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Our Summer Excursion: Days 52-58 Home & Charlotte, NC

This is Our 2012 Summer Excursion series recapping our experiences from June 3-August 3 by time and location. Please let me know if you would like more details about anything and I will do my best to work them in or reply personally. Follow the TAG to get the full story. It’s the summer that never ends…it goes on and on my friends…

On Day 51 we arrived home from Elkins, WV after a near three week stay. It was a difficult choice for me, as home is one of the last places I want to go, when given the options, but it was a necessary stop for Brent. He had been trying to work on the road all summer, and doing a fairly disastrous job of it. No fault of his own, it’s all mine. I owned all his time.

D52-55: We spent a great deal of time at home being lazy. There was friend time and cooking of real food, hot meals. There was a lot of loafing about, watching the telly. The last full day at home I drove the children out to Target to pick up school supplies and uniform parts. We hunted for items on my long list of things to fix around the house, since we had some extra summer job money. And it was very hot out (as noted in my journal).

Summer and I are not friends. More like colleagues. The sun may put me in a chipper mood after days of cloudy weather, and I do enjoy a longer ‘day,’ but I don’t care for its glare, UV radiation, and heat. Summer, in our backyard, also means mosquitoes. With all the outdoor time we had packed away this summer, I didn’t have a single bite to report until we got home. It was a blood feast in our own yard. Everywhere in the neighborhood actually. It made tending the overgrown garden unbearable. It had me keeping the children indoors. If I recall correctly, it was also a nasty year for West Nile nationwide.

I welcomed the indoor refuge, the air conditioning, and yes, even the cabin of my van on some of these days. I noted in my journal that on that Thursday, July 26, after doing my Barboursville errands, I drove to the Wild Ramp. It’s a bikeable distance, but I was already in my cozy haven away from all that nasty sunshine warmth, and I kept right on to Heritage Station.

We had tried to keep our home AC off for 2012. The late spring time was ok, and early summer not too bad. We ran into an issue when condensation started building up in our basement. A wet basement leads to mold. We tried a dehumidifier and salt trays, but because it’s a walkout basement, we weren’t having much success. Flipping on the AC for a few hours, dried it up quickly. We tried to keep the thermostat higher than usual, to make the transition from indoor to outdoor less dramatic, but steadily it crept down. We attempted a number of other techniques too. Maybe we can find a better solution to energy conservation in 2013.

D56: Friday, July 27, we packed up the van again, for the third time this summer. We tidied up the house for the sitter, and drove back to Heritage Station before departing town one last time. I grabbed some locally roasted coffee beans and quinoa granola to share with our next hosts, very old friends of mine.

The drive to North Carolina was very stormy. We decided at one point to exit the highway and do some grocery shopping until some of it blew over.

We arrived at Janna and Matt’s in Charlotte, just in time for dinner and a movie.


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D57: We had a movie mantra working in Charlotte. A marathon of old flicks for the children up to an early dinner time with Janna’s whole family. I have known them all since ’98 and it’s a reunion with every visit. Parents, nephew, sister, and inlaws. This time we had an extra treat of some new friends. It was great to meet Kirstin and Dennis and their fellows. Musicians. Alaskan native. They had a couple of fun travel and children war stories to share. On our way back to Janna’s we threw in a stop at EarthFare and loaded up on some bulk bin goodies. Granola, quinoa and lentils, that would set us up for meals a plenty while on the beach the remainder of the week.

Tiny space sleeping. We are not picky. Three on the fold out futon. One on the fold out chair, one in sleeping bag on the floor and one upstairs on the air mattress. Perfect.
Breakfast on every available horizontal surface in the apartment. Mmmm.
Afternoon and evening pool side at Janna’s sister’s complex. We grilled. We ate. We shared stories. More simple pleasures.
Post swim “we don’t want to leave.”
An Earth Fare sunset.

D58: There’s a simple pleasure in the company of friends. Sharing in meals, stories, laughter, the togetherness. We soaked up quite a bit of Matt’s cooking. Hot breakfasts everyday. The children were willingly subdued in their tiny space with more movies and two dogs to love on.

