Saturday, June 25, 2022

Borrowing a Title

All sizes welcome
The previous post began with a reference to Guitar Ted (Mark Stevenson). He writes a daily blog covering gravel biking, gravel bikes, news and views, and guitars. A title which he uses periodically for a post is, "Randomonium." This title provides a broad spectrum for rambling, ranting, and going wherever he chooses. I am following his lead in this writing. The title "Randomonium" will also be seen here in the future.

During recent stops at the local bike shop I use (Paramount Sports) I noticed that e-bikes are multiplying


faster than bunny rabbits. Every aspect from sleek, pavement cruisers to burly, all-wheel drive, all-terrain, fat-tire behemoths crowd the store. There are purists who denounce these means of conveyance. They believe a true bicycle is solely human powered. They bemoan the use of electric assist. Often these antagonists ride their carbon fiber, carbon rimmed, tubeless tired, electronic shifting, hydraulic disc braked bikes on their merry way. Long gone is the single speed, coaster brake, Firestone branded bike which I was ecstatic to ride as a teenager. Personally, whatever gets a person outside to enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds that are not generated from a screen is great! The day is coming when I will gladly ride a two or three wheeled e-machine.

On the shelves and in my world
After a deluge of sump pump sales the precipitation has subsided. Stores can restock these necessary items. Over the years of living in the Red River Valley of the North, I have benefited, cursed, and replaced more than a handful of these submersible pumps in cold, dank basement pits. Over the years I have encountered more than a few people who act like sump pumps. My sense is that we all know a few. A characteristic is to draw down any positive outlook and/or energy while smoothly inviting me into a dark place. While these interactions are a function of human relationships, I attempt to avoid long-term encounters if at all possible. I have experienced (I have no supportive analytical data) an increase in sump pump people. There seems to be a mesocyclone of negativity, "poor me", and Eeyore cloning during the last decade. In order to maintain a balance of optimism and realism (beside living on an upper floor) I limit my encounters with individuals appearting "sump-ish." My preservation of perspective is worth the awkwardness of setting boundaries. By the way, this includes the realms of social media and news media. Sumpy stuff is  everywhere! 

Thomas Jefferson, along with being the third president of the United States, was instrumental in formulating the Constitution. Jefferson had numerous personal conflicts and practices which showcased his inconsistencies. Yet one of his understandings is clear in this quote, "The earth belongs always to the living generation." In his view every nineteen years (in his time a generation) the Constitution should be rewritten to serve the living generation, not the past. One generation should not force its perspectives onto the next.

Etched in stone
I ponder, what is a living document? We have codified, glorified, and sanctified the Constitution and Scriptures. These have become museum pieces, battering clubs, and sacrosanct shrines. Words and phrases like inspired, infallible, and God-given are used as fences to keep these vestiges of history untouched. Again, do these images portray something that is living?

I am puzzled how the words, "life" and "choice" have become labels which seem miles apart? I believe life is full of choices and choices birth life lessons. The recent Supreme Court decision have groups applauding and holding picnics with free hot dogs while other groups are marching and protesting. One group is developing new strategies to win what was "lost", while another group gives high-fives because their decades long strategy has given them the "win." It appears we have found our way into slimy and fear-filled trenches where polarizing political prattle is hurled at each other. The living documents have become brick fortresses. All we hear are the echos of like minded people. No dialog, no seeking of understanding, no seeing one another as human creatures can arise from our self-selected tombs. Yet new strategies are constantly crafted in order to claim a victory, no matter how short. 

In 1966, Stephen Stills wrote a song which was sung by the group Buffalo Springfield. The song was titled, "For What It's Worth." I think these words are still profound:  "There's battle lines being drawn. Nobody's right is everybody's wrong...Paranoia strikes deep. Into your life it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid. It's time we stop. Hey, what's that sound? Everybody look what's going down."

I am going to ride my human powered bike before I transition into an e-bike. I continue living while recognizing the needs, insights, and efforts of younger generations to make decisions. Finally, hope is not a strategy. Hope is the expectation of a good yet to come. I am hopefully optimistic!  

Life + beauty in the turmoil

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Escape Route

Gravel Goodness
A foundational figure in gravel biking, a gravel event director, an acquaintance, Mark Stevenson (aka Guitar Ted), and a blogger hailing from Waterloo, Iowa, describes the way he leaves pavement to get onto gravel roads as: "escape routes."

On Thursday afternoon I escaped from the confines of the Fargo ND-Moorhead MN metro area. It was a short escape but long overdue. The opportunity arose to get part of a day and a night away. My one person, MSR Carbon Reflex tent had not been set up for well over a year, maybe closer to two. The same applies to my sleep system. There was no need for a camp stove or meals. This was a short trip. Minimal packing was required.

Minnesota State Parks are popular and campsites are reserved quickly. Unless a person reserves a spot online weeks in advance, options are limited. Also most sites are for drive through trailers or RVs, not tents. During a conversation with one of my daughters, she suggested a park a bit further away than I had considered. Time, as well as the price of fuel played into my thinking. However, when I checked availability for a tent site, I was pleasantly surprised and booked it immediately. Time and cost of fuel were set aside for an adventurous escape!

Entrance Kiosk
Glendalough State Park, near Battle Lake MN is a quiet, modestly developed park on the transition line between hardwood forest and prairie. Its origins are a hunting refuge. The owners had ties to a major newspaper in Minneapolis MN. Lakes, wildlife, and hiking/biking trails abound. Due to its modestly developed almost primitive nature, wooded tents sites are abundant. Actually this type of camping is emphasized. It is called "cart-in" camping as carts are provided for each of the more than 20 sites and rustic camper cabins. A well maintained bathroom and shower building is near-by. Yup, hot water showers! A short hike from this area gets you to the vendor which rents watercraft and various types of bikes. No motorized watercraft are allowed on the lakes. Thus the quiet of a canoe, stand-up paddle board, or kayak graces the clear waters which can be fished. 

My place of repose
I was mildly surprised by my memory of tent set-up. More astonishing was having all the necessary stakes and equipment. I needed the help of a sizable rock to drive some stakes into the ground, as I failed to bring my mallet. Part of the enjoyment is improvising! Exploring trails, admiring flowering plants, chatting with the campground host, and a comfortable camp shower made the escape exquisite. As dusk transitioned into darkness the symphony of nature began. Frogs, crickets, waterfowl, and owls joined in a pleasantly diverse lullaby. Minimal human sounds emanated from the other campsites. The rhythm of rain drops dropped from a couple passing showers graced the deep night. As the sky lightened around 5am the soundscape of numerous birds brought me out of a restful sleep.                                                                                                                      
One of many deer

Maybe the escape route was longer than I had desired. However, the benefits even for a brief period of time were monumental. It was back into the fray on Friday morning. More escape routes are in my future!

One of the flowering plants