Wednesday, August 31, 2011

He Told Us Not to Blow It. Cuz He Knows It's All Worthwhile.

Coadster making the same cheese ball face I always make in pictures. I guess there's no fighting city hall, is there?

Since it's been a little while, I thought I'd catch you all up on a few things in my life. Things are going just swimmingly.

Coadster seems happy in Ames and doing well in her classes. She calls me almost every day. Of course, The Guy always laughs at how short my phone conversations with her (and everyone else) are. She'll tell me what's going on, I'll tell her what's going on. We'll make fun of the cats and talk about whether we should worry about Stinky and then I'm ready to go. Thank god my girls have known me their whole lives and don't take it personally that any phone call with me will last 5 minutes if they're lucky. Yes. I am THAT lame.

I've also been working on Coadster's room. Last week I scrubbed the walls, removed all the hardware, patched up and sanded off any holes and I plan to prime and paint and rip up carpet in there this weekend. We're not sure exactly what we'll use it for. It will be a spare room for guests, and probably a sanctuary for The Guy to escape the estrogen flying around the house whenever he needs it...Which could be all the time.

Stinky all dressed up in USA themed clothes for the first high school football game this year. Every game has a different theme.

Stinky is in her senior year in high school and seems to finally be getting down to business. She's such a smart girl, but such a lazy student. She is working a lot, but still seems to get her homework done and in on time. Whew!

My friend's newly built tree house. Her boys love it.

The Guy and I are doing just great. We're training for my triathlon in a couple of weeks lately. He may or may not do it with me, but he's been great about helping me figure out the course and swimming, biking, running it with me and not making fun of me when I'm practically crawling at the end of it.

We had some friends over for black bean chili and corn bread for dinner last night and I made mojitos with fresh mint from my garden last night. It was so nice to hang out with my girlfriends and my boyfriend and have such great talks and laugh that hard. Who knows if it will last or what will happen tomorrow, but right now, I am as happy as a clam. I like to be aware of that while it's happening. I never want to take it for granted.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Turn Around and Say Good Morning to the Night.

The Guy appearing to pick his friend's nose...Even though they say you can't do that.

This weekend was nice and mellow for the most part. Friday night we had tempeh reubens and steamed asparagus and salad for dinner. We both read and The Guy worked on the wheels he's building for my bike for cyclocross season and then we walked a few blocks and got ice cream. Just my speed.

Our friend Bry, being judged by Captain Kirk in the future home of the captain's birthplace.

On Saturday morning, we went on a bike ride to Riverside, Ia. with our friend Bry. His real bike was in the shop, so he had his old bike, which kept flatting out. By the time we got to Riverside, he had run out of innertubes and we had to call my favorite bartender, S., to come and get Bry and drive him back to Iowa City.

The Guy and I rode our bikes home and then decided to take a nap. We did that thing where we took too long of a nap and I think I was getting a cold and when we woke up at 5, I was wiped out and useless. We decided to finally finish watching Dead Man. I've never been able to watch even part of that movie without falling asleep. Don't get me wrong, it's a good movie. It's just very, very slow. Saturday I made it through and didn't fall asleep once. Woot!

The Guy pointing out S., who was nice enough to drive to Riverside and rescue our friend Bry.

On Sunday, The Guy and I decided to try swimming, biking and running the triathlon course I'm going to do in a few weeks. Holy crap! That was tough. Apparently the biking and running courses are much hillier than normal courses and man did I feel it. I learned that I have to eat something in there. Which is hard to do and then run, but I'll drink Gatorade and have a bar of something during the bike ride.

We got home from that and took a nice, short nap this time. We got up and cleaned until our Czech friends came over to see our house and borrow some books. Then we walked with our friends and Stinky to Shakespeare's for dinner. We finished the evening by watching a silly zombie movie called I Sell the Dead. It was totally goofy, but it was a zombie movie, so it was exactly as it should have been.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

There is Moonlight and Moss in the Trees

The happy couple who just moved back from Prague.

On the last day of RAGBRAI, we all met at Blackstone at 9 for bloody Mary's for some, but not me.
After dipping our tires in the Mississippi River.

