Monday, June 27, 2011

"When you see the machine dig you'll never want to dig by hand again"

Wise words from my grandpa when I was talking to him about how we were going to be building the root cellar. There was talk of using the backhoe but that wouldn't give us very straight edges and there would be a lot of hand finishing the hole. The backhoe would also require space for the stabilizers to be stretched out on either side and it's turning radius when in place really limited where we could put the soil.

In comes neighbor Kevin to the conversation and he offers up his Skid Steer; makes a call to his buddy that does landscaping and borrows a bucket.

Wow! He was one with the machine! I wasn't timing it but it was in less than an hour he dug out the side of the hill. It was awesome!


Dang that's a lot of dirt! Look at all that healthy topsoil and rich clay! They should farm here ;P

That's me reading last night on the back of the first car I ever drove (way back when I was 15), my grandpa's farm truck.

Tomorrow we're going to the hardware store at 8am to get materials to build the formwork for the footing (and hopefully get rebar or find out where to get it). I will also call the concrete guy again if I don't here back from him today. We need about 2 yards of concrete and based on an online calculator that's equivalent to more than 109- 60# bags of ready mix concrete... We'll be calling a truck for sure!

Tonight I finally get to play some boardgames, I'm all excited but these boys still have work to do! I can't blame them really, the weather is beautiful :)

Root Cellar

Figured out the detailing, called the concrete guy (waiting to hear back), called the guy at the hardware store (he'll did get my email list and will get back to me later today), called the place with the cinderblocks and got the price (which includes delivery).

Called Ashley back, she got a job offer, hurrray!

Hopefully we'll start digging this afternoon when Kevin gets back witht he bucket for his little tractor!

Time for lunch and hopefully I'll get to play Ticket to Ride Europe tonight with Brendane, K2 and uncle Jerry! I need my boardgamin' fix!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

This may require waking up before 8:30am...

Writing a materials list to get prices and figuring out the details for the root cellar, ack! The hardware store in Maple Lake was great, mad props to Daryl! Now I'm writing up the list and it seems to grow endlessly... I also found this awesome link for how to build a CMU wall which is what we'll be spending most of our time doing! I'm also trying to figure out how many yards of concrete to order, how many CMUs to buy, and what kinds (how many corner bricks, should I get door jamb bricks?) and how long it will take to get things, how long we need to let the concrete cure before we start building... let alone throw in weather and I have no control over that!
I've done a bit of masonry, at Yestermorrow and in Brazil, but never on my own! I'm probably over-thinking it all but that's better than under-thinking it!

Week 1 of 4 is slipping by really quickly! I'm just hoping that me and the young people can do it!

I will try to get some drawings posted up here too so y'all can see what I'm up to!

Shopping List (I'm sure there will be more!):
  • 100 feet - 4" perforated drain tile w/ fabric wrap (drainage for the footing)
  • 6qty. - 2x8 @ 16' boards (appropriate species and grade for footing form-work - clean it and use for interior wall or shelves)
  • 2qty. - 2x8 @ 10' boards (appropriate species and grade for footing form-work - clean it and use to frame the exterior door)
  • 13qty. - 2x10 @ 10' pressure treated (joists for the roof)
  • 2qty. - 2x10 @ 16' pressure treated (end boards for the roof)
  • 3qty. - 2x8 @ 16' - wood foundation material (top plate on the CMU wall)
  • 1qty. - roll adhering waterproofing membrane TAMKO TW-60 for cold weather (alternatively, could we use a paint on membrane?)
  • 8qty. - 8'x4' @" rigid insulation (for the roof and a 2' skirt around the top)
  • 12qty. - L anchor bolts, washers and nuts (connect the top plate to the cinderblock walls 6 on each 15'-6" side, does that seem reasonable?)
  • 16qty. - L anchor bolts (connect the cinder blocks to the poured footing)
  • 8qty - 4'x8' sheets of 3/4" foundation treated plywood (for the roof and a 2' skirt around the top)
  • 1qty. - roll of tape (the kind for sealing rigid insulation joints and screws)
  • 5gal - Drylok (for the exterior)
  • 3qty. - thick nap paint rollers (for the drylok)
  • 4 feet - 4" dia. PVC pipe (for the high and low air vents)
  • 1qty. - metal insulated garage door 3' wide
  • 2qty. - cans of spray insulation foam (for sealing exterior door and holes at vents)
  • 2qty. - tube liquid nails (to attach and seal the bottom edge of the plywood skirt to the CMU wall)
  • 3qty. - trowels for mortaring 8" blocks
  • 30qty. - metal tie bars (to use at corners to tie walls together)
A few items I need help determining quantity:
  • ?qty. - enough mortar for 35 cubic feet
  • ?qty. - enough cement/mortar to fill the top voids to set anchor bolts
  • ?qty. - Stainless Steel 8p ring shaft nails (not sure how much we'll need, do you think 2 pounds is enough? for assembling the wood roof
  • ?qty. - attaching the rigid insulation to the plywood
I will also be calling about getting a delivery of concrete, in order to calculate how many yards of concrete I needed I used this site with its handy lil' calculator. I <3 the internet!

