Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Was Hoping For A Better Story

A window of time opened up for me to ride on Monday morning. It seems difficult for many to believe that most of my riding happens during the week or when it is raining. When the weekend comes or the weather is fine my first priority is Heather time. As it turned out she had some errands to run. This gave me some time to wander around the City a bit.

First on the agenda was to get a few pictures of the rehab project I've been following.

There has been a lot of progress since I last posted.
(  http://crcleblue.blogspot.com/2011/04/one-still-falling-down-and-another.html )

Now work has begun on the other building in earnest.

When last I posted about these building one comment reminded me that not only do buildings have a front, but they also have a back. So, I pulled around in the alley and sure enough . . .

Brand new garages and lots of interesting stuff.

This is the back of the first building. It does look like it is going to take a lot of work.

Next Billie and I just wandered around a few alleys and a couple of streets

We ended up next to this old beauty that is getting a new life.
Over the front doors is the word "Loretto". I suspect this property has been in the Dominican family for some time. I'm delighted to see it is going to be put to use.

Next door to the future Priory is a house that my daughter has always admired. So, even though it is still on tough times I had to get a picture of it.

It would be nice if the development next door led to the reclaiming of this grand old home. It seems to be having an effect on the building on the other side of the Dominican Priory development.

I mounted back up and almost immediately found myself on a part of the Saint Louis University campus I have never been on before. I parked up on the sidewalk to take a couple of pictures. As I dismounted I looked up to see a Police car coming down the street. I was sure I was going to get a "talking to", but instead we just waved to each other as he drove by.

On my way back toward Manchester Ave., which is one of the routes that Route 66 took through St. Louis, we came across an urban farm.

I've been wanting some photos of the murals that are showing up in The Grove. The Grove is a neighborhood seeking to reinvent itself. I'm told that in the 1850's this area was one of St. Louis' first subdivisions. As Manchester is a street that I often take when I'm riding Billie, I have found myself keeping an eye on the progress.

Billie and I found a Dragon. We also found Bob . . .

Of course, at the time I didn't know we'd found Bob. I was aiming my camera at another mural when I notice this guy striking a pose. So, I took his picture and walked over to show it to him. When he saw himself in the viewer he laughed. He thought he looked pretty damn good. He said his name was Bob Dixon and told me to not forget his name. It's not likely I will.

Yep, I'm in The Grove.

It was time to make my way home. I've been keeping another eye on a particular house with a rather large gargoyle in front. It certainly looked like it had a story. I've been hoping to catch someone out working in the yard so I could ask about it. As luck would have it, as I passed by the house on this day a couple were just pulling up to the house on their bicycles. It turned out they were the proud owners of the house and of the giant gargoyle.

The story? It seems the couple likes to ride their bicycles around the Holly Hills area. One time when riding through that neighborhood the guy saw a house with a gargoyle in front of it. He thought it was so cool and from that time on he wanted one. "Where did you find one?" I asked, "Tell me you didn't find it online."

"Actually, I did," he replied.

I will admit I was hoping for a better story, but I figured the story was good enough to post the photo.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Now Where Is That Credit Card?

Coming home from work Friday I saw an astonishing sight. There was a person land paddling along side Lafayette Park. This is only the second person besides Heather and me that I have ever seen land paddling here in St. Louis. I just had to stop and meet her.

I've mentioned before that one of the great things about the Symba is how non-intimidating it is. Well, I may have to rethink that. It seems when I pulled up next to the land paddler, the first things she noticed were my Courts parking sticker and the black and white colors of Billie. Her first thoughts were, "Am I doing something wrong? Am I being pulled over?" So much for being non-intimidating.

Anyway, we had a nice chat. She was impressed that I was wearing all the gear. She called me a "Serious Rider." I was impressed she was wearing a helmet.
Nice helmet and really cool stick.

She didn't know anyone else who land paddled. She hasn't had her Kahuna Big Stick for very long and has been looking for trails and places to play. I told her about the trails over in Madison County and about Grant's Trail. Unlike Heather and me she was a skateboarder before taking up land paddling.

When I got home and told Heather about meeting another land paddler she asked me how this person had heard about land paddling. Isn't that a great question? I wish I'd thought to ask. Oh well, maybe next time. Hopefully the three of us can get together and do some trails.

Heather's question reminded me of how I learned about land paddling. I was on Grant's Trail here in St. Louis and saw this guy on a skateboard pushing himself with this stick. I was curious as to what he was doing, but not curious enough to ask. However, later at home I started to think how cool what he was doing looked and started searching on Google. Eventually, I discovered the Kahuna Creations Website: http://www.kahunacreations.com/
Sadly, I haven't seen him on the trail since.

And now when I went to post the link I discovered they have a new Adjustable Stick. Hmmm, now where is that Credit Card?

Here's a couple of links to videos.
First a good instructional video:

Here's  one that shows why I think a helmet should always be worn.

Finally, a nice video of a guy just out doing it. Plus, there is a scooter in it for some two wheel content.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

And What Did Heather Think?

