Quite a contrast between last year and this year...
I love a brown Christmas...well, maybe an inch of snow would be acceptable but no more! Oh, wait a minute...I have a snow-bike now. Strike that!
I had some use-or-lose vacation time to burn through before the end of the year so I took Wednesday off and spent it getting familiar with my Mukluk on the trails along the Minnesota River bottom. I actually had a difficult time falling asleep Tuesday night in anticipation of my ride. I was excited to get out there and that excitement was for a good reason. It was one of the more fun rides I've had in a very long time. I've never experienced anything like that on a bike. More about this later.
Christmas, 2011 is nearly gone as I sit down to add to my blog. I can't think of another year where I felt so detached from the celebration. I'm not sure why. I just never got caught up in much of the hype this year aside from putting up outdoor lights. I'm actually fine with it and to be honest, I'm thinking God would approve because I'm quite sure He's not too keen about what's become of Christmas. I like that we set aside a day where we acknowledge the birth of our savior but the important message of the celebration is so ridiculously overshadowed by the frenzied shopping for just the right gifts and the parties.
Tammy, Rachel and I left for Tammy's mother's home around noon Thursday after I'd had a chance to sleep a little after my all-night shift. We drove both vehicles so I could come back earlier as Tammy and Rachel weren't leaving until this afternoon. We couldn't have picked a better weekend for travel considering the weather we typically have to contend with this time of year.
I woke up Friday morning and took a walk around the city of Babbitt to take some photos. The plan was for Rachel to come with me but she was catching up on some much needed sleep so I didn't disturb her. Babbitt is a small mining town which saw its heyday in the '60s and '70s. Sadly, it's a dying town that never found any identity other than mining even though it's located within a stone's throw of the Boundary Waters which attracts 250,000 hikers/campers each year. Ely, just to the north appears to have done a much better job of appealing to those headed into the wilderness preserve.
Some photos from my walk plus a few others...
Tammy's mother made us a great dinner as she always does and we devoured it too quickly just as we always do. We spent some time opening gifts before I got back on the road to head for home a little earlier than I'd originally intended. I was going to leave the next morning but the forecast back home was calling for temps in the mid 30s under sunny skies.
What sound does a Mukluk make when it's calling to you? I have no idea but I heard it.
Toby watched patiently as I gathered my things by the side door to leave before giving me a penetrating look that was pleading with me to take him. How could I resist? I brought him along to keep me company and to give us some time together, just the two of us as I know he loves that. He snuggled into my lap for a while before making a bed out of my jacket in the passenger seat then drifted off into a contented sleep for the 4+ hour drive home. I love that little guy so much.
I was back on the trails by mid-morning yesterday exploring some routes that I didn't have time for on Wednesday. I'm still attempting to find my footing with these two huge wheels I'm riding atop of and trying not to look too much like a Fred in the process. That's not always easy. I found myself more than once for a split second wondering if I was going to remain upright coming off a hill or negotiating something more technical than the straight lines I'm used to on the road. I'm sure I'll soon look back on some of what I find more challenging now and laugh at my tentativeness.
I survived my first fall yesterday. I was negotiating the small gully pictured here, traversing it from left to right not carrying enough speed to carry me over the top and in too high of a gear to pedal my way out of it. I needed at least one revolution of my cranks to get into the needed lower gear but I couldn't do it. I fell over and slid a few feet back down the hill smiling the whole time. I quickly got up and took a look around to see if anybody saw me before dusting myself off.
Whew! ...nobody saw me...this is too fun!