Friday, July 18, 2014

Stuff I See Riding My Bicycle

I started a new facebook group.  Its an open group.  From the description of the group:

This group is for folks that enjoy exploring by bicycle. Photos are to show interesting, unusual stuff and memorable landscapes you see while riding. 

When we are exploring by bike, we see so much than we see when traveling by motor vehicle. Photos here are things you probably would not seen had you not been traveling by bicycle. You bicycle does NOT need to be in the photo.

With the your photo, please provide where the photo was taken and a description of what we are looking at.


 Check it out and join the group.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/ExploreByBicycle

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Top Ten Weather Ride

First, this photo was actually taken yesterday.  The weather was about the same and I did not take any photos today.  Photo was taken on Lake Manawa Trail about 1/4 mile West of the Nature Trail parking lot.

Yesterday I did not complete my ride.  The rear tire kept losing air.  Not sure if it was just the stem valve seating or perhaps a pinch-flat.  Seems it was just the valve, but by the time it was checked out, it was a bit too late (and too busy) to ride.  Planned to take up for it today.

Loaded the bike on the car before heading to computer coffee at Panera.  Dressed in my cycling kit under a sweatshirt and cargo shorts.  Ready to ride after coffee.  It was a little after 9am when I got to the Nature Trail parking lot. 

Felt pretty good heading out for the bike ride.  The last few days I had not been eating snacks/junk food.  Yesterday had a good meal at Village Inn (and a free slice of triple berry pie).  As I crossed the Indian Creek bridge, I decided to keep on up the trail and do the loop around Lake Manawa.

As it turned out, I felt so good that I rode the whole 7 mile loop without stopping.  Most of the speed was about 8-9 mph with some sprints of 10-11.  Damned, if felt good.  But, when I got back to the car, I had to lean against to the car to dismount the bike.  Needed a good nap when I got back.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

July "Super Moon"

July 12th was the first of 3 "super moons" for 2014.  The super moon happens when the moon is closest to the earth (and appears larger in the sky).  Astronomers call this "perigee". Basically, its the lowest point of an orbit.

The July 12 super moon happened at 08.27 UTC (that's  02:27 Central time).  I missed shooting that night.  Ended up getting my shot July 12 at 22:32 Central (04:32 July 13th).

With all of my efforts shooting the April, "Blood Moon", I was able take this shot on my second exposure!

It has been a great year for moon-watchers.  There were 2 super moons, a "blue moon" and "blood moon" earlier in the year.  We get 2 more super moons on August 10 and September 9, 2014.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Awesome July Weather

We don't get many days like this in July in Iowa. Yesterday was one of these days with awesome weather,   Early morning sunshine with temps in the 60s.  Afternoon sunny high of 85 with only a slight breeze - just enough to freshen the air.

The painter called to meet and look at the job.  Told him I would be home shortly after noon after I take a bicycle ride.  Loaded the hybrid on the car and headed to Lake Manawa for a bike ride.

The thermometer in the car said 74.  At the sheltered parking lot at the Nature Trail - it was almost "hot'.  Topped off the air in the front tire (could not the valve to open on the rear - but it felt good enough), loaded the bag on the bike, donned my helmet & gloves and off for my ride.

With the rear tire issue and fact that i had not ridden in 1 1/2 months, I kept my ride close to the car.  Rode the Lake Manawa Trail to the levee overlooking the river boat ramp.  Docks are out of the rive.  Could see the stain in the grass from the flooding.  On over to Indian Creek.

Decided to turn back instead of making the loop around the lake  Getting back near the car, took the trail to the lake.  Looked like it would have been a great day to be on the lake.  Back to the main trail, rode the nature trail just to add some distance to the ride,  Ended up with about 6 miles.

Was very tired when i got home and stowed the bike in the garage.  But, could not relax too much because still had an appointment with the painter.  Long story - short, the painter never showed up.  I did not have a phone number to call him.  See if he shows up today.  Didn't do much else except recover from my ride and read a book.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Trip to the Zoo

It felt like May weather when I headed into town for coffee.  Thermometer on the car showed 52  degrees on July 3rd!  Donned a sweatshirt to keep warm.

The last couple days I had been thinking of visiting the zoo.  Cameras had been in the trunk of the car.  Problem was  the overcast skies and threatening rain.  Today was a clear day.

As I headed to the Zoo from coffee (about 9am), the temperature had climbed up into the upper 60s.  Great weather for walking around the zoo.  Had different sneakers as shoes - hoping that they would be better for walking at the zoo.

From my visit in March, I knew my 18-200 mm lens would be the best one for general photos.  Brought the new fisheye lens and the super telephoto just in case.  With all of the flowers in bloom, I wish I had grabbed the macro for the shoot.  Some of my flower photos were a little out of focus.  Also, I think I was relating on the auto focus too much.  Anyway, I was able to get some pretty good flora shots

As usual, there is lots of construction at the zoo.  There's  a whole new African Grassland exhibit being constructed.  Construction of the new exhibit derailed the Zoo Railroad.  Was sorry to see that as I was thinking of riding when I needed a break from my walking.

