Sunday, November 8, 2009


Time for a nap after making a little mess.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Giving Away Paychecks!

Get your red hot paychecks while they last! I'm giving away paychecks! Come and get 'em!

Well I gave away one the weekend before last. Or at least it seems that way to me and my bank account. Hopefully I can stop doing that for at least a while.

The story starts on Friday night. Amber's blood sugar is high (about 420), and she is completely out of it. When she's high (350+), she wants to go out to pee about every two hours - the alternative way to process sugar is to remove the excess from the body via urine (and lots of water). This time she showed little interest in going out, was slow, and appeared to forget where she was and what she was doing. I managed to get her out to the front yard, and while she was still aware of where she was, she did her business. After that, she took half a stride and stopped. Frozen mid step, like a statue. It looked almost funny sans the knowledge that she obviously wasn't feeling well. I waited patiently for her to gather her strength and continue, but she just shut down and went to sleep standing up. I woke her up and tried to guide her back in the house, but it looked like it was too much for her, so I carried her. I gave her a couple of extra units of insulin to try to help her bounce back.

The next morning was no better. Her blood sugar had gone up a little, to 430, and she didn't have the energy to stand up, much less walk to the yard to pee. And she wasn't interested in that four letter word. Food. Time to call the vet. The good news continued to roll in. The vet was concerned about diabetic ketoacidosis. Basically the body isn't getting energy it needs from the sugar, so it starts to get energy from the fat and protein in the body. It's extremely bad, and if not corrected is fatal. So, we loaded the puppy into the FJ and spent the day at the emergency vet.

The first real good news was that the blood tests didn't indicate that she had ketoacidosis. Good news... But what does she have? An infection of the pancreas? No, probably not. Other blood tests showed that was not likely. Several more hundred dollar tests were discussed, but we didn't see the point in performing test to rule out whether or not she was a horse, for instance. We did leave her there overnight, where she got an IV for fluids, and the techs gave her quick acting insulin every 4 hours through the night, to try to get her numbers down.

Sunday morning we got a call that she was doing a little better. She was a bit more interested in food, would wag her tail a little, and had just enough energy to go pee. Her blood sugar was down a bit, but still high. The Dr. prescribed 2 antibiotics (over $100 each), and indicated that we could take her home and monitor her. Though, they would be happy to continue the same treatment there that they had done through the night.

We promptly hopped in the car to go pick her up, where we exchanged said paycheck for now priceless puppy.

While waiting for them to retrieve our broken retriever, I looked over the bill. They broke it down into individual sub items. So that no one charge of $1000 would give anyone a myocardial infarction. The charge for the insulin was the same amount as a full bottle of insulin. Even though less than 1% of a bottle was administered. And that was for each time (every four hours) she got an insulin injection. But wait. That charge was just for the insulin. There was a separate charge for giving it to her. Kinda like charging $500 for an airplane ride, then another $500 to be allowed to disembark. The hourly charge to have a puppy stay there seemed quite reasonable, until you added in the extra charge to monitor her while she was there. It is America though. Land of the the opportunity to pay gratuitous and superfluous extra added charges.

That, being almost 2 weeks ago, I can at least give some resolution to the story and Amber's condition. No, we don't know what caused her to decline in such a way, but in the next 2 to 3 days she recovered to her normal blind diabetic self, happily running into walls and doors, wagging her tail all the while.

I have a good picture of her while she was recovering. I just need to upload it. Look for that soon.

(Comments welcome)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Generator - Update 2: The Good, the Bad, and the Noisy

Ok, so like normal, my posts occur several days (weeks?) following the event that inspired the topic. I put together the generator back on the same day as the prior post, but only now uploaded a picture.

The Good: It wasn't really that hard to figure out which bits go where to complete the assembly.

More Good: I put a quart of oil in it and a half gallon of fuel. Made sure all the right switches and levers were in the correct positions, and gave the engine a 'half' tug. Just to gauge the effort required to bring the thing to life. Not to actually start it. To my surprise, the thing sputtered and sprang to life. Off of the very first weak pull. Easy start? Check.

The Bad: I've got no place to put it. I guess that means I will have to start a 'weekend' project to either build a little home for it, or create a path to the shed (that is wide and smooth enough for the wimpy wheels), and build a ramp up into it.


The Noisy: I mentioned that the generator had a much much bigger muffler than the prior one. Yes, it does. And it is less noisy. But, I wouldn't be silly enough to call it 'quiet'. The old one sounds like a tractor with a straight pipe. Stuck in your ear. This one sounds about like your average lawn mower. Gas powered. Not electric. That would be different.

Friday, September 18, 2009

American Camper Generator Update

I managed to drag the generator out of the back of the FJ, and wheel it in to the garage to get a look see.

