I am a long time Nikon camera fan. I owned Nikon's back in the film days and my very first digital camera was a Nikon D100 that I got in 2002. Georgia and I both had other Nikon digitals after that. They were, and are, great cameras. If fact, I still have one D70 that almost never gets used.
When we started doing a lot more traveling by airplane and ship, we found these camera kits to be a problem for us. We needed a couple good sized camera bags to carry the camera, extra lenses, flashes, batteries and chargers and all the other stuff that we needed. So, a few years ago, we switched to what are often called bridge cameras.
These cameras have built in flashes and non-removable zoom lenses that cover a wide range of focal lengths. They may not the best at anything but they are good at a lot of things. They are the "jack of all trades" tools that are great for traveling. We bought two Canon SX-40HS cameras that served us well for several years.
The Canons are still great travel cameras and we take them with us on big trips. For other occasions we usually just use our mobile phones for picture taking. The cameras in these devices have gotten really good and they serve us well for casual picture taking.
I have been eyeing other options for a while now though. The newest cameras have feature that the Canons lack. WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS location tagging for a few. I was also envious of the longer reach of the super zooms like the Nikon Coolpix P900 that reaches out to 2000mm. I have been hoping Canon would come out with a new model that would match or exceed what Nikon has. It hasn't happened yet though.
Then, a few moths ago, Nikon announced the Coolpix P1000. It would have all the connectivity of the P900 with a 3000mm equivalent lens. I wanted one! So, when Georgia said get it, I put in my preorder. Nikon released the camera on September 6th and Friday (September 14th) mine finally arrived.
This is a large camera. It is much bigger than the Canon SX40HS and more like a DSLR. With the big lens extended it is really a monster. You can click on the pictures below to see a larger version of the image.
What to you get in that size a package? The camera body itself isn't that big. It is the lens that makes it huge. It is a 125X optical zoom (4.3-539 mm, angle of view equivalent to that of 24-3000 mm lens in 35mm format) that opens up to f2.8 at the wide end and f8 at the extreme telephoto setting. There is also a digital zoom that can take it out to 12000mm but with some image degradation. Good if you need to get a shot of bigfoot standing on the next mountain over I guess 😉
Besides the long zoom, the features that I especially like are:
There are a few things I would like to change about it though:
Overall though, I am impressed with the P1000. I have only had it a couple days and there is an awful to learn about the camera and what it can do. I'm sure I will be writing other posts about it in the future.
Here are a couple quick snaps that show the sharpness and image quality. Click them for larger views.
It has been a busy summer for reunions! Georgia's 50th high school reunion was Saturday at the University Club in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was our third, and last, reunion of the summer. The others were my class reunion and the Clough family reunion.
We drove to Grand Rapids on Friday and had lunch with Georgia's sister Judy before we checked into our hotel. Georgia had an early salon appointment on Saturday so we had dinner on our own Friday night and a quit evening in the room.
Georgia did her salon and spa thing Saturday morning. We had a late lunch then some time to relax in the room before getting dressed to go downtown. The reunion started at 6 PM but the planning committee, of which Georgia is a member, got there early to finalize the room setup.
The classmates began arriving by six and we had a pleasant hour of socializing before our delicious tenderloin and salmon dinner.
There was plenty of time to visit with old friends after dinner. We finally wrapped up the evening around 10 PM then drove back to the hotel. We were tired but happy to have had the chance to attend this special event. 50th reunions only happen once!
Sunday we battled the usual end of the weekend traffic on our way home. We stopped in Chicago to see Max and his mom Angeli. Max had finished his first week of Kindergarten and we were glad to see that he was adjusting to it just fine.
Yesterday I reached a milestone in my family history research. I added the 10,000th person to my family tree on Ancestry.com. That number represents over twenty years of research time invested in this hobby but, I enjoyed every bit of it and I am not done yet.
This seems like a good time to answer a question that I get asked from time to time and to say something about my research philosophy.
Obviously, with 10,000 people in my tree, they can not all be my direct ancestors. That brings up the question:
"Why do you include so many distant relatives in your tree?"
