Friday, May 25, 2012

Uniquely CA

It's another "big day" today. All my stuff arrives within the hour. Then the litany of decisions start all over again ... where to put it, and even after having it shipped across the country, do I REALLY need it? Storage is at a premium. There are NO basements in CA. Which brings me to the idea I had for this post ... things I've noticed that are decidedly different from MN.

Like I just said, no basements. Everything is built on a slab, and most of the houses are stucco or brick. Very little in the way of lapped siding.

And the grass is different. I'm not sure of the varieties yet, but they're not Kentucky bluegrass, that's for sure. One type gets mowed about 1/2" long, like a putting green. Looks like astroturf but I guess it survives the climate better here than what I'm used to. The plant material is also completely different. All the shrubs and flowers and trees are tropical varieties that can take the heat in the valley here.

Which brings me to ... water. It's a precious commodity here. There are lots of restrictions on it's use. And this has been a dry year so it's in particular short supply. You can only water 3 days per week depending on whether your address is odd or even and there is no watering between 10 AM and 8 PM and no hosing off anything, etc. It's highly agricultural here and the farmers really need water. There are fields everywhere outside of town ... either dairies filled with cows (but here, they're not pastured they're in feed lots), or fields/groves of citrus, stone fruits, nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios). The produce supply is wonderful and prices are great. I bought 2 pounds of strawberries for $1.48 and they're delicious. Actually, I bought 6 pounds!

The air is noticeably drier as well. My skin is dry and the humidity is very low. Yesterday was an extremely pleasant day. The thermometer in the shade said 85 but with the air dry, it was so comfortable. So unlike the humidity we suffer through in MN in the summer.

Gas prices. Definitely higher. Nothing I've seen under $4.15 and that was cash price. Credit is 6 to 10 cents more per gallon. It took me literally a half hour on Wednesday to fill up my tank. I was so frustrated. Two of the four pumps at this little old station weren't working. I paid inside and the clerk kept telling me to pick up and replace the nozzle. I did that 3 to 4 times and went inside to tell her it still wasn't working. After doing that 3 times, she said to "go to an other pump". Went to another one. Same story. She said to go to pump one. Well, cars were continuously arriving and leaving cuz it was the cheapest gas around and I was afraid someone else was going to get to the pump before I could get my car there and get my $60 worth of gas. Well, I got my car there RIGHT QUICK and started filling. The pump shut off at $51.49. Oh fudge! I went back inside and was prepared to ask for a refund as I thought my tank was full and I'd miscalculated how much it could hold. She said it was OK and she'd accidentally shut the pumps off. So I went back out for the fifth time and got the rest of my gas. WHAT AN ORDEAL. Live and learn I guess.

All in all, things have gone very well. Hope today continues with more of the same. Running with the Visalia Runners at 4:30 AM (to beat the heat and get to work). We're training for the Santa Rosa marathon in August. And I'm trying to get into shape. Track work on Tuesday and tempo on Thursday. Tomorrow, I might run a 5K in the middle of our long run and totally embarrass myself. We're running Rock Hill on Monday morning. My friend Angelica has a Swedish friend Anna-Karin Berg that wanted to meet me as I'm 100% Norwegian. I met her and she wants to have lunch to get better acquainted. So nice! Actually, everyone has been very nice here. Greet people with a smile and/or a pleasant word works wonders.

Well, it's time to watch for the truck. Have a wonderful weekend!

The back yard

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I Made It

After driving for 2160.0 miles, I'm here in Visalia, CA. I arrived Monday about 2:00 PM. It's a long drive, but a beautiful drive. We (Matt and I) started out Thursday evening from Rochester after having the truck loaded Thursday morning. Biggest moving truck, or just biggest truck, I've ever seen.

Thank you to Don, Robert and Rocky for loading my stuff. No, it's not just my stuff on that truck. (Tom Woo made a comment on Facebook that I do have a lot of shoes ... ha! Not THAT many!) There was a lot on the truck when it got to Rochester (after a 24 hour delay due to being broken down in Cedar Rapids, IA). After leaving Rochester they were headed to Davenport, IA to pick up a pick-up truck to put in the back. Robert said they needed 17' of floor space to load it. There wasn't that much. But he said they could "deck it" (built a deck over the truck) in order to fit everything on it. I can't imagine how much gas this fully-loaded vehicle is going to guzzle going over the Rocky Mountains.