Hi from the Land of Lakes!

After 2 days in Columbia, Missouri I drove to Howard Lake, MN in a straight shot on Thursday. Google Maps said 9 hours of driving and including two stops for refueling and a couple stops for bathroom and Subway, I arrived after 10 hours. That's the most driving I've ever done in one day! I was worried about being able to make it but I was fine. I think driving during all daylight hours helped. Then there was rain which I find it easier to drive in somehow because I get extra alert!

I arrived on Farm #2, the Hei-Lo farm that my grandpa lives on along with my aunt and uncle, shortly after 8pm. This is the farm my dad grew up on and I have been visiting every other year since college and the start of the Minnesota Garlic Festival. I said hello to my aunt and uncle who greeted me in the driveway with a few young people: Brendan, Kevin2 and Kelsey. Brendan and Kevin2 worked on the farm last year and now they are doing a CSA on the farm so they come around pretty regularly. Then I went inside to say "hi" to my grandpa. I caught up with the family, washed the 10 hour car ride off and went to sleep on the coziest flannel sheets ever.

On Friday I started drawing up plans for the root cellar and worked with my uncle Jerry to figure out the layout and location. We finally settled on a location and marked it generally with flags to get an idea of size and made plans to hit up the hardware store to see what materials are available. I also met Daniel, who is going to be some extra muscle for the project. He doesn't have any experience in building, but he seems like a smart fella and I'm sure I'll be able to teach him what I know and work with him to figure out the rest! I was invited back to Daniel's house to go pontooning with him, his wife and Brendan and K2 (Kevin2). After they expalined what pontooning is (think, floating livingroom with a motor), I decided to join them!

This is a Pontoon similar to the one we went out on, it didn't go very fast which was nice! I think we might go out on the pontoon on the lake on July 4th which will be nice! The front gate is broken so the two greyhound dogs had to be lifted over the gate! It was pretty entertaining :P

I followed K2 and Brendan in their truck and they made a couple stops on the way. The second stop was to the liquor store. Having forgotten my wallet (and ID) I decided to wait in my car. The boys went in and out of the corner of my eye I saw something move. The truck had started to roll backwards! Oh no! Luckily the wheel was turning and the truck was moving into the center of the parking lot (rather than straight back into the parked car behind). I hopped out of my car and ran to the passenger side door, I was hoping for an obvious emergency brake which I didn't see and I couldn't really get to the brake pedal so I ran around the truck and got in and hit the brake. That was more invigorating than using the tablesaw for sure! I sat with the car in the middle of the parking lot waiting for the boys to come out of the store. They didn't take very long but K2 was clearly confused when he stepped out of the store and his truck was no longer in it's parking space! I called out and waved to them that their truck was okay, in the middle of the parking lot.

With smiles of relief and excitement on our faces, we continued on to Pelican Lake where we were welcomed with freshly grilled food and cold beer. We went out on the lake before the sun went down and after a little while headed over to where Daniel's aunt had a fire pit going, we stayed til dark, roasting giant marshmallows Brendan fortunately decided to bring on the boat. We headed back to Daniel's dock and stopped mid lake for some of the boys to take a dip; way too cold to entice me in! When we got back to the house and I noticed the time, 5 minutes to eleven, I asked for directions back.

I ended up driving back the old fashioned way, 3 guys couldn't agree on exactly how to get back so we google mapped it and I got back safe and sound with hand written directions, double checked by google :)

This morning I went to Maple Lake Hardware with my uncle so we could get a feel for the materials availbale and what we might need to order. I did most of the talking with Daryl who helped me out greatly figuring out the details and alternatives and materials I should use. Now I'm going to type up a list of materials and email him and get a price list back, I do have a budget afterall! I'm hoping we can break ground with the digging on Monday! Then we'll be doing some form-work for the footer (16" wide x 8" high), laying some perforated drain pipe and then starting the cinderblock walls! This month is going to fly by!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Thoughts on driving solo

Yesterday I drove from Chicago, IL to Columbia, MO. It was about 7 hours of driving and took 8 hours total including refueling and stopping to stretch and sit cross-legged a bit. This being my first full day of driving I had some thoughts on driving solo, which I will now share with you in my favorite form, lists!

