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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A quick 2011 Tropical Guide. Plus, who's sitting in the Lyons' Den?

It's hurricane season... well, it will be Wednesday (tomorrow as of this writing). So what better time than to actually write about the weather. I am, after all, a complete weather nerd and, despite some previous posts where I go a little AWOL, I've decided that it's now MY time to throw the name in the Jacksonville Weather Ring. Don't worry, there's plenty of irreverence at the end of this post... just keep on reading, or scroll down if you like. 

I've got my eyes on the tropics... as does every other meteorologist at the station. There is something worth keeping watch of in the Caribbean, off the coast of Honduras and Nicaragua.

Two things in this map worth mentioning... first is the system way down south. It's rather "blobby" and VERY unorganized looking right now, wind shear way  is ripping it apart. However, a couple of computer models show this getting better organized (though moving very very slowly) and becoming the first tropical cyclone of the season. If it holds up it would be called Arlene.

Then there's the cluster of thunderstorms off the coast of the Carolinas that's organized around a rather weak area of low pressure. Here's a larger picture:

I added my childlike red drawings to the map to show basic movement of these t-storms as well as an approaching cold front. For now, it looks like the front will do little to keep the storms away from the region, so as we move into Wednesday afternoon, we could see some showers and storms moving in from the coast.

Going tropical again:

Here's a list of storm names for the 2011 season: I'm going to do my very best to never refer to any of them as a "he/she" or "him/her." That's a bit too personal for monsters that can kill:


PART DEUX... Who's this dude?

Interns have arrived... the annual summer rite of passage for each and every serious journalism student who actually wants a job.

Yep, if you want to work in TV you better get the internship. And you better pray that you don't get the desk next to me, because you will appear in multiple video blog posts and be asked ridiculous questions like, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

Ha... I actually asked an intern that today. What do you want to be when you grow up? I felt like a grizzled news vet. I always felt like the "....grow up?" question was strange to ask a college student. Mainly because they are mostly grown up. Also, that question typically gets responses like "fireman" or "spaceman" or "lion keeper."

It just goes on and on.

I chuckle.

Thanks for reading and watching.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Couple Quick Photos from Jacksonville, NC

We had such a short amount of time to get to know Jacksonville, NC I feel cheated.

We pulled into town 15 minutes before going live in Good Morning Jacksonville, then got to work on our Jacksonville to Jacksonville special that's going to air during the 11:00 news tonight.

We did get to meet with a Jacksonville, Florida man who is stationed at Camp Lejeune. He was a funny guy, and brutally honest about things. Which I love.

His father, step-mother, siblings and future wife all live in Jacksonville, Florida still... I hope they get the chance to see their son.

On a complete side note:

We parked in a Wal-Mart for the better portion of the day. It was our home base.

Here's what was parked right by our RV... I'll leave all commentary to you:

This was a distraction for the first 4 hours of my day, that's how mature I am

Then there were the people that were attracted to our RV. You see, we have a large QR code on the back, and naturally people are curious about it. One woman spoke too quickly for me to get a pic with her. However, this gentleman was glad to stop and give us his best Arnold Schwarzenegger.

This guy made my day. He stopped by while I was locked out of the RV for a short period of time...

I got back in.


Stop The Presses: We made the paper

Jax2Jax is big news. Well, it's at least made local news...

If you're interested, link #1 is to the Jacksonville Daily Progress story about Jax2Jax visiting their town: http://jacksonvilleprogress.com/local/x1526180798/A-tomato-by-any-other-name

Written by Tom Monzingo... he ate lunch with us, and took a look around the RV. Simon barked at him at great length... but i think he was ok with it. Nice fella, even invited us to come hang out at his house at the lake. We had to decline, what with the 7 hour drive to Jacksonville, Arkansas that night.

Here's a link to the Tyler Morning Telegraph's article about our trip: http://www.tylerpaper.com/article/20110518/NEWS01/110519721

That was done by Kelly Gooch. She gave us a holler and interviewed us while we were buying some supplies for the RV. Very nice lady.


Revisiting the state where we got pulled over...

Ahhhh, yes... who can forget day 1 when we got pulled over driving through Alabama.

It was memorable. Two of 'Bama's finest give us the business, then, when they heard what we were up to, they got really really interested and let us go on our way.

"But be careful, boys."

Ha. Those guys.

We did not get a citation. Which is great considering that would have probably taken the hot air right out of this balloon before the trip even started.

There are no pics to post from that experience, however the web cam was rolling on the whole thing. Anyone watching online at that moment got a real treat.

But now we fast forward to Thursday, and move to the northern part of the state, where Jacksonville, Alabama is nestled in the foothills.

Gorgeous town. But, to be honest, by this time in the trip... Justin and I were both struggling for the mojo. Neigther one of us have slept for any real amount of time through the trip. Just taking turns driving, napping and writing.

All the pulp in the creative juices had settled to the bottom... but it wasn't 5 minutes after we parked in Jacksonville, Alabama that Sherry Blanton showed up and shook the bottle.

She walked up to us, asked us what the heck we were doing... and then proceded to give us a great story.

Love how that worked out.

