Saturday, September 24, 2011

Blogable for All the Wrong Reasons

After another run around Saturday I felt pretty good, everything that needed getting done, was. A longish ride was in the back of my head when I jumped on a bike at the Farmer's Market to get back to the car and load it and 2 others for the trip back to Petrie's. I was thinking Lisbeth has never even been to Mission Marsh.

A few hours later Sal was off to work and I got ready, donning cycling shorts for maybe the third time this year. I thought about changing the pedals so I could put on cycling shoes for the first time this year but decided against it. I really didn't feel like falling over if I forgot I was anchored to the bike.

Filled up a water bottle, grabbed a peach and headed west for the nice calm area around highway 130 and River Road. As I pedaled easily at 20k per hour through the bike path out to Parkdale I felt really good. Wind in the face and the prospect of riding for an hour or so without stop signs or traffic lights was a great carrot. Commuting back and forth even 4 times a day gets pretty mundane. I mix up the routes as much as I can, even going down Memorial and making a left into the McIntyre Center for some variety. But it's not the kind of ride that is memorable or blogable.

About the 8-1/2 km mark while heading west on Arthur things got blogable. Leg cramps, high on the calf just under the back of my knees. I had taken off without stretching but stopped minutes after leaving and grabbed a tree trunk to stretch out. I thought I had been drinking enough and I wasn't even sweating.

I stopped and downed the peach and some water just past the old Jones place. Do I turn back or keep going? I kept going another 1 km and they started again. I stopped across from the West Arthur Community Center and limped across the road. Less than 10 km and I knew I was done. I stretched again and drank half of the water I had left. I gingerly headed for home, disappointed but glad I didn't have to call for a ride. I took my time, letting Lisbeth roll down any inclines without my help and felt a bit better once I absorbed more of the liquids. I stretched the return out and finished at about 21.5 km. I guess it was blogable since here we are but not really what I had in mind.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Autumn of Ouch

After a long summer of pain with the sciatica is it not time for a break? No it's time for a new source! How about a nice shiny new kidney stone to make you forget all about that other little nerve. Gee can I?

Bedtime Saturday I knew everything was not right. I've had at least one kidney stone before but I don't remember the pain being in the front as well as the lower back. An ultrasound showed gall stones but they had never bothered me. Still I was doubting that the pain I was having was a simple kidney stone. I visited mom and dad without any major pain but when I got to the rink for three hours of fun it started in a big way. I started to sweat and become nautious a few times but just stepped into the cool Delaney arena for some quick respite. After two and a half hours I was done what I had to get done and loaded up the car in the lovely 28 degree fall heat wave. I went home and told Sal I better go to emergency.

We got there at 6:30 and I was home by midnight. It took that time to get a sample, some blood, and a prescription. Way too many drug addicts tying up the staff. I get home and open my meds and they prescribed a whopping 4 percocets. Taken two at a time every four to six hours and I had enough to get through a bad night. Then what? Fortunately I didn't need any until late Monday. I called my family doctor Tuesday and luckily got a spot late in the day for a further supply. I had one heck of a spell at work before lunch Tuesday, rode home and felt fine. Another whopper Tuesday evening where I actually used up the last of the original pills. Since then I've had no major attacks so hopefully it's over. I always feel guilty whining with what mom has gone through.

I'm fighting with the city over the ice they have given me for this season, no where near enough unless people want to come out at 430 on weekdays or 8am on sundays. I have already refused to sign the contact but who knows how this will turn out. Thunder Bay minor has refused to play at the tournament centre so I'm guessing that had something to do with it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Original Announcement

Sal and I were sitting in Montana's last Wednesday and my phone rang, Mike from Calgary (almost wanted to say Mike from Canmore, close). He could hear the background noise and asked where we were. Hearing that we were out for supper after work and a hockey registration he said he would call back. Something seemed strange about a call mid-week so I texted back 'everything ok'? I was thinking with school starting maybe he got moved around to another school and wouldn't be too happy. He replied that all was good. About three minutes later I got an email notice on my phone at the same time Sal did, a picture was attached.
I asked "is that what I think it is"? I called him back immediately and a very cheerful conversation ensued. You can't imagine how much I wanted to be back in Calgary right then. I'm sure glad I've been racking up the airmiles with tuition etc.

