Skip to content

Posts from the ‘water’ Category

#330daysofbiking Day 106: leave no trace

Decided to ride this morning, rather than swim.  Mason had initially planned on going with me, but ultimately he opted out after thinking about how many hours he would be spending out in the heat and sun – lifeguarding at the Y later in the day.  Can’t say I blame him, it was a beautiful day, but another hot one.

So I set out on my own, a rather convoluted route, combining a couple of my favorite roads along the river, and a couple of new ones.  Gave me a chance to think about some things that have been on my mind – especially the direction of this blog, what I’m doing with this whole project, where I want to go.

My very dear cycling friend (who I will refer to as @blueallez, as he is known on twitter) had sent me this cartoon from XKCD … which rang so true (and made me laugh).

XKCD: Bored with the Internet

The truth is, I have been having a debate with myself over the past few weeks.  While I am loving the riding of #330daysofbiking, I’m becoming increasingly uncomfortable, personally, with the posts.

The advent of the blogopshere has been a blessing and a curse.  There is definitely a great value in many blogs, especially the ones that have a clearly defined objective – from promoting/reviewing products, to presenting opinion or topic news, or valuable advocacy of a cause or mission.

But at the same time, I find far too many of them to be dull, uninteresting, and often self-aggrandizing personal diaries – a fair number of “posers” and attention-seekers, in my opinion, saying a whole lot of nothing.  Maybe it’s a necessary niche (I’m sure for places like WordPress, anyway), but it’s one I have never wanted to fit into … and increasingly, I am feeling more and more uncomfortable, fearing I am sliding into that category.

The fact is, #330daysofbiking is a purely personal goal; I have no goals to make or raise money – for myself or a “cause”, I have no interest in sponsorship or anything similar. I don’t need the validation – from readership numbers or other measure.  Just because I am trying to ride every day doesn’t mean I need to publicly broadcast my “vacation photos” and the mundane details with the cyberworld.   I have debated whether or not this qualifies as legitimate (or measurable) advocacy, and have decided it doesn’t.

Mostly, I just want to do – much more than telling (showing, writing) about doing.

I simply want to ride my bike, take some pictures – and the details really don’t matter in the scheme of things.  Except to me.  And that’s where they should ultimately stay.

So, I’m not sure where I will go from here.  It is something I need to figure out for myself.  For the record, I will keep the blog.  And #330daysofbiking will continue – for me.  But I’m uncertain as to the direction of my posting.  I’d like it to have more of a purpose and less trivial drivel – there is already an overabundance of that in the blogosphere.  When I feel like I have something legitimate to say, an opinion or idea to express, I will be posting.  Otherwise – well, I’d rather “leave no trace” than leave a cybertrail of simply “stupid”.

For today, then – the leftover “vacation photos” from the day. 😉

thinking...

open house

#330daysofbiking Days 95 & 96: Xtracycle weekend

heavenly (Day 95)

The best recipe for summer weekend adventure-fun?  An Xtracycle … and everything and anything your imagination can add.

Saturday night at the drive-in

Saturday (Day 95) was only a brief out and back on our road on the Xtracycle; one of those days filled with kids, watching the Tour, yardwork, and just general around-the-house stuff.  In the evening, we decided to head over to the drive-in theater in Etowah.  When was the last time you watched a movie at a drive-in?  Seems like there are very few around any more, but this place is great – clean, family-friendly, and a bargain (on car-load nights).  We did not ride bikes there I am sorry to say; distance, darkness, and our typical giant crew of kids and friends and girlfriends made it a little impossible.  So, it was our gang, including a bunch of college-age kids, all watching Toy Story 3 at the drive-in on a summer night — good times! 😉

On Sunday (Day 96) I finally got to give the scupper-hole kayak trailer a trial run on the Xtracycle.  Mark had engineered a great little removable hitch-type of contraption that attaches to the back of the Xtracycle frame; the tow-strap hole slips over the “hitch” pin.  Loaded up the boat and headed to the river.  It worked beautifully!

