Friday, August 22, 2014

All Good Things Must Go Out With A Bang

This past Monday and Tuesday was my last work weekend before my last semester of school starts up. Naturally, with it being a weekend, I avoided mediocrity. Monday was my work week Saturday, and I spent pretty much the whole time trying to fix Robert, my mountain bike. Yes, I named my mountain bike. Judge away. I'd like to note that I recently acquired a friend named Robert, and they have nothing to do with each other. I did, however, let it slip one time that I was "gonna go ride Robert" and have since then gotten a barrage of jokes about myself and the human Robert. The bike Robert's rear brake has been broken for a while. Last time I tried to ride it, the brake locked up and wouldn't release, then the handle wouldn't return to it's original position. I took it to the shop that usually does my repairs (I'm not the most mechanically inclined person, but for the most part, I'm just too lazy to do repairs myself) and they told me the brakes just need to be bled. Despite my skepticism, I paid them to bleed the brakes. Which they didn't. They told me they did, but they didn't, and when I argued, the guy just argued back. I decided to get a second opinion, and not take my bike back there ever again. The consensus is that 1) the brakes I have (Avid Juicy 3s) are kinda crap in the first place 2) they have lasted me 7 years, even if they were good brakes to begin with, it's time to retire them 3) at the very least, the handle needed to be rebuilt, but more than likely, they just need to be replaced. The rebuild kit I found was only $10, so I bought it and gave it a shot.
This is Robert

This is the bike stand I rigged

About the time I gave up

 Needless to say, I failed miserably. I rebuilt the handle successfully, but I still couldn't get the brakes to bleed. My friend Dave had just bought his first mountain bike that day and was determined to ride. He is also an aircraft mechanic, and decided to try and fix my brakes for me so we could go ride. He also gave up. I hadn't ridden Robert in all too long though, so we went riding anyway. Him with a fully functioning mountain bike fresh off craigslist, and me with an older bike completely lacking a rear brake. I never use my front brake when I ride. How I survived that ride is beyond me. I have ordered a new rear brake. Trying to install it will likely be an adventure in and of itself.

Tuesday was my last "Adventure Tuesday" with my friend Lacy (we both have Tuesdays off, so we go do something adventurous and call it Adventure Tuesday). She is switching days off and I have to start school back up - shoot me now. Lacy and I decided our last Adventure Tuesday would be well spent trying and discover this neat swimming hole along the Ozark Highlands Trail. For those of you interested, this is supposed to be 5 miles west of the Haw Creek Falls campground (along highway 123) on the Ozark Highlands Trail near Cedar Creek Campground.
Swimming hole off the Ozark Highland Trail near Cedar Creek
Unfortunately, about a mile into our hike, Lacy got really sick and we had to turn back. Like, puked everywhere and my dog Xena wanted to eat it sick. Honestly though, that was probably for the best. Despite our efforts with bug spray, we are both completely ate up with chiggers and seed ticks. The day wasn't a complete loss though. The Haw Creek Falls Campground where you start the hike is actually pretty nice. Apparently, it's a lot nicer when it rains though.
What Haw Creek Falls usually looks like

What Haw Creek Falls looked like when we were there

Haw Creek when we were there

As pitiful as the falls were, the water still felt awesome, and I still jumped in after we got back from our short hike. I might have drug Xena in with me. She hates swimming. And heights. I drag her in the water and to the edge of cliffs with me all the time. I don't know why that dog still puts up with me. That just goes to show you how loyal dogs are, even when their owners are ass holes.

After I got home, I immediately left. My friend Dave has a couple 50cc dirt bikes (yes, the ones built for 5 year olds), and we've been meaning to take them out for a while. Near where he lives there's a huge spider web of dirt roads and back roads that don't even look like roads that are perfect for exploring. I had survived riding a mountain bike without rear brakes the day before, surely a 50cc dirt bike on actual roads wouldn't be that bad. I wrecked. But only once. I would just like to say, a dirt bike that's smaller than you is pretty squirly. Especially when you've got it all the way out, your center of gravity is way higher than it should be, and you hit a death cookie (a large, loose rock in the middle of the road). I really only got a scratch, but it made me realize, I haven't had a good wreck or even so much as a scratch since I cut my elbow to the bone during my last triathlon in 2011. I'm not sure if that means I'm much better at not getting hurt, or if I haven't been pushing it hard enough.
My injury from my scrap with the death cookie

Later, during our ride on the 50's, Dave and I stumbled across this gem. A graveyard. In the middle of the woods off some back country road that hasn't even been traveled enough to keep the weeds down. Creepy, right? Someone has been keeping up with it though. Two of the headstones had been replaced or updated, but everyone died before WW1. This poor couple had two sons who both died very young. The second photo is of one of their headstones. The date of death is 19 Aug 1912. We found the graveyard on 19 Aug 2014, 102 years later. Creepy. We quickly decided this is how horror movies started and we needed to leave before we found ourselves face to face with an axe murderer or ghost child.
The two updated headstones

Check out the date of death
Redneck target practice area
 The next thing we stumbled upon was apparently a redneck shooting ground. While this find was less creepy than the first, it was more likely that we would wind up face to face with a dangerous character in this spot. Surprisingly, neither of us were packing heat. Honestly not sure how that happened. So when we started hearing gunfire coming from about 150-200 meters away, we jumped back on the bikes and hauled ass out of there.

Unfortunately, that pretty well brings an end to my last real weekend of the year. Considering that my summer more or less ended with gunshots and no injuries, I'm calling it a pretty good ending. That's not, however, the end of the years adventures. There will be several more to come.