Sunday, September 07, 2014

St. Paul Bike Classic 2014

This will be the year of the sub-par gluten free brownie for me.  Ming said it was very good.  It was so-so.  He can deny it, but he's now got old man bitter-treat taste buds.

We finished up in about 2 hours.  That was a quick ride.  Doesn't seem that quick, but for some mountain bikes/sport bikes in the mix and some stop-go, it was darn quick.  Here were are: me, Larry, Erik, Ming, and Alan.  It was nice to have Erik back after a long hiatus.

I tried to shoot ahead to get some pictures at one point, running along at 20 mph on my bike with some guys on road bikes.  I didn't get very far ahead and it was tiring, having not biked a longer distance in a month and a half, but it was far enough for a few photos.

Ming and Erik at the top of what's sort of the last hill, right before Como Park.

Larry - same hill (see the tree?), giving the wave.

Larry biked with this guy.  They coordinated shirt colors before the ride so they'd look like a team.

Woo!  Woo!  CRUSHING IT!  Same hill, but with some posing.

Alan was too fast, so I couldn't get a picture of him on the hill.  But here is at our usual post-ride breakfast haunt, The St. Clair Broiler.  For as long as I can remember, he's worn the same orange Pub and Putt shirt on the ride.  This year he was out to confuse me.  He admitted to considering it.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

State Fair 2014

Last Friday we hit the 2014 Minnesota State Fair.  Not NEARLY as exciting for me this year because of the threat of rain.  I love the time I have to myself when I ride my bike up there early in the morning and find breakfast and do my own thing.  You can see some of the morning water below in the picture of Eryn in the racecar.  Unfortunately, I used an && in biking and hanging at the fair early and short circuited when I couldn't bike.  In retrospect, I could have just hauled my bike up there and rode from somewhere close, or even just parked up there really early and done my own thing for several hours without my bike.  It's nice to know I feel like my bike is a part of me, but I was less concerned about leaving my wife out of my early morning activities than my bike.  That might be pushing me close to the crazy I see in club members.

We debated going at all on Friday, but in the end I thought staying until the rain started at 5:00 on a workday I already had off was our best option for avoiding a horrible crowd.  Given they set the record the next day with almost a quarter million people, that was the right call.

Here you can see the rain has kicked in while people sing to Adele.  Eryn's in that picture.  To the right, zebra-ish umbrella.  I'm sitting under a fairly dry tree that accumulated 50 or so people as soon as it started to rain.  That was fine, until the guy came sauntering up with his lit cigarette and turned our tree shelter into a smoke-filled tree shelter.

It's appropriate to hold hands at the sing a long, but shoe choice is more important.  You can't sit and sing, so those shoes are entirely inappropriate.

Enjoy The Gambler at the Singalong.  I can't tell who's worse, the guy with the trachea voice or the kid screaming what seems to be nonsense.  But nonsense in tune.

And another song.  Full track.






Not much rolling - but you probably didn't realize you were going to listen to Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up!

I'm not a fan of the midway, but Eryn loves it and the rain stayed away long enough to enjoy the rides.

Bonus photo.  This one didn't make it to Facebook and it's my favorite from the fair, near the Giant Slide, shortly before we went to find Pinball on a Stick and play some Star Trek the Movie, Haunted House, and Siege pinball.  Maybe I should have taken my hat off.

On our way out we tried to swing past the crafts area to a.) avoid the downpour and b.) find grandma's scarfs.  We found the scarfs.  I also found this.  She didn't make this - it's from the 4H building.  I'm not sure what inspired it, but the only thing that comes to mind looking at it is Cartman having t-parties with his toys on South Park.

We managed to find free parking.  That was a pleasant bonus.  Given the ticket prices are huge and the midway ticket prices are huge, it's cool to save some money here and there, like on parking and on the half-used coupon book someone left for the taking at work (sometimes if you want something to go away, there are specific spots to put it to encourage taking - I've done it with computer games and books).  You didn't need a coupon for this tree - it was the cheapest thing at the Fair!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Rocky Mountain Mist

Well, that was easier than I thought it would be.  I showed it to Eryn, she doesn't remember it being quite like this.

