Friday, October 30, 2015

For some strange reason apple butter always draws a crowd.

     Believe it or not, I have never in my life been to an apple butter festival.  I mean, the thought of butter made out of apples is a bit confusing... Is it butter or is it fruit?  All I know is for some strange reason an apple butter festival always brings in swarms of people.  That might explain why I haven't gone to one; I hate long lines(unless I'm at the front of it...).

     However, When the Grand rapids Festival rolled around I finally decided I needed to see  what all the hoopla was about.  After I asked my mom if she wanted to go with me I found out they were expecting a crowd of around 60,000 people...YIKES!!  But there was no backing out now.  

     Of course, with that many people that meant a lot of cars and parking miles away, then walking forever.  If I had my bike that would be fine, but my legs and brain would argue all the way, and I would never hear the end of it.  Luckily they had a shuttle bus, if we could only find it...  rather than drive aimlessly hoping to run into the shuttle, I spotted an older gentleman walking down the street of a small town just outside of Grand Rapids.  I asked him if he knew where the shuttle bus pick up area was, and he asked me if I was up for a long walk.  If that were the case would I driving all over creation looking for a shuttle?? I immediately said "uh... no..."  It was a good thing because he then told me to drive about four miles and I would run into it.  That's not a long walk; that's a marathon...
          We eventually made to the festival and of course we had to get a picture as proof of my first and maybe last apple butter festival.
          Look... you can't go anywhere without finding a photo bomber:) Of course I may have been photo bombing her...
     If you want to know what 60 thousand people looks like, this gives you a pretty good idea.  What have I gotten myself into?!?!
          I"m not saying I loved the huge mob, but I did enjoy the view of the Erie canal (though it probably looks exactly the same tomorrow, without a million people).


          And it was also a great view of the Maumee River:)

          So this was what all the fuss was about.  A hand full of guys standing there stirring huge kettles of simmering apples for hours on end.

     And the line to get apple butter made fresh that day had to be a mile long (no thanks).  Or you could walk right up to a booth and buy day old... Hmm...

        I'll admit there was a heck of a lot more walking than I signed on for, but the good news was the crowds were so thick that we weren't going anywhere fast.  And you know me and running... not gonna happen:)

     Of course, with so many people, I really figured my bionic leg would just blend in, and I could take a day off from explaining fifteen times over what I did...

     No such luck... a random stranger came up to me and being funny said "wanna race?!"  Being funny right back, I told him I would give him a head start then catch up to him later.  Then once again that infamous question came out again... "what did you do?!?!"  I guess I have to accept the fact the next thirty years are going to be spent answering that question... A LOT...

     So when I replied to this guy I was in a bar fight just to make it interesting, he actually looked in shock and said "are you serious!?!?"  I told him no, but it sounds more interesting  then the real story.  You guessed it... he had to know the real story.  After I told him the foot drop hyper-extension thing he said "stick with the bar fight..." ugh... I can't win...

     In spite of all the walking and elbows in the side, it was a nice day with my mom and that made it all worth it.
         And the shuttle bus back was definitely welcomed by the end of the day:)

        Now that I've been to an apple butter festival I can finally mark that off my list of things to do; though I'm not sure it was "bucket list" worthy.  They say curiosity kills the cat... But with out curiosity you might never know what you're missing:) 

Have a great weekend!!


Friday, October 23, 2015

The trail might be the same, but the story sure isn't.

     last weekend I was able to convince three riding buddies, in spite of the chilly weather to go on a ride.  I'm usually lucky to find one rider, so having Ron, Jeliesha, and Robert riding was a huge surprise.  Robert made the  suggestion that we ride the University Parks trail because he heard they may have extended it all the way past the university and out to Alexis road; just shy of the state line.  I'm as curious as the next guy, so I wanted to check it out for myself; besides it would give me a chance to see the fall colors before the trees shed their coats for the winter.

    On occasion we park our cars at UT and ride from there, but this time we decided to park at Wildwood Park and pick up the trail from a different spot.  I imagined I would see some yellow or red, possibly even brown leaves, on our deciduous mid-west trees. 

    Fall colors nothing!!  They looked almost like Christmas!!  I saw leaves in colors I've never even knew existed.

     This tree was sporting this cute red ensemble for the fall:)

     We reached the university and I noticed the trees were still green and I was really hoping to see more fall colors. However, it wasn't long before we found them...

