Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ridin' With Critters and Dynamo

So, the other day Dynamo and I went to the park for our after work spin on Lakeview. On the way to the parking area we saw a pretty deer just taking a stroll and eating leaves!


And...we weren't the only ones on the trail as usual. The first trailgoer was this great box turtle. He was so fast. We even thought he might actually try to climb the log!


Dynamo said that those turtles are everywhere and couldn't believe we stopped for yet another one. This is after we saw 2 of them on Sunday on our gravel road (which we had to photograph as well might I add). I just think they're so cool!

I was so excited about my first finding of the day after less than 2 miles of riding!

That is until we rounded a corner and what did we see? Yes, you got it...a GIANT black snake sprawled across the trail.


He was in no hurry to move, but did start slithering slowly away from us once he noticed we had stopped and were watching him. I was trying deperately to get my camera out and ready. I got the following closeup which might help you see how icky he was!


I guess I'm not totally cured of my snake phobia! I was a little uneasy after encountering that guy, but willing to continue onto Lakeview 2. We were rolling along smoothly chatting and laughing when on my way uphill I glanced to my left when something black caught my eye. You guessed it! The second black snake just to the left of the trail. He actually had his head raised as if he was watching to see where the commotion was coming from. All I could think to say was "Jeff! Snake! Keep GOING!!" Then, Dynamo said, "You wanna go back and take a picture?" To that I said, "No way!" I was so surprised to see that critter on the side with his head up that I didn't want to go back and inspect further! I really don't know why his head was up and wasn't interested in testing the situation!

So, since I was a little shaken up I figured I better take my "Rachel Mojo" (our friend Elise refers to my snake and critter finding ability as this) and jump off the singletrack and onto the fireroads for a while. Dynamo is right in that we encounter most of our critter friends on the trails in the evening hours after work. I know that they're all out hunting and we're just interrupting, but I think somedays there are more than usual. Also, this time of year they seem to be moving much slower than normal. The heat really is too much for them at times I think.

We finished our ride with about 14 miles. I was feeling really good. It's a shame I let the critters get the best of me! There's always tomorrow!


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Firecracker Cake Betty Crocker Style

So, I saw this absolutely gorgeous festive cake out there in cyberspace from Betty Crocker. I just had to try it for myself. Here's how mine turned out...


I think it looked very 4th of July-ish and yummy! It was super easy and from what I hear it tasted pretty good. I sent it to work with Dynamo for his office friends!

I do like to share some type of goodie for each holiday to make our friends and co-workers feel special...Well, because they are!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mountain Bike Monday - 12 Hours of Cranky Monkey


On Saturday, Dynamo and Mariooochee participated in a team race called 12 Hours of Cranky Monkey at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, VA. The guys drove up early on Saturday morning to begin the race at 8 a.m. Their plan was to take turns riding each lap. Dynamo was to start out. The race course was a little over 9 miles.

Marioochee's girlfriend, Elise, and I arrived around 4:30 p.m. and when we drove up there were tents everywhere!


Our guys' tent is the 2nd one on the left in this next picture.


As soon as we got there Dynamo was coming in from one of his laps...


In the team relay while one rider is riding the course the other is waiting and resting. When the first rider comes in the other one must be ready to take the "baton" (in this case it was a timing chip they wore around their neck) and roll on!

Dynamo and Marioochee were a great team! They worked so hard all day long!

Here's a pic of Dynamo passing the necklace to Marioochee...


And, Marioochee waiting for the chip...



Dynamo looks pretty good coming out of the transition area...


He had some repair work to do on his handlebars after a minor incident...


We waited back at the tent for Marioochee. Dynamo munched on sweet potato chips...


Elise was so kind to share her scones from Panera...


Clearly we relaxed and laughed while the guys worked their butts off! I do consider us good spectators! We are an excellent support crew good at pushing food, water, cheering, and taking photos!

Dynamo went out for his last lap and we patiently waited. Marioochee got the report that if Dynamo passed certain riders then there was a chance they could finish in 5th place in their class.

So, we waited to see Dynamo come down the final stretch of the course. When we saw him we were thrilled.


And, so was he (even though you can't tell here - he just finished after riding a total of over 50 miles and a long 12 hour day of riding and waiting)...


After they found out they had indeed placed 5th they were chatting about the course and the events of the day.


Elise took our picture while waiting...


