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

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Day 23 of 365

I wish this picture had come out a little more clearly-- isn't he (or she?) cute? It just gave me a chuckle when I saw that head peeking over the wall. This isn't the same farm where Maud, Allie and Wendy live, nor the farm on the slope. It's between my house and the Mennonite church, but closer to the church-- maybe half a mile from it.

I also got this photo of a Monarch butterfly. Unfortunately, I think the reason I was able to get the picture is because this butterfly is close to dying. I'm not particularly knowledgeable about butterflies, but every time I've seen a Monarch they're flitting about and very hard to photograph. This one was just sitting there and barely moved when I came near or when a car drove by. I was even able to touch it gently. It's sad to think of, but death is part of life, after all.

Miles today: 4 Total miles: 141

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Day 22 of 365

If you don't like spiders you might not want to read to read to the end of this post.

This is a Yellow Wooly Bear caterpillar. Or so I've read online. Apparently they can be white, yellow or brown-- there's a photo of a brown one in an earlier post.

Soybean leaves appear to be a favorite food of the Yellow Wooly Bear.

One of the challenges I have when taking pictures of all these flowers, bugs, cows, horses and so on is that sometimes I have to step into the long grass on the side of the road. For most people this probably wouldn't be an issue, but I have an almost paralyzing fear of ticks, and ticks love long grass. But now I have another reason to be afraid of long grass... LOOK:

I about died when I saw this thing in the grass tonight. It was huge. Horribly, horribly HUGE. And then I noticed there were a whole big bunch of them making webs among the grass. Obviously I was able to take this picture, but I felt creepy crawlies on my legs for the rest of my ride. If I could have stripped naked in the middle of the road to make sure there were no spiders--or ticks-- anywhere on my body I would have done it in half a second. Shiver....

It's a Black and Yellow Garden Spider.

Miles today: 7 Total miles: 137

Monday, August 18, 2008

Day 21 of 365

Wow! Can you believe it's been three weeks since I started this challenge? And guess what? I haven't lost one single pound.

The point of riding 365 days wasn't really to lose weight, although I was hoping it would be a lovely side effect. But when you eat bacon and eggs for breakfast, chicken with cheese and BBQ sauce for lunch and then chips and ice cream for dinner what can you really expect?!

That's bad eating no matter what your weight. So I've decided to get serious and hit the health food. Or at least eat cleaner. I'm all set to start-- tomorrow. Tonight I had a "last meal" of chicken flautas with green sauce, guacamole and chips with salsa, washed down with a coke. (Regular only, I don't eat artificial sweeteners) Ice cream for dessert. Of course I've had many of these "last meals," so we'll see how it goes. Maybe the blog will keep me honest... although I don't plan to post about my eating habits very often.

So after this Mexican feast I hopped on my bike and headed out for a short ride down to the Mennonite church. Once I got there I thought, "Well, I could probably go a little farther," and it started all over again, just like it did the day I got lost.

I didn't go nearly as far, in fact I only went half the distance, but the terrain was even more hilly than the other day. I have to say that going fast down some of these steep hills almost makes the uphill climb worth it.

I took these pictures on one of the flatter parts of the trip. It's a road that's cut into the side of a hill. Not a big hill, but big enough. I don't know if you can see how the cows are grazing on a slope. But trust me, they are.

Across the road from them is the barn from the photo above. It's not exactly one of those yard signs, but same idea I think. Down below you can see a picture that puts the barn in context with its surroundings.

As I was speeding down one of the steeper hills I saw Jimson Weed and Honeysuckle, two flowers I haven't gotten pictures of yet. And then I saw sheep! Some of them were sheared and some of them were very, very woolly. But there was no way I was going to give up my momentum on that hill-- I needed it to help me get up the next one. Once I get stronger I'll stop and photograph them.

Also, I want to mention that Mexican food and cranberry juice make a very sour mix...

Miles today: 6 Total miles: 130

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Day 20 of 365

I woke this morning feeling thoroughly exhausted and very crabby. Staying up until 2:30 in the morning arguing on teh internets--even about that most arguable of topics, religion-- probably isn't the best use of my time. But sometimes I do stuff I shouldn't; it's part of my charm, I suppose... or what makes me just like every other person in the world!

Anyway, nothing seemed to go right on my ride today. The sun was too bright, the shade was too dark. Walkers and other cyclists either rudely ignored me or bugged me by saying good morning. My cranberry juice got warm, the camera wouldn't cooperate, and some lady thought I was eating "public" raspberries when I was actually taking a picture of them! Physically every turn of the pedal was hard, and mentally I just didn't want to deal with it.

And to top it all off I missed an opportunity to get a picture of Clifford, and then got scratched up by a giant thorn bush.

