Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Balloon Festival

Last night we took the kids and Megan to the Indianola Balloon Festival. Every year for two weeks they launch 70ish hot air balloons every night and there is a carnival with inflatables, food and a good fun family good time.

We picked up mom and met Chelsey and Spencer there. I didn't realize we got there so early - as the last time we went we sat in traffic for hours! After we were scolded for trying to sneak our picnic lunch in...we found a good secluded spot on the grass and set up our chairs and blankets. I took the kids to the inflatables and laughed hysterically watching Kenna and Megan race in the elastic run then beat the crap out of eachother with the giant gladiator mallets. Zachey went down a slide and did an obstacle course then ended with the little train. Grayson tried a bouncy house - was LESS of a fan of the obstacle course, but definitely LOVED the train!

Once the balloons all started going the kids were definitely ooohing and ahhhhing over them. Was really a beautiful night. The only scary part was when one of the balloons hit a power line! It was a little windy and I think everyone was okay...but jeez!

Ragbrai Post #2

What a wild ride! The latter half of the week was far different than the first part!

Wednesday was voted the easiest day ever on any Ragbrai. It was less than 40 miles and just the most beautiful weather! Also there was zero wind and less than 700 feet of climb....I think Kenna could have done it! The morning of I had my first experience with the truck and it was a piece of cake! Walk your bag on, dump it and look at the time. Then it is waiting for you when you arrive organized by time dropped off...really was easy!

All along clear lake there were just gorgeous little houses. I looked when I got home as many were for sale and the starting price tag is $500k....yikes!  A bit much for a summer home IMO!

Thursday was another fun day. Met some people from Belize and Great Britain! I found a wonderful little spot to camp in the shade near Wartburg college. I knew that there would potentially be rain that night so tried to find a spot that was also near a building. Scott and two of his friends rode that day as well. They drank along the way so were quite a bit later than I was getting in. So I showered and took a nap, then we met at a local bar and had a few drinks to celebrate.

Thursday night was not a restful one. It thundered and lightninged all night. It started raining in the early hours which caused some people to pack up their camps. I toughed it out and by 6am was wide awake - but dry in my tent. I caught a break in the weather and quickly packed up taking my bag to the truck. In transport all my stuff got wet as people's bags dripped onto mine..but luckily I had things packed in plastic bags, so not everything was soaked.

I took off hoping to just ride through the rain. The first hour was nice, just light sprinkling and pretty nice conditions - but that didn't last. The wind gusts started and the hard cold rain started at that point. I had a poncho that acted as sort of an inverse sail - crap. I peddled as fast as I could to tripoli, since Bremer was not really a town, but rather an intersection where someone was selling bagels, no protection from the weather.

In Tripoli I hit the worst of the storm. I scrambled looking for somewhere to get dry and warm up as I was shaking. There was a row of vendors trying to keep their umbrellas and awnings from blowing away - no good. In the distance I spied a school that would be great if it were open! I went around trying various doors and one was open - thank goodness! I huddled in there with 100s of other riders waiting out the storm. After about 30 minutes we were told we had to leave the building as it wasn't approved and that city hall was open 1/2 mile away. I jumped on my bike and rode into the wind, not knowing where town hall even was. As I came upon a turn I saw a bar that was off the road. I hurried over and saw that it was open and ran inside. At this point thunder and lightening was fierce and the wind was just brutal! I stayed in that bar nursing a beer and eating a friend egg sandwich for a few hours until the storm passed - then all was well! Got into Independence a bit late - but who cares it was so much nicer in the afternoon! Should have just waited in Waverly!

Saturday I hit the road around 630 excited to get to Guttenberg and see Josh! The day was fairly uneventful aside from meeting Chris (the next bachelor) in Strawberry point. I was on a bit of a high and tackled the hills pretty well! There was over 3000 feet of climb that day and I felt it the next morning! My shoulder and quads were really sore! Coming into Guttenberg the scenery was just gorgeous! Pretty little river town that was at the bottom of a steep hill - all green and lush, the boardwalk running along the river. I spotted josh as I rode in and was so happy to see him! We got the heck out of there quickly as the crowds and lines into the city were just miles and miles of waiting bottleneck!

Josh arranged for a wonderful old hotel that is rumored to have been owned by Al Pacino. It was restored but looked like it was out of the 20s inside. I got a pedicure and then Josh found an absolutely divine local restaurant! The chef even asked if we had questions on the menu. We had homemade corn soup, salad, tortellini and shrimp, AMAZING rosemary bread...the whole thing was worth the ride!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ragbrai Post #1

Let me start by saying that Emmetsburg is my new favorite overnight spot. Not only was today's ride only 40 miles, but I arrived to a tent that is all set up, free wifi, close by building that is airconditioned with multiple charging opportunities and lots of indoor plumbing woohoo! I digress...we should start from the beginning.

