Friday, December 16, 2011

Excited about Snow 2000 miles from here...

The group is set and the trip is planned.  I'm going to try my hand (or feet, hands and face in reality) at SnowBoarding at the end of January.  After spending exactly zero time on snow skis in the past 18 years, and two days skidding down an ice sheet that passes for snow here in the Appalachian mountains prior to that, this should be interesting.

It sounds like, from the blogs and other reports, everyone out west is complaining that the snow hasn't come yet.  That there is "barely anything" that is open.  They certainly haven't spent time in the deep south.  I even ran into a mountain biker at Oak Mountain this weekend that said he was taking his climbing gear out to Colorado on his trip in a couple of weeks because there wasn't any "serious" snow yet and he might get bored.  (I guess he skis a fairly significant amount by that statement.)

At the end of the post is a video filmed yesterday December 15th from Whitefish, Montana where we will be going.

The resort is a pretty small one from what I can tell when compared to the Disneyland versions out in Utah, Colorado, and California, but small isn't bad.  It means short lift lines, lower prices, and a laid back small town atmosphere with more locals vs. fighting millions on the slopes as I try to learn to stay upright on a board.

I like the idea of being out in nowhereville, which is probably why I like hiking/mountain biking in Utah so much.

Anyway, the early season complaints I hear prompted me to look at the website and I found this video.

If that's "early season" and not really great conditions, I'll be just fine with it.  With 5 weeks more snow before we get there, this trip is going to really open my eyes to what can be done outdoors.  I can remember seeing 8 inches of snow once in my life.  They get an average of 300 inches a year out there.  This is a place where you ski by a short bush and find that it was actually the top of a 30 foot tall pine.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Leaves

Every fall the trees around my house conspire to hide my lawn from me and to create a whole bunch of work.  The question is how do I make this entertaining?  Because it's not...  No matter what your Dad told you about raking being good for you.

One thing about our years in Florida is that I never had to rake anything.  The odd palm frond would fall, but that's about it.  A single 10lb frond is much easier to manage when compared to an endless supply of biomass falling from the old oaks around our house.

Well, in an attempt to entertain myself, goof off with the kids, AND rake this year, I decided to make a video.  We discovered the joys of back-yard bobsledding with a kids scooter toy a while back, and coupling that with a leaf pile seemed like a fine idea.

As a side note, me falling down in the leaves is not graceful, but hardly something that I wouldn't post.  In slow-motion no less.  Because, that's what this blog is about; entertaining my friends and family.  Of course, the reality is that my audience is probably getting smaller after my inconsistent posting and silly videos.


My youngest has been a wealth of laughs in his 4 years, and I wanted to put a post together to share some of his top comments.

  • Upon seeing a small tree with a cage around it to stop deer from eating it he came up to me and with a completely sincere face said, "Look Dad!  They caught that one!" and then ran off to continue playing.

  • Riding in the car home from a camping trip.  The kids were playing a spelling game.  Aiden had to spell some simple word that has slipped my mind.  His answer?  K...uh...R...uh...ZERO!!!  *Laugh's hysterically*  Ah, I hope he gets a good education...

  • Holding an empty box of waffles up to his face and looking into it.  (He does enjoy a good frozen waffle.)  I said that looking into the empty box won't may any more appear in there, and he said, "That's ok.  I'm invisible!!!"

  • The kids and I were scrambling down the stairs to the car so I could take them to school.  (Just like every other day)  We found that Aiden had already climbed in and buckled himself.  His hair was sticking up in all directions, he was wearing his backpack (while being buckled) and still had on his fuzzy pajamas, but he was ready to go to the Big Kids school.

  • A friend gave us a box of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.  (A friend that doesn't care about our dietary health it would seem, or was trying to save themselves from the call of the junk food.)  er....  Either way, we had doughnuts and Aiden spotted them, grabbed the box, set it on the table in front of him, and asked, ever so politely, "Dad, can I ONLY have two?" before I had a chance to even say anything.  Only two?  Odd phrasing, but I guess it's better than just licking them all and saying, "Oops, I guess I'll just have to eat everything. 
Parenting.  It's good stuff

Saturday, October 15, 2011

24 Hours of Georgia

I was looking for something new and challenging to do, and I wanted it to involve the mountain bike.  The challenge presented itself in the Oak Mountain parking lot one day when someone mentioned that they were doing a long endurance mountain bike race.  The idea of seeing how many laps one can endure on a tough off road course seemed like a good idea, so I started mentioning the idea to other riders I know.  Not too many takers it seemed.  I wonder why?

As fall approached, there were a couple of other guys that decided to take on this challenge with me.  Nathan, my partner in riding through Utah for the past couple of years, and Travis a friend through our team Steel City Cycling.

None of us had done anything quite like this, and we signed up and formulated a plan for the race.

1. Show up with bikes
2. Try to ride the bikes fast and keep them upright (preferably with us still on them...)
3. Try to make as many laps as physically possible without killing ourselves in 24 hours

Seemed as good a plan as any.