Before I get into the reasons, I should say that everyone in my tree is connected somehow. There are no isolated branches or individuals, they all tie together no matter how remotely.
For example, The last person I entered (Kenneth D. Hayward) is the husband of my 2cd cousin 1x removed. That is a little distant and many family historians would not include him in their tree - but I did. Not only that but, if I find information about Kenneth's parents and siblings I will probably include that too. Those people are not directly related to me (as far as I know) but they are connected.
I have four main reasons for including so much of my extended family.
First: I hope the research I do will help other people searching for their ancestry. Using the example of the Hayward family, someone searching that line, now or in the future, might find them in my tree and learn something new to them. When I have information available to me, it just seems like a waste not to record it.
Second: I am able to connect to other family historians because they see names from my tree and reach out to me with additional information or corrections. Ancestry helps with that by showing me other people researching the same families and allowing us to contact each other.
Third: It is surprising how often extended family turns out to be connected in multiple ways. In the past, more people lived in small towns. I often see multiple generations of marriages between the same families because that is who they lived close to and knew. I have written more about this "cluster genealogy" in another post at wingingitblog.com/cluster-genealogy-can-help-grow-your-family-tree/.
Fourth: Extending the branches in my family tree help me correct errors. I know my genealogy has errors in it. I wrote more about that at wingingitblog.com/my-genealogy-is-wrong/. To go back to Kenneth Hayward, he married the granddaughter of my great-great aunt (my great grandfather's sister). If I find discrepancies between previous research on that line and what I find on the Hayward line I can possible resolve the differences and correct my data.
So, 10,000 down and many more to come. There are still a lot of ancestors to find. I will continue doing genealogy for as long as I am able!
This past weekend, Georgia and I were on the road again. This time to Apple Valley, Minnesota where a Clough family reunion was held at the Apple Valley Community Center.
I come from a large family and I don't see most of my cousins very often - if at all. My grandparents, John and Lydia (Corey) Clough, had nine children born over a period of twenty one years. The births of their grandchildren spanned four decades - from 1927 to 1966. Some of my cousins were grown and married before I was born and some are much younger than I am. Also, the families were spread across the country. For those reasons, there are many cousins that I was never close to. It was nice to see so many of them at this reunion and to get a chance to know them better.
One of those older cousins was Robert Clough. I only met him once or twice when I was growing up. In the last few years though, we were in close contact since we both had an interest in genealogy. We talked on the phone regularly and often exchanged letters with family information.
In February of this year Bob proposed a Clough family reunion and suggested a few possible dates. From the response he got, it was set for Aug. 18th. Sadly though, Bob passed away on April 2cd. It was something of a shock to all of us but some of my other cousins took on the task of making sure the family reunion happened anyway.
During the reunion, we held a memorial service for Bob. His son passed out family history books that Bob had put together for the families of each of John and Lydia's children.
On a happier note, we also celebrated the 98th birthday of Aunt Elaine (Clough) Swaney. She is the only surviving child of John and Lydia. It was good to see her in excellent health and with her memory as sharp as ever.
This picture is of her and my mother at the reunion.
In 1968, I graduated from Bruce High School in Bruce, Wisconsin. This past weekend my classmates and I celebrated the 50th anniversary of that event. I haven't attended many class reunions but, fifty years is special. I had to go!
Georgia and I left home on Thursday of last week and spent the first night at Black River Falls, Wisconsin. We have driven past the Arrowhead Lodge there many times but never stayed. Lately it became a Best Western Hotel and we decided to give it a try this trip. The hotel is old, it has been there as long as I can remember, but it is well maintained and we had a great room.
We continued to Bruce on Friday so we would have time to spend with family before the reunion on Saturday. We spent the afternoon visiting my Mother and took her to dinner at the Wonder Spot Resort on Amacoy Lake.
Saturday we had a chance to see more family before going back to our hotel in Ladysmith to get ready for the reunion.
The reunion was not actually held in Bruce but a few miles away. Bruce High School is a consolidated school with students from there and from the town of Exeland attending. This get together was at the Buckhorn Bar in Exeland.