Like almost every other day, we took the last day pretty slowly. At one point, some guy asked us what the hell we'd been doing all day, since most of the other riders had come through their town hours before. I think what we were doing was enjoying our ride and the company and knowing that after that day, we would all have to go back to the real world of sleeping indoors and readily available electricity and warm showers and routines and not riding bikes for the majority of the daytime hours.

Happy to be done.

Once we finally made it to Davenport, we still had a little setback. The woman driving the RV to meet us, couldn't get it to start. So, three of the guys took off to fix it, while the rest of us went to a beer garden to wait. I was starving, so I went to Rudy's taco house to get some enchiladas to go with my celebratory margarita - the perfect way to end any adventure, I think.

Our horribly Keen/sandal tanned feet.

After the guy and I got home, we had one of those wonderful nights we have from time to time, where we have great talks and laugh about the dorkiest things....And apparently, take pictures of our hideous feet. We did some reflecting on our past week, and started planning for the weeks to come.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

And the Feeling Coming From My Bones Says Find a Home

This pic of us was in our local paper's website in their report about RAGBRAI.

On Friday of RAGBRAI, we went from Grinnell to Coralville. Coralville is kind of like a suburb of Iowa City, so we actually got to sleep in our own beds and do laundry and torture our cats before the last day. Awesome, I know.

Our friend works for the state archaeologist and so we stopped at their booth.

We left our group and rode early to meet our friend. The Guy had to get to town pretty early so he could go to work and put a cast on one of his cousins. We rode pretty much straight through, without a lot of stopping or lolly gagging - which we never do with our normal group.

The kids in Coadster's Summer program getting ready to perform in their School of Rock style band.

It worked out well for me, as i had a lovely migraine all day. When we finally stopped at the Archaeology booth, I had to lie down and then took my meds. My meds make it harder for me to ride very fast, but I wasn't going to be able to ride at all, if I couldn't get my headache under control. The rest of the ride was just fine. I was exhausted, so when we got into town around two, The Guy took a shower and went to work and I took a shower and went to bed.

The kids performing at the Java House on Friday night. Very cool.

I woke up, just as The Guy was getting home. I had promised Coadster that I would come watch her show at a local coffee shop, She and the other guys she works with, got the kids to form a band. They could play whatever instrument they wanted, or sing and if they weren't comfortable getting up in front of a crowd, they could be screaming fans.

Coadster supervised the singers and changed the lyrics to a White Stripes and Lady Gaga song to make them suitable for children and at 7 on Friday night, all those little kids rocked our faces off. It was great. The parents went crazy taking pictures and video.

I got home around 8 and The Guy and I ate pizza and relaxed and got ready for our final day of RAGBRAI.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Kickin' Your Can All Over the Place

The tri relay team before the competition.

I'm interrupting RAGBRAI again, to talk a bit about my weekend. 'Kay? 'Kay.

It was a weekend of Ironman's here - both a half and a sequel...

The swimmers taking off.

So, this weekend was just fine. Friday night, the guy and I had fish tacos and just hung out and relaxed. I got off work at noon and ran and rode my bike during the afternoon, so I was pretty tired.

An artsy shot of the boys.

On Saturday I woke up and made eggs and stuff for breakfast. The Guy went to the town where he was going to do the bike part of his triathlon to pick up his packet and drive the route. I stayed home and drove Stinky to work and then did a 25 mile training bike ride. It was a gorgeous day for it.

Both The Guy and I got home around the same time. We heated up some lunch, he took a nap while I putzed around the house and then in the evening we went for one drink and Indian food. When we got home, Stinky was there, so we all watched Ironman 2 together. Not the best movie I've ever seen, but it was nice to actually hang out with Stinky on a Saturday night.

The team number written on The Guy's leg.

On Sunday we got up bright and early so the guy could do a triathlon with two other people. The girl (who is Coadster's age) did the swim part. The Guy did the bike part of the half Ironman and our other friend did the half marathon, running part.

Finishing the triathlon. They got first for the co-ed relay teams and then second for all of the relay teams.

We originally thought they got third out of the relays, and second out of the co-ed relay teams, but one of the teams got a penalty for improper placement of equipment (whatever that means) and docked 4 minutes. So, The Guy's team ended up getting 2nd out of all the relay teams and first in the co-ed division. Hurray!

