Rants on Cycling and on Life



link to this blog and get a free sticker
I want a free sticker
did I make the deadline?

worth a look
bicycle blogs are hot with stories from Vegas

I blew through town just days before Interbike
which is fine
I had a grand experience
my experience would have been different had my bachelor party plans had the chance overlap with Interbike

does DC have something like
it clearly should

the funny thing about this expression
this expression is not in response to the BIG SHOT ride
this expression is just the standard response to the statement that was just uttered....
"hey... next week at this time you will be married!"
the ride was relaxing after that taste of reality

this has nothing to do with bikes
but... if you have a minute
it may amuse you
this is quasi related
also funny
got these from MADDOG
not to be confused with Hounddog

The Stratosphere:
among the list of highlights from our Vegas Adventure,
The Stratosphere ranks high along side the "all you can eat" buffet at Cravings
the rides were awesome....
the four rides each had their value
if I were to go back... I would re-order them
-High Roller
and then
then BIG SHOT again
that ride is a rush
what is so great about that photo is the expressions on each person's face
I may not look as scared as I am in that photo
that pose was held and locked for 5 minutes waiting for the ride to start
the BIG SHOT is a Thrill and a Half.... it is so scary that it is comical

not everyone wants to have an epic mountain bike adventure with the folks from Escape Adventures
but everyone should ride these rides at the Stratosphere
the view is awesome
the rides are a rush

one warning...
we rode the rides on an empty stomach sober
I recommend the same

tip-as I will never grow up
don't ask me to hold your camera
don't leave your camera sitting around
the temptation is too great for me to control
in this modern age of digital photography it is a tad less obnoxious
snoopy left his camera in the room
so when I went to bed earlier then the rest of the folks in our group... well... he got a little pictorial
this was just one of the shots
you get the basic idea
perhaps I should have used the timer
the mirror and the extended arm shots tend to be my favorite

belligerent drunk
there is this guy

he is a friend of a friend
we are friends
neither on the other's A list
friends just the same

he is a good guy
yet at parties he roams around all loud and obnoxious

his train of thought in conversation is somewhat random

at times he is moderately aggressive and in people's face

it is really quite a performance

my main issue with his behavior is that he is not actually a belligerent drunk

after all he is clean and sober

I can not recall what he was like when he was a drunk before he stopped drinking

now I just feel like giving him the old.... "I need to go to the bathroom" or "I need to get another drink"
thinking he will forget
but as he is not drunk he will not forget

is his behavior forgivable
we forgive the antics of someone who has had one too many
the lampshade on the head

the dancing on the bar

the public urination
the awkwardness of hitting on the boss' wife or better yet the boss' daughter

but what is to be done about the sober man's misbehavior at party?


more crap.... sometime it is nice to fill the day with fluff

DC Underground Film Fest
this weekend

Bugs Bunny once said...
"so... she's mechanical?"
guess that is the popular response in Vegas these days

ten cents a dance- Ruth Etting

Mountain Biking in VEGAS!

as mentioned before I was hesitant about a trip to Vegas
in addition to the expense of this trip
there was also hesitation due to the whole
"what happens in Vegas.... stays in Vegas" ad campaign
so... in an effort to keep myself honest I arranged that a few of us on this trip would go mountain biking
certainly the thought of an afternoon in the hot desert sun would get us to bed earlier and keep us from ordering those last few unneeded drinks

the only other taker on the Vegas Mountain Bike Adventure was my college buddy and co-bestman Snoopy (aka Kevin... a name he started using in his quasi-adult life... still Snoopy to me)
which was fine... as it was not a free adventure and the less waiting the better

the trip was booked through a company called Escape Adventures
there was one other rider aside from Snoopy and myself
we were skeptical of his skills... but he was traveling with his own pedals which says something and the tour company assured us that he was confident with his technical abilities

the Escape Adventure company picked us up at our hotel with a fleet of Santa Cruz Blurs on top of the white van with Escape logo painted on the side
the third member of our ride was already in his gear riding shotgun
he was in his early 50's but clearly looked fit
we drove the 45 minutes off the strip to Red Rocks Canyon

it was good to get off the strip
as mentioned previously the Vegas Strip does not make any sense until the sun sets
there is plenty of shopping to be done for those that seek out such things
such things do not entertain me
there is also the pool.... but more pale middle age folk than bronze beauties
no need to spend my time there
so spending an afternoon on the bike fit into my desires perfectly

