Thursday, April 27, 2006

BITS AND PIECES

Camera update: Well, my camera card (not "kamera kard," thank you very much, Kewl, but very kute) isn't working, but I found the USB cord to plug my camera directly into the computer, so I'm in business again.

Where we are: Pickerington, OH, which is near Canal Winchester, where one of our daughters lives, which is near Columbus, where our other daughter lives. It is NOT a KOA (Kampgrounds of America.) We'll be here for a glorious 5 days w/o having to move again, and then a one-day trip to Maryland, where we'll be home for the summer.

My hair is gone =:-O See profile pic and my "Delirium Tremens" post below. Kind of accidentally, but I love it!! The funny thing is, Steve did it for me. I had been thinking of a really short cut but decided to go just to my shoulders for a start. I cut a little piece where I wanted it and asked Steve to cut it that length. He has trimmed my hair before and done a nice job. I figured if it didn't work, I could always go to the salon and get it cut again. But I had this layered cut, and Steve mistook one of the shorter layers for the one I had cut as a guide and... it ended up like this. But I LOVE it!!! It's so easy! It's not stringy! My growing-out bangs blend right in! All the dead stuff is gone! It's not dry and broken!! Helmet-hair fluffs right out! (This pic is moments after I got off a 2-hr ride... just ran my fingers through it and I can face the world like this!) I should have done it a year ago.

Evil dog: At the office of this campground, they have a SIGN with a LIST of dogs you can't bring in. Chow. Rottweiler (from which some have speculated Journey may have derived some of


her heritage), Doberman (from which some have speculated the same), German Shepherd (which they called her at the pound , a "shepherd mix"), pit bull (no known relation) OR any mixed breed containing one or more of the above. I told Journey, "If anyone asks, you're black Lab and beagle, got it?"





Monday, April 24, 2006

WELL, CRAP.

Now that I've started posting a lot of pictures, I'm interested in my photography pursuit again. And now that I'm interested in photography again, my camera-card adapter has gone bad. Neither my computer nor Steve's will read it. This sucks. I took a whole bunch of shots today of the Gateway Arch from all kinds of angles, some really cool stuff, and I can't get to them. I took shots of the Speedplay pedals someone wants to buy, and I can't send them because I can't get to them. Without photos, I'm sunk. My life is over. Or at least set back.

Which brings up the issue of my life.... I know it sounds like heaven, going wherever we want whenever we want, but we have to stop doing that. We need to be at Deep Creek Lake State Park, MD, the first of May to start working for the summer. I'll be a campground host (in charge of cleanup, complaints, and general PR) and Steve will be a seasonal ranger (he just retired from being a state park ranger 2 years ago.) Then in September we're gonna hustle down to FL to work in a campground there for the winter, both of us. The park owner has agreed to give us the week off for IMFL, so that's no hassle, thank goodness. But we are going to start working at campgrounds -- it's called "workamping," a word I won't use because I have a thing about words that start with "c" being spelled with a "k" for cuteness or whatever. Like "Kountry Kitchen" or the camper across the lot from us called "Komfort" (why? It's not like the word goes with another one that starts with "k".) Or a fabric store called "Krazy Kwilt."

It drives me crazy to see words spelled wrong deliberately, unless it makes a really good point or a really good joke.

For instance: The other day in Wal-Mart I noticed a cat food called "Deli-cat." Like, deli delicacy for a cat, which is a delicate animal. Now, I think it would be cool if the same company would make cat litter called "Defi-cat." Self-explanatory.

But they better not spell it with a K.

Anyway, I'm bummed. My card reader won't work, and I'm having hot flashes. I have to get the trailer ready to go tonight, because in the morning when we're ready to leave, it's supposed to be raining or even storming. Not good for getting outdoor things in, disconnectingand stowing all kinds of outdoor stuff. Except a lot of the stuff we have outdoors (patio chairs, the satellite dish, the milk box we store our 30# electric hook-up cord in, for instance) can't go indoors till we're done being indoors, because there isn't room. So even though the inside preparation is technically mine, a lot of it involves the outdoors, can't be done till last thing, and will have to be done in the rain.

Man, I really wanted to post those Arch pictures. We'll have to pass a Wal-Mart between here and our tomorrow-night stopover somewhere in Indiana. But I don't know if we'll have internet there. We have a satellite dish but Steve often doesn't set it up for just one night. Which means I (I mean we) won't have internet AND I'll miss American Idol. Unless the campground has cable. And I really, really like American Idol. Last week I missed it in the wheel-lug mess.

Is it life.... or is it menopause? If I'm gonna have hot flashes, at least I could not have... well, anyway.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

St. Charles, MO

We like St. Charles so much we're changing our plans and staying another day. We want to kayak on the Missouri River, which is practically outside our back door. We also want to go down to St. Louis to see the Gateway Arch.

This was a biking day. Steve went with me for about 5 miles, then I went on by myself for my 40-miler.

Here's Steve on the Katy Trail, with the Missouri behind him.
















The Katy Trail merges with the Page Avenue Bike trail, which is paved and perfect. It goes out to and around Creve Coeur Lake and Park. Here are shots from my own ride:


















And here are the springs -- pretty. Even though you can't really see the water dripping.
























