Friday, August 21, 2015

Growing Kids!

 My oldest and prettiest is a Sophomore this year.  She acts like a COLLEGE Sophomore, but it's high school.  This beauty is playing volleyball again, and yes, she has a driver's permit.
 Tyson doesn't like having his picture taken, so it's rare to catch him with anything except a scowl on his face.  He's getting pretty tall, and he's playing baseball and soccer as a Freshman in high school.  No, he does NOT drive yet.
 Eli.  What can be said about Eli that hasn't already been said?  He's going into 4th grade and his fashion sense is without question.  In a Kakouris tradition, there is a dog peering out of the window on the first day of school.
This little dude plays baseball and basketball.  Kinda funny to see kids this size heave the ball at the basket, but they really try hard.  I'd love to have those shoes in my size!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Visiting Copper Mountain - Strictly Business, of Course!

 Due to the graciousness of Giant Bicycles (and my own employer), I was invited to attend "The Link".  It's a yearly thing where Giant gathers dealers together to see and ride the new stuff.  It's always an amazing shindig.  I visited The Link in Park City, Utah in 2013.
 For 2015, The Link was at Copper Mountain, Colorado.  That meant arriving at Denver International Airport on Sunday.
 The drive up highway 70 was different this time around.  When we did our family vacation in Colorado in 2012, we drove up this same stretch of highway and it was brown, brown, brown from the dry weather.  This time, it was green, green, green except for some of the pine trees that have been damaged by the Japanese beetle.
 The view from my incredible hotel room.  Green.  Mountains.  Ahhhh.
 First order of business on Monday was to ride bikes.  I busted through the killer catered breakfast and hit the trail with this Anthem.  A carbon fiber version of my own bike, it also sported the new Shimano Deore XT 1x11 drivetrain and carbon wheels.  Excellent.
 I climbed up the Colorado Trail from the Copper Mountain resort.  I stopped quite a bit on the way up to snap photos, as well as catch my breath.  Copper starts at 9700 feet.  Altitude kicks my ass.
 Super thoughtful sections of wood keeps the flow.  What an awesome trail, and, at least in this section, it's very well maintained. 
 Would you love to flow an awesome machine down this stuff?  Don't worry, it's not all groomed like this.  There are rocky sections, roots, pine needles...
 Pine needles.  Grippy.  And they smell good, too.
 Right-click this photo and view it in it's largest state.  That little creek is overflowing from all the rain.  It was raging.  The killer little bridge over it was icing on the cake.
 Lacking even more air as I closed in on 11,000 feet, this view took more breath away.  That raging little creek is calmer here as it comes down this pass.  That bald mountain up there is above the tree line.  Looks so close...but it's so far.
 I finally turned around as I heard thunder rumbling in the distance...and I ran out of steam.  And air.  Coming down was a blast.  So much fun.
 I snapped a great view of the bikes as they were gathered.  There were so many top-of-the-line bikes.  Giant really, really spares no expense so that it's dealers can try out the best.
 Tuesday afternoon, I wanted to ride the lift up and try out some of the "downhill" trails.  I hate chair lifts.  I hate heights.  But the top of this mountain is at 11,500 feet, and there isn't any way I was climbing all the way up there to bomb down.
 This was my Tuesday ride, a carbon Trance with more XT 1x11 and lots of travel. 
 At the top of the lift, this is what greeted me.  Right click this one, it's beautiful.  From here, the Elk Alley trail took me back down to the lodge.  I am not one to extract all of the downhill goodness from a bike with long travel.  But I was grinning ear to ear.  After reaching the bottom, I decided to hit the Colorado Trail again, this time with the Trance.  It climbed very well, despite inches more of travel than I can possibly use.  I got about 40 minutes up...
 ...and then the crack of thunder raised the hair on my arms.  No rain yet, but the air turned a blue color.  Very, very eerie.  I booked it back down, which was super fun on the Trance.
 And more rain came.  Still a beautiful place in the rain.
 I was able to hang for a few minutes with BMX Hall of Fame member Perry Kramer (of PK Ripper fame!)  He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the first days of BMX.  An absolute treasure and a pleasure to talk with.
 Blue skies on Wednesday.  I only rode a little bit, as the trails were quite soggy.  So, I took in the beauty of the resort and the mountains.
 This could be a post card.
 That big snow mound at the base of the mountain is used by the Woodward people.  There are little practice jumps for snow boarders.
 Another picturesque view from the grounds.
 What would life be like if our trails looked like this after it rained...every day?  It's crazy, it rained every day, and only early in the morning would the trails really be soggy.
One last view.  The beauty and the beast.  That should be beasts, as the mountains AND the weather can be beasts.  Love this place.  Loved the trip.  I hate flying, but it was more than worth it.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Car Watching - 1959 Ford Thunderbird

 What did we find while driving over to Grandma and Grandpa's house today?  A 1959 Ford Thunderbird.  Eli and I jumped out of the car and took some photos.
 This 'Square Bird' is obviously a driver, but it's still in darn fine condition for being nearly 60 years old.
 59's had the 'Thunderbird' FE V8, in most cases the 352 four barrel rated at 300 horsepower.  My Dad's 1966 Galaxie had the same engine years later, only I'm sure his had a two barrel carb.
The whole reason to for me to jump out of the car and snap these photos was this view:  the rear end.  Those tail lights, the long trunk, the cool wrapped bumper...yep.  1959 was a very good year.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

 This year on our trip to Jefferson Barracks, only Eli could make it.  The other kids had events.  So, we visited my Dad's grave site, just Deanna, Eli, and myself.
We waited until the evening hours, as it's become quite the mad house during the day on Memorial Day....with over 190,000 buried here during the 150 years of it's existence, it sees a lot of action on this day.  It's fascinating to see the rows upon rows of head stones, and yet, many of the head stones you don't even see because they are flat, rather than upright.

