November 29, 2018 § 3 Comments
I started this post, probably on my birthday when I turned 59. If not then, it was soon after, but I never developed much beyond the title. I am not even sure what I thought might be the content, but I suppose that with 60 looming only 365 days in the future, perhaps I thought there would be some insight into what 59 would be, and how I thought the lead-in to 60 would play out.
Today, it is late November, and well, 59 as played out a lot like all the years before it. Ha! I may have started 2018 healing from a fall late November 2017, and fairly inactive, which translates to lots of in calories, and not many out calories, but by the end of January I was at least doing spin class again. By the time my birthday rolled around, I finished a 10 class power spin training block of classes, and I spent 10 days in Thailand which included over 400 miles cycling. I don’t usually put that much mileage on the bike in New Jersey over the same time frame. That was special.
I moved from the power spin training to Mega Cycle spin training, and soon found myself on the roads of NJ again. I was still trying to shed weight, but I felt like an anchor, and that maybe, this year would be the year in which I would not be able to keep up with the weekday SFAC rides once they started. Those guys are all 6-10 years younger than me, and how much longer can I reasonably expect to keep hammering on Tuesdays and Thursdays?
In addition to the SFAC group, there was an even younger group I associated with that was 20 years or more my junior. Some pretty strong youth, that I could hold wheels with, but put me out in front, and it wouldn’t be long before I was longing for the tail of pace line.
Tony was the first SFAC rider to meet me. Tom was busy with work and improving a newly acquired “downsized” in his living arrangements. Mike decided to start running more, and the Mayor wasn’t yet ready for the road, so it was me and the Wolf, and while I expected to be put on the rivet, I found I could hold, and lead. I began a series of Strava posts in which I may have “overly” praised Tony on our rides. They were fun.
I picked up an extra week of vacation this year, and using the tools of working either 10 hour days, or working 80 hours over 8 or 9 days, and taking a few Fridays off, I managed to get in some really nice early season long mileage, high elevation gain rides. I really lucked out on some of these rides as the weather looked dismal most of the week only to clear enough, or simply clear where I was, to make for a great day on the bike. I got to push some routes that I wanted others to do, as well as explore new options to existing routes. For example, I checked out an option to by-pass West Point. West Point is a great site to ride through, but getting there on Rt 9 isn’t my favorite. Another example is merging in roads from the NY Gran Fondo that allow us to get back into Harriman via an alternate route that doesn’t have us simply riding over the same route we have always ridden. That’s a win. On another ride we rode up the Jersey side of the Delaware out of the Water Gap, and returned on the Pennsylvania side. That was a completely awesome route, and I can’t wait to do it again.
Throughout most of the Summer the SFAC crowd was never at full steam. We were lucky enough to pick up a new guy in Adam Jones, a Welshman who lived in Rumson and worked at Goldman. A youngster, but not as young as he looks. I only rode once with Mike B all year, and Tom was out for a handful of rides. As said, he has a house project to go along with business travel, daughter tennis team, and his wife was suffering acute back issues. So it was mostly Tony and I and whoever else we could get to come out.
I made it out for some Saturday or Sunday Pronto rides, more than the previous year, but not as many as I had wished. On the home front I needed to support my own wife as she was diagnosed, yet again, with cancer. Treatment has been administered, and she is another wait and see mode.
In September I took my backpacking buddies on our fourth week long adventure in the wilderness known as The Eagle Cap Wilderness in NE Oregon. The Wallowa Mountains were a real eye opener to majestic beauty. Personally, I felt great the entire trip, though it did take a couple of days to get the legs acclimated, but after that, I could walk and walk. The cycling really shows itself when it comes to lung capacity and the ability to simply keep marching. My only physical issue was dry cracked feet, which I remedied using duct tape. It really is the wonder tape.
As I write this, I have been reasonably idle for some time. Not riding as much; haven’t been hiking in more than a month, and have been occupied with house chores. I did get a weekend backpacking trip in early this month in West Virginia, but that wasn’t enough to get me motivated to get back out there in the wee hours just yet.
As of this writing, I am still 59, and closing in on the last quarter of that cycle. Eventually I will get back on the bike, either riding the rollers, or I will get back to spin class. One way or the other, I plan on putting some miles in for another cycle around the sun.
November 28, 2018 § Leave a comment
Dan was offered a spot in this years adventure, but children. Well, child. Well, daughter getting married. That was a priority that we couldn’t work around, but like Mike Smith, we were able to get Dan to meet us in Joseph Thursday night, and spend car-camping time with us until we went into the woods Saturday morning. It should be noted here, and we were all very thankful, that Dan brought his Coleman camp stove, as well as a frying pan, and bacon, and eggs, and cheese, and wraps and a coffee pot and coffee, and he took care of us each morning. We mixed his breakfast with our breakfast on Friday, but we all pretty much sucked up to Dan for one of his bacon, egg and cheese wraps on Saturday. There was no better excellent way to start the day.
