Getting Things Together

The past couple of days I really feel that I have been getting things done to straighten up the house, doing my part to make it more livable. When we decided to buy the house we are now living in, we thought we would make the largest of the three bedrooms upstairs our bedroom. However, once we moved in, we soon realized that the room would be way to crowded once the king-size waterbed was set up in it, so we decided to make the main living area of the basement into our bedroom. There was one problem with this in that there was no closet in the basement in which to hang our clothes. So for the past few weeks, most of our clothes have been lying on the basement floor. We bought a closet organizer to install in the room that is right off our bedroom, but I soon encountered a problem with that. The only wall on which it could be installed was an exterior wall of the house and the concrete foundation was too close to the drywall to properly anchor the closet organizer to the wall, and I could not drill into the concrete in order to anchor it to that. The backup plan was to move the closet organizer to a different room in the basement. I started installing it there earlier this week, but I ran into the problem that the standards on which the shelves hang were too long for the height of the room. Tonight I remedied that situation by cutting the bottom few inches off some of the standards so it would fit. About half an hour ago, I finally got the closet organizer hung! Now let’s just hope there is room for my clothes once Mel has her clothes on it. Otherwise I may need to install additional organizers for my clothes.

Last night I got a couple other things accomplished that make the house nicer. The bathroom in the house had no towel bars in it whatsoever. It didn’t even have a toilet paper holder. I got both of those installed last night. Now there are a few other things to fix up with the bathroom, but that makes it nicer. Also I hung some shelving and a closet rod in the previously shelf- and rod-free closet in the living room. Now the closet just needs to have a door installed, but we will get to that sooner or later.

Besides showing off my handyman skills by using the drill and screwdriver as I have with these past tasks, I have also gotten the office area cleaned up a bit. There is still some clutter lying around the room, but it is becoming a much better work environment than it was a couple of weeks ago. Of course Mel has helped with this as well as she unpacked some of the boxes that had previously been stacked up in the office.

Hopefully we will soon get a lot of the boxes out of the garage so we can park our cars in it. Now that the closet organizer is up in the basement, we can get the clothes up which will allow us to proceed with adding additional shelving in the room for storage of some of the items we do not use as frequently as others.


Earthquake vs. Judge Judy

Taping of Judge Judy was interrupted today by the earthquake that struck the Los Angeles area. This video shows everyone scrambling for the door when the earthquake. Everyone, that is, except for the plaintiff.
Another video I have seen of this, on CNN's website, shows Judge Judy herself fleeing the courtroom.


This year’s RAGBRAI is now over, and has been for a few days. I had a good time riding this year, even though I was a bit worried at first since I had ridden my bike a grand total of 23 miles prior to the beginning of RAGBRAI last Sunday. And, for the second year, Mel joined me on RAGBRAI. She did a really good job as well.

Last Friday, Mel, Emma, and I headed back to Iowa where we first dropped Emma off with her Aunt at a truck stop on Interstate 35. We then proceeded to Waterloo where we stayed with my mom for the night before joining the Superior Hawgs, our team, in Evansdale on Saturday.
The ride to Missouri Valley was uneventful until we were partway across the western half of Iowa. All of a sudden, the bus came to a sudden, but controlled, stop as the traffic in front of us had screeched to a standstill due to an accident ahead of us in a construction zone. Since traffic wasn’t moving well, and several people needed a potty break, we stopped at a rest area for half an hour or so.
Once we arrived in Missouri Valley, Mel and I set up our tent then headed to the expo to check out the bike shops and to find some food. Unfortunately we were about as far from the expo as we could possibly have been. It was quite hot, and by the time we got there we needed some water. We did a little shopping for RAGBRAI T-shirts and for water bottles, since I had forgotten them at home. After eating we returned to our campsite.

Day 1
It was fairly hot and humid on the first day of the ride, but we made it through just fine. We stopped at Mama Rafael’s for breakfast. I had never stopped for Mama Rafael’s before, but it was very good. There was a buffet where customers created their own breakfast burritos, and there were a few other options as well. After eating we continued down the road.
When we arrived in Pottawattamie County we were greeted by signs alerting us to the fact that the roads in Pottawattamie County were designed and maintained for motor vehicular traffic and that we should proceed at our own risk. The roads were actually in very good condition. I suppose they were trying to shield themselves from possible lawsuits such as the one that prompted nearby Crawford County to ban future RAGBRAIs from the county. Pottawattamie County also put up some bike crossing signs, including one on the bike route itself, despite the fact that we were not crossing the road, but rather traveling along it.
Our night in Harlan was nice, until around 2:00 in the morning when a fire truck started driving around our campground warning us via its loudspeaker that there was a severe thunderstorm approaching at that we should take immediate shelter. We were camping in a city park, where there was no shelter, but a woman from across the street came out and let us into her house. We stayed there for about an hour before the all-clear was sounded. No thunderstorm ever made it to Harlan that night, but I suppose it was better to be safe than sorry.

