Saturday, December 28, 2019

Royal Enfield Himalayan - Snowy Mtns Wyoming - July 2019

Here's Week #2 of my July/August 2019 trip west.  The first week was covered a few blog Posts ago, detailing my time in the Black Hills here.

The video

Earlier Posts from the trip I made while actually out West, posted from coffee shops and libraries....

People and Food


It was a very enjoyable 2 weeks; my Base Camp style of National Forest Campground camping worked well was both affordable and convenient.  Luxurious accommodations in the minivan, a tarp, a large camp stove, a cooler, the laptop....plenty of amenities present to return to each evening.

I'd wrap things up by saying that my favorite part about Week 1 in the Black Hills was the riding.  The best part about Week 2 in the Snowy Mountain Range was simply being there; I rode less, stopped and walked more with emphasis on simply enjoying breathing the thinner high mountain air and wide open spaces.

Speaking of thinner air, it dawned on me only later that my first week spent in the Black Hill elevations must have prepared me for being even higher the following week.  We live at 650 ft. above sea level, the Black Hills exposed me to 5000 - 7000 ft and the Wyoming elevations were 9000 - almost 11,000 ft.  I never experienced shortage of breath or even noticed the higher altitudes.

This coming season's trips are still being thought about; real planning has not yet started but there are some stronger possibilities being focused upon.  More when I know.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Musical Holiday Weekend

It started Thursday evening with my attendance at Home For The Holidays.  Hanna announced a week earlier that she'd have no trouble obtaining some Comp tickets so that if Peg and I or any of our friends might be interested, tickets would be available.

Four of our friends were and had attended earlier on Thursday at the 11:00 performance.  After work that day, I soloed at the 7:30 show and very much enjoyed it.  Stories, music, jokes and themes very much at home in the Midwest.

The VocalEssence Singers of this Age in the lobby before the concert

Midwest Animal Rescue was there as well....

Gingerbread homes were being fabricated in the lobby....

And then just before the show....

Friday started early with more Christmas preparation, some (more) last minute shopping but then in the afternoon, Hanna came, dropping off her Birman so that we could catsit while Hanna is in New York over the Holidays.

Saturday morning, another coffee sipping session at Diamonds in Minneapolis for me and a decent-sized crew.  Amazingly warm weather that has lasted and continues to last.....melting in the low 40's.  I saw 39 degrees at the Official Solstice Time of 10:15PM while we were on our way home from Lauren's concert in LaCrosse at the Viterbo Symphony Hall.  Holiday Romance, waltzes, ballet dancers, a sing-a-long...we did it all after enjoying dinner together before the concert.

Before heading to LaCrosse for the afternoon concert, a different though just as lovely type of music in the warm afternoon sunshine that I've previously mentioned....Once again, the rig "popped right off", amazing really.  I push it out of the garage, hit the button, a rotation and a half.....bum bum bum bum.....

When I was up on top in the State Park, a pedestrian tourist seemed not only willing, but determined to take my photo.

Sunday just before noon, we met Hanna in Minneapolis at the Hi-Lo Diner.  One of not that many left, an original from the NJ maker of Fodero Dining Cars.  It served meals in PA and OH before finding its way to Minneapolis.  I meant to take a photo outside and forgot, but I did manage a photo of the important part....I'll definitely go back....maybe there will be a time when it's NOT so busy??

Amazingly, that same tourist that I'd seen documenting my presence up in the State Park was at Sunday's concert in Orchestra Hall.

Once again, she managed to get a snap of me (across the hall) was almost sold out by the time we got our tickets.

The movie, my favorite Holiday movie, was seen in quite literally a new light.  There was music in the original score that Capra left out (chopped out according to the composer) in the finished film, more lush and complete than what we're accustomed to.  Also, Ms. Hicks, the conductor, gave a presentation before the concert, explaining much about the necessary and expensive technology involved with combining live music with the video/spoken audio in the film.  According to what she explained, the European's are far ahead of us in this style of film presentation.

And finally, the living, breathing and lone Rogue in the gallery.....

We're ready....hope that you are!!  The tarts are being filled as I type.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Needed More Pie - 2019

Mike's been after me....."How's the Pie Chart coming?...."

