Thursday, October 30, 2008

Epic Fail and an inauspicious new beginning...

Yes, it's true. I've failed in my quest to ride my bike every single day for a year. I don't know if it was just that I lost some momentum and excitement at the end of the summer or the fact that I wasn't very organized during the first part of my school semester or some combination of the two, but I haven't ridden my bike for about five weeks now. The picture above is from my last ride-- this is the farm where I saw the helicopter way back when.

So I decided today that I'd give it another try. Start over and see if I can make it 365 days. We're supposed to have a terribly cold winter, but I'm going to try anyway.

When I took my bike out earlier today I couldn't figure out why it was so hard to get going and why it was such a rough ride-- I'd only gone a block and half. Well, my back tire is practically flat! I'll have to take it to the gas station later or tomorrow and pump it up.

What a disappointing start!

Anyway, since I didn't get anywhere I took some photos of a few of my front porch plants. And my meditating dog. I wish my real dogs were that serene.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Day 50 of 365 I'm still here!

Yes, I'm still here-- and still riding! I just haven't been riding very far at all for almost the past week. Just around my block. When I logged on today I couldn't believe it had been six days since I last blogged! Hopefully everyone will come back and start reading again.

As I said I've mostly been riding just one block sometime in the day. I think maybe I'd gone only about two miles this whole week, until today. It just seemed like every day my time got away from me and I couldn't go for a longer ride.

But now I'm back on track! I could really notice a difference today in my stamina-- that low-mileage week has set me back a little. I'm sure I'll be back up to speed in just a few days, though.

The scenery has changed, too-- most of the corn and soybeans are gone and many of the flowers have turned brown or have puffed out like the milkweed above. It's still like a Woolly Bear city out there, though, and I also saw this Monarch Caterpillar munching on a milkweed leaf. You can even see his chew marks at the top of that leaf.

I also saw this guy-- I think it's a Leafroller Moth, but I'm not positive:

He was tiny and I think it was nothing but luck that I saw him in the grass. And that he didn't fly away.

Total miles for the past six days: 6 Total miles: 219

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Day 44 of 365

I waited until nighttime to ride today. I went out about 10 pm. Just around my neighborhood, as I usually do if I end up riding late. Although there are some clouds floating around, the moon has been bright tonight and I wanted to be outside for it.

I really would like to go for a longer night ride, but I don't think it's safe even on our more deserted roads. Just the fact that there's hardly any traffic makes me think a person driving a car down one of those roads would be so shocked to see a bicyclist that they might hit you in their surprise! Plus I suspect I would get pretty freaked out riding along some tall corn or trees in the dark...

Here are some pictures I took at the park the other day. I thought the moss was sufficiently creepy for a post about riding around in the dark. The spider webs are definitely creepy.

Tomorrow I'll post some other pictures of the park, to give the moss some context. I never really paid attention to it all until I was thinking about what I wanted to photograph the other day. It's gothic in a way, I think. Or something.

Miles today: 1 Total miles: 213

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Days 42 & 43

We had pouring rainstorms today. Lots of lightning, thunder and wind, too. I was able to get a ride in between the rain, but I didn't go very far-- just up to the Mennonite church. I didn't want to risk getting caught in one of those storms.

I thought maybe I'd be able to get one of those dramatic "rain drop on foliage" pictures, but all I got was this photo of grass with slimy stuff underneath. Black crickets were everywhere. What's the significance of that I don't know, but it was interesting.

This isn't the greatest picture of a Chickweed Geometer Moth. It was the best I could do, however! This was taken a week or so ago and I only just identified it. I did find an Audubon Society guide to butterflies, but not moths. Apparently there are thousands upon thousands of varieties of moths and only tens of thousands varieties of butterflies. So identifying moths has been much more difficult.

Yesterday I rode to the mailbox and back, about a mile each way. Mondays are going to be challenging for me, as I have work and then school in the evening. But I'm sure I can make it work.

Miles today and yesterday: 6 Total miles: 212

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Day 41 of 365

What a beautiful day today was! And what a great day for butterflies! I couldn't believe my luck with getting pictures of these guys today. For some reason they're not quite as crisp as I'd like, but they still came out decently for the most part. This Buckeye above is my favorite of the day-- and it was also the easiest picture to take. It was just sitting there in the road sunning itself. Beautiful.

This is a Painted Lady. The side view is just as striking but didn't come out as clearly.

