Saturday, January 30, 2016

Camping Adventures with the kids: Or Camping Part I and Camping Part II

Louisiana is hot, so our adventures have been reserved mostly for the winter.  My boys love camping.  I think the word love is an understatement!  All I have to say is camp and they all have their backpacks packed and are ready to go.  They are also full of energy so I decided that we would ride to the campsite.  Some call it bicycle touring, some call it bikepacking.  Call it what you will but we loaded up our rides and went.  The first attempt was a little over the top.  But I wouldn't expect anything else from the Tsunami.    

A little over the top!

To begin with, Newbie keeps track of camping by number, as in Camping part 1.  He is up to camping part 5.   Camping part I involved me loading up the BOB Yak trailer.  The BOB trailer is a great way to haul gear.  It is very stable when moving, aside from the weight of the gear, I barely notice it is there.  The trailer can haul a lot and I pushed it beyond reason.  When loaded properly it is smooth.  It was not smooth.  The draw back is when stopped, it is hard to park and tough to turn around in tight places.  

It just so happened that when we arrived at our destination, I put my foot down on a fire ant home.  I will spare you the gore and detailed photo of what fire ants can do.  In a panic I lost control of the BOB and bike.  Needless to say there was some carnage there with a bent deraillure hanger.  There was also a need for benedryl and some days of pain to follow, the swelling of my ankle was intense.  But this isn't about me, so I powered through.

Vance is a lucky young man with a Porcelain Rocket Booster to haul his sleeping gear.  A shout out to Glenn Charles who donated it to the cause

The boys are great sports.  Nine miles can be a long way with little legs.  It typically involves a stop at the 5 mile mark where we get some refreshments at a gas station.  A snack and a shared soda, sometimes a slice of Hunt Brothers pizza.

Diga loves the out doors.  He finds toads and bugs fascinating.  I personally hate catching grass hoppers.  Diga, no issues.  This is why we do it though.  I would rather have them running around outside exploring nature than sitting around the house.  

Vance found a stick bug.  It is hard to see but it is there.  The boy loves bugs.

Camping part two was a little different.  I loaded up the Mukluk.  Admittedly a slower ride with a 1x10 30 tooth crank.  But I was riding with an 7 year old and 10 year old.  I carried almost as much stuff and it is extremely stable.  The Mukluk is an amazing bike and the Old Man Mountain Phat Rack and Porcelain Rocket handle bar bag are delightful.  I have always loved the Jeff Jones Loop H-Bar on that rig.

The area we went camping had done some tree maintenance and there were some large limbs strewn about.  They were green still and wouldn't burn well but the boys didn't know that.  They spent time gathering these limbs.

Team Work!

I suppose in a few years, if they read this, they will find out these wouldn't burn.

And more team work.

House Hold 6 brought Newbie out.  They all ran around and then we started the fire.  I allow them to poke at it.  I don't know anyone that isn't mesmerized by a fire.  In case you are wondering, she brought the chairs, those were not in the panniers.  The run around until they absolutely crash.  Newbie  is usually the first to tap out and go to bed.  

On morning of Camping part two there was a soul crushing wind so only Diga and I rode home.  Nater and Newbie hitched a ride.  I really only think Diga did it for the snack at the half way point.  He is an easy one to bribe.  A slice of pizza and some root beer and he is in.

Using the drops to get out of the wind!  I love this guy!!!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Summer Vacation 2015: Destination #2, Hilton Head Island, SC

The second phase of the trip was Hilton Head Island, SC.  A good “mid-way” point between Orange Beach and Richmond, VA.  So we hit the road, after loading a metric short ton of crap in the car we drove off.  We were about out of the parking lot when House Hold 6 “Seriously?”  I replied  “What?”  She replied “Chick??”  I looked in the rearview and saw Chick standing by the door of the hotel……. “yeah, I was just messing with her?!?”……Yeah that’s it.

                     Don't judge, it is easy to leave a child when you have to keep track of four hippos!
With all of the kids in the car we hit the road and made it to Tallahassee where we stopped for lunch at you guessed it.....Chipotle.  I love their food.  Then somehow my daughter conned me into letting her buy a $6 cupcake at some gourmet cupcake place.  We hit the road and we finally made it to our destination for a couple of days.  

