Empty.

Well, suddenly, I guess my Bucket List is empty. At least empty of the activities and adventures I wanted to accomplish before the inevitable march of time does its thing. Sure, there are still places I’d like to see, things I’d like to do, but nothing I’m going to regret not doing if my number gets called tomorrow. Of course, there are non-activities that I would like to accomplish, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that at this point, those things are…unlikely. That’s just something I’ll have to learn to accept.

Georgia Alabama State Line

So, the last bucket list item was like so many others: accomplished, but not the way I had hoped or expected. But accomplished, nonetheless. In this case, it was bicycling the entire 66-mile Chief Ladiga Trail, which completed my conquest of the Silver Comet Trail/Chief Ladiga Trail systems. Nearly 185 miles across Georgia and Alabama, spread over 4 rides. The Chief Ladiga ride took 2 days of riding, not to mention hours in the Jeep getting there and getting back. And, like so many of the other Bucket List Adventures, there was no brass band waiting at the end. It was just…done. And y’know, I don’t even really have much to say about it. I went, I rode, I tried to clear my head (which appears to have been wasted effort), came back to the same shitshow I left. Am I surprised? Not even a little bit.

Chief Ladiga Trail

This should have been a really big deal. Not that many people have biked the entire SCT/CLT, and it really takes a lot of deep digging to do it, even if it is spread over 4 rides (which, FYI, makes my average about 46.25 miles for each ride – do you know anyone that can ride 46 miles? Can you?). But I guess it wasn’t, and that was less about the ride, and more about the circumstances of the ride. Just like the recent Tail of the Dragon motorbike trip – I did it, I’m glad I did it, but it just wasn’t the way I hoped or expected it would be. That has been a recurring theme in my life over the past year or so.

So, I guess “done” will just have to do. I can’t see any reason I’ll ever go back, having done the complete trail system. Generally, once I scratch something off the list, I move on – but now, there’s nothing really to move on to. I do have one other thing I’ve been kicking around doing on the motorbike, and I might shoot for that this weekend, while I still can. Something dangerous (like most motorbike adventures), and something I definitely should NOT be doing alone, but hey, doing all these other things alone hasn’t killed me – there are plenty of other things trying to do that.

CLT

In any event, I’ve ridden the entire Silver Comet/Chief Ladiga Trail. Yay, me. No one really cares, but yay, me.

With that said, I feel like I kinda need to address something, since I probably won’t have much – if anything – to add here in the future, and the world is probably gonna end, anyway. I’ve made no secret about my opinion of how people are behaving during this whole pandemic. I stand by those statements. Furthermore, I would never, ever do something so careless, selfish and foolish that might jeopardize the health of people I care about. There was a concert I really wanted to go to last week, and another next month was just announced. Did I/will I? No. There have been people who’ve asked me to do things with them. Will I? No. I might do something if it was socially-distanced, and ONLY if I knew the health status of every single person involved (so, you can probably figure out the under/over on that). There’s too much on the line – those closest to me know what I’m referring to; the rest of you, trust me. And now, with things taking a turn for the (much) worse, this is even more important. So, I’m going to just settle in for a long winter by myself, just like last winter (although for different reasons). I spent the last Long, Lonely Winter doing stuff around the house, and there’s always house stuff to do. I’d also like to do some improvements in the barn, to see if I can squeeze 3 motorbikes in there (yeah, I came very, very close to buying another bike about 2 weeks ago – a pure dirt bike, because *cough* reasons. Found one I liked, went to look at it, had the cash in my hand, and [luckily] then backed out at the last second. Still doesn’t mean I won’t get a third bike at some point, though.). I’m sure I’ll find stuff to do to keep busy. Anyway, it’s better to be safe than dead (I think), and I’m not so selfish that I would even consider hurting anyone in my orbit. Or not in my orbit. Whether or not you believe me, those are the facts. The rest of you, go to Applebees or hang out with your friends or hook up or do whatever it is you think is more important than your health and the health of those around you. I have a completely clear conscious.

On a completely unrelated note, I was behind a young woman in the checkout line at WM the other day, and to make a long story short, she didn’t have enough money for her essentials and a bag of Halloween candy for (I assume) her kids. So, after giving it back to the cashier and completing her purchase, I asked her to wait a sec so I could pay for her candy. She cried. Now, I’m not telling you this to humblebrag (honest) – I was in kind of a dark place at the time (go figure), and I felt like I needed a little good karma. I know you’re wondering how that worked out for me – well, really, do you even need to ask? But you don’t do a good deed in hope of a reward, just like you don’t keep your promises in order to get a pat on the back. You do these things because they are the right things to do, and I do these things – good deeds, keep promises, stand up for the little guy – because contrary to some people’s opinions, I’m not an asshole. Imagine that.

Anyway, stay safe. I guess. Whatever. Meanwhile, Paul Young.



Link:
Chief Ladiga Trail Photo Album on Facebook

Super, Moist.

As is often the case for me, things didn’t exactly go as planned. I’m referring to my planned trip to bicycle the 66-mile Chief Ladiga Trail, to complete the entire Silver Comet system. What happened? Hurricane Delta, and about 4 inches of rain.

However, you’ll recall that last week, I made significant upgrades to the Kona, so I decided I had to go ride anyway, but just in-town. In the rain. Like a dummy.

