Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cedar Valley Trails Festival

How have I ever missed this festival.  According to the information on Bike Iowa, its the 19th Annual festival.  Over the last couple years I have traveled to Rapid City, SD,  Hayward, WI and Crosby, MN for bike/trails festivals.  This one is in my own state!  Last time I found one in Iowa was 2 years that the MidWest Mountain Bike Festival was in Quad Cities.

OK - I guess you want to know the dates.  June 13-15, 2014 in Cedar Falls, Iowa.  This year the festival is being held in conjunction with the Iowa Trails Summit and Family Fun Day.

For more information, check the Bike iowa web site page:

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Life is an Adventure

For some time, I have been posting older photos for Throwback Thursday.  With my archive, I have a good selection of photos of me to select for posting.  One such Thursday I posted a photo of me in my fatigues with the farm/family dog.

On facebook, this is what I said about this photo:

“Almost forgot Throwback Thursday. Photo is of me during on leave between training and shipping to 'Nam. Farm dog/family pet "Trixie" with me.”

I have posted other photos of me during my service in Viet Nam.  This photo prompted this comment from a friend of mine, “You had to be very nervous.“  Nervous is not the state on mind that I remember having.  Let my try to explain.

Live has been one big adventure for me.  Like all farm kids in those days, I learned to drive a tractor as soon as I was big enough to read the pedals.  My dad and I did farm custom work.  At 16, I went off to Pittsburgh for the summer for a science/engineering session.  There were week-long trips for 4-H exchange, Student Council, and Boy's State.

College was in Cleveland, OH over 400 miles from home.  Senior year of college, I did not pay attention to studies and did not finish studies..  I did not protest the war, nor was a supporter.  Tried to beat the draft (moved to Cincinnati area for a “draft defered” job.  The company screwed up with the deferment and the post office mis-delivered my draft notice.  Once I had the notice, I felt it was my duty to serve.

I had one week to move from Cincinnati to Wisconsin for induction.  During that week a grandfather passed away.  I attended his funeral and the next day I was off to the induction center and the military.  That whole week was a blur.  My head was filled with confusing thoughts.

Off to Fort Campbell, KY for Basic Training.  The Drill Sergeant assigned me as a road guard. During Basic Training, one of our speakers was the Chaplain.  He was making the pitch for serving as a Chaplain Assistant.  Now I have never been particularly religious.  The job was to be the driver and “jack-of-all-trades” for the Chaplain – including his bodyguard.

Sounded pretty good.  I could help my fellow soldiers and not be out pounding the boonies.  It was one of the best jobs I volunteered for in the Army (Chaplain Assistant was yhe onlt MOS that you had to ask for and would not be assigned to without asking for it).

After Basic Training, it was off to Clerk School, Chaplain Assistant School and finally a week of Nam training before shipping out.  This was about Thanksgiving time.  I was home on 14 day leave before shipping out to my tour in Viet Nam.

I guess I was nervous, but I tried to not show it.  I was trained, and did not to add to my parents' stress.  I made the rounds of the family.  Dressed in my fatigues, and dressed in my Class A dress uniform.  Finally, off to war.

As it happens with most of us, I really grew up mentally during my service.  It wasn't any game.  One of my jobs was to visit the sick and wounded in our unit.  I did everything I could do to support the guys in my unit.  After 19 months (and with a rank of SP5E5), I got an “early out” and returned to college.

During my 30 years career at GM, I moved around the country and did my job.  Over the last 9 years, I have faced various health issues.  Always facing it head-on.  Yes, some concerns and some nervousness, but as the title of a book “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway”.

Life is a journey and an adventure.  And an interesting and exciting one, at that.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Home Again

OH, I got a good night's sleep.  Not sure if it was the lower altitude, the bed, or both.  It was alount 8am before I got in the road.  Started on the road when I realized I needed gas.  Out in this part of the country, I figured I better get it in a town the size of Oakley, KS or I might have problems finding some.

Had a couple cups of coffee at the motel.  Passed on the waffle, looking for more for breakfast.  The temperature was climbing already.  The wind was blowing strong.

Headed down the road about 100 miles when I hit the town of Norton, KS.   Was exiting town when I saw Town & Country Kitchen.

I was a little hungry, so ordered their 3-egg scramble.  I was very pleased when my order delivered to my booth.  The scramble has sausage, ham, and bacon in the scrambled eggs,  Added hashbrown potatoes and toast.The scramble was awesome - impressive amount of meat.  Washed down the food with water and coffee.  If you find yourself in Norton, KS, give the Town & Country Kitchen a try.

