Memorial Day - 2011

In an effort to help my boys appreciate the sacrifice the service men and women make for our country (up to and including the “ultimate sacrifice” that far too many of our young men and women have had to make, and is the focus of today’s holiday) – I sat and watched “The Hurt Locker” with them.  It was a little more gritty than we normally allow our boys to watch, but I felt the lessons important enough to look past the profanity and the graphic scenes.  The “Mother of Five” and I sat and talked about the movie, and what we saw in the movie with the boys after we watched it.  I am convinced they have a better appreciate for the struggles our soldiers are facing every day in the Middle East.

Watching “The Hurt Locker” with them was to be the prelude to this year’s Memorial Day Parade and Prayer Service.  Our Boy Scout Troop was again asked to take part in the parade, and as the “Color Guard” for the Memorial Service at the cemetery. 

The day’s events started with short parade starting at Broadway and 2nd St, turned down Water St. and concluded at Varner St.



First up – The guests of honor.  Our town’s Veterans.








Followed by a contingency of Jordan Firefighters






There were a few pageant winners (no photos… sorry) followed shortly by Jordan Cub Scout Troop and Jordan Boy Scout Troop

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And, what small town parade is complete without the High School Marching Band.




Since the parade route was short enough and my photos were taken at the beginning of the route, I was able to cut through town, and meet the parade again at the end of the route for a couple more photo opportunities.

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Once the band reached the end of the parade route, it was time to head up to Spirit Hill Cemetery for the Memorial Day Service.





The Troop gathered and the “Color Guard” prepared for the flag ceremony. 

#3 of 5 was one of the four scouts selected. 



The following nine photographs are a series of pictures taken during the Flag Ceremony.  From our vantage point at the opposite end of the cemetery a couple of us dads noticed the boys were about to make a VERY embarrassing error. 

See if you can spot the nearly “fatal flaw” that was almost made. 

Thankfully, the mistake was spotted, and an embarrassing situation was averted (I was told that #3 of 5 was the one who made, but also the one who caught and prevented the error from happening).

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Once the flag was raised, then lowered to half mast, the Color Guard returned to ranks, and they were followed by our Veterans.  I found this to be very moving.

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Once the Veteran’s “Honor Guard” arrived to the staging area, they lined up, and fell into parade rest throughout the duration of the service. 

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The “Honor Guard” concluded the service with a 21-gun salute, followed by a duet of Taps by two members of the High School Marching Band.


As a 9-1-1 operator, I can not even begin to estimate the number of calls I have taken from victims of car accidents. 

The range of emotions from people I talk to very widely.  I speak to people who are calm and rational, others who are so scared and distraught I can hardly understand what they are trying to tell me between the gasps for air, and the sobbing - and then there are the raving lunatics, the folks who get so upset the can (and do) start fist-fights at the scene.

Last night, while I had a few of the kids at #3 of 5’s Trap Shooting Match, the Mother of Five took #4 of 5 to her softball practice.  When I arrived home, the Mother of Five met me in the garage (before I could even get out of my car) and said “don’t freak out, I have something to show you.”  I was certain she had hit something with the van.  It turns out that our van was hit while parked in the Athletic Complex parking lot. 

She filled me in on the story.  Van2

It was at softball practice that there was some sort of commotion in the parking lot – and (after a few minutes) a couple of the other moms who recognized a vehicle that was hit as being similar to our van, approached the Mother of Five and asked her if she drove a silver Kia Sedona. 

The Mother of Five went out to the lot and was met with a young girl (newer driver) – who had completely broken down and was distraught over the whole ordeal.  She was frightened, embarrassed, and worried how (both) the owner of the car she hit, and how her parents would react. 

The Mother of Five went on to tell me the story of how she gave this young gal a hug.  She reminded her that the important thing was that no one was hurt, and that it was “only a car”.  She went out of her way to comfort this young lady, tried to calm her down, and generally “de-escalated” the whole situation. 

When the police arrived, the young lady said “Thank goodness it’s you”.  Apparently, she knew this officer, and that helped her calm down and relax a little too.  The police officer helped the Mother of Five and this young lady exchange information and went on his way.

After the commotion was all over with, one of the other moms (who I can only assume knew this young lady) pulled my wife aside and thanked her for being so kind, understanding, thoughtful, and compassionate.

While it’s true that I am not happy about the van being hit, I am (first and foremost) thankful that this young lady was not hurt.  The damage is limited (only the rear bumper and tailgate were damaged) and can be repaired. 

