Wednesday, March 29, 2006

New Link

Added a design link -Red Dot
Check it out for some stylishly modern looks!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Blast from the Past #8

Well, I'm still feeling a bit reminiscent so I have a series of photos for this one. There's something about a set of three consecutive photos that are so fun. They always seem to tell a story. This one for sure.

What? Gary resting and waiting for his turn to dig, Paul digging on a pit the three of us found, with me taking the series of photos.

Where? Green Mountain in Huntsville, AL

Why? To see if we could open it up and get in there. Anything for 50 feet - and an official cave in Alabama

When? Summer, 2003

How? Sticks, Tiny shovels, boots and sweat


Monday, March 20, 2006

Stick Kicker

This is an article that ran in our local newspaper, The Huntsville Times this past Saturday.

Gary Cotney 'put you at ease,' says friend, fellow caver
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Times Staff Writer

If you have ever hiked Monte Sano without stumbling, you can thank Gary Cotney.

Cotney spent almost every weekend exploring the Huntsville area's many mountain trails and caves. Quiet but considerate, he had a habit of kicking fallen branches out of the way to prevent other hikers from tripping.

"He was doing it for everyone," said close friend Sabrina Simon, who gave Cotney his geocaching nickname, Stick Kicker. (Geocaching is a modern-day scavenger hunt using a Global Positioning System unit).

A Huntsville native who followed his job to St. Louis last year, Cotney died earlier this month of an apparent heart attack. He was 44.

Cotney was all about the outdoors. Beginning in June 2002, he and fellow caver Paul Meyer walked every inch of the more than 80 miles of trails on Monte Sano to create detailed maps for emergency workers. Both men were members of the Huntsville Cave Rescue Unit and the High Angle Rough Terrain team, which rescues injured hikers.

While criss-crossing Monte Sano, Cotney and Meyer discovered a handful of previously unknown caves. They christened one cave "Little Bo Pit," a tongue-in-cheek reference to the word "Bo" that cavers use to get each other's attention.

Cotney was reserved around strangers, but Meyer said he had a wry sense of humor around friends. It shows in a recent newsletter article Cotney penned for the National Speleological Society's Huntsville grotto.

He tells part of the story from the perspective of a glove he lost in a Monte Sano cave called Craig's Well.

"Now I'm just stuck here in the dark wondering if I'll ever get to meet my other half (the right glove) and enjoy the thrill of rubbing against a nylon rope again," Cotney wrote. "If you do find me, return me to Paul or Sabrina at a grotto meeting. My owner may even consider a small reward but don't expect too much; he's kinda cheap."

Meyer and Simon said they hope to find the glove.

Simon said Cotney helped fit her for her first climbing harness and literally showed her the ropes the first time she tried rappelling at northwest Huntsville's Shelta Cave in May 2003.

"Within an hour and a half of meeting Gary, I was trusting my life with him," she said. "He put you at ease."

While caving was a huge part of Cotney's life, it was not his only interest. He loved John Wayne westerns and cowboy novels. He was into ham radio. He had a thing for red-heads. Cotney planned to return to the Rocket City after retiring and go back to college, maybe majoring in English or journalism.

Meyer said Cotney was "fairly well devastated" when Chrysler transferred him to Missouri just over a year ago. But he drove back regularly to see family and friends and roam the North Alabama mountains he loved.

There was an appropriately outdoorsy element to Cotney's funeral Thursday. Meyer slipped a carabiner clip used in rappelling into his casket. Simon added a small cave rock inscribed with Cotney's National Speleological Society membership number, 46974.

Cotney is survived by his mother, Helen Cotney of Huntsville; brothers, John W. Cotney Jr. of Hoover, and Steven Paul Cotney of Peoria, Ill.; sister, Carol Ann Cotney of Huntsville; and several nieces and nephews.

He was buried beside his father in Randolph County, south of Talladega.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Blast from the Past Thursday #7

You know the expression "between a rock and a hard place" well I'm there, right now I'm there. But for me I'm between a Visitation and a Funeral. And my thought keep rolling over in my head to Gary - my caving buddy. And I miss him dearly already. I met Paul and Gary the very same day, and within about an hour and a half I had borrowed Gary's gear and was on rope for my very first time, Paul talking me over the edge and Gary bottom belaying me, just in case. I've never lost a best friend before. Being an only child makes your friends your family, at least for me anyway. I know I've said that before to some of you. I hope I've said it more than once or even twice. Let people know that you love them, don't be afraid that they might think you silly. Tell them while they can still hear you, and love you back, because you just never know.

What? Ed, Gary (hanging upside down) and Conant right after Gary came across the HCRU Tyrolean

Where? DeSoto Falls State Park

Why? For the adrenaline rush, and because its WAY cool! And because we're crazy enough to do it!

When? Last year, summer time

How? Nylon rope with a lot of tension, and a deep breath just before you step off the edge


Friday, March 10, 2006

Gary Cotney

Thursday Afternoon:

It is with an extremly heavy heart that I write this
message to all of you.
And right now I think I still don't believe it but my
mind is trying to get a handle on it.

Paul just called me and told me that Gary's mother had
called him a few minutes ago and told him that Gary
was dead. He hadn't shown up for work this morning, so
someone went to chekc on him and they found him.