All in all, a very original way to share some great news.

Last Day

Normally all we want to do is head for home. Not this trip. We had a full half day planned and started off at Perkins for another great breakfast, gassed up and were on our way. A lot of businesses don't open early in the morning and with the time difference working against us we had to plan carefully. We made our way up France and Lake to the Midtown Global Market. It's an open space with dozens of ethnic restaurants and shops, every kind of food imaginable. We stopped for some cupcakes at The Salty Tart Bakery, one of the few open in the market. 

Next was the Freewheel bike shop which is behind and below facing the Midtown Greenway, the main bike route across town. They have a full shop for repairs or rent, coffee and juice bar, showers and lockers, bike storage, wifi and everything a bike commuter might need. You can literally ride right in!

From there we headed back to Hennepin Ave. and made our way downtown without the gps or freeways. Beautiful old buildings, especially churches, neighbourhoods and small shops were just a few things you won't see from I-35. Traffic at 10am local time was amazingly sparse so I was able to look around. Even downtown the traffic was relaxed and we arrived at Kramarczhuk's Sausage (a Diners Drive-Ins and Dives location) in search of the elusive blood sausage. The sausage hoarding masses had headed back to Milwaukee so we were able to taste and buy two rings. Not what Great Grandma use to make but maybe a hint of that taste we remember so fondly. 

We had one more stop before it was time to leave, the outdoor sculpture park. For that I flipped on Gloria and she had us standing under the twenty foot cherry on a spoon in about ten minutes. There were workers all over the grounds setting up for an event so getting a picture without them in the scene was tough. We walked slowly back to the car knowing the best vacation we've ever had in Minneapolis was ending, nothing left but the six hour drive home. But this was one trip that while short, was full of activities and discovering new-old parts of the twin cities.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Few Pix

fresh flowers at St. Paul Farmer Market

 the Bee guy

a look down the aisle

another Diners Drive-Ins and Dives location

Guy's sign of approval

at Lake of the Isles with 'Jean Claude'

from the bridge

in the sculpture park, cherry and spoon

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tandem Anyone

After a great breakfast at Perkins we headed to Calhoun bike rentals and nabbed one of their two khs tandemania rentals, a silver beast named Jean Claude. We walked two short blocks to the Midtown Greenway and then made out first attempt at riding, successfully.

Our first intersection wasn't labeled to the route we wanted so we rode for a bit without knowing where we were going but probably just as well. We checked the maps and asked a few other riders who were mostly as mixed up as we were. We finally turned back and found the turn and made our way around Lake of the Isles. Quite the set of pathways they have here. They just added non-profit bike rentals all over the twin cities, for as little as $5 you can grab a bike at one station and drop it at another, just like Paris. Use it for one half hour and there's no extra charge. Then use it for as many half hour trips as you need, still no extra charge. Yearly membership is only $40 and then you can do it any day April to November.

I found a new helmet at Calhoun Bike, lots of interesting rides there. Recumbents,  folding, cargo and trikes. A niche to say the least.

We came back for a drink and some of us had a nap before shoe shopping for the Ginko. Kohls came through again and Sal even grabbed herself a pair. We strolled through the ritzy Galleria mall and then to the Cheesecake Factory for a great supper. Cheesecake to go please. We were both stuffed.

Just half a day left in the twin cities. We'll be hunting blood sausage in the morning.

Monday, September 5, 2011

State Fair

After a quick breakfast at Denny's, Perkins was packed, we headed for the U of M to park and ride free to the fair. Well Gloria had never heard of the exact address and the one I punched in with the same name was close, I knew something was wrong but trusted the tech and it cost us an hour. We finally found our way and a ten minute bus ride later we were dropped at the same spot we came to with Ginko several years ago. The Web site did not list park and rides near the hotel but apparently they still have them.

We wandered through the hordes of happy eating food off of a stick people, saw a newborn calf, a cowboy trailer race, deep fried whatever you can imagine and probably 200,000 people. After 3 hours of strolling we had fries and a cherry choke, bought a bucket of chocolate chip cookies and went back to the bus. What took 90 to find probably took about 15 on the return.

