Monday, February 25, 2013


My twin sister's boyfriend posted a photo of pretty scenery taken from the inside of their vehicle this morning- he's a paramedic (is that the official term? I get confused) so it wasn't during a commute, I think, but part of their job.

Not to be outdone, I simply HAD to share pictures I took this morning as well. I was going to share them anyway, I just think it's funny that my morning was SO GORGEOUS also. I may be biased, but I think mine are prettier.

The bike path calls, "come hither".

Also: ha. Ha. HA!

I thought my plan to survey the roads and use them in the case that the greenway was unplowed to be a smart one. In EVERY previous instance of snow, the no-man's-land between the last park and Airport Rd, I think that section is called Lykin's Gulch, is the very last part to receive attention. People just don't use it much, compared to the other parts near parks and closer to town. You're either out there commuting purely to get somewhere, such as myself, or you are out there for fitness reasons. It. Gets. Plowed. Last.

Until today.

Ha, ha, Longmont! Very funny!

I got all the way to Hover Rd on the icy, bumpy, perilously plowed pathway. At the park there (I've looked it up, it's called Roger's Grove- fitting since that one has the orchard in it), the plowman gave up. He abandoned us. Got tired? Something. Ha ha, trudge through the snow now. It's only halfway up your bicycle wheels. Drifts touched the axles.

It's the deepest snow I've cycled in to date, and I REALLY wished that my tires had some tread in them. It didn't take me long to realize that uphill was impossible, even slight inclines. I also learned that making my own new trail was better than trying to follow the one already there (I think someone rode a dirt bike through there- those tracks were HUGE! The track was icy at the bottom, and it's impossible to stay on it while keeping your own balance. Meanwhile the untouched snow was actually fluffy and pretty loose, so as long as the wheel kept turning with traction under it, I was fine. Without traction, it spun wildly and soon I had to get a foot down or fall over. Trudge, trudge, remount. Try riding again. Repeat a little distance further along when a deeper drift would slow me too much and cause another spin-out, or the path dipped upwards again.

It was highly amusing to look back at the tracks I was making- sometimes a crazily-crooked rut with footprints slogging along beside it, sometimes just a nearly-straight rut in shallower or flatter places, but mostly a rut surrounded on either side by random holes where my feet turning on the pedals were at the lowest points in the rotation.

I realized that if I wasn't hurrying, I'd be late, even as early as I'd left the house. It took me an entire hour to cover my usual 30-minute route. Also, if I hadn't been worried about being late, I would have been having SO MUCH FUN! It was kind of fun anyway, even as I was cursing the city folks for my assumption of a fully-plowed greenway system.

My camera died before I could get a proper shot of wheel and snow-depth. Oh well.

Good morning!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Errandonnee- Trip 4: The Last One

As I mentioned, I started this challenge a bit late. It also occurred during a holiday weekend for me, with Valentine's Day, my birthday, and President's Day giving me a 5-day weekend. I happen to be a major sufferer of procrastination as well. 
SO, it came as no surprise to me to find myself on the last day of the Errandonnee with only half of the required errands completed. Today was going to be a fun day!

Coffee or Dessert 2/2
(mileage at end of day)

I went to work.

 I know there is coffee at work. I planned to suffer through one cup so that I could claim my commute to work as a coffee errand. I did need something hot as it was a cold morning, but I'll tell you right now I think coffee is one of the grossest things out there. I don't understand HOW it can smell so wonderful and just not taste anything like that. 
If I went to a coffee shop, it would not to be to buy coffee. So, I foraged in the cupboards until I found this. Hooray!

I love the box. it comes in. So pretty!

This drink smelled so wonderful- of chocolate and caramel and spices just like the box advertises.
So, my observation is this: coffee and tea always smell more wonderful than they taste. (this reminds me that I haven't written the observations for my previous trips other than the first. I have to go back and edit to boldface those).

Breakfast or Lunch 1/2
(mileage at end of day)

In keeping with my goal to complete challenges for free, I knew where I would be headed for lunch. But it was still morning right after my route finished and I was hungry. My oatmeal had not lasted nearly long enough, and my stomach felt as if it were caving in. Another visit to Great Harvest would provide the perfect second-breakfast snack.

