Monday, June 24, 2019

A Close Call and DocStock 2019


After more than 15 years, I'm going to let my domains www.kevinandtammy.net and www.grapevineartglass.net expire. I haven't done anything with either site in years and I can't justify the cost to keep them. Plus, I built the sites with Microsoft's Frontpage program which my GoDaddy host no longer supports—meaning, I can no longer use the program to update the sites if I wanted to. The one problem for me, though, is that I've got so many links from my blog directed at my kevinandtammy.net site where I've archived photos. I'm in the process of archiving those photos on my Google Photos site and I'll link to them there. It's going to be dozens of hours of work.

I had a close call on my road bike a little more than a week ago on only my 2nd road ride of the year. It was Saturday mid-morning and I was coming out of St. Paul on a 4-lane divided highway when a driver proceeded through an intersection and appeared to not see me until the last second. I was certain they weren't going to stop in time but they did. (Here's video from the close call) I'm quite sure it was the blinking bright white strobe on the front of my bike that caught their attention and saved me.

I used to say that at the end of the year, it was only ever a handful of drivers out of the hundreds of thousands that passed me that ever posed a problem. I don't say that anymore. It's never been riskier to be a road cyclist than it is now with so many distracted drivers more focused on their phones than their driving. I still love to ride pavement and I'll no doubt do my share of miles on it this year but for the most part, I've transitioned to riding gravel and I'm loving it, especially my Tuesday night gravel rides with the guys out of Northfield. I'm never more alive than when I'm riding with these guys! (See video embedded below for last week's ride). I can ride gravel roads for mile after mile without seeing another vehicle. The occasional loose dog is about my only concern. Another bonus to riding gravel are the many additional options I have of roads to ride—gravel roads I couldn't easily ride on with my road bikes because of their skinny tires now beckon me. I sometimes feel like a kid again when I'm on my gravel bike exploring new places.

We attended DocStock 2019 on Saturday at Drew's parent's home south of Rochester. What a fun time that was! DocStock is a play on the Woodstock name. "Doc" is Drew's father's nickname. Drew's band, Francis Jennings and the Seisable Johnsons led off the show followed by his brother Colton's band, Hawk45. Both bands did a great job of entertaining us. Tammy bought some cowbells just for Hawk45's cover of Mississippi Queen. They were a hit! ...as were the inflatable guitars we brought along for people to take their air-guitar skills to the next level. We're already looking forward to next year's show.

That's all I've got.



Tuesday, June 18, 2019

I Like Turtles

I was walking Charlie the other day when we came across a memorial to a recently departed pup along our route. I never knew his name until seeing his memorial but he was Toby's favorite of any of the pups we'd routinely encounter. Toby would get up next to the fence and survey the yard for Snoop, and if he was out, Snoop would come by and mark a few spots along the fence while our pups would respond in kind. It was sad to learn that Snoop had died.

We've been trying to get to the dog park nightly with Charlie. He enjoys his time there as do we. It's great socializing for all involved—pups and their owners. This little guy had us all laughing! He would take his tennis ball and bring it over to various people for them to throw it for him. If they didn't notice him at their feet or if they weren't fast enough, he'd bark to hurry them along. He was so funny to watch.

I went out for a longish walk on Father's Day on a route I hadn't taken in maybe two years. I noticed a snapping turtle laying eggs next to the bike/walking path of a busy highway. I quickly took a photo, trying not to disturb her then continued on my walk while saying a small prayer for her and her offspring. It's what I do. There's more to the story.

I walked by Mom and Tim's old townhome and noticed it was for sale. I stopped and chatted with some neighbors who were sitting at a picnic table in their garage kitty-corner to my mom's old home—neighbors I'd known through Tim. They said the home sold in only three days. We talked a little about Tim and my mom. Berta commented that Tim was the nicest guy. Duane mentioned my brother Keith and how they used to shoot pool together for years on Wednesday nights but that was many years ago. Berta then commented that she was diagnosed with melanoma cancer two and a half years ago and that they've stopped treatment. It's hard to know what to say to someone when they tell you that, other than, "I'm so sorry".

It was three years ago yesterday that we learned Tim had died from colon cancer. It was such a sad, unreal scene. I have to admit; the thought crosses my mind rather regularly about if and when it will be my turn to face this most difficult news.