During this trip, I have taken many photos of old and abandoned buildings.  Old, abandoned machinery and vehicles also can be photogenic.  Had to turn around and come back to shoot this old GMC truck. Interesting contraption on the back of the truck.

Just before baking the turn North, I passed the "village" of Woodruff.  Not much is seen from the road except abandoned building scattered in tree.  Here's where I took moat of my photos for today.

I had thought of stopping Pioneer Village in Minden, NE.  It was obvious that I would needed to spend another a night on the road/  The time was also inconvenient - would need to spread the stop over 2 days. 

Got home a little after 4pm.  Will slowly unload the car.  Its Tuesday and NCIS night.  Don't remember if tonight's episode  is season finally. 

On the Way Home

While packing the room Sunday evening, I decided to drive basically North into Colorado and then cut East across the bottom on the state.  It gave me a chance to check out the new Rio Grande del Norte National Park.  Depending how the drive goes, inital plan would to aim for Oakley, KS asovernight stop.

The Monument was designated in just a year ago.  The upper photo here is Camel Rock, just north of Santa Fe.  Took the "low road" to Taos. From Taos, my route was North on NM 522. The Rio Gramde del Norte is near the town of Questa.  When I made plans, did not know the monument was so new.  As I passed in Questa, I saw a sign for the "wilderness area".  As a wilderness area, there would be nothing to see, so I kept droving into Colorado..

NM 522 turns in CO 159, thought San Luis - the oldest town in Colorado.  At Fort Garland, my route takes me across La Veta Pass on US 160.  There was nothing remarkable about the pass.  At Walsenburg I jad the option to drive Interstate via Denver to home or continues on 2-lane roads.  It was tempting to high-tail it on I-25/I-76/I-80.  It was already noon.

I was feeling pretty good, yet, so up to more exploring 2-lane roads.  It gave me to shoot more photos of old and abandoned building.  My route in Colorado took me on CO 10, North on US 71 through Rocky Ford to Ordway. 

From Ordway, I drove North and East on CO 96 to Eads.  From Eads, it was North on US 287 to Kit Carson.  Next turning East on US 40 toward Oakley.

By the time i needed Cheyenne Wells, I really needed a restroom break.  Further, I did not have a room reservation.  I get off the highway and found my way into the business district of Cheyenne Wells.  The town municipal offices and library filled both my needs.  Thanks for the friendly folks at the town library - no charge to use their computer. 

One and a half hour (and another hour loss in time zone) and I was in Oakley, KS.  Checked in at the Rodeway a little before 7pm CDT (in my hurry,  I had make the reservation for a day later - but they had a room available)..  The motel desk clerk suggested The Bluff for food.  The Bluff is a small town restaurant and bar only 4-5 blocks from my motel. 

Didn't take me much time to crash into bed.  Lower photo in this posting is an old Texaco gas station. Have not figured out what little town it is in.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Last Day in Santa Fe

Last night, I started oacking bags for the trip home.  Had problems sleeping.  Having problems gettting my breath once in a while.  Feels like restriction in the neck, depending how i lay to the pillow.  That, and the altitude problems (worse than I had ever had) warrants a call to the doctor.

After breakfast, i grabbed the camera and headed South to the "ghost" town of Cerrillos, NM.  I had been there before, but did not know how much to look at in the town,  Thanks to my copy of the book "Ghost Towns Alive"  I spent some time there. (upper photo a shot of an Antique shop on First St.)

Heavy bicycle traffic on  NM 14 to Cerrillos.  All of the riders for the Santa Fe Centery and Santa Fe Grand Fondo were utilizing the same route.  Luckily, traffic was light.  Had to be 1000 riders or more on the road.

While in the area, I wanted to see if I could find the coke oven ruins of the old town of Waldo.  Made a wrong turn out of Cerrillos and ended on a dead-end road in Cerrillos Hills State Park.  A ranger gave me directions to the Waldo Canyon Road.  Interesting landscape along the canyon road.

After over 5 miles (further than the book says) I realized I had gone too far.  Grabbed the book to help me what the ovens look like and how to find them.  Eventually I found them.  Visible from the road and just across the railroad tracks.

Back at the room, I changed into my cycling kit.  Loaded the hybrid on the car and headed to the Railyard.  Parked at the Junction, where I was planning to eat after my ride.  Rode from The Junction to St, Frances Street on the Santa Fe Rail Trail.  (Lower photo is a caboose on display along the trail).

