Saturday, August 31, 2013

PK Flower

Nothing special going on today really.  I just wanted to share a lovely flower I photographed at Possum Kingdom.

Gaillardia l believe.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Winter IS Coming 2013

Winter IS Coming 2013

Last year I wrote some about the concept of Winter is Coming.  Today, a year later almost, it is not better.  In fact it is worse.  But not all the news is bad, just most of it.

If one pays attention to what some scientists (including NASA) are saying, we are in the early stages of a solar minimum.  What does this mean?  Cooler average  global temps and more volatility in localized weather.  Living in Texas, cooler is better, at least in my opinion.  So much for Global Warming, eh?
1984 was long time ago, and even the vaunted movie came out in 1985!  Still looking at the recent scandal ridden White House, the term Orwellian comes to mind first.  Hmm...let’s see…the IRS being used against conservative political groups and persons, for the gain of the people in power.  This makes Nixon’s Enemies List pale in comparison .  Gosh, Nixon only had 20 names on his list.  At latest count (06/27/13) the IRS had targeted 292 conservative groups.
Now you have Snowden fleeing the US with something like 4 laptops full of secrets…including detailing the domestic spying our government is doing on us!  Not the terror cells that are operating in the country—just us rank and file wage slaves.  And he gets amnesty in Russia… I am only surprised at how long it took Russia to decide to take him in.
Oh, and what about the much-ballyhoo’d Arab Spring?  Hmm…I seem to recall a recent “hot mic” incident with an Egyptian minister, stating their war should be against the USA and Israel, not Ethiopia.  And to think just before this, we the US, had given them 1.3 billion in aid.
And now look at Syria.  Here we are, in bed with the terrorists we are supposed to be against.  Most of the armed rebel groups in Syria are apparently foreign fighters, not local Syrians.  Most of the foreign fighters are aligned with groups such as Hamas, Al Qaeda and others.  Just do a search online for “Syrian Rebel Foreign Fighters “ to see all the articles too many to reference here.  And our government thinks it is a good idea to give these folks training with MANPAD launch systems, and weapons. 
How long do you think it will take for those items to be turned against our interests overseas, our military, and even worse, our homeland?  And let’s not forget the weapons-running operation in Libya, run by the obvious TLA, but supplying these high-tech arms to the Islamist rebels.  I don’t get it.  Or maybe I do, sadly.  And our President wants to help them more now.  Wants to launch a military strike into Syria.  Help Al-Qaeda.  Help them overthrow a legitimate government…and install an Islamic regime.  Just whose side is our government on, anyway?
And to make things in the Middle East even more “interesting”, there was a recent military coup in Egypt, ousting the Muslim Brotherhood, which is now spiraling out of control  as the military government attempts to shut down the MB protests.  Reminds me of the supposed Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”  I guess it really isn’t Chinese, but it sure is an accurate curse.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hotter'N Hell Hundred 2013

Saturday was the 2013 edition of the Hotter 'N Hell Hundred bicycle ride in Wichita Falls TX.  I've never done this ride before, though DH has done it in years past (including last year).  It marks the second largest cycling "event" I have ever participated in, the biggest being  RAGBRAI 1995 (which arguably had fewer riders by a couple thousand, but lots more 'support personnel' in the form of traveling vendors etc).

If you live in the near-state area of Texas, and are into cycling, then you owe it to yourself to come to Wichita Falls TX in August for HHH, at least once.  Much like RAGBRAI, every cyclist should do HHH once, at least.  Many folks make it every year, rain or shine, hot or not.

There are mountain bike races, 2 pro-grade road criteriums, the main event road ride of up to a 10k run and a half lots of sporty things to do for those so inclined.  The road ride options were as follows:  25mi, 50mi, 100K(62mi approx) and 100mi with an enforced time cut at the 70mi mark or so.  Oh, and don't forget the Trade Show...

The Trade Show was fun.  All sorts of area cycling shops, vendors and others show up, offering up wares, advice, food, etc.  Much like your usual gun show, but with different stuff.  Ride clothing was readily available (yes folks, there is a good reason cyclists wear spandex.  It works.)  I even succumbed to jersey-lust, and brought home 3 new jerseys for DH and I to wear.