Super Moist

So, I went to…the mall. This was actually a great place to ride – miles and miles of flat, plenty of places to “duck” into (pun explained momentarily) if it really started pouring, and I’m familiar with the area. Plus, right now, the mall doesn’t open until 11:00 AM, so I was able to start early and knock out a number of miles before traffic got heavy.

Hamilton Place MapThe Kona performed amazingly. The new Maxxis tires I installed last week did so well in the rain, and the handlebar riser completely changes my comfort level (and this is why I had to ride regardless of weather – I wanted to test everything before the Chief Ladiga trip). Those tires cost as much as car tires, but so worth it; super-grippy, but fast rolling. I also installed a rear light/reflector combo, which is pretty cool – no more attaching a rear light on my (new, replacement) tailbag; it’ll just always be there on the tailbag mount, and it doubles as a reflector for day riding. That’s some real Star Trek sh*t right there.

Anyway, 16 miles in and around the mall, and I finally got to visit Duck Donuts (pun explained), which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Made to order donuts? Count me in. Made other food stops, as well – not the best food-decision weekend. Worth it.

Next stop, the Chief Ladiga Trail, and riding all over central Alabama. Roald Amundsen said, “Adventure is just bad planning” – and while he knew what he was talking about, I think I’ve got the next adventure planned out pretty well.

Now, if you clicked on the map, you’ll see that my mapping software has changed. In their questionable wisdom, the people at Suunto have decided to kill off the awesome Movescount software I’ve gotten to know and love over the years, in favor of an app-based solution. Ugh. I’m still figuring out how to leverage it to suit my needs, but at least I was able to create a link to the map, even though it’s app-based. Now, I need to figure out how to let you lot see it in miles versus kilometers, as well as a few other things, but I’m working on that.

On an unrelated note, Delta knocked over a few trees over the weekend, and there was one in particular that was going to land squarely on my driveway. Nothing my trusty Jeep can’t handle.


Alabama, here I come. Hide your daughters.

Link:
Hamilton Place Photo Album on Facebook

And then, depression set in.

I really didn’t think this week, month, year, whatever could get any worse, and I didn’t think I personally could be any more depressed than I already was. But here we are.

RIP, Eddie. Condolences to Wolfgang, Alex, Janie, Valerie and the rest of the boys.


I’ve said it a dozen times – nothing in life is guaranteed, least of all, tomorrow. No one listens.

“Get yourself a partner that’ll slow dance to Van Halen with you.” – Paris Jackson

Comet…Slayer?

This weekend, a long-awaited return to the Silver Comet Trail. Something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and finally found the motivation to get off my ass and do it. Like the Dragon, it’s not an impromptu adventure – it’s 2.5 hours away, and the westbound segment I wanted to do is almost all remote; that is, if something goes wrong, or you get jumped by a bear or whatever, you’re on your own. There’s an urban area at the trailhead in Rockmart GA, and there’s Cedartown GA, at about the halfway point, but other than that, it’s just you and whatever you have with you.Silver Comet Trail
That said, I had no problems at all. Hit the trail right at sunrise, and powered through fairly easily to Cedartown (including the very aptly named Surprise Hill, which is a brutal hill that just keeps going). Past Cedartown, a pretty flat ride all the way to the Alabama state line, and the start of the Chief Ladiga Trail, which was my turnaround point. The ride back was also uneventful, and felt faster than the ride in, as return legs often are for me. At the end, exactly 50 miles, and completion of the entire SCT (and full disclosure, the actual out-and-back was only 47.5 miles, so I rode further east down the trail a little way when I got back to the Jeep so that I’d hit 50 miles on the dot when I was done). If you care, see the Movescount data right here.
Rockmart to Alabama
Next up, the Chief Ladiga Trail, maybe next weekend (weather permitting). It’s 33 miles from the Alabama state line to the end of the trail in Anniston, so 66 miles round trip, which might be a little ambitious, since I haven’t been riding much. I’ve done as much as 100 miles on the bike on one ride, but it’s been a minute, and my legs may not have 66 miles in them right now (and the trail distances don’t equate what I actually end up doing, with my propensity to explore side trails, towns, and whatever I stumble across). More likely, I’ll do Piedmont to the state line (about 20 miles r/t), then take a side trip on the Pinhoti Trail to stretch it into a 40-or-so-mile ride, then do Piedmont to Anniston later in the year, or if the weather looks good all weekend, I might just spend the night in Alabama and do the 2nd leg on Sunday. Additionally, there’s also the newest, still-under-construction segment, from Mile 0 in Smyrna, which leads into Atlanta – so, plenty to ride still. In preparation, I ordered some new Maxxis Rekon EXO 3C MaxxSpeed tires, as well as tubes, Presta aluminum valve covers and a stem extender so I can raise my handlebars up a little (the downside of being tall). I guess if it ends up raining this weekend, I know what I’ll be doing in the barn all day Saturday. Like riding a motorbike, knowing how to do “bike stuff” is a prerequisite if you’re serious about mountain biking or even road biking. Anyway, about $200 for tires & tubes, so not cheap at all, but these tires should make my ride much better.

