• Category Archives day by day
  • This is the category closest to just being a plain diary. Places I go, things I do, people I see, what’s happening in my life.

  • A Stinker of a Day!

    We had a few chilly days this week, including a rainy day or two, but the past two days have been in the upper nineties. Sunny and hot, classic summer weather — like the weather at the Battle of Monmouth, whose anniversary just passed. Anne and I went to Mauch Chunk Lake yesterday and rented kayaks, and spent the day along the shady lake shore, but today will be a bike day: she went to the Hellertown Farmer’s Market by bike (to hang with her spinning group), and I’ll be joining her there later for the ride home. Ugggh — maybe we can take a dip in Saucon Creek on the way home.

    I helped Scott S with his Road Scholar rides this week, but only biked two days: I helped with a towpath ride on Monday, and with a road ride on Wednesday from Cherry Valley Vineyards to Delaware Water Gap — in the rain. (It felt awesome; I wish I was there in the rain right now.) Interesting crew of people, ranging in age from about 50 up into the 80’s, and ranging in skill from neophyte to fairly experienced.

  • Back In The Saddle

    I’m still not sure why, but Monday was a totally wasted day. Maybe it was residual exhaustion, maybe it was the heat or pollen, but I was tired and headachey, unable to concentrate, and just plain out of sorts all day, and I basically did nothing. I got up yesterday and I felt much better (it was also a bit cooler), but I seemed to be on track for another “do nothing” day anyway. Until…

    I was out in the backyard putting away some party things when I realized it was a beautiful day, and I really needed to go for a ride. I also wanted to keep up on my D&L Trail patrol obligations, so I saddled up and went off for a long towpath ride — I went first to the end of the Lehigh Towpath at Canal Park in Allentown, then turned around and rode to Easton before coming home, for a total of of 34 miles. I was beat by the time I finished, but I was glad I did it, and not just for the mileage: I managed to find two things to report (a down tree near the train yard, and a missing footbridge in Freemansburg), and also helped two women walking their bikes. One had a flat tire, a slow leak that just needed filling so they could get back to where they parked, but they had no pump. So I pumped it up, and off they went. Finally, some things to put in my trail report!

    I also came a across two guys on the Albert Street footbridge (my Allentown turnaround), and we all marveled at the giant fish — easily 30″ long — swimming under us in the canal. We exchanged a few more pleasantries, then they went back to ignoring me and continued their conversation, which sounded a lot like drug-dealer gossip, and I took that opportunity to move on. This interlude did not make it into my report…

    Back home, I had just enough time to brown the leftover ground beef and toss it in the crock pot with some beans, before going out again with Anne for her Tuesday Night Ladies Ride. It was just us and one other woman, and we did maybe 12 miles total at a pretty mellow pace, which was just fine by me. I did manage to bump into my old friend Bob R, and we rode together for a bit.

    Home, had some homemade pizza and some beer, and we (or I) fell into bed exhausted — but it was the right kind of tired this time.

  • Exhausted!

    What a busy weekend! We had an afternoon/evening barbecue on Saturday, which meant that we spent much of last week getting ready, especially in terms of the yard: I dismantled two raised beds — they were under the persimmon trees and didn’t get enough sun — and re-seeded them for grass, then mowed and trimmed and weeded and generally cleaned the yard, bought food and beer, and also did a bunch of indoor, house-cleaning stuff. This meant that by Saturday morning we only had an enormous, as opposed to overwhelming, amount of preparation to do. Got through all that just in time for the first guests…

    The party was a success as far as I was concerned, and I think everyone had a good time, but I pretty much forgot to eat I was so busy, and the same was true for Anne. Too bad, because we had pizza from the bread oven, and burgers, and hot dogs, and various salads & desserts brought by our guests. (Luckily, we overdid it on the food shopping and have tons of leftovers, so we won’t miss out.) We fell into bed around 11:00 with just a minimum of cleanup.

    Yesterday I did a bit of backyard policing while Anne went to the Hellertown farmer’s market, then we went to Glassboro for her niece’s HS graduation party. That was really pleasant, and the drive was fairly painless despite having to get through/around Philly. We managed to be home before dark, grilled up some chicken kebabs and eggplant, and were in bed fairly early.

    It’s stinking hot out, yesterday and today, and it’ll likely continue for the rest of the week. We had water balloons for the kids at our BBQ, and I am thinking of going down to the Monocacy for a dip. I was ready to write off and re-re-seed the newly seeded areas in the back, but the trampling they got Saturday seemed to do them good: the new grass sprung up overnight. A win is a win; I plan to do as much nothing today as I can.

  • And A Bit Of Sun

    Anne and I did the Sojourn thing today. We volunteered to monitor, and direct the bike traffic through, a busy intersection: Race and Lehigh Streets in Catasauqua. Race Street is a tiny two-lane road, but it’s insanely busy (it handles about 18,000 vehicles a day, I looked it up when we got home), and the riders had to go about two blocks on the street, before getting into a left turn lane and making a left onto Lehigh. My job was to direct the riders to their left turn, and Anne stood on the other side of the intersection, sending them on their way.

