I think my Xtracycle had been feeling a bit forgotten lately. My favorite (organic, local) grocery store closed their doors last winter, and I am now forced to shop at the nasty chain store – which is farther from home, and a more difficult ride (from a traffic/route standpoint). My grocery runs by bicycle have been more infrequent, sadly – and less often by bicycle. I need to figure out a way to change this.
Tonight I took my beautiful bike just out for a ride – no hauling involved. It’s such a lovely bike to ride; a perfect fit, that smooth, comfortable ride of a steel frame.
Ended up stopping at the old Baptist cemetery nearby, once again. Rain clouds were rolling in, and the light was eerily beautiful against the old headstones. Some of the markers are fascinating to read. Some are so worn and aged that they can’t even be identified. I know I probably sound quite goofy with my fascination over old graveyards, but they always intrigue me. Calculating the ages, trying to imagine what the world was like when the person was alive, the records of entire families. I get caught up in the history, and I’m sometimes saddened by some of the old forgotten, broken markers. I always tell myself that next time, I am going to bring some flowers along – for the forgotten ones. Next time.
Today was officially the last day of school for the rest of the kids – those who haven’t yet graduated. Finals are over, summer is officially here, and apparently the boys felt like celebrating by inviting their friends over for a night of music (band practice) and all-night video game marathon. Nine or ten 16-19 year olds, two gaming systems, and a rock band on the side. Oh. Yay. 😉
Seriously, all of their friends are great – fun, respectful, friendly. And like most teenage boys, boisterous and pretty lively. Seems like our house has turned into the hang-out location … which is completely fine most of the time. Maybe I’ve just had my fill of visitors and people in the house over the past two weeks, but I really felt a need to get away by myself (and give my ears a rest from the decibel level). Feeling a little prickly? Maybe. Anyway, a nice long ride was the perfect prescription.
Came across a bed of cacti along the way – about the only photos I took for the day. I’ve seen them growing in the area, and don’t know exactly what type they are – but who knew they could even grow in TN?
I think for now I will go hide out in my room, with maybe a book or a movie… and a good set of earplugs.
SNL has Laser Cats … and apparently Farmer Beatty has Twinkie Cats. After a long day of mousing in the barn, nothing like a nice dessert of sugary “goodness”. 😉 Yes, those really are Twinkies. And yes, the cats were loving every bite.
Riding with Mason today, we passed this big old barn on our way home. I’ve noticed the population of barn cats here before, but they typically run and hide if I make any move to slow down near them when passing by. Today, a bunch of them were all sitting inside the barn (which is right on the edge of the road), and I could tell that they were busy eating – and they didn’t seem to attempt their usual get-away when I passed. We turned around and stopped to take a look. The owner, Mr. Beatty, was nearby and we stopped to talk. I’m not sure what possesses him to offer the cats Twinkies, but he’s a sweet old guy and just seems to regard all of the cats as useful animals to have in living in his barn. No names, didn’t know where half of them arrived from, but apparently pretty good mousers. The cats seemed to be genuinely enjoying their “treat” … Mason and I just found it rather entertaining (and unbelievable that a cat would want to eat the stuff).
We had a nice early evening ride. Long shadows, cows, cats, honeysuckle, thistles in bloom – and no rain. I’m becoming a fan of the early evening riding – such nice temperatures, little wind, sounds of crickets, really beautiful light. Very peaceful.
As I’m sitting here writing, my own cat is climbing around my desk. Wondering if she is craving a Twinkie? 😉
Perhaps the smartest thing I did today was leave the DSLR at home. (Today’s photos brought to you by Mason’s pocket camera – which, quite miraculously, I managed not to ruin).
So the sun was popping out, along with patches of blue sky, and we figured the rain had finally moved out. Mason and I decided we were overdue for a nice long road ride. I cannot tell you why, but something in me decided to leave the “good” camera behind today – and since my little Lumix had a dead battery, Mason offered up his to take along.
Around 8 miles out, the rain started. And unfortunately started really coming down on a more heavily travelled stretch of road, where we encountered some yahoo who decided to pass a truck in the oncoming lane just as we approached – which could have been disastrous had we not had some ample clean shoulder space to move on to. We made it to a small commercial building that was empty and up for sale, so we stashed the bikes and took shelter on the front porch. We thought we could wait out the worst of the heavy rain – a plan that worked just fine until some really strong winds started blowing the driving rain onto the porch. We ended up pretty soaked, thinking how stupid we were not to bring any rain gear, or even a plastic bag to stash phone and camera. Dumb. Murphy’s Law of cycling, I guess … but we should have known better.
