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It has been a long time since we have had access to a computer and I rarely notice it when we do.  Usually it takes Ken to spot it.  Big surprise.  Nerd.  Anyway, here’s a re-cap of my week in Dayton…alone…just team A.  It was a long week and a half in Dayton, but it is still Dayton so here are just a few highlights.

In Indianapolis we had two options:  either take a rest day there and partake in Karen-oke on Tuesday night or not take a rest day and make it to Dayton by Wednesday night for karaoke at Blind Bob’s.  Of course, with my persuasion we opted for an early arrival in Dayton.  Ken performed his staple Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show, which brought the house down.  The only other act that came close was my good friend Jon Gassett’s rendition of Material Girl.  Both fabulous in their own respects.

The next night we grilled out on Emily’s back patio.  I made up some bleu cheese stuffed burgers, Nathan’s hot dogs, grilled corn on the cob, potato salad.  Delicious.  I regret not having my camera around but don’t mind being distracted by great company.

Friday night we went to see the Dayton Dragons play the Michigan minor league team.  Dayton blew it 0-6.

Saturday was Brett’s big day.  Again, thanks to EP maggie and emily we all looked pretty decent for the occassion.

Sunday afternoon was supposed to be spent bridge jumping in Pleasant Hill with Brett and the rest of the wedding party.  That didn’t happen.  Instead Emily, Noelle, Casey, Ken and I all went to Yellow Springs to swim at Glenn Helen National Park.  It was beautiful.  There are two waterfalls and one emptied out into a deep area that allows you to jump off the top of the waterfall.  Although, you have to shimmy up a fallen tree to get back to the top.

After the weekend I lost track of days.  It’s a miracle I remembered which day to leave for Columbus to meet back up with Ken and Quinn.  The rest of the trip was awesome, though.  We finally did end up going bridge jumping in Pleasant Hill.  That is where Eric grew up and bridge jumping is how he spent his childhood summers.  It was Eric, Maggie, Emily, Martin, Martin’s daughter Penelope, and myself.  The bridge is only about 15′ high but you have to go up to the roadway and make sure you don’t get seen by any passersby or they might call the police.  It’s not neccessarily legal.  There was also a swinging rope hanging from the bridge into the creek.  It was only about 5′ long but still fun nonetheless.  And just to ease the nerves of the parents, every year the kids move rocks to dam the creek to make it deep enough to jump in.  No worries.  There was also another waterfall further downstream we could stand under.  I never knew Ohio had such magical places.  Later that night I even experienced my first Drive-In movie.  We saw Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.  It was pretty entertaining and made me wish NYC had drive-in movies.  Or bike-in movies.

For me, this trip has been the first time I’ve met a lot of babies of friends and family.  In Milwaukee I met the adorable Mabel Steffeck, Roxanne’s daughter, and Miles Divozzo, my nephew, I also got to meet my other nephew Peyton Allen, my sister Rachel’s little girl.  To all the new (and experienced) mothers, your children are beautiful and I’m glad this trip has allowed me to meet them because who knows when I’ll get another chance.

One of the last nights I was in town my friend Eric Hoyer took me on a bike ride.  Just about the only time I used my legs while in Dayton.  There is a group ride every Thursday night around 10pm that he organizes.  In all about a dozen people, maybe a couple more, showed up.  We rode with the pack for a bit but then we broke off and he took me up into some of the only hills Dayton has to offer.  It was real fun and I’m glad he reminded me Dayton can be fun to ride around.  He was pretty upset that I wasn’t winded though, given his competitive nature.  But Hoyer, I’ve been doing this for 2.5 months now!  Don’t be mad.  When we were on our way back downtown the skies opened up and began to pour.  It was great!  Nothing I love more than sweet summertime rains.  That about does it for Dayton.  I thank the whole of Gem City for being so awesome.  Always a hole in my heart for ya.

shooting clay pigeons in pierre, SD

shooting clay pigeons in pierre, SD

shooting clay pigeons in pierre, SD

shooting clay pigeons in pierre, SD

largest ball of twine made by one man

largest ball of twine made by one man

looking up from the bottom of a windmill

looking up from the bottom of a windmill

Katie Behrens delicious blueberry coffee cake turned muffins

Katie Behrens delicious blueberry coffee cake turned muffins

thanks to dorothy hansen my game is improving...notice the turkey

thanks to dorothy hansen my game is improving...notice the turkey

It’s been so long since we were in Pierre, South Dakota that I don’t remember much about the ride in.  We went through Hayes, a town of about 40 or less.  For lunch, we sat in the shade of the local church and made sandwiches.  The next building over we filled our water bottles and I found out it was the school house but they were closing it down that year.  I guess they’re going to bus the kids to Pierre? That is the closest town but it is still about 40 miles away.  Or maybe Hayes just decided they don’t need to educate their children.  Whichever, it is still a sad situation.