we were scheduled for pickup at one in the afternoon
our driver/guide arrived on time
nothing shy of professional.... not the rusty 1971 VW van I had expected
we loaded up our gear and jumped into the van
my heart started to race and energy began to build even before I opened up my can of Red Bull
our driver/guide, Chad, was a transplant from Minnesota
our fellow 51 year old tourist was from Michigan
most certainly Chad never knows what to expect from his riders on these day tours
we talked about our desires and our abilities as we drove out of downtown through the rapidly growing sprawl which is Las Vegas

in our discussion I made it clear that I would enjoy technical but was not looking for any "major drop offs"
sold myself as a fast sport rider or a slow expert with no boasting
there was some talk of recent races
the other riders gave ideas of what they were looking for on this day
everyone being humble
everyone under selling themselvse

once at the trailhead I suited up in my gear
after pounding my can or Red Bull and popping a few E-Caps I was suited up in head to toe City Bikes gear and ready to ride
this was to be my innagural ride with the new City Bikes jersey... flames and all

I went to the top of the first rise to releave my bladder as the others finished getting ready

Chad was on his single speed
the three of us were on tour provided full suspension Santa Cruz Blurs

there was a gradual grade at the start
then it moved into a slight descent
that would be the tone of the day
moderate up and moderate down
a roller coaster ride through the desert
a path meandering between cacti and a wide variety of other prickly plants whose names do not know
in the distance we were surrounded by a variety of mountains and various mesas
it pleased me that we went around the mesas and not so near the mountains
the roller coaster was far more appealing to me than a long steady mountain climb
although I never mind a screaming down hill

it was good to have Chad as our guide
he worked well as a pace vehicle
always giving a little forewarning to obstacles, barriers, and change in grade
our pace was brisk
but not hectic
too fast on the soft squishy bike was sure to slide off the soft squishy trail
running off trail would certainly end up in a prickley mess comical to all
well... comical to all other than the human pin cushion

there were moments of serious smiles
after warming up and getting a feel for the bike and the earth beneith me I really enjoyed myself
it is always great to get out on the bike
the trails were awesome
there was desert wildlife swarming around me
hummingbirds, well bird
some ground birds... maybe a quail of sorts
some desert lizards
as far as plants
all sorts of interesting desert plants.... all of them prickley
some of which got stuck in my leg
while others just stabbed me in my arm

at one point we had a unintentional breather when Mike from Michigan had some pedal/cleat issues
we managed to set things right and get back on the trail after a little hassle
nothing that tarnished the day
as such things are all part of mountain biking

the three hours of riding went by pretty fast
the desert sun was not as brutal as we feared
actually with the breeze it was rather pleasant

late in the ride both Mike and Chad flatted out
it was so close to the end that they continued riding rather than breaking for the repair
bummer for Mike as the final miles were a bit of a rush

the ride left me wanting more
the loop was described as an Intermediate/Expert loop
having ridden with Chad on this set of trails I wished I had booked him for another day
as he knew a little more of my capabilities and could certainly take me to some alternate loops that may have offered a tad more technical
that is not to say there were not technical sections
there were many.... most of which I had to stall on or dab on as the trail was unfamilar
the desert terrain is not my native riding ground thus offering a different set of riddles to solve

it was an awesome ride
Chad was an awesome guide
he was mellow and fast
a great combination
a guy who loves to ride and does not mind getting paid for it

it worked out well linking up with the third rider
Mike definitely held his own
there were never any worries that he was over his head
as he was fast and steady on the bike

if you are headed to Vegas and you love to mountainbike
contact Escape Adventures
you may want to request Chad
but I am confident that all of their guides are equally as qualified and equally as cool

Red Rock Canyon
these trails would be great not only for riding
but also for the elite trail runner
the runner would want to do a shorter loop
but the vistas and views would make it worth while
oh... one last thing... wear amber lenses... the desert is always more beautiful with the amber lenses
Chad called them Prozac Shades

photos to come

Chevy Chase's Trash or Treasure-
after counting the loot and debating with the notion of doing another drive through Chevy Chase, Maryland's biannual Trash or Treasure day I opted not to collect any more trash for my basement

the Tiny Tikes toy work bench is a hit

the Stan Smith tennis racket is making the young tennis stars I always dreamed of raising

the trail a bike is another bike to step over in my basement

there is no need for any leaky aquariums or fish bowls

after reviewing in my head what remained
the odds of a decent bicycle still sitting on the curb seemed slim
the imagry had me thinking about a few other things...

