Wednesday, June 11, 2014


I love riding my bike.  I'm not sure I always love the after effects of riding, but it is so much more worth it to have pain from having had so much fun, rather than from just existing.

Most of my friends ride...a lot.  Almost all of them have epic rides at one time or another.  Theirs are usually of the 50-150 mile ride epic ride.

I managed to have an 8.5 mile epic ride!

Jeff took me out on the Columbia Trail last Tuesday afternoon.  It was a pretty warm day (mid-80s) when we started.  We decided to go from the Cycle Craft Long Valley shop to the trailhead on Bartley Road.  I had not gone that direction in several years and it has been improved with a trail that goes around the housing development; very nice.

The first thing that let me know it would be a special ride was seeing the Ghostbusters ambulance right before we got on the trail!  Ghostbusters was a great part of my young adulthood.  It was exciting to see the ambulance in Long Valley, of all places.  Hmmm, I wonder about the ghosts along the trail.

Photo: Where you going to call?

A little further in on the ride and it started raining.  I've never really ridden in the rain before and I started feeling a bit nervous.  In no time at all, it was a complete downpour and the trees really didn't seem to be sheltering us from it at all.  I couldn't stop laughing!  Rain was pouring down my helmet and into my mouth (which I never seem to be able to keep shut).  I was so drenched and having so much fun.

I don't see well on a good day.  The rain came down so hard I could barely see the red and blue of Jeff's jersey riding ahead of me.  He very graciously steered me away from the horse poop on the trail and guided me across when we had to cross streets.  Still, I couldn't stop giggling.

We saw a bunny on the way out, ducking for cover as we came barreling along.  We saw another bunny on the way back; in my "magical" mood, I imagined it was the same bunny waiting to make sure we got back.

The rain seemed to draw turtles onto the trail, as well.  We saw two on the way back.  Not big ones, but cute little fellows enjoying their own walk in the rain.


I think that might have been the most fun ride I have ever had!  I felt like I was all of 8 years old and disobeying all those rules I grew up with!  See?  Epic rides don't need to be long.  Epic is a state of mind.  It probably wouldn't have been much fun had it been cold, and that would be a different story.  I finished that ride drenched, covered in grit from the trail and excited for my next ride.

My next ride is noteworthy also; but for a different reason.  On Sunday, I was busy having a stupid, old pity party.  I hate when I get like that.  I am intelligent enough to know that the way I am thinking is only making my mood worse, I just can't seem to help myself sometimes.

Jeff came home from his ride and offered to take me out on a ride.  He doesn't have a lot of free time, so I knew I should take him up on it while the offer was there.

We went down to the High Bridge end of the Columbia Trail and started up.  The last time I started at that end, I got 7.5 miles in and was completely wiped out.  This time, I used my self-pity as a motivation and channeled my inner "Kim Fury".  She is a good friend who rides like she is possessed.  She has always told me a bike ride makes everything better.  Actually, a lot of my friends say that.  On Sunday, I found out what they meant.

I started that ride so mean, evil and bitchy!  By the time we got to the Califon city limits, I checked out of the pity party and into fun mode.  The slow steady climb took all the abuse I could put into my pedals.  With every turn of the crank, the moodiness and bitchiness flew out the back of my tires.  We turned back at 5 miles which meant I had my longest ride since being back in New Jersey.  When I finished, I was content and at peace, the way I like to be.

 Photo: Almost to Califon. And looking better on the climb out of high bridge

So, riding causes me some pretty bad pain the day after.  So what?  The joy that it brings is worth every bit of the pain.  I can deal with some steady chronic pain.  I don't do so well when deprived of the pure pleasure of being on a bike, even for my short, simple rides.

Monday, May 19, 2014

"What Can I Do For You?"

Until very recently, I considered myself a strong, independent woman.  I worked tirelessly both at my job and at home.  I played some, but not as much as I wish I had.

I am still pretty strong, or as Jeff calls it, stubborn.  I don't like to give in to my pain and weakness, however, I am finding if I occasionally give in, I can do more later.

I have never been good at accepting help when offered, nor have I been able to ask for help when I needed it.  I'm getting a little better.  It's even difficult for me to ask Jeff for help; and I know he loves me unconditionally and has seen me at my very worst.

I am blessed with wonderful friends.  For the most part, they seem to understand that too much activity wears me down and I have to spend a couple quiet days after "excitement".  I am frequently asked, "What can I do for you?"  This shows me the heart of my friends and they all have HUGE hearts!  Unfortunately, I usually don't know how to answer the question.  Too often, I feel as if I am imposing (even though the offer has been made).  I worry that people will find me weak or needy.  I worry that they won't like me any more if they see me in my weakness.

