Birding With Booker (Teenager Edition)

So if you have been following the Adventure Journal for a while you may remember a post from several years ago called Birding With Booker. Well, Booker and I are back out on the bird trail again. A couple of weeks ago Booker turned 13 years old. Yikes, a teenager! When asked by his parents what he would like to do for his special birthday, Booker answered, “I want to go birding with Grandpa Jeff”.

…I’ll pause here for a moment to get my heartstrings tucked back into my chest…

Booker also mentioned that he would “like to have a camera with a better zoom lens”. So when Travis called and shared that information with me all I could say was Done Deal! Let’s go…

We picked a date and got Booker all set up with a Nikon super-zoom camera. A perfect birding camera for a developing photographer. We left before sunrise and headed to Wylie Slough on Fir Island. A favorite birding area of ours.

We covered a few technical pointers for Booker’s new camera once we arrived at the parking area. As soon as we stepped out of the car we were instantly accosted by some rambunctious eagle noise directly above us in the trees.

Greetings, eagle style

We instantly pointed our cameras to the tree tops and snapped some images. I didn’t notice until I got this image on my laptop that there were two eagles up there. Look to the far left of the photo and see if you can spot the second eagle’s beak.

Booker in the viewing blind

It was raining a bit so we scurried on down to a bird viewing blind overlooking a tiny slough. Booker got his camera set up on my tripod and we photographed ducks, coots, great blue herons, pied-billed grebe, and more eagles. And lots of LBJ’s… Little Brown Jobs. (mostly song sparrows).


We hiked for a bit along the dikes and stopped to examine every bird along the way. We actually spent more time on the little everyday common birds than we did on the big majestic eagles.

The grey skies above offered two things to our birding adventure… Rain… and thousands of geese.

Anytime we looked up there were huge flocks of geese covering the sky
Booker sporting his new camera.

So I’ll leave this adventure here for the time being. I’m sure we’ll be back for many more birding trips and photo safaris in the future. I feel so fortunate to think that of all the cool stuff a newly minted teenager might want to do for his birthday this wonderful young man wanted to spend time slopping around in the rain with his grandpa. I am blessed!

Happy Birthday to my birding buddy.

Thanks for following along. Kat

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Beach Ready!

When you head out the door of our condo in Panama City Beach, you always go “Beach Ready”. Meaning that at the slightest provocation one can just change the daily planned adventure and head for the beach.

Suzie and I were delighted to have the Donovan crew with us for this trip to the Florida panhandle. Ever since we bought this little slice of sandy heaven we’d been telling the Dudes how cool it was. So far on this little vacation they have not been disappointed.

Enough jabbering, let’s see some pictures.

The whole crew headed out to Conservation Park
The Dudes – expressing themselves
Some of the local wildlife

Unfortunately we didn’t get a decent photo of the beautiful northern cardinals that we saw. Also on the unfortunate list was the fact that some of the trails were still flooded from the heavy rains, so our hike was cut short… No problem… back to the beach!

Cade watching the sunset from the surf
The sunsets are always interesting

We took a little road trip down the coast to Apalachicola. A cool little shrimp fishing village with some nifty shops and restaurants.

This place is a gem
Dripping in southern coastal charm
Duke made a new friend

And speaking of new friends. We went on a photo safari to introduce ourselves to every gecko in the town.

Howdy mate
Simmer down, I’m not gonna post every single gecko pic…
The Capt. T.J. ready to head out to the gulf

We were pleased to have a little sun during the day and our drive back to the beach was highlighted with a short stop in Port Saint Joe.

The Donovan crew climbed up into this lighthouse…..
…..While I went off to make a new friend.

Of course the Dudes headed straight for the beach as soon as we returned to PCB.

The next morning greeted us with biblical levels of rainfall. We temporarily suspended our hiking plans when we started seeing flooded streets en route to the trail. We settled on a little retail therapy at the very touristy Pier Park.

Strolling the shops

Soon it was back to the beach for sandwiches and saltwater. And almost every session in the gulf ends with a stupid pools tricks encore.

…on the count of 3…..
The Dudes

The next morning we awoke to a perfect panhandle day.

Brown pelican cruising the gulf

We made an early trip out to Camp Helen State Park to walk the Oak Canopy Trail. This beautiful morning stroll was just the ticket. Not too long, hot, or buggy. And just a treat for the eyes everywhere you looked.

Here’s the crew in a rare moment of cooperation with the photographer
American Beauty Berry
Eastern grey squirrel
Northern cardinal… Finally got a pic
Saw palmento

In celebration of Richie’s birthday we drove into Panama City and enjoyed a big feed at Uncle Ernie’s restaurant.

Uncle Ernies in the old Saint Andrews area of Panama City.

Just like most nights we topped off the evening watching the sunset, the dudes did their nightly pool session, and I stepped out for a little night photo op.

f/16 4″ ISO 200

A new day, a new adventure. We drove down to Saint Andrews State Park to hike around Gator Lake. And Oh YES! We saw gators…

This big boy was right next to the trail.
Just cruising along
Here’s the crew
This is a white ibis

The park had received over 9 inches of rain in 24 hours during this weeks rain storms. Several parts of the trail were well under water. And of course with all the alligators one would not be advised to go wading into the inky dark water.

So let’s wrap this story up here. We all had a marvelous time. And remember, always go “Beach Ready”.

Thanks for watching…

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Homeschool Van Slam

Here is our latest video.

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You Can Never Go Home Again… Or Can You?

Way back in the “good old days” we bought a 5 acre piece of property outside of Monroe WA. We had a plan to build our own log house on the land and somehow it all worked out. We lived there for 19 fun filled years, but eventually as the children grew up we moved on to new (easier to maintain) dwellings.

Recently, some 40 years later, Suzie and I drove by and managed to catch just a fleeting glimpse of the old homestead through the trees, and I decided I would send a letter and a bunch of old photos to the current owners. Thinking they might like to see a little bit of the history of their home. As it turned out, I got a very warm response from the current owners… They were the same folks that had originally bought the property from us. The log house had been home to their family of 5 for all these years.

We caught up via text messages and I finagled an invite to come up and visit the old log house. I explained that my grandsons, the Dudes, were studying a block of instruction on “Living Off The Land” and they were included in the invitation.

So here are some old photos of the construction project, and a few “then and now” images for comparison.

I cut the logs for the house from my in-laws property near Easton WA
The log peeling seemed to take forever
My trusty “spud”. That’s the tool used to peel the bark from the logs
Rotating the logs so they season evenly
Today the old log yard is a nice grassy field…. That small building was added by the new owners.
The logs are stacked and it’s time to cut off the ridge log supports… Note: Try this method at your own risk
Installing the chimney. Again, maybe not the safest method.
Eventually we had a house!
Our family on the porch. The house looks great these days
Leane on the porch
Travis rippin’ around the inside on his 3 wheeler
Suzie, grinding way…
And that’s me, having just cut in the front door.

Well there you go. It was just delightful to see that the old log house was still being lovingly maintained and cared for. We shared some wonderful moments and memories with the current owners about the joys of raising our families in the same house. And the Dudes all got a chance to see where their mom grew up and the house that Suzie and Drampa built.

Thanks for following along. Kat

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Handmade Music

Follow along as I build a new ukulele from a Stew Mac kit.

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The 4x4x48

Just finished riding along with the crew as they completed this challenge. What a hoot!

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Crescent Beach Campout

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Owl Nesting Boxes

Here is our latest adventure.

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Winter VanSlam 2021

Had great winter van camping trip. Looking forward to many more.

Tea Time
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The Bunkie Sessions

…and here is the latest. Enjoy!

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