July 04, 2015
Newport, NY Trip
The HOG chapter I belong to schedules several group rides a month. There is always a ride after the monthly meeting, and several other rides - both closed and open (closed = only Chapter members allowed). I haven't been on any of the rides as I'm not really into group rides - or at least not large group rides, and most of the time I'm not really interested in the destination. Add to that all the work I have been doing on the house and landscaping these two summers, and planned rides that take up most of a day just isn't something I feel I can do.
However, I noticed there was a ride to Hoosick, NY on June 28. This interested me as I was thinking of doing an overnight trip to the VT/NY area, and one of the Queens (QOTR) that I had ridden with last year lives in NY. Jessica lives near Utica, NY and has beautiful gardens that she has shared pictures of on FB, so touring them would make that a good destination. Add to that that there was another HOG ride for charity scheduled for that day, so chances were that the Hoosick ride wouldn't have a huge group participating, and I started thinking about it.
I contacted Jessica and she said to come on out - in fact they would put me up. So I joined the HOG ride last Saturday. It was a smallish group; 10 people total with one other gal riding her Shadow, and the rest were guys. We had a meandering ride (not direct by any means) with one rest stop.
When we got to MOK, I ate a great lunch with the group then headed on my way. Oh, did I mention I was heading straight into rain? In fact, the forecast was for rain from Saturday afternoon all the way thru Sunday - on my entire route. Hey, but I'm nothing if not practiced at taking my trips in the rain, I was just glad it was fairly warm (most rainy trips I take are in the 40's).
I made it to Jessica's about 5 PM and she ran out of her house with camera in hand.
She then commenced to preparing the finishing touches on dinner that she had prepared - a gluten free, vegetarian dinner (I'm wheat free and she is vegetarian), that hit the spot - while her husband showed me to my room so I could get all set up.
Jessica and Steve are great people; we conversed late into the night hitting all kinds of subjects. I toured the gardens between bouts of heavy rain and just loved the fountain they had set up.
We went out to breakfast the next morning at the local diner
I left their place about 10:30 - trying to beat the heavy rain that was headed in. I took a more direct route than the HOG group took and was on highway for about 60 miles in NY. It rained most of my way home, although I did hit a few dry spots. Of course the temps had plummeted and I was riding in the 50's and high 40's. Still, my gear kept me dry and the rain was much better than the times I hit dry sections. In the dry sections there was massive wind. I stopped to rest in Bennington, VT at the school. The wind was so strong it was actually moving the handle bars of the bike. A few times the bike lurched and I thought for a moment it might go over despite it being blown toward the kickstand.
I was happy when I got out of Bennington. It had started raining again but the wind abated some so it was better. I was disappointed though that Hog Back Mountain was to foggy, in addition to the rain, to see any of the view. That is the 3rd time I have been thru that route in the last couple of years, and that is the 3rd time the weather has been foggy and rainy enough that you couldn't even see the end of the parking lot. One day I will go thru and have a reason to stop!
I got home about 3 so had plenty of time to see to the animals and get groceries for the week. Wish I had had more time with Jessica and her husband. If I had gone by myself I would have left much earlier (the HOG group met me at 9:30) and taken a more direct route (going by Hog Back, which may have been clear at that point - LOL), but I still had fun with the group, so it all balances out.
No Mow Zone Redux
Two weekends ago, I added on to the no-mow zone. I worked my way up the hill since the idea was to extend the existing flower garden all the way to the fence. The crab apple and Hydrangea trees, which reside in that garden, needed to be pruned hard, which I did once I got to the branches that were in my way..
Project from start to finish
A week ago Friday I got some plants installed
Still plenty of planting to do, but feel like I'm making progress. And yes, just this project has cut down on the time it takes to mow by 10-15 minutes. I know that seems to be a lot, but I don't have to deal with the tree roots or boggy ground, or getting along the rocks that delineated the edge of the original flower garden.
Oh, and I relocated some of the moss that I pulled up. It may or may not survive (it is in a drier place), but that is a place that not much else grows anyway so I really don't care one way or another. It is a spot just above the no-mow zone, so I wasn't carting it clear across the property to where I have been dumping the rest of the excess dirt/grass.
June 21, 2015
Here is the first picture taken of me riding my 2011 Street Glide at this location. As far as I know, it is the only picture thus far taken at Weir's Beach in Laconia, NH 6/18/15. Too bad it was a bit cloudy so the color doesn't show well - I lightened it up some and you can see a bit on the tank, front fender, and the lower.