The turnout was excellent with over half of the class returning for the reunion. We gathered outside for a group photo before sitting down to dinner.
It was a great evening of catching up with old friends. There were many classmates, who came to this reunion, that I hadn't seen since graduation and it was good to see them again.
On Sunday, Georgia and I left to return home. We drove as far as Wisconsin Dells where we spent Sunday night and Monday morning at the Ho-Chunk Hotel and Casino. Ho-Chunk is a favorite "playground" for us. We visit a few times a year and always have fun there.
We got back home on Monday afternoon with another road trip to remember completed.
Last Sunday Georgia, Max and I went to the Lake County Fair for the afternoon. The weather was almost perfect and we had a great time.
On the way there, we asked Max what he wanted to do most.
He said; "See the animals!"
Seeing animals is exactly what we spent most of our time doing and he loved it!
After grabbing a carnival food lunch, we watched some pig races. Those little guys are fast!
Our next stop was inside the main exhibit hall where local businesses and organizations had booths. There was also a talent show going on it one section of the hall. Max liked the police and sheriff department displays. He is now a Junior Deputy Sheriff!
Right outside the back door of the exhibit hall were the livestock barns so we went there next. We saw goats, poultry, sheep and rabbits as well as dairy and beef cattle.
The animals are what sets a fair apart from just a carnival. It is educational too. Now Max knows where milk comes from before it gets to the store.
Next stop was the midway where Max declined the rides in favor of playing the games. He won a few prizes for Grandma and Grandpa to carry.
The petting zoo was next. They had a pretty large group of animals and Max was determined to pet every one of them. I think he achieved his goal. He really does love animals!
He decided this donkey needed help with his hay so he fed him some from his hands. It looked like the donkey enjoyed the attention.
We got back to the parking lot just as a little rain started to fall from the only dark cloud on an otherwise blue sky day. Just the right time for us to leave the fairgrounds.
The weather was good - just a little warm - and the accommodations were excellent. We had a lake view room for the three of us.
We ate dinner at the hotel restaurant the first night. The food was good but the service was pretty slow. There was a wedding reception going on and it seemed there wasn't enough staff to serve the restaurant and the reception. That wasn't a problem for the rest of our stay though. Breakfast and lunch were very good. They make a great pizza that we enjoyed in our room the second night!
We spent our time on the beach, fishing at one of the park ponds and playing in the hotel pool.
It was a relaxing two days. We will have to do it again!
So...After 20+ years of driving Jeeps and trucks, we went an entirely different way this time.
We leased this 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Limited on Thusday. It should serve us well for day-to-day use and for road trips.
Up until a month or so ago, I had never even thought about a minivan for us. Then, while waiting for service on the Jeep one day, I saw this on the sales floor at the local Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge dealer. The interior roominess was amazing. The different possible seating arrangements seemed to make it a very versatile vehicle. It got me thinking that it just might work for us.
We still had about 6 months left on our Jeep lease but I filed the idea away as a possible future consideration.
A few days later, we got a call from the dealership inviting us to come in and discuss end of lease options for the Jeep Grand Cherokee. I mentioned to Georgia that we might want to consider a minivan this time. She wasn't sold on the idea but she did do some online research. She was open to at least considering it.
We took a drive to the dealership so Georgia could look for herself. She was mostly sold after the visit and a test drive but had a couple concerns.
Why would a couple in their late 60's even think about a minivan? Aren't they for families with young children?
Actually, there were several reasons that a more versatile vehicle might be right for us.
First, there is a lot of space in a minivan. The Jeep worked OK for hauling groceries or a few suitcases. With Georgia's small mobility scooter in the back though, space was a little tight. Some creative loading was required for a long trip.
Seating was another consideration. With Max's booster seat taking up one spot, we could barely squeeze two more passengers in the back.
Comfort was another point. The Jeep's ride is, well Jeep like. You definitely feel the road and it can be hard on the back at times.
Still, a minivan? At our Age? Actually, when we thought about it, we realized that a very high percentage of friends our own age did own minivans and loved them.
It was time to do some more serious research.
