Friday, November 27, 2015

A promise is a promise

     So as you remember, last February I took a trip down to Fort Myers Beach to visit my cousin, Keith. 
 When My plane landed in the Punta Gorda airport Keith was standing there waiting for me wearing one of the pink Team Leapfrog shirts I sold him to raise money for our team before last year's Bike To The Bay.  

     I thought it was very brave of him to wear that pink frog shirt, especially way down south where no one had a clue what it represented. Then again, I thought I was brave to be seen with him wearing it as well,ha,ha.  But I was careful not to mention we were related...  Of course, way back when I first started my team and suggested pink shirts I was pleasantly surprised when my first male team Leapfrog  rider said if it's pink then that's what we'll wear:)

     The trip started out as a test to see if I could hop on a plane and travel by myself.  

     But I was pushed into doing some things that were never on my bucket list. 

 Then again, if things didn't go well I might have been scraped up and put in that bucket in the end...

     Whether it was hang-gliding fifteen hundred feet above dry land...
     Or being flown like a kite behind a boat and dangling five hundred feet above the Gulf of Mexico; It was totally out of my comfort zone; but I did it:)

     So this became the first year of my new tradition to take a trip to Fort Myers in February, and as we speak I have officially booked my flight for this coming winter, YAY!

    Ironically, that pink Leapfrog shirt Keith wore while I was down there wasn't just a symbol of his support, because just as I stepped out side the box and became a female "Evel  Knievel", Keith officially signed up to ride on team Leapfrog next June.  So next spring he'll be the one hopping a plane.

     Like the saying "if you build it they will come", I am totally amazed and honored by all of the people who travel from across the country to ride with me on Team Leapfrog.  And to think that all it took was me building it:)

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

My birthday: The day the world changed forever.


      So today is my birthday, and I know I said everyday is special; not just birthdays. Though I have to say, just like the all time classic "It's a Wonderful Life"  I have to imagine the world has changed ever so slightly since the day I came into it; over a half a decade ago.

        My world has never been black and white; but in the beginning every photo of me was...

     My two older brothers learned very early on that that I might be high maintenance, but they still stood by me just the same.

     However, it didn't take long before I decided I wanted to do things for myself because I was just that strong willed; all I needed was my baby doll and I was ready to conquer the world.

     Sometimes pictures say so much with out a single word.  You'll see below it's quite clear that my big brother, Kevin did not want to rock the boat and he knew if he just stood still and smiled he could escape the mischief the rest of us were about to get into.  Of course my other big brother, Al spent many countless hours trying to figure out how he could drive me crazy.  You'll notice by the look on my face I was thinking "What did I do to deserve three brothers?"  Then my younger brother Doug was obviously thinking "Is it just me, or are my siblings totally nuts? I must be adopted..." That or "what's for lunch?"

     As you are well aware of by now, I am totally obsessed with frogs, and in this picture below you will see me with with my very first prince charming:)  My friend Lisa on numerous occasions even accused me of kissing them... hmm...
     Call it stubborn or strong willed; for as long as I can remember, I've always known I can do anything I put my mind to.  And if it's that important to me I will never give up.  

     This was my Kindergarten diploma; my first real proof of the pride in my accomplishments.  

     In time my life did become more colorful; sure, I had my  share of ups and downs; and I made many mistakes along the way, but every lesson I learned made me all that much stronger.

 And when I finally got that baby sister I had always dreamed of, I knew years later the two of us could handle anything our brothers threw our way.  By this time I could begin to see the world become more colorful every day.

     I have to admit that the world was probably less complicated in black and white.  And if I was never born I'm sure the world would be just fine; but I have believe it's because of all of the great people that have passed through my life that my world is now in full color:)

     Of course, in the box of 64 crayolas... all I really need is pink:)

Have a great day!!


Friday, November 13, 2015

A room full of cars with big pink bows?!?! I must be dreaming!!

          I'm not dreaming; it was a show room full of cars with huge pink bows on them.  No, they weren't my birthday presents, but they kind of were there for me indirectly.

          I was at the car dealership getting my car washed and I was telling one of the salesmen, Todd I love the big pink bows and he told me it was in honor of breast cancer awareness month, which was October.  Every time someone test drives a car they would donate to breast cancer research.  So being a breast cancer survivor myself, it is actually my present:)

     Todd told me he does the race for the cure.  Though walking isn't my strong suit, I mentioned that I do ride in the bike to the bay because incidentally, I also have MS.  It's funny how many people ask me if I'm kidding when I make that comment (I wish I were...). I told him about discovering that Alex, the salesman who helped me find another car when my old one bit the dust, and I were related, and I was planning to make sure he rides on my team.  Right away Todd said "I'll ride!!"  So you know the drill... as soon as I hear those words it's written in blood.  The picture just seals the deal:)
     I told Todd my next mission was to convince Alex to ride too. But Todd assured me he would see to it that Alex rides; after all he is "family".