Travis had the ultra-camp-chair.  Yep, I had the privilege of falling asleep in it several hours later.

I asked how many laps he was planning on doing on the P-Far (Penny Farthing) for those of you not well versed in bicycle history.

His comment was "What?  Absolutely zero!  I would go over the bars on the first root."

One of my regrets of the weekend was not asking for the chance to ride it...  Next time.

As we headed over to the starting line and checking out the "vibe" of the place.  People were nervous and some people were already having fun.  I'm guessing the folks "having fun" were in support rather than riding the next 24 hours.

Nathan, got the nod for the first lap and donned the "ever so sought after" Steel City Team Jersey.

There was to be a line-up and start followed by a parade lap to let the field thin out a bit.  If you have ever seen a mountain bike race or a motorcross race where everyone tries to get the Holeshot and be first into the woods or the first turn, you will understand why.  It's a wreck fest, and why would the organizers let that happen when it was unnecessary?  They didn't.  It's a 24 hour race people.  There will be time to pass other riders...

Needless to say, people still went out like their first lap was the end-all of their racing careers.  (mine as well...dang that racing fever)

I have to say WOW that outfit a black and white photo that is...

Nathan running into the transition area after his first lap.

We all planned on rotating each lap to get a chance to memorize the course before nightfall and in case someone crashed out and couldn't continue.  That way when the world was condensed down to a tunnel of battery powered light, we would have an even chance of not crashing ourselves.

 We all turned in pretty fast first laps and then second laps...

This is me after the second lap...I'm trying not to look like I spent too much energy on the course already.  It was only 4pm or so.  Grrr...I still have power...I'm going to need it...  *whew*

Nightfall came and the lamps came out, and we all went from goofy looking guys in Lycra to goofy looking guys in Lycra with big goony lamps on our heads.  Fortunately, as is the norm for nighttime, it got really dark and we resumed believing we were cool (sort of) because nobody could see us except for the blindingly bright lamps on our helmets darting in and out of the trees.  The trail was really getting dusty and in the lamp light this became really apparent.  Clouds of dust would linger for minutes as riders went through and the lamps seemed to intensify the haze by reflecting off of each little microscopic bit in the air.

3 words:  Lamps are good.  

Travis found this out after pulling a double shift on the trail and having his battery run out mid way.  He is a super-hero for finishing the lap using a lamp that would barely illuminate the trail for someone traveling at the speed of a milk-drunk toddler.  Which he was not.  He was effectively running blind.  Impressive my friend.

Travis finished up his double loop at 2am.  I then started off into the wee morning hours.  It stunk.  Period.

I rode two laps from 2 to 5am and thought I was going to die.  Not from speed or crashing, but from old age before my aching muscles would get me back to the pit area.  It was an odd time to be on a bike.

I noted a couple of things though.  Mid-way through my laps, my mental state went kind of dark...

The cool/fun atmosphere of people milling around and having a good time while enjoying a bike race became something I was getting more and more annoyed by.  I was tired and suffering through the early morning hours on the bike while they were still smiling and sitting by campfires with friends.  I envied them, and I really disliked them at that point.  Grrr...

Interestingly enough this nasty, "I'm not really having that much fun" mind-set went to one of kid like grins within the next 2 hours.  I had kind of silly thoughts like, "This is like when Mom and Dad let me outside after bedtime with a flash-light and I get to explore stuff!"  I must have been really tired...

The happier mindset was much better than grumbling and wishing the happy people along the trail had fleas in their sleeping bags...

I finished up my 24 mile slog just before dawn and crashed in the sleeping bag not really caring if we got any more laps in.  Well, I did care, but I didn't have the energy to be the person to go and ride anymore for at lease a couple of hours.

At about 8 we all were up and about and found the energy to go and get two more laps in just before the finish.  It's amazing what oatmeal, coffee and a couple of hours of sleep will do.  Travis rolled out for a fast lap and we hoped that our math would work out to allow me to get one more lap in just before the 11am finish.  If I was still on the course when 11am rolled around, the lap wouldn't count.  We both cut large amounts of time off of the laps we had just done in the dark a few hours earlier and finished up with about 15 minutes to spare.

I ran into a policeman who oddly enough had a bike on his squad car.  I asked if he had been working or racing, and he said "both".  It turns out that we had passed him several times in the evening hours as he was stopping traffic for the racers the cross the road to the granite side of the course.  Then he made a few loops with a team once his shift was over.  That's a pretty good way to spend an evening when he had to work.

Side note: Riding wheelies past a police officer on a public road and not getting yelled at is fun.  I know...really daring...ooooh...

The team goal of finishing the race without dying was a success -- I know we had some seriously lofty goals.

We weren't all that slow and ended up finishing up mid pack.  There were some amazingly strong riders out there.

The race stats:
  • 24 hours of race time
  • 23rd place out of 35 teams.  
  • 16 laps total
  • 192 miles covered
  • No serious crashes
  • Fun

Now that you have read my account of the events, which may have absolutely no reflection on my teammates' versions of the experience, but since they haven't sent me a write up, you get my awesome prose instead!  Lucky lucky!