I thought about all of the computers and monitors I saw in these piles of trash

so I called the Town of Chevy Chase's offices and spoke to a few people
left a message
then sent an email to restate that such things are not to be collected as trash
with that I sent a link to Montgomery County's computer recycling options

no... I am not a do gooder

I am someone who tries to do what everyone should do
the basics to keeping the world safe and clean for a livable tomorrow

this was not blowing the whistle or even telling someone what to do
it was just a matter of opening their eyes to the situation
they were aware of the rules... they had informed the neigborhood of the guidelines of what should be placed on the curb
they did not drive through after people set stuff out for collection

perhaps they should have trash and recycling pick up for these events
as there most certainly will be other hazardous waste in addition to the computers and monitors


three things that need to be invented....
lets make that four.

-a saw blade that stops when it touches human flesh

-a toilet that does not accept childrens toys (extend that to cell phones and tv remotes)

-a sink drain that stops the falling wedding ring

-a device that gives a car four flat tires when it exceeds the speed limit on a residential road by 15 miles an hour

last week I went to Vegas for a bachelor party...
honestly… the "what happens in Vegas…. stays in Vegas" ad campaign had me a little worried
it all turned out to be some good clean fun... here is the tale

highlights from Vegas
it was my old friend rob's bachelor party
also another member of the party was getting married as well
(actually a handful of members of this fifteen man party were getting married and one that just eloped)
stayed at the Mirage with two grooms to be and one other
I am one of the best man at one of the groom's weddings
the other odd man out is the best man at both of the upcoming weddings

okay... Vegas highlights....
the strip makes little sense in the day
it all explains itself once the sun sets
while the lights dance against the black sky while it all becomes more clear
like shooting pool in a smoky dive bar at noon... just not as comfortable when the sun comes in the front door

since shopping is not high on my list of pleasures I traveled to Vegas with a Frisbee and some mountain bike gear
lots of mountain bike gear
more mountain bike gear than all other gear combined
although I have many frisbees I only brought one
asking all others to pack a frisbee

the afternoon of day one after arrival was set to be a Frisbee golf day
there are something like six Frisbee golf courses in the Vegas area….
golfing in Vegas seemed like a good plan
three members of our large bachelor party went down to the pool
as four others went golfing proper
others were checking in
others were yet to arrive
after some time at the pool three of us made our move to get a cab to go golfing… Frisbee golfing
just as we were about to step into a cab... our plans got high jacked by the would be golfers…
golf ball golfers not frisbee golfiers
apparently there was hectic traffic
bumper to bumper
they dissuaded us from attempting this mission
so we gathered for dinner

we went as a group for dinner at Frontier
two different parties recommended Frontier for the best Mexican in Vegas
well… don't go to Vegas for Mexican food if Frontier offers the best… then Mexican in Vegas sucks
(but… I am sure that there are great places to get Mexican… just not at Frontier... can not explain the dual wrong advice)

the first night in Vegas we discovered that a party of 10-15 people has about 100-150 different ideas of what should be done
eventually we all had to disband and move in separate directions
most went to gamble at different tables
one guy went back to his room to recover from a cold
we had a party of five that went down to Circus Circus for some fun at the Midway games
on my first morning in Vegas I walked the strip going into various casinos trying to get a feel for things beyond the slot machines
Circus Circus had a really "kitschy" feel to it
the boardwalk style games kept us entertained but we realized we had set to meet back at the Mirage at a designated time so we cut our games short
mistake….. we should have kept the multiple groups rather than one large amoeboid mass
we managed to win a few stuffed animals
as well catch some circus style performance in the middle ring with a spot light completeing the stage
it was impressive
some classic acrobats from the old school
then there were some muscular men doing some poses that were very Cirque du Soleil
only with a little less attitude
a little less mime (pandamonium)

we did not hear about the indoor amusement park till it was too late
saw it later from the Stratosphere
yet did not manage to fit it into our trip
bumper cars would have been fun
go carts may have been more fun

we marched the strip back to the Mirage
the night went on including drinks and confusion
we still were not clear what the agenda and desire of the whole group was
our final decisions tended to frustrate me as the group's goals were not always my goals
being a team player I went with the pack
only to abandon everyone once my fears were proven true