About a month ago I had tried loading the boat on the Xtracycle’s Wide-Loader – which was ok, but with the shape of this boat’s hull, the pedal clearance was a little marginal.  Hauling the boat with this trailer seems a little heavier and slower-going, especially on inclines, but also more stable and pedal-safe over the distance.  And very easy for me to load and secure for hauling.

Mark and I had a beautiful paddle, exploring some side channels that we had never visited before.  They seemed to go on endlessly – we never did reach the end.  The lush, green tree-cover and shoreline foliage made it feel almost like the Amazon, we joked.  Spotted a beautiful Little Green Heron, a couple of Great Blue Herons, a King Fisher and some swallowtail butterflies.  Mark said he was waiting for a snake to drop out of one of the overhanging branches (thankfully, we were spared such a treat).

Rode home in the early evening.  End of a wonderful summer weekend; loving all of the “living outside”.  (And as my friend Darryl says, “loving the bike”!)

Xtracycle + kayak

hmmmm ... (envisioning hauling pontoon boat next time...? 😉

at the river

on the river

#330daysofbiking Days 75 & 76: water to water


in the pool, first light (Dillon)

Sometimes, my posting is like way I ride hills … lagging behind.

Yesterday I began the day with an early morning swim with Dillon.  Came home to pick up the rest of the crew, and the boys and I headed to Chattanooga.  Mason and the Governor’s School group were coming into the city on a trip to visit the UTC SimCenter (because that’s their idea of good times and excitement, lol)  – and we decided to meet him for lunch and a quick visit.  It was brief, but I think he was happy to see all of us … and likewise.

Enjoyed some good conversation about the Tour de Suisse, some geeky physics jokes (which were basically over my head), and a review of this years’ crop of Governor’s School kids – impressive as always.  And when I mentioned to Mason that I missed riding with him, he responded in his typical manner, “Yeah, I miss riding with someone who’s a lot slower than me …”  I, of course, hit him for that one.

Chattanooga: bicycles, Matt, Dillon

Came home and got out for a ride … into town for a haircut.  That was the extent of it.  😛 No camera, no pictures; just taking care of business. By bike.

Today it rained for a while, but fortunately the weather cooled off a bit.  When it started to clear in late afternoon, Mark and I decided to head to the river for a paddle.  I wanted to ride, so Mark hauled the boats and let me go by bicycle.

Spent a couple hours out on the water, exploring a few new stretches of shoreline.  Rumbles of thunder in the distance, but beautiful skies and very comfortable temperatures.  Fish were jumping everywhere, herons overhead.  Spotted a beautiful Kingfisher, but couldn’t catch him by camera.  Paddled back to the landing in the golden twilight.  Rode home as the sky was turning pink.  Perfect.

paddling

@330daysofbiking Day 71: river & ride

the end of the day

The ride came at the end … again.  Another solo road ride, post-late-afternoon-thunderstorms.  The roads were damp, steam rising from the heated pavement.  Fields are lush and green.  The air was just starting to cool, no winds.  Lovely.

wheels

Spent the day on the river with the boys and friends, paddling the upper Hiwassee.  It was the perfect hot day to spend on the cool river – the water is amazingly chill, coming down from the mountains.  It was great to be on the river on a Monday; we had it basically to ourselves, very few others out on the water.  A few fly fishermen, one or two other paddlers, our group. Nice.

Plenty of silliness … getting stuck on rocks, navigating the rapids backwards more than once, paddle-splash wars, sailor hats, the landing at “goose-poop island”. LOL.  Plenty of sun till the very end, when the late-afternoon storms started to pop up.  Mexican food for dinner, and then some music by the boys. Good times.

A few pictures from the day … ahh, summer.

something out of Gilligan's Island??

