Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bonding

Over the weekend it was just me and the boy.  The little lady took off to Buffalo to hang out with her family so that left Lunchbox and I on our own.  Like we usually do when we have the time (he’s a busy teenager these days), we made plans to hang out somewhere.  We decided on a trip to the (almost) hills to ride.  He’d heard me talking about Lake James State Park and how fun it was so he wanted to go.  We loaded up our bikes in the morning and rolled out.

When we got there it was already really hot.  We changed our clothes and hit the trail and it felt like a sauna.  I’ve been in swamps that didn’t feel that muggy.  Still, it was fun.



Lunchbox enjoyed it too. 

The ride was awesome but since we were so hot when we finished we sat in the shade for a while to cool off.  When I asked Lunchbox what else he wanted to do he said “Mountains.”  I understood, so we drove over to Mount Mitchell State Park.  Even though at 6,684 feet it’s the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi River, you can drive almost all the way to the top.  A short hike up a paved path later, you’re at the summit.  We loved the views.







Recovered from our ride, we decided a hike was in order.  We took off on a trail that the touristy type folks were shying away from for some reason.  



Some of the rocks and junk were pretty cool, and some of it reminded me of the Forest Moon of Endor.





We weren’t done sightseeing though.  Since we originally hail from flat as hell Florida, we decided to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a while to check out some more incredible views.






It was an awesome day of father and son time.  It was the kid’s 18th birthday too, and he made it memorable for both of us.


Damn I love living in North Carolina.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

It’s My Friday

I’m off tomorrow, kicking off a much needed four day weekend.  Even though I don’t plan on this being a typical “Fun Friday” type post, it’s probably still gonna be a little short.  You may ask, do you have any big plans for this weekend?

Um, sorta.

I’m hoping to get out and ride somewhere, preferably out of town.  I have some non bike related things to do tomorrow, and the weekend could end up being rainy.  I really don’t want to sit around like I did last weekend…

organizing my bike room.

That may sound exciting, except when you see that I just went though my beer bottle cap collection:

I like beer...a lot.  And before you ask, they have been spoken for.

Or finally hung some race numbers up on the wall (along with a sweet new poster I got from Niner)



It’s not all about me though.  There’s a much more important occasion coming up than me trying to get in a bike ride somewhere.  I’ll give you a hint:



Recognize that little guy?  Are you sure?  Look again.

That’s Lunchbox.  He was three years old in that photo and that was right after he got his first bike.  He's been riding for a while now.  



The reason for the throwback is that my little fella is all grown up now, since Sunday will be his 18th birthday.

Yup, he’s finally gonna be a man (legally anyway.)

Wow.  Time has gone by.  Since he’s still finishing up his last year of high school he’s not going anywhere for a while, but before I know it he’ll be out making his own adventures in life.  He’s been by my side for the last (almost) eighteen years, and I’m really proud of the man he’s becoming.  A lot of you know him in person, and a few have been there to see him grow from that tiny little fella into a giant man-child.

He’s a great kid though.  

So yeah, this weekend’s most important activity will be the celebration of my little boy growing up.  

Man, I feel old now.

See y’all next Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Old Man That's My Jam

So, I did have a little fun last weekend.  Soul Ride Skatepark, located in nearby Concord, hosted an “Old Man Jam” last Friday night.  It’s basically a skate session for us old guys over thirty that don’t want to deal with crowds and little kids laughing at our old, decrepit asses.  The only problem?  It didn’t start until 10 p.m.  That’s a little late for us old guys but it didn’t matter.  I was happy to dust off my skateboard.



It’s been quite a while since I skated at Soul Ride.  I’ve pushed around on my board here and there but it’s not the same.  Skating in the streets is fun and all that, but not I prefer parks. 

And this place has a lot of fun shit.





Joining me for the evening was my buddy Mark (and his better half Sandy to watch us act like fools.)  Mark hadn’t skated in a long time, but it didn’t take him long to get back into it.



That little ramp was so fun.  He thought so too, and skated it quite a bit.



I had fun on it too, but once I got my skater legs back I went for the bigger ramp.



I still have it.  Whatever “it” is.

Man, that was a fun night.  Since we were a bunch of old guys though, we didn’t make the whole three hours.  We stayed until about midnight, at which time I was too sleepy to be safe out there.  Hopefully they’ll do another Old Man Jam soon.  I’ll be back for sure.  I’d forgotten how rad four little tiny wheels can be.

