Sunday, September 24, 2017

Olbrich Biergarten

Yesterday evening my wife and I finally made it to the Biergarten at Olbrich Park.  It opened about halfway through summer and we drive past it at least twice almost every day, and I've been past it on my bike a few times, but we finally made it there to sit and enjoy the area, scenery and ambiance.   The beer garden is a good idea for the city to get more people to use the park and make some money, and it appears to be working as there were lots of people out yesterday evening but still not all the tables were taken so we didn't feel crowded.  There's still plenty of open green space, the space for soccer fields is still there, and the boaters have their own area on the other side of the Starkweather Creek outlet into Lake Monona.
There were great views of the lake and area, and I've really been enjoying taking pictures this year so here's some more!  This is on Lake Monona, when we're out on the boat we're on Lake Mendota.  The state capitol building is on the isthmus that separates the lakes so this is the other side than the view I usually post here.

We were supposed to meet someone we met at a local hangout but they pulled a no-show and didn't reply to a text until hours later.  We are open to making new friends but this disappointed us.  We do what we say we're going to do and are always on time, and for the most part we'd like our friends to be like that, too.  Still, we enjoyed ourselves while sitting by the lake and sipping a brew as the sun lowered over the lake.  It was a lovely setting, right in the city but so nice, calm and relaxing.

Earlier in the day I got some yard work done and so I posted a tour of the yard over at the garden blog last night.  Stop over there and have a look, and, of course, more beer garden photos after the break!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Vacation Week Recap

Another long, wordy post.  If you've already had enough of me lately then you may move on.  Otherwise, enjoy the wit and charm that is me - now even older and wiser*!

Along with that other occasion this week I was also on vacation, or call it a stay-cation - my favorite kind!  I usually like to have a big project to accomplish, among my other to-do list items, but this time I only had a small to-do list and no real big project to complete.  Not that that's a bad thing, I sure got more rest, but I also probably consumed more alcohol than necessary.  A look back at the highlights of my vacation here.  Did I waste my time?  You tell me.

The Badgers won their home game against Florida Atlantic, their second win of the season against a team dealing with the hurricane back home at the time.  They were unsure if the game would be played for a while but Wisconsin was more than accommodating for their extended stay in Madison.
Throughout the game and after was all party preparation.  I wrote about the party briefly here, I'm still happy for all that celebrated with me - and my Mom created something special that still amazes me.  Picture clippings of me from infancy to recent, and shaped in a big 5-0.  This is the kind of thing only a stalker or someone who really loves you would put the time in to put together.  I've only seen these kind of picture tributes at retirements and funerals.  I told my wife we need to keep it for my funeral (in 6 years!), she can add in the later years afterward!  Seriously though, I was very touched and impressed.
Overall, the party was a blast and I think all had a great time.  The only downside for me was the back spasms I got well after midnight while standing in our kitchen after putting everything outside away.  That was unfortunate and would affect my next several days.

Thankfully, the Packers started the season with a late afternoon game.  That gave me time to sleep in and then try to re-hydrate myself after Saturday night's party.  Even though I started the day with a few back spasms I was able to get everything in order in the garage and porch for the time being, but moving the big stuff would have to wait.  I hit up some hair of the dog, put on my new favorite Packers shirt and enjoyed the game before calling it an early night.

Much the same as Sunday, but no football games, just highlights and interviews to watch.  My back was still questionable so I did some online surfing and shopping.  I started my vacation week off very slowly but fully enjoyed the day of rest.

My back was feeling strong enough that I got all the tables and chairs from the party squared away, just have some we borrowed to return yet.  This meant I was able to park in the garage again, until I decided to get my bike down.  It would stay down the rest of the week.
I was itching to get out on the bike so I chose a couple places nearby that I hadn't been to yet.  First I headed north over the bike bridge, the one I've shown here before, but then I continued a little farther north to go see the next bike bridge, over highway 30.  After two and a half weeks not on the bike I managed to make it up both bridges, but stopped at the top of the second knowing I would just have to come back up it and I still had to go up the other on the way back.  Not the smartest plan for not having ridden in some time.  I got back over the bridges to flat land and headed out northeast to a bike path nearby that I hadn't been on.  Not a long path, but picturesque in a spot or two over the marshlands.

My vacation was running out and I had yet to do the one 'big' project I had planned, resealing between the driveway and foundation.  I got that done on this morning, mostly before the heat of the sun got to me, but crawling around the driveway and getting down and up what seemed like 50 times took it's toll on my knees and back.  No bike rides this day.  I spent time at Brothers Three for lunch and drinks.  When I got home my new hard drive had arrived so I spent the rest of the day backing up files and relaxing.

