Friday, November 14, 2008

Back in the world...


Well, it was a fun trip. We are now back and I have tons of pictures. First, a little bit about our tour. I didn't get to post on the road as I had anticipated because the wireless service was pretty terrible up there.

We left home on Friday and made it to the little town of Forestburg, Tx on day one. It was right at 75 miles. A hilly 75 miles with just enough headwind to make it uncomfortable. Forestburg has about 250 people in town. There's a small store that closes at 7 pm, 3 churches, and little else. We found a nice little place to camp out behind one of the churches.



The next day we headed into Oklahoma. Our plan was to make it to Lake Waurika. After battling a viscious headwind for 75 miles (this will be a recurring theme) and going up and down hills constantly we finally made it to the Chisolm Trail Campground. It was at that moment we found out the campground was closed. Thanks Oklahoma, it wasn't listed on your website as closed.

Fortunately, we found a really cool guy named Eddie that had some property by the lake that let us set up camp there. Not only was it a nice place, but it was next to a really cool little bar. We headed over to the bar after setting up camp. While the beer in Oklahoma is only 3.2% alcohol, it balances out by being incredibly cheap.



Sunrise the next day showed us headed to our destination, Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge. This is a really neat place. Wide open prairies, Mountains (close enough), Bison, Deer, and more. Very beautiful, who would have thought Southwest Oklahoma could be so awesome?


Of course, to get there we had to pass through Lawton. While Lawton was the biggest town we had to pass through, it also had the rudest drivers I've yet to encounter. When looking at the map, we noticed that there were basically two roads that passed from one end of town to the other. Apparently we chose poorly. However, if you're driving a car and you see two fully loaded touring bicycles with racks, panniers, sleeping bags, and one of the cyclist consulting his map every other block you might come to the conclusion that these guys aren't local. Apparently in Lawton this means you honk, swerve, and yell out at the cyclist as you pass them. We finally figured out that the highway was probably our safest choice. I probably won't ever go to Lawton again. I lost a new pair of Keens in that town, but there's no way you could get me to go back for them.



At the base of Mount Scott.



The next two pics are after we ascended Mount Scott. While it apparently isn't a true mountain, it sure felt like it. Almost two miles of climbing really takes it out of a person.



After Wichita Mountains we headed into Medicine Park. A pretty cool place in its own right. We did just enough riding to keep the bodies limber and in the riding mode.



Next, it was back to Waurika Lake. By now we were considered regulars at the bar by the lake. We hung out there for a few hours. Actually, we closed the bar down! (Not too hard really since they close at 8 pm...) Then it was off to bed to get enough rest for the next destination, Forestburg.


When we left Forestburg I was ready to go home. It was a fun tour, but being gone for a week was almost a bit much for me. We battled viscious headwinds, hills, more dogs than I can count and we finally made it home. 7 days on the road, 2 states, who knows how many counties, and 469 miles. An exhausting trip, but fun.


There are a few stories, some probably pretty good while others are just so-so. I'll try to post them up later this week.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Looks like phone service has improved a little. Hope to be back home this evening sometime. Today I expect lots of hills for the first 30 or so miles and a headwind of 10-20 mph. Will make for another tough day. Good news is, we have gotten really strong on the bikes. I noticed this as we cruised through Oklahoma and the Big Dummy was clipping along at 25mph.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Back in Texas!
Back in Texas!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

We are averaging about 75 miles per day. Better than I expected. We have come a long way since our trip last February. We will be starting our loop back today. Pray for tailwinds... As a side note, we rode our bikes up a mountain(ish) fully loaded. Climbing was painful, but the descent was fast and cold.
Early tuesday morning. Writing this in the hopes that it will be sent soon. Yes we are still alive, just trapped in an area with absolutely no phone service.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Breakfast of the wayfarer. Somewhere in the wilds of Oklahoma. So cold I can't feel my fingers. Hope to make the reserve today. Bonus if showers exist...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Android Phone

The Android phone was announced a couple of days ago. I'm one of those guys that's been following it since I first heard about it many, many months ago. I'm actually thinking about buying one when they're available next month. Might even pre-order one.

