Friday, March 30, 2007

Rollerblading with Daisy

I'm not sure why I find this so entertaining--but I do. This is us going down our block. She's slowed down a bit after going for a good half hour. (Earlier, we went to Wash Park and were keeping up with some bikers. Yep, my dog is faster than your dog.)

Getting Ready For a Walk

This is Daisy get revved up to go out for the previously mentioned rollerblading. About ten seconds in is when I grab the leash and she realizes what's going on. And no, I don't know why I say "go" like I'm from Sheboygan County

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Flashback: 1990

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I'm training for the Triple Bypass coming up this July.

Well, sort of training.

Monday afternoon I meant to go for a ride. But it was windy. And cold (ish). And that meant biking outside would be a lot of work. So not such a hot idea.

So then I thought of another idea. I could go in the basement and work on the erg (that's a rowing machine, for you lay persons). You may or may not know, but "erging" (that's "rowing") is one of the best workouts there is. It works every major muscle group at once. And again, that means its a lot of work. So that sounded like a bad idea too.

And then I remembered an almost idyllic scene from a few days before. He was floating, it seemed. Gliding down the street without any effort. He had his trusty K-9 trotting along beside him.

He was...rollerblading.

Suddenly, I was transported back to the year 1990. To the time I flipped through the JC Penny Catalogue and saw a pair of "Laser Line 50s." They were only 45.95.* And they were beautiful. Jet black. Your choice of hot pink or neon green trim and wheels.

They had to be mine. Soon, they were. (You can guess which color I chose.)

It wasn't long before I was blading around Sioux Center with my friends. Cruising around the mall. Jumping off of the Dordt Science Building Steps. Hopping over the benches of the SUB (may it rest in peace). Whipping down the hill behind the chapel. Zipping through the hallways of Sioux Center Christian before school. ** Playing roller hockey in empty parking lots. Getting in trouble with Jeremy K's mom for hitting her precious little boy with my hockey stick.

Ahhh, yes. Those were the good times.

So I decided to ride that wave of nastolgia all the way to "Sport's Authority" and find myself a new pair. Regrettably, they didn't have anything in cool neon colors. But, somewhat miraculously, they had something in my size. And on sale! It was a sign. I bought them, took them home, and laced up. And then, I put Daisy on her leash and we took off for Harvard Gulch Park.

Let me tell you, Rollerblades have come a long way in the last 15 years. The boots are more comfortable. The bearings are much smoother.

And with Daisy pulling like a Clydesdale, they roll a whole lot easier. In fact, with her doing most of the work, rollerblading just might qualify as the best workout ever.

*A bargain compared to Kelly C's new, top-of-the-line "Coolblades", for which he paid a cool $150.
**Clearly, this was before I became employed there as a janitor. Janitor me would've wailed on roller-blading me for such foolish behavior. Do you know what Rollerblade wheels do to waxed floors?!

Monday, March 26, 2007

MORE Vacation

That's right...more goofing off this weekend. Just think, I usually only work one hour a week , and this weekend I even got that off!

We had a good time showing Brian and Becky a bit of Colorado.
Supper at Thai Basil Thursday (mmmmm), breakfast at Duffy Roll on Friday, a bit of work for me and Jill, then off to the mountains!

A couple from church was kind enough to let us stay at their mountain home near Fairplay, Colorado. That's a pretty cool part of the state, if I don't say so myself. You come over Hoosier Pass and suddenly see a huge open plain--it looks like Narnia. Its a strange feeling, because if you look straight ahead (not very far), you'd think your in Nebraska, it's so flat. But if you look around, you realize you're at around 10,000 feet and there are some really big mountains around (You can see Pike's Peak from where we were staying).

I confess, I can now see why "those mountain people" find a weekend get away so attractive. (By the way, anyone want to go in to buy a cabin with us? Or toss a hundred grand our way to get us started? I found a really nice little spot that might be relatively cheap. I can even send you a picture if you're interested in the investmnt opportunity). Jill and I (but perhaps especially Jill) really, really like to get out of the big, dirty city. I also love the chance to sit around and read in peace (Mary Doria Russel is a really good writer. I'm now 300 pages into A Thread of Grace, and still loving it--which says something since I'm usually sick of books by about page 200--and that's if its a good book), to play games (a lot of "Ticket to Ride"--Choo, choo!--this weekend), and, drink coffee (that mug made it taste even better), and generally do nothing. For me, the only thing that would have made the weekend more perfect would be if I had a bike a long. I would have loved to tackle the thousands of acres of National Forest in the Cabin's back yard. Maybe next time.

We left Sunday afternoon after a short hike in the snow. Stopped at three sisters for another hike, then came home and picked up Daisy, who clearly missed us a great deal. Here are some pics:

Our Humble Home.

