Monday, December 27, 2010

Marielle and Puff

Here is a cute photo I took today of my Niece Marielle and her cat Puff!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cat under the Christmas Tree

After all the presents were opened up it looked empty under the Christmas Tree.  My sister's cat Rascal decided to fill the void.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Santa and the Deere

I have always heard that Santa usually rides Reindeer.
However, yesterday we spotted Santa on a John Deere!


Merry Christmas Everyone!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Squirrel and Snow

We drove up to my parents house in Spotsylvania, VA yesterday.  They still had a little bit of snow on the ground from earlier in the week.  This was the first snow I have seen this season.  I took a quick shot of this squirrel scavenging for a little food in one of the bare spot under a bird feeder.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Austin Martin

Saturday Evening I hosted another SSPBDT Poker Night.  We actually didn't end up playing a whole lot of poker.  Instead we watched the Clemson vs South Carolina Football game, ate some good food, had plenty of FABs, and had an enjoyable evening hanging out.

This series of shots is of my buddy Jeff's son Austin who is now at around 8 months old.

Austin


Austin and Scott


Christopher, Scott, and Austin


Austin and Melinda


An unhappy Austin with Mom Lorie


Austin Sleeping with my Wife Amy!

Friday, November 26, 2010

The 2010 Hess Truck and Jet

Since the November 12th release date I have packaged up and shipped out a bunch of these all across the Country.  I even shipped a few internationally to Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.

After 2 weeks, I finally got around to opening up one of the boxes and checking it out.  I took this shot so I could update the photo on my http://www.hesstrucks.net/ website

Thursday, November 25, 2010

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

except maybe not for this guy!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I posted about how Amy's cousin Brandon was killed when he wrecked his truck.

Here are a few photos of the truck:











Sunday, November 21, 2010

Early Thanksgiving!

My wife Amy's family traditionally celebrates Thanksgiving on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  This goes back to the days when Amy's dad worked as a welder for Duke Power.  Since Duke always scheduled maintenance activities for the Thanksgiving weekends, Amy's dad typically had to work Thanksgiving Day.  Amy's Dad has retired, but the tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving early continues.

So yesterday, Amy and I made the trip up to Rutherfordton, NC to celebrate an early Thanksgiving with her family.

Most of the trees are bare,
but this one tree in Amy's parents yard still had some spectacular Fall Color!



Amy's dad by the Turkey Fryer with a Moonshine Jug!


Our Niece Grace


How to Deep Fry a Turkey!



Amy's Dad Dropping the Bird



Our brother-in-law Hugh checking the status of the bird


The bird is done!
Looks good enough to eat!


A few after dinner night shots




 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Christmas Tree

My wife Amy is very efficient when it comes to getting ready for the Holidays!  She is the only person I know that already has all her Christmas shopping done!

Since this evening would be my last evening before the crazyness of Hess Truck season hits, we decided to get our Christmas Tree decorated.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Officially an Antique

In the state of South Carolina, once you turn 30 years of age you qualify to become classified as an Antique.  That is, if you are an Automobile!

Last year our 1979 VW Beetle turned 30 years of age.  So this year, we decided to get an Antique license plate.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How it all got started

How it all got started

As many of you know, I have a little side business (http://www.hesstrucks.net/) where I sell Hess Collectibles Toy Trucks. Over the years it has grown to the point that it becomes a 2nd full time job during the holiday season!

But, how did it all get started?

In the mid 1970s thru early 1980s I received a Hess Truck each year for Christmas. As a child, I was hard on my toys. It turns out that things like taking them into the sandbox and playing demolition derby are not good for Hess Trucks. Plus, the future Engineer in me, just had to take them all apart to see how they worked. Needless to say all of my original Hess Trucks are likely buried deep in the Staten Island, NY Landfill!


Fast forward to 1993

I was visiting my wife's family (now ex-wife) on Long Island for Christmas. My wife opens up a present which contains the 1993 Hess Patrol Car.  Little did I know that she had a collection of Hess Trucks dating back to 1978?

I got excited about her collection, so as soon as we got back home to West Virginia we pulled her boxes of Hess Trucks from the attic, and set out to put them on display. She was devastated to find that some of her trucks like the 1980 Training Van and the 1987 Hess Box Truck had badly yellowed from the heat of being stored in an attic.

1980 Hess Training Van


Since it was me who put her boxes in the attic when we moved into the house I felt responsible. So I set out to find replacements. For the next few years, each Christmas and Birthday I would give her either a Mint-in-Box replacement for one of her badly yellowed trucks, or and older model Hess Truck.

The first truck I gave her was the 1976 Hess Box Truck with Barrels. This remains my favorite Hess Truck, because it was the earliest model Hess Truck that I have distinct memories of playing with as a child. It is also the one that started my obsession with Hess Trucks. After getting that one, it became my goal to obtain a complete Hess collection!