So, I'm dumping it all out right here.  I can't see out of my right eye, so I don't drive any more.  I can barely hear out of my left ear, so try to stay to my right.  I frequently lose my balance and stumble.  More often than not, I catch myself but some of my falls are pretty rough.  The shortest, easiest walks and bike rides tire me out to the point I need a nap.  I used to have the best memory of anyone I knew.  Now, sometimes, I can't remember what we were talking about while we are still talking about it.  Despite all this, I still need to feel  useful.  I love that Brendan keeps letting me work. 

So, when you ask what you can do for me, and I reply "nothing, I am good", I am lying about half the time.  I am working on asking for what I need, but I still have a long way to go.  Our very good friends, the Kruse family, pick me up once a week to just hang out with them.  They let me do laundry at their house and just chill as if I were one of the family.  It gets me out of here and I get to see people I really love.  They also take me grocery shopping whenever I need to go.  It was very difficult at first, but the idea came from them and was offered with such kindness and love, that it hardly hurt at all to accept.

My other good friend, George, frequently takes me out to lunch.  I love to cook, but it's nice to get out, let someone else cook and just chat.

I know that there are others with the same problem.  New mothers, shut-ins, caretakers of the ill or elderly.  They don't know how to reply to the "what can I do for you?" question.  I can't speak specifically for them, but offer to cook a meal, do their shopping, do their laundry, watch the child/parent/spouse.  It's much easier to have the conversation if you ask specifics. 

So, please don't ask me what you can do for me.  Please ask me if you can take me for a short, easy bike ride.  Ask me if you can come over and visit.  Ask me if I will bake you cookies or make you dinner.  Ask me if I want to go shopping, out for coffee or lunch.  I'm pretty good at answering the specific questions, just not the general ones.   

And sometimes, all I need is a phone call and to know that my friends are still out there.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Year in the Making...or thereabouts

We have been traveling in the RV for a little over a year now.  It truly is home now.  We traveled by car for about three months before buying the RV, and enjoyed that almost as much.  That could never be home for us though.  We like to have our "stuff" around us, and I like to cook waaaayyy  too much to stay in hotels.  Even when they have kitchenettes, it's just not the same.

While our goal is to see all 50 states, so far we have only been in 24 with the RV.  There are other states that we have traveled to previously, so they have kind of fallen to the bottom of the list
Unfortunately, I wish we had started this a couple years earlier.  I'm not quite feeling as well as I was when we first started.  For every good day, I seem to have 2-4 bad days; depends on how I spend the good day.  Believe me, I am trying to make the most out of each day that I feel good enough, but I end up paying for it with the bad days.  Financially, the money has gone a bit quicker than expected.  For these reasons, we have returned to New Jersey where Jeff will work at the bike shop for the summer and I will try to rest and relax and prepare to travel again in the fall.  I guess we truly have become snowbirds, because the thought of a northern winter makes me very, very sad.

We traveled along the Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas, with stops in Gulf Shores, Alabama, Biloxi, Mississippi and New Orleans.  We spent 10 days between Galveston and Houston before moving up to Austin for a week.  Water fascinates me.  Jeff has always been more of a mountain person, but I love the peace and serenity of the sea, as well as the fury and anger during a storm.

Car ferry across Mobile Bay

Mobile Bay

Blue Angels Museum, Pensacola, Florida

Sunset on Perdido Bay

Gulf Coast from Biloxi MS
A few years ago, we took a Caribbean cruise and opted for the shore excursion that took us parasailing.  I fell in love with flying.  I used the experience in my visualization exercises for months afterward.  We knew that we wanted to do it one more time and I thought the Gulf of Mexico would be a cool place to fly again.  We did it back on March through Caribbean Breeze out of Galveston.  It was just as great as last time.  I have to say the Caribbean was more beautiful but the experience was still amazing...and this time I wasn't nervous about it.  Did I mention I have a HUGE fear of heights and I don't know how to swim?  It looks like it should be harder than it is, but despite all my physical issues, I can still fly pretty easily.  The staff at Caribbean Breeze was awesome and accommodating.  We shared the boat with a newlywed couple that had never flown before.  They were nice yet not intrusively friendly.

You can see our para-sailing trip through this link, or the posting from 3/21.

I'm hoping I can visualize off that for several months.