And y’know, biking (and kayaking, hiking, motorbiking, etc) is a perfect activity for these times we live in. Natural social distancing – no close contact with anyone required, unlike some other activities. Seriously, after the events of the past week especially, anyone who gathers in a group of people – especially casual acquaintances or whatever – is a complete flippin’ moron, and whatever happens to you is entirely your own stupid, stupid fault. Or, as John Oliver said last night, “…the thing about a highly contagious virus is your recklessness could end up killing someone you never even meet.” Or, y’know, killing someone you have met. Maybe even someone you like. Or don’t like.

Whichever. Dead is still dead.

Link:
Silver Comet Trail Photo Album on Facebook

Dragon Slayer.

Welp, here we are, once more. It’s been a while since I added anything here, and – as usual – it’s been a tumultuous couple of months. Second verse, same as the first.

But there was Really Big News worth reporting, which is why I’m writing now. I’ve had a few adventures these past months; some good, some bad, some not worth thinking too much about. The Master Adventure Map is somewhat significantly updated, though. But the Really Big News is this: I finally rode the Tail of the Dragon.

Tail of the Dragon

And no, not just in the Jeep like I’ve done before. Although I did take the Jeep down the Dragon with the motorcycle in tow before making a run on the bike. I wanted the cool professional photos of the Jeep/trailer, but I also wanted to scout the road on 4 wheels before running it on 2, just so I’d have fresh in my mind anything I needed to be conscious of – potholes, oil, downed trees, etc.

Tail of the Dragon

Prior to the trip, significant work on the trailer was required. For one thing, since I lifted the Jeep last spring, I needed a new trailer hitch that dropped lower (so the trailer was level). And when I hooked it up, I found out that the lights were all squirrely. A real head-scratcher; they worked if the headlights were on, but the turn signals were backwards. They kinda worked on one side if the headlights were off. That kind of weirdness. To make a long story short, it was a combination of old bulbs in the trailer, and a short in the aftermarket LED bumper lights in the Jeep. A real pain to sort out single handedly, too – had to set up a mirror so I could see what the lights were doing when I hit the brakes and what-not. Have I mentioned I need a little helper? Feel free to drop me your resume and qualifications.

Tail of the Dragon

Anyway, after the test run in the cage, the real goal – getting out there on the motorbike. This is something I’ve been talking about for years (seriously), and it was exciting to finally be actually doing it, even if it was solo. For at least the past two years, I’ve been hoping to go, but something always got in the way – work, weather, mechanical stuff, life (ahem), but this time, the stars all lined up. Best of all, I didn’t die (OK, I guess that’s a matter of perspective). No real incidents of any kind. The run was fast and nice, and of course I mapped it using my fancy Suunto GPS watch – see the Movescount data right here. I started early enough that I missed the throng of afternoon riders (the road was just starting to get really crowded on my way back from the Deal’s Gap Motorcycle Resort), so I didn’t have to deal too much with the ricer racers or any of that. One of the best adventures I’ve had, and that’s saying something. There was so much about it that wasn’t the way I hoped or planned, but at least I can now say I did it. I guess I need to update the Motorcycle page now.

Tail of the Dragon

I had such a good time, I’m thinking seriously about going back up in the next couple of weeks with the BMW. The BMW is a fast bike, but I’m not sure how the off-road tires will handle those curves. I guess there’s one way to find out. However, before I do that, I have another pretty cool trip planned for the Bimmer, hopefully next weekend. Another one of those stupid, crazy, dangerous bucket list things – but hey, who wants to live forever? Not me, that’s for sure.

Lower Piney Falls Now, in addition to the Dragon, there have been other adventures in the kayak, on the motorbike, the mountain bike, and in the boots (including my new Merrell Moabs, because shoes). Worth mentioning, and in no particular order, a short but really awesome and challenging hike at Piney Falls (Movescount data) with its two waterfalls (that’s Lower Piney Falls in the photo at the left), kayaking at Mud Creek (Movescount data), Foshee Pass (Movescount data) and Watts Bar Lake (Movescount data), all of which have helped fill out the blueway portion of my master map. There was a return to mountain biking at Sterchi Farm (Movescount data) and a long-wanted bucket list MTB ride at the Chickamauga Battlefield (Movescount data). A whole bunch of random hikes, walks and treks in town and out, including a bucket list visit to Twin Arches (Movescount data), and a sentimental visit to historic Rugby (Movescount data). Several dual-sport rides in the woods on the BMW, including a return to Insurance Bluffs (Movescount data). Even got the Jeep in on the action a few times. Just lots of activities, and hey, only a few significant injuries, none of which were especially life-threatening (although with some of the things I’ve done lately, I’m really, really tempting the gods of broken bones and death by adventure).

Silver Comet Trail

But I’m not done yet. In the planning stages for the next good weekend is a return to the Silver Comet Trail. I never really talked about my last trip there, but it went kinda south and almost ended badly (Movescount data), in no small part because I was, as usual, alone. Doesn’t matter now, but luckily at the time I had a guardian angel get me back to the trailhead before I died to death. Anyway, the trip I’m planning now is going to be headed west, to complete the remainder of the entire SCT. By my math, it’ll be about 50 miles round-trip, and since I won’t be doing it in August like last year, I should be able to scratch this off the ever-shrinking bucket list. I’m pretty excited about it – watch this space.

Clean Deck!

