Much to catch up on…

It’s been far too long since I’ve posted last and really I have little excuse other than sloth. ‘Tis true I’ve been very busy at work recently as we work our way through the latest bunch of projects. I’ve also been a little too tired too often.

This really is a medical problem and it doesn’t have much to do with sleep. As I’ve mentioned in the past my hip has been in real trouble for some time. It’s timee to get it replaced and I have found a surgeon to do the deed. I feel comfortable with him and he has a good record of success (and hips are pretty much all he does). Unfortunately the earliest we can do it is in late April. Both our schedules are overbooked earlier in the year. Ah me.

In any case the tiredness is because it’s really hard to be in pain a lot. Really. I don’t recommend you try it, but if you’ve been there you know what I mean.

Oddly I’m still riding my bicycles. Thankfully, even though walking is a real chore, riding continues to be a great blessing. Good stuff.

My friend Erich was in town over the holidays with friends and we spent a good deal of it on our bikes or playing lawn bowls. More on that later if I get a chance.

Then I rode out to Malaekahana (55+ miles one way) for another camping trip, just a quick overnighter, but it sure was fun. I didn’t do much photography, but I did get a shot of a horse waiting for bus…yep:

Horse at bus stop

Late again!

My plan at the moment is to train hard as if I were getting ready for RAGBRAI (which I’m not going to do this year) so that when I do get the new hip my recovery should be a bit easier.

Aloha!

Monthly holoholo ride…

image

I rode in our monthly hohoholo ride yesterday. The ride’s mission, from their Facebook page,  is:

Our mission is to conscientiously, safely and motivationally promote awareness for the absolute necessity of safe cycling space on the streets of Hawaii, Oahu and Honolulu. We promote these ideals through our monthly ride on the last Friday of every month.

It was a lot of fun and to good purpose to boot. You just can’t beat that.

Saturday in Council Bluffs…

[Saturday July 20, 2013]

Saturday was the day of the “big move.” That is to say we checked out of our Omaha hotel, the Candlewood Suites Omaha Airport. I stayed here last time I was in Omaha for RAGBRAI and it’s a great place. The staff is friendly and helpful, the rooms are clean, laundry is free, and it’s near enough (by bike) to the good stuff in Omaha (and the airport) that you’d have to look hard to do better for this style of hotel.

[I don't have stock, I just want them to stay in business for my next RAGBRAI.]

Erich and I had scoped out the Pork Belly campsite the day before so after eating breakfast, packing up, and checking out we headed out. Our mission today was pretty simple:

  • Drop off my stuff at the campsite
  • Meet Mary Ann and visit the bike expo
  • Check into our hotel
  • Take Mary Ann out for dinner
  • Get a good night’s rest

Getting to the campsite was pretty convoluted as their seemed to be a lot of highway construction going on. Erich remarked that all the topsoil they seemed to be removing should really be shipped to Colorado which has a deficit of the stuff.

In any case we made it to the camp, found my tent, found Mary Ann and began our RAGBRAI 2013 adventure.

The bike expo is a big part of the RAGBRAI on the first day. There are a lot of vendors who come out to sell products as well as agencies promoting causes, health agencies, charities, and one of my favorites, Team Archaeology, a partnership of Iowa archaeology and geological resources.

Most of these folks have give-aways and it is generally possible to get more swag than you can actually carry. I tried to stick to things you could eat; beef jerky, Clif Bar products, and whatnot. I also stocked up on lip balm, something I was immensely grateful for later in the ride.

I also ran into the Ergon folks and purchased a new set of Ergon grips for my Friday. The fellow manning the booth was truly helpful, giving me a great discount, installing the grips in place of my old ones, and even pointing out where I’d gone wrong in installing my original set (backwards of course – and they still worked!).

After lunch, pork tenderloin grilled on a stick – an Iowa favorite, Erich and I decamped for the hotel and rest out of the heat of the day.