Leslie ... complete confidence

Matt & Grant ... amazingly NOT backwards

the beautiful upper Hiwassee River

#330daysofbiking Days 69 & 70: pedal, paddle, pedal…

beautiful endless stretch of road ... riding with Dillon

Summer days.  Sometimes they are so fun-filled and action-packed it feels like we are moving 90-mph in our 35-mph lives … And so I missed posting yesterday, and will have to make this post a double-feature. LOL.

Dillon

Had a great ride with Dillon on Saturday.  It was hot; mid-90’s, very humid.   I took it easy out there, drinking plenty, taking my sweet time – as always.  At this point, all of the boys can really out-ride/out-pace/out-climb me … but they are still nice enough to ride with me, waiting for me to slog my way up the hills.  We always have fun – they never fail to make me laugh over something.   The day’s fun was getting squirted with his water bottle while I was trying to get a photo … which just happened to feel quite  wonderful in the heat.

you cannot tell, but I was being squirted by a water bottle while trying to shoot this...

Today, Mark and I started the day with a quick trip to the river.  Finally had the new boat out for a paddle – and it was fantastic! I think this is going to be the perfect boat for me; stable, light, and great deck/storage for easy access to everything from my water bottle to my camera.  I think I am also going to be able to haul it  easily by bike very soon – getting a small scupper-hole cart/set of wheels, and plan to tow behind the Xtracycle.

very happy with the new boat - can you tell?! 🙂

met another couple out paddling - with their cute pup, Chavelle, on board (please tell me that I don't have to start bringing the goats along?!)

Came home, and Mark headed off to the airport for another week of out-of-town business.  After dinner, I headed out for a solo evening ride.  It was a peaceful and beautiful ending to a weekend of small adventures, fun.

When I thought about what I wanted to write tonight as I was riding, it kind of occurred to me – what do all of these things mean?  The pedaling, the paddling, the pictures … very likely, a whole lot of nothing to anyone else – but so much to me.

I had a conversation with a friend recently – talking about how “to live”.  About all of the time we spend maintaining our lives (jobs, school, family, home, daily “stuff”), versus how much time we are actually living … Is there really a difference, or is it just the same thing?  I’m not entirely sure, and even though there cannot really be one without the other, I believe there is a difference.  I like to think that my boys, my family, won’t look back and remember how many times I washed their dirty socks, or how well I dressed or mowed the lawn … but that they will remember the times we rode together, or skied together, or paddled together, or laughed together, or had our goofy adventures together.  To me, these are the times we are living; aware of each other, enjoying each other, being with each other.

It is a good thing – to live. It is even better to be living.

So pedal (or paddle) on……….

tonight's ride ... the road home

glory

#330daysofbiking Day 67: rain and the river

crossing the inlet

crossing the inlet

It was a beautiful morning … and I should have taken better advantage of it.  The day started out picture-perfect – sun was shining, temperatures were not so warm.  Expected the rest of the day to be more of the same, so I spent the morning catching up with a few things at home, figuring I would have all afternoon to ride.  My mistake. I guess timing is everything (that, and not bothering to look at weather forecasts).

Shortly after noon, dark clouds began rolling in and the rains came.  Thunderstorms, winds, and even a few pieces of hail.  In between showers, the heat and humidity were smothering.  Kind of wanted to kick myself for waiting. Finally got out in the evening and headed towards the Hiwassee River, just up the road.  Reached the bridge and inlets just as the sun was beginning to drop, spreading its last rays over the water.  Sounds of frogs along the banks, several herons overhead.  It was beautiful.  Maybe my timing wasn’t so bad, after all?

#330daysofbiking Day 43: more rain

creek crossing

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…

Bigsby Creek

#30daysofbiking Day 26: earth wind fire water

Earth and wind ... a blustery bicycle day

Elemental day.  The earth and wind part came by bike.  A front moved through bringing more wind and cold(er) and blustery temperatures. Not much rain, but pretty threatening skies.  Wasn’t the nicest day to be riding, but I headed out for a local trip on the Xtracycle.  Took the camera along, but my eyes felt “broken” – just didn’t see anything to shoot (except usual group of cows far out in the distance).