Day 2
As we did not get a good night’s sleep, and the fact that we had each ridden significantly further on Sunday that we had previously ridden so far this year, Mel and I both decided to sit out on riding on Monday, resorting to traveling to Jefferson, Iowa, by motor vehicle rather than bicycle.

In Jefferson we camped in someone’s yard. Unfortunately, the yard was a block and a half away from some railroad tracks on which 75 trains pass each day. They had to be going by at least every half hour all night, sounding their loud horns each time they passed. I do not know how I managed to get any sleep at all.

Day 3

Despite the poor sleeping conditions due to the trains, we both set out on our bikes on Tuesday. We both had a really good ride riding to Ames. There were not too many hills. The biggest hill had to be the one right before Boone where we had to climb out of the Des Moines River valley. It was a long hill, but not too steep. It didn’t bother me too much.

Tuesday night in Ames was an adventure though. Our bus driver had stopped at the grounds of an abandoned middle school at which there was some remodeling going on. After we all got our tents set up, and when the bus driver was away, an official came to us and told us that we would have to move as no camping was allowed there. This was a major inconvenience as several people were gone. We called those we could and they returned so we could pack everything up. We then moved to an official campground about a quarter of a mile down the road. This entire situation really upset a new group of riders who were traveling with us for the week so much so that they left. We did not see them again.

We did have a good dinner Tuesday night as Mel has a friend who is currently living in Ames. She and her husband picked us up and we went to the Olde Main Brewing Company for dinner. It had really good food, and there wasn’t much of a wait.

Day 4
Wednesday’s ride started out alright, but the headwinds really began to pick up. Mel wasn’t feeling really well, so she called the day short partway through the morning. After riding a short while, I kind of regretted not doing so as well, but I made it the 75 miles to Tama/Toledo.

We went to downtown Toledo for dinner, taking the shuttle bus. However the bus ended up taking almost an hour to get to our destination as it seemed to take us on a tour of the entire area before going to downtown Toledo.

Day 5

As we woke up Thursday morning, it was chilly and raining. Mel still wasn’t feeling all that well, and I didn’t feel that I really needed to ride in the rain, so we both rode the team bus to North Liberty. We had a good time once we got to North Liberty. We met a former coworker of mine who tool us to the Coral Ridge Mall where we bought sweatshirts since it was cold. We then had lunch at Iguana’s Grill in North Liberty. It was good food, although Mel’s portion was kind of small.
Later in the evening, Mel’s friend Penny from Cedar Rapids came down to see us. We went to Carlos O’Kelly’s in Iowa City for dinner. As it was Thursday, they were having their weekly half-price margarita special.

Day 6

On Friday, both Mel and I woke up around 5:00 as we had been all week and prepared to set out on our ride to Tipton. On the ride today, we stopped in Martelle where we got our picture taken with a pig.
We also stopped in Morley which seemed a little messed up as they were welcoming RAGBRAI XXXVIII. I guess they are being optimistic about RAGBRAI passing through in 2010.

As we were arriving in Mechanicsville, the final pass-through town of the day, I broke a spoke on my rear wheel. The bike mechanic who was set up there did not have the type of spoke I needed, so I had to ride the remaining 15 miles with a missing spoke. I was able to get it repaired Friday night in Tipton though, so everything worked out alright.

Day 7
Our final day of RAGBRAI for 2008 was a very good day. We were arrived in Le Claire around 11:30 and were not the last to arrive at the Superior Hawgs bus.

When we got to Le Claire though, we did have to ride a few miles to find the bus. It was parked next to an entrance ramp to Interstate 80, so when we were ready to head home, we didn’t have to drive through the throngs of bike riders.

As with my past several RAGBRAIs, when I began the week, I was thinking that I may need to make this year’s ride my last, but I once again had such a good time that I hope I will be back for RAGBRAI XXXVII in 2009!



As I write this, I am sitting in an Iowa Telecom trailer in Harlan, Iowa. Harlan is the first overnight stop on this year's RAGBRAI. Last year I blogged several days during the week while I was on RAGBRAI, but this year I think I will wait until Mel and I get back home to Minnesota on Sunday. So I will be back in a few days.


Neglecting the Blog

I don't want everyone to think that I have been neglecting my blog lately, it's just that I have been really busy with unpacking boxes, and trying to find places to store the things that were in those boxes. Also, I have been struggling the past couple of days to try to figure out how in the world I am going to hang a closet organizer on the wall of one of the rooms in our basement. It would seem pretty straightforward, except for the fact that the brick foundation of the house lies just over an inch and a half behind the drywall that covers it. I think I came up with a solution tonight. Hopefully it will work. Anyway, I need to get to bed, because while I do not actually have to go anywhere to work, I do need to work. Of course, I don't have to look good since I work from home, although I do have to take my daughter to daycare. I'd hate to look crappy for that.


We've Moved to Minnesota!

