Yellowstone Ski Trip

Posted by Dutchman Monday, September 28, 2009 2 comments

I saw an article today about the potential for snow in Yellowstone National Park over the next few days. It reminded me of the trip we took in February of 1988 to ski in Yellowstone.

I have two sons. They couldn't be any more different from each other. One likes sports, the other does not. One likes to eat Mexican, Burger King, and pasta. The other hates those, but likes Subway, Chinese, and fish. One likes to go to bed and get up early, the other stays up all night whenever he gets a chance. One saves every dollar while a dollar will burn a hole in the pocket of the other. One likes sci-fi and horror movies and the other likes sports and historical flicks. One tackles school work with ease, the other has to put forth major effort.
While this makes things difficult for a parent, perhaps in some ways it is a good thing. As a parent, you have to learn to deal with each child's diversity. If you didn't have this sort of challenge, being a parent might be pretty boring. In trying to see life through each child's eyes, you might just open up new horizons for yourself.

Fishing - Graham Lakes

Posted by Dutchman Saturday, September 26, 2009 2 comments

Loaded up the Wenonah Escape and went fishing at Graham Lakes over at Bald Mountain North. There was no wind, overcast skies, and temps in the mid 50s. Not a bad morning. But, what I noticed, once I paid attention, was that over the foreground sound of argueing Blue Jays and chattering chickadees, was the distant sound of traffic. In our area, you can't escape it. You have to go pretty far to escape that sound of large trucks and heavy traffic on major roads.

Caught no fish, but enjoyed a morning paddle with my son, Tyler.

Weigh-in Day Week 2

Posted by Dutchman 0 comments

Weight - 231.5 Loss for week - 3 Loss so far - 6


Bikes I've Owned - Part Three

Posted by Dutchman Wednesday, September 23, 2009 1 comments

1993 - Current

Giant Sedona DX - In the summer of 2006, the coach of my son's baseball team began to bug me about a return to bicycle riding. At first, I ignored him, as I had already determined that years of de-generation of my right hip, had reduced my range of motion to the point where I could no longer ride. I checked out having a hip replacement but had been convinced by more than one doctor to wait as long as possible, as they don't last long, and you probably only get 2 shots at replacements. I can remember the day in 2006, when I pulled the old Fuji Touring IV down out of the garage, pumped up the now 21 year old tires (which actually held air) and tried to ride around my cul-de-sac. I had tears in my eyes as I realized I couldn't turn the cranks even 1 time with my right leg. He peristed and suggested that maybe a more upright bike might work, so in the spring of 2007, I purchased a Giant Sedona for $450, not even knowing if I could ride it. By raising the bars and seat post, I managed to straighten out enough that I could actually ride it a couple of miles. I started adding miles, out the nearby rail trail.

Giant Trance II - Next, the "coach" (later to be known as the "Dirt Road Commuter") talked me into getting rid of the Sedona in favor of his used Trance mountain bike. This I did, as it was easier to spend the $500 than to listen to his constant nagging. I now ride the Trance whenever off road.

Rans T-rex - In the fall of 2007, the "coach" started bugging me about a DALMAC ride. It is a 4 day ride from Lansing to Mackinaw City, Michigan. You average about 80 miles per day. That of course wasn't going to happen on a "comfort" bike, so he suggested a recumbent. I spent most of the winter researching these, while riding an indoor recumbent exercycle, and in the early spring purchased a used Rans from eBay for $950. I rode it a few times, but didn't really notice much difference between riding it and the comfort bike as far as my hip was concerned. It was then that I wondered if perhaps, due to the riding, some range of motion had returned. So, out came the Fuji Touring IV, whose tires I pumped up (they still held air). I rode it a mile and determined that I indeed could again ride a road bike.

Cannondale Caad 7 Sobe' - I sold the Rans Trex after only riding it a few miles. I recieved $900 from the eBay auction, and turned it around on a Cannondale. After training the summer of 2008, I rode 2 days of the DALMAC in late August.

Cannondale SR500 - The Caad 7 was a good bike, but the frame geometry was a little long for me. While shopping on eBay for a frame for my son, I came across an SR500 frame. This frame is more of sport touring geometry as opposed to the criterium racing geometry of the Caad 7. So, I managed to win the brand new, never been used SR500 frame for $87. I built it up with all new Ultegra triple components, and it is this bicycle that I now ride on the road. The Caad 7 was stripped, the parts and frame sold on eBay for about $1000, which is more than the original used bike cost, 8 months before.

