Sunday, July 27, 2008


The Duncan Dehydrator was this weekend. We drove down the night before and stayed at Lindley House. Staying in the attic room at this charming Bed & Breakfast was a nice change from our usual overnight at a chain motel.

Early in the morning we headed over to Simmons Center for our event. Diane, Sharon and I planned on the 60 mile ride. Shana and several others rode the 26 mile route. The 60 mile route is an interesting route with plenty to look at, including two (!!!) goat farms. The goats somewhat made up for my great disappointment in only seeing one mule. I blame this on a change of course caused by road construction. Last year I think I was never out of view of a mule until I crossed to lake the first time. We rode through miles of farmland and crossed Waurika Lake twice. When we rode across the dam we were confronted by a huge turkey vulture feasting on a skunk. He thought about challenging Diane, but when Sharon and I rode up he thought the odds were stacked against him and he flew off. Strangely enough we did not take immediate possession of the carcass, tempting as it was.

It was hot hot hot, and I had to throw in the towel about a mile from the finish line. It's pretty obvious my physical condition is not what it needs to be by the end of August to do my century ride. Today I hurt all over, and I have tendinitis behind my right knee. The sore ankles I'm also enjoying are no doubt due to my recent rash love of flip flops (which my mother has warned me against all my life). It's back to the gym for me, and many more training miles will be added to my agenda.

On the crafty front there are lots of projects underway. The pink and blue monkey socks are not only complete; they are in the hands of their new owner. I've finished a pair of 3x1 rib striped socks, and another pair of 3x1 rib are well underway - almost 3/4 done. A knitted baby blanket is around 20% complete and should be finished before the baby is born unless I have extremely bad luck. Today I'm in filet crochet mode getting ready for the wedding project I've promised to produce. The plan is to produce a practice piece, then version #1 of the actual project and version #2. I actually had one practice project started, but it seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth and I am starting over, quite possibly with crochet hooks I hate and will need to replace.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


This year the Norman Conquest whupped my butt. I could cite lots of excuses, like the change in route and the addition of more hills made it just too hard: I was cranky and not on top of my game, it was hot, I had just gotten back from a road trip two days before, and they would all be true. The biggest factors were probably my extra weight and lack of training this year. What ultimately made me give up and sag in about halfway through was the combination of all factors which left me trying vainly to catch my breath, knowing that in just a few miles the steepest hill on the course was waiting and I did not stand a chance of getting up that hill. It was somewhat refreshing waiting for everyone to come in rather than being the one everyone is waiting for. I am often curious as to what the lunch tables look like before everyone else has decimated them! The Bicycle League of Norman puts on a good ride, with a good lunch after and good drawings. This year they had a live band: Superfreak. They do covers of 70's funk and disco dressed up in 70's garb and Afro wigs. The band had volunteered their time, which I though was very generous.

This morning a few of us went for an easy flat ride along the river in downtown Oklahoma City. I was glad to have a chance to get in a ride after my dismal ride the day before. It was a warm day and breezy, which fits in perfectly with our usual training rides. At the same time we were there there was a wakeboarding event which not only gave us something interesting to look at while we rode along, but also had concessions which featured FUNNEL CAKES!!! Just the perfect mid-ride treat. It allowed us to enjoy the perfect balance between physical fitness and fried food. Not the best choice during a vigorous training ride, but just the perfect thing today.

Friday, July 18, 2008

It's All Happening at the Zoo

At the Denver Zoo, that is. While I was in town Mom, Richard and I spent a morning at the zoo. I had not been to the zoo in Denver for nearly 20 years, and besides I thought an outdoor activity might be fun for us. Denver had been "enjoying" temperatures in the mid 90's, but a brief cool front dropped that down into the low 80's for one day only. We took advantage of that respite and got to the zoo nice and early to make the most of the cooler weather. In the rush to get out while the morning cool lasted we forgot to toss Richard's chair in the trunk, but we were saved by the chair rental. Having the chair along made it possible for Richard to get around most of the zoo and see most of the sights.

We were in and out of most of the buildings, even spending quite a long time in the herp/aquarium/rain forest complex. Richard even went in the Lorrikeet enclosure with me. He's not keen on birds, so I thought that was being a pretty good sport. My sister and I used to take a great deal of malicious pleasure in dragging Richard through the chicken exhibits at the State Fair just to see him squirm.

I have mixed feelings about zoos in general. I do think animals belong in their natural habitats, but zoos are a good way to show people (especially children) in a concrete way what we are hoping to save. For people with limited mobility and/or budgets zoos are really the only way to see what wild animals look like in the flesh. Like most zoos, the Denver Zoo has some variation in the quality of life enjoyed by various animals. They are moving towards housing the animals in larger, more naturalistic enclosures. Some are still what I might classify as "not so great". Still, it would be hard to beat the nostalgia of going to the zoo with my sibling.