The zoo grounds are sprinkled with ornamental zoo creatures.  The Rhino at the Garden of Senses seemed to call me - use the fisheye lens and see what I get.  As you can see - I got an intersting photo of the rhino sculpture with my shadow.  Its one of the problems with the lens in bright sunshine - difficult to keep your shadow out of the photo (if you want to shoot with the sun to your back).  So, It almost looks like the rhino may change my shadow!

Next, I crossed the bridge to check out the koi in the pond and monkeys on the their island.  Across the bridge were the sea lions.  It was a good spot to test my legs.  Skipped the pachyderm exhibit - knew it would make the hike too long.  Had plenty of walking and hills to climb to get back to the car.

At this time, I could feel that I had gotten a bit dehydrated.  Stopped at one of the snack bars for a large cup of PowerAde.  Helped me a bit.  Bought the souvenir cup so I could get a reasonable refill.

The Madagascar exhibit was disappointing.  Too dark in the building.  So, it was on to the orangutan and gorilla buildings.  The orangutans seemed to be hiding.  Was able to get a couple good shots in the Gorilla House.

On to the Cat House.  I had skipped this house in March - had enough for the day.  Glad I checked it out today - got an awesome photo of the spotted leopard.  Was able to get some shots of tigers and lion.  Was productive visit to the Cat House.

It was able a climb the path back up to the entrance level of the zoo.  Legs were about toast by the time I was back up there.  Took a quick walk through the Aquarium (mostly to get more jelly fish shots).  I was after noon, the aquarium was packed with screaming kids.  Took my photo and glad to be out of there.  Stopped at the snack bar for a Powerade refill and hot dog. 

By the tie I left the zoo and walked to the car, my legs were like rubber.  I could hardly walk.  And, just what I needed, there was an idiot in a F 1500 pick-up parking to my left.  He had "aimed" the truck at the parking space.  The vehicle was over the line and caused some problems getting into the car. 

Had one more stop on my way home.  Stopped at the bike shop to show them the new fisheye lens.  Took a couple of photos inside the shop with the new lens.  Was going to visit longer but they were busy and I could hardly move.  Time for me to get home.

Slowly, I will get through all of the zoo.  I have not been in the Jungle this year.  Need to see the rest of the desert dome. There's still the Pachyderm Hill and the farm (and petting zoo).  The day also would have been a great day for a bike ride (temperature and light wind) but thinlk I ended up with a bigger work-out today hiking in the zoo.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Change in the Weather

It looks like we are finally getting some drier weather.  This morning's sunrise was a deep orange as the clouds head out to the East.  (see photo).  Cooler temp this morning, though still a bit humid.

Yesterday got the repairs made on the car - new windshield and replaced the tail lights.  Was very surprised - the cost of the two tail lights was higher than a new windshield!.  It was a good day to get this done as it was spitting and threatening rain most of the day.  Even had severe storm watches.  The bad weather stayed North of us.

Had expected to hear back from the insurance about the car settlement.  Sent two replies to her request my decision.  Never got any acknowledgement.  No word from the house contractor about meeting to iron out details and contract. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Storm Damage/Repairs

 Both the car and house were damaged in the storm on June 3rd.  The car took the more visible damage.  The windshield is cracked (needs replacement)..Hood, rood, trunk, and all left side panels are dented from the hail.  Finally, the left tail light lens is broken.

The car was taken to the mobile claim tent.  The adjuster there inspected the car.  Original estimate for repairs was about $9K.  The adjuster had to sent the info to the home office - deciding to perhaps total the car.

A couple days later, I got the word that they decided to total the car.  However, I was given the option to retain the vehicle.  The home office e-mailed me details of their offer and my options.

Talked with my insurance agent - mostly to understand the ramification of retaining the vehicle verses giving the car to the insurance company and buying a new (used) car.  I decided it was better in my interest to retain the current vehicle.

Photos here show the hail damage to the car.

Like my previous Impala (2002), I drove the car to 207K miles.  For me, the 63K on the 2011 Impala is just broken in.  Stopped in town to get estimate for windshield replacement.  Scheduled that replacement and repaid of the tail lights.

Two contractors have inspected the house and furnished estimates.  Estimates are in the ballpark - near the insurance estimates.  Will use the weekend to review the estimates and make my decision.

Have already talking with my financial adviser. The house needs some work and I had been looking to make some upgrades (anti-plug gutters, painting, etc).  This is the best time to get the work done.

I should comment about working with my insurance company.  My insurance carrier is Allied (part of Nationwide).  The insurance adjusters (car and house) were first in a hurry to settle.  They were happy to settle over the phone.  I told them that I needed pieces of paper that I can look at and review.  They quickly sent me what I needed.  In the case of the car, I asked that the offer e-mailed to me.  It was in my inbox in a couple hours.  Between my agent and the adjusters, they were happy to address any questions I have.  Finally, the settlements are fair.