Sunday, April 20, 2014


Finally some miles were ridden, yesterday was the start of my '14 riding season.  The Ascot the only one taken out and then today, Sunday, a couple more made their own loops out and back.

First the Ascot........the nearby Mount Frontenac Golf Course, up on top of the bluff, Lake Pepin in the background.

Today I was out for multiple rides, first one was on the RT100 for breakfast in Alma.

The Dairyland Coal Powerplant......

Looking upriver to Lock and Dam #4, gates all open due to the spring flood and high water levels.

Another Lake Pepin view, this time a bit upriver at a Public Launch site.

We've been seeing pelicans along the river, their migration north seems to always happen around Easter time.

High water in Red Wing, roads closed.  This view in Levee Park along the waterfront.

 So a few nice and refreshing rides.........another season of riding has begun.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Worst Winter?

 There are so many ways to look at it and yes, we're pretty much all in agreement.  This year's version has seemed (and been) long.  Last year our local cold season was milder and shorter but early April we had a big snow that left traces, traces that weren't present in our yard on the 7th of April this year.

This year we have mud, mud that is drying fast.  With our recent moisture, green will happen quickly.

Last year on April 7......

Monday, April 7, 2014

Weekend In Cleveland

A good one it was.

We made the trip in order to be members of the audience portion of our youngest daughter's Senior Recital at the Cleveland Institute of Music.  She'll be graduating in another month or so and her performance last Friday was essentially her final exam.

Wednesday evening our oldest daughter drove down and spent the night with us, to join us on our trip east.  We started early, were on the road at 6AM Thursday, almost but not quite early enough to avoid the coming Nasty that the predictors had foreseen.  We left in freezing drizzle though before we were even gone an hour, precipitation faded away.  I know that we should have felt sorry for our workmates, friends, family, neighbors, etc. that literally were left behind and going to be stuck with the pending snowfall and ice.  We raced ahead of it, driving in bliss until we were about an hour west of Chicago on the Toll Road.  At that point the wipers were on and never stopped sweeping until we shut everything down in Cleveland.

Even with the rain, traffic was actually not much of a problem through the city.  Chicago's Loop is almost exactly the half way point of a trip that we've made (Peg's made it 2x the times I have) many times.  350 miles in, 6 hours of driving, double both numbers and that typically sums up our total drive to the other side of Ohio.

I had remembered (before we left this time) to load up our I-Pass account, the transponder resting at the base of the windshield.  This being the first trip made with our new-to-us car, we didn't have the sticky windshield Velcro to place the transponder where it really belongs.  Blasting through the IL overhead toll readers always seems to work just fine.  The IN and OH toll systems both allow transponder use but rather than the at speed overhead readers, brief stops still have to be made through the traditional booths.

Approaching at 5mph, the gate is closed and the light red.  Once the transponder makes contact, it's Green for Go and the gate swings up.  Not this time though.  Waiting what seemed to be some very long seconds, nothing was happening so I hopped out, pushed the "Help" button and quickly the nice woman in the speaker asked where our transponder was located.  Once told, I had to quickly grab our unit, read the 15 digit code from its back and then heard the same nice woman say, "Indiana charges a penalty for improperly placed transponders sir.  Do you know where it belongs?"

"I do."

For the remaining IN and OH toll stops, whomever was in the navigator chair held the unit at the TOP of the windshield rather than at the bottom.  No more spankings and no more non-green lights.  On our way back west, we found a toll road oasis that sold the very precious  sticky strips.  We are now officially good to go.

Even with the sometimes hard rain, we made Cleveland in good time but not without a bit of nervousness.  We watched the car thermometer read 34-35 for miles, sometimes saw too much white in the upper branches of trees and worried that since evening would soon be upon us, our hard rain would turn to something more solid.  It never happened; the rain continued and as if on cue,  roughly 12 hours after we'd left MN we arrived at our motel.

The huge and everywhere Cleveland Clinic has patients from all over so there are lots of extended stay rooms available near those clinics for families to stay, visit, etc. while their loved ones are being treated and for the money, we think they can't be beat.  Small kitchens, fireplaces, living rooms, etc. for not all that much higher cost make family time there very pleasant.  For much of Friday and Saturday, it wasn't very nice outside and our fireplace never was allowed to cool.

We mostly left Hanna alone during the day on Friday; she busy preparing both mentally and physically for her evening recital.  The three of us back at our cozy digs watched the flames, watched some movies, played some cards and listened to each others wisdom.

CIM is the music school of Case Western Reserve University and is located on the University Circle, sharing space around the loop with the Botanical Garden, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Museum of Art, The Cleveland Art Institute, Museum of Natural History.....we never run out of things to do next door to her place of higher learning.

Inside Mixon Hall......

What they played.......

Our thanks to both Patrick and to Christine.

Hugs and congratulatory well wishes, a change of clothes and then we all headed out to a relaxing dinner.  Hanna grabbed some overnight things and then back to our motel for a very late and relaxing evening to unwind.

Saturday eventually turned mild and sunny but morning hours were wet, windy and cold.  I had contemplated visiting a couple of bike/scooter shops near the lakefront but then decided to just hunker down inside during the morning and stay close to everyone else.  Ready for some fresh air in the afternoon, I took the family to Cuyohoga Valley National Park, a place I've visited numerous times while in Ohio.

Actually only a few minutes from the hustle of the city, the National Park is quite a remote and wild place. The Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail is where I've done a fair amount of walking, so that was shared for the first time with everyone else.  We also hiked to Brandywine Falls as well as the Blue Hen Falls.

We had taken Easter meal food fixin's along, easy but good things that we could do justice to in our abbreviated kitchen and then it was egg decorating time.  Pirate eggs were this year's theme.....Argh!

Sunday morning was clear and lovely.  Hanna was dropped off (we'll see her in a few weeks for her graduation) and we were headed west before 6:30.  The easiest trip through Chicago that we've ever done, other than that Sunday years ago when Lauren and I came through on Superbowl evening.......that one was spookily quiet but then we knew the reason why.  It was still spooky.

No windshield wipers required, a lovely day and home before we had to cope with the setting sun.  There were motorcycles out and maybe, just maybe I'll be among them next weekend.