Bicycles are fun. They are more fun to take apart and put together than to ride. Also, they make really great directions hanging from all the walls and rafters of your garage.

Bikes I've Owned - Part Two

Posted by Dutchman Tuesday, September 22, 2009 0 comments

1975 - 1993

Fuji Touring Series IV (1985) - The mid-eighties ushered in the period of time where 10K races and tri-athlons became popular. My wife and I took off enough time from horseback riding (we lived on a hobby farm in north central Illinois), to purchase bicycles. We lived out in the country, just south of the state of Wisconsin, where the many black topped country roads were a mecca for cycling. A local triathlon bike segment passed by our home that summer, and she determined that she would one day compete in a tri-athlon. For her, I purchase a Miyata 12 speed, and I found a slightly used Fuji touring bike at the local bike shop. The Fuji was a heavy duty touring bike with a triple crankset, giving me 18 speeds. I loved the bike, but didn't find a lot of time to ride. I taught my wife how to swim competitively (I belonged to my high school swim team for 4 years) and she started doing tri-athlons. She also began to hang out with the younger, single set, at the local YMCA. One day, we went out for a ride, and when we came to the intersection near our home, where you had to pick a fork, she asked which way I was going. I said "left". She said "good", and went right. Our marriage kind of did the same thing a year or so later.

Cannondale Black Lightning - With my new found "single" freedom (1987), I decided to spend money on myself for a change. After 10 years of paying unglodly amounts of money for her horse hobby, I thought I deserved a new bicycle. The Fuji was a great bike, but a little heavy for general riding. I wanted a "fast" bike and was determined to ride more. This was especially true after my "ex" told me I'd never ride more than 5 miles and couldn't keep up with her. After the smooth comfortable ride of the Fuji, the Cannondale would rattle my teeth. Some people said that it's beer can tubes were so stiff that your brain would be damaged, causing memory loss. Others said . . . they said . . .
Sorry, forgot what I was going to say. Anyway, I was persistent, and was soon riding it an average of 100 miles per week. I decided to try and ride a metric century. My first choice was the Wenonah Century in Minnesota. I chose to ride the Fuji, as you had to ride up the palisades out of the Mississippi River valley near the beginning. In it's granny gear, I rode up the 3 mile hill where many others walked. I completed the ride. My next attempt though, I decided to ride the Cannondale. It was then that I learned that with it's stiffer frame and lighter weight, I could ride up the same hill with less effort and more speed by standing on the pedals. The Fuji began to collect dust. As a side note, my "ex" was really angry when she found out I purchased the bicycle for $800 (divorce wasn't quite final). She was even more angry when on a club ride later that summer, I left her well behind on a 32 mile ride.

During the spring, summer and fall of 1989, I rode 13 metric/English centuries, all on the Cannondale. I rode over 4000 miles.

Bob Jackson Custom - In 1991, I decided to build a custom bicycle from scratch. I purchased a Bob Jackson frame and outfitted it with Shimano Ultegra components. I built two sets of wheels for it. I never got much of a chance to ride it, as that summer, I started touring on the old Fuji. In 1992, I moved to Park City, Utah. The company I worked for paid for my move. United Van Lines packed and hauled everything. But, not the 3 bicycles. I didn't trust them with those.

In Park City, my time was taken up with work, skiing, backpacking, and trout fishing. And then in the spring of 1993, I decided to get married again. I moved back to Illinois and figuring my bike riding days were again at an end, sold the Bob Jackson to one friend, and the Cannondale to another. I kept the Fuji, which collected dust for the next 16 years.

Bikes I've Owned - Part One

Posted by Dutchman Monday, September 21, 2009 1 comments

Part of what makes bicycling fun for the more serious rider, are the machines themselves. Tinkering with and upgrading the equipment is almost as much fun as the ride itself. Following is a history of the bicycles I've owned, from 1966 through 1975.