Our first stop was Grimes, IA near Des Moines where we stayed with my stepbrother and family. Then we were headed west on I-80.

Our next overnight stop was in Superior, CO with Hal and Julie Frye. I'd known Julie from IBM many years ago and hadn't seen them since they left Rochester 16 years ago. They hadn't changed a bit!! Anyway, Matt and I both fell in love with the Boulder, CO area and we understood the appeal for both the Fryes and Brad Berger who recently relocated there. (Excuse the spots on my camera lens. I really should replace the camera.)

Matt and I wanted to stretch our legs, so Hal took us for a little walk. There was a bike race taking place that weekend and Friday was the time trial and we got to see a few of the participants. Saturday would bring a criterium and Sunday a road race. It would have been fun to be able to watch.

Hal and Julie took us to a nice restaurant for supper. I don't remember the name of it and didn't take a photo of the sign. Unthinkable!!

We had a very nice visit with the Fryes. Saturday morning brought a visit with Brad Berger, recently moved to the area from St. Cloud. He's looking and doing well!!

After breakfast with Brad, we took off for the Rockies in rain and very heavy fog once we started climbing into the mountains. I was so disappointed that Matt might not see the beautiful scenery as we could hardly see 20 feet in front of the car. But after several miles, the fog cleared and we were able to enjoy the vistas.

The scenery on this route is magnificent. Farmland ... mountains ... desert. It's all beautiful.

Soon we were in Utah. The first 110 miles into Utah there are "No Services" and signs warning you of that situation. No gas. No food. Nothing. Kind of played with my brain a little bit. What if ... ? But them I remembered that I had two bikes on the back.

Worst case scenario with my non-smart phone ... I'd have to ride 55 miles to somewhere if no one stopped to help. But the drive was without incident thankfully.

I took so many photos of the scenery. I'd love to post them all, but can't. Here are a few more though.

Night three ... Cedar City, UT. We were tired and happy to get out of the car. We had a salad for supper and called it a night on the early side, ready for a good night's sleep. Well, my body clock was still on Central time so I was awake at 3:00 or 3:30 AGAIN. So I went out for a 5-mile run through town.

Cedar City is at about 5600 feet so I noticed the thinner air and walked a bit. And, I was just plain tired from all the packing and the long days in the car. Funny how sitting all day can wear you out, but it does. We had breakfast from the food I had along and then drove down I-15 a few miles to the Zolob Canyon section of Zion National Park. It was spectacular. The rocks are vivid red, but due to the position of the sun in the sky, the pictures don't do it justice.

There are places in UT where the speed limit is ...

... yes, 80!! We got a VERY nice room at South Point in Las Vegas for $54.88 including all taxes, fees, etc. No resort fees as it was south of the Strip.

After dinner, we walked the Strip and did a little shopping. Matt got some new aviator shades. :-)

We turned in early and got up early Monday to get Matt to the airport. After that, I had about a 6 hour drive from Vegas to Visalia. Lots of nothingness in the Mohave Desert. But it's beautiful in its own stark way.

Monday evening, the Visalia Runners welcomed me to town with a nice dinner and wine (thank you Baumanns), cherries (thank you Richard!), cake (thank you Tavarez family!). It was so nice of them ... greatly appreciated. This morning I ran with them on the track. We're in training for the Santa Rosa marathon in August. Yvonne had us doing 6 x 400m on the track. I feel like I'm starting from scratch in the running fitness arena. Found out from Al Morales about some group rides on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. I hope to partake!! Saturday morning there's a local 5K. Might run it and embarass myself. :-) We'll see.

Toodles!! Life is good.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

So long, farewell ...

I guess I could have entitled this post "Firsts and Lasts" as well. Yesterday, I got a pedicure for the first time ... on the last day in Rochester. What a treat! I could get used to this! Thank you Jean and Amy for the pampering. So now my feet are sandal-ready. :-) Also taking place for the first time on the last day, a meal at Roscoe's on 4th. As I was sitting there eating I thought this is Roscoe's Rootbeer and Ribs and I'm eating neither ... my bad. But it was very good. I had a BBQ pork sandwich on a multigrain bun (BIG sandwich) and Diet Coke. Delish. I also went to the track, and ran on the Mayowood trail, for the last time. A beautiful, beautiful day on a beautiful trail. I will definitely miss the running in Rochester ... I do enjoy the hills and in the valley where my new home will be (Visalia, CA) it's flat as a pancake. Hills aren't far away though. And the Sierra Nevada mountain range can be seem from town. I'll also miss picking black cap raspberries and making jam, biking the county roads I've come to know and enjoy, but most of all, my friends. Hoping we can keep in touch through this blog, email, phone, Facebook and best of all, visits ... both here and there.

