Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘friends

Full Advantage

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Taking full advantage of the summer-like weather on a Sunday in October, nine cycling comrades and I rode bike trails to Stillwater and dined for lunch outside on the patio of the Freight House Restaurant. It was absolutely beautiful under the blue sky of the great outdoors.

I took very few pictures while on the bike due to very heavy traffic in both directions on the trail.

Rich captured a good shot of me sporting my pumpkin-orange, perfectly Octoberish cycling jersey.

My choice for lunch was a crispy shrimp po-boy sandwich.

A passerby kindly took a picture of us all posing with the St. Croix River behind us and the edge of Wisconsin beyond.

It was good to see so many people out and about on this gorgeous afternoon. There were oodles of people walking their dogs. I saw a skateboarder who looked a lot older than you’d expect, a young woman on roller skis racing toward us on the trail, hordes of people lined up waiting to board the paddleboat. Walkers, runners, and a significant number of e-bikes.

We rolled along at a comfortable pace for all and chatted the miles away.

Can you say, “Pleasant?”

Yeah, it was.

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Written by johnwhays

October 18, 2021 at 6:00 am

Date Night

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Cyndie and I were out last night in Excelsior with friends, Eapen and Barb for dinner and some live music in support of singer/songwriter, John Magnuson, from our association of families up at the lake place.

I worked late in Plymouth until the appointed hour of our dinner reservation and Cyndie drove from home after feeding animals and walking Delilah. Then, like ships passing, I drove home and Cyndie went to her mom’s house for the night.

It proved to be one of those days when I left home in morning darkness and returned during the dark of night. Makes it seem downright wintery already.

I did actually see some daylight during the intermediate drive from Plymouth to Excelsior. I arrived with time to spare which allowed for a stroll down memory lane from my days twenty-some years ago when I worked to co-publish “City’s Tone” from a basement office just off Water Street.

It was a beautiful night for the walk. As for a “date,” it could have used a lot more “we” time.

Now, I’m on morning chore duty before logging in remotely to the day-job tasks and waiting for an appliance repair person to show up and assess the leak in our washing machine.

Nothing like the duties of daily life to all too quickly muddy the memories of being out on the town the night before. Guess we’ll just have to schedule another event. Oh! Look at this! We have another dinner date with friends already on the calendar for tonight.

Pretty good planning, eh?

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Written by johnwhays

October 15, 2021 at 6:00 am

Unexpected Shower

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Since the threat of rain had passed yesterday afternoon, Cyndie and her mom invited all the Wildwood members up to our place for a little cocktail hour gettogether on the deck. Before company showed up, Cyndie and I enjoyed a swim in the lake that felt a bit like it might be our last soak of the summer.

Soon after, chips, dips, veggies, and heated appetizers were set out along with plates, napkins, chairs, and seat cushions for the ultimate social gathering. Everyone arrived and conversation flowed delightfully for over half the anticipated duration of the visit.

Then, the sky darkened considerably and a sprinkle of drops fell from the cloud. Plenty of comments were made about the unanticipated probability of precipitation. This wasn’t what we expected for the evening.

Maybe it would pass without significance.

Nope. Suddenly the shower nozzle opened up and watered everything in an instant. Everyone grabbed something in each hand and scampered back and forth to the protection of the porch until all the food and gear were brought inside.

Like any good social gathering, conversations picked up right where they left off. Of course, then the sunshine reappeared and, though wet, the great outdoors was simply gorgeous once again.

Mid-sentence of someone’s interesting story, there was an interruption with the alert: “Rainbow!”

Yes. Yes, there was a rainbow out there now. The widest and most brilliantly vivid rainbow I had ever witnessed.

Most everyone dashed out for a view beyond the trees and phone cameras came out en masse. Cyndie provided this shot for my use.

I stayed on the deck to watch with confidence there were enough cameras capturing the spectacle that I would be able to borrow a shot from someone. Thank you, Cyndie.

After most folks decided the rainbow excitement created a convenient opportunity to head back to all of their respective evening meal plans, we started putting things away. I went down the deck stairs to return a table and chairs to storage and discovered the rainbow was still visible.

Now it was reflecting off the water, too. I took some pictures of my own. A different version of a “double rainbow.”

So, our little party got washed out early, but at least the woodshed shingles project was completed well in advance of the surprise rain shower and no firewood was dampened by the minor deluge.

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Written by johnwhays

September 5, 2021 at 9:11 am

More Riding

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When Paul got back from the group’s morning round of golf yesterday, he changed into biking gear first thing. I had enjoyed an incredibly leisurely morning alone in the cabin and was feeling rather ambivalent about going out to exert myself pedaling up and down hills in the bug-infested woods under noticeably smoky skies.

The couch in front of the Olympic competition broadcasts was rather comfy.

I was in the midst of a battle to update the software of my phone, struggling to overcome a loop that seemed to require me to update in order to update, but wouldn’t let me update until I updated. Ahh, technology. I had surveyed multiple online solutions to a problem that appeared to be relatively common but all the solutions involving resets of the router, the phone, the cache, the clock, the shirt I was wearing, where I was sitting, or how things were plugged in, failed to change the dreaded alert message informing me I couldn’t proceed.

