28 February 2012
With this month's forecasts and what was supposed to be a week in Utah (cut short by back-to-back blizzards), I wasn't sure I could pull off a 60-mile day in February.
Saturday the skies accommodated and the wind cranked up the difficulty level.
I'd wanted to attempt commuting to work Wednesday, the warmest day so far this year, but we'd had snow almost every other day for three weeks straight, and The Lizard worried I might encounter too much ice and snow in the dark to achieve it safely. As it turned out, we had 50-mile-per-hour-or-better winds that day. I wouldn't have made it home. I would have been forced to call The Lizard to rescue me.
Another eight inches fell Thursday.
Saturday's ride began to reconnoiter if the bike path would have been safe (no) and if it would offer one more chance before the end of the month (not likely). Although some portions of the most popular portions of the bike path had been plowed, ice abounded, and the heating element on the newest bridge doesn't appear to be working at all! (There is no heating element; apparently the city didn't want to damage the beautiful wood beneath all that snow, so the path was plowed up to both sides of the bridge, but the bridge was an obstacle course young riders couldn't resist navigating.)
Saturday's ride was nearly cut short after I rounded a corner and went down hard on a slab of ice coating the entire sidewalk from end to end at mile 18. My hip was angry with me for the next four or five miles, and The Lizard had to readjust my caddywompus seat before we could continue on.
If you must ride, and you must ride in the wind, you might as well ride a 10-mile S-curve if you can to break up the degrading, demoralizing and depressing effects of the wind. If we'd chosen to stay on the bike path, we'd have faced 30 miles of helpful and speed-inducing tailwinds, then 30 solid miles of 30-mile-per-hour wind and stronger gusts. Not a fun trip.
By opting for four repeats of the bicycle-friendly S-curve road instead, we survived abbreviated sections of effortless tailwinds, crosswinds, brutal headwinds, crosswinds and fun tailwinds, then suffocating headwinds, crosswinds, sweet tailwinds, crosswinds and mind-numbing tailwinds on the reverse. I kept chanting, "Wind makes us tough. Wind makes us tough. Wind makes us tough." to maintain determination and high spirits.
At mile 52, all we had to do was get back home. We'd have about two miles of ticklish tailwinds and about nine miles of uphill headwinds as bad as they get. The last few miles were doozies, but I knew I had it. I knew I'd done it. Sometimes the wind held me to 4.7 miles per hour, but I was never tempted to give up, and if someone had offered a ride, I would have graciously turned them down (after excitedly explaining why this wind-pummeling ride had to continue). I even stood on the pedals the final two short but nasty climbs, one of which occurred exactly as my odometer turned 60.
This caps a full year of 60-mile days. I've completed at least one 60-mile day every month for 12 months straight, first time ever, and likely last time. Some clubs do a century ride (100 miles in a day) every month, but there are not many riders in Colorado willing to do that in winter. (Last I heard, one guy in Loveland has a multi-year century-a-month streak; he is much younger than me.) A year's worth of 60-mile days may not seem like much of an accomplishment to seasoned distance riders. For this 52-year-old latecomer, slow pedaler and victim of emergency back surgery, however, this is one of the biggest and best physical accomplishments of my life. (Giving birth would have been the biggest, but I never got to do that.) How many others this age can say they've done this while longing for the next opportunity to get back on the bike? :)
Stopping for a photo at the end of the first icky climb gave my knees a chance to recover so I could tackle the final climb in style, then round up the mileage once we reached home sweet home. 63 miles. In a day. In February. In Colorado. Yuppers, I did it!
Homemade chicken noodle soup (previously made) and a hot mineral bath served as appropriate badges of honor.
27 February 2012
When we returned to civilization, brand new shades of hand-colored thread I'd ordered prior to our trip had arrived, and this lovely batch, appropriately named Quartzite, begged me to make it into a Wave-inspired snowflake. Accordingly, I attempted to create curvy waves in this snowflake. This is yet another of those luscious colorways I love to watch flow through my fingers, and the hues remind me so much of my best valentine date ever!
I'm sharing a few links I found when searching for "micro beads." I have not ordered any yet, so I can't attest to the quality of any of these products or to customer service of any of the merchants. I can only tell you I like the effect of these leftover Microbeedz and would use them again. (These weren't given to me by the original purchaser, so I don't know what purpose they served before they arrived in my snowflake factory.)