Pros of the solo road trip:
  • Listen to whatever I want, no one to complain
  • Sing along at the top of my lungs with only passerbys to judge
  • Dance to my ridiculous tape of disco diva songs (dancing in your seat helps you stay awake FYI!) Who could judge that? They're just jealous of my awesome moves.
  • Stop as often or as infrequently as I like; take detours without needing "permission"
  • No one to comment on or influence eating habits (be they good or bad!)
  • If you get lost, or take an accidental detour, there's no one to give you s#!t!
  • I can yell at other drivers for their terrible driving habits like not putting on their bloody headlights when it's bleepin' raining!
  • If I get tired and just want to sleep in the car instead of getting a campsite and setting up the tent or paying for a hotel, you can. Basically I can live as rustically/frugally as you like without the concerns of someone else's comfort.
  • There's no one around to get annoyed with me when I'm hungry and getting bitchy and need a snack!
Cons of driving alone:
  • Can't look up alternatives to fast food along your route without stopping to check Chowhound
  • If I miss an exit, it's all on me to figure out how to get back on track!
  • No one to joke with when I get lost or see something funny (facebook status updates are the recipient of my commentary)
  • No one to change the music for me when I need to concentrate on the road but the music has stopped or I inadvertently put on the Christian rock channel because the song sounded so catchy before they got to the chorus
  • If I get tired it will take me that much longer to get to my destination with no one else to take the wheel. (I'm pro napping in the car it's sucks to be so close to my destination and can't keep my eyes open to make it that last hour or two.
Tips for driving alone:
  • Set up your ipod/tapes/CD so they are easy to change while driving. The passenger seat is basically my workstation- food, music, water, maps- all ready to go for the next leg of travel.
  • Have snacks that are easy to eat/open with one hand. I'm a big fan of trailmix (GORP), I've noticed that if I start to suddenly get really sleepy it's because I'm hungry and need fuel! String cheese is also good. Make sure to have water that's accessible!
  • Save soda for the end of the drive when you need that sugar rush to make it the last little bit or else you'll just have to keep refueling at the sugar crash. Water is way better for keeping awake, and the constant bathroom breaks will give your legs a little repose. (I can't comment on coffee because I don't drink it, it makes me jittery and anxious!)
  • Stop and stretch, walk around... I have a jump rope in my car if I need a little activity after a long stretch of driving
  • Go to grocery stores for your snacks so as not to rely on highway food! Beware the sugar crash, seriously. I had a snack of a fresh red bell pepper on my drive yesterday and it was a great snack- it would have been more filling if I'd had some hummus on it. I'll do a post on road trip food another time when I have more experience eating on the road.
Seeing as that was the first day of driving of many to come (especially in the race from Appleton, WI to Seabeck, WA that's coming the first week of August) I'm sure I will have plenty more insights!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Last day in Chicago

I finished my Chicago project today! (Well, I still need to add one more coat of polyurethane and caulk the countertop... which I'll do after i get one last custard from Hole in the Wall and make the homemade poptarts and homemade marshmallows that I promised second-cousin-Marty!)


After! Next time I visit I'll add a long shelf across the room above the window. If I was going to stay longer I'd paint, for now I leave it (mostly) primed and ready for action!

Tonight we went to Chicago's Home of Chicken and Waffles II for dinner. It was way swankier than I expected inside based on it being a chicken and waffle place. Though had I seen the logo, a chicken in a tuxedo next to a large waffle, I would have guess as much :)

I found a picture f the interior, the picture of the logo is proving difficult to find, so use your imagination. The food was super tasty, now I can add "eat chicken and waffles" to my bucket list, and cross it off.

Oh and I'm the subject of today's Cover Freak, the blog of my second cousin's husband (so... my second-cousin-in-law?). I've been staying with them a week, hogging the TV room/my bedroom.

Tomorrow I head to Columbia, MO when I get up (so like 11 :P)!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Volunteering and working for food/housing

I joined the website HelpX yesterday and sent a couple messages. I haven't heard back but it's only been one day :P

HelpX is similar to WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) with more variety in the types of places. There are listings for organic farms as well as backpacking hostels and ranches and several other things, and it it also worldwide.

My plans right now are stretching out more and more. There is a pattern making class at Portland Sewing in Portland, Oregon; I'd like to sign up for starting in mid-September (for 12 weeks). I will be looking for part time work and odd jobs in Portland but I need to wait until I arrive.

I'm also thinking about signing up for the volunteer program at Kripalu center for healthy and yoga. I went to a yoga class today I really enjoyed and I have contemplated signing up for this volunteer opportunity in the past but it hasn't fit into my schedule yet; it just may this time! Kriplau is in Western Massachusetts, so I will need time to get back there so I will apply for the May 1st start date to give me a few months to get there after being in Portland for 3 months.