As much as I'd like to have an iPhone, it seems like the G1 will have a little more flexibility long term. Still, I'm torn between the two. Apparently others are as well. One person over on Gizmodo suggested a challenge to see which phone was the best in real-life situations:

Gizmodo, please do a "usability-test" - it should work like this:

A G1 user and an iPhone user sit in a room and have to do several real-world tasks - who does it faster wins:

- Look up a fact in wikipedia you argued with someone about, than edit the article it to your favor

- do a calculation of something you could have easily done in your head

- Give someone a Phonenumber from your adressbook, while you are talking to him

- Find a picture of BOOBS

- Get heavily drunk, call your GF - if you succeed, you fail

- Get heavily drunk, buy stupid things on amazon or ebay

- Find out how drunk you are with an online-calculator

- Find out how much your car would be worth if you crash it while driving drunk



What will I end up getting? Only time will tell. However, that Android phone is awfully tempting right now.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Maxxis Tires

Well, I finally have to get new tires. I don't know exactly how many miles I've put on this set, but I remember buying them almost 2 years ago. I only remember this because they're 700x25. A size you don't see in this particular tire too often.

I'm guessing I probably put between 7000-8000 miles on this particular tire. More importantly, I was bombing down a hill at 45 mph on this very tire 24 hours ago. Good thing it held up.

Here's the worst of the two spots:


Second is not far from it:


You're probably thinking this is terrible.

Actually, it's pretty incredible. I've ridden these tires in some of the worst terrain imaginable for a road bike. Glass strewn streets, potholes, etc... I've only had one flat, and that was because I ran over a roofing nail. It actually stuck in the aluminum part of my rim. Pretty impressive. I've even dug chunks of glass out of this tire. Even with these two chunks missing, still didn't have a flat.

Yes, these Maxxis Re-Fuse tires have been good to me. I'll probably buy another set if I can find them in 700x25.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Random August Photos!

It's the end of the month. Means it's time for a few of my random photos. It's also your lucky day as I'm submitting two post in a single day. People rejoice!

Riding with my new Stoker:


Taking a well deserved ride with the wife, and having some fun on the trail:






Commuting to work with my friend Darrin:



Just watch out when you get over to East side... apparently they don't like to leave witnesse over there. This is a desolate little stretch of road near Cobb Park and interestingly enough the burned out spot is just about the same size as a car. Can't tell you if it was rolling on Dubs or not...



Here are the pics from the much talked about (and greatly missed since I returned it) Hasselblad. Wow it takes great pictures.



Finally, some from my trusty Pentax 645. This is from an experimental roll of Velvia that I shot. The contrast this film throws around is incredible. Have to use this film carefully, probably on landscapes from now on.

Radio Ranch about 10 minutes before the buttcrack of dawn:



Downtown just as the sun is peeking out:


Main Street underpass at I-30 a few minutes later:


Some of these you've seen before, some you haven't. Hopefully they were enjoyable. I know I had fun taking them.

Sagebrush in bloom

Got home from work this morning and knew it was going to rain. Our sage Brush always blooms right before a rain. If this is any indication, we're gonna get a bunch of rain! Haven't seen it this full in a while. I don't think the Bees have either.

I grabbed by little point and shoot, since it's the only camera with a Macro setting, and took some pics of the little guys at work. Amazing what goes on right in front of you and many times you don't even notice it...

This little Sage Brush is actually a nice little plant:


The camera is pretty good too. The Bokeh on this lens is much better than I expected:


The Bees were hard at work. Really didn't pay much attention to me at all:





Not to be left out, the butterflies were lounging around as well. It was such a nice day that they pretty much ignored me too. It's sorta like High School all over again...



Too bad Gracie was at school today. She would have loved watching them all work. At least I was able to get some pics of it before the rain hit (what little rain there was).

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hotter than Hell 100

I met up with the team on Friday morning. We loaded up the van and U-Haul to head up towards the Falls. I was the only person that arrived on a bike carrying another bike:


Just in case there was any trouble along the way, Darrin smuggled in the Silca frame pump:


In case you don't understand the whole Silca joke, and for some reason many don't, you can find the answer here.



Rode the HH100 on Saturday. Fun ride. Actually, it was more than fun. It was a true accomplishment for me. I finally did the whole hundred there.

While I'm no Cat 1-2 rider, I feel I did pretty good. Found some good pacelines, worked hard with the two riders that were with me, and finished strongly. We ended up with a little over 105 miles. Average speed was just over 18 mph and our ride time was 5 hours 49 minutes.

Another first, I finally got to stop at mile 98. That's the unofficial bandit rest stop of the ride. Free beer, BBQ, and one heck of a party was going on when we stopped in. I really wish I would have taken my camera with me for that one.

While it was fun, it didn't feel quite the same as I didn't have my original HH100 crew with me. Even though I don't drink anymore, I did tip a glass of nasty Bud (or Bud Light, or Coors, or Miller Light- I really couldn't tell as they're all pretty awful) for my boys Bernie and Michael P. Yes you were both missed.