     Yep, another photo for proof, and I now have two more committed riders on Team Leapfrog! YAY!!

       Believe it or not, the registration has actually begun for the next Bike To The Bay, allowing riders to get a head start before the hectic holiday season rolls around.  Incidentally, the date is June 25 and 26 of 2016.  Last year was the second year for Team Leapfrog with almost forty riders.  This being my third year riding I'm really starting to get the hang of building my team:)
     I can do all the selling I want, though no matter how I pitch it, at the end of the day I find the strategy that works the best is to simply talk their ears off until they commit, just to shut me up... or I simply let my smile do the talking for me:)

 Please consider joining my team!

Click on Bike to the bay at the top and check it out:)

And while you're at it click on pictures and see photos from the past years at Bike to the Bay.

Have a great weekend!


Friday, November 6, 2015

The flowers might be calling it quits for the winter, but we aren't!

     Now that November is here I've decided It's probably time to bring my bike inside and put it on a trainer.  But just because my bike will soon go into hibernation doesn't mean I have to.

     Most people think of spring time when when it comes to gardens.  But these two lovely ladies, my birth mom and Joann, my second mom know otherwise.

     Joann volunteered at Shedel's Garden for many years and invited my mom and I to come see how beautiful it is even in the fall.
          So here we are on a golf cart, but not playing golf, and a trail but no bikes...
     As you can see, the Spring and Summer flowers are gone, but the mums, not unlike me are stubborn and refuse to call it quits.

     Shedel's Garden stretches out along seventeen acres, and though typically gardens are made up of flowers, this garden had many man-made sculptures that seemed unfathomable to the average Joe like me.
     The artist who created this huge vase spent many countless hours fitting random shaped rocks to fit perfectly without using mortar or cement, and amazingly it continues to hold up year after year.
     This bridge crosses over to a Japanese garden filled with some of the most unique trees I have ever seen. 

     Not a single flower here, but this garden doesn't need any.

      Joann told us this red Japanese structure is supposed to bring good luck to anyone who touches it.  I'm not actually superstitious; I believe in making my own luck, but what did I have to lose... good luck might just be around the corner:)  Of course Joann may have simply wanted to see how crazy I was and if I would buy into her line... I am and I did:)

          I could wander this estate all day (of course it would take a lot longer than a day if I used my legs).
    This is the amazing view from the visitor center...

     And these are the stairs leading up to the Shedel mansion (that sure looked like a lot of climbing...)


        Of course if you owned a place this big you could probably hire someone to carry you up those stairs:)
     I soon relized we could get to the top in a golf cart too:)
          I was surprised to see these swans swimming in this man-made lake; I thought they would have migrated south by now... (though I've never seen a flock of swans in the sky... probably not a thing...) I learned that these swans were donated to Shedels and I'm guessing they will be here long after the wild birds have left.
     True, the flowers were very scarce, but this garden was ripe for the picking; It was called the "kitchen garden" and it was overflowing with hot peppers galore; they probably also own stock in "Rolaids":)
     But you knew I wasn't leaving before I found my pink flowers; and there they were!

          And we actually spotted a lonely little Iris that never got the memo that spring was over (three months ago...).  I guess she doesn't like to give up either...

     I can't speak for the others, but I really enjoyed  this day with two of the most iconic people in my life and I'm so grateful to have them both.

           So I'm saying farewell to summer; though I have to admit Winter really isn't my season.  And I'm sure in the next few months I will have my share of balancing acts every time I step out onto the slippery ice.  But one thing I've learned over time is as challenging as things may be, if you have great friends and family nothing else matters:)

Have a great weekend!!


Friday, October 30, 2015

For some strange reason apple butter always draws a crowd.

     Believe it or not, I have never in my life been to an apple butter festival.  I mean, the thought of butter made out of apples is a bit confusing... Is it butter or is it fruit?  All I know is for some strange reason an apple butter festival always brings in swarms of people.  That might explain why I haven't gone to one; I hate long lines(unless I'm at the front of it...).

     However, When the Grand rapids Festival rolled around I finally decided I needed to see  what all the hoopla was about.  After I asked my mom if she wanted to go with me I found out they were expecting a crowd of around 60,000 people...YIKES!!  But there was no backing out now.  

     Of course, with that many people that meant a lot of cars and parking miles away, then walking forever.  If I had my bike that would be fine, but my legs and brain would argue all the way, and I would never hear the end of it.  Luckily they had a shuttle bus, if we could only find it...  rather than drive aimlessly hoping to run into the shuttle, I spotted an older gentleman walking down the street of a small town just outside of Grand Rapids.  I asked him if he knew where the shuttle bus pick up area was, and he asked me if I was up for a long walk.  If that were the case would I driving all over creation looking for a shuttle?? I immediately said "uh... no..."  It was a good thing because he then told me to drive about four miles and I would run into it.  That's not a long walk; that's a marathon...
          We eventually made to the festival and of course we had to get a picture as proof of my first and maybe last apple butter festival.
          Look... you can't go anywhere without finding a photo bomber:) Of course I may have been photo bombing her...
     If you want to know what 60 thousand people looks like, this gives you a pretty good idea.  What have I gotten myself into?!?!
          I"m not saying I loved the huge mob, but I did enjoy the view of the Erie canal (though it probably looks exactly the same tomorrow, without a million people).