     We don't usually ride through the university campus, but this time we did so we could check out the new addition to the trail.

     I've heard of major cities having public bikes scattered throughout, but I had no idea UT had these bikes as well.  I was told they could be found all around the campus and the students ride them between the buildings; leaving them for the next person to pick up. Of course, I wonder what prevents someone from riding them off the campus... maybe they have an invisible fence... ouch!!

          So we arrived to the area that was supposedly the extension, and you'll notice that this is by no means finished... it was nothing but a suggestion.  At least we knew where it would be eventually.

     And once again we were headed back to the trail.  Only it didn't end as smooth sailing as we had hoped for; as we approached the spot we usually park our cars, you know... at the university... Robert's seat snapped right off of his bike.

     This would have been perfect timing... had we parked where we usually do.  However, This time we were parked at Wildwood, which was about 4 miles away.  Ugh!  And if you aren't familiar with recumbent bikes, which Robert happens to ride, there is no riding it if you don't have a seat.

  In this photo his bike was on the far left; obviously we had a bit of an issue on our hands.

     Again, if it had been an up-right bike he could have walked it back.  But walking a recumbent is like walking a strong willed dog; not likely to happen.

     The only thing we could do was leave poor Robert behind, then bike back to the park and meet him with a car.  Keep in mind, this guy rides in his bare feet because he can't feel the peddles with his shoes on due to his MS.  And remember, I told you it was a chilly day.  It sure was bad luck for Robert, but we could have been 20 miles away, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

     I'm not sure if it was the way the sun was facing, but for some reason the leaves were even more colorful on our way back into the park.  Then again, it may have been the "glass half full" thing... after all, I did have my bike... and shoes...

     Jeliesha finally drove back for Robert and it all worked out in the end; though there were certainly many hours of bike repair in Robert's future.  My take away from all of this is; we might think from time to time that we have it rough, but just remember... no matter how bad it appears; someone always has it worse.

Have a great weekend!!


Friday, October 16, 2015

The perfect birthday gift is always a gamble.

     My son, Matt's birthday was last week and as a mom all I could think of was that I needed to find a way to make his birthday memorable.  

     However, finding the perfect birthday gift sometimes feels like looking for a needle in a haystack;  you can guess and second guess, but you still wonder if you found the one thing that makes the most sense. I personally couldn't care less about the gift it's self on my birthday.

     The thing is, there is a lot of truth behind the old saying "it's the thought that counts".  All anyone really wants is to be remembered, so the material gift will never be the "perfect gift" if there is no thought behind it.

     I know moms and sons don't usually have a lot in common, and I truly believe that the gift of time is the most valuable.  

     Over the past few years our tradition has been to hit the Hollywood casino and just make a night of it.  And what better present than feeding the machines with someone else's money:)

     Matt's buddy, Austin who also happens to be a video fanatic like Matt, came along and it was a win/win all around.  
     I discovered that Wednesdays were the best day to eat at the sports bar because if the others weren't gambling, they were at the highly discounted buffet for senior day.
     This TV screen must prove the theory that bigger is better, because even though we could see the three "big screen" TVs below just fine, the Mammoth screen was where all eyes were.  

     And of course I was in heaven because they were promoting breast cancer awareness month; there were pink balloons everywhere:)

     Don't ask me how but even our faces were pink...

     And a huge establishment filled with slots; Matt was as happy as a pig in mud.  
         I remember years ago being at a casino in Vegas and an elderly lady was playing the penny slots, and I started watching her rather than plunking my own money in a machine.  She quickly reprimanded me and asked me to leave because it's bad luck to watch someone gamble... Hmm...
       Matt must not be superstitious:)

      I'm not sure if the casino night was more for Matt or me, but I know I always love the thrill of just being there.  

          And to those who question what's so special about a birthday anyway... I say nothing; every day is special...  Birthdays are just our reminder:)

Have a great weekend!!


Friday, October 9, 2015

Is there really such a thing as too much of a good thing?

     Believe it or not, I started blogging exactly two years ago, and the main reason was to try to promote the Bike To The Bay, and try to build "Team Leapfrog".

     My friend who helped me create the blog suggested I post something three set days a week at first to get people familiar with my blog; so that's what I did.