as a group we went to Tangerine
a swank night club at Treasure Island
personally I had not desire to go there
I am 38 and married while most of the people there were in their late 20's and single
everyone at Tangerine was dressed in fancy club gear and well… I was dressed like me
our party was also less "club".... more "casual"
there was no meeting of the minds in this place for me
my interests were of no interests to the folks at Tangerine and vice versa
so I evacuated
spending more time in line then I spent in the bar… and we were not in line for that long
luckily we had free passes that were given to me by one of the Vegas Kooks barking on one of the corners of the Vegas Strip
end up going back
doing some simple math realizing that late in Vegas is even later for someone functioning on Eastern Standard Time
on the way back my bad habit of the midnight snack seemed to have more pull than the calling of my bed
my college buddy Tim and I shared an eighteen dollar sandwich…. sharing added a three dollar "sharing fee"
ah…. VEGAS!
it is all about the dollar in Vegas… well in most cases it is about the twenty

after a late night on the town I thought that I would be sleeping late the next day
now way baby…. I was up and active before 9am….
was it the OXYGEN being pumped into the room?
no… as that is a myth
it was more a matter of my circadian rthyms being set on Eastern Standard Time as dictated by the wakings of my two young boys
with two members of our party still sleeping I dressed and went down to the casinos to scope things out
the buffet at Cravings looks quality
after a little stroll around the casino I found two members of our party trying to earn back the money they lost the night prior
made a call up to the room
we all met at Cravings for a spectacular breakfast into lunch feast
after food we moved around town killing time till our afternoon mountain bike ride at Red Rocks Canyons

the strip in the day was filled with tourists hustling and bustling about
taxi cabs trying to lure people into their cabs which would then drop people off at clubs
corners filled with men and women handing out flyers, brochures, and business cards… all with wonderfully underdressed women drawing men's attention
these same flyers littered the sidewalks and the streets
like the passing of a ticker tape parade
only this is everyday
the paper trail covers the strip
most certainly the wind blows and carries these glossy advertisements into the desert
somewhere a canyon is becoming an unintentional landfill
yes…. disgusting
especially after measuring the effectiveness of these flyers….. as everyone is done with them seconds after they touch their hands

snoopy and I were the only members of our party that were going mountain biking
rob and Trevor are also cyclists…. but… neither has been riding that much so they let us go at our pace
the van arrived on time and took us out to Red Rocks Canyon for an awesome ride through the desert
more to come on this later as I will try to create a full report on that ride and that ride alone

we returned from our ride refreshed and covered in dust
each of us had a number of pin holes from the cacti… but nothing that a rinse off and a dip in the pool would not repair
we cleaned up and went to the pool
from the pool we went to the hot tub and then gathered with our party…. our party that was expanding as people arrived and checked in

almost failed to mention of the greatest
highlights of the trip
that was the rides at the STRATOSPHERE
ontop of the Vegas version of the space needle are four rides
it was a rush
a total blast
good thing we did this before our Samba dinner
picture to follow!
this story of the stratosphere will be expanded upon along with the mountainbike ride
both were an awesome rush

there was enough time to ride all of the rides
even enough time to ride the best ride twice, THE BIG SHOT
making it back just in time for our reservations for a Brazilian feast at SAMBA

at samba
we had a table reserved for the full wedding party
Kurt made the reservation and he made the right choice
the restaurant is in the Mirage so we did not have far to travel
we gathered for feast of various meats and Mojitos and Campirninas
everyone got full…. so full that even with these stiff drinks no one was getting stumbling drunk
there were some corny party favors floating around the table… some novelty handcuffs… a midget blow up doll… and other similar contraptions to set the bachelor party mood

after dinner there was more confusion of what was to happen next
again there were a hundred and fifty different agendas
not everyone's needs could possibly be met
at first we tried to migrate together
but then we lost various individuals to different draws
some went to play craps… others sought out Texas hold'em… and some even sat down at the slot machines
I moved with a group that wanted to try going to a club
so I went and got the free passes for a Club across the street in the Venetian
upon meeting up with the group I informed everyone that the "free pass" is only good before midnight
we crossed over the Venetian just the same
once in line at the club I looked at the line and I looked at myself
midnight being three am eastern standard time did not help my mood
the option of a cover made no sense to me
so I again abandoned ship
one other member of the party joined me….
we went downstairs to the casino to get a feel for slots and tables in slightly different arena

