Friday, February 27, 2015

Traveling With My Bicycles

Wrapping up the editing of my booklet "Traveling With My Bicycles".  It tells a short story of what drove me to riding bicycles.  Most of the booklet is filled with how to create your "mulit-activity" trip.

Plans are to make the booklet available as an e-book for Kindle.

Preface -
"So, what are you going to do to keep active?" was the question my cardiac rehab folks asked in my exit interview. After weeks walking on the treadmill, I knew this was not the solution. My mom walks with a group. But walking the mall did not appeal me, either. Hiking is great, but "hiking" amongst the corn fields of Iowa?
As a kid, I used to ride a bicycle. Maybe that would peak my interest. I set out to look at purchasing a bicycle. I started riding local trails. Soon, I was taking a bicycle with me on trips. These trips combined my exploring nature, love of photography, and riding my bicycle.
The trips I take are not for folks that want to lay on the beach and work on their tan. They are trips filled with activity yet leaving time to relax, recover and reflect.
This booklet is a compilation of what I have learned planning and implementing these trips. It is not a recipe for the perfect trip. It is meant to cause you to consider ways to blend activities you enjoy with things you are passionate about into your travels.

THOR Annual Meeting

Seems that the weather for THOR (Trails Have Our Respect) annual meeting is always bitter cold!.  This past Sunday did not disappoint us.

From what I count with the photo, there were about 70 attendees.  Chair Roxy Feagan welcomed the group.  It what a change from the attendance of the first THOR Annual Meeting I attended in about 80 years ago.  That meeting was held in the back of a bike shop and attended by 8 members!

Meeting was held at the National Park Service in Omaha.  The members learned about current status of becoming a chapter of IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association).  Breakout groups discussed the goals and future of THOR.  There was time to brain-storm to see what projects the membership would like.

Meeting ended with election of THOR's Board of Directors for the coming year.

Friday, February 13, 2015

“Combat Veteran”

During the 2014 election campaign, new Iowa Junior Senator Joni Ernst claimed to be a “combat veteran”. I was skeptical about this claim, but I did not serve in Iraq or Afghanistan. But I do know what the term means to me.

To me, if you claim to be a “combat veteran” is means that you were actually in combat. You were in a firefight with the enemy.

It has come to light that Senator Ernst was in the “theater” and lead an Iowa Army National Guard transportation unit. Her “combat” was in Kuwait and the edges of Iraq in 2003-2004. Note: President George HW Bush designated the while Arabian Peninsula a “Combat Zone”.

This really makes me angry. I served 13 ½ months in Viet Nam. Over half of that time in an infantry unit as a Chaplain Assistant. I drove unsecured roads without escort. I lived in fire support bases with an infantry company. But, since I did not see actual combat (no CIB) the VA refuses to accept that I could have PTSD.

I have a friend that spent his tour in Viet Nam running a coffee house on Long Binh Post. By Joni's definition, he can claim being a “combat veteran”. She claims that she never claimed to be in combat, but her error in omission leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. If she claimed that she served in Kuwait during the gulf wars, OK. But the claim being a “combat veteran” is over the top.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

On The Way Home

Tuesday I started having some mouth pain - upper corner.  Feeling light it might be starting of needing a root canal.  Had a rough night in the room in Albuquerque.  Early on the road y\towards home.  Called my denstists\'s office when they opened.  The will squeeze me in Friday morning.

Weather turning bad as I drove Northwest on I-25.  From Glorieta pass until Trinidad, CO,  I drove through periods of snow,  Thankfully, it has been warm the last week so it was not sticking on the highway.

By the time I was near La Junta, the sun was shinning.  Had a couple of "tylonol" to east my tooth ache (which had turned into a headache).  Bough a new bottle of the store=brand pain relief.  Took another couple pills.  Checked into my room in Oakley, KS.  Not up to eating dinner, just crashed into bed. 

Nothing much to see along the highway on this route.  Stopped a couple times to take photos of old, abandoned buildings. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Last Day in Albuquerque

When I got up this morning, started sorting bags for the trip home.  Cousin Don and I planned to get together for breakfast.  Traffic was terrible this morning.  I-40 crossing the rive was backed-up.  I drove up to Montano.  It was also a zoo. but made it to the Range Cafe about the right time (only 35 minutes for a drive that should have been 10 minutes).  Anyway, was a good breakfast and conversation.

Back to packing for the return trip.  Got some of the bags re-packed.  Want to just bring in one small bag of clothes, my camera, and laptop into the room in Oakely, KS. 

