By: joealaska , 5:53 AM GMT on June 25, 2012

Having a great time at the family reunion. That is exactly why I came.

My plan was to show up when everyone was already here spending the first night at dinner at my folks home. I was going to call them from my cell as I stood outside, have them pass the phone around a bit, then ring the doorbell while still talking. I really wanted to have someone become “in” on the deal at the last second, so they could stand back and film the reaction. But that just did not work out.

I showed up in town at 1 PM, well before dinner time. The only people in town at that point were touring a bourbon distillery and enjoying free samples near Lexington. I did not know that at the time, so I headed home not knowing what would happen. I took a cab and got out a few houses down the road. I called the house and my mom answered. After a bit of chit chat I rang the doorbell and kept talking. She said the doorbell was ringing and someone was there. She answered the door still holding the phone. Her great face reaction was caught as I filmed, and she started laughing and yelling, still talking into the phone. I could only film a few seconds, then I had to give her a hug.

Dad was downstairs and I walked down as he walked up. He was stunned.

So now my big surprise became a series of surprises. People arrived at various points thru the afternoon, and we did the surprise over and over. Usually I just walked in as everyone was hugging and saying hello. Some good reactions. My sister CYBER could not stop laughing. (The free bourbon samples had NOTHING to do with it!) It was all very fun. Every ONE of them thought everyone else was in on the surprise. I told NOBODY.

I had the tickets for over 2 months. A month before I came through here last time. When the reunion dates were changed from late May to late June I called Mom and said it was not good for me to leave at that time. She got upset, but accepted it.

Next day I called my boss and told him I was committed to being at work this particular weekend, but I further explained I wanted to attend the reunion. He said to go for it. Very COOL. I bought tickets right away, knowing I would wait until the last second to make a decision. If it got busy, too busy, I would just not go. Nobody would be disappointed. I could use the ticket later.

Then my boss came to Dutch last week. I told him I was still not definitely going. He asked why, and then he explained he had backup arriving from Seattle to cover for me. One guy I knew could help out, so the trip was ON.

First night, FRIDAY, all of us had dinner at the folks house. German cuisine with brats and potato salad. Very good. The kids frolicked in the back yard by the golf course.

Saturday we went to Churchill Downs. We had plans to just stop by for some pictures, but when we got there it was a big race day with the running of the Debutante Stakes. We all went in and enjoyed the food, drink, and the races. EVERYONE was betting mainly $2 bets. Some won and some lost. I favored the long shots, and by the end of the day my money was long shot. We only stayed for three races, but everyone had a good time. Plus, everyone got a taste of Old Louisville and the red brick houses. It was tough to do something that all 21 of us enjoyed, but Churchill Downs was a bullseye.

Saturday night we took over a room at The Bristol in downtown Prospect. The food and service was great and reasonable. Again, no complaints.

Today was a bit more free form. Those with the most energy went south to Mammoth Cave for a cave excursion. Those SAME then stopped by Bernheim Forest on the return trip. Bernheim is like an arboretum with all sorts of trees and natural settings. The gang was in the middle of a long day so they made the quick tour and then returned to Louisville.

Meanwhile, a smaller contingent went to Sunday Services then brunch at a nearby restaurant.

And the rest of US took a tour of the horse farms and tobacco farms along US 42 heading northeast from Louisville. We turned off and took some small side roads here and there, checking out the cool small communities in rural KY. Sligo, Bedford, Milton, and Campellsburg. And many more.

We stopped for gas in Sligo along US 42. We looked at the cars that shared that small parking lot with us... A vintage Rolls, a vintage Bentley. A couple of premium series Ferrari, and a nice Peugot. They were just coming from a car show in Louisville and heading for Detroit. We were talking a bit as THE DRIVER of my vehicle filled the tank with gas. Something went wrong, and the tank overflowed pretty much, only stopping when the driver grabbed the hose out. The automatic turnoff did not work. So there was gas all over their rental car, which we washed off. The owner helped out with the cleanup.

We eventually went down to The Ohio River where there was a narrow bridge across the river, from Milton KY to Madison Indiana. Madison is home to a big speedboat race on the river each year, The Madison Regatta. Very quaint town with interesting architecture, like many KY cities. First we crossed that bridge, a suspension bridge. It was under construction / repair. Looks they are adding two more lanes on the west side, making it two in both directions.

