The following is a true story, only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Double Header

What started as a day I didn't even want to get up for, turned into a fun filled and exhausting exploit in southern Minnesota. When the alarm on my watch went off at 6:50 am I thought of every excuse during the next ten minutes of why I should just stay there until the second one went off at 7. Based on the forecast from the night before and a quick glance out the window I knew it was not going to be a sunny, warm "bluebird day". There were two events going on that day, both of which I really wanted to participate in....I just wanted it to be nice outside.  During that ten minutes of indecision I also pieced together a plan in which I would be able to do I just had to drag my ass out of bed, get a bunch of gear together, and be on the road soon. I was able to do just that, and by 7:47 am I was ready and out the door for a gravel bike race in Miesville and a caving trip leaving out of Lake City.
The standard gravel grinder pre-race meeting...stand on car,truck or SUV, tell people not to do anything stupid and have fun.   This was really great race ....I'm sorry I could not stick around or thank the promoter.    Thanks for a fun race and your hard work.

Chuker and G$      1st and 4th     

I was treated to a wonderful tailwind when my route split from the main pack....unfortunately it was short lived and I would battle the wind for a most of the ride back to Miesville

Beautiful scenery portion of the course when I dropped down to the Cannon River near Miesville Ravine Park.....have to ride this section again 
  The Miesville Grinder started at 9am sharp...and he meant it !  I had less than 10 minutes to spare when I got there, I was dressed and on the bike when the racer meeting was called. The Miesville Grinder was a short one by gravel standards at 56 miles. I thought it was the perfect length when I signed up over a month ago and was even more happy when the night before I discovered there was a 40 mile option that would go perfectly with my time frame. Based on Google maps it was 36 minutes from Miesville to Lake City. That meant I would have to be back to my van by 11:30 am and be motoring if I wanted to meet my caving friends before they rolled out of Kwik Trip at 12:15 pm to the cave entrance. I had an excellent time on the 40 mile route. I rode with the lead pack until mile 17 ++ when my route veered the opposite direction and I was by myself to the end. I made it back to the van at 11:26 am with four minutes to spare.....heck yeah, was going caving now for sure.
The approach to the mouth of the cave is down in a very rugged wash. 

Before going in.....CLEAN 

most of the passage is small with very few places to fully stand up .....cave has about 1000 feet of passage ...I think 

Randy coming out of  a small passage from below into the Funnel room

Yes ...much of it was this tight...most of Tim's body fills this passage...he is skinny so it's no problem
 At 12:10 pm I rolled into the Kwik Trip and a few minutes later we were off to Hiawatha Caverns in Wabasha County. Our group numbering 6, spent the next 4 hours in the cave squeezing through the many tight passages and doing our best to avoid the raccoon and coyote shit as well as many bones and skulls from said animals. The cave was a lot of fun despite the resemblance to a wild animal toilet. There were not too many features (pretties) or living parts (speleothems) of the cave, but the tight crawls which required some exhaling to move through were fun.  Honestly I can't tell you why this was fun, in the past these really tight caves kind of freak me out when I get stuck. huh? We exited the cave around 5:30 pm from there I made one more stop at Kwik Trip to THOROUGHLY wash my hands and grab a snack before hightailing it home.
One of the few "live" sections of the cave....I know it's not much, but we were all geeking out to see it

Long section of live live, I mean it's growing

Not too much water in the cave 

soda straws

This old cart has been in there for who knows how long (40's 50's ? )when the cave was being dug out in the hopes to commercialize it. That obviously didn't happen and remains here to this day

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mammoth Cave National Park

It's been a couple weeks now since my boys and I were down in Kentucky for spring break. Three of our friends came with as well, Adam W and his two sons E.W. and D.W. . Noticeably missing were our wives who stayed home either to work, or relax, or a little of both.
This pulley on the belt tensioner decided to take a crap on the way out near Madison. Thankfully Advance Auto Parts had a complete replacement and I was able to fix it in the a Walmart parking lot in about 15 minutes.

