Saturday, April 13, 2019

Hannibal Gravel Ride

 First things first:  what the hell is wrong with my hair??
The Beautiful Mrs K and I woke up early this morning so we could make the trip north to Hannibal Missouri.  We saw that they were having a gravel ride there.  We went back and forth about the weather and finally decided to damn the torpedoes and just give it a go.  Again, hair??
It's not a long drive and the sunny skies were quite encouraging.  By the time we arrived at Cool Byke in quaint downtown Hannibal, it was a wonderful morning.  Hair never improved.
As you can see, this little shop is in an old auto repair shop.  It's really cool.  They carry Giant, Cannondale, and Specialized bikes.  And a big crowd showed up to do this charity ride.  I actually saw several people that I knew, too. We met couple of our friends from St. Louis as well.
The route was top notch gravel riding.  Hills, flats, ups, downs, great views, friendly dogs, totally friendly people, and believe it or not, the drivers were friendly too.  Most of the riders met up at the Mark Twain Brewery afterward for some damn fine food.  Stuffed, we swore that we were going to run the incredible set of stairs that rose up from Main Street.  We did, and were humbled.  This first photo is looking down from the top set of stairs.
This next photo is looking down from the next set.  That's Main Street down there, and that's John Twist standing at the bottom, opting out of the stair run.  Smart man.
A view from the bottom.  There are actually 40 more steps that are out of site from the very top of what you see here.  Wow.  I have seen Stair Club, NEXT LEVEL!
The Beautiful Mrs K and I had to get one more photo.  We took a little time to set the phone on top of the car to get this one.  We became such tourists!  We really, really liked Hannibal and we joked with the promoters that they should do another gravel ride in the fall.  They sounded interested and we promised to bring more friends.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Plumbing is more than Water and Plumber's Smiles

The next time you make fun of the guy bending over to reach under your sink, remember that his crack might be showing because his hands are too dirty to reach down and pull his pants up.  Even under good circumstances, it's pretty ugly when pulling the traps to keep the water flowing.  Last night, I got into the nastiest set of pipes I had ever seen.  Solid material...nothing was flowing past the blockages in these babies.
This pipe led to the garbage disposal.  Maybe 18 inches long.  Solid.  It's hard to wrap my mind around how water flowed long enough to nearly solidify 18 inches of pipe.  I don't suppose we need to discuss the smell, do we?

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Giving Up Was Never an Option

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is serious and devastating to one's life and family.  It's not simply about lacking the energy to conquer mountains, it's about lacking the energy to get out of bed.  It's made worse when there are no clear answers on how to get well again.

It has been a long road for the two of us. But Deanna had the real courage, the real grit, the real strength to keep trying and not let the years of setbacks stop her from getting back to the person she knew she could be.  I've been spreading our fun and adventures over these pages, on Instagram, on Facebook, etc. because it has been such a fantastic time for us.  It looks like everything is awesome and amazing and I'm presenting a perfect, adventurous life.  It's not perfect.  But to us, it's all the amazing we could ask for.


Sunday, April 07, 2019

Workin' workin' workin' Day and Night

If you hang around me and the Beautiful Mrs K, you'd better be prepared to work.  There is no lolly gagging going on here.  My busted ass is replacing busted copper pipe here, and that is some knuckle busting, got-something-in-my-eye, now-my-back-hurts kind of stuff.
What did I find when I went inside?  Mrs K doing some knuckle busting of her own, elbows-deep in a toilet tank.  Atta girl!  Where we come from, there is always a toilet needin' fixin'.  After I took this photo we started laughing so hard about something and I just can't remember what it was.
After our plumbing adventures, incomplete because our pants don't sag, we were off to do some truly taxing yard work.  Old tree stumps decay and leave big holes in yards.  We rented a tiller and went to work like we owned the place.  A bit of smoothing, a lot of grass seed, and some roll-out hay and there will be some Better Homes and Gardens going on here.
Cannot work all day.  Most of the day, yes.  All day?  No.  I went for a road bike ride down yonder and this little gem showed up while I was gone.  Mrs K tricked her into going on a ride with her and she actually enjoyed it.
 Oh, the beautiful women in my life.  We went to eat Mexican food later and Hanna had to watch Mrs K and I enjoy margaritas.  And we enjoyed them a LOT.
I did a very cool route in God's Country (aka Jeffco).  40 miles of hills and hillbillies.  It was a great ride aboard the newly painted 18-old Schwinn Fastback Limited.  This year, it's rocking Periwinkle Blue.  It wasn't supposed to be Periwinkle.
After another morning of plumbing, cleaning some truly gross stuff, and epic egg/cheese/roast beef sandwiches, we had a birthday party to attend.  Deanna's sister Denise turned 50 today.  There was a cake to remind her how old she is, just in case her mind is getting weak.
 She also had a crown, and that said 50 on it, too.
Playtime again, and we bolted.  We knew Creve Coeur would be dry so that's where we ended up.  Fantastic 80 degree weather, fast trails, and good times greeted us.  Deanna had her best ride yet.  I'm very proud of her progress!
I thought I would end this weekend recap with a regal photo of me, gazing into the warm, sunny sky.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Midweek Mountain Bike Ride