Then we stopped for coffee/latte/smoothie whatever. Drove by a local golf course that I will remember to play next time.

We returned via southern INDIANA, passing through Henryville which was hit hard a few months ago by a tornado. I wanted to see some of the damage, and at least ONE of the other passengers also mentioned earlier they wanted to see it. But we drove through an undamaged area and were suddenly out of town, and there was no groundswell of support to turn around and look around further. People were hungry, so we just had lunch.

Later, everyone returned from their various adventures to meet for a pizza dinner to finish off the reunion. Another great night of weather, so we all were mainly outside. Eventually we all said our goodbyes. Just then, the dusk hit hard and the lightening bugs came out. Most of the kids had never seen these before. They waited for them, and they were not disappointed. Another hour was spent catching them. Good stuff.

Then we finished the goodbyes and they were gone.

Had a really good time, and everyone is talking up SMITHTOWN, NEW YORK for 2014. Just east of the big city on Long Island.

That will be longer than the trip I made THURS / FRI to get HERE. Had a 6 hour leg from Anchorage to Chicago that left at midnight. I have been trying to catch up on my sleep ever since.

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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28. insideuk
11:10 AM GMT on July 02, 2012
May I suggest to the good people of Chicagoland

that they could brighten up their skyline a little – maybe take a peek at Tenby in Wales?

It serves to cheer the place up don't you think?

Obviously I don't want to be the one going up the ladder...

On that maximum temperature map I'm a mellow yellow – I'm happy with my current cool summer, even with 3 months of record breaking rain. I don't believe I'd survive 108f without remaining neck deep in seawater – I'd melt into a raging pale pink puddle the second I stepped on dry land. You wouldn't want to be near me in such conditions, I'd be cantankerous right up to the moment I splash your shoes.

I am enjoying plenty of strawberries and cream whilst watching Wimbledon, but only from the comfort of home DOTMOM. The idea of battling through traffic, finding extortionately expensive car parking on the outskirts of London and then using crowded public transport to reach the tennis courts is about as appealing as, well... as 108f inland. Then of course in order to purchase a ticket for the centre court games you have to camp out overnight in the queue – it's first come, first serve. If by some miracle a British player makes it into the final rounds then you can camp out for a minimum 2 nights (in the rain) to secure your ticket.




I'm not sure I like the idea of centre court having a roof and floodlights though – keeping play going until 11pm seems quite cruel. My preference is to be mostly unconscious by then, certainly recumbent.

Its not easy for players either, apparently – but they are at least getting paid to stay up late. They probably get free strawberries too – they should stop whinging...

Meantime my favourite sporting eventage of the year kicked off last Saturday. The 2172 mile Tour de France cycle race! Two days in and they haven't left BELGIUM.

Strawberries and cream on giant waffles are REALLY hard to leave behind.

Hence DAY 3 will again see them not even reaching the border.

It's as well they burn off between 5,000 and 10,000 calories a day in the saddle 'cos those skin tight cycling shorts don't leave enough room for my imagination never mind anything else...
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27. dotmom
1:49 AM GMT on July 02, 2012
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26. DHaupt
1:18 AM GMT on July 02, 2012
If you look at WU's Maximum Temperature forecast map, there is this narrow little band of orange and yellow all along the Pacific Coast.

I am so lucky to be living in it! Our high today was only 75! We have all the doors and some windows open to let the breeze flow through.

I was reading recently that one of the principle effects of global warming has been to slow and deepen the Actic, North Atlantic and North Pacific Oscillations with the result that big high pressure systems build up and don't want to move. They just stay put and whatever weather you've got, hot or cold, is what you're going to be stuck with for many days. It's all very weird.

Without electricity, water, either in you or on you, is your salvation. I hope for everyone's sake this weather cycle breaks soon. Hang in there everyone.
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25. iaotter
9:30 PM GMT on July 01, 2012
It's hot in my corner of Iowa too. Dog is flopped in front of the fan and I am about to take it away and aim it more on myself. I know, ASPCA time. She looks like a molting chicken even when I brush her twice a day and sometimes in between as well. The husky half is losing underfur at an amazing rate.
Only 90 here now, supposed to get hotter during the week and no rain til Thursday. The corn is curling from heat and lack of moisture. I don't know if fireworks will even be allowed since it is so dry. It will probably depend from area to area.
Just so glad we are not in the midst of those storms or wildfires. A little heat is nothing compared to what the folks in Colorado are dealing with.
Everybody keep cool!
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24. dotmom
8:42 PM GMT on July 01, 2012
Weather in KY is horrendous. I feel like Dix - anyone or anything that has to be out in this is suffocating.

