Monday, December 28, 2009
Thanks to my Brother in Law Joe for lending me a small number of his many weigh lifting trophies for this picture!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Austin can get really cold. I was expecting warm Texas sunshine. Instead it was cold and rained most of the time. Not cool, not cool at all.
Austin is a party town. The main industries are the state government and the colleges. It is not all that different from Columbus. There are bars all over the place and these kids know how to kick loose. Many of the bars are clustered on 6th street. It is just one big bar after another, block after block. Not really my scene, but it was fun to see.
As part of my training, we visited the National Fraud Museum. It was small but well done. If you are geek and into this sort of thing, plan a special trip to Austin. They will welcome you with open arms.
The food is excellent. I ate Tex-Mex constantly and could not get enough of the homemade, fresh salsa. One restaurant reminded me of Uruguay with its outdoor mesquite barbeque set up for cooking. You could smell the wood smoke a block away. In Uruguay, this is very common both in restaurants and in private homes. I think I will always associate the smell of meat cooking over wood fire with cool nights beside the ocean in Uruguay.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I wasn’t sure exactly how long it would take me to cover 180 miles. I planned on three days, two nights, an average of about 60 miles per day. This is a bit slow, but I was not sure how much my body could take day after day. Certainly the third day would be much harder than the first. Elly was nice enough to drive me down to Cincinnati and drop me off next to the trail.
The trail starts out in a small metro park just outside the city limits about ¼ mile from the Ohio river. For the first 75 miles I followed the Little Miami Scenic Trail, most of which is built on an old railroad grade. I climbed the small elevation out of Cincinnati and immediately entered a forested area. The trees were turning gold, red, and brown and the air smelled like fall. I felt good, my legs were anxious to get moving. I had strapped quite a bit of camping equipment to the back of the bike, but it did not feel like too much of a burden.
The first town I came to was Loveland, Ohio. I was barely large enough to notice. The distinguishing factor was a large brick factory right alongside the trail that was abandoned many years ago. Little towns usually have the feel of a patient on life support. It is hard, but the young people leave for opportunity. There was a nice downtown that I quickly biked past. Some people sitting outside at a café pointed at me, it was fun to be mysterious and interesting.
I continued north, past King’s Island, a large amusement park very popular in Ohio. I did not see the park but I could hear the roller coasters. The trail was about 10 feet wide, paved, and in good condition. There were some people on the trail but there were long stretches when I had it to myself. After another 10 miles I reached Morrow, Ohio. Morrow did not have much to distinguish itself, but it did have a very nice public restroom right along the trail. Thank you Morrow!
Just north of Morrow was the largest collection of Harley riders I have ever seen. They were everywhere. A couple times I had to stop my bike and walk around great groups of rides walking slowly along the trail drinking beer. They made way for me but sadly no one offered to share any beer with me. A mile later I had the trail to myself.
I planned to have dinner in Corwin, Ohio then ride a few more miles until I reached the Frontier Campground. When I reached Corwin I was disappointed to see a lack of restaurants. This was bad news as I was out in the middle of nowhere and it was getting late. Ten miles to get dinner was not an attractive option. I was settling into the thought of eating my emergency packaged food (blah!) when I decided to call Elly to see if she could find anything on the internet. Problem solved, just ¼ mile away there was another town (Waynesville) with a pizza shop.
Anyone who travels with me knows that I have good luck in finding interesting things to do and fun places to eat. It takes me longer to get places, but it is a good time. Pulling into Waynesville, I could not believe my luck. That very night was the Ohio Sauerkraut Festival! There were about 200 booths all selling various sauerkraut items. I feasted on fried sauerkraut balls, fried oreos, and sauerkraut pizza. It was a great Festival and I thank Waynesville for the friendliness extended to the hungry, tired stranger on the bike who clearly did not belong.
My stomach full and my spirits lifted I sprinted the seven miles to the Frontier Campground. I should say, I sprinted to the place where the campground was supposed to be. Bad news, it was nowhere to be found. I kept riding up and down the trail looking but I never did find it. The sun was disappearing below the horizon and it was getting cold. I had lights on my bike, but I did not want to keep going, especially knowing that there were no other campgrounds anywhere near. I rode until I reached Spring Valley, Ohio. Spring Valley is a small collection of houses and a tiny main street with one store. They did have a nice big park though that I made my home for the night. I set up in a quiet, dark corner and tried to be as unobtrusive as possible. Lights out was 9pm and I was happy to snuggle up in my sleeping bag as I tried to ward off the 33 degree temperatures that night.
I awoke the next morning at 5am cold but in good spirits. My plan was to get everything packed up and get out of there before the sun came up. A minor bike repair took nearly a half hour in the dark, but I was on the road by 6:30, heading north. The trail consisted of long straight stretches through farm fields. It was cold and lonesome land, but it was beautiful. I rode the twelve miles north until I reached Xenia, Ohio. Xenia is a larger city as evidenced by the many fast food restaurants, a public library, and a profusion of banks. I asked a local where the best place to get breakfast might be. She recommended a biscuit and gravy place that sounded like heaven to my cold and hungry stomach. I put aside my vegan diet and prepared to feast. Horror of horrors, it was closed and I could not bring myself to eat in one of the fast food restaurants, so with a heavy heart I pointed my wheel north and continued on. One fun thing is that the local Chamber of Commerce was shooting a promotional video and I will be featured. Look for the hungry bicyclist in red riding past the Xenia Station. Pulling out of town I also saw a large Turkey Vulture that appeared to think I was going to be his nest meal.
