Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

To Aurora

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It started out rather chilly yesterday, but at least it wasn’t raining.

We left Chisholm as a group and claimed a lane of the road until we got back on the Mesabi trail.

It was 16 miles to a rest stop for some snacking, a mere hour and a half after we left breakfast. No wonder we all tend to gain weight despite all the biking we do.

There is just one thing I asked for during this ride: it can be cold, or it can rain, I just don’t want cold temps AND rain.

Well, I didn’t get what I wanted. Between that snack break and lunch, the clouds started to spit a little bit. Then, it began to sprinkle, until it unmistakably turned to rain.

The optimist might say, “At least it wasn’t snowing.

Luckily, there was hot soup on the menu for lunch. Any food is good for recovering from being wet and cold, but hot soup was a welcome bonus.

The ride from lunch in Biwabik to Aurora took us through a picturesque stand of old growth pines.

Hanging out at our tents after hot showers (yay!), Rich sent up his drone for a bird’s eye view of our circle of post-riding silliness.

Then I took a picture from ground level.


All in all, another great day on the Tour of Minnesota, discounting
the fact it is so dang cold in the middle of June.



Written by johnwhays

June 17, 2019 at 6:00 am

To Chisholm

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We were blessed with great weather yesterday for riding the Mesabi Trail from Grand Rapids to Chisholm.

The trail is a fabulous adventure of twists and turns with a variety of dramatic ups and downs.

There were a number of vistas that provided views of mining activity, as well as of the huge ridges of dumped leftovers. Eventually, vegetation starts to grow and reclaim the surface, but it is a little unsettling to see the way humans can alter the planet so significantly.

Has me struggling with the multitude of ways my activities and possessions contribute to demand for mining.

The trail just rolled past our tires…

That’s Rich and Steve vrooming around a corner.

In Chisholm, we camped at the mining museum and got a chance to see some big and historic equipment up close.

I asked Steve and James to provide a reference to actual size. Did I mention, big?





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June 16, 2019 at 6:00 am

To Grand Rapids

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Commence camping!

Things did not go well in the waning moments prior to that critical point of finally heading out the door for a week of vacation.

In my last sweep of the counter after a quick lunch, I discovered ants marching to and fro.

I decided to search for ant killer that we might have stashed away from last year. Second place I looked was under the kitchen sink.

When I opened the doors, water came rolling out. Lots of it!

I have no idea where it was coming from and didn’t have time to thoroughly investigate.

I pulled everything out and mopped up, then slid a bucket into position under the drips.

What a lovely mess to leave behind.

I met Gary Larson in Edina, leaving my car at Cyndie’s parents’ house and rode with him to Grand Rapids.

It was as wonderful as ever to see the many friends and familiar faces of fellow riders and to be greeted so warmly.

Mere words can’t describe it

When you ride with us, then you know

After years of having done this

It gets more important for me to go



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June 15, 2019 at 6:00 am

Driving North

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It has arrived! Today is the day of departure for this year’s Tour of Minnesota biking and camping adventure. I might almost be ready to go by the time I plan to leave the house. Really, the only thing left to do is overlook something I had intended to bring and leave without it.

Just to add a little drama to my packing and planning, the temperatures up north dropped into the 30s Wednesday night. Do I pack another layer of warm clothes? I added one extra overshirt. In addition to my wool hat, chopper mittens, Sorel boots, and North Face parka.

I’m ready.

I mowed the lawn last night, cutting a notch lower than usual in hope of buying me the full week until it needs to be cut it again. I programmed my work email with an away message. Can’t think of anything else.

I tried to tell Pequenita that I would be gone for a while, but would return. I doubt she comprehends my warning. Poor Cyndie will be a victim of that cat’s angst over my absence. On the other hand, I will relish the absence of wet-nosed cat head-bumps bashing into my face at too-early-o’clock in the morning.

As the sun was getting low enough that the back pasture of chest-high grass was cast in shadow, I came around the bend on the mower and spotted a deer leaping in reaction to my sudden appearance. Behind those big leaps was an almost invisible fawn whose head didn’t clear the tall grass as it struggled to keep up with mamma.

I sure hope they don’t decide to bed down in that field when our neighbors show up to cut hay.