As long as I can pay for gas, car insurance and my cell phone I should be good! (Food too, but it's possible to find cheap food... or eat less... or work in exchange for food/housing).

I'm off to play Scrabble and drink margaritas with my 2nd Cousin and her neighbor here in Oak Park, IL!

UPDATE (6/23/11): Found a new website for seasonal work CoolWorks, inculding but not limited to: ski resorts, national parks, retreat centers, etc.

Also there is an intentional community in Missouri called Dancing Rabbit which offeres the opportunity to do green building and live in a community. I'm not sure if I will apply there, but it's in the back of my mind. I may just wander for a while following seasonal work, so long as I can make enough money to keep my car running and insured!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chicago: Amazing lunch, books and projects

Yesterday seems so long ago. Perhaps because I was still full from yesterday's lunch until about 2pm today! In the morning I started working on the mud room remodel (pictures to come soon) by patching the hole that Marty thought was 5"x5" but when I removed the painted pieces of cardboard that was covering the hole it turned out to be more like 14"x7"! Then I met Marissa and her husband in town and we had an amazing lunch at Bandera.
To start we shared a side of mac and cheese and Bandera's famous cornbread.

Then my main was the Seattle style (BBQ? not sure how that makes sense) salmon with cucumber salad and green rice. Inthe background there Eric (left) got a stake sandwich with awesome fries and a cup of jus to dip the sandwich in. Marissa got a salad with rotisserie chicken, when I took a bike of the chicken it melted in my mouth! It was all sooo good, so good. I hadn't saved room for dessert but I got it anyway, berries and marscapone. It was heavenly! Eric got banana cream pie and Marissa (right) had key lime pie (which she said was amazing).

After lunch, I rolled myself over to After-words bookstore on Illinois (once I figured out how to get off Michigan street... curse your layered streets Chicago!) I find myself drawn to the travel section; I purchased 2 books. I stumbled across A Field Guide to America's History, it's full of entries like "mills and factories" and "barns" with information on where to look for things and brief histories including drawings. I'm pretty excited about it! The second book I bought is blue highways which was recommended to me by a friend of my mom at church back in Delaware. I started reading it on the L back from the city yesterday and have already been inspired to take the blue highway route.

"He said, 'I noticed that you use work and job interchangeably. Oughten to do that. A job's what you force yourself to pay attention to for money. With work, you don't have to force yourself. There are a lot of jobs in this country, and that's good because they keep people occupied. That's why they're called 'occupations' (page 10)." I'm looking for job opportunities in my travels with the main goal of finding work... I guess he's referring to life's work?

I almost bought a book called Experience Architecture, but decided I won't need it until I try to write more about architecture and continue my thesis from undergrad... hopefully I'll get around to that someday soon, perhaps in my travels. With my new plans though, I don't think I'll be going back to school. I might just have to try research and writing on my own. That's a topic for another day though :)

Today I worked more on the mudroom remodel, here is a before shot (after the room had been cleared out).

The mudroom is becoming an extension of the kitchen, along with repairing some holes I am installing some cabinets and a countertop. Hopefully I'll be able to paint it as well, or at least prime before I head to my next stop (Columbia, MO)!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Yesterday, I finally got to take the car to the autobody shop, I got a quote for the damage to the back door (it's all going to need to be replaced; I noticed yesterday also that the bike rack did also break, but only a tiny bit). They said with going through insurance it will take about a week and a half. Since the insurance company is in Canada I have no idea how long it will actually take for this to go through. So now I'm going to wait until I get to MN and my brother said I should get a few quotes. We'll see what my options are when I'm in rural Minnesota! Then the AT OIL TEMP light has been staying on longer than usual when I startup the car so I wanted to get that checked out but neither of the local mechanic shops had time for me til Tuesday.

So, with car stuff out of the way for the day it was time for the inaugural bike ride on Minty Fresh! Borrowing the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture map from my cousin I headed North to the Frank Lloyd Wright district. I saw some neat buildings and stopped in the FLW home and studio to refill my water bottle (I'd already done that tour when I was here for a day a year ago).

Wright awesomeness, so lucky to be staying in Oak Park, surrounded by Wright buildings!

This one is not a Wright but I love love love this kind of shingle detailing! It's like the bottom of the ocean.

After my excursion bike ride, I came back to the house to chill for a bit then I met my childhood friend Marissa and her Husband at Wrigley Field for a Cubs game! Prior to this game I'd been to one baseball game (the Mets, high up over left field) and never really cared for baseball. Wrigley totally changed that! I'm not like a super fan or anything now but it was fun! I attribute a lot of my enjoyment to my company and the manual scoreboard that I thought (and still think!) is awesome! I think it also helped that in our seats we could see the whole field well and the field is smaller than Citifield, it felt more intimate.