1976 Hess Truck

I really wanted to find either a 1964 B-Mack Tanker, or the 1966 Hess Voyager Ship. I stumbled upon a large lot of Hess Trucks at an estate auction which included a 1964 B-Mack Tanker.  I ended up winning the entire lot for less than what I was willing to pay for the (1) 1964 Hess Truck. But now we had some duplicate Hess Trucks in our collection.

1964 Hess Truck - 1st in the Series


In 1996, we got our first Internet connection and the search for Hess Trucks became much easier. I was finding some good bargains and was buying more and more Hess Trucks knowing there are places I could quickly turn around and sell them for a profit.

In 1997, I was taking a class in HTML programming and decided to make my first website; a place where I could buy and sell Hess Trucks. I never dreamed that it would take off to become what it is today!

When the 1997 Hess Truck was released, I had dozens of eMails asking if I could get the current Hess Truck. Unfortunately, our nearest Hess Station was several hundred miles away.

Fortunately, my parents still lived in New York near plenty of Hess Stations, so during our Thanksgiving visit to New York, we drove from station to station buying Hess Trucks (2) at a time. At that time Hess limited the purchase quantity to (2) per customer. After a days work and about (10) different Hess Stations, our car was loaded up with Hess Trucks.

Even though I was selling them on my website for a little more than what they cost at the station, I quickly sold out. I would have to figure out a way to get more next year.

During the spring of 1998, I heard rumors about a miniature Hess Truck being released. I wasn’t planning on heading to New York for that, but asked my parents to pick me up some. How Many? They asked. As many as you can fit in your car, I responded.

I didn’t realize how small they were, and my parents really did try to fit as many as they could in their car. They probably would have if the 1998 Hess Mini didn’t sell out before the first day of release was complete.

Fortunately they were able to get quite a few before they sold out and the 1998 Hess Miniature Truck became one of the hottest Hess collectibles ever.
1998 Hess Miniature Truck
1st in the Hess Miniature Series

For the 1998 Christmas Season I had a bunch of pre-orders for the 1998 Hess Truck prior to the release date. After seeing how fast the 1998 Hess Mini sold out, I got worried about the trucks being sold out by the time we made our Thanksgiving visit. My parents volunteered again to do the running around from station to station on the release date.

This time, they bought even more than I could fit in the car in one trip. I would just have to pick the rest up on my next visit. It sure did take a lot of effort to meet the demands of all the Hess collectors out there, but I was having fun!

In 1999 I went through a separation and divorce. The divorce had nothing to do with Hess Trucks, but one of the hardest parts was splitting up our Hess Truck Collection!

After the divorce, I took a new job and moved from West Virginia to Spartanburg, SC. I quickly set out to rebuild my collection of older Hess Trucks that I lost in the divorce. My website was actually generating a little profit, so I was able to justify the money spent on my personal Hess Truck collection.

When I first moved down to Spartanburg, SC there were no Hess Stations here, so I still had to rely on my parents and the annual Thanksgiving visit to New York to pick up the trucks.

A great thing happened in 2002! A Hess Station opened up in Spartanburg, SC less than 5 miles from my house! This has made it so much easier for me get the trucks I need to meet the demands of my customers each year.

2002 Hess Truck and Airplane

While I still work a full time job as an Engineer and Project Manager for an Automotive parts supplier, my Hess Truck website side business becomes a 2nd full time job during the Holiday Season.

I got re-married in 2008 and I gave my new wife the title of "Vice President of Packaging Operations" (she helps me package up the trucks for shipment). Having a second set of hands to help package and ship the trucks has helped out a bunch. Especially since repeat customers and word of mouth causes my business to grow more and more each year!


Visit my Hess Truck website at:   http://www.hesstrucks.net/

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fall Flowers

It is nice to be able to still capture some blooms well into the Fall Season!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fall Color

The Fall color season is just about done. 
However, this tree in Amy's parents yard still has a good supply of colorful leaves.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

New Old Tractor

We went up to Rutherfordton, NC this afternoon to visit with Amy's Parents.  I could not help but notice a new Tractor in the yard.  Actually, it is a very old tractor, but it is a new addition for Amy's Dad!




A 1951 Seaman Tractor, which Amy's Dad believes is the only one of its vintage still running in the United States.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Caterpillar

Amy spotted this guy crawling along the top our brick retaining wall.  So I went and grabbed the Macro Lens for today's photos:









Thursday, November 4, 2010

Brandon Sane

Late Monday / Early Tuesday Amy's Cousin Brandon lost control of his truck, ran off the road, hit a tree and was killed instantly.  Needless to say, it has been a difficult few days for Amy and her family.