    It was an interesting, and sometimes hair-raising, day. The ride is billed as a multi-day ride on a towpath or rail-trail, and I don’t believe that many of the riders were expecting or prepared to ride on busy streets. Some few came through like champs, obviously able to ride as part of traffic: they took their lanes, controlled their situations, and made the turn with no problem. Others were able to pedal and steer their bikes, but had no real skill or confidence in vehicular cycling: they clung to riding the gutter and were trapped there by a wall of cars when it was time to go left. Finally, there were the riders who looked only marginally competent on their bikes, and were truly frightening to watch — they mostly ended up walking across the intersection.

    Anyway, we were out there for just over four hours. Then the last riders came through, Scott S rode up from the intersection he’d been working, and the three of us biked back to Bethlehem for some Lehigh Pizza. It was a warm and sunny day, and by the time it was over I got all the sun I’d missed yesterday, and then some. I now sport a serious “farmer’s tan:” white forehead, lobster-colored everything else.

  • Ugh, Rain…

    Posted on by Don

    I was going to be leading a ride today, up on American Standard in Jim Thorpe, but the weather — which was beautiful yesterday, and has been really nice and sunny all week, dry even, despite repeated dismal forecasts — just isn’t cooperating today: there is much rain coming down, and the radar says it’s going to continue. Oh well, the garden could use it; I’ll reschedule for another rainy day…

    Yesterday was “errand day,” meaning I drove around and bought things. I mostly picked up cleaning and yard products, but I also hit Cutters and Saucon Valley Bikes — I got new gloves, chain lube and other standard things, and also got new brake pads. Yesterday was my first time replacing the pads on this bike, and it seemed easy enough, though I may have to bleed the brakes at some point once the pads have seated. (I never know what problems I’ll encounter, or cause, when I start messing with real bike maintenance.) I also tightened some pivots and re-slimed the tires, things that I’ve been putting off for a week or so. “Errand day” sort of morphed into “bike prep day,” but that bike was ready for today’s ride.

    Meantime, on the mapping front: I got jazzed again about trail-accessible amenities along the D&L, mainly because we did an event with CAT at the Canal Museum and met some people, including a woman representing the Hotel Bethlehem, who would like to see the trail become a tourism draw. I also found out about a B&B outside Freemansburg, sort of a “rural retreat” kind of place, just a few hundred yards from an access point. I decided to add the B&B to my “accessible amenities” database, developed a workflow to do that fairly painlessly, reorganized my QGIS project …and then decided to update both OpenStreetMap and my database with new and missing restaurants, shops etc, in Bethlehem. In other words, things sort of snowballed.

    Tomorrow, which is supposed to be a sunny day (sigh), I’ll be volunteering again, this time to help direct bike traffic for the Rails-To-Trails Alliance “Summer Sojourn,” as they navigate the missing parts of the D&L trail near Catasauqua.

  • Memorial Day Fly-By

    Posted on by Don
    old cemetery with city in background
    St Michael’s Cemetery, with Bethlehem Steel in the background and Martin Tower in the distance.

    Took a rest day today, as Anne did a road ride with Julie G. I had my party yesterday, when I joined a few friends in an MTB pub crawl: Riding up the hill through South Bethlehem and into SMB, out to Lost Tavern and Hop Hill in Hellertown, then taking Black River Rd and SME to Yergey’s and Funk’s in Emmaus. We did some more riding in Allentown, but the bars were closing — it was Sunday afternoon — so we took the towpath home. Here’s the first half, before my Garmin died:

    Pretty good time, even if I did feel sketchy and tentative in the more technical offroad stuff. Cheers!

    three men drink beer at outdoor table
    Dave, Scott and Lou enjoy some samples.

    Reading: I’m almost done with Jeff VanderMeer’s book of short stories, The Third Bear. This is working out a bit like N.K. Jemisin: after reading an awesome trilogy, I picked up the author’s freshman effort and found it a chore to read. I’m finding that VanderMeer is big on weirdness — I’d read before bed, and every night I’d finish one story and say “Well, that was fucked up.” — but he isn’t really into closure or answers, and in a short story format, where things keep starting over, over and over again, it wears thin.

  • Rebuilding My Empire

    Posted on by Don

    I just got my new eyeglasses in the mail, from Zenni Optical. I love them! What I love best — aside from the fact that I can see again: the prescription hasn’t changed much, but my old glasses were pretty scratched up — is that one frame cost $9.00, and the other cost $6.00. (Stylish too, they’re not low-priced dogs.) There were other costs in there, total cost was probably ~$60 each but that’s still pretty hard to beat.