Kinda' wondered if UK and Betti went to Wimbledon or at least were eating strawberries and cream. Enjoying some of the matches.
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23. dix608greys
3:25 PM GMT on July 01, 2012
Been lurking again but just wanted to mention that we are forecasted to be 108 today. Unbelievable temps- sickening actually. I am praying for all the animals who are forced to be outside in this horrendous weather. We hit 106 yesterday, 105 the day before. After the weirdly warm winter that we had, I kind of assumed it would be a scorcher of a summer...but not quite like this!
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22. Dodabear
2:35 PM GMT on June 29, 2012
Quoting lightning75:
Great entertaining Blog really enjoyed it.

InsideUK I feel your pain here in the Republic of Ireland.The ghost of Chris has had a real nasty bite to it , and we are probably going to get a bit of Debby in a few days

Nice Graphic DODA !!!

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20. insideuk
8:59 AM GMT on June 29, 2012
Yesterdays storm system, now formally known (in my house) as "Hurricane - won't trouble any land - Chris" affected Northern Ireland, Wales, the Midlands, Northern England and Scotland. There was widespread damage, and the clear-up operation continues. One man died in the Midlands, washed away after his car got caught by flash floods...

It was nasty.

I'm looking forward to seeing the newly painted Kulluk arrive in Dutch - I'm hoping it's bright green, just like a Christmas tree...

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19. Debbie56
4:44 AM GMT on June 29, 2012
I never knew how praying mantis came into the world. Thanks for sharing this awesome picture Joe!
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18. osdianna
2:29 AM GMT on June 29, 2012
Just a few words from the wet Pacific NW; yesterday we had a high temp for the year at 71 degrees, F; it was absolutely gorgeous. Today, not so I'm glad I took a day off and went to the beach. Imagine a sunny day at the beach with only three other cars in sight? What a concept. Today it was 63 degrees, and it rained off and on, though nothing like UK and Betty endured.

Shell Oil Company's drilling platforms, Kulluk and
Noble Discoverer left Seattle Wednesday; next stop...Dutch Harbor. I expect photos from Joe chronicaling their arrival.
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17. dotmom
9:31 PM GMT on June 28, 2012
UK: That sounds like a frightening trip. Glad you are back safe and sound - and especially poor Betti. She almost got her seat wet! We could use some of that rain -- point it in our direction.
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16. Ylee
8:59 PM GMT on June 28, 2012
UK, I think Joe is starting to rub off on you....:)
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15. Dodabear
6:33 PM GMT on June 28, 2012
OMG UK!! you said DOOMCON. Have you been to the

I though they were the only ones that used that.
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14. insideuk
6:03 PM GMT on June 28, 2012
My internet's been off all flaming day – pain in arse. Each time I rang the helpline (I limited myself to one time each hour) they just said 'we are aware of a fault and engineers are currently working on it'...

I believe they must only have ONE engineer in Britain – and he took a long leisurely breakfast break that ran right into lunch and was crashing on towards cucumber sandwiches with crusts cut off for his afternoon tea before he could be bothered to get it fixed.

Either that or I had to wait for an undersea cable to be plugged back in by mermaids. The chap in Mumbai wasn't optimistic.

Anyway. That all meant that I couldn't do what I had planned for today, and just as I was trying to recall what people used to do before the internet was invented a hugemongous black cloud came lumbering into view and blocked out the sky. It was a VAST thunderstorm, which was followed by another, and another, and another.

So I decided I'd go out and play in it.

It wasn't my smartest ever idea to be honest, but in my blacked out world (all surge sensitive electrics shut down for safety) and without any internet connection (3G/ IPHONE connection doesn't work when the sky turns to a shade of DOOMCON 2) I was unable to consult any weather radar – and I was BORED.

That in itself is a downright dangerous situation.