in no time at all my phone rang…
the group in line also lost heart on club Vivid at the Venetian and came downstairs
some people gambled
some people drank
I drank more Jagermeister and did some people watching
occasionally I dropped a quarter in a slot machine… but not much more
actually very few machines accepted coins…. most did not pay out in coins
it saddened me to see the arm of the one arm bandit slowly become a vestigial structure
ah… if people do not use the arm…. they will not make the arm
so much for the one arm bandit

some time passed and I was able to sell the option of the Midway games to our larger party
like fools we bypassed the cab option and made that same long trek down the strip
people were growing tired as it was getting late
when we finally arrived at Circus Circus I was saddened to learn that the midway section of this casino closed at Midnight
luckily the drinks were cheaper than at the other casinos
so people got drinks and sought out the gambling options that met their desires

I too was growing tired…
before knowing that the Midway was closed at Circus Circus I had one of our friends start his march solo from the Mirage where he was glued to the craps table
I called him and told him to stop walking… that we would meet him half way
other members of our party were leaving as well…
two guys were grabbing a cab before us… I gave some advice… "be open to the options that the cabbie presents to you… who knows what fun you will find... we are in the desert... let the wind blow you like the tumble weed"
or something to that effect
maybe without the mention of the tumble weed
so the three of us marched out of the casino…. back to the strip… pointed back to the Mirage
a cab pulled up
a familiar nasally voice came out of a cab window as it pulled up along side of us
I had heard his sales pitch on several corners before
this same guy... this same voice
each time waving him away
snoopy told me to take my own advice
we got in
we called for our waiting friend
got his exact location and picked him up

the cabbie wanted to take us to a club
he had a deal
he would pay our cover and not charge us for the cab
this deal sounded too good to be true
this kinda deal sounded like it would have us face down in the desert with a bullet placed in the back of each of our heads
we got in and took the ride
there was also fear that we would be dropped off at some seedy cinderblock square where all the should be retired dancers worked
but I was wrong

the cabbies gets paid 50 bucks for each person they bring to the clubs…. bachelor parties being the biggest suckers
with a thirty dollar cover he would only make 20 bucks off each of us
that is 20 more than he would have made if he had picked up no riders at this time
along with paying our cover he also gave us some drink vouchers
the club was called Treasures… girls dancing… girls working the crowd
it looked like some sort of palace
while the women were doing a modern dance of the seven veils

we took some seats near the stage and took in the show
it is an interesting study
I of course took on the whole event not as a participant but as a sociologist
like Jane Goodall it was Gorilla in the Mist… or perhaps I was a Gorilla in the Mist of a Smoke Machine
it was fun even if we followed the rules

our energy tapered we got a cab home
we all climbed into our beds only to wake for another day

I woke refreshed again
again wondering about this Oxygen being pumped into the room myth
went downstairs and found our main bachelor at the slots again
again I petitioned for the buffet at Cravings… the price went up on weekends to 22.50
campagne brunch
after doing the math on an omelet, coffee, and orange juice it still seemed like the best deal in town
called up to the room
the late sleepers met us for breakfast
it was awesome

again not knowing what to do with the day I wished I had booked a second mountain bike trip
did not have the gumshion to make the call to try and setthings up this late
so I talked about the Frisbee golf option with the group
come cell phone calls were made
we had five more players interested
I volunteered to get Frisbees while they lounged poolside

after a fulfilling breakfast I hit the strip….
not one sport store in the mall
not one Marshall's
not one Ross Dress for Less
not one souveneir store had a frisbee

I had covered some serious ground
did the Circus Circus loop and then some
only to return to the group with no Frisbees
a party of three grabbed our two lone Frisbees and then a cab
only to make a two minute stop right at Target
to our pleasure they had a solid 175 Wamo Ultimate Disc
it was effortless
just as well we did not drag the full party along
three is better than 8 when playing Frisbee golf
although I did wish that he main bachelor would have been able to attend

we arrived at Sunset Park and took in the lay of the course
it was flat and green
not the desert setting I was expecting
yet it was beautiful just the same
we were right by the airport with the tall buildings of the strip not far within view and mountains in the distance surrounding us
the wind was blowing hard
planes were landing overhead
that was a variable that we all had to contend with... the wind... not the planes
although there were a few wild tosses

it surprised me how many people were out playing disc golf
we were the only players who were not using "golf specific" discs