Eric's finger, Marissa and me...It's not a ballgame til you have a beer in your hand!
Awesome old-school scoreboard

The cubs won, 0:1 which was sweet because apparently they hadn't won in like 11 games. I had just posted to facebook that I wish they'd hurry up and score so I could go home... 4 minutes later, they did! You're welcome :P The guy, Darwin Barney, who slid into home plate went to the same high school as me (and I think graduated in my brother's year) which was also kind of cool to have a little hometown pride while in Chicago! To get home I walked up one L stop to the north so I'd have a seat. Brilliant plan (kudos to Marissa) cause I got a seat where I could read my National Geographic book on the National Parks (the West is calling!).

Today I don't know what it was but I was super exhausted and had trouble getting up. When I finally did get up I took the car to the shop to look at the AT OIL TEMP light that's been turning on when I start the car then I took Minty Fresh on the L and went for a bike ride by the water in downtown Chicago. I'm so jealous of this city and the beaches and paths right in the center of the city. I biked and drew and took some pictures then headed back in order to avoid have to come back after rush hour. (No bikes allowed on the L between 7-9am and 4-6pm), which also allowed me to pick up my car from the mechanic.

The waterfront marina downtown and my sketch of the marina, the note in the sketch says "Clearly I haven't drawn anything in a while, I mean... it came out Purple!"

I'd dropped my car at Russo's, the neighborhood and he said it was $100 for the diagnostic but if it turned out I just needed the fluids changed he's waive the diagnostic fee. Well he coudlnt' find anything wrong with the car, he drove it around, poked around and even called his transmission buddies and still nothing wrong. So when I came back to get my car, he didn't charge me anything! For his awesome customer service and help (and understanding of my road-trip-car-paranoia) I picked up a gift card for the Hole in the Wall custard shop I will drop by tomorrow on my way to the L as a thank you for his awesome customer service. So far I have been quite happy with the customer service in Chicago!
Keep it up, Chicago!

This is a chocolate dipped custard cone... it melted all over my hand and was super delicious. I <3 custard! If you find yourself in Oak Park go to Hole in the Wall Custard & Cones on Oak Park Ave right by the Oak Park-Blue L stop!

My goal for tomorrow was to leave the house by 10:30, and now it looks like it's supposed to rain and Marty and I just got back from the biggest hardware store ever (with the worst signage ever) to get materials for me to remodel her little mudroom into more kitchen storage space. So stay tuned for another Handy-Kaydee project! Hopefully I'll get to hang out with Marissa and Eric once more before they fly out on Friday morning too, so busy!

Cleveland > Chicago

The timing to go through Cleveland worked out really well because it's the same time Ashley needed to be dropped off with her brother to hitch a ride back home and my friend Nathan happened to be there for work building a playground (actually, rebuilding because the last one was accidentally burned to the ground).

Before I dropped Ashley off we went to the West Side Market in Cleveland, it was so awesomely full of amazing looking/smelling/tasting food! Dang that's a lot of butter!

After some unremarkable Mexican food we found this ice cream shop called Handel's... it was soooo good! They have a huge number of flavors and you stand outside to order. It was warm out so when they opened the little window to take our order the frozen breeze was lovely :)

Here is the playground at Bexley Park, I helped assemble that slide!

I came to the playground after dropping off Ashley, after putting on some closed-toe shoes I helped out a bit on the playground. Nathan was kind enough to let me sleep on his hotel floor (yay for AC!). I taught him Zombie Fluxx and we caught up and went to sleep. He had to be at the site at 7am, I woke up when he left... if you can call it that, and went back to sleep. I arrived at the playground sometime around 10am, I felt a little bad, but hey, I'm on vacation :) We then worked until about 9pm and I got to go out with Nathan and his coworkers to Rummy's, a local bar they'd been going to almost every night. After a couple drinks and some too-hot-for-me wings, we went to this other place, the name of which I can't remember, Swing something, because one of the guys working ont he playground was playing that night. After he played it was back to the hotel, at this point it was getting pretty late, especially for guys who get up at 6:30!

Friday morning I slowly woke up and eventually made it over to the playground to say goodbye (and return the Allen wrench I found in my pocket). Then it was off to Chicago! I was using my phone's GPS which seemed to take me on a few extra turns, but no matter, I got to Chicago in one piece! In Chicago I'm staying with my dad's cousin (my 2nd cousin) and her husband and 4th grade daughter (my 3rd cousin). Friday night I watched a movie and passed out, exhausted from all the driving. The next day, Saturday, was the epic bike day, and in the evening my 2nd cousin's nephews (so I guess also my 3rd cousins?) were all over for hte night. We played Zooloretto, a German board game I hadn't tried before, and had Chicago pizza (I will never understand the square slices of a round pizza, but when in Rome I guess!)