The Frazier Museum in Louisville KY  

The entrance to Mammoth. We took a hike down here the night we can't go in (locked door) but it was nice to see without a huge crowd

Only got picks of Big D on the first tour since I had no idea where the other two were ( up front with the guide asking questions)

The cave is absolutely huge. could not get any good pics since no flash is allowed and the tour seems to hustle everyone along with very little opportunity to stop. 

dinner is served

We crossed this ferry (free) on the Green River to go mountain biking. It holds two or three vehicles and takes about 30 seconds to get across.

you can't go mountain biking and not get the sweet shot of a creek crossing
  It was a pure dad's weekend where the soda pop was flowing and candy and sweets were tossed back with reckless abandon. I chose Mammoth Cave based upon a trip I had planned  the year before, but skipped due to uncharacteristic snow way down south and the opportunity to triple my paycheck with some fat overtime. Normally work NEVER comes between me and a planned vacation but if the trip was going to suck anyway why not make a shit load of money and buy myself something nice?
Each of the boys took about 8 passes on the same creek and got pretty wet

group shot

Good day for a canoe ride !

I wonder why they named it the Green River ?

Within a few minutes of pushing off we were able to paddle into this short cave.

At the last minute I threw a couple fishing poles in the van for the boys....Super Y caught this small mouth bass about 15 minutes after dropping a would be the only one of the day,  he was very proud of himself...... I was very proud of him for landing it by himself while G Man and I were navigating the river
 .We were gone a total of seven days, squeezing in a trip to a weapons and warfare museum, two cave tours on separate days, a mountain bike ride on real single track within a national park,  an all day canoe ride down the green river, and some hiking thrown in for good measure.
We took a little side trip on the River Styx to go see a spring... 

Origin of the River Styx

The fish Super Y caught in the morning would later be his dinner

Got the boys to stick together on the second cave tour.

The cave is awesome, but I don't think tours are for "caver's" like myself. The group is over a hundred (120) and the guide is intent on getting everyone through the tour as fast as possible. 

Hike along the Green River

The bikes were awesome for getting around the camp and the visitor center.....I never go anywhere without a bike for this reason.......oh yeah, the train is the way visitors  used to get to the cave for tours back in the day.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


A couple weeks ago while out riding in the city, I realized at although I had passed by many interesting buildings countless times, I had never really been inside most of them. The IDS tower in particular, spiked my interest. When I got home I wanted to see if they had an observation deck, to my dismay I found out they did have one, but it closed in 83'.
There it is


  This search also led me to the Foshay Tower, it has a very interesting history and an observation deck that's still open. From there a plan was made to for my boys and I to "summit" the tower on their first day of spring break. Unfortunately Lynn was not able to attend due to a differing spring break schedule. On Thursday we all packed a lunch (treats) and headed out mid-morning. We took the light-rail to down town Minneapolis, walked several blocks down Nicollet Mall, hung a left and were soon standing at the heavily decorated elevator doors of the Foshay Tower.

There is a small museum in the tower as well
  It cost me 8 bucks and the kids were free, not a bad deal. The observation deck was awesome, with it's open air, sidewalk width passage, all the way around to building, covered by a steel cage. It was beautiful sunny day and we spent at least a half hour looking out over the city and surrounding suburbs. When you get the chance I would highly recommend a trip to the top.
Took lunch in the Crystal Court next to the IDS Tower

Super Y gives this guy his can of  pop after he reads the sign he is holding, stating "Anything Helps".

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Chimney Rock

With lots of time on my hands recently, I've been able to get out mid week for some long as I'm home by the time the kids get off the bus. Although the weather around here has been shit (cold that won't go away) I don't want this free time to go to waste, so I've been getting out anyway. It's been hard to motivate myself to ride or do anything else, so I have been searching out places that are unique, or made to be unique in the way they are completed, and are also within striking distance of my allotted time.

The gravel on this day was perfect, I wished we rode a lot more of it

Chimney Rock...  SNA
  Last week a friend of mine posted a pic of Chimney Rock on facebook and then I remembered a post by This Guy and I knew this would be the target for a nice ride in the country. The directions from Larry's post were right on, but for some reason I thought it was in northern Iowa, so I never really looked into it. It turns out it was not in Iowa, so I put together a route from ArcFlash's place.
Lunch on an outcropping just up the hill from the chimney

Ancient inscriptions ? 

 Best in Schow, AF and myself headed south for a 50+ mile route to see the Chimney. Strangely the rock seemed to just appear out of a nowhere in a primarily flat landscape of farm fields. At the rock we ate lunch and then headed back with a nice tailwind and high temps in the 40's. It was a great ride but.............. I'm still looking forward to 70.   Thanks for the inspiration L.S. and T.S.
Not Chimney Rock