First, the good news. The muffler on this one is 8 times the size of the muffler on the Generac. That should mean that it is quieter. It also has wheels, and a place to put a battery for the electric start. So far, no lies uncovered.

The bad news: It is not completely put together (as expected), and it does not have instructions for final assembly (not expected). The handles, wheels/axle, and feet are not installed. I have a bag of different sized bolts, and no indication of which goes where. Also, upon inspection of the axle, it isn't correct. It has a bracket on one side (to connect to the left side of the generator frame), but not the other. I don't think it will roll well with only half of the axle secured to the frame.

I have not started it yet. I wanted to get it fully assembled before putting oil and fuel in it. So I don't know how well it starts/runs. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tool Auction

If I postulate that people that go to hardware and tool liquidation auctions are morons, and I went to one, and bought stuff, does that make me an uber moron?

I suppose yes. I went to one the other day, because someone put a flyer in my mailbox announcing a bankruptcy liquidation auction with name brand items listed. Some of which I needed. Or, well, could use. Ok, ok. Wanted. Also, I had never been to an auction before, and wanted to see how they work, and if you really could get great deals.

Upon arrival, I should have been a bit more dubious about the integrity of the whole operation. The flyer stated things like 'bankruptcy' and 'liquidation', and the lorry that parked in the local VFW had, in nice big letters, 'tool auction'. Nowhere on any banner were the words I had seen before that imply 'good stuff' at 'everything must go' prices. Next, walking inside, there weren't the name brands that I was looking for. Mind you, there were some named brands, but not for the items I was interested in.

Now, to get back to the stipulation that auction goers are morons. The auctioneer was quite adept at getting people to bid on non name brand items as if they were purchasing name brand items from a store. Or at least for more than you can get other non name brand items from places like Harbor Freight. Often twice as much.

I was hugely disappointed at how it was run. For some of the items that I was (still) interested in, the auctioneer would group a bunch of 'near the same value' items together - making sure that a highly valuable item was there that he knew multiple people were interested in. Thereby raising the bids to aforementioned astronomical levels. The deal was, that the final bid would set the price for any single item in the set. So, it generally ended up being a higher price for the item I was interested in than an equivalent name brand item at, say, Home Depot, which I can see from my house. So, I didn't raise my bidder's number placard for any of the items in any 'group bid'.

So, you think that maybe, I might have just been an otherwise intelligent person, out of place in a sea of morons. Not so fast. I did end up purchasing 3 items. Two of which it would be exceedingly difficult to argue that I need. An angle grinder - with a bunch of wheels, and a screwdriver set. To my credit (which does not begin to offset the intellectual debt I have acquired), I *almost* didn't purchase them. And, I didn't, per-say, bid on them. I let the others bid it up, then, when the bidding stopped, he asked if anyone else was interested in the given item for the specified price - and I, with at least a small pause, stupidly raised my placard.

The final, and most expensive, item I purchased, am currently crossing my fingers on. It's a generator. To replace the non functional generator that I loaned to a friend. I'm not really upset with it coming back non functional. I've never really liked it. It's the loudest generator I've had the displeasure of standing next to. Not the easiest thing to start either. Now, I had set myself a price limit of $500 for a generator. I figured it was an auction, so I *should* be getting things at *below* retail. In the end, the auctioneer talked up the generator, and people (not me) bid it up to $625. Once the price was set, I hesitated, then gritted my teeth and bought into the auctioneer's tales of awesomeness about this generator.

'Pros': It has the same engine as a beloved Honda generator ('same engine' = same design. It's not actually made by Honda). It's rated for 6500 watts (old one is 5000. Or, in it's current condition, 0 watts). It's 'quiet' (I have yet to hear one running). It's 'worth' over $1500. It has electric start. It has wheels.

Cons: Several grains of salt for the 'pros' (i.e. Who can prove that it is the same design? How 'quite' is it, really?). It is an American Camper brand generator. I've never heard of American Camper.

Hold on now. I'm obviously on the internet. Lets do a Google... Uh oh... Here's one 'find': "AMERICAN CAMPER GENERATOR PARTS. WE JUST BOUGHT A GENERATOR ON LINE AND IT NEEDS PARTS PLEASE HELP". Heh, well, I also found an EBay attempt to sell a 3000 watt American Camper generator for $1200. ...And a 2000 watt one retailing for $250.

So, I'm still holding my breath about if I got a deal, or if I bought a lump of slag. I think I'm afraid to try to start it.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, another scam-olicious tactic of the peeps running the auction. They add a 10% auction transaction fee to everything. And, tax too, of course. The 10% fee is to automatically increase their profit margins. Sure, they are very up front about the fee by posting notice of it in the flyer and at the entrance to the auction room, and they even mention it multiple times in the intro before the bidding starts. But then that's the last you hear of it until they add it to your tab when you check out. They tell you about it, but then they want you to forget about it while bidding - which, as far as I can tell is what everyone did.