Recreation on Creve Coeur Lake:
























The Missouri River, from the Page Trail:




















This is a lovely place, and it feels sooooo good to stop for a few days, after traveling 3 days straight with one-night stopovers, including the one with that wheel mess. I've been able to do the training sessions I didn't do for 3 days. So I did a 14-mile run yesterday and today's 40-mile bike, back-to-back, but I feel good. Kept the bike in hardly-trying gears and I don't think it stressed my legs to speak of. My quads are a little sore from yesterday's run. That's crazy... 3 months ago I was in marathon shape. ~Sigh~

Saturday, April 22, 2006

DELIRIUM TREMENS



That's the name of the beer I'm drinking in this picture! Honest! Check it out here. I don't know if it was as good as the reviewers say, definitely not as good a Moose Drool (a Montana microbrew)but it was good. The bottle was a trip... pink elephants dancing all over it. They serve it in a brandy snifter so it can develop its full head. 8.5% alcohol, in a BEER!!! It was $7 a bottle, and Steve made me drink it all to get our money's worth. I think he was trying to get me drunk.

Anyway, I got it in St. Charles, MO, where we've stopped for a few days. This place is outstanding. Right behind the RV park is the Katy Trail, a rail-trail with a crushed stone surface where I did my 14-mile run today. Journey took a couple dips in the Missouri River en route.

After that, Steve and I hopped the free trolley to the St. Charles historic district, where we moseyed around looking at all the touristy shops. I bought an abridged edition of the Lewis and Clark Expedition Journals. Since I'm hosting aspirations of hiking the Appalachian Trail (and maybe the Continental Divide and Pacific Crest Trails as well) and biking coast-to-coast, this kind of adventure is right down my alley. The town is really pretty, reminds me of Mackinac Island, MI. We had lunch in an outdoor pub where I got the aforementioned beer. The food was great, and so was the entertainment: a robin flew over and landed on a branch right above the lady at the next table. I saw a recipe for disaster but before I could voice an alarm, sure enough, he flicked his tail and.... she didn't know what had hit her, flicked at her hair as if she thought a leaf had fallen or something. I couldn't help myself, I laughed out loud. I pointed to the branch above her head. The robin was still there. She got it. It was too funny. I'm still laughing.

Friday, April 21, 2006

TROUBLE ON THE ROAD











Oh, no, not again.... Tuesday (was it Tuesday? I think it was Tuesday...) it looked like trouble right from the start.



This means us.....















But it turned out that the wind was not to be the problem. Well, it did complicate the issue later on, or at least make it more unpleasant. We were headed from Denver to Oakley, KS, where we'd make our first of 3 overnight stops crossing Kansas. We had the awning tied to avoid repeating the wind-spawned trouble we had the other day. We were within 30 miles of our overnight stopping-place when Steve, uncharacteristically, pulled off into a rest area. Now, this is unusual. Normally he'd just wait till we got there, that close. But, whatever. Anyway, I came out of the rest room (I was glad not to have to wait another 30 miles, had been fighting it for a while but hadn't wanted to say anything with just 30 miles to go.) Steve was back in the truck and said, "We got trouble. This is as far as we go." Apparently, a wheel had been loose, and its wobbling, over time, had caused the rim to shear off ALL the lug bolts. There was not one left. The wheel was being held on by the weight of the axle right on the rim, by gravity, and by grace.

Here's the wheel. Wish I'd shot it while it was still on the hub.


















Here's the hub with the sheared-off bolts. Some had broken off way inside, and had to be hammered out with an awl and sledge.

















Here's the wheel again, off the tire. Can you believe it?

















The wind was blowing about 35mph steady, gusting harder, which made it hard to get out of the truck (couldn't open the doors) and blew dirt into our eyes as we jacked up the trailer and lifted the wheel off.

Steve called the Good Sam Road Service number, and, thankfully, the town of Colby, KS was just 5 miles away and had a participating mobile mechanic service. But what we did was just take the wheel off, throw it into the truck, leave the trailer at the rest area, and go into Colby, which had a Goodyear store (which also sold Maytag appliances, small town) with a tire-service department. The guys came out to see what we had. A red-haired kid, maybe 20 years old, looked at it and his eyes popped open, his jaw dropped, his chin and neck jutted forward, and with his jaw still agape he grinned and said, "ROCK ON!!!!"

They made a trip to another place for a new wheel, and to a different one for a new hub. But the hub place didn't have what we needed, and what they did have wasn't going to work on our wheel. The Goodyear guys decided to put ours on a grinder wheel to smooth down the grooves the cut-up wheel rim had made in it. This was going to take a long time. Wouldn't be able to finish till the next day (it was already 6pm.)

As luck (?) would have it, there was nice little RV campground not a mile from the Goodyear place. Steve and I decided to go get the trailer, drag it somehow to the campground, and spend the night there. We chained the axle up to some of the trailer framework to keep it from dragging on the road. Like this.
















We drove 15mph with our flashers on, down the shoulder of the road 5 miles to Colby. A police car sped by us with lights and siren. Guess we were small potatoes. Couple minutes later, back he comes, does a U-ie across the median. We thought he was going to stop for us. Nope, pulled over a car ahead of us. Great, now we have to go around him and his pullover into the traffic lane at 15mph with our flashers on. Few minutes later, up he comes behind us again with his lights on. Good, he's going to talk to us and maybe escort us. Nope, he pulls over another vehicle. And the one he had when we drove around him before, is behind him, and pulls over behind him. This is weird. What did he say to the first one, "You're arrested, follow me while I pick off the next one?" Anyway, we drove around him again into the traffic lane at 15mph with our flashers on. That was the last we saw him.

