Friday, October 28, 2011

Shooting Tournamant

This morning was the annual shooting tournament. The tournament was held at the Ozark Shooters Sport Complex.

Eleven reunion attendees took part in the tournament. Perennial shooting champion Don "Dead-Eye" was dethroned.

There was confusion following the "lead" car to the complex. But we made it in time for the tournament. After taking photos, I stopped in Branson for some shopping.

For dinner, I made it to the closest Subway. Had a foot-loog cold cut combo.

Golf Tournament

Thursday was not a pretty morning for the golf tournament. Drizzling rain and 50 degrees. Eight hearty attendees brave the elements for compete in the Echo Company golf tournament. The tournaments was held at Thousand Hills Golf Resort, Branson.

I drove a cart to take photos of the 2 four-Somes. After about 3 holes, the rain stopped. When the rain stopped it just felt cold. It was not just me (dressed in my camo shorts).

The tournament was a 9 hole tournament. One of the four-somes continued on to play the full 18 holes.

Dinner was at Florentina's Ristorante Italiano. Our group had swelled to 24 for dinner. Took a while (too long for my mind) to get our food. We were seated on 3 different tables. We almost ate in "shifts" since on table was getting about done eating when the next was just getting their food. Food tested good, most of the group was satisfied. I was NOt one of them - my food was not hot. it was just luke warm.

So far, I am 0/3 of dinner. Couple of us have talking about for Friday we may eat at Subway!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Table Rock Dam

Wednesday was a lazy day here at the reunion. Mostly cloudy and occasional showers. Temerature was warm in the morning and dropping later in the day.

Not weather conducive to bicycle riding. Spent much of the morning visiting. About 11, I drove down the Table Rock Dam and Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery. Time to play tourist.

Shot some photos at the fish hatchery. From there, I stopped at the view point parking lot on the lake side of the dam.

Next it was a stop and the HQ and Visitor's Center. Not much to see there. They are building a new Visitor's Center. The lake shore walking/cycling trail starts at the Visitor's Center. Time permitting, I want to ride the 2.2 mile trail on the road bike (the trails is paved).

Ended my tour driving to the trailhead #2. The first parking lot on that road is the only spot that affords and view of the dam. Nap time!

In the evening, a large group of us went to Charlies Steak Ribs & Ale for dinner. Much better service than Tuesday dinner. And, I was able to able to have my local micro-brew. The proplem was my food was over-cooked, dry. Others commented their's did not taste right. Some of the group had been to Charlies before and the food was great. So, food at Charlies was so-so.

Had to shoot one mug shot and play a DVD on my laptop. Visited Paulette for a bit while the video played. VERY tired (over-tired) by the time I got to my room.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Whipper Snappers - Branson

Whipper Snappers is located in the lower level of the Great American Steak & Chicken House, 2421 West Highway 76. Whipper Snapper bills itself as " All-You-Can- Eat Lobster and Seafood Buffet". Their advertisement says that if there are folks that do not the seafood, the could order from the Great American Steak & Chicken House and the food would be taken down to Whipper Snappers.

We had a group of about 20, so would be a good place to eat. The first problem we encountered was that while the 2 restaurants were together, we could NOT sit together in one place. Whipper Snappers has a limited alternative menu.

The steak/chicken restaurant upstairs was very busy. The sparse clientele at the seafood lower level should have given us a clue.

Anyway, we were seated. Part of table 1 ordered, my table ordered, and the 3rd table ordered. I ordered the bacon cheeseburger, fries and water. Tried to
order a beer but our waiter say - Later - once the food was ordered.

Most of those eating on the buffet started eating. Food started to be delivered to us that had ordered from the menu.

Some of out group on table one some how were missed on the food ordering. There were able to order. About this same time.

I tried to order an IPA beer. Our waiter tried to tell me I needed to pre-pay for the beer because they would have to get it from the upstairs bar. Another waiter (one that could speak better English) took my order. The only thing close to waht I wanted was a Bock beer. Which, I then found they were out of. I settled for my water.