A delicious cinnamon scone with a cream cheese and crumbly cinnamon streusel topping.

I continued on my way home, using the short way (since going by Great Harvest puts me right on that path. I'd have to backtrack to get to the greenway now.) I realized that when in doubt about the temperature, it's best to leave my hood down. I'm not likely to want to stop riding if I get hot, and this results in a very sweaty ride, which could be very bad if I had to stop at any place short of my destination, such as for a flat tire. But, if my ears start getting cold, I haven't hesitated to stop and pull the hood up over my head. The same thing happens for my hands- too cold and I stop instantly to remedy it, but too hot and I'll likely just keep going.

BUT WAIT! I told you Great Harvest was awesome. The girl, who has now seen me stop in on my bike several times, engaged me in conversation. She assured me yet again that I could stop in every day if I want and they still would love to give me a free slice any time. Somehow I got to explaining about the Errandonnee challenge, and she sent me home with a second freebie, to give me a more "proper" amount of food for a second breakfast. This was a piece of an absolutely delicious blueberry oat bran muffin.

Any Store That Is Not the Grocery Store 1/2
(mileage at end of day)

My husband, knowing I have several errands left to do, had been asking me about the Errandonnee off and on over the last few days. This morning he saw my control card as I was updating it and making sure that I had enough stops planned for my epic trip later. He offered to help with a suggestion to start off my trip by riding with him to work- it would count as a category I hadn't done yet, but planned to. I figured it wouldn't hurt, since getting everything done before I had to go back to work would be a pretty difficult feat. 
So, I rode with Jamie along his commute.
My observation is that he is freaking fast! I don't understand how, if I ride every single day and further too, he can be such a better rider. I was giving it everything I had to keep up with him, and was actually worried about overexerting myself. 
He wants to tell me to shift up to a higher gear, but I already know from my bicycle computer than I can achieve a higher speed if I stay in a lower gear where pedaling is easier, but I can do it faster. Plus, "pushing" the pedals instead of "spinning" them fast is a perfect way to use your leg muscles. But, once your muscles are tired, they are tired. Muscles will go until they fail, but then they are done (do as many push-ups as you can. After you can't do any more, you are done- you can't force your arms lift you anymore). But, if your muscles aren't working that hard, if you are just moving your legs fast- well that is all on your heart and lungs. Those can recover and be ready to go again after just a quick rest.

See? I really was here. I rested a moment and snapped this picture.

Breakfast or Lunch 2/2
(mileage at end of day)

On my very first late start day, I realized that going home in between routes would be rather pointless. I would ride all the way home and take the dogs out only to have to almost immediately hop back on the bike and ride back for the afternoon route. So, I planned a sort of me-day, and visited the library for the first time. Ever since, late start days have become a sort of bike-exploration and shopping day. It suits my urge to go places by myself and just browse. I can spend all day at Goodwill, or the library. I can gawk at all the pretty fabrics at Hancock's, and visit the bike shop. My plan to complete the Errandonnee was to pretty much do all that, but first, I was hungry again.

Just like my very first late start day, I went to the Our Center for free lunch. Just like that previous visit, I was astounded at what I received for free.
This is a chicken with crispy seasoned skin, chunky mashed potatoes, coleslaw, a vegetable mix, a buttered bread roll, some orange slices, and a doughnut for dessert. I chose lemonade instead of milk to drink. Everything was fantastic, and I spoke to an ex-trucker at my table (he did most of the talking, I'm on a schedule here, and hungry!). As I finished, my stomach informed me in no uncertain terms that I was very full, and it was very happy to be in that condition.

Library (also includes book reading) 1/2
(mileage at end of day)

My next stop, just like a late start day, was the public library. We just finished watching the first season of Game of Thrones at home, and I was hoping to find the second book to read.

I still love the statue on the corner outside the library.

Bike racks are located just outside the door of the library. They look like they've been layered in paint which has chipped off in several years of neglect, but they are supposed to be that way. The upside down Us ARE old and much-used, I would guess. Sorry I thought to get a photo of the plaque and not the actual rack I parked at >.<

This dream catcher is still awesome, it was here the first time I visited.