So we parked at the campground and registered. The office was in a building that used to be a train depot, and now, besides being the campground office, was also a restaurant. The sign said, "Just like eating at Granny's house," and it was.... Granny was the only staff. She took care of registration for the campground, restaurant seating, taking orders, cooking, serving, and entertainment. The restaurant was wonderful, all folksy and old-timey with trestle tables (of course, in a train depot), a handmade quilt on the wall that we could buy for $1,150, all kinds of old memorabilia and portraits of someone's great-great grandfather like in Cracker Barrel, and she put on a CD of a classic-rock guitarist, just for us. The woman was an attractive 60-something; from our table we could see her in the kitchen, pouring our wine, preparing our food. Just like at Granny's house. She had made up a menu listing a modest selection of recipes of her own, all served with mesclun salad with her own herb dressing (mmmm...), her own homemade whole-wheat bread, green beans, and "chef's potato of the day" (scalloped red potatoes with peels on, with herbs and garlic. Mmmmm. We both ordered Pecan Brandy Chicken --chicken breast marinated in pecan brandy, sauteed and served with her own pecan-butter-brandy sauce. It kicked ass. While we ate (we were her only customers), she pulled up a chair and sat down at the next table. She had a box of CD cases and asked, "Do you know how to open these things?" She talked about her sons, who both played in folk-rock- Christian bands. We all talked about our grandkids. We talked about traveling. We talked about getting older. She was great. I would have liked to be friends. I had a kick-ass Kaluah Cake with Chantilly Cream. Steve ate half of it.

















In the morning we went back to the tire place. They had finished grinding the hub surface flat. While they put everything back together, we sat inside (out of the wind) and shot the bull with Rhonda Kay, the desk clerk, who was as chummy and down-home as they come, really neat gal. Finally they were done and we gritted out teeth as the manager totalled up our bill. For two trips to other establishments for the wheel and hub (well, three, they took back the hub that didn't fit), the price of the wheel, a new seal (I kept thinking about the joke about the penguin who blew a seal), putting a new stem on our flat spare (oh, yeah, forgot to tell you, the spare tire was flat), 4 lugs and 4 lug nuts, grinding the hub down flat, and labor.....

$177.50.

That was all. We were blown away. Not by wind.

It was so unusual that Steve would pull off at a rest area just then. I think God intervened. Gave him an elbow in the ribs... hey, Steve, there's a rest area. Steve says, "Naw, we're almost where we're going." God: Uh, you gotta stop. You gotta go to the bathroom, yeah, that's the ticket, you gotta go to the bathroom, right? Steve: "Well, now that you mention it...." God: And while you're stopped, take a little walk-around and make sure everything's secure on your trailer. Steve walking around: "Holy $h*t!!" God: Thank God you found it. You guys were about to have something nasty happen, and you wouldn't have gotten 30 more miles. Now, to make up for your trouble, I'm going to find you a great tire place where they'll treat you right, with a campground a mile away, and a restaurant you won't believe. Just, from now on, check your lug nuts before you drive, deal?

Monday, April 17, 2006

WHERE YOU LEAST EXPECT IT part 2

No, I didn't find this geode. Wish I had. Got these pics off the net. But I wanted a geode for this post for its metaphorical contribution and because part of this story includes reference to a well-known one about a stone that was rolled away.










THE STORY OF THE IMPROBABLE CHURCH

It being Easter, Steve and I felt we should go to church. I often don't when we're on the road, and he's not into it for the most part. He got on the net to look for some. Asked me, "Well, you want Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Assembly of God, Presbyterian....?" I voted Baptist. He found one and printed out a map.

We set out early, to beat the Easter crowd. Drove around the mapped spot and saw no church. Oops, there it is.... I guess. The sign said "Meadow Hills Christian Church" but, um, everything else was printed in Chinese or something. And it was just kind of a two-story shed, with fake brick siding, that tar-backed stuff shingles are made of. It was 9:10 and there were 2 cars in the parking lot for the 9:30 service. We expected a full house by then for Easter. This didn't look right. Steve waited while I went in and checked. Inside, I smelled eggrolls cooking. Bulletin-board materials were all in Chinese or whatever. Everyone there was Asian, speaking an Asian language. Hesitantly I asked someone, "Um, I'm looking for the Baptist church?" "Downstairs!" they said. So I went outside and down the stairs. The only door looked like the back door to a store in the mall, you know, the doors out back with the dumpsters next to them. Except this one didn't have a dumpster. Just the nondescript back door. I went in. It was a room about 20 feet square, with, yes, an altar and a pulpit, and a stained-glass picture behind the altar. 3 or 4 people were sitting on folding chairs.... About 20 chairs were set up. Two children were banging on a piano. I picked up a program." Yup, Baptist service, celebrating the Day of the Resurrection. I went out and informed Steve that this appeared to be it. He looked dubious. He likes big congregations and spectacular music and a lot of pomp and glory.

In we went. Steve looked more dubious and a might disdainful. The kids were still banging on the piano. Steve asked them if they were the music for church and they laughed hysterically. A woman who appeared to be in charge told them no more candy till after church. People dribbled in. Some were carrying styrofoam coffee cups from McDonald's and Starbucks. Some were wearing jeans. There were no hymnals. I saw a stack of books and asked a man if we were supposed to get our own hymn books. He looked surprised, said, "What are we singing?" I pointed to the bulletin and said, "The once-a-year Easter hymns no one knows by heart." He agreed we needed hymnals and went and got a few, handing out about one per two people.

