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Category: family

A Project Unfinished

Thirteen years ago, back when I moved into my apartment, I started building what was to be a solid oak mission style queen size bed. I got a fair ways into the project, finishing the posts and horizontal pieces for the head and foot boards, but I never went any further because mid-way through the project I bought the condo where Danielle and I now live. Most of my time was directed into fixing the place up, and then after that I found different hobbies; from beer brewing to electronics, traveling to cycling.

Finishing this bed is one of those projects I’ve kept meaning to do, but at this point Danielle and I are looking to purchase a king size mattress, which wouldn’t fit into this bed, rendering it somewhat useless. This is something I never got around to finishing, and found myself at the point where it was time to abandon it.

Last week I offered the wood to my dad as a project that he could finish up and today he picked it up. I’m really glad to that he wants to work on it, and thus I hope it’ll serve as an enjoyable project and end up as something my parents can use.

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Stinky Elk Antler

A couple years ago Danielle purchased an Elk antler as a toy / treat for Roxie. While Roxie initially enjoyed it and chewed into one end, she soon lost interest. Today, in an attempt to renew her interest, I cut it in half with a bandsaw. This is one of the stinkiest tasks I’ve performed, as the resulting dust smelled like a strong, meaty, rotten animal smell: exactly the sort of thing Roxie loves. Even wearing a dust respirator some of the smell still crept in, and now the garage smells strongly enough that I can’t walk out there.

Once half was given to her she took a keen interest and began licking the cancellous bone at the center. Hopefully her interest in it will continue and she’ll finish it this time.

(Note the dark-colored rot-like area, perhaps mildew, that had seeped in from the end she first started licking. Or maybe that was the more flavorful bit?)

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Space Debris Hit My Dad?

Back in 2000-2001, just before my dad retired from the Detroit Board of Education, he was standing outside of the school that he worked at with a coworker when glowing hot blocks — one of which is seen above — began raining down from the sky around them. No aircraft were visible overhead, and being glowing hot, partially melted, and seemingly made of ceramic, I strongly suspect that this was space debris. At almost the size of a box of matches and with a mass of only about 5g it’s terminal velocity near ground level couldn’t have been very high, which would explain how they could have been hit by them and not injured.

I’d forgotten about this until my parents mentioned it to me this past weekend when I moved this object from it’s place of display while helping them around the house. My dad had recently read a news article about a woman who was hit by a small piece of a disintegrating Delta II and can’t help but think that maybe he and his coworkers should be added to the (very short) list of people on Earth who have been hit by space debris.

A number of other photos of this object can be see here. It’s a little dusty from sitting out for a few years, but the hollow cells and ceramic-like appearance are pretty visible.


Markwood @ 40 Miles

Today I set out for a longish ride and got exactly what I was looking for. Setting out from home I first headed up to Stony Creek where I ducked through the Trolly Trails and Fitness Trails before heading over to the normal MTB trails. Here I ran into a bunch of people that I knew. After a first go through the Roller Coaster with some folks I ran into my friend Jeff who was taking his son on his first MTB trail ride. I rode two laps of The Pines with them, then a bit more with Mark, who happened to cross our path on his way into the park.

From here I headed north, without much of a goal in mind. I ended up over at Bald Mountain, which was a mixture of wet and perfectly good. The climb up to Lake George was particularly wet, so I ducked out of there, headed over to Markwood (where the photo above was taken), and made this my turnaround point. I probably could have taken a different way home, but the PCT was a nice, inviting, smooth highway and I was getting a bit tired, so it did nicely.

Once back in Rochester, after stopping at the police station (the only open public bathrooms around) to refill on water and mix up some more sugary drink I navigated the crowds and headed off to River Bends. Half a lap of River Bends and some old slaughterhouse dirt trail riding later I was in downtown Utica and on my way home. Total for this ride was 71.30 miles, with a moving time of 05:29:51 out of a total time of 06:31:05. I lost half a mile and 2 or 3 minutes out of that from resetting the computer a short distance from my house after dealing with some HRM issues, but that’s pretty inconsequential in the scope of the whole ride.

After getting home Danielle made an outstanding mushroom pasta for dinner, then her and I curled up on the couch and watched The King’s Speech. This has been a good day.

Hopefully I can keep doing rides like this and push myself up to 8 or 10 hours of moving time. For now, it’s bed time.