My Dad would have loved my kids.  I've often imagined his interactions with them.  Then again, I'm thinking of him as I knew him in the 1980's.  He would be 97 this year, and even if he was in good health, it would have been hard for him to make it to this point.  But, one can dream.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Car Watching - 427 Cobra Replica

I love car watching in Chesterfield.  There is such a diverse array of vehicles for the eyes to feast upon.  This was a mean looking 427 Cobra replica.  Just take a gander at the license plate.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Car Watching - 1970 Plymouth Road Runner

I didn't catch this 9 year old son did.  Oh, so proud of him I am.

This is a 1970 Plymouth Road Runner.  Built on the venerable B platform in Chrysler's line-up, it shared the same basic underpinnings as the Belvedere.  But the Road Runner's were different.  It was meant to be a muscle car, stripped of heavy-weight luxury items.  It's base engine was a special 383, and one could order the 440 Six Pack, or even the mighty 426 small blocks, no sixes...just big block goodness here, folks.

Can you believe that the 1970 Superbird was built on this cars basic body?  Collector value aside, I'd take a Road Runner (or it's stable mate, the Plymouth GTX) any day.

Want to know the best part?  Many Road Runners were built here at the St. Louis assembly plant (others were built in a Detroit plant).

Monday, May 04, 2015

Car Watching - 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible V8

 A beautiful example of a daily driver classic pulled into the lot at work the other day.  A 1967 Chevy Camaro Convertible with a V8 and manual transmission.  He had "383" badges on the fenders, so at the very least it's a nice big rebuild.
 This is no trailer queen, or collector car.  This guy drives it.  It's a great looking driver, too.  Color was great.
 Such clean front end on this baby.  Apparently, the owner has owned it for many, many year.
Interior was very nice as well, and I just wanted to get a shot of the manual transmission.

Monday, April 27, 2015

BMX Racing is Hard - And so is Practice

 After much hemming and hawing, I made my way to St. Peters BMX to make some practice runs.  The track has been around for 15 years or more, and it was the last place that I raced during my 12-year BMX career.

Things have changed a bit since the fall of 1991, the date of my last BMX race.  One is obvious:  my age.  Also, the tracks have become much, much more technical, requiring a level of skill that I just didn't need from 1979 until 1991. In those days, I could just muscle my way out of the gate and around most tracks around the country and things were peachy.  Even if I was still as strong as I was in those days, I would not be very successful using that old tried and true method.

There are jumps EVERYWHERE.  One must time one's efforts precisely, not merely pedal hard.
I arrived at 6:30pm and paid the nice lady $5 for a practice session.  I told her I hadn't been on a BMX track in this century and she laughed.

By 6:35pm, I was on the gate.  It was the most natural thing to balance on the gate.  It was like I never stopped.  When the gate fell, it was a different story.  The jumps came out of nowhere.  I hardly had time to pedal before running into another jump that wanted to smash my bones and crush my skull.  But, no...I didn't let it happen.  I was cautious and I lived to ride another day.  I became happier with my gate starts, but then my sore arms and muscles told me to stop.

By 7:05pm, that was it.  Twelve or thirteen runs around the track is all I have in me. 

I will be sore tomorrow.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Longing to Play Outside

I caught Rex resting his head on the window sill while he was watching the boys play outside.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Car Watching - Tesla Model S P85D

 The Tesla Model S P85D.  It is at the forefront of electric car technology.  691 horsepower from two electric motors.  3.1 seconds to 60mph.  253 mile range.  I drove it.  I put the pedal to the carpet and I can tell you that it's the single quickest car I have ever experienced.  The acceleration will make you dizzy.  There is no wheelspin.  No drama.  Hardly any noise.  Just WARP SPEED MR SULU AND DAMN THE TORPEDOS acceleration.
 And yet, the most interesting thing about the Model S is not it's speed or performance credentials.  It's a technological wonder.  It is a car designed by tech people, and it shows in every aspect of the car.  It's a car that Tony Stark would have designed for Iron Man if he wasn't so busy messing around with Pepper Potts.  Batman will probably drive one of these in future movies after trading in his Lamborghini.'s a super hero's car.
 The brakes are massive, massively powerful, and you won't use them much because of the regenerative braking that the electric motors automatically utilize while you drive.  It's eerie how the gas pedal works as speed controller, both to go faster and slower.
 This symbol means business.  Not many automobiles can keep up with this car.
 Normally the door handles are flush with the beautiful lines of the Model S.
When in the presence of the key fob, they will elegantly flow outward, and you can get into the chariot of the future.

I have seen the future, and it's not internal combustion engines.  It's battery-powered electric motors, and they are bad ass.