Tuesday, November 27, 2012

TN Thanksgiving

My allotted vacation days were burning a hole in our collective pocket, so we took the whole Thanksgiving week off and headed for Nashville.  Lots of people complain that spending time with family is stressful and exhausting, especially around the holidays.  We don't.  In fact, we relaxed a lot thanks to help with the kids and had some fun times.
We took a trip to the Nashville Zoo.  They have a fine playground near the entrance, so kids can wear themselves down a little bit before taking in the elephants, giraffes, and snakes.  The highlight of our visit was watching the cayman lizards.  One slipped while climbing a branch.  Just before plunging into the pond, she grabbed hold of the only thing in sight, by chomping on her friend's low hanging tail.  She hung there for several minutes before ultimately falling into the water.  Her friend never moved (but probably was laughing on the inside).

There was much dressing up.  Clara's favorite was a darth vader mask that talked and breathed loudly.  In the movies, he looks much taller than Clara.  Janny generally watched the 3 big kids from a distance.

Jill and I took full advantage of the available family baby sitting.  One night we went out to dinner with Matt and Lupita.  One day, we took a hike in the Cumberland area.  We hiked to 2 waterfalls.  The first was a fun surprise because we expected it to be dry.  The river bed up to the falls was dry, as in no flowing water, no stagnant water, no puddles of water.  We considered turning around and heading back (we only brought one bicycle bottle worth of water for our 4 hour hike).  About 100 yards away, we heard the falls, and then we saw them around the bend.  Very beautiful.  The stream disappears underground.
There are hills down in Tennessee.  From the valley floor to the tops is somewhere around 700 feet.  
To continue a tradition, a couple of Matt's long-time Kurdish friends joined us for Thanksgiving dinner.  They couldn't stay too long (and a wife couldn't come at all) because they had to work at Walmart on Thanksgiving night.  Boo on you, Walmart.

And now we're back home, trying to get used to cooking, cleaning, working, raising the kids, cleaning, and cleaning all by ourselves.  At work today, my office-mate hugged me.  It wasn't all that awkward.

Monday, November 12, 2012

bike ride not quite to Warsaw

An older gentleman from Jill's home church passed away last week, and Jill wanted to attend his funeral on Saturday.  After some negotiations, the plan was settled.  Jill and the girls drove to Warsaw on Friday night.  I would get there via bike in time to watch the girls during the 10 am funeral.  I left at 7 pm on Friday with 14 hours to get there (one hour time difference).  As the title suggests, I didn't quite make it.

Here are the high(lo)lights.

I didn't make it.  I got to Rochester, IN, at 7 am (CST), but called for a ride in Fulton.  In 12 hours, I had ridden about 155 miles, for 12.9 mph average including rests.  I needed to maintain 15 mph to get to Warsaw. I still had 2 hours to ride the remaining 25 miles, but I was exhausted and uncomfortable.  The first 90 miles (to Lafayette) took 6 hours.  I only traveled 65 miles during the second 6 hours.  I got off the bike and walked every 5-10 miles.  I was hurting.

The predicted wind was less helpful than expected.  First, it was blowing from the south and my route was primarily east for the first half.  When I did turn north, I traveled alongside rivers with mostly uphill roads.  Instead of my expected 20-25 mph northward speed, I was lucky to reach 15 mph.

I had few deep thoughts.  With much uncertainty in my career, I had hoped to think through some goals. Instead my thoughts cycled between 'am I going to make it?', 'why are my feet so cold?', 'why does my stomach feel funny?', and 'why am I not in [town name] yet?'.  I'm shallow.

I fear the paranormal in dark, rural areas.  I was terrified with crawling skin on 3 occasions.  First, I heard the four invisible dogs of the apocalypse sprinting towards me at mach 1 [the noise turned out to be the power line above me].  Next, as I was adding another layer of clothing to stave off the cold, a couple of dogs barked at me.  I could see their home a half mile away.  As I found my clothes and put them on, the barking grew steadily louder.  I never saw them, but imagined that any second they would appear and drag me off.  Finally I was ready and got back on the bike as fast as I could.  Then, while riding along the river road north of Attica, I saw a person/zombie leaning against a pole by the side of the road.  I didn't turn around to investigate.

At 2:30 am local time, the Steak and Shake in Lafayette was half filled with people, mostly Purdue students.

I was never sleepy.

I roughly mapped out the ride using google maps and printed out the maps.  I used them sparingly because I knew the route to Attica.  I then stuck to highway 25 after Lafayette.  The printouts were most useful as shinguards to keep my shins/feet warmer.

I used my compass twice.  Indiana rural roads decrease in number going north, and addresses decrease going east (unless I was really spaced out).  This is the opposite of our fine state.

I need to work on my eating.  I packed a bunch of random stuff -- candy from Halloween, string cheese, granola bar, almonds, dried cranberries.  I ate a double cheeseburger and fries at Steak & Shake.  I didn't eat enough.  If I try something like this again, I'll try Jan's idea of drinking ensure.  It's just hard to eat a lot of food in the middle of the night.

I rode the great Boulder Bicycle.  My headlight is a Lumotec Cyo powered by a Shimano dynohub.  I had 2 rear blinkies.  SPD clip in pedals.  Stuff was carried in a front basket.  I installed a freshly delivered set of Panaracer Pasela 32 mm tires.
I fell asleep when I was supposed to be watching the girls.  Thankfully, no one was harmed.  I slept for about 3 hours on Saturday afternoon, and then drove us all home.  After a deep sleep on Saturday night, I was felt okay but had very sore legs.  Pulling the girls in the trailer to church was tough.

During the ride I never wanted to try a ride like this again.  Now I think that if I just made a few changes, ...  I'm thinking warmer weather and daylight hours will help.