My burger arrived. The only good part of our meal (other than the company) was those of use that ordered off the menu. My burger was tasty, BIG, and lots of bacon. Another of our group had the chicken sandwich - and reported that it was also very good.

Those of our group that ate off the seafood buffet reported that the food was not that good - specially with the price!

The Great American Steak & Chicken House/Whipper Snappers should close the seafood buffet and concentrate on the chicken and steak.

Our recommendation - PASS on Whipper Snappers.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Table Rock State Park

My first full day at Branson. After breakfast, I started planning a bicycle ride. Checked the internet then headed to Downhill Bikes.

Craig recommended I ride at Table Rock State Park. He said the Red Loop should just what I was looking for. I drove back at the hotel, changed clothes (into my riding kit) and loaded the trail bike on the car.

The first section of the trail was a nice, flowing singletrack/ No Problems riding it. Soon, I was walking the bike up/down grades with lots of rocks and roots.

After a miles, the trail tamed down and back into easy singletrack. (Top photo) I knew it was too good to think the trail would be like that all the way to the car.

In no time, I was back climbing and descending a rocky trail. The lower photo is one of the most challenging section - just to walk!

Like the start of the trail, the last few hundred feet are nearly level, easy, flowing singletrack. I was really tired when I got back to the car. One of the reunion guys said I looked like i had been through the wringer.

Lots of photos. All-in-all a good ride. No speed records - 2.8 miles in 1 hour!

Echo in Branson - 2011

Settled into the room at the Lawrence Welk Resort in Branson, MO. Spent the evening in the hospitality room catching up on everyone.

From what I have seen in the internet, Table Rock State Park (just a couple miles from here) has about 6 or so miles of singletrack. Don't think I will be riding the road bike much here - way too hilly.

Photography duties started already. Took a few photos and on set of "mug" shots. When I arrived, the reunion host related a story. The resort or someone had asked if we (the reunion) wanted/needed a photographer. Hank said he was sure the we would have our own with us -- me. :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Exploring Two Rivers Park

Very early Sunday morning we were treated some thunderstorms rolling though the Little Rock area. It was a cool damp day for most of the day. Sun started out peaking out about 3pm.

Looking at Google Maps and Google Earth, there were some "bicycle" trails in/near the Two Rivers County Park. The trails made a unusual geometry pattern. My friends there did not know was there. Exploration Time!

Drove out to the parking lot at River Mountain Park and Two Rivers Park. This was where I had turned back on my ride Saturday (13 miles from the house). Unloaded the bike and beaded across the Two Rivers Park Bridge (today's photo)/

Lots of folks out for a walk/ride. Brought the trail bike since I did know know what trail surface conditions I would encounter. Temp was in the mid 60s. Sky was partly cloudy. Glad I I dressed in my long sleeve jersey. Cool and the shade, comfortable in the sun.

Once you cross the bridge, you are on the Two Rivers Park Trail. A paved, multi-use trail. Sections are also used by horses, I rode to the end of County Farm Rd.

Close to my goal - finding what the geometric shape is, At the entrance was a sign proclaiming this was the entrance to Quorum Court Trail. The whole area is a labyrinth of trails. Most are paved, but those in the center of the open area were crushed rock. Loose crushed rock - not conducive to ride riding (even on the trial bike).

Basically, I explored the perimeter of the trail area. After all, not much to see. Most of the was an open field of grass with trails cut into.

Headed back to the car. My legs were getting a bit tired from pedaling the trail bike and the long ride I took Saturday.

Hoping to ride today before I pack up and drive to Branson. Then this afternoon - Echo, here I come!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Little Rock!

Very early Fruday (3:30) I got on the road for my trip to Branson, via Little Rock. While in the area of Branson, I took the opportunity to visit friends and ride bike in Little Rock. Regular readers of this blog know I at usually take a circuitous route to my Army Reunion.

Saturday dawned sunny with a light breeze. By noon, the temp was up into the 70s. Great bicycle riding weather!

Kitted up, aired up the tires on the road bike, and headed out from the house. OH, how I like not having to haul the bike to the trailhead!