We spent 8 days in Austin.  Although we have encountered friends on our travels, this was the first time we actually visited friends in their "new" home town.  Steve and Amy have  a wonderful family and they made us feel so welcome.  Steve is an avid mountain biker and was happy to show Jeff his favorite Austin trails.  Amy and I went to the Zilker Park Garden Festival with the two girls, Abigail and Madeleine.  Poor Riley was ill that day; I really missed him.  Austin is an amazing city.  So much music and the growth of the arts in the city is spectacular.  But it's fairly new growth, so there is a definite lack of "urban jerks".  I have to admit, we totally hated the  traffic.  Almost any time of day it was far too reminiscent of Route 80 at rush hour.

Fairy House at Zilker Park

Steve and Amy also made sure we experienced epic Texas BBQ by taking us out to Salt Lick BBQ, a family style BBQ place.  The food kept coming, and coming, and coming.   We also each took a huge to-go container home with us which made for another entire 

The first round of epic Texas BBQ at Salt Link

The next day, after the men went riding and the women went to the Garden Festival, Steven treated us to a grilled pork loin.  They truly are Texans now, because they absolutely differentiate between BBQ and grilling.

Our two other major treats in Austin were Amy's Ice Creams and Mellow Johnny's Bike shop.  I am not much of an ice cream fan, but Amy's had the best I have ever had.  I would definitely go again.

Jeff in line for his second serving at Amy"s Ice Creams.  And he ate the whole thing!!!

Mellow Johnny's is a very cool bike shop.  To be honest, though, I did expect a bit more.  It made me more proud to come from the Cycle Craft shops.  Brendan has done such a great job with his focus at Cycle Craft and I am grateful to have seen the progression and growth throughout the last 20 years.

Jeff and I took a quick day trip to San Antonio to visit the Riverwalk and the Alamo.  Our room overlooked the Tower of Life.  What a cool city!

60 ounce margarita on the Riverwalk.

The Alamo shrine.

Tower of Life.

We spent our last couple nights in Texas near Dallas with Jeff's aunt and uncle, John and Jen.  Once again, Southern hospitality was laid at our feet.  We have not seen these O'Haras in more than 20 years and need to return to spend more time.  We took the train into Dallas for lunch and rode the free trolley around to see some of the area.

Uncle John and Aunt Jenn with Jeff on the trolley.  So good to see family.

So now it was time to head back to New Jersey.  I was exhausted from the flurry of Texas activity so we stopped for a few days near Nashville.  Jeff got a good ride in, I got a bit of rest and we saw the Johnny Cash museum.

Now it was seriously time to head back.  Jeff made the drive from Nashville to Chester in 2 days, long days.  The bus is pretty big and I can't help drive, so driving more than 5 hours in a day can get pretty tough on him.

As of Saturday, April 19,  we were back in Dirty Jerzey, as I have heard it called.  Time for me to rest and for us to put some money away to try and travel again in the fall.

I will try to post more over the summer.  Hopefully, with some rest I will feel better and more able to be upbeat and positive.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Clement Railroad Hotel Museum

My wife has always wanted to be a perpetual student.  She just really likes school.  So I gave her an assignment to write an 100 word essay about our trip to the Clement Railroad Hotel Museum.
She was feelin' a bit randy and wrote it like a 3rd grader (her words)  :-)

"My sweet husband took me to the Clement Railroad Hotel Museum even though I was having a difficult day and taking it out on him. Even though I was exhausted, it was well worth the trip.

I learned about the role that Dickson, Tennessee played in the Civil War. The Union army was holding Nashville but the railroad had been destroyed. Freed slaves and free black men were conscripted to build the railroad from Dickson to Nashville, (not so free, eh?).

Montgomery Bell, for whom the park we are staying in was named, was a big deal in iron works. He had forges, and we know more about forges than Marianne, the senior docent at the museum.

My favorite parts were the sitting room because I wanted to sew there and the miniature train, because, I, like Sheldon, love trains.

The quilt was also very nice.

I love my husband for taking me and bringing me home to bed.

The End"

This part of the model train switchyard was recreated from the next picture below.

The photo was shot from a bridge represented by the model in this picture.  Note the working turntable.

 They even had a working Ferris Wheel and sound effects.

10,000 man hours as of this post. 

Tammy really liked this quilt!

The ceiling of the hotel was very interesting 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Houston Space Center

Tammy feels the need to be upbeat in her blogging, which has been hard for her lately.  She don't write about it because she does not want pity or sympathy.  I suggested that she just write matter of factly, but not dwell on the negatives.

But we have been getting some exploring in.  We may have slowed down a bit but, we are not stopping.  One small step and all...

We went to Houston to see the Space Center.  We even stayed at an RV park called Space Center RV Park.  It was a nice park, just no space stuff. 

We got to see Mission Control, preserved from the early days.

Mission to Mars

This is part of the tram tour.  Super cool facility!

Nifty Robots

The Ultimate Motorhome

Isn't she cute!