Thursday, July 19, 2018

Sometimes I Wonder If the World's So Small, Then We Can Never Get Away From the Sprawl






Blogger is being annoying and I can't get it to work very well, so I'm leaving out a bunch of pictures and we'll have to deal with what we have. Sigh.

My birthday weekend was lovely. I feel lucky and happy to have such a terrific immediate family. We took the girls up to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin with us and played and played. We stayed at Wyasuling State Park and it was so great. It was pretty and clean and our campsites were quiet and private.

We got there later in the afternoon on Saturday because it rained up until about three o'clock up there. We got to the park, set up our tents and then went on a great hike with incredible views of the spot where the Mississippi meets the Wisconsin river.


We found a cool cave and had a great talk.

We went back to the campsite where I made quesadillas that we had with the guacamole and de gallo salsa that I made at home and it actually turned out really well.


We heard that they were having fireworks that evening in Prairie du Chien to help celebrate Crazy Days (Hey! they finally named a holiday after me), so we went to Lookout Point to wait for them to go off.


It was nice. There were a bunch of other people waiting and everyone was really festive. Of course, they didn't go off until almost ten o'clock and most of the kids that were there didn't get to see them all, but us old people got to stay for the whole thing.


I slept in in the morning and John went on a long run. When I woke up, I got to hang out in my new hammock and read a book and get some alone time, before John got back from his run and the girls woke up.


We decided to go canoeing and kayaking for our first activity.


The place we went was so pretty and the water was like glass, for the most part.

At one point, John told me he had a visitor. I figured he meant a dragonfly, because they were all over the place. He said, no. He had a snake stow away in the front compartment of his kayak. He slithered out of the hull and started to move toward John. John gently took his paddle and used it to move the snake into the water and he swam away. If it had been me, I probably would have pooped myself. We looked it up later and figured it was probably a black rat snake. I guess it could have been worse. It could have been a water moccasin.


After all of the excitement with the snake, John took us to a hiking trail that led to another cave.


It also had a cute, little, waterfall.


We ended up hiking farther than I thought we would and after that and the paddling, I was starving. We headed to Prairie du Chien for lunch and the girls were sweet enough to pick up the tab. It was very nice.


After lunch we headed to the Indian Burial Mounds.


It was hot and the hike was uphill for most of the first part and I was exhausted from all of the other activities we already did, but it was worth it.


The view was stunning here too.


As long as you were careful enough not to tumble over the edge.


We went to the town of McGregor next. It was adorable there. We hung out with the girls for a bit before they headed home. I was so lucky to get to spend the weekend with them.


John and I went to a Mexican restaurant for a drink after the girls took off. Our bartender was a very nice woman who made us a nice margarita...Or two. Hey! It was my birthday eve.


The smartest thing I did on Sunday evening was order some delicious shrimp and tortillas and rice and beans take-out before we left the Mexican restaurant. The rest of our evening was spent eating and talking and laughing by the fire. It was the perfect birthday eve.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Something Touched Me Deep Inside, the Day the Music Died.



We went to fabulous Clear Lake, Iowa last weekend and it was, fun, fun, fun, and our daddy didn't take the T-Bird away. We went so John could race bikes there. I always used to race too, but this year has been to hormone roller coastery for that, so instead I played and it was just grand.

We drove there after work on Friday and met our friends. We went to the little brewery in a house and sat outside until we got eaten by mosquitoes.


We also got to see the sunset over the lake. One of my favorite things to do in Clear Lake.


I woke up at about 6 the next morning. John had his first race at 8:45, so he got up early and headed over there to warm up.

I went for a lovely morning run, and checked out the lake again and met some lovely King Charles Spaniels and got some dog petting in.


I like to explore a town by running, because I see things I've never noticed before. On this run I found a putt-putt golf course and some wetlands.

After my run I went to the donut shop across the street and got some goodies. John normally won't eat sweets, but I got him a raspberry cream cheese danish, just in case and what do you know, he ate it after he got back from his race.







John decided to take a quick nap, so I rode my bike to the South beach and read my book for a while. It was so perfect.



I got a call from John. he had just woken from (awakened?) from his nap and wanted me to meet him and our other friends for lunch.

After lunch we went back to the beach and swam and watched other people swim and play.


