Things I Am Unable to Explain

Deadlines Deadlines Deadlines.  Cutting it close this time, but this post brings me to my self imposed minimum of 6 posts a month.  Before jumping back into the trip pictures, something strange occurred today while working in the yard.  It was time to deal with the trimming so I brought the trimmer out, gassed it up and reved it up.  As soon as the engine fired a barn swallow flew up behind me and started hovering in the air.  Actually, it was more like a bird backstroke because the birds body was actually vertical while the wings did a backward flap.  Not phased in the least by me turning to look at him, I decided to play out the situation.  As I was whacking down the weeds a moth flew up into the air.  At that point it all became very apparent.  The bird launched into action, chased that moth down and caught it.  I was impressed, not only was he pretty agile, he (assuming a male at this point) was smart enough to associate my trimmer with dinner.  This went on for about 15 minutes until he was either full or needed a rest.  For the curious, I could care less about the insect.  I draw the line there in favor of actual animals unlike PETA which apparently doesn’t know what the ‘A’ actually stands for based on their recent declaration against Obama killing a fly.

With that out of the way, I’ll lead with this picture.  Take a minute and just absorb the image….

Rock Hard Man

Linda thinks I’m crazy, but it sure looks like a rock man with ummmm… well… let’s just say that is some hard rock.   She vetoed my idea of merging it with one of the pictures of Old Faithful.

While in South Dakota, this truck passed us on the highway.

Truck Skull

All I could think of was the movie The Jerk when Steve Martin picks up the red chair and claims that is all he needs.   I would think the paint would be getting scratched up pretty good, but I must admit, the skull was a nice touch.

Catch a couple m0re shots after the jump

Continue reading Things I Am Unable to Explain

What Are They Thinking?

At Culvers today I was thinking it was nearing the end of the month and I was way behind on my posts.  I actually have plenty of content queued up, but have been having a hard time to sparing the time to get it written up.  The trip out to Yellowstone energized me to start cleaning up my forest acreage and getting the trails cut in.  This has a tendency to drain me especially when I have to end the day with my 7-8 mile Bix7 training runs.  I was jarred back into the moment at hand when a young woman approached the counter with her friend.  She was holding a wrapped hamburger which begged my attention.  Correctly guessing, it was a messed up order.  Two statements made me stand and wonder what was going on in their head.  First, while explaining what the problem was, the young girl states “I threw the onions out the window because that’s what everyone did”  For one of the few times I can’t think of any context where an observed action makes any sense.  Was there a big pile of onions on the side of the road she was simply adding to?  Did she see a whole like of people ahead of her in the drive through whipping their condiments out the window?  I have nothing here folks other than the possibility she was savvy enough to know they come from the ground so returning it seemed like the appropriate action. The other interesting statement was from the cashier.  For some reason she was not stunned at all about the onion comment, but after listening to the issue she responded with “Would you like that made again right now?”  I had at least 4 clever responses in the time that took her to respond with the boring “Yes”.  Possibly a clever cashier followup would have been to simply grab the sandwich and scrape the undesired condiments off on the edge of the counter and handed it back.  It probably would have been job ending, but I probably would have shook her hand after redeeming herself from a stupid question.

Anyway, I decided to get this post on a couple of vacation scenes that made as much sense as this encounter.  First a quiz.  Does anyone out there think Bison are tame?  Does anyone believe that wild animals don’t care about their young?  And lastly, are wild animals entirely predictable?  If you answered affirmative to any of those questions you need to stay out of our National Parks and stick to safer destinations like zoos.  I can’t tell you how many times we saw people chasing out after wildlife to get the perfect shot.  Note, this can all be remedied by purchasing higher powered glass, which is significantly cheaper than getting a horn removed from your rear.

This lady decided that the numerous stay away from wildlife warning signs didn’t apply to her.

Dumb Human

We had already taken a number of pictures from the walkway (with the 200 glass) and was able to get various angles in complete safety.  What this lady didn’t know is there is a calf (guess that is what you call it) on the other side.  I kept my finger on the trigger for funniest home gold.  In case you questioned, the answer is I have little sympathy for stupid people but luckily for her the subject didn’t decide to test her speed.

Then there was this guy.

Dumb Human

The elk are probably a little more tame than Bison, but this guy essentially stalked this elk for 15 minutes.  He was trying to be clever and stay out of view, but checking the angle of the elk tells you how successful that was.  Every time the guy took a few steps forward, the elk would head a little further up the hill.  I joked to my wife that he was being led closer to the tree line so his friends could roll him.  Yes, I kept my camera ready for any violence that might have been initiated.  I ended up 0-2 for content on the my series When Good Animals Go Bad.  Admit it, you would watch it – and you can’t tell me it would be any worse than watching the wife of our removed and soon to be put on trial ex-governor Blowjobovich trying to replace her cuss filled tirade wiretap image with a PR stunt in the woods.  But the funny thing about this is there was another elk (with a similar rack) sitting under a tree not 30 feet from the trail.  The whole time that elk kept a close eye on the guy.  Made me wonder if it was not the humans who were on display.  I wish I could tell what that elk was thinking at that moment.  Maybe it was this.

