Saturday, August 30, 2008

Schrödinger's Pinkie

A great work week. Next week will probably suck.... It's been one of those special weeks where everything has worked out well. Excluding my new eyeglasses breaking and losing one of my new contacts while swimming. But, besides those two minor incidents, smooth sailing.

I have had several inquiries from readers (okay, just my aunt asking three times) as to the true story about the loss of the pinkie. So in order to disabuse any false notions and to put all rumors to rest I now present the real tale; the veracity of which cannot be disproved.

It was a dark and stormy night (no, really, it was) in Cleveland, Ohio on that fateful date, January 16, 2001. I was wandering alone along the docks, my hands deep in my coat's pockets and its collar turned up against the wind and snow. It was as cold as the heart of the waitress I had met the night before. I thought the extra fifty buck tip I slipped her would provide the kind of entertainment that I read about in Penthouse, but all she wanted to do was talk.

"My name is Kat," she said. "Kat Schrödinger. I need your help. I think someone is trying to kill me. I found some hydrocyanic acid and a Geiger counter in my room. I need you to find out who it could be."

"Look, Doll Face, you're making as much sense as String Theory. Just tell me who you think it could be and give me my fifty bucks back," I replied.

With my fifty and a couple of new C notes keeping it company in my wallet, I found myself looking for Tony "The Nose" Luchelli. He was also known as "The Quantum Mechanic" because those who displeased him would feel pain down to the subatomic level.

That is how I found myself wandering in the dark on a snowy night in Cleveland following a guy who would appear in one place, disappear, and then be somewhere else instantly. After an hour of feeling the nether regions of my body turning into ice cubes I found myself standing outside a dive named "Causality".

A deep, gravelly voice behind me snarled, "Who are you and whatta you want?"

"I'm just an average guy doing his job," I answered. I turned and found myself face to face with Tony "The Nose" aka "The Quantum Mechanic." He was so fat he could bend light and his breath made the liverwurst on onion roll sandwich I had for lunch come back up. I added, "Followin' you was easy, real easy. I just played the odds."

"Used probability, eh? Well, pal, since you seem to be a sportin' man, lemme show you a little game we play wit' smart guys like you." With those words, his two goons, Erwin and Max, grabbed me from behind and dragged me into the back room of the bar. "Make sure he's comfortable," Tony said. That's when everything went black.

When I woke up, I found my right hand encased in a metal box. Tony and his sidekicks were standing there. Tony said, "Inside this box is a mousetrap with a spring strong enough to cut through a broom stick. Your little finger is strapped to that mousetrap. Holding the spring down is a piece of cheese. Also inside the box is a sedated mouse. The question is how long will the mouse stay asleep? And when it wakes up, how long will it take to eat the cheese? I know what you're thinkin', punk. Is your finger still there? Or, is it gone? Or, is it both at the same time? Well, to tell you the truth, in all the excitement I forgot. Why don't we open the box to find out?"

Everything went black again. And, when I woke up I was in the gutter grasping a bottle of bad gin in a paper bag. A cop was pushing me with the toe of his boot, "Go on, ya lousy three fingered bum. Get yerself home before I run ya in!"

And that is the true story of how I became Three Fingered Frank. I never saw Kat again, nor the 250 bucks that Tony lifted from my wallet.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Eye Caramba! New Glasses

Pardon the cheesy pun in the title, but I got new eye glasses today. For most people that wouldn't be too exciting, but I am easily amused. I love eye exams. "Which is better? Number 1 or Number 2?" I always have a smart ass and infantile response on the tip of my tongue but have yet to say it. I still like to mess with them, though.

"Can you read the bottom line?"
"Sure. F, Z, 2, G, and I really like your shoes."

After they dilated my eyes I had to do the "push the button when you see a flash or flicker" test. I drove the poor girl crazy. Everytime the screen reset itself it would flicker and I would hit the button causing it to flicker again which meant I would click the button again. After a couple of minutes of this she took the clicker away and said, "I'll tell you when to start" She handed it back, but *flicker* and boom, I hit the button again. I was clicking the button as if I were in Jeopardy, "I'll take 3 Fingered Morons for $200, Alex."

