Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Year of Riding Dangerously

I arrived in Phoenix last year, in August. The day Judy and I unloaded the rental truck and set up my apartment it was 114 degrees. Judy stayed a few days, then flew back to Kansas to keep the house from falling apart while we had it up for sale. She also continued to serve in her position as city council member of the small town we lived in for about 4 years. After a year, we finally accepted an offer on our house that wasn't a big loss. It was contingent on the sale of the buyers house, and the buyer of that house had a contingency on his. It was like a line of dominoes waiting to fall. Finally, the dominoes are falling and with any luck we'll be making the final move in late October.

We've moved several times over the years, and it has usually meant that I lived in an apartment while Judy stayed behind to mop up. This time has been by far the longest time we have spent apart, and we are both looking forward to being together again. Its amazing that she's put up with me for 34 years.

Being a bicyclist since I was about 4, getting out and riding has long been my activity of choice. This year, its been an escape from boredom of living alone. Its great exercise. Its fun, and for me at least, its cheap. Yes I'm a cheapskate. My Klein hardtail, bought used in Kansas City in 2000, is about 12 years old and has taken a beating this year. A few mornings ago, we met a guy on the trail who was riding a titanium Edison that had to cost 6 grand. We asked a few questions about it, and when my buddy Karl asked how much it weighed. When he responded 27.1 lbs, I commented, "That's only about 3 pounds heavier than my bike." The momentary flash across his face was priceless. He glanced at my bike dismissively, and was suddenly befuddled, not able to come up with a way of calling Mr. Klein a piece of shit without insulting the old, fat and slow geezer leaning on it.

Through this year in Phoenix, mountain biking has been almost a life saver. Without the Mountain Preserve a mile away, and a small group of friends to ride with, I would have done little other than work and sleep. Karl has been a regular riding partner for about 6 months. We have been up at 0 dark early about 5 times a week, meeting at the 32nd St trailhead at 5 and riding until 6. Sometimes we've pushed it hard and improved skills and fitness, other times we ride a couple of miles, solve some of the world's problems, ride a couple more, solve more problems, etc. until the hour is gone and we're both looking at being late starting our days. We both resolved that we hate riding in the early morning, but we keep at it because, "It's good for us." Eat your vegetables.

Now that the love of my life and I are going to be together again, biking will take a back seat to the many opportunities the Phoenix area will open up to us. I'll still get out a couple times a week. After all, it is still my exercise of choice, but Judy deserves to be treated like the sweetheart she is.

Friday, September 12, 2008

More Interesting Weather

One of those microburst columns happened in the west valley Wednesday evening. I got a call from my consulting engineer who has a construction trailer out near Festival Ranch. Seems the microburst knocked the trailer over on its side. Unfortunately, the trailer, 40 ft long and 8 ft wide, fell over on a water tank which exploded and threw water over all the engineering drawings. Uh oh.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Stormy Weather

With Gustav visiting the Gulf Coast, it seems timely that we had a bit of a storm here in Phoenix last Thursday night. Lots of lightning, rain, and winds up to about 100 mph. Pretty impressive. Apparently, three storm cells converged in the area and pretty well hammered the area. Roofs were blown off, trees knocked down, and widespread power outages.

The most interesting thing about this storm wasn't that it happened, but where the damage occurred. 40th St between Shea and Cactus had downed power lines and was still closed on Sunday. I made a work related run out to the west valley and noticed that trees all through the Festival Ranch development were leaning or knocked over. I'd bet half the trees, mostly desert willows, were ruined. In a lot of neighborhoods around Phoenix, trees, cacti and bushes were damaged.

It struck me this morning while riding in the preserve, that there was virtually no damage to any of the native vegetation. A limb torn from an occasional Palo Verde, but that was about it. Quite a variation from the extensive damage thru the rest of the city. My guess is that all the non-native and replanted vegetation isn't native for a reason. That, and most people over water whatever they plant, making the ground around the plants a bit softer than naturally occurring plants.

The apartment complex where I live was hard hit. Limbs are all over the ground. Here in the desert, we have pine trees(!?) palms, etc. Not exactly the best choice in a place that gets almost no rain.