Afternoon brought another tennis match for Grant; today’s home game was at Lee University in town.  It was uncomfortably cold and windy to be sitting still watching the match, so I walked around a bit – which is where the fire and water part come in.  Lee University’s athletic teams are the Lee Flames, and they have a neat flame-topped fountain adjacent to the tennis center.  Going through the photos upon getting home, I couldn’t help noticing the elements.

Pretty lame correlation … but I cannot explain how my brain works some days. 😉

... fire and water (Lee University)

... fire and water (Lee University)

Comments Off on #30daysofbiking Day 26: earth wind fire water

#30daysofbiking Day23: river ride & Earth Day rant ~ Olin’s toxic fish

courtesy of Olin Chlor-Alkali, Charleston, TN - a reminder of what has NOT changed since Earth Day 1970

oblivious to the warnings, Brady, age 5: fishing for (toxic) bass with his Nana and Pa

Today is Earth Day.  Forgive me if I don’t feel like celebrating.  I might sound a little snarky, but I find too much of the current Earth Day celebrating to be nothing but a bunch of marketing hype, Earth Day-branded discounts, and various corporate greenwashing tactics – all aimed at wasteful consumerism.  “Go GREEN – buy this (useless-crap-you-don’t-need-that-will-end-up-in-the-landfill) and enter EARTH at checkout to receive your 15% Earth Day discount!” Throw in a few token speeches, a ceremonial planting of a tree, an elementary school poster contest, and you’ve got Earth Day 2010.

As the great Walter Cronkite reported on his CBS news special “Earth Day 1970’’, on April 22, 1970,  “The hoopla of (the first) Earth Day is over. The problems remain.’’

And so they do.

Today’s ride was to points along “our river” – the Hiwassee River that runs near our house.  The river that now, thanks to the wonderful folks at Olin Chlor-Alkali corporation, is so contaminated with their mercury discharge that the few remaining fish that survive outside of the “dead zones”, namely bass,  have been found to contain mercury levels 25% above EPA limits. The last documented EPA Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) indicated mercury discharge rates in tons – both airborne and “discharge to receiving streams and/or water bodies”.   The warning signs are posted at nearly every put-in and boat dock, yet I am continually stunned to see people fishing here – and keeping their catch.  Today was no exception.

Donnie and Vicky; this bass wasn't big enough to keep ... otherwise they keep and consume their catch, despite posted warnings

I stopped at the put-in closest to our house when I saw some people down fishing.  Decided to be brave and talk with them, to see if they would let me photograph them.  After their initial wariness, they were very friendly and obliging.  I asked them if they kept their catch – and they said they did.  I also asked if they were concerned at all about the posted warnings, or knew about the mercury issue.  I got an answer I had heard before, “Oh, we’ve been fishing here for a long time … ain’t never had any problems with it.”

further upriver, but just downstream from the Olin plant

further upriver

catching bass - upriver near the marina/boat ramp

catching bass - near the marina/boat dock just downstream from Olin

I stopped again near the boat ramp/marina – a location closer to the Olin plant and their discharge sites.  I’d been on the water just upstream from here near the plant (by boat) and you can visually see – in the water – a line of demarcation where there are “dead zones” from the pollutants.  Two gentlemen were out on the small dock fishing.  And catching a few bass.  I stopped and talked to them too.  They told me they kept what they caught, as well – “They’s some good eatin’!”  When I asked if they were concerned at all about the mercury discharge from Olin, one of them told me that he knew someone who worked there, and he knew it was “real bad” – but figured if the fish were out swimming, they were probably ok.

In both cases, I just didn’t know what to say?  “Are you out of your minds?!”  I couldn’t say anything, but just thanked them for letting me photograph.