On Saturday Gona came and picked me up, along with CeCe (my bike.) CeCe was named by Kenna, even though she doesn't know it. The first thing she said when she saw it was that it looked like a Candy Cane....I couldn't very well call her candy CC, or CeCe was born.

Here is my ONE bag for Ragbrai as I am riding the truck this year vs. driver!

Goan and I made the drive to Bridgot and Mike's lake house in Okoboji. What a FUN and picturesque location. They bought a house right off of a canal that leads to Lake Okoboji. They have a view of the lake without all the hassle. Bridgot was lucky enough to buy the property from a woman that just didn't want the work of owning a lake property anymore. So, she left EVERYTHING, including linens, silver, everything. They have done ton of work replacing floors and building a dock for their pontoon and the place just SCREAMS Bridgot in all its cuteness. Was so lucky to have a great place to sleep and company to talk to!

Emmi and Kade drove up as well. We went out on the boat and got a lake view of the multi million dollar homes. We passed by one that was 14 million dollars...assuming it may be on the market for a while....

We also visited the Emporium which reminds me of a baby Pike Place. Cute old quaint shops, but this one has a fun park equipped with roller coaster and mini golf course next door. Was nice to see the lake before all he craziness of the Ragbraiers would come to town the next day.

After way too much to eat and drink we went to bed. Emmi and Kade were unsure if they wanted to ride the whole thing. Luckily Kathy had the idea for all of us to start together, and they could pick up the two of them when they were pooped. I somehow convinced everyone to leave at 5am. So, we got up at the crack of dawn, loaded our breakfast burritos in our bike bag, and off we went!

They did awesome! Both Kade and Emmi almost rode the entire way, we guessed about 62 miles (70 mile route.) I loved showing them all the sights and scenes. Was especially impressed with Kade as he set the pace a lot of the day and it was pretty quick!

After May City both Em and Kade had had enough. Fortunately Gona was waiting a few miles out and they threw their bikes in the back of the truck. They took off for Mike's and I took a "short cut" to get there as well. Those last 10 miles were harder than any other 10 miles on the route all day, very hilly and WINDY! The day was so very windy, 20-3o mph gusts all day, and it was even more difficult outside the pack of bikes! But I made it! We had another fun evening of celebrating with s'more pizza for Emmi's birthday and got to bed rather early that evening.

Then, this morning I got up early and headed out of Okoboji. The route was short, just 40 miles, but we had a ton of headwind! I found that my fanny and shoulder's were really sore right away, but it wore off. It was strange riding by myself, but I felt great because I knew Emmi was setting up my tent for me, so no rush to the Ragbrai truck to get my gear. I also knew that 40 miles in a whole day was a piece of cake! There were times when the wind was blowing right at me that I had to just stop and pull off to get a break from it. Was so relieved to find a popsicle stand about 4 miles out of the last town, really gave me the umph I needed to fight the wind in.

Today's weather didn't help...100% humidity and last I checked 90 degrees out...bleck! Luckily just one more day of this then it cools off at the end of the week. Tomorrow is the longest day of 80 miles, (figures!)

Today I got to meet a TON of people! That is the good part about riding on your own I guess? I met a man on the bus into town that was from Chicago. He rides every year on his own and just people "meets." We talked about the ride and Rails to Trails program I am passionate about, really cool.

The best time I have had was helping two newbies get their bearings. There were two girls I met while charging my phone, speakers, mophie and phone charger (man how did people ride ragbrai without electronics?) One was a teenager that flew up here from Florida to meet up with her best friend. They are riding all week. She was so sweet and just exhausted! I told her all about how there is a paper in each town, and how to find the shuttle, best ways to get a good shower and the food that she just MUST eat during the week. Was so fun! The other girl I met actually passed out from exhaustion! Yesterday she started the ride with a respiratory cold. By the middle of the day she was dehydrated and exhausted and actually passed out in a park. Luckily her friends got her medical help. Now she is trying to figure out how to get to Guttenburg where her car is! The whole afternoon made me feel old, but was fun to talk to them. Made me miss my kids in a strange way :)

Well, fortunate to have the ability to type this blog in real time! I was worried I may forget some of this but now it is captured here!

Here are the route maps for days 1-4 -

Friday, July 11, 2014

Poor Buddy

My poor little zachey had a great time spending the night at gona and bacas but came home with the biggest spider bite I've ever seen!  His ear is double the size it normally is. .. pure little dude! ! Hopefully benadryl and time will clear it up! !