DH gets the We the People preamble jersey.  I get the cow skull, and we will likely share the Don't Mess with Texas jersey. 

There was another Texas exclusive jersey, a Share the Road one, with a Texas twist, but they were out of my size, and to be honest, the thing that makes it so funny, would not be seen while riding recumbent.  So I passed on it.
Since you had to declare your chosen distance at the time of registration, I was not sure I could make the whole 100 mile route in good time, as my mileage has not had a lot of longer distance rides this year, so I chose instead the 100k, or Metric Century.  It's probably my favorite distance anyway, as it does not take up a whole day in my otherwise-occupied life.

What I did not know, was just how flat and fast this HHH course would be.  We were all blessed with non-hot temperatures (low 90's at worst), light winds at max 8-12mph and non-existent traffic.  The police support was superb, and the rest stops entertaining and well supplied.  Heck, they even mixed the Powerade strong enough for me!

I was on my recumbent, which means I started from "the cage" in the front of the whole pack of cyclists, who stage up behind the cage based on their chosen distance, and documented speeds.  The race organizers don't really know what to make of recumbents, or trikes, or tandems...God forbid you show up with a recumbent tandem trike!  I think they might just have a mental short circuit!  Still, it was nice not having to start at the back of 15000 riders, which was where the rest of the 100K riders were located.

The route started out fast, and by sitting in behind a DF tandem (aka sucking wheel) we were rolling along at a nice pace of 20+mph for most of the first 13 miles.  At that point, my tandem pacer split off for the 50 mile cutoff, and my pace dropped a bit.  The fast pace lines started to blow past by this time too, so you had to me more aware of what was behind you coming up fast. 

I opted to stop at the second rest stop.  I didn't catch the name of the stop (they're all named), but it had the slaughtered souls entering Hell, and a guy in a Devil suit (and you can get your picture taken with them even!)  The Headless Horseman's horse looked profoundly bored with it all though.

I kept rolling along at a faster than usual pace, both being passed by faster riders, and passing those slower than me.  I hit two more rest stops, including the Kiwanis one called Hell Freezes Over, where they served Cherry, Plain, and Pickle Juice snow cones.  I can't handle pickle-anything on a bike ride, but DH would have enjoyed them.  He does pickles on t-shirt rides regularly, if he can.  Me?  I'd probably puke.

The best part of the ride (besides the finish line) was being allowed to ride through Sheppard AFB.  The folks at Sheppard really support the ride, and set up a static display of aircraft, and manned another rest stop.  They had a T-6 Texan II, an F-5, an F-16, an A-10 Warthog, and some heavies all set up.  They even provided a cadre of officers to answer questions etc.
T-6 II

And then there was the Gauntlet!  Yes, imagine both sides of the boulevard you are cycling down, lined with several hundred enthusiastic young airmen in their PT uniforms, cheering you on at the top of their lungs.  Most folks stuck to the middle of the road, but I, realizing what they really wanted, aimed my Giro for the right curb, right at them, and rode there, arm stuck out, giving high-fives to as many airmen as I could!  They loved it!  I about lost an arm.... but it was totally worth it.  It was the best way I could think of, at that moment, to show my appreciation for their service.  For this batch of young airmen and women (though I only saw guys in the Gauntlet) are the ones who will stand in the breach, protecting our country and my kids...

The finish line not far off, and I was ready to get showered and get home.  It was still a 2+hr drive home, and so I did not stick around at the Finish Line Village.  It wasn't really anything I was interested in anyway. 

For those interested, here are my results (official from the chip) and from Strava/Garmin.

