Friday, September 23, 2016

Bike trails are for bikes; but the parks are owned by wild life.

          I love a good "rail trail", aka trails created from former railroad tracks, but for some reason, as high as the deer population has become, I never see any on the bike trails.  And while most people view deer as being a nuisance, I get as giddy as a 6 year old every time I see one.

     Several of my riding buddies and I went on an early morning bike ride to the University Parks trail, and though this trail is only 14 miles there and back, it's one of the smoothest trails in the area.

       By this point in time in the biking season, the trees have certainly turned the trails into a forest.  It's hard to believe we're actually riding through towns; with houses and traffic all around us.

     But it soon becomes apparent that we're sharing the space with urbanization.

     However, as we took a brief side trip through Wildwood park, we saw this cute little bunny waiting to greet us (that or he was trying to figure out how to make his fast get away...).

        I'm torn between which I enjoy more; the straight shot of a bike trail, or the beauty inside a park.  This day we got to experience both.

          This is a far cry from a bike trail; and look closely...
        Yes!! Bambi is out for an early morning walk.

     This may look like a deer in the headlights, but this deer owned this place, and we were only visitors.

     He had no problem posing for me to take his picture, before he gracefully wandered off.

     So the next time you get irritated by the over population of these beautiful creatures, just remember, we're in their home too:)

Have a great day!!


Friday, September 16, 2016

I've fallen, but I CAN get up... again!!

     I'm sure we've all heard the expression "get up one more time than you've fallen"; And for most people it's merely a metaphor. However, for someone like me who has MS, this actually means wipe the blood from your wound and move on.

     I've had MS for so long that I know all too well that while I want to make you think I'm wonder woman,  I'm absolutely not.  Things most people take for granted require immense thought if I want to land on two feet.

     It's true, my days of running are over, but that doesn't stop me from trying to take any short cut I can, just to save a step.

     How many times have we carried ten plastic grocery bags inside, while our fingers turn blue, just so we don't have to make two trips??  I do that all the time, and unfortunately, for me, the word "trip" has a whole different meaning. 

     This particular day, I strapped on my "Wonder Woman cape" and planned to conquer the world (or at least pick up a few things from Costco...)  Of course, Costco doesn't use plastic bags; I'm guessing it's just a way to save cost and the environment...  

     So I have this cute pink Victoria Secret Tote, my friend Maryann gave me, which is the best thing since sliced bread for carrying my Costco things inside.  But this day I decided to save just one more step, and juggle several items in my arms, while fumbling with the key to unlock my front door.  

     This was where I did my all too familiar "swan dive", when my right foot (the one that doesn't like to listen to me) decided to hit the step.  Oh yeah, I went flying!  And my "Wonder Woman Cape" was no help at all!  Of course, as anyone in my position knows, the first thing I always do (scary to think I actually have a routine for this...) before checking for broken bones or a broken brace, or even checking to see if my astronomically costly nerve zapper is still working, is to look for that freakishly scary audience.  When there are no signs of a witness, then I can continue on to assess the damage.
      The good news is, I was still able to walk (although, I was limping... wait... I already had that!)  But there were no broken bones.  My zapper and brace appeared to be in tact, so I actually dodged this bullet entirely.  No one would ever be the wiser... But then I noticed blood seeping out from underneath the cuff of my nerve zapper. 
Now, anyone who knows me will tell you, I would rather cut off my right arm than see blood.

     Yep, I was a big old baby!  But I eventually took off my drama queen crown, wiped the blood off with my "wonder woman cape"  and realized I had survived getting up one more time than I've fallen... again!  

     So the next time you hear that very familiar metaphor, just remember... some people take it literally:)

Have a great day!!



Friday, September 9, 2016

Sunrises are like snowflakes; no two are the same.

          There's nothing more thrilling than watching the sun rise over the Maumee River; but you have to get up with the chickens to catch it.  That was no problem for me. I'm the one who usually wakes the chickens:)

     I remember the last time we went on a very early bike ride and I saw the most beautiful sunrise from The Craig Street Bridge.  I could have stared at that forever.  
     A couple of my riding buddies and I decided to ride on the Green Belt Parkway trail, and catch the sunrise again.  I remembered all too well how the sun totally illuminated the sky, and I couldn't wait to recreate that memory.
          As you can see, the entire city of Toledo was still sleeping...  but not us!

     My favorite view is from the Craig street bridge; but it was quite a hike to get there.  Under the High Level Bridge...


     Then down the bike path...

     At this point I could see the Craig Street bridge off in the distance, but for some reason this trail had to zig zag back and forth, making the anticipation (and hard work) all the more worth it.
     Soon were were riding under Interstate 280;  and I could see that bridge just waiting for us...
     We finally made it to the Craig Street Bridge, and though the picture was not exactly the same as I remembered, it was still beautiful!

     Honestly, it could have been the worst sunrise I've ever seen, and in my mind it would be beautiful, just for the fact I was there to witness it. 
          By the time we got back to our cars, day light had set in.  But I had one thing all of those people cozily tucked in their beds didn't have, and that was the visions in my head of that amazing sun rise!