There’s always other projects, too. Pressure-washed the deck (after cleaning the rest of the gunk out of the pressure washer carb – again). Planted some bamboo for what I intend to be an entire grove next spring. Ordered some pink pampas grass to put around the deck. Put pavers at the bottom of the steps on the deck that I built last spring. Installed an awesome Alexa-enabled smart ceiling fan in my bedroom, along with some new Alexa-enabled bulbs (I had bought all this for a different project, but welcome to my world). I like projects/cleaning/etc, and I’m good at that kind of thing – and one thing is for certain, no one can ever accuse me of being a slob. One day this week, I’m going to replace the bottom of the vanity in my bathroom. I did the kitchen over the winter, and the other bathroom vanity a couple years ago. It needs it – over the years, the particle board gets wet and sags and stuff, so I’m going to replace it with plywood I was saving for another similar project that I’m not doing now. The kitchen turned out really nice; I’m sure my bathroom will, as well (and again, I could use a little helper). After that, I’m thinking of ripping up the carpet in the bedroom and replacing it with hardwood – I’ve already got my square footages, and I think I’ve found a wood that I like. Additionally, the 4 inches of rain we got last week showed me that the leaky roof I mended in my garage is actually properly repaired – you don’t screw with a leaky roof, unless you want mold and a desire to gut the entire ceiling. I guess I can indeed fix anything – one of only two things I’m evidently useful for.

On the COVID front, no socializing to speak of – no trips to the mall, concerts, movies or anything like that (but the drive-in closes soon, so I still might make a trip there), and certainly no slinging my DNA around in a group of people, because I’m not a f*cking moron (Addendum, October 2nd: Today has clearly shown us that if you’re stupid enough to willingly and eagerly go somewhere – anywhere – in a group of people that you have no idea the health status of – mask or no mask – then you deserve exactly what you f*cking get. Do your thing, Darwin.). I’m keeping a low profile and staying safe, I guess. Not sure exactly why, but here I sit. Oh, and right as I was updating this, I got some *cough* new footage on my Ring camera network. That’s the whole reason I installed the things. My private YT channel is…something. Ask me for a link. Some real fremdschämen, that’s for true. With Prime Day coming up, I’m going to add a couple more cameras, just…because.

Tomorrow, I have to change the combinations to all my locks and stuff, because of course I do.

Did I mention I rode the Tail of the Dragon? And didn’t die? Sorry, maybe next time.


Links:
Piney Falls Photo Album on Facebook
Tail of the Dragon Professional Photo Album on Facebook
Tail of the Dragon Personal Photo Album on Facebook
Chickamauga Battlefield Mountain Biking Photo Album on Facebook
Twin Arches, Hazard Cave, Historic Rugby and Foshee Pass Photo Album on Facebook

Cast, Away.

Buckle up, I’m feeling chatty. I should – I mean, it’s been months since I’ve written anything here. With the current global shitshow, I just haven’t really felt like it, plus, my adventures have been somewhat limited, therefore, not much to say. So, let’s start with the state of the world.

Are you people insane, or just stupid? I have learned alot about people these past three months (well, really, the past year, but that’s another story for later), and I guess the big takeaway is that, by and large, people are indeed selfish, self-centered and just dumb. Evil? Maybe. Horrible? Absolutely. Choose your adjective. Really, is going to Applebees or hanging out with your friends that important? Important enough that you’d put your family or your loved ones at risk of actual sickness and/or death (not to mention yourself – but hey, if you want to kill yourself, I guess that’s your business)? I mean, for realsies – I’m appalled at the behavior I’ve seen. Appalled and profoundly disappointed. I’ve been doing my part as best as I can, but some of you – sheesh, karma is going to smack you right in the ass. Do your good work, Darwin. But at least you get to hang out with your pals, right? Inconsiderate, arrogant asshats, the lot of you. You deserve exactly what you get.

Moving on.

Run, fat boy, run.

I whipped out my credit card this morning to order a treadmill. I’ve only been going to the gym very, very sporadically (maybe 6 or 8 times in 3 months), and only in the middle of the night when no one is there (and wearing the Speedo last weekend made it clear that I need to be going more)(much, much more). It’s just not safe, though – between the pandemic, the assorted weirdos out in the middle of the night, and the occasional high-speed car chases, I just don’t enjoy it as much as I used to. So, it’s been more of the Bowflex Max and SelectTech weights at home, but I want to add a Bowflex treadmill; specifically, the BXT216. Therefore, it’s out of stock, because of course it is – but I’m on the waiting list.

I finally painted the barn, too.

Speaking of whipping out the credit card, more Jeep stuff. I found out the skid plates I had been toying with adding to the Adventure Buggy have been discontinued and were getting harder to find, so I went ahead and ordered them all – the two underbody ones, and the fuel tank one, which was two pieces (and these were/are to supplement the two front plates I installed back in March). I installed them last week (by myself, natch, as usual – I really need a dependable helper; the operative word being “dependable“), with no major screw-ups, but it was a chore – hence the need for an occasional helper. I also got the 3 Cherokee-specific storage bags for the cargo area storage system that’s built-in to the back of the Jeep. Expensive, but nice. So, the Jeep is just about done, although I may go ahead and order a set of rock sliders – what’s another $1000 in the scheme of things?

