Exploring Eisenhower State Park

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The forecast for today was HOT. Not wanting to spend several hours pedaling around and enduring the heat, I decided today would be best spent exploring future bike camping opportunities. It will cool down one day, and when it does, a wise man is prepared with places to go. Maybe Eisenhower State Park could work.

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I spent the first hour plus driving my pickup north and east toward Lake Texoma, which is a wide spot in the Red River and the border between Texas and Oklahoma. The bike, hammock, and coffee supplies came along to make exploration more fun.

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A lovely picnic area served as my base of operations. The truck was parked there and I set out to explore by bicycle.

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In the vicinity of the State Park, the lake is surrounded by steep rocky dropoffs to the water’s edge. This beach was one exception and appeared to be a popular water access location.

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I mostly explored the park roads, and sought out potential camping spots for future fall or winter camping. But I also found a few trails. Those near the lake shore were steep enough to require steps.

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The relative high ground around the lake made for pleasant views of the massive lake.

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I paused here to wave and say “howdy” to our neighbors on the other side in Oklahoma.

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I found some singletrack…

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I pedaled some and pushed a little.

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After convincing myself that this place is worth a future visit, I was satisfied to head back to base camp.

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There were plenty of shady and breezy spots for a hammock hang.

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It was time to practice my craft as a leisure specialist.

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Finally, a coffee brew-up to round out the experience.

IMG_6273 IMG_6287 IMG_6288 zI didn’t get many pedaling miles today. It was almost like an appetizer and I’m hungry for more. But I avoided heat punishment and prepared myself for cooler days. Ideal camping days are coming and it is very good to ready.

 

Portland Hospitality

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These photos are not adequate to tell the story. In my typical solo outings, I can think about photo opportunities, and take my time trying to get a decent shot, to help communicate the event. I learned, however, that being surrounded by friends is as distracting and it is delightful. So this post has only a few images from a gathering of the Sunrise Coffee Club, and nothing from the gathering at Velo Cult the evening before.

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Following up on some casual conversation at the Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour, I met up with Shawn Granton of the Urban Adventure League. He guided me to Velo Cult Bike Shop, where he had made prior arrangements for me to meet some of the locals. I could have spent hours gawking at their collection of bicycles. I even tried to take a few photos of their bikes, and the bikes of some of my new best friends, but the lighting resulted in underwhelming images. If I remember the round table correctly, there was Ryan, Heather, Vince, Chris, Coconut Bill, Shawn, and Andy. The conversation included past and current bike tours, comics, various bicycle components, French pronunciation, and more. Even though I was ribbed a bit for coming to Portland without a bicycle, I was welcomed into the group. I was as happy as an adopted stray puppy.

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At some point in the evening, I asked if the Sunrise Coffee Club was still active. This is an informal group of folks who meet occasionally at sunrise for a coffee outside social. Consistent with his personality, Chris seized the question as an opportunity to make magic happen. Within minutes, he had set the time and place, and had sent out digital media invitations. All I had to do was show up. Very cool.

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Andy and Chris were already there when I arrived. Eric showed up a few minutes later. So four of us enjoyed the early morning light, good coffee (and tea for Andy), and sharing the hard-to-explain bicycle/coffee connection. For me it was a genuine Portland experience burned into my brain.

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This delightful array of coffee and tea gear made me feel right at home.

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Chris serving me fresh ground pour over coffee. It was excellent in the cool morning air.

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Eric’s awesome Cooper custom.

IMG_5984 IMG_5985 IMG_5986 IMG_5987 IMG_5988If I recall correctly, the word “hospitality” has a root meaning of “love of strangers”. Thank you Shawn for setting this up (on the eve of your own bike tour), and thank you to my new friends in Portland for a lesson in hospitality. You guys are invited to the Sixth Annual Fall Finale Forty-ish Mile Country Path Ramble on November 15. I know some of you guys are thinking about it. I hope I have a chance to return the favor.

Sixth Annual Ramble Date

IMG_3040ANNOUNCEMENT – Major schedule change for the Sixth Annual Fall Finale Forty-ish Mile Country Path Ramble.

The 2014 version of the Ramble will be held on Saturday, November 15. This annual event has been traditionally held in mid December, usually at the end of Fall, on the Saturday before the winter solstice. I have learned, however, that optimum rambling conditions usually occurs in mid November here in northwest Denton County. So I’m trading tradition for what I hope to be a prettier and more comfortable ride for my guests.

Here are a few links to help describe what this is all about…

Version 2013 – Tough weather, low turnout

Version 2012 – Great weather, great group

Version 2011 – The original route

I hope you veterans will block out the day on your calendar, and help me get the news of the date shift out to your friends. I have some ideas for other event enhancements that I’ll detail later.  I’ll also have more information to help new folks decide whether to participate. For now, the message is “save the date”.  Oh yeah, and it is free, starts/ends at my house northwest of Sanger, Texas, and all are invited.

It’s typical August hot out there and I’m planning for the cooler air we usually enjoy on the Annual Fall Finale Forty-ish Mile Country Path Ramble.  Join me!

 

 

“A Good Stout Horse Between My Knees”

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a glorious early August morning

I wish I was more clever. Then I’d be able to add background music for this post. If I could do that, it would be the Marshall Tucker Band’s song, Desert Skies. When I get away for an overnight camping trip, pedaling along and hanging out at camp feels like this song to me. So, if you’ve plenty of time, you might want to click that link, and play it in the background while you scroll through a few photos from my latest S24O. Listen for the title of this post in the lyrics.

