Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Goal for May - Prep Day

Here it is, stated out loud and in public.

I'm going to try to ride EVERY DAY in May.  Oh, that's a good slogan -- EVERY DAY IN MAY. Today I'm preparing by restocking all my "must haves" like bandaids, sun screen, bike tires, CO2 cartridge, etc.

I'll start with tomorrow riding with some of the Babes down at Pohick Park. I can't wait -- I've never ridden down there before.  I'll be sure to take photos.  It's a particularly pretty part of the Potomac River approach to Washington.

You can see it on the map this links to.  It's south of Mount Vernon (GW's home) and south of Alexandria. You can see Mason Neck State Park near it -- that's where George Mason made his home, Gunston Hall. In the top of the photo you can see where 495 crosses from VA into MD at Alexandria.  That's the beautifully renovated Woodrow Wilson (another Virginian) bridge on which Bald Eagles regularly nest.  In fact, they had to work around a nesting pair while they were renovating. North of that gets you into the DC shoreline vista that you're all used to seeing.

You can see two places, Fort Hunt and Fort Washington on either side of the Potomac.  They were part of the ring of forts that protected Washington from the rebels. When you see the entire ring, you realize how vulnerable Washington DC and the government was during the conflict. Virginia was in rebellion and Maryland was a slave state, especially in the area shown here.  Lots of great history lessons and LOTS of great bike rides to see them!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Gorgeous Day on the Trail

Today my friend Lori and I rode in Paul's Ride for Life.  It's a charity ride established by the widow of a cyclist who died in an accident while out riding several years ago.  No one really knows what happened other than that something caused him to lose control and fly over the handlebars. He was wearing a helmet, but landed in such a way that his brain stem was impacted.  He never regained consciousness and his family donated his organs.  Thus, the ride is a fundraiser for Washington Regional Transplant Community.

It was a beautiful day, cool when we started at 8:30 but perfect as we finished at 10:30.  We rode 25 miles. Some went 50 but I'm glad we stopped.  I've not been able to get on the bike all week.

Oh, and on our way back from the turn-around point, we saw a Great Blue Heron fishing in a pond.  Sweet!

The reason I couldn't ride is that we've had contractors at the house. We're finally doing the last of the 3 bathrooms! This is what we started with.

The shower in there was like a cave but the ceiling was higher than the ceiling in the sink area, so steam and everything would get trapped inside the shower creating mold issues.  So we're doing the 3/4 wall with a glass panel from the wall to the ceiling, and adding a light in the shower, along with retiling with lighter tile and re-doing the floor. Adding a new vanity and mirror ... and painting.

On Thursday they were taking the old tile in the shower out and discovered that behind it was not backer board or drywall but CONCRETE, probably state of the art when the bathroom was built in 1967.  They banged ALL DAY LONG and the parakeet screeched in sympathy.  My blood pressure was through the roof!

But here's the mid-stage photo after they finished getting the concrete out.  Yikes!

And now

We are getting there!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Quick Down and Back

My daughter will be finishing her first year of college next Monday and will be coming home for the summer. She had accumulated more than 1 carload's worth of STUFF to drag home, so she asked if I could bring her home this weekend, along with a load of stuff.  I drove down on Friday and took her back yesterday afternoon.

It's a 2 hour drive each way through some of the most beautiful countryside Virginia has to offer (especially if you're staying on an interstate).  Even the rainy weather is beautiful due to the Blue Ridge.

I generally love those times with her because she really talks.  We get to discuss social dynamics, political stuff, moral stuff, and that completely engrossing topic, "WHY DO GUYS DO THAT?"  We don't come up with a lot of answers, but we do have fun thinking about them.