After dinner, Marty (cousin) and I did some grocery shopping and stumbled across this...

Now why someone would buy this canned product of Bahrain when you are right next to Wisconsin, home to cheese... I have no idea!

I will update more on Chicago later, now I need to get off my butt and go explore Chicago! (And get my car checked :( fingers crossed that my transmission just needs new fluids!)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

route adjustments

from Chicago this is what I've got so far! Making adjustments as I go!

View Larger Map

Epic tale of my new bicyle.

So my cousin Marty and her daughter and I went yard sale shopping this morning. I was looking for a new bike and if I didn't find one I was going to go to Working Bikes when they opened at noon. I wasn't having much luck until the last sale we went to. There was a bright green Schwinn bike with dropped handlebars and "suicide" brakes (the kind I like). The bike is in good shape, clean chain (unlike the first bike I found), the frame is a little bit small for me but I decided it was worth it. I bought the bike for $75 which included a Kryptonite U-lock with the key, and a new Bell cushy seat. Already a steel. I wanted to take it to a bike shop and get a tune up and new wraps on the handlebars (cork instead of foam because my old bike had foam and it just starts to crumble off) and raise the seat. We stopped in to Dan's, the shop closest to Marty's house but they said it would take 2 weeks! I'm only in Chicago for a week so that's no good. So I google maped the other place they mentioned but it only had 2 stars for it's review which made me hesitant. I found another place, Barnard's Schwinn, and they had 5 stars and 38 reviews, a good sign!

The bike I bought at the yard sale with a lock and new seat, in really good shape (no rust spots)

I walk into the bike shop with my new bike and immediately all the guys who work there are impressed with my bike, asking where I got it. When I brought it to the back service counter the guy there told me in a year I'd need to replace the tires and both rims needed to be straightened out a bit, it's the strongest Schwinn frame they made, it's a color only produced for one year (1972) and when I told him I got it for $75 he said I stole it, that as it stands, it's worth $500! He said it's his favorite bike for riding and touring. Then I told him I wanted the seat raised and what work I wanted done on it and he asked me to straddle the bike. I stood over the bike and he could see that it clearly was a little to small for me. He said, "Let me know you something, follow me." I followed him into the back garage which is full of bikes and he moved some things and pointed to a bright green bike. I said "is that the same bike?" He said it's the same one but a bigger frame and he had just finished replacing the whole drive train and it has new tires. I asked him if he'd be willing to trade and he said he would! So we both win, we each come out with the same bike but one that fits each of us better!

Here's the two '72 bikes side by side... what are the chances!

I left the bike there to get the seat dropped down a little and the handle bars wrapped with white cork (it's going to be minty fresh!) and get the U-lock moved from the bike I bought to the new bike. I call this winning!!!

I'm very excited! You can see that he's a bit shorter than me so a smaller bike is better for him and a bigger bike is better for me!

My bike should be done later today or tomorrow, I can't wait to ride again! I will post a picture of it when I get it with its freshly wrapped handles.


Friday, June 10, 2011


So far I've spent $433.86 on gas... dang!
I'm 1 hour away from Chicago!
Bike shopping tomorrow, Cubs game on Monday!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Erie, PA > Cleveland,OH

Just arrived in Cleveland and went to West Side Market (we happen to be arriving on one of the 3 days a week they are open... score!) Got several smoked meat products (veganism on the road is (nay, was) making me too hungry and cranky. I think to be vegan I need to be constantly snacking and I just can't find the time right now!)

Erie was nice actually... we ate at Pufferbelly in downtown. Its an old firehouse now a restaurant with tasty affordable food and decorated with old firefighter gear. They had one of the trampolines for people to land on hanging on the wall, the original fire pole and, my favorite detail, the front door pulls are the spouts of fire hoses! We also went to this awesome little shop with stuff by artists called Glass Growers. It was neat and affordable. We ate breakfast both mornings in Erie at Taki's, tasty cheap breakfast diner food. Then this morning we rented some really uncomfortable cruiser bikes and rode around Pesque Isle. Its so hot and humid out today, in the low 90s... missing Vermont weather and wondering what the weather is like in Colorado (the 2 places I'm considering relocating).

Now we're off to find something to eat, try our General Tso's Chicken flavored chips we brought back from Canada (the Greek flavor chips were delicious!) Then Ashley is heading back to VA with her brother and I'm off to meet up with my friend Nathan. Construction tomorrow is going to be rough... I am not a fan of hot weather! Hopefully I will be able to upload some pictures when I'm at Nathan's hotel tonight... typing on the cell phone isn't easy!

