30. June 2011 · Comments Off on Road Trip 2011: Tornado Season 2011 Up Close… · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,

The route we planned from Florida to Pennsylvania took us right across some of the destruction paths from this past spring’s Tornado “Superoutbreak” of April 25-28.  On this trip I crossed three of this past spring’s tornado paths, each are discussed below.

While part of me as a “weather weenie” finds a fascination in getting to see a tornado in action (I’ve never seen one…but that’s for another discussion), I also find incredible sorrow in seeing what can get left in it wake and the pure helplessness society experiences about it.  You rarely can get more than 10 minutes’ notice once landfall has been detected, and if the tornado is large enough (such as with Joplin, MO), even 10 minutes won’t help save your valuables; the best you can do is protect yourself.

The pictures here are not mine, we proceeded so quickly through each of these areas I didn’t have the time to get the camera ready.

This experience also had me thinking about those poor folks who were innocently driving on I-59, I-81 or I-91 and suddenly a tornado screams across in their path!  I also thought about all the victims, dead and alive, and the families dealing with the aftereffects.  Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

About a week before I left for my vacation, a college friend had sent me some pictures from his trips to Joplin, Missouri to help clean up.

Joplin, Missouri.  This isn’t my friend’s picture, but his are VERY similar!
After this once-in-a-generation awful tornado season, here’s hoping for a safe and effective cleanup and recovery.
The Red Cross is still working with victims of all these storms — please take a moment to consider helping out, either by donating supplies through a local charity collection, or else via the American Red Cross website itself.  You can also text “REDCROSS” to the number 90999 for a quick and easy $10 donation to be added to your cell phone bill.  This is a contribution to their generic disaster relief fund, which is also supporting the midwest flooding and southwest wildfire relief efforts.

Trenton, GA

Remnants of home swept off a ridge overlooking Trenton, GA after an EF-3 tornado on April 27, 2011.  Photo: National Weather Service

We weren’t expecting it, but as we proceeded northeastward up Interstate 59 in Georgia, we pass through the small town of Trenton that’s abuzz with bulldozer and crane activity.  The trees that lined the interstate were destroyed.  We see piles of rubble on top of foundations.  Zipping by at 70+ mph, we saw it all so fast, it was tough to process what we had seen.

Two were killed in Trenton, GA.

I had a little bit of Fujita-scale forensics education in college, so I remember that piles of rubble on foundations being indicative of strong EF-3/weak EF-4 damage.  I looked up the details of the storm and the National Weather Service, Peachtree, GA office actually tracked not one but TWO tornados through Trenton, GA during the April 2011 superoutbreak.  Look for the “Dade/Walker” tornadoes in the far northwest corner of Georgia on the interactive map.

Glade Springs, VA

On I-81 in extreme southwest Virginia, as the sun was setting, the family was admiring the orangeish glow on the mountains to our east as we drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Then we see a swath of dead trees cut into the side of the mountain.  And again with the bulldozers!  This was the town of Glade Springs, VA, which experienced an EF-2 tornado the night of April 27th.

Another tornado damage path across the interstate???

Springfield, MA

This one really took me by surprise, since I made a last-minute decision to take I-91 straight south through Massachusetts out of Vermont on Monday.

On June 1st, a tornado struck downtown Springfield, killing 4 people.  The National Weather Service confirmed it as an EF-3.

Reminiscent of the aftermath of the 2004 hurricane season that our family experienced, just south of downtown Springfield, blue tarps dominated the rooftops.  Once again we were greeted with the telltale broken tree trunks and blown over road signs.  The track of the storm was nearly perpendicular to I-91.

I was thinking about how old the town of Springfield, Mass. is and how old many of those buildings must have been.  Statistically, such strong tornadic thunderstorms are rare in New England.
29. June 2011 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve never done a “Wordless Wednesday” before, but I thought we’d have a good time with these pictures Dave and I took of Amtrak’s 40th Anniversary exhibit train at the Strasburg Railroad in June, pulled by a P40 locomotive.  Considering these to decorate Jacob’s room, since he’s a fan of Amtrak.

