Life Update 19APR10

It’s been over three months since I’ve posted about events in Betsy’s and my life. A lot has gone by, like, Easter! I had out the Österlamm that Herbert gave me about 6 years ago.

So, here is a quick catchup, mostly with photos…
1. Deutsch Unterricht– I restarted the Saturday AM German class. Between reading the Magazine Deutsch Perfekt and going to German class at the Tacoma German Language School, I’ve been able to keep from totally losing my language skills. Here are some photos of the class, as well as the teacher, Yvonne. She is from Dresden, Germany, and is unbelievably patient with us old farts.

2. Oregon Coast– in early February, Betsy and I took a trip to the Oregon Coast. The lead photo was from Cannon Beach. The Oregon Coast is one of the most beautiful coasts in the world. 

3. Cycling & trainer– Betsky now has a new bicycle, named Meggie II, after her first bicycle. We took a brief 10-mile ride recently…

Betsy also let me get a Tacx Virtual Reality Trainer. These are quite nice at being able to cycle train in bad weather or when you only have an hour to spend on a bicycle and need a hard workout. It works by connecting a computer to a gizmo that your back bicycle wheelsets in. When you are going “uphill”, the wheel offers resistance in proportion to the steepness of the hill, and when going downhill, it may actually spin your tire for you. It is close to reality.
You can see that it really chews up your training tire. Meanwhile, you watch a video screen, which you set to a number of rides that you may wish to experience, throughout Europe. As you pedal faster, the scene moves faster, quite comparable to reality.
The screen will also show your power output (in watts), cadence (how fast you’re pedaling), heart rate, bicycle speed, time, and distance. This allows you to monitor closely how well you are improving on your endurance. Here is Jonathan on the bicycle trainer…

4. Bicycle Tour 15-18APRIL2010. This trip was to celebrate tax day, April 15. Russ A. and I drove to Chelan, WA, and took off from there. Our first stop was 52 miles later in Twisp, WA. The road either followed the Columbia River, or tributaries, leaving us at a resort town just east of the North Cascades pass.

The next day went from Twisp to Coulee Dam, an 85+ mile ride, with fully loaded touring bikes, and about 7000 feet elevation gain. Here was our first challenge, that of crossing Loup Loup Pass. We were concerned about the weather since it had snowed on the pass just a week before. It was quite cold, but we were working so hard to cross the pass that we were over-heated anyway.

We then ended up in Omak. We met a kindly elderly gentleman on the street to enquire about our options, and he suggested that we NOT go the way we had planned, but instead take an alternative route that was marked on the map as a gravel road, yet in reality, was fully paved. He also suggested that there were minimal hills. The route indeed was far less hilly than our planned route but was persistent in multiple sections of 6-7% grade uphill, and a lengthy 8-9% grade section at the beginning and end of the new route. We were quite pleased to have done this alternative route, since it took us by some absolutely spectacular scenery, like Omak Lake.

We eventually ended up at nightfall quite exhausted but looking at the Grand Coulee Dam. We stayed in a motel that faced the dam.

The next day was 61 miles and another 5000 feet of climbing. From the photo below, the intuition would remark at how flat the terrain was, yet, on a bicycle, it was quite rolling hills, with lots of 6% grade climbing. We were still moderately tired from the previous day, which made it harder to do even simple hills.

Our last memorable scene was from the Columbia plateau, getting ready to descend down to the Columbia River. In the distance, you could see Lake Chelan and the town of Chelan. It was a 8-12% grade descent for about 5 miles. Awesome! I’d sure hate to come up that hill on a loaded touring bike!
5. Future– so much has gone by. A niece, Laura, won a beauty pageant.
Laura, we are so proud of you. It takes not only beauty but true talent and skill to get to Teen Colleyville.  Thankfully, you didn’t have to have uncles dying in the car and brothers spazzing out on you to get into your contest, like in Little Miss Sunshine. We had old friends from many moons ago, Aaron and Anita visit us. They remain quite special. I especially appreciate being able to do outdoor things with Aaron. We plan on seeing Jonny off to Belize for the summer, and perhaps longer, to visit and study with Uncle Dennis. Dennis has been doing well, as is attested by this recent photograph…

Once he gets out of jail and quits playing with poisonwood, he’ll be back to his old self, I’m sure. Dennis is not really in jail; he is just showing us the miracles of Photoshop. I’d really like to visit Dennis someday. Belize is looking increasingly appealing, especially with our Destroyer-in-Chief Obaminator as el Presidente ruining all that we count as precious in our country. He will go down with Woodrow Wilson and FDR as the worst presidents ever of the USA.
I hope to do a few more cycle tours this summer. I also plan on spending the month of June in Bangladesh and will be in Germany for the last 2 weeks of August, if all works well. More blogs will follow. I haven’t had many book or movie reviews since I’m listening to 2 lengthy Brahms compendiums, which I wish to review together, watching a lengthy tv-series with Betsky, and reading a very large and ponderous book. So, more blogs will be in the works in the future. Meanwhile, please stay in touch.