VanI am also thankful for my wife.  I am thankful that she (not only) remained calm, but was able to comfort this young lady, and help her settle down and relax a little bit.  This young lady is someone’s daughter.  I am a father.  I am not naive enough to think that my children will not be involved in some sort of automobile accident at some point.  The Mother of Five treated this young lady the same way I would want someone to treat my children if they were in this young lady’s shoes.

The Mother of Five’s reaction is just one more of the “umpteen gillion-mazillion” reasons while I love my wife so very much!

FOF Observation #22

Black High Tops

As a teen (and into my 20’s) I was almost always sporting a pair of black Converse All Stars High Top tennis shoes (also known as “Chuck Taylors”).

I had long since forgotten about my affinity for Converse All-Stars, until recently when we had to pick up a pair as part of #4 of 5’s recent dance routine.  While shopping for them, I reminisced (fondly) upon my days of wearing my All-Stars with her.  It must have made and impression.

Once the dance recital was over, the first thing #4 of 5 asked me was if it was alright if she wore her high-tops as “regular shoes”.


Girls that wear Converse All Stars ARE AWESOME!




Do you want to know something else I always thought about All-Stars??


Girls that wear ‘em are… 














The "FOF Observations" are a series of "Perpetual Posts" where I will share with you, my readers, short little observations that I have made (or will be making) on being the father of a large family. You will be able to access each of the posts in a cohesive list by clicking on the "FOF Observations" link in the "Perpetual Posts" group on the sidebar.

Paying Up / Paying Off

About two weeks ago (maybe a little more now) I made a deal with #4 of 5.  The deal was this… If she got 100% on her States and Capitols test, I would have a “special surprise” for her.  In all honesty, I had no doubts that she would get 100% – but “doubting” became a fun little interaction.

Dad:  Oh, I’m sure you’ll do well, but 100%, as in ALL of them correct?  Come on now… 
#4 of 5:  Oh Daddy – I know them all.  I’ll get them all right. 
Dad: Really???  ALLLLLL of them 
#4 of 5:  Yeah.  ALLLLLL of them. 
Dad:  Hmmmm… I just gotta wonder about that. 
#4 of 5: Oh, you can be sure all right. 
Dad:  Well, let’s just say that if you get 100%, that I may have a “special surprise” for you. 
#4 of 5:  REALLY???  

This was immediately picked up on, and I was (forced) to hold true to my word.  So, after much anticipation (waiting for her teacher to grade, and return the tests) the day finally came!  She boasted the 100% – and told me she got 63 out of 63…

Dad:  Wait just one minute!  SIXTY FIVE??  I thought there were FIFTY states, and therefore FIFTY capitols…  How does a kid score 63 on a test of fifty states and fifty capitols??

After a couple of days of additional “protest” on my part – saying there was no way to get 100% on a States and Capitols test with a score of 63 (knowing full well that she did) – she was finally able to “convince” me that she did indeed get 100% and that I would have to pay up on my promise of a “special surprise”.

I tried offering her potatoes.  I tried offering her onions (red, yellow, and / or purple).  I tried offering her mushrooms.  I tried combining the above ingredients into something I thought sounded good (Cheesy onion mushroom bake) – but they were all a no-go.  Despite my love for all the above, I knew I had to produce something much better.

What I had planned all along was a stop at Carasim Coffee Shop

Carasim Coffee Shop - Jordan, MN

After a beautiful day spent outside doing yard work, and converting a vegetable garden into a raspberry patch,  I took #4 of 5 to Carasim Coffee Shop for her long awaited (and well deserved) “special surprise”. 

Carasim is a old time coffee shop in Jordan, MN which also boasts a small ice cream offering. 

It’s primary feature is a high gloss solid wood “art deco” bar that runs the length of the shop.  There is additional seating in a few old time booths.  Additionally, the shop is decorated with (and sells) antiques throughout.  Carasim just drips with nostalgia!  It is quite a site!

We went to the far end of the counter (where the ice cream freezer is located) and placed our order.

Single scoop English toffee for me, and double scoop Java Chunk for #4 of 5.  Yes, Java Chunk.  I verified that she knew what “Java Chunk” was (coffee flavored ice cream) – and was told she has had it before – so Java Chunk it was!


 Carasim Coffee Shop - Jordan, MN Carasim Coffee Shop - Jordan, MN Carasim Coffee Shop - Jordan, MN 


I went to pay for our ice cream and whipped out my debit card – when I was told they do not accept debit cards.  Cash and check only.  (BLUSH)  I had to tell the proprietor that I did not have any cash, and would have to call my wife to bring me some.  She was so kind – told me that would be fine and that we could go ahead and enjoy our ice cream in the mean time.  (Thankfully the Mother of Five was home and able to “bail me out”).