Hotter'N Hell Hundred - 100K Searchable Results
Location: Wichita Falls, TX
Date: 08/24/2013
  1257 Participants
  332 Women  925 Men
So if I am reading the final results of the 100K correctly, I finished 8th in my women's age bracket, 31st out of all women riding the 100K, and 195th out of all riders on the 100K (1257 total riders on the 100K).  My Garmin/Strava results have an auto-pause feature so the time recorded does not account for the rest stops.  The timing chip is simply from crossing the starting line to the finish line.  Not too shabby!
Individual Results
Name:Vic303Division:F 50-54City, State: TX
Bib:2XXXDivision Place:8Total Division:75
Age:50Gender:FGender Place:31
Overall Place:195Chip Time:4:13:18Pace:14.7mph 


Friday, August 23, 2013

Random 5 Friday 08/23/13

Linking up with Nancy at A Rural Journal today as usual for Random 5 Friday.

1. We have begun the Great Garage Purge of 2013. Trust me, we need it! We have to find someplace to put a recumbent tandem!

2. I'll be posting from the road today, (well, scheduled post actually) so bear with me that I won't be visiting your pages my friends, in a timely fashion.

3. The Hotter 'N Hell 100 is tomorrow.  Wish me luck!  Wish me tailwinds, too.

4.  We hope to close the sale of my MIL's duplex next week.  I'd appreciate any prayers you care to send my way for the closing to go smoothly and without any delays or errors.

5.  The moon has been beautiful at night all this week.  I love a full moon, and it always reminds me of Warren Zevon...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Adventures in Air Conditioning

Saturday evening, there was a knock on the front door.  This was unexpected.  DH popped up to go see who it was and what they wanted.  After a few minutes, he comes in with a funny look and says it was the next door neighbor.  I asked what was up with the neighbor, and DH says, "Not him, our A/C."

Ooh...not good!  It's never a good thing to have someone tell you your A/C is about to crap out, in Texas, in August.  Apparently the condenser fan motor was/is failing as it was making some dying-rabbit-mechanical-death-squeal noise.  Even DH with his lousy hearing, could hear it.  But it was still running, and cooling....for now.

Sunday evening we went out to disassemble what we could, and get the part# info off of the motor.  DH also wanted to shoot some white lithium grease into it if possible.  He assured me that it should not be a difficult install.

We took things apart, and got some grease worked down the motor shaft, then reassembled it all.  I took pictures of the motor ID plate, so to be certain of buying the right replacement, if I could find one.

Cut to today, and several phone calls and time web surfing later, and I found our motor!  It was at Grainger supply, about 20mi away.  I loaded the Monkeys and off we went.  Grainger's is great!  You place your order over the phone or online, and tell them what store you want to get it at.  They will pull the items and have them ready for you to pick up.  FAST.  I called in the early morning and they had the order ready for me when I arrived at 10:30am.

Old and busted!
The new hotness!

Showing Monkeys how to do this.

 Last night we tackled the replacement job on the motor.  The motor was, after all, original to the house, and at least 17 years old.  It's been worked like a rented mule!  The work to replace it was far simpler than I had expected.  (See, DH is the family electrician, and I'm more the family plumber!)  It was a straight forward replacement, and it dropped right in.

It was maybe 30 minutes, start to finish.  It was 7 sheet metal screws, 3 spade connections, and  4 mounting nuts, and the motor.  The capacitor was recently replaced, so we left it alone.  Should the motor ever need replaced, I know now I can do it without complications.  The Monkeys got to watch the whole thing too.  I am hoping they learned something.  I know I did.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bridge to Nowhere

Last night I discovered an unexpected thing...our very own Bridge to Nowhere!  If you are old enough to recall the original Bridge to Nowhere scandal, you'll understand the chuckle I got when finding this gem out on a ride with the Monkeys.
Oops!  Out of road!

I found a bridge, and a stretch of abandoned, blockaded roadway, that goes nowhere.  Kinda cool actually!  The fact that the road surface is still quite good makes for a perfect place to race the Monkeys on bikes.  They had fun, and so did I.  I've told DH about it, and he may get them out on bikes and play around on it too.

A literal Bridge to Nowhere!
I'm not sure why the road just dead-ends there, but it does.  I am betting it has to do with the nearby toll road.  There's also a new subdivision going in to the left of the bridge-end, so they may be planning on hooking the bridge and this stretch of road up to it, and reopening the whole thing.  

I hope they don't.  I like it just as it is.

