Sunday, July 30, 2006

25 Overnight Guests? Sure!

Team DLO pulled in on Friday to spend the night with us. For those not familiar with RAGBRAI it is an annual bicycle ride across the state of Iowa, held the last full week of July, beginning on a Sunday and finishing on a Saturday. This year was the 34th version. It is the largest annual bicycle ride in the known universe with 10,000 “official” riders plus many more riding unofficially. The route always varies and this year the last overnight was in Coralville, adjoining Iowa City/University Heights. One of the big stories this year was that Lance Armstrong rode two days, and set off a great deal of excitement. Let me state that this ride is not a race, you go through small towns and see the best the rural life has to offer. Think about being able to eat all the home-made pie you want without gaining weight!

Lisa and I have both done the ride in the past and when an old friend asked if her bike group could stay here, there was no hesitation on our part. Lisa’s only condition was that she could go to Newton on Wednesday night and ride with them on Thursday and Friday. She is always good about getting training rides in. I rode with her one day two weeks ago for a total of about 8 miles.

The support bus pulled in about noon Friday, along with the van and trailer. The drivers haul tents, clothes, beer, and other necessities. Drivers are the unsung heroes of RAGBRAI. They unloaded and checked things out.

Riders started coming in a little after 2:00. The last group pulled in just before 6:00. The riders were coming 76 miles that day from Marengo. Wednesday and Thursday nights Team DLO slept in vacant lots with no toilet facilities or showers. Just walking into air conditioning was a huge luxury for them. This has been a very hot and humid RAGBRAI with temps in the mid 90’s and heat indices in 105 range. Since our geothermal system pulls hot air out of the house past the water heater, we have a large supply, but to be sure I enlisted Mike and Amy next door to help with showers. Between their two and our two we had everyone cleaned up in no time. Many also enjoyed the girls’ wading pool too.

The members of Team DLO are representative of what makes RAGBRAI great. They were: unfailingly polite, interesting, fun loving, and courteous. They hail from Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Colorado, and New York. We put 4 into each of the upstairs bedrooms, three in the living room, two in the music room, three in the girls room and two in the basement. Two folks slept outside in their tent by choice.

Saturday is always a relatively short day, only 54 miles to Muscatine. Lisa managed to shame me into riding so we took off at the relatively late time of 9:15. The temp when we left was 84 degrees. We rode to West Branch (10 miles) and stopped for bananas and water, we then went through Springdale, and went to West Liberty (18 miles) where we stopped at 11:30 for lunch. It was 95+ by this time. We managed to find some shade near the park, and hang out for a good hour.

We rode to Attalissa, where we stopped at Buelito’s to say hello to the owners, my band frequently plays there. We got to Muscatine about 3:00. Everyone in the team met and we rode in formation down to the Mississippi River. RAGBRAI tradition is that you dip your back tire in the Missouri on Sunday when you start and you dip your front tire in the Mississippi at the end.

Here are Lisa and I with Jo Ann at the end.

We rode back in the team bus, we had Lisa’s parents meet us along interstate 80 and picked up the girls so that they could ride home in the bus with us. They were glad to do this, since they were at Grandma’s on Friday and missed the festivities. They now consider themselves equal to Mike and Amy next door since we too have had a bus here, just like the Hawkeye bus that comes for football games.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Getting to the Bottom of Things, and RAGBRAI

Now that all the upstairs floors are finished (except for two closets) I’ve spent the past week starting on baseboards. I dug out all the oak 1x6 that I had bought last winter and measured to make sure I’d have enough to do all of the upstairs. My rough estimate, which is high, is 225 linear feet. I have 244 linear feet of boards. I have 10 fourteen foot boards and 8 thirteen footers

To start I need to cut a 30 degree bevel on the 1x6 to match our first floor baseboards. Pete is on vacation this week, so I took all his saws.

After cutting the bevel I sanded the saw marks out with a random orbital sander. I had talked to the neighbors behind us, whose house is still for sale, about using their garage to stain and varnish boards, and they said “Sure.”

Here is my layout now. I have 6 thirteen footers finished with two coats of varnish. I stained the rest of the boards this afternoon and will start varnishing tomorrow.

It’s good we have upstairs semi finished, tomorrow night (Friday) we will be hosting 25 bicyclists from team DLO (old backwards) who are riding on RAGBRAI 34 this week (RAGBRAI is Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) Tomorrow is the last overnight in Coralville in their week long trek. Lisa rode today and will ride tomorrow. We have both done the ride in previous years, and it is a blast. Given the heat this week, I think most will opt to sleep inside rather than camp. We can easily get them in. I’m considering this an early tailgating experience.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Seven Days of Frenetic Work

Since coming back from vacation we have made great progress on a number of projects. We’ve been working so fast I haven’t had time to post. But here’s a quick run down:
New gable

  • Finished trim

  • Primed and painted

  • Took down scaffolding

First floor bath

  • Laid tile

  • Grouted

Upstairs floors

  • Stripped, sanded, stained and varnished

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Is This Hosta Heaven?

No, it's Iowa. Here are two pics of the hostas on the Northwest side of the house

We were lucky to see them in bloom when we came home from vacation in North Carolina, visiting my youngest brother and his wife. Jim is a film maker, take a look at some of his work here:“Bright Eye Pictures”

We had a great week in Durham and Wilmington. We saw lots of great houses and had much fun with Jim and Joyce!