As we sat and enjoyed our “special surprise” we did some visiting, yet I also enjoyed some of the “quiet time” between our conversations.  I just sat there watching her enjoy her ice cream.  She is ten years old now.  Soon enough she will have other distractions to keep her too busy to spend “quality” time with her dear old dad, so I better enjoy it while I still can.

#4 of 5 and I at Carasim Coffee Shop - Jordan, MN #4 of 5 and I at Carasim Coffee Shop - Jordan, MN #4 of 5 and I at Carasim Coffee Shop - Jordan, MN


#3 of 5’s Trap Shooting Team is now in full swing.  One meet was canceled due to weather, and he missed another one due to a venue change.  Last week, while shooting, his scores had dropped from the previous week.  He had a coach watching over his shoulder trying to figure out what was going on.  Originally, the coach thought he was “right eye dominant” and shooting left handed (not unheard of, but very unusual).  After a couple of tests on the sideline, we determined that he was (as I suspected) “left eye dominant”. 

About half way through the round, he turned to me and indicated there was a problem with the gun.  The stock was hanging on to the receiver by a thread (literally, since they are bolted together).  One of the coaches offered up another student’s gun for the remainder of the round while another dad and I scrounged up some tools, and did our best ”field repair”. 

It loosened again.  We tightened it again.  For whatever reason, the butt stock bolt would not stay tight.  I would have to check into a repair before his next meet.

Today was the day I had slotted for “gunsmithing”.  I broke the gun down, and removed the butt stock and the butt stock bolt.  The threads all seemed intact.  There was a washer in place.  The best I could determine was that the threads seemed a little “loose”.

Mastermag 880 - 20 gauge   Mastermag 880 - 20 gauge

The most practical first step to try and solve the problem was putting a little “loctite” on the butt stock bolt.  The only problem was that I was out of loctite.

On my way to the hardware store (I love hardware stores!) I stopped at the mailbox, and was delighted to see a package I had been waiting for.  It was a replacement part I ordered.  Ironically it was for a gun!  It was not for THIS gun, but it was for another gun I am working on!!

Remember these posts??
Grandpa's Shotgun - Post 1
Grandpa's Shotgun - Post 2

Recently, I discovered an auction site devoted strictly to firearms (and related items).  (be sure to check them out for all your firearms related needs!). 

Well, playing around on GunBroker, I found someone selling the cut off muzzle end from a )16 gauge Mossberg 190 containing one of the parts I needed.  (I needed the “C-Lect choke sleeve”

(Photos below are from the actual auction)

pix880255651  pix363675168

It was as if it was “kismet”.  Seeing as I had my table cleared off, tools out, and my gunsmithing hat on – I dug “Grandpa’s Shotgun” out of storage, and installed the choke sleeve over the muzzle of the gun.  I plan on keeping the spare site bead and the choke marker template for future needs.

Grandpa’s Shotgun is one more step closer to being complete!  The only part still “missing” is the shell magazine.  Once I have the magazine, I need to have the gun re-blued, and am planning on re-finishing the wood stock.  Then, the gun will be complete! 

Mastermag 880 - 20 gauge  & Mossberg 190 - 16 gauge

Now, let’s hope that the loctite holds the butt stock bolt tight. 

Quality vs. Quantity

Last summer “Best Bud Ed” and his family came to town and we invited them to stay with us for a few days.

While visiting, “Best Bud Ed” (who is also a GeoCacher) and I used the opportunity to do some “team caching”.  We hit a large percentage of the caches in Belle Plaine, Minnesota – and then we hit a number of them in Shakopee, Minnesota in and around Huber Park. 

Now, remember – “Best Bud Ed” hails from a pretty rural region of the northern portion of Minnesota.  He lives in a outer ring suburb of the Duluth area.  While Duluth itself is fairly “urban”, a few minutes outside of the urbanized area and you are DEEP in the heart of the unpopulated northern Minnesota wilderness with creeks, streams, rivers, rocky hills and forests.  Needless to say, his Geocaching experience has been slightly different than my own. 

Here is a typical email I have received from him about one of my cache finds…

From: “Best Bud Ed”
To: “Father of five”
Subject: Re: you there?

Really?!?!  Terrain level one???  And in a parking lot on top of it???  I hope you were careful not to strain your index finger rolling down your window to get this cache.  Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha.........