Brady's dad ... taking his son out for an afternoon of (toxic) bass fishing

On my way back was probably the most disturbing encounter I had today.  It’s were I spotted the little boy, Brady (5 yrs old), out fishing with his dad near the bridge.  Again, I stopped, talked to them and asked if they would mind if I took a few pictures.  Sure, no problem.  This time, I only asked if they kept their catch.  They said yes.  It honestly nearly broke my heart.  How could they ignore the warnings? With no concern for possible cancer, reproductive, or brain development issues that can be caused by mercury consumption?  I had to leave.

I’ve had my rants about Olin in the past, and I will try not to repeat myself, but these are the facts:

  • Olin is on record, and has known of the impending need to convert their plant to mercury-free technology – yet has repeated chosen to ignore their responsibility, and they are now crying foul.  With the threat of pending legislation which would require them to convert their plant within 2 years, they are now attempting everything possible to stop passage of the bill.  And they are being facilitated by indulgent (and well-lobbied) politicians – namely Senator Bob Corker (R) and Representative Zach Wamp (R).
  • Olin has successfully converted other plants – including McIntosh, AL, Niagra Falls, NY, and St. Gabriel, LA – and yet continue their exuse-making when it comes to the Charleston, TN, plant.  Because they have been allowed to get away with it.  Because they know the political will to protect the health and well-being of the river and local citizenry doesn’t exist – it is the hallmark of every environmental disaster brought about by abusive corporations and the political power they purchase. Coupled with the recent decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn restrictions on corporate spending in elections, it can only get worse.
  • Olin bases their refusal to convert the Charleston plant on expense and jobs “lost” – which they know is complete fiction.  Over 100 other plants have demonstrated that the conversion to mercury-free technology can be completed within 18-24 months, with minimal production downtime.  The converted plants not only provide safer working environments for their employees and surrounding residents/neighborhoods, but also save energy and increase production capacity.  A similar conversion by PPG provided jobs for over 250 additional workers.  Olin, your excuses just don’t fly!

  • Olin continues to claim that conversion of the plant is “economically unfeasible” … So can they please explain to me how they can justify their recent disclosure of obscene executive pay increases?  Joseph Rupp, Chairman/President/CEO of Olin Corp. received 14% pay raise, awarding him annual salary of 5.7 million dollars. John McIntosh, President of the Chlor Alkalai received 12% pay raise, bringing his annual salary to $1.4 million.  Please explain to me how a plant conversion is “economically unfeasible” when contrasted with your executive compensation?

So, it’s Earth Day.  And Walter Cronkite was quite the visionary.  The problems remain.  The Mercury Pollution Reduction Act appears to be stalled in the federal bureaucratic black hole.  The mercury dumping continues.  A little boy is eating toxic fish.  The problems remain.

What could I say to him?

#30daysofbiking Day 12: river ride

Me. Bike. River.

I have no good excuse to dislike Mondays, but I do.   Always feels like I am at the start of a long to-do list, and lacking the needed amount of motivation to get started.

Woke up to find The Band had spent the night, after some late hours practicing; school was out today.  (The Band, incidentally, is The Night Shines – sons Dillon & Grant, along with their friends Boaz and Tim).  Mark was off the the airport, and I was staring at my usual giant pile of Monday morning laundry.  Bleh.

After getting things around the house in some semblance of order, I headed out for a road ride – a little later than initially expected.  Solo today.  Decided to ride near the Hiwassee River, just north of our house.  I think I subconsciously needed a reminder to get back on track with involvement to fight Olin and their mercury-polluting mess … (more of the story on the subject is in my post from July 15, 2009).  Yet again, as I rode past one of the access areas to the river, several people were down fishing – despite the posted warnings of contamination.  I’m glad I rode by today – and then again, I’m not.  I’m getting so tired of waiting for the Mercury Pollution Reduction legislation to be passed.  How much longer?!!!

(Calming down…) We’ve had an incredible string of amazing weather days.  And quite unlike my feelings about Olin, I hope this weather doesn’t change for a long time…

before heading out, taking aim at myself ... 😉