I am a single speeder version of a Frisbee golfer
a rigid single speeder at that
all three of us played with Ultimage discs intentionally
as it is our way
we played all 18 holes
Trevor and snoopy taking a few holes to warm up
I shot pretty much par across the board
maybe a poor putt or two throwing me over
our scoring had the lowest score on each hole set par
as we initially had not intended upon writing down anything

we drove from the Am rather than the Pro distance due to the wind
I felt we all carried our own with the Ultimate Discs
even if we did get looks and laughs from the locals with their golf bags with discs for dog leg left, dog leg right, putting, and driving long and straight
just as I do not know how to use the tool of the full suspension bike
I do not know how to maximize the potential of any of the various golf discs

after eighteen holes
or should I say... after 18 chain baskets we decided to get dinner at the strip mall across the street
a mom and pop pizza joint served our needs well
it was no Cravings… but I still had the next morning for the all I cared to eat buffet
after our Strombolis we called a cab and moved to the parking lot for some more Frisbee
we got into our "70'style" with spins, jumps, and grabs
after some time I called a cab from another service
then continued to throw the disc in the remaining light
the late cab arrival gave us over an hour of fun chasing a Frisbee as the sun set over the mountains behind us
with planes landing over head
not a bad sight
the lights of the strip turning on as the day ended and the night started
it was a nice approach
revealing casinos we had not seen before.... Paris... New York New York... MGM Grand....
all sort of amusement park rides and excessive archetecture

we returned to the hotel with only a little time to shower and change before our bus ride for the bachelor grand finalle
we were going to another "gentleman's club"
we went to Treasures the night prior… this night we were going to Sapphire
not only do I get to play sociologist again
but I also get to play travel guide as I get to compare and contrast the merits of two very simialr yet different clubs

this night much like the night prior
only with a larger party
luckily the music was loud and the lights were dark so no one could tell how geeky and nervous we all were in this setting
we spent a few hours at the club taking in the sights then got a cab to take us back to the main strip
once on the strip we marched on to a variety of other casinos
we went in some of the smaller ones and then a few larger ones
getting a drink
the service was better but the waitresses were not as hot
and the gentlemen's clubs were no buffet at Cravings

then back to the strip
at the Bellagio we got to see the beautiful people
at the Flamingo we got to see the sleeping flamingos and the African penguins
there was gambling
finally enough was enough
it was late and we were all tired
more would have just meant more of the same

we went back to the Mirage
some did some more gambling
some went off to bed
I went off to bed

only to wake for the final morning for a quick dash down to the pool
the wedding party chatted
a multitude of pale bodies never intentending on getting tan
we exchanged tales from the night prior
some boasted about how much they won
others boasted about how much they lost
we compared flights home
we laughed about the clubs
then with a hearty handshake I was back to the room then to catch a ride to the airport
but…. only after hitting Cravings one last time
sure I risked missing my flight
but…. all I care to eat buffet! it would most definitely worth it

rather than a cab I caught the shuttle
the indirect route caused additional anxiety
check in lines kept my heart racing
I move through the airport speedily only to hear my name on the loud speaker

in the end I make my flight on time
not being the last person to board.... but pretty darn close

fly home
where I get to sleep in my own bed
wake to the routine of being a dad in Washington DC
home again
myth or no myth.... I think I would like a shot of OXYGEN to help me wake up each morning

it was awesome
glad that I got to experience it
next time....
book a second mountainbike trip
play a desert frisbee golf course... if there is one



fred sanford's fantasy
only.... without that cool old truck
and without that cool soundtrack in the background

tonight lisa had a work dinner
which left me playing the roll of mr. mom
I knew this day was coming so I had a mental picture of hanging at my dad's
the pool season is coming to a close
I was seeking a few last swims before the pool closes
still some exposures left on that disposable underwater camera

the change of season forced a change of plans
cool air and rain made things less flexible
the early darkness had Dean asking to swim at night
my little four year old was expressing the same yearning for the pool at grandpa's as I was
yet adding the excitment of swimming in the dark with the lights
this is something he has not done this year
amazes me to think that he is basing these ideas off his memories from last summer
it is curious how much a young child remembers from the years before
sometimes i think that each year they experience things for the first time again
but then they come up with a reflection that reveals memories from long ago
long ago in their life span

it is a short drive from my house to my dad's
a few miles max.... maybe 4..... maybe 6
while working with rush hour traffic towards my father house I noticed a pile of trash on the curb as I turned down bradley blvd
country club on one side... beautiful million plus homes on the other....
this trash was not recycling, bags of leaves, or the basic trash can
it was what looked more like the product of some "spring cleaning"
then further down the block there was another pile very similar
a wide smile cloaked my face