We packed up mid Sunday, and left for South Carolina, where we were meeting up with friends from Florida at a beach house in Murrells Inlet, south of Myrtle Beach. I should probably mention here, we didn’t bring our bicycles for this last portion of the trip. We made a choice to leave the bikes home for this one week. Neither of our friends in NC or SC would be riding with us, and when looking over maps of the areas we would be in, biking didn’t look like a reasonable option.

We pulled into the carport of the beach house (under the house) moments before our friends Nick and Angela, who spent their entire day on the road with two small children. Throwing frozen pizzas in the oven for dinner, we gave huge hugs to our old Huntington friends, divided up bedrooms and called it a day.


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The Wild Ramp

While we were away this summer a new food market opened their doors in Heritage Station, downtown. We were fairly frequent patrons of River & Rail Bakery at the station already, but now The Wild Ramp is seeing more of our happy faces, sometimes three days a week. The money we have saved with our cycling lifestyle has shifted to better quality food. Their timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
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The Wild Ramp is a different kind of market. They carry goods grown closer to where we live. 90% of the price we pay is given back to the farmers. 100% of their staff is volunteering their time. It was a simple decision to support this market. I started by hosting sewing workshops (not the one linked, but two subsequent ones) for their Friends of the Market shopping bags, upcycled from old feed sacks. Then they asked me to write online reviews to help spread positive feedback. Then I was asked to join the Kickstarter crowd sourced funding committee. Most recently I assisted with organizing the pumpkin decorating party that went on last Saturday. All these things I could do from home with my children, which makes volunteering even more rewarding, as I can include the whole family and model the values we prioritize.

The Wild Ramp is my community hub. We go there to see our friends and neighbors and meet new people. We learn a lot of about the food we eat, the growing seasons, and the families who are feeding us. We feel even more connected to Huntington and feel empowered by their support of our local economy. They are geographically closer to home, on Brent’s way home from work, and in a neighborhood I frequently find myself when downtown.

Congratulations to The Wild Ramp, but more importantly to the people of our region who now have a local food market that gives back to them and all those we call a part of our community.

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Groceries by Bicycle

Yes, we have been shopping for our groceries and carrying them home on our bicycles for nearly 10months now, but most of the time I send Brent, or we all go together and divide up the goodies. Sometimes we all go and that means there are groceries and children on the bike (or bike and trailer). Last night, it was just me and my Yuba.

Elliot and London rode along side because they wanted to pick out their sleepover feasting materials, but they carried nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Shown here are nine bags of various sizes, with 100+ pounds of sustenance. Nearly full freeloaders (Peanut Shell legs get in the way of precious bag space), three bags in crate, one bag in the Peanut Shell, one bag in the front seat, one bag wedge between the crate and rear seat. I have learned to load the heaviest items to the bottom and center of the bike. Do you mind if I say this again? I love my cargo-bike.

I traded out my jeans and socks for shorts and flip flops. Good for the heat, not great for pedaling. I just prefer a closed toe and a shoe that doesn’t slip off my foot, but I don’t own any that are also able to keep my feet cooler. The other trouble I had was with my shorts riding up. It’s not comfortable, or easy to keep adjusting your clothing as you ride. Advice? It could be the clothing, could be the seat, could be me.

This trip finished out my day with 15 miles. I took Family Ride’s advice and went slow the whole day through, even when it was flat and I had the energy to ride faster. It helped a lot to pace my day.

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 46.3 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 Carpool: 1.7 This week
134.6 2164.5 1176.6 3691.8 287.2 Since August 14, 2011

Mother of Two Plus Two

Leaving for school. London wasn't happy about biking, but as you can see, she did it anyway.

With baby L. no longer spending his days with us, I was faced with a what-am-I-to-do-now moment this morning. I had been thinking about this day for a while, but when it finally arrived I was sort of stunned into inactivity. Then my mind and body synced again and the littles and I went to the grocery.

Grocery shopping is some where I can spend money and not feel horrible pangs of guilt. It’s part of the budget, and if I don’t wonder around for too long, I can keep my spending on target.

