Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘adventure

Confusing Mix

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In my song, the sixth verse starts: “Soon one day gets confused with others / It’s hard to say where we’ve been when…”

In reviewing journals I have occasionally kept during the annual June rides, I was hoping to clarify the places I’ve ridden to and in which years I was able to participate. Even though I was inspired to return after the great experiences I had the first year, the locations of the rides were a much greater factor in my decisions in the early years than they would be later on.

At this point, I think I’ve pedaled in most every region of the state, and beyond. I’m pretty sure we made a crossing into one, if not both, of the Dakotas. I purposely joined a group that did a day jaunt down to Iowa and back, and the ride eventually included some significant ventures into Wisconsin.

Small towns can tend to have a similar layout and vibe. My confusion gets multiplied by the fact we occasionally revisit the same place more than once over the years. The deja vu sensation becomes a regular occurrence. Unlike some sharper minds, I have not been able to recall all the towns and in which years.

In the 23 years that have passed since that first year that I rode, my journal and photo collections only provide evidence for 14 adventures. I’m confident that it is more than that, but can’t say how many more. I’m aware of 4 years for sure when I missed the ride.

I have fond remembrances of New York Mills, Kelliher, Luverne, Walker, Park Rapids, Bagley, International Falls, Cannon Falls, Harmony, Grand Marais, Grand Portage… We decided not to try riding into Canada that year.

The roads just roll past our tires. Too many to keep track of them all. Maybe I should have taken a picture of all the water towers we’ve seen in all these years.

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Written by johnwhays

June 20, 2017 at 6:00 am

Meeting Judy

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Shortly after the first time I signed up to do this epic adventure of biking and camping for a week, I learned that a cherished coworker’s sister always did the Klobuchar ride. I’d never met any of my coworker’s family, but if they were anything like Bob, I couldn’t wait to meet them.

He was more excited than me about the potential connection, and spent a fair amount of energy drilling me on details of her name so that I would remember who I needed to seek out.

Of course, her name. Then, her husband’s name. Their last name, because it was her married name and different than his. He told me I could remember the last name because it was like a Minnesota Twins ball player’s name, only with an ‘S.’

He was seriously excited over the prospect of my meeting his sister on this trip. It was infectious enough that I became just as excited over the possibility.

However, there were a lot of other details I needed to think about. I had never done this kind of thing before. I was traveling with a teen neighbor whom I didn’t really know more than passing from his role as a part-time sitter for our kids. I was also perseverating over having the right gear and packing the right clothes, not to mention where to put everything.

Honestly, Judy’s name was not on my mind as Brian and I made our final visit to the car that first Saturday morning, prior to departing with our bikes. It’s a critical moment of the trip, because it’s the last time you will be anywhere near your vehicle for the rest of the week.

Take what you need, leave the rest. Ideally, stepping away fully prepared for what lies ahead.

As we walked our bikes between parked cars toward the swelling collection of other camping cyclists –all strangers, who would soon become friends– we came upon a couple going through their similar critical last moments with their vehicle.

In a flash of inspiration, upon noticing the man was using a 12V compressor to top off the air in his bike tires, I overcame my normal reticence to bother a stranger. I figured, we didn’t know anyone on this trip, so what better time to break the ice and get over the hump than to ask if we could use his electric pump for our tires, too.

Before I got to the end of my request, I saw that he was actually winding up the power cord to put it away. He was done using it. My brain quickly chastised me with evidence that my bad timing was the very reason not to bother someone you don’t know, blah, blah, blah.

I quickly apologized for inconveniencing him, but he just as quickly talked over my hesitancy and insisted it was no trouble. The awkward start had stumbled all over the more traditional polite practice of introducing oneself, so as we crouched over bike wheels and the buzzing pump, I thought to identify myself.

He responded, “I’m Ed Beckers.”

My eyes got big. I think he wondered what he’d said. My eyes got really big.

Knowing I had the upper hand, I played it for all it was worth. What were the odds?

“THE Ed Beckers!?” with increasing animated excitement.

Confused stare.

“Ed and Judy Beckers!!?”

A woman’s face peers around the car door at this maniacal stranger exclaiming her name.

My coworker’s sister and husband were the very first people we met.