Sunrise out our Front windows Sunday Morning

Jill, not being annoying at all.

Brian, Ever Thoughtful.

Jill, Showing that Puzzle Who's Boss.

Hiking at Three Sisters (Ever Green)

Jill, Doing What Jill Does

Becky Playing Hard to Get

Friday, March 23, 2007

Another Blog

I guess I'm hooked. I've decided to attempt to start another blog. This one will deal more directly with First Church and my role there. To find it, click on my "My More Pious Ponderings" link.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Little Stroll

I know I said no bike posts. How about hiking?

Jill and I went to Dakota Ridge with Daisy for a two hour (ish) hike this afternoon. Dakota Ridge is located near Red Rocks (in fact, it overlooks Red Rocks). When I viewed it from the highway, I thought it was the official beginning of the foothills. Turns out, it's not. From what I can tell, it's a big wall of rock with a hiking trail going along the top. The flatlands (well, some hills, the highway--470, I think) are on the east and the Red Rocks/Basin type area on the west. Then the real foothills/mountains start. Quite an interesting geological formation. (If anyone finds any "official" info on the internet, let me know. I'll post a link). A few shots for your view pleasure...



(After this pic was taken, Daisy attacked Jill. She was really mad about the bunny ears.)


(Clearly, not one who suffers from Acrophobia)


PS: Regardless of the impression given on this blog, I really do more here than ski, bike, and hike. For instance, now I "blog."

PPS: Hey CL, I met Walt (yes, the Walt). He and his wife/girlfriend were out riding...

A Small Acomplishment (or My First One)

Well, I had my first attempt at a mountain yesterday. Not a big deal, really. I rode out to Bear Creek State Park, through Morrison, and part way up Bear Creek Canyon (I think I have the names right--Mom and Dad, this is the Canyon we drove up on the way to Vern's). Despite Friday's self deprecation/flagellation (that flaGEllation, not flaTUlation), it went just fine. Of course, I only went to Idledale, four miles up, but it was something. And one day (tomorrow?) I'll ride all the way up to Kittridge (7 more miles).

Here's a pic of the road I rode. As you can see, nice gradual grade, lots of twists and turns, and better scenery than the downtown Denver bike trails. I was able to "settle in" and actually enjoyed myself--both on the way up and the way down. (And yes, I stopped to take the picture. Maybe next time I'll shoot a video while riding.) Sorry photography experts--I didn't quite nail the old "rule of thirds"...

And here's one of my turn around point. No significance, really. I just figured I ought to make some record of my first attempt at riding in the mountains. Even if it was only four miles up (in my defense, I rode 16 miles to get to those four miles). For posterity's sake, I guess...

Oh, and bike geeks, check out my new matching silver saddle/bartape. If you can't be fast, you should at least look fast.

PS: No bike posts for at least a week, I promise.

PPS: Little digital cameras that you can stick in your pocket are awesome.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Acting My Age (or: It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time)

The other night when I was talking to my mom on the phone I was reminding her of what a good, responsible son I was/am.* After all, I never dropped out of college to go be a ski bum (no offense, CL), never hopped in an 84 Dodge Ram 50 pick-up and drove cross country, sans spare tire, just to impress a girl (no offense, John), never got a piercing, tattoo, or perm (no offense, Micah), never drove the old Ford Tempo over 75 miles per hour (and that was in South Dakota, where it was legal), never stood on the side of the road with my thumb out, hoping against all hope for a ride (well, that's only partially true...). Yes, I told my mother, I had had a safe, sensible** childhood.

Of course, she didn't buy it.

"Well," she said, "you're only twenty-six. You've got plenty of time to do something stupid. Plus," she added, "There was that time you tried to ride your bike for twenty-four hours. I wouldn't exactly call that sensible."

Okay, maybe it wasn't sensible. But it was fun. And guess what Mom--now I can do you one better.

A couple of weeks ago, I signed up for a ride to be held in Colorado this July called "The Triple Bypass." As you may have gathered from the name, this ride is supposed to be hard. Very hard.

The hard part isn't the mileage per se. The ride is 120 miles--I've ridden that distance enough times to be comfortable with it (yeah, I know, aren't I awesome?). But the catch is that I've ridden that distance in Iowa and Michigan. And, for the geographically challenged among us, I should point out that there are no mountains in Iowa or Michigan. But there are in Colorado. And there's the rub.

Those foolish enough to attempt the Triple Bypass will attempt to ride over three of these mountains: Squaw Pass (11,140 ft), Loveland Pass (11,990 ft.) and Swan Mountain and Vail Passes (10,560 ft), which all come out to (and I quote now from the website) "over 10,000 ft. of lung-busting gain in elevation!"

Sounds delightful.

