Taking To The Roads

I had no idea (except for the machine’s own advertising) how far my electric bike would go on a single charge. Robin and I have hazily-formed plans to repeat our 2009 cycle trip on the Mickelson Bike Trail in South Dakota next year, and the way we do it one of the legs of that 114-mile journey is around 50 miles long. So yesterday I took the bike out for a longer spin, traveling from our home all the way to the end of the park road at Black Canyon National Park, a round-trip of 38 miles with lots of uphills and downhills.

There was still some juice left in the battery when I returned home, enough to make me think that 50 miles is a real possibility. What I neglected to take into account was although the battery and the bike were tip-top at the end of the ride, my body wasn’t accustomed to 3.5 hours of steady riding on sometimes bumpy roads. Somewhere around 25 miles my nether regions began to complain loudly, at thirty miles I was certain that with that much pain I must surely be sitting on a blister the size of a watermelon, and by 35 miles I was standing on the pedals rather than sitting down whenever that was a practical thing to do.

But time heals all things, including bruised anatomies, and as Scarlett O’Hara always said: “Tomorrow is another day!” Girl after my own heart, that Scarlett was. Wonder whatever became of her?

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I am having a few problems with my bloghost,Wordpress, at the present moment. It appears that the theme of this site is being retired by that company, and this means the likelihood of glitches arising is to be expected. My site’s theme is now in the “legacy” category, and a word you never want to hear in computer land is “legacy.” It can be roughly translated as: you’re on your own, buddy and if something goes wrong don’t call us.

So I am simplifying the blog (and my life) by reducing the things over in the sidebar for now that aren’t working well. Gone are the multiple weather reports (which have always been inaccurate anyway), the music player (who wants to hear what music I like when they can pick out their own?), and the list of web addresses of various columnists, etc. If this doesn’t do it for the theme, I may have to choose another and maybe that’ll be a good thing.

I must say over and over today as my mantra – the only thing guaranteed in life is change.

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From The New Yorker

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Robin, Dakota, and I did some serious messing with pumpkins Wednesday afternoon. The weather was pleasant enough that we were able to take our artistic skills to the back yard and work on a table there. As you can see, our approaches were quite different, Robin used paints to make something special. Dakota carved this tiny face on his … somehow it was more frightening than mine. My carving was awfully traditional, but I don’t care. My clumsy carving skills allowed me to make something that was at least recognizable as a Jack-o-lantern and that’s the best I could hope for.

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An excerpt from a piece of Garrison Keillor’s writing, to whet your appetite for reading the whole thing.

November ushers us into a season of colorlessness and Thanksgiving, an awkward day when people who don’t like each other anymore sit down and practice politeness, a day that reminds us why “turkey” is a synonym for Flop. Anything you do to turkey is an improvement: stuff it with jellybeans, pour brandy on it and light it on fire — better yet, put some cherry bombs in it and blow it up.

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I happen to like Thanksgiving, as opposed to Mr. Keillor. For one thing, there isn’t as yet a tradition of buying things that has sprung up associated with it. There are no Turkey Day gifts to frantically purchase and no obligatory ornamentation required for the house. Preparation for the holiday is blissfully simple.

All you have to do is just get together with some friends or family and eat food. It is the national eating extravaganza. Keillor isn’t tickled to death by turkey, and I will admit that I have swallowed quite a few bites of overdone birds that needed to be washed down with copious gouts of water lest they remain permanently mounted in my mid-esophagus. But when that massive golden thing comes out of the oven all of the past failures are forgotten, and I know in my heart that this is the time at long last that I will tear into so much juiciness that I can’t stand it, and where there is so much meat that I can eat myself into perhaps the only coma from which full recovery is expected.

This won’t happen, of course. The bird is just too big for that to happen, and there is always that white meat/dark meat thing where cooking one is wrong for the other and so on. We try our damnedest, though, to overcome the drawbacks, and it’s kind of touching, really. We roast them slowly and sometimes put the creatures into large plastic bags to do it. We dip them into cauldrons of hot oil and swear that this is the only way that makes sense. We smoke them over applewood, or hickory, or mesquite, and in so doing turn them into 25 pound snacks. I love it. I love all the fussing and the equipment and the technology and the inevitable but soon forgotten disappointments. There’s always next year could be the permanent motto of Thanksgiving.

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The best movie version of the rite of carving the turkey is still the one in “Christmas Vacation,” I think. Wrong holiday, but right idea.

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People love stories about sharks. At least I do, and the odds are that you do too. The Times of New York has a doozy of an article this week, a long-ish piece about one of the densest populations of great white sharks in the world – the one just off Cape Cod. Reading it is a little like reading the script for “Jaws.”There are still the folks who want to let Nature be, and accept that there will be more seals and more sharks. And then there are those who live or vacation on the Cape and would really like to swim safely and would prefer to have the populations of these animals reduced, perhaps by hunting them.

Swimmers and shark off Cape Cod

For myself the calculation is an easy one. I assume that there are sharks or their equivalent in every large body of water, whether freshwater or saltwater, and avoid swimming in any of them as much as possible. Have you ever seen those huge northern pike that are as big as sheep? Or snapping turtles so large that a person could use the back of their shells as a paddleboard?

Alligator snapping turtle direct from Hell

Oh, sure, the reports aren’t coming in in anything like serious numbers on the attacks of these critters, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t happening. For instance, a giant snapping turtle would just tow you down to the bottom of the lake and dine on you without anyone being the wiser. And while a great white shark is a beautiful animal to be eaten by, a snapper is the very picture of a nightmare. I really can’t handle the idea of becoming lunch for such a beast.

So I will continue to paddle about in the shallows, or in a kiddie pool when one is available, and by so doing avoid this class of catastrophes altogether. You may scoff as is your right. But that doesn’t mean that I am wrong. After all, they laughed at the Wright Brothers, too.

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