To add to the awesome content on this blog, you also get the chance to see the product of me running around with a GoPro camera and annoying my teammates with it!


Since YouTube and the UMG Music guys have decided to forego the free advertising for some classic rock music by The Who, I have loaded this up on Vimeo. YouTube also has the version that will probably be available on your mobile phone...I know there are so many of you so desperate to see my posts that you can hardly wait to see the HD video on the computer...

24 Hours from Brad on Vimeo.

The YouTube link HD if the embedded above doesn't work.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Fuzzy New Family Member Arrives

Mema's cat has come to live with us.  It's a great cat and has integrated fairly well with the family.  Well, it's integrated about as well as anyone that came from a sedate assisted living home to a household with 3 kids and wild activity all the time possibly could.  It's amazing to me that it has ever come out from under the bed considering the shock of the change in environment.

I thought about something kind of funny when, I believe it was Joyce, mentioned a small detail about Kitty Poo (Mema picked the name not us).

This is actually Kitty Poo 2.

The cat has the same black and white markings as the original, and it never dawned on me that enough time had passed since the original Kitty Poo arrived as a kitten in Mema's living room that it had achieved old age and passed on thus requiring a "clone" Kitty Poo replacement.

What must have gone through Mema's mind when Kitty Poo 2 came home for the first time?  To set the scene, I don't believe that Joyce told Mema that this was a new cat.  Mema probably looked at it and noticed that it seemed much younger and active than it did before it went to the vet.  "Hey, what's that vet treating those old cats with?

Anyway, the cat is a loved member of the household now, and hopefully it doesn't go insane from the constant jet engine equivalent noise levels and kids trying to find it and "pet" it at all hours.

There is also the fun little bit of retribution for all cat-dom.  Kitty Poo is allergic to something in my house and reacts much the same way I have around cats for all my years of cat ownership.  (No, I'm not all that bright I guess.)  The cat's sneezing and watery eyes make me think...HA TAKE THAT FUZZBALL!  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Six for Six

HA!  You guys thought I would be writing up the 24 Hours of Georgia Mountain Bike Race!  Nope!  I'm so far behind that you get a re-cap of what I wrote back in September and just now got around to publishing!

The Six Gap Century!

For the sixth year in a row, I headed up to Dahlonega Georgia to ride some of my favorite roads.  The thing about having a nasty long ride with loads of steep mountain roads at the end of the season is that it gives me an excuse to ride more.

"I have to go out and ride or Six Gap is going to be more of a suffer-fest than normal!", I'll say.

"Aawww...he just HAS to go out and ride.  Poooor baby." Brenna must be thinking.

It's true though, Six Gap is always painful.  It's always hard.

And it's fun.  

I've ridden this course in pouring rain more than once, searing 90+ degree heat that brought me to my knees in a 7+ hour dehydrated disaster, and then there are years like this year.  Perfect in almost every way.

It was a fun weekend.  I went up to the ride Saturday morning after spending Friday night camping with 200 noisy marshmallow and soda powered Cub Scouts.  We didn't get away until 11am since I was attending a flag football game where Bryce made a couple of good plays and the team won for the first time this season.

I love the drama of football even if it's little kids.  The joy on their faces when they won after a late game "pick-six" interception was contagious.

Brian Toone and I were going to carpool up to the ride and he was going to race the Saturday Pro-Am Criterium around downtown Dahlonega.  This was the first year they have organized the Criterium races, and it was a big success from what I could tell.  Normally, I will get up to town to register, get all the race numbers for the Sunday morning Six Gap ride, and then go watch College Football at the lake house, but this time there was racing to watch too, so we hung out.  I did get to watch the Clemson v FSU game thanks to a massive screen TV in the commons for the North Georgia College just off the downtown race course.  We hung out there and drank coffee until it was time for Brian to start his warmup and I went up to catch the Women's race before the Men's Pro-Am.

I feel like I'm a pretty strong rider until I watch these people race.  It's amazing how fast and strong they are.  They are just a different breed.  It's fantastic to see...

Brian's race started at 8:30pm and went well for him.  He won a couple of Primes, which are cash or prize awards given out during a race for being the first to cross the line on a designated lap, but there was a real powerhouse rider that ended up lapping the field for the overall win.  That kid is going to be a decent pro rider someday if he keeps that up.

We got back to the lake house at around 11:30pm, and were back in the car at 5:30am.  We didn't even get to catch up with Blake or Jess since we were there such a short time.  Thanks for the beds guys!

The ride started in mid 50 degree dry weather with the promise of a sunny mid 70's day.  The thousands of riders lined up excited for the effort and challenge...and some not so excited but resigned to completing the difficult task for whatever motivation they had.

Events like this are interesting because it brings out everyone from all walks of life.  People trying to get in shape, Ultra-fit bike racers, People with a dream to be able to complete a distance like this just one time in their lives, People who know they can ride it but want to do better than last time.  There is the social rider that will take 10 hours to finish, and the suffer enthusiasts that want to go as fast as they can the whole time.  It's a great mix.

