Sunday, July 30, 2017

Rocky Raccoon Redux

I opened the blinds this morning to this. Even though I was only a few feet away, I could not get him to move so I went outside to confront him after I took this photo. He finally dropped down into the hydrangeas. This explains how fast my suet cakes go even though the piggish blackbirds have moved on. New job: bringing this in at night. He is cute. As he is not full sized, I guess he is a teenager
this is what I missed up north. I would have had to be up at 2 am. Mackinaw City is about 120 miles north but some northern lights were seen south of us around Ludington
I had Shanna's kids last night. They love their tablets

She is so sweet. The easiest grandbaby by far.
Inside a Taiwanese Buddhist temple. My niece has been taking great photos
Josh's family had a photoshoot. These are the sneak previews
I took my buddy out for his birthday a couple days before. Usually the Amtrak comes rumbling by at least twice. A cheap thrill

Yesterday morning would have been a perfect day for a bike ride (as would today but now, no bike). I was starting on the flats with a wind on my back. I should be easily going 16, 17 mph but it is an effort to go 12 mph. Why am I suddenly so weak? Squishy tire. I go back 2 miles to pump it up. It seems to inflate just fine so maybe just a slow leak. I warn Steve I might be calling if it goes completely flat far from home though I manage a route that is never much more than 6 miles away, the most I could stand walking if need be. I got at least 20 miles in of nicely inflated tires but had to struggle to do the last 4-5 miles.  Back to the bike store which I go to far too often. Not only did I need another intertube, the rear tire is quite worn and they didn't have the one I want in stock so I will have to retrieve the bike in a few days.

All this promised rain evaporated before hitting our house though my friend and I had to abandon our nice patio seating due to rain the other day. Dry as a bone back at the ranch 6 miles away. Hopefully this will slow the grass growing. The lawn mower died in the middle of Steve cutting it the other day. This thing is a bear to push. A neighbor took pity and came over to help push. Fortunately it didn't die in the back acre. The lawn mower guy suggested jumping the battery with the car. Steve too nervous to do it without Josh's help. The lawn mower guy came, jumped it and it caught on fire!

Several new parts later, it came back yesterday. Hopefully it works. We did get the dryer fixed. Now if we only got the disposal and some electrical issues worked out... Wish at least one of us were handy.

We had the Mom's group out in the country surrounded by flowers, a garden party. Fun as usual though due to time constraints, I was not too creative with my dessert. Got several flavors of ice cream, some dulce de leche and some macerated strawberries in chestnut liqueur for sundaes. Good for a garden party.

Shanna and Ramy went to a wedding far away so we had the kids for most of the day and night. Should have let them use the hot tub. It was a nice evening for a picnic outside. Daniel and Tessa sat with me for a long time in the cabana while I sipped my tangerine beer. What does Tessa want to do when she grows up? She wants to be a face painter.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Winner, winner, chicken dinner

Maya is in behavioral therapy for her ADHD. A lot of time is spent teaching the mom strategies while I watch Maya
glass temple in Taiwan. My niece is visiting her mother's relatives
flowers here

shrimp plant

finally can ride a 2 wheeler

For two days on the ride, I got an annoying number of phone calls from an unfamiliar number. Unless the number is identified, I don't answer as it usually is some scam to tell me I won a trip around the world, all I need to do is send them.....
But I noticed messages were left and opened one.. with the winner, winner, chicken dinner message.
I had won some drawing on the ride for a bicycle themed key chain as it turned out.

I am gradually getting back to my routine. Bought some heavier weights so that I may more effectively tone those arms. Needed some smaller pants (size 6, woo-hoo!). I put away all of my camping supply (ha, I never did last year). Spent much time with Maya as her mom did this and that (you don't have much to do). I now have burnt orange shiny nails.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The wrath of wrens

Josh and his girls came to visit Sunday

Couldn't get this one to smile
my niece's photo of a Polynesian structure in Taiwan
Miss Hannah looks a lot like me at the same age

Even worse than the squirrels, are the chipmunks. The squirrels have a long ways to travel across hawk territory to get to my feeders which in some cases squirrel proof but chipmunk proof feeders do not exist. As soon as I fill the feeders and disappear, the chipmunks scramble to stuff their cheek pouches, run as fast as they can to unload and then refill and scramble. They take much more than they can possibly eat. I was surprised to find one feeder that they can easily access still full of seeds. What gives?