I got to see a couple of things I had never seen before, too. There were peacock chicks following their mother around. For some reason although I have certainly seen loads of peacocks I had never seen any chicks. They are intensely cute. I also got to see a giant elephant shrew, which I don't think I had ever even heard of. Apparently there are very few on exhibit anywhere, so it was a treat for me to see one "in person". They don't really look much like anything I've ever seen, and apparently they are no relation at all to the common shrew. They may be related to Aardvarks and Manatees, of all things. I should note that this little guy was probably short of a foot long, plus the tail. Hardly a giant!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

At the Roadside Attraction

I've been away from the blog for a week visiting my family in Colorado. Shana and I drove out together to see our respective families in the Centennial State. We share a liking for roadside attractions, and this time we visited one I've been passing for years. We stopped in Genoa Colorado to visit the World's Wonder View Tower (See Six States!) just off I70 in Genoa, Colorado. Because the day was hot we asked, and were granted, permission to take The Amazing Roxanne inside with us. Roxy is small and appears to those who do not know her to be a well behaved sort of dog. Larger dogs might not be so welcome because the tower and museum are rather small and cramped.

Built by Charles W. Gregory, in 1926, the Genoa Tower started life as a "one stop" to take advantage of traffic on the highway and proximity to the railroad. You could buy gas, eat a meal, and even at one time get a room. Gregory would stand on the tower with a megaphone calling out to passing cars to encourage them to come in. Charles W. Gregory was known as the P. T. Barnum of Colorado, which probably explains why I've run across sources claiming that the tower was built by P. T. Barnum himself. As time went by many additional "rooms" were added on the the original, many rocked in as "caverns". Collections sprung up the the various rooms. When I70 was built the tower was no longer on the actual highway, although it's still quite close and clearly visible.

The tower itself does indeed offer a view of six states on a clear day: Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, New Mexico and South Dakota. The fact that the views are of the flattest, most boring, and undistinguished parts of each state is irrelevant. You climb up a series of increasingly narrow and steep stairs to a viewing platform that measures perhaps 7' x 7'. If you venture up there be aware that eastern Colorado is windy. At the top of the tower was windy enough to nearly blow my glasses off my face!

The owners, Jerry and Ester Chubbuck, live on the premises, and keep the place alive by charging a one dollar admission and selling various of the curiosities on display. The tour includes an odd variety of jokes and "name this tool" by Jerry, plus the chance to browse around as long as you like. Jerry is an amateur rock hound and paleontologist, so the place is full of arrowheads, fossils, bones, and minerals of all kinds, including coprolites (fossilized dinosaur poop) and a mastodon tusk. The collections don't stop there, however. There are paintings, prints, and photographs ranging from the truly dreadful to the charming. There are books both collectible and worthless. I saw every kind of tool from every period of Colorado history, up to and including three decrepit bicycle pumps. There is taxidermy; you must take a picture of the two headed calf while you are there. There is a history of packaging and advertising. There are all kinds of ceramics both practical and decorative. There are kitchen chairs of every style and glass objects of every age and provenance. There are silver spoons and farm tools. Many of the items are for sale - maybe even most of them. There is a lot of junk and a lot of really appealing collectibles.

Because the rooms are small and the collections are overwhelming things are stacked up, hanging from the walls and ceilings and displayed in cases. There is an order of sorts to it, and although the place in jammed literally to the ceiling and beyond there is a surprisingly small amount of obvious dust. I think I can safely assume that for the owners this place is a labor of love. The Colorado Historical society is contributing a bit for the building upkeep as a historic site, but anyone who comes by this way should make a stop - it's well worth an hour of your time!

Friday, July 04, 2008

A Payne in the...

This week's cycling event was the Tour of Payne, which leaves Stillwater Oklahoma at 7:30 am for a tour of Payne County. Because the start of the ride is some distance from home and start being rather early the WAACOs met up in Stillwater the night before. Shana and Sharon were taking their new bicycles out for the first time today, which I thought was very bold. I would have chosen to take a spin closer to home (and my bicycle store) to make sure everything was as it should be, but we've all been so busy that there just hadn't been time to get out for a short ride. Shana found her pedals gripped her shoes too tightly (which she got adjusted at the first rest stop), but otherwise she was happy with her ride. Sharon found the same pedal issue at about the same time she accidentally threw her water bottle across a bridge when she hit a bump. Also there was the matter of the chain falling off and the gears being somewhat unfamiliar. Still, by the time I caught up with Diane and Sharon she was doing pretty well.

Once I met up in Cushing with Sharon and Diane (and checked out a garage sale!) we rode back through Ripley together. Once through Ripely and back across the bridge. Diane figured Sharon and I could fend for ourselves and she took off at her own pace. We rattled along for the last twenty hilly miles together getting hot and cranky until we got back to Stillwater. Just before the last rest stop I was taking a drink of Gatorade and although I knew Sharon was close behind me I was startled when she drew up alongside and I spewed a big mouthful of my drink into my bento - and all over my phone. Now my phone will take calls, but except for turning the phone on and off no buttons work. Lucky for my my camera was in its closed case or it might have met the same awful fate.

The tour of Payne comes into Stillwater from the back, and until you are within half a mile of the finish you just can't tell if you are ever getting any closer. The distance we chose was variously represented as 62 miles, 64 miles, and 66 miles, depending on which source you used. We were quite cross to find that when we had completed 62 miles the end was not yet in sight, but pleased that it turned out to be close to 64. After a hasty shower joined our friends for Mexican food and a birthday cake in honor of one member of the group who was not able to attend.

I don't think I'll be riding again this weekend except for maybe an easy ride on Sunday. I'll be running Big Blue over to the bike store for a change of handlebars and tires and an adjustment of the front derailleur, which went from not quite right to downright aggravating over the course of the ride. I will also be visiting the phone store...