We wanted to go to the Cheesecake Factory for support and even knew where it was. We got there and daw only signs for Ruby Tuesday so we have it a shot. Not bad but we found the place we were looking for right after. They need some outdoor signage. We thought about taking in a movie but there was nothing playing till later so we went for a drive. I'm not sure why but I pulled into a Walmart. We were looking for a headache remedy not available in Canada and ended up striking gold, or in our case people, as in grape fanta. We took it all. Sal is smiling from ear to ear and I could probably swing a new bike right now.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Whirlwind Shopping

We started our first full day, and a cool one it was (high of 65 and breezy), at the St. Paul Farmer's Market. Amazing produce at even more amazing prices. We were wishing we could buy a bunch and take it home. Bouquet of fresh cut flowers $4, a three foot high basil bush for $6, any vegetable you could think of. All laid out in the smartest system. Outdoors but covered, vendors back up to the aisles and put their wares on tables at the back of the truck. We went over to the Black Dog cafe for a great breakfast sandwich and coffee that held us till after 4.

Then we headed to the Angry Catfish bike shop. Farzum would die for the space they have on the floor. Another shop with coffee and pastries from the bakery two doors down. Farzum would be 300+ if he worked there. Lots of cool bikes and friendly guys. Saw a very cool Salsa Vaya, road style with disc and off road tires. And orange. They had s Salsa Mukluk snowbike that was very intriguing. Grabbed a Surly t-shirt and one from the shop. We looked for another shop close by but it was nowhere to be seen.

We hit the Mall of America and spent more time going up and down the elevator than we did shopping, bed and bath and the dollar store and we were gone. Up the road to more shops. REI has a ton of outdoor gear and bike stuff, too much in fact as I left without spending a cent. On to Kohls, a new favorite of ours. We bought almost $100 at 50% off, grabbed another $10 and they gave us $20 for our next visit. $10 for every $50 spent or another 20%. We went to Target but left there empty handed, really.

Then downtown to Kramarczuk sausage in search of blood sausage. We got behind a family from Wisconsin and before we could even try it they bought every piece and probably about $300 worth of other sausages. Two and a half rings all gone just seconds before we were served! All they had left was frozen. Since we didn't get a taste we didn't want to risk it, maybe Tuesday. We were close to another bike shop so we went there, closed. Ok time for some lunch, off to a triple D spot, the Modern Cafe, closed.

Frustrated we headed for the hotel and the baked good we picked up at A Bakers Wife near the bike shop earlier. Looks like an early supper. As much as Gloria our GPS drives me crazy at times she sure makes the visit worthwhile, we saw all new parts of the Twin Cities today.

Our first choice for supper was Olive Garden. We thought we'd be early at 5:30 local time but arrived to a full parking lot and about 35 hungry people waiting outside. We almost defaulted to Red Lobster but let Gloria find the Macaroni Grill just a few minutes away and were seated immediately. Service was almost too fast, food was pretty good. We took an hour drive down France Ave. and Lake St. to check out some other spots for later, came back to the hotel and TV is out across town, at least according to the front desk. So I have time to blog.

Stevie Ray's Comedy Improv

We just got back from dinner and a two hour improv comedy show at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater. The meal was good, the comedy was fair, the slightly intoxicated bride to be next to us was hilarious, she roasted or snorted at everything. We were there about 16 years ago and had to drive an hour around 694/494. This time just 15 minutes from our hotel.

All in all a pretty full day.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Driving to Minneapolis

Surprise! Sciatica nowhere to be seen or even felt. High sides on the bucket seats are a bit of a pain but to both sides. Uneventful drive, my favorite kind. One tank of gas, one stop at the Blue Water for breakfast. Some construction on I35, but they gotta fix it sometime.

We arrived just in time to check on, a few hours to relax and then off to Chanhassen for a comedy show and supper.

Friday, September 2, 2011

MRI Results

I finally got the results of my MRI today.I have a bulging disc and my doctor is sending me to a former surgeon by the name of Hoffman for his non-surgical opinion. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Be kind to your back was the wise advice I was given.

Got to spend a few hours sitting on the Ginko tonight, very well behaved. He just can't figure out how the Xoom can download a game, so I showed him. Then he played for 45 minutes, I think he was playing me too.

We're off to Minneapolis in the morning for a few days. I almost wanted to take a bike but decided against it. If we want we can always rent. Since i'm still taking it easy it's just too much trouble for a short ride.