Happy Father's Day 2015
Happy Father's Day to my dad, Cop Car's HH. Hope you have great weather and take time to do things you want to do, not things that have to be done!
Relaxation Time During Bike Week
Last week was bike week here in NH so I took a couple of days of to do some riding. Thursday morning I left the house before 8, road to NHMS and got my HOG event pin (only HOG members can get it), then off to Weir's beach to cruise the boulevard and get my picture taken. Didn't even stop - just hopped on Rt. 3 and headed north.
I was staying the night in North Conway, NH, so headed there first, identified where my hotel was, then road a couple of the notches (Pinkham and Crawford). Here are miscellaneous pictures of my trip up.
That evening, I met up with a friend and his riding companions, who came down from Canada. I use the term "friend" loosely as I only know him thru Facebook. Originally he thought they were staying in Woodstock, so the plan was to meet them Friday morning for breakfast. However, on Wednesday, I found he had been mistaken and their motel was just a couple of blocks from mine. Here is the crew - FB friend is across the table from me.
Their group was made up of great people, and we met again for breakfast the next morning. Then we went our separate ways; they were headed to Weir's Beach, I was headed for more notch riding (Dixville and Franconia) before riding for home.
More miscellaneous pictures of my eventual trip home.
I wish I had gotten some pictures of 13 MIle Woods, but that was a narrow, twisty road and I needed all my concentration so didn't pull out the camera. I also didn't realize that I was passing right by Shrine of Our Lady of Grace in Colebrook - a place for blessing of the bikes until last year. I should have stopped and taken pictures, it is a beautiful place that I've been to a couple of time for bike blessing (the last in 1996 or 97).
Had a great time, met some great people and put about 550 miles on the bike. Not much considering that I rode for about 7 hours each day (by coincidence, arrived at my destination both days right at 4 pm - left both times just before 8 - take away gas and rest stops to get 7 hours). However, until I jumped on the highway at Plymouth to head home, most roads were fairly low speed limits.
June 14, 2015
No Mow Zone
The side yard next to the next door swamp stays pretty wet at all times of year. It is a bear to mow, but I have to keep it clear as there is poison ivy just on the other side of the fence. It is also pretty shady, except for a couple hours in late afternoon.
I have decided that will be a no-mow zone. In other words, shrubs and perennials need to be installed and any bare spots mulched to help keep the poison ivy from encroaching. I am taking the no-mow zone from the existing shade garden (where the crabapple is) to the fence. The first order of business was to remove the sod that consisted of a mix of grass, catmint and moss. This is the strip that I dug out last Sunday.
The first row I planted was (l-R) Bleeding heart, hydrangea, coral bells and another hydrangea. The lilies next to the fence were already there from the previous owners.
The second row is tall phlox, peony, primrose, dwarf goats beard and Japanese iris. Note the big root between the coral bells and the pink hydrangea.
Yesterday, I started another row and ran into a massive amount of roots - most from a stump. So, I spent 3 hours pulling up sod and digging out roots. I need to get all the larger roots out; if I ever try to pop the stump, the roots will have to be removed anyway. Better now than having to tear up plants I'm putting in now.
I did get turtleheads (front left of top picture) and a couple more primrose planted, but I'm still working on getting the roots out from the rest of the section I uncovered yesterday. This will definitely be a long process.
Now that I have a cart to move dirt, I can really hurt myself make some progress on yard work. I was taking so much time transferring buckets of dirt (it doesn't take long to get 50 pounds of dirt, especially when it is moist), that even simple jobs looked like I was getting nowhere.
The first job using the cart was to dig out the big rock that was against stump #3. I was not only digging the rock out, but also lowering that part of the soil level in general as it overtopped the stone retaining wall. At the same time, I had to be careful of the Japanese Knotweed so I could bag that, and all the roots I could find to take to the dump. I had saved empty mulch bags and filed 4 of those with the weed and roods, with any dirt I thought was contaminated (fill is a misnomer - I put in 30-40 pounds of dirt/weed/roots).
With the rock finally uncovered, I could see that it wasn't going anywhere without more muscle than I have - or at least the help of machinery.
Needing to cover that area with plastic (to keep any missed weed roots from growing back), I had to do something with the rock as it topped the retaining wall by quite a bit. No problem, I dug a huge hole next to the retaining wall (storing the dirt in the cart), and spent about 30 minutes with a pry bar and several pieces of wood getting it to slide into the hole (was hoping I could roll it - but that wasn't happening).
So the big rock now buttresses the retaining wall and the level of the dirt along the retaining wall has been lowered.