If the question is, ‘How goofy can you look?’, well, here’s the answer. This was on an island in the middle of Rhea Springs.

Now, adventures. I’ve had a few decent ones (and a couple of crappy ones). My kayaking trips have been pretty good, and I’ve filled in spots on my map (and speaking of the Master Adventure Map, I’ve had to significantly expand the area covered as I’ve moved farther and farther away from home base – check it out). Two great trips to Dallas Bay/Lake Chickamauga (Movescount 1, Movescount 2) and an amazing trip exploring islands in Rhea Springs (Movescount). Still lots to explore around Rhea Springs, including going through the locks at Watts Bar – I think I’ll be going back there for a little while (time permitting).

I also have something super-exciting penciled in for this weekend in that vicinity. Watch this space to see just how cool I can be. Or dead, depending on how it goes. Nah, cool. I know my way around…stuff.

Bald River Falls (left) and Ozone Falls (right)

Anyway, there were some bucket list waterfall adventures, which were primarily Jeep/motorcycle road trips combined with a little hiking, a little climbing, a little you-get-the-idea. Bald River Falls (Movescount) and Ozone Falls (Movescount) were both amazing. Not a great deal of hiking to get to either one, but definitely worth the drive. Coming up, a trip to Twin Arches, which is supposed to be spectacular. Maybe a day trip, or I might take my camping gear and make it an overnighter. Regardless, nothing like a little holoholo ka’a.

There’s been a few other things over the past months – a nice bike ride on the Riverwalk (Movescount), a little roundball, several motorbike trips (on and off-road). I guess I haven’t mentioned it, but I also replaced my trusty Suunto Ambit 3 Peak with a new Suunto Spartan Baro. It’s an amazing piece of tech, and because it’s newer than the Ambit, it integrates better with my iPhone, has a better battery life, has a touchscreen, and many other cool features. Pricey, but oh-so worth it. Tracking/mapping my adventures is important to me; I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of treks, and it’s nice to be able to refer back to a specific adventure to answer questions for others, or to remember certain details like trailheads, put-ins, campsites and so on. The Suunto watch(es) have probably been the best investment I’ve made in my go-go-go Dangerboy lifestyle. I’ve never had to use it to get un-lost, but you never know.

Say ‘Cheese’.

Oh, and that’s not the only shopping. A couple months ago, I (seriously) splurged on a new camera. A Canon EOS T7i, to be specific. And not just the camera, but a massive EF 70-200mm zoom lens, extra batteries, a tripod that doubles as a hiking stick, and some other gear. There are reasons I’m not gonna get into, but the thing is seriously awesome, and I’ve only scratched the surface of what it can do. The above photo of Bald River Falls was taken with it, and there will be much more to come. Of course, it’s gonna go with me to the Dragon in a couple weeks. Watch this space.

Want. This. This color, these wheels, this everything. 115 horsepower of bliss.

I came very close to buying my dream bike, as well. Got a line on one exactly like I wanted, pretty good price, low miles – almost sounded too good to be true. Turned out, it was. It had a salvage title (meaning it had been wrecked, totalled by the insurance company, then repaired by some yahoo), making it pretty much worthless. Even a 10 grand Harley with a salvage title isn’t worth having, and I’d never be stupid enough to throw that much money at something I’d never be able to recoup. I’m not dying to have a new bike – I love mine, and it’s taken me years to get it where I want it. However, I’m not riding the BMW much, so I’ve been thinking about letting it go so I can justify a V-Rod (the pictured Harley). The V-Rod was never really popular amongst the Harley crowd (probably why I like it), and it was discontinued a couple years back. Not too difficult to find with a proper title; I guess if I’m serious about it, I need to start shopping the BMW around first. The BMW is an awesome bike, but you can only ride around in the woods so much (it’s street legal, but on the street, Thing 1 is the bike to ride). We’ll see.

Addendum: I just now took the BMW out for a very quick ride, since I tightened up the chain and lubed it (yeah, kids, if you own a motorbike, you need to know how to tend to it). So, who am I kidding? That thing is awesome. It’s fast, capable, and I’ve spent a ton of money getting it where I want it. New off-road tires, crash bars, aux lighting, tail rack and bag, headlight guard, better pegs, tank pad – I’ve spent a decent amount making it a great off-road machine, and that authentic BMW stuff isn’t cheap. Maybe I’ll just be a guy with 3 motorbikes. Why not, right? Can’t take that fat cash with you, after all.

Plus, chick magnet.

Nonetheless, that reminds me, I need to order a new helmet. I ordered a comms system that’s compatible with my Bluetooth helmet so I could communicate with a passenger without yelling over my shoulder, but it eventually came back as “no longer available”. So, I think I’m just gonna order an entire helmet with the comms built-in. Less complicated than those janky, stick-on affairs, and you never know when I’ll have a rear seat cover that I actually want to talk to (and sorry if your retinas just detached from rolling your eyes so hard).

