Saturday, June 28, 2014

Last Day

Today (Friday) was my last day at San Diego. I was instructing training this week, which is what I've been doing the last couple of months (my last day in Peoria was actually back in early May). I was lucky enough that I could volunteer for the training in San Diego! I really could not have asked for better treatment from my employer. They've worked with me on my big decision to leave and we were able to agree on a good transition plan that helped us both out. I've left on really good terms and I'm not sure how these last few months could have gone any better. That's a great big compliment to all my coworkers and supervisors back in Peoria and throughout the US. I will really miss them all and am sure many of our paths will cross in the future.

I received a few notes/messages today about my "last day" at work, but it still hasn't sunk in. Next week I turn in my laptop and I think that's when it will become real (when the electronic ties are cut).

I had a good last hurrah last night and was also able to start the weekend of being a tourist a little early today. More pics and fun info to follow.  I was last in San Diego about 30 years ago and remember none of it :). I have seen pictures though and have many a time heard the story of how well I flew (read sarcasm: I apparently was deathly afraid of the jet bridge and created quite the scene!).

But now to enjoy the rest of my weekend here.....

I take the red eye back to IL on Sunday night and the adventure called the rest of my life will begin. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Backpacking School update

It is official now, I've passed the health check and enrolled in a new NOLS course after my Wyoming class was cancelled. I'm not really sticking with my plan to see the US, but on the bright side I'm headed to Sweden for the first time!

I will spend the first half of August in northern Sweden, north of the Arctic Circle (look for Abisko, Sweden on the map) which is our starting point. 

Then I head straight to Lima Peru for my Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu and sightseeing. Both should be exciting times and a very busy August (leave 7/31, back home 9/2). 

I'm still taking July to try and get physically fit. Hopefully I can make some progress. I plan to visit friends in Michigan, Memphis, Denver and Des Moines on the weekends and do some hikes during the week. 

A friend recently gave me a couple survival ropes he made, around 15' and 29'. They are all tied around themselves and you can slide the chain off one end and, wa-la, you have one long piece of rope. Pretty awesome. I hope I don't snag them accidentally as I probably couldn't get them back into the very neat looking braid-thingy. :)

Last weekend I went to Aurora for their paddle fest where they offered free kayaking and canoeing sessions. I did the solo canoe. Much tippy-er than the kayaks I'm use to. I learned a lot, such as how to paddle straight when only paddling on one side. What I didn't realize is that in these canoes you are suppose to kneel instead of sit. My legs fell asleep about 10-15 minutes in. It took a while to get out of the canoe after having been on the water for 1.5 hours :). Lots of fun and a perfect day! Then I stopped at the DMV to get my motorcycle plates. Very productive Saturday morning!

Have a great week and weekend!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Lil' Red

Team GU got back from vacation and were up for some motorcycle adventures this weekend. I found an ad on Craigslist that was the small, starter bike I wanted and fit in my budget. I emailed Don and luckily she (the bike) was still available. But she was down in Findlay, IL (near Lake Shelbyville and south of Decatur). We road tripped down Saturday afternoon and hit rain, hard rain, near Springfield. We decided to detour into Decatur to the bike shop and hope the rain passed. I tried on some helmets and jackets as I still have no riding gear. Decided I like the modular helmets that are full-faced, but with a click the chin snaps up and it becomes a 3/4 helmet. Maybe a little less safe because it it's not solid all the way around, but very nice to not be taking it on/off all the time. No purchase though, just considering styles and sizes. I seem to have a large head :). Also tried some jackets. Will probably order one of those as the stores don't carry much variety in stock.

We headed on and arrived in the little farm town of Findlay. What a difference a few hours makes. I just kept commenting on how much taller the corn was as compared to up north. Across from the post office in town is Don's Resale Shop. If you're ever near Lake Shelbyville, stop in and say hi. Don and his wife were so nice! He closed shop and we went around back to look at the bike that has been dubbed Lil' Red (who will be rooming with Big Red at Team GU's garage, as pictured). 

She started right up and Bill took her for a spin. So thankful Bill could be there to help as I really didn't know much other than "it looks nice". Don has taken good care of her and he invited us inside to get the title assigned, sign the bill of sale and most importantly hand over the cash. After that, Bill suited up in his high-vis green rain suit and we headed out. So glad he changed because not to long after we started the rain started and didn't let up the whole 100+ miles back to Peoria. I felt so bad for Bill in the rain and owe him big time :). I do think he had a little fun on the little bike though. 

Since it was raining when we got to Peoria, we headed to dinner and I stayed the night. Next morning Bill and I went to a nearby parking lot so I could do some practice laps. I'm still too nervous for the road and it's been two and a half months since I was on the bike last. Each lap was a little better. Didn't drop the bike. Only killed it once. Got to third gear a few times. Overall a success :)! Bill shot some video from my first lap - very slow and steady. And here are some more pics.