This is an Eastern Tailed Blue. It was difficult to get a picture of this one-- I was lucky with this shot!

I believe this is a Common Branded Skipper, but it's kind of hard to tell.

Either way, he was pretty mellow and easy to photograph.

I rode downtown for breakfast and then to the park. I took a ton of pictures at the park, but once I got all these butterflies (and I have more that haven't been identified) I decided to put them up today.

Miles today: 7 Total miles: 206

Days 39 & 40 of 365

Friday and Saturday were pretty much lost days as far as bicycling went.

On Friday I was still feeling the effects of sitting and standing in the hot sun for close to eight hours on Thursday. I worked early and then headed out for a ride out near the farm where Wendy and Allie live. I got about one mile and I felt so tired that I decided to turn around for home. I ended up sleeping most of the afternoon and again at night.

I guess my body can't take abuse the way it did in my twenties!

Saturday we were dealing with the effects of Hurricane Hanna-- lots and lots of rain. I did put on my rain poncho and started riding out of my development when there were flashes of lightning and huge rumbles of thunder. I definitely wasn't going to go bicycling in those conditions.

So all told, in two days of riding I ended up logging a little over two miles.

Total miles: 190

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Day 38 of 365 Obama!

I went to Buchanan Park in Lancaster today to hear Barack Obama speak. Here's a repost of my synopsis from the Two Peas in a Bucket message board:

First of all, did you see me on CNN? I was the one right up front wearing the Obama t-shirt...

I got there at about 10:45 and was one of the first 20 or so in line. All I can say is it was HOT today. Drank lots of water and got sunburned.

We were let into the park at 3pm, and I was able to get right up to the fence. There was a roped off area inside the fence, in front of the podium. Later they brought the volunteers and some others into that area.

People inside that enclosure were able to (had to, actually) sit down and relax, while those of us on the other side were pretty much standing room only. It was so incredibly hot with all those bodies mashed together! The people on the inside kept trying to get cheers going, and at first we all did it but then all we could say was, "We're too tired! We're hot!" lol Volunteers were continuously passing water to as many people as they could.

Once Obama got there, EVERYONE was energized-- cheering, clapping, waving and so on. Bob Casey spoke first, and used the line about McCain being a sidekick, which got tons of laughs. Then Chris Wright, a lifelong Republican who's voting Democratic this time around introduced Obama.

He talked mainly about the economy, about personal responsibility and of course, John McCain. As usual, he complimented Sen. McCain respectfully before outlining where he thinks McCain has it wrong.

He did touch on last night's speeches, saying, "Some reporter asked me what do you think about being attacked so savagely?" he said. "And I said, 'Well, what else do you expect them to do? This is what they do every four years. And anyway, I've been called worse on the basketball court. It's not something I spend a lot of time worrying about."

Lots of cheers.

He did mention the mocking, but only mentioned Palin once and in passing, but he did zing Guiliani, saying, "Maybe that's not interesting work for Rudy Guiliani, but for the people on the ground, seeing the difference it makes, that's important stuff." More cheers.

Now, I didn't remember that verbatim or write it down or anything. I remembered the gist, but got the quotes here.

Now for the pictures! Bob Casey:

The crowd: It was so incredibly hot and I think you can see that in people's faces!

More Obama:
Finally, he didn't come around to where we were to shake hands, just around the enclosure. We were chanting, "Barack over here! Barack over here!" but to no avail. Maybe next time!

According to the Lancaster paper there were 15,000 people there today. The amazing thing about that is not just that he drew such a large crowd in a very conservative area, but that he got those numbers when this stop wasn't officially announced until this morning.

Back to the blog post: This was a great experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

I was exhausted when I got home, so I only went around the block. Now I'm going to bed and will probably sleep better than I have in weeks!

Miles today: less than 1 Total miles: 188

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Day 37 of 365

It's gotten warm and humid again. I hate this kind of weather; I always have a hard time getting my ride going when it's like this. But it makes for a pretty sunset.

Now how's this for cute? This is my neighbor's dog Scooter, one of the sweetest, most adorable dogs that's ever lived. If I could, I'd take her home to live with me!

Scooter is a Jack Russell/Pug mix, I think. All the kids love her, all the adults love her and almost all of the other dogs in the neighborhood love her. She sees the kids onto the bus in the morning and greets them when they get back. She plays with all the dogs around and I've never seen her growl even once. She's a perfect neighborhood ambassador.

