MPMF.12Andrew Bird at MPMF.12It was full on dark when Bird took the stage and, while that didn’t help me get crisp photos, it did show just what those overhead spirals were there for. Spinning slowly and lit by frequently changing colored spot lights, they were a nice visual backing for Bird’s music. I had heard a few recorded tunes so was aware of Bird’s whistling ability but did not realize just how good it was or how much he used it. Where another musician might blow into a harmonica for a little non-verbal music, Bird just purses his lips and blows into the microphone. It might seem like a gimmick for a few seconds but it quickly becomes just another instrument in the mix. That mix includes a bassist, guitarist, and a drummer that plays keyboards. And then there’s Bird. Seemingly equally proficient on guitar and violin, he usually plays one or the other but sometimes uses both in the same song. In the close up, he’s playing a glockenspiel while holding a violin which he will pick or bow then lay down to play the guitar hanging at his side.

Andrew Bird at MPMF.12Music Hall’s circular stained glass window sure looks good hanging above Andrew Bird’s lighted spirals and there was a nearly full moon floating behind me. I truly enjoyed my one venue return to MPMF. I’m sure Thursday is the least crowded of the festival’s three nights and the threat of rain may have also played a role. The crowd at Washington Park grew steadily as the first three bands performed then took a big jump as Bird’s slot approached but it never reached the shoulder to shoulder mass that I feared and the promoters hoped for. I hope it was enough and I hope to be back next year. Sorry I’ve been away so long.

Island Noodles at MPMF.12Not all of the entertainment in Washington Park was musical. Among the food vendors was new-to-me Island Noodles. I happened to be Brad’s first customer of the day which meant I had to wait awhile for dinner but I got a great show and absolutely fresh food in return. Although it’s hard to beat a huge flame, it was also fun to watch the veggies get chopped into the big wok. Before I even finished paying for my noodles, the next customer was beside me and business picked up from there. This is good eating.

This particular operation is based in Florida. That’s where Brad lives but he is originally from Toledo and has spent the summer staying with his parents and working festivals around the state. Events included July’s Bunbury Festival which was also in Cincinnati. As he cooked, we chatted, and Brad said he wished he had learned more about Cincinnati when he was growing up near the other edge of Ohio. “This”, he says, “is the friendliest city I’ve ever been in.” That’s nice to hear. I think so, too.

Montgomery Inn ribs & shrimpI was in Indianapolis last week and in my trip journal I raved about a bar-b-que joint named Squealers. It deserved the raves but it reminded me of two things. One, I hadn’t eaten in my favorite ribs joint in quite some time and, two, I had a gift card that would let me do it for for free or close to free. I made use of that card on Wednesday. If I am ever convicted of a capital crime in a country that honors the last-meal-for-a-condemned-man convention, this is what I want; Montgomery Inn ribs, shrimp, and Saratoga chips. Being warned about stirring the sweet plum sauce and hot mustard is as reliable as death and taxes. I kidded the waitress about it and she shrugged. “You don’t know what they do to us if we don’t tell you”, she said.

Trip Peek #2
Trip #16
Doin’ Eighty

Desert View TowerThis picture is from the my 2003 Doin’ Eighty road trip. Desert View Tower was built near Jucumba, California, in the 1920s. In the 1930s, many of the nearby rocks were carved to represent various creatures and Boulder Park was born. In the 1940s, the tower was extended to its current height.

I revisited in 2011 with my grandson. He had a great time exploring the nooks and crevices of Boulder Park. I had a great time watching him.

Trip Pic Peek #1 — Trip #42 — Dayton Cutoff

Trip Pic Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the trip journal it is from.

Lincoln Highway Centennial Kickoff

Das Deutsche Haus - IndianapolisThe Lincoln Highway Association was incorporated in Michigan in July of 1913 but the meeting that got things rolling was held in September of 1912 in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was held in the building pictured to the right which was then called Das Deutshe Haus and now known as the Athenaeum. I am now off to a recreation of that meeting in that same building as part of the Indiana LHA centennial kickoff. There will be bus tours before and after the recreation plus I’ve got to get there and back.

The journal for the trip is here.

This blog entry exists as a place for comments on the trip.

My Apps – Chapter 4
Serif PhotoPlus

Serif PhotoPlus X5 packageI found Serif PhotoPlus when I was looking for free stuff in the summer of 2001. At that time, their practice was to make down level versions of some of their products available for free in hopes that you would eventually upgrade. That is precisely what happened to me. I believe that at the time I first started using PhotoPlus, Version 5.0 was the current product and version 4.0 was free. It looks like I may have continued using Agfa PhotoWise through early 2001, switched to the free PhotoPlus sometime in late spring, then parted with $22.90 for the current version after the big Florida trip in September.