Emma and I are finally living in Minnesota with Mel. On Thursday, July 3, the moving company came to our house to load up all of our belongings. Unfortunately, they were unable to load the waterbed mattress because, even though I drained it all day, it still had too much water in it; at least that’s what they said. Anyway, once everything was loaded onto the moving truck, I found Mel’s cat, which was hiding under the stairs, and proceeded to drug him in order to make the trip to Minnesota more pleasant for both him and me.

After loading the last few things into the car, I headed to Emma’s daycare to pick her up from there for the last time. I am going to miss our former daycare provider. She was really good with Emma. And Emma liked going there and playing with the other kids as well. Then Emma, Ike (the cat), and I headed up to the Twin Cities. Because it was a hot day and I had the cat in the car, we couldn’t stop for very long. That meant that we had to eat dinner in the car. Not stopping for very long—we did stop once for a restroom break and to change Emma’s diaper—meant that we got to our destination fairly quickly.

Getting Emma to settle into her new home was quite challenging the first night. Mel and I tried to calm her down and to get her to go to sleep by driving her around town. That calmed her down as long as she was in the car, but she did not go to sleep. I ended up taking her out for a drive two more times that night with the last time happening around 1:45 in the morning! Eventually she got some sleep, but not nearly enough.

Because the movers wouldn’t take the waterbed, and because there were a few other things left in our Cedar Rapids house, we all took Mel’s truck back to our old house to pack up our remaining belongings. Unfortunately, I underestimated the amount of stuff that remained and it wouldn’t all fit in the truck. So Mel had to return to Cedar Rapids again on Monday.

While Mel was driving to Iowa and back on Monday, I tried to get some things done around the house, although it was tough to get some of it done with Emma being around. I did almost manage to get one room painted as she took a nap, but I didn’t get it done.

On Monday I also made an effort to find suitable daycare for Emma. After calling five or six in-home daycare providers and learning that they were each full at least until the school year starts, I drove to a daycare center that is located near our house. I had intended on just getting some information, but the director gave Emma and me a tour of their toddler area. While we were there, Emma even had a snack with the other kids, and she seemed to get along with them well. So when Mel returned home, we all went back to the daycare center so she could check it out as well.

On Tuesday we took Emma to this daycare center for a free trial day. She did really well there, although when I dropped her off this morning, she cried and didn’t want me to leave. However, she seemed to do well for most of the day. The daycare center’s director told me that she had been a bit sad a few times when they were outside, but she cheered up once they went back in. The daycare we have Emma going to now is a bit more expensive than what we had been paying before, but I think the experiences she will have there will make it worth it.

While Emma was at daycare yesterday, and while Mel was at work, I worked at painting Emma’s room and another room of the house. I also had to stick around for the entire day so I could meet with the carpet salesperson, the DIRECTV installer, and the exterminator who we called take care of the ant issue in the garage.

Today the cable installer came to install our Internet and telephone service. Once that was done, I was finally able to actually get to work, although I had to work sitting on the office floor as the movers haven’t yet delivered out belongings. They are scheduled to arrive on Friday. Had I known they would take full advantage of their delivery window, I probably would have gone with the other mover from whom I received an estimate. Oh well, at least I don’t have to worry about the furniture as I paint.


One More Day

I have one more day to finish getting the house packed up for our big move to Cottage Grove, Minnesota. I feel that most of it is under control with the exception of a couple of areas. First of all, I need to get the garage packed up. I also have a couple more boxes of things to pack from the kitchen, and probably another box of odds and ends from around the house. The thing that is frustrating me the most right now is getting the water drained from the waterbed. I simply could not get more than half the water out. And in trying to get the water out, I created some more problems for myself. I had the hose from the waterbed connected to the faucet in the back of the house. Because it was running too long, water leaked into the basement from outside. Fortunately it was clean water and I caught it before it spread much beyond the laundry room. I cleaned up as much as I could. Hopefully the rest of the water evaporates by tomorrow. Unfortunately, the garage flood also got wet from the faucet outside. If it doesn't dry up by tomorrow afternoon, I do not know where I will put the boxes I pack there.

I had to stop for the evening because I ran out of boxes. I will resume the packing tomorrow evening, or maybe even in the afternoon if I complete everything I need to get done at work early enought. My mom was nice enough to come down to help out tonight. If any of my readers who actually know me want to come over tomorrow to help out, please feel free to do so. Anyway, this will be my last blog posting until at least Wednesday of next week. I simply will not have enough time tomorrow, and the Internet will not be installed at our new house until July 9.

Put Out Those Cigarettes

Iowa's ban on smoking in bar, restaurants, and myriad other places went into effect at midnight this morning. Now I will be able to go to out to eat in Iowa and not have to specify that I want to sit in the no smoking section. Also, I will be able to go to an Iowa bar without leaving smelling like smoke. Of course, I am moving to Minnesota, which already has such a ban, on Thursday, so I guess I will not benefit from this much. It will make going to a bar during RAGBRAI nicer though, although I am not sure how will the law will be enforced then. It seems like the great number of RAGBRAI participants far outnumber the number of law enforcement personnel around. I hope they do enforce the law, but I have seen numerous other laws broken during RAGBRAI, so I guess we will just have to see.