Here it is but first, it needed some beefing up so this afternoon I took the rig out to enjoy what seems to be the last, best, possible riding for 2019.  Predicted temperatures and pending doom-ful snow is on the way so I figured I better get out while I still could!

It seems both scooters were slighted this year....didn't mean for that to happen.  I was getting a bit cautious about the belt/rollers in the Helix through the summer so that's the reason it was absolutely last in the Mileage Ridden category.  Luckily it didn't suffer this year as part of Mileage Rescued which is the indignity suffered by 2019's high mileage winner, the Himalayan.  Between chain issues (yes Tom, there were 2 individuals) and deep water challenges, bikes hauled to their origins, tales between legs were at an all time high.  Sad because total 2019 mileage was down, though I'm not disappointed in the least; it was a great year for riding and I'm confident that what I lost in quantity I truly did compensate for in High Quality.

 Naturally I'll shoot for more of both next year.

 My Black Hills Post is just about ready and will be published soon!

Friday, November 29, 2019

Holiday Stroll - 2019

The weather was much nicer for this year's Holiday Stroll, the Friday after Thanksgiving where the local residents and merchants celebrate shopping day.  Warmer weather between snow storms, there was no precipitation this year.  We three were there though didn't stay for the parade.

Here's what we saw....


Somehow Reveller's clip was not included, sorry!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nothing real major this past week other than a Thanksgiving wish for my friends, visitors and family.
Last weekend we were up in Superior Wisconsin for Peg's Aunt Betty's funeral.  A sad event but good day for the family to gather.

Deer hunting time again here in SE Minnesota, our local district has a week on, a week off and now the 2nd week-long shotgun slug season is underway. John, our local farmer, is hoping to recoup some of the forage he loses all year long via the venison.  We heard some very nearby booms last night....

It's taken too long but now there's a bike up on the lift getting some attention, more on that as it develops, To Be Posted Here.  As far as the blog goes, a few posts are in their early Draft stages; the Black Hills and Wyoming are priorities.  I'm suffering from more planned ideas than I have available time to compose and publish but the UP side is that I'm not bored nor anticipate anything remotely close to that in the foreseeable future.

Speaking of UP, Hanna has given us tickets for next Sunday's Minnesota Orchestra performance....a favorite, I loved this movie and it will be fun watching AND listening in a new way.  A Thanksgiving meal will follow, hosted by our daughters.  Even better, my must-see each Christmas movie will be seen in much the same way later in December.  Star Wars and Harry Potter both previously performed as part of the Movies and Music Season.

Peg listened to and then shared a story with me last weekend from the Center For American War Letter Project from Chapman University.  As you might very well imagine, I have something to contribute.  From what I can tell, every letter that dad wrote AND received while in the South Pacific is here in a box.  Once I'm convinced that everything is gathered in one place, both stacks of letters will be contributed.

More sorting, lots of disposal and a few items of interest are being saved.....the process continues, fun treasures found and memories refreshed.

Backpacking one weekend northern Minnesota, a discovery....

My postcard to mom and dad from Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland.  My printing, half a millimeter tall.....

"...sat around a foggy fire last night with a couple of other bikers, Cairo....IL..laughing about the cold wet weather...Young hitchhiking couple from QUE asked me for help getting their campfire going, determined that I take their bottle of wine....we shared a glass.....Young Craig next door, maybe 12, fascinated with me and the bike....went back to his folks then returned, they want to know where your wife is....Raining again.....the Illinois biker is yelling over here from his campsite.....tomorrow we're going to Florida...."   July 28, 1979

Christmas time '80 we flew to London, spent a few days, then took the train up to Holyhead, ferried to Dublin and met Brendan there.  Over Christmas week, we circled Ireland, then ferried back to Liverpool, rented the Ford Cortina and left for the Lake District and Scotland.  We didn't quite make it, bad wintery weather turned us south and west to Wales where we were stranded for 3 days in the blizzard and missed our flight home.  Making matters worse, my plane ticket fell out of my jacket while shoveling our car out, making adventure we didn't really need.

We stayed in Piccadilly Circus ....

Que time in the Theater District, we saw numerous plays.

Trinity College, Dublin....

Brendan's Uncle Tommy and I discussing Irish dairying....

My turn driving the Cortina.....

From the Kincade Hotel, Llandrindod Wells, County Powys, Wales....some long but fun days stranded with the other hotel guests.  Finally we left, illegally on roads officially closed.

