Went to visit Alex & Ian in Ripley.  Taylor met us there from Cincinnati.  We went to a farm to get pumpkins, go on a hay ride, and explore a massive cornfield maze.






Well, that was interesting. After a full day of preparing the barn for wedding we had the rehearsal. Once we finished the rehearsal we had dinner in the barn. As we started to get our food the rain arrived. As the meal progressed the storm got progressively worse. To the point the wind was blowing the rain into the barn. It continued getting worse with the wind shifting and blowing wind in all the openings to the barn. The wind started blowing down the curtains around the caterers makeshift kitchen.  Some people were trying to get that secured. It got so bad nobody was eating as everyone moved to corners… except Bill Burke who stoically continued to eat his prime rib.  I saw Taylor standing by herself on the other side of the barn, so I went over by her.  At this point it was storming good and Taylor was capturing on video.

Then the wind started blowing even stronger.  The dance floors started to fly up in pieces. Something flew up and almost hit Taylor.  At this point Sean starts waving his arms and yells to everybody to get to their cars. People are full on fleeing to their cars in a chaotic rush for cover.  I grabbed Alex and told her to get to my car. Rain was coming down in torrents and large hail is hitting us occasionally.  We made it to my Jeep Grand Cherokee.  Once we are in and out of the storm, Alex breaks down sobbing. I tried to comfort her as best I could, but really just needed to let her have a good cry as the evening became a disaster.

Now, we are in my car.  It is raining so hard and the windows are completely fogged, so we can’t see outside.  I had a full car, but did not know where my folks were, or anyone else except those in my car.  Once the windows cleared so I could see, I decided to take my passengers up to Alex and Ian’s house. About this time Dan Moen called. He had my parents in his car and was still in the field by the barn. He was wondering what to do. He decided to make the attempt to get out, so I watched from where I was at he house to make sure he didn’t get stuck. He made it. Eventually we had all of the Dschaak’s, Burkes, and Alex’s bridesmaids at the house where we had no power.  Most of us soaked to the bones.  Not long after the storm subsided.

My dad got hit by a couple of large chunk of hail when he was running from the barn to car. One that hit him on the top of the head left a decent bump. Other than that no one got hurt.  Next Ian had to get this generator going and then deal with water that had come into the laundry room of their house which they had been remodeling. After Jordan, the police deputy and groomsman, got the sit rep we found out the road was impassable towards town, but as far as he knew the route the other direction was one. People were just hanging at this point, but Dan & Robina wanted to go back to the hotel.  I took the Jeep, with Taylor and her friends to lead them out.

As we left we ran into people stopped where a tree almost completely blocked the road.  One car could barely slip past the downed trees. There were a number of cars going both directions, so it required a little maneuvering to get past.  We got through and then for the next mile proceeded to weave from one side of the road to the next dodging downed trees and limbs. The road was never completely blocked.  We made it out to I-77 and the hotel. The hotel had no power except emergency power.

Tanya called asking us to get pizza because most people did not get a chance to eat before the storm hit in force.  We (me and Taylor’s friends) went to Pizza Hut which was near the hotel. While they had some light on they were closed due to lack of power.  At this point we figured no pizza and headed back to Alex and Ian’s house.  On the way there we went through downtown Ripley, which had no power.  As we made our way to the house we saw Domino’s had their “open” sign on, so we stopped and got pizza. Yay!

The road was still closed from the I-77 dealership side, so I had to drive all the way around to farm.  This meant dodging trees and limbs, but some clean up had started so it wasn’t as bad as the drive out.  Once we got to the house, the pizza was quickly consumed by some very hungry poeple.  We hung around talking about the crazy experience that we had just had and did some post analysis.  No one was hurt in the storm.  There was just a huge mess of all the decorations (see picture) at the barn.  Also, the barn’s upper portion had a slight lean, so thankful nothing worse happened.  At the end of the day it was scary and made a mess of the barn, but no one was seriously hurt. The storm  cleared to allow preparation for the big day to continue which turned out to be great.