So Betti (my car) and I went for a ride – minus a Doppler radar but with plenty of good tunes on the pod. Not that I could hear much for the rain/ hail belting down on the car roof. The decent music got abandoned in favour of Mother Natures drumming lesson.

She wasn't half giving it some welly.

It became apparent that the back lanes were becoming impassable, each and every field was emptying itself of rainwater, mud, silt and stones onto the roads. Had I continued along that route any further I may have had to contend with herds of dairy cattle doing a backstroke to the milking parlour.

I switched to the main 'A' roads, through more urban areas thinking they'd be a bit safer. Wrong.

The rain was torrential and continuous, one storm system was backing up into the next. There was no bright sky between the storms – every street light had come on in answer to the darkness, the sky just a deep smudge of grey in every direction. The roar of thunder frequently audible above the clattering rain, the forked lightning flashed above rooftops and through windows.

In every dip the road was collecting ever larger lakes. At each crossroads the water was scouring down and finding its path to the lowest storm drain cover. The storm drains had long since stopped coping and the floods stretched out. I could see huge bubbles bursting out on the waters surface in places where, in all likelihood, the drain covers had been lifted away. I did not want to lose a corner of Betti in one of those things so I tried my best to drive around bubbles. Sat Nav is of no help in that matter.

Then I noticed that water was starting to bubble up right through the road surface itself. It was gushing 12 to 15 inches into the air through solid tarmac. I needed to get onto a major road (motorway) – those are the only roads that don't have drain covers in the traffic lanes. The fixed camber allows for much better drainage there. I hoped.

I checked Betti's onboard traffic news listings for any info on road closures on the motorways locally, then headed for the nearest junction available. I had a big truck ahead of me, and I was using his axle as a guide to just how deep the flood waters were getting before I attempted to follow him down river. I knew Betti had about 7 extra inches of ground clearance in comparison to my old car, so I was fairly certain she could make it through (assuming she kept her footing). At times the water was splashing right over her full height, as the waves created from traffic going in the opposite direction were forced into her sides.

As I came out of one section of particularly deep water I checked my rear view mirror to see a small hatchback car behind me trying to cope with a wall of water that crashed right down onto the front windshield. It stopped dead in that water. I didn't dare stop to see if it got going again – I had to keep moving. I was concerned the roads around me might get closed very soon. There seemed no end to the deluge.

The motorway traffic was slowed, the spray limiting visibility to only a short distance ahead – but I felt much safer on solid ground. It was a longer route home, going miles in the wrong direction before I could switch onto another motorway. The rain only started to ease up as I approached home. The sun has shone ever since I got back.

And the broadband is working again.

I'll stay home and bake cupcakes next time....

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
13. Arbie
5:16 PM GMT on June 26, 2012
Sounds like a fun time was had by all in KY.

We don't have lightning bugs where I live in TX because they fog for mosquitoes. The mosquito fog kills other bugs too. I imagine that is also what is going on in other places. I only place I have seen lightning bugs in TX is way out in the country. It is sad because it also gives certain birds less to live on.

Geez, I hope Rotty and her animals are OK. Sounds like they are getting quite the deluge.
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12. insideuk
1:11 PM GMT on June 26, 2012
It all sounds like it couldn’t have gone better!

Which is a relief. I’ve always found that STUNNING people halfway up the stairs can have disastrous results. I expect Dotmom was at the ready with cushions to soften the fall…

Next time you could take the whole (((((((SURPRISE)))))))) thing a bit further – dress up for the occasion, see how far you can wind them up before they crash headlong into the basement?

Had it not occurred to you that dressing up as a jockey and taking part in the Debutante Stakes might have made an ingenious entrance to the party?

“Here we have a late entrant ladies and gentlemen, riding in today, all the way from Dutch Harbor Alaska, King of the Mountains, the man in the red and white polka dot silk…”

Floor length ballgown.

Well, that’s what the best dressed ‘debutantes’ all wear in my vocabulary…

High stakes. Big returns.

I enjoyed reading that WIKI article about your lightning bugs (or GLOWWORMS in my vocabulary – seems words get changed just for the hell of it sometimes…)

The most interesting part was about the FEMME FATALE of this species. The bugs use their bioluminescence for courtship, or at least that’s what all the males think is going on. The ladies don’t flap about getting all heady on the old pheromones. OH NO. They flick on their light switch, much as happens in the rosily glowing districts of Amsterdam (been there, seen it, thought better of getting the t-shirt) and readies herself for action. The males, oh so attracted to her glowy bits, drop by for a bit of fun.