There is a guy who rides around town here on a scooter covered with red fur. It also has floppy ears and a black nose, and the word "Clifford" somehow attached to it. I guess for those who don't know Clifford the Big Red Dog. I see this guy all the time and have often hoped I'd be able to get a picture of him riding down the street.

Well, when I was down in the gulley off of Front Street photographing some forget-me-nots, he pulled up right next to my bike and started looking around for something. Here was my opportunity-- I could just ask him for permission to take a picture or two of Clifford. But I chickened out. I couldn't bring myself to do it! Oh for the rashness and brashness of youth... I would have done it twenty years ago, and with aplomb!

So I had to settle for a friendly greeting and no pictures. He drove off pretty quickly; I don't even know why he stopped in the first place. And then when I rode away, I took a route that caused me to have to ride so close alongside some bushes that I got scratched up by their thorns.

I'm still crabby and tired, but I'm going to the bookstore in a few minutes. That should cheer me up.

Pictures today are top left, Butterfly Weed and top right, a Black Swallowtail caterpillar in my parsley. There are actually three of them there right now but this guy's the biggest.

Bottom left is Asiatic Dayflower and bottom right, the aforementioned raspberries!

Miles today: 6 Total miles: 124

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Day 19 of 365

I did something really dumb today. I decided to try out a new bike trail that starts on the other side of town. No, that's not the dumb part. This is: I wanted to stop at the tea shop to get an iced tea and sugar cookie for the ride, so put a five dollar bill in a plastic bag and stuck it back in my basket, just like that. Nothing weighting it down or anything, just lying there on its own. I assumed my camera and bottle of cranberry juice would hold it in place.

I forgot how much my camera and bottles bounce and roll around back there. Needless to say, by the time I got downtown my five dollars was long gone. At that point I was so annoyed that I wanted to turn around and go home.

I'm glad I didn't, though, because I found the most amazing new flowers on this bike path! This is bur cucumber (yes, only one 'r' in bur) in both these pictures. And that's also bur cucumber below on the right. **Those prickly fruits are actually common burdock, not bur cucumber as I originally thought**

I don't think I'd want to eat these cucumbers...

I have lots of photos to go through and flowers to identify. I took 67 pictures today alone.

Tomorrow I'll be riding down for breakfast and depending on how I'm feeling I might go back down this bike trail.

Miles today: 7 Total miles: 118

Friday, August 15, 2008

Day 18 of 365

I'm really squeaking in under the wire with this post!

I just got in a short bit ago; my aunt is visiting from Bucks County so I rode down to my mom's to see her. (And to see my mom, of course)

My mom's house is six miles from mine if you travel the back roads, which is the only way I go right now. I don't feel confident enough to ride through the middle of town yet. Too many hills and not enough shoulder for my taste. Soon, though.

I felt great today. I thought for sure I would be hurting and miserable after my 12 mile debacle yesterday, but I actually felt fantastic-- strong, even. I didn't need to stop until around the four mile mark, and that was because there was a STEEP hill that I just couldn't ride all the way up.

I had decided not to stop to take any pictures until I had reached that point where I had to stop, and I was very pleased with how far I was able to go. I'm improving, no doubt about it!

I pass a quarry on the way to my mom's, and I have to say that the picture above doesn't do it justice. It's huge. Really big. Almost directly across the street is an Amish farm, and here you can see the tobacco that they're growing. Three Amish-- two women and a man-- were there picking the leaves, but of course I didn't photograph them.

I have to say that I'm so glad I'm not an Amishwoman. Not only do they do all the "women's work" like cleaning, cooking, gardening and childcare, they're always out in the fields working, too. I often see them driving mule teams or doing other fieldwork.

I'm definitely too lazy for that life.

Miles today: 6 Total miles: 111

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Day 17 of 365

So I got lost today. And I ended up going just over 12 miles before I got home-- I don't know when my knees are going to forgive me...

And the reason I got lost? I'm lazy. Yes. Deep down inside (well, not all that deep down) I'm pretty much a slacker. I'm all over short cuts, easy-ways-out, wasting my days on the computer, laying around... you know what I mean.

Riding a bike around here means you have to constantly go up and down hills. You can't go half a mile without some kind of grade change. They're not necessarily big hills, but they can be long. And a long, gentle rise can sometimes be as tiring as a shorter, steeper one.

Last night I'd ridden 9 miles, and here it was about 12 hours later and I was out riding again. I just wanted to do a short little jaunt. I was taking a new route, but was pretty sure I knew where I was going.

Except every time I came to a crossroads and saw a hill in the direction I meant to travel, I turned a different way instead. Eventually I had no idea where I was... but I kept going to avoid those hills. I finally recognized this barn and was able to get my bearings and head home.