Now some of you may be thinking that I'm being a wuss. Or that, having completed the previously mentioned 24 hour challenge, this should be no big deal for a stellar cyclist such as myself. If you're in that camp, let me repeat some key facts here.

1.) I've never ridden up a mountain. Ever. Never mind three mountains in one day.

2.) I live in Denver, a city which (contrary to popular belief) is one of the flattest places on earth (it's really just an extension of Kansas, you know). Yes, the mountains are close, but it takes some doing to get to them. This makes training for such an event difficult (but admittedly not as difficult as if we lived in say, Illinois).

3.) A 24 Hour Challenge is relatively easy. As one person put it to me, you just make sure to "Stay on the d***n bike. It's a mental game.*** But in the mountains, I fear that the forces of gravity my prevail over my mental power. I think you actually need strength to ride in the mountains. And that leads me to the all important ...

4.) I'm really not in good shape--at all. I've been working on my "pastor's paunch" over the winter, and it's coming along all too nicely.

I was reminded of #4 twice this week. On Sunday, Jill and I took another ride to Chatfield State Park. As a part of that ride, we road up to the top of the reservoir. Compared to riding in Denver, this means riding up quite a significant climb. But I suspect that compared tor riding up a mountain (or three), it involves riding up a molehill.

Well, I didn't do exactly shine at Chatfield. I wasn't quite seeing spots, but I was close. I was wheezing. Straining. Grinding. I looked down more than once to see if I had a flat tire (I did not. And by the way, I can no longer use altitude as an excuse--as of this week, we've lived here six months, which is about how long its supposed to take to get fully acclimated). All in all, it was not at all an impressive display of physical (or mental) prowess.

I let myself figure that it was just a fluke. A bad day.

It wasn't.

On Friday afternoon, I rode to Cherry Creek State Park. Once again, I was faced with some relatively minor climbs. Once again, I wheezed like I had already donated one of my lungs for scientific research. If it weren't for the middle aged women I passed on the way home (decked out in their denim shorts and purple sweatsuits with their hybrid bikes) and the homeless guys (with their flat tires and 85 lbs of gear on their Huffies) my ego would've been completely shot. Perhaps that's not a good sign. Perhaps I am really not so sensible after all.

So enough whining. Why did I decide to do this? Well, psychoanalytical reasons aside (someday, maybe I'll write an entry on how this is all Darryl De Ruiter's fault), it just seemed like a good idea of the time. And the fact of the matter is that when it's January, and there is snow on the ground, and you really haven't exercised for three months, well, it's easy to dream big and (ironically) overestimate just how in shape you are (or could be). And there are cookies. And a jersey (that I get regardless of if I finish or not. Hmmm). And besides, 3,500 people attempted this ride last year (never mind that half didn't finish--supposedly due to adverse weather. A much higher percentage finished the previous year). I figured that if they could do it, I could do it. And, really, it seemed easier than some of the rides I thought doing--say, the Leadville 100. Now that would have been stupid (but then again, I'd sure like one of those shiny belt buckles...)

*Some portions of this conversation may be slightly embellished.

**I'll not put up with anyone posting comments to the contrary, reminding others of my less-than-sensible moments when I did things like, oh, use the bottom of a pop can to scrape the windshield (hey, the aluminium seemed soft enough).

***Free Marraige Tip: This is my general approach to completing endurance evants (note that I didn't say completing them fast or well). It may be yours too. That, however, does not mean your wife will find it encouraging or inspiring advice when traing for, say, a marathon.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

I did it all for the cookie...

It occurred to me this morning that I really ought to travel more.

There are lots of reasons people travel; plenty of good reasons they go to exciting places like Afghanistan and Africa, Costa Rica and Mexico. There's the scenery, the culture, the food, the experience of being a minority. All good things.

But me? I'd go for the malaria.

Okay, I don't actually want malaria. I just want to have been in danger of catching it. Preferably within the last twelve months.

Let me explain. Today was "Phlebotomy Day" here at church. If you're not familiar with the term "phlebotomy", that's just a fancy way of saying that we had a blood drive. Undoubtedly, giving blood is a good thing to do. I encourage you to do it. Often. I'd just rather not do it myself. And hey, if I' been in danger of catching malaria (in other words, if I'd traveled a little more) no one would bother asking me to.

I confess, I don't really like needles. I don't like the thought of being pricked by anything. I don't like pain--no matter how insignificant. Now don't get any crazy ideas--I'm not in danger of passing out or anything like that (I wish--then no one would expect me to give either). I just don't like it. And I'll admit it, that makes me a wimp.

