Thursday, July 31, 2008
After the pasta feed, our hosts offered us a boat ride around the lake. As we walked the 300 yards to the docks, I spied a couple deer and snapped a shot - it wasn't until afterwards that I zoomed in and saw the doe in the photo too.
Maggie pointed out the high-water line that the reservoir reached before the spillway was finally reached. The boat owners had to move their tie-offs daily as the levels rose to be able to maintain control of their craft. As we descended the hill to the docks, Maggie stayed at that high-water line and remains visible in the shot from below... Host Dean indicated that the deepest part of the reservoir is about 30 feet, and apparently the water level rose about that much as well, so the reservoir volume increased by many times. An article in the 17 July Daily Iowan quoted data from the Corps of Engineers indicating storage went from about 30,000 acre-ft in March to 550,000 acre-ft in mid-June, an increase in storage volume of about 20 times!
The last picture from thursday shows a few of our team on the boat. From the right we have Mike, Denise, Denise's daughter (visiting from IC), Joanna, and Brad. The boatride was great, though it was darkening quickly. We toured the public access area, the dam and spillway area and a couple coves, scaring up a number of herons in the process.
Friday we pushed on to Tipton where we stayed in the yard of a friend of my sister Kathy. She came to visit for a bit when she got off work, and when she finally headed home, I toured the small town and took a couple photos.
Tipton has a population of about 5,000, so adding 15,000 plus people for an overnight is quite the deal. The town seemed quite organized, however, with many campgrounds scattered thru town. This one is at the middle school and is typical of a RAGBRAI camp. Usually there are showers available in the school's locker room and there are port-a-johns (called Kybos on RAGBRAI) available close by.
Another necessity - food is usually available from vendors that follow the ride, as well as local merchants that are nearly overwhelmed by the crush of hungry bikers. Pictured is one of the local churches serving lasagna with a huge line waiting to get in. Most churches like this eventually run out of food - a bit upsetting if you've been standing in line for a long time, but good for the moneymaking activities of the congregation.
And while Kathy told me about this, I wasn't sure I believed her until I saw the sign - a beef sundae! There are many food specialities alive and well on RAGBRAI, including the "walking taco" (bag of doritos with ground beef, lettuce and cheese mixed in), any of a number of meats on a stick, and Mr Pork Chop sells you a half pound pork chop with a napkin, but it was my first exposure to a pit beef sundae!
Saturday the riders pushed on to LeClair, a small town on the Mississippi. In addition of throwing in 12,000+ riders and their support vehicles, the town is right next to the I-80 bridge across the river and they've recently discovered some cracks in the steelwork, closing down a lane in each direction. So it literally took me nearly 2 hours to get the last 3 miles into town and to a place to meet the bikes coming in. But eventually the riders all came in, and Melinda found me as well (how did we get along without cellphones?).
It was a nice week - we missed much of the hot, humid weather that can make the ride really miserable. But it isn't as much fun for the support drivers, and after 3 years, I think my term is about up. I dont think I can go back to riding because of the usual hot weather, so I may be retiring from RAGBRAI too. Plus it is a different event from years past - many of the memorable old-timers are missing - John Lowry died a few years ago, John Hill had a stroke 2 years ago (though he did make it down to visit us on thursday!). Harold, Norb, Mike and Jo have all dropped out from the ride and I miss them all. We'll see how much of an attraction I feel in february when they announce the route for July '09!
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Dean was just telling Roger that "we don't have any plans this weekend" - but I have assured him that "we do". There are projects on the house that are screaming to be done. I'm hoping we can get into some of those projects on the weekend and maybe make a little dent in them. One of our little projects will be changing the mortise lock on the kitchen door. When we were in Clinton, IA this past weekend we stopped by an old fashioned "general store" that is still in business in the heart of downtown Clinton. We've gone past it several times, and each time I've said, "I want to go in there sometime!" We stopped in on Saturday, meeting the proprietor - Steve. Steve has bits of this and that, old and new, antique and utilitarian. Some things are priced at "antique store prices", but other things are very reasonably priced. When I was searching for a new mortise lock for the sun room door (this past Spring) I was unsuccessful in finding something "new" and had to have one built out of parts from several non-working ones. Steve, however, had several mortise locks with skeleton keys "new in the package"! Granted, no one has used locks like these on their homes in 50 years or so - but when you are wanting to replace one it's nice to find some place that carries them still. Needless to say, I bought one for the kitchen door - and hopefully we'll get that installed this coming weekend. Steve's store is also the place to go when looking for any poster of The Three Stooges, Elvis, or The Beatles - as well as oil lamp parts, aluminum screen tacks, cast iron pots and pans, and marbles. He has a bit of everything, and will keep you up to date on the latest baseball score while you browse! I also have my eye on an old pedestal sink there, but haven't measured the space in our bathroom to see if it will actually fit. That's for another trip to Clinton!