John was supposed to race again at 3:15, so he left to get ready and warm-up before the race and I went on a little bike ride.

We originally thought that the nice road with the fat bike lanes went all the way around the lake, so I figured I'd ride that little route and end up in Downtown Clear Lake in easily enough time to catch John's race. Unfortunately, we were wrong about the road. I ended up out in the country, on the road race course they were going to use on Sunday. Then I found myself in the town of Ventura, next on a bigger highway with very little shoulder and FINALLY back in Clear Lake. At least I got to ride past the Surf Ballroom.


I did make it back in time to see John race and talk to some friends I hadn't seen in a long time and get a great deal on some sale bike clothes, just in time for RAGBAI this month.


It was a great day of racing and John did pretty well for not really racing since the end of May.


After the races, we headed back to that bar/restaurant to get a drink and watch the sunset.



Moscow mules were the perfect choice.


It was a very nice last night in Clear Lake.


The next morning, I got up and headed to the beach to hang out while John did his road race. It was so nice.


Our friends came out and joined me and we sat on the dock with our feet in the water and just relaxed.


John finished his race and joined us. He said it felt pretty good to jump in the water after riding his bike so far.


We were all starving, so we headed to lunch where John and I ate a bunch of appetizers: peel and eat shrimp, crabmeat Rangoon nachos, bruschetta, and fried cheese curds.


Before we headed back  home, I made John stop at the Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and Big Bopper Crash Site.

Do these glasses make my head look small?


It was a little underwhelming, but it was only about a ten mile drive out of town (like John said, they didn't get very far). So, now I can say I saw it.

I'm hoping this weekend is just as fun.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

End of the Spring and Here She Comes Back.


So, before I write about last weekend, I thought I'd do my traveling through books post for June. I read seven books during the month of June. My Summer reads are generally less intense than some of my colder weather reads. During beautiful Summer days, I just don't have the attention span to read Russian novels or whatever. I learned the hard way a few years ago when I tried to read "Wolf Hall" in July and it was a baaaaad idea.

Now I try to pick books that I think will hold my attention and be fun or good escapism. Beach books, if you will. Last June's books were all good Summer choices.

1.) The first book I read in June was "Pachinko" by Min Jin Lee. it was a beautiful, but sad book about how Korean immigrants have been treated in Japan. The characters were complex and sympathetic and the story was epic. All in all, it was an important book trip to take.

2.) My second book trip took me back in time to the story of Orestes and his wacky family. "House of Names", by Colm Toibin was good, but very dark and violent. I took a lot of humanities courses in college, so it was good to get back to some of those stories.

3.) "Girl in Disugise" by Greer McAllister probably isn't going to win any literary awards, but it was good escapism. It's about Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective. It took place before and during the Civil War and it was a perfect Summer read.


4.) "The Association of Small Bombs" by Karan Mahajan took place in India and told the story of a car bomb and the people surrounding it. Those who set it off and those who were killed or injured by it. It was an interesting way to look at an event and it showed all sides of a tragedy.

5.) I finally read Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games" last month. It was dark and violent, but it was engrossing and I've always been a sucker for those strong, young, women who stick it to the man.

6.) The Sixth book I read in June was "Less", by Sean Andrew Greer. It won the Pulitzer prize last year and man, do I agree with their choice. It was such a fun read. It was also a great trip. A writer is turning 50 and gets invited to his ex-boyfriend's wedding. He doesn't want to go to the wedding, but he doesn't want to appear bitter or slighted, so he decides be out of town and in order to do that, he takes any trip offered to him to give a reading, or accept an award, or write an article and it ends up taking him all over the world. It is a funny, well written, trip.

7.) The last book I read in June was Louise Erdrich's "The Round House". I love Louise Erdrich's writing and this was one of my favorites of hers. It takes place in the late 80's and it's sad and strong and sweet and frustrating and it was an incredible read.

Since we're almost halfway done with July, I will say my streak of fun, Summer books is continuing. I hope you are all finding fun adventures through the books you're reading as well.

Friday, July 06, 2018

I'm a cool Rockin' Daddy in the USA


Wow, kids! July Fourth is over already. This Summer is going WAY too fast. I hope you all had a nice holiday, and if you had to work, I hope you get a nice day off soon.