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June 14, 2019 at 6:00 am

Trimming Trail

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Our property has been getting spruced up in preparation for a workshop Cyndie is hosting today. In the middle of my workday yesterday, I received a message from Cyndie that there was a tree leaning across one of our trails that she wanted me to clear when I got home.

Oh, yeah. I remember neglecting to take care of that for the last three weeks.

The tree was actually small enough that I decided to use a hand saw to bring it down the rest of the way. It just took enough forethought to finally have a saw in my possession when I walked deep into the woods.

The walk to get there was difficult enough through areas of the trail that were getting overgrown that I switched tools after the trees and branches were dispatched and got to work with the Stihl trimmer.

It brought to mind that moment six years ago when I was shopping for that trimmer with very limited knowledge about what I wanted to buy. I suddenly realized that I had lucked into a salesperson at the hardware store who was less into selling and more into how things worked.

I was talking to the mechanic who fixes equipment, not some kid who works the cash register and helps people find things in the store. I remember telling the guy about the property we recently moved to and how that quickly led him to the size trimmer we should have. I took his word for it.

He said we would be able to run this motor full speed all day long and it wouldn’t suffer one bit. I didn’t imagine we would ever need to push a tool that hard.

Now, when we spend hours upon hours running that trimmer at full tilt, I understand where that mechanic was coming from. He steered me to the right machine for our needs.

When it was new, that guard piece was bright orange. Not so much anymore.

As too often happens, I was within about ten yards of the end of one trail when the trimmer engine ran out of fuel. I took a break for dinner.

It’s not easy to discern the vast level of improvement in this shot of one section I completed, but after Cyndie and Delilah took a walk toward the end of the day, I received a pretty good rating about the freshly cleared pathways.

I’ll take that as a win.




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June 13, 2019 at 6:00 am

Getting Close

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Departure is just two days away for the Tour of Minnesota biking and camping week. I spent much of my time last night pretending to pack. It’s kind of a dry run, where I pull out clothes and biking gear I think might be smart to have. Then I labor over deciding whether I’m taking too much or leaving out something vital. I am not inclined toward finding a laundromat on our day off from riding.

Will it be a rainy, wet week? Cold? We are going north. Hot? That happens up there, too. Hard to know for sure, so I’d like to be prepared to be comfortable between the hours on the saddle. At the same time, I really don’t want to be hauling around extra clothing that I don’t end up using.

I’ve taken enough flak over the years for having a heavy duffle bag that I’ve become determined to travel lighter. The best way I can think of to accomplish that is by not bringing clothing I don’t need. The rest of the gear in my bag is a given. The tent. Sleeping bag and pad. It should be a cinch to stay well under 50 lbs, especially with the new lighter sleeping bag my kids bought me for an early Father’s Day/Birthday gift.

My bag weighed in the upper 40s the years I was being chastised most by the gear haulers. I would like to find the magic weight that will feel noticeably different, but I have no idea what that is.

I suppose I could leave out the large bag of dark chocolate peanut M&Ms that I claimed out of the treat drawer in the kitchen, but this week of extra exercise is one time when I allow myself to splurge a little on my strict daily limit of sugar intake. Jettisoning treats might be taking this weight concern one step too far.

I’m really looking forward to sleeping in the great outdoors again. In honor of the early morning experience of waking up in the tent, I’ve retrieved a Words on Images from three years ago called, Daybreak:




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June 12, 2019 at 6:00 am

Another Test

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My previous test to learn if I can create posts on my phone to achieve my desired result taught me a few things. Yes, it is possible, but it doesn’t match posts I create on my laptop. No, I haven’t found out if I can format the text as “justified.” My images appeared, but not as a clickable link to the full size, like I want.

So, I am trying again. I am importing a full-sized image that I successfully transferred from my camera to my phone over WiFi.

The app didn’t ask the size I want the image to appear, so I need to hunt for that setting somewhere.

I chose this image of my lock in case someone can offer advice in dealing with a forgotten combination.

(Oh, I also learned how to add text to my images.)

My idea with the lock was to start at 0-0-0 and spin in a sequence that counted up to 9-9-9.

That would hit every possible number combination.

It didn’t work.

Thinking it was possible that I goofed somewhere along the sequence, I tried a second time. I started at 999 and worked my way down.

It still didn’t open.

Am I missing something?

Too bad I can’t just click a link for a forgotten combination which would then allow me to reset it to a number I might remember.



Written by johnwhays

June 11, 2019 at 6:00 am