With This Ring.

Things move fast over here, kids. I’m not one to just sit around and let life pass me by – and to that end, I’ve been turbo-busy these first almost-three weeks of 2021.

I’m not quite as fat as my clothes of many layers make me look. Not *quite*.

Last weekend, a great hike – and reconnecting with one of my best hiking friends I haven’t seen in a long time – at McGill Creek and Graysville Mountain. It was cold, windy and gray, but still, a really good hike. I just recently read about the new bridge across the Creek, and any chance to go check out a deep woods bridge, I jump on. The plan was only to do about 5ish miles to the bridge and back, but you know me – it ended up being an 11-mile marathon. After the hike to the bridge, the decision was made to scale Graysville Mountain to find the waterfall and overlook, both of which were accomplished. It’s be a while since I did 11 miles in one shot, and it felt pretty good.

Sunday, reconnecting with someone else I haven’t seen in forever for some light trekking in North Chick Creek Gorge. After Saturday’s adventure, I didn’t really feel like doing a long one – plus, I had to go see my pals at Home Depot and flex that plastic a little bit (OK, a lot). Pretty good weekend – in fact, one the better weekends I’ve had in awhile. 2021 is treating me OK – so far.

I’m a lumberjack and something something…

Now, this weekend – well, your ol’ pal here very nearly went to sing with the choir eternal. You’ll recall I mentioned a couple of dangerous trees that needed to come down, right? Well, I decided to tackle one of them, in between my many other projects. Let me tell you, dudes and dudettes, I thought I had pressed my luck on this one – life flashed before my eyes and everything (and yeah, I was bored). To make a long story short, the Big Dead Tree didn’t want to come down. At all. I’ll spare you all the physics and safety lectures, and obviously I survived – but if that tree had been about 6 feet taller, it would have driven me into the ground like a plastic tent spike. That’s the downside of doing something like this without a spotter/little helper. One of these days, I’m definitely gonna get killed to death in the yard.

The upside is that I now have a big brush pile for burning, suitable for your finest vestal virgins, Viking funeral or whatever. And before I piled up all the brush, I shovelled out the fire pit – 3 big loads in my wagon, from years and years of burning. I’ve been burning a lot lately, and the next suitable day, I’ll be out there again. Until then, I guess I need to get out there with my mighty stump grinder; as many trees as I’ve taken down, I’m now flush with stumps that need to be removed (and I’ve already ground down probably 20 of them). Fingers crossed, that thing doesn’t try to kill me again.

Anyway, I now have a nearly clear view all the way down to the bottom of the driveway, which was the goal, because reasons. Even one of the Ring cameras can see down there now.

And speaking of the Ring cameras, well, I’ve kinda gone a little nuts with the Ring gear. Anything worth doing is worth overdoing, and to that end, I now have eight Ring floodlights scattered about, along with 6 Ring cameras (and more on the way). I’ve spent more Benjis than I care to think about, but I guess you gotta do what you gotta do. The Ring stuff is the bee’s knees – basically, if any camera detects motion, all the lights come on (and can probably be seen from space), and any adjacent cameras start recording (and boy, howdy – the things they’ve seen). Equally, if any light detects motion, all the lights come one, and the cameras in that area start recording. It is super, super cool. Installing all that stuff was a chore – especially single-handedly. Up and down the ladder, fetching tools, having one hand too few in some cases – seriously, I need a little helper. But I’m used to doing things on my own (or for others – there are people out there that treat me like God; that is, they ignore my existence unless they need something).

Hello, ladies.

That’s not all – I added 8 TP-Link Kasa smart plugs, to go with the half-dozen Kasa bulbs, exterior rope lights and my pimpalicious Kasa LEDs I put on the back of my headboard. Between the Ring stuff, Kasa stuff, numerous Alexas, smart fan, Logitech bridge, Roomba and my mastery of IFTTT, before long, I’ll never have to get up. Next on my list, to tie the Kasa plugs/bulbs into motion sensors, because why not? Oh, and I’ve decided I’m leaving my holiday lights up in perpetuity. I’m gonna be festive, dammit – and they actually look nice on my deck, especially with the rope lights (and yeah, I added rope lights to the barn, as promised – for reals, my yard looks like Las Vegas).