          And it was also a great view of the Maumee River:)

          So this was what all the fuss was about.  A hand full of guys standing there stirring huge kettles of simmering apples for hours on end.

     And the line to get apple butter made fresh that day had to be a mile long (no thanks).  Or you could walk right up to a booth and buy day old... Hmm...

        I'll admit there was a heck of a lot more walking than I signed on for, but the good news was the crowds were so thick that we weren't going anywhere fast.  And you know me and running... not gonna happen:)

     Of course, with so many people, I really figured my bionic leg would just blend in, and I could take a day off from explaining fifteen times over what I did...

     No such luck... a random stranger came up to me and being funny said "wanna race?!"  Being funny right back, I told him I would give him a head start then catch up to him later.  Then once again that infamous question came out again... "what did you do?!?!"  I guess I have to accept the fact the next thirty years are going to be spent answering that question... A LOT...

     So when I replied to this guy I was in a bar fight just to make it interesting, he actually looked in shock and said "are you serious!?!?"  I told him no, but it sounds more interesting  then the real story.  You guessed it... he had to know the real story.  After I told him the foot drop hyper-extension thing he said "stick with the bar fight..." ugh... I can't win...

     In spite of all the walking and elbows in the side, it was a nice day with my mom and that made it all worth it.
         And the shuttle bus back was definitely welcomed by the end of the day:)

        Now that I've been to an apple butter festival I can finally mark that off my list of things to do; though I'm not sure it was "bucket list" worthy.  They say curiosity kills the cat... But with out curiosity you might never know what you're missing:) 

Have a great weekend!!


Friday, October 23, 2015

The trail might be the same, but the story sure isn't.

     last weekend I was able to convince three riding buddies, in spite of the chilly weather to go on a ride.  I'm usually lucky to find one rider, so having Ron, Jeliesha, and Robert riding was a huge surprise.  Robert made the  suggestion that we ride the University Parks trail because he heard they may have extended it all the way past the university and out to Alexis road; just shy of the state line.  I'm as curious as the next guy, so I wanted to check it out for myself; besides it would give me a chance to see the fall colors before the trees shed their coats for the winter.

    On occasion we park our cars at UT and ride from there, but this time we decided to park at Wildwood Park and pick up the trail from a different spot.  I imagined I would see some yellow or red, possibly even brown leaves, on our deciduous mid-west trees. 

    Fall colors nothing!!  They looked almost like Christmas!!  I saw leaves in colors I've never even knew existed.

     This tree was sporting this cute red ensemble for the fall:)

     We reached the university and I noticed the trees were still green and I was really hoping to see more fall colors. However, it wasn't long before we found them...

     We don't usually ride through the university campus, but this time we did so we could check out the new addition to the trail.

     I've heard of major cities having public bikes scattered throughout, but I had no idea UT had these bikes as well.  I was told they could be found all around the campus and the students ride them between the buildings; leaving them for the next person to pick up. Of course, I wonder what prevents someone from riding them off the campus... maybe they have an invisible fence... ouch!!

          So we arrived to the area that was supposedly the extension, and you'll notice that this is by no means finished... it was nothing but a suggestion.  At least we knew where it would be eventually.

     And once again we were headed back to the trail.  Only it didn't end as smooth sailing as we had hoped for; as we approached the spot we usually park our cars, you know... at the university... Robert's seat snapped right off of his bike.

     This would have been perfect timing... had we parked where we usually do.  However, This time we were parked at Wildwood, which was about 4 miles away.  Ugh!  And if you aren't familiar with recumbent bikes, which Robert happens to ride, there is no riding it if you don't have a seat.

  In this photo his bike was on the far left; obviously we had a bit of an issue on our hands.

     Again, if it had been an up-right bike he could have walked it back.  But walking a recumbent is like walking a strong willed dog; not likely to happen.

     The only thing we could do was leave poor Robert behind, then bike back to the park and meet him with a car.  Keep in mind, this guy rides in his bare feet because he can't feel the peddles with his shoes on due to his MS.  And remember, I told you it was a chilly day.  It sure was bad luck for Robert, but we could have been 20 miles away, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

     I'm not sure if it was the way the sun was facing, but for some reason the leaves were even more colorful on our way back into the park.  Then again, it may have been the "glass half full" thing... after all, I did have my bike... and shoes...

     Jeliesha finally drove back for Robert and it all worked out in the end; though there were certainly many hours of bike repair in Robert's future.  My take away from all of this is; we might think from time to time that we have it rough, but just remember... no matter how bad it appears; someone always has it worse.

Have a great weekend!!