Lastly, I’m a little annoyed (I know what you’re thinking: “You’re not a little anything.”). I was watching one of my favorite films for what turned out to be the last time, because reasons. Cast Away. What an awesome film. However, the more I started to think about it, the more annoyed it made me. Not the film itself, mind you. It was Chuck’s significant other (who shall remain nameless; also reasons). Chuck, our hero, was on the island for 4 years – and if it had been me, I would have been happy to just stay there. Anyway, in that time, his fiancee – love of his life, and allegedly vice-versa – married her dentist, and had a kid with said dentist that was a toddler by the time Chuck was rescued; again, after only 4 years. So, that means she waited, what, 6 whole months before she was doing the Horizontal Monster Mash with Big from Sex and the City? I feel you, Chuck. People suck. People really, really suck. So, for future reference, if you’re my significant other, and your FedEx plane crashes in the South Pacific, I’ll wait for you as long as it takes. Forever, even. And screw you, Ms. Frears – you suck. You’re probably one of those aforementioned people that just must go hang out with your friends right at the peak of a global pandemic with no regard for anyone or anything besides yourself.

Still, I’m bummed that I’ll never watch that film again. What’s next, my other favorite film? That one is a little hard to watch, also. Too much infidelity and stuff. And seriously, who the hell cheats on George Clooney? I wouldn’t – if he’d ever answer my letters, that is. But in all seriousness, I feel for Matt King as much as I do for Chuck Noland. Sure, it’s fiction – but I know what I’m talking about. I coulda been in either of those. Well, if I wasn’t so ugly. Furthermore, because I’m stupid, I had to watch the trailer, and now I’m sad. My usual condition.

George Clooney in The Descendants

All that babbling aside, I do still love you, Helen Hunt. No hard feelings. And Wilson – you’ll always rock. Maybe things will get better, and I’ll see you again someday.

Wilson the Volleyball from Cast Away

It’s the End of the World Yadda Yadda.

Well, maybe, anyway. Who knows? But I’m not gonna dwell on that right now – I’ll just say that I hope all my people are well, and doing what they should be doing. Specifically, keeping your DNA to yourself. Of course, if you’re one of those people who’s always out there slinging your DNA around anyway, me telling you to cut it out isn’t going to make any difference (trust me, I’ve been down that road before it was the end of the world). So, you know, whatever. Gross.

Moving on.

Jeep Cherokee Tow Hooks

I have been keeping busy. Back in February, you’ll recall I ordered skid plates and tow hooks for the Jeep. Well, they finally showed up, and then I finally had time to actually install them. Let me tell you, that was a chore. Had to take apart the entire front-end of the Jeep, and had to deal with the inevitable unforeseen issues that always pop up. Especially difficult to do single-handedly. Well, not difficult, exactly, but time-consuming. Crawling under the Jeep, realizing I needed a different tool, crawling back out, blah blah. I could use a little helper. Regardless, I got it done, and I’m pleased with the results. I’d like to get the remaining skid plates for the chassis and gas tank, but that will have to wait until this uncertainty is past. I’ve spent probably $1000 on groceries and supplies in the past 10 days, and that’s a better use of my money right now (and for what it’s worth, I’m stocked up for at least the next 3 months, if it comes down to that).

Raccoon Mountain

Obviously, under current circumstances, there hasn’t been much adventuring, but I did decide to get out on the mountain bike for a little bit. That and kayaking are reasonably safe pursuits, because there’s no close contact with other people (and none of the aforementioned slinging of DNA). So, I went back up to Raccoon Mountain and rode around up there – not too much; I have to get my bike legs back in shape, since all I’ve been doing for the past year is hiking (mostly). I guess hiking season is done, though, so now it’s going to just be cycling and kayaking (plus riding the motorbikes, natch). I didn’t really hit the actual MTB trails too much; this was mostly a pavement ride, just to get back into the swing. That’s probably going to be how I spend the next several weekends until it gets a little warmer. Still, nice to get out of the house, and it’s been almost 3 years since the last time I rode RM, so going back was a nice diversion from the global shitshow.

Raccoon Mountain Map

I’ll probably hop on the Kestrel this week. I put new tires on it over the winter, and haven’t been on it since. I’ve come up with a few interesting places to ride besides the typical Riverwalk, so in the interest of keeping things fresh, I’m gonna go explore. Everybody has to be somewhere, right?

Well, Blow Me Down. Or Up. Whichever.

So, to get right to it, a tire blew up in my pretty, pretty face, and it was more unpleasant than that sentence sounds. I’m telling you this so if you see me in the real world – which, in itself is unlikely – please ignore the cuts and abrasions and stuff on my face.

To make a long stupid story short but still stupid, I’ve been working on my big driveway gate, because reasons. Ugh. Anyway, the thing has two wheels, like wheelbarrow wheel-size that it uses to roll across the driveway when it’s closing. Those tires needed to be inflated and you can see where this is going, right? So, my face, maybe a foot away from a tire filled with nasty-ass water, and unbeknownst to me, dryrotted. Trust me, it’s beknownst to me now. When I started inflating it, it exploded, giving me a face, eyes and mouthful of shrapnel and the aforementioned nasty-ass water – all under high pressure. I’m sure that watching blinded-me trying to drive the tractor back up the driveway to take a Chernobyl-like shower was entertaining to my neighbors.

Anyway, mending the gate. And putting up the pictured “No Trespassing” signs, because lawyers said that’s what I should do. Did I say “because reasons” already? Because. Reasons. I’ve spent no small fortune in Ring cameras, motion-sensing flood lights and stupid signs. This is what my life has become. I will say this, though – dear eight pound, six ounce newborn baby Jesus, thank you for inventing the Garmin dashcam. Next, I need to talk to John Frankenheimer. Wait, he’s dead? OK, Hal Needham. He’s dead, too? Frick.