After a while a woman about my age showed up, dressed in an Indian/hippie/LLBean-casually-dressy long dress, crochet/macrame vest, and a hippie/Indian arrowhead/bead necklace. She said to Steve and me, "Hi, I'm Jan, the pastor." OK. I liked her immediately. She went around the scattering of people, handing out typewritten sheets to some who agreed they'd be OK with doing a reading.

It was 9:25. We now had about 16 or so people. A young, nicely-dressed woman came in and sat politely in the back by herself next to the table where the bulletins were. Pastor Jan approached her and introduced herself. The girl was the pianist. Apparently they'd hired her... guess the two kids were OK for everyday but they needed real music for Easter :-) She said, "I'm ready; I just need to see what I'm playing." Oh, my. Whenever I've had to play for a church service, I've practiced all week long.... The girl sat at the piano and began to play her prelude. Well. She definitely knew her way around the piano. And around church music. "Thine Is The Glory," adapted from Handel, embellished beautifully with arpeggios and flourishes of the girl's own impulse. Good, we've got the accompaniment taken care of. Now to see about the rest of the music and the service. This assorted oddment of folks probably wouldn't do too much with these ambitious Easter hymns. Wrong. The girl started the first hymn and the people rose to the occasion. The dozen-and-a-half sounded like twice that many and on key, too. A woman with a beautiful soprano voice stood up front and led. Nice!

On with the service. As in many Protestant churches, there was no liturgy but there was sort of an agenda. The prayers were not standard (except the Lord's Prayer) but they were wonderful.
Ten minutes into it, a family of 4 came in, the parents carrying coffee cups, and took the last remaining chairs. Pastor Jan greeted them and went on with the service. The chosen readers read their parts, a Psalm and two different Gospel versions of the events of the Resurrection morning. (The 4 Gospels do not agree 100% on the details of how many women, which ones by name, how many angels, whether they were in fact angels, what the response of the disciples was when the women ran back to tell them, "He is not there.") Then the sermon.

Wow.

I wish I'd brought my tape recorder. And my video camera. Pastor Jan delivered her sermon leaning against the pulpit with one elbow, her ankles crossed, and intermittently sipped out of a water bottle. She used no notes, appeared to be speaking off the top of her head, although she had obviously thought it all out and knew where she was going with it.

Highlights that stayed with me:

One:
"Anyone here who may be a doctor or nurse has had this experience, and as a chaplain I've had it. You've been seeing an ICU patient every day, and today when you go to see him today the bd is empty. Your first thought is not, "He has risen." Your first thought is, "He has died." If the nurses were to say to you, "He just got up out of the bed in perfect health and signed himself out," you'd say, "Excuse me? He did what?" No wonder these women were bewildered. And believing myself that He in fact had risen, I'm still bewildered. It it something totally out of my everyday experience and I can't understand how it could happen. And yet my faith dictates to me to believe that it did."

Another:
"The women went to the disciples and told them. Mary Magdalene had had an encounter with the risen Lord and recounted this to the disciples. They dismissed it as nonsense. Now, who here has had that happen to them?"

More:
"The disciples were scared to death. They were in a locked room for fear of the Jews -- who knew but that the Jews would come after them next. Now that the body was gone, "risen" as Mary claimed, they were even more afraid. They told no one. Who here has been in that place? Not telling anyone about the risen Lord because you're afraid of what the response will be? And when the Lord made Himself known to them finally, He met them where they were. He came quietly into the locked room. God understands our need for the security of a locked room."

Halfway through the sermon, the door squeaked open and in meandered another handful of people. They got chairs from the stacks by the wall, set them up, and sat down. Pastor Jan smiled, said, "Hi! Happy Easter and welcome!" Took another swallow of water and continued unfazed.

Another one:
"The majority of Christians lead their lives as functional Atheists. They are not thinking about or communicating with God most of the time. God is the farthest thing from their mind, let alone first in their priorities. As an extroverted person, I might speak to 15 people in a day before I remember to pray, and every time that happens, I say to myself, "What am I doing???"

Plus:
"Look at old Jonah. He was in the belly of the whale for 3 days, and on the third day he prayed and the whale spat him out. Three days. Why the heck didn't he pray the first day? Well... we've all done the same thing."

More:
"Does the way we live our lives reflect who we're following? All the time? When you unload your cart outside the Home and Garden center and realize they forgot to charge you for the stuff in the bottom of the cart, what do you do? My car has cards on it identifying me as a minister. Does that keep me from speeding in Sheridan? I hope so. Because I don't afford another ticket. And because I can't afford to give the message that this Christian pastor doesn't play by the rules."

Finale:
"Spreading the word does not always mean telling people about the risen Lord. Chances are it will be dismissed as nonsense, or misinterpretation, or having been sold a bill of goods. What will be observed is the way you live your life. If you identify yourself in some inconspicuous way as a Christian, people will be watching. They will be watching to see if they see Christ in you. In this way the risen Lord lives. He lives in you and through you."