Wow, when it comes to blogging it seems I'm only 1-for-May. I'm not exactly sure why. I know it hasn't been because of a lack of experiences. It's true I've been busy, but I'm always busy. Also, I've had an annoying health issue going on, but it hasn't been of the sort to stop me from riding, inline skating some, hiking a lot, and even getting in the season's first land paddle. I do know part of my blogging fall-off has to do with Heather's work load lightening up and her being home more evenings and around on the weekends. It has been good to spend time with her.
Hiking at Castlewood.
Land Paddling on Schoolhouse Trail in Madison County, Illinois.

Just hanging out at Horseshoe Lake.

So, let's begin to catch-up May. But, to do that I've got to go back to the last day of April. Actually, I need go back even a little more in time than that.

Who could that be inside that fullface helmet?
Yep, in early April Heather bought a helmet. She did it in preparation for what we had planned for the last day of April. We went to Spyderfest in Cuba, Missouri. Over two hundred Can-Am Spyders descended on the Mural City during the last week in April. We drove down on Saturday to check it out, eat some barbeque, and . . .
This was before half of the Spyders made it out to Cowtown, the local Spyder dealer, for barbeque. There were bikes there from both coasts and Canada.
. . . to test ride a Spyder.

There were Spyders everywhere.

Sadly, we didn't get any pictures of us on the Spyder. Heather has never been on a motorcycle or an ATV or a trike. So, riding on the Spyder while I piloted it was a big first for her. Zach, the guy in charge of the demos, gave us a quick run down of the controls and how to put into reverse, gave us a few suggestions on where we might like to ride, and sent us on our way. We tested a RT with a semi-automatic transmission. It reminded me of my experience of driving a snowmobile. Of course, the way I ride a snowmobile has very little in common with the way my brother-in-law rides a snowmobile. You see, I have a slow hand and don't drift through the corners while approaching triple digits. That said, the Spyder easily took the curves at ten-plus mph above the posted speed. It did everything I asked of it. I liked the transmission, but I'm sure others would miss the clutch. Would I buy one? Well, definitely not a RT. Both Heather and me think it is butt-ugly. The RS on the other hand could be an interesting year around vehicle for me . . . if it didn't cost so much; and if it didn't get such horrible gas mileage; and if I was convinced I could afford to maintain it.
The guy wearing the helmet with the horns rides his Spyder year around in Minnesota. He tells me with an automobile snow tire on the back and sandbags to add weight over the rear wheel it can handle snow  up to four inches. If there is more snow than that you have to wait for the snowplow to go through first. By the way, when he's really ready to ride the highway he wears a fullface helmet.
A Cow-Am
The orange Spyder is a RS. The blue beast next to it is a RT Touring.  I didn't get any intentional pictures of any RT's. No surprise there.

I really liked this rig.

And, what did Heather think? I'm not exactly sure, but the next weekend we made a trip to Cyclegear and . .
She bought a jacket.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Return Of The King

I've taken to calling him "The King". I've wrote about him before. I wrote about his going missing last Fall when the mornings turned colder. I Wonder After Him 

But, now it is Spring and the King has returned. 

Recently, the King made a rare afternoon appearance. I spotted him on my way home from work and saw it as an opportunity to meet the King.

His throne is  the top of the stairs  leading to a townhouse much like this one.

I was nervous. He is a imposing figure. There seems to be a permanent scowl on his face. And, although I have passed by him many times, and, even though I have begun to nod my head toward him every time I pass, still I have never seen the expression on his face change. It is always the same.

I made a U-turn and pulled up in front of his house. For a moment I wondered to myself, "What the hell are you doing," but I ignored that voice, chalking it up to excessive caution. My deep sense told me I was in no real danger. 

I parked the bike and dismounted. I took off my helmet before I began to walk toward him. As I approached he watched me. There was no change in his expression, but his eyes were alive with what seemed to me to be curiosity. Neither of us spoke until I got to the base of the stairs. 

I broke the silence. I explained how he might have noticed me nodding to him as I rode by him in the morning. He didn't speak. Next, I began my normal spiel about how commuting to work on my bike had made me  more aware of the people and places I pass everyday. I was somewhere in the middle of what was becoming for me a very uncomfortable monolog when finally the King spoke. "Is that your bike?" I said it was. Then he said, "I like your bike." I thanked him. Then he said, "You know there is a church down the street. They are really nice people. They have a store there and maybe you could find something nice for your bike there." And, even though his expression never changed there was excitement in his voice. 

Suddenly, insight dawned. I realized I was talking to child in a man's body. I changed how I was talking to him and from then on we had a very nice chat. I gave him my name and he gave me his. I learned he had lived in the neighborhood for only three years. Also, I learned when I see him in the morning he is waiting for his ride to pick him up and take him to one of the area hospitals. He didn't tell me if he went there to work or if he was a patient and I didn't ask. Our conversation didn't last long and his expression never changed. I came to wonder if he was even capable of smiling.

I didn't ask if I could take his picture. I'm confident he would have said, "Yes," but, it just didn't seem the right thing to do. Just like taking a picture of a similar building's entry way rather than his seemed to be a very right thing to do.

After my encounter with the King, the weather turned cold again. It was a few days before I rode by him seated on his throne. When I did, I didn't just nod my head but I waved to him. When he noticed me, he stood up and waved back. He waved to me in the way a child waves, not just with his arm but with his whole body. And, the expression on his face never changed, but mine did.