I had a goal of getting the 104 miles and 11,000 feet of climbing done in 6.5 hours of saddle time or better, so I probably fall into the suffer-enthusiast category mentioned above.  I'm not really fast but I can keep it going for a fair distance.

Brian ready to roll out...

Brian and I shook hands, wished each other luck, and went our separate ways.  In other words he went and lined up with the horses up front that expected to complete the course in less than 6 hours total...including any stops at the aid stations.  An impressive goal no matter who you are.

The mass of riders began the slow roll-out after the gun went off and threaded its way past the local shops and off into the back roads of northern Georgia.  I love sights and sounds of the ride, of any ride for that matter, with the bright jerseys flying by and the click and buzz of the bicycles.

At least I love that stuff at the beginning of the ride.  Later on, when the world is filled with sore muscles and aching joints, I'm less inclined to say I love much of anything except getting off the bike.

I found a fast group and with their help flew through the first 20 miles, and the climb up Neels Gap came and went relatively easily.  The sun was out and the arm warmers came off quickly.  I stopped at the top for some food which wasn't really the plan, but as I had reached the top, an impatient 18-wheeler had passed me.  I knew I could descend the gap at 40+ and the truck would do it at less than half that speed, but I would never find a gap long enough to pass it without killing myself.  Waiting at the top for a few minutes was the prudent move to keep the downhill I had earned fun...and fast.

I was riding pretty well and made good time through the next two mountains.  The twisting descent down Unicoi was as wonderful as ever and passing cars on a bicycle is fun every time.

The 4th mountain was the toughest challenge.  Hogpen Gap.  7 miles of sheer nasty steep.  This is the place where you begin to see people walking the bikes and "delivering the mail".

(i.e. weaving back and forth across the road from "mailbox to mailbox".)

I know my ride is going to go well or completely fall apart on that climb.  Things went well.  I got up the climb in 43 minutes.  Note: Brian rode it in 32 minutes and yet didn't finish 1st on the climb...only 2nd.  Sheesh...

Holy cow some people can go uphill fast.  My combined Wolfpen gap and Hogpen gap times netted me 154th place out of 1000 riders, so I'll count my performance as a pretty good effort but nothing spectacular.
Looking down Unicoi Gap

I took off down Hogpen knowing that the ride was shaping up to be one of my faster times.  I began to have thoughts of finishing in 6 hours or 6:15.  I passed several people on my descent.  It is so much fun to go 50+ on a bicycle.  I was a little more reserved with the other riders and still managed 51 miles an hour on the long steep section.  I hit 57 mph a few weeks earlier and decided then an there to never ride that fast on that road again.  There is only so much the poor brakes on a bicycle can do if you miss a turn at speeds like that.  It's funny how I can be confident and in complete control to make any and all the turns on that descent at 51 but just 6 mph faster makes the safety factor evaporate.

I topped Wolfpen gap, the long winding set of switchback roads feeling tired, but I still had gas in the tank.  I had been making sure to stuff food in my mouth whenever I thought about it and to drink as much as possible on this ride.  Normally, I start to feel a little gross after 80 miles, but since I had been eating already, it seemed like I had unlocked something.  I was actually hungry and could process the food rather than having my body in complete revolt over it.  I need to remember that in the future...

I had one more climb and the rolling hills back to the highschool from that point, and I really started to turn on the effort since I knew the ride was in the bag.  Woody gap flew by and the final 15 mile stretch lay out in front.  I kept the pace as high as I could get the body to go after 85 miles.  I began to cramp up on the last 7 miles and couldn't get out of the saddle to power up hills.  I was working with a strong rider and whenever the road pitched uphill we would stand to power over the rise.  My quads would immediately lock into knots like someone hit me in the legs with a hammer.

I had the energy to push harder, but the body was beginning to fail me.  I had to sit and down shift to get over the small steep hills.  I watched as the potential goal for 6 hours ticked by and I couldn't go any faster.

6:15 passed by as well, but I did accomplish the fastest time I have done on the longer course version of Six gap.  I left everything I had on the course.  I couldn't have gone faster with what the day gave me, so I am happy.  I was laid out on the pavement by the car and queazy with the effort for a few minutes, but the feeling didn't last too long.  Brian rolled up (well rested looking) and we headed over to get some post ride food.

I asked how he did and he said he finished first.  In my semi-functioning brain I thought he meant first up Hogpen Gap, but realized he meant the whole thing.

He had finished the ride with another rider in first place.  5 hours 7 minutes.  I'm simply amazed at how fast that is.

In summary, the ride was great and we all had a good time.  I can't ask for much more than that.  I'm not sure if I'll ride it again.  Which is always the case after riding that course.  We will see come July or so if I feel like riding all out for a few months to get ready.