Wow. And it was such an unpromising-looking church, such an inauspicious start, such an improbable entire setting. You just never know.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

WHERE YOU LEAST EXPECT IT

Thursday I had a 12-mile run scheduled, and I dutifully did it. It started out well (first 4 miles at 10:00 pace) but ended up being one of those runs that makes you wonder why you do this. I mean, a-w-f-u-l. The last half I lagged, I dragged, I gagged (not really but it rhymes), I walked, I made it any way I could. Somewhere around mile 9 or 10 I looked down and there grew a 4-leaf clover. There were lots of clover growing on the side of the road but... I don't know, I just have an eye for picking them out. I find one every couple years. You never find them when you look for them. You just have to see them where they are. So in the worst stages of this awful run, here was this happy symbol of good luck. I don't do omens or superstitions, but just finding something universally recognized as special on that knock-down, drag-out run made the whole run special.

THE STORY OF THE REDNECK PICNIC
I've been promising to post about our one-night stopover on our way to Denver. We stayed at a privately-owned RV camp in Blanca, CO, population 318 according to the travel atlas. It appeared that the establishment was primarily a couple gas pumps and old-fashioned corner store (complete with screen door on a spring that banged shut). There were maybe a dozen RV sites; we were one of 3 parked there. Our next-door neighbors had apparently been there a while, during cold weather, because..... the space underneath and around their camper was crammed with hay bales for insulation. They had a rusty van, a rusty old station wagon, a rusty-dusty dog chained to a flatbed trailer (the wooden kind you hitch up to your car to haul wood or whatver.) They had a couple chickens in a coop made of logs and cardboard boxes. All they needed was a couple cars on cinder blocks and several rusted-out major appliances in their yard.

~Sigh~ This is getting wordy already. But I wanted to set the stage.

I went to see the dog, since I could see it was part Red Heeler, and I'm a sucker for those. The woman (about my age) told me all about the dog but she had some kind of speech defect and it took me awhile to get the hang of understanding her. There was a charcoal grill fired up, and the man (who could have been anywhere from 55-75, couldn't tell, turned out he was early 70's) drove up in the rusty station wagon and told me that "my honey" and I were invited for hamburgers and hot dogs after awhile. He said that, "Your honey." This was a surprise -- people we lived beside all winter never said hello, and now these folks with their junk cars, hay bales, and makeshift chicken coop invited us to dinner. I thought, "Eewwww...." but thanked him and said I'd tell Steve. I told Steve. He said, "NO WAY. I ain't eatin' over there. Tell them we've got plans." But I'd already thanked him and he seemed to expect us. Steve said, "I'm not going."

So, not wanting to hurt or offend them, I went by myself. Told them Steve wasn't feeling well and was sleeping. The man said, "Oh, poor fella, must be tired from driving.... well, let 'im sleep." The woman opened a package of hamburger and dumped it on the grill in one piece. She put hotdogs on. There were paper plates, napkins, forks, mustard, ketchup, a can of baked beans and an onion all in a pile on the picnic table. I said I had a tomato, they said that would be great, so I went and sliced up a tomato and brought it over on a plate and added it to the pile. The man was finishing a quart bottle of Miller High Life so I discerned that they thought beer was OK and I thought I'd better pre-sanitize my system and went to our camper and got myself a Corona. And the 3 of us, the man, the woman with the funny speech, and I, sat at the picnic table talking about I don't know what, just stuff, while the food cooked. They were pleasant and fun and interesting and intelligent; I enjoyed being there. I wondered when they were going to put the beans on the grill. The other stuff was probably about done.

Sure enough, in a few minutes the woman heaved herself up (she was quite portly) and rolled the hotdogs (which were thoroughly charred) onto a plate, put a spatula behind the mass of hamburger and dragged it onto another. Interesting. Just open the package, turn the styrofoam tray over, dump the whole lump onto the grill and cook it en masse. Easy and you don't have to touch raw meat. She brought the hotdogs and mass of hamburger to the table.

The man produced a hand can-opener, the kind that costs $1.29, opened the baked beans, stuck a fork in them, and scooped a puddle of them directly from the can onto his paper plate. Now, I want you to know (those who don't already) that I can rise to such an occasion and be just as good a redneck as anyone else, so I did the same, scooping the beans from the can onto my plate. I was still uncertain about eating the food they got who-knows-where, who-knows-how-long-ago, stored who-knows-how, and I thought, cold from the can, poured directly onto my plate, these beans haven't had a chance to become anything but safe. I also went for a hotdog... between the preservatives and their advanced state of black crispiness, they should be safe also. The onion had by now been sliced and I took some of the inside layers, cut them up more, and sprinkled them on my hotdogs. Oddly, the woman had a bottle of Annie's Organic Gourmet Raspberry Mustard (which the man wouldn't touch) and I had to try that. It was really good.