So hot and sunny

Demo bags as makeshift sunshades while parked... better than nothing!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

In Erie, PA

Hello from Erie, Pa! Where ideas are born apparently as I have just come up with a business venture idea... stay tuned for that!
We are camping on the beach on lake erie, right next to the water. Awoken early this morning by a big thunderstorm with winds pushing in the side of my tent. We made a new friend here, Chad, who is up from Pittsburg and might go boating with him soon. Last night we had a fire with real logs not that 2x4 B.S. we got at the KOA in 1000 Islands. This actually burns hot enough to make perfect marshmallows and isn't that the whole reason to have a fire anyway? Today is a lazy day before we head to Cleveland tomorrow and Ashley heads home. I'm really excited for chicago, in part because it turns out my friend Marissa will be there with her husband at the same time I will be! This trip has been full of friends :) though I have always loved cities I'm finding my patience for them weakened so a month on Farm #2, with a big project, will be a nice break from visiting small towns (I'm talking to you Buffalo,NY). its amazing how much more relaxed I am in trees and by water.
Hoping to find some wifi for a full update soon, signing off from the smartphone now (thumbs are tired!)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Leaving Canada

Quick post before we head out! We have been staying in the 1000 Islands area in Ontario (birth place of 1000 Island dressing!). This morning, after a stop at Tim Hortons, we'll be heading to Niagara Falls. We are going to check out the Canadian side and then plan to camp on the US side. We don't have a camp site reservation but because it's a Sunday night we aren't too worried about finding a place to rest our weary heads. It's actualyl been pretty chilly here at night and Ashley doesn't have any camping gear so she's been sleeping in the car - good thing I left space for a bed! My tent has been just as cozy as it was when I spent the summer sleeping in it 2 years ago up in Vermont. (Sigh, Vermont!).

I have the intel on a place in Chicago I can look for a used bike now my concern is that if I get there and they don't have a good bike for me I'm bikeless! I do own another road bike that is currently hangingi n my mom's garage... I'm wondering if it's worth it to ask her to ship it to me in Chicago or if I should just cross my fingers and hope to find a decent used bike in Chicago... Any thoughts or advice? I should be arriving in Chicago in a week. After Niagara we're going to slowly make our way on the highway next to Lake Erie and check out the little towns and camp until we arrive in Cleveland on Wednesday. In Cleveland I'm going to be helping a friend who builds playgrounds all over the country! I get to put my construction hat on again... I love that hat! After that I'm on to Chicago!

Catch ya on the other side!

Friday, June 3, 2011

I'm okay, my car is a little beat up, my bike however is totally unrideable :(

I've never had an accident before and yesterday evening, on the road from Ontario to the 1000 Islands Parkway, I had my first accident. The truck in front of me stopped short, so I stopped short so did the 2 girls behind me ending up with 3 cars bumping into each other. I'm glad my bike was hurt and not my car- the back has a ding in it but it's all cosmetic as I can still lock the back door and the bumper is just scratched. If the bike and bike rack hadn't been there the girl behind me probably would have been even closer in her SUV and likely caused even more damage to my car. I really wish I'd woken up in time yesterday to ride it around Montreal like I wanted to; that is hard to do after several rum and cokes though :P

All 3 of us (ladies driving the cars) are fine, actually the girl in the back who hit the girl who hit me had the most damage to her car, the middle car was a SUV and came out with like a tiny scratch and a dent in the license plate. Both girls were young drivers and freaking out about facing thier parents. I'm glad my car is mine and I have to report to no one, save for my readers! And what's a great adventure with a little snafu mixed in? Hopefully the snafu's stay small :)

SO Anyway... I'm at the KOA 1000 Islands in Ontario, Canada. This is NOT roughing it, so don't even think that I'm in my tent, out peeing in the woods... There is a main building with laundry, showers, 3 swimming pools, a TV that is on in the background with cartoons (perhaps the staff saw us two kids, of 27yrs, and thought we needed cartoons?) This is as cushy a car camping site as they come! And I'm totally ok with that, I didn't think I'd be "roughing" anything until I got out West. :) Today is going to be a nature day, and also kind of a maintenance day... check the tire pressure, tidy up the car that seems to have an explosion of stuff inside it... I may also stop at the bike store in town and see what they think about the damage to my bike and what it will take to fix it. Anyway after being in Montreal for a couple days and all that driving in Vermont, I'm ready for a day of calmness and nature :)

I think it's about time to build a fire, cook up some breakfast (veggies and beans! Yum!), clean the car and figure out where we'll hike today!

Please send good thoughts to my bicycle, I love you bicycle, I'm sorry you got hurt! I'll fix you up though! We will ride again, at least by the time I get to Chicago!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I'm in the capital of Canada!

Hi from Ottawa!