Hilton Head Island is an odd place for a good old Montana hick.  Just about every square inch is used, however, it is an active place and there is a lot of foot and bike traffic.  It didn't seem as packed as it is.    Some of the roads look like bike paths and are paved around trees.  But….there are bike paths everywhere.  You could ride from one end to the other on bike paths.  Now, that said, we picked up are key and looked at the map.  It was a maze and you have to go through all of these little private area security booths.  Again, bizarre for someone like me.     

We got there late in the evening and the finally found our way in the maze of small sub-divided areas.  The kids went and swam in the pool after we unpacked.  The following morning I woke[up and decided I would explore before we made an attempt to go to the beach so I pulled out the Blackborrow.  I found my way to the beach and cruised a little bit.

   A totally different experience.  The beach is a hard packed sand and the Surly Lou tires were overkill.  

The beach was a totally different experience than Orange Beach.  The sand is packed, you could probably ride a Pinerello with 22mm wide tires on it.  I enjoyed the fresh salt air and rode into the wind so I would have a push back.  I didn't put a ton miles in because I knew the tsunami would be stirring back at the room.  

I headed back and making my way to the bike path.  As I cruised down the path I noticed something.
                                  I was unaware that there were alligators everywhere.

When I got back to the room everyone was stirring.  Especially House Hold 6's hair......almost as frightening as the alligator.
The South Carolina humidity was taking it toll!
Then it was time to get dressed and do some tourist stuff.  For the record, Chevy Suburban and Hilton Head Island do not go together well.  We went to the beach and walked around for a little while. The kids played in the ocean for a while and then we went to lunch at a place called the Salty Dog Cafe.  The food was great and reasonably priced.  I ordered a crab cake burger and it was outstanding.  

       This is one for the record books, every one looks reasonably happy and we are all looking in the right direction!
We did a little more sight seeing and then went back to the room and back to the beach.  The water was very different from the clear blue water of the Gulf Coast.  It was warm and muddy in appearance. Probably due to the large river outlets.  The tide was out and the ocean was flat as a dance floor.  The kids dug in the sand and played for a couple of hours.  
Our goal is to wear everyone down so they sleep at night.  Sufficiently baked in the sun and worn out, we found all of the kids and headed back to the house.  We made a run for dinner, I picked up Chipotle.  Have I mentioned that I like Chipotle?  We ate at the room and the kids played in the pool for a while and then it was bed time.  I am not sure if they were tired, HH6 and I were.
The next day the weather was going to turn for the worst.  So I charged my headlamp and I got up at 5 a.m. so I could get a decent ride in.  I was going to shoot for 20 miles round trip since we had a realy long drive ahead of us.  I love to watch the sun rise.  As a Montana boy, the beach is an amazing place.  When the sun rises, it goes from dark to light in what seems like a flash.  In the mountains, it could be light before the sun crests  the mountains in the horizon.  Same with sunsets on the beach.  The sun just disappears and it is dark.  

It was cloudy so it wasn't a stellar sunrise.  But it was a sunrise on the beach.  
I ended up riding to the southern tip of the island and turned around at the 9 mile mark, making it 18 miles round trip.  That was largely due to time since I spoke with a local for 1/2 an hour about the Salsa Blackborow and the Army. 
As I made my way back I was passing by a golf course when I noticed something lurking in the distance.  A big alligator was walking across the fare way.  When it saw me it lay flat.  I was glad, I have been chased by many a dog over the years.  I have been shot at (or at least in the direction of) by bird hunters....
The last thing I wanted was to be chased by an alligator.  
When I got back to the house, HH6 had packed all the bags and we loaded up.  It was time for the 3rd destination, Virginia.  House Hold 6 and I agree that we could live there.  The community is very active, with people walking the beach and riding bikes on the paths and beach.  It was a great place for a fat bike like the Blackborow, though the Lou tires were definitely overkill.  I would do this again.