Don't worry. I plan on finishing up the RAGBRAI posting this week.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Now I know That. Now I Understand. You're Turning a Monkey on Me.

Dorothy, Toto and G.

The following day we rode our bikes from Altoona to Grinnell. It was a pretty damn nice day. I will document it in pictures with cheeky little captions, as I am wont to do from time to time. Here's how it was:

The Guy and I as cyclists of the corn.

This lake was the last stop on the way to Grinnell. It looks like S. and I are teaching some kind of class. Heaven help the students of whatever class S. and I would ever try and team teach.

We stayed in some people's yard in Grinnell. They had friends who owned a bar and asked us to drink there. Who were we to say no? Try not to be jealous of my amazing bike short tan.

Bry with his fake tattoo, Put on for him by a 90 year old woman in a drug store, in Colfax, Ia. For real.

A lot of the boys in our group taking a pic with the guy who has done every RAGBAI there has ever been. Don't be jealous of his socks, either.

We were riding down the road when an either Amish or Mennonite guy yelled that they were giving away free homemade ice cream. Boy, nothing would make me stop my bike faster than that. So, we stopped and bought the best pie I'd ever had to put the ice cream on and then found a gorilla suit just sitting on a table there. It was too hot to wear the whole thing. But I think this pic gives you a good idea of just how fun even parts of a gorilla suit can be...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gonna Ride Like the Wind

The whole wacky gang with our hostess in Boone.

First, I just want to say that Stinky had a good friend die in a moped accident on Friday and she has been very, very sad about it. The girl was only 17 and Stinky had just been at camp with her a week or two before it happened. We did a lot of talking about living our lives to the fullest, because you never know how much time you'll have. My heart goes out to that poor girl's family. I don't know how people ever recover from something like that.

I have no idea how these guys were able to see when they rode in this get-up.

Okay. So, now I'm finally back to RAGBRAI again. Before I left for RAGBRAI, I had noticed an old bloggers FB status update asking people to stop by his gray house in Boone by the Walgreens. At the time, I thought I might try stopping by, but then the day we were supposed to ride there, we still needed a place to stay, so I let the driver know to try that guy's house. Of course, I had screwed up the direction of the house and the driver went to the wrong one.

Instead of the ex-blogger, he came upon a family and they said they knew nothing of any blogger, but they would gladly let us stay on their yard and Walgreens said we were welcome too.

Us taking a break with our hostess.

The family turned out to be very sweet. They had three kids and ordered us pizza at night and fed us oatmeal in the morning. We gave them the money and they went and picked it up for us. They also let us use their shower - which, on RAGBRAI is a HUGE luxury.

They were very christian, so we were careful not to get too rowdy or to swear around them. It was the first time I've ever heard The Guy use the word, "Gosh!" before.

The mom stayed at home with the kids and from what I could gather, probably home schooled them and didn't get out much. The boys in our group tried to talk her into riding a day with us. She said she'd love to, but she didn't probably have the right kind of bike and who would watch the kids while her husband was at work? The boys said they'd work on her bike and one of our rider's daughter's was 16 and would babysit the kids. Her husband agreed to pick up the sitter and the kids after he got off work and meet us where we would camp in Altoona at the end of the day. How sweet was that?

At our carwash camp site. The cops stopped by and told us our tents were too close to the Casey's store and we had to move them.

The mom seemed to have a great day. We rode slowly and tried to coach her on the important stuff about riding a 50 + miles. She got pretty hot and tired at one point, so we stopped more often and made sure she ate and drank enough.

Us taking a very cold RAGBRAI shower/laundry behind the car wash.

We finally made it to Altoona, to our car wash camping spot. Our hostess' husband was there with the kids and a bucket of chicken for them all for dinner. She thanked us over and over again and told us she had never done anything like this before in her life. We thanked her right back and all agreed that Iowa in general, but RAGBRAI in particular can renew your faith in humans as a species.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Comes a Light. Feelin's Liftin'.

Free sweet corn with a vat of melted butter to dip it in? Hellz yeah!

Apparently, we felt it was time to dance right then.

Soooo. Where were we? Oh, yeah. The century ride day. On RAGBRAI, they make it so you can ride 100 miles one day, if you want. Those of us freaks who were into that kind of thing, left a little early. We detoured from the regular route to take about a 30 mile extra loop and complete 100 miles of biking for the day.