About ten very flat and straight miles took me to Cedarville, Ohio. Cedarville is a cool little town with a great coffee shop. They accommodated my hunger and sent enough coffee my way to bring a smile to my face. The sun came out, it started to warm up, and life was good. Pulling out of Cedarville I realized there was nowhere I would rather be at that moment.
I continued on through the vast farm fields. I passed corn, soy, and wheat. There was a hog farm I passed outside of South Charleston that smelled so bad I started to have dry heaves. I rode fast and put it behind me. I kept going until I reached London, Ohio where I stopped for a short lunch and some time to give my butt a rest. At that point in the trip I started to feel the strain of the distance and my butt was getting uncomfortably numb. I also realized that I was close enough to Columbus to make the push to sleep in my own bed that night. A few miles outside London, the bike trail ends and it was all road riding the remaining 25 miles. Road riding is less fun. People in cars are rude, they yell and act like idiots. Someone threw a soda at me but luckily missed. I caught up with him a few miles down the road and stopped and stared long enough to make him feel very uncomfortable. It is best not to mess with someone who slept the night before in a town park in the frigid cold, then got denied biscuits and gravy.
I made it home in time for dinner that night. Overall it was a great trip and I am looking forward to part 2 of the journey up to Cleveland. I did manage to blow my knee out in the final ten miles and I am still suffering pain from that. My new touring bike was excellent and I am really happy with it. Next time I will pack less, plan to cover more miles, and get a new knee.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
On Sunday was the 30th Annual Columbus Marathon, hosting 15,000 runners. The marathon starts downtown and winds all through the various neighborhoods of Columbus. It is amazing how much ground 26.6 miles covers. The course went from urban downtown through city parks, to quaint German Village, past Ohio State, up to the inner suburbs of Upper Arlington, the wound back down to downtown. A great course matched only by the leaves on the trees in many fall shades.
I volunteered with the Red Cross to staff one of the many first aid stations along the route. We were warned up front that the worst injuries would be psychological. This proved accurate. One runner blew her knee out and completely lost it when told that she would not be able to run the remaining 11 miles of the race. She described her pain as 10 out of 10 and could not put weight on the knee, but she refused to quit. There were various other similar incidents. One runner was taken away in an ambulance after an episode of hysteria when she realized that she could not keep going.
The sacrifice required to train for an event like a marathon is incredible. Practice calls for years of steady training and caution. All runners suffer injuries that constantly nag. It is a brutal sport, especially when the biggest reward is personal satisfaction. A runner who completes the marathon walks away with no more than a T shirt and a few pats on the back from friends. I was happy to end the day with no serious injuries. The Detroit Marathon the same day experienced three runner deaths due to heart attacks.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
This philosophy resonates with me. I see in myself the need for interesting work, a good home life, and the feeling that I am part of making the world a better place. When I chose to become an accountant, I knew that these parts of my life would necessarily be separate. The four years that I worked for a socially responsible start-up is perhaps the only exception. Otherwise, I have been actively involved with non-profits during my off hours. This was disrupted when I moved from Pittsburgh to Columbus three years ago. The non-profits I worked with in Pittsburgh were all local and by moving I broke my link with them.
I struggled to find my next volunteer opportunity for two years, considering one idea after another. Over Christmas my Father in Law suggested that I look into the Red Cross. This proved to be the direction I needed. Quickly I got involved with the Columbus Red Cross First Aid Service Team. So far this year I have worked providing first aid at seventeen varied events. Last week the Red Cross invited me to take additional training so that I can take a more senior position in the organization.
It is a relief to feel like I am giving back to the community. It is fun and important work that we do. Usually we are the first on the scene of injuries, accidents, and medical problems. It is a serious role that we play, which is good for me because I am a serious person. Free access to a variety of interesting events is a plus as is the appreciation people have for the help that we lend.
Ohio State vs Wisconsin - October 10, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
One of the reasons I started my blog was because I have always suspected that a lot of interesting things happen to us every day. Looking back we remember mostly the big stuff, but not all the little things that give our lives color. The blog is my way of documenting some of the color in my life. It has been a good year for me full of unique experiences, there are not too many blogs based out of Uruguay!
Volunteering with the Red Cross at the Ohio State University spring graduation.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
The Festival is about showing pride in being gay, lesbian, or transsexual. While most of the participants were just like the participants in any festival, this festival has drag queens and nudity. It is unlike anything I have done with the Red Cross. There were a couple people who were not happy to see the Red Cross there as the Red Cross as a policy does not accept blood donations from gay men. This is perceived by some as anti-gay. We were able to engage the people who challenged us by explaining that we were volunteers who were there for the safety of the crowd.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
It was a pretty quiet night from an injury perspective. There was a heart attack which was taken care of by the paramedics. We handed out a few band-aids and a few cold packs. My main role was to expertly show people how to use the aspirin machine in the hall. I am surprised there were not more injuries as alcohol was flowing freely throughout the event.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
This week in the CSA, we received:
- beet greens
- tiny bok choy
- rhubarb stalks
- loaf of chibatta bread