So now the man says, "You gonna give me one-a them burgers?" gesturing to the plate of nondifferentiated cooked ground meat. Well, the meat had separated some into vague chunks as it shrunk during cooking, forming irregularly-shaped and -sized areas, and the woman reached for one of these. The man interrupted gently, "Use the spatula." She pulled her fingers away and lifted a chunk with the spatula, which must be what they do when they've got company. Or maybe she doesn't know stuff.... she seemed with-it enough but now and then he gave her a gentle reminder about some point of etiquette or another. I couldn't tell if they were married (no rings), or related, or what. Probably "or what." He poured more unheated baked beans from the can onto his plate and then offered the can to me. The lid was still sticking up from the edge of the can, attached by the little section you leave uncut to keep the lid from falling into the contents. So I poured myself more beans and took another blackened hotdog, sipped my Corona, and we talked about fishing, and he told me how to make adobe bricks, and I told him my dad had played trumpet with Vaughn Monroe's band in the 1940's; this thrilled him because that was the music that was in vogue when he was a young fella. He talked about the "Big Bands" of that era. He couldn't believe he was eating dinner with the daughter of one of Vaughn Monroe's trumpet players. We talked about how to cook lobster (the woman grew up in Maine) (she said "Losber" instead of "Lobster") and I talked about catching and cooking Maryland blue crabs. We talked about all kinds of things. The woman dripped ketchup and mustard onto her shirt.

Well, now the man said I had to take a hamburger. Uh-oh. I had not planned on eating any of it. I said lamely, "I've already had 3 hotdogs...." The woman already had a chunk of the meat on the spatula and said, "Here, gimme your plate." I observed that it was cooked through. So I passed my plate and thought of the Scripture, "Eat whatever is set before you," put on some ketchup and ate it. She offered, "It's ground turkey." The man dropped his fork and looked up. "TURKEY???" She said, "Yeah, it's turkey. Doc says you gotta cut back on your fat." He suspiciously dissected what was left of his third "burger" with his fork. He shrugged. "Coulda fooled me." He resumed eating it.

No buns. We used our plastic forks to cut our dogs and burgers.

So then we talked about health and good eating and cholesterol, and he said he had Parkinson's disease and an estimated 2 years to live. I saw no sign of Parkinson's.... maybe a little shuffle in his walk, but no shaking or anything. He said, "Yeah, the doc tells me I'm dying, but I'm pretending I ain't." We ate for awhile in silence. I finished my beer. He said, "Man, that Corona's good beer, ain't it?" His quart of Miller was empty. I said, "Yeah, it is, you want one? I'll bring you a couple." He wasn't shy, or abashed -- he said, "Hey, wouldja? That'd be great." So I brought him 2, and another one for myself. He took the all-purpose opener and worked on his beer cap. After a couple tries he handed me the opener and said, "My Parkinson's...." I opened his Corona for him. He took a swig and said, "Aaahhh, that's good. Y'know, I used to be a real bad drinker, and I gave it up 'cause I didn't want to be no akaholic. I didn't drink for years. But if I'm only gonna live 2 more years...." He looked at his empty quart of Miller, his opened Corona, and the extra one I'd brought him. He picked this up and placed it back in front of me. "No point testin' fate.... maybe I ain't dyin'." He took another drink of his Corona. The woman said, "I don't drink much beer. I bought me a six-pack a couple months ago and still got 2 left. Kills your liver. But I don't drink Corona... I'm Irish and I like my Irish beer." I said, "What, like Killian Red?" She nodded contentedly and said, "Yeah, now THAT's good beer."

We fed uneaten portions to the dogs. Besides the Heeler mix, there was a tiny Shih-tzu who had been given a bad total-body haircut with scissors. We talked about dogs. The woman petted the Heeler mix, whose name was "Red," and said, "I never hit her. Only when she nips my face. She's just a pup, she'll learn not to." She seemed to think it was unusual never to hit your dog. The dog was wonderful, about 4 months old, delightful disposition. I took a picture of her at the man's feet.

They were real way-out-back rednecks. They were uncouth and unrefined. They were genuinely down-home downright friendly and hospitable. They were real folks. I had a very enjoyable time. I felt like I was somehow in my element.... just me, no airs. Just them, no airs.

Next morning I took the printed picture over to them, but they weren't home. We were ready to pull out for Denver. I left the picture under the windshield wiper of the rusty station wagon. I realized, we never even exchanged names.

They were like the 4-leaf clover. Special, rare, and totally unexpected.

TRAVEL PICTURES

Too much catching up to do... I'm going to try to use more pictures than words. Our last night in Utah, the moon was almost full. I'd been "shooting" it for days. A short boulder-and-and-gully hike up the rocks from our campsite, was this natural arch.




The next day (the 12th) we started for Colorado. I'd been meaning to get pictures of the other side of the Utah coin.... the slim pickings the Navajo have been left with, in a beautiful but barren desert area where nothing will grow.





Like outback folks just about everywhere, they have every car and major appliance they'v ever owned out in their yard. My photo is straight.... this farmer's trailer really was askew like that.


Here is a typical animal pen.

On to Colorado, where we spent an afternoon at Mesa Verde National Park looking at cliff dwellings. Here is the sign at the top of the trail down to one of the ruins:


How's that again??


These folks knew how to build. Nearly a thousand years later, their buildings are still standing. I love looking into the rooms and imagining their daily lives going on there.

ON TO DENVER

The story of the overnight stopover between Mesa Verde and Denver merits its own post, coming eventually.

Today we headed east on Rte. 160 in southern Colorado in wind worthy of the name. We discovered that the awning on our trailer was coming loose and flapping in the wind. Where we got out to fix it, it was too windy to do anything. We could hardly control the doors of the truck to get out and back in. It was hard to stand up. I have never been in wind like that. After we got a little bit over the lea side of the mountain, we got our awning tethered again, still under highly windy conditions. Steve has a sore back, I have a sore shoulder and a sore ankle. Never have I seen sustained wind like that. We have a weather radio that predicted sustained winds of 30-40 mph with gusts up to 65.... but we didn't think that was where we were going.