We rode into Pierre and stopped by a Perkins for some soda.  Then we were like “It’s Perkins!  Forever Breakfast!” so we got a Belgian waffle with fruit and whipped cream and a selection of 3 different syrups.  We chowed down on that for a bit then called our contact, Sol.  He said he had to work a bit longer so we just killed some time sipping soda at Perkins.  I felt bad for the waitress because her boss kept getting on her case about our glasses being empty.  But by the time she turned her back after setting down the refreshed glasses they were pretty much gone.  I should have just asked for a pitcher.  Not too much time passed and Sol unexpectedly showed up at the Perkins to meet us.  This is the first time anyone has ridden their bike to meet us.  In fact, it’s the first time anyone has met us.  We usually just ride to their home.  So, we made our acquaintances and crossed the Missouri River to Sol’s house.  He had already made a menu for dinner and started right in on it while we got cleaned up.  We have had some pretty unique meat while on this trip but Sol’s meal was up there with the best.  It was made up of venison steaks (which he and his friends hunt and split up to freeze), battered and fried walleye (which is the fish of choice in Pierre and he had caught it earlier in the week), red beans and rice and corn.  He was afraid he might have to eat alone after meeting us in a restaurant but we made short work of his delicious offerings.  Afterwards, we went to the local ice cream stand for dessert but the line was out to the street.  literally.  The ice cream stand is the local hang out for all the kids and adults.  We didn’t have time to wait in line because X-Men Origins: Wolverine started in 15 minutes.  It was a good movie.  Definitely cheesy but entertaining and kept fairly well with the comic storyline.  Afterwards we just walked back and went to sleep in preparation for the following rest day.

Sol's dinner

Sol's dinner

Our afternoon in Pierre was spent in the company of Sol, his uncle Randy and Randy’s wife Michelle (Mick for short).  Mick is the sister of the South Dakota governor and is the one sister of 10 children.  They took us kayaking on the mighty Missouri River.  Kayaking is a very relaxing thing to do on rest days.  You just sit on top of the water and paddle occassionally but mostly you just let the current take you at it’s own pace.  Kayakers do look funny, though, because all you see is their top half and it looks like they should be standing up.  Like if they were to get out of the water they would have the kayak around their waist like an intertube.  That’s besides the point, we saw pelicans and shorebirds and gulls making thier nests for the coming season.  A bit further up I saw a big concrete structure in the middle of the river.  I asked what it is and it turns out that the bridge we were about to wade under is a drawbridge.  But instead of the bridge separating in the center and being pulled upwards, it pivots and turns and is tethered to the concrete structure.  I notice a rope ladder is attached to the structure and point it out.  Randy yells at me “Hey Andy! Why don’t you climb that thing!”  without having to think about it at all I shimmy up the ladder and am standing on top of the drawbridge tether thing.  Randy looks worriedly at Quinn and said “I didn’t know he takes dares!”  I don’t know the appropriate term for the structure but it’s about 25 feet high and is still decorated with Christmas decorations in May.  The current was pretty strong but the structure was blocking it on the southside.  I had Sol hold on to my kayak and directed myself towards the lee.  I think it’s called the lee.  Sol kept saying to aim for the lee or league but league is a depth measurement so I don’t think it was that.  He meant the area where the current is blocked.  After making sure my kayak didn’t drift away and that there wasn’t anything lurking just below the surface of the water waiting to break me, I tossed my sunglasses to Ken, took a deep breath, gave praises to the river so it wouldn’t turn on me, and leapt.  The sun was shining that day but not enough to warm the water.  It was probably about 40 or 50 degrees, which doesn’t sound too bad but damn is it cold.  Not as cold as the river of mountain runoff Ken and I jumped into while at the hot springs in Boise, Idaho but it will still wake you up in the morning.  Trying not to spend too much time in the water, I jumped back in the kayak fairly quickly and went on my way.  Now that Randy found out I’m pretty much up for anything he said I should try and paddle between the pillars of the bridge, where the current is at it’s strongest.  I said to myself, “what the hell.  i like challenges.”  So I began paddling as hard as I could to fight the current and barrel between the pillars.  Then I heard Randy say something and I stopped to hear him.  Bad idea.  As soon as I stopped paddling the current took me for a spin and capsized the kayak.  I must say, for never having kayaked before I learned quickly how to get in the boat from the water.  Usually people enter from the back and sort of crawl over the top.  I’m pretty sure my legs just forged themselves into a flipper and I propelled myself out of the water directly into the seat.  It didn’t take very long to bail the water out, and thankfully we were right by the dock.  I had had enough boating and sitting in cold water for a day.  We got cleaned up and were invited to Randy and Mick’s for dinner.