We waited for the awards ceremony where the guys took the podeum for their 5th place finish! Dynamo completed 5 laps and Marioochee completed 4 laps for a grand total of 9 laps in 11 hours 18 minutes 16 seconds. Rock on!! It was a long day, but worth it for the glass mug!!

Here are the stars...

5th Place Finishers Cranky Monkey 2011

Overall, they finished 84 out of 188! Great job, guys!!

To see the results by class click here.

To see the overall results click here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thankful for Wildlife?

I was telling Dynamo that I should do a Thankful Thursday post about being thankful for my snake friends. I've always been a little torn about how I feel. At times I thought the snakes were haunting me. I even researched animal totems and possible reasons that I could be seeing all of these snakes. But, in the end I think the bottom line is that when you bike as much as Dynamo and I do we're gonna see critters. We're gonna see more than most people because we bike anywhere from 25 to 45 miles each week. And, when you start early or late in the day, that's when they're most active, especially in the summertime.

So, I've decided to be at peace with nature, especially the slithering creatures. We have come to an understanding with one another. It doesn't mean that they don't scare the poop out of me when I am surprised by them, but it does mean that I understand that they have a place. I am in their habitat disturbing their life and daily rituals, so why should I get upset that they're there?!?

I LOVE when we see lots of activity in the park. I enjoy seeing the squirrels gathering food and playing, the deer, especially the babies with spots, and the turtles.

Dynamo took a ride the other night while I was helping mom out with Bible School dinner. Here's what he saw...



And, when MBM, Dynamo, and I rode on Tuesday evening we saw this turtle in the middle of the fireroad.

Box Turtle Poco 3

He was struggling so hard. When we finally got a close inspection we realized that he only had 3 legs. WOW!! It's amazing how they survive. Dynamo helped him up over the hill since he was like a tire stuck in the mud...just spinning!

Box Turtle Boco 2

And...we couldn't leave the park without checking on our "favorite" snake family. Since it was getting dark, we knew they would be out hunting. Sure enough...

Snake Family

The picture shows 2, but there were 4 total. I guess naming them Jack and Dianne won't work now. So, I'm looking for naming suggestions. Got any?

Dynamo and MBM were very interested as you can see here!

MBM and Dynamo Snake Watching

It felt like a National Geographic episode. Talk about being close to nature! Happy Thursday!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mountain Bike Monday - Happy Birthday Poco!

Heritage Center Poco

Well, this year is the 75th anniversary of Virginia's state parks! How wonderful!!! The park was alive with all sorts of activity over the weekend. There were nature hikes, scavenger hunts, animal observations, etc. Much to be done at the park over the weekend! It was so nice to see all the people out celebrating the parks! It's a nice change from the middle of winter when there's hardly anyone around!

Flowers at Poco

We went for our usual Saturday morning spin starting early to beat the heat! When I say early I mean about 7:30 a.m. As the summer continues we will start even earlier! We tackled the Lakeview Trails first and then made our way over to the green and blue trails!  After that we stopped by the Heritage Center where we found all sorts of people and activities. We stopped to chat with some people before heading back to the truck via fireroads.

Dam at Poco

While chatting with some park rangers we found out that the snakes from the other day actually have lived at the park in the same location for about 6 years! The picture of the dam above is right before the bridge where they live. YIKES! I can't believe that as many times as we've crossed that bridge that we've never noticed them lounging there! When we crossed on Saturday we didn't see them, but the ranger said he had just seen them a little while earlier. He confirmed that they are, in fact, northern watersnakes. He said they like to hang out in the culvert pipes or on the rocks and let the water rush over them. What a cool life huh?

Let's just say that according to my snake book, which is the official Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries book, the northern watersnake has long teeth and will bite repeatedly. So, I really don't want to make one mad by trying to inspect them too closely. So, from now on we'll ride by and wave letting them just be!

So, after an adventurous fact-finding morning, we completed our ride with about 25 miles! I just love learning about nature! I think it ultimately will make me less afraid. At least I hope so!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tote-ally Cool

Beach Tote

First, I'd like to apologize for the quality of the pictures in this post. I was in a bit of a hurry, and the room was dark, and I'm an amateur, etc. etc.! But, I wanted to show you the beach tote I made for a friend who's getting married soon!

Since she loves France, I tried to find a fabric that reminded me of that. Amy Butler's Love fabric line spoke French to me!

Beach Tote

I decided to make the tote simple and functional. Basically, the bride can take it on her honeymoon and carry her sunscreen and towels.