29. June 2011 · Comments Off on Road Trip 2011: The Numbers Are In… · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,
We had our truck about 14 months before learning about the “Average Fuel” setting that ties to the trip odometer.

Yep…that’s the total number of miles driven on our two-week road trip in the lower right.  And, as an added bonus, we have the average mileage.  That’ll come in handy for some additional calculations.

Let’s check out some more numbers. You guys know me and numbers, right?

Number of days: 14
Number of states we drove though: 14
Number of gallons of gas: 197.9795
Average gas price during this trip: $3.55
Based on averages, how much our gas cost probably cost: $688.63 (all the gas transactions haven’t posted to the credit card quite yet)
Number of hours of driving: Approximately 54
Number of days worth of driving: 2.25

I have quite a list of forthcoming blog posts about the assorted adventures we had over these past couple weeks!  Stay tuned!

24. June 2011 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags:

I hadn’t planned to do this week’s Friday Fill-in since we’re on vacation, but here I am sitting with Dave and the kids at a model railroaders’ auction in Harrisburg with some time to kill, so I thought I’d have a little fun!

Besides, I’m excited to share my Amazing Race plans to conquer the world πŸ™‚

1. Are you a different person than you were five years ago? submitted by Sisterly Thoughts

Let’s do the math…it was June 2006 five years ago.  So I was living in NC, I’d been a non-active duty stay-at-home Mom for about a year.

I had a very hard time transitioning from active duty with plenty of adult interaction to the stay-home Mom life, spending days mostly with the kids.  I was accustomed to sharing all the chores, including getting up in the middle of the night for the babies.  Every time I’d do my reserve weekends, I’d come home with visions in my head of how much extra work I’d want to do — and then remember, “Oh wait, my responsibility is to my family first now….”

Five years later, I have struck a nice balance, IMHO.  Definitely a different place than 5 years ago.  No longer resentful of my husband being the one on active duty.  The only household chore (of the shared chores we used to do) is that I still refuse to pack my husbands’ lunches.  I always seem to do something wrong with his lunches, so one day I just stopped.  It’s a pretty sticky point in our marriage πŸ˜‰

2. If you could go on Amazing Race, who would you take with you as your partner and why? submitted by Thoughts from a Poekitten

My family LOVES The Amazing Race!  We stop everything at 7pm on Sundays (when the show is on) and we watch it together…I’m reminded of old fashioned family gatherings to watching wholesome shows such as The Waltons or Little House on the Prairie.  It’s the only show we all watch together without fail (even if it’s on the DVR).

My youngest son (age 6) has been wanting to do the race one day.  He’s incessantly talking about “what I would do if I were on the Amazing Race!”.  I told him about the season where they did a family race and he’d like to do that.  He has also said that he’d want to do it with me if he’s a grownup.  So sweet…

(He also bawled his eyes out and threatened to never watch the show again the week that Jet and Cord were eliminated this past season.)

But if I had the chance to run the race starting tomorrow, since our kids are too young, I’d be running the race with my Dear Husband Dave, hands down!  We have a LOT of experience with public transportation, understanding the ins and outs of how to quickly schedule flights, train rides, etc., and experimenting with strange foods!  I can drive a stick shift on foreign car rentals.  In our younger days we’ve attempted white water rafting, mountain climbing, etc.

And I also think we could run pretty darned fast!

3. Does Facebook or Twitter actually bring more stress or good in to your life? submitted by Just an Arizona Girl

That’s a tough one.  Overall, this is a great tool to keep connected with my family.  (Just about) every single person in my life who I’d want to keep in touch with is on Facebook.

Unfortunately I spend too much time on Twitter and Facebook, where I could be spending the time on otehr things, such as playing with my kids, keeping up with the housework, or crocheting for the HAP charity with which I’m involved.

4. June is National Soul Food Month- what’s your soul food? submitted by NH Girl Displaced

Chicken fried steak!  I LOVE IT!

Sadly, though, I only get a chance to eat it once every two years or so.  I don’t make it for my family — I rarely fry foods in my house — and I rarely get to diners or dives where chicken fried steaks are REALLY good!  I had my last one a couple years ago in a moment of weakness at a Cracker Barrel restaurant…it was decent.