All in all it is a fun exam. Especially as I get older my eyesight has been progressively getting better, though slowly. At this rate, if I live to be 150 years old, I could potentially get to 20/20.
Keir, Bjorn, and I hit McDowell this AM for a quickie ride before it got too hot. I still drank 70 ounces of water in an hour. Ooh Lah Lah. I miss Colorado. I was feeling lazy so I brushed the dust off the Specialized and left the Soulcraft at home. It didn't seem too upset to stay in the garage.

Bjorn looks a bit too happy. Which as the sign says, is the wrong way to pose for a mountain bike picture.

Keir is attempting the classic pose. A hint of a smile, mixed with a dash of a grimace, intense concentration, and a decent pretense of pushing it. For him just being on the bike was pushing it. He is recovering from food poisoning and he really gutted it out today. *Sniff* I am so proud.

I on the other hand, have no trouble "gutting" it out. I am trying to suck in my stomach but failing miserably. I am attempting the "I know the camera is there but I am studiously ignoring it while simultaneously accelerating up the hill because I am too cool" pose. Maybe if I was wearing my prom dress I could pull it off. But as you can see...........

I have been back from Southwestern Colorado for a few days and am really missing it. If I had the opportunity, or the intestinal fortitude (I have the "guts"), I would move to Dolores in a heartbeat. The people up there are about the friendliest I have ever met. definitely very welcoming and open. If you're ever up there, the Dolores River Brewery is a place to hang out and relax. The beer being good is just an added benefit. I do want to try out the German Beer Garden next time.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Headin' Home

Mesa before Kayenta, Arizona.

Before Kayenta.

Lunch at Navajo national Monument.
Is a camping lunch a "lunch" without orange Pims?
A storm rolling in over the valley

Star Mangled Banner and Single Speed Heaven

Finally, a good nights sleep. It took a bit of pounding on the ceiling of the room to get the people upstairs to keep their brood from constantly running around, but I finally rested in the arms of Morpheus (no, he was not wearing cool sunglasses and offering the choice between the Red and Blue pills). What was actually amazing was as soon as the people upstairs got quiet, the ladies in the room next door started singing the Star Bangled Banner, though "mangled" might be a closer approximation of their singing ability. But I give them an "A" for effort. They certainly put their hearts and souls into their stirring rendition of our national anthem.

I did meet one of them when I went to get my book out of the car. She asked me if I was from Louisiana. I said, "no" and asked her why she thought that. She replied it was because I was barefoot and only people from Louisiana went barefoot because a lot of them didn't have shoes. Guess where she was from? A hint: In the space of five minutes she mentioned okra, shrimp, gumbo, and the French Quarter. I had nightmares of her asking for beads. No, don't ask.......*shudder* But it is cool how different regions of the US have different habits and viewpoints.

I was reminded of the time I was working in Durham, North Carolina and my co-worker asked one of the electricians where a good place was to meet girls. The electrician replied, "The car wash is a good place to find girls." (this is not the word he used, I will not stoop so low). My buddy looked at me, paused, looked back at the electrician and said, "The car wash? What are they doing at the car wash?" The electrician's reply is one of the classics of all time. In a very slow southern drawl he answered, "Wah ya dumb f**king Yankee...Thar washin' thar cars!"

I know we Southwesterners must have our own regional idiosyncrasies that seem quaint, if not just weird, to visitors (like the German I chased around yesterday).

After such an enjoyable road ride yesterday, today I went back to the Boggy Draw trail system for some more single speed fun. The Soulcraft is made for this place. I added the Italian Canyon loop for some new fun.

This loop is not very hard but it does have, seemingly, twice the amount of climbing as Boggy Draw and two real steep short climbs. I made the first climb, but completely toasted my legs on it. I didn't even attempt the second one.

Here's the split from Maverick to Italian canyon. These trails are amazing. I was telling myself how confident I am riding with tubed tires here versus my normal tubeless ones. No cactus or super sharp rocks.

Here I am two minutes later down the trail. Stupid trail Ninjas.

Here is the Dolores River valley from Sam's Lookout.

And a view up Italian Canyon.
When I was done, I stopped by Sol Cycles in Dolores to chat and buy a couple of tubes. Then off to hike a bit and just hang out doing nothing. All in all not a bad day. Some hot soup and chili on the stove for lunch and woo hoo....