Today we head up to Rutherfordton where I will perform my service as a pallbearer for the funeral services.  This is one trip I am not looking forward to:

Brandon Sane, age 33, of Rutherfordton, NC, died Tuesday, November 2, 2010. A native of Rutherford County, he was a self employed farmer and the son of Benny Sane and Barbara Sane both of Rutherfordton surviving, in addition to his parents, are; One Daughter: Emily Paige Sane, Sunshine, NC One Son: Dylan Shell One Brother: Benjamin Lee "Benjy" Sane, Jr. Rutherfordton, NC Paternal grandmother: Mrs. W.C. Sane, Rutherfordton, NC The family will receive friends from 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM Thursday, November 4, 2010 at McMahan's Funeral Home. A Funeral Service will be held at 2:00 Pm Thursday, November 4, 2010 at McMahan's Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Steve Price and Rev. William Swink officiating. Interment will be at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church Cemetery, Rutherfordton, NC McMahan's Funeral Home and Cremation Services is assisting the Sane Family. An online guest register may be viewed at http://www.mcmahansfuneralhome.com/


This is the last photo I will ever take of Amy's Cousin Brandon (3rd from the right)
Taken April 18th, 2010 at Amy's Grandma's 90th birthday celebration

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Jack and Amy's Weekend Getaway to Georgia - Day 2 and 3

Jack and Amy's Weekend Getaway to Georgia



Day 2 - Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Photos are posted here:
http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/578919668vVTZNH

Click here for the first part of Day 2 from Amicalola State Park


When we entered into Georgia on Friday, we made a quick stop at the Visitors Center to pick up some maps and other information. The lady working the Visitor's center desk told us that we just had to visit Burt's Pumpkin Farm.

Now, I would not consider a Pumpkin Farm to be a must stop destination, but since it was less than a mile from the Amicalola State Park Entrance, we decide to pay Burt's a visit after we got through with the state park.

We had a fun little visit to Burt's Pumpkin Farm, and it was worth going the mile out of our way for, but I wouldn't say it would be worth a special trip to get to.

Amy at Burt's Pumpkin Farm

Since we had a nice filling breakfast at the Lily Creek Lodge Bed and Breakfast earlier in the morning, we decided to skip lunch and instead head for an early dinner, after which we did some more waterfall exploring.


DeSoto Falls is actually two separate waterfalls, known as Upper DeSoto and Lower DeSoto Falls. The names lead you to believe that they are on the same creek, however it turns out the Lower Falls is on a tributary stream.

We started out by heading towards the Lower Falls which is about a 0.3 mile hike one way. It's a nice little waterfall, but nothing really worth going out of your way for. Also unless you feel like disobeying the various sings, your viewing area is limited to the wooden platform.

Jack and Amy at Lower DeSoto Falls

Amy decided to skip the upper falls in favor of a nice bench and her book while I hiked to the Upper Falls. This one is much nicer, but still has the drawback of the wooden viewing areas. It is not easy shooting long exposure shots on a shaky wooden deck with herds of other tourists around!

Upper DeSoto Falls

Next up was Blood Mountain Creek Falls. This one is more my style as it is not likely to be swarming with tourists. Unless you have a vehicle with good ground clearance, you should probably not attempt to reach this one!

Crossing the Creek in the Tacoma

Based on what I have read and seen on the topo maps, I could spend a whole day exploring this creek! But since darkness was approaching we limited our visit to just one of many series of drops along Blood Mountain Creek.

Blood Mountain Creek

Last up was Dicks Creek Falls which is roadside and along the way to Blood Mountain Creek Falls. Another small waterfall that turned out to be much nicer than I was expecting.

Dicks Creek Falls

The whole dirt road to Dicks Creek Falls and Blood Mountain Creek Falls is part of the Chattahoochee National Forest and there are plenty of spots to camp along the road. I definitely hope to return to this area with some of my camping buddies sometime in the future.

Later in the evening after getting back to the Lodge, I made another attempt at night time photography before calling it a day.

Starry Sky - 20 minute exposure



Day 3 - Sunday, October 31st, 2010

There was one more waterfall about 5 minutes from the Lily Creek Lodge which I wanted to visit under good morning light. So I got up early to squeeze in a visit before breakfast.

Clay Creek Falls is located alongside Clay Creek Falls Road just outside of Dahlonega, GA. It is visible from the road, but I hoped to get a better vantage point. Unfortunately the entire section of creek is located on private property, clearly posted and barricaded with barbed wire fencing. Not wanting to end my trip being arrested for trespassing, I settled for the best through the trees roadside view I could find.

Clay Creek Falls

I arrived back at the Lily Creek Lodge Bed and Breakfast just in time for another nice breakfast!

The Lily Creek Lodge was a nice place to stay, but I would not consider it one of our favorite Bed and Breakfasts. The hosts were nice, the food was good, the place was clean, and overall it was a very nice stay. However, I would only give it about a 6 out of 10 rating which is not good enough for me to consider another stay there.

Overall, it was a great weekend getaway!

The full set of photos from Day 2 and 3 of our Georgia Weekend Getaway are located here:
http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/578919668vVTZNH