Jacksonville - this week.


XMas Venison

We had ourselves a little post Christmas venison cookout. Four pounds
of venison, 15 minutes marinating, four minutes cooking, one tasty
treat. All from my nephew's first deer.


Ice Ice Baby

Our 1 - 3 inches of snow turned into 1/4 inch of ice. I'll be picking
up downed limbs tomorrow.



Because of the bad weather on the mountain we didn't go skiing. However, we did go to Bern. Bern is a old beautiful city. Back on the mountain tomorrow hopefully.


Passing time

When the weather is bad... We play games. After about 20 games of ping pong I remain undefeated.

Much needed day off

Due to the weather, we decided to take yesterday and today off. I couldn't be happier - my knee and every muscle in my body demanded the time off. We should be back on the mountain again tomorrow. Hopefully I can keep the falls to a minimum.


Labs everywhere

I had the fortunate pleasure of riding back down the mountain with a young Black Lab.

Day one

Sore knee, sore wrist and a nasty bruise on my butt. It was a good first day but I still have a lot to learn. The photo is "The North Face" - and no, they didn't name it after the jacket. I'm taking
tomorrow off hoping that my knee will feel better.


First sight

On the way to Interlaken.

I am getting a little nervous - these mountains are freakin' huge.


Gear'd Up

I'm ready to go. All packed and hoping my flight will be on time. For those of you who don't know, I'm going to one of the premier skiing areas in the world - Interlaken, Switzerland or the Jungfrau Mountain region. Oh, and I don't know how to ski. Nothing like going to a world class ski region and not knowing how to ski! I do have company, however, as another brave soul on the trip also does not know how to ski. I'm hoping that my hockey skills (or lack thereof) will aid in balance and my general fitness will aid in recovering from unintended cartwheels down the mountain.

It's a good thing my wife has a nice health plan. I wonder if the Ski Patrol takes HSA plans?



Long drive home in the rain.


Oh Deer

My nephew's first deer. Only about 1.5 miles to drag it out.


Noon Update

Rain has stopped. Still no deer for me although two in our crew have killed one. It's lunchtime - turkey and ham on wheat.

8:30 Update

Raining and 45 degrees. No deer yet. I'm thinking of taking a nap.


95 and Counting

Just had to go see the best sport at Penn State - Womens Volleyball. They have won 95 consecutive matches - going for 96 tonight. That streak is second in the NCAA in all sports. The women will also be trying for a third NCAA championship in a row.


Upcoming Schedule

My travel is kicking in to gear again. I've been home for close to 2 months and I'm starting to get a bit jumpy. Below is my schedule over the next two months:

28 November to 2 December - Home to hunt the elusive white tail deer. Don't worry, I always shoot for the head - they'll feel no pain! Oh, and my .243 is very accurate.

7 December to 15 December - Off to Switzerland to Ski with Glyn and Erich. At this point it is looking more like and expensive hiking trip - seeing that there isn't any snow!

19 December to 26 December - Back Home for Christmas. NOTE TO MOM - I don't need anything so don't get me anything! Dad, I hold you accountable!

29 December to 28 January - Back to Australia for Vacation. Just kidding, I actually have to do some work - Spending New Year's with Jo and Ken and I'm looking forward to good food and a lot of college football talk. Especially about when Penn State beat Georgia in the National Championship game (1982)


Mouse Trap

As you've read in a earlier post, my father and I discovered a working septic system that I never knew existed. Of course that led to re-routing our bathroom to the main sewer line. During this process my dad had expressed that he wanted to install a running trap on the main sewer line outside the house. The running trap would prevent sewer gasses from getting past the trap. Having the running trap is code in Pennsylvania, but not in North Carolina. Long story short, we didn't have to run a new line outside the house so we didn't install the running trap.