I have 3 gourds in 3 trees. All full of wrens. They are small, homely, brown birds but they sing sweetly in the morning and evening and pick off insect pests. One of my feeders hangs on a branch adjacent to the gourd. Steve watched as the wrens pecked at the chipmunk trying to get too close. The chipmunk gave up.

Sometimes when I am under one of their trees, they will make a hissing sound but otherwise tolerate me. I should get more gourds for more insect patrol and chipmunk attacks. The swallows did not nest this year at my house. I don't think I've seen them since I left.

I am gradually returning to my routine. Back to  2 exercise sessions a day. I lost the weight already that I gained on the trip. I've seen all the grandbabies. I spent a lot of time weeding. Somethings died due to lack of care while I was gone. Too much water in some cases; not enough in others.

It is cool and dry today. So nice.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Cherryland extras

Stormclouds the first night
Beulah is Beaulahful
on top of the dune climb looking at Glen Lake
filled in well at the Cat Head Bay lighthouse
Leland Dam
Tandem Cidery
Sutton Bay glass
more glass

Our soiree setting in TC
the golden hour
cute farm building
Leland blue though mine is more green  From iron ore slag

Rocks one could find on the beach. I sat in shallow water sifting through

Sunday, July 23, 2017

To and from Traverse City

After we finished in Frankfort
me crossing the finish line. Pitbull cheering everyone on has done this for 25 years. Alas he is moving on
we had a rest stop near Lake Ann at this pretty organic farm
chickens at the farm
sweet peas and the East arm of Grand Traverse Bay
my friend in the clear waters off the Elk Rapids beach

bicycle mobile in Sutton Bay

Tandem Cidery on our way to TC. I could have tasted their many ciders with alcohol but not wise with biking. Instead I tried their artisanal sodas: ginger beer though I liked the Cherry Republic's better and a strange one that had vinegar in it

I know many of these photos are out of order but I am too lazy to make things right. We crossed huge hills out of Leland to get to the other side of the Peninsula though of course, it was mostly downhill once we got close to Sutton Bay. The weather forecasters were wrong most of the week. The night before we were told that a storm would move in right when we would be packing up and leaving, not good. But the storm turned south and we were told we'd have another day of clear skies. Once we were in Sutton Bay though with 20 miles left to TC, the sky turned black. We were on the paved Leelanau Trail by then, I biked as fast as I could but then the sky turned blue again.

Of the towns we stayed in, I liked Traverse City the least. It is busy, busy, busy. We camped next to a big noisy road, M-31, that never grew quiet. The few 'good' toilets were far away meaning portapotties and the shower truck. We ate in an ice arena that was very toasty. There was a nice beach 10 minutes away walking though the second day, we rode our bikes downtown for the biggest beach. I did not go to the downtown area this time, a 2 mile walk, less time but lots of traffic biking. I just chilled out while my friends went.

We had signed up for a fundraiser about a mile away on the Bay at a college. Sort of pricy but the wines were unlimited and tasty. There were lots of appetizers too. It was a very pleasant night sitting on the bay as the sun went down. Nice music in the background. Yeah I drank way too much and it was a long walk back. 

The next day would be our warmest so we had an early start to head north to Elk Rapids. I had gone there with Steve 2 months ago to take photos of cherry blossoms. Well they all are ripe now. Lots of cherry trucks on our road that we took both there and back. I did not like that part. Plus we had bicyclists going both ways enraging the locals who would drive too close to us. I did like biking the TART trail along the water until we had to head up (UP!!!!) the hill to get to the road to hell. Elk Rapids has a very nice beach and crystal clear water. The town is very cute too but I couldn't convince anyone to stay to walk around it. I had just 2 months ago. So back to Traverse City . Lunch at a Thai restaurant across the street (hadn't had Thai since I started The Big Diet) and then on to the big city beach. I fell asleep in the shade after being in the cool water for a while. We stopped for ice cream, Mackinac Island Fudge, another forbidden substance on The Plan. After our dinner (food was supplied by the same caterer all week and they were quite good; chicken piccata and roasted vegetables,  we went  to a Mexican Cantina and had great Perrin's Cherry IPA ad the best salsa while various Latin music played in the background. I will remember to go back there if they send us to TC again (we seem to go there a lot on these trips). Another big rain was forecasted. Yuck. But it only drizzled a bit in the middle of the night. Unfortunately it started up again after my friend took off the rain fly and I hadn't packed yet. so thanks, my stuff is all wet and I was left to pack up my stuff and our communal stuff by myself.