Off to the left about 200yds is a road barrier.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Random 5 Friday 08/16/13

Back at it for Random 5 Fridays.  I missed last week due to travel, and the persistent plague.  Here is this week's installment.

1.  Long road trips are easier with older kids, and sharing driving between the adults.  The portable DVD player helps too.

2.  The Monkeys have discovered they can shoot spitballs with long plastic glow-stick storage tubes.  This is not endearing them to me...

3.  I hope to be back on the bike at least by next week, so that I can get a few miles and rides in before I head off to Wichita Falls for the Hotter 'N Hell Hundred ride.  I'm only planning on the 100K ride, or about 64mi, and not the imperial century of 100 mi.

4.  The dog rescue I volunteer with, TIRR, has several nice events upcoming.  One is even local to me, so I hope I will be free to assist them.  We are also planning another woodcutting expedition for fall, once the weather cools off.

5.  The Perseid Meteor shower was early this week.  Did you get out to see any falling stars?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fair Time!

The first week in August in Kansas is usually County Fair time.  I remember fondly, growing up in Eastern Kansas, and the local county fair.  I was in 4H, despite being a townie, and thoroughly enjoyed the fair, the exhibits, the animals, working the concession stand. and the carnival.

Our recent trip took us to small-town western Kansas, and their county fair.  It is different, in that the county owns the carnival equipment, and the local townsfolk maintain and operate the stuff during the fair.  It is a much safer atmosphere than what I remember of fairs, and this was the Monkeys' second trip to the fair.

The booths are simple, and the contests not rigged, unlike a traditional carnival.  Prizes are easy to win, and you can trade in 3 smalls for a medium stuffed animal, or 3 mediums for a large.  Tickets are cheap too, at 25cents each.

The rides are fun.  There's the Ferris Wheel, Merry Go Round, swing chairs, the train and several others too (mostly designed to cause motion sickness I think!)  The rides are well maintained too, which is nice from a parental safety standpoint.

Ferris Wheel.
Train ride.

Everyone loves the horses.

My life felt like this last week!
A classic ride.
It was nice to be able to let the Monkeys run wild for a couple hours, as a pack of "Rampaging Cousins" as they called themselves.They even conned their big cousin (20) into tagging along with them to keep them all together.  A good time was had by all, including parents.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Long Road Home

Long road trips can really wear you down, such as eleven hours in a car with DH and the Monkeys.  All things considered, it went well, despite ongoing illnesses.  The eleven hour drive up was pleasant, actually.  DH and I traded off driving every half tank of gas or so, which made it less onerous.  Plus, the temps at our destination were some 20 degrees cooler in the afternoon than here at home.

We were going to scatter the remaining ashes of DH's parents, and to have a mini reunion.  This would be held in the old home town, to coincide with the locally owned county fair.

We were there two years ago at fair time, with DH's Mom, on her final trip out there .  The kids had a lot of fun at a friendly and safe fair. The county owns the equipment, and the town folks operate and maintain the stuff, so it's NOT a bunch of creepy traveling carnies.  You can pretty much let your kids run free there, though we did have our 20yr old neice who was willing to ride herd on the "Rampaging Cousins" as they all referred to themselves.

If you don't grow up in the Plains states, this land can seem flat and barren.  I can assure you, however, it is neither.  It is however, beautifully empty--not like space, which to me seems cold and unforgiving, but like the ocean, full of life.  A place of nearly endless horizons.
Endless horizons.

I have long been drawn to such vistas--it first struck me, body and soul, on a trip to England, where I spent a long day sitting out on the breakwater of a tiny port in a tiny village on the west coast.  The ocean and the plains are much alike--waves of water, waves of wind in the grain.  Western North Dakota has such vistas, ones with even more terrain than in Kansas.  It is a stunning place, and I can imagine the Flint Hills looked much like the Dakotas, before time wore them down.  Even now, on this trip, these vast empty places call out to me.  I want to be there, live there, be content in semi-solitude.  But unless one farms or ranches cattle, there is no industry, no way to make a living.  One cannot afford to buy land these days, it must be inherited or married into.  But I can dream.
The land is full of draws, and washes.