I had a bad start to that day. I hadn't been listening to The Guy when he told me I needed to eat at least 300 calories an hour when I was riding on RAGBRAI. It was so hot all the time and it's hard to eat and ride sometimes, but it definitely caught up to me on the century day. The Guy had stopped for coffee and some of the other guys rode ahead. JH and I were riding together and I felt more and more tired and dizzy. By the time The Guy called me to find out where I was, I was losing it. He made me eat food and drink Gatorade and then told me to please, please, please make myself eat more food. Duh! I don't know why I always have to learn everything the hard way...

This woman offered to spray us with a hose, if we would take our show on the flat bed truck. It was about 100 degrees, so who were we to argue?

About an hour later, I felt great and we rode the extra loop for the century ride and met our other friends in a town called Paton, Ia.

The Guy was so helpful. He was very worried about sun exposure on such young beauties...

From there we rode the rest of the way to Boone, Ia. There was one last killer hill to get there, but I took it slow and steady and I had enough food in me, finally to tackle it just fine.

Check in tomorrow when I tell you the story of the people who put us up in Boone.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Some Civil Servants Are Just Like My Loved Ones

The cross-eyed face only a mother could love...Dork!

We interrupt these RAGBRAI posts to tell you about my weekend. The RAGBRAI'ing will continue tomorrow.

So, this weekend I drove to Ames and dropped Coadster off at her first apartment. Her roommates won't be there for another week and she told me she might feel scared and lonely at night. I told her to call me whenever she needed. It's so weird to see her so grown-up in some ways, but to also see signs of the little girl she used to be. Sigh.

The black-eyed face only a mother could love...Dork number 2.

Stinky spent the weekend with some friends at a cabin. She was tubing behind a boat when she got thrown off. She said the minute her life jacket made her surface, the other tube and the shin of the girl riding it, slammed her in the face. Of course, it happened just in time for school registration and ID pictures. Nice. Really, it isn't so bad. It just looks like she's rocking some serious, purple 1980's style eye shadow. I say, get her an OP shirt and some top siders and everyone will just think she's trying to be retro...Poor girl.

I did get Stinky signed up for her last year in high school yesterday. We searched for her locker, I listened to her whine about her schedule and had (got) to hear her talk to some friends about a party that was broken-up because of a fight. Odd to think that it's the last time I'll ever do that.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Those Summer Nights Are Callin'

Machines cranking out ice cream by some silos.

The thing I love about RAGBRAI, is that you have no idea what you'll stumble upon on any given day. I'd say that the second day (Tuesday) was probably the funnest of the week.

This is a building with a thatched roof by the corn maze.

Monday was hot and hilly, just like Sunday, and I found myself riding by myself in the morning. When I reached the first town, I texted a bunch of people and found my group. We ate breakfast burritos by a Casey's gas station and took off for the next stop.

The polka band we happened upon.

After lunch, some of our group wanted to ride to the corn maze. They were trying to get as many RAGBRAI'ers as they could to stand in the maze while a plane flew overhead and took a pic. Apparently, the plane came too early, so we missed the shoot. Since it was close to 100 degrees out, I wasn't too hip to the idea of checking out a corn field that blocked the wind.

Instead, I heard people yelling, "hey, go to the lodge. There is good German beer and air conditioning!" That would have been enough for me, but once inside, we discovered a live polka band and chocolate sauerkraut cupcakes too. Is this heaven? Very, very close.

Me trying to polka with my friend who just moved back from Prague.

Even though we were exhausted, we danced like fiends, and had a couple of beers and cupcakes, before we headed off to our next adventure.

The town of Templeton was dressed-up in Prohibition era cars and whiskey casks. These guys are pretending to drink from the empty casks. Too funny.

The next town we hit was Templeton - where they make the whiskey. We rode through and headed out to where the still was. there was all kinds of crazy drunkenness going on there. They sold shots of Templeton Rye for $7. I abstained, but I think I might have been the only one who did. There was a group of kids who put their foreheads on a bat after drinking and then ran in circles around it, until they fell down. Um, wow.

One of the guys hanging around the fake casks asked me if I wanted to post for a pic and of course I did.