Have a great week everyone.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Space Camp

Bryce finally got his birthday present, and he has been really patient in waiting for it.  It was a trip to space camp in Huntsville, Alabama.  The testing grounds and construction site for the Saturn V rocket that took us to the moon.  The U.S. Space and Rocket Center has one of the Saturn V’s upright and on display out front and the scale is really astonishing.  However did we get something so large, wildly explosive and complex to work at all?  It’s beyond me and my feeble mathematical skills to comprehend what it took to design and get the vehicle off the ground.  

Like they say…  “Hey, it’s not like its Rocket Science.  Oh wait…yes it is.”

Bryce had an absolute ball at the center.  We were housed in bunk rooms that were designed so that they would fit into the Shuttle cargo bay to further give the sense of how small the spaces are that are required for space travel.  

Each one of the tubes in the background had an entire floor of rooms in it.  
We are so spoiled here on Earth with our expansive land and easy access to anything and everything.  All space crews exist in are little tubes (even on the relatively massive ISS) and the overlap of items required to stay alive makes the entire layout look like something out of an episode of hoarders.  Laptops, wires, clothes, food, several people, life support, and science equipment are everywhere.  Actually it kind of looks like my office a bit. Hmmm…time to clean up perhaps.
There were several simulators that the astronauts used to learn how to move and operate various pieces of machinery in space, and we got to play on them.  You can see them in action...poorly on my the end of this post.
1/6th chair:  Since the human body only weighs 1/6th it’s Earthly weight on the moon, somebody had to practice how to move around, and this is what they used.  Even so, if you are used to a 170lb body here, it’s a bit awkward when you find yourself only weighing in at 28lbs.  Every push with a foot launches you 4 feet in the air and spinning.  
A highlight for me was that we got a chance to speak with Robert “Hoot” Gibson who may have the most impressive resume I have ever seen.  
Aeronautical Engineer from Cal Poly, First in his class at the Naval Academy, Top Gun graduate, 14,000 hours of flight time in literally hundreds of different aircraft, 300+ carrier landings, years as a Navy Test pilot, and a 5 time shuttle astronaut.  He was the pilot that docked with the Russian Mir and shook hands in the historic photograph with the Russian Astronaut through the airlock…  Sheesh…

Perhaps this handshake will be equally impressive in years to come...

Mr. Gibson spoke with the group for an hour and answered every question the kids could come up with.  It’s really wonderful to see brilliant people come and speak with kids and motivate them to work hard and study hard to achieve success.  The message was vastly better than ESPN’s version of success, and for most of us, more probable.  

Space Camp was loaded with smart people.  I felt a touch out of my league, but Bryce and I fit in well personality wise.  It’s a place that reveres and promotes unabashed geekdom.  It was unusual.  For instance, when kids were asked "What are you going to be?" they wouldn't just say a race car driver.  They rattled off careers like a Cardio Vascular Surgeon.  (and can pronounce it correctly) You may think that Ocho Cinco, or Dirk Nowitsky are cool, but they can’t do orbital mechanics…

Bryce couldn't wait to fly the MMU (Manned Maneuvering Unit) simulator.  Which, by the way, is a nifty little hovercraft contraption that floats across the concrete floor.  It was designed to teach shuttle astronauts how to fly the un-tethered propelled backpack.  (Untethered = Scary at 17,500 mph with no air and that whole fiery death thing)
Oh, you've seen this picture before?  
Guess who took the shot?  
Yep, Capt. Robert Gibson on the STS-41...

In a shuttle Science Mission Specialist simulation.  Bryce was the specialist...I was merely simulating special...

Bryce and I got to go through a few different space shuttle launch, mission and landing simulations, which were remarkably real.  Covering ground control, checking pressures in tanks and O2 supplies, while paying attention to about 20 different indicators, switches and mission clocks was actually somewhat difficult.  I can only imagine when one is dealing with actual launch and landing type conditions.  My hat is off to the men and women that run the programs at NASA.

Our days at Space Camp were filled with activities.  The day started at 6:30am with someone calling wake up from the door and we would work/play until 9:30 at night.  It was very much the way the actual astronauts live with specific timetables, but the benefit of having late nights at the Camp was we had the run of the place for an hour or so, and this included the massive Saturn V building.  

The museum had a full Saturn V rocket split into it's stages horizontally across several football fields of space.  At the end of this monstrous room, was the payload.  The Apollo capsule.  The photograph above is the Apollo 16 capsule that was used a few months before I was born.  April 1972.  We pulled this amazing technological feat off multiple times (including our greatest failure) with a mere 166KB of computing power.  Yep.  Your phone sneezes out more than that when it re-boots...

