Friday, July 14, 2017

Retracing Steps and Reminiscing

This is a continuation from my previous post.

I left the gravel road and drove north along Lincoln Ave toward the west side of downtown Huron. I was reminiscing about the time I went for a run early in my running days and rather than the typical 5.25 mile loop I was accustomed to I kept running up Lincoln Ave into downtown then east beyond the James River and past the beef processing plant. I didn't stop until 9.6 miles later when I returned home. My quads were so sore. My cardiovascular system was up to the task but my legs weren't quite there yet. I soaked in a warm tub to try and ease the pain.

The demographics of Huron have changed considerably since the mid '80s when the population was overwhelmingly white. There's now a noticeable presence of Hispanic and Karen people (an ethnic minority from Myanmar) who came for jobs in the turkey processing plant -- by far the largest employer in town. The beef processing plant is long since gone.

I doubt there's any hope for The Huron Mall but how nice it is to see the city doing as well as it is.

Following the route of my first long run (mentioned above) I drove toward the James River and the Memorial Park Golf Course -- a small 9 hole municipal course that I'd occasionally play when I was new in town before I made the switch to the longer course near the airport. I parked my car in the gravel lot and went inside the metal shack of a clubhouse. I believe it's the same clubhouse from the days when I used to play there. I spoke with the woman inside and she gave me some history of what's been happening in the area, focusing mostly on a flood in the late '90s that left all of Memorial Park and even the clubhouse under water. The course layout has changed some to accommodate an expansion of the minor league ball field adjacent to it. I asked her if it was okay if I walked the course for old times' sake. She was happy to give me the go-ahead. I pocketed a scorecard with the course map and made my way to the 1st tee.

The greens were in very good condition with the exception of two of them where ants posed somewhat of an obstacle. There was only one other golfer out there. I eventually caught up with him and tagged along for a couple holes making small-talk before going on ahead to complete my lap. I made it back to my car and took my clubs and cart out to have a go at it. For old times' sake.

By the time I took the 1st tee I was the only other golfer out there. I finished my nine holes in record time (for me) at around an hour. I got back in my car and continued to retrace the steps of my run, all the while feeling like it was only recently that I lived here. How can 32 years get away so quickly I kept asking myself. It was a sobering thought that kept coming back to me.

My plan had been for me to walk this old running route of mine but I was heading back home the next day and there wouldn't be enough time. I got back in my car and slowly drove the rest of the route, taking it all in as my brain accessed memories that had been dormant for so long. I eventually ended up back up at my old apartment and parked in front. I got out and walked around a little, grabbing a few photos before driving back to the hotel and the restaurant there for dinner. I tried to find the old local FM station, KURO, on my car's radio but it's no longer there.

While seated in the restaurant I was able to get a possible number for a friend I used to work with. I texted him. "Is this Willy Kutter's phone? This is Kevin Gilmore and I'm trying to reach him. Thanks!" I didn't know Willy well enough to stay in touch with him over the years but how nice it would be to reconnect and catch up on each other's lives.

Before long my phone lit up with a call from Willy. He invited me over. It was getting late so I quickly paid for my meal and navigated the 6 minute drive to his home. He met me at his front door. This must be the Twilight Zone I thought because none of us ever changes in the eyes of the other. A few more wrinkles, yes, but I'd have recognized Willy and his wife Joan anywhere. He expressed the same sentiment toward me. We chatted for 3 hours about so many things. I enjoyed our time together a lot. We could've easily kept chatting but it was after 11:00 and I was feeling tired. It was a nice end to a very full day and I'm so glad I reached out to him.

I woke up early the next morning with a pounding headache that wouldn't allow me to sleep due to what I figured was dehydration from my ride the day before. I had one last thing on my list before refueling and heading for home, and that was to play a round of golf at the course near the airport that I'd spent so much time on when I used to live here. Except it wasn't the same course at all anymore. I'd looked online at the layout days earlier and saw that it bared little resemblance to the course that once occupied this plot of land. Where there used to be only 9 holes of what could fairly be described as "prairie pool", there were now 18 challenging and beautifully maintained holes of golf that I was so impressed by. If only my pounding head would allow me to fully enjoy them.

I walked the grounds and tried to imagine where the previous tees and greens used to be while a flood of memories came back to me -- good memories. Small and mostly meaningless memories I suppose but they are mine from a lifetime ago and they add to the pages of my life so they're not insignificant to me.

And all too quickly I was back at my car, loading my clubs in the back for the ride home and feeling grateful for my time spent in Huron -- for the blessing it was to me then and now.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Quick Getaway

Because of our ongoing main floor remodel project I've been relegated to mostly hanging out in our garage and trying to stay out of the way of those doing the work. In a spontaneous moment this past Wednesday I packed up my car and headed for Huron, South Dakota to do some golfing and riding. NPR, Neil Young and Gordon Lightfoot kept me company along the way. I used to live in Huron in the early to mid '80s when I worked for the FAA there at the Flight Service Station. I don't get to revisit the city often enough.

No visit to Huron is complete (for me anyway) without a stop at the Prime Time Tavern for dinner and a margarita. And so I did before going back to my room and getting my things set out for the next day.