A few weeks after my dad had departed, Brandi and I had noticed a "sewer gas" smell in the bathroom and it got progressively worse as the week went on. Since I had replaced a leaky wax seal on our toilet just after my dad left, I thought that my wax seal install was faulty - so it was off to Lowe's to buy a new seal (industrial strength this time). I was going to wait until the weekend so Brandi could help me, but the smell was just too bad and getting worse. I finally decided to just get it done. I removed the toilet, put the new seal on, set the toilet and started tightening it when I heard and felt a 'snap.' As it is with all of my projects, I had to pull the toilet back up to find that I broke the rusted cast iron flange where the closet bolts slide on. Off to Lowe's again to buy a repair kit.

Fortunately I already had another wax ring (which I bought two Lowe's trips ago) ready to go once I repaired the flange. Wax ring installed, toilet set, tightened down. Now I'm just waiting for the stink to disappear. So I turn on the shower exhaust fan, open the windows and spray some Febreeze. I figured I'd give it a few hours - just around the time Brandi gets home from work. So, after a few hours still noticed a smell, but not as bad. Brandi agrees with me upon her arrival home from work. But as the evening went on, the smell just didn't seem to go away. Desperate for answers, I start sniffing everything; the toilet, the sink, the shower drain and even the dog. One last thing I tried was checking the sink trap to see if it was leaky.

As soon as I opened the cabinet door to look at the trap I immediately knew something was wrong when I about passed out from the smell. It turns out that the mouse trap I set the week before was successful and the smell that had been getting progressively worse was the rotting mouse corpse.

Rewind to a week after my dad left. Brandi had noticed some mouse droppings in the sink vanity and told me to set some traps. I did and I even checked them over the next few days. It seems as if the day after I last checked the traps, I caught the intruder.

So the countless trips to Lowe's were needless - the sewer gas was a rotting mouse. This is how it goes when I find a project to do at my house. The funny thing is that my dad vowed not to come back to help because every time he does, we run into issues. But in true form, he called me last week giving me prices on replacing the water lines under the house from Galvanized/Copper to PEX. It is a project that needs to be done. The pipes are run poorly and some have a few drips coming from them.

If the project comes to fruition, I told my dad that we will likely find an Indian burial ground under the house, or we'll find Jimmy Hoffa. We've resigned ourselves to the fact that any project we tackle will come with a lot of excess baggage.



My boy Chase was keeping and eye on me and my dad while we were working in the crawl space. He doesn't like to be alone!
Our other helper was found under the lid to the water meter. The black blob you see along the lid is a black widow spider or Latrodectus mactans. I decided to put it in a jar so I could show it to Brandi. She and my dad wanted me to kill it, but I decided to do the right thing and release her in the woods.

A load of CRAP!

Well now, it all started with good intentions. For months now I have planned on replacing my cast iron sewer line with a schedule 40 PVC line. I planned this because we were advised by Roto-Rooter that we had roots growing through the pipe as well as a "belly" or a dip in the pipe that was holding water. So, as standard procedure, I asked my dad (pictured below in the flouro green), a retired pipe fitter, to drive 543 miles south and help me save a few thousand dollars. And as always, he complained about it but did what a loving father would do and he made the trip. He also brought along a few supplies.
Prior to my dad's arrival, I got the appropriate permits and scheduled a back-hoe operator to dig up the line. As with many of our projects on this 60 year old house, it only took about 15 minutes to hit our first snag. You can see in the picture above that the back-hoe operator uncovered a septic tank that we didn't even know we had. This is right about the time my dad said that he is never coming south again to help me.
So, now I have a septic tank that has apparently been in operation since 1951. I thought I was on the city sewer system but now I know why my grass in the front yard is always green. Time to call Stanley Environmental - to pump out the septic tank so I can then cave it in and cover it up. The nice men pictured above spent some quality time pumping over 1500 gallons of raw sewage from the tank.
The photo above shows them hitting the "solids" section of the tank. They've got a long way to go at this point. When I took this picture I thought the tank was only about 4 feet by 8 feet long. You can see below that I was WAY off. This tank was 12 to 15 feet long and basically full of crap. Oh, and it's only about 6 feet deep. Good thing I didn't fall in... I would have drowned.
So here is the empty tank. Our trusty back-hoe operator came back later and caved the side walls in and filled it with dirt and the broken pieces of my walkway. So what we've learned since is that the bathroom that Brandi and I use was on the septic system and the rest of the house was on the main sewer line to the city sewer system. My dad and I also discovered some shotty workmanship under the house - an uncapped broken line and leaky joints in the main line. In order to get everything on the main line, dad and I spent about 5 hours under the house running a new PVC line from the bathroom to the main line and replacing the connections that were leaky. That was four days ago and my dad claims he is still sore! Suck it up dad!
At the end of the day everything worked out. We left everything better than we found it and the inspection from the County passed. Who knows what surprises await us on our next project.


