Micronaxx The adventures of Finn & Henry

17Aug/190

Jet Ski Jamboree

What’s got eight arms, eight legs, and four mouths being blown into wide, windy grins? Our fam on jet skis!

During our marvelous Minnesota visit last week, we took advantage of having lakeside digs (more on all that soon!) in order to rent a pair of jet skis for the day. Though no Nacks had ridden before, we were in good hands: Maria & her brothers grew up spending summers on the lake, tearing up the waves, so she got us right in business. Before the lads could drive, she required that they pass “The Brenny Driving Test,” which consisted mainly of jumping off the vehicle & finding one’s way back aboard. From there we were off to the races, sandbar, and more.

After a couple of hours of relatively sedate motoring (in which we’d focused on not killing anyone), Maria got a little restless and asked to take the controls. “And that,” as the boys would quote a comedy bit saying,”is when the day went from good to great.” Turns out we’d had no idea what the machines are capable of, and as you can see in the video below, Maria delighted in (safely) scaring the wits out of each of us! Not pictured: her getting extra rowdy with Dad-O aboard, launching him into the lake—and then subsequently launching off both riders!

Check out our photo gallery (including delightfully wind-swept hair!), and click below to get a taste of the action.

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14Aug/190

First Day Of School 2019

Look at these handsome, not-at-all-micro Micronaxx—just look at them! 😛

30Jul/190

Illinois Adventures: Big G & Beyond

They say it takes a village to raise a child—or in our case, to photograph one. 😌

Following our trip to Colorado, Finn & Hen set out on their first unaccompanied trip to visit Grandma & Grandpa Nack. Armed with iPads, flip phones, and what proved to be a truly ungodly number of in-flight cookies (thanks, kindly flight attendants!), they got through the process without a hitch. After landing, highlights of the trip included:

  • Visiting the Botanical Gardens with my folks.
  • Meeting up with lots & lots of cousins at Aunt Judy & Uncle Bruce’s house where they celebrated Henry’s 10th birthday & enjoyed a cake from Katie. Aunt Judy fell in love with Hen, we’re told, and cousin Matt observed, “That Finn is one cool dude.” ☺️
  • Riding on the milk route with Uncle Ted (9 hours for Finn, starting around 3am!) and on the Alpine Slide (a birthday treat for Hen while Finn caught up on lost sleep!).
  • Cruising down the Galena pool’s slide dozens & dozens of times.
  • Cuddling with “James,” the little stuffed pooch Grandma thoughtfully gave to Seamus-missing Finn.
  • …and no doubt a bunch more I’m forgetting! (The lads are once again spending time away from us as I write this, so I’ll have to ask for additions once they return from camp.)

Thanks to my folks & fam for showing them such a good time, and for cousins Jill, Amy, and Sarah for pooling their photos with my mom’s. Here’s a little gallery of the goings-on.

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29Jul/190

Lowrider Hen!

“Invest in experiences, not in things,” they say, and we’ve always regarded the Westy as a catalyst to making great memories (beating the heck out of staying at some random hotel!). Our trip to Legoland delivered on that promise in spades: the campsite Margot found (an out-of-the-way vineyard) happened to feature a young guy named Max who was delighted to show us the old cars he restores & even let Henry drive his ’52 lowrider Chevy!

Check out this gallery of both dudes getting a tour—and in the vid below see Henry getting behind the wheel:

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I made a little logo to commemorate the event:

And lastly, here’s an interactive 360º panorama of the grounds, as captured via my drone:

14Jul/190

11,000ft. of Adventure!

This year’s July 4th was truly one for the history books. Having celebrated his 80th birthday zip lining with Patrick & Charlie, Grandpa Liggett figured what the heck, let’s get the whole fam involved this time. As you can see in our big photo gallery and in the vids below, our trip to Leadville’s Top Of The Rockies was a scream—quite literally. Check it out:

Figuring he’d spice things up with some friendly wagering, Finn bet me (some video game tokens vs. a nice drawing of Seamus) that he’d beat me down the lines each time. And sure he enough he was right—until the old man came from behind! Check out this Finn's-Eye View:

And from my perspective, behold The Revenge! 😌

3Jul/190

Rollin’ on the River

What a different three years makes: when last we took the boys & their cousins whitewater rafting (gallery), ol’ Hen (then not quite age 7) hunkered down in the bottom of the raft, earning the name “The Turtle” as his hat & life preserver pretty well entombed him for the whole ride. But check out a side-by-side of how he looked then (left) vs. during yesterday’s trip (right):

We had a blast zooming along the very full and fast-moving Arkansas River yesterday (128 tons of water flowing by every second!), as you can see in our photo gallery and in the vid below. Patrick & Charlie stepped up to the front this time, forming quite handy human shields while the rest of us paddled from behind. Finn was the model of quietly focused efficiency you'd expect, and Henry gave some good pulls when not being distracted by sunken park benches & whatnot.

Turn up your speakers for the vid & you’ll catch some fun dialog, including Hen’s signature mix of grousing & celebration. 😛💦

29Jun/190

‘Alo, ELO!

To celebrate Margot's birthday this year, I figured I'd spring for tickets for the two of us to see the great 70's British band ELO during their visit to San Jose. Happily, I found tickets that weren't an arm and a leg (just an arm!), so the dudes were able to join us. Nostalgic, music-loving Hen was particularly enthralled, as you can see in this quick little pastiche of moments from Monday night's adventure:

20Jun/190

Family WOD

Last year I somehow cajoled both dudes into joining me at the park for my CrossFit gym's Family WOD (i.e. "Workout of the Day"). Although they'd both been pretty psyched out beforehand, they both had a great time.

This year Hen was busy with a trumpet lesson, so Finn accompanied me to the event. We had a ball warming up with a "Pizza Delivery" game that involved trying to knock pads off of others' hands without dropping one's own. Afterwards we knocked out several quick rounds of sprints, squats, sit-ups, and push-ups.

Here's a little gallery captured by friends at the event, along with some first-person vids I recorded while we worked.

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11Jun/190

Last Day of School: Onward & Upward

“The days are long but the years are short.” One feels that acutely on occasions like Thursday, when Finn received his certificate celebrating his last day (!!) at Willow Glen Elementary while Henry moved on up from fourth grade. Finn was proud to receive the President's Award for Educational Excellence along with his certificate of biliteracy, while Hen was proud to receive a Sacajawea award for social studies as well as an Achieve 3000 recognition for completing a ton of reading. Way to go, lads!

Here's a little gallery showing the dudes' celebrating along with a few of their flashily attired cronies. 😌

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8Jun/190

Big Sur 2019

Last weekend, after way too many months of drought in our Westy family adventures, we fired up the red gal and journeyed (with Seamus!) down the coast to camp in Big Sur. My friend Jim had booked a campsite just across Highway 1 from a rocky beach, and we had fun making a quick overnight outing of it.

Seamus in particular seems to have had a blast, roughhousing like mad with a fellow Goldendoodle pup (Parker), who outweighed him by a full 20 lbs. He came home a filthy burr-encrusted wreck, but after a thorough hose-down at home he was good as new.

Check out a gallery of our shots as well as an interactive panorama I captured via my drone during the short burst of golden sunshine that preceded sunset.

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27May/190

Memorial Day 2019

As we’ve been fortunate to do for 8 (!) years in a row now, yesterday we hosted pals from our many strands of life for a back yard Memorial Day picnic. Underscoring how lucky we’ve been weather-wise all these years, yesterday was the first time we faced rain & blustery winds. Not to be deterred, we moved some tables & chairs into the garage and let the group know that we’d proceed rain or shine. (Otherwise Margot, the boys, & I would have to eat an almost heroic amount of taco meat on our own!).

Seamus was an incredibly well-petted good sport, going for several walks with Finn & the kids, and the highlight had to be Henry turning the Westy into a mobile hot dog stand out front. Check out some photos from the event.

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25May/190

Train Trip vol. 5: Big Boy, Big Planes

On Saturday following our marathon Golden Spike visit, Hen & headed down to Ogden hoping to catch the Big Boy ahead of the crowds. We knew that it was due to be on display at 10am, and figuring it was being kept south of town, I hoped to sneak in a little droning overhead. As it happened the engine was already welcoming visitors, so instead of flying we were able to get right up close & personal. Check out our gallery of the Big Boy Up Close.

