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Megan's First Birthday  

Wow, how time flies. It seems like we brought Megan home from the hospital just yesterday and now we’re celebrating her first birthday! Mom, Dad, Tim, Grandma, Beth, and Matt drove in to spend the weekend with us. We were able to pack a lot in: a big Polish dinner, driving up to Fayetteville, TN for The Host of Christmas Past festival, and of course, throwing a party for Megan.  Click below to view a collection of photos.

McGrath Family Visits  

We recently had a pair of visits from the McGrath side of the family - my parents and Uncle Tom and Aunt Care.

Christmas 2008  

Our friends Jeff and Kristin Mullings joined us for a big Christmas dinner this year...Megan's first! Click the below thumbnail to view the photo album.

Christmas 2008

October 30, 2008 - Baby Shower  

Mom, Colleen, and Stacy hosted a wonderful baby shower for Val up in Detroit last month. Click the below thumbnail to view the photo album.

Baby Shower in Detroit

October 17, 2008 - Kristin and Adam's Party  

Kristin and Adam decided to throw a party while we were up in the Detroit area for Val’s baby shower last month. They decided it would be “crazy sunglasses night” and gave out prizes for the craziest pair. Mark Lenkner was the big winner for the night with his Mardi Gras-esque shades. Click the below thumbnail to view the photo album.

Kristin and Adam's Party

September 6, 2008 - Washington, D.C.  

We spent Labor Day weekend in Washington, D.C. Check out the collection of photos by clicking the thumbnail below.

Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C. Photo Gallery

June 6, 2008 Photos  

After of few months of on again, off again elbow grease, I finally finished renovating the flowers beds in our front yard. Since Val is pregnant, she cheered me on from the shade of the front porch. The first project was the area around the Crape Myrtle tree. I removed the large gray rocks, replacing them with border bricks, rejuvenated the bed with new soil and conditioner, raised the tree about a foot, and planted Double Knock Out Roses, "Pardon Me" Daylilies, Black-Eyed Susans, Impatiens, and Verbena. I then turned my attention to the plastic border stripping along the flower beds adjacent to the house. I removed the stripping, installed the same border bricks that were used around the Crape Myrtle tree, and yanked out a bunch of ornamental grass that produces beautiful pink flowers in the spring, but grows like a weed in the summer. All the flower beds then got a nice covering of cedar mulch to prevent weeds.

Our grass is doing really well this year (I should hope so, considering what Scott's Lawn care is charging us) and hopefully we don't have a repeat of the drought conditions northern Alabama faced last year.

Before I raised the Crape Myrtle about a foot, replaced the large stones with border brick, replaced the soil, and planted Double Knock Out Roses, "Pardon Me" Daylilies, Black-Eyed Susans, Impatiens, and Verbena. Before During
After After Before Before
After After After Before
After Before After Before
After Our front grass is doing really well this year.

March 9, 2008 Photos  
Yesterday, we finally received a measurable amount of snowfall this winter down here in Huntsville, Alabama. While we were hoping for 1 to 3 inches, we only received about 0.3 inches - a light dusting, but nothing to get too excited about, despite the media's portrayal of the public freaking out. Also included in this album are some photographs I shot recently at the Chattanooga, Tennessee aquarium, which sports the world's largest freshwater aquarium.
Chattanooga Aquarium Here's the view of the Tennessee River from the top floor of the aquarium.
People are allowed to reach into this aquarium and gently touch sting rays. People are allowed to reach into this aquarium and gently touch sting rays.

January 27, 2007 Photos  
Anemonefish Cleaner Shrimp Sponge and Damselfish Scott Fountain, Belle Isle, Detroit, Michigan
Polish Village Cafe in Hamtramck, Michigan This boat recently broke loose from its mooring during strong west winds and washed up on the shore of Kwajalein Island. Jill and Greg toast their relocation from Kwajalein to Huntsville, Alabama. A stormy summer evening on the shore of Lake Michigan
Angela, Val, and Donna chillin' in the Kwajalein Lagoon. Angela, Kristi, Jon, and Jarrod Sunset over Kwajalein Lagoon Sunset over Kwajalein Lagoon
Windsurfing on Kwajalein Lagoon Some of the damage on Wake Atoll caused by Super Typhoon Ioke in August 2006 Some of the damage on Wake Atoll caused by Super Typhoon Ioke in August 2006 Some of the damage on Wake Atoll caused by Super Typhoon Ioke in August 2006
Wakeboarding on Kwajalein Lagoon Wakeboarding on Kwajalein Lagoon Wakeboarding on Kwajalein Lagoon Wakeboarding on Kwajalein Lagoon
A bulldozer pulls Dave and Trace's boat past downtown Kwajalein on the way to the boat launch. Launching of the Down East Trader Dave and Trace toast the launch of their boat A pair of Golden Plovers