We finally left the still and headed to our next camping spot. They found us a great spot in a state park outside of Carroll, Ia.

The boys in my group partaking of the whiskey.

There was a murky green lake we swam in, and actual showers too. It felt so extravagant. It was a perfect place to get some sleep before we had to get up early and ride the 100 mile day on Tuesday...

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Prepare Yourself. You Know It's a Must.

The Guy and I applying sunscreen lip balm. My lips were so burnt by the end of RAGBRAI.

Sunday was the first day of bike riding. We rode from Glenwood to Atlantic, Ia. (about 60'ish miles). We were climbing out of the Missouri River basin so there were lots and lots of hills. Everyone hates me for saying this, but, in general, I like riding hills.

Riding into the halfway point of the day - Carson, Ia.

The Guy drove the van on the first day. so, I rode with a couple of other people until we all got split-up. It's easy to do when there are so many people riding. You're never quite sure who's ahead or behind you. Since I was by myself, I got to ride a little harder and was the first person from our group in the meeting place.

I started texting co-riders to see where they were, but phone reception was spotty at best. I called The Guy and he was stuck in traffic on the interstate. I finally got a text from LN saying she was at the bar in town. I met her and a few others there. The Guy showed up and instantly started trying to figure out where everyone was. Which was really tough, because everyone is at such different levels of riding and we found out that G. had a broken spoke on her bike and couldn't really ride it.

The Guy was awesome, as usual. He found a tent where they worked on bikes, took G.'s bike there and went back in an hour to get it once it was done.The rest of us headed to the van to rest in the shade before we left for the the afternoon ride.

Dorky cut-out in Carson, Ia.

The Guy parked the van and rode his bike back along to meet us. He told us where in Atlantic we were parked - in someone's yard across from the YMCA. We decided not to stop at any of the spots along the way, because the pool at the Y closed early and we wanted to be sure and swim.

The Guy and our friend, Burne rode our bikes to find a place to eat and it was all very nice. By then, I was exhausted and I knew there were just as many hills to ride the next day, so I hit the hay.

For not really knowing what to expect, the first day of riding was a pleasant surprise.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

I never saw Lance either, but I did see his support vehicle drive by once.

So, I'm back from RAGBRAI. I'll probably blog about each day of it in a different post. I will say, overall, it was a wonderful experience.

Me and some girlies the night before the ride started in Glenwood, Iowa.

For those of you who aren't from around here, RAGBRAI stands for (Des Moines) Reigister's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa and happens every year on the last full week of July. This year it was attended by 25,000 to 30,000 people of all ages, from many parts of the world. It generally starts at the Missouri River, at the Westernmost part of Iowa and we ride to the Mississippi river, the Easternmost part of the state. We invade very small towns along the way and are greeted by folks with beer, food and yards and parking lots to sleep in. It is dirty and stinky and hot and hard and hilly, but it is one of the best and biggest spectacles I've ever had the pleasure of participating in.

Me trying to close the RV's window, as my friend Bry creeps me out.

We had a larger than average group this year (18-24 riders, depending on the day). We don't register, so it's up to us to provide our own support and find places to stay every night.

We took an RV and a van to the first town (Glenwood, Ia) on Saturday. The trip there turned out to be a bit of an adventure. First we got stuck in crazy traffic on I-80. The crawl and heat caused the van to freak-out so we had to sit in 100 degree heat indices, without air conditioning, in a van for almost an hour. After we finally crawled to an off-ramp and took another ramp, we had a mishap where one of the bikes fell off the roof of the van. We were going slow enough that it wasn't a danger to itself or others and we stopped at a hardware store to get better twist ties.

Me "sword fighting" with one of our group members with our tent poles.

After the bike mishap, we ran into some low hanging electrical wires and then a thunderstorm. We joked that our trip was like a video game and we were on level 11 already.

We finally made it to Glenwood and set up camp next to the YMCA. We had a great first night and checked out the sights and sounds of RAGBRAI. The Guy had gone with a friend of ours and didn't get to camp until after 8'ish. He missed some of the earlier fun, but made it for the sittin' and drinkin' a spell before bedtime.

At that point, I still had no idea what to expect from our adventure, but I was ready for it.