Thursday, December 20, 2012

Halloween to Christmas - Overdue Updates

Been a long time since I last updated.  The last couple months have continued to be busy ones.  So busy, it even wore out Brock apparently.  Did a XC run on Veteran's day at the Ridges in memory of my brother.  It has been 7 years since he was killed.  Made a couple trips to Cleveland for work.  Managed a couple long lunch rides while the weather was still dry (it is too dark to ride after work).  Had 22 people at our house for Thanksgiving and shot some clay targets after lunch.  Ethan shot well but left a good bruise on his cheek.  He followed this with his first deer kill (a nice doe, hunting with Shelly's dad, not sure who was prouder).  He followed that up with a concussion during a basketball scrimmage and he was out for two weeks (missing a full week of school).  Played bass for the church's Christmas production.  Now, I am trying to get a couple of final things done before the Christmas break.

Funny, Michael says to us during dinner a couple nights ago: "seems like all  you do is plan, cook, take care of Brock, and work".  Observant.  At least I go to the Donkey early Wednesday for coffee.  Uptown Athens is sure nice (when the students are gone).

Merry Christmas all,

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Summer/winter. Where did fall go?

What a difference a few days make.  Last week temperatures were in the 80's, almost hot really.  I managed a trail ride on Thursday for a longish lunch.  Picked up 2 ton of crushed limestone on my way home Friday to fix a couple spots in the driveway (a consequence of a steep, stoned driveway and a teenage driver).  Then the rains came.  Shelly and Ethan went to the varsity boys district final soccer game Saturday so Brock and I hung out at home.  We were playing in the basement when Brock found some artificial flowers.  He proclaimed "fuffies for mommy" (fuffies are flowers), and in a heartbeat the boy was up the stairs and out the front door.  I caught him on the front porch waiting for mommy to get home.  Today we got up to snow/cold/wind.  Not a lot, maybe an inch of wet snow, 32 degrees and a high wind advisory.  I stopped at Starbucks to get a cup of coffee and the customer before me turns and says "Al Gore told us this was going to happen".  Yep.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A good day for a birthday.

Another year has now come and gone.  Instead of getting sentimental about the time passing or depressed about my age, I went riding.  Or, at least tried.  Did 10 miles on Friday after lunch until it started to rain on me.  Spent the evening at my folks for dad's birthday.

Rode the MTB Saturday after switching back to my rigid fork (the suspension forks has some bad stiction and needs a repair).  As I was almost to the trail, it rained good and continued on and off for an hour.  The trails were in good shape though.  Made it 13 miles before hearing BRRAAPP!  No idea what I hit but it knocked the bead off the rim and I got to walk another mile with the bike on my shoulder to get out of the woods.


Sunday was another story.  It was sunny, warm (in the 60's) though a bit breezy.  I got out in the afternoon and made a loop around Lake Alma.  Finished up right at 50 miles for the day.  Followed the ride with a fire, playing outside, some potatoes, peppers, onions, and kielbasa wrapped up and cooked on the coals. Shelly even made me a batch of peanut butter cookies!  It was a good day for a birthday.


It was windy yesterday.  I did head out at lunch for a run and by the time I hit 3 miles, I was done.  6 hours of riding in three days had my legs shot.  Got home last night and could hardly see the driveway for all the leaves that came down.  Today started with a bit of rain and a motorcycle ride to Donkey for coffee before work.
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Monday, October 15, 2012

Mountains, plains and planes

Last Friday was a mad rush in the office to get travel arrangements made as I was told I needed to fly to Denver Tuesday to help support testing on Wednesday.  Fast forward through the busy weekend and me getting a cold just in time to fly, I arrived at the air port 2 hours before my 3:45p flight.  Not at the gate for 10 minutes and I get an alert on my mobile from United that my flight is now delayed to 4:45.  That time came and as they were starting to board, we were informed of a mechanical issue with the plane.  The flight was then delayed until 11:30p.  The ticket counters were flooded with folks trying to make connecting flights.  I, on the other hand, left the airport, got some supper, went to CVS to get some cold/sinus meds and came back.  Security lines are pretty short at 11p! We had a plane come in around 11:30, unload, and then, we wait.  No pilots.  Finally took off around 1:09am.   Arrived at my hotel in Louisville at 5:30 my time (3:30 local), 24 hours after I got out of bed, I hit the bed for a four hour nap before heading out to work.

This was my first trip to Denver (or the west if you don't count the CA coast).  When I rolled out of the hotel I was amazed at the towering horizon.  Now, those are mountains!  Looking east it is a rolling plain, west, the Rockies!  Worked the day, through the haze of lack of sleep and cold meds getting back to the hotel around 5:00 in the afternoon.  The manager was nice enough to recommend a nice spot a short drive out to see some mountains up close.  Walked around taking in the sights and shooting pictures until dusk and then drove in to Boulder for some supper.  Luckily, the return trip was easy, other than me getting stuck in the middle seat, giving up my aisle seat for a lady who said she had to use the facilities a lot.  I was too tired to care and at least it was on time.  Made it home in time to see Ethan's soccer game.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Flying is for the birds

Had the chance to ride some of the Vinton county roads last Saturday.  Good ride, several hard climbs, and in the middle of nowhere, an old train tunnel cut out of the rock.

Sunday, after playing bass at church, I hit the couch with a serious sore throat and subsequent sinus pain.  But, the sun came out and Shelly wanted some fall family photos.  Went great, Brock more than cooperated.

