Tuesday, January 15, 2013

We’ve moved! Websites, that is.

Hi! Aly and I put a lot of work into our family website/blog over the holiday season, and we made a big push to not only finish a ton of old blog posts but to jump ship from Blogger too! We made an entirely new website from scratch that contains our blog and our photo gallery. Now that it's all in one place, and mostly running on Wordpress, it should be easier to maintain and update in a timely manner. We're pretty much all caught up and moved in to our new place so why don't you visit us at: OurPastTents.com

Friday, December 28, 2012

We Hate "Under Construction" Signs

We hate websites that tell viewers they're "Under Construction."  When we see them, we think "lazy asses can't keep their damn website updated."

So now we're putting up a note on OUR blog.  We're not saying "under construction."  We're saying "running way behind because it's been an interesting year and while we've been taking pictures and keeping a journal, honestly we haven't assigned high priority to editing blog posts."

If you want to read that as "lazy asses can't keep their damn website updated", we'll totally understand.

I think we'll have an updated website and an up-to-date blog by the time our holiday break is over.  We hope you'll check back then.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

On Lake Ouachita, and Naps

By the middle of May, I was pretty much worn out.  For the past couple of weeks, I've been kind of ragged.  It was a tough end to the semester, and we've been shorthanded at work, and I've overcommitted myself on bike projects, and I just needed a break.  Bryan and I decided that, after Mandy left for Tulsa on Friday evening, we'd just disappear for a couple of days.  We chose Lake Ouachita for our getaway, since we thought it would be the quietest of the nearby lakes on a busy holiday weekend, and we put in at Buckville since it's a faraway boat launch.

We didn't get the quiet lake we'd hoped for, but we did manage to find our own private island on the edge of it.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

National Bike Week - Rocktown Trackdown

Since last summer, Bryan and I had been thinking that a bike/walk scavenger hunt in Little Rock would be fun.  Vinny's alleycats are great fun for a handful of people, but what if somebody did a race that was a little less competitive and a little easier to navigate?  If participants were given a map, it'd be easier to plan a route.  If people just had to answer questions, we wouldn't need many volunteers.

Friday, May 18, 2012

National Bike Week - Bike to Work Day

Sometime in February, a coworker from upstairs said that she'd like to do Bike to Work Day as an 'employee wellness program.'  She's the one who does Walk Across Arkansas, and a number of other wellness things - she's a gerontologist - and she thought we should do Bike to Work again.

In the past, Extension has done Bike to Work Day as part of the 4H program, with really limited success.  LaVona and I decided that we'd do better.  Against my better judgment, we formed a Committee.  I hate committees.  But this one was pretty good, because we picked people we liked, and every month we'd ride across town to eat lunch someplace and talk about what we were going to do about Bike to Work Day.

Early on, we understood that we couldn't very well expect our coworkers to ride several miles across town without teaching them anything, or encouraging them to build up to the event.  So we planned out a series of little 'workshops' on Fridays, at lunch.  We borrowed some bikes from the 4H Center.  We expected two people and we got twenty.  We started out with NOTHING - truly, the first Friday we just told people to get on bikes and ride around the parking lot, to remember that they COULD still ride a bike, that they WOULD still have fun.  And they could.  And they did.  And those who had forgotten were taught again.

Photo by Mary Hightower

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

National Bike Week - Ride of Silence

Photo by Judy Lansky
In May, every year, there's an international event honoring those cyclists killed while riding.  This year's local event saw about 75 local cyclists riding silently, in pairs, from the Clinton Library to the state Capitol.  We wore white shirts, and on our backs we pinned cards with the name and age of a fallen bike rider.

I rode for a young man killed just this last month, run over in anger.  He'd made a mistake but he didn't deserve to be killed for it.  My friend Lisa wore the name of a six year old girl.  We don't know her story, but we know her life ended far too soon.  Others rode in memory of friends - Marilyn Fulper, who was killed by a car at the top of River Mountain Road a couple of years ago; Sam Avery, a hit and run while on a group ride recently.  Others rode bearing the names of people we don't know, and never will.

At some point, we're all cyclists.  We all start out as little kids, teetering down neighborhood streets on our first two wheelers.  Some of us end up as serious racers, and others ride to improve health.  Some just need a bike to get to work or to the grocery.  We all ride because it makes us feel good.  We're willing to take the risk.  We know it's there.  We're all out on the street, vulnerable, and it's fitting that we rode tonight to remember those who have been killed. 