I first met Dan by way of Walt, when I finally accepted one of Walt’s many attempts to get me on one of his trips. By the time I had accepted, Walt was backpacking, and since I like backpacking, you would think I would have jumped on his bandwagon the first time he went into the Grand Canyon. I did not. Missing the first you might surmise that when he chose to enter it again, I would join him that time. I did not. It wasn’t until Walt said “Look, this is the last time I am going into that hole, and the last time I am going to invite you, so please come.” And so I did. Dan was a member of that crew along with Herb, and Scotty. We hiked in at Hermit’s Rest and out along the Bright Angel, and spent 3 lovely evenings on the Tonto Plateau. By the hike out, Dan had developed, not to plan, a pretty severe blister on his foot, requiring Dr. Everetts to intervene and repair Dan as best he could. To alleviate Dan’s climb out we all volunteered to carry some part of Dan’s gear to lighted his load. The reader may recall this trip was the inspiration for getting my own adventures together, which Eagle Cap is the fourth edition.
The following year I joined the same crew for a walk across the Zion Wilderness. Dan, was on this trip as well, and physically he fared a lot better than the previous year’s trip into the Canyon. In fact other than extreme heat, cold and wind, everyone handled Zion quite well and that was the last time I saw Dan until 3 weeks ago.
As I recall, Dan was working for Motorolla in Tampa, Fl when Walt was assigned to a project there, and Dan was his go-to Systems Engineer. This was back in the Cell Tower explosion of the late 90’s after Walt had transferred back to Motorolla when Iridium failed to catch on at its initial price point. Walt was installing city wi-fi and cellular, and Tampa was the current project. Let’s say the two of them hit it off nicely when Walt suggested they discuss some issues over a few beers instead of stale office air.
These two maintained their friendship beyond the Motorolla links and found themselves together on at least one of Walt’s week long canoe adventures. More than likely it was their John Day River adventure in Oregon. Dan, of Bend Oregon, would have found that a convenient trip to participate in. When Walt moved from the canoe to the trail and started multi-day trips into the wilderness, Dan was right there along for the adventure. I am sure that if Dan could have made it happen, he would have loved to accompany Walt when Walt went to the Himalayas, but for most of us mere mortals, getting three consecutive weeks off is a challenge beyond our capabilities. Even for a trip of a lifetime.
It was a great pleasure to have Dan meet up with us this year. If not for his daughter’s wedding, we could have enjoyed his company for the full 10 days, but as it was we got to share some time together. Let this be notice to you Dan, that you need to set 10 days aside in September 2020 for our trip into the Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado. I look forward to seeing you again.
October 3, 2018 § 11 Comments
My friend Chuck passed away the other day. I don’t have any real details about it, but Chuck was the same age as me, and though he wasn’t a physically active person, he got plenty of exercise raising and training Labradors. He ran a breeding business on the side called Gullwing Labradors, and has produced and trained many award winning dogs. He was excited about his dogs, and he brought that excitement into other peoples lives.
September 28, 2018 § Leave a comment
I am not sure of the date, but it must have been while I was still an under grad at Penn State. The trimester was coming to an end, finals were almost over, and my friend Chris was already spending the summer in Northern Virginia at Larry‘s house. We talked on the phone about me coming to visit before I went home myself, and how I would get there when Chris mentioned that Melanie, Larry’s girlfriend at the time had a brother at Penn State, Mike Smith, who had a care, and I could hitch a ride with Mike. I remember calling Mike that evening, and a low low low voice answered the phone and we went on to make plans to travel. Mike was an engineering major, Nuclear I believe which could only mean one thing. Two socially awkward human beings would be in that car going home.
September 28, 2018 § Leave a comment
Walt, as you may recall from this earlier profile on him, is my brother-in-law. I am fortunate that a man as busy as he is, can find, or make the time to be off the grid for an entire week. In a business where 24×7 problems can be escalated very easily to the director level, or at the vary least need to be socialized with the director, it’s hard to imagine that a) anyone else would want to step into that for a week, and b) the adrenaline rush of having to make those kinds of decisions all the time, can be hard thing to step aside from. To have a silent phone for an entire week. I would imagine there is a certain level of ghost alerts where a muscle twitch feels like a phone alert.
September 26, 2018 § Leave a comment
Larry and I have been backpacking for close to 30 years now. It is kind of a fog, the dates. It somewhat depends on what year my first Mill Trip was, because although I had met Larry a few times prior to that, it wasn’t until I started coming to The Mill that our friendship began to develop. I am going to say my first Mill trip was probably January 1987, and I must have attended a couple before I heard about the Winter backpacking weekends. Like I said, that was a long time ago, and many trips later, as well as many Mill trips later Larry is one of my go-to friends. As Walt would call him, a pall bearer, though I plan on cremation, but pall bearer it is.
September 26, 2018 § Leave a comment
This installment concerns Mike Barris, who has attended all my trips except the High Uintas. I profiled him two years ago, and something I left out of that narrative was that Mike returned from that trip not feeling well, and then proceeded to get pretty sick with Bronchitis. I think it took a long time to get on the good side of that, and it left Mike wary of further trips.