All images copyright Shelly Mansfield 2012

Flash back to last Friday; my supervisor informs me I am going to Denver on Tuesday (today).  Cool, short trip and I have been wanting to see area anyway.  Well, birds surely could have flown there faster!  My 3:45 flight was first delayed to 4:45, then moved up to 4:30, then on hold for maintenance, then delayed to 11:30. Ugh, only an hour left!  On the plus side, my head feels like it is going to explode.  The flight should really feel great.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Shelly

The long weekend continued on Monday for Shelly's birthday. Kind of sad that we have to take a day off from work to see each other when we live in the same house, but it was a great day nonetheless.  Started with breakfast: fried potatoes, eggs, toast, and coffee. After Brock woke up, we dropped him off with Aunt Amy and we headed toward Lake Hope. First stop, Moonville tunnel.


We arrived at the lake and put in our kayaks (actually, I used Ethan's kayak, a little cramped). We had the entire lake to ourselves.  Followed by a pizza lunch at Jackie O's and coffee at the Donkey.
Finished the day off with a fire and dinner.  Shelly loves potatoes, so I wrapped some chopped potatoes, green peppers, onion and ham up in some foil and in the fire it went.  Enjoyed a great fall evening outside.


Happy Birthday to my beautiful wife.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

To the Moon (Rocks) and Back

What a great weekend.  Camping, mountain biking, good food, and good company.

Day One (9/21/2012)

I left work Friday at 10:30 to head to Davis WV to spend the weekend camping and mountain biking.  We stuffed all our gear into Ryan's borrowed Toyota truck and hit the road, tooling down US Rt 50 for the bulk of the trip.  We grabbed a bite to eat at Panera in Clarksburg.  (I have to add that I might not be yuppie enough to eat there.)  It has been years since I have been on this section of road which was particularly nice after Clarksburg, passing a unique store, some wind electric generators, and winding along some picturesque river.

A couple hours later we pulled into Davis, a rather small town that serves the Canaan Valley/Blackwater Falls/Timberline area with a bike shop, couple of restaurants, and a grocery store.

A quick stop at Blackwater Bikes (to check on trail maps) and we were off, down Camp Road 70 in to the Canaan Valley Institute land and to campsites 2 and 3, right on the Blackwater River.  We grabbed both campsites which are free, primitive sites on a first come, first serve basis, to share among the 9 people meeting for the weekend.  We set up several tents, unpacked, and got the site ready for the rest of the folks that were heading down after dark.

We got the bikes unloaded and ready to ride and rolled up our pant legs for a 2 mile ride down the stone covered road to Davis for some Hellbender burritos.

Back to camp before it got dark and we sat around watching the stars as the others arrived until we hit the tents around 10p to rest up.

Day Two (9/22/2012)

I woke up earlier than the others (I am the only one of the 9 with kids and I am so used to Brock waking me up early, plus I was excited to ride) and was greeted by a nice splash of sunlight across the tree tops.  As folks rolled out of their sleeping bags, I made a pot of coffee and Tina and James started on breakfast.  I already like camping with these folks, they know how to eat!

Time to gear up for the first ride of the day.  What can I say about it?  Rocks.  Pretty rocks, rocks in the river, small rocks, big rocks, sharp rocks, smooth rocks.  There are rocks everywhere!  Down the road to the trail entrance and not a mile later, I smash my foot into one of the aforementioned rocks after unloading the rear tire and, spinning the crank over fast and hard.  First time on the ground for the day and wow does my toe hurt.  The trail snakes along the river back toward town and past an acid neutralization site.  We stopped in at the bike shop again after one of the bike developed a brake problem.  A quick review of the map while we waited, and then off into Blackwater Falls park.

We rode up another "unimproved" road into the park and to the falls lookout followed by some more trails to other overlooks.  No shortage of photoworthy spots here.

After riding back into camp, I brewed up another pot of coffee, made another peanut butter sandwich to stuff in my pack, refilled the water bottle, and got ready to head out for Moon Rocks.  By now my toe just plain hurts.  It is turning purple and a bit swollen so I take an Advil and tape a couple toes together, as I am not missing out on the ride.  As if the rocks we had spent all morning riding over weren't enough, were were heading to moon rocks, a crazy landscape of limestone, followed by HooDoo rocks.  Oh, did I mention the rocks?

After making it back to camp, we changed clothes and piled into a couple cars to head in to Davis for pizza at Sirianni's.  A quick stop at the grocery store for some more water, then back to sit around a fire.

Day Three (9/23/2012)

Sometime during the night a truck spent a good bit of time stopped on the road at our campsites.  Other than slamming doors and talking loudly at 3am, I have no idea what they were doing, but I did feel better that 6'6" Ryan got up to keep an eye on things.  They finally left, but a few minutes later we heard a quick round of gun shots.  Must have been locals spotlighting something.  Finally got back to sleep to wake early Sunday morning.  A quick stroll down the road to test out the toe revealed 1) it was cold - 37F, and 2) my toes really hurt.  Time for another Advil and tape.  The camp slowly woke up and got started on breakfast.

A smaller group rolled out for one last ride before heading back to Ohio.  The cold of the morning burned off to a nice sunny and brisk day.

Back to camp sometime around 1p to pack up and hit the road.  We stopped in Thomas WV for some late lunch at the Purple Fiddle and coffee.  An artsy little town with tasty food and multiple antique and art galleries.  Back on the road, we followed a semi-truck for the next 35 miles, with its brakes smoking on the long downhill (%7 grade for 5 miles).  Passed another, larger installation of wind turbines near Elkins.

Finally home around 9pm to a little boy jumping up and down yelling daddy!  One of the best parts of the trip.

I have also created a web album of all the photos here.