Kayaking on the Missouri

Kayaking on the Missouri

my crash course in entering the boat from the water

my crash course in entering the boat from the water

They live about 10 miles outside of town on a lake that is about 200 miles long.  We get there and are looking around a bit and someone says something like, “the only thing we haven’t done on this trip is shot guns” and Randy’s immediate response is “let’s go out back and shoot some pigeons!”  Living in New York you tend to harbor a certain hatred for pigeons.  At Trackstar (the bike shop I work at) every year the pigeons decide to make a nest in our back window.  They just sit there and coo and flap around and make babies and lay eggs and disturb the arduous work that is always at hand in our tiny little shop.  So when Randy said we could shoot them I was all for it.  Then I sadly realized he meant clay pigeons.  But shooting a gun is shooting a gun and I jumped at the opportunity.  We got everything set up and got a box of ammo and Randy was giving us some lessons on how to shoot.  Mostly he said it was instinct and when you bring the butt of the gun into your shoulder to click the safety off at the same time, with a snap.  We definitely do not have that instinct.  It only took Ken a couple shots before he hit one.  We were all amazed.  Including Ken.  Then it was my turn.  Randy loads the clay pigeon shooter, I yell “Pull!”, Randy yanks the cord and the spring breaks on the shooter.  He can’t fix it without tools but has a quick solution, “I’ll toss ‘em up.  Just yell ‘pull’ when you’re ready.  Oh, and if it goes towards that house over there…don’t shoot.”  So I ready myself again, yell “pull!”, he throws it up in the air, I am blinded by the sun but still see the pigeon, and just pull the trigger in the general direction of the pigeon’s trajectory.  I didn’t see it, but they say I hit it.  Now it’s Quinn’s turn.  Randy goes over the same stuff again about it being instinct and all that while Quinn has the rifle lowered to her side on her hip.  That is the position you want to start in, but you also want to bring it up into your shoulder to aim then shoot.  I think Quinn may have seen Scarface too many times as a child because she held the rifle just like Tony Montoya’s little friend with it dangling at her side and not really aiming at all.

After we were done shooting, the fajitas were ready to eat.  The fajitas were made up of the leftover venison we had from the night before and antelope.  Another bush meat for us.  They were nothing but spectacular with sauteed peppers and onions.  After we all ate it was obvious there wasn’t much else to do but eat ice cream with german chocolate brownies and sleep.  We bid our farewells to Randy and Mick, thanked them for the meal and such a great rest day and headed back to Sol’s.  The next morning Sol had to work so he couldn’t ride out with us like he wanted, but he still made a huge pot of oatmeal with raisins for us.  We loaded up and rode away.

Pierre (pronounced pier, or peer) is the capitol of South Dakota.  A lot of the capitols we’ve been to haven’t been too great and we wonder how they become the capitol.  Sacramento, for example.  That is a terrible city but it’s the capitol city of California.  I don’t get it sometimes, but Pierre gets six thumbs up from the two arm party.  Mostly due to such gracious hosting but the city itself wasn’t too bad either.  It’s also at the 100th meridian, which means it is the geographic center of the country.  There was some monument celebrating that fact but we couldn’t find it.

