Thursday, March 20, 2014

Drains - Wince and RePete

My buddy Pete comes back out for a drain tour with Deathrider [hungry-for-stink], The legend, myself and two other that don't have avatars. We bang around riding in the drains one cold ugly night back in November just a few days before my accident.
Drains are predominantly water and winter only slows the roll.
This is ground water that has infiltrated the side drain and pours in. It's almost clear, cold and without any odor.
  The farther up 'river' the less water.
 This is why we go. Its a subway, sans train... for miles and anything can be around the corner, but a  train.
 The Precast Round Pipe is not the coolest but then we don't pay for the skills of stone cutters only to cover it with dirt.

Just after this drain I have enough knee pain from a previous ride that I'm genuinely concerned that I'm never going to recover completely from the punishment I took on the Arrowhead. Now that it's been a few months and I did a 50 mile last week and the Almanzo 100 last spring that it's just a matter of training, we'll see.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wild Winter

Scooby dog is very excited to get snowshoeing. He has impeccable begging manners.

We are in Wild River State park around the middle of January during one of the small weather windows when it wasn't colder than deep space outside. We set up 'camp' and get for an evening hike. I'm recovering from busted ribs so I can't risk XC-Skiing just yet.

We are only at the park for one night so it's the standard, set up, campfire, dinner, sleep, hike, home.

Getting right to the hiking, the park has a well defined ski trails and just let you snowshoe anyplace so we do.

Gateway trail to the river
River is good but the ice scares one of us a little
We get cut off at the river and need to bushwhack to better ground

Out into the open prairie
This is nearing the end of about 4 hours of hiking,

She needs some hot cider to make the last 2 miles back to camp. 
That did it.
This was supposed to be one of many weekend trips but once it approaches zero it's just a bit too cold for the furnace to keep pace so we didn't make it back out until a scuba dive show in Chicago.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Cooke Out

Back when things were still green yet cold we took the RV to Jay Cooke for a weekend overnight. Forecast was for overnight lows below freezing but we only had time for a single overnight, meaning that if things went poorly we'd be leaving anyway.

Below is the visitor center just uphill of the falls and just downhill of the park entrance. It's really nice and if we didn't have a dog we would have hung out for a fire and snack, but we did, so we'll have the snack in situ when the moment feels right.

Just down from the visitor center is the main attraction. As a child I'm positive I was here but don't have any memory of it. Probably spent the whole time scrambling around too close to the water and scared the crap out of my parents. It wasn't my fault, I never did anything stupid outside of the time I fell in Bear Head lake 3 times before camp was even set up.
Personally, I think the geology is the most amazing part. <Warning: Science> The Precambrian Thomson Formation is located within Jay Cooke State Park. The formation is a layer of mud that was compressed and hardened into shale, then compressed further into slate, and finally folded. This formation is about two billion years old. <That wasn't so bad... Slate is very old mud.>

Scooby isn't being pampered per say, just behind me is several larger breed dogs and he was just too happy to play with them that he was being a distraction to everyone. He's not looking at me.

By the way, this bridge just opened after the massive flash flood and it's almost all new. The water was at the top of the stone pillars in the background!

Optional video below, 1 minute 37 seconds

Several miles and maybe 2 hours down the trail this bridge IS washed out so we do a barefoot crossing. I carry Scooby because it's maybe 45 degrees and he would have to swim the last few feet. K's toes go numb in the crossing. I make three trips and it's cold but not too bad for me. 

The cement bar is the last of the bridge. Lots of milled wood is about 100 feet downstream and crushed into a nasty tangle of trees, logs, flotsam and trash.

 Once we pass the creek it's only a mile or a bit more to the binoculars on the primitive map we have, indicating a worthy overlook. Look left... Look right... Yep, time for a snack.

Some tough as nails Boy Scout earning an Eagle Scout award organized this as a troupe project and we really enjoyed it. From the trampling and other 'indicators' aka redneck trash we think lots of hikers agree, but the guests need a lesson in picking up after themselves. The best I could tell it was snowmobile trash.  Do nothing but use a throttle and you don't respect the place as much.

 After everyone has a snack and some hot beverages it's a few miles to close the loop we started.

This was already our exit day. We arrived late the day before and had a camp fire and a quiet night reading. Once back at 'camp' we each get a hot lunch followed by a hot shower and I can't resist crawling into bed for a short nap before driving home. On the way out of the park we see this and I have to pull over for a hike around. 

Jay Cooke is amazing so I can see why it's overrun with people in the summer. As it was we almost had the place to ourselves. Of the few State Parks we've seen this is one of the best.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


— mul·ti·far·i·ous·ness noun : having or occurring in great variety (including breaking ribs)

This is three weekends of scuba ending in my accident.