A quilt on the opposite wall from the dream catcher. My grandmother makes wonderful quilts, and this made me think of her.

Observation: The display cases upstairs have something really neat inside them.

Cool isn't it?

I also got to see an Xtracycle in the wild! I was so happy, the guy who owned it came out as I was standing there gawking. I've already discovered them, but he was happy to tell me all about the website and how cool it was, so I absorbed it all happily and bid him a great day while I hurried on to other errands.

Oh yeah- all Game of Thrones books are on hold for people or checked out. They must be extremely popular.

Bike Shop 1/2
(mileage at end of day)

I had a wonderful excuse to visit both local bike shops today. A friend on some online forums was trying to find a tandem, and asked everyone to check their shops to help him find it. I've only been to Bike N Hike before, but I had two opportunities to count a bike shop category for an errand- yay! I was fairly certain I knew the answer, and I was right- they do not sell any tandems, much less the specific brand and size my friend was looking for. I did observe lots of cool nick-knacks on the counter that I've never noticed on my previous visits.

Bike N Hike

When you walk in the door, this lovely thing is there to greet you. 

On the counter.

But I like this counter-ornament better.

Bike Shop 2/2
(mileage at end of day)

My original plan was to visit Goodwill in search of snow boots, which I was very unlikely to find, and Hancocks for the reflective trim i have been stalking, also an unlikely discovery. But, time was starting to run very short, so browsing in the slightest would lead to me not completing all my errands. (I miscounted and did not realize that this was #12!). So, I skipped those 2 stores and went straight up to visit the bike shop that I've never managed to arrive at during business hours before. Acme.

I have to say, they are in an awful location in my opinion. You can't tell they exist from the road, as they are on the back side of a small building that stands alone off to the side in the parking lot of a shopping center. The "Bikes" sign here is on the south side, not facing the road. There might be this same sign facing the road, but I think it is blocked from view by a tiny coffee stand building. Just awful location. I observed that this bike shop wasn't really worth my anticipation. It was tiny. Also, no tandems. Bikes were lined up in a few rows, and there were very few accessories on display. It is as small as it looked through the window- there is nothing else to see.

ERRAND # 13 (Bonus?)
Any Store That is Not the Grocery Store 2/2
(mileage at end of day)

I was out of time. On my race back to work, I had to stop short as I passed all the little shops downtown and the various businesses lining the sidewalk along the 21 blocks I needed to go. I mean, I literally squeezed the brake levers as hard as I could as the letters I glanced at sunk in and my brain registered their meaning. Planned Pethood!

I've been meaning to stop here ever since I was first told about them. My puppies have not had shots in several years due to our financial situation- this is one of the first years I could be worried about getting them proper rabies vaccinations. But, a stop on the way home at a vet's office had given me a sour taste in my mouth. $100 for a single shot, per pet? That HAD to be ridiculous. So someone at work told me about Planned Pethood for a much cheaper alternative. I believe these are the people that periodically go to the fairgrounds for a pet clinic, too. I was so happy to find them!

But alas, I learned that they were closed
It is not my fault that my errand could not be completed as tried.

ERRAND #14 (Bonus?)
Personal Care and Health 2/2
(mileage at end of day)

Worried because I hadn't made it to places I'd originally intended, I decided to figure out why my afternoon trip to work could be counted as an errand. I figured, if you may count a beer run or even Happy Hour in the Personal Care category, then surely a trip to your place of employment to supply the funds required for such a venture would be allowed. Financial health is important too!

I went to work.

While at work, I was approached by one of the office ladies with a proposal. She knows I sew, because the skirt I'm wearing was made by me, and I just completed my birthday dress, and well, I don't make a secret of it. She has a wedding to attend at some future date that I've forgotten, and all the dresses she's found are either much too slutty (a word I generally don't use, but the best descriptor I can come up with for her concerns) or much too boring. Plus, she can't find anything that fits well either, and would I consider maybe getting with her at some point and creating a dress? It is interesting for me to realize that it isn't just smaller petite folks like me having issues finding clothes that fit them at stores- even normal folk can't fit into so-called "normal" clothes. Who are they making clothes to fit, these days?