I guess it hasn’t been all bad, though. Mostly, but not all. I did have a nice bonfire in the backyard, where I not only got rid of downed brush, but I also danced around naked in hopes of changing my fortunes. Spoiler alert: didn’t work. Obviously.

There’s been a little adventure. A return trip to Sewanee, and the Templeton Library, Natural Bridge, Green’s View and other points. That’s always a nice drive, and one of my favorite get-out-of-town road trips. Surprisingly, a lot to see and do for such a small town. Plus, coeds. Hello, ladies.

And speaking of aimless driving in the Wee Small Hours, Lookout Mountain. A great place to just go wander and clear the ol’ squirrel factory when sitting at home for another day is too depressing to think about. Plus, they have a Starbucks. OK, there’s more than Starbucks, but that’s a big friggin’ bonus. Especially one that I can relax at in peace.

In other news, the skid plates for the Jeep will be here tomorrow, and the front tow hooks are shipping today – but that means I doubt they’ll be here in time for me to tinker over the weekend. No matter; I honestly don’t think I can be trapped in the house this weekend. I need to be away. Far, far away. So, that’ll just have to wait until another weekend; not too long, though – the Dragon is officially open for the season, and I need to be there.

Did I say “ugh” already? OK, I stand by it.

Passion & Warfare.

Van Halen may have been Hot For Teacher first, but Little Stevie Vai did it better. This was always a favorite – both the song and the video – and I’m glad it finally showed up on the YT.


That Steve Vai, what a nice little boy.

This weekend, chores. Spring cleaning. Something. Trees to prune, scrap lumber to gather (from the steps project), and tinkering. Had to get the old tractor running so I can get rid of it (I bought a new tractor last summer; and had to take the mounting brackets for the bulldozer blade off the old one to put on the new one, and just finally got around to that). Cleaned out the garage a little, straightened up the barn, blah blah. It’s always something, and now I have a big pile of brush in my firepit to burn. Need to get some marshmallows.


But Sunday, a little leisure time. A visit to Blowing Wind Falls on the Ritchie Hollow Trail (Movescount data) – I haven’t been here in forever, and I wanted to get the Jeep and its new shoes in the woods; that, and I’m scouting places to camp as soon as Mother Nature settles down. Anyway, something new at the falls – scaled the bluff face adjacent to the falls to explore a cave (yeah, I know, shut up). Somewhat dangerous, but you know me. The view was worth it, at least.

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The Jeep did well in the mud and dirt and whatnot, but I really didn’t push it much. The front tow hooks and the skid plates I ordered should be here in the next week or so; once I get those, then I can see what the Buggy can really do in the woods. Still, just driving around in the forest is nice, even if it’s on the less-than-challenging roads.

Additionally, I had to discharge my responsibilities and put up a new flag at the cemetery. I installed a 30′ pole there years ago, so I periodically have to replace the flag. It’s pretty deep in the woods, but right on the main trail, so people do see it. Next, I need to replace the pole itself – it’s starting to show its age.

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Following the hike to Blowing Wind Falls, a required stop at Snooper’s Rock, and the work at the cemetery, a side hike to the Indian Rock House on the Cumberland Trail. It’s an easy hike; only about 1.5 miles round trip. This place has a little significance to me – when I first started hiking, this was one of my go-to spots to train. It’s not extremely difficult, although the last little bit through the “fat man squeeze” is somewhat challenging (and surprisingly, I fit). Because I was doing different things, I decided to scale the bluff to get back to the top, versus just going up the steps. No major screw ups (obviously).

Following that, the last stop was at Middle Creek. The last time I was here was kinda a train wreck, so it was nice to come back and enjoy the triple waterfall and other features. My intention is to boulder all the way to the top of the mountain, and after the limited bouldering I did here to get to the falls, it’s clear I need more leg days at the gym. Bouldering to the top is going to be incredibly dangerous, and if I’m going to attempt it, I need to do it soon, before Mother Nature unleashes the rattlesnakes and copperheads. Fingers crossed.

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So, I guess all things being equal, not a terrible weekend. But I’m ready for warmer weather. I need some motorcycle time, as well as some kayaking time. Soon. I’ve got my eye on you, Mother Nature.

Yesterday Was a Good Day.

A very good day, in fact. Today – Saturday – not so much. But I’ll power through it like I always do. Like I’m always forced to. And do you know what helps?

Journey. Journey helps. One of the few bands I’ve never seen (ditto Pretenders), and all it took was a tiny prod to give Ticketmaster and the boys (and Chrissie) 300 of my American dollars. So, assuming I don’t step in front of a bus before August, there’s that. That’s so far away, I can’t even think about it right now. Nonetheless, as it is written in the Albums, Departure 1:1 – Any way you want it, that’s the way you need it. Devotional meditation: Do I love to move? Do I love to groove? Do I love the lovin’ things?