Not a bad view every morning.

Now, I can finally stop to catch my breath. For a minute. There’s a lot of other stuff going on right now – planning a paddle, hoping to return to the Dragon (maybe even on the BMW), thinking about heading south for some much needed beach time. Never a dull moment.

Tomorrow, the iPhone 12 Pro will be here, so I’ll be geeking out on that, I’m sure. Clearly, I dig the gadgets.

Oh, and admit it – when you saw the title of this post, you thought I got engaged or something, right? Yeah – I don’t see that happening. I think I’ve learned that lesson.

All The Leaves Are Brown.

Well, here it is, 2021. Only 4 days in, but my 2021 has been pretty good, which is a big plus considering how bad my 2020 was, and especially how bad it ended. Not that I’m surprised – you know that axiom that goes “he died the way he lived”? Well, that was 2020. It was bad on so many levels, if it had ended any differently than the rest of the year, I would have been stunned. However, predictably, it ended in a complete and utter shitshow. Don’t care; it’s over now, and despite a truly awful NYE, there was at least a glimmer of a bright spot from a totally unexpected place. Plus, I made the whole affair a little better by spending some much-needed quality time with my Best Gal over the weekend. More on that in a sec.

But to kick off the New Year, there was much yard work. I can’t believe how much I got done, especially since I was – as usual – doing it all by my onesies (Little Helpers, apply now!). Not that I mind; and the upside is I don’t have anyone yelling/telling me I’m doing something “wrong”. I cut down several of my big dead trees, ground down stumps, mulched many a leaf, and my bonfire burned bright for 4 straight days. But I’m not done – there are several more trees to bring down, two of which are just gonna be…dangerous. They call them “widowmakers”, but that would imply that if I drop one on my cranium, I would leave someone who’d, y’know, care. Anyway, they’re gonna be challenging, especially without a spotter. What’s the worst that could happen, right? I’m a lumberjack, and I’m…OK.

And there was shopping, because of course there was. I splurged on a new iPhone 12 Pro (plus a Ghostek Nautical case, natch). I’m on the 8 Plus now, and it’s fine, but the 12 Pro is supposed to have a much, much better camera, and that matters to me, especially with upcoming activities/adventures. And there’s the usual upgrades – faster chip, more storage, all the usual Apple bells and whistles. I don’t have signal issues or any of that bullshit (so, I never use “I was out of range” as a convenient excuse to cover my tracks), but I am looking forward to taking 5G for a spin. The boxes should start rolling in this week, but the phone itself may take a couple weeks, because iPhone are awesome and they’re in high demand. Luckily, upgrading isn’t the ordeal it used to be – swap the SIM, plug into iTunes, and abracadabra, I’m slightly more cool. Slightly. Anyway, 1200 of my American dollars later, and I’ll be able to look at all the cat pics I like at lightning speed.

I’m also in the process of replacing my exterior door that goes out onto my deck (from my bedroom). I found one I really like, with a window, which the current one lacks. I’m pretty handy, so I’ll probably do it myself; I’ve done doors before. My one concern was picking the thing up (RIP, big black truck), but it turns out my neighbor has a trailer that I’m welcome to use any time I want, so, delivery charges averted. Now, just have to wait for slightly warmer weather, since there will be no door for half a day. No need to heat the entire neighborhood. Oh, and before you ask, of course I’m gonna put a smart lock on the thing (especially since it appears I have to actually keep the door locked now). Hi, have we met?

In other shopping news, Bowflex finally has a new treadmill available, and my finger has been hovering over the “Buy Now” button for a couple of days. I think I’ve found a place to put the thing, but I need to be sure, because at 300 pounds, once it’s there, it’s not moving. With things the way they are with the COVID, it’s not like I’ll be back at the gym anytime soon (but I think I’m going to go one day this week, just to check it out), so I need to do something about my giganto-ass. Speedo weather is just around the corner, y’know.