Another activity we're talking about for this weekend is a trip to watch the Kane County Cougars (the local baseball farm team for the Oakland A's). Dean has never been to a Cougar game. They're great fun, and very family oriented. One of my favorite Cougars games memories was witnessing one of our doctors catching a "bean ball" on a Saturday night, several years ago. Ouch! Saturday will feature the game, sky divers, and fireworks after the game (win or lose)! Summertime is baseball time, and what better way to spend a hot August night than cheering on the local farm team!
Monday, July 28, 2008
In order for us to drive to Clinton, we had to cross back over into Illinois and travel North on the East side of the river. We arrived at Uncle John and Aunt Judy's around 3pm, and had a great time visiting with Randy and family (he had run in the Bix run in Davenport that morning, along with his son - finishing the 7K in just under an hour - way to go Randy!). Kathy was able to make it to the party, as was brother Brian and niece Cejae; brother Jim and Karen, and Breanna and Brennan. It's always fun to see the family and get together! We only stayed until 6:30pm or so, as Dean was tired - I was way past tired - and we had a 2 1/2 hour drive home to look forward to. We arrived home around 9pm (by the time we stopped for gas, etc) and it was nice to get home and relax!
Sunday I caught up on my sleep, and then we went grocery shopping (normal everyday stuff). Today Dean mowed the lawn, and I did "camper check-in" for the last week of camp. Hard to believe that summer camp session is closing already!
Dean will be downloading his pics soon, and then he'll get back on here and share them. He has some great pics from the week, including pictures of some deer that they saw at the Coralville Reservoir during an evening boat excursion.
Friday, July 25, 2008
I'm having trouble getting my weather program to load, but it seems that the last night/day of RAGBRAI could be looking at some rain. I hope it's nothing that will put a damper on everyone's fun!
Tomorrow will be a drive to Le Clair, IA to pick up Dean, and then onto Uncle John and Aunt Judy's for the reunion they have planned (due to their son and his family being home to visit from Boston).
As some of you know we have been very concerned with Carolyn's health this week, as she has suffered a cerebral hemorrhage while in Kosovo on a mission trip. We are hearing encouraging news from there, however, and she will be transported via medi-vac to the American Hospital, in Paris, on Sunday. Her daughter and son-in-law will be leaving on Sunday, to join her in Paris. All continued prayers for her are greatly appreciated.
News on the cat front is that they seem to be doing better at getting along! Yahoo!! I actually saw Atticus give Marley a little kiss on the nose this morning! Marley is coming to the living room doorway to eat now (that is a great improvement on his part), and I haven't heard any low rumbling growls from anyone today! Sugar Pants is so easy going - he now climbs up on my lap when I'm on the computer and goes to sleep. He's also figured out that I'm the one with the control over the treats, and he really can put on a sad little face and cry when he wants to. It will be easier to give them all the attention that they need when Dean gets home. I think that they're all doing very well, and it hasn't even been a month yet!
I think I'll let Dean do the next post, when he gets home. I would guess you're getting tired of reading what I have to say for now!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
"It was a cold, wet day for the riders - high was only 69 and rained off and on on them. So they were glad the 76 mile day was over. They said the stands selling cold drinks went with no customers, while those selling hot food and coffee had long lines. We are all camping in the yard tonight, hoping my setup will be warm enough. Wishing I brought long pants and long-sleeve t-shirt. Host Dean is lighting a fire right now, so will go join them!"
The pictures Dean has sent are of the dinner spread from the hosts, and two of the riders filling their plates.
Dean says that there is lasagna, salad, and "more brownies that you can shake a stick at"! I hope their weather improves. It won't be much fun dunking their front tires in the Mississippi on Saturday if they're still having rain! I will be talking to Dean tonight, yet.
