Monday, October 31, 2011

North Road trail work day

Saturday morning was trail work day at the North Road Nature Preserve, and despite still being in recovery mode I really had to be there.  I might not be able to do much work, but I have the tools so if I don't show up then nobody else can work either.  And it was a good thing I hauled my lumpy ol' self out there - we had ten people total working!

Van and his son were there to earn some Boy Scout community service hours, along with two other scouts and three other parents.  Carol wasn't there (some Girl Scout event I believe) but her husband Frank showed up, along with my buddy Bernie.

I handed out the tools and showed the scouts what had to be done - raking and scraping, pulling weeds and hacking out stumps.  They started working at the end of the finished tread and kept on pushing it out further, with Frank working with them (he's been there enough that he has a pretty good idea what is going on).  I'd thought I would just rake the leaves off the finished tread, but Bernie had a great new backpack leaf blower that cleaned the wet leaves right off the tread in a heart beat.

So I scouted out the edge of the area bulldozed back in the '60's.  It's amazing how easy you can spot the edge of the excavated area, even with the woods grown in.  I did find one area where it looks like they got into a rocky, flagstone type rock.  Much of it is buried, but I still managed to find quite a bit of rock (small enough to pick up without worrying about injuring myself) and carried it to a stockpile on the trail.

By the end of the day the scouts had halved the unfinished trail length - a lot of good work from the boys.  One of the park board members stopped in at the end of the day to check on progress - I think they're pretty happy with our work.  It's so great to see new volunteers show up and work, especially in rainy, chill weather like we had.

After posting the picture of Kenny in his zombie soldier costume I thought it would be nice to have a couple of pictures of him looking a little bit more normal.

I may be a little biased, but he sure is a handsome kid.  We're pretty lucky to have such a good natured, caring kid - and smart, too.  Gotta count those blessings...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

It's not easy doing nothing...

I've found this out over the last couple of years, while healing from various injuries - doing nothing is not easy.  When you're used to being active, and want to be out there every day - laying around can be very difficult.  Here I am ten days into recovery and I'm already half going nuts.  Okay, two thirds going nuts.

I did manage to wait a week before going down in the basement and riding the stationary bike.  I was wondering how much worse it would make my head hurt.  Turns out that as long as I don't bob around too much that it doesn't really bother me.   The worse part (besides the boredom of riding a stationary bike in the basement compared to riding singletrack in the woods) is that the cervical collar is pretty warm.  It has a layer of foam over the inside to keep the plastic from digging into your neck, and that foam acts as a pretty good insulator once you start excercising and generating heat.

At least I had the forethought (read: luck) to ask for a second set of pads, so that I can change out the sweaty ones for fresh.  Then a quick rinse out with hot water and I'm ready for the next time.  I hope to be able to talk myself into riding the Basement Bike at least four times a week while I'm recovering.  Actually 7 days a week is more like what I should do, but I'll settle for four.

One other thing - injure yourself a couple of times and people start to treat you kind of like you're stupid.  As in "If you keep on hurting yourself and don't give up - you must be a moron."  I don't see it like that at all.  I've never been one to give up just because I'm not the best in the world.  As long as you really enjoy what you're doing - and can afford to keep on taking chances - then keep on pushing baby.  But this accident streak is starting to remind me of the that bad luck thing I had going back in high school - I think that one was four years long.  But I intend to become so ridiculously safety oriented now that another accident will be even more unlikely.  So this is it - the end of the accident streak.  No more.  No way.

Kenny was a zombie soldier for the Cub Scout Halloween party tonight.  I did his make-up myself and I'm glad to say that it turned out way better than I'd expected.  He was one of the scarier kids there, that's for sure!  He definitely looks like he has that zombie stare!

One more thing - I went to the Trumbull Metroparks Board meeting this afternoon, and they approved the next section of trail for over at North Road Nature Preserve.  We're pretty close to finishing the first part, and now we'll be able to move right on to the second phase.   Yeah!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Slippery Rock Creek

It was a beautiful weekend here, with temps in the low 60's and mostly blue skies.  The kind of weekend where you look out the window and wish you were out there on your bike.  Or in your boat.

But I'm grounded for a while to heal, so instead me and King Dave went for a little drive over to one of my favorite spots in western Pennsylvania, Slippery Rock Creek.  Over the last 20 years I've spent a LOT of time on this creek, paddling my kayak on the whitewater there.  The heart of the whitewater section is McConnells Mill State Park, where the creek enters a five mile long gorge.

