Monday, July 28, 2014

Art for zero cost

A couple weeks or so back, I took on a project of rebuilding an old fence for a relative of a friend. It was in dire need of repair, but mostly it needed some TLC and a few crucial boards replaced. I disassembled about 40' of the fence panels, and replaced all of the stringers. I thought there might be 3-5 new pickets needed, but I ended up replacing about 14. At the end of the day, there was a small pickup load of old wood to haul away, which I did.

So what do you do with a pile of old lumber like this? For $30.00, you can take it to the landfill. Cut it up and bundle it, and you can sneak it into the trash cans for our weekly pickup. You can't burn wood tree limbs or brush where I live, although I have on occasion. 

In my work, I like reusing boards for fill-ins around doors when the wood is still in perfect condition--but I probably would not use wood in this condition. 

Then, I had the idea to make picture frames. Below are two of the four I made.
These are made from the stringers--the horizontal rails on the fence. They are 1 1/2" thick, and 2 3/4" wide. I rabbeted out the back to accommodate the picture, a cardboard backing, and a glass pane. In keeping with the recycling theme, the cardboard was from a box we used when we moved a few years ago, and the glass was from some old storm windows I hauled away recently from another job. There was almost zero cost in the project. The pictures were from a run earlier in the year where I went by several old dilapidated houses and barns. I suppose I used a small amount of printer ink and a couple sheets of paper. The only thing I bought was the clips and hanging hardware shown below.
So total cost--about $.20 each and about an hour of time. I have been told I could sell them--but I like them too much. They're not for sale. I have made four frames and have enough wood and glass for several more. I just might take orders??

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

1st ever Red Dirt Shuffle!!!!

Sunday September 21, the first ever Red Dirt Shuffle will be held at Lake McMurtry, NW of Stillwater OK. The RDS will feature a half marathon and a quarter marathon. There are not many of these particular distances purely on trailz as they are usually road distances. So, it's a great time to get a PR if you have never ran a trail half, or a quarter marathon (which figures out to be around 6.5 miles, but don't be surprised if zombie-miles turn out to be a wee bit longer!)

Lake McMurtry is BEAUTIFUL--and you know this if you have ran our Lake McMurtry 50K/25K/12K held in April. The Red Dirt Shuffle is on the EAST SIDE of the lake--not the west side. I know quite a few late arrivers at our April race over the years have accidentally visited the east side campground--and now is your chance to run these great trailz!!

This map shows both the east and west parks, and while they look close, they are about a five mile drive by road from one to the other. You can actually get to the east side campground by taking Lake McMurtry Road which if coming via turnpike from Tulsa, you will see as soon as you exit the toll road in Stillwater. Take that road west and it runs right into the campground.

The quarter marathon uses the south (red) trail. This scriggly loop is nice and runnable. It's not too technical at all. I could easily breeze around this on a mountain bike--and I'm not a great mountain biker--right Mitch and Channing? This is a VERY GOOD race for beginning trail runners. 

The half marathon uses both the red and yellow trailz. (Sounds like Turkey Mountain trail names?) The north yellow trail is a little more technical, and there is a hill or two that'll get your attention--but all in all--it's still way easier than most of what Turkey Mountain has to offer.

There is a limited amount of camping on the east side. I suggest renting these way  in advance if you want to camp. I know I'll be camping.

Below are several pictures of the trailz taken last April when Dana, Jake, and I did some exploring. Also, a few of the pics were taken when a group of TATURs did a field trip there last year.

There will be some nifty race shirts (we are working on getting shirts DYED with real red dirt--hope we can get that worked out!) There will be some cool trophies for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd male and female in both distances. There will also be a couple of special surprise awards for a mystery category. And there will be finishers awards for all finishers.

CLICK HERE to sign up. 

CLICK HERE to sign up. 
We will base the number of shirts and awards ordered by the projected number of entrants based on the number of registrants on August 28. Sign up soon!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

PORT TO FORT--What an adventure!!

Two years ago after finishing the first Port to Fort Adventure Race, I said I would always do this race as long as it's held. That was 2012. SO far, I have made good on that promise. My teams the past two years have competed in the adventure race which has included a short swim, a 5 mile trail run, and a 5 mile canoe trip. This year, a longer race was introduced, featuring the usual 5 mile of trail running, a 7ish mile mountain bike ride, and a 7+ mile canoe trip.