Conclusion: Yes, indeed, I have moronnitis auctionus. But I don't appear to have as serious a case as most of the other people in the room.

I'm still interested in auctions, but now that I'm no longer a virgin, I expect that I will have the fortitude to get up and walk out of a bad one.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

RMNP: Day 1 - Part 2. Did someone say rain?

With my successful arrival, and my tent pitched, the topic turned, without surprise, to the subject of what gourmet, err... camping delicacies we could partake of in the immediate future.

Dave and Christa's camp site was 0107, and was pitched two days prior. They were already set up for cookin, so we headed over there.

Site 0107 was a somewhat interesting site. It was in a little bowl near the top of a hill. There were other camp sites all around them, but they were mostly obscured by trees and the rim of the bowl. As with all the sites in the camp ground, parking was limited. 0107 had only one space, so I snagged a space dedicated for the nearby comfort station (pronounced: restroom).

Dinner consisted of campfire cooked soy sauce marinated strips of top sirloin, herb and buttered halibut (foil + campfire), instant mashed potatoes, and for me, a green salad. All of which was quite good. Koal and Amber gave the beef two paws up (or is that two energetic tails?), as they were able to split a strip that fell on the ground.

Shortly after dinner, wave one of rain came through, and we all went into the McMansion - Dave and Christa's big orange tent. It is tall enough in places for me to stand up, and has two rooms. The 'private' room had two cots, a night stand, and five battery powered ceiling fans. The 'public' room had 3 chairs, a camp table, and plenty of floor space for the dogs to not get wet.

Twenty minutes later the rain stopped, so we started cleaning up from dinner. In the middle of that, the rain came again, only harder. Another twenty minutes later, it stopped, and we decided to try to bake some cookies. Yes, I did say bake. It just wouldn't be glamping without an oven for your cookies. Just as the oven was up to temp, the rain came again. Yes, again, harder. And it brought a friend. Hail. Fortunately the hail struggled to be pea sized, and didn’t last long, so did no damage. The rain stayed a bit longer, and was accompanied with lots of lightning and very loud thunder. Much to the delight of Koal, who couldn't find a closet in the McMansion to hide in. (Even though Koal is mostly deaf, thunder now bothers him)

While waiting out the storm, we played 3 hands of Uno. The first hand was an endurance hand. Everyone kept having to draw lots of cards to be able to play. We nearly went through the deck twice. The Uno deck was dog themed, and had a special card. The Fetch card. The rule for the fetch card was that when played, the other players try to grab it. I’m not sure what the benefit is for grabbing it, but we didn’t think we wanted to do that, and ruin a table or tent in the scuffle. The first hand we played, we made it the same as a wild draw 4. That made for a lot of wild draw 4’s. The 2nd and 3rd hands, Dave came up with the idea that when played, everyone passes their cards to the right. It added an interesting twist and got a lot of laughs.

At 9:00, it was bed time. Both of the dogs and I were quite ready for it. Neither of the pups were having fun any more. By the time I was changed and slipped into the sleeping bag, both dogs were snoring, and Amber insist on doing it in my ear.

Comments welcome...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

RMNP: Day 1 - Part 1. Getting There.

As any diligent reader of this fabulously popular site knows, I spent 4 days, 3 nights camping in RMNP (Rocky Mountain National Park) at the end of last month. The posts are somewhat tardy, but better late than never? Or is that better never than ever?

I don't know if I was brain dead or what, but my plan on getting to RMNP, and my camp site, didn't include looking at a map. A paper map or Google map, that is. I decided to put my trust in a Magellan GPS.

Plan A: Type in the name of the camp ground, Moraine, into the GPS and select that as the destination. There was no Moraine camp ground listed. Go to plan B?

Plan B: Look at a map before it's time to leave, bonehead. Plan C?

Plan C: What if we just put Moraine in the GPS? It does come up with Moraine Museum, Estes Park. Is that close? I don't know, but what the heck, lets go with that...

The drive takes about an hour and a half to two hours. I found that following GPS directions for long distances when I had no real clue as to where I was (or if the destination I selected was close enough), was more than a little disconcerting. After 50 minutes or so into the drive I was really jonesing for an old school map to look at. I tried zooming out the GPS to give me some perspective, but I was on a road that was too 'small'. The GPS software would not draw it when zoomed out even a little. In fact, when I was at the max zoom out where it would still draw it, it was the only road on the map. Kinda hard to get a perspective from that...