Windbreaks of trees mark homesteads.  Grain elevators and water towers mark towns.
  There are little cemeteries  dotting the landscape out here, forgotten by time and most people too.  Old cemeteries, with markers back into the 1890's, or earlier.  There must've been a plague of some kind here in the summer of 1891, chicken pox or influenza possibly, for it claimed at least 3 Hanshaw children, one after another, a month or so apart.  

A fourth child is probably there too, but the stone is long since gone, only the footing remains, untended but for the mowing crew.  Yet there are silk flowers on the Horsethief's grave (in reality a stone set for the local unknown dead).

Founders memorial.

There is a memorial here to the first settlers out here, from several of the little communities around.  Dirt roads still link these tiny towns, and you can see a lone vehicle coming from miles away by the dust plume.

Other stones, a trooper from the 6th Kansas Cavalry, Co. F, lacks even a date of death.  Who knows, how long ago D.W. Bruce served, or what became of him?  He was a private, that much I know.

An undated soldier's grave.

Traffic is light out here, and in truth it would be a pleasant trip I think to ride my bike here for a week or two.  The roads are well kept, and the shoulders often wide enough for a car, or a tractor...

Not much traffic out here.
My husband and my kids took lots of pictures too, but most of these are all mine, and they sadly do not do justice to the Great Plains.  Perhaps in another post, when I get all the pictures downloaded to the desktop.  I wish y'all could see what I saw, and feel the draw I felt to this place, these vast open places, God's Country. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Just a quick note...

To say no, I have not fallen off the face of the Earth, it's just that including the recent spate of illness which slowed my posting, I have also done a bit of traveling.  I hope and plan to have a couple good posts up once I get over an 11 hr drive!

There are plenty of pictures, if I can get them all onto the desktop to work with, but it will take some time to sort them out and pick the decent ones out.  That's the saving grace of digital photography--no developing costs!

Regardless, I still have about 3hrs of driving left to do today, as I need to go collect the Hounds from the Ranch.  Cody will be happy to see us, and Shiloh, well, she will be happy to see her favorite Squeezy-Toys (the Monkeys) and she will probably be glad to have her regular Staff back (me...)

Until then,

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ugh...I hate the plague.

Yes, my annual lung crud has struck, in August.  Seems whatever my lovely plague-vector Monkeys brought home a week or so ago, has mutated into a chest infection for moi.  Oh.  Joy.  Blech.

The doc office says they can see me later today at least.  Hopefully this visit will result in a med or two to knock it out.  If you don't see me blogging for a few days, that'll be why.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!

I think we are all in for a serious problem...I think they're not the ghosts in the TV from Poltergeist, but rather these guys, the Killer Tomatoes!

See, my mom recently bought a tomato at the store.  Common enough, right?  Well, she prefers to peel them before slicing to eat.  She dunked it in boiling water a couple seconds to make it easy to slip the skin off....

and she was totally surprised to see this!
Strange sprouted tomato.
Yes, it had begun to sprout all its seeds.  Neither of us had ever seen the like before.  I think it's a sign...

Friday, August 2, 2013

Random Five Friday 08/02/13

This week's installment of random five facts/thoughts.  I hope your week has been a good one too.

1.  I hit my July goal of over 500k on the bike for the month.  That is probably the greatest total in a single month for me, since I started riding again in 2011.

2.  I want to pick up a little point-n-shoot digital camera for general use and especially to have on the bike.  I seem to enjoy the pictures if I get around to shooting them, so a camera would make that process easier than it is on the phone.  (Buttons, I think this is all your fault!)

3.  We all got hit with some little gastric virus (not cyclospora thankfully!) last week.  Short lived, fortunately, though Monkey3 did require a dr visit to verify no secondary infection with strep.

4.  I did a test ride on DH's bike (same year/model as mine) but set up a little differently.  It was an interesting experiment last night.  I learned that a carbon seat does provide better power transfer, but is not as comfortable as the Euromesh seat I ride.

5.  The Monkeys are excited to have a chance to go to the county fair later this month.  It should be a fun time for them.  Perhaps I will be able to get some good photos, as our relatives would like some new pictures of the kids!