Speaking of the COVID, it’s bad here. My county keeps breaking records for the “worst day ever”, and I honestly can’t wrap my head around how anyone (anyone with a conscious, soul, compassion, intelligence or self-respect, anyway) could be out there socializing and slinging their DNA around. I cannot believe the stupidity and/or selfishness of people.

Who am I kidding? Of course I can. 2020, remember? And people are assholes. Some people more than others.

I read an article the other day about how purposeful lack of social distancing can be considered assault. That is, if you tell someone to keep six feet away and they don’t, they are assaulting you. Makes sense. Of course, it would be hard to prove – well, unless you had it on video. I understand people zoning out a bit in the line at WM and not realizing they’re getting a little too close, but if you explicitly tell someone to maintain distance and they refuse, well, that tells you everything you need to know about that person, and a legal remedy may be required. This article – on WaPo – went on to detail how quarantining and social distancing are affecting couples, when one follows the guidelines and the other doesn’t care about those recommendations. I guess there are a lot of people out there who are seeing some true colors as a result of all of this. Sigh, never let it be said that humanity isn’t a colossal disappointment.


In their infinite wisdom, Warner Brothers is releasing all their new films on HBOMax at the same time as the theatrical release. This is a great move, to help keep the idiots that refuse to social distance from being tempted by a tentpole film (but I’m sure those idiots will find some other way of fucking over the people they claim to care about). So, part of my weekend was spent with the aforementioned Best Gal – Gal Gadot, to be specific. Wonder Woman. Pretty good film, especially all the 80s throwback stuff. I had a discussion with the Rocket Scientist about the economics of Themescyria – like, how did they get the materials to build that stadium? Who’s responsible for smelting all the metal needed for those uniforms? I know, I overthink; at least about stupid stuff. Things I should be thinking about, not so much. Anyway, next up on the schedule, “Dune”.

Hawaii 1988, my last really good Christmas

Sunday, there was more yardwork, a few errands, more online shopping (how many Ring devices can I add? The answer is “plenty”), stuff around the house. Did I mention that I finished replacing the platform under the bathroom vanity? I did, and it turned out great. I knew it would, but still, it’s gratifying. Anyway, there was also football. NFL football, that is (college football is a complete joke, especially SEC ball). I used to be really into Sunday football day, but I made the decision years ago that I’d rather be outdoors doing things on Sunday. Nonetheless, after the chores were done, I caught a little. My partner in Hawaii was really into the Browns (being from Cleveland; I seem to recall she tried out as a cheerleader, but ended up moving to Hawaii), so I’ve always had a soft spot for them, and now they’re in the playoffs. Hopefully, she was watching. Additionally, my Washington Football Team won their winner-take-all game on Sunday night against the hated Eagles, so they are playoff-bound, as well. Now, I really don’t care too much about any of this, but it would be hilarious if a team that doesn’t even have a name went to the Super Bowl. I’ll be pulling for Cleveland, though – for old times’ sake.

In addition to the 27 other things I accomplished so far this year, I also did some work on the kayak, in preparation for an upcoming trip to Old Harrison. This is one of my favorite paddles, and it’s been a couple years since I last went to there. Always a great trip, exploring the ruins of the town that existed before the dam was built in the ’30s, even though it will no doubt be cold and windy. However, the lake level is only low enough in January/February to see the old roads and foundations, so now or never. Completely worth is – plus, Patten Island is in the vicinity, and that’s always an awesome place to visit.

Oh, and the best part of the New Year (so far)? The new Starbucks is now open. Nice way to start an early morning out, especially when it’s cold. Of course, after the complete train wreck that was 2020, my bar is set pretty low for what’s good, but I’ll take this as a win. Hey, at least no one yelled at me or anything. In fact, 2021 has been completely yell-free, and I intend to keep it that way. Got big plans for this year, after 2020 being a complete waste, and I’m gonna start it…right now.