We turned to the Internet to learn all we could about minivans in general and the Pacifica in particular.
It seems that a lot of people of all ages are like us. They came to minivans reluctantly but, once they had one, they really liked it a lot.
Our choice came down to considering the pros and cons and making our own decision.
I already mentioned some of the pros. Comfort and space were big ones but there were other pluses.
The three zone climate control, heated and ventilated seats and 8 way driver and passenger seats are great. Also a lot of cup holders and cubby holes to stash stuff are nice to have.
The space is made more versatile because of the Stow 'N Go seats. The Pacifica stands out in this area. Other vans let you remove the second row seats for more space but only Pacifica lets you fold them into the floor. We can fold them all down to hold everything we want to take on a road trip then, when we get to out destination, we can unpack, open the seats and carry seven passengers with us. No seats left sitting useless at home.
Oh, and there is a built in vacuum cleaner to clean up after that trip!
The Pacifica is an IIHS top safety pick. 5 Star rating! In addition, the Chrysler Advanced SaftyTech package includes a lot of tools to protect us on the road. Lane Sense, blind spot monitoring, cross traffic detection, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with braking, 360 degree camera, front and rear parking sensors, parallel and perpendicular parking assistance (auto park) and more.
I think the technology in new cars is going to help older drivers stay on the road longer and be safer. Let's face it. In our 60's, our reaction time and vision aren't what they were in our 30's. A little extra help can't hurt.
The Infotainment system is an updated version of the Uconnect system we had in the Jeep but with two second row seat video screens. Max will love that feature. Other things we like about it are SiriusXM radio, navigation with traffic monitoring, mobile phone interconnect, Apple CarPlay and a host of settings to customize the in car experience.
Performance should be good with the 3.6L V6 at 287 HP and the nine speed transmission. Mileage is touted as very good too. 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. We will see.
What about the cons. There must be a few.
One big one that almost stopped us from buying is the lack of all wheel or four wheel drive, The Pacifica comes in front wheel drive only. After years of Jeeps, we had serious reservations about this one. In our online research, we didn't find any real complaints about handling so it must be working fine for others. Besides, I am retired now. I don't HAVE to go out when the weather stinks. We will find out how this works out for us but I am hopeful.
Another issue is that there is no spare tire in the Pacifica we bought. That worries us because we go places, like Northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, where roadside service is scarce. The vehicle did come with a tire repair kit that includes a tire repair foam canister and an air compressor. Not the same as a spare! This is still a concern for us but maybe we can come up with a solution. A compact spare we can throw in the back for road trips?
That is really about all for concerns we had. The pluses seem to far outweigh the minuses. We pulled the trigger and made the change from SUV to minivan.
Will be be glad we did? I really think we will but only time will tell. We are looking forward to traveling in our new vehicle and to the places it is going to take us.
This video from Chrysler is the same model that we have - just different colors. It is a bit of a sales pitch but does highlight some of the features that we liked and that helped us choose the Pacifica.
The summer festival season is getting into full swing here in Chicagoland. We started it off with Wauconda Fest this past weekend.
Max and his Mom met us there for a great afternoon of fun and games. The weather was just about perfect and the food wasn't bad either!
Max rode a few rides and went through the fun house three times but, his favorite thing to do is play the games. He won a couple stuffed toys and, best of all, a MineCraft sword!
I'm sure this wont be the last festival we go to this summer but it was a great way to kick off the season.
Researching your family tree requires you to be a bit of a detective. Sometimes the branch you are following is clear and easy to follow. Other times, you gather every clue you can find and still can't make the breakthrough that answers your genealogical questions. Genealogists call those seemingly dead ends "brick walls" and we all reach them at some point in our research.
Sometimes you just get lucky and the solution to a brick wall turns up out of nowhere. As more and more records are digitized and made available online, the record we need to solve a puzzle can turn up at any time. Often though, family mysteries require sifting through documents that, at first, don't seem to be directly related to the question at hand but turn out to be key to the solution.