Now that I've done it, my goal is to have a sub 5 hour time next year. Hey, go big or go home right?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Up to my neck in cameras

A friend of mine just picked up a new camera... well new to him. He actually picked it up the day before he was going out of town. Since he wasn't going to be able to take it with him, he left the camera with me. He figured he was better off leaving it in my grubby hands as opposed to just sitting on the shelf gathering dust while he was out of town for a week.

Here's the camera sitting next to one of mine(Tricky are you seeing this???):


Yep, it's a Hasselblad. The Holy Grail of the medium format film camera in my opinion. I've wanted to get my hands on a 500 C/M forever. Well this is my chance. I ran it through it's paces to see how it compared to the Pentax.

First off, this is a nice camera. Really nice. Well built and sturdy, every time I pick it up I feel like I'm holding a Swiss watch that can take pictures. It's really user friendly and pretty intuitive. I can see why this has been such a popular and well regarded camera for so long.

The glass is crystal clear and the controls are right where they should be. It's all mechanical, so in some respects it's pretty fool-proof. A good feature for someone like me. One of the things I really like about it is the fact that I can set exposure values for a range of settings off one light meter reading. This means there's I take one EV reading with my hand held light meter, set it on the bezel of the camera and it gives me a range of matched shutter speeds and aperture settings for that reading. An awesome option for someone like me who always forgets, even though I know it's really not that hard.

This is a nice, deliberate camera that is perfect for portrait and landscape work. I took it out and ran some film through it this morning. Flawless. I really like waist level viewers. Seems like I focus on my composition a little better when I use them. Of course, the true test will be when I develop that roll of film. I've got some Velvia in the fridge, maybe I'll run it through this camera if I get time before I have to give it back.

Surprisingly, it's a bit more compact than the Pentax as you can see from the pictures... but not by much.



I would have expected it to be a bit bigger due to the interchangeable backs. Apparently not the case.

Hard to say if I like it better. Really, I think it's a different camera for a little different purpose. The Pentax is a great field camera that takes beautiful spontaneous pictures because it's so quick and deliberate. The Hasselblad is a fantastic all round camera that would probably be a great choice for landscapes, portraits, and anything else where you have a little more time to get that exposure. I really like both, and while I would like a little more time to play with it... I think I could give one a good home if it showed up.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Geeks of the world unite!

Today is a Woot off.

Go ahead, lock yourself in the closet with the laptop and some refreshments. You deserve it.

WOOT

All those closeout electronics and refurbished media players are waiting for you to log in.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Big Dummy news...

For those of you that are interested... I'm guessing from the way many of you covet Cletus, that seems to be a large number of people.

Just posted on the Surly Blog:

18" Big Dummy framesets are going into stock at our distributor as I write this. More 18" framesets, 22" framesets, and 16" framesets will arrive next week. 20" and more 22" framesets will arrive near the end of August/beginning of September.

They cost more now. $1050 is retail. Life is hard. It still costs less than a Hummer or a Prius.

They'll go pretty fast. Again, life is hard. We're doing all we can.

You're doing a great job today. Everyone around you agrees that you are the hardest working s.o.b. in the place. So, nice work.


-Skip


Order while you can guys!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

See what the garbage fairy left for me...

What am I going to do with this???


One of the advantages of going everywhere by bike is that if you see something that looks interesting, you can easily stop and take a closer look. That's how I found this Beseler Enlarger. It was sitting on the side of the road.

Don't worry, I found the owner and he put it there on purpose. Didn't have time to mess with the hobby anymore and didn't want it taking up the space anymore. I think he was actually a bit surprised that I knew what it was. Yes, observant readers will notice that there are two enlargers in the picture. He gave me a second one after we talked.

I finally found something that could not fit on the Big Dummy. I had to borrow Sharons car and come back for it later. Fortunately it was still there.

Weird that it was me that even found it. Now I just need to figure out what I'm going to do about it. Small old historic homes don't exactly lend themselves to adding darkrooms when you don't have much extra space to begin with. However, there is the attic...

For those of you that are unfamiliar with this item, it's a Beseler Enlarger. A high end dark room tool that was used to make pictures from negatives long long ago. I actually remember using them once upon a time. Just never one this nice, and by nice I mean really expensive.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The results are in...









This camera has the capacity to take better pictures than I have the ability to compose. Of course it's easy when I focus on my favorite subject. She's a natural for the camera too!

Feels like a natural extension for me. Makes it very easy to shoot portraits. Yep, it's a keeper.