Quick change of clothes, grabbed the bike, and rode 8+ miles on the Bosque del Paseo.  Parked at Central and rode North to Montano.  Had the gentle slope working against me on the way out and a headwind on the way back.  Was a beautiful day for a bike ride.

Gassed up the car on the way back to the hotel.  Loaded most of the stuff into the car.  Just a few things to put into the car in the morning.  Have reservations in Oakley, KS for tomorrow night.

Salinas Pueblo Missions

With cool mornings, Monday I decided I would do some "tourist" stuff.  From the book "New Mexico Journey Guide" I settled on checking out the old pueblo mission ruins SE of Albuquerque.  East on I-40 to the Tijeras exit, South on highway 337 and highway 55 towards Mountainair.

There are 3 ruins sites that make up the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument.  The first one in this route was Quaria.  I was the only visitor when I arrived.  The ranger gave me a good synopsis of the history of the pueblo.  Then it was time to walk around to see the ruins and take photos.

The site is at about 6500ft altitude.  Glad I had just been on the mountain in Pine Cove, CA (about 6000 ft).  My knee was bothering more than the altitude. 

I walked the loop trail at the site.  Back at the visitor's center, I chatted more with the ranger.  Picked up a book about the sites.  Then, back on the road to Gran Quivira.  This site is a bit out if the way - 25 miles South of Mountainiar.  But, what the heck, I had all the day.  The only thing i was thinking of doing later in the day was a bike ride.

Gran Quivira sits on top of a hill, overlooking the mesa.  It also meant a walk up the paved trail (some sections being steep climb) to view the ruins.  I took my time.  Took photos of the ruins and the valley.  By the time I was back down to the visitor's center, my knee was giving me problems.  Selected a book about New Mexico parks and a bottle of Powerade (needed the electrolytes and sugar).

On back to Mountainair.  Was looking for a place for lunch and a large bottle of Gaterade or Powerade.  Downtown Mountainair was busy (at least many cars downtown) but did not see a place to my liking.  On over to Abo, the third of the pueblo missons.

The route to Abo and eventually back to Albuquerque paralleled the BNSF main line.  Took a couple photos of trains in the hill.  Several trains parked and lots of track work on the line.  Mountainair is the crest of the hill dropping to the West.

Made a short tour of the Abo ruins site.  My left knee was not up to walking the trail.  Took a few photos from the road. 

Saw many abandoned buildings up on the mesa.  Took some photos of those close to the road or interesting construction.  Some may end up on my Fine Art America page.

Bye the time I was back at the hotel, I was getting hungry.  The first place i looked for along Coors Blvd was not open.  Ended up having a pint of bock beer and a bacon cheeseburger at Effingbar & Grill on Sequoia, just off Coors.

Back at the hotel, I watch TV and crashed.  Photos with this post are of Quaria Mission, Gran Quivira ruins, and an old barn along US 60.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Bike Ride on the Bosque

I slept in today.  Probably the food and brew last night.  Was waiting to hear from another friend in Albuquerque about meeting at luch.  He had to cancel.  I just walked from the hotel to the Denny's almost next door.

That was a mistake.  Ordered the Senior waffle slap.  The waffle was overcooked and dry.  My one scrambled ess looked and tested like a pile if eggs on a buffet line.  The restaurant was noisy and the service was slow.  Will not be eating here again.

Since it was a Sunday and the temperature was in a sunny 70 degrees, I know trailhead parking lots will be bursting from the seams.  The only one I knew that would handle the anticipated crowds would the Alameda Lot on the Paseo del Bosque. 

As expected, the lot was packed - had to park in the overflow (equestrian) section of the lot. Pumped up the tires on the hybrid and headed South on the trail.  It was feeling good to be back on the bike, though I had some doubts about the ride.  After about 2.5 miles, I turned around to head back.  The ride was going well, but the ride back would be up-stream and into the wind.  Did not push it too much - my legs will be good for another ride tomorrow.   Treated myself ti a Heath Blizzard for doing the ride and celebrating the weather.

Also spent some time today starting web site pages for this trip. Napped and basically it a day.

50 Year Reunion

It was 1964 when I took Cathy Sherman to the Central High School Junior Prom.  She was also at my birthday party/hayride - Thanks to photos I found.  Friends and I were identifying those in attendance.  Through facebook, I was re-connected to Cathy.  We had lost touch as we both went out ways to college and the work force.

I was able to meet Cathy outside of Albuquerque, NM.  I am on my normal Mid-Winter trip and she was making her normal run between Wisconsin and California in her 18-wheeler.  It also happened to be her birthday.  We celebrated her birthday reminiscing over breakfast. 