 
Coconut crabs can weight as much as 40 lbs., grow to be as big as basketballs, and can easily sever a finger. For some reason, they like to crawl in the bottom of the trailers here on Kwajalein Atoll and bang and scrape on the underside of bathtubs (what else are they going to do?). We've been plagued by our own crab since moving into a trailer almost a year-and-a-half ago and although we had only seen the bastard twice, we were frequently kept awake with his late-night jam sessions. Knowing how tasty these crabs can be, our friend and coworker Gregg got a hold of a trap normally used to catch feral cats and set it up near our trailer. We baited the trap with fresh coconuts and after two weeks, finally caught the bugger. Gregg's kids were treated to a nice lunch and even though I normally avoid seafood, even I had a taste (of revenge, cue evil laugh).
V For Victory I think he was actually embarrassed that he had been caught. We threw the trap into the back of a van and took it to Gregg's house. Fresh coconuts were used to lure the beastie.
V For Victory Trapped and Nowhere To Run Short Car Ride Coconut as Crab Bait
Coconut crabs typically can't reach around and pinch you if you hold them by their rear end. Into the pot for you! He was finally forced to concede defeat. We took an amazing trip to New Zealand's South Island right after Thanksgiving and hope to have the pictures posted in the next couple of weeks.  This photograph is of mountain lupins.
Watch Your Fingers! Into the Pot for You! Conceding Defeat Mountain Lupins, New Zealand
We took an amazing trip to New Zealand's South Island right after Thanksgiving and hope to have the pictures posted in the next couple of weeks.  Here we are hiking on Franz Josef Glacier. After New Zealand we spent a week in the Sydney area of Australia. A beautiful fall day on Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin Wisconsin State Capitol Building in Madison
Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand Sydney Opera House Lake Monona, Madison, WI Wisconsin State Capitol Building
Sunset at the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii      
Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, Honolulu, HI
     

 
Most of these photographs were shot in August when Val and I visited home.
Either my new nephew Jack really likes me or he has gas! Colleen and her newborn, Jack Colleen and Derek's dog Kira likes going out on their boat.
A beautiful flower from my parent's garden My new nephew Jack Colleen and her newborn, Jack Kira
The Fam Renaissance Center and General Motors World Headquarters, Detroit, Michigan Spirit of Detroit This large statue takes a swipe at fans entering into Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers.
The Fam GM World Headquarters Spirit of Detroit Entrance to Comerica Park
Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan Mark bonds with his new friend Detroit People Mover Station
Comerica Park Orlando Palmeiro Mark's new friend Detroit People Mover Station
Giant eel at the Houston aquarium Sea Horse White Tiger Leave It to Lemur
Giant Eel Sea Horse White Tiger Leave It to Lemur
Ostrich or Bea Arthur? Hey, take me with you! The Salt Lick serves some of the best BBQ in the world!
Driftwood, Texas The Salt Lick serves some of the best BBQ in the world!
Driftwood, Texas
Ostrich or Bea Arthur? Hey, take me with you! The Salt Lick BBQ pit The Salt Lick BBQ pit
 
Texas State Capital
Austin, Texas The dome of the Texas State Capital An estimated 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats make their home under the Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin, Texas.  Bat viewing has become a popular attraction in the Texas capital.

Visit www.batcon.org for more information. The bats eat 10,000 to 30,000 pounds of insects EACH NIGHT.
Texas State Capital The dome of the Texas State Capital Waiting for the bats to emerge Bats emerge from the Congress Ave. Bridge
There were so many bats, you could actually smell them! These women are weaving baskets on Manit Day, a day to celebrate Marshallese culture. Fresh coconut on Manit Day The new ASR-11 aircraft surveillance radar being installed near the Kwajalein terminal
Bats emerge from the Congress Ave. Bridge Marshallese basket weaving Fresh coconut Kwajalein's new aircraft surveillance radar

August 3, 2005 pictures  
Pohnpei, FSM
We finally got around to taking a dive trip to the small island of Pohnpei, capital of the Federated States of Micronesia. Take a gander...

 
I've been pretty dang busy lately with redesigning the weather station's web site (www.rts-wx.com), building a new computer (Skynet should be online in just a few weeks), and earning my rescue SCUBA diver certification. Next week we'll be leaving for a 4-day trip to the island of Pohnpei, the capital of the Federated States of Micronesia. Pohnpei is located about 600 miles west of Kwajalein and sports a 2200 ft. mountain, lush tropical rain forests, and some of the best diving in the world. Check back in a few weeks for a selection of photographs.
Val and I were surprised to find this baby octopus crawling on the reef at low tide. Kris, Nick, and Val chill out after gorging on smoked ribs.  The hermit crabs were there as the clean-up crew. Christmas comes early... Geek Nirvana
Baby octopus Rib night Christmas comes early Geek Nirvana
The proton pack power supply casts an eerie glow. My Temple A 91-pound yellow fin tuna
The proton pack power supply casts an eerie glow My Temple A 91-pound yellow fin tuna "Please don't eat me"
No guts, no glory I counted 17 individual sharks, which were attracted the smorgasbord of tuna guts being tossed into the lagoon. The sun sets over the Kwajalein Lagoon with the Small Boat Marina in the foreground. Looking for scraps at low tide
No guts, no glory Shark Love-In Kwaj Sunset Looking for scraps at low tide
The Jabwa Stick Dancers from Ujae Atoll These women provided musical accompaniement for the Jabwa Stick Dancers. Another beautiful sunset A Marshallese boy waits for the plane to Roi-Namur island.
The Jabwa Stick Dancers from Ujae Atoll Musical accompaniement Another beautiful sunset Waiting for the plane to Roi-Namur
Sittin' back and feelin' fine Coconut crabs can grow to rather startling sizes, as this shell proves. Roi-Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll Radio Free My Inner Child
Sittin' back and feelin' fine   Coconut crab shell Roi-Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll Radio Free My Inner Child
I snapped this picture just as a Marshallese fisherman cast his net out into the lagoon.      
Marshallese fisherman      