I turned back to Dean and Grant and told them that we would be making a pass through this neighborhood on the way home for a little Trash or Treasure
twice a year... once in the fall and once in the spring this neighborhood has a bulk trash pick up that ends up being a scavengers's dream

the evening at my father's was a pleasure
my dad loves to play host
he cooked various finger foods for me and the boys
it was a strange combination of some frozen foods, some left overs, and other pantry snacks
milk in spiderman cups or juice in an equally cool Nemo cup with a built in accordian straw

after dinner there was a movie
dean wanted power rangers
I vetoed and requested Dr Suess
dean objected
I held my ground
my dad blamed me when dean protested
grant had no interest in the tv screen
young grant took a moment to bond at my side then back to the various toys a grandpa's
his selections were noisy
bam bam was doing some slamming so loud with a toy hammer as he forced the square pegs through the round holes
(well.... not really.... but more interesting to say that than to try to describe the toy he was playing with)

so even as dean's interest got peaked he could not hear the dialogue

so I moved grant's attention to some less audible toys
his favorite'....... "cars"
at grandpa's there are some metal cars on the shelf
the lesser models are permited for play

with grant entertained my father and I discussed the film quizing him on what may happen next
dean has never seen he film
but we have read the books so he answered accurately with detail and pride to each question
we all watched
my father and I discussed the morals of each story
dean watched and asked vearious questions while answering various questions

with the Sneeches, the Zaxs, and Green Eggs and Ham behind us we said our good byes and pointed for home
well... pointed for home with a detour

I made my way towards the host of this Trash or Treasure experience with the anticpation of a kid trick or treating in a neighborhood rumored to hand out full candy bars at each and every house
with very few houses skipped in between

Dean and Grant were in the back seat
thunderball's first record was playing on the cd player
dean amused me when the songs changed and a familiar voice started to "toast"
dean informed me that the man singing is the man that painted our house
sure enough
Hutchie was doing his thing
I asked dean if he knew his name.... he did not
I told him his name was Michael Hutchinson (no... not from INXS)
but that some people call him "hutchie"
dean is a very four year old sort of way asked why people call him that

as we talked and listened to the music I weaved my way through the affluent suburban neighborhood
the rain fell steady and slow
I weaved my car in an effort to get a better visual of piles of rich man's rubbish as I traveled down the block
there was a curious number of people walking their dogs
unfamiliar with the daily events of this neighborhood I am not clear if they are on a regularly scheduled walk or a curious cruise through the trash or treasure themselves

there is a weber kettle at every other pile
a gas grill with potential good years in their future at every third pile
that is a lot of grills
there are doors that have never been hung
lugage and chests are almost as popular old shelves
my eyes scan for circles and pipes
yes... I am transparent
I am shopping for bicycles
this is not to say that bb guns, surfboards, and acoustic guitars are not welcome as well

a tiny tikes kids play work bench is my first score
it is not long before dean is playing with an old tennis racket
in good shape
more than likely the venir had been in tact before the evening's rain
grant and dean giggle as they take turns using the racket as a mesh mask

the car stops as soon as it starts
the small wheel fools me... it is a golf cart carriage
the wheelbarrel is obvious
the tricycle is missing a wheel.... making it a bicycle but not useful to me

not sure which came first but they filled the car fast
skiies and trail a bike
the folding alley cat trail-a-bike looks like a good score
although the mount may be more a hassle to find than just buying a new system
the cross country skiies are beautiful wood.... norwegian wood like the beatles song
well norwegain skiies.... which is not a beattles song.... but they are from norway
too beautiful to let go to the dump
I think of a corner to put them or a wall to adorn

a few more loops a few more turns
the norditrack is tempting
not to mention sticking with the xc theme
but I know myself well enough to know they will not used
I consider calling my brother
but that would take testing and trying the old work out gear in the rain
then giving him my word that it would be worth his time
I forgoe the call
there are other tempting stops
a stray wheel
some road tires
lots of other stuff I will never need or never use
all left behind
even after the thought of Chain Reaction

on my indirect way back to the city I see a full bike with a small adult frame
too small for me but worth a look
fenders and rack
bent tubes for the old frame
as I get closer I see it is an old three speed
not a thumb shifter... a three speed gear shifter is mounted on the top tube
it was an old Hercules
red paint
no rust
air gone from the tires but in solid shape
I lifted the old beast onto my thule rack
the connection was not good
it seemed like it would hold for a short trip

