Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Summer

brown budding twigs
green flowing foliage
yellow drifting leaves

bright fresh faces arrive with projects to send
projects relent, repel, repeat
tanned and honed friends wave goodbye

so are the seasons of my summer

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Laundry Day

Of all the conveniences associated with a traditional house, I miss having a washer and dryer. I can live without a dishwasher, I can live with the smaller refrigerator and stove. I can live with the small shower and toilet cubby. But, I am having troubles adjusting to doing laundry once every two weeks at the laundromat. It takes no less than $20 and 2 hours (just at the mat). While the time does allow me to create blog posts such as this and all the laundry gets done, I would rather be climbing this afternoon.

Really, the laundromat restricts my ability to multi-task. For example while the a load is washing, I could clean the whole trailer. While that same load is drying, I could start a second load of wash and take the dogs for a walk. Or better yet, after hanging a load out to dry we could walk down canyon and go climbing. There would not be a 4 hour trip to town. The only multi-taksing that really occurs with laundry day is library time (aka internet time).

The first time we did laundry we went to the mat in Rifle. Several years ago we had used this facility and it was enjoyable as a laundromat can be. However, it is now very dirty, hot and expensive. We actually have come to find that all laundromats in this area are expensive. We heard through the grapevine that Silt had a decent facility and to go there. So, the next 3 trips we went to Silt. The mat there is clean, large and of course expensive. It is a good place to do laundry as it is not busy, there are seats near wall plugs and it isn't too far from the canyon. All in all, a 'pleasant' laundry experience despite the temperamental large load washers.

This week we decided it was time for haircuts and to combine laundry day with haircut day. This meant a trip to the "big city", Glenwood Springs. The laundromat we found in Glenwood Springs is also a dry cleaning facility so there is an attendant. It is clean and has several new bulk load washers. This is an excellent thing as we come loaded with 2 weeks worth of climbing clothes, sheets, towels and other miscellaneous items. Then, with only 6 minutes left on the washing machines, the power went out. Agh! Oh, the tragedy. When the power came back on the attendant moved our clothes to different washers and finished the cycle. Then, he turned to me and said 'It is a free wash today". Oh joy! We have decided that we will return to this mat the rest of the summer even though it is further away. McDonalds is a 30 second stroll across the parking lot where they have free WiFi. Multi-tasking complete.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I saw a bear...

I went out for an usual mountain bike ride not really expecting anything new or different.  Cranking up the mountain and approaching 9000 ft, I spied a waddling furry creature just before it disappeared around a corner. 

"Hmm what was that?", crossed my mind.  A few pedal strokes more and I had my answer.  It was a bear.  In my mind a huge bear on the road that I needed to continue riding. The bear on all fours would have had its shoulders at the level of my bike's top tube.  It was likely a black bear.  In my mind a man eater or at least a mountain biker eater. 

My mind raced through all the tactics I been told to scare away bears.  The only one that I could employ was make noise.  I'm at 9000" and I've been climbing for a bit longer than an hour.  So my mind was not completely clear.  The only noise repetitive noise that came to mind was a Monty Python skit commonly known as SPAM, SPAM, SPAM.

So here I am yelling as loud as I could, "I'll have the spam, spam, eggs, spam and spam."  I'm really glad no one else was around as this could have been bad for my reputation!

It worked.  Bears must not like spam.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Butte & Geese

Have you ever wondered what Butte, MT and anal swabs from geese have in common?

I didn't either, but I suggest that all listen to the final segment of RadioLab's Oops to find out.

Download MP3 here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sure signs you live in a rural community

You may wonder what life is like outside the big city or perhaps you have questioned whether or not where you live is indeed rural. Well, now I have taken the time to put my powers of observation to good use and define the sure signs of a rural community.

1) There are more pickup trucks than sedans.
2) 90% of the pickup trucks are utilized to haul or tow something. These are real trucks with real purpose.
3) Camouflage trim or full camouflage paint is common on pickup trucks
4) The fuel station sells dyed diesel. For the uninformed, this is for farm use only.
5) The neighbors have a working ranch and their dogs work.
6) Signage is posted stating 'Open Range' and sure enough, there is a cattle drive.
7) Cowboy boots are not for show.
8) Costco is closed on Sunday.
9) Tofu is not stocked in the local super market and the best vegetarian option in town is Taco Bell.
10) The fair grounds advertise Ranch Sorting and Mutton Busting on Tuesdays.

There you have it. The 10 most common indicators that you are in a rural community.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A raisin in the sun

  • 26.5 Miles
  • 3,000+ feet Ascent
  • 1,900 Calories
  • 3.5 Hours
I mountain biked 22 miles of this ride with my lovely wife, Peggy.  22 miles puts us at exactly the low point of our ride.  At this point our paths diverge.

We had planned to do this ride for several days.   It is a very pleasant loop over Coulter Mesa on Forest Service roads.  The views are amazing on the mesa as you ride through aspen groves, wild flower meadows, conifer stands and wide open grasslands.  The ranchers have brought their cattle to graze and shepherds tend sheep flocks much the same way Basques have for centuries: horse, dog and covered wagon. 

An amusing side note.  When Peggy asked me how long the ride across the mesa was, I told her, “Just under 11 miles.”  My bad.  The 11 mile mark is just to the first out down the 2150 trail (Three Forks).  There is an additional seven miles to the planned descent.  Since she thought it was only 11 miles, she pushed it pretty hard as in her mind she only had 11 rising and falling miles then six or seven downhill to home.  What she got was seven added miles of undulating whoop-ass. 

After the rolling hills of the mesa the violent plunge down Little Box Canyon road looms. 

Little Box Canyon (FSR 825) is about 4.5 miles long with an average grade of 7.7%...on average.  The steeps exceed 20% and much descends in the range of 10%.  It’s sheer enough to keep your full attention and make the gutsiest pucker on rocky precipitous curving sections with incline to one side and drop-off on the other.  Any judgment error pitches you skipping down the rock-strewn double track or impaling into chossy hillside.  If you are lucky, a picture of the creek that parallels the road will etch itself into your memory banks.  In spite of the danger, you are grinning ear-to-ear all from 9,300” to 7,400” with every risk validating the accelerating reward.  

Bounce, pummel, surf and BAM the bottom arrives.

At this point, per the original agreement, Peggy & I part journeys.  She continued down to home as I went to retrieve the truck at just less than 8,900”…ugh. 

We originally planned to start riding in the cool temps around 9:00AM.  Due to circumstances beyond our control, the pedal pushing didn’t commence until after 10:30—at least a 20 degree difference in starting temps.  This 1.5 hour shift makes all the difference in the heat of the day and the angle of the sun on the climb ratcheting the pain index from awful to raisin.  The only redeeming quality of the climb was that I originally thought it was going to be seven miles and gratefully only turned out to be 4.5, which I only realized upon cresting the mountain top as the last drop of moisture from my body evaporated off the tip of my nose. 

Legs burned.  Lungs fried.  Hallucinations passed.  Flesh melted. 

Would I do it again?

Yes.  Without question or after thought.  Two plus hours cruising with Peggy.  Burning as many calories in a couple of hours as most people burn in a day.   Does it get any better? 

Maybe with a milkshake chaser…