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Christmas Eve Paved Riding

Ever since the Macomb Orchard Trail paving was completed a couple months ago I’d been wanting to ride it to my parents house. After cancelling (due to slush) then resuming the plans later in the day I set out to do so today, managing to ride the whole distance with only one stop: a crosswalk half a mile from my house. I did the rest of the 29.38 mile treck in one go spanning a total of 1:59:53 (1:58:08 moving time), pedaling nearly the entire time, for an average speed of 14.8 MPH and average heart rate of 155 BPM.

This is an interesting route, because the first half of it (to the barn-shaped bridge over M-53 just north of 32 Mile Road) is uphill, and after that it becomes gradually rolling with nearly unnoticable (except for wondering why you are feeling slow) ups and downs. There was also a gusty wind out of the southwest, which made things a bit unpleasant at times. Still, the pavement on the path made it an overall nicer ride than when I last rode this route on Mother’s Day.

The most interesting part of this ride was how sore I was afterward. Being a flat, paved route it was easy riding, and I sitting and pedaling hard almost the entire time. This resulted in some hamstring (not sure exactly which muscle, but something right near my sit bones) cramping right after getting off the bike, to the point where squatting was extremely painful. One small dose of Ibuprofen, a warm shower, and a couple hours later and it’s better with just a little residual soreness. Due to being on trails my normal rides involve a good bit of sitting and standing up, but for this ride I had to occasionally stand on the pedals to take some weight off my sit bones and stretch a little. I think a few more rides like this would do me well.

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The Bruery’s Mischief

Here is a bottle of The Bruery’s Mischief, given to me by my sister and brother-in-law (Sarah and Josh) as part of a wedding gift. Because of the 750mL bottle and 8.5% ABV I’d been saving this for a bit, and last night was the perfect time to try it. I really enjoyed this beer, and it was a spot-on hoppy Belgian ale. I really enjoyed this, and if it were available in Michigan I’d definitely pick it up sometime in the future. I guess I’ll just have to keep an eye out for it next time I’m in Ohio.

(Oh, and yes, I way over-exposed the photo. Bringing it back to normal levels left the top of the blass almost completely blown out. At least the bottle is nicely visible and the beer is its proper color.)


Swimming with Roxie and Sand Road

After a hectic weekend of getting married Danielle and I headed up to her aunt and uncle’s cabin in Caseville, MI to swim and relax a bit. As you can see above, we spent a bit of time swimming with Roxie, and then after that I set out for a bike ride in and around Sleeper State Park. Swimming was fun, and riding found me on both the aptly-named Sand Rd. (see?) and attempting to navigate hiking / game trails along nifty ridges through state-owned land; stuff which would do very well being turned into proper bike/hike trails. It also ended up with riding along some interesting dirt bike trails, popping out in a neighborhood not far from where I’d started.

Despite not making it to a lake that I’d set out towards (single track-ish stuff distracted me) I ended up with about a sixteen mile ride and ~2 hours poking around in the woods. Not bad for something mostly unplanned along the shoreline of what’s otherwise quite-flat farmland.


The Bicycle Shop Saves The Day

This weekend was a Fun Promotions cross country race at Hanson Hills. Since I was going to be up north this weekend anyway for some family business and passing within miles of the race around my class’ start time, I planned on doing it. Unfortunately, while riding the Vasa Pathway the evening before I broke a spoke. Since it was too late to find an open shop to fix it I showed up at the race anyway hoping that the shop providing neutral race support could help me out. Within a couple minutes of walking over to the tent of Grayling’s The Bicycle Shop one of the shop guys took my wheel, ran over to his truck, hopped in, and headed towards the shop. Roughly 30 minutes later he was back with my wheel fixed and true. As seen glinting here on the rear wheel the replacement spoke is silver and not butted, but I could care less as it got my wheel working right again. I took a rather lowly 11th (out of 12) in the race, but it was fun, and that’s more of what I’m interested in.

Saturday was PA‘s burial up north, and the timing worked out so that on Sunday I would have been able to ride in the Hanson Hills XC race on the way home. While this was the only biking planned for the weekend, Danielle’s want for a nap on Saturday afternoon gave me some time to ride up to the Vasa pathway which was only ~3 miles by bicycle from the hotel. Once at the trail while taking a break to clean my glasses I ended up talking to a guy named Ryan who showed me around the trail route, including how it connects with the Vasa Singletrack. While riding along the single track I heard a slight ping sound, followed by what I thought was a stick in my spokes. Stopping for a bit showed it to be a broken spoke, so wrapped it around another spoke then carefully made my way out to the two track and began heading back to the hotel. Along the way I saw signs for Timber Ridge, finish line for Iceman, and called Danielle then headed there hoping for a ride to a bike shop to fix my wheel.