The swim is my Achilles heel. I do not swim. My best is a survival dog paddle which resembles treading water almost unsuccessfully. Each year, I have swallowed my pride and embraced the leniency of the rules and used a flotation device. Year one, I brought an oversized ski vest. It kept me afloat, but I could not get horizontal in the water and eventually found that I could lean back and do the back stroke. I was the last one out of the water, but we kicked some trail running butt and finished in the middle of the pack. Last year, I decided a boogie board might be better. It did not keep my head and body above water, and I ended up wrapping my right arm around it and beat the water to death with my left arm. Brian Hoover said he thought I had broken my arm, like my arm was in a sling. But as pitiful as I looked, I was in the middle of the pack getting out of the water. This year, I went with a smaller tighter ski vest. It kept my body afloat, but I still could not do the horizontal thing,m and did the back stroke albeit maybe a little quicker. My team mates told me as soon as they could touch bottom, and I was able to walk out of the water a little sooner than before. I was in transition before some of the speedier swimmers had left, and I swam in my running clothes and shoes so I was ready to go!

Our team was the Zombie Hors d'ourves. Zombies hate "fast food" or so the saying goes. But as runners/adventure races go, we are not fast. We would be a zombie's first course, hence the name. Our team from left to right: Me, Shannon Wendt, and the one and only Mitch Drummond.

We hit the trailz, and after a half mile we had found our rhythm. We were the last team out of transition since Mitch and Channing had some shoe/clothes changing to do after the swim, but we caught a team after a mile or so. The trailz on this section were the best they have been since the race began. We were just cruising. But a super fast solo runner from the short race blew by us just before the ropes section--no worries though because he was in the shorter race.

We did the rope climb, and breezed through the rappelling too without much of a delay. It was nice to not have a long line at these obstacles.

After 5 miles, we mounted our bikes and took off. This section was a complete mystery to us. I did not know if the route was on roads, gravel roads, trails, or what. We started out on a trail that hugged a chin link fence. My handle bars clipped the fence, and I quickly dismounted and walked my bike til I was past the fence. Then when it looked like we were gonna climb up and over a rail road track, the course markings sent us under the bridge, and then up a steep gravel reinforced embankment on the other side. It was like loose scree, and the thought that the whole course might be this hard raced through our minds.

Fortunately, we got onto a paved road, and crossed the river. This bridge was a treat. A good breeze couples with sweaty shirts worked like air conditioning. Down a paved road through a river access park, all the way to the end of the road. Now where??
The Jean-Pierre Choteau Trail. This is an old trail that has all but been forgotten. A renewed interest especially from RD Joel Everett has breathed new life into this gem of a trail, which extends 60+ miles from Ft Gibson to Catoosa alongside the navigation channel. Opening this section took days of marking and carving out the route through dense thickets and jungle-like bamboo and wild tall grass.

None of the three of us are accomplished mountain bikers, but we moved slowly and carefully, through the bike leg. I enjoyed the ride early on. It seemed hard but very doable. 

Anything technical or steep we walked out bikes. Everything else was a steady pedal/coast. And fun.

Twice on the trail we came across old very narrow steel bridges. These were barely wide enough to walk our bikes across. I doubt that even the speedsters rode across them. We crossed another creek that should have had one of these bridges. AS deep 6' ravine that was 8-10' wide looked like a formidable obstacle, but we worked like a team, with Mitch on one side, Channing on the other, and me in the bottom and we handed the bikes over and didn't blow much time. We were still having fun.

The fun took a detour when Channing got a flat tire. I had brought a couple of spare tubes, and we made like a Nascar pit crew and got his flat fixed. My CO2 applicator was in the seat-bad on my road bike though. I did have a handheld pump that pumped one thimble of air per stroke, so 275 pumps later, we had his tire inflated. 1/4 mile later, he had another flat. This time it was the back tire, but we still got it fixed in decent time. But the group we passed caught us. They were also having bike trouble. Mitch tried to help with a bent derailer, but needed a wrench or pliers, and could not do them any good.

Channing, with fresh tires (well, tubes) found his mojo and was cutting through the woods like a kid with a new bike. We got into a part of the course with a LOT of mud holes, and Channing plowed through these with reckless abandon. He looked like a pro!