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When we'd finally gotten our fill of big engines (sounds impossible, I know), we started heading south towards Salt Lake City & our evening flight. Hen had previously spotted the Hill Aerospace Museum, so we swung by & spent a couple of hours geeking out among the massive bombers, transports, and fighters. Truth be told, after spending days receiving random train facts from Henry, it was nice for me to return the favor & share some of my aerospace knowledge.

Check out our separate gallery of museum pics. Be on the lookout for tiny Hen appearing "Where's Waldo"-style by giant landing gear, as well as for the goofball caption he insisted on adding to one pic. 😌

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23May/190

Train Trip vol. 4: The Big Show

On Friday, May 10th, the time had come at last.

Henry & I woke up around 6am and headed out before 7 in order to beat at least some of the 20,000 other people attending the 150th anniversary celebration of the Golden Spike being struck at Promontory Summit. It was kinda crazy to get stuck in a traffic jam en route to what’s basically a field in the middle of nowhere—but given the passion of railfans (many in period attire, as you’ll see in our photo gallery) who’d traveled from all across the country, we weren’t surprised.

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Having arrived around 8, Hen & I were compelled to stake out our spot for a couple of hours before the festivities started. When they did kick in, he & I tried to work our way through the crowd so that he could see better. I figured he’d be able to repeat his low-altitude incursion from the day before, but despite the help of many kind railfans, he kept getting stuck in a mass of tall-person elbows & butts. Happily we were able to retreat to a decent spot where we could sit & listen.

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Visiting dignitaries included the governor of Utah & Mitt Romney, and the event organizers did a really nice job of celebrating the various groups (including Civil War vets, newly freed former slaves, Mormons, and of course Irish & Chinese workers) who came together (“As One,” per the musical performed on site) to complete the railroad. Speakers included a descendant of a Chinese worker; a Native American elder; Sec. of Transportation Elaine Chao; and Irish Ambassador Daniel Mulhall. Here’s the latter raising a glass & saying “Slainte!”

I also really enjoyed the observations made by historian Jon Meacham, which you can check out below if interested. Meanwhile writer Sarah Vowell offered her own reflections on the event in the NY Times.

Hen was a trooper through these four or so hours, and afterwards I was happy to refuel him via giant corndog & Gatorade. We then started exploring the various exhibits (including teepees, STEM booths, and a pioneer village where we bought him his own golden spike) while Air Force jets flew over celebratory fireworks.

We’d read that Brian Floca, author of Locomotive—one of Hen’s most beloved books—would be on site to speak about his work. Thankfully I persuaded Hen that seeing him would be worth the wait until 3pm—and we weren’t disappointed in the least! Brian was super friendly and gracious, such that after his talk we headed to the gift shop to grab another copy of Locomotive for him to autograph.

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The brutally long line at the gift shop proved to be a blessing in disguise: because we then had to wait until Brian’s next talk at 5pm to meet him again, we were among the last people to leave the park as 6pm approached. And good thing we were, as for the first time we got right up close to the engines—including as they steamed back and forth! Our minds were 100% blown.

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Having stayed out for 12+ hours, we were glad to finally return to the hotel & collapse with some Wendy’s, happy and tired. Check out the gallery for some fun photos & vids!

20May/190

Train Trip vol. 3: Visiting the Spike

It would, of course, be insane to attend the 150th anniversary of the Golden Spike being struck and not see the spike itself! So, following our museum visit on Thursday, Hen & I headed down to the beautiful state capitol building in Salt Lake City where the spike is housed.

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Bittersweet news: As a bonus we got to see one of the three silver companion spikes along with Abraham Lincoln’s hand-signed order authorizing the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, but as a result of the fragile paper’s presence, we weren’t allowed to take photos of the spike! Hen was miffed, but we agreed that we’d make up for it by visiting the spike after it returns to its usual resting place at Stanford University.

Afterwards we headed down to SLC’s historic Union Pacific depot, which has now been converted into a lovely pedestrian mall that featured live music & food trucks—oh, and plenty of trainspotting on the adjacent rails! Check out our pics from the eve.

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19May/190

Train Trip vol. 2: Milling Around the Museum

Following the Big Boy’s arrival, Hen & I again grabbed a bite at the Zephyr Cafe, then joined the throngs of people exploring the neighboring Utah State Railroad Museum.