      The good news is, no matter how hard the day is, you can always have comfort in knowing that while every sunrise may not be exactly the same, there is a promise that every morning there WILL be one!

Have a great day!!


Friday, September 2, 2016

No swans at Swan Creek, but there were a ton of Pokemon!!

    Some days it's like pulling teeth just to find a riding buddy.  This particular Friday I had two possible chances for a bike ride, and both fell through.  Riding in one of the parks by myself was always an option, but not my first choice.

     However, my son, Matt, had just mentioned he had been roller blading  at Swan Creek Park recently, and it was heavily populated with those crazy Pokemon creatures.  I would have thought that fad would have died down by now, but I only saw this as an opportunity to snag a riding buddy, so I didn't ask questions.  We were soon on our way.

     Again, just like my last rollerblade/bike ride, this one also included a lot of starts and stops, after all, we were on a mission.  Truth be told, I love an excuse to stop and check out the scenery.  My buddies on bikes don't usually stop to sight see; we're there to "ride!"  

       Those little critters were going down, for sure!

     Remember as kids, our parents preached to us that they walked five miles to school, in five feet of snow, uphill both ways... Well this ride kind of felt like that.  There were a lot of steep hills and it sure felt like we were climbing more than coasting.  I know the laws of gravity would say I was wrong, but maybe we were defying the laws of gravity.
     I told you I absolutely hate gravel trails, but wooden trails!?!?!  No thanks!!  However, Matt knew there was a Pokemon stop at the end so he and his Rollerblades ventured on.  I stayed back and waited; I'm not crazy!!  We'll, not about this:)
     It's hard to tell by the photo whether this was up hill or down, but it had to be down hill; if I had stopped to take a photo going up hill I would have never had enough steam to make it up.  However, barreling down a hill and making a sharp turn at the bottom is a real challenge in itself.
     I know this park is named Swan Creek, but I'm really not sure why; I never see any swans in it.

     But then again, we were supposedly catching Pokemon, and I never once saw one of those either...

     So we're back at our car, and I soon learned that this ride wasn't over until we caught that last mischievous little Varmet. 
         We sat there and waited patiently for several minutes before Matt finally caught him, and I decided I may need to schedule an appointment with my eye doctor, because I didn't see it at all... Do you think we were also surrounded by swans and I just couldn't see them either?!?!  I guess we'll never know:)

Have a great day!!


Friday, August 26, 2016

My five year birthday; And I'm still fighting like a girl!!

     If you were to listen to me five years ago, you would have heard me ask "why this too?!"  I remember all too well hearing my Oncologist recite the five year survival statistics.  But five years later I realize it was just one more test of my strength.  Some people only need one thing to find out how strong willed they are.  In my case, the breast cancer seriously put my MS in perspective.  

     On Monday August 29th I will be celebrating my five year birthday! This was the day I had my mastectomy and vowed to start living life as a gift, rather than an entitlement.  But just because I'm still here five years later doesn't mean I've given up the fight to battle all of life's challenges head on.  Only now it just makes me focus on the many second chances put in front of me.

     "Fight like a girl" has been the motto among breast cancer survivors for a very long time, and I believe it's because this is when we find out just how strong  women actually are.
     Below is a picture of my daughter Lindsay and I, at the Race for a cure, held in downtown Toledo.  It had only been one year at this point, but I saw all of the other fighters, and knew I had this as well.  Lindsay was the field commander for the Northview High School band, which was playing that day, and she made this shirt in my honor.  It was confirmation of just how much compassion all of my children have, and how fortunate I am to be blessed with them. 
     I've learned not to take anything for granted over the last five years, but seeing the fight so many others are going through as well, makes all of the daily obstacles seem like just one more test to convince me to always continue to "fight like a girl":)

Have a great day!!


Friday, August 19, 2016

You see what you've been missing when the excuses finally run out.

     If there's one thing I've learned, living a life with MS, is it's usually a whole lot easier coming up with a great excuse rather than explaining why I "can't" do something.

     I've gotten extremely creative with my wording so that it's the absolute truth, yet leaving no room for people to question it.  My favorite is "unfortunately I have a conflict with my schedule".  Total truth!  Is there anyone on earth who doesn't have some sort of conflict??  And who would think to ask what the conflict is...

      Pat and Elaine, the owners of DMC Technology group, for many years have organized a company picnic at the Toledo Mud Hens baseball game.  However, it's always in August, which is the absolute worst month for my crazy body to walk outdoors.  I'm one big hot mess.  I know there is a ton of walking involved between parking in a downtown lot and walking to the stadium, and then the miles of walking just to get to your seat.  By the time I got to my seat I would have to be scraped up off of the ground.

     But year after year I manage to slide by practically unnoticed, and I have yet to have a schedule that would allow me to make it to the outing (or so they thought...).

     This year, the temperature was  expected to be around ninety, and there was no way in the world I thought I could survive that heat.  Ironically, everyone at DMC knows all too well that it's my poor body, and not my crazy schedule causing me to skip the picnic, year after year.