The best solution to my frustration turned out to be a bit of pedaling in the woods with Paul. We agreed on a similar start down the pavement at the end of the driveway leading to the gravel road that is the closest gateway toward the CAMBA trails nearby. Yesterday, we opted to follow our whim and explore some unimproved and little-traveled double-track paths to reach the Birkebeiner Trail and ride that roller coaster up to the OO (double-oh) trailhead.

From there, we could roll the pavement of one of our favorite wooded roads back to Highway 77 and ultimately the driveway of Wildwood. The sections of trail and pavement are relatively obvious in the depiction from my ride-tracking app. The cute little heart shape at the top was unplanned.

The up and down of both sections are better revealed in the following view.

Today my lungs feel like I was out exerting myself during an air quality alert, the very thing we are being advised to not do.

I will be doing much less exhausting exercise in the hours ahead, seated comfortably in my car on the drive home. My butt is looking forward to not being on the bike seat for that ride.

Addendum: As I was crashing in my bed after staying up too late last night, my phone software suddenly updated without a hitch. Go figure.

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Written by johnwhays

August 1, 2021 at 7:19 am

Trail Riding

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It has been a very long time since I have ridden my beloved hard-tail mountain bike. So long, in fact, I forgot how much more work it can be compared to my road bike. I bonked yesterday in a 16-plus mile ride with my life-long friend, Paul Keiski, whose biking condition is much stronger than mine.

Luckily, I was still close enough in contact with him to enjoy the spectacle of his slow-motion crash as he let out a little laugh over the predicament of tipping in the direction of the down-slope into the scrappy growth, wheels up, and on his back for a second.

The Makwa singletrack is a hairpin winding hardscrabble trail of big roots and jutting rocks that frequently will bring momentum to an abrupt halt where I would find myself in an unwelcome pedal stand and needing to muster the gumption to somehow kick the bike forward over the obstacle on the incline before me.

Yeah, I got tired. If I was on my road bike, I would coast for a while and catch my breath, but there is little time for relaxed coasting on this kind of trail. Arms constantly flexed, absorbing the concussions with obstacles and desperately working to hold the bike on the trail.

We chose to circle back to our starting point by way of a gravel fire lane road that had been re-graded not too long ago and was softer than preferable. I was already exhausted, but being well aware of the mostly uphill grade we needed to accomplish to get back to the pavement added a psychological burden that caused me to walk up more hills than I care to admit.

I was in the company of a generous friend in Paul, who was very patient and smart enough to have some energy supplements along for the ride which relieved my fatigue for a bit.

The last leg back to our lake place was on the pavement which felt great for the comparative ease but I was acutely aware of the fact this bike lacked the better geometry and larger wheels of my other bike.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my trail bike. It is wonderfully responsive to my moves in the woods and probably saves me from calamity despite my lack of experience on more occasions than not. I only inadvertently wandered off-trail several times when I failed to control my momentum and negotiate a turn, twice successfully carrying on anyway and riding back onto the trail without interruption.

That quick response of the bike made my soft gravel road riding a little squirrelly which only added misery to my fatigue, but overall, I am grateful for the way this old refurbished Trek performs for me.

It deserves to be ridden more often and my skills and conditioning improved enough to do it justice, but I am afraid being on the upper side of 62-years-old has me more inclined to just settle for hopping on the road bike and coasting down paved roads.

Many thanks to Paul for inspiring me to join him in the adventure and adding one more precious trail riding memory to our shared life experiences.

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Nice Distraction

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My hope of forgetting about the distressing loss of 22 chickens in one quick event didn’t really work but yesterday’s attempt sure was a nice try. I have to laugh (though it was more like a whimper) now when I look at the images I posted just a few days before the attack, showing all those birds and me sitting among them. That didn’t last long.

Our nice distraction yesterday of friends flying in for a day and the wonderful summeriness of dining on the deck and playing in and on the lake was quintessential lake life. We paddled kayaks and stand-up boards around the island and into the nearby bay, pausing to visit with folks on a neighboring property.

We soaked in the luxurious water and absorbed oodles of solar energy while chatting away the hours. It goes without saying that the food Cyndie and her mom served up was plentiful and divine.

One particularly noteworthy moment of the small-world phenomena came as Mike and Barb were headed down the steps toward Marie’s car for the short drive to the Hayward airport. We had invited a neighboring Wildwood member, Julie, to join us for dinner since she was here alone this weekend. Having visited all day and through the meal on first-name introductions, it wasn’t until we were leaving and Cyndie and Julie were inside cleaning up after the meal that Cyndie mentioned Mike’s Architecture firm does restaurants.

Julie asked what his last name was and then rushed out to re-introduce herself using her last name to reveal Mike and Julie had been working together, albeit, remotely, on one of her restaurants.

Surprise, surprise. And an electric moment for all.

Marie and I watched Barb and Mike’s plane lift off into the hazy air as they departed on their return flight to their lake place in Grand Rapids, MN.

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Mike reported the visibility as “Hayseeee.”