Lastly, if you need to be reminded, you can drop dead at any time, with no warning. The last thing you say to someone could actually wind up being the last thing you to say to someone, so keep that in mind the next time you call someone an asshole or whatever. Life is short and fragile, and the days you waste are days you’ll never, ever get back (unless, possibly, you’re an Avenger). But for the record, right now, I feel pretty good.

Stop, Hammer Time.

Want to have some fun? Go find a hammer. A real hammer, not some pink Barbie affair. Something heavy. Got it? OK, now hit yourself in the leg as hard as you can. Because that’s what I did.

OK, not with a hammer, but with a tooth from the awesome new stump grinder. That’s it in my hand over there. While I was grinding stumps this morning, the two bolts that hold the individual teeth on the cutting wheel sheared off, hurling the tooth right at me. If it had hit me in the head, it probably would have killed me – the perils of not having a little helper (something I think I need to start seriously looking into). Now, the cutting wheel spins at 3200 RPM, and the tooth weighs about a pound, so feel free to get your slide rule out and calculate how much kinetic energy that is. Or contact NASA – and as it happens, I know someone at NASA, if you need a POC. Anyway, not a great start to Chore Sunday, but I did get a number of stumps ground down prior to the incident.

Also, lots and lots of leaf mulching. The mighty tractor has a mulching attachment, and I put it to good use, mulching probably an acre’s worth of thick, wet leaves, as well as clearing my MTB trails. That thing is a champ, and made relatively short work of it. I want the yard to look nice. It’s not like anyone sees it besides my cool UPS guy, the cute letter carrier, and the occasional uninvited drop-in, but I still take a little pride in it (and the aforementioned letter carrier always comments on it, so there’s that). I guess I don’t want people to think I’m a slob, or worse, just lazy. So, even if I’m the only person who really sees it, I want it to look well-maintained. And it’s not like I had anything else to do today – I did have a couple of invites, but wasn’t really in an “adventure” frame of mind. Long week. Long, typically shitty week.

Saturday – in the rain – more Ring stuff. I decided to add a floodlight to the barn; partly because I have the big street lights off during the holidays so my twinkling lights are more visible, and partly because…well, just because. So, after (eventually) going to Home Depot & Lowes, and a little not-so-smart tinkering with electricity in the rain, voila. This thing is just as cool as the other Ring stuff, and I have it tied into the system in such a way that if the motion sensor detects something, all the cameras start recording. Conversely, if the cameras detect motion, all the Ring lights come on. Basically, everything talks to everything else, and they all talk to my Alexa devices, as well as my iPhone and AppleWatch. It’s really, really cool, and I guess I’ve become a bit of an expert with the home automation stuff. I guess everyone needs to be good at something, right?

And in other Ring news, I got the solar panel attached to the new camera I installed last week. Not the smartest decision I’ve made, to lean a ladder against a wet tree in the rain, but things need to be done, and no one is going to do it besides me. Just like everything else in my life. Besides, what’s the worst thing that could happen?

I also did some work on the BMW. The new lighting I installed a few weeks back makes such a huge difference on that side of the barn. The BMW just needed water added to the battery, but that’s a major operation on that bike; remove the tailbag, open the trunk, pull the release for the saddle, remove 12 screws from the fairing. Sheesh, those Germans. Nonetheless, it’s all juiced up and ready for the group ride later this week. Hopefully, there will be some snow this winter, too, so I can really see what the thing is made of.

Now, on to the next project – and I think I already know what it’s gonna be.

Jeepers, Creepers.

Well, the Adventure Buggy went Tango-Uniform over the weekend. Again. Intended to head out in the Wee, Small Hours on Saturday morning, and…nothing. To make a long boring story short and boring, evidently, the new expensive battery I had put in last year said “F*ck it”, and as a result of that, the thing threw out all sorts of engine codes and other shenanigans. It wasn’t all bad, though – I jumped it off (again) then used my handy-dandy widget to diagnose and clear the engine codes, and took it back to NTB for a replacement (under warranty, yay). Luckily – and unlike last month when this happened – a friend of mine hung out with me to pass the time and made sure I wasn’t stuck on the side of the road, and as a bonus, Lowes and Home Depot are close to NTB, so I was able to get over there and still accomplish my shopping tasks while the Jeep was being mended.