Unfortunately, as it was near bike shop closing time in TC no shops were able to help me, so Danielle and I instead headed off to Short’s Brewery in Bellaire where we tried some wonderful beers and had a particularly tasty dinner. Following this (and once back in TC) we stopped by Right Brain Brewery where (with the help of some responses on the MMBA Forum) we decided that the best plan would be to show up at the race anyway and see if someone would be able to help me out.

Over this weekend we also ate at quite a number of places, all of which were good. On the way up north we stopped by Bill Thomas’ Halo Burger in Birch Run, and this place both has tasty burgers, a classic (and enjoyable) fast food atmosphere, and uses its apostrophes correctly. Then there was Mabel’s Restaurant in Traverse City for an enjoyable breakfast on Saturday before PA’s burial, G’s Pizzaria in Kalkaska with family for lunch, Short’s for dinner, and Right Brain for a sort-of snack. On Sunday after the race we stopped in Spike’s Keg ‘O’ Nails for more tasty burgers (I had a patty melt) before heading home down I-75.

Here’s a bunch of photos from this weekend:

· Titus next to the car after a race at Hanson Hills after it’d fallen and lightly dented the fender. Note the shiny silver spoke which The Bicycle Shop of Grayling, MI fixed for me just before the start of the race.
· Waiting outside of Timber Ridge for a ride to hurridly get my wheel fixed.
· Broken spoke which unexpectedly let go while riding the Vasa single track.
· More of the tight tree area on the Vasa, this time looking down from above.
· Tight tree area on some uphill switchbacks on the Vasa trail.
· Deep fried pretzels from Spike’s Keg O Nails.
· Looking towards the bar area in Right Brain Brewery.
· No Marking sign at the Traverse City Fish Wier.
· No LARPing sign at the Traverse City Fish Wier.
· Stage and lower seating area at Short’s Brewing Company’s pub..
· Looking towards the bar at Short’s Brewing Company’s pub.
· Japanese Cowboy, a Vietnamese-style sandwich, at Short’s Brewing Company’s pub. This was very, very tasty.
· Danielle at Short’s Brewing Company with her beer sampler.
· Menu board at Short’s Brewing Company’s pub in Bellaire, MI.
· Waiting in the parking lot of Timber Ridge for Danielle to come pick me up after I broke a spoke.
· Deep fried apple pie at Bill Thomas’ Halo Burger in Birch Run, MI.
· Food for Danielle and I at Halo Burger in Birch Run, MI. I would definitely eat here again.
· Penis-shaped candy munched on in the car while stuck in traffic.

While focused around something outwardly sad, this weekend turned out to be really nice and I think that’s what PA would have wanted. Thinking back, I’m quite certain that a good part of my interest in being outdoors and poking around places comes from time spent with him. When I was little he and I would head up north and drive around seasonal roads in his white Izuzu P’up, exploring all manner of places where a vehicle like that shouldn’t really go. Whenever I see a seasonal road I think of that; and these are exactly the sort of things I think of when I head off on my bike just wanting to wander around and just see whats there.

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MOT on Mother’s Day

This morning, to visit my mom on Mother’s Day, I hopped on my bike and headed out the Macomb Orchard Trail to Richmond. Danielle later met me there with the car and bike rack and after visiting for a while we headed back to my place.

This ride was the first time that I rode the MOT the whole way through Armada and didn’t use 33 Mile Road as a bypass around the gravel part of the trail. Previously I’d been unwilling to ride on the loose, poorly chosen gravel lining the path but this year it seems to have packed down into two tracks of something mostly ridable. Unfortunately horse hoof prints (essentially 1″ deep pock marks) were left all over much of this hard packed area turning the surface into washboard, thus the choice was to ride on rough but hard gravel or sink into soft gravel. Had I been on a bike with a suspension fork and a more forgiving frame it probably wouldn’t have been so bad. Today’s weather was also outstanding, save for a ~12 MPH wind out of the northeast.

The photo above was taken in Armada along a loading platform at what appears to be an old train depot. Upon rolling into Armada I was most struck by how similar it looks to Dryden along the Polly Ann Trail, specifically the buildings along the old rail route. In both places the rail trail spills out into a larger gravel area, along which lies a long white building with a loading dock on it, a grain silo, and some access roads.

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