In places, briers reached out from the newly cut tunnels through the thicket, and moth arms and legs were shredded. A little blood looks tough though.

The two tubes I brought turned out to be way short of what we needed. The newly cut trail could have been the cause. Cut stalks of bamboo were like buried sharpened pencils planted pointy-side upward. Steel belted tires with titanium tubes filled with slime would probably not have been any better. My bike had slow leaks in both the front and back. I'd stop and do 250 pumps in each tire, and that'd last a mile. I came down a steep hill with a rocky bottom, and must have cut the front tube badly because it would hold no air. With two miles to go, it was a hike-a-bike affair for me.

As a team. we were required to stay together. As friends, we would have stayed together anyway.

The rotten part--the last mile or so was much smoother and really rideable. It was heating up! I had drained my Camelback, but still had my water bottle. Mitch was out of water, and Channing was getting low. We shared what we had, knowing we were close to the canoe checkpoint. 

This bridge was a welcome sight. Here, we boarded our canoe, and we had a LOADED cooler--iced down beer, water, sodas, Gatorade, and BEER!

Knowing the 5 mile canoe we had done in years past was tough, 7+ miles on a 100 degree day seemed pretty scary. But we all hydrated, and got a good rowing routine going and paddled near the bank in a straight line and made good time--as good as you can do in a 2 mph current against a 25 mph wind. We were not in the main wide navigation channel, and the river did not seem right. After a while I remember this was called Three Rivers Trail for a good reason. Three rivers converge into the Arkansas which by then is the main navigation channel. We were in the Verdigris which is more narrow, and the wind and waves were not as bad. But when we hit the main channel, it was like rowing across the ocean. We could see the HWY 62 bridge which is very near the start/finish and while it looked like we were close, it was actually 2 miles away. It took us almost an hour to go those two miles against 30-35 mph winds. WOW.

We were the last ones in. The finish line was still up, the clock was running, and we finished to a round of applause and pictures from the race photographer. 
We were third in our division. The group behind us dropped. We have finishers medals and trophies coming. Cool!

Joel Everett does such a good job planning and organizing this event. It is still on my must-do list for next year.

Much mud is still being scraped out of my ears. Mitch washed my bikes off before bringing them back by this evening. Good memories were made.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

midweek drivel

Not every blog post needs to be a long drawn out chronology of a race, although that's what my blog has evolved to. I used to post about trivial little runs and such. I should get back to that on occasion.Last weekend between the July 4 stuff and a sultry Sunday afternoon, Dana, Jake, and I twice hit the trailz on Turkey Mountain.

Despite being is a drought for the third year (over 8 inches behind on our annual rainfall), things are still really green. Lush green wild grass likes to grow over trailz, and this gives the neighborhood ticks excellent departure platforms to grab onto hairy passing legs (usually mine.) I picked up a lone tick, who got the ride of his life ending with a super-water-slide ride right down the garbage disposal in my kitchen sink.

Anyone who runs at Turkey Mountain knows where this picture was taken. We have said for years this would be a good place to watch the July 4 fireworks display. I think so--but I know from experience that getting a full cooler of sodas and beers to this location is a monumental endeavor. Been there done that.

This time of year, the heat and humidity really dictates the pace and overall distance of our runs. Dana and I carry water bottles, and I have a newly (actually accidentally) acquired California Innovations 32 oz bottle with an insulated neoprene sleeve. We carry a collapsible dog bowl for Jake, and he humors us with a token slurp but usually ignores our offers. His preference is pond water. We approve of the pond on the blue trail, one pond on the west side just off the Snake Trail--and Mooser Creek. The other ponds are either off our usual Jake routes, or are just way to swampy. We made one exception a few weeks back, and Jake waded in and quickly decided it wasn't good enough. As he was wading back out of the murky slop of a pond, a water moccasin slithered across the pond not far from where he was.

Jake wades, sits, lounges--he basically swims like I do (except he doesn't need floaties.)

Getting these runs in does a lot for us. Trail running makes Dana happy. I am not as grumpy a customer, I can log the miles as a mild bit of training, and I have lost a couple of lbs (that are sometimes gained right back after a couple of beers.)

Jake says running trailz just completes him--plus he has got his schoolgirl figure back.