Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sunrise, Sunset

This last week was a great week for sky colors. Autumn is laying in the clouds despite the best attempts of a late summer to hold on. It has made for some beautiful mornings and evenings. Even my crummy phone camera couldn't screw these up.

This was the sunset after (possibly) our last 80+ degree F day of the year. We had a 24 mile bicycle ride with a couple of decent climbs earlier and were relaxing at the Rock Creek Tavern as the day faded away:

A few days earlier in the week, we were treated to a sunrise that lit up the sky:

And the next morning was nearly as bright, but added more textural variety to keep up with the day before:

With such beauty, it is tough to complain...though I usually find a way. :D

Monday, September 12, 2011

35 miles on the West Side

The forecast for Sunday in Portland was 95F (35C), so I decided to get the bike ride in early. I woke up at 5:30AM and took the family out to the local Elmer's pancake joint for breakfast at 6am. I enjoyed my Saturday market skillet with egg whites and green tea. We unloaded the bike and my family drove home.

It was a chilly start with temperatures in the mid 50sF (12-14C)...you have to love a temperate climate. I ended up stopping at a gas station in the first half mile...the back tire felt kind of squishy so I filled it, then onward.

Thanks to a number of lightning-caused fires in the Cascade mountains, the morning sky was tinged red and the smell of distant smoke was with me:

I had a nice quiet ride through the Tualatin Hills Nature Park encountering a couple of wild rabbits in the open areas. I proceeded southward through a few power line parks making my way towards the flanks of Sexton mountain and Cooper mountain. With names like that, it is no doubt that some climbing would occur. Here is a look back from part way up the hill:

My trip calculator indicated 580 feet of climbing and I believe it. There were a few ridges and gullies as I weaved between the two peaks. Finally, I headed north towards and worked my way to Greenway Park and the Fanno Creek Park and watershed. Just as the heat of the open road was just gathering into a palpable presense, I found Fanno Creek and a foliated reprieve:

After a couple of miles riding the thin, green line between Beaverton neighborhoods and the industry near highway 217, I finally reached the end of the park trail and wound my way towards downtown Beaverton. I worked my way back to the Tualatin Hills Nature Park. Along the way, I rode through some old(er) growth firs and pines. This particular area has an affinity for pines not generally found in Western Oregon so it is a bit of a novelty:

Continuing on through the wetlands area, I heard a thrashing in a thicket while riding along a boardwalk over what would be swamp for 9 months of the year. I stopped and rolled slowly to find a doe who wasn't expecting me. Pausing a bit longer, I noticed two fawns following close behind. My grainy phone camera took the following picture:

The morning was warming up and I found myself working through my 2 liters of water a bit quicker. I emerged from the nature park and worked my way through a few miles of power line parks. Here is a view north towards my next destination from a temporary apex:

After weaving my way through a busy business district with few trees and burgeoning heat, I turned westward making my way through suburbia and into the inner farm belt. I approached a country road near a highway that makes a nice, free vantage point for a couple local airshows at the Hillsboro airport as I found out by accident on a night ride last year. On this occasion, a wheat field was planted in clover and left to recover near this point:

The freeway I mentioned gets busier each year, so the forlorn dead end I frequent before turning around has piles of gravel, pipes and restricted areas all working towards expanding the highway:

Continuing back eastward, I meet up with another power line park which skirts soccer fields before diving through an easement at the local golf club:

This picture was take at the apex of the last power line park looking down the hill I climbed:

I worked my way home through surface streets for the last few miles. The lack of vegetation along with the ascension of the sun made the last half hour a warm, sweaty finish with more grabs of the water bottle. 35 miles later, I pulled into my driveway ready for it to be over and to cravenly hide in front of the air conditioner sipping ice water...it was a nice feeling.