And part of those tasks including buying holiday lights. Yeah, yeah – I know. But I’m trying. I’m not entirely sure why I’m trying; but I am. Nonetheless, there’s no way I’m going to spend the holidays alone again like last year, since I may not have too many left. So, I’m making an effort – and I guess there might be a road trip in my immediate future.

Sunday, a nice hike in Chickamauga Gulch. Not a part of the CT, but adjacent to it. I had explored it a little a few weeks back, but this time, I was better prepared, so I went much deeper into the gorge. A lot of off-trail and rock-hopping, but a good hike overall.

The aforementioned stump grinder is supposed to be delivered today, so I’ve already been out for gas and oil (not sure if it comes with oil, so just in case). Oh, and Dunkin’ coffee. Speaking of, I mentioned on Twitter last week that when I went to Dunkin’, the person in line at the drive-through in front of me paid for my coffee and croissant. I found out later it was “giving week” or something, and lots of people were making similar gestures. So, if you just thought someone footed my bill because I’m super-dreamy or they just wanted to get in my knickers, I guess the joke’s on you. And in the giving tradition, I did my part over the weekend, and I’ll leave it at that.


I also have some trees and limbs to take down today/this week, as the new Ring cameras have been rolling in, and I need to clear the line-of-sight in the mounting locations I’ve chosen. That Ring stuff is awesome, and I’ve really learned my way around all the gadgets. As long as they don’t go all Terminator on me, I should be set – although, to be honest, being stalked by a murder-robot that speaks in an Austrian accent would be a step up for me at this point.


Link:
Chickamauga Gulch Photo Album on Facebook

I’m Stumped.

Welp, here it is, December 1st. Again. And to kick off December, Mother Nature decided to tease the puppers with a little overnight snow.

Not enough to make a snowman, mind you (unless it’s a really small one), but it’s something, anyway – and makes for nice views on the Ring cameras.

Speaking of, I’ve added another new Ring camera, and I have yet another one on order, which I intend to do something…interesting with. You’d think having cameras all around the house, yard and barn would be sufficient, but evidently, it isn’t. I also added a Ring solar step light on the deck, and it’s awesome. It’s motion-activated, and when it detects motion, the cameras start recording. I dig this Ring stuff, and the new features they’ve added to the app makes it that much better.

I also added 4 strands of rope lights on the deck on my bedroom, controlled automagically (naturally) with a Kasa outdoor smart plug. Works great, just like all my other Kasa bulbs and plugs. When I have the time, I’ll need to get into IFTTT and make them do some really neat things.


OK, maybe not that neat.

In other shopping and chore-related news, I splurged and ordered…a stump grinder (you have my permission to swoon). If that doesn’t impress you, I don’t know what will. Hiring someone to grind stumps is stupidly expensive (trust me, I’ve done it before), so eventually, the cost-benefit analysis dictates just buying the tool versus renting the person, even if the tool is also stupidly expensive. I have at least a dozen stumps right now I need to deal with, and I suspect it’s going to be an awesome workout, as long as I don’t cut my leg off or something (the perils of working alone, I guess). One thing I’ll have to figure out is how to move it (it weighs close to 300 pounds). It has a hitch adapter, so I could tow it with the Jeep, but around the yard, the tractor should suffice, so I’ll need to see if a standard ball-hitch will fit the tractor bumper mount (and I suspect it will – but if not, I’m actually pretty smart). I have a spare ball hitch anyway; the old one from before I lifted the Jeep.

Of course, I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy an ATV, so there’s that. I mean, I was prepared to buy a dirt bike back in October for no reason (kinda), so buying an ATV when I have a reason – towing my fancy stump grinder – doesn’t seem that far-fetched. Plus, an ATV would make building my tentative campsite out in the woods much easier.