Took a couple other photos there,  Brew, burger and water at The Junction.  By then, I was ready to retire to my room.

Back to the room and packing.  Had to take a break for a nap a couple times.  Processed the photos taken today.  About time to get horizontal.  But before that, I need to plan my route home.  Hoping to see some good scenery as i leave the mountains. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bike, Brew, and Beyond - Day 2

After breakfast, I kitted up for the City Cruise bike ride.  First problem was parking.  The starting place for the ride is the Railyard.  The same area for the Saturday Farmer's Market. 

Checked in with the concierge.  Told me they would be gathering at the water tower.  When it became time for the ride to start, no one was there.  Alas, the location changed a short block down the track.

Was a pretty good group.  The ride was scheduled for about 10 miles.  I told the group leader that i would likely need to bail, becuase that would be too far for me.  He suggestet I ride as far as I could.  But within 3/4 mile, I was at the end of the pack and needed to stop for air.   (This even with us slower riders caught by a stop light).  I decided to bail.  The rear group "leader" came to make sure I was OK.  Told him its the altitude and was heading back to the railyard.

I had some time left on the meter, so rode my bike around the railyard area, stopping to take a couple photos.  Ask a couple walking by if they would take my photo at the Santa Fe Depot with my bike.  They obliged me.  (See lower photo)

The next event i had planned to attend was the Bikes, Beers, & Brats at Bishops Lodge.  I needed to have something to eat beyond the waffle at breakfast.

Ouch!  $5 for a brat and $5 for a beer.  I learned this is a higher priced resort in the foothills just out of Santa Fe.  Google Maps shows as an "upscale retreat".  When I got back to the motel, i wanted to know "just upscale".  About $200 a night, upscale!  So wonder a bottle of beer and a brat was $10.

When i got there, a couple was playing bocci ball.  They and the grill-mistress where it.  Four more came later - 2 from IMBA and a festival volunteer and another.  They didn't even acknowledge me.  Eventually more of their group arrived and prepared to ride dirt.  I did get a tidbit of information overhearing the festival volunteer -- The estimate Friday night beer fest attendance was 2000. 

When I had arrived at Bishops and got out of the car, i was feeling a bit light headed.  Not feeling that chipped by this time, so headed back to my motel.

Feeling better back at the motel - must have been the additional altitude.  Was thinking of going to watch the dirt jumpers scheduled for 5pm.  Did not look like it would be asy to get to the jump park, without riding bike or walking.  So scrapped that idea.  Quick nap, and start packing up the room this evening.

Thinking of exploring the railyard and park Sunday, when there was not so much activity and free parking.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bike, Brew, and Beyond - Day 1

There were a couple of functions held on Thursday. However, Friday was the official start of Outside Santa Fe's Bike Brew, & Beyond festival.  I got up early to be at the concierge table soon after open.  Wanted to let then re-assign my reservation for the SOB ride.  After my problems riding Thursday, I was better skipping that ride.

Picked up a printed schedule of events.  Asked one of the volunteers if the River Trail might be a better on for me to ride.  He agreed.

Back to the room and a nap (had not slept well). By 11am, it was starting to warm up, so stated preparing for a bike ride.  See for details of the ride.

The party started at 4pm with the After Work Party.  Add in a beer fest with handmade bicycle vendors at the venue.  For your $10 entree fee to the beer fest, we got a commemorative pint beer glass and a ticket for the first pint of beer.  We could sample a pint of the craft beers of several breweries in the area.  Unfortunately, none of them had an amber ale - my preference.

Eventually, I found the outside picnic tables to rest my legs.  Had a nice conversation with a guy that grew-up in Peoria IL area, spent much time living in Tucson, AZ and now lives in Santa Fe. The crowd was increasing and noise was louder.

I had planned to eat at the rail yard. First preference was The Junction - knowing what I was get there.  But, my legs said to select a closer place.

Squeezed into a seat at the bar of Second Street Brewery.  Had my second pint.  Again, nothing close to an amber ale.  got a pint of a beer the bartender recommended.  Was OK.  Use it to wash down a cheeseburger and fries.

The railroad plaza stage was jumping.  There were vendors set up on the plaza.  I took a few photos.  But, i was ready to get to the car and into my motel room.  Had to take a couple rest break getting to the car.  Back at the room, the lower volume was welcomed.

