Sunday, July 31, 2011


Adequate road shoulder width is an important part of enjoying a bike tour. The video was taken while traveling East on a road between St. Paul and Afton State Park on a road with a fair number of cars. Yet pedaling felt relaxing because of the wide shoulders.

I'm leaving Tuesday morning for another three day tour around Itasca State Park and Lake Bemidji State Park taking advantage of the Heartland and Paul Bunyan Trails. I will, however, also be traveling on some roads. A few years back I picked up Minnesota Department of Transportation maps giving traffic levels and notice of shoulders >6'. These maps are fairly out of date, so I decided to try using Google Maps to look at the roads I'd travel. What a pleasant surprise; Street View has images of the minor, rural roads I will use on my tour. I can actually see shoulder widths and plan accordingly. I sometimes curse Google for being everywhere, yet still find what they do amazing.

Monday, July 25, 2011

It's Never The Same Trip Twice

Time freed up from 4pm Sunday night until 8:30am Monday morning for my neighbor and I to do a quick overnight bike camping trip. We loaded our gear and cobbled together a menu including fresh tortillas, some butcher bacon and lettuce for dinner. Sans tomatoes we lacked the "T" in our BLT trilogy, but decided a run to the store would take too much of our short time. We agreed that we'd find something on the way.
(My 2009 Long Haul Trucker )
Nothing too far; just to Afton State Park and back; 34 longish miles with a couple of challenging climbs each way. I remember looking down between pants on one hill and seeing 3.4 miles/hour forward progress. What's my biking stall speed?
(Neighbor's 1984 Trek 520 loaded without sleeping gear. Notice his homemade frame bag)

Upon arrival we set camp and went for a swim in the St. Croix River which forms the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin. While lazing in the water watching a hot air balloon travel by, maybe it was the red tomato shape of it, I started thinking about the function of tomatoes in the BLT. I concluded that they offer sweetness and acidic brightness. Eureka! Wild black berries growing along the path became our tomato substitute. They were brilliant.
We spent the evening eating our BLB wraps around the fire. Fireflies, passing satellites and a few shooting stars made the night memorable as well.

We were up at 5:30am enjoying the mist lift over the St. Croix Valley as we readied for our return ride. The panoramic picture shows my neighbor checking into his flight just before we left camp. The berries, the lights in the sky, the mist and the trip were wonderful. I anticipate the unexpected joys of our next trip to the same location.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bacalhau Chowder

A trip to a local Mexican grocery store netted a dried-salted, cod fish or bacalhau. After a 20 hour soak to remove excess salt, the kids and I used it as the sole ingredient in tonight's fish chowder dinner. Bacalahau, also called clip-fish, is wonderful; need to buy more.

The firm, flesh tastes clean with surprisingly different levels of salty goodness depending on the amount of direct contact with the soaking water. Flavor variability makes each new bite unexpectedly vivid.

It's exciting to eat such an ancient food. The Europeans, especially Portuguese, brought this to the new world 500 years ago. I'm proud that my children are willing to explore such new foods.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hard Losses on a Hot Day

Soccer season ended today after a loss. The Girls had a great season.

Other notable events :

The US Womens' team lost to Japan today in the FIFA World Cup Final.

Hot, sticky Sunday kicked off what is shaping up to be an oppressive week in the Twin Cities and much of the Midwest.

The dew point, which measures the amount of moisture in the air, tied an all-time Twin Cities record of 81 Sunday. The last time it got that high was July 30, 1999. The state dew point record of 86 was also tied at Madison, MN Sunday night. Meteorologist Ken Barlow did some checking and found the only other spot in the Western Hemisphere with a dew point in the 80's Sunday was the Amazon Jungle in South America. Source