First destination was the new Clinton Presidential Park Bridge. Today's photo is of the Clinton Presidentail Library taken from the that bridge.

Across the Arkansas river to N. Little Rock. Rode the River Trail for some 7 miles to the Big Dam Bridge. While it was a climb (I had to stop and walk a little as the heart rate was getting too high) I was not ready to head back. Rode down the BDB (Big Dam Bridge) to the Little Rock side, knowing that I would have to climb back up on the way back to the house.

Continued on West along the river to the new Two Rivers Bridge. Was seeing some beautiful, wooded. paved trail when i got across the bridge. I resisted riding further. It was getting late and I had about 13 miles to ride back!

On the way back I did not stop as much tp take photos. On the other hand, I was riding a bit slower. It was rough climbing back up the BDB (had to walk part way). A second shot block about the time I reached Burns Park. Had already consumed my G2 and over half of my water. I didn't want to bonk.

Finally back to the Clinton Bridge and onto Little Rock city streets to the house. A great (yet exhausting) 25.5 mile ride. Guzzled my 32 oz PowerAde, and headed out for dinner.

I had a hankering for Mexican food. My friends selected Brownings Mexican Grill. Great food and I washed it down with a good local IPA.

Crashed to bed about 8pm! Awesome day.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Birthday Ride

It was a pretty nice day for my birthday ride. About 70, sunny, breeze from the SSW when I headed out from the Wabash Trace Trailhead. Before I saddled up, asked someone in the parking lot to take my photo.

Photo turned up good - and now using it as my FB profile photo.

Uneventful ride to the Western Historic Trails Center. There I stopped to visit with Dewey and a couple of bike riders. Story of more folks trying to ride the trail behind the Trails Center. At least they did not need a official water rescue!

From there, it was over to Xtreme Wheels. Wind was kicking up a bit. Chatted with Zack & Jay. Thanks for the T-Shirt, Zack!

Was a bit of work pedaling into the wind for the 4 miles back to the car. Still, an enjoyable ride and afternoon.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Trek Demos

The TREK Factory Demo trailer is in the Omaha area.

Demos are Swanson Park, Bellevue this weekend - Saturday and Sunday 10am to 3pm.

Being the location is one of THOR's mountain bike trails, the demos will be primarily for mountain/trail bikes.

Here's your chance to test ride your next bike. Get out and ride!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday Morning Ride

John and I headed out from our normal Sunday Morning Ride. We meet at Panera Bread in Council Bluffs, have our coffee and "breakfast". A little after 9am, we roll out.

Most Sundays we ride from Panera, to and around the South side pf Lake Manawa to the Western Historic Trails Center. I stop at the Mountain Bike Trail area (Missouri River boat landing) area to check out the water level. Today, I noticed that they have started scraping the mud off the road. (See top photo). Going to be a big job with all of the silt that has piled up.

John mnetioned that the are pumping out Lake Manawa. Not sure why. (Is it because of the zebra mussels?) Maybe they are just lowering the level - Ihave reported earlier this summer about the high lake levels,

The Road around Lake Manawa is closed. They have hoses/pipes across the road for the pumping. What we could see from the Indian Creek Trail, one pump is running and they have 2 other "over the levee" systems to install.

Nothing note-worth the rest of the ride to the Trails Center.

When I was the the Trails Center, I got some of the scoop on the "water rescue" behind the Center. A bicycle rider tried to negotiate the flooded paved trail.

Apparently he got out of the trail and lost his bike in the water! From the lower photo, you can see that you are not sure where the trail is after it drops into the water. I have ridden that section of the trail regularly and would not try to find my way though the water. The water is just too deep, nasty, and trails curves.

Bet he needed to be hosed down if he fell into the water!

Wind was kicking up when we headed back to Panera Bread. Slowed down the return ride. Still, was a great day for a bike ride!


Photos I took at the THOR Bring You Own Kid mountain Biking day are posted.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Easy Street

Today it was Easy Street - the trail named Easy Street. Its a green trail in the Mahnomen Unit of Cuyuna Country SRA. Easy Street is a "2-way" trail. I rode (walked) the trail from E to W.