This was our view on Friday heading east on I-66 right around Front Royal. I cropped it, but didn't do any other clean-up, so the ick you see is on my windshield.  Oh well.  It's Spring in Virginia.  Pollen, bugs, raindrops. Normal stuff.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ugh the Photos

Went for a long ride yesterday that turned out longer than I had planned.  On my way to meet the ladies I was riding with, the pedestrian/bike path across the toll road was blocked by construction.  The detour was 2 miles.  When I got to the next crossing point, there was utility construction but I decided to just go through it best I could.  So instead of 3 miles to get to the starting point, it was 5 miles.

Then we started riding and talking and had such a good time that we were at Goose Creek, our turn around point, and realized we'd best head back.  Ai-yi-yi.  By the time I got home my odometer read 46.3 miles.  I was whipped! It says I burned 2927 calories!

I hate having my photo taken, but I not only took this one but I'm posting it so at the end of the summer, if I keep riding, we all see an improvement in my shape.  Hopefully.  So here we are, with the lovely Luck Stone Quarry in Loudoun County as a back drop.

Cathy, Lori, Me

Cathy made us stop twice, but I only got a photo once...she is now officially the snake whisperer of the Babes on Bikes. 

That pavement feels really good to a snake belly -- sun-warmed. Unfortunately, they're at risk because they go perpendicular to the trail, and when they're as long as this one, it's tough to avoid them. He looks kind of kinked up, but once Cathy convinced him to move, he moved in that sinuous way they do with perfect curvature, so he's fine.

Today the weather has been rainy, and I had a dentist appointment over in Alexandria, so my backside is getting a rest from riding.  Whew.  But I saw a cool license plate on the way there.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I Can't Explain It

I'm the first to admit I am NOT a traffic engineer, or any other kind of engineer.  My husband is. Once I drove him crazy trying to give him directions and telling him two roads were parallel until they ran into each other.

So, I am woefully unqualified to judge a traffic design.

Except, this one doesn't make sense on any level.

This is an intersection near my house of a MAJOR traffic artery.  If the poor pedestrian crosses over from the shopping center here, he is greeted with a barrier. That shunts him to the right (where I was standing when I took this photo).  And that places the pedestrian directly in the "RIGHT TURN ON RED AFTER NO ONE EVER STOPS" lane.  And there the path/sidewalk continues.

On the other side of the intersection, there's no barrier, but the striping is such that if the pedestrian is standing at the cross walk, waiting to cross, he is standing in the  "RIGHT TURN ON RED AFTER NO ONE EVER STOPS" coming off the high-speed Fairfax County Parkway.

Other than these small potentially fatal flaws, it's a very brightly attractively painted crosswalk.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Recirculation of Cosmic Matter

After church yesterday I was out riding and geocaching and came across the remains of this tree.  Looking from this end, I think it looks like a starburst shape. That made me start thinking about how so many shapes are repeated in nature. We are only just beginning to understand how the shape is defined by the function -- the work of a Master, not random chance.  I found 3 out of 4 caches, so it was a successful day.

I also found the tree equivalent of a black hole.

Walking across this carpet of leaves was so squishy -- in a good way, not a muddy way.
This is the cache I couldn't find.
I think it's under the carpet. I kept thinking that if I were a deer,
this is where I'd bed down at night!

And this just made me laugh.

So, didn't do many miles, but had a great time using my muscles and brains.

A good Sunday.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Classic Cars

Gorgeous day to do errands via bike today.

Goal was to devise a circle route that would put last errand in Herndon at Great Harvest Bread store. (YUM).

I wanted to geocache along the way (before the bugs and poison ivy get too bad) so stopped to pick one up about 2 miles from the house. Very clever hide, disturbingly close to some houses.  Logged it and then got back on the bike.

Headed toward the post office to mail a copy of the slide show we did for my dad's service to my sister. Did you know the post office doesn't have bike racks? How rude!

Got back on the trail and headed towards Herndon. Stopped to eat my PBJ at Reston Station where a 10-ish year old boy was kicking a soccer ball around. His dad had just left for a run on the trail telling him to stay put and do NOT go into the 7-11 nearby.  I ate slowly so the kid wasn't by himself for too long. I found the "leave the kid there" approach a little disturbing, but I guess the kid was old enough to yell if someone tried to take him.