Anyway, I also bought a new gas-powered leaf blower-leaf vacuum combo over the weekend, because of course I did. I have an electric one (Addendum: Two electric ones; I found my other one – anyone want it? I certainly don’t need two of them.), which is better than nothing, and two old gas-powered ones. One of those is just Tango-Uniform, and the other kinda works, but weighs a ton (it’s probably 30 or more years old), and just not that great. The new one is powerful, lightweight, and can vacuum and mulch leaves or blow them. That’s some real Star Trek shit right there. Regardless, yay, chores, and Merry Christmas to me – I always get myself the best gifts. And that’s good, because it’s not like anyone else is going to. I completely understand why the Grinch wanted to live alone with his dog.

Speaking of Mr. Grinch, I did get my trees set up. My amazing Grinch tree from last year, and my Charlie Brown tree (see a theme here?). I had intended to get my projection lights done in the backyard as well, but I need long outdoor extension cords for that, and I…need to go buy some, I guess. It’s always something.

So, ramping up to Christmas and then NAMM. Ugh, holidays. Although for the first time in recent memory, my Thanksgiving wasn’t terrible. It was actually pretty good. Of course, it didn’t last; it never does. At least my life is consistent, and I’ve got Hulu (just resubscribed) and Ninja Sex Party to entertain me.

The Human Peepshow That Is My Life, Revisited.

Don’t mind this post. I’m just tinkering. I used to be super into webcams, since the days of the JenniCam. For whatever reason, I decided to see if it was still possible to take a webcam and dump an image up to the site automagically. I have an oldish webcam laying about, and I still know how to make the ones and zeros bend to my will, so, let’s see what we have…


Well, look at that. Not that anyone particularly wants to sit here and see what I’m doing all day, but hey, you never know. Now I just have to decide if/how much I want to leave it running. We’ll see – and I’ll try to spare you any full frontal nudity. No one wants to see that.

The Logitech QuickCam; my weapon of choice in the 90s.

It occurred to me that I have a trove of old webcam pics from the mid/late 90s. Back then, I had a wildly popular personal website – this was in the days before every company, dumbass and President had a site, and obviously well before social media (although I did write a plug-in that allowed me to stream live video to *ack* MySpace when it bowed), and I had numerous webcams running around the house and at work. I was popular by default – kinda like my real life now; that is, if you were bored, lonely or horny, you came to see me; otherwise, you found something else – or someone else – to occupy your time. Back then, I guess there just weren’t that many choices (on the internet, that is), unless you wanted to see a bunch of animated gifs on Geocities. Anyway, just for larfs and posterity, I pulled a few old images. At the time, because the internet was mostly dialup, the images were small, the resolution was shitty – but still, cutting edge at the time. Now we just carry around a device in our pocket that allows us to look at pictures of cats, and tell people they’re assholes any time we like. Trust me, I know.

So, this:

Living room cam. Me and 3 girls. The 90s were awesome.

The cam in my office/music room.

Living room cam. That hair, tho.

I don’t ever remember her name – she’s sitting pretty close, though, and I think giving me the signals.

Office cam – that is, the cam at work. It was always a hoot watching the cleaning people after hours.

Power broker.

Oh, look, I cut my hair. That’s the Pentagon out the window, across the river.

I even rigged up a mobile cam using a laptop and a cellular modem – a really big deal in the nineties. This is roaring up the Jersey Turnpike heading to NYC and on to Boston.

When I needed privacy, Cartman took over.

My sweet Bengal cat, Kalani.

In the office/music room.

I suspect I was reading music off the computer, trying to learn a new tune.

Now, her name I remember.

Rock star.

Good times. I guess. Never let it be said I wasn’t a trailblazer. A kooky, weird trailblazer.