As luck would have it, Moraine Museum was actually in the park, and only about a mile from the campground - there were signs that I could follow from there.

My site for night one was D-0151. A walk out. Means you gotta lug your gear from the parking spot to the camp site - in this case about 120 yards. I could not see the site from the car, so I headed out with just the tent to scout out the spot. I hadn't gone more than 15 yards when a blue Element pulled up behind the FJ. Wow, Dave and Christa have awesome timing. Two more people to lug gear. ;-)

The trek to the site was worth it. Good views, a picnic table next to a stand of trees, and no other camp sites close by. In fact I could only see parts of two others a ways away.

Koal and Amber were enjoying themselves at their new home. Koal was perky and energetically wagging his tail, while Amber was rolling around on her back in some grass. Too bad this site was only available for one night - gotta move to another tomorrow.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Invisible Dentine Alignment

Back when I was a kid, I had braces in order to straighten my teeth. They didn't do a perfect job. One of my lower front teeth stuck out slightly forward of the rest. It stayed that way for several years, then 'popped' and got pushed forward rather quickly (in teeth time that is). Within a couple years, it was fully forward and the neighboring teeth had moved in behind it.

This caused the out of place tooth to hit the back of the respective top tooth. Over the ensuing years, it wore down the top of one and put a nice dent in the other. On top of this, my jaw finally gave up on trying to compensate for the out of place tooth - it now hurts too much to pull my lower jaw in enough that my teeth can close properly. I couldn't even chew with the right teeth. It's time for Invisalign to get these ducks back in a row.

So, four weeks ago I paid a big chunk of money and had the impressions and photos taken. Yesterday I got my first pair of Invisalign trays. Oooo! What fun!

While we are on the subject of large chunks of change, I'll take this time to note the obvious: insurance sucks. They wouldn't pay a dime towards a procedure that would relieve pain, and allow my jaw to close properly so I can eat without grinding away front teeth. Teeth that they would be obliged to pay out bigger bucks to replace some time in the future.

I suppose I shouldn't complain much about the pain. I think, so far, it's much better than braces. But still, it's relentlessly uncomfortable.

I got the trays yesterday about an hour before dinner. Taking them out to eat was a nice bit of relief. Putting them back in afterward wasn't too bad. It was a slight discomfort, and I knew that discomfort meant that my teeth were on the way to getting back in order. Later on, when it came to bed time, they were, of course, still reporting to the brain that they were in a displeasing situation. The brain, knowing that it has trouble getting to sleep with the slightest of distractions, decided to stay up a little later to make getting to sleep easier. So, after watching reruns of Mythbusters while surfing the web till 1:00 am, I was tired enough to try to sleep.

Although I didn't immediately fall into a dreamy slumber at the moment my head fell upon pillow, I did fall asleep in relatively short order. But, the discomfort kept waking me up and withheld any deep, restful sleep.

When the morning alarm awoke me from my fitful respite, I was reminded immediately of the torture device in my mouth. I looked forward to the minutes I would spend without it while I brushed my teeth. Oh, how wrong I was. Upon taking these insane pieces of pure evil out of my mouth, with the 'holding pressure' removed, my gums immediately started pushing my teeth back to where they most recently called home. Yikes! That feels
worse than with the trays in! So with a quick teeth brushing, which was like prodding teeth that have already been shot and stabbed, I replaced the trays and sighed with relief in the relative comfort that they now provided.

Now, if you struggle, and look closely for the bright side of this, I think two gems can actually be found.

1) You are supposed to keep the trays in for 23 hours a day for them to work (I think they will work with less, but they tell you that to get you to wear it more often). When I was a kid, I had 2 removable apparatus. I was supposed to wear them all the time - even while eating. They could be removed for teeth brushing. I was very bad and wore them sometimes for less than 8 hours a day. They never really worked and my orthodontist was particularly unhappy with me. With these trays, I don't *want* to take them out, because I know it will hurt more. So they are virtually guaranteed to work.

2) With not being able to eat with the trays in, and not wanting to do stuff with my teeth while they are out, I'm not inclined to spend a lot of time eating. New weight loss plan. Akin to having your jaw wired shut.

-- As always, comments are welcome on every post. --

OBTW, aren't you glad I didn't post pictures with this entry??

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tropic Thunder or Tragic Blunder?

I posted a short movie review a little while back, and gave Julie & Julia a two thumbs up rating. So, I figured I'd continue my movie reviews with the next movie I saw. Although I saw J&J in the theater, I saw Tropic Thunder on DVD a few days ago.

It got low/mixed reviews from most newspaper/TV critics, but IMDB had it rated at a 7.3 by it's users. I thought the trailers were mildly funny, and thought it had some potential. Though, I wasn't betting the farm on it - I picked up the DVD used.

