grrgoyl: (Satan's Energy Drink)
[personal profile] grrgoyl
I've got this year's Parade of Homes on-deck, but frankly it was even more lackluster than last, and my heart just isn't in it. So first some smaller news:

The good news is I got a notice from a collection agency that I owed the remaining balance in full of nearly $200 on my hospital bill. This was confusing to me, as not only have I been paying them faithfully $50 a month, they've been taking it automatically so I KNOW I haven't missed any payments. I was even more confused because, by my reckoning, I actually owed them close to $500.

I reluctantly called the number to get to the bottom of it. Long story short, it's another case of "pay X amount now and we'll forgive the rest of it." Tery says sometimes they just want to "clean up their books" or something, though I can't see why anyone would walk away from money rightfully owed to them, particularly money that was actually being paid. But hey, pay $200 to save $300? Groupons never has deals so good.

So, another $86 to the ambulance company and I AM DONE. Maybe they'll tell me they'll settle for $20?

~*~

We have a new neighbor below us. Nice quiet nonsmoking Kara decided she wanted to live with her boyfriend (so she said; we think she was tired of listening to the still ongoing Feline Wars every morning at 3 am. For that matter, so are we).

It took surprisingly no time for her replacement to move in, considering how many other units seem to sit perpetually empty in the complex. I met him one morning returning from my bike ride -- Mike, a heavyset, 50ish, meek-looking guy. Not unlike the ill-fated Kent, of never making a peep before dropping dead of a heart attack fame.

Mike has been here about two weeks and so far I've been positively beastly to him. In our first conversation he won me over instantly by starting with "I haven't rented an apartment in about 20 years, so please let me know if I'm making too much noise." I asked him to do the same for us, explaining he really only had to contend with our cats racing around at all hours. "Oh, I have two golden retrievers back in my house in Pine Valley" (I think that's a housing community south of us). "If you have a house why are you renting an apartment?" I asked, a fair question I thought. He suddenly looked really uncomfortable and confessed, "My son just went to college and my wife, ummm, wanted to make the most of her empty nest syndrome."

Well, what the hell does THAT mean? I interpreted it as, "The kid's gone and I want the whole house to myself now." Without thinking I said to him, "That seems kind of harsh." He turned a deep red and we went our separate ways. I felt bad, it seemed a really embarrassing detail to share with someone you just met 30 seconds ago, but he needs to come up with a better cover story, it seems to me.

The next time I saw him we said hi, then for some reason I couldn't just drop it there. I said we had been admiring his satellite dish (a fancy 3-room jobbie with HD) -- and couldn't drop it THERE, adding, "Seems a bit excessive for such a small place." He blushed and shrugged helplessly, and closed his door. I simply shouldn't be allowed to speak to this man ever again.

Just tonight a new theory occurred to me: What if he's a serial killer, but also a really bad liar, and this "empty nest syndrome" was the best he could come up with on short notice? In which case I must be at the top of his list by now. Notify the authorities if I don't update within a week or two. But so far he is very quiet and doesn't smoke, so it's all good.

~*~

Suddenly fall is upon us. You're probably wondering what became of all my mountain biking adventures. I am too.

Tery's new Toyota suffered a crazy amount of hail damage in one of the last storms of monsoon season. Her car looked like a tinfoil Jiffy Pop cover, with thousands of little indentations. Fortunately insurance was covering it. Unfortunately we just went with the first shop they mentioned, a place called Global Collision.

My insurance company offered multiple times to set us up with a rental car, but Global said it would only take three days. We thought we could survive for three days using my car. Then three days turned into three weeks (Tery insists it might have even been a little longer). Every time she would call for an update she was told it would "hopefully" be ready by such-and-such a day. "Hopefully." As if she was their first client and they had no idea yet how long the process took. I don't know what game they were playing, but she was told on two completely different days a week apart it was "going to paint."

I was getting steadily more and more furious, but Tery hates confrontation so my fury never made it past her ears. We went together to pick it up FINALLY, and I sat and watched as she inspected their work and gratefully shook the salesman's hand as he gave her the keys. "You sure gave him a piece of your mind," I commented when we got home. "He never knew what hit him."

Thankfully she was a bit more honest when USAA called for a follow-up survey of her satisfaction. Which doesn't change the fact that GLOBAL COLLISION STOLE MY SUMMER.

Not helping the situation was the few times I made it to the mountains it was with Tery, who is still struggling to gain some confidence on the trail. I've been patient with her, god knows I didn't start out as the fearless daredevil I've become since last season, but it's really, really difficult to find a trail that doesn't have any technical sections (translation: rock pits, tree roots or anything else that might create a bump in the road) or steep hills to climb (these are still mountains, don't forget), and she ends up walking her bike almost the entire way.

