Rules are made to be broken

11 February, 2014        Rules are made to be broken

When I was young and foolish I rode my bicycle in any weather. Rain, snow, cold, it didn’t matter. I turned 50 a couple of years ago and now I’m old and foolish and decided I won’t ride my bike if the temperature is lower than my age. An easy rule to stick to when you’re training for fall triathlons. This year I signed up for a May race. Meaning I began training in February (I started at the beginning of this month) and lots of bicycling when the temp is <50º. I am unfond of indoor cycling. So I ride outdoors. I was driving home from work a few mornings back and when I stopped at a light this guy passed in front of me:

When I was young and foolish I did this. Now that I'm old and foolish, I don't.

When I was young and foolish I did this. Now that I’m old(-er) and foolish, I don’t.

I am still totally too much of a wimp to ride when the weather’s like that. Plus my bikes are nicer these days and I’m reluctant to trash them. But when I got out to West Creek to ride earlier this week, this was my car thermometer:

I never thought I'd ride this temperature again. But it was only 1/2 hr and not awful.

I never thought I’d ride this temperature again. But it was only 1/2 hr and not awful.

Fortunately I only had to ride for 30 minutes. I can stand it for that long. “Running” for me in the cold is never a problem, and the pool at the Y is pleasant in any weather. The race I’m doing in May is in a lake near Charlottesville. I’ve been racing for the past several years in the ocean in October so I’m sure the temperature will be fine.

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Speaking of “Made to be broken,” this blog post is broken into three parts. That’s the end of part one, this is part two:

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Turner, as some of you are aware, hurt his right hind foot a couple of weeks ago. After hurting his left hind foot around Christmas. So that kept us away from the river some. We got back down there today for a low-key walk; it was nice to be back. Limited trips to the river means limited pictures but I have taken a few.

I was hiking by myself at Pony Pasture one morning last week and saw a Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) in a tree, close to the parking lot. I don’t usually get very close to them but this one stayed still. Plus no leaves on the tree, so pictures are easier. I’m sure their mothers love them but to me they are not appealing. Check out the mug on this one:

They reproduce. So some bird finds this attractive to look at. Who am I to judge.

They reproduce. So some bird finds this attractive to look at. Who am I to judge.

These are his (or her) feet:

These make me think of Baba Yaga.

These make me think of Baba Yaga.

Does my mention of “Baba Yaga” resonate for anyone? If you’re interested, click on that link. When we were growing up we got a children’s magazine called Jack and Jill. They often had Baba Yaga stories there.

I’d always assumed (never a good idea) that like a hawk or eagle, vultures find food mostly by sight. After reading more about them, it turns out they have a very, very keen sense of smell. It makes sense if you think about it – because they’re looking for dead animals. That may be another assumption on my part, though.

I was hiking around Bryan Park with a buddy last week and I missed several otherwise decent pictures. My hat is off once again to professional wildlife photographers. I miss a whole, whole, whole lot of otherwise great shots. It’s fine to miss twenty and get one good one. But I go out plenty of times and miss twenty and get zero good ones. I missed a nice bluebird at Bryan Park and I almost missed some Juncos but there was one salvageable image. There were Juncos by the dozen at the cabin when I was young but I don’t see as many around here. This is the one I saw at Bryan Park:

Dark-eyed junco

Dark-eyed junco

Another regular winter bird from the cabin was a nuthatch – and they’ve just begun coming to my feeders here at the house, although not in droves. I don’t love taking pictures of birds on feeders – it’s too contrived – but if I get a good one I’ll put it up. Nuthatches are nice looking birds.

Always an early sign of spring is when the mallards start milling around together and pairing off. They were flocking up on one of the canals this morning. They do that every February. Pileated woodpeckers are drumming in the woods too. They are really hard (for me) to photograph, but I expect I’ll get one sooner or later. Hopefully sooner, because photography is much easier with no leaves on the trees. Here’s a bunch of mallards from PP this AM, sorry about the wire:

6 pairs of mallards.

6 pairs of mallards.

On the Cornell Ornithology Lab web site under “Cool Facts” it says: “Mallard pairs form long before the spring breeding season. Pairing takes place in the fall, but courtship can be seen all winter.” I read elsewhere that a female typically lays 12 eggs per clutch. So that could potentially be 72 ducklings you’re looking at, and there were several more pair just upstream and a lot more downstream. I think we won’t run out of mallards soon.