Their visit and the grand day at this lake place were a really nice distraction. Unfortunately, the reality I want to be distracted from remains a cold, hard fact… Still.

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Written by johnwhays

July 17, 2021 at 7:50 am

Getting Away

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We have made a quick change of scene, which comes at a convenient time to allow our minds to stray from the heavy angst associated with Wednesday’s violent upheaval in all things chicken-related.

Yesterday, Cyndie’s mom drove out to our place and the moment I arrived home from work, the three of us packed up Marie’s car and headed up to the lake.

We picked up a take-n-bake pizza from Coop’s that tasted more scrumptious than ever and turned on the replay of the 17th stage of the Tour de France on the satellite TV.

It served as a balm for my wounded psyche.

Festivities for today involve a visit from special guests. The Wilkuses are flying to the Hayward airport from their cabin near Grand Rapids, MN. How fun is that?!

Primary objective: Swim in the lake. Followed closely by eating too much fun food, gabbing away for hours on end, and probably one more dip in the lake, just because it’s there.

We’ll try to pretend this getaway keeps us from thinking about the loss of almost all of our chickens.

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Written by johnwhays

July 16, 2021 at 6:00 am

Returned Home

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Traffic from the holiday weekend added about 40-minutes to our drive home from the lake. The usual intersections that tend to cause backups were significantly more backed up due to the increased volume. Other than those choke points, we rolled along reasonably well.

The highlight sight when we reached our driveway was the view of our fields freshly cut and dotted with multiple round bales of hay. We’d gone from telling our renter that the fields wouldn’t be available because we planned to let the horses graze them, to asking him to do us the favor of cutting them because the horses didn’t eat as much grass as anticipated.

The chickens have grown enough over the weekend that an unknowing eye wouldn’t be able to see a difference in age. At the same time, I am not ready to claim it obvious which of the Rockettes are going to be roosters.

Upon our return, I finally was able to unpack my travel gear from the bike trip, the weekend memorial for Cyndie’s dad, and the following weekend of 4th of July events. I am ready to be home for more than just a brief visit.

I still feel as though I have yet to process the joys of bicycling and camping with fellow adventurers back in the middle of June, let alone the whirlwind of happenings since.

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I met some wonderful new people who richly enhanced cherished moments when I was able to reconnect with precious riding friends from previous years. It was a little disorienting to depart the ride a couple of days early, but I am clinging to my memories of the notable times I shared conversation with several special people and the many laughs with groups of others achieved before I had to make my early exit.

One particular extended climb stands out for me among the many we faced because it forced me to stop partway to take a break and shortly thereafter had me walking my bike at the steepest incline. I’m afraid I no longer have the lung capacity to feed the needs of my leg muscles to endure hill-climbing like I used to.

Luckily, cleaning up horse manure in our paddocks doesn’t involve hill-climbing of any significance. I can do that all day, and after being away for another weekend, there is about a day’s worth available for the scooping. I am at another transition point where it is very possible the bike will be hung up for the rest of the summer while my time pursuits will be focused on projects on our property and up at the lake that don’t require pedaling.

One thing I’d like to accomplish is to convert some of the old deck boards into a small covered firewood storage rack for the lake place. I’m looking forward to being home again for a few weeks and resuming the rhythms of my usual routine. Hopefully, it can lead to time for a little extra-curricular carpentry.

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Written by johnwhays

July 6, 2021 at 6:00 am

4th Montage

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Road Miles

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My objective was to balance distance and time on the bike seat this weekend to condition my body for the week-long bicycle tour that begins in less than a week. I am happy to report progress was made in both regards, despite suffering a minor chafing wound after my first hour of riding on Friday night.

A topical treatment and altered riding wear seemed to protect my skin from added abuse during my time on the saddle yesterday morning.

I’m just a shadow of my former riding self, but a couple of shots from a rescue inhaler, the comfort adjustments where it matters most, and the addition of priceless companionship from lifelong friends provided a memorable glimpse of the true joys of biking I remember from my glory days of cycling.

One particular highlight for me was the moment when I took a big swig of water in my mouth just as Paul said something hilarious and Beth questioned what he’d said. The exchange caused me to choke on the water and I blew the whole mouthful out to protect inhaling it, covering me and my bike.

A few miles on and I noticed a big drop of water riding on the face of my cycle computer display. Oops.

Our first loop brought us back to the driveway a bit before we were ready to quit, so we continued off in the other direction for additional miles that brought my mileage to a respectable total of 24 for the ride.

The big plus for me was to finish without feeling totally exhausted by the effort, which has been the usual case the other times I’ve ridden this season.

I won’t be in my best riding shape by the time the tour starts, but I won’t be in my worst shape, either.

Unfortunately, I won’t have any preparation time for the camping in a tent and sleeping on the ground part of the tour. I’ll have zero preparatory sleeping-bag hours under my belt this year. It’s not a concern though, as my ability to close my eyes and be asleep almost instantly has become more enhanced over the years.

Doing so after a full day of biking makes it all the easier to achieve.

Tour of Minnesota 2021, here I come.

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Written by johnwhays

June 13, 2021 at 7:00 am