As to the space program now that the Shuttle program is discontinued, we don’t have a goal anymore.  Or more precisely, we don’t have an achievable goal.  We as a species have reached the end of what we can do practically.  We have learned so much and now are realizing that with our abilities to travel, we may have reached the achievable limits of humankind.  
Going to Mars is an achievable goal, but with the 5 years away from the earth to make the flight there and back plus the time in orbit and on the surface, I have a feeling that this would be a one way mission.  If we got the astronauts back, they would not live long due to radiation exposure in space, muscular atrophy, and bone decalcification in microgravity, never mind the mental impacts of being confined in a small tube for several years.  Anything further out from where we are, when it comes to manned spaceflight, is impossible.  And I mean impossible.  
Even if we find the elusive engine that will propel us 90-95% of light speed we are talking at least hundreds of years of mere travel time in an environment in which it is impossible for us to survive.  A one way trip in other words.  We as a world do not have the money or desire, or need to do something like that.  I say need loosely there.  Of course we have a need to try because, by definition of what we know, our time on this planet is limited.  We have a need to survive, but the attempt will most likely fail due to our frail bodies and our unfortunate lack of understanding.  There is an idea that it may save the species at some point, but we would need many generations of people during the transportation segment of getting to a new world and then the difficulties of setting up a base there would merely extend the human race a short time rather than save it.  

That fate coming true or not is up to the smarter kids of future generations that will follow well behind our short years on this planet.  The most amazing and comforting thing to me is that, above and beyond all that we have achieved thus far, it has been proven over and over again, that with determination and need, we humans have made some formerly impossible things...possible.

Enjoy the video.  Bryce's head is going to spin when he sees it... "Where are the light sabers!" he will say...  Heh Heh...

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Fridge Zombie

I rode the bike a lot this weekend. Thanks to my patient wife for sure.

It wasn't a lot in the terms of miles for some folks, so I'll be reminded by real cyclists that my workout time and miles spent riding was kind of "not really anything to write home about."

Really, the 110 miles and 7.5 hours of ride time over two days really isn't much more than using "training" as an excuse to go on a riding bender. Which is fun. It makes me stronger (allegedly), lighter (doubtful), but basically it's just plain old fun.

But there is a downside -- And that downside is pure evil.

When you come off a weekend cycling bender you are hungry. Your brain is telling you that you have a chance to drop some pounds because you are in such calorie debt that if you just eat normally you will shed pounds in the next few days.

But then eating normally becomes..."Well I'll have a snack too. Just not too much."

Then eating normally and snacking...some...awakens something awful. Especially when one is trying to lose some pounds. The Fridge Zombie. There is the metaphorical blood in the water. You have shown it food, and food it will have!

Over the past 24 hours, I have found myself taken over by the Calorie Monster or Fridge Zombie or whatever you would like to call it. I wander around the kitchen without any hint or hope of willpower. My brain is screaming, "Don't waste all that effort and not lose any weight after all that work!" While the body is standing zombie like with the pantry or fridge door open stuffing any and all food in to satisfy the need for calories.

Ah, there is nothing like the foolish regret of eating 5,000 calories in a day after burning less than that on the bike over the weekend. All that work undone (and probably then some) in one mighty collapse of willpower.

Ah, at least I had a diet coke with all that food...that'll take the curse right off of it...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Inland Surfing

A short post and a video.

I have seen this trend around the lake in the past couple of years.  Especially with the change in how every 15 year old kid on the lake seems to have an 80k wake board specific boat these days.  These heavy boats cast off fantastic wakes.

Eventually someone came up with the idea to overload the boat with water, create the biggest wake possible and then surf it. There seems to always be some really large ski boat toiling along at an incredibly slow speed with a skier mere feet from the back ski platform.

NOTE: Do not do this behind anything other than an inboard boat!  The pictures of hands and feet mangled by surfing behind an I\O (Inboard Outboard) are out there and horrible.  Just google it if you need proof.  If you see someone surfing behind an I/O boat, tell them to stop and let them ride your boat. Inboard boats have the propeller up under the hull and behind feet of wood and fiberglass where you can't hit it if you fall off.

 Rick and I have pitched in on new toys to keep the Master Craft interesting to the old and young in the past.  A couple years ago, we split possibly the most successful toy so far, the barefoot boom.  This year we picked up on inland surfing, and I see why it's growing in popularity.

After some "engineering" to get 500 lbs of water in a water bed mattress in the ski well, and then a few plastic storage bins of at least 300lbs more on the sides, we loaded up the people.  Kids, adults, kids acting adult, adults acting like kids, heck anyone we could find.  The more weight and the more people to view the spectacle the better right?

Of course the fine ladies we had volunteer to go along actually detracted from the weight with their ethereal daintiness, but we couldn't say, "Nope, we need all the weight we can, you can't come because you make the boat lighter!"  That would have been quite poor form on our part...  ahem...

In the end, with all the water loaded, the boat pilot had to sit up on his knees to see over the bow since we were plowing through so aft heavy, and to get the surfer to match the speed of the boat we ran at about 2,000 rpm.  The speedometer wouldn't even register it was so slow.

We struggled with learning the speeds and how to coast down the wave.  Well, at least I did, but we had a boat load of fun surfing in a lake all weekend long.

It's not my best video edit, but the subject is really fun and we had fun filming it.

Inland Surfing, enjoy.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Beware the Land Shark

Brenna was off watching some over hyped pop starlet in Atlanta last night and smartly stayed there overnight.  I, on the other hand, was here holding down the fort.  Which Brenna does a great job of handling every day, so her day/night out to catch a concert was well deserved.