To be completely accurate, I have to explain that one feature of the regular PhotoPlus was not exactly given away in those days. Compuserve’s patent on the GIF file format was still valid and royalties needed to be paid. If you wanted to read or write GIFs, you had to send Serif a dollar which they presumably passed on to Compuserve. That patent has since expired. Serif still offers free versions of their software except they are now reduced function Starter Editions rather than older versions of the full product.

Serif PhotoPlus X5 screen shotI’ve updated to most if not all PhotoPlus releases since 2001. It reached Version 12 before adding an ‘X’ and starting the numeric sequence over again. As the picture of the cover shows, it has now reached X5. As with many software products, some releases have been major advances and others have merely added a few bells and a couple of whistles. At this stage, I can’t think of any feature I’d like to see but I’m not really a power user. I’ll occasionally remove an overhead cable or deal with some red eye but mostly I’m just rotating, cropping, and re-sizing. I will play with brightness and contrast to improve a photo but even there I’ll likely use one of PhotoPlus’ automated adjustments. There are lots of features I rarely use and more that I never use.

I do admit to sometimes feeling like a Beta Max owner in a VHS world with just about everyone I know who edits photos using some version of Adode PhotoShop. That Beta Max comparison is a little weak in that the JPG, GIF, and PNG files I produce with PhotoPlus are the same format as everybody else’s and can be “played” anywhere. Plus, at some forgotten point, PhotoPlus added compatibility with PhotoShop PSD files. I have virtually no experience with full PhotoShop and only a little experience with a copy of PhotoShop Elements that came bundled with a scanner a few years ago. At that time I saw nothing in PhotoShop Elements that made me want to switch and there were a few features in PhotoPlus that I didn’t see in Elements. Familiarity with the PhotoPlus user interface is, of course, a huge reason for staying with the Serif product.

The reason I initially chose PhotoPlus, the big price difference between it and any similarly capable program, has lessened. Deals and discounts are always offered to existing users when a new release appears but the most recent update was still $49.95. That is a fraction of the $699 list price of the current Adobe PhotoShop Creative Suite but it’s not far off of the $60.99 price of PhotoShop Elements at Amazon.

I’m happy with PhotoPlus and I’m quite familiar with it. It does everything I need and a lot more. That talk about PhotoShop is mostly for others. I figured that, as a PhotoPlus user in a PhotoShop world, it was something I needed to include.

My Apps – Chapter 3 — Garmin MapSource


Trip Peek #1
Trip #42
Dayton Cutoff

The Western RejoiningThis picture is from my 2006 Dayton Cutoff day trip. The Dayton Cutoff was an alternative to the official National Road between Springfield, Ohio, and Richmond, Indiana. It passed through both Dayton and Eaton, Ohio, and was much more popular than the official National Road. In fact, it was included in the National Old Trails Road automobile trail in 1912. A century of development has moved things around a bit and the name National Old Trails Road seems to have morphed into Old National Road but this is where the modern equivalent of the National Old Trails Road (a.k.a. Dayton Cutoff) connects with the National Road at Richmond.

I knew when I started this blog that interesting things might not happen in my life with adequate frequency to feed a weekly post. I consider it important to post on a regular basis but knew some weeks would just be flat out boring and others simply would not have enough open time to write anything. The My Gear and My Apps series of articles were conceived to address the problem. Since their subject matter was not tied to the current date, I could write the articles during those boring weeks and post them whenever the need arose. That worked rather well until my recent twenty-eight day trip.

I anticipated being gone three Sundays and left home with almost three articles ready and waiting. I figured that, sometime before the third Sunday rolled around, I’d find the time to finish off that third article. Wrong. When the third Sunday arrived, not only didn’t I have a blog post ready, my daily trip journal was about three days behind and what computer time I had was spent trying to get it current. I gave up and posted a white flag in the blog. When I did that, experienced blogger Jim Grey gave me some advice. He suggested that I pick some photos from completed road trips, write a paragraph or two about them, and save them for an empty or too full Sunday.

This is pretty much how My Gear and My Apps work but there are some important differences. Talking about gear and apps tends to run into more than a paragraph or two and typically requires a little research. Finding appropriate pictures can also take a little time. Jim’s idea uses pictures I already have and I soon realized I could shorten the process even more. I’ve already picked a picture from each of my completed trips to appear at the top of this site’s home page. A different picture is randomly selected each time the page is displayed so I even have an automatic way to select a next picture for the blog. As Jim stated at the end of his tip, “Problem solved.”

Both My Gear and My Apps will continue but I’ll also be filling some Sundays with a picture from one of my road trips. The thumbnail will link to the full sized version of the picture and a link to the trip it is from will be contained in the descriptive text. This is the first.