The movie starts off bad, and pretty much stays there. The story is of four prima donna Hollywood actors and their *adventure* filming a war movie. It's got Robert Downey Jr. playing an Australian actor playing a black man. During a large percentage of the opening scenes, and a significant percentage of the rest of the movie, I could not understand what he was saying. Ben Stiller's character (the hero of the movie within a movie) was infamous for his prior movie where he played a mentally challenged young man. His performance in that was supposed to be bad, which was supposed to make it funny. But it wasn't. The 3rd prima donna was known for his movies where he plays fat people that fart a lot. The 4th, I don't know what was supposed to make him famous, but he was busy hocking a beverage called Booty Sweat.

It's not that the movie premise or any of the character 'twists' were that bad. And it's not as if the movie didn't have
multiple jokes, prat falls, punch lines that were funny. It's just that none of the jokes were more than 'chuckle' funny, or 'groan' funny, and the rest of the movie was like being forced to endure sand paper on your eyeballs.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pleasant Dinner Conversation

Last night we went to Barb's for Sunday dinner. It had been a little while and it was good to see everyone. Curtis, Tina, Cindy, Bob, Carl, Sam, and, of course, Barb.

Bob and Cindy brought over their energetic new puppy, Stella. I don't know how old she is now, but she prolly weighs 35-40 pounds, and looks like she will end up at about 60 to me. Kind of a Labrador stature and hair length, but with Border Collie black and white colors. When she stopped in one place long enough to be petted, she enjoyed it and looked to have a good people disposition.

As with most young dogs (or cats for that matter) cruising at high speed just above floor level, it's only a matter of time before the dog mistakes a closed screen door for an open one. Zoom... Crash... Door = toast.

After calming everyone down, and propping the door back in place (more or less), a yummy dinner of sausage sandwiches and veg sloppy joes was served, and for the most part was accompanied with pleasant conversation.

As a marker to denote the end of dinner, Cindy posed the following question: "How do people hide a dead body without it stinking?" Or something to that effect. As if all those sitting around the table were experts in the subject. Wow! Did Cindy forget who she was eating dinner with? Does she regularly fraternize with people that have read all the Good Housekeeping tips on de-scenting a corpse? Or, was this a
casual question to help her with an issue she currently has at home? Or, is she planning to use the info in the near future? On one of us?

No, nothing that sinister. She had some raw chicken that spoiled, so she threw it out. It stunk. Bad. She wrapped it in a plastic garbage bag. And then stuck that in another. And another, and another. It still stunk. So, she was wondering how these psychos she hears about in the news that hide dead bodies in their basements don't get caught right away due to the smell.

There were too many reasonable ideas in response to the question:  Freeze it. Cook it (rotting cooked chicken does not smell as bad as rotting raw chicken, so one could assume the same for other meat). Get a large Seal-A-Meal.

I was beginning to wonder if I should be suspicious of more than just Cindy...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Julie & Julia

Tonight we went to see Julie & Julia. A movie based on two true stories. We all know who Julia Child is. But the movie documents her time in France while writing the cookbook - before her TV show. The other Julie is a woman in New York that decided to cook all 500+ recipes from Julia's book in one year - and blog about it.

Blog about it? Gee wiz, everyone's doing a blog these days...

Well, it was actually back in 2002 for Julie's blog, and the 1950's for Julia. The movie went back and forth between the two, developed parallels between them, and showed that Julie not only learned how to cook from the exercise, but grew, and learned valuable life lessons.

Meryl Streep was an awesome Julia Child. She was a joy to watch and I would have liked seeing more of Julia's story. Makes me want to watch her TV show "The French Chef". And to cook. They all looked like they were enjoying the food way more than should be allowed. Mmmm.

Two thumbs up. 'Cause I only have two thumbs.

Bon Appetite!

Monday, August 10, 2009


In case you aren't a curious, click happy web surfer, I'll explicitly divulge a non-intuitive fact about photos and blogs. This blog in particular, if not others.

If you click on the first picture in a posting, you will get the picture in it's original size. i.e. larger. More detailed. I don't know why it does not work on subsequent photos in a posting, but it doesn't. In future posts I'll try to manually include links to the pictures that I think are best viewed bigger.

Just remember the 'head' photos just need to be clicked on to see more detail.

Try it below. :-)

[Edit:  In future posts, I figured out what I was doing wrong, and all pictures are clickable to display larger versions of themselves.  Enjoy.]

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I finally finished the Tour de France. Duh, not the actual ride - but watching it. I had heard that the last stage, heading in to Paris on the Champs Elysees was a cruise, and that the Yellow Jersey was never threatened. Although I agree that the Yellow Jersey wasn't challenged, the last 50 km at over 50 kph is not the definition of 'cruise' that I was thinking of.