The beautiful Mrs K and I have been getting out on the mountain bikes as often as we could this winter.  That has been challenging because the weather has been atrocious.  We've paid for it a couple times, too.  We've had to abandon some rides because of mud or ice.  We rode Creve Coeur last week and this past weekend and were greeted with a great trail each time.  Last night's visit to Bluffview and Rockhollow was a mixed bag, though.
We had originally thought about doing it in the dark, since Wednesday night seems to be the time people choose to ride at night out there.  We thought better of it, since we didn't have our lights set up and she needs to get more comfortable on the rocky stuff.  Good thing we didn't go in the dark.  75% of the trail was great, 25% was sloppy.  We walked the nasty stuff, which was almost entirely on the north end of the west side.
We survived and didn't ruin the trail.  And Mrs K got some skills training on some pretty tough stuff.  And as I look outside now, it's raining.  Might be a few days before we can experience dry, fast trails.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Trivia Night for the Win!

I've never been on a winning trivia night team.  Until Friday night.  With some luck on the questions, and a lot of brains on the team, we won.  Just look at the brains just bursting out of this crew! 
 The winners got Smarties!  I hate Smarties!  But we got them for winning!
Of course there were Buck shinanigans.  These guys are always good trivia team mates, but this night they were on different teams.
After the games were over, I almost cried when I walked out to see that my daughter has the bad parking gene, just like me!  I'm so proud!
She made me so happy I decided to change her oil. But Volvo's are not ordinary vehicles.  They are from a strange and mysterious land.  They have funny parts, and even funnier locations.  It was even hard to jack up.  Look at just sits there and mocks me.
The kicker was the oil filter.  Not just because it was the odd-ball open filter type.  No, that would be ok.  It was the fact that it wasn't under the engine, where most oil filters are.  It was on top of the engine.  It required a huge 36mm socket to remove.  And there was a big O-ring that, when removed, shot me in the forehead.  But I beat it!  And the oily residue came off of my forehead with minor scrubbing!
 A bit later, Eli was installed by his peers for Demolay.  He's a good kid!
 Later still, Hanna and Eli went on a bit of a photo shoot.  His style and dress are second to none!
And for our last act of the day, the beautiful Mrs K and I went for a kick ass mountain bike ride at Creve Coeur park.  Yes, the trails were in fantastic shape.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Northwest Arkansas and Rainbows for my Birthday

The Beautiful Mrs K is our family trip planner.  This trip was based on me getting yet another year older AND Eli having spring break from school.  We brought along Eli's friend Matt so Eli didn't have to wonder why he was spending his precious spring break with the old folks.  The wee Focus was packed to it's rafters.
But it all fit.  Our luggage, 4 people, and two to the mountain biking playground of the midwest, Bentonville Arkansas.  Wait...there are only two bikes and four people!  More on that later.
I may be a really hard person to get along with, but Mrs K loves me enough to plan these trips and get us where we are going in frugal style.  We stopped at a hotel in Springfield, the boys swam in the pool, and I got my birthday kiss before the stroke of midnight.
Two hours after leaving Springfield the next morning, we crossed the border into Arkansas.  Now it may surprise you to know that my dear departed mother's entire family is from Arkansas.  It's true.  But...not from Bentonville.  Or Bella Vista.  But they are all from the Natural State and as such, I feel like I kind of belong here.  I have credentials!  Like a press-pass to enter Arkansas!
Mrs K booked us an AirB&B and it did not disappoint.  It was freaking fabulous.  It was a house on Lake Windsor, just a couple minutes drive from Northwest Arkansas best trails.  And only a few steps away from the newest trail system, too.  Isn't she cute?
 I shall bore you a little more with photos of the house.  I fell in love with it.  Our bikes liked it, too.
 Ok.  One more shot.  Really.
The view from the upper deck (there were TWO decks on this house!) toward the lake.  The boys were happy because they brought along their fishing poles.
 Just a short while later, I was surprised to see minnows residing next to my Monster in the fridge.
The wee Focus doesn't have a four-bike rack.  Only two.  So we had to rent bikes for the young'uns.  It presented a bit of a problem for us to go back and forth to shops and the trails.  It wasn't that bad because everything is so close...the trails, the house, the shops, etc.  We made it work and I think we may have converted some boys to mountain biking.  Eli has his eyes closed here because he stayed up so late the night before.  He may actually be asleep.
But once at the Slaughter Pen trails, he and Matt both sprung to life.  They loved the small pump track, the big downhill jump track, and....
They had a blast on the little flow track.  It's actually not so little, but it doesn't have any big jumps on it.  It's a ton of fun.  It was a lot of work to fly down the track and then climb back up , but I think they did it 7 or 8 times.
Eli has always been a pretty natural bike rider.  I loved seeing him smile and yell out "woo hoo" as he flew down.
What was just as fun to me was to see my beautiful wife enjoy herself so much.  She has worked very, very hard to be healthy enough to do the things we love to do.  Watching her tackle harder and harder stuff, and still have a ton of fun, was very rewarding for me.
She scares me a lot, too.  She pretty much has two speeds, 1) full gas, full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes, and 2) "honey are you ok???"  I have no choice but to give advice and let her figure the rest out on her own. There isn't anything I love to hear more than hearing her squeal "I DID IT!"
At the end of the first whirlwind day in Bella Vista, I had to run down to the store for some wine.  Our house was at the top of a very large ridge and I caught this amazing moon shot on my way.  At least I was amazed by it.
The next day was more scrambling for rental bikes for the boys.  This time our target was Blowing Springs, literally 2 miles from our house.  My big thing was to do the Back 40, a long, twisting trail that resembles the Ozark Trail quite a bit.  While I was doing that, Mrs K and the boys did the larger concrete pump track there, as well as the Blowing Springs Boom Diggity trails.  While waiting for me to finish the Back 40, they drove their bikes over to Slaughter Pen again for more riding.  A great day for us all.
 We rewarded ourselves with a bit of pizza at Gusano's.
 Who knew you could find such kick ass Chicago-style pizza in Bella Vista, Arkansas??