Back on the trail decided to go the Reston Town Center to post some volunteer flyers for the Reston Youth Triathlon. There was a classic car show going on.  Oh my goodness, the level of testosterone was intense!

And this is just a sample!  Most of them were red (arrest-me red).  All of them were expensive, but not necessarily valuable, according to one guy I heard talking.

After I left there I stopped by a Starbucks to post another flyer and then finally rode over to Herndon. Saturday drivers are a little bit cranky!

Finally got to Great Harvest, had a sample of spinach feta, and traded in my filled punch card for a loaf of Apple Scrapple.

Stopped by the brand new bike shop there and then headed home. On the way stopped to claim another cache.

Total: 13 miles, 2 caches, perfect weather.  A good day.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Spring ... aahhhh

Glorious ride to see the Cherry Blossom trees yesterday. There were 13 Babes on Bikes in the pack. I'd never ridden with that group before. They go fast and stop infrequently. I'm more of a tourist, so after a while I split off to just enjoy the sights.  Glorious. Absolutely glorious.


Jefferson Memorial from across the river

  Cherry Blossoms at Hains Point

Up close and personal

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Less Than A Month Away!

Did you know that May 8 is Bike to School Day? Kids should bike to school because it's fun, and because we have an obesity epidemic in this country!

To prepare for the event, I biked by several schools in our area in order to see whether their bike racks are ready for the big day.

Sadly, all of these racks are what we call "wheel benders". They are VERY hard on bike wheels.  On the other hand, kids are hard on bike wheels anyway -- and at least there ARE racks!


These first 2 photos are an elementary school here that is built into the side of the hill -- it is largely underground. The design is cool (from the 70's) but the aging infrastructure has caused some concerns. Can you see the grass on top of the building?

And yes, around back -- a small bike rack!

These two photos are from a different elementary school in our community. It has a higher socioeconomic base, a "gifted-talented" program (don't get me started on those travesties), and no section 8 housing nearby.  

Surprisingly and happily, the local middle school had a number of bike outside!  Woo-hoo!

And when you get to the "new drivers" zone, you get one sad lonely bike. And yes, the police car is always there, every day. It would be cool if our "School Resource Officers" were actually bike cops! Cheaper too!


SO, I challenge you to call your local elementary school and ask the administrators and PTA, 'what are you doing for Bike to School Day?"  For little kids, even having those who rode stand up during morning announcements and be recognized goes a LONG way toward encouraging that behavior for the future!  Let's get our kids OUT of cars and buses and outside where they belong!

Great Day for a RIDE

My car picked up a drywall nail in the tire this weekend, so I took it in today to have it plugged and switched. The dealership is about 10 miles from my house (by bike), so I used the opportunity to ride back and enjoy the GORGEOUS day.  I mean really, 73 degrees and a light breeze. What's not to like?

Small town over -- Vienna, VA.  The W&OD trail, a former railroad
bed, runs all the way from Arlington County to Purcellville, VA. The trail is lovely
on weekdays when very few people are out. A bit tougher to navigate on
weekends due to the clucless!

Cherry blossoms in Vienna

About halfway home. A veritable carpet of small yellow blooms.
Absolutely delightful ride today.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

My Body is WHOSE Temple?

Scripture tells us our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and admonishes us to be good stewards. That should drive us to eat and drink moderately, exercise and monitor our health. After all, we want to be healthy in order to be ready to whatever He calls us to do.

I was thinking about this today during church. I was filled with a peace and joy that I've not felt in church for a while. Part of it has been due to my being out so much going and coming to Texas, but part of it has just been a vague dissatisfaction with the whole "thing."

Then it hit me -- a big part of the reason I felt peace and joy today was that I wasn't feeling fat and unexercised!  Well, yes, I'm still too fat and need to keep moving, but just the mere act of being outside yesterday on my ride and then working with the mulch had lifted my spirits!