Mutt - My first bike was an "unknown" as far as make and model. I received it when I was 10 years old. My sister's had those balloon tired monstrosities that usually came from Sears. I sometimes rode theirs, but did not have one of my own until I was diagnosed with Legg-Perthes disease part way through 5th grade. The disease affects the femoral head of your leg, resulting in it's softening. I had to have my right leg placed in a sling, and used crutches for about 18 months, as putting weight on that leg was extremely painful, and would cause damage to the bone when it re-hardened. The only two things I could do, was swim (nearly weightless) and bike ride, as the pressure is on your knee rather than hip. I needed to do this, in order to avoid atrophy of my leg muscles. My family didn't have a lot of money, so my parents purchased a used 26" bicycle the found in a newspaper ad. It had been repainted multiple times, had no markings, and was a single speed. It was heavy and ugly, but for those 18 months, I rode it almost every day, usually to the library, which was about a 5 mile round trip. I used two pieces of rope to tie my crutches to the top tube. I spent a lot of time explaining to people, why I could ride, but couldn't walk.

Huffy Three Speed - In 1969, my best friend and neighbor, moved with his family out of state. When they had their truck all loaded up, they discovered his Huffy three speed bicycle wouldn't fit. Mike gave me the bike. It had 27" wheels and was very fast compared to my old junker. With it's 3 speed internal hub, it was a huge technology upgrade, something my parents would never have been able to afford. A few months later, I stripped down the gold colored frame and repainted it a bright orange. Two years later, a friend cut in front of me on a turn, and his rear axle took out about 1/3 of the spokes in the front wheel. From above, the wheel looked like a figure 8. There was no way to come up with money for a new wheel, so I learned right then how to rebuild and true a wheel. I always wondered how that internal hub worked, but fortunately, didn't have the tools needed to take it apart, or I'd probable have never been able to ride the bike again.

Sears 10-Speed Free Spirit (Austrian Puch) - In 1974, my senior year of high school, a friend told me he was working at Sears building bicycles. He stated he could get me their top of the line 10 speed for $75 on his discount (I think it was priced at $150). I jumped. It was the first new bicycle I ever owned. Later I found out that he was building the bikes and sneaking them out the back door for friends. He'd pocket the $75. Sears got nothing. He was fired, but I had the bicycle. The frame was a cheap Puch from Austria and the parts were mostly from various eastern European countries. It worked well however, and with it's aluminum wheels was much lighter than the Huffy. With derailleurs, there was also much more with which to tinker. A standard day the following summer, was to ride it 7 miles to meet my friend, the 6 miles over the biggest hill in the area to get a drink from the well at the state park, then back. There wasn't much else to do. The bicycle served me well throughout my high school years. Once, I rode it 12 miles across the city to an aquarium shop. There I purchased a 10 gallon glass tank, and carried it back while riding through traffic with one hand.

In 1975, with a job and marriage, my bicycling days were pretty much at an end.

The Hit

Posted by Dutchman Sunday, September 20, 2009 2 comments

Since this is a Bachelor and SONS blog, here is a poem that my son Tyler wrote for Language Arts class last spring.

The Hit

Now it was our favorite player's chance
He walked to the plate, got into his stance.
The first pitch was hurled and around the bat came
It missed by an inch, was a strike just the same.
A second throw flew from the pitchers hand,
Strike two! Yelled the ump as the ball hit the sand,
And our player gave him a fierce look.
That was no strike and was low in anyone's book.

Now he had to be careful with a count so bad,
Se he lifted his elbow and leaned back just a tad,
And when the next throw came over the plate,
He swung with his might and all of his hate
And the ball left the park over the outfield gate.
Four runs won the game and sealed the other teams fate.

Weigh-in Day 6

Posted by Dutchman Saturday, September 19, 2009 0 comments

Weighed in at 234.5 for a loss of 3 lbs for the week.

Calories -

Coffee with cream - 20
Cin Raisin Bagle - 70

McD's Mac Snack - 325
Popcorn - 500

Pizza - 900
Fuze - 10

Total - 1825

Some Places You Go, To Which You Can Never Return

Posted by Dutchman Wednesday, September 16, 2009 1 comments

I was reading the blog of "The Dirt Road Bicycle Commuter" and his reference to the fleeting moments of summer, reminded me of a day back in late July of 1988. I remember the month and year easily, not only because of that day's experience, but because that was also the year of the Yellowstone fires, whose smoke we saw as we left the mountains.

My friend Tim and I were set to meet three of our friends from Minneapolis in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area. That summer was very hot and dry, and we were happy to arrive on the Beartooth Plateau, as the temperature was cool there compared to the 100 plus temperatures of the drive across the plains states. We spent the night at the Island Lake U.S.F.S campground up on the plateau, waiting for Mark, Phyllis, and Theresa to arrive.