In other news, I finally finished with the electricity in the barn. Had to wire a new outlet with a surge suppressor, and add in additional lighting on the “BMW side” of the barn, so I can tinker with that bike without it being so dark on that side. In addition, I added a pair of new Battery Tender devices. I had 2 already; one that I alternated between the Phantom and the BMW, and one in my big tool shed for the tractor (which is actually one that I bought a year ago as a gift-that-was-never-given [I seem to have a lot of those]). So, now, each bike has one, which means each bike will be ready to go in the winter, and I added a port outside the barn for the car(s), and I have the one for the tractor. No more dead batteries!

I also ordered a new wet/dry ShopVac for the barn. I have one now, but it’s kinda big, and I wanted a smaller one, not only for keeping the barn tidy, but for cleaning the Jeep. I don’t really need two of them, though, so I guess I’ll give the old one away, just to get it gone. Yeah, I have a lot of tools – but I always have projects I want to tackle; nothing worse that starting something and never bothering to finish it, and that means in addition to having the knowhow and the motivation, having the proper tools. Someone just told me the other day how much they liked my stone work I did in the kitchen last year, and that makes it worth it – I’ll take any flattery I can get, especially since I get so dang little of it. Handy, man.

In other other news, I just learned that Endomondo is shutting down. Endomondo was the first mapping software I used years ago to map hikes, bikes, paddles, etc using my iPhone. It was…OK. Because it depended on my phone, the GPS was never that great, which is why I switched to the Suunto Ambit 3 GPS watch, and then the Suunto Spartan GPS watch (and have I mentioned I bought my 3rd Apple Watch a few weeks ago? Sheesh, I’m a nerd.). The Suuntos are so much better at mapping since they’re purpose-built just for that, and Endomondo kinda went downhill after being bought by UA a few years back. So, doesn’t affect me – I don’t even link to my old Endomondo data any longer – but still, RIP. I know what it’s like to be obsolete.

Deja View.

Not much happening. Just waiting and seeing. Right now, seeing a whole lot of nothing. Before I get into it, though, right as I was writing this, I got some hugely relieving news regarding the whole COVID thing – not going to get into it (and it wasn’t me), but…whew. This is the new normal. And it’s not normal.

Mountain Outfitters Monteagle

I decided to head back up to Sewanee to bicycle the Mountain Goat Trail. It’s been exactly 3 years since the last time I pedaled there, although I’ve been to Sewanee many times for hiking and other exploring in the interim. Like everything, some good trips, some not so great. This trip was one of the good ones. 24 miles, all over Sewanee, the University of the South, and neighboring Monteagle.

The Domain

I don’t really have much to say about it – I came, I saw, I rode. There was some exploring of new places, and, of course, tasty treats. I love this area – quiet, peaceful, nice people. Lots of outdoors stuff to do, as well. I’ll probably spend the next couple of weekends here, before the weather turns cold. Even though I’ve done many things in the area, there are still a few stones to kick over, and a few stones I want to kick for a second or third time. Anything beats just sitting here watching the photos on the Echo scroll by. So, in the past month or so, more than 200 miles on the bike, at Sewanee, Sterchi Farm, Chief Ladiga, Hamilton Place and a few other rides. Everybody has to be somewhere.

I’ve also ordered a bunch of new stuff for the mountain bike. Too much to get into – but after the recent mods, and now all the new stuff inbound, the bike is going to be great for long-distance, maybe-overnight rides. Should have all the new goodies and gadgets in time for this weekend. Fingers crossed.

In other adventure-related news, I got up in the middle of the night last weekend and went for a moonlight paddle. I haven’t paddled in the dark in a while, and it was great. A little dangerous – I mean, you’re completely invisible in a kayak on the open water in the dark (but my boat does have a light on it). Only a few miles, but really cool and worth the risk. Did I mention that everybody has to be somewhere?

So, for now, I guess I’ll just keep on muddling through, coming up with COVID-friendly, socially-distanced things to do. With any luck, a week from now, everything will be more optimistic. Or maybe not. I guess we’ll see.

Links:
Sewanee Mountain Goat Trail Photo Album on Facebook
Moonlight Paddle Photo Album on Facebook

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