The Food Chain

A Special Load

 Convoy Ahead

Last year we headed out to South Dakota a week later than this year.  While we were there, the army was carrying out their training exercises in Custer State Park.  Since we were out a week earlier, we came up on a number of military convoys heading out to the park.  One particular grouping of trucks turned out pretty comical.  As w approached one of the semi trucks, something looked odd about the payload.

Military Convoy

Slowly the picture became a little clearer.

Truck Convoy

I have to admit, we did not have the camera out when we passed this convoy the first time.  We laughed so hard we doubled back to take a few photos.  It is amazing the lengths you will go to get a blog entry.  As we passed the truck for the second time, took the payload shot.

Truck Convoy Payload

I think it is our newest secret weapon developed for special urban assaults.  There are probably rocket mounts in the dump bucket and special hummer inflating tires to allow it to traverse any rubble it encounters.  We definitely appreciate the job they do to keep us safe and our Democracy intact.  Good luck boys an girls and in the words of Maximus “unleash hell”.

Eat Dust

Salute the Troops!

The Return of Dinos

First off, I would like to declare for the record that this Blog is written by a MALE.  My brother (who I am sure was snickering the entire time) sent me a link that analyzes the gender of a webpage.  Apparently I am not using the appropriate amount of stereotypical male words in my post.  Here is my attempt to fix that:

Boobs, Beer, Football, Baseball, Rugby, UFC, Boxing, Spitting, Scratching, Jockstrap, Whiskey, Engineering, Monster Trucks, NASCAR, Drag Racing, Urinals, Spike TV and  LAN Gaming… would welcome any additional words if you can think of them …  it is actually harder than I imagined.

Okay, this post is about reemergence of Dinos.  I thought it odd that there were no less than three occurrences of said extinct animal during our vacation.

Sinclair Dino

Obviously you know where this was taken.  That is, if you happen to be someone that also wasted valuable time actually stopping at Wall Drug in South Dakota.  There is actually a large animated T-Rex there sticking with the theme.  I found this picture a tad ironic.  Can any identify why I think that?  I wonder if the Exxon marketing people were savvy enough to purposely put their sign in that position to cause an association with their gas to the Sinclair filling stations?  I assumed you have traveled enough to know that this green and white icon is the trademark of Sinclair.  They usually have smaller ones in front of their station, however, this one was pretty big.

I had my wife snap this one as we drove by at 75 miles an hour.  I can’t believe it came out as well as it did, but she was zoomed in a little too much to capture the human skeleton that was holding on to the leash.

Dino Skeleton

I honestly have no idea what the purpose for it was – possibly for an exhibit that was up the road.   The pending storm actually makes the image look a little ominous.  The last shot was taken while stuck in a traffic jam in Yellowstone National Park.  We were heading back to our lodge on the road that connects the north and south loops when the traffic came to a dead stop.    There were also very few cars coming from the other way which meant an animal was near the road and some idiot was stopping traffic to gawk at it.  I’m all for stopping and admiring the wildlife, but find an appropriate place to pull off, don’t just stop the rented recreational vehicle in the middle of the road for 35 minutes.  Finally the park ranger showed up and made everyone start moving again.  Turns out it was a sleeping bear about 75ft off of the road.  Linda just about blew a bladder because of it.  Anyway, at least I got something for the blog, so it was not a complete waste.

Dino Evolution

Anyone want to guess what city this car was from?  As a side note, based on the scaling relationship that is one large Jesus Fish.

In my best manly Tool Time grunt, I’ll sign off for now.  I’ll have to recheck the analyzer after this post and see if there are any changes to the previously wrong assessment.

Go West Young Man

 Ugh, Buffalo Dung

We recently returned from our summer vacation which means only one thing boys and girls.  That’s right, you can look forward to the next 50 posts being all about the trip.  Well, probably not 50, but based on the number of pictures we took (literally thousands thanks to the digital age) I guess a fair amount of the following will focus on the various scenes caught through our expensive glass.

This year we headed out to take in some national parks.  In particular, this included Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Rocky Mountain.  Although a little rainy (all out storms to be more precise) and cold (high 30s to low 60s) we still had a great time.  I’ll ease you into the trip experience with some images of various signs that caught our attention.  Unfortunately, I missed the one that intrigued me the most.  As we crossed into South Dakota there was a white billboard with the words “Prepare To Meet Thy God”.  I am not exactly sure how to take that.  Is it meant to be a generic warning to visitors to this part of the country that one should take some time to assess their worth before the inevitable end?  Or perhaps it is an immediate foreshadowing that you are going to die RIGHT NOW by some crazed lunatic hiding behind the billboard.

We did see lots of these signs:

Bear Spray

All I could think of was Hair-in-a-Can like Xmas tree flocking except with brown hair.  Hope nobody reads this and decides they can play another Yeti hoax on the American public.