The following day, after dividing the food and gear so as to evenly distribute the weight, we hefted our backpacks and headed north along the shores of Island and Night Lakes. The main trail continues on to Beauty lake, but we followed the side trail up to Becker Lake and then over the rise to Albino Lake. We camped for the night, near the outlet.

Tim and my other three companions were in pretty good shape, so the day's hike wasn't all the difficult for them, but for me, with the beginnings of osteoarthritis in the right hip, lugging a 60 pound backpack was painful and tiring. We settled in for the night, hanging our food bag off a nearby cliff, as we were above timberline, and were mindful of any possible visit from a grizzly bear. After we had left the main trail we had the area to ourselves. The only other person we saw was a ranger passing through in the evening. He was on rounds looking for fishing and camping violations.

The next morning, we loaded up and headed off trail and over the pass to Golden and Jasper Lakes. As we were above timberline, we could basically go wherever we wanted, barring too difficult topography and the occasional talus slope or snow field. Of course, you needed to be able to read a topo map. We stopped at Golden Lake while I fished for a while. I could see large cutthroat trout cruising along the shoreline, but they could also see me from the crystal clear water. We decided to camp for the night near the stream between the two lakes.

Next we headed in a northwest direction, taking the easiest path through tundra meadows, skirting small lakes and crossing over numerous snow fields. There was heavy snowfall the previous winter, and even though it was late July, there was still plenty of snow at this elevation (10,500 ft). We stopped for lunch and our conversation turned to our location and what was ahead. We didn't want to end up in the top of a dead end canyon, or come across a slope that was too difficult to traverse. Tim pulled out his topo map and pointed to where he thought we were. I disagreed with his pronouncement, believing he was only off by about 4 miles. I believed that if we were to head in the same direction, we'd come to a headwall, down which we could not go. If we veered to the right, we should come to a talus slope that while steep, might be manageable. If we made it down, we'd be in the upper end of a long slender hanging valley. We opted for my direction, and after about a 1/2 mile our location was confirmed, when we looked down upon the valley, where a small stream meandered (my correct interpretation of our location, won me the "navigator" designation for many of our future canoe, ski, and backpack trips).

Getting down the talus slope was no easy task. One missed step, or dislodged boulder could mean a broken ankle or worse. Once we were down, I was ready to camp. But, Tim, never tiring on any trip we ever did (he is an animal) lived up to his reputation with "but why are we stopping so soon, we could go another few miles". We kept moving, I got my second wind, and mad, raced ahead of everyone. We headed south-southeast, following the stream down the valley and after a couple of miles, with disgust, I threw down my pack. We had arrived at a small lake at the end of the valley. I was exhausted, in pain and wanted to go no further.

We decided to lay over the next day. We were totally secluded, saw no footprints along the stream, and were pretty sure very few people ever came to this place. My other four companions decided to day hike up the canyon below us to a glacier that sat at the foot of the canyon headwall. I, still tired, decided to hang out by the lake and fish for trout. I caught nothing. I skirted the lake, looking for a way down to the outlet. It appeared that the stream left the lake through a cleft between two cliffs. I could see no access, and couldn't go around, as the stream disappeared into the valley below after going over a waterfall. I gave up, turning to look for a place where I could heed the call of nature. I stood next to a small stunted pine shrub next to the cliff face, and when done, noticed that there was a narrow ledge by the shrub, that looked like it might head down the cliff face to the stream below. I followed it and found myself in a small amphitheatre. There were cliffs on the left and right. About 50 yards ahead was the lake, and behind was the waterfall that dropped over another cliff to the canyon below. The only access to this spot was down the narrow ledge I had followed. I was knee deep in wildflowers of every description and color, and through this ran the swift water of the stream to which my attention immediately turned. You have most likely heard of "buck fever". I had the shakes of "trout fever", as the riffles and cascades of the stream were caused by the numerous backs, dorsal and tail fins of large trout. I could hardly move for fear of spooking them out of the stream and into the lake. The instant my fly hit the water there was a mad splashing dash by every trout in the vicinity, all intent on devouring it. Every cast for the next hour resulted in a landed and released trout of 16 to 20 inches. All the while I kept an eye on my surroundings, as the thought entered my head, that if there is a grizzly bear anywhere in the area, it seams like this is the place it would be. I couldn't believe my luck. I had all this to myself. Maybe nobody else even knew of this place. Maybe nobody else had ever been here. Most likely, no fisherman will believe this story.