Ken would also like everyone to know his comic genius so he asked me to mention this.  The night before we were talking about all the wildlife we had seen except buffalo.  Randy said there was a buffalo farm on the way out on the highway we were going to take so we wouldn’t have to backtrack or go out of our way.  We rode by and had to stop to make sure they were buffalo and not cattle.  They were pretty far away.  Once we had established they were buffalo Ken says, “Look, those buffalo are roaming.  Their cell phone bills must be expensive.”  Budum pum!

more photos when we’re not in the middle of nowhere

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a coule days ago i wrote about the loop we did of crazy horse, mt rushmore and needles highway. here are the photos and a couple more.

the many faces of QAK

the many faces of QAK

crazy horse big, crazy horse little

crazy horse big, crazy horse little

Mt Rushmore as seen from the needles highway

Mt Rushmore as seen from the needles highway

Needle's Eye

Needle's Eye

The Ominous Digital Hand of Bowling

The Ominous Digital Hand of Bowling

Good 'Ol Sandbagger Stanek, a matador of the bowling world

Good 'Ol Sandbagger Stanek, a matador of the bowling world

a random cow crossing a random bridge to nowhere

a random cow crossing a random bridge to nowhere

The Pactola Gang told us about the most scenic route to see Crazy Horse and Rushmore and all that.  Everyone else in the country has exagerrated the hills we experience.  Like “Oh my lawd!  You ain’t neva gonna make up that one!”  and two hours later we’re looking down on them from 5,000ft higher.  The guys at Pactola, though, understood how badass we are and played coy about the hills.  They told us about the Needles Highway and the loop that goes from Crazy Horse to Rushmore and the pigtails and all that.  About the hills, they were just like “Oh yeah, you’ll definitely see a lot of this” and wove their hand up and down like you do out the car window when you’re a kid.

With no worries in our heads we set out to see Crazy Horse.  The scale of the monument is impressive.  Although the sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski, bit off more than he could chew and not enough people saw his vision, as grand as it was.  The first blast was in 1948 and all they have accomplished since is the face of Crazy Horse and some of the arm.  The money they have been spending on the visitor’s center and restaurant and all the other surrounding buildings would be much better spent on finishing the actual monument.

So we left Crazy Horse in his inflicted state of disarray and rode back down the hill to catch the Needles Highway.  The Needles are some more geologic upheavals the Black Hills offers.  They are granite formations that just stick straight up out of the ground.  The main attraction is a naturally formed needle’s eye.  I guess there was only one pinnacle with the eye but the whole highway was littered with jagged granite protrustions.  And, of course, windy and curvacious map lines which means windy and curvacious and high elevation climbs.

From the highway we caught Iron Mountain Road.  Or the Iron Maiden road as Ken kept calling it.  Iron Mountain Road is probably the funnest road we have taken thus far.  For me at least.  It includes the Pigtail Bridges.  The guys at the lake kept trying to describe it but all I really got was that they curve around and the tunnels frame Mt. Rushmore perfectly.  Iron Mountain Rd. has a lot of switchbacks and after about a couple hours of climbing on a steep grade I understood what they meant.  There are 3 different tunnels and each one is perfectly aligned to view Washington, Jackson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln in all their granite glory.  As you come up over a steep hill and look through a tunnel large enough to fit a tour bus, there they are.  Not as large as Crazy Horse but more grandiose.  I recommend this view from a couple miles away over the $20 entry fee just to get up close to the monuments.  For an extra ten bucks they let you pick Washington’s nose.  I also wondered if drivers heading the opposite direction knew what they were missing by not looking in their rearview mirror.  It was pretty magnificent.  Sure it’s just a bunch of dead presidents’ faces carved into the side of a mountain, but you can’t deny the enormity or daunting labor it must have taken.  So we saw that, then the pigtails!  The Pigtail Bridges is what made it such a fun road.  They make up part of the descent of Iron Mt. Rd.  There you are, climbing up a huge mountain, you see Rushmore, cool, the boring and foreboding prarie is just past the mountain, ugh, then as you start to pick up speed going down you see that the road curves under itself!  Like a curly fry!  Or….a pigtail!  It was glorious and dizzying and entertaining and everything else that makes up for such a brutal uphill.  Then, on the way down we startled a wild turkey crossing the road.  I don’t know if you’ve ever heard a wild turkey before but they are the funniest and most amusing animal sound in the kingdom.  We’ve been hearing them while camping at night and can’t help but mimic them every random while.  The lil guy we startled on the road didn’t make any noise, though.  But Ken and I sure did!  We bellowed out turkey calls for the next mile.  There is no way to describe it in words.  “Gobble” just doesn’t do it justice.  We followed Iron Mt Rd to it’s end and stopped in Keystone to get a cup of coffee for the ride home.  There, a guy named Sludge or Slaw or Sloth or something I didn’t catch told us about where to see some big-horned sheep and mountain goats, but that required us going back up all the hills we just came down.  So we made our way back to highway 16 then on to catch 385 to take us back to Pactola Lake.  As luck would have it, we came across a pack of mountain goats and big-horned sheep grazing on the side of a mountain.  And we didn’t even have to backtrack.