June 07, 2015
Putting it Together
After removing stump #3, and starting to define the flower garden in front of the house - and moving dirt slowly by carrying/dragging buckets of dirt to the side yard last week - I decided there had to be a better way.
Actually, I had been thinking about getting a wheel barrow previously, but the price for two-wheeled barrows is really quite high (even on CL), and a single wheel barrow would be tough to move and navigate in my uphill and extremely bumpy yard. But knowing the amount of dirt I would have to remove, sealed the deal - I had to look in earnest.
Somehow I stumbled upon the notion of a dumping yard cart, I believe it was an ad from a BBS, and the research began. I looked at the reviews of the featured item and did not believe it would serve my purpose. However, I did some research and found what I believed would be the best value for my money at TSC. Happily there is TSC a couple of miles down the road from work, and I went to check it out at lunch time.
The cart I was looking at touted a handling capacity of 600 pounds as well as the ability to convert the handle from a hand pull to a towing hitch (not usefull for me presently, but could be handy in the long term). However, they also showed a 1,000# cart on the website. When I got to the store, I was in for a surprise - a 1500# capacity that was on clearance for the same price as the next size down.
After checking out the feel of the bed, to see how sturdy it seemed, I had the largest one loaded into my car. That night I began assembling it in the basement (it was raining, had been raining since Sunday, and wasn't supposed to quit until Thursday morning). I got a box of parts (no surprise) and an instruction manual.
The instruction manual and container of hardware were pleasant surprises. Despite being made in China, apparently the writer of the manual not only had a great command of the English language, the writer also did a great job of indicating the hows of assembling. Additionally, the assembly illustrations were clear (except one), there was a chart of hardware shown in ACTUAL size; one complaint that I usually have is if the hardware is mixed up, I can't tell what bolt is a specific size until I sort everything and compare to the other sizes. The hardware was in a package that kept everything separate and labeled both on the front and back of the package. Someone really thought this out for users that are not a natural born tinkerer!
The manual said I should be able to put it together in 20 minutes. The reviews, although positive, warned of more like 1-2 hours. I put it together in 1 hour and 10 minutes, so felt good that I at least was amongst the average.
I put the cart to good use yesterday and am very happy with it.
May 31, 2015
The Washer is Back
Since way back in early March, when I replaced the leaky kitchen faucet with a spray-head faucet (not thinking clearly until after buying and installing said faucet), I have been washing dishes by hand. Sure, for 1 person there aren't many dishes to do. But it still took time out of each day; weekends were worse since that is when I make most of my food for the week.
Plus it irked me that I was probably using more water to do daily dishes than it takes the portable dishwasher to clean a couple of days worth of dishes (the washer takes about 3.5 gallons. And if I load dirty dishes into the dishwasher, they are out of sight and off my limited counter space until time to run the dishwasher.
I had been searching for a faucet in oil-rubbed bronze, which would go with the spray-head faucet, and swiveled, but that didn't cost MORE than the spray head faucet (which was not cheap itself). In fact, I was adamant that I wouldn't spend more than $100 although I could have been persuaded to up that a little if the perfect faucet came around. I was also hoping for a smaller faucet such a one that would go on a bathroom sink, but that was negotiable as long as it would swivel out of the way for daily use of the spray-head faucet.
I searched high and low all thru March; Google searching, searching at physical stores, going thru all kinds of websites. I pretty much quit looking until a couple of weeks ago. For some reason I started the search again, and low and behold I found one of the faucets that had been in the running (at close to $200) was on sale at several websites (I paid less than what is being shown at the link - and with free shipping). True, it is Parisian Bronze, but close enough to make no difference to me.
So, I am one of the few people out there with 2 faucets on my kitchen sink. I have saved the soap dispenser that came with the other faucet in case I ever decide to sell - I can easily return to a traditional set up. But I am just thrilled that since last Sunday, I have only had to do the dishes thrice. Obviously I thrill easily :)
May 30, 2015
Last weekend I decided to do something where I had pulled out the smallest stump (stump #4). I lengthened the existing flower garden to where the planter was (the planter that I placed phlox and dianthus in), and moved the planter a little towards the road.
There is a bleeding heart to the right of the lupine that I had planted when I dug up the stump, then three primrose, then the planter is dug into the ground a bit. Of course I stripped off the sod (moss, and weeds), placed landscape fabric around the plants and under the planter, then put rocks around the planter for a more tied-in effect. Plus, the rocks make a straight edge for the mower - although I think I managed to stack them in such a way they don't look like they make a straight edge - nice visual trickery.