I needed sunshine! I needed to tire my muscles! I needed to feel the wind in my ... helmet! And I needed to feel the sense of accomplishment that I ALWAYS feel after I've been on a good ride.

So my prescription for the blahs is get outside, soak up some Vitamin D and exert some effort to do something that requires no key strokes!

Ride,walk, whatever.  Just MOVE!  I'm going outside now.

**Just got back from my ride and the bad news is, the weather wasn't cold enough long enough to kill the darn mosquitoes!  Yikes!  I'd forgotten that little item!  Apparently they don't realize that my body is the temple of holy spirit and they are NOT WELCOME!

On the other hand, it's 63 degrees out there and PERFECT weather for riding!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Salvaging a ride

I rode in a women's event today.  The good points -- I met lots of nice women who like to cycle.  The bad points -- I changed from the casual ride to the medium and pooped out.  All that winter weather caught up with me.  Boy, was that embarrassing!

When I got home I hauled and spread mulch in our flower beds (no flowers grow in them due to the shade trees, but we still have them.  Go figure -- prior owners).  I did about half of them and I figure the guys can finish it when they return from flying.

Fortunately, it appears that spring has really sprung and we'll have nice weather tomorrow and most of next week.  I have a meeting in the next town over on Tuesday and I plan to ride. If the weather holds I'll ride to my meeting on Thursday too.  And Wednesday, I'm going to try to ride with the Babes on Bikes to see the Cherry Blossoms.  I plan to get lots of photos.  Stay tuned!

I think riding helps me get out of snarking mode.  I'm definitely too tired to be clever.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Least said, soonest forgotten?

Didn't post yesterday because every time I looked at FB or read something or listened to the radio, my immediate reaction was SNARK, SNARK, SNARK.

One friend tried to comfort me telling me it was probably grief.

Nice try, but I know the difference. SNARK has judgment in it, grief is more pure.

At any rate, until I can get the snarkiness out of my system, I'll try to behave.  Try...

Monday, April 1, 2013


Dumb Rules:

When certain airlines started charging $25 for each bag to fly in cargo, they forced the issue of what people will do to avoid that fee.  It means that people try to finagle the rule that you carry on only 2 bags, one of which must go under the seat in front of you. During our recent trips, I saw people with 3 and 4 bags getting on with them in their arms, hanging from their body parts, etc. Their inability to stow these items slows boarding and thus, push back times from the gate.

The airlines should either drop the price of the cargo bags to $5 each (or nothing) OR say anyone with more than 2 carry-ons have to be the LAST PEOPLE to board, and then gate check anything more than 2.

What is Truth?

In doing genealogy research, it is very important to go to original records and see the official version of stuff for yourself. The "state approved" version of birth, marriage, and death certificates are supposed to be the official version of truth, right?  I've always wondered about that. When a family story seems to contradict with the documents with a STATE SEAL, we assume the family story got skewed.

Well, when my dad died, my mom left the hospital well before midnight.  He was gone before she left, of course. So we reported his death as the 4th of March, and put it as same in the obituary. Three weeks later when the funeral home FINALLY got the death certificates (and I had to "lawyer" them to get them to procure the darn things), we saw that his death was listed as 0:05 on March 5.  No, he was NOT alive for another half hour after mom left...they just couldn't locate the on-call doctor to come and sign off!

So what's the truth? The official time the doc showed up and pronounced it?  Or when it actually occurred?


We are going to have my dad interred at Arlington National Cemetery.  We did not get a date for this until this afternoon.  Nonetheless, my mom at her house, and I at my house, have already received solicitations from photographers wanting to sell us their services for the day.  I'm going to call them tomorrow and ask where they got our information.  I think it's through the funeral home on this end that will receive the remains.  They don't even have a relationship with us -- they're just the pass through in exchange for a lot of money.  I find this offensive. Am I just being cranky?