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Written by johnwhays

June 18, 2017 at 6:00 am

Touring Today

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Image of the author captured during the annual June ride in 2009.

This morning, specifically, at the hour this is published today, I will be packing up my tent and preparing my bag for the luggage trailer. Our gear gets transported to tonight’s campsite by truck, allowing us to enjoy the luxury of riding with minimal added weight for the entire day.

It is the start of the 2017 Tour of Minnesota bike ride.

Since this is a vacation for me, I will be extending the break from my routine to include a pause in my daily blogging habit, but don’t for a minute think I would neglect to prepare in advance for posts to show up while I am away.

Similar to years past, when I have reposted a week of revisited “Words on Images” creations, or last year’s portraits of biking jerseys, I have created pre-scheduled posts to entertain you while I’m gone.

This year, as much for my sake as yours, I am going to revisit some of my history with this annual June ride.

Since today is the start of this year’s ride, I will go back to my start as a participant in what was then commonly referred to as the “Jaunt with Jim.”

The “Jim” was Jim Klobuchar, who at the time was a columnist with the StarTribune newspaper. I had been a fan of his writing for years, as well as a long-time cyclist with a curiosity about days-long riding and camping. 1994 happened to be the 20th year he was conducting these rides, which he convinced the StarTribune to sponsor.

Their promotion of the event caught my eye at a time I was ready to give it a try. With little needed effort, I talked a neighboring 16-year-0ld to accompany me for this maiden voyage.

We made a good travel pair, despite our age difference, which freed most of my attention for discovery of the new people and experiences on the ride. One of the main things I remember about that first ride was what glorious weather we enjoyed.

It being the 20th year of this event, the majority of participants seemed to be long-time veterans, which led to a wealth of stories from their archives about the trials and tribulations of carrying all their camping gear on the bikes in most of the earlier years, as well as the varieties of difficult weather they endured on multiple occasions.

In 1994 we had it easy. It was dry, with pleasant temperatures, and on the few days with wind, it was at our backs.

That helped to plant the seed of inspiration that led to our eventual return. However, the real kicker that sealed my fate of riding again with Jim’s group was the fabulous people we’d met that first year and the amount of fun they had together as a riding and camping community.

This amazing collection of people have become extended family for me. In the middle of June, I do everything I can to be among them again, no matter what the weather dishes out.

Tomorrow… Who is the very first couple we meet?

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Written by johnwhays

June 17, 2017 at 6:00 am

Perfect Weather

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I am visualizing perfect weather for a week of bicycling and tent camping. It could happen.

This morning I will hope to get the property mowed at the last minute so the grass shouldn’t be too long when I return to cut it again next Friday. This afternoon I will load up my bike and gear in the car and depart for a week of vacation.

This trip may not offer much chance to catch up on sleep, but I will have ample opportunity to take a mental break from the daily grind, and I will eat and laugh heartily with some very special like-minded cycling friends. This trip is a wonderful mental vacation because I don’t need to make any major decisions. The daily meals, the route, and the camping locations are all predetermined.

I just show up and ride. Oh, maybe I will waffle over what jersey to put on each day, but that’s about as complicated as it will get. Last night, I laid out gear and clothes while trying to imagine the usual routines of the week, in attempt to prepare for everything.

I would do myself a favor to now review the choices I made and divide it in half. I don’t think there has been a year where I ever needed everything I usually pack. Last year, I tried traveling lighter than my usual. This year, I would like to improve on that.

Just hoping the days near Lake Superior won’t complicate things. That massive body of water is a very effective air conditioner and can drop the temperature dramatically if the breeze flows from the direction of the lake. Warm clothes and packing light conflict a little when it comes to my wardrobe.

Over the years, I’ve heard tales of a wide range of essential items being forgotten by participants. I would like to avoid making an unplanned purchase of a critical item, so I will be working off a cheat sheet. Oddly, it seems I have filed away my master list from the many prior years I’ve done this trip.

Making a new list. I can remember to bring everything on my list, but did I remember to put everything I want on the list? Yeah, that’s the trick.

As long as I have my bike, both wheels, my cycling shoes and helmet, tent, sleeping bag, and pad, I’m good. Other than some clothes, the rest is all non-essential. I will bring my guitar this year, though, since the weather is going to be perfect.