Beach Tote

The tote is different on each side! I love doing that for some reason. I think it makes it seem like two bags in one!

I also added gussets on the sides because I think it helps to give the bag shape.

Beach Tote

Have a great weekend. You know what we'll be doing! Yes...biking!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hydrangeas all around

Hydrangea Card

I've been preparing a bridal shower/wedding gift for some friends who are getting married in July. The bride loves hydrangeas because they remind her of the time she spent in France. So, I dug out my hydrangea stamp and decided to make her some thank yous...because a bride can never have too many of these!

Hydrangea Card

And...the background stamp is French writing!!

Hydrangea Card

Hydrangea Card

So, I wrapped the stack up and they're all ready to go.

Hydrangea Card

Check back tomorrow to see another part of her gift!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hymn # 308

Rose Prayer Thinking of You Card

We needed to send a thinking of you card recently. I hate having to send them sometimes. Often, because it means something sad has happened. So, I try to make them as happy and pretty as I can. My goal is to bring a smile in a time of sadness. This rose was just glorious to me!

Rose Prayer Thinking of You Card

And, I decided to use a page from an old hymnal I got at the thrift store. This idea is courtesy of my friend.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mountain Bike Monday - Bridges over Poco

View from Bridge

On Saturday we caught up with our friends, Rachel and Clay, and went for a nice ride at Poco. We met them early and rode about 10 miles together. We rode from the top lot at the Park down to the Blue Trail and back. It was a great ride with two lovely people! We only had 1 issue and that was me getting a flat. I ran over a stick and it snapped the metal valve stem right in half. Crazy! So, Dynamo and Clay got me all fixed up and we continued onward. Unfortunately, we were so busy talking and visiting that we didn't get any pictures with them. I'm so sorry! I'll do better next time!

After we left our friends we ventured over to the Lakeview Trails and did another 13 miles or so. I'm not really sure because in all the commotion of the morning I got distracted and forgot to set my cyclometer at first, and then during the tire change it got reset somehow. So, we're estimating the mileage on the lower side.

On our ride together we encountered one black snake. He was on the side of the trail and we didn't even see him...that is until we were right next to him. He got scared and started slithering. He was "running" in fear. I screamed and kept on pedaling. Dynamo said the snake started to come towards him in a state of confusion (probably because my scream scared him silly). So, Dynamo said all he could think to do was take his feet out of his clips and lift his feet up. I didn't see this, but he said his feet were about on top of his handlebars. This was good thinking on Dynamo's part! We had no way of knowing which way Mr. Snake was going to "run." We got settled down and started laughing! If only we had the video camera on my seat post. It would have caught the whole ordeal!

Yesterday we had a nice spin at the Park. I met Dynamo after work and we did a warmup lap on this new section of trail we noticed the other day. Talk about beautiful!! It was a beautiful new bridge!

Bridge 2

It was so exciting to discover this new "connection." It is a new route for the campers to get to the pool area. More new terrain for us to ride!


Of course we had to stop to take pictures!

Rachel and Jeff on Bridge

Bridge 4

We ventured over to the green and blue trails after our warmup loop and had a great ride! The temperature was excellent. The bugs weren't biting! The trails were just perfect for our tires according to Dynamo!

We completed about 11 miles! It was a "Good ride, hun!" kind of ride!

Bridge 3

But, I didn't mention what we saw...

Yes...two snakes!

When we went over the bridge at the Beaver Creek Dam at the beginning of the warmup, Dynamo noticed two snakes in the water.

snakes with arrows

The arrows are to show you their location.

The crazy part is that they weren't moving very much. It seemed as though the one on the left in the picture was stuck under the rock. So, we decided to leave them alone in case they were just "hunting." So, at the end of our ride I told Dynamo I just had to go back and check to see if they were really stuck or what. Well, they were still there. We knew then that something was wrong. I doesn't seem possible that a snake would be stuck, but trust me...he was! The other one was just sitting there watching his friend/girlfriend struggle to breathe!

In this photo you'll see the head of the one on the left come up for air.

snake head arrow

And, you know I don't like snakes one bit, but we just couldn't not get help for them just in case they were really in trouble. Who knows what could've happened. So, I talked to the people at the ranger station, and they said they would go down with a shovel to free them up. I sure hope they were ok!

So, we'll end with a happy picture!

Rachel and Jeff on Bridge 2

Hope your Monday was fantastic!