ERRAND #15 (Bonus?)
Wild Card 1/2 (Dark 3/2)
(mileage at end of day)

Finally, after work I was quite relieved to be able to go home, but I had one more thing I wanted to do on the way. I wanted to revisit the park that Jamie and I rode through on the way to his work. I was still concerned that I hadn't gotten enough errands completed, just in case my random reasoning for financial health was found to be flawed and didn't count. Plus, it was snowing, and I wanted to go home the same way I left it- I like the symmetry to a trip that goes full-circle.

I passed geese along the way. They were a little bit worried about me stopping in their midst to take their picture, but I was not worried about endangering their lives at all- these birds are very smart, and they won't go into the road with cars. 

Jamie's commute home also happens to be the exact same route to Sprouts and Petsmart- he passes by them on the way. I decided to stop and record the mileage so I had an accurate number to report instead of what Googlemaps told me.

I loved the stripey effect the sidewalk got!

It wasn't long before I got to the park. I know it as Willow Farm Park, but another name for it is the Alphabet Park. A coworker told me this, and that if I went to the front of the "barn" I would find directions like a scavenger hunt to find all the letters. I had wondered why there was a giant "L" in the middle of the field with a telescope sticking through it!

I don't think you can physically find all those things, such as an autumn harvest. Oh well.

"C is for the cow in the corn by the creek
And the crow ridin herd with a bug in its beak"

You might notice my mitten inserts on the horns of the cow. I placed them there to remind me to mention something awesome I've noticed about the folks who use these paths and trails. In the cold weather, it is very common to find one glove all alone, dropped by one of the many people who travel here. I've actually found two very nice pairs of gloves during my rides- my husband has a wonderful cozy pair of gray wool gloves insulated with Thinsulate and lined with thin fleece, as well as a BRAND NEW pair of thin Dockers gloves with flippy tips on the thumbs and index fingers to let you work a phone touch screen. 

I first saw a black skull glove upside down on a fence post. A few weeks later a leather-look glove with fuzzy sherpa-like lining appeared wedged safely on one of the gate poles that will be closed if the greenway ever floods. The glove was tucked under the chain holding the end of the gate- it had appeared during one of several gusty days. I myself found a red skiing glove almost buried in the leaves on the edge of the concrete during one of my late start days, and I suddenly realized why I'd seen those other two gloves where they were. I wanted the person who dropped the glove to be able to find it again, and they would never see it if it was on the ground covered in leaves. I picked it up and placed it on the chain link fence, wedged to keep it secure against wind.

You might imagine my surprise, then, to have passed by this cow, doggies in tow and saddle bag full of groceries, Monday afternoon on my way home. I glanced at it as I always do, thinking of my mom who loves cows, and saw something wrong with its head. What were those things on it? 

My gloves!
(or rather, the extra layer I put inside them on REALLY cold days)

They must have fallen out of my saddlebag when I stopped to shove my cloak in there. I was so happy to discover that some nice person had picked them up for me! The inserts are little more than scraps of fleece with a simple seam, and I'm sure whoever picked them up must have been confused, but I got the biggest warm fuzzy feeling when I saw them perched so perfectly on the horns of that cow. Thank you, stranger, for finding my gloves!

 "L is for Long's the peak you might spy"

Let's see. 

A moment for the eyes to adjust...

Does that look like a mountain to you??
I wonder if there was a time when that house and tree were not there to block the telescope view of Long's Peak. I learned that in the poem, that letter is wrong!

I love this mobile/sculpture thing in someone's backyard. They also still have lights :)

Safely home again. 590.57-588.34 is 2.23 miles, so my puppy-hauling grocery adventure on Monday totaled 4.46 miles. My mileage for the day?? You'll recall that at end of yesterday the computer displayed 568.40. So... 22.17 miles!! That's 3.27 more than my regular commute, hehe. I thought it would be higher, and I admit, I was bummed at how low the number was. It felt like I went all over the world today.

Froggy is happy.

Hip hip, hooRAY!
hip, hip, hooRAY!
hip hip, hooRAY!