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Light at the End of the Tunnel is My White Shoes

Not sleeping well two nights in a row left me in a whiny mood and a decent continental breakfast did nothing to improve it. But, vacation is still vacation and just hanging out relaxing before heading out for a ride put me back on track. Still, there was a bit of stress in deciding to choose between going back to Dolores to explore some more single track or do I suck it up and climb up Mesa Verde? Choices, choices.

Mesa Verde won out because I wanted a chance to wear my new road bike shoes. Just before leaving Phoenix I bought a new pair of Specialized shoes. I had just replaced my older Sidi's with a pair of Northwave. But they just didn't fit me well, and since I am very picky about what's on my feet I kept looking for replacements. I was tempted by the Specialized's fit, weight and features. Actually, I dazzled by them because they are white. Even if I am slow I still want to look good. I embarrassed to admit that I chose a killer ride just to wear new shoes.

It was fairly windy at the bottom (maybe it was my windy bottom) and the first 4 miles sucked. It was hot, but the tears of pain falling from my eyes kept me cool as they evaporated. I find it interesting that climbing starts off as a miserable experience until the legs and lungs start to find their rhythm.

I had found my rhythm when I reached the unlit tunnel , about 5 miles up the road. At the entrance I had to toss a tidbit to Cerebus. the three headed dog, who was guarding it. It was as if I was entering Hades. Most of the way through I could not see the road surface at all and kept praying that there would not be a pothole in my line. You can't see the road and can only aim for the, I'm not kidding, light at the end of the tunnel. I was lucky that no car or Winnebago came through as I was in it otherwise that light might have had a different meaning.

I stopped at one lookout to take pictures (and find my rhythm which had fallen off somewhere after the tunnel) where I met a great German family. They took a picture of me trying to look like I am not ready to throw up. I also pumped my legs to make them look extra muscular, but they still look like sausages. And, check out those fancy white shoes! Pure sweetness.

After chatting with the father for a while he seemed to want to get away. I am not sure if it was the bugs in my teeth or if I had body odor. But, I kept chasing him down to have an excuse to stay where I was. When I asked where they were from he said they were from southwest Germany, but he got a nervous look in his eyes and changed it to Norway. I think he thought I was going to follow them.

The ride back down the hill was great. It's what makes all the climbing worth it. I love keeping up with all the traffic, especially when the speed limit is 45MPH. The tunnel was, once again, a scary adventure. I just closed my eyes and held on (hey, I already couldn't see).

After the ride I decided to do the Durango, Silverton. Telluride, Dolores, Cortez loop in the car. Just as I left Mesa Verde I found these Anasazi pots on the side of the road. I didn't realize how large the Anasazi must of been. Check out the ladder leaning against the largest pot.

I took my first stop for some lunch at Coal Creek Pass. Here is a pic of the flowers at over 10,000 feet in altitude. It was perfect. Even though there were a lot of people stopping for the view and the bathrooms, it was still quiet enough to hear the wind through the trees. Well, it was quiet until an old man sitting in the car next to me started to cough and hack his lungs out. This was as I was trying to eat my chili in peace. I almost lost my appetite. He must have sucked a lot of air into his stomach while coughing because he immediately started to belch with a resonance that would make a fog horn proud. With apologies to the Bard, "Who would have thought the old man had so much air in him?"

Downtown Silverton. A happenin' place. I bought a postcard for Arlette and mailed it to her. I hope my poor attempt at French is comprehensible. I've been calling her in France everyday to describe where I am and have been. She's living the trip vicariously. It's a lot of fun to hear how much she is enjoying my trip. Silverton reminded me a Gallup in the sense that all the stores cater to tourism and sell the same style cheesy t-shirts and keepsakes. But, if it pays the rent, I am for it.

Mountains by Telluride.

The drive out of Telluride was a lot of fun. A Mini Cooper wanted to play a bit so I obliged him. But I think he was discouraged to see a car with two bikes on it catching up to him in every corner. Especially when the driver had his arm hanging out the window. He finally gave up, pulled over and let me by. I am not the competitive type (just ask my friends) so I derived no pleasure from crushing his spirit like a grape.

A perfect day ended with another veggie sandwich at the Dolores River Brewing Company. Of course, it was washed down with two pints of their ESB.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Mini Adventure

I decided at the last minute to take a mini vacation (huzzah). For some reason, the thought of throwing the singlespeed and a road bike on the roof of the car and taking off for a few days to ride and camp in the southwestern corner of Colorado seemed like a good idea. And, now that I am in the first quarter of said trip, it still does.