For a fun read, I recommend the excerpt about chicken fried steak from Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.  I found the excerpt here, but the whole book is fun too!

5. If you could live in any other era than the current, which one would it? why?submitted by Sugar in My Grits

I’m convinced I would have been better off in turn-of-the-century America.  There’s a certain beauty to that time period, when girls were JUST ABLE to start pursuing their own careers without social suicide, and America was undergoing a technological revolution that wouldn’t be seen again until World War II.

Just watch Meet Me in St. Louis, starring Judy Garland.  One of my favorites, set in 1904!  Maybe because I’m sitting in a train convention right now and the song “Clang Clang Clang Went the Trolley” (more appropriately known as “The Trolley Song”) is running through my head.

23. June 2011 · Comments Off on Ironing Out A Few Kinks… · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags:

This is a test post, just trying to iron out a few kinks as I get that Facebook page running.  I’m trying out a couple of different RSS-feed capabilities, and whoever’s is fastest with transferring posts from Blogger to Facebook wins πŸ™‚

22. June 2011 · Comments Off on All in The Name of Laziness… · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

At the risk of sounding megalomaniacal, this evening I started a Facebook page expressly for this blog.  I didn’t mean to, it just sort of happened…and while on vacation, at that!  Facebook made some changes over the past few months about how a “Group” or “Fan Page” is used and managed…in addition, RSS feeds into my own personal page have fallen apart earlier this month.  I used to have automatic Facebook profile notifications when I’d post to Picasaweb, You Tube and Blogger.  None of it happens automatically anymore…

“Oh no, Major Mom has to do work?  Stop the world!”

What motivated me to do it this weekend?  I tossed out a couple of quick posts over the weekend about Dave’s Father’s Day ode on GeekMom and his feature article in N-Scale Magazine.  For some reason, the Twitter connection that posts new blog posts straight to Facebook (in the form of a shortened URL like this one) automatically decided to send the same post every hour for 4 hours to Twitter…and therefore to Facebook.

I didn’t mean to be so spammy, really, I didn’t!

Therefore, because I was hit with a double whammy of (a) no more Blogger post imports and (b) multiple notifications of the same blog post from Twitter, I set up a page that expressly imports my blog posts, and the only people who will see those blog posts on Facebook now are those who “Like” the page.  If you are on Facebook, you should be able to see the tag on the right hand side inviting you to “Like” the page (if you haven’t already).  If you aren’t on Facebook, then I guess all you see is a Facebook.com logo.

In addition, I added a “Tweet This” type of widget to each of the posts.  It’s right before the first words of the post.  If you like what you read, then if you have a Twitter account, you can share it via Twitter.  Go ahead, Tweet it!

I’ve been realizing that Facebook and Twitter, being the microblogs they are, doesn’t have a user-friendly archive capability.  Try paging back in time on your profile page and see how far back you can go…it’ll go back a ways, but in my case you only see about 2-3 days worth of posts at a time.  You have to click “Older Posts” over…and over…and over…and over….

Compare that to this blog, where you can easily search posts by year, by month, by label topic, or a generic keyword search.  You can page back all the way to the beginning quite easily.

PS: I’m also writing this to test how quickly it’ll import to Facebook.  I get the feeling it still isn’t quick…

21. June 2011 · 3 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Imagine my delight when I saw N-Scale Magazine sitting in a magazine rack yesterday at the Strasburg Station train store in Lancaster, PA.

And here’s Dave’s super-awesome front cover picture, and inside is his feature article! I wish I could share the whole article here with you, but from our vacation we can’t do it — and instead will refer you to your favorite model railroading hobby shop for the latest copy.

The work Dave had put into the photographs for this article was remarkable. I’d estimate over 1000 pictures, and over 20 hours worth of work staging the shots and getting the color composition right. We definitely used our small, but capable Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS to the max! Our friend Maryann @ Fotomom helped Dave with the photography quite a bit and we’re very grateful for her expertise and advice.

It also has us considering whether a higher quality camera — such as a DSLR — is in order. We discussed it earlier this spring, but it’s an investment that will have to wait until after we pay off our summer travel.