We tried Elk Meadow ("It's a meadow. You can't ask for easier than a meadow" -- well, only a teeny tiny part of it is meadow. The rest is a lot of climbing and, of necessity, descending, which scares her the most). Last weekend we did Meyer Ranch in Conifer, parts of which she liked quite a lot. That was only 4 miles though, so we were going to also hit nearby Flying J Ranch (a trail which Singletracks.com describes as "Adrenaline junkies should go past the first entrance, go past the second entrance and then just keep driving until you find a different ride" LOL) but opted to head home instead.

Meyer Ranch was actually a consolation prize from the previous weekend, when we set out in search of Buffalo Creek Trail in Pine, CO. Following the directions from my book "Bike With a View: Easy and Moderate Trails in Colorado" (published 1994) was our first mistake. We followed a sign for the Buffalo Creek Rec Center which sounded promising, but after driving for 20 minutes on what seemed to be an incredibly long, bumpy dirt road and seeing nothing, we stopped at a random trailhead, set out, and within ten minutes decided this particular trail was too difficult (for Tery. I still might have tried it on my own) and headed home -- after I stubbornly drove for another half an hour on the main road convinced that the stupid trail had to be just around the next bend.

(We didn't see "nothing" exactly -- we stopped to ask for guidance from a family setting up their campground. The parents were off doing something else, so I approached the grubby 9-year-old boy who just stepped off the Deliverance set. He looked wary of me, so I kept it brief. "Is there anything in that direction?" I pointed down the road. "Oh yeah, there's plenty down there" he answered. I thanked him and ran back to reassure Tery.

"Oh, I'm sure there's plenty," she snarked, "Plenty of bears, plenty of trees, plenty of..." I don't know why she was so snippy -- I saw plenty of what appeared to be biking trails disappearing off the sides of the road, but as I said, she can't handle just any trail.)

So Meyer Ranch was something we noticed on our very disappointed drive back to town and went back to a week later.

However, the first trailhead we saw upon turning onto the dirt road was called "Little Scraggy." We didn't want to risk exploring it at the time (still hoping for the Holy Grail of Buffalo Creek), but it did look intriguing to me; intriguing enough to want to return Monday on my own, which I damn well did.

WELL. As it turned out, this trail was exactly what I've been looking for for Tery. Super smooth, literally only two or three rock pits in the entire 8 miles I rode, and really gentle, no major elevation changes. One minor complaint would be that about 45% of it was covered with loose gravelly sand, but other than that an absolute dream ride. Little Scraggy was only the first section. It soon joined up with the Colorado Trail (I'm beginning to suspect every trail in the mountains does; it's apparently 483 miles long, according to Wiki), and farther along the branch I took, the Shinglemill Trail.

This trail winds through the site of the Buffalo Creek wildfire, which I remember happened in 1996, the year we moved to Colorado (we're pleading the fifth). The area is slowly recovering, but still very much characterized by blighted acres of blackened fallen trees, which sounds horrific but actually is kind of beautiful in its own way. Definitely makes for great biking as you can see in every direction for miles upon miles.

Unfortunately this trail goes downhill first, which means you're lured into going much farther than you probably should before remembering what goes down must come up. I never wanted it to end, it was so incredibly fun coasting down the mountain on twisty, rollercoaster-like turns (Tery could do it I was sure, just maybe not at my speed). But I eventually hit the dirt road at the bottom and reluctantly decided to turn back.

No, up wasn't as fun, but it was really just lung-busting more than difficult. I could ride the whole way, but had to stop often to catch my breath. It being a Monday, I was the only one out there, and it was so eerily quiet. There was no wildlife living in the burned out valley. No black devil squirrels crossing my path, no birds, not even any insects really. I forgot how much I enjoyed being so utterly alone.

By the time I got back to my car I had gone 8 miles in about 2 hours (the slow return climb had made it seem much longer than that). I headed back to town exhilarated in the knowledge that I had found my new favorite trail -- just in time for the end of the season (also just received my last batch of cycling jerseys from an eBay seller in England yesterday, naturally. Guess these puppies will have to wait for next year to see any action).

I bring photos. This one is my favorite, I think.










