Sunday, April 4, 2010

Tour de Cure

Recently I was at our City Hall getting information about the upcoming election. In a display out in the hall I was drawn to a brochure about an upcoming bike ride in Wisconsin. I took a copy ~ and a dream was born. This particular ride was 150 miles over two days and I quickly realized that was far to grand for me. So, I went on line and discovered a more reasonable challenge in the TOUR de CURE for the American Diabetes Association. The tour is on June 19th in Ozaukee County, just north of Milwaukee. I will ride 100 K. My goal is to do it in less than 6 hours. There, I said it publicly...I'm committed.

There are a couple of reasons I was drawn to this particular ride. Our daughter, Aimee, had gestational diabetes while pregnant with Ryan last year. This puts her in greater risk for someday getting diabetes. She will continue exercising and watching her diet in hopes that it will not develop. Also, our grandson, Anders, is in a research study for diabetes in Colorado. He will participate until he is 16 years old.

Last April I took my exercise program up a couple of notches in an effort to lose weight and get in better physical shape. My girls have been telling me for some time that walking is not enough (I have walked an hour/4 miles a day since Aimee was born in 1979). I have been doing a 5 mile walk/jog program that also includes knee lifts, side steps, and kicks, as well as arm movements. I have also been lifting hand weights and doing leg lifts with ankle weights. So, I am in much better shape now and could start out right away biking 10-12 miles a day.

We have had some very nice spring weather so I have been training for about 3 1/2 weeks doing about 15 1/2 miles a day (1/4 of the distance of the ride). Yesterday, I rode 21 miles for the first time (1/3 of the distance of the ride). It went well (I did it in 1 hour and 43 minutes) and I have yet to have any leg cramps or pain. I am feeling pretty good about it...I think I can, I think I can.

If you would like to join me in the ride or support my effort, e-mail me and I will send you the information! Notes of encouragement would also be appreciated! I'll let you know how I do along the way.

House on the Rock

On our drive over to the Mississippi River, we spent a good part of the day at the House on the Rock in Spring Green. Oh, my. What an adventure.
Alex Jordan built a 14 room Japanese home on a 60 foot chimney of rock in the 1940's. Jordan had a wild and fantastic imagination, a grand vision, and a miriad of unique and eclectic collections. It was absolutely fascinating and surprising ~ every single room! I cannot even begin to describe or list the variety of things you will find as you spend hours just walking through the rambling rooms and buildings. It's amazing.
You will really need to experience it yourself to fully appreciate and understand my amazement!

Spring Break in Wisconsin

Last week we spent a few days over by the Mississippi River, enjoying the sights and sounds of spring. The views of the River were spectacular, the weather was ideal. We drove along the Great River Road ~ a 3000 mile road all along the Mississippi ~ parks and overlooks are plentiful.
One day we hiked in Wyalusing State Park south of Prairie du Chien. The trails along the ridge overlook the confluence of the Wisconsin River and the Mississippi River. In 1673 Explorer Louis Joliet and Father James Marquette were the first white men to see this area.
Another day we hiked along the highest peak over the Mississippi in Pikes Peak State Park in Iowa. In 1805 Zebulon Pike explored this area of the Louisiana Purchase , scoping out locations for Forts in the area for the US government. We also hiked in Effigy Mounds National Monument, enjoying the various conical, linear, bear and bird mounds. There are 191 of them in his park alone. Lots of interesting history of the people who lived in the area over 1000 years ago.
Along the banks of the River from Rock Island, IL to Wabasha, MN there is a 240,000 acre Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. There are wooded islands, sloughs, and hardwood forests full of birds, small animals, and fish. We saw mink, beaver (complete with lodge), blue heron, osprey, and many bald eagles.
We actually drove up to the National Eagle Center in MN on our way home. It's in a wonderful building in Wabasha, MN. MN is the state with the most eagles in the lower 48 (FL and WI follow close behind). We just missed seeing dozens of eagles sitting on ice flows on the river ~ as late as last week. Most of them are nesting and new eagles should be hatching this week. We did attend a seminar about eagles. They actually feed an eagle as part of the presentation. Angel ate a rabbit, tearing the fur with her beak and eating the meat whole. Very interesting!
One afternoon I convinced Andy to drive out to Postville, IA. I had read a book (Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America) about the difficulties the city experienced when a large community of Hasidic Jews purchased a slaughterhouse in this predominantly German and Norwegian area in 1987. There have been many difficulties with the company over the years ~ and many changes in the city. Eventually a large influx of Hispanics came for work, many of them illegal immigrants. In 2008 the Federal Government raided the plant. The city sign calls Postville "Hometown of the World". I went to the town library and asked the woman working there, "What is it like to live in Postville now?" Her ancestors helped establish the town and her family has lived there for generations. She is very sad about what has happened since 1987. The town has changed dramatically. For a small rural town, the crime rate is very high...she would not walk the streets at night. People are unhappy, schools have had great problems socially and academically. There is a multicultural center and a Diversity Counsel in town. She thanked me for coming and for asking the question. She didn't have much chance to talk about her views with people locally ~ it was therapeutic for her to be able to share how she felt.