When my arms tired, I sat on a boulder for a while and admired the setting. The sun was bright, the lake a high altitude dazzling blue. The air was full of pine scent. The only sound was that made by the riffles of the stream and the waterfall. Perfect. Natural. After a while I climbed back up the hidden ledge and hiked back to the tents. My friends returned with stories of the frozen lake at the foot of the glacier and the days hike. I said nothing. Things can be so perfect that you can't put words to them. It as if your words would release a little of the wonder from you mind, somehow diffusing the experience.

I've never told anybody how to get to that small hanging valley, though I've occasionally mentioned to friends that I know of the place. Most likely, using a U.S.G.S topo map, you could follow this narrative and find it. It doesn't matter. It's not like a secret that needs to be kept. Over the next two days, as we hiked back out to the trailhead, it occurred to me that I can never go back there. It has been more than 20 years and I haven't gone back. It might not be the same. The sun won't be shining or the wildflowers won't be blooming. The trout won't have moved out of the lake into the stream. They won't be as big or will have been fished out. Maybe other people will have trampled the place. It is a moment fixed in my mind's eye and a return might tarnish the memory.

Here We Go

Posted by Dutchman Monday, September 14, 2009 1 comments

Ok. So I'm at 235 lbs. I have to get to 205 by December 31 in order to avoid a $200 expenditure.

So far today.

Coffee with cream - 40 cal.
Jimmy Delights Turkey Sausage Breakfast Bowl - 230 cal.
Campbell's Chunky Classic Chicken Noodle Soup - 220 cal. (I know, too much salt!)
Diet Coke (12oz) - 0 cal.
Boston Market Swedish Meatballs - 720 cal

Total Calories for the day: 1210 cal.

Initial Entry

Posted by Dutchman 2 comments

When you are young and without much responsiblity, you tend to be active and exercise. But, once you get married, have kids, and decay into that stereotypical suburban lifestyle, you gain weight, become sedentary, spend too much time at the office, and escape from your mundane reality by watching television.

Just when you have become contented with this, somebody comes along and stirs the pot. In my case, it was my youngest son's baseball coach. He starts showing up to practices on a mountain bike. He rides 10 miles to get to the field. He thinks of himself as some sort of biking evangelist, and digging into your past, finds out you used to do a lot of bicycling yourself. So immediately your told "better get a bike". And you reply, "but I have osteoarthritis in my hip, and can't hardly walk, let alone spin the pedals again". Of course, this isn't really an excuse for the bike "Commutermuse". He just suggests trying a "comfort" bike, or maybe a "recumbent".

Well, you can't really say no to that, as he might put your kid in the outfield or bat him 9th in the order. Maybe he'd even have him "sit the pine". So, a couple days later, you are down $500 for a bicycle you don't even know you can ride. A few painful days later, you discover you can just barely handle riding a couple of miles.

Not good enough. Now you have to start riding more miles. And not just on roads, but every backwoods disappearing two track left over from the last century, along with old railroad beds abandoned since the steam era. He baits and teases, and then really sets the hook hard. You have to sign up to ride 160 miles in two days. It's part of some Michigan masochistic politician's idea of torturing ones self. The DALMAC. Kind of the Bataan Death March on two wheels.

Still not enough. You have to starve yourself while you get ready. You have to lose 50 pounds in 6 months. And to entice you to do this, he makes a bet with you, where he gets your toys (Old Town Canoe) if you don't make it.

Time passes. You lose the weight. You ride the DALMAC, plus other miscellaneous tours. You ride the DALMAC a second year, even though you don't really have time to train. Goal accomplished right? He conned you into a more healthy lifestyle. Got you active again.

Finally, this guy is off my back. He doesn't even coach my kid any more. But NOOOO! Now I have to lose another 30 pounds, or he is going to make me pay for his DALMAC tour next year.

So you see. Don't let your kids play baseball. You never know what kind of kook you will run into.

About Me

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I'm a middle aged divorced father living with my two sons. We like to canoe, bicycle, fish, camp, play baseball, and spend money when we want and where we want, without permission from anybody. HA!


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