From our place in the valley, hope and trust that everyone stopping by finds their Thanksgiving to be a special day for peace, calm and gratitude.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Story Of A Driveway

The story goes way back, way back to the 1880's when great grandfather Frederic Steffenhagen bought our 162 acres from local Civil War General Lewis Garrard.


United States 
Pierre Larivire 
No. 3
Land Office Entry
Dated: April 24, 1857
Taken from Abstract of U.S.
Land Office Entries


Florence Garrard and Lewis 
H. Garrard, her husband
Fred J. Steffenhagen
No. 51
Dated: July 14, 1884
Recorded February 28, 1885
Consideration $2500.00
Conveys the following described premises-Beginning at ........
.......thence south 19°30' west 59.43 chains to southwest corner of C.F. Herders land; thence north......
A chain in land measurement is 66 feet, 22 yards, or 20.117 meters.  59.43 chains is 3922.38 feet.  That's a long ways through an entire valley, up over the top of a hill and down into bottom land in the next valley.  There is simply no way for a surveyor in days of old to draw that straight line and as a result, our family (and our relatives that eventually owned the farm next to us) used the terrain and Kentucky Windage to establish the boundary; fences built reasonably close but not necessarily on the official property line.

In the first part of the last century, the dry ditch had a more natural slope.  In the 50's when my uncles lived on and ran the farm, a deeper, narrower ditch was dug to control the valley's water flow, centralizing the stream and keeping it from spreading it out to the crop land.  I can remember dad talking about getting through the abrupt ditch with his '50 Chevy when dating mom, the extended bumper almost hanging up during the crossing.  Later, a concrete slab was poured with a hollow culvert beneath, providing a much more gentle transition down and through.
Jump ahead 100 years and the now official property line somehow manages, from our 'dry' ditch that drains roughly 1600 acres upstream up to our access road, to place the very end of our driveway half on our property and half on our neighbors. In practical terms, this placed a section of our concrete slab on our neighbor's land, something he held over us to the point that fighting him and it was more trouble than living with our flooding, so live with it we did.  By waiting until 2019, we were under far more stringent Land Use Restrictions in dealing with our local watershed(s).

In 2004, our neighbor and his wife divorced, their property split and farm sold.  Our driveway issue came officially to light after the new survey was required and as a result, a legal (expensive) easement was created.

If you've been paying attention, the following is all old news.  But just in case you weren't around for the excitement.....

2008, January - Drifting extraordinaire .... probably no more than 6" of new snow but it blew and packed.

2008, March

 2009, March - Spring snow melt...

2012, June - 6 inches of rain over a few hours

2013, March - A late and large snowfall....

2013,  March - Rapid melting, deep enough snow that the water is running over the top of the snow in the ditch rather than down inside of it.

2013, April - Still melting, the north slopes of the valley still hanging on to inches of late snow.

2014, January - A nice snowfall...trying to drift and succeeding, the snowfence 'catch' almost at capacity.

2014, March - Thawing, freezing, thawing, freezing....this was about as bad as the flooding got for us to cope with.

2015, September - More heavy rain in a short time span...and more mud erosion.

2016, August - The morning we needed to leave and pick up our U-haul to bring Gramma home from New Mexico.

So you get the idea....lots of workarounds and lots of compromise.  Since 2004 we've believed that on balance, not spending the huge costs of driveway improvement would in no way offset the inconvenience.  There's room for lots of motel overnights and 'late for the meetings' missed in $50k.

An upstream view of the dry ditch that drains the valley.  This dug by my uncles to keep water out of the adjacent crop land.  Recent more stringent enforcement (the laws are old, just were never enforced) now requires adjacent buffer zones for erosion control and water quality, meaning no more beans or corn right up to the edge of like ditches.  The buffer width increases for actual running water streams.

Top soil pushed aside to access fill from a hill that we could sacrifice.

July 18 it rained and rained some more....

Late July.....

Cars parked on the road.....for over a week.  We needed our chore boots, almost wore them out.

Only two days before I needed to get out with the van and trailer for my Wyoming trip, the driveway was passable.  I don't need to tell you that alternate vacation plans were being considered because things weren't lookin' good for my departure.

Here are the action shots....

I've got great confidence that the driveway's story is not yet complete.