We came to this sign AFTER we had gotten ourselves adequately secured. When we fixed the awning, we were traveling east with the wind coming from the SSW. I told him it was good we weren't going north or south. But then we turned north onto CO Rte. 25, where this sign was, and we got it broadside. Steve was visibly working with the steering wheel to keep our rig on the road.


These drivers are waiting it out under an overpass in the slight shelter of its man-made hill.



This guy should have. His was the second overturned semi we saw in a space of less than 5 miles. About 15 or 20 miles farther on, we stopped for lunch, and at their cash register in the restaurant was a sign that read, "Truckers: By order of State Patrol, if your load is light or empty, do not proceed south on Rte. 25 due to high wind conditions."

Conditions were a lot better as we continued north. However, Denver, where we've landed for a few days, was really windy today. When we parked and set up, the wind was still bothersome but not inhibiting. If we hadn't come through the gale farther south, we'd have thought it was awful. After practically blowing away earlier, though, it seemed hardly noticeable.

I have got to tell you about the stopover between Mesa Verde and Denver. I'm still laughing. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

BIKE CRISIS

Scheduled today for an easy 45-min ride. How easy can it get? So I get my bike out of the truck where it's been for the 2 days we've been here. Get out the front wheel that was removed for transport. Put the wheel on.

No go. It's like the brakes are slammed on. Wheel won't move. Even with the brake-release thingie open (that you open to take the wheel off) it rubs.

I take it off. I check the brake pad positions. I mess with the brake/shifter lever. It's full of dust and grit under the lever hood. I clean it out with spray-can air and a baby-nipple brush. I put the wheel back on. No go. It's like the brakes are slammed on. The brake lever won't move. It must have gotten jammed up during transport or something. Steve can't figure out what's wrong either. The rub is not only in the brakes, it's up under the inside of the fork. Like something's bent that repositioned the relationship of the wheel to the fork, or something. What the h#ll???

I can't ride my bike. It's dead. I go inside, take off my bike clothes, put on my "civvies." We're going to see more of the views and vistas here in southeast Utah. My bike is trashed. I'm in tears. It was only an easy-spin recovery ride, no big deal to miss .... but my bike is dead. I killed it storing it in the truck bed with all kinds of junk jamming against it during travel. It's all bent up or something. We'll be in Denver this weekend.... I can get it serviced there. Hopefully.

I fish in the truck for the bike-lock-cable. In case someone tries to steal my dead bike while we're out touring the valleys. While I'm finding the cable, Steve is puzzling over the bike. I come back with the lock, and he says, "I know what's wrong." Oh, yeah? You know what my bike died of?

"This isn't your wheel. It's mine." Steve's wheel. To his humongous heavyweight touring bike. Fat tires. Yeah, they don't fit into my fork or between my brake pads in the open position. They're big fat touring tires.

ROFLMAO!!!!

For pete's sake. I had been thinking, while messing with the wheel and brakes, geez, this tire's more worn than it should be, I just put on new ones last month, at least I thought I did; did I replace both of them or just the rear one after all those flats?

My own skinny hotsy Bontrager racing wheel is with its new Bontrager tire is still in the truck bed, next to Steve's bike. Switch the wheels. It spins like it's floating on air (especially since we just adjusted everything.)

45-minute easy ride, done.

Monday, April 10, 2006

TOO BEAUTIFUL FOR WORDS

Monument Valley, Utah







FROM ARIZONA to UTAH

Some views from our trip from the Grand Canyon to Monument Valley, UT

















Before the Canyon becomes the Canyon, east on US 64



We were just north of the Painted Desert... close enough!


Endless beauty


The "Elephant's Feet" on Rte. 160N


Our campsite just north of the AZ/UT state line. Our trailer is the one in the middle (see the kayaks on the back?)


Sunday, April 09, 2006

MOVING ON








We're leaving the Grand Canyon tomorrow morning for Monument Valley, UT. Here are photos on the webste. I don't know what our internet options or accessibility will be; hopefully I'll be online but, if not, we'll be leaving there April 12, so I should be on again then.

I'm sorry to be leaving the Grand Canyon but Monument Valley looks pretty nice!

Friday, April 07, 2006

2006 TOTALS SO FAR AND FANTASY PROGRESS

From my log at CoolRunning.com, since right after New Year's:

Running
137.4 miles Time: 21h 21m 57s Avg. Pace: 10:29/mile
Cycling
689.5 miles Time: 1 day, 7m 45s Avg. Pace: 4:36/mile
Swimming
5.1 miles Time: 4h 56m 46s Avg. Pace: 51:50/mile
Hiking
26.5 miles Time: 3h 00m 00s Avg. Pace: 32:44/mile
Walking
4.4 miles Time: 40m 00s

This is equivalent to a double-Ironman, plus 3.2 additional marathons, 465.5 additional bike miles, and 0.3 more swim miles.

For my Run-to-Florida map (see sidebar for link) I've included both running and hiking in my total distance. I'm getting very close to the WV/VA state line on Interstate Route 219, in the southern part of both states. Bikewise, I'm halfway across Nevada, having started on the Oregon Coast. Taking State Route 50 East for now. I may actually run to Panama City Beach by November 4, but I doubt I'll make it on the bike. Unless I do a whole lot more biking than my coach maps out for me....