Going West

Our pleasure travel has finally come to an end. Now we start our journey home which will likely be full of dis-pleasure.

Travis' itinerary is as follows:
1. Budapest to Zurich (Swiss Air)
1a. A likely missed connection to London Heathrow due to the short connection time
2. Zurich to London (Swiss Air)
3. Piccadilly Line (tube) from Heathrow to Victoria station
4. Gatwick Express from Victoria to Gatwick Airport
5. Taxi to the Best Western Gatwick Hotel
6. Hotel shuttle to Gatwick Airport
7. Gatwick to Charlotte (USAirways)
8. Wait for Brandi's flight from Munich (1. 5 hours waiting)
9. Parking Shuttle to Lot Long Term 2
10. Car Ride Home

Brandi's Itinerary is as follows:
1. Budapest to Munich (Lufthansa)
2. Hotel shuttle to Marriott Hotel
3. Hotel Shuttle to Munich Airport
4. Munich to Charlotte (Lufthansa)
5. Parking Shuttle to Lot Long Term 2
6. Car Ride Home

Travis' journey seems a lot worse right?


I started the day alone as Brandi continued to sleep off her sickness. I started out on the Castle Hill near our hotel walking on streets that weren't all paved the same.

I walked for close to 2 hours around the castle, down the hill and across the Danube. The photo above is taken from the Chain Bridge looking up the Danube at the Parliment Building.

I eventually made it back to the hotel just as Brandi was waking up and readying herself for a day of site-seeing. On our walk to the other side of the Danube, I snapped this photo above of Parliment through the trees as we were descending Castle Hill.

As we were walking through the streets of Budapest we came across a bunch of street performers. This guy was playing water glasses; each glass filled with a different amount of water to give it a unique tone. He was good - therefore I threw some Forints his way.

And since our walk walk was long and Brandi was sick, we decided to take the tram back up the Castle hill.
Another day of site-seeing is planned today!


Vienna and Schonbrunn

So here we are in Vienna (Wien as the locals call it). And actually I'm posting this from Budapest 'cause I had to pay for the internet connection in our Marriott Hotel in Vienna. Our first day in Vienna was a wash out - not from rain, but from Brandi's cold. We essentially left the hotel for lunch and went right back to bed - although I did read a good portion of my book (The Angel of Grozny).
On our second day we did the whirlwind tour; Schonbrunn Estate during the earlier part of the day, and the Old City the rest of the day. Our pedometer read 21,000 steps after the day ended. Vienna proved to be a very accessable and friendly city with lots to see. We timed it right because the weather was outstanding - high seventies, low eighties.
Oh, one thing I nearly forgot to mention. Schonbrunn Palace is a great place to go jogging. This morning, prior to catching the train to Budapest, I went for a jog around the estate. It was perfect - the gardens open before the palace, so I was able to jog free of any tourists. I appears that most of the locals go to run here as well. There were hundreds of joggers on the grounds while I was there. After 45 minutues of jogging, including two hill climbs, I was spent. Shower, Underground, Train, Budapest. I'm now searching for a good run here!.

This is our Underground Stop. The public transportation in Vienna was outstanding! Clean, safe, efficient. And the iPhone app with the subway network was worth the dollar that I spent on it.


Prague Clock

Apparently this astrological clock has been working for four hundred years - not bad. Every hour this thing does a little song and dance and hundreds of people stand in front of the clock looking up like idiots. I was one of them.

