Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Few Worthy Diversions, or Where I've Been Lately

Hey folks! I have not written much lately. By "not much" I mean nothing, and by "lately" I mean the past three weeks.

So what has occupied me, you ask? What could be important enough to keep me away from the ol' blog for so long? Gather 'round, and I'll tell you a tale of home improvement, endless manual labor, and wilderness adventure!

We've been sort of remodeling our house. This is an ongoing project that started late last summer and, if everything continues to progress at its current rate, will be finished sometime around 2085. We hired a contractor to do all the major work, so we now have a garage and several rooms that were previously non-existant, plus a new roof. But we wanted to do the interior and finish work ourselves, and to refresh some of the existing rooms.

We decided the main level of the house would get hardwood floors. I bought the material weeks ago--32 big boxes full of birch tongue-and-groove planks. I got my hands on the special staple gun that tacks down the planks. I prepped a few areas of the subfloor that needed some repair work. Installing the wood was all that remained.

Do you have any idea how much work it is to install a hardwood floor? Sure, for a professional, it would only take a day or two. Three days, tops. I am a perfectionist and also an amateur at woodworking projects. Folks, this is a deadly combination. So I spent two weeks measuring, cutting, placing, and stapling birch wood flooring in place. This is pretty much all I did every day, before and after my full time job. Thank goodness my parents came to assist several days. Dad was a huge help, and he's going on sixty-eleven years old! I know how sore I was each night. I can only imagine how he felt.

The birch covers our entire entry way, dining room, kitchen, and family room. About 600 square feet in all. And it looks b-e-a-utiful! We did a downright fantastic job, if I may say so. One more (big) step checked off the home improvement list.

Cooper enjoying the new floor in our family room.

Our entry way. Please disregard the lack of base boards, and
the unpainted walls and door. I'll get to that stuff soon.

Soooo, with the floor done, I was able to take a few guilt-free days off and go on an epic motorcycle adventure with a bunch of friends. We rode about 500 miles in two days, 80% of it on dirt roads. Desolate dirt roads. Roads with no town, village, store, or sign of human presence for many miles in any direction. We rode through some of the most remote territory in the U.S.

Our route started at the Golden Spike National Historic Site, where the first transcontinental railroad was completed. From there, we retraced the path of the railroad across the Great Salt Lake desert, then turned South toward the town of Wendover, U.S.A. (We call it that because it straddles the Utah-Nevada state line.) In Wendover, most of the guys got motel rooms, but I and a few others chose to camp out. I've always felt it's not really an adventure unless you sleep on the ground. On day two, we picked up the Pony Express and Overland Stage route, following it East, back toward civilization.

I've driven some of these roads before, but never the entire loop, and never on my motorcycle. It was a sometimes hot, often tiring, occasionally scary, usually dusty, always dry, and definitely fun, rewarding trip.

We viewed the Great Salt Lake from vantage points most people don't get to see.

We rode through ghost towns, old train stops, and old Pony Express stations.

We visited graveyards, enormous valleys, rugged mountain passes, and earthwork sculpture. We even rode our motorcycles right through some gigantic art.

Since I'm aware of the internet rule that says "Pictures, or it didn't happen," here are a few shots of the weekend's fun:

My 1993 BMW R-100 GSPD, all loaded and ready to go.
It is the perfect machine for a trip like this.
Elephant Rock, just North of the lake.
An old rail bed, probably built in the 1860s, but unused now for many decades.
Scenic vistas abound. Here are millions of acres of nothing but desert.
It's surprising how much of Utah looks like this.
We're not running out of space. Water, on the other hand, is another matter.
Campsite. I slept very well that night.
A cabin at Simpson Springs Station along the Pony Express route.

Properly attired for a long day in the saddle.
Who says too much sun can make a fellow loopy?

Yoda once told Luke Skywalker, "Adventure? Excitement? A jedi craves not these things." If that's true, then a jedi I will never be. But I must admit that it was nice to come home to my wife and kids and our lovely new floor.


  1. That looks like a great trip! I would love one day to bike (not motorcycle) a Pony Express trail. Of course it would be more authentic to ride a horse, but have you seen how tall those things get?!?! I'd be to scared of falling off!

    Congratulations on the flooring. I'm not home repair guru but I've watched This Old House on PBS and know what a pain flooring can be!!

    1. Experiencing the trail by bicycle is not a popular activity, but it could be done.

      The Pony Express riders were a brave bunch of young men. They didn't worry about falling off, but about weather, bandits, and Indian attacks.

  2. I'm surprised you didn't make a small section of floor to roll up and bring with you to have a solid sleeping surface.
    Looks like a great trip!
    I would love to do one of those one day.

    1. Come on out, Guap! You can stay at our place (we have plenty of floor space to sleep on). We'll find a bike you can borrow and I'll show you around the desert, then we can enjoy a nice dessert somewhere. If you don't want to see the place on 2 wheels, it can be done by truck as well. How does TMWGITU feel about wilderness travel?

    2. I saw you added the floor pics. Great job! Looks like all the "measure 75 times, cut once" worked out.
      Wilderness travel is fine for both of us. Unfortunately, she won't let me get a motorcycle. Haven't ridden one in years. She's right - NYC isn't a great town to ride in, but it's still a point of contention between us.

  3. I love that you are a perfectionist and an amateur woodworker. That's a promising combination. I'm very impressed with your floor, the camp site and the zombie catching dog.

    1. Thanks, Katia!

      Someday I'll post a video of Cooper attacking a zombie that is attacking our kids. He's a really good dog.