One of my great-great-great grandmothers was named Lucina Smith. I know a lot about her but, I could never find out her parents names. If I look at Lucina's entry in other family trees on Ancestry.com, most don't list her parents at all. The ones that do name them don't agree with each other. I see Enos Smith and Lucina Chapin, George Smith and Lucena or Lucina Durfee and Christopher Smith and Polly Randall. Which set of parents, if any of them, is right?
This is a good place to make a note about using other peoples family trees as a source. As this example shows, you should never just accept anther persons research without verifying it for yourself with other sources. These trees are a good place to find hints to use as a starting point but not as proof of facts about a person.
To get my answer, I needed to go back to what I knew about Lucina and search for sources that I hadn't seen before. Just searching for the name Smith wouldn't get me anywhere. There are just too many Smiths. I had to search specific locations and for related people.
I knew that Lucina married Charles Weller and, from census records, that she was born in New York about 1826. Charles and Lucina had moved from New York to Pennsylvania and then on to Wisconsin. They had five children all born in Pennsylvania. The 1870 and 1880 censuses showed them living in the village of Ellensboro, Wisconsin. Charles Weller died there in 1884.
After Charles died I lost track of Lucina and I couldn't find her on any other census. So, I put the search for her parents aside for a while and began researching her children. When I did that though, Lucina herself turned up again.
I learned that her daughter Rosalia married a man named George Countant. On the 1900 census, I found George and Rosalia living in Ossining, Westchester, New York with their daughter Pearl. Also in the household was an older woman listed as Lucina Miller. I immediately suspected that this was a transcription error. A quick look at the actual record revealed that this was indeed Lucina Weller - NOT Lucina Miller.
Now I knew Lucina had gone back to her birth state of New York after the death of her husband Charles but I found no further records naming her. That is where my search remained for several years.
Just recently though, I found a new record from the 1905 New York state census that listed a Lucina Weller living in the home of William and Emma D. Sutton and their children. Her relationship was listed as "aunt."
Was this my Lucina or just a coincidence of names? If this was my 3rd great-grandmother, then William must be her nephew or Emma was her niece. If I could find a Smith ancestry for one of them I just might find Lucina's parents.
Finding out which of the Sutton's she was related to turned out to be easier than I expected.
I didn't find birth or marriage records for William or Emma but I did find a marriage record one for their daughter Tena. That record told me that the brides parents were William Sutton and Emma Smith. Now I was almost positive that I had the right Lucina Weller!
From the information I had gathered so far, I could build a family tree that looked like this:
Since I was convinced that Emma's father was Lucina's brother, if I could learn the names of the two Smith men I would also learn the name of Lucina's father. As it turned out, finding the name of Emma's father took some serious detective work!
I would have liked to have found a birth or marriage record naming Emma and her parents but, so far, I have not found one. I did find many census records for Emma Smith and Emma Sutton living in or near Stockton, New York. Comparing these and using other ancestry family trees as hints, I eventually concluded that Emma was the daughter of David Montgomery Smith and Amorillus (or Amorillis) Ames. The 1870 census raised some questions. On that a 15 year old Emma Smith was living in the household of Harvey and Amorillus Solomon. Was David dead by then and Harvey was a step-father?
Once I had settled on David Montgomery as Emma's father's name, I hit the jackpot. The Stockton entries in the New York Town Clerk's Register of Men Who Served in the Civil War included David Montgomery Smith and two of his brothers. All three men had enlisted in the Union Army in August of 1862. Sadly, that fall, David and his brother William both died of disease while encamped at Suffolk, Virginia.
The register gave me David's date and place of birth and his parents names. He was the son of Christopher Smith and Polly Randall. His death date of Nov. 14, 1862 also explained why his wife was remarried by the time of the 1870 census.
Click the image to see it full size.
There I had it! After years of thinking I would never find the names of Lucina Smith's parents, I had finally knew them. Like most things in genealogy, I can't be absolutely positive that this info is correct but I would certainly rate it as "Highly Probably" to "Almost Certain."
Revisit your family tree's brick walls from time to time. New information just might help you solve a mystery!
Now if I could just find the names of her husband Charles Weller's parents...
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