Especially after a 9:30 hour drive through the mountains.

Nacaula Falls, just north of town.

Legend has it this young indian girl (the statue) jumped to her death after being forced to marry a brave from another tribe. She was in love with a less prominate young man from her own village.
Sounds like a story I've heard before.
Now I know there is much more to see from Alabama... just click on the video tab for the stories. It was a really nice town with awesome people. And Sherry Benton got us all pumped up about it.


Jax2Jax: Missouri.

We had been driving overnight from Jacksonville, Arkansas and pulled into Jax, Missouri literally 10 minutes before we were live on the air for Good Morning Jacksonville.

So our very first impression of the town was wonderful. The live shot happened right around sunrise. We were in the middle of a gorgeous landscape, surrounded by farms and this quaint village of 167 people.

Our energy raced that morning, Justin rushed to get as many beauty shots of the town and landscape as possible while the lighting was right (there's no better time to shoot video than right around sunrise and sunset, it just looks great.)

We hadn't made it to downtown yet though.

After the sun made its way up full, we drove into the center of town. Not exactly a downtown, but a "main street" more-or-less. It's where the post office was, city hall and the volunteer fire department were right across the street.

Then the empty shells of what was once the center of commerce.

There's only one business in town: A tractor and small engine repair shop run by a father and son who have both lived here their whole lives.

Very nice group of guys, with a heart wrenching/warming story about the struggle of their town and their fight to keep it alive by staying in business.

Some photos:

Where the Village Council meet once a month, also where Santa Clause vists children during the holidays

Post Office part 1

Post office part 2


Woody's Repair Shop, the only business in town

The main drag

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Jax2Jax Day 2: Jacksonville, Arkansas

Sorry, I know this is a bad picture, what with the window right there and all. But that's Justin in the foreground video taping our lunch/breakfast with the aldermen of Jacksonville, Arkansas.

These guys are proud of their town... and were happy to talk at great lengths about the good things going on here.

So, now my challenge will be to pick out the right stuff to put into our story for tonight. But that's a good challenge to have. Always better to have too much than too little, right?

This town is known for the large Air Force base and the Air National Guard. No kidding, we heard a Reveille bugle call. It's pretty serious around here.

We'll keep you up to speed, talk to you later on.


If you're gonna do live TV in Texas, You better have a football stadium in your shot...

Well that doesn't have quite the same ring to it as the Alabama song does it?

But I think it's true to a degree, especially when the story is about a small Texas town (Jacksonville).

Here are some photos of the Tomato Bowl... a stadium built during the 1930s. Home to the Jacksonville High School Fight'n Indians, also the place where Luke Mccown (Jaguars Backup QB) played his high school ball.

Those bleachers were the site of my intense history leson with the legendary "Man In The Texas Shaped Sunglasses."

So some other things about this town we didn't really get to talk about at great lenght.

It is the tomato capital of the world. We met with a tomato farmer named David who showed Justin and me around his 50 acre farm.

David is showing Justin some 'maters
Naturally this town also holds the world record for the largest bowl of salsa. It weighed more than a ton and the locals tell me it actually tasted good too.

But now it's time to say goodbye to Jacksonville, Texas... which is tough. It's been a great town to visit, though I'm sure the next 4 are going to be interesting in their own way as well. We'll see.


Seeing LIfe Through Texas Shaped Sunglasses...

That's how Shelley Cleaver sees it all.

This guy is legit from his hat to his boots. He had even had a large, shiney belt buckle commemorating the Mexican War.

This guy loves Texas.

We met in Jacksonville, Tx on a rather random note actually. Justin and I were working in the RV, and he walked right up and knocked on the window.

I'm not one to brush off a guy in Texas sunglasses, so I got out and started to chat. As you may imagine, he had a few stories to share with me.

We hung out for at least 45 minutes, sitting on the bleachers of the local high school football stadium (the subject of my next blog). 

He spoke for 44:30 of that time, I got in about 5 words. Nice fella, and one heck of a character as well.

Travelers note: We're now in Arkansas, I'm going to recap a little Texas action, post a few more pictures, and say goodbye to the Lone Star State in the next blog.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Crossing Into Texas

There's something different about when you cross into Texas on a road trip.

It's always exciting to hit a new state when you are driving. Everytime you see the "Welcome To....." sign, it just affirms that you're making progress and you're somewhere new.

However, the cross over into Mississippi and Louisiana just weren't up to the same snuff as when we hit the border of Texas.

I mean this snuff was totally different...

So, there are just some things that stick out at me during a trip, for starters the Gas Station/Casinos in Louisiana were pretty amazing. We didn't go into one, but it was amusing to me to see a gas station lit up like the MGM Grand.

Another thing that stuck out to me were the truth in some of the famous Texas stereotypes.

Yes, many people chose to wear large cowboy hats here. It's just a fact. We've seen it in great detail.

This picture I took in a gas station pretty much sums it up for me:

Yes, "WESTERN SHIRTS" are for sale at every gas station. What is a western shirt? Glad you asked:

That. Is.

Denim on Denim and happy to do it for you. The buttons snap on, so there's none of that pesky traditional buttoning up to waste my time before heading out for a long day of work.