Santa Fe River Trail

This afternoon I made another attempt a getting in a decent bike ride.  At the concierge tent at the festival agreed the Santa Fe River Trail might be a good trail for me to ride.  The completed section totals about 2.5 miles.

From my Santa Fe trail maps, I ascertained the best place to start my ride would the at Friendly Park.  Not sure parking but was pleasantly surprised that is a decent sized parking lot.  Unloaded the bike, changed shoes, mounthed the rack bag and headed to the trail.

First thing I noticed was that the trail drops down to the river.  Crossed a narrow bridge, and headed up the trail.  And "up" the trails is right.  As I rode, it was clear the trail makes a slight grade. A couple times I had to stop and catch my breath.  Started drinking my water and popped a Shot Blok in my mouth.

About a mile in my ride there is bridge over to the other side of the river.  It looked like a good place to turn around.  Not sure what I would have on the way back.  I knew I would have a headwind and climb back up from the river to the parking lot.  Soon  realized I could almost coast back the trail.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Short Ride on the Santa Fe Rail Trail

Just HAD to get on a bicycle today.  Did my coffee and waffle at the motel.  Putzed in the room waiting for the temperature to get up to into the 60s.  Loaded the hybrid on the car and headed to the Rabbit Trailhead on the Santa Fe Rail Trail.

At this trailhead, the trail is Paved to the North and crushed stone to the South.  I headed North toward the plaza.

Being a trail along the active railroad bed, I was thinking it might be relatively flat, or at least a easy grade.  NOT!  The trail follows the surrounding terrain, ignoring the rail bed cuts and fills.

In the upper photo, I-25 crosses the trail and a less used track.  I selected this photo for its aesthetic value more than to show the trail typography.

By the time I arrived at Rodeo Rd, I knew I had to turn back to the car.  Disappointed, as I had not hit the one mile mark.  But, i knew I would have a headwind and a rough hill to get back to the car.  Further, the two hills I had climbed getting to Rodeo Rd had me stopping to catch my breath.

Climbing the rougher hill, I had to get off my bike and walk the bike. I just could not get enough air to ride - even had to take it slow walking the bike.  When I got to the parking lot, I did some reconnaissance on the crushed stone trail to the South.

From the trailhead, the trail takes a big drop.  Then coming up to the track grade.  I know that if I were to ride this section of the trail, I would have to walk the bike back up to the parking lot.  I have been advised that further South, the trail is more like a singletrack.  See the lower photo.

By the time I was near my motel, I was hungry.  Stopped at a Dennys just down the block.  Just what the body needed - water and food.  Have been thinking of going to Plaza/Rail Yard area for a beer or whatever.  The spirit is will but the body says NO.

There are some trails in Santa Fe along the river and an Arroyo.  They might be better to ride, but there are not trailhead parking places noted on the trails map.  It was the climbing (short as the hills were) that did me in.  Some research this evening might be warranted.  Today's ride DID convince me that it is better than I NOT try to do one of the group rides.

Wednesday, A Day to Recover

With all of the driving (logged 978 miles) over the last 2 day, I needed a day to recover and acclimatize for the 7000 ft altitude.  Got up for breakfast at the motel.  Motel had the popular waffle irin.  Add a sweet and coffee.  Back to bed.

Spent some time working on photos and posting them to Fine Art America.  Created and posted on my photography blog. 

Found The Broken Spoke Bicycle Shop.  They were very helpful giving me a free city trails map and suggested a place to ride.  Next heading to the rail yard - where much of the festival will take place.  Wanted to be able to easily find my way between the motel and rail yard.

Getting hungry by then, so stopped in at the Junction for a burger and brew.  Today's photo is of the New Mexico RailRunner at the Santa Fe Depot.

Still not really warming up (mid 50s).  Below freezing over night.  Forecast is for mid 70s over the weekend.  Stayed in last evening.  Did some more photo work.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Up and Down Kind of Day

After a good night's sleep, I was ready for the drive - almost all on narrow 2-lane.  Packed the car and had a waffle at the motel.  Had to wait for the waffle-maker to warm up.  Thermometer in the car was reading 34 when I headed out.  Topped off the gas tank - not sure if I would be able to gas-up before Ratan.

The route I had mapped out gave me lots of opportunities to take photos of old, abandoned buildings.  Will take me time to process the 73 HDR photos I took today. 

My first main destination was the old "ghost" town of Folsom.  Folsom is in the NE corner of New Mexico.  Its claim of fame is "Folsom Man" dates at 10,000 years ago.  From there, It was up onto Johnson Mesa.  Snow up on the mesa.  Today's photo was taken climbing up to the Mesa.