I made no set agenda; places to go or times to go, but just decided to follow whatever my feelings were at the moment. I guess I didn't want my brain to overload with such heavy decisions as, "where do I take my first pee break?" Looking at the maps ( I love maps, but that is another blog) I finally decided (loosely) to head towards Gallup, New Mexico and spend a morning riding the Soulcraft there on the local trails. Afterwards, I would mosey on up to Cortez and spend another day riding the trails there before tackling Mesa Verde, with the Pegoretti, the third day. The fourth and final day would be spent on the proverbial "40 years in the desert" trek back to Chandler.

I left Wedneday from work, ate Himalayan in Flag, and planned to spend the night in Holbrook. However, in a bit a bravura (or foolishness depending upon your point of view) I pushed on to Gallup arriving at midnight. All the cheap motels were filled and I finally decided to stop at a Days Inn. What could go wrong? Thye are a national chain usually known for their quality. Well, to make a long story short, sleeping on the floor of a rest area bathroom with a posse of chain smoking janitorial staff would have been more comfortable. Not an auspicious start to the trip.
But the morning dawned with a new hope and I set off looking for a typical Gallup greasy spoon for true Route 66 cuisine to power the motor for some good riding. I ended up at Don Diegos and it was a pleasant surprise. I made a couple observations while dining. The first is that no matter where I am travelling, I will order the absolute most dangerous meal before departing. 150 miles of open prairie without a bathroom? No problem! "Give me the Huevos Rancheros with green chile and extra jalapenos. Oh, and the Habanero Tabasco on the side." I will say they were amongst the best I've ever eaten and that the Mexican food in New Mexico is better than in Arizona. Yes, I know I am treading on dangerous ground.
The second observation was that rednecks are rednecks no matter what or where their origin. I will not repeat the conversation ( it was offensive and stupid with plenty of "hyuk, hyuk"s) but I do believe that if there is one thing worse than a redneck with a gun, it is a redneck that is computer literate. Some of the emails I receive (and delete) are proof of that.

I digress. I decided at the last minute to proceed as quickly as possible to Cortez and to hit the riding in Gallup on the way back. Highway 491 on the way to Farmington is one of my favorite stretches of road anywhere. It must be proof that I am easily amused.

This was the view I had during my first "pee" stop. Uh oh, too much information!!!

I made it to Cortez and stopped at Kokopelli Bike and Board to buy a trail map and find some nice local places to ride. These guys are great. I wish I had gotten their names. They gave me all the hot places to ride and which trails were best suitable for a fat old man on a singlespeed, etc.. But they never once looked down their noses at me. I highly recommend visiting this shop and shelling out the 15 bucks for the map. It is worth it. As an added bonus, they recommended the Dolores River Brewing Company for an "apres promenade" recovery meal.
Because my legs were a bit stiff from all the driving, I decided to take the easy 9 mile Boggy Draw ride outside of Dolores (about 14 miles north of Cortez). It was easy except for the 7500 foot elevation's affect on my lowland lungs. Plus, my legs were very stiff from driving. I will say as technically easy as this trail is, it now ranks amongst my favorites. I ended up riding the loop twice. It rained, there was sunshine, trees, ferns, water, frolicking naked amongst the pines with the forest creatures, etc... Absolutely beautiful! I am joking about frolicking naked, though. The world doesn't need or want another Sasquatch story. Especially one with a newly discovered midget variety.

I took the shop's advise and stopped at the brewery for a beer after the ride. I ended up having too many but it was worth it. The friendliest people in the world must live in Dolores, Colorado. I was treated like a long, lost friend. Of course, it might be because as a benefit of purchasing a Mug Club membership for my aunt Arlette. I received a 1/2 gallon growler of beer which I shared amongst all my new friends. And, the more we drank, the friendlier we became. YEp, it was a family reunion by the time I left. We sang, we danced, we frolicked naked with the forest creatures adn there were many sighting of a new tribe of Sasquatches.
For the "real food" portion of the visit, I ordered their Portobello mushroom sandwich. It was like none that I have ever eaten. Instead of being served like a hamburger, the mushrooms were chopped and mixed with onions, red & green peppers and cheese on a Hoagie bun. (The girl who made it was a vegetarian so she understood what we like). I give it Five Pinkies because it was a true Five Pinkie experience.
I decided after all this fun tht instead of camping, I would shell out the shekels for a motel room in Cortez. I decided not to stay in Dolores because I liked the brewery too much and down the street was a German Beer Garden. The potential for stupidity was too close for comfort. Unfortunately, as in Gallup all the inexpensive motels were full. My bladder at the bursting point, I took the last single room at a Best Western. I won't say the price, but I will need to camp out for the next couple of nights to make up for it.