Perhaps skateboarding will be a bigger part of my free time from now on.  You know, as long as I don’t have to stay out too late doing it.

Besides, there’s all kinds of cool shit out there these days that make it even more rad.




Han shot (and skated) first.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Little Busy

I wasn’t here yesterday.  You may or may not have noticed.  I had something a little more important to take care of.



Our oldest cat (nicknamed “Fat Kitty”) had to go to the vet yesterday.  Since I had to drop her off early and wait at the office for a bit, it cut into my blogging time.  I didn’t mind, since I do kinda sorta have a heart.  This cat is pretty special, and she’s really old.  She hasn’t been doing so well lately.

Her eyesight is gone.  We noticed that she was acting clumsy, and just chalked it up to being old.  She has also lost quite a bit of weight over the last year or so, dropping down to ten pounds from a tubby twenty five.  Again, we thought maybe she’s just getting old.  I think we figured that she’s about fifteen, which is way up there for any cat. 

The diagnosis wasn’t great.  She has a heart murmur, a hemorrhage in one eye and a torn retina in the other.  Her kidney function is bad too.  We might be able to help her a little with a change in diet, but we won’t know everything until the blood work comes back. 

Poor kitty.



She’s been in my life for the last eight years.  Little Miss Sunshine got her a few years before we met, but since I met her, I’ve been really attached.  She took to me immediately (the first time I went over to visit), and we’ve been really close since. 

I know it’s just a cat, but she’s pretty awesome.  She loves to lay on your chest and snuggle, which with the “I don’t give a shit about you attitude” of cats is pretty special.  I hate to think about losing her, but that’s a real possibility these days.  Hopefully she can hang on and live a quality life for a little while longer.  She seems to get around just fine despite her blindness, and even though she has some old lady problems she’s pretty happy.

I’ll get back to my regularly scheduled nonsense tomorrow.  This is weighing on my mind so I had to talk about it.


See y’all in the morning.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fun Friday

This week took forever, didn’t it?  Well, here we are for another Fun Friday.  I’m doing something a little different this weekend.  I’m going skateboarding.


It’s been way too long.  I’m kinda excited.

Anyway, you came here for fun (and sometimes funny), so here’s something that you can laugh at for the whole weekend.




I have no idea but it’s funny.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Maybe

I’ve been thinking about a lot of stuff lately.  Sure, you’ve heard me complain (multiple times even) that my job has been stressing me out.  I think I’ve been letting it get to me too much.  It’s gotten to the point that sometimes I don’t even want to get on my bike and ride.  Since bike riding (and a little guitar playing) is all that keeps me from getting stressed out, I’ve entered into some kind of vicious circle from which there is no escape.

Until now.

I realized that I don’t need this shit.  The feelers are out there for a different employer, but in the meantime I can’t let my situation keep me from doing the things that keep me sane.  I enjoy riding bicycles.  All kinds, too.  Off road, road, cruising, whatever, it seems like the thing I love the most is probably the thing I should do the most.  Makes sense, right?  I thought maybe that it was the racing that made me want to spend less time on the bike but I know now that I was wrong.  I actually kind of miss racing (yes, even cross country.)  It gave me goals, kept me ready for whatever event I felt like entering, and most importantly, it made me forget about everything else that goes on in real life.  Does that mean that I’m gonna start racing a lot more?

Maybe.  Possibly.  Depends on what’s out there I guess.  I think I’m already looking ahead to next “season”, and in the meantime I can use the rest of this year to start planning a little bit.  I may even spend a little more time on the road bike, as silly as that may sound.  The last few years have been tough, and I was quick to blame the one thing that was actually keeping me from going bat shit crazy.  I can’t do anything about the job thing right now, but everything else I can. 

So yeah, a few changes might be coming up.  I realize that I can be a little bit serious about this stuff and still have fun.  Everyone has setbacks, and those that succeed are the ones that are able to overcome them.  Does this mean that I might un-retire from cross country racing?  Probably.  That’s not the only thing, but it’s a start.  Also, I’ve been seriously looking at getting another dog.  While that may seem unrelated to riding my bike, it really isn’t.  Since I lost my Rottweiler a few years ago, I realized that I’ve been missing something.  I think it’s finally time to fill that void and make my life complete again.