My trusty GoPro Hero 4 became not so trustworthy. It was shutting down for no apparent reason and I could no longer depend on it to capture ride video. I've had my eye on a GoPro Hero 7 Black for a while with its built-in stabilization feature, so with a few hours of research (to make sure this was the camera for me), I purchased one. I tried it for the first time on last Tuesday's TNG ride with the guys out of Northfield. I couldn't have been more impressed with it. (See video embedded below.)

The battery life is only a little more than half of my previous GoPro and I'm quite sure that's due to the amount of processing that's happening within the camera while it records. I get around an hour and fifteen minutes of recording time with it vs. a little less than two hours with my previous model. I don't mind. With my Hero 4, I would always have to smooth the video with my iMovie editor to try and eliminate whatever shakiness I could but with my Hero 7, I don't have to touch it. It renders itself smoother than anything iMovie could do for my old camera. It's very impressive! I don't know how well it will work on the singletrack trails at Murphy but I hope to give it a try later this week and find out.

That's all I've got.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Hail Damage? Charlie Isn't Himself, and Digging Deep

A construction company rep came by our home recently when I was out working in our yard and asked if it would be okay if he went up on our roof to look for hail damage from a storm one year ago. I told him I was fairly certain he wouldn't find anything because none of our flower gardens were damaged in the storm. He still wanted to have a look and I told him that would be fine. He found me a half hour later and showed me some photos he took of what he said was hail damage but what looked to me like 21-year-old shingles. He wanted to file a claim on our behalf. I gave him our insurance company info and within 5 minutes the ball was rolling on a claim for a new roof. I phoned our insurance agent a few days later and told him that a new roof would be nice but the claim I filed wasn't my idea and that if their inspection showed no hail damage, I was fine with that. My insurance company sent a claim adjuster out to have a look and they actually agreed that our roof had suffered damage. They were willing to replace it for the cost of our deductible. I didn't see that coming.

A team of 7 guys came out last week and worked 12 hours straight (with the exception of about a 20-minute lunch break) to finish the job in one day and ahead of a soaking rain the next day. We're pleased with how it looks. Our new roof even came with a rainbow!

Charlie hasn't been himself since Toby's passing. Tammy figured his seeming sadness was most likely him picking up on our sadness of losing both her mother and Toby but it still continues more than 4 weeks later. He used to love going for walks but not so much now. Often times he's ready to turn for home after just a few blocks. He's never done that before. I'm hoping it's something that will pass. We've been taking him to Alimagnet dog park in Burnsville and hanging out with him in the small-dogs section that's fenced off from the main park. We'll sometimes take him for a walk outside the fenced area. He's fine as long as I'm with him but if he's only with Tammy, she said he will sit and howl, not at all interested in walking. He never acted this way when Toby was with him.

I've only had my road bike out once this year, having fallen in love with gravel riding. Tammy has commented to me more than once that she's glad I'm riding gravel and not mixing it up with distracted drivers on the road. I anticipate that I'll still manage my share of paved highways miles this year but the lure of them isn't what it once was for me.

I've been riding with the Cannon Valley Velo Club on Tuesday nights in Northfield on their TNG (Tuesday Night Gravel) rides. I had no idea when I accepted my friend Dave's invitation to join them what I was getting myself into, and I mean that in a good way. These guys push the pace and cause me to dig deep at times to stay in the pack. Last Tuesday night was off-the-charts fun! The ride was advertised as "about 16 mph (26 kph) ride average"—a reasonable pace for a good workout. Ha! It was a hammer-fest out there and we finished our ride having averaged 19.5 mph (31.4 kph). That's flying for gravel. There were several times when I was on the rivet but managed to hang on (thanks for the pull, Lee) and remain with the pack. I like that when I toe-the-line with these guys at the start of a ride, I'm a little anxious about my ability to hang, to keep up. I'm getting stronger, tho, and I'm determined to continue to do so. This is truly more fun than a guy my age is supposed to be having.



The video below is from yesterday's ride where I struggled to stay connected on the hills with legs that weren't answering the call for more power. Bruce, Tim, and Todd were kind enough to soft-pedal for me so I could catch on again and again. I was thoroughly whipped after 5 hours and 77 miles (124 km) of riding. I kept reminding myself of the saying, something about that which doesn't kill me...

That's all I've got.