Mary Ann wanted to attend Mass that afternoon before dinner so we picked her up in Erich’s rental and dropped her off at church and we went to check out restaurants. At first we’d thought about an Italian place, but they were overbooked and could only offer us outside seating, which would have been fine on a cooler day, but as they weren’t taking reservations we’d have to hurry back after getting Mary Ann.

Instead Erich, with me in tow, went exploring with his car and…lo and behold, we found the Italian section of Omaha. It’s really just a town where Italian immigrants had settled many years ago and were it not for the Italian names on some businesses you’d never know it from any other part of town, but we struck gold…Cascio’s Steakhouse.

This 65 year our Omaha institution is something, as Erich says, out of the Godfather. Assuming of course that the Corleone family had moved to Omaha instead of New York and had taken up restraurants instead of crime. It’s huge place with seating for hundreds no doubt, if you consider the banquet rooms and multiple dining rooms.

They serve steak.

I’m sure they have other things as well, but steak is what they do best. I had the owners favorite sirloin if I recall, Erich and Mary Ann went for filets. None of us left hungry or unhappy. Check the place out of you are in Omaha. I now have two favorite Omaha restaurants.

It was then time to rest up. We dropped Mary Ann off at the camp and departed for our hotel. We decided we’d go to a movie to pass the evening away and conveniently there was a theatre complex right next to our hotel, didn’t even have to cross a street. This was a great theatre. Each of the screening rooms had limited seating and all of those seats were recliners. Seriously. You could really get comfortable and we did.

After the movie we made it back to the hotel properly tired out and ready to catch some Zs. Soon enough we’d be on the road in what we expected would be the summer heat so we enjoyed our last hours of air conditioning.

The alarm rang and it was time to ride…

Friday in Omaha…

[Friday July 19, 2013]

rich had arrived the previous night, and given that the day was likely to be on the warmish side, if not really hot, we decided to bike to breakfast early. The place I’d decided on was a place called Wheatfield’s in Omaha’s Old Market District.

The food was excellent and plentiful. That’s really something you don’t see in Hawaii that often. I had a Kielbasa sausage with eggs. I miss sausage from the midwest. I used to get great ones in Milwaukee and that’s probably what inspired this breakfast for me.

We biked around the Old Market a bit and figured out what to do with ourselves for the rest of the day. This included another trip to the bike shop, a smoothie at a great coffee shop, Blueline Coffee. I would end up at this coffee shop more than once. It’s a keeper – they even have watermelon Italian soda (really just syrup with soda but who has watermelon? – very refreshing).

We also bike around near the river and saw great things like Ameritrade Park where the College World Series is held:

The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge – that’s me dipping my tire in the Missouri River:

There are a lot of trails around the river in this area and it’s really quite lovely. The tire dipping above actually happened on the Council Bluffs side of the river and not the Omaha side but is more or less part of the same system.

Omaha has a long history of organized labor and has a whole park that seems to be dedicated to it with much statuary:

Then it was time for a nap.

Our next mission was to scout out the camping site for Pork Belly Ventures where we’d going the next day. It was in Council Bluffs at the site of the one of the big casinos there…pretty urban really, but that’s okay, we weren’t actually going to be camping. Just switching motels.

This trip to Council Bluffs was done in Erich’s rental car as we really just wanted it over with.

We also hit up the local Walmart for a few odds and ends and my gosh, it was more or less the biggest I’ve seen (not, mind you, that I make a big habit of Walmarts).

After all the errands we had dinner at one of my two favorite Omaha restaurants: Ahmad’s Persian. I ate here the first time I was in Omaha and the owner came out and chatted and, best of the all, the food was excellent. Erich has never had Persian food before (and was willing to try as long as it didn’t contain curry – it doesn’t).

After that we had an ice cream and called it quits for the day. We wanted to get an early start on the fun the next day and had to pack up and move, attend the expo, meet up with our buddy Mary Ann and generally cause havoc. It would be a mission accomplished but that’s a story for another post.