    I also ordered a new thru-axle adapter for the bike rack, one that is the correct size for my bike; this should come with in a few days. I am now also contemplating new summer sandals — my Tevas are getting a bit worn — but that’s for another day.

    Anyway, carry on…


  • Back From North Carolina

    Posted on by Don

    We just got back, this afternoon, from a trip to visit Emmi & Kyle, see their new house and help them paint the interior. Drove down last Thursday, then did four days of camping in their new place — they haven’t moved in yet; the only furniture was a card table (with four folding chairs) and an inflatable mattress — but we got four rooms prepped and painted, and we even managed a little bit of sightseeing, dining out, etc.

    We  also did a bit of exploring: their new neighborhood is next to a preserve along the Eno River, so one night we walked a trail to the river, which led to a large and popular swimming hole. After we were done yesterday we went back for a well-deserved dip. Our work was indoors with the air-conditioning on, but it was still hot: the weather down there was upper 90’s and sunny. Sweltering…


  • Two Books And Some Living History

    We just got back from a mid-week vacation to Colonial Williamsburg. Verdict: meh. The buildings and the grounds were nice enough, but for all the fuss I’ve seen it get over the years, I would have thought the place was much bigger, and much more active. We were there mid-week of course, and maybe also off-season, and that may have been all that was really going on, but it did seem somehow smaller than its reputation. (It didn’t help that the surrounding area was a sort of corporate/suburban strip-mall hell, with not particularly walkable streets — biking wasn’t much better, despite the faux “bicycle friendly” sharrows in the gutters — and a dearth of decent, non-chain restaurants.)

    There was also a fairly strong whiff of self-congratulatory propaganda throughout the historic district, of the “we have inherited the virtues of our all-wise WASP ancestors” sort, which had to also contend with more modern understandings of Colonial history — slavery and the African American experience, Native Americans and genocide, and so on. This led to a Disneyfied narrative, with much use of the passive voice, and a defensive tone to gloss over the tough parts: “The colonists did this-and-that, and were welcomed by the Indians. But then war came… Did you know, a slave could buy his freedom? Also, slavery was OK in Africa…”

    This may have just been the result of our off-peak visit, so that we were interacting with newer or less skillful guides. But then, we also visited the nearby Jamestown Settlement, which was basically an indoor-outdoor museum, with permanent exhibits, and the place was actually worse — it fairly dripped with that self-congratulatory/defensive tone.

    Reading #1: Annihilation

    I had Annihilation (by Jeff VanderMeer) on hold at the library, and it arrived in time for our trip. This book was much better than the recent movie, and so creepy and suspenseful it gave me — well, not nightmares exactly, but some very strange dreams… The story is a little more complicated, and a little more well-built than the movie (this parallels my experience with Altered Carbon), and there is more suspense (and less action/horror) than in the movie, but the plots pretty much follow the same outline: a group of women, on an expedition to a mysterious abandoned region in the southern US, are slowly overwhelmed by the weird phenomena they encounter. Great book, first in award-winning trilogy, and I am going to get the second book from the library today.

    Reading #2: The Big Sleep

    This was the first of Raymond Chandler’s “Phillip Marlowe” detective novels; I have it in an anthology that I bought around 1992. I’ve read it many times over the years, the last time being probably more than a decade ago: it has not aged well in that last decade. The novel is still a pretty good read, and because of the quality of the writing it’s a cut above your typical detective story, but the basic plot, the basic behavior of the characters, is outlandish by modern standards: blackmail and killings are involved as secondary crimes, but the primary criminalities are pornography and homosexuality. It’s almost quaint, and the underlying “of course it’s evil, he’s a fag!” tough-guy moralizing grates, and comes across — especially knowing something about the author, who was a bit of a mama’s boy — as a sort of Walter Mitty overcompensation. Looking back now, the most criminal activity (other than the shoot-em-ups) is all the drunk driving done by the protagonist. As Anne said — and this could apply as well to Williamsburg, reconstructed around the same time that The Big Sleep was written: different times, different mores.

  • Wasted Day

    It’s been pretty rainy, and cold again, for the past few days. The sun is out now, but it’s still a bit chilly; I just came back in from a short yard work stint, which has been the only thing I did so far today — no Canal Museum, no ride…

    Yesterday I went over to CAT and did some work on b-i-l Ray’s bike, a 5-speed Raleigh (circa 1974) which is now almost roadworthy, and the past few days I’ve been grinding through a cleanup of my giant mail pile, tossing or filing things as necessary, paying bills as I find them. Both of these were exhausting work, my brain was fried, and I did something I thought would be restful: I watched the new NetFlix series Altered Carbon.

    Big mistake. I loved the book(s), and found the dumbed-down TV version somewhat unsatisfying, but I couldn’t stop watching. I ended up binge-watching five episodes last night, and two more this morning. Plenty of violence, and sex (or at least nudity), and the basic outline of the story is still there even if the backstory has been uh, altered. I was up past midnight watching, so maybe that’s why I was so tired today.