Hallejujah!!! I walked in and discovered that the room is a suite. And, as a bonus it has a hot tub in the bedroom. So I will cut this off now while I soak my weary body in the waters of Elysium.


As an afterthought, beware the trail Ninjas lest they attack your tires!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Weekly Update

A lot has happened since I last logged on. An old friend found me through this blog and we are going to meet and have a few beers soon. He'll need them to recover from what he has suffered reading this swill.
It was a week of firsts. I worked in Northern Arizona this week and had a chance to take a nice ride along Lake Mary Road. It was the first time I have ever ridden it where the wind was not blowing. The temp was around 65 DegF. Absolute perfection. An added bonus was that I got my flat tire upon arrival back to the car.

The next first (the second first?) was my first over the bars mountain bike crash in quite a few years. I'd like to think the lack of falls was from superior bike handling rather than an age induced lack of speed. Fortunately there was just enough blood drawn to make the crash worth while. Another scar to adorn the body. Some people collect tattoos. I collect scars.
I won't bore the world with tales of visiting the detention center in the Hopi Nation (it was for work) but suffice it to say that it was an interesting day. Stopped and took some pics of the typical Arizona tourist stop along I-40 on the way to Polacca.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A True Unadulterated 3 Fingered Moment

Wow!!! A true Three Fingered Moment. I won't mention who this happened to, I must protect the guilty, but a valuable lesson was learned by a certain (you know who you are) person on Thursday night.

Never, ever keep a cell phone in your pocket that might accidently speed dial someone while orally composing a pornographic novel. It just might be recorded in all its *ahem* glory on their voicemail. And if this does happen, pray that it is not a female friend that receives said erotic saga on her voicemail. The only thing that can make it worse is if her voice mail times out and your phone dials her again thereby leaving a continuation of the previous train of thought.

If this ever happens to you, you must hope she has a good sense of humor or you might be visited by badged personnel in the middle of the night.

What is this sick, sick world coming to? I understand the story had something about teenaged, hitchhiking nuns in it, but my sources are vague as to the veracity of this rumor.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Local Color

I got up early to meet the group at South Mountain for a ride on the Desert Classic. I started off riding well but it didn't last. I turned around early from fatigue and a queasy stomach and came back to the casa to hydrate and rest up. Keir was kind enough to escort my wimpy self back to the car. Or, at least, to use me as an excuse to turn around. I believe a long work week and two days of poor nutrition took its toll. Plus, I have been getting tired following the adventures of Amy and Anna this week (so maybe it's their fault).

Amy owns AEC Reprograhics in Flagstaff and does all of my copies and prints for my projects up there. Always fast and excellent service (yes, this is an unashamed plug). This week she is preparing to open a new gallery/store on Leroux in downtown Flag called Local Color between Route 66 and Aspen. The doors should be opening in early September. Be sure to check it out. It gets Five Pinkies (no stars here). All this in addition to training daily for triathlons, running a business, and doing a complete restoration of a house by herself. I get tired just thinking about everything she does.

And, speaking of "local color", Anna is at the annual American Historical Society for Germans from Russia gathering in Casper, Wyoming. She has been updating her blog at Value Meals on the Volga daily and I have been enjoying reading her descriptions of the local interests. You can find her blog at (yes, more shameless pandering). Anna works full time, is an author, editor, president of the local AHSGR chapter, and more. Her blog also receives the coveted Five Pinkies rating. I don't want to be around when her adrenalin runs out.

All this begs the question, where do they get the energy? Well, in true Three Fingered fashion, I hereby volunteer to give all my energy to them. Yes, I will step up and place the onus of "kicking back" upon my broad shoulders. It a tough job but I am willing to do it. For them and for the nation.

Friday, August 1, 2008

It Was The Best Wednesday, Ever!!!

I screamed to the world that this was the best Wednesday ever.

Unfortunately, it was Thursday.

I think everybody needs a pair of these!