I've always wanted Little Rock's Ride of Silence to be a more visible event.  This year's was a little better than we've done in the past, and I hope that trend of higher visibility and meaning continues.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

National Bike Week - Cyclofemme Womens' Ride

One thing I brought back from the National Bike Summit this spring has to do with women in cycling.  Only 25% of cyclists in the US are women.  Why is that?  Because, as a group, we really do need different things than men in order to be comfortable riding bikes.  Women like to ride as a social thing, I learned.  Women like to feel clean and safe.  Women like to feel accepted when they ride.  And if women can be encouraged to ride more, more kids will grow up on bikes.  It's worth working on.  I hadn't realized it before.

So when my friend Lisa over at ArkansasOutside.com announced that she was going to host a local ride as part of an international Women's Cycling Day, I figured that I should support her efforts. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Poor Hayduke

Hayduke's been swimming so much that his ears have been bothering him.  We ordered some stuff online that was recommended as a sort of dog swimmer's ear remedy.  It reviewed well, and we figured it would help.

Last week, we noticed some little bumps on top of his head.  No big deal, we thought - they're probably some kind of bug bites, or scratches from sticker bushes incurred while crashing through the underbrush in the woods somewhere.

But this week, on Monday, the little bumps were all over his poor head, and they were bothering him.  All around his ears, and all down his neck, were little bleedy bumps.  On Tuesday they were worse, and by Tuesday night they had spread to his muzzle.  His eyes and mouth were all swollen.  He was really feeling bad, and it was scary for him and for us.

First thing Wednesday morning, he and I were at the vet's office.  The awful hives and the swelling were an allergic reaction to the ear stuff, they said.  He got a terrible haircut and some benedryl and steroid shots, and I stayed home all morning with him until the antihistamines kicked in and the swelling started to subside.  He's got different ear medicine now, and some oral antibiotics, but it's going to take awhile for these awful itchy bleedy hives to go away.

And the worst part?  He's not allowed to swim for ten days. So stay away from "Vet's Best Ear Relief" or else your $12 in over-the-counter product will turn into a $150 vet bill!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Maiden Voyage

Our new boats had been sitting in the garage, teasing us all week.  Bryan and Mandy have new crossover kayaks and I have a hybrid (a kayak that looks a lot like a canoe)Jarion has a greenish fishing-ready sit-on-top, and Kathy chose an orange sit-on-top that's now outfitted with a yoga mat trimmed to fit Ivy's special sitting spot.

Monday, April 30, 2012

We Has Boats

Well, we did it.  After a couple of weeks of semi-intensive research both online and in the water, we settled on what we wanted, confirmed our choices on the lake during the Ouachita Outdoor Outfitters spring "Demo Day", wrote the check, and picked up the boats.

We figure that this year, we'll skip our usual out-of-state week-long vacation in favor of buying the boats and then taking a couple of super-long weekend trips to boat around in our home state.

Bryan has a brand-new LiquidLogic Remix XP10.  It's billed as a "crossover" boat which means it's an ok whitewater boat with a drop-down skeg to help it track straighter on flat water.  It's got a hatch for dry storage for camping gear when needed.

Mandy has the smaller version of the same boat, but in a prettier color.  Good kayaks have seats that can be customized to fit the paddler by inserting "shims", and she's had to use all of her shims and half of Bryan's in order to get the seat to fit snugly around her skinny self.  She's completely thrilled with her boat.

Hayduke and I settled on a Native Watercraft Ultimate 12 kayak.  It looks a lot like a canoe.  It's got lots of room for camping gear, and is super stable so Hayduke won't cause me too many problems when he's moving around.  I can stand up in it, and can easily get him back into the boat after a swim.  It'll be fine on flat water, and okay for class 1 and 2 rivers, which is all I want to do right now anyway.  I'd thought this was my choice based on reading reviews and descriptions online, and when we tried the Native boat on the lake the choice was easily confirmed.  When I found out that I could buy a slightly used Ultimate for about 60% off retail, the deal was done.

Eventually I'll want a more appropriate boat for whitewater, too, but this is great for dogboating. 

Our friends Kathy and Jarion bought boats, too, so we're all set for summertime paddling. We'll have actual photos once we get the boats on the water.