And in the end I made more work for myself because not only did I travel farther than I probably should have today, I STILL had to go uphill to get home and the hills were steeper than if I'd just stuck to my original plan! My lazy streak made my logic go awry-- generally if you go downhill when heading out you're going to have to go uphill to get back. I don't know why I thought I could get away with only going downhill. All I know is I kept thinking about how I just didn't feel like working that hard...

In honor of a morning ride, here's a Morning Glory that was wrapped around some corn today.

Also, you can see signs like the one above all over Lancaster County. This one happens to be at the Mennonite church (and where the road splits), but many times they're seen at private homes. I'm going to start photographing them and putting them here on the blog. Sometimes they can really be "fire and brimstone" and sometimes they're a little more gentle.

And I had to laugh at the irony of having taken a picture of that particular sign on this particular day.

Miles today: 12 Total miles: 105

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Day 16 of 365: It's so embarrassing!

You know, I get passed by other bicyclists all the time when I'm out riding. Well not all the time-- there aren't all that many people out and about usually. But when they are, they pass me.

But today was the worst! As I was getting close to home, I turned a corner and heard voices behind me. Before I knew it I was completely surrounded by about ten other bicyclists-- all of whom were at least as old as my mother and looked to be even more out of shape than I am.

And then they passed me! I started pedaling harder and kept up with them for about the length of a city block but they began to pull away. Then two elderly men breezed by and they were all out of sight in about a minute and a half. Some day I'll be able to hang with the speed demons. But for now I'm the tortoise...

That's a Bull Thistle up on the right. Soon I'll be getting some photos of the puffball stage of these guys.

Miles today: 9 Total miles: 93

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Day 15 of 365: Isn't that a moving violation?

As I was stopped on the side of the road having a drink of water I saw an Amish buggy heading towards me. That's nothing unusual; this is Lancaster County after all.

I've never taken a picture of Amish as I try to respect their wishes-- they don't want to to be photographed. But I kind of wished I had taken one tonight...

As the buggy went by I looked inside and saw the driver, an Amish teenager, texting someone on his cell phone! Like every other person texting while driving he wasn't even looking at the road. Lucky for him he had a co-pilot-- his horse!

And speaking of horses, here are two I saw tonight. I couldn't get them to lift their heads for me for anything. I didn't go right up to them, though. I certainly don't have any fear of horses, but I don't like to approach them if I haven't asked or been invited to first.

I'm so tired tonight I don't even know if I can stay up for women's gymnastics. Tomorrow I have one client and then I'm getting a massage, so I'm going to try and ride early. I challenged myself today, going 8 miles on some pretty hilly terrain so I'll probably just head downtown for my ride tomorrow.

Miles today: 8 Total miles: 84

Monday, August 11, 2008

Day 14 of 365

Have you ever gone to one of those huge mazes cut into a field of corn? You wander and wander and wander and every time you think you've found the way out you come to a dead end? It's as if the corn is moving around and keeping the true path hidden...

Well, guess what? It probably is doing just that! Check it out:

Corn stalks have feet! Who knew?! But is it creepy or wondrous? I'm thinking it depends on whether it's day light or darkness.

The days are so beautiful right now-- it really is like September. I did my seven mile ride, but in the opposite direction.

I took these pictures at different times, but they are both White Campion. I love the seed pod; if it wasn't so tiny it would be great in a dried flower arrangement.

Don't forget to watch for the Perseid meteor shower tonight!

Miles today: 7 Total miles: 76

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Day 13 of 365: Sunday breakfast with mom

My mom called me yesterday and asked me what I was going to be doing today. Just riding downtown for breakfast, I said. Oh, she said, maybe I'll join you. And she did. It was kind of shocking, really.

She didn't let me take a picture of her, but snapping one of her breakfast was acceptable. So here you have it: western omelette, wheat toast and potatoes with a little bit of mother in the background.

Now here's how I get my iced tea home in my basket. I have to stick it in the corner, put my purse up against it snugly, then thread my purse strap through the holes in the basket and tie it down. If I don't do this, I'll have no tea by the time I get home! It seems like there must be some kind of bungee cord that's small enough to handle this job, but I haven't found it yet.

And it's hard to get a good picture of this system...

After breakfast I rode down by the stream again and took some photos. I'll put them up when I get them identified. We're supposed to get strong thunderstorms this afternoon but if it stays nice I might go out for another ride today. I'm also going to try and put some links to other blogs and websites I visit-- if I can figure out how to do it!

I'm back! I went for another ride this evening after all the crazy rain-- seven miles. I did see something out of the ordinary but I didn't photograph it. As I was coming around the corner of one of those country roads, I thought I saw two bodies crumpled in the middle of the lane.

"Oh my God!" I said, and the two crumpled bodies turned into two sheepish teenagers making out in the stupidest place imaginable.

Very romantic, if you're looking to get run over by a tractor or a bicycle.

Miles today: 10 Total miles: 69