I got up early Thursday morning intent on riding 50 to 60 miles. I was on the road by 6:43 and heading north out of town, fueled by the decent complimentary spread put out by the staff at the Crossroads Hotel where I was staying. The temperature was to quickly climb into the mid 90s and I wanted to get a jump on it. I don't mind the heat but staying hydrated was my main concern and I wasn't sure how that would work for me logistically. Riding through the desolate prairies of South Dakota is considerably different than the riding I'm accustomed to where opportunities to top off my water bottles are plenty.

There are days when I can ride for hours and never become thirsty. This wasn't one of them. At 40 miles into the ride I had just a couple sips left in my remaining bottle of Cytomax mix and I was feeling a little desperate. Turning back would mean another nearly 40 miles before I could quench my thirst so I opted for pressing on to Redfield 10 miles ahead with the understanding that I was committing myself to a century ride. (That's bike-speak for a ride of 100 miles.) I didn't mind because I was feeling strong and I had no place I needed to be. Plus, I was riding some roads I hadn't been on in 32 years! I'm big on reminiscing so this ride was working well for me.

I have to say that the drivers I encountered that morning were the friendliest, most respectful drivers toward cyclists that I've ever encountered. Nearly everyone who passed me from behind did so from the oncoming lane when it was available. I began to think that it must be a state law but I would learn later that it's not. It wasn't necessary to give me that much room but I appreciated their thoughtfulness.

I must've rediscovered my youth out there that morning because I was riding the way I did all those years earlier averaging 19.3 mph (31 kph), but at 10 miles from the hotel my bottles were dry once again and I was fighting to hang on. I had cottonmouth and I knew I'd have to tough it out for the next 30 minutes until I was back in my room. I focused on maintaining my speed and knew that once I made it to the transition where the road goes from asphalt to concrete on the north end of the city I had it made. That was a welcome sight!

All in a day's ride.

I laid down for an hour before venturing out into the city and points beyond. I walked through the mall where the last store, Kmart, the anchor store for the mall has folded its tent -- and Amazon claims another victim. I left the mall and drove slowly along a gravel road south of town that I used to run on -- part of a 5.25 mile loop I would to do from my apartment at 2121 Ohio Ave SW when I first became a runner in 1984. I imagined myself running again along the same road and I thought about all that has transpired in my life since the days when I used to live in Huron. I got out of my car and surveyed the setting as I would've seen it 32 years earlier. I felt sad for how quickly the years have gone by and contemplated how the next 32 years will surely pass by even faster. I got back in my car and continued my drive, allowing my mind to wander as different scenes and intersections evoked a variety of memories.

There's more from my short time away in Huron that I'd like to make note of so I'll conclude this as it's getting kind of lengthy and continue where I left off in another entry in day or two. Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Mini Reunion, a Project Update and Bike Time

Sue and Bryan came into town last week. They had been in Nebraska where Sue's side of the family had a reunion. It was nice that they took the time to go out of their way to spend a few nights in Minnesota so we could visit with them as well.

I met them in Northfield at Keith and Tracee's Tuesday night. We had dinner and drinks at Fielder's Choice. It was such a nice time. I would like to have hosted them here but that wasn't going to happen with our remodeling project in full swing -- plus, Bryan commented that they were fine with staying in hotels along the way. He doesn't think they'll be back this way again for a long while so it's up to Tammy and I to make the trek to Portland, Oregon if we're going to get together. I look forward to doing that at some point. We're overdue for a road-trip.

Our remodeling project continues to move along at a steady pace. Joe was working on removing baseboards. He's replacing our 2 3/4" oak trim with 5" white trim. Jeff put in quite a few hours priming the trim on our windows. We seldom open our windows and Jeff found one where the sash was rotting away. The others appear to be fine.

Karen and I made a trip up to Hennepin Made (Jackson's studio) to have a look at the pendant lights I ordered. They're awesome! He'll have them ready for us this week. We also stopped in at Above All Hardwood Floors to select a stain color for our floors. We chose 4 somewhat similar colors. They had a rep from the company come out the next day to sand a section of our wood floors and apply the stains to see how they look in the lighting of our home. We're going with Coffee. It works best with the floor color in our sunporch. It's such a departure from what we currently have and I look forward to the change.

Drywall work will take up most of this week with the sanding and staining of our floors next week. The project has ballooned in cost but we expected that. We look at it as an investment in our home.

It's so convenient that Tammy is able to spend this time up in Babbitt with her sister, Cindy. She's been as busy as ever sorting through a lifetime of mementoes and things her parents had squirreled away. One of her finds was an envelope with newspaper clippings and magazine articles about then newly elected President Obama, saved years before Alzheimer's disease took over. Elaine commented back in the day that she was doing it for her grandchildren. She understood the significance of his presidency.

I'm finally getting back out on my bike after several weeks of being distracted from it. My fitness has taken a hit from the time away, most notably in the form of a painful right knee. It sounds counterintuitive but for my knees to feel fine I need to ride regularly. It's when I rest them too long that they become sore and don't allow me to ride aggressively.

I went out on Friday intent on doing something less than 40 miles but I didn't make home until 77 miles (124 km) later. My hamstrings were cramping after 3 hours from a lack of fluids. That's almost never an issue for me. I was more careful yesterday making sure to drink enough. I ventured into Wisconsin where the best roads in a 50 mile radius can be found. Lots of rolling, desolate highways. The sort of roads I imagine will be waiting for me in heaven if I make the cut.