I'm glad I took that nap last evening. The hospital had me go to work at 3am. It seems we're having a 'baby-boom' of sorts. Of course, in helping out, I've lost my night off for the week - and won't be off again until Saturday night. But, I was glad to help out. There are so many times when we need help at night, and it's hard to find people to come "join the party". Since I did get some sleep last night, I cut back the sleep today so that I could get some chores done around here this afternoon and evening. Tomorrow morning I will have to stay over, at work, to get recertified in the Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP). Not fun, but required. It's always something, isn't it?
Wow, that lasagna sounds really good about now....wish I were in North Liberty to join them! Tomorrow they are nearing the end of RAGBRAI, and will be heading for Tipton, IA. During that portion of the trip they will pass through sister Kathy's town of Bennett! She will visit with Dean in Tipton after she gets off of work. That's an extra bonus! We haven't seen the family since we got married, so it will be fun to visit with them on Saturday when I pick Dean up!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I have volunteered to be "on-call" for the hospital tonight, from 3am-7am. I'm now thinking that I must have had a very weak moment at work to have signed up for that slot! So rather than continue writing now, I think I will take a shower and then get a nap in case that they call me to come in to work.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Today's RAGBRAI news from Dean is that they all slept well last night, and he had arrived in Ames shortly before I talked to him this morning. The weather seems to be improving for the next day or so, and they should be enjoying some drier, cooler, air tonight. The band "Styx" is playing a RAGBRAI concert there tonight.
One of life's little lessons were learned here tonight. "Don't paint your fingernails a bright color without checking to see if you have polish remover, first." I guess I'll take a trip to Walgreens to pick up a new bottle of remover before it gets too late. Go figure.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
I came home to four cats with bad attitudes. There didn't seem to be any major wounds on anyone, but they're all growling at each other. Hopefully it was just from being left in the house alone so much the past few days. The neighbor came in and fed them, of course - but I would imagine that she didn't get into the "kitty integration" thing with them much. It was a different 'pet sitter' this time, as their usual "Nanny" wasn't available this weekend. It should be a wild and furry week around here, with only me being the Ref for their squabbles!
Time for me to settle in, kick off the shoes, and get some sleep. The pictures will be downloaded and posted tomorrow!
Thursday, July 17, 2008
In preparation for this trip (we're taking the Jeep for this one) I needed to get the a/c fixed on the Jeep, as it hadn't worked for the past year. What was hoped to be a simple fix was (of course) anything but. Mucho dinero later, we have a cold car to drive this weekend. Car problems/repairs just frustrate me to no end. Frustrated or not, it was repair the car or get a new one. I opted to repair.
So, we're off in the early morning! I'll post more when I get home! Have a good weekend!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
However since our return a week ago we've seen no sign of them - no casual sightings, nor have they shown themselves in my amblings around the Riverwoods camp here. Granted, camp opened the week after our wedding and a horde of running, yelling kids might have shifted their territory away from the immediate area. But we do miss them in their absence!
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Matt is evidently into his 3rd generation of "dance videos". What makes it interesting is not Matt's dancing (NYT calls him "doughy-looking" and a "doofus") but the locales and locals who join in - from Timbuktu (the real one in Africa) to "The Bean" in Chicago, from Antarctica to Nellis Air Force Base, where he "dances" in zero-g on the "vomit comet". Part of the attraction is Matt's consistency in step and meter, and largely for the exhuberance of the kids and locals who join in goofy lockstep with him.
While I can count my annual visits to Youtube on my fingers, Matt has convinced me to stop by more often for gems like these. If you have the bandwidth, you've got to watch it in "high quality"!
Monday, July 7, 2008
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
I think the kitties know "something is up", as Marley is hiding out somewhere. Sugarpants is snoozing on the couch, so he will be easy to corral into a carrier for the road. We'll get to see what it's like to travel with two cats in the van - which will prepare us for traveling with four cats in the van, come the end of October/beginning of November!
Our friends, Bill and Mary Loftquist, left yesterday for Iceland for a few months! I can't imagine what a trip that will be! We wish them safe travels!
Our last evening in Tucson included packing (of course), and then a visit to Valerie's house. I did a minor fix on her ceiling fixture in the dining room; then it was off to "On The Border" with Valerie, with Jane joining us there!
Our Jason is ready for 4 months of taking care of the cats and the house - with his girlfriend Anna returning from a trip to France last evening.
I'm thinking our next posting will be from the shores of the Fox River, when we arrive in St. Charles in a few days!
Happy July 4th everyone!