So as they say in the Sound of Music ... so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Here Goes Nothing ...

I've spent virtually the whole day packing and I need a break. So ... here goes nothing.

"Here goes nothing." That was my comment before taking off for the Lake Wobegon Trail marathon yesterday morning. I didn't know what the day would have in store for me, as is usually the case before a marathon. 26.2 is a lot of miles and lots of things can happen.

I'm in the process of moving everything I own to California, so spent most of last week packing. I didn't run (or bike or swim or anything) on Monday or Thursday or Friday of last week. But I did spend virtually all of my free time on my legs, packing, going up and down and up and down stairs, carrying boxes, etc. And the last thing I was thinking about was the marathon. I threw a few things in my suitcase on Friday and took off for St. Cloud. When I got up there, I wasn't even sure I'd packed shorts!! I had. But I didn't bring my electrolyte capsules, and that wasn't good.

The pasta dinner was held at St. Ben's cafeteria

 and was very good. Great selection. If they didn't have it, you didn't need it. Met up with Sharon ...

Marni and Mike ...

and plenty of others. Unfortunately I didn't take many pictures this trip. Spent too much time talking I guess. At 5:30 AM, we gathered in St. Joe

for the bus ride to Holdingford.

We all gathered in the high school gym in Holdingford waiting for race time. Team R.E.D. had a great showing.

It was a beautiful, sunny morning with little wind. Beautiful running weather. My marathon went pretty well for the first 20 miles. I hit 20 miles at 2:57. Not fast, but not terrible either. I'd been having twinges of cramps but was able to keep running through them. After 20, things went downhill. By 21 miles, I was cramping regularly. By 22 I was doing a fair amount of walking and a lot of stopping to try to massage out my leg cramps, predominantly in my adductors and hamstrings. They were relentless. I'd never had to stop so many times. I walked most of the last 3 miles. Mile 25 was 16:51 and mile 26 was 19:21. OUCH. Literally. I was moaning and crying even. The adductor cramps are so incredibly painful. Many people stopped to see if I was OK, or needed transport to the finish. Beth Wengler came by several times on her bike to give me water. A stranger gave me his water bottle. Then another stranger gave me water from a bottle they were carrying. I had no idea who'd drank from these bottles but I didn't care. I was really warm, had stopped sweating, had salt stains all over my clothes and was dearly wishing I'd had my electrolytes. Kate Adams came by in the last mile and had a bag of coarse salt which she shared with me. (Salt tasted great.) Twice, when I was unable to move either leg due to several muscles in each leg spasming, I didn't think I'd finish. The second time I was less than 1/4 mile from the finish. Right after I finished, they handed me water and my muscles were spasming so bad that they eventually put me in a wheelchair. They wanted me to lay down, but I know from experience what happens then. I can't get up. So I downed two bottles of water and a cup of broth and kept walking around until the cramps released. I had a few in the car on the south side of the cities, but for the most part after I stopped running they quit. Anyway, I'm very embarrassed at my finish time. My marathon times are getting slower and slower and slower. So discouraging. I'm proud that I finished, but embarrassed at my time. How do I feel today? Pretty good actually. But the muscles that cramped are pretty tender as they usually are after such an episode. The adductors (inside/medial side of upper leg) are the worst. Number 26 in the books. I hope I can pop a decent one in the not too distant future.

Today was mostly spent packing. The boys were both home and that was wonderful. Eric's girlfriend Alley came down for the day today and Ted bought us all pizza. Glad I didn't have to cook in this disaster I'm living in for only a few more days. I've had quite enough of making on decisions on what to keep and what to get rid of. I'll be glad when life gets back to normal. There are boxes everywhere and more boxes yet to be filled. The truck pulls up on Wednesday and Matt and I will take off on Thursday. Seeing Eric off today was so hard. I cried and hugged him and cried and hugged him and cried and hugged him and finally had to wave goodbye. I'm crying again as I type this.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you that have had the blessing of being a mother. I can't imagine not having my boys. I love them to pieces and always will.

Well, enough of a reprieve from my duties. Back to work.

'Til next time ..................