The rain finally let up and we decided to head back out, debating whether to continue our loop, or just head back home. Made the decision to stay out. And about 5 miles further down the road, got caught in a downburst again! This time we were close to a big Baptist church, and found cover under one of their equipment sheds. Had it not been for having stupid electronic devices with us, I think we would have just continued on in the rain. Time to stick a few ziplock bags in my seat bag. (You would think I would have learned this by now. Duh).
Finally it let up again. And the sun came out. And the rest of the ride was spent drying off in the warm sun. Totally worth it! I wish I could bottle the air on a day like this – damp grassy fields, the incredible perfume of honeysuckle in bloom. This was the reward part. 🙂
I should have gotten groceries by bike today, but I didn’t. You can call me lazy.
Mark and I headed to town for several errands – trip to hardware store, Tractor Supply, and the grocery store. Maybe we could‘ve hauled everything on the two Xtracycles, but two 50-lb bags of cracked corn for the ducks wouldn’t have been fun in a downpour. So we opted out. Or rather, opted for the car. #Fail.
Once again, just a rather abbreviated ride late in the day – solo. Wet roads and mist, and everything very green. Cows, of course (but I refrained from more cow pictures). Stopped on a little bridge that crosses Bigsby Creek, just to take a look…
I didn’t ride yesterday. 😦 Too much going on. Today our visiting family headed back home, and I got out for a short ride in the evening … in between some rain and thunderstorms that were rolling through the area. The rain was not so bad, but I was barely away from the house when I began seeing lightning and very dark clouds – conditions I wasn’t too thrilled to be out in. As I approached a local baseball field just up the road, I spotted a lone baseball that had made it’s way on to the shoulder of the road. I stopped to pick it up, and decided to just ride up to the field-house to watch the sky a little closer and decide what I wanted to do.
Took a few pictures of the sky and the deserted dugouts. But the weather was just looking a bit too unsafe to stay out in … so I decided to head back home. Not so sure I made the right call – the storm never did get really bad, although our power was out briefly this evening. Oh well. Some days you just strike out.
There was a ride today … but the day was not about bikes or biking. Today was graduation day for Dillon. And since this is my cyber real estate to squander as I please, today is is about him. He’s an amazing, kind, considerate, dependable and incredibly talented young man – son, brother, friend, and student. And anyone who knows him will verify that my words are not just parental bias.
High school graduation is always a special milestone, and today was definitely a celebration of Dillon’s hard work over the past four years. Today he was recognized as Salutatorian of his graduating class, and delivered a moving and articulate speech. Of course we were teary. And tremendously proud. And in awe, really. But mostly, it was great to see how loved and respected he is by his classmates, friends and teachers. It’s been a wonderful journey so far – and it’s barely even begun.
There is so much I could try to say about the love and admiration I have for all of my boys, but I don’t think I would ever be able to find the right words. So – for now I will just share a few pictures of this amazing and wonderful day… We love you, Dillon.
Tonight was Dillon’s baccalaureate; tomorrow is graduation. Since the baccalaureate was being held just up the road from our house, he decided to pack up his cap and gown and ride there on the Big Dummy. With his tassel on his helmet. I think he was tempted to ride with his gown on as well, but decided it would be too much flap-age. 😉
It’s wonderful to see your children finding their place in the world. People will often ask me if I am sad to see the kids head off to college, and I never think “sad” is the correct adjective. I will miss having them close, seeing them every day, no doubt. But the feelings of excitement and gratification to see them moving forward, celebrating their successes, discovering themselves, finding and pursuing their passions … it all eclipses anything approaching “sadness”.
I rode by myself earlier today; Mason wanted a day off. I think my mind was pre-occupied once again, and my “eyes” felt broken – I had a hard time finding anything to shoot, camera-wise.