I did pay the 19.99 for the shirt, wouldn't you?

So today has been a pretty nice success... don't forget to check out the video section of this Jax2Jax page. We are constantly live web chatting with our live stream of the trip and the interaction is a nice way to break up hours and hours of highway. It'll keep justin and I from killing eachother.

Monday morning we are live on Good Morning Jacksonville from our RV in Jacksonville, Texas. Kind of the morning routine before we head out and start gathering video and interviews for our 6:00pm show live shots. It'll be a busy day, probably the busiest of the week. Tomorrow night after we're live at 11pm, we'll be hitting the road for our next Jacksonville.

Feel free to venture some guesses as to where that will be.


Even Big Bird Will Solve This One...

So remember Sesame Street? Of course you do.

There was that game they'd play "which one of these things doesn't belong." Remember?

I haven't watched The Street since I was running around in footsie pajamas (3 years ago)... but I seem to remember Big Bird always having a hard time with that game. I think he was playing coy, being sly:

"Yeah guys, I really don't know which one of these things is not like the other," he'd say to the kids while looking at a large group of oranges with one banana in the middle.

But Bird knew... he knew... he's just playing dumb so he can sneak up on those kids one day.

Anyhow...  borderline psychotic anecdote aside: I think Big Bird can nail this one:

Pretty easy right... the answer is THE RV!!!

We spent the night last night at a truck stop in A-Town-I-Can't-Pronounce, Louisiana. It was a nice rest.

But we don't know the "unspoken rules of the truckstop." Hopefully we didn't do something along the lines of stepping in someone's line on the green... but we made it out without a butt kickin, and in my book that's a win.


We're on the way to Texas now... some good ole country roads, etc. Click the link to the live cam and chat if you'd like to speak to us in real time!


Thanks for hanging out with us!


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Some Helpful Links and a tour...

So if you are interested in keeping up with us during the trip, I wanted to quickly include some links to what's going on:

Click here if you ever want to see the live stream, where we are... we're live chatting a good bit from here too... basically whenever we're inside and driving the RV

And you can click here for the Jax2Jax home page... it's where the videos, stories, map, photos and everything else is.

So how bout some photos of the RV and what we're traveling in? I thought you'd never ask:

Every inch of streamer blew off less than one mile into the trip

That's Justin

That's me... the bandana was a personal choice. So were the pants.
This is the coffin bed I'll be sleeping in

So there are some basics for you.

Some highlights from day 1:

-As of this writing we are in Louisiana... it's dark now and I'm not sure how much longer we're going to drive, perhaps all night... I don't know, I don't know if there's enough time.

-We did get pulled over by the cops in Alabama. They were fascinated with what we were doing, and did not give us a ticket.

-I drove for a couple hours, and we're still alive.

So, overall... a nice success. We'll talk later...

Keep the luck coming,

What are dogs doing when we're not around?

That's just one of the thousands (if not millions) of life questions we'll answer over the next week.

If you've been keeping score, by now you may know that Justin Patterson (a stellar photog, editor and supervisor of things that make air on First Coast News) and I are hitting the road in an RV loaned to us by the nice folks at General RV.

We're traveling some 3300 miles over the next week in the RV, bringing stories from Jacksonvilles all over the country... feel free to see if you can guess where we're heading each day as there are towns named Jacksonville in almost every state.

So, we left today around 10:30a.m., spur of the moment decision was to bring Justin's dog... Simon.
Simon, wearing his seatbelt. Good dog, Simon, good dog

Second item of note: We've got a live streaming camera so you can log on and watch us all the time. As long as we have good coverage, you'll be able to see us and at time hear us. Of course, many times we'll keep the audio down because I have the filthy mouth of a pirate.

This also provides us with a great opportunity to keep an eye on Simon if we leave the RV to go shoot a story. We'll have a dog-cam, and I think that alone is worth every penny of this wild trip across the country.

So, keep an eye on Simon, keep an eye on us... starting Monday we'll be checking in on air at 6:00am, 6pm, 7pm and 11pm (or whenever else we feel like it). But we'll be posting behind the scenes things on the Jax2Jax page all weekend.

Next blog coming a little later: a photo tour of the RV, we'll meet Justin too. In the meantime, keep watching the live stream because you never know when we'll turn the audio on and get a little crazy.

Wish us luck...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Some Basic Math...

So let do a video equation and see if you can guess what we're getting at here...



Well, maybe this isn't that complicated. Yes, there is a trip involved, on a rather large RV.

We'll be gone all week, traveling thousands of miles... but we'll be in Jacksonville each night.

Wish us luck,

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How 'bout a guessing game...

... well it's more of a puzzle with a few clues over the next couple days. This extraordinarily quick video clip will be your first clue as to how I'll be spending a week of my life beginning on Saturday.

 Yes it is news related, so you'll get some answers starting on Monday... in the meantime, let the hints continue!

And you know we can't make a blog without this guy:

Editor's note: I used this still photo from the Mike Lyons Facebook page today instead of video, I didn't want to bother him as he looks rather stressed and on deadline at the desk next to me. I think this picture gets the point across just fine though!