Many many weeks ago we go to dive a lake off a point that is listed as public but when we get there we realize it's a camp of sorts. It use to be a scout camp or bible camp but now it's public and has almost no advertising. We see some locals walking around and after a short time we make friends with them as they could use the company. They tell us a little history about the camps and give us some local intel on the lake.

Right in the middle of camp is a ship's bell and I tried to find anything to indicate it's historical place in time but it's hopeless and the elderly couple didn't know anything about it. We rang it only once, softly. We wouldn't want to bring any bad luck or lost souls up from Davy Jones Locker just before a scuba dive.

We dove the small swimming beach and then across town to a boat ramp. I dive solo and get a little lost. My compass got damaged so I was navigating by feel and missed the turn by a long way. I didn't realize I had swam a huge arc so when I turned around I was actually swimming away from shore. After an hour I surface from less then 6 feet of water to find I'm on an island, about 1,500 feet from the boat ramp. I surface swim for a long, long time. My buddies are laughing most of the time.

A few weeks later we are in Eagan jumping a real chithole. Lake maps say it should be clear and it used to be very popular for swimming so we figure it's a treasure hunt. The ice is thin in the south and open water on the main lake so we dive and find it's custard. Visibility is less that 2 feet and it's butterscotch color is nasty below 30 feet. We give up on scuba and go play on the thin ice.

The ice is maybe 1.5 inches thick so you can break through but it's not easy. We are looking for something to dive on because we can see the bottom.

 The wind keeps some holes open so it's running and jumping for the next hour or more.

We are in drysuits and although it's cold water we overheat. The fastest way to cool off is to get on the ice and take a little nap.

This is about an inch of ice.

This is less than an inch.

A few weeks later we are out on Tonka doing about the same thing and this time I get stupid and run across some floating ice, fall and bust a bunch of ribs. I'm laid up for 6 weeks.

This is a good overview of us messing around before I go break myself on the hole I cut.

Monday, March 3, 2014


I'm so far behind in writing it's really hard to get back into but I really need too. I think the quality of the first few will suffer a bit because I don't have the focus to invest 4 to 6 hour for a single post that happen months ago. I'll add flashbacks, call them, Augmented Realities as a way to replace the human drama if I skip over something that augments the context of the current realities. 

Yep, same way they ended St. Elsewhere. The entire series was nothing but the imaginings of an autistic child. 

Or maybe your more comfortable with The Newhart's Dick Loudon waking up as Dr. Bob Hartley (Newhart's character from The Bob Newhart Show) 

So the Oopita Doopita as told by DeathRider and billed as "an anything goes bike race/ride" was the last post I dropped off at. I don't recall why. I did break some ribs but that wasn't until Thanksgiving, you recall turkey day. Wow, so it's March. That may have been a flashback....

We really need to give a ton of applause to the guys putting on the free races to basically give the finger to UCI and it's ridiculous fees and guilty looks about all the doping they allowed.

We start this ~75 mile ride on a cold morning with a late start and a lot of dancing around trying to stay warm. The crowd grows to maybe 100, I don't recall and it don't matter.

My good buddy Blake joins me for a semi-buddy ride. DeathRider is there for the start but he's to fast and crushes it with the cool kids off the front. I get the fever and lean into the gears as well. I lose Blake in traffic as I attack the pack and push myself to the front of the 2nd pack. I can see the leaders and know I'm going to crack but I stay on the nitros and burn the engines out trying to bridge the gap. I pull withing a few 100 yards and blow up in spectacular style. I need to regroup with Blake, take off an extra layer, cool down and lard some water. I'm roasted but it was totally worth it.

Blake and I reconnected and started talking about navigation. The navigation cards are weak and require some knowledge of the environment. We have that until 50+ miles in.

Rest stop about half way. This was when the fun ended and the wind killed us and navigation challenges killed the fun.

This is totally lost at maybe 45 miles. For the next hour we pick up lost riders dropped from faster teams. We are in the far west metro and none of us really know where we're going so we backtrack and struggle and it just kills the fun.


After a few more hours of hills and hard headwinds my knee is giving me all the pain I can to deal with if I have little to gain from it. I need to put down 20 more miles and then ride 20 miles home. Remember I got dropped off and the race ends in Minneapolis and I'm more Saint Paul. I leave the last of my buddies after we have snacks for my ride home. They finish around 7th place so maybe I should have held out and finished.

I ride to the train and jump on to save me many miles. Once off the train it's dark and I elect to call in a ride. My knee is a mess and I'm worried I went too far on it. I know now that it took three weeks to recover.  That ends the first running of the OOPITA DOOPITA.

Oh! Blake. He turned off about 2 hours before me. He had other plans and the time was running short so he bailed as soon as we figured out where we were and he knew a route home.