I got back in the car and argued in my head if the bike was solid without it locking in place
I slowly rolled forward
the bike fell lose from he rack
I quickly stopped the car and got out
trying to save my car and my rack
as I removed the bike from the rack dean started to yell
he wanted this bike
I explained that it was too large for him
that it did no work for this rack
he thought the bike looked cool
I had to be more persuasive

in and effort to distract him i tried to make it clear that our big scores were the trail a bike and the toy tool bench
that this bike did not work for us
I returned the bike to the sidewalk
not the same rubbish pile
a pile across the street and down the block a house or two

with a glance at the car and the rack I felt better to know I did not trash my new rack in an effort to collect some trash

we drove home
grant was asleep before we crossed the dc line into rock creek park
we were minutes from home
after I put the boys to sleep
I then unloaded the car
hid my score in the basement
as I do not want to push my luck
dumpster diving and las vegas is too much pleasure for one man to have in one week

if only I owned a barn
I would swoop on through grabbing all the fishbowls, all the doors, all the shutters, all the old bathroom vanities, all of those things that I would never use or never need
but grabbing them just in case

personal space
airplane rides can really suck
especially for someone over 5'2"
the flights to and from Vegas were long
the flight back was not direct
the leg from Phoniex to DC I had the pleasure of sharing half my seat with some joker who had no respect for my personal space

getting on the plane the joker in the middle seat tried to play a human shell game
trying to place himself into the window seat that was reserved for me
the window seat that would allow me to daydream out the window as well as offer me someplace to lean my
once seated he had claimed the arm rests on both sides
once seated I told him that it would be fine for him to use the arm rest... but that I would perfer for him to stay out of my "air space"
we made slight pleasant conversation.... yet he failed to respect my space
his chubby arms were hanging over the armrest into my space at times pressed against my body

it was clear I was trying not to make contact with him
also trying not to have conflict with him

a little past halfway through the flight I took a walk to the bathroom
after returning to my seat and sitting down I took a comfortable seat
my arm rested in a natural position resting on the arm rest

it was awkward
comfort was only partial at this point
as I could never fully relax
now he was forced to retract his arm
he was forced to lean forward to the seat in front of him
he was forced to experience all of the discomfort that he had put me through
it seemed fair... I was not trying to teach lessons nor was I trying to punish him
I was not even trying to take what is rightfully mine
I was just trying to be comfortable for part of my flight

had this been a woman with soft skin and a pleasant smell the contact would not have been such a bother
but imagine a short chubby mark mcguire... that was who I was sitting next to on this flight
he was wearing his work out gear.... body armor shirt and those balloon weight lifter pants that make driving an IROC-Z so much more cool
what makes his work out gear even more cool.... his body showed no sign of ever working out.... well... other than sweat and smell
he was moist
disgustingly moist
all of which was made worse as he was inconsiderate
inconsiderate of my right to space

there was never a point where he seemed like he was going to give me an inch
not even the inch that was rightfully mine
he was burly.... burly in a short fat sort of way
if he were not a victim of the obessity epidemic he would not have been taking up so much of my space
odd that he did not realize or care that I was nearly a foot taller with broader shoulders forced to take up less space because he was overflowing into my space
not until I claimed the armrest for myself
it was a guilty pleasure that offered little pleasure
I felt like a child
fearing if I raised my arm for a second he would take the armrest back
causing me to then whine and call out for the stewardess like a baby calling out to their mom to settle a dispute with an unfair older brother

eventually the guilt set in and I moved forward and offered him the arm rest
not sure what went through his head as he was without it
but I knew what went through mine when he dominated the comfort zone
so I gave it back
I had also ordered the last Phoniex Cheesesteak (pay meal)
his response was clear.... so I ordered something else
this was far prior to my taking the arm rest

don't get me wrong I usually reach for the larger slice of chocolate cake
contrary to my daily experiences I also like to avoid conflict
so I tried to be as understanding as possible
maybe on his next flight he will be less likely to be so prone to hogging the armrest
worse yet hanging over someone else's chair

so beyond no inflight meal being provided
beyond not having such a great view of the inflight movie
beyond my sasquach sized body being crammed into a seat built for an Ump Lumpa...
I had to rub elbows with some sweaty salesman

now I know how the person who sits next to me feels