 
Kauai, Hawaii
I just returned from an 8-day trip to the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Its beauty is really beyond words. Please take a moment to share in its wonder: Kauai Gallery.

 

Indeed, it has been a while since I've posted new material. This latest batch spans over 7,000 miles: from Augusta, Georgia, to Oahu, Hawaii, to Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific. This batch also includes some of the first photographs shot with my new Minolta Maxxum 7D DSLR. Although I've already been using this camera for three months, I'm still blown away by its vibrant color rendition and silk-like image quality.

Let me see ya shake your tail feather A female sparrow searches for bird seed after a 12-inch snow fall in Michigan The Georgia Ice Storm of January 21, 2005 The Georgia Ice Storm of January 21, 2005
The setting sun illuminates this spider at Lake Stamford, Texas A riverboat on the Savannah River in downtown Augusta, Georgia Gull Aerobatics Gull Aerobatics
The beaver pond on post at Fort Gordon, Georgia A resident of the beaver pond in Fort Gordon, Georgia.  Captured with a Minolta Maxxum 7D DSLR, Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 lens and Sigma 2x teleconverter, mounted on a Manfrotto tripod. The Strom Thurmond Dam and Hydroelectric Plant, located on the Savannah River, north of Augusta, Georgia Northwestern Oahu, Hawaii, as seen from the Pali Lookout
A monarch butterfly near Honolulu, Hawaii The Punchbowl National Cemetery, overlooking downtown Honolulu, Hawaii, lies in the middle of Puowaina Crater, an extinct volcano. It was officially dedicated on September 2, 1949, on the 4th anniversary of V-J Day. The Akibasan Maru sunk in the Kwajalein Atoll Lagoon during World War II. Valerie poses near a gun turret of the Akibasan Maru (A.K.A. P Buoy) in 90 feet of water.  This ship was sunk in the Kwajalein Atoll Lagoon during World War II.
Valerie and instructor Ron Gamble explore a surge channel in the west ocean-side reef of the Kwajalein Atoll. A beautiful sunset from my trailer Roi-Namur island, Kwajalein Atoll A full moon rises over the central Pacific
The center of Tropical Storm Talas passed about 16 kilometers to the south of Kwajalein on December 11, 2004.  We recorded a peak wind gust of 56 knots at the weather station.  Only moderate damage was sustained, mostly in the form of fallen coconuts and palm fronds.  We did lose some small- to medium-sized trees, like this one on the golf course. One of the tropical flowers found on Kwajalein From the air, one gets a sense of just how small and narrow Kwajalein Island really is! It's 5 o'clock Somewhere (Roi-Namur, Kwajalein Atoll)
The earth's atmosphere casts a reddish glow on this full moon. Captured with a Minolta Maxxum 7D DSLR, Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 lens and Sigma 2x teleconverter, mounted on a Manfrotto tripod. Kite surfing the Kwajalein Lagoon The NOAA Ship Ka'imimoana occasionally stops by Kwajalein as it maintains a network of buoys in the central Pacific. Val's cat, Pandora
I had a close encounter with this Diamond Back rattlesnake at Lake Stamford, Texas.  It didn't put up much of a fight when it met the blunt end of a garden hoe. The enormous and fascinating Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan exhibits this old McDonald's Hamburger neon sign.    

 
New York City
Last month, Valerie and I spent six days exploring the urban jungle of New York City, the town that's so cool, they named it twice. Ring a ding ding baby!

 
Chasing the Wind
This stunning short film (Windows Media format - 15.2 MB, YouTube), submitted to the 2004 Kwajalein Film Festival, marks the culmination of four years and 30+ hours of nature videography and storm chasing. As Dionne Warwick would say, "It is the crème de la crème" of dramatic sunrises, sunsets, tornadoes, lightning, supercells, and time-lapse atmospheric undulations.

 

Valerie and I are in the process of getting our advanced scuba diving certifications. This weekend we dove the Asakaze Maru (K5 Upright), a Japanese ship that sunk in the Kwajalein Lagoon during WWII. We ventured onto the open ocean, but found the seas too rough to dive. A pod of dolphins were there to greet us, and put on a little show.

 

 

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