Surprise, surprise, John and I celebrated the birth of our nation with a bike ride. First I got up and putzed around in the garden, then I read on the screened-in-porch and drank my tea. THEN we went on a bike ride through Amish Country.


We rode up and down many hills with a strong South headwind. Luckily, at some point a big tractor drove in front of us shielding us from the wind. Thanks, farmer!


We finally made it to Frytown, which has a large Amish community. We always stop at this garage place and get an ice cold root beer. It was ridiculously hot on the Fourth this year, so the root beer tasted like pure magic in a can.


We also had to take a photo in front of the phone booth, because how many times a year do you see one of those?


The scenery was so beautiful and in Amish country you don't even see power lines.


We headed to Sharon Center where we just missed their parade. I thought the flag on the tractor was a nice Iowa touch.

We made it to Hills and stopped at the Casey's there to get some cold water. I started feeling like I was going to pass-out from the heat, so I had to sit down on the floor in Casey's until I could cool down a little. I'm a class act, I tell ya.


We finally made it to the lake and not a minute too soon. Some friends of ours met us there with their paddle board. One of my goals this year was to try stand up paddle boarding  and I was finally able to do it. It was a holiday miracle!


Our beach was full of fun families and college kids with cocktails. Everyone seemed so happy and festive and I was happy not to be fainting. It's the little things...


We finally grudgingly left the lake and went to Big Grove so I could drink my one holiday beer. We headed home and I grilled some BBQ chicken, which was heavenly and had it with mashed red potatoes from our garden and beet salad, with mostly things from our garden. I really don't know how we could have celebrated our country and Summer any better.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Just a Perfect Day. Problems All Left Alone. Weekenders On Our Own.


Everyone has a different idea of their perfect day. Would yours include sleeping in air conditioning all day, or playing with puppies? Would yours include your family, or anyone but your family members?

I had a nearly perfect day on Saturday. It was a little too hot outside to be totally perfect, but I will always "settle" for close to perfect.

It started out, as many of my perfect days do, with a bike ride with our friends.


The prairie flowers looked amazing.


We rode to Riverside, Iowa to get to the Trek Fest Parade and to our friends' annual party.


The Trek Fest parade is always such a hoot. John asked me what the guy with the shower curtain thing over his head was supposed to be. I told him I thought he was supposed to be beaming up.


It was about a hundred degrees out, so I had to really give credit to all of those people in their polyester Star Trek outfits.


There was a float handing out these book marks and cheesy pulp sci-fi novels. I've had a geek virus since I was born and I don't want any treatment for it, thank you.


the Shriners will always pop-a-wheelie for you if you ask them nicely.


After the parade, we hung out at the party and ate their delicious food and stayed away from the keg, as there were some sketchy characters hovering there.


I know I mentioned that it was hot that day, right? Well, we rode home from Riverside and headed straight to Sand Lake. We threw our bikes down, and jumped into the water. It really felt like being ten years old again and what's a better feeling than that?


The water felt great. There were plenty of people at that beach and then John suggested that we check out the beach on the peninsula. Don't mind if we do...


That beach was even better and there was only one other family hanging out there. We all said that if someone would just bring us food and beer, we'd live in the lake and be ever so happy.


Sadly, no one wanted to bring us beer or food, so we had to get up and head to Big Grove in Iowa City and order our own. The only thing better than living like a ten year old, is being able to drink legally as well.



Sunday was a different kind of day. I woke up with a migraine for the first time in 72 days. That's right. It's the longest I've gone without a migraine since my early twenties. I used to get bad migraines at least once a week, so if I have to have a bad migraine day once in 72 days, I consider myself pretty damn lucky.

So, I scrapped my plans to ride bikes and read my book on the porch for a while instead. Which was just fine.


I made eggs with cut up grilled stuffed peppers and cheese and hash browns for brunch.


I started to feel better later in the day. I had so much to do to get ready for the work week. John rode his bike and asked me if I'd meet him at Sand Lake for a swim. Originally, I was all for that, but then I mowed the lawn and that took longer than I thought and I started thinking about all of the things I needed to do before the work week started and I bailed on John. I did make up for it by making enchiladas for dinner and cooking up some beets for us to use for beet salad on the Fourth of July. All in all, it was a good day...Even if it did start with a migraine.