Below is a Virginia Tiger Moth. Those woolly bears that I've been seeing lately eventually become these moths.

Miles today: 5 Total miles: 188

Day 34 of 365

Finally I'm getting around to blogging about my ride on Sunday! Not that anything spectacular or incredibly interesting happened, I just haven't gotten around to doing it.

The area around my dad's apartment is blessed with bike lanes on both sides of most streets and that's what I used for the majority of my ride. It was Sunday morning, so there wasn't much traffic-- definitely a bonus for a newbie city rider like me.

It does seem that bicyclists in New York aren't required to follow the same rules of the road as everyone else. My sister swore that this is an incorrect assumption, but I'll tell you what-- my eyes tell me otherwise. (Of course, she meant that they're supposed to obey traffic laws, they just don't) They ran red lights and stop signs, pulled out in front of cars (and me!) and basically acted like they owned the road. I'd hate to be a little old lady crossing the street when they're barreling down the way. But I survived to ride another day...

I even made a friend. This is Roberto and his dog Mangy. Does that cutie look like his name should be Mangy?? As I was taking the picture at the top of this post (which is the George Washington Bridge, btw) this adorable little dog came running down the sidewalk towards me. How could I not pick him up and hug him and kiss him? Roberto's pretty cute, too, don't you think? I suspect Mangy is his woman-meeting mechanism, lol.

I had a pleasant conversation with Roberto, took a picture and headed out for more bicycling.

Miles today: 2 Total miles: 183

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Day 36 of 365

I rode up to the Mennonite church this evening-- before it got dark, this time. I didn't take any pictures, though, because the sun was sinking fast and once I get going with the camera I can lose track of time. I don't want to ride on that road at night if I can help it.

Above is another picture from New York City-- I'm not sure what road it is down there, but maybe my sister will get on and tell me. I believe that's Fort Lee, NJ that you see across the Hudson. Not sure, though. This shot was taken from Haven Avenue, the street where I parked my car. Where my dad parked my car, I mean.

Sure looks a lot different than New York, doesn't it? But I have to say, riding in NYC has made me eager to get to some other places, too. Maybe Washington, DC before the end of the year. We'll see!

Miles today: 4 Total miles: 181

Monday, September 1, 2008

Day 35 of 365

I missed day 34, I know. I did ride, I just haven't blogged about it yet. Hopefully I'll get it done tonight.

This is a picture of a bike I saw when I was riding in New York. It was parked here just outside Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

My trip got cut short and I ended up coming home late last night, two days earlier than I'd planned. Everything is fine, it's just some of that family stuff that happens from time to time.

Needless to say, I've been pretty down for most of the day and spent most of my time moping around the house and sleeping. I did finally drag myself out for a ride at about 8pm. It was already dark so once again I rode around my neighborhood. I hope to get back on a good biking track (no pun intended) tomorrow.

Here is a view down the street where my car was parked. Haven, I think it was. My car is up on the left. (you can't see it) This road runs parallel to my dad's. Also on the left is the park that you can see from my dad's apartment. Now here's my car: (the Subaru)

I know the other day I said there was only like six inches on either side of my car, but obviously when you look at this picture you can see that it's more like 12 inches. It's still too close as far as I'm concerned!

Miles today: 1 Total miles: 177

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Day 33 of 365

Well, I'm here in New York! This is a picture of the outside of my dad's apartment. I have no idea who that strange woman is by the door... actually it's my dad's friend Betsey, lol.

They live in Manhattan, in the Washington Heights section. Here's a shot of their lobby-- pretty nice, I think! And check out the floor... I love the details that old buildings have, inside and outside. Makes a lot of today's new homes and such look nothing short of vanilla.

It didn't take me long to get here, maybe 3 hours. And it would have been much shorter it wasn't for the traffic at the George Washington Bridge. It reminded me of why I hate driving in highly populated areas!

And the parking-- forget about it. My dad actually parked my car for me. There was no way in heck I could parallel park like that. I think there was something like six inches between my car and the others along the street. I can't even imagine how I'm going to get out!

Tomorrow I'll be riding in the morning up to 186th street (I think, I have to double check) and heading down by the river. Or maybe not, since the hill is steep according to my dad. Then my sister's picking me up and we're heading out to Long Island for the day.

I rode around my block today, and then a block or two back and forth waiting for my dad to wedge my car into its parking spot. So let's add it to the past two days' rides and call it one mile!