Located in the city’s old Union Station, the museum is home to UP 833, the sister engine to the one accompanying the Big Boy, as well as to extensive model railroads and an old automobile museum. (Could this place be designed any better for Henry?!) Other highlights included seeing one of the train cars featured in the 2002 Olympic Torch relay as well as a car from the Golden Spike centennial 50 years ago. Hen narrated plenty of footage for his YouTube channel while wrestling his own furious (and highly verboten) desire to climb all over the engines. Oh—and the museum featured a live countdown until the Golden Spike ceremony, by then just over 22 hours away!

Check out some photos from our visit, as well as a quick video tour of the grounds. (“That kid does not know a thing about trains,” Hen remarked more than once.)

19May/190

Train Trip vol. 1: Big Boy Bash

Man, it's taken a full week for Henry & me to decompress from our trip and to just start sharing our adventures. To make things manageable, I've opted to break our epic into sections. So... here we go!

Flying into Salt Lake on Wednesday afternoon, we bumped into some fellow railfans who were already prepping their period garb for the celebrations. After landing we grabbed our car & headed up to Ogden, UT, where the famous Big Boy steam engine—the world's largest at 1.2 million pounds (!), and newly restored after years of work—was due to make its triumphant return. Hen & I found shelter from the blustery evening in the trackside Zephyr Cafe, constructed from an old railcar!

And then, the next morning—it was time. Hen was, of course, practically vibrating with excitement, and he wasn't let down. Union Pacific & the state of Utah put on quite a show—bringing in the governor & other speakers, and shutting down streets to host numerous pop-up shops. After much excited waiting, we finally saw the old gal pull in & get reunited with UP's other working steam engine, the 844. Making up with sneakiness what he lacks in height, Hen was able to make his way to near the front of the crowd to capture some shots.

Check out those images & more in our gallery!

5May/190

Hot roddin’ with Hen

G-Man might forget a thing or three, but not when it comes to vital details like when local car shows are taking place. 😌 On Friday he & I checked out San Jose show we attended last year, this time bringing along my drone. Happily he shares my interest in photography, so the two of us captured a bunch of details large & small. Here’s a little gallery from our evening out plus a 360º drone pano. (Click & drag it, mom. 🙃)

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1May/190

Easter Legos -> Trailer-park impresarios

Even though Finn recently declared that the Easter Bunny is a "ho-ho-hoax," he'd sure still like to get that candy. 😌 So would Henry, of course, and they gently reminded me that in past years the bunny has delivered little Lego sets in their baskets. So, to celebrate the occasion—as well as the resurrection of the Westy—we treated them to a pair of camping-themed kits.

Afterwards in the basement they created a little trailer park & campground (complete with water features, Cub Scouts cooking eggs, a corny dad with a selfie stick 🙄, an under-construction rail line, and much more). Check out a few pics plus the loot's arrival below:

30Apr/190

Mick, Marin, and Mare Island

The dudes (including Seamus!) and I got the Westy back in action this past weekend, enjoying a most excellent trip to SF & points beyond. Poor Margot took a spill on her scooter last week, so it was just us guys heading up to meet my old friend Mick Swiney (just as great as ever nearly 20 years later) on the waterfront below the Bay Bridge.

After dropping Mick off we headed across the Golden Gate to Marin Co. to help our friends Monica & Peter celebrate their 50th birthdays & 20th anniversary. Afterwards the lads & I journeyed to the old Navy base on Mare Island for some quick camping & droning while Seamus "pollinated himself" (as Finn put it), happily rolling in the bounty from our trees.

Check out our gallery from the trip as well as an interactive 360º panorama from our campsite.

21Apr/190

Moose of the Sea

 We spent a wonderful (if salty, sandy, and tiring) Easter Sunday enjoying the beach & giving Mr. Seamus his first taste of the sea—making him at last the long-prophesied Sea Moose. 😌 Besides play-battling other dogs & digging well into the earth’s crust, Seamus enjoyed crashing out next to our little shade tent & standing dutiful, excitable watch against marauding seagulls. Check out a little gallery of photos, plus this vid of his seaside stylings:

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