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Written by johnwhays

June 16, 2017 at 6:00 am

Fiery Sky

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The horses were heavily harassed by biting flies yesterday, which made my session of scooping manure a lively affair. The biggest hazard, beyond unpredictable flailing hooves as they fling a leg out in response to a bite, is the nasty snap of their tails. They could take an eye out with that whipping action. At the very least, it stings when they get you.

I’ve noticed they will frequently align themselves to purposely have their heads in the wash of someone else’s tail for added fly management. There is no doubt they are thicker skinned than we are. I wouldn’t be able to endure the beating.

I worked well past the dinner hour last night, after a full shift at the day-job, to create added open space in the compost area for my approaching week-long absence from home. The effort now should pay off when I return, so I won’t come home to a disaster of overflowing piles.

Manure management is one of those jobs that is made easy by frequent attention. Let it go for a day or two between scooping and it can become an exponentially more significant project.

Last night, I opened up a gate to a section of pasture that still has long grass, to allow the herd a brief session of grazing. The first thing three of them did was pee. The second thing they took turns doing was laying down and rolling around.

When I looked their direction to see they finally got around to seriously grazing, the setting sun was illuminating the clouds to create the impression of a great conflagration. Photo Op!

One last day at the day-job today before vacation. I hope to try mowing the yard tonight and maybe doing a little laundry so I can pack clean clothes for the bike trip.

If I pack warm clothes and rain gear, maybe I won’t need them. We all know that if I don’t pack those things, it would guarantee that the week would turn out cold and wet.

If we see fiery clouds in the evenings during the bike trip, I hope it will mean, “sailor’s delight.”

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Written by johnwhays

June 15, 2017 at 6:00 am

Dreamy

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in one of those moments
when sleep claimed control
the mind flew off a cliff
within the proverbial instant
that eyes held down the blink
auditory input stopped
but certainly not the vibrations
so which circuits take a break?
and how do they know so to do?
nowhere became everywhere
and everything in-between
places wander in
materializing fully furnished
with myriad mysteries
feigning a familiar event
for a fraction of a sec
then consciousness shows up once more
half surprised
yet not quite
choosing to put up a fight
making sleep circle around again
for another stealthy approach
from a more northerly view
to claim the inevitable prize
a pausing of various systems
so the body can do
what sleeping bodies do
allowing the mind to taxi away
despite not having filed
any hint of a logical flight plan

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Written by johnwhays

June 8, 2017 at 6:00 am

Mildly Hesitant

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I found myself mildly hesitant yesterday about writing of our having ordered chicks. I had it in my mind when building the coop last fall that we might be able to get our hands on some adult chickens for our starter flock. Instead, we are starting with chicks. That involves a bit more nurturing than I’d been contemplating.

I should be thankful. We could have gone all the way and opted to hatch them from eggs. With no previous experience in this realm of chicken raising, there is always a chance disaster could happen and we might make some fatal error that takes innocent lives.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to blog such a possible outcome and expose the personal failure. Then it occurred to me, that is what I do.

In discussing this topic with Katie at work, I became aware of a change that has transpired in the four-plus years Cyndie and I have been here. When we first arrived from our lifetimes in the suburbs, we were entirely naive about almost every situation we faced.

Long time readers might recall that we didn’t realize we already had a hitch installed on the old pickup truck we bought. I had no experience with a chainsaw. We didn’t know anything about growing hay. We’ve come a long way. I would even say I’ve had a few moments of feeling cocky about our accomplishments.

So, it dawned on me that cockiness was bringing me to a place where I felt less inclined to write about the things with which we still have no experience, like raising chickens.

I guess I’ve quickly worked through that hesitation I was feeling. This John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences currently involves our ongoing transition from a suburban lifestyle to a rural ranch, one experimental step at a time.

Hopefully, next year I will be reporting about how few flies and ticks we are bothered by after the addition of chickens to our menagerie. Maybe also, how the transplanted tree in the labyrinth is thriving.

If those things don’t happen, I’ll likely have chronicled about that, instead. Chronicling the whole range of adventures we are living, both the successes and failures, is what I do. Even if sometimes, with a little hesitation.

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Written by johnwhays

March 22, 2017 at 6:00 am