Miles today: 1 Total miles: 176

Friday, August 29, 2008

Day 32 of 365

I'm so bad. Really awful. I didn't get on my bike until 11 o'clock tonight.

It's been raining all day and I kept hoping it would stop so I wouldn't have to ride in the rain. In the meantime I had four massages to do today. Add in going to the grocery, the bank, getting laundry done and packed for New York and it was a pretty full day. Still, I need to stop this nighttime riding, even if it is just around my neighborhood.

And to top it off, I didn't even ride a full mile! It's not exactly raining here anymore, but it's misty. Foggy almost. And creepy that close to midnight. That muffled quality of everyday noises when it's foggy and that weird, reflected light you get on these nights was just too eerie for me. I went two blocks and turned around for home.

And look what was hanging around my bushes when I got home:

Gross. I think it's some kind of Orb Weaver spider. It's not as big as the Black and Yellow Garden Spider, but it's big enough to give me the willies. These spiders always come out around this time of year and disappear by mid-fall.

Miles today: less than 1 Total miles: 175, same as yesterday!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Day 31 of 365

It was a dark and stormy night.... oh wait-- wrong blog...

It was a dark and drizzly night, with a slight SSE breeze and gusts of 6 mph. Now we're in the right place! Yes, once again I didn't get my ride in during the day and had to take a quick trip around my development in the dark.

One good thing about it is that now I know I'm going to need a pair of goggles or something for riding in bad weather. I'm thinking something like this might work. And if you have time, take a minute and read about Pancho Barnes. She was quite a character, like many of the early aviatrices. Reading about them and their adventures is one of my hobbies.

I swear that tomorrow I'm going to put aside my daily procrastination and start getting my rides in earlier in the day. Soon the sun'll be going down at 5pm, so I better or I'll be riding in the dark every day.

Here's something sunny for today: Prickly Lettuce.

Miles today: 1 Total miles: 175

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Day 30 of 365

I know a week ago I couldn't believe I'd been doing this for three weeks, but now it's a full month gone by and I still can't believe it. I tend to be one who has many great ideas and fantastic plans, but can't seem to follow them through to their very end. So one month is a huge accomplishment for me. Only eleven more to go!

I'm starting to look ahead to cooler weather-- I'm going to have to get some long johns and better gloves. I'm not too worried about wearing a hat under my helmet but I should probably get a pair of earmuffs. I have a great neckwarmer from Turtle Fur.

I got some so-so pictures of a butterfly (or maybe it's a moth) but I haven't been able to identify it. I think I'm going to invest in a butterfly/moth guide from the Audobon Society, just like my wildflower book.

Today's pictures are a soldier bug and some thistles that have puffed out.

Miles today: 4 Total miles: 174

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Day 29 of 365 I see you're keeping up with it!

The cows at this farm sure are a curious bunch, aren't they? This one is watching a truck making a turn across the way.

The trucks were a pain today. As you can see in the picture to the right, the fields are pretty empty. That's because they've been cutting down all the corn! I'm not sure exactly how they're doing it, because I just showed up and all the corn was gone, but I do know that they're trucking all the waste parts via big trucks.

I know this because I had probably eight trucks pass me and leave trails of corn bits, stalk bits and lots and lost of corn dust in their wakes. And I'm still coughing up corn dust two hours later!

For some reason only one of my close up shots came out clearly. It's of a moth of some sort, but I haven't been able to identify it yet. Once I figure out what it is I'll post the picture.

I also saw many more Black and Yellow Garden Spiders, and I'm not kidding, I saw one that looked as big as a hummingbird. Scary. It was down in the grass in a spot that I couldn't get a picture, but I'm going to ride this route again before I leave for NY, so I'll look for it again and try to get a photo.

As I was getting close to home, an old man sitting in his front yard called out to me, "I see you're keeping up with it! I see you go by all the time!"

Wasn't that nice? I was tickled. I've never seen him before, but the house has a picture window so maybe he's seen me through the window.

Miles today: 9 Total miles: 170

Monday, August 25, 2008

Day 28 of 365

Today was a day for utilitarian bike riding. I rode to work, to the grocery and of course, home. Here's a picture of my bike loaded up and ready to head out for work. It's kind of hard to see against the light-colored backdrop of the garage, but I have a kitchen garbage bag there filled with sheets and work clothes. There's three sheet sets in there-- and I'm not a great folder, lol. Some day I'm going to weigh one of these bags-- I swear it feels like 30 pounds as I'm trying to ride uphill.