We woke on Sunday morning.  Well, I woke on Sunday, with Aiden poking me in the nose saying, "I want to play with you...after you get me a waffle 'cause I can't reach them." I looked at the clock.

6:13 a.m.


The rest of the kids woke eventually.  By saying that, I mean that Bryce was up shortly after Aiden and Ansley dragged herself out of bed sometime around nine...uh...thirty.  Yep, she is a carbon copy of her Mom as a teen...already.

Once they were all up and semi-functional, I made Sunday morning pancakes, and began thinking, what in the heck am I going to do with these little people?  They were scarfing down the pancakes at an alarming pace, and I was quickly running out of time on my first plan for entertaining them.  Food.  I was going to be chased down with the same enthusiasm as they were eating breakfast, if I didn't come up with something fast.

I shouted over the breakfast time din. (Honestly, does anyone know how kids eat, shout, fight, hurt themselves while sitting in a simple chair, and breathe at the same time?  I don't know, but there must be some scientific study on it by now...I'll google it later.)

Anyhoo...I shouted, let's play a game outside before it gets hot.  Yes, I knew it was already too late for the hot part.  I swear I saw a bird on the bird feeder burst into flame a moment before, but I had to do something though.

What do you want to do?  Play knights, kings and pirates?  "Yeeufff!" they replied with mouths full of jelly covered pancakes, and then Aiden said, "and there should be a shark!"

Ok...why not!

They gathered up their shoes, put on swimsuits and got some ideas together on what to do.  Bryce said something about sliding away out of a castle on the zip line and crashing into a wall or something.  I figured, what better than to smash stuff while on a zip line.  Yes, I am a guy and assuredly my poor wife's 4th child.  The next 20 minutes were spent finding capes, swords and a shark costume...naturally.  We also spent a few minutes gathering up all the plastic blocks in the basement that we could load into the wagon in order to build a target...uh...castle.

When I saw how excited they were, I pulled out the GoPro.  Nothing that silly and playful should go undocumented.  Not with today's technology.  Right?

Well whether you agree or not that we should, as a society, spend lots of our time making dumb movies with GoPro cameras, we did it anyway.  And we had a blast!

Enjoy and happy Sunday!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A real JEM -- not apologizing for that one...

Ah, the final Utah mountain bike video that you have been waiting for, or quietly wishing I would accidentally forget about editing...

I can't tell you how much footage that Nathan and I took over the course of the trip to Utah.  The number of hours of video was a little over the top, but it has been loads of fun re-watching some of this stuff and trying my hand at editing together questionably interesting videos for others.  I do like to share these videos because it lets other people see some of the views that we got to see.  Bikes are great in the sense that they are quiet, you still can appreciate the views without the confinement of a car, you connect with the outdoors, and you can ride out into places that it would take many hours of walking and overnight camping to see.  Plus, it's a heck of a fun hobby.

I wanted to ride this loop from the first day we got there, but the rains kept us away and the trail a mess, so I had to wait until the last day before we were going to head up to Bryce Canyon.  Nathan opted to ride part of the ride with me, but wasn't in the mood to put up with the first half which included some grueling uphills to get to the top of the JEM trail.  Hurricane Rim was the first segment and it skirted the edge of the Virgin river and offered up some great views.  This ride also pointed out that I am totally directionally impaired.  I had a map and the map said that the trail turned to the right.  The trouble being that out in the wide open area, there were multiple jeep trails and other random single-track looking trails that were probably cut by animals walking through the tumbleweeds.

I ended up taking the wrong track and heading down into the canyon by the river at one point.  At another offshoot, I found that I was off in no man's land trying to follow the rim of the canyon around.  After about 45 minutes of riding, hiking, and fussing at myself liberally, a vulture flew close over my head.  It wasn't just cruising, it was checking me out.  I decided that was a sign to just find my way back to the original trail and head up a different direction.  I was furious.  I could still even see the house where we stayed out in the distance, but I couldn't get there because of a canyon in the way.  Nor could I call Brenna and say my ride plans had changed because cell service in the middle of the desert is sketchy at best.  I was officially not having any fun, so bailing out and just riding up part of the loop and coming back down seemed like the best way to salvage what was supposed to be a fun ride.

I rode up the JEM trail about a mile and magically found (drumroll please) the rest of the Hurricane Rim trail.  I don't know if that didn't tick me off even more because the map didn't say that the Hurricane Rim and the JEM were the same trail for any length of time.  I can't really blame the map.  I'm a little thick headed sometimes and probably just didn't read the map right.  Anyway, I was off again and had only wasted an hour wandering in the wilderness.  A true Moses ride -- thank goodness it wasn't 40 years of wandering, even though it was beginning to feel like it.

I found Brenna and Nathan an hour later in a parking lot looking worried.  I was after all, pretty late in my estimates of when I would meet them there.  The Goulds climb was looming across the road where I would head up a steep road for quite a distance before linking up with the Goulds trail and then the top of the JEM.  Nathan wisely opted to meet me on a side road where he didn't have to put up with the climb.  I being a little thick headed, as I stated before, wanted to ride up the thing.  The effort is cathartic in a way.