After the longest border crossing into Canada I've ever experienced (no I am not looking for a job in Canada, yes I am unemployed, my car is full because I am on a road-trip and no, I am not looking for a job in Canada), Ashley and I made it to Montreal! I will admit it took me a little while to really like Montreal. I think I was going to be more impressed by it. The original plan was to camp outside Montreal but then thinking about the time and money it would take to get into Montreal and that we were only staying 2 nights, we decided to book a hostel.

We arrived Tuesday afternoon and checked into our hostel. I would come back to Montreal just to stay at Montreal Centrale, it was the most amazing hostel I've been to. It was like a hotel, the staff was super friendly and helpful, I met some awesome people, great location... just great! After getting settled and getting the car into the parking garage we decided to go find some dinner. Ashley did a little research on Chowhound and we settled on, of all things, Schwart's, a Jewish deli famous for smoked meat. So we trekked over to pickles and a shared smoked meat sandwich then walked over to Parc Mont-Royal. After hanging out in the sun for a bit we walked down hill, and down to Old Montreal and the waterfront. We had not anticipated being out this long so we were both wearing inappropriate footwear (read: flipflops) and returned to the hotel tired and ready for a drink and some conversation. While Ashley popped in the shower I went to the hostel bar and bought some beer (2/$6!) and went to the "backyard" and sat with the group of boys who were speaking English and had space at their table. That night reminded me how awesome it can be to stay at hosteals (something I haven't done since my travels in Europ 5 years ago). I was up chatting with fellows travelers, from all over the world, until 2am, it was awesome.

Smoked meat, I'm glad we split it cause that whole sandwich would have put me to sleep once we reached the park with its beautiful green grass that I failed to photograph.

We went into a grocery store to check out the chip aisle. The USA does not have a big selection of chips compared to Canada! Today we tried All Dressed, delicious. They have flavors like Hot Dog, Dill pickle, Buffalo Wing and Blue Cheese and even bacon... crazy. I want to try them all!

In the morning we slowly got ready and had some breakfast and chatted with our new roommate, Miguel, from NYC who had just arrived the night before. We were planning to use the bike taxi system, Bixi, and explore more of Montreal with the main goals to see Habitat 67 and Marche Jean-Talon; Miguel joined us and tagged along on our little foodie/architecture tour of Montreal. (I love French btw, and I just want to get an audio track that tells me how to pronounce things, I don't care about speaking it, I just want to be able to read things!) Then when we were heading out we were joined by Sarah, from Winnepeg. So our little group of 4 navigated the amazingly bikeable Montreal. It was awesome, the bike system is pretty sweet for commuting but a bit of a pain for tourists. I should have just ridden my own bike and had my buddies rent bikes (of course then you have to deal with locking it up, but at least you can lock your bike next to where you stop without having to look for parking- it's as bad as driving!)

A Bixi station- awesome... when there is a spot for your bike to park,
or else you can end up walking a lot to find a slot.

Habitat 67 was amazing. We didn't even go inside - we just wandered around the outside. It was warm and breezy on the peninsula where there seemed to be an abnormal number of moths hanging out in the shade. The building is an example of amazing prefabricated concrete architecture. I learned about it about 9 years ago as a freshman in architecture school and it was quite exciting to walk around it. I love architecture :)

Habitat in the distance, it sits on a pier just outside the city; getting there reminded me a little of my trek in Amsterdam to Silodam

Habitat 67 was so cool to walk around!

After we spent a half hour wandering around Habitat we rode back to old montreal and returned our bikes. Then we walked around and ended up in Chinatown where we tried Dragon's beard candy. I didn't think it was that sweet but apparently my tastebuds are messed up cause all 3 of my buddies thought it was super sweet!

Mmmm Dragon's beard - (I'm clearly enjoying it)
this was pre-made stuff; someday I'd like to see it made in person

From there we walked down to Old Montreal and ate at Les 3 Brasseurs, I had the amber beer, brewed on site and pretty good though I've had better. Then we took the amazingly quiet (rubber tires rather than the metal tires of NYC) metro up to the March Jean-Talon, an open air market with beautiful foot laid out in bags and displayed in baskets, ready to be purchased.

Fresh produce at the Jean Talon market

After spending a while wandering the market and drooling over fresh produce we got on the Bixi bikes again and headed back to the hotel. After we started drinking some rum and cokes we headed to La Banquise for my first taste of poutine. I can tell you I was hesitant about poutine- fries, cheese curds and gravy did not sound good to me. Boy was I wrong! It melts in your mouth, so deliciously! The 4 of us shared 3 kinds: Classique, Matty (with bacon, mushroom, onion and green pepper) and Taquise (with tomatoes, guacamole and sour cream). We ate it all!

Poutine is delicious!