Now Bill, from church, he's no wimp. He's given fifteen gallons of blood over his life. He donates plasma every two weeks. And Rick (also from church), well, he's no wimp either. Rick gives blood every 56 days--as often as he possibly can. I think he's up to 90 pints now. (Having been pricked so many times, you'd think that he'd be constantly spouting blood all over; that his arms would be like Swiss cheese; or that he'd have train tracks, like a heroine addict. But miraculously, he doesn't). But Rick is a man's man. He's in the marines. He's a colonel, for crying out loud. Rick shoots guns. He climbs mountains. He gives blood. Like I said, he's no wimp.

But not me. I really didn't want to give blood. So I was thinking this morning that a little trip to say, Tijuana, would be helpful in avoiding all that unpleasantness. But since I have classis meetings all weekend, that wasn't going to fit in the schedule. So I went.

Why? Behold, the power of guilt.

And the strong allure of the cookie.

Honestly, it wasn't all bad. The waiting was probably the hardest thing. Filling out all those forms. Having my blood pressure taken 3 times. The failed hunt for a vein with the woman next to me. The nurse tapping for my veins ("Ooooo.. What nice veins you have."). When the dreaded moment actually came, the prick wasn't the most painful thing I've ever endured (but I've had a rough life). And hey, I got apple juice. And a cookie (note to self: go for the Fudge Chocolate Chip, not the Oatmeal Raisin next time).

But the best part was that I found out I don't need to renew my passport to avoid giving blood in 56 days. Here are some other things I can do:

  • Get a body piercing. One a year could get me a long way.

  • Get a tattoo. Would likely complement the body piercing well. I could go every other year. I've already started thinking of things that I'd love to have written/drawn on my body for the rest of my life. On top of the list is the CRC symbol. Then there's always the lawn mower in the chest hair idea (although this involves shaving a strip, which is a lot of maintaince). Next down the list is flower that blooms as I put on pounds (sorry, did I just cross a line?).

  • Take 8 aspirin the morning of the blood drive.

  • By far the best idea: Take one of the medications on the "restricted" list. There's one on there that you take to reverse balding. Need I say more? That's a win/win!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Kids say the darndest things...

I really didn't mean this blog to turn into a bunch of sentimental gushing. Whit? Sure. Sarcasm? Why not. Intelect? I'll try. But sentiment? Noooo!

But last time, I wrote a morality tale. And now, here I am, writing a post called with "kids" and "darndest" in the title.* Really, it's all Dey-shai's fault.

Dey-shai and I have been meeting at his school for about three months now--and I'd say we've hit it off pretty well. I'm officially his mentor through our church's Kid's Hope USA program. That means that I try to help him read (I refuse to help with math), play checkers (or today: UNO), or talk with him about life and how to make better choices (more on that later). Most importantly, I try to be a steady/positive/male/Christian influence. I confess, there are days that I feel like I'm going to fall asleep when he's reading. But there are never days when I regret coming.

At any rate, at some point during our hour together, Dey-shai, the King of Irony, always says something that makes me crack up. For example:

  • "Joel. Huh. That sure is a weird name."
  • "I want to be a pastor. Do they get paid a lot?"
  • "You're a pastor. So do you own the church?" (He was quite caught up on this one for a while.)
  • "Is your Dad really only 5'9"?" (He asked me this one three weeks straight).
  • "Did you brush your teeth this morning? Because no offense, you smell really weird." (In my own defense, yes, I did brush my teeth. Probably more than once. It's just that I had a cup of coffee on the way to school to fend off the aforementioned drowsiness. But yes, I should have known better--especially when I think about my sixth grade teacher's coffee breath and how it prohibited me from asking for help on my math homework. I probably would've been an engineer if it wasn't for her caffeine addiction.)
  • Any trash talking during checkers. I really love Dey-shai, but seriously, he's one of the world's worst checkers players. He has no business trash talking.

Well, today Dey-shai moved beyond the humorous and was--well, touching. Dey-shai was in some trouble today for having a little attitude with his teacher. When I came in, he was writing out his confession (a regular part of the discipline at his school, it seems). Only this time, he wasn't writing it to his teacher. He was writing to God. It doesn't look like a lot here, but it took up about half a page with his handwriting. This is what he had to say:

Dear Lord I'm sorry for all the things I did wrong. I can change my ways and I can change my addatude tords people.

Lord I am sorry for using your name in vane and can you help me get out of the mess I'm going throuw.

Lord can you come in my hart can you come into every bodies harts.

I told you it was touching. Unfortunately, he didn't get to finish it up. But we did get to talk about how God might help him stay out of trouble. I wasn't sure if I was "allowed" to at first (as part of Kid's hope, we have to promise not to proselytize), but figured if Dey-shai brought it up I was in the clear. And besides, Dey-shai put my mind to rest, "We're not supposed to talk about God in school," he said. "But you can--you're a pastor."

*If "darndest" is offensive to you or your young children, email me and I'll change the title.