Here's a picture of me surfing down there a couple of years ago.

But like I said, it's healing time now - no paddling.  My head is pretty much hurting all the time still, and the pain meds are too strong to use when you're out and about.  So we headed up to Cleland Rock, a "scenic vista" that's a bit away from the main part of the park, and is usually mostly empty.  There is a nice view down into the lower Gorge, with the fall colors showing across the valley sides.  But what I found interesting was the rock itself - and that's the Picture of the Day.

Even though it was only a short drive, and only lasted a couple of hours, it was good to get out in the air.  I have two months ahead where I won't be able to do much, so I'd better get used to it.  Maybe next weekend I'll be able to get in a little hike or something, or even go to supervise trail work.  Have to keep looking forward and have a positive outlook.

Kenny and I went out for a short walk on the new trail we're building over at North Road Nature Preserve yesterday morning.  The deer over there are using the new trail so much they're wearing in muddy spots.  Here's yesterday's Picture of the Day, showing Kenny's hand next to one of the bigger prints.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The accident - 2011 version

So I guess I have to at least touch on my latest accident, though I really don't feel like re-living it.

On Tuesday I got off work and headed home, picking up my two nieces, Jessica & Kayla, before heading home.  Once home I got my light on the bike and left Kenny and the girls so that I could go out and get in a quick ride around the neighborhood.  I've been trying to get in some sort of exercise every day, and it was nice enough to ride around the quiet suburban streets rather than sit on the stationary bike in the basement and ride.

I made a back & forth across the blocks, barely seeing a car on the road, knocking out some quick miles.  It was mostly dark when I came to the intersection at the top of our block - one of the few streets that I have to cross that actually has traffic.  I came down the sidewalk pretty quick to ride up over the grass strip and then out and across the road.  What I didn't see was that there was a fairly deep hole lurking against the curb on the other side of the grass strip.  So when I popped over the grass strip my front wheel dropped hard into the hole and I went over the bars.

Note:  I was not wearing a helmet.  This was wrong.  I've spent hours and hours and hours and hours wearing a helmet for kayaking and mountain biking.  I was wrong in assuming that just riding around my neighborhood would be safe and I wouldn't need a helmet.  You may roll your eyes with a totally appropriate "duh!" but I never even thought about it.  This was a LARGE mistake and cost me dearly.

It happened really fast.  I can remember heading down the sidewalk, but not the crash.  After that everything is really disjointed in my memory - flashes of images and sounds that don't connect to anything with blank spots in between.  When I went over the bars I landed on the pavement on my right temple and went unconscious.  Then I was laying on the ground and there were people around me, asking if I was okay.  I thought I'd just get up - my house was only a half block away - but I couldn't hardly move.  I remember a woman going back to her car and coming back with a child's sweat shirt to stop the bleeding on my head.  I got out my phone and called Kenny - told him I was in an accident and to get hold of Diana and tell her I was going to have to go the hospital.  Kenny did a good job - he didn't panic and got hold of Diana.  He and the girls heard the ambulance sirens and walked down the street to the accident site.  I don't remember seeing them, but they got my bike and pack and took them home.

Next thing I remember I was in an ambulance.  My head was killing me and I had blood all over.  The took me to St. Joseph's where people swarmed me like ants on sugar.  I don't remember any x-rays but they said they took them.  Next thing I new Diana was there, having taken off from work to find out what happened.  I had a big cut on my right eyebrow, and it turned out the doctor who stitched it up is the father of one of the Cub Scouts in the pack I help lead.  He put in 13 stitches - and I'd hoped that I'd be done and heading home.  But no....

The x-ray showed a fracture in the base of my skull, from all my weight coming down on my head.  So they loaded me in another ambulance and sent me to St. E's hospital in Youngstown.  There was an even bigger swarm of people waiting for me there - scary as hell.  After a more thorough examination they put me in a room for the night.  I'd fractured my skull  - not only across the base but around the orbit of my right eye.

They put me on morphine for the night, and I went out like a light.  The next morning I had an hour long MRI, which apparently showed no further damage.  Then I went back to my room and sat there for another day and a half - without ever seeing a doctor (except one who was interested in my sloppy left knee).  They finally let me out Thursday night and sent me home.  I went back to work the next morning.

