Neat Stuff

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The days are getting shorter, but there are lights on the field! Tonight Adam is catching…

Adam Catches

There aren’t many balls that get past him, which says a lot given these fist-time little league pitchers. The balls are just as likely to go wild as they are to go across the plate.

Adam Catches Adam Catches

He’s a leader when he’s behind the plate…

Adam Catches

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It’s here…it’s finally here! The boys have been going on about Halloween for a couple of weeks now and counting down the days. Soon their coffers will be filled with CANDY!

This year, Adam was a S.W.A.T. officer, and Alex was the Red Power Ranger. Long gone are the days they would dress in similar costumes, as each year they become more and more diverse in their interests. But hey, they’re both crime fighters this year, right?

SWAT and Power Ranger

This year Charlie even got into the act, as a Rocker with his jean jacket and guitar…

Charlie Rocker

Meanwhile, in Alabama, grandkids Oliver and Carter John look AWESOME as Woody and Buzz…

Woody and Buzz

and Kameran was Barb from Stranger Things. I think she did a great job!

Kam and Barb

As expected, the boys cleaned-up on Candy…enough to last them into December. And Charlie absolutely loved the walk (and the attention).

Happy Halloween

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It’s the day before Halloween and Cindy has the pumpkin carving station open for the boys to make their jack-o’-lanterns. Adam is really seems to be into the carving and gutting of the soon to be jack-o’-lantern…

Adam Cleans
Adam Carves

While Alex is taking a less messy approach and covering the pumpkin in glow-in-the-dark paint for what appears to be some sort of Incredible Hulk fixtures…

Alex Paints
Alex Paints

UPDATE: The finished products…

Alex’s Incredible Hulk pumpkin…

Hulk

and Adam’s (left-side) and Cindy’s jack-o’-lanterns…

jacolantern

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The Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens have an annual “Spooktacular” event on the weekend nights leading up to Halloween…

Spooktacular Nights

This was our first time going and it was a lot of fun. There was live music and the staff were dressed-up in costumes. There were countless picture-taking opportunities (to the boys chagrin 😛 )…

Spooktacular Nights
Spooktacular Nights

But what we really came for and what made the pictures worthwhile for the boys was…

Spooktacular Nights

We did get to see some of the animals, but most of them seemed to be in for the night. I guess the animals really weren’t the point of the event.

Spooktacular Nights

And although the boys weren’t too happy with the picture-taking at first, by the end of the night, they were into it and actually asking to take pictures here and there…

Spooktacular Nights

It was a spooky-fun night!

Spooktacular Nights

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Today Adam got a real treat! We were at the batting cages for some practice and he got some lessons from from Oakland A’s (minor league) third baseman A.J. Kubala. A.J. is a local boy and he gives back to his community by working with Little Leaguers on their fundamentals. Adam was grinning from ear-to-ear the whole time!

Thanks, A.J.! What a blast!

Batting with A.J. Kubala
Batting with A.J. Kubala
Batting with A.J. Kubala
Batting with A.J. Kubala

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So, Alex’s school project was to make his favorite book character and in celebration of fall and halloween, he had to make it entirely out of pumpkins or other members of the gourd family. Naturally, Alex made Pete the Cat (with a lot of help from mom, who absolutely lives for stuff like this!!).

And you just gotta love Pete’s button flying off his shirt…

Pete the Pumpkin

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We were expecting rain, but nothing was going to stop our backyard campout.

Tent

As it turns out, we didn’t even get a drizzle. Although it might’ve cooled things off a bit because the air was still a little warm as we headed into the tent. We took the windows down to get the breeze blowing and it soon got more comfortable. …

Anyway, it was still early, so we watched “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” on the iPad…

Tent

Then settled off to sleep…and quite contentedly, I might add.

Sleeping

In the morning, I slipped out of the tent while the boys snoozed and started some coffee.

Coffee

With coffee in hand, I set-up the table and the ol’ Coleman stove to cook our breakfast…

Breakfast

The boys had a good time and thought eating outside was GREAT!

Breakfast

Best buddies…

Best Buds

After breakfast, it was time to take down the campsite. Alex wanted to leave the tent up so we could camp out again tonight, but alas, tomorrow is a school day. Anyway, this was a good opportunity to teach the boys an important aspect of the Cub Scouts outdoor ethics, namely, the “leave no trace” principles, which as the name implies, whenever you’re doing activities outdoors, you leave things as you found them…

Leave No Trace

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This afternoon, the boys donned their Pack 280 tee-shirts and joined some other scouts from the district for some b.b. gun and archery fun. They learned range safety, proper range commands, and the parts of the b.b. gun and bow and arrow.

The boys almost look like professionals in the prone position shooting at the target. Adam thought it was pretty cool because he could pretend he was a sniper…

This was the first time for both of them on the archery range and once they got comfortable with the proper way to hold the bow and notch the arrow, they did very good. As a lefty, Adam used a regular bow and as you can see, he scored a bullseye…

Alex got to use one of the compound bows and he got three arrows in the outside rings. I thought he had pretty darn good form…

The boys had a real good time and are looking forward to the Cub Scout “Cuboree” at Camp Shands in a couple of weeks where they’ll do more work with B.B. guns and bows and arrows!

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So, as you know, Cindy is in the U.K. visiting her dad. Looks like she’s having a good time, too! Sharing a Gunniess with the ol’ man…

Cindy sipping Gunniess

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One of the benefits to being retired military is you still have access to all the bases in the country. Many of these bases are located on some pretty darn good real estate, like Key West’s Truman Annex,

Truman Annex

which is home to some prime beachfront…

Truman Annex

and we had it all to ourselves…

Truman Annex

Truman Annex

And with the campsite set-up, we’re ready to hit the water!

Truman Annex

Adjacent to the base beach is a state park, which is separated by a not-so-foreboding fence…

Truman Annex

which we walked around to rent some snorkeling equipment…

Truman Annex Truman Annex

and do some snorkeling…

Truman Annex

While walking on one of the trails in the State Park, we happened across this signpost. Good to know where we are in relation to other cities around the world, and it makes a nice postcard picture!

Truman Annex

We had a great time at the beach today. It was nice and quiet, which is amazing considering it’s the middle of summer! Ah, the perks of military service. It’s days like this that make all the family separations worthwhile!

Truman Annex

So, we packed-up and headed back to our hotel, where we took a dip in the pool and enjoyed a cocktail (Shirley Temples for the boys) before getting ready for dinner in town. What a way to end a great vacation! Tomorrow, we’ll be heading home.

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