That's a monster 3 weeks of riding that is quite impressive to complete. I was impressed by the old man finishing 3rd in the GC, and I was happy to see Thor win the Green Jersey - although I'd have liked to have seen him take it by more than 13 points (he only won it by 10). Also, I'll note that I was impressed by the White Jersey winner, and his second place overall - I look forward to seeing Andy Schlek in future Tours de France.

As for my own cycle riding, the Thursday before camping, I went out on my normal ride (26 miles), but pushed it too fast too soon. After only about 9 miles I bonked. I stopped to try to get some energy back, and was weak and shaky. Thank goodness I had a Clif Shot with me. That lessened the shakes significantly, and gave me enough energy to ride the 9 miles back to the car.

On a happier note, I went on a ride today, and tried much harder to pace my energy output. Wow. A much much better ride. Doing mostly cruising and a few short, light intervals before hitting the climbs allowed the engine to warm up, but didn't drain the gas tank. I was able to attack all the climbs, and didn't bonk. With the climbs behind me, I raised the pace on the last 3rd of the ride on mostly flats for some extra burn in the legs and hopefully to build up more strength and stamina - if not dexterity and agility.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Marathon Ride

I've been catching up on things that I put off due to camping and the all day ride, so the blog posts are tardy. I'll start with the most recent, and get back to making a camping post or two later. I'll add pictures to this post later too...

After several days of camping and getting little sleep due to a certain yellow lab that snored and insisted on sleeping next to my ear, I was recalcitrant to the concept of getting up early for an all day ride - especially since the last 4 days have included a lot of rain. Check-in started at 6 something and closed at 8:15. So I aimed for 8:00. I got there, checked in, and looked around for Darren. No Darren. I called his cell phone, which is blue toothed to his Garmin Nuvi, which is blue toothed to his helmet. No answer. 8:15 came and went. I tried his home phone. An answer. Not good. He lives 30 minutes away and he's already late. Turns out that's not the worst of it. He's not feeling well. Not a good idea to do a full day ride when you are sick. I'm on my own.

I got the map of the route, and am somewhat dubious of my ability to do the whole thing by myself with a late start. It goes from Lakewood to Fairplay to Breckenridge to Loveland pass to Leadville to Vail to Dillon to Kremling to Rand to Walden, then down Poudre Canyon to Fort Collins. I take a deep breath, gas up, and head out, unclear on how far I plan to ride. It was almost 9:00, and I had an estimated 10 to 11 hours of riding to do.

The first leg was easy. I didn't have to look at the map for the first 79 miles to Fairplay. Been there before. From there, the route went up 9 to Brek. Have not been on that one before. It was nice. Smooth and twisty. I'll add it to my list of good biking roads. (Blogspot sucks. The map should auto link to a bigger map, but didn't. I put in a manual link for it, but that is broken. So I have to add a link here.)

Rather than continue a play by play about which roads I took, where I gassed up, and where I peed, I'll finish up with some with some observations I made. It's not that I'm afraid I'd put the seasoned reader to sleep, because, well, you made it this far and you are still here, aren't ya? It's that I'd bore myself to death before I could hit the POST button.

Duh: It's cold on a bike traversing 11,000 foot passes in the morning - even in August. I'd pull in to a gas station all bundled up and still fighting some shivers, and see all the people wandering around in tee shirts and shorts. I looked at them like they were crazy. Or was it them looking at me that way?

Pine beetles. We've had big issues with them in Colorado for the past several years. My tour of the central part of the Colorado Rockies allowed me to see where it was the worst. Easily, the hands down winner for most dead trees goes to the Brek area. Some mountain slopes had close to 100% dead brown trees. The worst spread north to Granby / Grand Lake to give them 2nd place with over 90% brown slopes. The good part of the trip was that the rest of the areas seldom passed 50% brown, and often was only about 10%. So, there is still a lot of beauty in the Colorado Rockies. The mountains. Not the baseball team. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Gas mileage. Not sure what the mpg was for the entire trip (one station didn't print a receipt for me), but on the leg from Lakewood - Fairplay - Brek - Loveland pass - Leadville, I got about a nice 48 mpg. Better than I was expecting.

Total distance. Round trip from when I gassed up was 544 miles, and I got home at about 7:00. Mr. Iron Butt did ok. Stopping for gas every hour or so for the first half, then every 45 minutes for the remainder was enough to keep the ferrous buns quiet. That said, I was glad to be home.