Cleveland Air Show

Leapfrogs at Cleveland Air ShowMy sailor son has had some good assignments and some that weren’t so good. The one he has currently is better than good. He was once a journalist but in today’s Navy, he is a Mass Communications Specialist or MC. He is one of two MCs presently assigned to the Leap Frogs, the Navy’s demonstration parachute team. He is stationed in San Diego but wasn’t there when I visited a couple of weeks ago because he was traveling with the team for performances in Milwaukee and Chicago. They were also to be part of the Labor Day Air Show in Cleveland, Ohio, and that was close enough to Cincinnati for me to make it.

Golden Knight with Canadian flagLeap Frog with USA flagOn Friday, I drove to near Cleveland while the Leap Frogs practiced and prepared for the show on Saturday. In the evening, Fletcher, my son, and I got together for dinner. He gave me a pass for the show and told me to text him once I was there. I arrived a little after the gates opened at 9:00 AM and I sent my text. A couple of messages and a few minutes later Fletcher and I found each other near the announcer’s stand. At dinner he had made some comment about getting me a good view. He now guided me past the fellows guarding the entrance to the reserved seating and the VIP area. I was soon standing with the Leap Frog ground crew right next to the landing zone. The jumpers were already airborne. The Army’s parachute team, the Golden Knights, were also performing at the show and the two teams were opening the show with a combined jump delivering both the Canadian and United States flags. The two national anthems were sung as their respective flags slowly descended from the sky. The two teams would both do separate shows later in the day.

Leap Frogs at Cleveland Air ShowLeap Frogs at Cleveland Air ShowThe picture at the top of the article was taken at the later Leap Frogs show as were the two at the right. I apologize for the lack of names but, since I don’t remember them all, I won’t use any. The group’s size varies from time to time and, with only four jumpers, is at the small end of the range just now. It has been as high as fifteen and the count will start increasing before long.

Leap Frogs at Cleveland Air ShowLeap Frogs at Cleveland Air ShowNot only are these guys incredibly skilled, they’re pretty darned nice. As soon as possible after landing, they were shaking hands and talking with spectators over the fence. Once the show part was actually over, they moved to where show attendees had easy access while they packed their ‘chutes. Everyone who approached them was greeted with a smile and sometimes, when a youngster looked a little shy, it was the Leap Frog who did the approaching. The little fellow in the first picture spoke with a couple of the Leap Frogs before settling down to help pack a ‘chute. The second picture shows two sons being photographed by their proud fathers. One wears a parachute and stands beside the ‘chute’s owner. The Leap Frogs happily pose with all who ask. The second son is kneeling on the right side of the picture. Yep, that’s my boy Fletcher.

Leap Frogs at Cleveland Air ShowWith the parachutes packed the team agreed to a photo for me then a photo with me. I said they’d pose with anybody.

In the evening, these guys jumped onto second base with the US flag while the national anthem was being performed before a Cleveland Indians’ game. Fletcher did the announcing for that one. It took the jumpers quite awhile to leave the field as they were greeted and high-fived by fans at the front of the stands. Then, after they were off the field, there were plenty of folks wanting to say hello or thanks or ask for a picture. When they came up to their seats to watch part of the game, they were greeted with applause and cheers and more requests for pictures. Two young fans approached with baseballs to be autographed.

Wing walker at Cleveland Air ShowAerobatics at Cleveland Air ShowBlue Angels at Cleveland Air ShowAlthough they were my favorite attraction and the reason I was there, the Leap Frogs were not really the only thing going on at the air show. Among the many in air attractions was some fantastic wingwalking — and hanging — by Jane Wicker, some impressive aerobatics by Sean D. Tucker, and a great performance by the navy’s Blue Angels.

Grumpy's CafeIt has absolutely no connection with the air show but I really enjoyed my 3 cheese omelet at Grumpy’s Cafe and wanted to give them a shout out. Great food and prices and a very friendly staff. The tasty Cajun potatoes have just a little zing and I ended up with a glass of water in addition to that small cup of coffee. Most folks will be just fine with them.

Happy Belated Birthday to My Blog

The first Sunday that saw me fail to make a real blog post was the first Sunday after the blog passed the one year mark. Ironic, eh? This blog was launched on August 7, 2011. On August 12, 2012, I was in the middle of a road trip and had run out off pre-written articles with no time to finish one that wasn’t quite ready. So, after fifty-two consecutive Sundays of posting something with at least a little food value, I posted an apologetic surrender in a basically empty post without realizing that the date was anything special. The next week I posted the My Gear article that I’d managed to finish while on the road and the following week posted an article about a hamburger joint after I’d been home a few days. It was the very next day that I got to thinking that I’d been doing this awhile and looked into things to discover that I’d made it exactly one year before stumbling.

A semi-educated guess is that there were about 3800 page views in the blog’s first year with the top three posts being the book review of The Long Ride, an article on an endangered local historic building, the Twenty Mile House, and an article on a day at the World Choir Games in Cincinnati.