The internet can be a crazy place sometimes. I received an email from a long-lost and very dear friend – someone I had worked with nearly 30 years ago, at a now-extinct software company – who had amazingly, and randomly, come across my blog. He wrote,
I have been trying to work out the logistics for driving the hybrid less and riding or jogging to work more. Checking out blogs of the like minded Sunday morning I found yours and then I found you. I’ve heard about this phenomena. An event triggers a flashback and suddenly a person finds himself transported to an earlier time.
And I think that is exactly where my mind was today when I was riding. Back then, when we worked together and became close friends, I remember him being quite the passionate cyclist – at a time in my life when I wasn’t. I remember once, while riding, he was hit by a car – badly enough to break his leg. If I ever imagined someone who would be likely to attempt a cross-continental ride, it would have been him – he was just that kind of person.
Although it can be quite incredible, and even a little unsettling, to be “found” after so many years, it was also pretty wonderful – and brought back some very fond memories. Youth, energy, office pranks, friends, the city of Chicago … I had always expected him to go on and pursue his talent in the graphic arts; instead, he has found his place in the world and established a successful non-profit agency serving autistic children and adults in South Carolina. He still rides his bike. When needing to drive, he and his wife both drive hybrid cars. I think he is also working on a windmill farm project in Texas(?) … And as he penned online, “Global Warming. I fixed it. By accident. You’re welcome.” Which is exactly the type of thing I would expect him to say – and probably why we became such fast friends back then.
So … everyone is finding their way in the world. It’s a good feeling. Now if I could just find my eyes….
Weather is still marginal, another hectic day. Did manage to get a ride in this afternoon – with Mason, once again. I had actually contemplated an errand ride by Xtracycle, trying to convince my mother-in-law that she could ride along on the back, but I just couldn’t talk her into it. Go figure? 😉 So Mason and I headed out on to ride on a couple of roads I don’t ride on very often; it was a nice change of scenery. Damp and earthy smelling after all of the rain, and very, very green. One heavily wooded section of the road was like riding through a green tunnel. I need to revisit these roads more often.
For some reason when the clouds are heavy I am always drawn toward shooting with the fisheye … and today was one of those days. We came across this rusty old wheel along the road near someone’s driveway – and I just loved the scale of it against the bike wheels. It also made me think how crazy it would be to have a bike with wheels that large… (I cannot explain how my brain works some days). Same thing goes for the power lines; I have no explanation. The world can look very different and interesting on a bike – and even more peculiar through a fisheye lens. Put the two together, and, well … ?
So ends Day 39.
Not sure where to begin about the craziness that was today. Spent most of the day hauling a group of kids to and from HS district tennis tournament, which ended in the rain. My in-laws arrived for Dillon’s graduation. And I found out, to my complete surprise, that I had actually “won” the most amazing mention by the folks at Xtracycle – and was in their blog, written by my amazing friend Rick.
Rick and I have had plenty of tweets back an forth over the past few years, lots of goofy photos on twitpic, and he and the folks at Xtracycle have always been so incredibly friendly and helpful and through all of our Xtracycle bike builds, as well as providing endless encouragement and enthusiasm over my own growth in this “bicycling lifestyle” undertaking. I’m always grateful when he looks at my photos and visits my ramblings here … but I really had no idea I was even being considered for the #30daysofbiking Xtracycle “contest”. So the shock was on me when he contacted me to let me know how much they liked my photos and blog. Talk about a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart! So Rick – thanks for the honor!
Ended the fun but crazy day with a dusk ride in the drizzle with Mason – it was the only time we could get out to ride. Once again, the unexpected proved to be magical.
As we were riding the last stretch toward home – in the dark, lights on, the rain beginning to increase – a lone car passed us, and Mason said to me, “I’ll bet they are thinking we are completely nuts.”
I replied, “Oh probably, but we’re having so much fun, aren’t we? Or are you going to someday tell your own kids horror stories of how your crazy mother used to take you out riding in the rain and in the dark…?”
To which he said, “Are you kidding? Of course it’s fun! If it wasn’t, we could’ve turned around back near the start … it’s totally awesome!”
(He’s definitely his mother’s son :))
A note on this last picture… We passed by a small Baptist cemetery on a road near home, and saw this strange light glowing among the headstones. Was pretty freaky to see. We stopped and investigated, and apparently it’s a small solar-powered illuminated angel. Never knew such a thing existed. I never would have noticed it without riding by in the dark.