Paul and I had just seen Gary this past Saturday and
Sunday. We went to visit Paul's family in St. Louis
and Gary came along with us to a party Saturday night
and then spent the day with us on Sunday, hiking and
geocaching. And he seemed fine. As far as I could
tell there was nothing wrong with him. Adn when they
found him he was jsut sitting at his computer. We had
a great time. I just didn't know it was the last time
I would ever see him.

Please keep his family in your thoughts.

Friday Night:

Dear All,

Paul and I just got a call from Gary's brother John.
They've made final arrangements to bring him home to

The Visitation will be this coming Wednesday the 15th
from 6-8pm at Laughlin-Service, 2320 Bob Wallace
Avenue, Huntsville (534-2471)

The Funeral will be the next day, Thursday at Hope
Presbyterian Church at 10 am, 10001 Baily Cove Road -
corner of Weatherly and Baily Cove (881-4673)

We're pulling together some photos of Gary caving and
hiking for his mother and family, so if anyone has any
photos of Gary please send them on to me.

Thanks guys,


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Blast From the Past Thursday #6

Thanks for tuning into Blast From the Past Thursday yet again! (Where Drama boys are at their best!)

What? Nick and Chris raided Christin's closet and went WILD. This is by far one of the funniest photos I have of them and they missed their last blackmail payment. Please do make a note that there was no alcohol involved and that Chris is wearing a collar and a feather boa.

Where? Christin Shumaker's house, Lakeland, FL.

Why? Don't remember. But the teddybear adds a nice touch Nick.

When? In high school, must have been some party

How? Well of course they had to color coordinate and accessorize, that's how.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Panorama Envy

Now if I can pull off a panorama like this just once I can count myself lucky. These are so beautiful! The subjects, the colors the textures and the way they begin and end. WOW! Check out more of Thinh Lee's Panorama's here: Hanoi Panoramas

Monday, March 06, 2006

Chili Party

WARNING: The beginning of this post will either make you hungry or quite ill.

One of the highlights of the St. Louis trip and indeed the reason for going to Missouri was the Chili Party on Saturday night. Originally established by Paul's brother Glenn and his wife Karen, it was just a small get together with their bike club friends, but now its grown to include about 300+ people and showcase many different flavors (burn you a new one hot - to mild) and varieties of chili: white chicken chili, beef, turkey, vegetarian and with all different types of ingredients. I think Karen made about 8 kinds herself and then more people bring chili's and then salads and desserts too. Its a huge spread. Here are a few of the different chili's that I sampled...

Geocaching at Daniel Boone's Judgment Tree on Sunday

We ate lunch on Sunday at a fun little place in Augusta that had a plane in the dining room. Here are Glenn and Karen and then Paul by the plane.

Glenn and Karen took Gary Paul and I on a few short hikes on Sunday to see the trails Glenn had helped build, and in turn Gary Paul and I showed them a few geocaches. One of the parks was a place called Klondike Park, which used to be an old quary. This park is really a beautiful place! With great trails to hike and cute little primitive cabins that you can rent - and some awesome views around the rolling hills and to the Missouri River below. On the trail I found some pottery shards, a piece of a leather shoe and finally the old sole, probably left from some long forgotten trash heap. Karen found a cool old glass bottle too.

The old sole I found

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Lewis and Clark's Town

Have been here in St. Louis for the past three days, Paul and I will be traveling home to Huntsville tomorrow - perhaps do a bit of sight seeing along the way. We visited a little museum yesterday where they hand built a replica of one of Lewis and Clark's ships they used on the Missouri River, and they take it out on the river. We saw it dry docked, but it was still pretty cool. And then today we went to an old rock quary that Paul's brother has helped convert to trails. We climbed up to an awesome overlook with the Missouri River from below. I took a series of photos - 360 degrees at the top top see if I can do a panorama.

We sampled some wine at a local winery (we swallowed - no swishing and spitting in a bucket). I discovered ice wine - a dessert wine - extrememly sweet and really very good. Those of you who are true wine drinkers will laugh and say - a true wine drinker only drinks dry wines. Well you can keep them; I don't claim to be an expert. The grapes in ice wine are left on the vine till the first frost, so the grapes have the highest sugar content they can have, thus producing a very sweet sipping dessert wine, which is right up my alley. So if you're not a wine drinker my "expert" advice is to try some ice wine!

I've got lots of fun pictures to share. Will post them probably by Wednesday.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Petri Gardens

These are incredibly beautiful for petri dishes.

Check more out here - Petri Gallery

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Blast From the Past #5

Thanks for tuning into Blast From the Past Thursday! (Where dancing crawfish are a normal occurrence)

What? Joy and I eating crawfish. Well Joy's staring down the camera and I'm playing with one (Dance, Crawfish Dance!) This was the very first time I had ever ripped the head off a cute little crustacean and gorged myself on its tasty flesh till my lips went numb. (I must point out I did not - nor will I ever suck the heads)

Where? Miss Julie found the first place we could find crawfish over the boarder in Louisiana.

Why? Because we were in Louisiana - and we could!

When? Summer time - June - In high school - I think sophomore

How? With a newspaper tablecloth for easy cleanup, the way it should be done!