Back at the house, the boys found the fly swatter.  Not just Andy Griffith's fly swatter, either.  This was electrified, like a bug zapper.  What the??  I don't know if they ever actually got a fly with this thing, though.
Yes, the other day was my 52nd birthday.  As such, we invited the St. Louis natives who call Bentonville/Bella Vista their home-away-from-home over for dinner and cake.  We had a great time with Steve, Elena, Mitch, Greg, Mariah, and Kas.  Thanks guys for coming to the old man's party!
A tragic side note:  The crew was all very nice to leave me with some of the cake.  Too bad I dropped it on the floor when getting it out of the fridge the next day....I did still eat it, though.
Saturday threatened rain, so the Beautiful Mrs K and I left the kids to their fishing and drove down the street to Blowing Springs.  It's such a diverse set of trails, ranging from good clean fun to pretty wicked ledges and shelf rock.  We got in some good trail time and packed up when the skies got a bit ugly. Sure enough, as soon as we got back to the house, it started raining.
I just thought I'd throw in this lovely lady.  She resides at the top of the hill at the end of the Black Apple Creek loop.  She is made entirely of bicycle chains.  Well, that and crank arms.
Since it was rainy, we thought we might take the boys out on a boat and fish.  You know, what's a little rain when you're fishing?  The skies were a bit threatening but nothing major ever happened.
After a little consultation from the guy who ran the bait shop, we decided not to take a boat out.  It was kind of expensive and the fishing hasn't been great.  So the boys fished off the docks and it all came to a screeching halt when Eli's reel cried uncle.
So, we drove into downtown Bentonville and checked out the Walmart museum and the cool little ice cream shop.  Yes, I did buy an ice cold bottle of coke for $1.  And an ice cream.
We went for a walk later that night in the subdivision and found this little gem.  A crystal cave with some cool history.  Couldn't go in, of course, as it was now a historic place and a home for some endangered bats.  But way, way cool and pretty creepy at night.
 A picture of the cave entrance in the day time.
Our last night in mountain biking paradise, why not take some selfies?  Now Mrs K and I never, ever agree on pictures.  It's very hard to get a photo of her that she likes.  So it takes us quite a while to actually get one.  We were laughing so hard in this one because we kept having to hit the timer button and quickly sit down for the photo.  Finally, we got a good one and she let me post it!
I should say we got more than one.  Miracles never cease!  This is one of our better pictures together, I think.
This morning before we left, the boys wouldn't wake up and the trails were too wet to ride (my opinion, because there were plenty of people who did ride), so we went down to Blowing Springs.  I did a nice, hard trail run and Deanna hiked the coolest sections and took some fabulous photos.  The NWA trails are so full of beautiful features, natural and man made.
The rocks, the terrain, the trees, the trail designs...all of it makes for some fantastic trails and great outdoor adventures.
 The wee Focus, loaded up again for the trip home.  I'm going to miss that house, for sure.
We stopped in Springfield again on our way home, this time to eat lunch at one of Deanna's old haunts, Ebbets Field.  Cool place with great food.
Continuing home, we were treated to a very, very rare thing.  At least it's rare in my 52 years.  First off, I have never seen a rainbow with such powerful colors.  Very vivid, very strong, very bright.
On top of that, we saw both ends of the rainbow.  I have never seen both ends.  Maybe I've been under a rock all my life, but I've never seen the ends meet to form that perfect rainbow, from one side of the sky to the other.  Then, it became a double rainbow, with a less vivid one over the top of this one.  The kicker...we followed this rainbow down highway 44 East for at least 45 minutes, and it was still visible when we pulled into Shrewsbury, close to our house.  Pictures can never do this thing justice.

A perfect end to a perfect weekend.  Happy birthday to me, indeed!