Since it was just the boys and I, and I was really only going out for sugar (and what I thought was a short list), we only took the Yuba (leaving the trailer at home). I put my reusable bags inside the insulated tote and bungeed them into the Peanut Shell. I packed two lunch bags and the diaper bag, none of which I needed.

As I was locking up I wondered why we don’t own any U-locks. The situations we have to lock up in reminded me clearly as to why we use cable locks. There are long distances to travel from bike to pole and sometimes we have to thread three or four bikes together.

The boys and I shopped. Taking our sweet time, because that’s all we have. A lot of time. We played and learned at the grocery. Scales and lobster tanks were their favorites. Then again, the ice cream would have melt if we didn’t get a move on, so I loaded up the bike with 8 bags and the two lunch boxes, and the two boys, and we rode for the park.

The plan was to picnic and play and then mosey home. Avery was very concerned his ice cream was going to melt. I probably shouldn’t have said as much in the store. We skipped the park and headed straight home.

He went from bike seat, to cart seat, to bike seat, what wore him out?
Three bags on the left side, two in the PS and one tied on the deck. Lunch boxes for each of the boys to hold.
Diaper bag and insulated tote on the right side.

A couple of hours later and it was time to pick up the elders at school. Those first two hills are steep and short and I had to pause for a couple minutes at the stop sign to breath deeply. The next hill is long and modest and I spun up slowly. Being mid to upper 80s and sunny wasn’t helping. Sweat was dripping onto my eyelashes then being batted onto my eyeglasses. My hands had residual sunscreen which just smeared the lens when I tried to wipe the sweat away. Boy howdy it was hot.

The final stretch to school is uphill for about three blocks and I made it without stopping. The entire ride to school, when I first started cycling it last fall, would have required about 8+ breaks. Two miles of a lot of climbing now takes me about 25 minutes with 80lbs of children on the deck. Last fall, that would have been 45 minutes.

It felt good to be out and about on my bicycle today. It was great to have time with my two littles and then more time with my two elders on the way home.

Although it appears that biking knocks Oliver out. He dosed off immediately after leaving for the school and stayed asleep for the thirty minutes we were there. Nap accomplished.

Looking forward to what tomorrow will bring. With 16 family miles logged for one day, it’s sure to be a good week right?

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 16 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 Carpool: 0 This week
134.1 2084.7 1176.6 3691.8 287.2 Since August 14, 2011

Skirting Groceries

The momentum of 30 Days of Biking was still with me on Wednesday, May 2. I scheduled us to all go to the grocery after school and work. It was rather hot, upper 80Fs, and increasingly humid. By the time we needed to leave I had thrown on a skirt, tank and flip flops. One of those choices would prove to be the wrong one for our ride. Care to guess?

I have worn this long (upper calf length) layered skirt on my bicycle a few times. This day in question, there must have been something in the air, because what was working for the first mile or so, wasn’t there after. It was a complete struggle to keep my knickers in check going through the via duct, where you race down to get back up the other side. Humorous, without a doubt.

Groceries loaded, children rearranged (moved Oliver from the Peanut Shell to the iBert), and skirt tucked under my bottom, we headed for home.

Fail. That skirt, and the wind, were conspiring against me and probably for every peeping Tom in the neighborhood. Free shows for drivers passing by and giggles from my children.

Oliver was helping to hold my skirt down, Avery was doing the same in the back.

It wasn’t nearly Marilyn Monroe enough, but it sure felt like I would be immortalized on posters and magazine covers come Thursday morning. Oh the embarrassment, or it would have been, except I was incredibly hot and that was a very cool breeze. Oh, well, live and learn.

Speaking of learning, about a quarter of the way home Elliot’s bike slid out from under him on the path. He wasn’t riding abnormally, nor did he go through any of the dozens of puddles. The front or rear wheel just skidded out and he fell. Fortunate for all of us, Brent was riding with some distance behind him and we were not on the road. With his confidence shaken and some more embarrassment to go with our crew, he mounted back up and we rode on.

 

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