After saying our "good-bye's" I went into Albuquerque for some shopping.  Was thinking of taking a bike ride, but decided to rest from the 2 days driving.  Later in the day, I met my cousin that lived in
Albuquerque.  We tipped a couple pints of brew and had some food at out favorite place - Billy's Long Bar.  Ended up spending over 3 hours talking about out lives, family, and such.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Phoenix to Albuquerque

It was a frustrating start to the day.  Tried to do some computer work (check e-mail and facebook).  The hotel internet connection kept dropping.  So, figured to check out of the hotel and have some coffee, and maybe some breakfast when that is available.  That did not work because there were no parking spaces anyway near the hotel office.  I got on the road and stopped for breakfast at the Buckboard City Cafe in Superior, AZ.  Good breakfast, reasonable price, I was the only customer in the restaurant.

My plan was to drive mostly 2-lane roads today.  Wanted to see some scenery. Decided to head East out of the Phoenix area on US 60. It was still dark (starting to get some light in the East) when I stopped for breakfast. 

Right after Superior, the road starts climbing.  There's a tunnel through the mountain soon up the climb.  Stopped for a couple photos up.  From the map, it did not looking I would be seeing much scenery other than desert-scape and scrub.  About half way between Globe and Show Low, I had a sign stating I was entering Salt River Canyon.  What a beautiful drive down to the floor of the canyon and climbing back up.

At Quemado, New Mexico I turned toward Grants on secondary roads.  It was the shorter route to Albuquerque and I would be able to drive through El Malpais National Monument. By this time, I was getting tired (actually having problems being tired most of the drive).  Found my hotel and checked in.  The room is a it smaller than i was used to, not fridge or microwave, and only coffee in the morning. 

Checking my messages, made arrangements to meet a high school girl friend as she is driving through the area in her 18-wheeler.  Having breakfast tomorrow morning.

Upper photo here is of Salt River Canyon.  The lower photo is of the buttes in El Malpias National Monument.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Off the Mountain and to Phoenix

Got the car packed except for the computer, cameras, and change of clothes.  Was up about 4am.  Showered and dressed waiting until 5:30 when Chuck would get up.  Everything was in the car when I walked up to the main house.  Gave my "good-bye" and headed down the mountain.

Was still dark when i got on the road, but starting to see some light.  Got some beautiful shots of the moon set as I drove down the mountain.

Stopped in Indio along I-10 for breakfast.  On across the desert into Arizona.  Before getting to Phoenix, I dropped down to I-8, stopping at an information/visitor's Center in Gila Bend.  I was looking for information about the Sonoran Desert National Monument.  There is no visitor center in the monument. There was a trail/maintenance crew at one of the place along the highway.  They gave me a map and recommendations.  Arizona 238 is the road though the monument.  No loop road to drive through the desert.  I did stopped at a trailhead they recommended,  Took a short hike.  Not much any spectacular scenery where i was, just Saguaro Cacti, scrub brush, and dry soil.

Checked into my lodging and went out for some food.  The suggestion from the desk clerk was Rustler's Rooste.  The smallest burger they had was a 12oz serving with fries and onion rings.  Ordered it with a glass of Shiner Bock beer.  Not knowing, the "sandwich" came with a large salad and hot bread with whipped butter and cinnamon butter.  When I was served the burger, I was also presented with a little bucket of cowboy beans. 

I ate the salad.  It was a nice change of pace for me.  are the 3 onion rings, most of the burger and some of the fries.  Did not even touch the bread or beans.  It was just too much food.  I had arrived when the food service opened and during the happy hour.  Was happy I had eaten early.  As I was leaving the restaurant there were bus-loads of folks were arriving for their meal. 

Now settled in for the night.  Next stop Albuquerque.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Relaxing Day on the Mountain

Today, the day was spend on the mountain in Idyllwild and Pine Cove.  Slept in.  Finished up the coffee available in the cabin. Finished up my pizza from the other night.  Still tasted good warmed up for breakfast. 

In Idyllwild, stopped in the drug store to pick up a book about the town.  At the grocery store, it was loading up the car for snacks during the drive.

Chuck's rental car needed some work.  we went to the Red Kettle Cafe for coffee.  On the menu I saw "Boysenberry Apple" pie.  i commented that sounded like a good combination.  The waitress corrected me that they were 2 different pies, but if I wanted, she would serve my a 1/2 slice of both.  I took her up on the offer - with ice cream (of course)!

When we got to Nancy & Rick's place, Nancy was reading one of my writings and doing some suggested edits.  I was very happy when she said while she is not a cyclist, my writing about how I plan my trips kept he interest,  She thought that in the booklet form I was looking at, it would have commercial value.  We discussed other issues with possible publishing my works.