What I can think about is my deck project. So, after driving around all night (again, which is a story of its own – let’s just say I’ve seen some sh*t; and over the past 9 months or so, I’ve logged a stunning amount of time just driving around aimlessly in the Wee Small Hours), I finally made it to the hardware store to get the lumber to finish up the steps. I’ve been wanting to get on this for weeks, but life kinda gets in the way of projects sometimes. But, now, done. Well, mostly done, anyway – I need enough lumber for a couple more steps and the banister. I’ll probably pick that up tomorrow, after a road trip, or Monday, after my home-away-from home time. (Monday addendum: except for a little sanding, the steps are done. So, would-be burglars, murderers, stalkers, whatever, you’re welcome for the much easier access – but be sure and smile for the camera.)

Steps are challenging. Lots of math and geometry, and very little margin for error. But I did it, without a single screw-up, nor a drop of blood spilled. Now, after, that’s another story – inexplicably, I got a really bad nosebleed. No idea why. Probably stress. Maybe it’s a tumor. Anyway, if I can build steps on less than an hour sleep, image the projects I could accomplish if I was well rested? I had debated hiring someone to do this, but why pay someone to do something I can do (probably better)? You just wind up with a shady contractor that does a half-assed job and it becomes a hassle. Do it right, do it yourself. Like me. Use your whole ass.

Now I just need to get my mighty pressure washer out and clean the deck. It’s always something, right? Right. Speaking of, I’ve ordered new sinks and faucets for my bathroom. No one sees it but me, but I still want it to be nice. Can’t stand a sloppy bathroom (or a sloppy house in general – I’m somewhat fastidious about my cleaning). I mean, come on. One thing I’ll never be accused of is being a slob.

Of course, I will pay my guy to work on the Jeep. Not because I can’t do it, but because I don’t have a car lift, and if you’re going to tear the suspension apart, a car lift helps move things along. Oh, right – I tore the suspension on the Jeep apart. Intentionally. I think I mentioned a while back that I ordered a lift kit and wheel spacers – well, all that finally came in, and because if a project is worth doing, it’s worth over-doing, so I went ahead and bought big new tires to go with it. In a word, it’s awesome. It looks so much better, and I’m sure will perform better off-road. Between the lift, wheel spacers, new tires, and the recently-added winch, I believe I’m ready to take my adventuring to the next level. Of course, it’s never done – next on the list is skid plates, and I’m having some custom tow hooks made for the front. Basically, to put the skid plates on, you have to take the whole front end off, and if I’m going to do that anyway, I might as well add the tow hooks, because that also requires dismantling the front. Gonna get them in yellow, to match the caliper covers. I’ve taken the back apart to install the tow package; the front should be basically the same. Being handy is awesome. And if you’re wondering, the inside of the Jeep is pretty spotless, as well. I’ll make someone a good wife someday.


I have also continued to add to my Ring camera network. I’m completely sold on it. I now have cameras covering all sides of the yard, the dog area, the barn, the Jeep and a few other spots I’m not going to divulge. Plus, of course, the Jeep itself is always recording – and I do mean always – it sees (and hears) everything, and I have a whole folder just full of…stuff. So, if you’re thinking about murdering me to death – or anything else – you better lure me away from the house, the Jeep and the motorbikes (I would suggest tasty, tasty donuts as bait). And keep in mind that I have Liam Neeson on speed-dial, and he has a very particular set of skills.

It’s that time of year again. My sweet Blackjack turned 8 years old. I can’t wrap my head around that. His birthday coincides with The Great Unpleasantness, so that means it’s been 8 years since that fiasco, as well. Yeah, there’s always some fiasco with me – but I’m working on it. I made it through the holiday season (officially, now), and I haven’t really celebrated a single holiday in a year – not Independence Day, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s. Not even flippin’ Arbor Day. Because reasons. Oh, I wanted to, but like every year, it just didn’t happen. All that’s left is that thing of which we do not speak in April – although, truth be told, I’m trying to look forward to it this year. Probably spend it on the Dragon. Now that the Jeep is all souped up, I’ll have to get new photos up there – and, of course, gotta get the bike up there. Sorry, kinda wandered off-topic. So, BJ turned 8, and he had cake, as always. He’s doing really well – he had some hip issues last year, but the daily Cosequin really seems to be helping. Great advice from my vet. I don’t understand people who have pets and never take them for basic veterinary care. Pets are a responsibility; not just something to dump off when it conflicts with your social schedule or are too self-centered to provide basic health needs. Grr. Some people just don’t have a heart. Or a soul. More specifically, some people just suuuuuuck.

And good news for the puppers, there was snow. Unexpected, of course. At least we got one snowfall for the pups to play in. And the Jeep (but that was prior to the mods) and the BMW. I’ll take it. It was the best kind of snow; a lot in the morning, and gone by the end of the day.

Of course, now that the Jeep is all souped up, it’ll probably never snow again. But at least I got out on the bike. That’s something.

There’s been a little adventure, as well. Not much, but a little. I went back to Falling Water Falls, which is always awesome, and then returned to Signal Point/Rainbow Lake and Edwards Point. These are some of my favorite places. The hiking is amazing, the scenery is spectacular, and wrapping up at River Drifters is always a bonus (OK, not Hot Chocolatier bonus, but a bonus all the same). However, tomorrow, there will be adventure. Much needed adventure. Watch this space.

Now, I need to go wash all my hoodies. Because of course I do.

Links:
Falling Water/Rainbow Lake/Edwards Point Photo Album on Facebook