Thursday, April 06, 2006

CANYON SNOW; HIKE PLANS



We couldn't believe it, but last night by the time we went to bed, our picnic table sported 6" of snow, accumulated in only about 3 hours. It was slowing down by then; today it was 40*F and sunny, and it's just about gone.

Another pretty Canyon-side run, scheduled for 10 miles but ran extra to make sure I got in 10 and ended up with 11.4. I'm still going pretty slowly in the altitude but my pace felt right and it was a good run, I hardly got tired.

Journey loved the snow. I kept stopping for a few seconds to let her roll in it, make tunnels, and eat it. She found elk tracks and followed them. I stopped her after about 15 feet... I didn't want to follow elk tracks 10 miles into the woods. She was disappointed and looked hopefully into the trees to see if they had gone up there. You dumb dog, those are elk tracks, not squirrel prints. Well... if you're a dog and know that squirrels hide out in trees... why not elk?

Tomorrow we're hiking down into the Canyon a ways... not all the way down, but down in. Kaibab Trail, for you folks who know the Canyon. No real distance planned.... just however far we get before we decide that's about as far back up as we want to tackle. They say allow one-third of your time to go down to wherever you're going; two-thirds to hike back up.

Weather is supposed to be nice, mostly sunny, reaching 62*F at the rim (it gets warmer as you go down.) Yesterday I spent a couple hours revising my backpack, not just for this hike, but to have it ready to go anywhere anytime. Doing that seemed to lift my mood... the depression of the last couple days is gone.

Backpack supplies:
Sunscreen
Chapstick
Antiseptic cleansing wipes
Antibiotic ointment
Band-aids
A & D ointment (for chafing and blisters)
Little Kleenex packs
Comb (pulls out cactus as well as tangles) and brush
Nail clippers
Tweezers
Flashlight
Batteries
Pocket mirror (good for signaling)
One-piece contraption that's a whistle, compass, air-temp thermometer, and magnifying glass
Extra contacts, case, all-purpose contact solution
Reading glasses (to see splinters etc. up close)
Foil blanket from RNR Arizona
Plastic bags from small trash size to large garbage bags
Rain poncho
Food (trail mix, PayDay bars, beef jerkey, Power Gel)
Electrolyte capsules
Duct tape
Extra socks
Long-sleeved shirt
Gloves
Tylenol, Pepto-Bismol, Imodium, Benadryl, Epi-Pen (bees)
CPR mask, rubber gloves (oh, I should put aspirin in my pill stash -- for heart attack)
Various feminine supplies (pads are very good trauma dressings)
Cigarette lighter
Small binoculars
All kinds of carabiner hooks, clips, ties, etc. to jury-rig new inventions

Big deal for a probable 5-6 hour hike, eh? My backpack has a compartment to hold a Camelback bladder, and a hole in the top for the tube. And of course I'll take a camera. Can't decide whether to take my little one that fits in a pocket, or my major Canon 300D, weighing a couple of pounds with a 28-300 lens on it. But if we see distant big-horn sheep, or a California Condor.... my little one won't do it.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

THERE, I'M CAUGHT UP!

Steve fixed some kind of interloper ("Best Offers") that was sucking my computer's time and energy and now I've just gone through my whole Bloglines list in only about 2 hours, reading AND commenting on everyone's latest. If you're not on the Tri-Blog email list you don't know about the trouble I've been having and how long it's been taking me to switch from one task or site to the next (like, washing the dishes while it brings up a blog or posts my comment) and now I'm hopefully back in business. If you are on the email list, you'll get this as email (in case you don't read my blog posts) and you'll know I'm in better shape now. Thanks to Nancy for introducing me to the adware concept.

SNOW



Yup, snow here at the Grand Canyon. Well, flurries. And sleet, shown in the picture. It's large enough to qualify as hail, but it's not the right color or consistency for hail. However, we are in the thunderstorm-area on the Weather Channel Map for today.

I am so tired after last week. Last night I slept 12 hours. My UTI is resolving (I'm still on the antibiotic) and I found a pay phone yesterday and learned my mom is OK. Steve and I were going to hike but instead we walked about 3 miles on the smoothed, paved Grand Canyon Rim trail and it wiped me out. I slept 12 hours.

Today is a rest day, with at most a 30-minute "Journey-Jog" scheduled (jog with dog named Journey, cute, eh?)

I am bummed out. Our arrangements and plans for this fall have changed and I'm not going to be able to do September events I'd hoped for and will have a hard time finishing my last month of IMFL training around traveling. We've landed a "job" starting the middle of Oct. at a campground in Tallahassee, for the winter, cleaning and campground maintenance in general. I like this kind of work but we're talking 30 hours a week. This will actually be OK once we start, because Oct. will be my "taper" month. It's fitting in my peak training around traveling most of the month of Sept. I guess I should look at it in a positive way... I can run and bike anywhere; temperatures will gradually increase as we go south so I'll get acclimated gradually to the warmth (FL will be warmer in Nov. than Garrett County, MD will have been all summer); I can find a pool once a week, surely, and if swimming is cut back, then any shoulder injury that's flared up will have time to simmer down, and I'll have gotten my distance in; the campground owner has said we can have IMFL-week off so we can go to Panama City; we won't have to travel after the IM. Sounds like it couldn't be more ideal. Except I could cry. Don't ask why.... I guess I'm just tired.