Next it was back to Pine Cove.  I loaded most of my stuff into the car ready for departure early morning.  David, Rick, & Nance came over to Chuck's place (the main house where I am occupying the cabin).  Visited while they baked bread. 

Made my travel reservations to Albuquerque.  Sent out the notices to my friends I am planning to see there.  Today's photo of Hyw 243 through Idyllwild.

Orange Empire Railway Museum

Tuesday we made a drive down to Perris, CA to tour the Orange Empire Railway Museum.  The museum has locomotives, street cars, and freight cats of various vintages and gauge. Many of them are operable.  As the docent said, "we put in many hours working at the museum, we like to play with the fruits of out labor".

I would have like to see more current equipment.  they had few pieces and what we saw was about all I could handle in one trip.

From there, My friend and i went over to Palm Desert to meet another friend for dinner.  Ate at La Tavlita for Mexican food.  This was a mistake.  It took forever for out food brought to our table.  When it arrived, it was not very hot (just warm).  My order was wrong.  And, there was a musician playing in the small restaurant, so loud that we could not talk and I got a headache.

Stopped at a local bar to continue out coversation.  Long drive back up the mountain and crashed into bed when I got to may cabin.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Hike in the Woods

Slept in a bit yesterday.  It was 8:30 before we got to Idyllwild.  Visited and planned some activity fpr the day.  Started with breakfast at the Mile High Cafe.  As we were waiting for our food, David sat down to the piano and played a couple tunes for us.

After breakfast, it was a drive over to Inspiration Point. Next to the Hub Trails for a little hike in the woods.  Walked a Forest Service road.  I was huffing a puffing - mostly from the altitude.  Took a easy pace.  Walked up the hill a bit over 1/4 mile.  Was enough for me, so Check and I walked down to the car.  David went on for a longer hike.  After that hike, we dropped David off along a creek to add to his hike. 

Relaex at the house.  Talked a bit about tourist guide books for California and New Mexico.  Finished the evening at the American Legionfor their Monday night dinner.  This weeks dinner was huge cheeseburgers, fries, and salad.

Monday, February 2, 2015

SuperBowl Sunday

It was a long day on Super Sunday.  Coffee with my friend Chuck in his cabin then over to his Sister & brother-in-law's place.  Met his brother and more coffee.  Bowls of oatmeal were offered, but I was not hungry - too much foot the day before!

Did a little driving tour of Idyllwild.  Planning to stop at one of the bike shops to check the difficulty level of local singletrack trails.  Alas, both were closes.

Relaxed and visited before driving down into the valley to the Super Bowl party we were invited to.  Riding as the front-seat passenger down the mountain left me with a bit of a headache. Stops for purchasing party supplies and gassing the car, we eventually arrived.  Lots of people and too many dogs wandering through the house and yard. 

Like typical for these parties, plenty of food to eat.  One of the hosts got me 2 Tylenol for my headache. I was not really watching any of the game - after all, my Packers lost the Conference Championship.  Still glad I attended - I needed to get out amongst people.  Have been mostly home along for the winter.

Back at my cabin about 9pm.  Did a little computer work and crashed into bed.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Up To The Mountain

Saturday was the day to move my activity up the San Jacinto Mountains to Idyllwild-Pine Cove.  Woke up in the middle of the night Friday night.  Took the opportunity to finish photos from Joshua Tree National Park.  Wrote the blog posting.  That was enough activity that i was able to go back to sleep.

Woke up again about 7 am, showered and dressed for the day.  Had some coffee and started packing the room. Checked out of the room. My Palm Springs friend dropped by and we went out for breakfast. 

The valley between Palm Springs and Banning is covered with wind turbines!  Great to see so much power being generated with the source.

Thanks to directions, I was able to find my way up the mountain to Pine Cove and a friends has a house and guest cabin. So many folks in a big hurry driving up the mountain - some even tail-gating.  When I could, used a turnout to let cars pass me - I was not in any hurry.  Stopped to take a couple photos climbing the mountain. It was overcast and trying to spit rain when i got the my destination.  Settled into my cabin.  My friend's sister and brother-in-law stopped by.  Then it was time for a nap before supper.

The Sylvan House and Sylvan Cottage are both available for rent. 

For supper we decided on pizza and beer - two of the main food groups.  Had great pizza at the Idyllwild Pizza Company washing them down with a pint of beer and water.  Short visit back at the main house.  Then I walked over to the cabin and crashed into bed.