August 2017

Firefly Lake

By |2017-11-01T11:34:24-05:00August 14th, 2017|Categories: Airstreaming, Family, Summer|Tags: |

We recently returned from a week long camping trip to Firefly Lake, near Boulder Junction, WI.   Part of the Northern Highland – American Legion State Forest, this is truly one of the most beautiful places in all of Wisconsin.     With no electricity, we were forced to depend on batteries and occasional generator use.  The lake was home of some beautiful wildlife, including loons that would entertain us throughout the day.  I purchased a floating island and unicorn and we had a great time spending most of our days relaxing on the lake.

Firefly Lake Sunset

Our inflatable toys in preparation for their maiden voyage.

Transportation of the toys was a bit of a challenge, but we had good help!

Jay fishing the lake for the record breaking Musky!

Getting ready to grill.  Hamburgers and hot dogs were a hit!

Out on a family bike ride.

After just finishing the Ragbrai, I had plenty of nice kits to wear.  This one stored our beers…

Storage of the unicorn when not in the water.

Of course, that doesn’t stop her from climbing onto the camper to relax….

Just another Black and White shot..

A quick attempt at a long exposure shot while enjoying a night time campfire

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RAGBRAI 2017 Overview

By |2020-03-27T07:17:20-05:00August 3rd, 2017|Categories: Family|Tags: |

I am back to work now for several days after spending most of Sunday working on cleaning out the camper and getting the kids situated and ready for their work schedules.   As I reflect back on the my most recent RAGBRAI experience (my 4th now), I must say that I am especially grateful to Lee for making this a reality in my life once again.  Prior to this time, the RAGBRAI was something that I never ever thought or wanted to do again.

My now ex-wife and I used to do these rides together with our family and unbeknownst to me I found out that she was having an affair with another married individual that she met on a bike ride.  She would even tell me that she was riding with this person and I thought nothing of it at the time.   It was many months later that I learned the bitter truth of what they were doing during their rides.  I hung on for a year, hoping it would stop, but it never did.  His wife suddenly died with cancer which only simplified their choice of eventual marriage and a life “happily ever after”.

Riding a bicycle after those very dark years would make me literally ill.   I tried to force myself many times to get on a bike, but couldn’t force the images and emotional pain I felt out of my head,  finally giving it up, hanging my bike up in the garage where it collected dust for many years and believing at the time that I would never ride again.

Through this whole process, I managed to rekindle my friendships with many people of my past, several of which were my friends from my college days.  They were there for me throughout the entire dark time in my life and have now become very close.   Lee, my former roommate and the best man at my wedding, was one of those friends that I grew close too once again and it was as if there was no loss in time as we have had many fun times with each other and our respective families.  He was the one that would always ask me about the RAGBRAI and how it was on his bucket list and that he really wanted me to do it with him.  I insisted that I was not interested at all.  He knew how I felt about riding bike again, but persisted nonetheless.  (Did I mention that Lee is a professional therapist?   I think he used his superb skills to finally convince me to ride again).

Since Lee NEVER quits or gives up (one of his endearing features), I reluctantly agreed to do the ride again this year with him at my side.    I truly believe that Lee’s desire to participate in the RAGBRAI was only partially to serve his own desires to complete something that he has known about for many years.  More importantly, at least to me, was that I believe Lee wanted to see me finally get on a bike and mentally force myself to suppress the demons that had prevented me from even considering doing this ever again.  I can not thank him enough!

Luke, me and Lee. This would never have happened had it not been for Lee.

With the full support and outright encouragement of Natalie, my new love, I started planning for the ride as best I could with my work schedule.  Training wasn’t as I would have wanted it to be, but it would be enough to see me through this relatively easy physical challenge.  Lee and three of his friends joined us and I was lucky enough to have one of my favorite sons (Luke) ride with us and one of my other favorite sons (Noah) drive our Airstream to Orange City and to all the overnight towns on the route (a generally boring job, but he smiled a lot over the weekend for sure and was very helpful along the way).  It was a great experience that will for ever more be filled with nothing but enjoyable memories and funny stories to recall in the years to come.

As I sit here contemplating all the energy that went into planning, preparation and participating in this great bicycle ride, I can’t help but to dream about the future ones I will be participating in, almost certainly with Lee at my side (or at least within two miles ahead of me on the route) and our loving friends and hopefully many members of both of our families, peddling their way from west to east, corn, bacon, pancakes and beer everywhere,  during the hot and humid Iowan summer.

Finally, to top off the entire week, while Luke, Noah and I were driving back home from Lansing,  Luke said, “Dad, that was the best RAGBRAI ever!”

Luke couldn’t have been more correct!

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July 2017

RAGBRAI – Day 7

By |2017-10-07T07:43:36-05:00July 29th, 2017|Categories: Family|Tags: |

The entire route will be new RAGBRAI territory as will journey travels 44.8 miles with some nice climbs totaling 3,200 feet throughout Allamakee County. You will not think you are in Iowa as scenic landscape and winding scenic byways show off the splendor of the Driftless Area. RAGBRAIers will visit the town of Waterville for the very first time and then ride through the Yellow River State Forest. Riders will then pull into Harpers Ferry, another first time RAGBRAI community. Riders can dip their tires if they wish in the Mississippi River at one of Harpers Ferry’s many boat ramps. The last 13 mile leg of RAGBRAI XLV will travel north along the Great River Road as we travel to Lansing to end is the beautiful river town on Lansing. If you didn’t get enough fun on the bike, you can climb the ultra-steep Mt. Hosmer just blocks from downtown and the river. Lansing will be a great ending to RAGBRAI XLV!