Then she gobbles him up and spits out the wings into her lacy napkin (made by sewing together the remnants of all her former admirers).

I have developed a new sense of admiration for the way Mother Nature gets things done.

Who is to say she doesn’t provide gentle little cushions as the final landing spot for the dozy great lumps?
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11. Ylee
9:27 AM GMT on June 26, 2012
CS, I did the Historic tour a few years back, but never did the Niagra. Maybe next time... :)
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10. cybersuze
1:29 AM GMT on June 26, 2012
Yo Joa! Thanks for coming! Now it all seems like a dream to me!! Action packed couple of days! Ylee that is funny you were there! I went with my husband and younger sister on the Historic tour, two other families with small children went on the frozen Niagara tour. We all enjoyed what we saw. Bernheim Forest is very cool -- its privately owned. some is natural, some is landscaped. Definitely check it out!
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9. dotmom
12:07 AM GMT on June 26, 2012
The reunion is almost over. Well, for all practical purposes, it is. JoeKy's cousin from New York will be here until Wednesday.

Put JoeAlaska on a plane this afternoon headed for Chicago, Seattle, Anchorage and on to Dutch. Long trip. We hated to see him go - his coming meant so much to all of us and especially JoeKY. He was really glad to see him. JoeA keeps things hummin'. He points out that we have seen him 3 times in the last six months and now we don't know when the next time will be. Hope it is not too long though.

Fun to read all the comments from the blog family. The thoughts are all appreciated. Hope you are doing well. Have a safe birthday party on the 4th of July - next week.
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8. miyuki
10:54 PM GMT on June 25, 2012
Joe, You-da-Man !!! I am so glad you made it to the reunion, family memories are such a precious thing to have.

I hope someone made 'diamond rings' from the lightening bug 'lights' !!
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7. Bogon
8:58 PM GMT on June 25, 2012
Sounds like a fun time, Joe. Thanks for letting us come along for the ride.
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6. Dodabear
5:45 PM GMT on June 25, 2012
"I forgot all about playing with the lightening bugs when I grew up in Ohio. Is that the only place that has them??"

They are very wide spread. I played with them as a kid in New Jersey, had them in the yard in Maryland and they are in my yard now in Virginia.

According to WIKI they are all over the place.
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5. ladyhomer
5:03 PM GMT on June 25, 2012
Nice surprise for the family!!!! someday you will be very glad you did it. I forgot all about playing with the lightening bugs when I grew up in Ohio. Is that the only place that has them?? Joe A you for sure did not miss anything in Dutch!!! We here in Homer have had some awesome hot sunny weather but it is raining most of this week. Have a safe trip back to Dutch!!! In 3 weeks we get to do that long anchorage to chicago flight at night then continue on to Pittsburgh & an hour drive after that to Salem. When we return to Alaska we leave via Akron/Canton airport to Chicago to Anchorage to Homer all during the day,a very looooooong trip.
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4. OGal
3:21 PM GMT on June 25, 2012

So glad the visit turned out so well. Lightening bugs I have not seen since growing up in Ohio. So glad the kids had fun catching them. Have a safe trip home Joe. We all will be waiting for your next adventure.

In the process of dealing with fickle TS Debby. We have made up our rain deficit.
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3. Dodabear
3:12 PM GMT on June 25, 2012
Well played JoeA, well played.
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2. bearpaints
2:48 PM GMT on June 25, 2012
Joe OGal told me you made it. So glad your enjoying yourself and there is nothing like family. Good joke on them through I can't wait to see the video, that is if you post it. Have a great time!
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1. Ylee
6:55 AM GMT on June 25, 2012
So, some of the kin made it down to Mammoth Cave? Hope they took the lanturn tour; my family and I was down there Tuesday and did that tour! Walking through the cave by only the light of ten lanturns was awesome!

Never heard of Bernheim Forest; I'll have to look that up!

I do believe your boss has a soft spot for adventure; wasn't he the one that broke his leg?

Who lives in Smithtown, New York?
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About joealaska

I have just taken a new job in Great Falls, Montana. A new state and new areas to explore.

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