Martha Stewart Glass Microbeads
You may do whatever you'd like with snowflakes you make from this pattern, but you may not sell or republish the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 8 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, water soluble school glue or desired stiffener, water, glitter or glass micro beads, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line
Valentine Wave I Snowflake Instructions
Make magic ring.
Round 1: Ch 2 (counts as 1 dc), 1 dc in ring, *ch 3, 2 dc in ring; repeat from * 4 times for a total of 6 petals; ch 1, dc in 2nd ch of starting ch 2 to form final ch 3 sp. Pull magic circle tight, but leave opening big enough to allow stitches inside it to lay flat.
Round 2: 1 sc in same petal (working over dc post of last dc worked), ch 6, *1 sc in next ch 3 sp, ch 6; repeat from * around 4 times; sl st in starting sc.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.
Round 3: *3 sc in next ch 6 sp, ch 8, 3 sc in same sp; repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in starting sc.
Round 4: *1 hdc in next sc (middle sc of 3 sc group), 1 hdc in next sc, 3 hdc in next ch 8 sp, ch 8, 3 hdc in same sp, 1 hdc in each of next 2 sc, sk 2 sc; repeat from * around 5 times; sl st in starting hdc.
Round 5: 1 hdc in next hdc, 1 dc in each of next 3 hdc, 4 dc in next ch 8 sp, ch 10, 4 dc in same sp, 1 dc in each of next 3 hdc, 1 hdc in next hdc, sk 2 hdc; repeat from * around 5 times.
Round 6: Ch 1, sk next dc, *1 sc in next dc, 1 hdc in next dc, 1 dc in next dc, 1 tr in each of next 3 dc, 6 tr in ch 10 sp, 2 dc in same sp, 2 hdc in same sp, 2 sc in same sp, 2 hdc in same sp, 2 dc in same sp, 6 tr in same sp, 1 tr in each of next 3 dc, 1 dc in next dc, 1 hdc in next dc, 1 sc in next dc, sk next 4 st; repeat from * around 5 times, omitting last 4 sk of final repeat; sl st in starting sc; bind off. Weave in ends.
Finish: Tape wax paper or plastic wrap to top of empty pizza box. Pin snowflake to box on top of wax paper or plastic wrap.
If using glue, mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture or desired stiffener. Sprinkle lightly with glitter. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow snowflake to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel snowflake from wax paper or plastic wrap. Attach 10-inch clear thread to one spoke, weaving in end. Wrap fishing line around tree branch (or tape to ceiling or any overhead surface) and watch the snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.
24 February 2012
Hiking around and above The Wave, I found unusual and striking markings upon some of the rocks. Lichen are the result of fungi and algae or cyanobacteria joining in a symbiotic relationship in some of the most extreme conditions on Earth to break rock down into soil and transform nitrogen into nutrients for other life forms.
Science aside, I thought lizards drawing sandstone crop circles is a better explanation.
23 February 2012
21 February 2012
Dark, peaceful silence was ruptured by the 3 a.m. alarm. We'd packed Sunday night, so all we had to do was peel our eyes open, put everything in the car and go.
We couldn't preload the car because we had items we didn't want to freeze in the single-digit overnight low. Such as my camera. And cheese sticks.
Our goal was to make Kanab before the BLM field office closed for the day on Monday. We wanted to find out exactly what we would need to do Wednesday in order to attempt to gain a lottery permit for The Wave. Although we'd planned four days for four chances, we didn't want to miss a potential day of success by being late and missing the drawing.
Snowy and icy conditions throughout the mountains of Colorado and Utah slowed forward progress and cut stops and breaks to five minutes or less, yet we pulled into the BLM parking lot 645 miles later with 15 minutes to spare.
The office had moved – into TWO different locations. One specifically to handle the daily lottery for The Wave. Off we went to find the new lottery location. We drove all the way across Kanab during rush hour, but the journey was nothing like trying to get across the street in downtown Denver at 5 p.m. We made it in time.
We'd have to report back at 8:30 a.m. sharp the next morning for our shot at two of ten lottery permits to hike to The Wave. We asked the odds. They'd had three happy hikers that morning, but 68 the previous Friday. 58 people had been turned away. It doesn't matter how far you drove. Or flew. Only 10 next-day lottery permits are awarded each day, regardless of how many potential hikers plan a vacation around this destination.