This was a tough, but very fun and very scenic leg of the RAGBRAI!   Luke, Lee and I lost each other early on, but were able to meet up the last 20 or so miles.  Those hills were killers, but both Luke and I agreed that we would much rather have the diversity the hills bring us rather than the flat flat flat areas we encountered on the western edge of the state.   Some of the very steep inclines lasted more than 1-2 miles and despite sharing the roadway with perhaps 30 people within a very short distance, there was no noise, no talking and just heavy breathing as we all trudged ever so slowly to the tops.

The Mississippi river valley is absolutely gorgeous and despite living here for a large portion of my life, I will never get tired of the beauty.  The changes in elevation even brought some drastic changes in temperature with us experiencing very low 50s in the deeper shade-covered valleys and then out in the sun at the tops of the hills it was in the high 70s.  I stopped several times during the last 10 miles to take pictures and Lee and Luke went on ahead, but luckily they waited for me at the end so we could all experience the ride into Lansing together.

Once there, according to RAGBRAI tradition, we dipped our front bike tires into the Mississippi River (the back tires are traditionally dipped into the Missouri River at the start of the ride) an finished our few miles into town.  Noah was waiting for us in town and we hung out for awhile as the remaining team members arrived.  Brandon, broke a chain while en-route and the Air Force, once again, came to his rescue!

Luke, Noah and I headed out in the early afternoon and were able to make it back to Steinthal by 7:30 PM, just in time for a movie and popcorn.  One of their personal favorites!

 

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RAGBRAI – Day 6

By |2017-10-07T07:43:36-05:00July 28th, 2017|Categories: Family|Tags: |

Route Map – Day 6

The route travels 60.1 miles as we climb 2,483 feet.  RAGBRAIers will visit Decorah during the 51st annual Nordic Fest, which celebrates their Norwegian heritage.  We’ll ride through Decorah for the first time since 1999 and we’ll ride past one of Iowa’s top breweries in Toppling Goliath.  RAGBRAI will then make a return visit to the town of Ossian before travel to Castalia and Postville for the first time before making their way into Waukon.  Friday is College Spirit Day where we encourage you to proud wear your school’s jersey or apparel.

This day was a falshback for me.  We left Cresco for Decorah, home of Lee and my beloved alma mater, Luther College.   Of course we had to stop and tour the college and pick up a few items from the bookstore before heading into downtown Decorah which also happened to be hosting the Nordic Fest.    We decided to bypass the crowds and ate breakfast in Ruby’s Restaurant.  The place was packed and Luke, Lee and I waiting for seating along with a single rider in his early 60’s.  The hostess had a table for four available and asked if the four of us would like to sit together.  We agreed and had the best conversation with a high-level former NASA engineer and Iranian immigrant who lead the development of NASA’s Earth Observing System (EOS) during the Clinton Administration.    He currently is working on top secret projects for the government and is a professor of engineering at the Univeristy of Maryland.    The conversations were fascinating and it was immensely satisfying to watch Lukas and our new guest engage in very intelligent (albeit it over my head) engineering conversation.   All I have to say is:

GEEKS!!!!!

After breakfast we hit the road and road through Ossian (my boyhood home), Castalia, Postville (home of a large orthodox Jewish community) and then Waukon, the last home of my mother prior to her untimely death about 20 years ago and where she was buried.

Waukon was an absolute BLAST!    Noah found a great site (once again) parked along the East Elementary School and we were within a short walking distance to the downtown.  That night, we witnessed Hairball.   This band was a true event that brought back great memories of the big hair eighties rock bands!    My ears rang for two days after the concert as Lee and I, unwisely perhaps, decided the best location was to be 3 rows back.   There were well over 15,000 people packed in the street watching this and although I have been to four rides previously,  it was the first time I really had any idea of the magnitude of the Ragbrai.    Very impressive indeed!

Just a little disarray in the camper…..Only a little…..We knew where everything was, most of the time….

My collection of beer tent wrist bands….

Downtown Decorah just prior to our departure

Our home for four great years!

Luke and me in my boyhood hometown

Chilling out in Ossian.

Our camper was in just a slight disarray. We knew where everything was, most of the time.

Hairball – A Truly Epic Event!

The 50-year young crowd up front!

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Sunset

By |2017-10-05T08:16:05-05:00July 11th, 2017|Categories: Boating, Family|Tags: |

Enjoyed a beautiful sunset from the lake and then headed to the south pier for ice cream.   Really couldn’t have been a better night!

Take Five Docked on the south pier while enjoying an ice cream cone at the South Pier Parlor.

The view from just outside the harbor

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Independence Day

By |2017-10-31T14:02:06-05:00July 5th, 2017|Categories: Boating, Family|Tags: |

Loved the fireworks over the holiday despite being on call.  Take Five was packed with friends and family and we spent 3 nights on the south pier.

Waiting for the parade to start

Preparing to dock Take Five in the river for the holiday

Take Five’s flag on July 4th

Luke and Emily enjoying the show from the flybridge

Luke and his friends got us all interested in “The Nalgene Game”. I lost…..miserably

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May 2017

Evening Moonrise

By |2017-11-01T14:41:54-05:00May 11th, 2017|Categories: Boating, Photography, Steinthal, The Lodge|Tags: |

The evening moonrise overlooking Echo Lake a few nights ago.  There is still a lot of water that needs to recede, but we are getting close to starting our summer season at The Lodge.   The lawn will be mowed today or tomorrow and we are looking forward to our first guests in a week.

 

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April 2017

March 2017

Snow, snow, go away!

By |2017-10-07T07:53:35-05:00March 30th, 2017|Categories: Family|Tags: |

This morning I woke up to snow on the windshield. It sometimes seems like it will never end. Making it very difficult to work on the airstream in preparation for summer camping.

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