Saturday, December 17, 2011

Biking News

Here's the biking-related news around here:

1) Yes, those were avocados that the little kids and I collected on a bike adventure last week and they were yummy!

2) Jeremy and I (and now the kids) have this crazy idea (daydream?) of biking from California to southeastern Idaho this summer for a family reunion. Thinking about hills, we found this really cool site that shows a graph of elevation change for any route you plot on googlemaps:

3) Also while thinking about hills, we decided it's finally time we put a drum brake on the triple. Even if we don't try to get to Idaho, there's enough hills here and there, that it'd be helpful. We waited too long on this, though. The Arai drum brake we need is no longer made. A local bike shop specializing in tandems has none and can't get any from Bike Friday or anywhere else. We did find one online... for $500! Is this really how much a drum brake should cost? Maybe we really don't need a drum brake after all (unless we really do go to Idaho...).

4) I had another little fall with bakfiets. It was from a standstill. I was on the side of the road fiddling with the saddle height and should have put the kickstand down before doing that. Jonah and Joseph were also leaning over the edge of the bakfiets putting stickers on the outside of the box. I just lost my grip on the handlebars. No one was hurt. Nathaniel stayed asleep through everything. Joseph was a little upset.

5) Jeremy and the girls have seen another bakfiets parked at their school some mornings. Jeremy finally met the owner, who hauls around his 1st grader and preschooler in it. That's a lot of weight!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Baby and Milk

Yesterday evening, Nathaniel and I went to the grocery store. We bought four gallons of milk. Don't they look cozy on the bakfiets bench (right by Nat cozy in his carseat)?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Not biking to school

Our oldest daughter had ear surgery. For 6 weeks after the surgery she is supposed to avoid physical activity. Since she is never one to "take it easy" biking, this means no biking to school. She vehemently turned down the option of riding the triple. The pride of watching her sister ride her own bike has too much for her to bear. Though I am not sure I would be comfortable with it either - she would find a way to over-exert herself.

We also offered her a ride in the bakfeits, but was a non-starter.

So, we are stuck driving the three and a half miles to school.

Well, its actually closer to three miles. We usually park a ways away from the school and walk the final stretch in. The kids constantly beg us to park further away, but there is the matter of actually leaving on time. (They have threatened to get up at 5:30am to walk to school, but sleep almost always beats out the convictions.)

On Friday, we parked a couple blocks from school. As we were walking in, we saw an SUV in the driveway. Two kids jumped in, and the SUV drove off - right to the school! At that distance, walking was faster than enduring the "drop-off" traffic at school, but I guess some people really like to drive. (To be fair, there are also plenty of people that leave further away that walk to school every day.)

The kids also joke about the large traffic jams they see near some neighborhood schools on the way: The kids are only allowed to drive if they leave early enough. If they are running late, they have to bike.

Luckily, most of the "recovery" period for our daughter's surgery will take place during the Christmas vacation, so its only two weeks of driving - and endless complaining about cars.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Looking for animals, we found avocados.

Jonah has been asking for several days to go "see animals". We've made a few trips over the past few weeks to Rancho San Antonio's Deer Hollow Farm and he thoroughly enjoyed watching/chasing the goats, chickens, etc. Today, I decided to go explore Blackberry Farm and the neighboring McClellan Ranch. I visited several months ago and remembered a nice walking/biking trail in the area that went by fenced-in farm animals.

It was a beautiful winter day-- in the 50s, sunny, barely a breeze. Here are my three youngest boys all ready to go. They have sand toys to play with at Blackberry Farm's playground:

The ride there was pleasant, but-- because of the mostly slight uphill-- quite slow. With three boys plus car seat, diaper bag, etc. and a 100 lb. bike, I figured out I'm probably pedaling around 200 or more pounds. Whoa! That doesn't make me feel so bad when nearly every biker I see passes me.

After riding around a little bit to find an entrance to the park (I was going by my not-perfect memory), we rode the little bike path by the farm. Looking closer I learned that it's actually part of a 4-H club and not open to the public, but we were able to kind of see a few goats and a donkey through the fence. Even that little glimpse of animals made Jonah happy. After the animal viewing, we went back to the playground where we settled in for a few hours of play and snacks. Nathaniel took a long nap in his car seat in the bakfiets. I moved around from picnic table to picnic table to stay in the little bit of sun the wooded area provided. While enjoying the calm and quiet of one kid sleeping and two happily playing, I kept noticing something falling from a huge tree behind me. I poked around the ground to investigate. I'm 99% sure they were avocados falling from an avacado tree. Here's the tree:

And the fruit:

I stashed some in the bike pannier and will let it ripen on the counter and-- maybe with another opinion confirming what it really is-- eat it! I noticed a couple of older women grabbing a few fruits as they walked by too. I didn't get a chance to ask them if the fruit really was avocados since I'd moved to the other side of the playground by then; bummer! The thought of finding free, yummy fruit is wonderful-- like a little secret that few others care or know about. While living in Chicago, we ate juneberries from the park across the street and mulberries from another park. I looked forward to doing that each summer, but-- considering that the berries were never totally picked-- most of the rest of the city apparently didn't.

After a while at the playground, we tootled around on a bridge over a creek-- dropping leaves into the water, playing with sticks, etc. We then headed over to the sunny sand-volleyball courts and Jonah and Joseph put their sand toys to good use while I nursed Jonah and took care of his leaked-everywhere very poopy mess.

I really needed a peaceful, outdoorsy morning like today. I was only sad that the rest of my family-- at school and work-- weren't there to enjoy it too. I especially thought of Gabriella. She had ear surgery last week and must not run or jump for five weeks in order for everything to heal (biking should be okay-- soon). I am extremely grateful for the good surgeon and modern medicine that have prevented what would have eventually caused total hearing loss and possibly neurological problems, but it just breaks my heart that something so pleasant as freely running about in the wild (or as close to that as you can get a few miles from home!) has to be temporarily restricted.

Our return trip was mostly uneventful-- a little fighting between the big boys and a sand toy (old yogurt container) dropped in traffic that I refused to try to retrieve, but a wonderful downhill on the home-side of the pedestrian bridge over the freeway.

And, as a finale, here's a few more photos from our morning:
Lots of sticks to play with.

This was actually pretty tricky to climb up on. Joey is proud of himself.

Very fast slide!

Sandbox fun.

Joey saved the chocolate pieces from his trail mix, and proceeded to make little designs with them. Here you also see the wonderful marker tattoo he adorned himself with this morning.
The boys spent a while looking at/dropping things in the creek. This evening, Jonah asked "see water?" (meaning,  "I want to see water".) It may be his new request, replacing the daily  "see animals"?