pictures coming soon

While in lander, Folklore coffee shop has been very welcoming and hospitable.  We’re pretty much regulars at this point.  There isn’t too much to do in this town.  Ken and i rode up to Sinks canyon this morning and i rented some climbing shoes and bouldered for a little bit but now we’re back.  Sinks canyon is a geological mystery.  At the base of the wind river mountains, through madison granite runs the sinks and the rise.  The sinks river enters the mountain on one side of the roadway. It looks like the water is just flowing into a cave in the mountain. But oh no! 1/4 mile down the road on the other side it exits from beneath felled rocks millions of years old.  Geologists have performed dye tests to be certain it is the same water.  The only mystery now, is the 2 hours it takes for the water to flow 1/4 mile.  Where does it go?  What does it do?  2 hours?! C’mon!  Salmon swim faster than that making their way upstream!  And we ride faster than that going up a mountain with headwind! Ridiculous.

Poof! The river disappears!

Poof! The river disappears!

a rope bridge leading to a nature trail in sinks canyon

a rope bridge leading to a nature trail in sinks canyon

it looks like i'm just standing with my arm out but i swear i'm hanging

it looks like i'm just standing with my arm out but i swear i'm hanging

the lovely folks over at boneshakers mentioned us on their website so it’s only proper to return the favor.  and here are some pictures of megan’s puppies i took outside the cafe before a ride to coney island.

elvis

elvis

newly adopted Hank

newly adopted Hank

so its a bit after the fact, but i have some photos of the meal we had in park city the night before we hit the rockies.  quinn’s mom treated us splendidly.  who cares if we ate desert first and THEN found the 2 for 1 dinner entree coupons in the local paper?  as roz said, “in life, you should enjoy desert before dinner.”  so i’ll post the photos in the order we ate.

creme brulee with little hazelnut cookies

creme brulee with little hazelnut cookies

ken's chocolate orangscicle with banana

ken's chocolate orangscicle with banana

ken's kobe beef with chipotle shrimp skewers

ken's kobe beef with chipotle shrimp skewers

quinn's elk asparagus octopus monster thing

quinn's elk asparagus octopus monster thing

my BBQ ribs volcano with mashed potatoes and onion rings. the potatoes are stuffed into the coil of ribs.  pure deliciousness.

my BBQ ribs volcano with mashed potatoes and onion rings. the potatoes are stuffed into the coil of ribs. pure deliciousness.

so with this fantastic meal we tackled the rocky mountains.  and conquered.   ken has already written all about it so i’ll just put up some photos i have of the brutal climb.

notice ken's goofy ass in the background

notice ken's goofy ass in the background

after 4 hours of climbing this was a welcoming sign

after 4 hours of climbing this was a welcoming sign

after the 50mph stinging descent this is what we devoured at the local chevron

after the 50mph stinging descent this is what we devoured at the local chevron

so that is my interpretation of the rocky mountains.  food.  climb.  descent.  food.  i found myself at one point asking the mountains, “is that all you got for me? rocky mountains huh? more like just a pile of rocks.”

the next morning after sleeping in the spare office across from Chevron we walked over to the station and ate.  it was surprising to me that it was a corporate gas station but everything on the menu was made from scratch on the spot.  donuts, brownies, cookies, breakfast sandwiches, chili, everything! and it was all fantastic!

ham, 2 patties, 2 eggs, pepperjack

ham, 2 patties, 2 eggs, pepperjack

Here are some photos of Ken doing things that I can’t take pictures of myself doing.

Hittin' balls in Snowville

Hittin' balls in Snowville. That thing on the course to the right is a goat skull.

Bruneau Sand Dunes

Bruneau Sand Dunes

Our tracks from running down the dunes

Our tracks from running down the dunes