As an example, while caching in and around Huber Park, we were within walking distance of a “lamppost” cache.  In a metro area, lamppost caches are pretty common.  So, #3 of 5 (who was caching with us) and I decided to sit back and watch “Best Bud Ed” struggle to find a cache that (for someone who is used to “urban” caching) is about nothing more than adding another find (little to no challenge).  After a few minutes, Ed gave up and had #3 of 5 show him where it was at.  He shook his head in disbelief, and has not stopped razzing me about the ease of the “urban” caches.  Since then, he has been wanting me to join him, caching in and around his area. 

“Best Bud Ed” has coined the phrase “Quality vs Quantity” to define the caches in his area (and “Quantity vs Quality” to describe caches in the urban areas around me).  Last week, I got to experience firsthand what he meant.  I spent a couple of days at his place and he showed me around some of the local GeoCaching hot spots in and around his ‘hood.  Not only did we see some of his previous finds, we took on a “multi-cache” (the first one gives you directions on the second, the second gives you directions on a third, etc) that he had been saving for us to tackle together.

The first day we only took on a couple of “kid friendly” caches.

Enger’s Wedgie - GC1BB9P
Get to the “Finnish” line - GC1D0PQ

Then, on the second day, “Best Bud Ed” pulled out all the stops and we took on a bunch of caches – some he had previously found, and some he had not.

EC Cache / Elys Peak Climbers Parking Area Trail - GC178YH
Dark Passage - GC20AA
Lost Camp Cache 2 - GC13Z2G
Old Symbol or Carving - GC15H99
Larry’s Pencil Box - GCKWZ
Lost Camp Cache - GC128FM
Thompson Hill TB Hotel - GCJ2BF
Allie’s Bug Box – GC2RNPK

These eight caches have (an average) difficult rating of 2.06 (out of 5), and a terrain rating of 2.65.  Two of those eight caches were “multis”.  One of them had two stages, and one of them had three stages.  That equates to another three caches found (but do not show up in the logs).

Since pictures are worth a thousand words, I’ll SHOW you some of the highlights!

Be sure to check out the data (mapping) from my GPS Data on THIS PAGE!

(left) The trail “into the wild” - (right) The first find of the day!

Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota

Approach, in, and through a dark passage to “The Dark Passage” cache  (Note:  The floor of the tunnel was GLARE ICE.  It still had a layer of ice about a foot thick.  The tunnel funneled wind and on the trip back through, we had the wind in our face.  It was surprisingly cold!)

Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota  Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota  Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota  Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota 

Back into the light on the other side of the tunnel.  High cliffs and scenic overviews (through the trees).

Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota

After finding “The Dark Passage” it was time to head back through the dark passage.  Yes, that is still ice hanging from the roof of the tunnel. 

Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota

Once we came back through the passage, it was time to start heading towards the top of the “hill”. 

Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota  Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota  Geocaching in Duluth MinnesotaGeocaching in Duluth Minnesota  Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota   Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota  Geocaching in Duluth MinnesotaGeocaching in Duluth Minnesota  Geocaching in Duluth MinnesotaGeocaching in Duluth Minnesota  Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota

It was not just in the tunnel, we were still finding patches of ice throughout the wilderness.

Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota 

Time to work our way back down the hill.

 Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota 

Once we made it back to the parking lot we were getting pretty hungry.  We decided to head to the next caching area, then make a quick stop for lunch… We parked, headed down the hill, found a delightful “scenic overview” and lit a fire to cook our lunch. 

Just as we were ready to start cooking, we opened the package and …  Oh, wait… “Someone” brought the wrong package.  The package we thought had our lunch did not contain our lunch….  Instead of today’s hot dogs, we had the stuffed mushrooms intended for for tonight’s dinner.  We ate the rest of the “steak bites” (sort of like jerky) and “Teddy Grahams”

 Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota

After lunch and a long hike out to another “multi cache”, we headed out to another location.  This one required the cross of a small creek (still partially frozen).

Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota  Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota   Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota  Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota

We finished off our day with a couple of “easier” caches – one at the seinic overview where the St. Lewis River meets Lake Superior (at the gateway to the city of Duluth).

 Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota

Then we hit one last cache… It was a “family friendly” cache hidden by a couple of cachers I know pretty well!

Over all, it was a GREAT day.  We put a lot of work into finding the caches.  We put a total of six miles of hiking, climbing in through the best part of the day. 

While it was true that had we spent that much time caching in my ‘hood – we would have found many times more caches, it was sure great to get out and experience some Quality vs Quantity GeoCaching.

It was a perfect day with a great friend!   Thanks “Best Bud Ed”!!

Geocaching in Duluth Minnesota

One more post about Caching in Duluth, Minnesota coming soon!

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