The ride was definitely better once I had a buddy with me.  It meant we could at least laugh at each other if we managed to get lost again.  The Goulds trail wound around the colorful reds, whites and even green looking sand/clay at the base of Gooseberry Mesa, and it was fun, but not the main event.  We were ready for the 8 mile downhill where we had seen signs that bike traffic was one way, and that bikes achieved "dangerous speeds" so to be careful.  That's a great advertisement for mountain biking if ever there was one.  Besides, there was nobody around for miles and we could enjoy the expansive desert views whilst tearing around as fast as we could get the bikes to go.

That's enough typing about a subject that most of you couldn't care less about.  I'll let the video show you more of the ride instead.  I hooked my camera on facing backwards and it worked pretty well, but it worked its way loose on the way down, so the video gets a little floppy in places.  I need to build a better mounting system, but the rear facing view was perfect.  We would get footage of both of us as we went flying through the tumbleweeds.


Monday, July 18, 2011

They named a canyon for Me? -- Bryce Canyon

My son has been enamored with the place ever since he learned of it.  "They named it after me?" he says.  Perhaps not, but and after hiking around the entire place, I'll have to take him there someday.

I'm glad that he didn't go this time though.  He would have passed out within the first 2 miles, and we hiked until even Brenna stated,  "Not one more step.  It's hot. I'm tired. You can get the car." as she found a heaven sent log bench after climbing back up to the rim of the canyon.

I know I need to wrap up my posts about this trip, and I can't seem to find time to edit together the last big a "Moses Ride"(i.e. seems like you are lost in the desert for 40 years) video. I'll get to that next, but for the sake of getting a story written, I'll jump out of order and write up Bryce Canyon.

Of all the strange geological formations we have seen out in Utah over the past 2 trips, this pretty much tops it.  Arches national park was cool, but Bryce Canyon was something else.  It's high elevations and alien rock forms "hoodoos" are a true miracle to see and explore.  It's actually not a canyon, but a ridge where water has been eroding away the sides for millions of years dissolving the softer rock compounds away and leaving constantly changing spires and deep cuts in the rock.  The hoodoos look like giant drip castles from the beach.  Eventually the erosion will cut deeper into the high ridge and level the whole place out.

What struck me most was the color.  Every hour as the sun would move the colors would be different.  From a deep orange and white in the morning to pinks and tans in the afternoon.  The shadow effects were remarkable and made for photographs that you couldn't really get wrong.  Utah, makes my total hack photography skills better just by being there.

And with that, I see this post turning into one of my literarily (perhaps even literally) lazy posts and more into a slide show.  Hopefully you will enjoy it just the same.  Assuming that anyone even visits this link at all.

You enter Bryce Canyon NP from the rim and hike down into the base.  The trails wind all over among the walls and spires.  The place is actually named after a Mormon settler that famously mentioned that Bryce Canyon was "A heck of a place to lose a cow".  Fortunately for us, we weren't looking for any large animals down there.  The joys of a relaxing vacation...  I'm also glad we were up at 10k feet because I could tell even at the mid day temperatures in late spring that for much of the summer the canyon would be dangerously hot.

I love the twisted gnarled nature of the junipers and pines on the slopes all over the canyon country in Utah.  The environment is so harsh that they are just clinging to life on craggy hills, but they seem to keep growing just the same.

The rain hung over the far mountains, but never made it to us.  You don't realize how small our horizons are here in the southeast until you get to a place like this.  We are always surrounded by tall trees in the Appalachian and you can only see maybe 100-200 yards at any given time?  Out west you can see for miles quite regularly.  Not a bad thing, just an interesting observation.  If you grew up out west and came to the southeast it might be a pretty claustrophobic place.

We got up early to catch the sunrise over the park, and realized that we didn't own enough clothing for the high altitude temperatures.  
We were standing on the rim overlooking sunrise point (aptly named...) with the temperature reading 29 in the car as we pulled up to the park entrance.  The interesting variation is that when we finished the day the car thermometer read 98 degrees.  That's quite a change for one day.

The sun flashed above the horizon and the glow crept slowly down the rock faces as the sun cleared the mountains and mesas in the distance.

May 25th and there were mounds of snow 10 feet high still on the ground.  I have no idea how much snow this area must have had just a month before.

We climbed to the top of a rock outcrop to look back at the tourist laden observation area.  It does amaze me the amount of people that will drive everywhere in these parks and just hop out for a photo and drive on without exploring or even trying to hike around.  They are really missing out.

Hiking shoes got a few miles on them during this trip.

One of the many arches that are found everywhere if you look for them.

Bryce Canyon, a place I highly recommend visiting if you ever make it out to Utah, and as I keep finding out, we could spend years in the state and not see everything that we would want to.  I'll try to edit up the JEM / Hurricane Rim/ Goulds trail ride video for the next post.