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a setting sun makes the opposite bank glow

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all set up and ready for dinner

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an oasis of shade trees

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straw hat satisfaction

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predawn light

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contrast in texture and color

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fiery sky

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relaxing water view

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spider hammock

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lakeside gold

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looking out, or looking in?

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okay, perfect, time for breakfast

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#coffeeoutside

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@pondero

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camp lounge lollygagging

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new life

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time to pack up

19pondering my good fortune

Single Cup of Coffee Survival

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My posterior was only inches above the grass, and the hand of the wind rocked my hammock back and forth like a mother’s hand on a cradle. The leaves of the mesquite tree flittered in early light with long shadows reaching toward the southwest. As my eyes studied the knarled bark on the tree, their lids surrendered to the lullaby and dropped shut.

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Planning a sunrise breakfast in a cool lake breeze, I had rolled out at 5am. In such perfect conditions and contentment, a short nap seemed the logical next step.

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I arrived a few minutes before the sun came up and found a lonely spot in a picnic area with a couple of nicely spaced trees.

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It proved to be a pleasant spot to prepare breakfast, brew some coffee, and practice some advanced hammock lounging.

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It was the first time I’ve tried to fry eggs on the Trangia stove. I need to work on my technique and presentation, but they tasted pretty good.

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Since I brought enough fixins for more than just coffee (and Pop Tarts, of course), my table was a delightful mess.

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Fortunately, the hammock trees and picnic table were oriented perfectly to allow me to set up my tarp so that it provided shade on the only side I needed shade…and I had perfect lake-cooled ventilation.

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Since I didn’t plan well and ran out of fuel, I had to settle for a single cup of coffee. But, as you know from reading this blog, I’m quite a rugged fellow, well-acquainted with hardship. Yes, it was a fearsome situation and panic almost got the best of me, but I managed to survive it.

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So I had me some paved roads, gravel roads, several miles of pedaling in the dark, breakfast outside at dawn, and a short hammock nap. I conquered the north Texas summer heat. I managed to do all that and make it home before lunch on a single cup of coffee. Epic, dude.

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Free Puppy

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Mrs. Pondero says, “There are no free puppies!” Which means, of course, that they are only free until they get home. Then those little buggers get quite expensive, what with all that vet stuff, food, gear, training, and other special needs. They all have special needs.

I probably should have thought about that when one of her bee-keeping friends asked if I wanted this old bike before it is trashed. She might as well have said, “Wanna free puppy?”

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Based on limited research, it appears to be a 1991 Trek 850 Antelope. I don’t think it was bottom-of-the-line, but it doesn’t appear to be anything special. The only reason I said yes is that I’ve been thinking about a old, cheap rigid frame MTB that I could play with and haven’t been able to pull the trigger…something with knobby tires…it would be kinda fun to have project bike..and, hey, I’ve got a parts bin that might allow me to get this thing running for free.

Did I really just say that?

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Maybe this stray needs a home, but honestly, I’m not sure I want to take this on. So I’m going to walk around and stare at it awhile to see if I can ponder a potential (cheap) project in there somewhere. If not, maybe it’ll be a donation.

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What I really need, is a visit from Jon Grinder. I have seen him take uncountable numbers of forlorn strays and turn them into fun, useful, interesting, and attractive bicycles. He has vision, creativity, and mechanical skills. He has the ability to see potential in a bicycle. I’ll bet if I were to describe what I wanted this bike to do, and turned him loose in my garage, he could walk out with a pretty play toy in one afternoon.

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So Jon, if you are out there, what do you say? Play with it, or find it another home?

As a matter of fact, I’d appreciate input from anyone interested enough to toss me some ideas. Project concepts…or someone else’s headache. Is there a logical way to make an intelligent decision on this?

Let me narrow the field slightly. It’s either a donation or a knobby tire MTB to ride in the yard or on the local (easy) trails kind of bike. I might try to recall my once impressive wheelie skills, but I don’t plan to take it over any sweet jumps. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get some free studded tires and ride it on the acreage ice during the winter?

What says the gallery?

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S24O – The Buddy Upgrade

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As compared to some of my recent S24O outings, this one was a definite upgrade. The key element was the presence of long time friend, Michael Stallings.

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I probably would have let this weekend slip through my fingers, but he proposed the trip and basically made it  happen.

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Since he drove his truck to the camp site, he also took the initiative to bring firewood and grilling food. My normal evening meal is finger food I stuff in my bag. Oh yeah, he cooked. All I had to do sit back and enjoy the view in one of the camp chairs he brought.

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It is obvious, but should be stated outright anyway…since I normally do these outings solo, I had a buddy this time to share the experience. Upgrade.

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He arrived at the park before me and selected the site.  If you read my previous account, In Search of a Breeze, you might remember that I sometimes make poor camp spot choices. He nailed it with this beautiful shady and breezy spot.

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I’ve known him for several years, but we haven’t spent much time together lately. It was a general life upgrade to catch up on all the family news, and compare spiritual ponderings.

IMG_5259 IMG_5261 IMG_5263 IMG_5265 IMG_5267Once fueled by breakfast, and energized by catch-up conversation, we packed up and did some riding. We cruised the park a while and ended up on some easy single track in the woods (how did I not get photos on the trails?!). When we parted, I still had an hour and a half ride back home to reflect on how much difference a buddy can make.  Best S24O of the year…so far.