     Elaine texted me saying " I know the heat is supposed brutal on game day, and no pressure, but if you decide to go Pat and I would be very happy to pick you up and you and I could be dropped off right at the gate".  I really appreciated the offer, I mentioned to Elaine that I would love to go, but I would be walking at a snail's  pace and holding her back.  However, Elaine is also creative in her wording.  She told me that was perfect! It would give us a chance to catch up:) But she totally understood if I didn't think I could handle the heat.

     Then Mike, one of my co workers mentioned I could always be dropped off at the third base entrance and it was a straight shot up the stairs, and I would be right where I needed to be.  Now my excuses were all used up, except for possible rain... fingers crossed...

    Surprisingly, it wasn't as brutal as I expected, and being that I cover the front desk only when my BFF Maryann, isn't there, I never get to talk with her other then a few words coming and going. How cool was it to hang out! 

  It was looking like the perfect day for a ball game.  I would have never known that if I wasn't nudged a bit.
     Occasional thunder suggested that we may have ended up getting drenched, but I really didn't care. What was the worst that could happen?? My bionic leg hoopla could short out or rust,lol.

     I've seen many sun rises on my early morning bike rides, but I can't tell you the last time I experienced the beautiful sky as dusk sets in. 
     I saw pictures I thought were only possible in a painting.
                         And clouds like cotton candy.

     What?!?!  Pink?!?!?Those were for me, I'm certain!!

     However, the best feeling came over me when I noticed the night sky had hit, and I didn't turn into a pumpkin.

     I may have "outed" myself by confessing my sneaky tricks, to avoid a situation I didn't want to gamble on.  But in this case my bet paid off!!  And If I hadn't tucked that bag of excuses away, I never would have known it:)

Have a great day!!


Friday, August 12, 2016

Just because it doesn't seem big to others, doesn't mean it isn't one of my biggest fears.

     It seems like every bike ride in the past has been all about riding, and it was up to me to sneak in the scenery on my own time.

     But this past ride turned out to be organized by one of my riding buddies, Tom, and included was a tour of Bowling Green Ohio.

     There were 13 of us that met at the trail head of the Slippery Elm Trail. 
    I've been on that trail a few times before, but anytime I get the chance to go on a bike ride I'm not usually picky about where it is, as long as it's paved.

     This trail went under the highway; which is so cool!  It's not often I get to ride underneath freeway traffic and end up in one piece.

     On this ride I'll admit, there were certainly a lot of firsts for me. One lady was around eighty something and could probably ride circle around me. Another guy actually had a child carrier on the back of his bike, and he was toting a two year old little girl and an eight week old puppy.  If there was room for one more I might have asked to join them:) 


   Unexpectedly to me, it wasn't long before Tom guided us off of the the Slippery Elm Trail, and we found ourselves crossing over I-75.  Surprisingly, we all got off our bikes to observe the on coming traffic; It's not often that you get to watch huge semi trucks barreling at you at seventy miles an hour.


     And no matter how old you are, that little kid in you comes out, in the hopes of making those truck drivers pull that all too familiar horn chain. Oh, Grow up!! Never!!

     In this photo below, Tom explained to us that this was a cemetery where years ago they buried people who had no money.  Those little posts lining the lot were marked with nothing more than a number, which sadly was the only record they had of their existence. Subsequently, they lived in a building they called "the poor house". I remember as a kid hearing my parents say if we didn't watch our money we would end up in "the poor house"  whoda known it really existed at one time?!?!
     At this point, this ride was very interesting, educational, enjoyable and absolutely well within my comfort zone.  Until Tom announced that we would be riding on a small patch of gravel...

     I've mentioned that riding on gravel with my road bike was something I would never, ever, do.  I have this huge fear of wiping out and being mutilated by the sharp rocks.  However, there were 12 others on this ride and I knew they weren't going to turn around just because I'm a little freaked out.

     Of course, you know one thing I'm not afraid of, and that is to ask the question, just how big is this "little patch".  Tom Assured me it was a very short distance.  I began picturing crossing over a gravel road at an intersection.  I could suck it up and cross it.
     Yikes!!  Tom's idea of a little patch and mine are so far off!! This "little patch" was about a mile long!  However, I had no choice but to ride on it.  But I was scared out of my wits!  In fact, I was as white as the ghosts in that cemetery we just left.

     One of the other riders commented that is can't be good for a road bike... now I'm imagining my skinny little tires getting punctured by a sharp piece of gravel, and getting a flat, and spinning out of control; which is one of my other worst fears!  ugh!!
    Now don't think for one second that I was taking this picture while riding; my hands practically had to be pried from my handle bars when I was finished.  I waited until I was at the end of this road, making sure I actually made it unscathed.  But you tell me... does this look like a "little patch" to you!?!? Right!?!?

     But I survived, and was able to cross one more thing off of my lists of "never would I ever"...

     Lastly, Tom took us through the campus of Bowling Green University, where we also got quite a history lesson while we were there.
     And we didn't even have to pay the astronomical tuition fee to get an education at BG:)
     The last stop Tom had on his agenda was to get ice cream, and to someone big on delayed gratification, it was a perfect ending to an amazing ride!  Why can't all rides be like this!? :) 

Have a great day!!