Link to storm coverage


It turned out to be a great day for the wedding even though severe storms the day before almost derailed the entire thing.


The day was beautiful and so was the bride.


Ian and Alex looking ready for the ceremony.


The wedding party:

Left to right: Trae, Jordan, Ethan, Colin, Josh, Ian, Alex, Annie, Taylor, Nicole, Rhea, Callan


Proud Mom and Dad with the Bride and Groom


Best Man Colin and Maid of Honor Annie with the Bride and Groom.


Beginning of ceremony after procession.


It didn’t take long for the crying to start.


Ring bearer, Charlie, and flower girl, Layla


Layla performing flower girl duties.


The cutting of the cake.


I wasn’t sure if I would speak, but I did.  Apparently, I had all the women in the place crying.  Of course, it probably helped that I was, too.



Tammy Banks hosted a bridal shower for Alex in Ripley, WV.   There was quite the turn out of family and friends.




Alex2015Graduation Marshall

Alex and Ian graduated from Marshall Univwersity.  Both graduated with honors.  Ian – Summa Cum Laude.  Alex – Magna Cum Laude.  We are very proud of them as they complete one phase of their life and move on to the next.

Alex2015Graduation Fountain

Alex and Ian and the memorial fountain.  This is a center piece of the campus as it memorializes the loss of Marshall students and staff in a plane crash.   The movie “We are Marshall” tells this story.  Twice a year there is a ceremony at the fountain.  A ceremony when the fountain is started in the spring and another when it is shut down in the fall.

Alex2015Graduation Robes


Alex’s maid of honor joined us for the graduation as well.  It was great that she was able to make it to Huntington for the graduation.


The entire family made it for the graduation.

Alex2015Graduation Family

Alex2015 Graduation Taylor


Willow2015SleepingMeet Alex’s dog — Willow.  She is a 7 week old Blue Heeler (aka Australian Cattle Dog)


Willow2015PeekabooWillow was playing peekaboo from under the blanket.

Link to short video of Willow: 2015-03-20 18.25.17


At the Brookfield Zoo with Lions and Tigers and Bear, oh my! Oh, Alex, Taylor, and Alyssa were with us as well.


TDF2015BrookfieldZoo2Alyssa, Taylor, and Alex being good sports for the camera




TDF2015BrookfieldZoo6Alex’s arm span does not quite measure up to the Andean Condor’s wing span.

TDF2015BrookfieldZoo7Tanya caught this leopard as it yawned giving us a great view of those teeth.

TDF2015BrookfieldZoo8Alex’s favorite animal. Of course she loves ’em all, but this is her fav.

TDF2015BrookfieldZoo9Taylor’s favorite animal.  She really wants a live miniature one. Can someone get on that?

TDF2015BrookfieldZoo10 This was totally cool.  Dolphin would blow air rings and play with them as the floated to the surface.

TDF2015BrookfieldZoo11This young ape was pretty engaging while we were there.


We took our visitors into the city.  A beautiful day to visit Millennium Park and get some shots with iconic Bean.

TDF2015Chicago MilleniumPark

TDF2015Chicago TheBean2

TDF2015Chicago TheBean3

TDF2015AlexTay The Bean

Alyssa (Taylor’s roommate), Taylor, and Alex

TDF2015AlexTay The Bean2

TDF2015AlexTayTanya TheBeanImageThe family image in The Bean


We had some visitors over the Thanksgiving holiday.  It was great having Mom, Dad, Dillon, Alex, Taylor, and Ian visiting.


Ian, Alex, Martin, Tanya, Taylor — outside Shedd Aquarium with Chicago skyline in background.

TDF2014ThanksgivingChicagoMomDadDillonMom, Dillon, Dad


Alex2014Ian Chicago-NavyPierAlex and Ian at the Navy Pier

Alex2014Ian ChicagoRiverAlex and Ian at the Chicago River fountain.

Alex2014Ian ChicagoSkylineAlex and Ian with the Chicago skyline and Millennium Park in the background,

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