Saturday, February 23, 2008

back in the states

Hello friends -

I had hoped to post while in Italy, but a few things got in the way: wifi not free; busy schedule (an "organized" trip) and just way too tired to post things.

Some things stood out to me: the first few days were filled with visiting basilicas and other historical, religious sites like the catacombs, the Sistine Chapel, and a day trip to Assisi. The other thing was: those Catholic pilgrims sure do put down the wine! Man, each night in the hotel bar the glasses were emptied and the voices got louder until I had to sneak out back to my room. Oh, yes, and the Father was one of the bunch enjoying the partying.

I'll put a few photos here for you, and will put more on Flikr when i get them together.

The first pic is of cobbles near the Coliseum. The cobbles made up probably half the walking surface while in Rome. After tripping on a few raised cobbles, we learned to better pick up our feet.

The second is pretty self-explanatory...another ladies' frame with a baby seat on.

So, friends, keep checking back; I promise to get things together. But, for now, I'll be in Wisconsin. Back the first week in March.

stay tuned.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

to Roma

I'm almost halfway to my destination, spending a night in Chicago in preparation for another travel day to Rome. Yes, the Rome in Italy.

Italy! Pilgrimage site for Catholics, foodies, wine lovers, historians & cyclists. I qualify for at least a few of these. I just need to make sure I can ask where to find a bike shop and the best caffe latte.

I've wanted to go to Italy since at least my early college years - when I fumbled through a semester of Italian. Now, it's just two more flights away.

A little background:
When Jon & I were visiting my parents this time last year, my aunt joined us for dinner. In conversation while doing the dishes she told me she was going on a church trip to Rome and would like a traveling companion. What could I say but "I'd love to go with you!" Aunt Anna Mae and her husband, Hugh, had a dairy farm just up the road from us when I was a kid. Their kitchen table was always open. Many times my mom would phone to tell me it was time to come home for dinner.

But living in Alaska since 1994 doesn't give me much time to visit with my aunt who's now widowed. So a few weeks later I called and told her I'd like to go if the offer was still open. Emails and letters were exchanged and here I am in the Windy City. I'll meet her and the rest of the group at O'Hare tomorrow morning for a long travel day & night.

Italy! Benissimo!

Monday, February 11, 2008

commit to the commute

So, last night after coming home from a concert - wow - if you get a chance to see the Carolina Chocolate Drops, don't miss them, especially if you like old-timey, string with some roots blues... I can't describe it enough...

Oh, yeah, after getting home, with the temps slowly climbing, decided I wanted to bike into work on Monday (today). Guess I missed the forecast. Did anyone else know it was supposed to snow overnight? Not me. As I sat at the table this morning, I asked Jon the question: riding or driving? Riding.

See, even though we had over four inches of snow in the driveway (more in other parts of the route) it was my last chance to ride before I head off on a non-cycling trip later this week. I left on the Pugsley a bit before Jon, pedaling down the street on the way to the trailhead and on to South Anchorage. The temps were single digits, but it was above zero before 11 a.m. for the first time in a couple weeks.

One stretch of the commute was Lake Otis bike path. The snow was pretty deep and I followed the track of a lone cyclist who had biked in the opposite direction. The rider's pedals repeatedly tapped the top of the fresh layer of snow on the uphills and the left pedals scraped a line atop snow all the way down the hill that I was then climbing.

The best sight was about half-way between Abbott and O'Malley roads. Through the spray of snow kicked up by traffic in the road, I saw the path plow - really, more of a path snow-blower. He was coming my direction, heading up the hill, blowing the snow into the trees. "Yeah!" I was so happy to see him!

I stopped to let him pass.

It's the second time this season I've crossed paths the snowblower. I don't know his name, but I sure appreciate that he was out there doing his job so I could get to mine. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

cabin fever

With temperatures of 20 below and colder, I haven't been very inspired to commute to work lately. But today I was off work. The sun was out and by early afternoon it hit above 6. Errands done, I decided I just didn't want to stay off the bike any longer. I just had to get out there.

I found some chemical footbeds I could put in my shoes, bundled up, put warm water in my bottle and took off for the park. The sunlight reflecting on the snow drew me to the airstrip where the multiuse trail skirts the west side of the airstrip. It seems like months since I pedaled in the sun and actually felt some warmth.

The trails were hard-packed and fast & I had them mostly to myself. It was good to finally get back out there on the bike. And, based on the shadow, 6 more weeks of winter.