With the seal by the foundation completed I was able to finish the sawbuck.  The strip of wood I used as a brace is the strip of wood I used to pound down the old seal by the foundation.  With that project completed I could reuse that wood as a brace on the sawbuck, I just had to cut a few inches off either end.  I spent the next couple hours on a bike ride to the Tenney Lock, and finished up the afternoon with another few drinks at Brothers Three, waiting for notification of my new computer monitor being delivered.  I didn't want it sitting out fearing it may get stolen.  Conveniently, I get delivery notifications from Amazon on my phone so I could then come home straight away.  And then, it arrived just after I got home a short time later.

This is it.  The last 'real' vacation day before the weekend.  I spent my early morning hours sleeping in and taking my time getting anything done.  Eventually I settled in and set up my new, 32 inch computer monitor.   It is BIG.  I went from a 24 inch to a 32 inch.  A luxury, as the old monitor still works wonderfully, but I watch a lot of videos and concerts on the computer so bigger seems better.
Otherwise I made a trip to the store for gatherings this weekend.  I dropped the ball, though, I had all week and forgot to shop for a birthday present.  I'll have to figure out something by Sunday.

A slow morning around the house, but the Badgers played early afternoon and then we went to a friend's house for a rib cookout.  This is the friend we went in on the cow with, the ribs weren't packaged to be split up easily so he kept them and invited all who went in on the cow over for a cookout.  Then it turned out it wasn't racks of ribs but one rib roast, almost 15 pounds! It was still delicious and we had much fun, and the Badgers won handily.

Sunday, today:
We will be heading to the new Olbrich Beer Garden on Lake Mendota** for a small gathering to celebrate another birthday.  After that I expect quiet time at home until the Packer game tonight.  Then I need to get as much sleep as I can before the dreadful alarm goes off early in the morning sending me back to work.  Oh well, I had fun while it lasted!

* Well, older, anyway.
**Scratch that.  Just got word it is moved to the Harmony.  I think Olbrich would be more than just fine but the sun isn't shining.  Oh well. (Edit, 5:20 pm, we moved it from the Harmony to Dexter's Pub, we had a grand time with friends and the sun never did really come out.)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Tenney Lock, Madison

I had been planning on a vacation recap post this weekend to sum up the events of this week, and I still plan on doing that, but today's bike ride destination deserves a post of its own.  I had actually hoped to do this trip yesterday but my back was acting up again so today I made it happen and I'm very glad I did.  It was a beautiful day out, and my timing was accidental but worked out to be pretty fortunate.

As I've noted before, bike rides are fun, but I find them easier to get out and do with a destination in mind rather than aimlessly riding.  I'd probably like aimlessly riding if I didn't usually have other things to do, though.  Tuesday I decided I wanted to ride my bike to the only lock in Madison, or anywhere else in Wisconsin as far as I know, on the Yahara River that crosses the isthmus and connects lakes Mendota and Monona.  I'm sure I'll know if there are more locks in Wisconsin soon.  There would figure to be a few on rivers that meet up with one of our Great Lakes, on Superior or Michigan.

20170914_114821See, I've been watching a lot of narrow boat videos on the canal system over in the UK on YouTube recently, and have even subscribed to a few channels.  Notably; CruisingTheCut, Journey with Jono, Countryhouse Gent, among several others.  My interest actually started with those tiny house videos, which led me to find the narrow boat videos, starting with Great Canal Journeys, the show with Tim and Pru, two elderly English thespians, and following their adventures on different boats and canals.  (I'd love to link to all I mentioned but that takes time and you may copy and paste into YouTube, if you're interested.)

20170914_114857I've always known about the lock here in Madison, I just never had a need or interest before now.  I do know it was under repairs earlier this year, is all, but I do not ever remember visiting before.  Riding my bike there sounded like a good plan, I thought.  I purposely have not looked up anything about the lock other than the bike paths to get there as I wanted to see it for the first time upon my arrival.  I didn't take a lot of pictures on my bike ride there, but I those I got were pretty good so I'll post a bunch here, as I'm sure you've seen by now.

Just after I arrived the lockmaster was letting himself in.  He welcomed me and said he was just opening it up so stick around if I want to see it in action, so of course I did!  The Tenney Lock is nothing like I see in the canal videos from England, but they are very much newer, fewer (being only one) and fully automated.  I told him about watching those videos and he was fully informed on the history of canals and lock usage, from the early Chinese and Greeks to the newer but still very old English and German canals.  The railway made those canal systems obsolete for commercial use.  These days they seem to be much more for pleasure, and I can see the appeal.  I told the friendly, even jovial lockmaster that this must be a great job to have.  He came in close, grabbed me by the arm and told me he couldn't imagine a better retirement job, and I could sense his glee!