Vacation: Part Last, the Video Journey

Ah, nonsensical videos from vacation, mostly devoid of people, so you can feel like you're sharing the grandeur of Colorado with me first person shooter style.  If you feel like looping, you can hang out in the windy mountains at 12,000 feet virtually forever, embedded in a New Age Scooter video.

Or spend 22 seconds watch a river in blackbox.  Watch for Jen's watch!

This is The Mist, coming to get you.  It just needs spooky music.  I should put spooky music behind all my vacation videos.  They'd be more interesting.

Moving camera and more river.  If you're easily nauseated, prepare for fast movement.

A river near Vail that's not as noisy as a river in the Rocky Mountains.

See, Rocky Mountain National Park rivers are noisier.  Do you have to pee now?

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Vacation: Rocky Mountain National Park (aka more mountains and rivers and rocks)

There are almost 80 pictures in the set from Rocky Mountain National Park, so if you need to see some, including semi-duplicates which I usually delete but kept a few of for my wife in case there were different perspectives of her and Eryn near the river she preferred, head over to Flickr.  If you follow my wife, wait for her to finally find her power cord, pull her photos from her camera, and upload those.  I think she has thousands, including several hundred of what probably deer, though we had a spirited discussion debating it because they certainly weren't your white-tailed, Minnesota variety.  But I've learned never to worry about someone else's digital photos.  Therein lies insanity.

I read an article once by a wife who thought it was the height of romance that her husband organized all her digital photos for her: labeling, foldering, getting them online, organizing them into some sort of romantic I-hope-I-get-laid-for-all-this-work montage.  To him I say, you are a chump.  You'll be doing that forever.  Because now when you don't do it, you obviously love her less.  Obviously.  Even when she doesn't state it.  It's like being the guy to take care of the family and friend computers - once you fix one, you're doomed.  The best you can hope for is to figure out how to have fun doing something else while you reformat, delouse, and reinstall everyone's machine.  Perhaps that's when said husband organized his wife's pile of digital crap.

Here's a picture of some cairns, search for "out of control".  It's amusing.  They look nice here.  Add some verticality to my photo.

Here's another picture of the cairns.  See it there to the right, but before the big rock?  To the right of Jen.  She lost her sunglasses right there.  Lost them good.  I set everything loose I owned aside and dug around in the cold water until I worried I'd tumble in head first.

Eryn and Jen posing in the mountains.

Scooter! Scooter!  This is not what people want when they ask you to take their picture!  She said the water was very very cold.

We found a lake to walk around.  When we got to exactly the other side, it started to rain.  But at least it was far away from the two foreign tourists who smelled like they'd tried to sample every strain in Colorado.  Beautiful area.  Lots of snakes.

NOT a cairn.  Just some random rock giving a big f-you to the mountainscape because there's always one crab in the crowd.

The path to the Roger Wolcott Toll memorial rock. That one that looks like a mushroom is not it.  It's sort of to the left.  While Jen and Eryn were taking lots of photos of deer/not deer, I was hoofing it up to the memorial way back down a trail.  It was much further than I originally thought, so I jogged back at 11,000 feet or so for 1/2 a mile to make sure I didn't keep them waiting too long.  People you jog past at 11,000 feet think you're a nutjob.  I took a picture of this side path because I thought the area looked like the place Conan (the Arnold Conan, not the Momoa Conan) and his posse circled up to defend themselves against the Serpent Emperor and his nasty heart-piercing live snake arrows.  No snake arrows here.  Not even a snake.  Bit cold for them I think.  But I jumped around for a while pretending I had a big sword and making Arnold faces and yelling so someone would have a chance at the world's highest meme.

The memorial rock.  There's a compass-type plaque on the top.  I took a young couple's picture up there because they were going to go home with separate photos of themselves with a scenic rocky mountain backdrop.  "Hey, remember when we went to The Rocky Mountains and you took this picture?  And then I took this picture? I organized them for you so you know I love you."  That's right, he has ONE LESS PICTURE TO ORGANIZE! My micro-contributions to the sanity of the world will go unlauded unless I document them myself.

I think this is my favorite picture from vacation, and the reason I follow random trails even if it's a lot of exercise.