     But this blog didn't just promote the Bike To The Bay; it built my confidence and it also pushed me to do some crazy things just to have a story. Okay, you know I never lack for words, but I love adding pictures to my stories, and you can't have pictures of a rock (well you could, but it wouldn't be very interesting).

     I started surprising myself by the things I would have never imagined doing if I didn't need something to blog about. For starters, getting back out on my bike again...

  Then riding in the Bike To The Bay, and getting some pretty awesome friends to join my team:)

But wait there's more...

     Incidentally, this past year being our second year, we had 37 riders and raised close to 16 thousand dollars; pretty amazing huh!?!  We even had sponsors and were able to get real jerseys!


     I might have never taken a ride on my brother's Harley if I wasn't looking for a story...

     Or drove his snow mobile myself at over 50 Miles an hour, when I don't even like to walk outside when it's freezing.
     And who would ever agree to have their picture taken looking like a ninja dork if not for the story:)
     I learned that I'm braver than I gave myself credit for, and nothing was going to stop me!

   And let's not forget, I managed to worm my way onto Fred Lefevbre's Radio show (several times) and why would he have me on if I had nothing to talk about... yeah, like that would happen:)

     If it wasn't for needing something to blog about I may not have forced myself to ride over the Craig Street bridge in downtown Toledo and I would have missed this amazing sun rise.

     And if I didn't need a story, I might have told my cousin he's crazy when he told me I was going to hang-glide 1500 feet up in the sky (of course he wasn't taking no for an answer either way... And for the record, he is crazy!)

     And parasailing?! What?!?! Yep:)

     This colony of deer would have never met me if I hadn't stumbled upon them in a cemetery while looking for Side Cut Park with my mom.

        And why would I even think about learning to fix my own bike if not to tell you about it... (maybe so I knew how to do it??)

     And a golf outing to raise money for MS... well of course!! More pictures!!
   To date I've written 322 posts!  But as the summer comes to an end I sometimes find it a bit of a challenge to find interesting stories along with pictures three days a week; not that my life isn't interesting:)

    I absolutely love to write and I've had a dream for quite some time to write a book; though with all the posts I've written and over 60 stories before them I would say I've written more than a book; and the royalties are paid in the form of awesome friends who humor me by reading them:) 

    But a wise man once said "Too much of a good thing isn't necessarily good".  So I've decided focusing on one interesting or crazy thing a week is a great idea:) Of course if something else wacky or amazing happens I just may sneak a second one in...  You know I never miss a chance for a good story:) So until next week...:)

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Is bike limbo a thing??

       A lot of the country might still be enjoying the nice balmy weather, but up in middle America our days are numbered.  I have to jump at every chance I get to enjoy the great out-doors.

    Last weekend as I watched the rain and blustery wind from the dry side of the window I knew Sunday would have to be the day I got out for a ride.

     However, it was colder than ideal, and just because it was dry and the wind had stopped, didn't mean it was a perfect day for a bike ride. I was only able to trick one riding buddy in to thinking that it was:)

       The Sunday before, if you remember, I was back out on the golf course for the first time in a couple of years, and this day I was still running on that high; you know that beauty you can only find on a golf course.  But I have to admit, there were times I wished I had my bike with me.  However, I came up with a brilliant idea!

     I decided to take a ride at Ottawa Park; which wraps around Ottawa Park golf course.  How's that for killing two birds with one stone:)

          Sadly, the golf course was in a little better condition than the trail.  We had to walk our bikes over this weathered old bridge.  But hey, we were outside:)

     And if you look up, the sky makes up for it...

     This sure was different from the last time I rode here.  For one the fall leaves were new, but ironically, the last time we rode here was the day after a storm as well.  I remember a tree was blocking the trail, forcing us to turn around and walk our bikes back up a 90 degree hill; never again... (it was a heck of a lot easier going down it).

     But then I was soon stopped dead in my tracks; it was like deja' vu all over again... 
     Darned if we didn't have another mammoth tree blocking the trail again.  Seriously!?!?!  But I was in no mood to turn around and hoof it back up that mountain, so as I got up to the tree... I thought for a second... 
          You know me... I always have a great idea:)
     I just invented a new sport... bike ride golf/limbo!

 My motto is "work smarter, not harder" Right?? :)

     Is it just me or are there sure a lot of crazy obstacles out there making life interesting... But that's okay; I'm always up for a challenge!!

Have a great day!!