Funny, I never see this place in the Verizon commercials.  In fact, our cell phones were turned off most of the time due to our batteries draining from no signal.

Can't You Here Me Now?

This one made us laugh out loud.  It has to be one of the catchiest billboards we have ever seen.  And no, I have absolutely zero idea what the intent was but I’ll simply respond with a big Thank You!

Your Wife Is Hot

Rounding out today’s collection of signs is one I made my wife double back for.  As a former Java developer, this sign held multiple connotations.   I figure either they like to mainline their caffeine in this town or they have all converted to .Net like me.  Which ever way you take it, it still ranks as a classic.

Jave in the Rear

That’s all for now.  Check back soon for some more funny images we captured on the way out there.  Once I get done with those I’ll dive into the cool wildlife and scenery shots we brought back.

Another Medal Earned… or What Was I Thinking

Start of Steamboat Race 2009

Apparently I did not learn my lesson from last year. Yesterday was the 36th running of the Peoria Steamboat Race (15K and 4M) and as planned, I was at the starting line.  The actual photo was scanned from the Peoria Journal Star so all credit remains with them.  Since they did not ask my permission to put my image in their paper I decided I did not need to ask their permission to use it in my blog.  If you are interested, that’s me in the orange and shades – I could say I was honoring my Illini Alma Mater, but the real choice was based on being the coolest fabric (temp, not hipness).  I made a pact with myself at the end of the last Steamboat that I would not let it beat me and I would attempt it again in hopes of not getting injured early in the race.  I rarely break a commitment to myself so there I was, although this time I was not sure if I was ready.

Unlike last year, we decided to move our vacation to the two weeks leading up to the race day as opposed to last year where we headed out immediately after the race which resulted in serious leg cramping.  Rather than repeat that, we changed the vacation dates which had its own challenges.  The first of these was finding time and places to train while traveling.  As best we could, we stayed at hotels with treadmills and although it was pretty cold out at night (see the other challenge), I did get one road run in.  I am now a big fan of Comfort Inns and Courtyards – both of those hotels had excellent treadmills in them and operating ours that fit my late night running preference.  Luckily, I did not have to compete for the treadmill even once allowing me to get my entire 1:10-1:20 hour training sessions in.  The other challenge was the fact we were vacationing in the Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Park areas.  Yes folks, that puts me in the 9 to 12 thousand elevation level.  I had no idea how that elevation training would impact my performance other than I knew it was actually harder to run at that elevation than it would be in Peoria.  What I did know is I could not keep the same pace causing me to back off my pace significantly (was floating around 10 minute miles for a lot of it which is significantly off my preferred pace).  So I was running slower than I wanted, running less than the full 15K (due to the slower pace), reduced foot/knee impact from running on the treadmills instead of pavement, but had the unknown of the elevation benefits and it was significantly colder at that altitude over the steam bath that usually exists on race day. .   The reduced impact from the treadmill was somewhat of a blessing because my hip had developed a serious socket pain during the training runs before the vacation.  With the uncertainty, the decision was made to ease into the first two miles to give time to assess the body.

Some starting line number you mind find interesting:

  • 36th Running
  • 4,150 participants (total both 15K and 4M)
  • 480 15K participants
  • Race time – 7:00am
  • Time the alarm clock went off – 4:50am
  • Start Temperature: 68 (I personally think it was a lot hotter or it warmed up quickly during the time I was running
  •  91% Humidity (suckage)
  • 15K winner -48.23
  • 15K Last Place Winner – 2:15:08  (congrats to beating hundreds of thousands of people who decided to stay in their comfy beds)
  • My Finish: 1:20:35 (race stats have me at :49 but I am going with my watch over the timing chips)
  • My Ranking: 285

I did come in ahead of my time last year and pretty pleased with the results based on the thoughts going through me head at  the start of the race.  I attribute some of that to the spectators along the course.  There is nothing and I mean nothing more motivation that having a complete stranger clap for you and give you encouragement along the way.  A special thanks to the couple around the 6.5M mark that was calling out our bib numbers and spurring us on with personal words of encouragement.  I always try to thank them as I pass, but my small gesture never makes up for the large boost of adrenaline that results from hearing people cheering you on.  A few more miles and I was reaching for my medal at the finish line.

Steamboat 08-09

I used the same medal image to save some time (the latest one looks almost exactly the same but does not even have the date on it anyway, so no reason to really scan it again).  A lot of sweat and wear and tear on the feet got me that medal and I clutched it with pride as I headed over to the water station.  As I looked down at my watch those 35 seconds called out a challenge.  You guessed it, I plan to be back next year to break the 1:20 mark.  Nothing like a challenge to keep the rest of the 364 days interesting.  Next time you see someone on the road struggling to make it up the hill or pushing themselves to make it those final miles… give them a wave and smile.. we all need a little encouragement every now and then.

Time to put some ice on the legs.  Tomorrow starts another round of training cycles for the upcoming Bix 7M race.