ARGH, WHY DIDN'T I RENT A BIKE?!  One interpretation would be that not renting or bringing a bike made it possible not to type here, "I failed so miserably at climbing 12,000 feet on my bike.  I had to bail somewhere around 3,000 feet."  It's cool he biked to the top, although he should have lugged that thing a few hundred feet up the trail behind the store to the very top of the mountain so he could say he made it all the way.  Stairs be damned.  Props, man.  I think this looks like a hell of a lot of fun, dropping dead from acute mountain sickness be damned.

From next to the gift shop.  Not as much snow as Glacier National Park, but still pretty cool to see it up there when it was so warm 7,000 feet below.  Lot of marmots running around nearby.  The goth group hanging out on the overlook realized they acted like the dramatic chipmunk and mimicked them for twenty minutes.  Marmots acting like dramatic chipmunks, funny.  Goth guys imitating marmots acting like dramatic chipmunks, not.

The hills are alive, with the sound of muuuu-sic, with songs Scooter has sung, for a thous-and yeaaars!  The hills fill Scooter's heart, with the sound of muuuuu-sic, his heart wants to sing every song it hears.... Next, I do I am 16, going on 17...

The tip top, up all the stairs that were vanquishing little children who would collapse to the stones in tears and complaints and groans.  Carry me!  Carry me!  Oh, Daddy, carry me!

A picture of the valley.  It was nice to just lean against the stone rail for a while and listen to the wind and feel the cool breeze, all Nausicaa like.  Think about it for a while, and then imagine that silence shattered by dramatic chipmunk goths.  See?  Uber annoying.  F-you peaceful, idyllic nature.  Somewhere down there is a rock flipping you off and somewhere up here are oxygen-deprived giddy goths about to laugh themselves unconscious from a seven year old meme.

Ending with a nice panorama (2048 here for scrolling) of the lake.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Vacation: River and an Abandoned Mining Town

Update: hey, the mining town was easy to find.  It's Gilman, Colorado.  Toxic lead and zinc, but soon to be fabulous skiing and mountain living.

Don't tell me you didn't know it was coming.  Until there was legalized recreational drugs, what was there to take pictures of other than mountains and rivers?  And the legalized recreational drug pictures seem to be an Instagram thing, so go track down the millennials with a serious preoccupation with strains there.

We spent the day driving up from Colorado Springs sort of taking back roads in the mountains, driving around near Vail and Breckenridge.  On this side of things it was sunny.  When we went through the tunnel at the top of the mountain the rain kicked in.  I was disappointed I didn't have a bicycle in Vail despite the rain.  Neat trail down the mountain.  There were some people riding, but it looked hit or miss when it came to getting very very wet.

A mountain river.  It is illegal to pan for gold here.  If I hadn't been told, it wouldn't have occurred to me that was an option.

Jen hanging out by the river with those other side of the mountain cloud lurking in the background.

I'm not sure what she's up to, but she better watch out for rogue beaver, or muskrat, or whatever lives in that lodge behind her.

Most of the river bank looked undermined by some sort of critter although we didn't see them swimming about.

Closer to Vail we passed this abandoned mining town.  There are 2,800 abandoned mines with over 10,000 entrances, many of them leaching heavy metal tailings into the water table.  That doesn't include places like there where people just packed up and left behind all those structures to deteriorate on the land.

It's eerie, and while I was standing there on the opposite side collecting trash for Litterati, it made me realize that all the trash I ever pick up in my entire life probably doesn't equate to a single house left behind to rot on this mountain.

Another photo of the abandoned houses.  It was interesting to see the different sizes.  It made me think of my classes at Hamline in immigration where we read a book about how the house sizes increased as you went up the mountain, the richer overseers living near the top, physically above their underlings.

Even halfway down what's almost a cliff of loose tailings and trees someone found time to do some vandalizing.

In Minnesota you see people throwing their grass leavings over the back edge of their property in much the same way.  Stinkier, but it also doesn't create a tree-free dead zone.

Panorama view.  Here's a link to the 2048 if you like to scroll.