Prague is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities, but I haven't been overwhelmed like I thought I would. I guess my own hype got in the way. Regardless, we're on our way to Vienna tomorrow via the 12:30 train. Oh, and Brandi is starting to get sick - I might be doing a lot of site-seeing on my own in Vienna - which sucks 'cause I've already been to Vienna. (Tennis event - 1997)



A view of the castle. I also enjoyed a nice 40 minute run along the
river. Half of the run was in the pouring rain. Off to Prague we go!


Lots of people (stumbling) and lots of good food. A site to see!


Wimbledon - Off Season

Here is a look at Court 5 (old court 4). Weird not seeing fences and
ball kids


Sleepy Lab

You know when Chase is tired - his nose almost touches the floor.


Russian Santa

One of our routines in New York is taking our laundry one of the hundred wash and folds. Here is Denis during his walk to the cleaners. He is just about to pass by the Manhattan Espresso Company - my favorite place for a latte in the city.



There will be rain. For days.


A Storm Is Brewing

This picture was taken just prior to me running for the office.


Honey Sales

Open for business! I made my first delivery of "Oak Trail" honey today to the Java Bean Coffee Shop. My neighbor Billy has been gracious enough to allow me to display and sell my honey at the shop. The photo shows our creativity in displaying this fine product. If you in the mood for honey, it's only $10 for 32 ounces, $6 for 16 ounces and $3 for 8 ounces.


Trash Collection

Now this is the way to collect the course trash. Don't make a sharp


TV Truck

I work in the TV compound twice a year. Once in Augusta and once at the seniors. This year has proven to be a good year in TV. Trust me, that is a rarity. The seniors has been problem free - the only calls I've had were related to ESPN's own issues. One more problem free day will make me very happy. This photo was taken in the main production truck - which from here on out will be doing all NFL football (Sunday Night Football)


Walking the course

I've done hundreds of golf events but this new scoring system for the USGA is new to me. So I grabbed a scoring unit and walked with the training group and scored a hole. I screwed up at the end - good thing I'm not an actual walking scorer.

Fox Hole and I set up TV today - probably the easiest set up I've been involved with. The TV folks were helpful and we were efficient. Basically it took us about 2 hours to set up and cable 17 computers. Before we left the compound, all systems were running with live data. On to the next task...


Planning a trip

It is a little early, but a trip is brewing... If we can work it out, Brandi and I will be adding some travel to my site visit to Wimbledon. Right now we're looking at a week and a half traveling to Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Budapest. Even though it's a bit preliminary, I'm getting a bit excited about it. Now we just have to figure out how to pay for it.



11a is no longer my home.


One Fox

A new superstition has developed at Wimbledon. After a few problems in the first week, I realized that each night on the walk home I saw one fox. ONE FOX BAD. On a day where things went relatively well, I saw two foxes on the walk home. TWO FOX GOOD. On yet another night's walk home, I raised the question to Glyn "what if we see three foxes?" THREE FOX F***ED!


Sleep Deprivation

It is amazing how much you desire sleep when you have a lack of it. All day long the brain teases you into thinking that if you just wait a few more hours you will be sound asleep. But then reality sets in and you realize that the BBC wants many graphic changes.

All I can think about at this second is how nice it would be to stretch out in my king size bed with fresh linens and sleep for about 12 hours straight. Wishful thinking.


British Bee

I've spotted my first honey bee in Wimbledon. Pictured here.


Here is my home for the next three weeks.


Spinning Honey

I have to have all of this honey spun before I leave for Wimbledon. You are looking at t 26 frames of honey which is close to 60 pounds. Notice my shiny new extractor on the right. This will probably take me four hours to do. It's not as fun as I thought it would be.

In total I've calculated that I'll get about 120 pounds for the season. Much more than I had anticipated.


Bottled up

I've bottled my initial twenty pounds of honey. A lot more to go.


A Centre Court Celebration

Here is a shot just as the events were starting. The roof in this
photo has closed. Not that you can tell.