Gassed up again at Raton.  Rout took me across US 64 to Taos.  Wanted to check out the old ghost town of Colfax.  I could not find any of the ruins of the town.  Just the bar at the highway intersection.   There was a sign just down the road about the old Dawson Cemetery.  That is a 5 mile drive down a gravel road.  Passed on that side trip.

Nice drive up Cimarrom Canyon.  Took a couple photos of the palisades.  Back into the snow as i climbed in altitude.  By the time as I neared Taos, shooting old buildings was getting old.  Further, there were just too many of them.  This was definitely the case along the "High Road to Taos".

I stopped at a convenience store when I reached Taos.  Wanted to make sure i did not miss the turn-of to the "High Road".  Did not need to worry, There were signs where to start and at every intersection.  Made it easy to find my way.  And it dumped me onto US 84/283 towards Santa Fe.  (see lower photo)

The High Road to Taos Scenic Byway was interesting.  Lots of abandoned building and "shacks".  Much of the roadside is dotted with pueblos.  Another up into the snow and down to out of it.   

Found and checked into my motel.  Started unloaded the car into the room.  Will finish later this evening or in the morning.  Was gonna eat the the El Salvador restaurant at the motel.  But, the waitress did not know what I wanted.  I had asked for my go-cup of water and order some food.  When after 20+ minutes and no food, she asked me it i wanted something else -- I said "food"!  And since she had not ordered it to the kitchen, i told her to forget it.

Desk clerk at the motel suggested a place less than a block down the street.  Had a expensive beer, burger, and spuds at Dr. Field Good Kitchen.

No big plans for tomorrow. Need to rest, recoop, and recover from the drive.  I will be moving slowly with the altitude here.  Will have to watch myself - not over-do it.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Changing Weather for the Drive

As usual, did not get a good night's sleep before my drive.  Finished loading the car and was on the road just after 5am.  Threatening rain and in the upper 50s. 

The weather turned bad while driving I-80.  Had a head-wind (probably 20-30mph) all the way.  Add periods of heavy rain and dropping temperature.  It was down-right cold (41 deg) when I stopped at the Elm Creek Sapp Bros for breakfast.  (Photo is from the WB rest area near York, NE.  Note the standing water in the field)

From there, I got a break from the wind when heading South.  At the Kansas border, I missed a turn.  Ended up taking me about 10 or so miles out of my way.  Made changes to my route.  Stopped several times to shoot photos of old buildings.  Ended up with photos of over 30 such buildings.  Plan to post some are on facebook and more on my web site.
During the drive in Colorado, the sky cleared off and the temperature climbed.  Was in the low 50s when I hit Lamar.

Arrived my motel in Lamar, CO about 3:30 MDT.  Processed my photos and got recommendation for food by motel desk clerk.  Had a good Mexican meal at La Mission.  Tired from the drive.  Time to get some sleep.  Looking forward for a good photo day tomorrow.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Exploring the New Iowa Riverfront

Today was an awesome bike riding day.  Temperature in the upper 60s (near 70), slight breeze, and partly cloudy.  It had been ages since I rode the Iowa Riverfront trail North from the Western Historic Trails Center.

As i passed under the I-80 bridge I noticed that much of the bike lane pavement had replaced.  I really needed it.  Had been destroyed from heavy trucks parking on the bike lane.

Big change as I rode under the Harrah's parking garage. The casino boat was gone.  I had heard that it had been moved down river and no longer being used as a casino.

The big change, and my destination for my ride, is the new Hanafan Riverfront Park (upper photo). I had not seen the new park since it had been completed.  Also, I knew there was a function at the park - a celebration of kite flying.  The crew from the Trails Center called for me as I was riding the hybrid.  Brought that bike because with the rack and bag, I could pack my good camera.

Resting on the bike, I guess I was sitting too heavy on the top-tube.  Broke the kick-stand.  After my visit at the park, stopped for a couple photos and headed back.  On the way to the park, I rode the levee trail.

On the way back, I took the trail down along the riverfront drive as far Harrah's.  Greeted a guy on a fat bike - looked like he was also exploring the trail. It was a great day for exploring by bicycle!  Noticed the fruit tree blooms near Ameristar Casino.  Grabbed the D-SLR and shot a couple photos of the blooms.  (lower photo)

A quick stop at the bike shop for a new kick-stand.  Home, processed photos and blogging.