The trailhead is near the Pennington Lake parking lot (0.1 mile North of the lot). For nearly 1/2 mile, the trail climbs the "mountain" of overburden. Riders are treated views of Huntington Lake from most of the length of the trail.

After cresting the trail climb, the trail was a nice, flowing trail with short ups and downs. The trail turns away from the lake and the singletrack ended at a gravel road. Its about 1/4 mile down the road to the Boot Camp parking lot.

After the 1.8 miles on the singletrack, I was not ready to re-ride Easy Street on the way back to the car. While i had thought about riding Boot Camp again, I had enough of singletrack for this ride.

The Cuyuna Lakes State Trail - a paved bike trail - runs on the South side of Huntingtom Lake. A relaxing ride back to the car on the paved trail. Round trip - 4 miles.

The photo above is the view from East Street. More photos are on my fb page. Eventually, photos will be posted on my web site.

Crow Wing State Park

After my morning ride yesterday, I was a bit hungry. A change of clothes and headed to Coach's for a late lunch. Took the opportunity to process the photos from the bike ride. Now, what to do the rest of the day?

Decided to drive over to Crow Wing State Park. Crow Wing was a fur trading post at the junction of Crow Wing River and Mississippi River. The park is a couple miles South of Brainard on Hwy 371.

Today's photo was taken at the lookout point at the boat ramp. This is the Mississippi River looking upstream.

Drove over the another recommended section of the park. Walked part of the interpretive trail. Took the opportunity to use me new super wide angle lens.

By the time I got to my motel - County Inn Deerwood - I was ready to call it a day. A quick plug - if you come to Cuyuna Country Ride Center, I recommend the Country Inn Deerwood. The owner is one uf us mountain bikers!

More dirt riding at Cuyuna today.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Singletrack! Cuyuna Style

This morning I was a little apprehensive about heading out to ride singletrack. My last ride in the dirt was the end of June! And, I had some nasty crashes the frist weekend of June. When last at Cuyuna, I did not feel comfortable riding contour trails.

Dan, the owner of the motel, suggested that I try Man Cage trail. I aired up the tires, lowered the saddle, and headed on the trail in the Yawkey Unit. It took a little time before I found the rhythm of the trail. Rollers, short climbs, short descents. There were a couple sections that I walked - as my confidence grew, those sections shortened.

The top photo was taken on Man Cage.

Man Cage trail is a "Blue" More Difficult trail. The 0.9 mile trail whet my appetite for a little more singletrack. I had told the motel where I would be riding at Yawley or Boot Camp. Boot Camp is a Green trail. I had thought of riding that trail back in June, but was not sure of the drop-offs. My new found confidence, I was ready.

On over the other other end of the SRA. The lower photo is of my Fuel EX7 on Boot Camp.

Boot Camp does not have the rollers. But, it has rocky spots, some roots, and old buried cables across the trail. Almost all of that trail I was able to ride. Another trip, I think I would be able to ride the whole trail (about a 1 mile trail).

Boot Camp ends by dropping onto the paved Cuyuna Lakes State Trail. That's a nice cool-down from the singletrack.

Felt great to ride the dirt again. Now, which trail(s) do I want to ride tomorrow?

BTW, it was an awesome day, weather-wise. During my morning ride, I broke a sweat wearing bibs and a short-sleeve jersey. Thermometer in the car showed upper 70s.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cuyuna Country

After a frustrating week, FINALLY yesterday I got the car registered. The county was going to send it back to the bank because an error in the lien fee - luckily i was there and paid the fee. Headed back home and packed the car for a trip to Minnesota.

Was a beautiful day today. Would have been nice to be on the trail, rather in the car. But, I made it up to Deerwood, MN. Checked into the motel, started unpacking, and headed to the recreation area to shoot some photos.

Was not ready to head out on the dirt trails with the 500 mile drive. After it warms up in the morning, planning to rides some dirt. One day I want to ride pavement (Cuyuna Country State Trail). if I have time, I an thinking of driving down to Brainard to ride a section of the Paul Bunyon Trail.
Miner Mountain. This is the country I will be riding.