As they say in the Navy (because the Air Force doesn’t have a cool, historically significant saying like this), BRAVO ZULU Dear Husband!

20. June 2011 · Comments Off on Happy Belated Father’s Day! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , ,

Happy Belated Father’s Day to any of my Dad readers!  We were happy to get to spend time with Dave’s Dad early in the day at Dave’s family reunion in Pennsylvania, then we drove down to my parents’ house in West Virginia in time for dinner with my Dad.

Earlier in the week GeekMom solicited the writers for some posts for Father’s Day. I was encouraged to write one about Dave’s model railroading and the project he’d been doing with Jacob.  It was shown over at GeekMom on Father’s Day!

With Dave’s recent N-Scale Magazine article (on the shelves right now!) and this week’s talk at the N-Scale Convention in Hershey, PA, it was appropriate to show off a little about him!

17. June 2011 · 3 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

I’m tickled about two things about this week’s Friday Fill-in:

a.) I’m typing this while we’re cruising up I-65 between Montgomery and Birmingham, AL.  I schedule it to post on Fridays, but I usually write these up on Thursdays as soon as “Wifey’s” questions come in.  We got one of those nifty Verizon 4G modems so Dave can do homework with a cellular network connection while we’re driving.  However, he’s the one driving right now, so I have a chance to catch up on e-mails and blog posting!

b.) Look who submitted question #3 below!!

1. Underwear Parties, how old is too old? submitted by Wookie & Co.

As long as you wear — ahem — underwear, then Underwear Parties should be fair game.  It’s all in fun!

2. What was your favorite class in high school? submitted by Adventures of M-Squared

Geometry, pre-calculus, calculus, and music.  I actually really liked my AP U.S. History class too, although at the time I thought it was torture.  Looking back, it turns out I learned a LOT from Mrs. Whaley.

3. Have you ever convinced packers/movers to pack something they aren’t supposed to for a PCS? submitted by Ground Control to Major Mom

Snicker.  With a nice enough tip for the movers, we’ve been able to convince packers to take care of our liquor for us more than once.  This was easy coming from Korea (our best move ever!).  We bought two cases of wine from Trader Joe’s just before we left Nebraska last fall.  The packer was happy to pack those cases for us πŸ™‚

We’ve also had a lot of typically-illegal items packed accidentally: light bulbs, filled piggy banks, batteries in remote controls, etc.  When your kids’ GeoTrax stuff requires over 50 batteries alone, it’s hard to keep up….

4. Blogging plays a growing role in the media. If you were asked to embed as a blogger with a deployed military unit, would you go? What do you think your blog would be like? submitted by To the Nth

I think I would love to go — if the military unit thought I was appropriately trained to be with them.

5. Do you think kids should attend year-round school? submitted by Marrying the Navy

This issue hit us closely when my husband was stationed in Raleigh, NC (for a school tour).  In 2007 Wake County Public Schools made year-round schools the standard instead of the exception and we were making decisions about our oldest son starting Kindergarten while we were living there.

If we weren’t a military family, we’d be all for year-round schools.  There are a multitude of educational benefits to year round schooling, but I have to admit that as a military family, I like having the summer break as a chunk of time to PCS without worrying about mid-year transfers and missed schoolwork.

Year round schooling is also nice for vacation planning — 3 week breaks in the “off months” helps vacation planning: cheaper travel, less heat, less crowds.

15. June 2011 · 3 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

We learned this already on our drive to Orlando last weekend.  Navarre, Florida to Orlando is about 6 hours worth of driving.

We were able to get from Raleigh, NC to Washington, D.C. in less time.

But when we started doing our driving planning for our annual June trip to central PA for Dave’s family reunion, we were floored to discover that our upcoming drive will only be 70 miles less than the drive from Bellevue, NE!


At least, that’s the word according to Bing Maps:

Navarre, FL to our stop in central PA: 1078.7 miles…16 hours, 6 minutes.

Bellevue, NE to our stop in central PA: 1146.9 miles…16 hours, 31 minutes.

As we typically do, we stop somewhere overnight.  Don’t worry, my USAF Safety Officer friends πŸ™‚