Weather or not. The weather for the ride was awesome. Mostly sunny skies and no rain for the entire time. I'm glad I tackled and completed the whole trip. The ever changing scenery from green trees, to brown trees, to the shimmering purple/pink/rust of mature grasses waving in the wind, to whites/yellows/blues of wild flowers, to majestic outcroppings of rocks, to rivers running by the roads, always kept the awe meter in positive territory. Already looking forward to next year...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Stay Tuned

Heading up to Rocky Mountain National Park tomorrow, returning on Friday. I'll should have new posts for this week posted this weekend....

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ride Mt Evans

The plan for the day was to take a two to three hour ride via a 'classic' loop dubbed the Echo Lake Loop. Up 70 to Idaho Springs, exit onto 103 and run by Echo Lake on the way back down to Evergreen, and then on through Kettridge and Morrison - with an optional diversion up to the summit of Mt Evans from Echo Lake. Darren, owner of a new BMW F 800 GS, was the only other member of the ride team.

Other than a bit more traffic on the way up 70 and then around 103 to Echo Lake, the day was looking good. Sunny and not too hot. After a short photo stop at the turn off to Mt Evans, we decided to stick crowbars in our wallets and pay the three dollar fee to drive to the top. (pic)

Half way up, just before summit lake, the road, as we were warned, turned into a roller coaster ride. Frost heaving caused the asphalt ribbon to undulate up and down with uncalled for zest. Me, on the FJ, was going just a bit too fast for the conditions. One bump (ramp) nearly launched me and FJ airborne. Darren, with his bike's massive suspension travel, just stood up on the pegs and let the bike soak up the lumps.

Summit Lake provided a nice place to pause and capture a few pics. And a last chance for some warmth and sun. At Echo Lake, the temp was 65 and mostly sunny; Summit Lake was 54 and mostly overcast.

After the quick photo shoot, we headed the rest of the way up. Almost immediately, we were enshrouded in clouds and pelted with rain. Should I take a moment at this time to mention that the road we were on was barely wide enough for two cars to pass, with 100+ foot nearly vertical drop offs with no guard rails? That plus dense fog/clouds and a rain spotted visor isn't what I'd call ideal riding conditions.

I'm sure the suspense is too much for you, so I'll let you in on some critical info. We made it to the top without falling off the mountain and dieing. Very cloudy/foggy/rainy, and 42 degrees. I took this shot while the clouds weren't *too* bad. No, I don't really think I can see for miles... A little while later I took a shot at the elevation sign. With a complete white out background of clouds.

The descent down the mountain wasn't any better. Even more rainy.

Continuing towards Evergreen, we managed to get ahead of the rain and took a pit stop at Juniper Picnic area, where we grabbed a few more pictures.
Arriving at Evergreen a little after 2:00 pm, we checked Darren's GPS for a place to eat. We selected a place called Tanglewood bar and grill, or something like that. The GPS lead us to a little strip mall, where there was a place that looked like a restaurant, but had no signage. Having no better plan, we stopped and had lunch there.

My lunch was a smoked salmon. Quite good smokey flavor. 4 stars (out of 5).

I checked the menu to see if the establishment's name was printed there. Nope. I checked the check to see if it was there. Nope. Not there either. So, without assuming that it was the Tanglewood something or other, I have no clue where I had lunch. But the service was good, and all the people were very friendly.

A little while after we finished, the rain subsided to a sprinkle, so we headed on back home. A 2 or 3 hour ride + rain == 4 plus hours out. Loop distance, 106 miles.

Not an ideal ride, but any ride/photo shoot is better than a day at work.

[edit- Awesome. The blogspot editor *refuses* to take/save my formatting changes. oh well.]

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Real Ride

Taking the bike out and running to the local RC hobby shop to pick up a few parts is not a ride. Heading out and hitting the mountains around sunrise and getting back in the neighborhood of sunset is what I call a ride. Recent Beemer owner and friend Darren alerted me to this mega day ride put on by the local BMW shop and BMW Motorcycle Club of Colorado. Not actually *owning* a Beemer caused a slight pause, but the site assured me that riders of other brands are welcome as well. Looks like a nice long scenic ride. I checked out their 5 minute movie that one of their riders made from the 2006 ride. Lots of runs over mountain passes. Can't wait. Date is Saturday August 1st. I'll bring my camera.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Updates and a Little History

On the recent subject of the FJ1200, I took another ride up Golden Gate Canyon on Sunday. For those that are interested (those? plural? optimistic, aren't we?), fresh high octane fuel in the tank helped the engine run even smoother. For those that weren't interested, fresh high octane fuel in the tank still helps. (did I just steal that line from someone else?)

On the way back down Golden Gate Canyon, I passed a familiar stand of willow-like trees next to the river and a pleasant S bend in the road. It reminded me of the night time ride I took on the FJ, and with Scott on the V Max. It was on that turn that a cat/rabbit/some-other-small-animal passed it's gang initiation requirements by trying to soil Scott's underwear. It bolted across the street right in front of him, with me following close behind. Good times.