I don't follow signs so well.  I'm mining for natural resources.  Booger nuggets.  In my defense, there's no vehicle up there.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Vacation: Horse Ride and Louis CK

Despite being a last minute decision for what is one of the more popular activities in Garden of the Gods and despite all the rain, we managed to get in a horse ride.  Our timing was almost perfect because on the way back out of the park it started to sprinkle and that was the sprinkle that turned into several days of parking lot-flooding rain.  Have you noticed a theme yet related to our vacation.  Rain.

Eryn loved the horse ride even though the shorter ride isn't a lot of time on the horse, particularly when you factor in the in-town riding on roads out to the park and back.

Here's Eryn on Whinnie.  Big smile!  Eryn, not the horse.  She learned that different horses have different bowel-voiding preferences.  Some like to walk while taking a dump.  Some like to stop.  Some like you to get up in the stirrups while stopped to relieve pressure.  Important skills when the apocalypse kicks in and you want to be The Postman.  They didn't explain that part in the book or the movie.  Get a horse that can void on the run - it'll potentially save you from the bad guys during a chase.

In the park.  You can see some of the washed out nature showing that the rain didn't start just because we showed up. It had been going on for a while.  A few places, like 7 Falls, were closed down due to flooding damage.

My horse, red.  Not the horse butt.  The horse ears.  He was afraid of flapping rain jackets/ponchos.  Nice, eh?  Given all the rain.  I wore my pullover and decided I'd just get wet if it came to that.  Our guide told us that he had always heard Red was afraid of flapping ponchos but hadn't realized how bad it was until a guy tried to change his poncho on him a week or so earlier despite the warning and Red had totally freaked out.

Beautiful place to go for a horse ride.  I wished we had done the longer ride despite the impending rain.

Eryn had the back of the team (if you don't include the guide).  Nice place to be if you wanted to hear the history tour portion of the ride.

Here you can appreciate the clouds.  Supposedly you're able to see Pikes Peak on clear days.  We never saw Pikes Peak unless we were on it and turning around because I have ethical issues with paying private costs to see the top of a mountain when I can go to Rocky Mountain National Park and pay the people to see the mountains.  I noticed on the tourist web sites that I'm not the only one to have made that decision.

Eryn with some of the Garden of the Gods rocks in the background.

As an interesting aside, I met this guy who may or may not be Louis CK.  He's got enough young girls of the appropriate ages to be convincing.  My sister is convinced it's him.  She thinks I'm holding out on her when I say he's a dad from Oklahoma who moved to Colorado, as though I'm protecting his known desire not to have people invading his space and going all paparazzi on him.  She'll just have to believe what she believes.

Some live action footage of riding in the Garden on Red.

And an over-the-shoulder video of Eryn.  Literally.  I found trying to use a handheld camera to record behind me while riding a horse to be particularly difficult.  I should have been wearing the bike camera Ming got me.  I bet it works equally well on horses as long as I don't try to mount it to them.

Vacation: Golden

We spent one evening, though not the night, in Golden, Colorado.  Reminded me a lot of parts of the Twin Cities.  A very hippy vibe for sitting next to the Miller/Coors brewery.  We checked out the local fair that was going on so Eryn could slide down the giant bouncy slide, walked along the river where lots of people were tubing despite the rain, and had dinner at Woody's Wood Fired Pizza, which was excellent and had particularly friendly service.

I know this photo doesn't look like it's raining, but you can see some of the clouds in the next one.  Then again, maybe I just remember rain the whole time despite it not raining the whole time.  Everywhere we went was somewhat flooded or raining.  In Colorado Springs.  In Denver.  Near Vail and Breckenridge on the mountain.  I noticed in the news it rained more after we left - as in more frequently and with more intensity - the whole state must have been a giant pool for a while.

Here's the brewery.  Doesn't look like a major source of conservative politics from here.

There's a little pioneer town along the river.  Eryn fed the chickens.  Our vacations seem to involve feeding animals.  There's a little train that runs up and down the river (no tracks) and you have to be careful not to get run over.

Golden seems to be something of an artist community slash resort town.  So there's a lot of art along the river as well.  I took the opportunity to avail myself of posing with a few of the statue installations.  I sang.

And I read.  But I did not touch any of these statues inappropriately as I did the buffalo earlier.  Some statues you just have to leave alone.