Monday, March 23, 2015

How I spent my winter vacation

Remember back in grade school when one of the first assignments of the new school year in September was to write a report on “How I spent my summer vacation”?

I always had trouble with that as my summer vacations at that age were spent playing outside, mostly amusing myself by kicking an empty can up and down a dirt road, or maybe going for a swim down at the lake, or riding my bike when I had one. The stuff of a rural life back then during the Pleistocene was sorely lacking in excitement compared to schoolmates who actually ‘went away’ somewhere.  So let’s just say my report was usually pretty short and quite uninteresting.

Well in the intervening decades not much has changed, except that with retirement the summer vacation has now become the winter vacation – that 6 months when the roads are too snowy and icy to ride and the golf courses are all shut down. For a few years the missus and I tried Freeze Your Ass Off_w540_h407the ‘went away’ option but the weather never cooperated and, except for the lack of snow, freezing our asses off in Myrtle Beach, or Tampa, didn’t seem that much different from freezing our asses off at home in White Lake.

So this year, except for a brief trip to New York City (where we froze our asses off), we stayed home.

Reading the periodic updates of ScooterBob’s travels and about rides taken by blogging friends in more hospitable climes only did so much to manage the cabin fever. I needed something else to do and it wasn't to take up year-round riding like Richard or Dom.

Fortunately the daughter had just moved into a new apartment and needed ‘a few things’ to finish it off. And since I needed ‘a few things’ to do she was more than willing to provide a list. (There’s ALWAYS a list.) So out came the woodworking tools, having been mostly neglected for the past few years, the dust was brushed off the various piles of lumber I had been saving for that someday special project, and I went to work. Here are some of the results:

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Small chest – cherry.

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Hall bench – pine and maple.

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Laundry bin – cherry, maple, oak.

I'm an inveterate serial hobbyist, going full steam at one thing or another for a few years, then branching off to something else for a while, and then to yet something else again. In fact, the only ‘hobby’ that I have consistently enjoyed has been motorcycling, which may make it more lifestyle than hobby I suppose. But regardless, I guess it was just the right time to get back in touch with wood, and it felt great to be ‘hands on’ again.

Now for the next project. Where’s that list?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Summer’s coming – where to ride?

They tell me (and I believe it to be true) that eventually this miserable winter will end and we’ll have some fine summer riding coming up. Which leads to the inevitable question: Do I want to do a road trip? And to where? Actually that’s 2 questions but they are pretty closely related so I’ll beg forgiveness.
If you are lost for ideas, the people over at Discovery News have a suggested route that will take you to all 48 contiguous states and provide an opportunity to visit 50 major landmarks such as the Grand Canyon, Fort Sumter, Mount Rushmore (and, presumably, countless lesser-known landmarks, large lobsters, Paul Bunyan statues, etc. that might be encountered en route). I’ve only seen 11 of the 50 designated sites, which I expect is probably close to the norm, so there are lots of new places to be visited out there.
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To do the entire trip would take about 240 hours or so of driving, or 2 to 3 months depending on how big a hurry you are in. But since it’s a big loop you can start and end anywhere you like, chopping the route into a multi-year adventure if so inclined, or even a moto-blogger challenge of some sort.
Just something else to consider when making plans, especially if the Ashfall Fossil Beds in Nebraska are on your bucket list. (I had to look that one up – could be interesting.) .
(The route was calculated by doctoral student Randy Olson who’s qualifications seemed to be that he had previously developed a search strategy for finding Waldo. He describes that process here in some detail. Worth a read as well.)