An update on a different subject: A word of caution. Earwigs like linseed oil. I treated the oak threshold of the shed with linseed oil to help protect it from the weather and foot traffic. Once the sun fell, the nocturnal insects came out, and at about 10:00, I happened to go to the shed and saw an estimated 30 earwigs on and near the oil treated wood. Eeww. Not my favorite insect. I can try to get a picture and post it if they return tonight. As if anyone is interested. [Update: no earwigs the next time I checked. Could have been the rain...]

Updates done, here's some history. One of the things that I wanted to have as a regular feature of this blog are posts with recent photos. The most recent photo set I have taken that isn't worth negative money is a trip to the Denver Botanic Gardens back in May. Here is a slideshow of some of the more interesting, if I can use that word, photos.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Busy Day

An early start to the day. I loaded my 15 year old Specialized Stumpjumper mountain bike into the FJ and attempted to ride a dirt path up the Col de Tourmalet... as the first real ride I've done on that bike in a decade. Accompanying me on the ride was Dave, with his new Specialized Hardrock Sport. After running out of O2 two thirds of the way up, and with legs that where undeservingly scratched, poked, and abused by weeds and scrub encroaching on the path, I relented, and gave the win to the mountain, and turned around for a more enjoyable decent. ...Except the weeds scrub still wanted to get a taste of my blood.

After a safe return trip to the car, and a refuel at le Peep, I returned home and started working on mounting the door to the shed that I (with plenty of help from friends) built a
couple years ago. Yeah, things get done real fast around here. 8P

After taking several measurements, and getting a few supplies from Home Depot, It came time to cut some wood. After clearing off the radial arm saw (it's not my fault it attracts any object that can fit on it's wide, level surface), I still needed to move another object sitting next to the saw, so that I could have the room needed to rip one of the boards.

That object, happened to be an 18 year old FJ1200 - nice of me to have a Toyota FJ Cruiser and a Yamaha FJ1200, and refer to both as "the FJ", huh? I had not ridden it in a couple of years - for one reason or another: dead battery, flat tire, rain. Since I had to move it, I figured I may as well try to get it running again (I had checked the battery a week ago, and although it was low, it was still good, so I stuck it on the charger). It started right away, but had serious carburetion issues, and would sputter and die when I twisted the throttle. I let it idle, hoping that it would clear out some gunk from the jets, while I ripped the board. Once done with the saw, I returned to the bike and fiddled with it enough that I could get some RPMs out of it by setting the choke just right, while I twisted the throttle, just right. Not perfect, but it looked usable. I donned my riding gear, added air to the tires, and tried to take off. Hmmm when I put it in gear, and put a load on the engine, it didn't have enough power, and died. Repeatedly. More fiddling and coaxing, and I barely managed to get the thing moving. Then, slowly, accelerating. My biggest concern now was stopping at a light, and being unable to get started again before the drivers behind me lost all patience and ran me over. So, I decided to use the roads at Red Rocks Community College. It was close, and there were no lights. And little traffic. It did have roundabouts, and all I was trying to do was run more fuel through the carbs to clear out the jets, so I pulled a Bill Murray (The Man Who Knew to Little), and stayed in the roundabout for a few circles. I know it's stupid, but I smiled. There was tar sealer on the pavement cracks (lots of cracks), and it was a warm day, so, although the tar surface was solid and dry, the inside of the tar was like jello. Kinda nerve wracking for a rider that has not ridden in a couple of years, who is riding a bike that stutters, and wants to quit. I put up with it for the duration of a loop around the campus, then, with the engine working better, headed for the open road. I took a trip up Golden Gate Canyon and back. The trip did the bike (and me!) wonders. It ran a lot smoother, and had good throttle response - if not the horsepower that it should have, and it knocked a lot with the throttle twisted more than half way. Fresh fuel should help that.

Hey, what happened to the shed door? Oh. Yeah. I got side tracked. After the ride, instead of working on the door, I completed a smaller shed task. I put in the threshold. You can (sorta) see it in the shed pic.

/sigh. Yeah, I know. Who cares about my silly biking stories. Maybe they will get better...

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Welcome to the fifty six millionth blog to be created. Actually, that's likely a low ball estimate, but it's the number that popped into my head. Being new to Blogspot, it may take a while for me to figure out how to make this page do what I'm interested in making it do. Likely, I'll have to get my own domain renewed and my Linux box running again to make a site that'll be more what I have in mind. Here's a picture of me. No? You don't think this is Ralf Schumacher's brother blogging this lame blog? Of course, you are right. But at least you know something new about me. I'm familiar with F1. More in an arbitrary time unit...