What I hate most about camping is getting up in the middle of the night to pee. Sometimes I didn't have to but one night, the last, I got up twice to the horrendous portapotty. My new tent in the dark is not distinctive looking (some put solar lights outside of theirs) After one trip, I crawled into what I believed to be my tent to find someone on my side (the new tent has a door on each side to get out of) Why is my friend on my side? Why is she suddenly bigger? Why is she a man? Ooops. Sorry . Wrong tent. In Leland, they had plenty of nice toilets but not much space to camp so one had to negotiate a bunch of tent stakes and ties to get to them. Not pleasant to run into. While we were setting up camp, a woman told us that we shouldn't camp there because it was close to the hose people wash their bikes with and our tent would get flooded. Fine. We moved way far away (long walk to toilets). Later I noticed she took our spot. Bitch and disliked her strongly for the next few days. Towards the end, I noticed her breast cancer scars. Yep she is a survivor too. another woman piped in she was too. So, so common. so I cut her some slack and we became at least friendly acquaintances.

Most people were very nice. We at least had in common the ability to ride all day looking at pretty scenery. We shared our mutual travails and joys. This is the second year we 've had this ride director and she has vastly improved over last year. Most everyone was happy with her changes. Better markings, more food at the rest stops, better food. 400 people were on the ride of all ages. 

The ride back to Frankfort was the second longest day. We started in the rain but it went away before we were out of TC. It is impossible to leave TC without going over some huge hill which we did. Again I did not walk. Before I became fat, I never walked except for the climb out of Marquette Michigan (3 miles straight up and I had a road bike without low gears). I biked a lot in California with bigger hills (mountains!!) but I did have a lower set of gears and I was much younger. I am in my sixties as I keep forgetting. 

Anyway, we did cover some new ground crossing the base of the peninsula though I know I did some of that once by myself years ago. Pretty lakes and farms. We did the trail for the umpteenth time along Crystal Lake between Beulah and Frankfort but it is pretty.

Finished. 275 miles, 15 miles less than last year. In the early days, all rides were well over 300 miles with much rougher trails. I had energy to spare no thanks to minimal head winds and smaller body. We showered, tried to eat at Stormclouds but that was impossible as there was a nearby Art Fair and Saturday. We went to an Asian Fusion place on the water that was the only place open a few years back when Steve and I came in the spring. It was tasty. We made an unlikely stop for very good coffee in Mesick and gas in Cadillac  and 4 hours later, home with no traffic unlike the stupid route I took up on 1-75.

Need to find something else to amuse myself.

Friday, July 21, 2017

To the Lighthouse

after our trip to the tip of the Leelanau, we went into the very hilly interior full of cherry trees

At the top of a hill Lake Leelanau to the left, Lake Michigan to the right
the biking ladies
the light house  

carvings in Northport
Northport Harbor
there was a country club and golf course next to our camping spot. We had drinks on the terrace one night overlooking pretty gardens as the sun set
our drinking posse returning to camp while the sun set
glass pretties in Sutton Bay as we rode to Traverse City
in the middle of the Leelanau trail was this snapping turtle
two toned hydrangeas
we went to a wine and beer tasting fundraising on Great Traverse Bay one night
the bay
the school we had the event in had two majors; a maritime academy and a culinary school. The students made our appetizers

We woke up after our first night in Leland to dense fog. I had bought two headlamps at 
Costco thinking I could put one on my helmet but I found that impossible I put one on 
my seatpost with a blinking red light and another in front with a blinking white light.
But I could barely see as my glasses kept fogging up. I looked over the tops until we
got to Northport, another  cute town. We then went to the very tip of the peninsula to
the State Park. I had stayed there years ago with a campsite right on the bay. We
caught a ferry very early in the morning out of Leland to go to South Manitou
Island, which is completely non-inhabited. We had to backpack everything in
for a mile.

We experienced our first giant hills going back through the interior. Last year
I would have had to walk but I muscled up. Miles of orchards and views of
various lakes. Very pretty. Fortunately most of the downhills were straight on smooth
roads so I was flying.

I had white fish tacos along the river back in Leland and then off to the beach
to swim (warmer than Frankfort even though we were north) and look for the
lake stones. After dinner, our friend treated us to drinks on a patio overlooking
wonderful gardens as the sun set. A good day.


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