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So, part three:

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My final blog post in January of this year was the apathetically titled “It’s hard to come up with good titles…”. Toward the end of that post I wrote “A friend sent a package recently. His name is Gus and he’s been my friend longest of anyone. We were in the same homeroom in freshman year of high school, close to forty years ago.” In May of 1991 Gus had some free time and most of the dust had settled from my accident. So we grabbed our sleeping bags and mountain bikes and hopped in my car and headed west for some visiting and camping and biking. I spoke with Gus earlier this week; he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and three kids. Hard to believe we took this trip twenty-three years ago. And that we graduated from Gonzaga thirty-five years ago. Wow.

Anyway, we visited friends and family and went to national parks. We visited the Badlands and Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. We even stopped at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, IA.

BarbeQlossal

BarbeQlossal

The Pork Expo was a singular experience. A blog post unto itself. But currently, words fail. Have a delicious barbecue sandwich and close your eyes and visualize.

Gus at the entrance to the Grand Tetons:

Gus welcomes us to the Grand Tetons:

Gus welcomes us to the Grand Tetons:

At Mount Rushmore:

It's safe to say we won't be the next two heads carved out of that South Dakota granite.

It’s safe to say ours won’t be the next two heads carved out of that South Dakota granite.

When we pulled into Yellowstone, this sign greeted us:

Notice the shorts and the flying hat and camera. There were no iphones back then.

Notice the shorts and the flying hat and camera. There were no iphones back then.

Although I wore shorts, I prudently removed my hat and camera so he wouldn't charge:

Although I wore shorts, I prudently removed my hat and camera so he wouldn’t charge:

We visited Jackson Hole while we were in Wyoming:

Oops. A little bit warped. It says "Jackson Hole Welcomes Our DESERT STORM VETS." Kind of cool.

Oops. A little bit warped. It says “Jackson Hole Welcomes Our DESERT STORM VETS.” Kind of cool.

If you’re car camping, these are great conditions: mostly empty:

Roughing it easy:

Roughing it easy:

So, that’s the end of this long and convoluted post. Those were obviously the good old days, but it’s abundantly clear that February of 2014 is also the good old days.

I hope you’re well. Have a great day,

Jay

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About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Birds, Dogs, Endurance, Flowers, Fun, People, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!). Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Rules are made to be broken

  1. Neal Short says:

    Great read Jay as well as pics , we need to hook up soon down at the PP or BI or Y…….Keep them coming……………………..NCS

    • Glad you enjoyed it Neal, and great to see you at the Y on Friday! It would also be cool to hike some at PP, there’s never a bad day down there. Great to hear from you, and hopefully I’ll see you again soon – I’m at the Y a lot! Take it easy,

      Jay

  2. Clare T says:

    as always – great read & photos (for a snowy day or any day). something you said about “the good old days” made me think – that the way most of us communicate these days is talking about “what we are doing right at this very moment” – “instant chat” – but there is something real and endearing about sharing “the good old days” because not only does it share a historic event, but one that was obviously memorable to that person……and by sharing that, it gives us a better understanding of the soul of that person…….yes, i know, i’m sounding Hallmark – but i like being over 50 and hearing about the good old days – it further connects us and strengthens that connection no matter what your age 🙂 THANKS & hope you guys are enjoying the snow. and hope Turner gets well soon!

    • Hi Clare!
      We’ve missed seeing you at the river! Mackey and Turner and I will be down there tomorrow, hopefully. Turner’s doing great. He does not understand the concept of slowing down. Except when my cat is lying on the carpet in front of the fire, then Turner suddenly realizes HE wants to lie on the carpet in front of the fire. Looks like we may be enjoying more snow soon!

      I hope to see you at the river soon! Have a great day,

      Jay

  3. Justin says:

    I, too, avoid biking outside when the temperature is lower than your age.

    • Hi Justin!
      Glad you’re making a habit of not biking outdoors when the temperature is lower than MY age. It unfortunately continues to stay lower than my age. But it’ll go above my age soon. I just rode outdoors today, the temperature was right at my age, 52 degrees and/or years. Barely tolerable but I only rode half an hour. Warm weather soon! But not before one more burst of winter. Have a great day,

      Jay

  4. Pingback: PP Fauna | NEWFAZE

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