With a custom ankle brace and an inoperable knee problem, I feel fortunate to have been able to lose the weight necessary to ride a bicycle for 3.5 hours with minimal pain. I am a far cry from my rotund, lethargic, and, frankly, unhappy self of two years ago. I feel very lucky to have found the right needle in the right haystack to help myself...I hope the same for all who suffer and keep looking for a way to feel better.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Small Change

Given that nobody has posted here in quite some time, I decided to go solo and set the blog to post only my own stuff. Ladybug, Moody, and Info Geek posts from the past will remain on the site. I am always happy to link to other blogs or posts from said people that are of interest. In fact, I already am.

Friday, September 09, 2011

The upcoming anniversary

There is an anniversary coming up for a criminal event. The horrific nature of the event itself and the subsequent perversion of civil reality along with the consequent destruction of innocent lives, property and the permanent establishment of state power as an end unto itself renders me unable to reverently mourn, in public, those innocent lives lost or properly acknowledge the sacrifices of individuals whose acts are obscured by the innumerable crimes and enduring lies of the vultures who have profited politically and financially from the event on every side.

While I am not a believer, I can see a kind of wisdom in Matthew 6:6...

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Regardless of whether a "reward" is forthcoming, I will have to sort my grief out on my own I guess.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Spam is not just a job...

I figured that my regular commenters would prefer to forego the Captcha-style identity verification so that they may comment easily on the blog. While it is a noble quest, I now find myself saddled 2 to 5 times per day with comment moderation requests for various spammy adverts or possibly even malware.

I don't mind marking them all as spam. The price for a free place to blog and a convenient commenting zone is a bit of horse pucky. I suspect that it will continue since all replies are anonymous and target the more politically juicy posts from the last 5 years.

...it is an adventure. However, if I start requiring a valid log on, you will know why.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

The Simple Pleasure of Dry Heat

After a cool and humid summer with a few warm, humid days and a couple hot humid days, we arrive at September when the high pressure finally camps to the east of Portland and the humidity drops like a rock. Today it reached 90F (32C) but the humidity was likely in the teens. It was dry enough to need chapstick and protection against nose bleeds. My kind of day.

It is unfortunate that a few lightning caused fires in the mountains (hey, blame that on humidity) wafted a white plume of smoke over the city for a while, but the wind shifted today and most of it went somewhere else. Hopefully the good folk who fight the fires can get them under control.

I have a group of two or three friends that try to get a bike day in every weekend during the summer. Today we chose the Banks-Vernonia Linear trail for a shadier ride given the forecast heat. The state parks website said it was a 21 mile trail, but I seem to remember passing a 21.5 mile marker on the way, so I will say 22 in both directions for a total of 44 miles (71km). We are recreational riders, so we generally seem to stick to about 10 mph (~15 kph).

The morning was cool and when we started, it was in the low to mid-70s. One of the nice things about a dry September heat wave is that the nights are still quite cool. The ride climbed from about 250 to 950 feet in elevation with changes up and down in between. The shade of the coast range forest augmented the cooling as well. Even though we rode in the heat of the day, there was only about 5 miles of riding under the hot sun with the rest either in shade, at some altitude, or both. If only we could bottle this stuff and send it to the rest of the humid world.

Due to the cool and wet beginning, this summer marked a fairly late harvest of blackberries. For those outside the Pacific NW, the Himalayan blackberry is an invasive species that grows does very well here and produces tons of free food for us. It is a longstanding memory for me to breathe in the sweet scent of ripe berries this time of year. We made a stop along the trail to pick a couple handfuls to enjoy along the way. The scents reinforce this good feeling. If there must be an invasive species, let it smell beautiful and provide good food (I am looking at you, useless English Ivy).

After the ride, the consensus was for burgers and beer at the Rock Creek Tavern. They did not disappoint as we sat at an outdoor table in the shade and enjoyed our meal.

After about 102 miles (164km) in 8 days, I believe I will spend this Labor Day in a more relaxed state. That total included a nice ride along the Springwater bike trail and the Cazadero unfinished extension that was quite nice as well.