Not terribly enthusiastic or hopeful and yet not entirely discouraged, we checked into our hotel room, then walked across the street to the grocery store for dinner. We like to make our own food while on vacation. Back at the hotel room while dinner was cooking, we watched three back-to-back half-hour television documentaries on gravity, Titan and Europa, quite the treat as we don't have television at home (by choice). Minutes later, we were out cold.
Sleep. Comfortable, peaceful, warm sleep.
In five years, we'd never been successful in the six-months-in-advance Wave lottery, also ten permits per day. We'd regularly researched the application calendar to determine which days might provide the best chance, and we'd tried several times for Valentines' Day. After five years, we decided to take a chance for the walk-in, next-day lottery. After all, there were plenty of other things in the area to see if we were still unsuccessful.
Christmas, Valentines' Day and Super Bowl Sunday receive the fewest advance lottery applications. We couldn't do Super Bowl Sunday because we didn't want to miss the 2012 Ride the Rockies route announcement, which just happens to be the same day.
We've experienced some fairly dismal lottery success with Ride the Rockies, too. I expected our next-day Wave attempts to meet similar success ratios, which is, not favorable. We scheduled time off to take four chances at the next-day lottery. Then what do we get but snowstorm after snowstorm!
With my luck, we'd be successful in this lottery attempt and see nothing but white. Good thing I like snowflakes!
During the long trip to Kanab, I did needlework and slept while The Lizard did ALL the driving. I also picked out several great rock formations I wanted to shoot on the way back home, since we couldn't afford any time hog photography stops in our quest to arrive in Kanab before the end of the workday.
On Valentines' morning, we awoke to three new inches of snow and a forecast for 100% of more of the same. We knew we wouldn't get the glowing orange coral Wave everyone else gets, and we knew chances of making it across the slick muddy road were next to impossible. Or impassable, as the many signs along the route so blaringly warned. We decided to try our permit luck anyway. We were first and second in lottery line but were informed permits were available for that very day. Rather than take a chance on the next-day lottery and 50% chance of snow, we opted for a leftover same-day permit, which no one else wanted due to the current forecast. We received our coveted green tags! We would get a chance to hike The Wave on a snowy Valentines' Day! The very day we'd failed at advance lottery attempts!
In case you're wondering, yes, hiking in the snowy desert in the middle of a cold February is indeed a romantic date for us!
The blizzard nearly caused us to turn back while driving to the trailhead because the highway was so awful and visibility non-existent. The Lizard decided to keep going, ever so slowly, at least to the turnoff, just to check dirt road conditions. Good thing, too. About five miles later, the clouds suddenly broke, and the sun slowly crept out of hiding. God opened a window for us!
The dirt road was passable, the three-mile mostly sandy trail was in good shape, the cold wind was tolerable with proper clothing, and the sun even lit up the sandstone toward the end of our two-hour stay inside and above The Wave. The sandstone was dry; snow lingered only beneath shaded north-facing sage and juniper along the trail. Many hikers report never finding The Wave as no trail proper is maintained, and the general advice is to NOT follow footsteps in the sand because they might go the wrong way. We found route-finding to be a joyous adventure, and many features along the way were equally as photogenic as The Wave itself.
We had The Wave to ourselves for about 30 minutes, and only eight others (two of whom we suspect may have been unmarked BLM spies making sure all hikers were legal) came and went during our two hours there. Everyone was courteous of each other's photos. The Wave has been described as only about an acre in size, and it truly is small enough that more than 20 people at any given time would ruin any photographic opportunities. More than 10 people at one time would have severely limited photo creativity, in my opinion. There is wisdom in the lottery system, as crazy as it seems.
Our hike still feels like a dream to me, and The Lizard still can't believe we did it! I wonder if I appreciate this hike more because it took so long to achieve the dream. Many high-fives were exchanged as we entered The Wave and then again as we departed and again when we returned to the car. 14 February 2012 was my best valentine date ever, worth every day of the five years it took to get inside The Wave.
Perhaps this will be a harbinger for the 2012 Ride the Rockies lottery (which we breathlessly entered during the exceedingly wee hours of Super Bowl Sunday while football fans across the US slept!), when results are announced March 2…