And it's official-- it gets dark around here by 8pm. Boo!

This weekend I'm going to visit my sister and her partner in New York City-- and yes, I'll be bringing my bike. So look for some photos from the mean streets of New York! Actually, I don't know that I'm really going to ride on the street. I think we're going to go to the park and ride around there. I admit, I'm intimidated by the thought of riding on the road up there. But there's another part of me that wants to do it anyway, just for the heck of it. But I don't know that my riding style-- slow and looking all around (you know, touristy) -- is quite the thing for city biking.

Miles today: 5 Total miles: 161

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Day 27 of 365

I don't know what my problem was this afternoon, but I felt so tired and cranky on my ride today. Maybe it was because I went out at about 6:30 but hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast around 10. Maybe it was because I had just spent the previous half hour trying to keep myself from falling asleep on the couch. Or maybe it was because the heat and humidity are back, and riding in those conditions is miserable.

I did see a hot air balloon but it was too far off, and the air too hazy, to get a picture of it. The last weekend in September is the Keystone Hot Air Balloon Festival I believe, so I should have a chance to get plenty of pictures during that time.

Other than that this was a pretty uneventful ride-- just a lazy, end-of-summer day. If my basket had room for a lawn chair, book and cold drink I would have stopped near that field in the picture above for a short while. There was a pleasant breeze, but anything more active than sitting and reading made for an uncomfortable time.

I did see lots of woolly bears-- white, brown and black-and-brown. I'm pretty sure that folk wisdom says that if you see lots of woolly bears during the summer it means the winter is going to be a cold one. And it would be just my luck to pick a cold winter to ride every day. Last winter was quite mild; we had only two or three days that were cold enough for snow. We mostly had rain. I guess I'll have to wait and see.

That's a Black Walnut in the picture.

Miles today: 7 Total miles: 156

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Day 26 of 365

I can't believe I'm going to admit this after my post yesterday, but I went for a real nighttime ride today-- at almost 10 pm! My dad is down for a visit, plus I went to the farmers market, took my son to guitar lessons and worked. So there was no time to ride earlier.

I only went around my development, though, where there are almost no cars and plenty of streetlights. Needless to say it was a short ride. But I liked it! I wish it was possible to ride at night safely.

Tomorrow I'll be riding down to breakfast and maybe a little farther if I can. But for today it's just one short mile.

The top picture is a grasshopper of some kind-- I'm pretty sure it's a grasshopper and not a locust or something like that.

And then there are two pictures of the Common Buttercup, one with petals and one without.

Now if I'm lucky maybe I'll get another chance at Clifford tomorrow!

Miles today: 1 Total miles: 149

Friday, August 22, 2008

Day 25 of 365

Well, I had to turn back before I had planned to on this ride. It was just too dark to be out riding without lights or reflective gear.

I've been cleaning my house practically all day today, and when I wasn't cleaning I was at work giving massages. And I did some homework, too. So I didn't get out until almost 8:30 tonight. I thought I could at least get up to the Mennonite church and back-- there's a decent sized shoulder on that road and didn't seem all that dark. But once I got out there I realized how foolish it really was for me to be doing this. It was dark enough that I couldn't even see what I was riding over, and I had a couple wheel wobbles from riding over rocks. I turned around just after one mile.

Maybe it was for the best, anyway. My legs should probably get at least a little break every once in a while!

No pictures today, of course, it was too dark. Here are some pictures that I took that day I got lost. On the top is Birdsfoot Trefoil, above left is Scarlet Pimpernel and on the right, Moth Mullein.

Miles today: 2 Total miles: 148

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Day 24 of 365

My aunt Barb is back in town and look what she found! Actually, this Black Swallowtail butterfly had been sitting among the flowers in my mother's garden all day. It was just as docile as the Monarch from yesterday-- in fact, it had been sitting on my arm before it fluttered over to her shoulder.

I rode around down by my mom's today, although I didn't ride from my house to hers. There's a lot of construction going on around her. Some of it more modest than others. How about this place:

It doesn't really say Lancaster County, does it? Countians aren't exactly known for being free with their money, so seeing houses like this is a bit confounding. But there are a bunch of them in this area. Three, four, five car garages. There's even a house in this development that's practically a block long! Ok, maybe not that big, but it has a five car garage and looks like a hotel.

Development has its place, but I like this part of Lancaster County:

Miles today: 5 Total miles: 146