November 03, 2005
So what have I been doing? Working for pay (writing) and working for free (trails). I couldn't tell you which one is the better payoff, but at least I enjoy doing both. I'm reading a book called The Good Times by Russell Baker; it's about his time as a reporter in the 1950s and 60s, when he worked his way up at The Baltimore Sun and eventually jumped to the The New York Times. It's a great read, with anecdotes about his tenure as a White House correspondent and astounding assessments of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. Jen's aunt Patsy sent it to me after I got my job at the paper. If I somehow arrive at the level that Baker did in the journalism world, his wisdom will be indispensible. Thanks Patsy!
OK, my slow-ass work computer is making typing this post unbearable. I'll continue at home.
Of course that begs the question, "why are you blogging at work?"
To which I answer to a big portion of co-workers people who might read this, "Phfffffftttthhhh! ! !"
Anyway, now I am comfortably ensconced at my horrible mess of a desk at home instead of my horrible mess of a desk at work - you know, where I blog all the time? This is much nicer. Where was I?
Other stuff I've been doing. Jen got me a guitar for my birthday (Sept. 20) so I've been fairly diligent in practice with it. She got one too, which at first was admittedly a blow to all my fantasies of a solo career, but I soon realized that it was indeed a fantasy and how nice it is that she wants to share it with me. We'll have to come up with a cool duo name for our performance alter egos - I've always liked The Parabolics but I think that would require a male pair (oh, thtop!). Then there's The Oh So Virtuous Virtuosos, but that would require us to actually be virtuosos, so we make little progress away from the whole fantasy situation. Anyway, it's fun. I actually look forward to practice time, and skills are improving slowly. I went for a lesson that was free with the book that Jen's brother Dan bought for me. It was with some old rocker dude that used to be with Humble Pie or something. He breezed through a bunch of stuff of which I caught some; he did most of the playing and gave me a worksheet with some scale practice. I'm not sure that I'll go back to him - nice guy, but if he couldn't keep from trying to jam too much into a 30-minute session I don't think I'd get my money's worth.
What else? Well things that I haven't been doing are extracurricular writing (this blog a case in point) and cycling. I did not attend one single weeknight ride with Chattanooga Bike Club this season, and I am at least 30 lbs. heavier than I was this time last year. I am my heaviest ever in life and have crossed over into the XXL realm, and its depressing. Rick and I were supposed to go backpacking, but opted for just camping because I knew it was unrealistic to think I could enjoy hauling 25-30 lbs. through the steep-sloped woods.
It was a good trip though. We met near Asheville on a Thursday night and headed up to Mt. Mitchell, where neither of us had been before. It dawned on me how strange it is that Mt. Mitchell is always designated as "the highest peak east of the Mississippi River," when truly it is the highest peak east of the Rockies. I don' t think any peaks above 6,684 feet have popped up recently between Arkansas and Colorado (ah, the inane little musings of the blog are returning - good to get the juices flowing again). Anyway, Rick and I drive up through the evening fog on the Blue Ridge Parkway (an absolutely divine road upon which to drive, motorcycle, bicycle or ski) to the two-mile access road of Mt. Mitchell State Park only to be denied access at the closed gate, which "Closes at 7 p.m." Swell. Why couldn't Rick's supposedly useful NC camping guide have mentioned that little detail? There was an open gate back at the Parkway! So after some icredulity and griping, which included what I consider a legitimate pondering of what campers in the park do if an emergency arises in the night, we headed back down to the BRP. We pulled over at a nearby overlook to consult the map and plan our search for an alternative. It was at this overlook that I believe I lost my cell phone, but I couldn't find it when I returned to look the next day. We ended up at the USFS Black Mountain camping area way down in the valley below Mt. Mitchell. We found a nice site among several nice sites and stayed there two nights, drinking good beer and Maker's Mark, listening to tunes, playing backgammon, reading, and just generally unwinding. It was good.
After driving the BRP north to the Linville Gorge area on Friday and doing a short day hike to the magnificent overlook there, we parted company on Saturday. I sweated out the drive back to Asheville because I hadn't filled my tank before coming up to Mt. Mitchell, but I made it. Rick was supposed to call Jennifer for me to let her know about my cell phone, but forgot. After I got home, the next day I made Jen aid me in playing a cruel gag on Rick, calling to ask if he knew my whereabouts. He was pissed when the jig was finally up, but oh well, Rick and I are very accustomed to busting each other's chops.
Anyway, we had brought our mountain bikes, but didn't end up riding together. Before heading home I stopped to ride at Bent Creek Experimental Forest near Lake Powhatan just outside of Asheville where there are some nice trails. It was a beautiful day, and I spent about two hours exploring and huffing and puffing around. I had a couple of brews left, one which I drank right after my ride (the ultimate post-ride carb replenishment/pain killer) and the other which I popped open later on I-40, partaking of loving sips as the miles rolled by and the sun went down in front of me. It was a good trip.
Oh, the title of today's post is my vote for a daughter's name should Jen and I choose to start a family, which is becoming more of a possibility after just 12 years of marriage. Middle name? Dido, of course, or maybe Bjork.
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