I finally worked out how to use the panorama feature of my camera phone



Most of Little Scraggy looked like this



It wasn't all fun and games. I ran afoul of a baby aspen. Figures, get to the mountains 1/16th of the time as last year and I still get hurt



I risked my life to take some shots while driving. The teeming metropolis of Buffalo Creek, where, rightly so, the largest building is the fire station



The road leading into Buffalo Creek. If I were religious I would say this is truly God's country

Date: 2011-09-15 09:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ms-hecubus.livejournal.com
Maybe his wife figures after years of raising a kid and being a wife she wants her freedom and is sowing her wild oats?

Date: 2011-09-15 10:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grrgoyl.livejournal.com
How wild are these oats that she needs her husband out of the house completely though? As Tery said, her parents are sick to death of each other too but they still manage to co-exist under one roof.

Still, with that satellite dish he must be fixing up quite the bachelor pad for himself as well.

Date: 2011-09-16 02:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ms-hecubus.livejournal.com
I take it as they're getting divorced and for some reason he doesn't want to come out and say his wife threw his ass out.

Date: 2011-09-16 05:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grrgoyl.livejournal.com
I thought that too. I think saying you're divorced is less embarrassing than making your wife sound like a selfish witch who wants to pretend she's single now that the kid is gone. Unless of course he's a Christian fundie.

I see nothing about D in this post.

Date: 2011-09-15 10:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kavieshana.livejournal.com
That $300 is like found money. You can buy some fancy biker shoes now!

Poor Mike. That guy's probably paying the mortgage on the house and the apartment.

HAHA way to live in a place where summer lasts for 3 weeks.

Love the pictures, especially the top two. Which app is that? If your life was a horror film and you were driving through that town, you would be stopped by a fat sheriff who would say "Welcome to God's country."

I knew I wouldn't be able to sneak that by you

Date: 2011-09-15 10:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grrgoyl.livejournal.com
Haha, too late. Half of it was spent on a new office chair. But you'll have to wait for the legendary PoH post to hear more about that (as well as I SWEAR the Deb story. Our confrontation happened before the PoH, so I'm just trying to keep it chronologically straight).

I said the same thing. I swear we're using the same brain half the time. Hope that doesn't negatively impact your classwork.

Tery assures me we did "some of our best riding" last year in November, so we'll see. It just seems like fall arrived literally overnight.

Thanks! Not an app, the free PC software Photoscape (though I've seen the effects being used by lots of phone apps. I just don't have the patience to maneuver around a tiny phone screen most of the time for photo editing). LOL You just sent a chill up my spine.
Edited Date: 2011-09-15 10:45 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-09-15 11:53 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Did that baby aspen jump out and attack you directly, or was in an indirect-throw-a-squirrel-in-your-path kind of way?

Love, Big Scraggy

Date: 2011-09-16 05:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grrgoyl.livejournal.com
LOL Actually the aspen was just minding its own business growing on the side of the path when I came along and landed on it after misjudging an incline. If anyone should file charges it would be the tree.

Date: 2011-09-16 04:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mmmrorschach.livejournal.com
Next time you see Mike you should comment about how he's always wearing the same clothes, and then when he tries to walk away you should give him a flat tire and yell, "I'm on to you!"

I don't think Global Collision went big enough with their name. I'd have gone with Intergalactic Accident, where time is relative.

You've been biking for around a year? I like how super dedicated you've gotten in that amount of time. It makes me wonder what I could get done in a year. But not that interested.

Date: 2011-09-16 06:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grrgoyl.livejournal.com
Haha, I know -- poor guy on his own after decades of marriage and the first person he encounters is this bitch who denigrates him subtly every time she sees him. If he wasn't homicidal before, I just might push him over the edge.

LOL Sounds like a Douglas Adams plot point.

Thank you, sir. No offense, but you strike me as too laid back to really intensely dedicate yourself to anything, except maybe the pursuit of relaxation. :)

Date: 2011-09-17 01:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mmmrorschach.livejournal.com
Just give me a hammock, a milkshake, and something to make me sleepy, and I won't bother anyone. Sudden realization: there is no reason I can't make this happen by the end of the day.

Date: 2011-09-17 10:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grrgoyl.livejournal.com
That's the spirit! I have faith in you! Go Jaime! Go Jaime!

Date: 2011-09-17 11:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] metatronis.livejournal.com
Really cool pictures! I like the muted colors in the first few.
Aww, sorry about your battle wound. Do cyclists trade injury stories a lot?

Date: 2011-09-17 10:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grrgoyl.livejournal.com
Thanks :D I don't actually know any other cyclists so I'm not sure. They totally should though!

Date: 2011-09-18 12:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] metatronis.livejournal.com
Ah, well if you ever go to a meet up or something I'm sure you'll have plenty of adventures to talk about.

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