Another thing that may not seem related (but it is) is my guitar adventures.  I’ve really enjoyed the progress I’ve made over the last year, and it’s amazing how much it parallels the bike stuff.  I’ve had to put in hours and hours to learn proper technique just to play a song or too, which is eerily similar to what you have to do to be a better rider.  It does keep me motivated, and I actually enjoy the hard work (as tedious as it is sometimes.)  I’ve also made a point to go out and watch other guitar players, which has helped me quite a bit.  The same thing applies to watching other people ride.

Weird, but it makes sense to me.

This is a long way to go to get to this, but over the weekend I went out to see another “cover band.”  Actually, two.  I’ve been doing that quite a bit lately, mostly for the need to see someone much more skilled than me (and also because I keep getting free tickets somehow.)  Saturday night after my adventure at Lake James State Park I went out to see “Slippery When Wet”, a Bon Jovi tribute band.  And before you say anything I already know I don’t like Bon Jovi.  I just wanted to see someone play music.

There was an opening act (as usual) which I enjoyed more than the main attraction.  Kick (the INXS Experience) took the stage first, and they were quite good.



I’ll admit it, I like INXS in high school.  Mostly because that’s what the girls listened to back then, which gave me an “in” I guess.  These guys were entertaining, which was a plus since I got in for free.  Don’t judge me.  Well, go ahead.  Who gives a shit.

Next up was the main event, and while they could play just fine I wasn’t really impressed.



I wanted to walked out since I really didn’t care for any of the songs they played, but I hung around just to watch the lead guitarist.  I got something out of it I suppose, but next time I may be a little choosier (is that even a word?) when it comes to these shows.  Just because I got a free ticket doesn’t mean I have to use it.

I know, I was all over the place today.  And that’s just how I feel.  I guess the point is that I’ll start worrying less about the things I can’t change, and focus on the things that make me happy.  Sounds easy, right?

I’m so glad that tomorrow is Fun Friday.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Almost The Hills

Back in town and done with my vacation, I was itching to ride some NC dirt.  With a free weekend in my sights, I opted to join a group ride to a trail I’d never been to before.  We were scheduled to visit Lake James State Park and I was pretty excited.  I’d heard about it from a few people that had been there, and going somewhere new intrigued me.  I got up early so I wouldn’t be late, made the hour and a half drive there, and waited.



I suck at selfies.  Or I am not impressed with them.  Or I have to poop.  Whatever.

I found out later that the group ride had been cancelled sometime during the night, but luckily I thought ahead so I wouldn’t be alone.  I texted the Dirty Party Cycle the night before and he was down.  He showed up a short while later, and with a map I printed off the website in hand we hit the trail.



If you’re local, the best way I can describe it is a cross between Lake Norman State Park and Warrior Creek.  It was fast, flowy, and not at all technical.  While I usually prefer the gnar shit, this was a nice change of pace.  We clocked in a little over fourteen miles of fun, fast, swoopy downhills with minimal climbing.  The DPC and I had a great time for sure.  Big shout out to the folks at the Northwest North Carolina Mountain Bike Alliance for one helluva job.  It’s nice to have a trail in the area out there.  And since it’s almost in the hills, the views can be quite nice in the park.



Hardly taxed from riding, we still needed beer and food.  In fact, the DPC was talking about where we’d go for brew during the first few miles of the ride.  What a good friend.  He suggested a local joint, Fonta Flora Brewery in nearby Morganton.

We walked in and felt immediately at home.



We bellied up to the bar and I ordered the hoppiest shit I could see, which was the Hop Beard Mountain Man IPA.  With such a manly sound, I was very hopeful.



Damn, that was good.  I enjoyed that for a bit but thirsted for more.  Next up was an IPA made with beets (yes, beets), which turned out to be pretty awesome.



Next up was a sample platter, or a “flight” for you fancy folks.



We’d ridden our bikes and had lots of good beer, so we figured we might ought to get some food.  Before I left I made sure to get something to go.



Hell yeah.

Next stop was a local Mexican place, which if you ride any sort of off road bicycle is mandatory.  I was hungry, and they obliged with a big plate of slop.



It was a good day.  Bikes, beer, and Mexican food.  I might have to say that the highlight of it all though was a local with a KISS tattoo on his arm.



Now I’ve seen it all.  Luckily I’d already eaten before I took that picture.  The Dirty Party Cycle was not so fortunate though.  He still had to finish his big ass drink.




It’s good to be back here in North Carolina.