And now I have to wear a cervical collar for two months.  That means I won't be doing ANYTHING - no mountain biking or road riding, no trail building, no kayaking, no camping, no hiking.  And that whole time I'm going to be thinking about what I should do when I heal.  This is my third serious injury from bicycling (though this one was pretty much a freak occurrence).  I'll be 49 in two months, and though I'm now in the best shape of my life I CANNOT TAKE THESE INJURIES ANY LONGER.  I'm not sure if that means that I'm going to be hanging up the bike or not, but I have a good long time to think about it while I heal.

Thanks to everyone who has sent sympathies and get-well wishes.  I appreciate it very much.  Though my head pretty much feels like a stomped pumpkin I'm doing okay and seem to have an easy recovery ahead of me.  It's just such a drag that this had to happen to me (again).  I guess that's what can happen when you're active.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Catching up with a few more Pictures of the Day

Just want to catch up with a couple more pictures.  Nothing spectacular, but they do show little peeks of my life.

I went for a bicycle ride around town last Friday, as I often do.  This time my path took me down into Packard Park, where I rode over the pedestrian bridge across the river.  This bridge has been there over 30 years, but this was the first time I'd ever used it.

Halfway across I stopped and snapped a shot.  I was surprised at how nice it turned out.

The next night I took Kenny out to the "Octoberfest" celebration at his school.  Not much of an Octoberfest (no beer for one thing) but it was a chance for the kids to hang out together and have some fun.  I hung out by the bonfire for a bit and tried taking a few pictures.  It seems like pictures of fire often look so white, or fail to pick up the firelight enough.

And just one more - a self portrait a bit different than the ubiquitious staring-into-the-camera-down-yer-arm shot.  This one is from a trip down to Beaver Creek to ride my mountain bike on the trails.  Nothing special - but does it have to be special?

First blog post

This could be where I organize the whole concept of my blog, wrapping it in an overall concept that would capture it's essence and present it concisely to an eager & curious world.  I could establish the background, causes, form & tone with clearly understood yet witty writing.

Then again, why set yourself up for disaster right off the start line.  So I'll just try to put up a passable first post - not shooting for the stars but not a pretentious load of balogna either.

I've always enjoyed taking photos.  In these new fangled days where you don't have to wait to develop your photos (remember that?) it seems a shame not to indulge myself by taking as many pics as I feel like.  Recently I've decided to be a bit less sporadic in my photography.  The goal I came up with was inspired by the best thing over on Pinkbike - their Picture of the Day feature.  It's always nice to check in and see what their pick for the day is - what riding discipline, scenery and creativity are showcase.

Not that I think I could hold a candle so most of those photographers.  Many of them have real talent and are constantly working on improving their technique.  For me it's going to be more of a point & shoot opportunity that happens during my day.  I'd guess that the best I could hope for would be to occasionally capture a decent photo and hopefully gradually improve my eye so that I can take better pictures.   And if I can have some fun and maybe make someone else smile along the way, well that's an extra bonus.

When my son Kenny and I went camping with the Cub Scouts two weekends ago, we stayed at Chickagami Park, near Parkman, Ohio.  This used to be Camp Chickagami, a BSA camp, but has been made into a Geauga County Park recently.  This resulted in the rather run down camp getting a facelift, even if it did cost them some of the features that had been there back in the old days. 

Speaking of old days, this is where I went to Boy Scout camp myself when I was about 12 years old.  Back then I learned how to shoot at the rifle range, and helped to prepare lunch for dozens of scouts in the big lodge.  These days the rifle range and the lodge are both gone, but there are still cabins & Adirondack style lean-to's for the Scouts to use.  The lake is also gone, since the dam that was put up way back then had to be removed.  But the woods are beautiful and there is a nice long trail that goes around the property.

Our scouts, the Webelo II's, camped together with the Webelo I's - sharing a tent site area and lean to.  Kenny and some of the other boys slept in the lean-to while the majority of the group tented on the pads provided.  But even though I brought a tent, with the clear and mild night forecast I decided to just throw my sleeping bag down on a tarp and sleep under the stars.  It was a beautiful night, with temperatures cool enough to keep the mosquitoes down but not low enough to be cold.  When I awoke in the morning and collected up my sleeping gear, the rising sun was beginning to draw the moisture from the dew off the lawn.

My gear mostly packed, I sat back on a camp chair while all around Cub Scouts explored the woods, chased each other across the camp site, and generally behaved like young boys.  At the end of the field "Johnny Appleseed" was preparing a presentation on Ohio history for the boys.  The warm sun felt great on my face as I watched the mist rise.