Above is the second video I took, it was of several older females out on kayaks going through the locks.  I skipped a portion for timeliness, but there is a longer, almost 5 minute video after the break of the first group through the lock today, start to finish.  Plus all pictures full size from above and more from the breakwater out on the lake past the locks.

All that, after the break!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Birthday Party

I have a lovely wife who went through a lot of trouble to put on a wonderful birthday party for me last weekend and great friends who showed up to help us celebrate.  There was beer brats, cake, a nacho bar and some really good wings.  Also tiki torches, a Jack Daniels Whiskey bar and a fire pit in back.  The food was awesome but the company was even better.  Thank you to all who were there with us to celebrate my milestone birthday!


A few more pictures after the break.  Forgive the quality of some, I had other priorities that night.


Here's one of my favorite short stories to tell.  It's been a few years now, so don't ask for the site because I don't remember, but I took an online questionnaire that was supposed to tell me how long I had to live.  What the hell, I thought.

I sat and went through this whole quiz, well more than a dozen or so questions, and detailed.  I got done and it said 56.  What, I thought?  Certainly I'm healthier than this.  I called my wife in and showed her.  It's just spitting out a random number, she said.  So I had her do it.  It came out with 93 or 94, I don't remember exactly.

How can this be?  Do it again, she said, so I did.  I went through each question all over again and answered honestly and completely.  56.  Again.

So that's it.  I have 6 more years to live.  It's on the internet so it must be true, right?

Monday, September 11, 2017



Monday, September 4, 2017

September This-And-Thats

I haven't done this too much recently.  I guess it's best not to think about it too much and just start typing and see where I end up.  You know, kind of like the usual.

  • I've been sick with a dreaded summer man-cold, and a nasty one at that.  When I woke up last Wednesday I knew it was inevitable.  I stayed home sick the following two days, and have been recovering the rest of this holiday weekend.  My wife even felt sorry for me, that's how bad I felt at times.  But I should feel mostly better in time for going back to work tomorrow.  Yay.
  • Even though I was under the weather I enjoyed the sun and fresh air out on Terry's boat yesterday, but I did not use sunscreen except on my knees and wound up a little bit sunburned elsewhere.  I guess between the hazy sun, laziness, and wanting a little more color made me throw caution to the wind.  I did switch sides on the boat so at least I'm even!
  • My wife is planning a pretty big party for next weekend.  She likes having people over but this is looking to be quite a big deal.  The week will be spent cleaning and preparing for the weekend.  I've been told to butt out and not worry about anything, which is very hard to do.  Friday night and Saturday will be my biggest contributions, cleaning the garage and preparing the yard.
  • I've been putting together a playlist for the above event.  Other than adding a couple albums to my phone, I just chose music from my phone.  But I do have a lot of music on my phone.  Being selective, I thought, I narrowed it down to well over 300 songs.  Way too many, so I took it down to 200 songs.  Still way too many.  Finally I got it down to 150 songs, less than half of what I started with when I already thought I was being picky.  That's it, I've spent too much time on it already for just background music.
  • I've not had the bike out recently due to this cold, but I had been trying to use it on the weekends.  Just over a week ago I rode a distance to my pharmacy and back.  (Not the closest pharmacy to home but it is on the way to work.)  I was hoping for more but the skies were promising rain.  I have some time off coming up so I'm sure to get a few rides in soon.  And the seasons may allow for riding for some time yet, although probably not in shorts for much longer.
  • I haven't yet flattened the feet or added a brace to the sawbuck of a few posts ago.  I have a board that is perfect for the brace but I'm using it for something else at the moment.  I'll have that other project done in short order once I'm on vacation then can finish the sawbuck.  I've also thrown a hand saw in my car for scavenging more firewood.  Does anyone care about this?  Probably not, but it is already written so it stays.
I can't think of anything else right now.  I haven't posted anything about Hamish and Basil in a while.  Mentioning it here increases the chances of that happening.  Otherwise, stay tuned, I'm bound to do something interesting eventually.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Labor Day Weekend 2017

I didn't seem to write much last month, so let's get it started already for September!  I plan on writing some tomorrow, but for today enjoy pictures of our afternoon boat trip.  Thanks, Terry!  Just a short trip today, and we seemed to beat most of the holiday traffic on the way out, but the boats were just streaming out onto the lake when we came back in.  More after the break!