Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for March, 2007

Last weekend

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost Friday and I still haven’t written about the photography or bike rides from last weekend.

On Saturday, Sarah and I went to Lake Monroe to spend some time outside and take some photos. I took some infrared photos, which I hadn’t done for a while, and they turned out pretty well. Overall, the Paynetown area of Lake Monroe doesn’t provide the greatest photo opportunities, but it felt great to be outside, and it was warm and sunny.

Water on mars
This looks like water on Mars to me …

Parking lines
Lake and parking lot in infrared.

The water level was very high, to the point where parts of some docks and beaches were under water.

These stairs went right down into the water.

On Sunday, we went back to an area we’d been to before and shot some abandoned buildings. There were inhabited neighboring buildings nearby, but we’re getting a little more confident. Nobody bothered us.

Abandoned House II
An abandoned house from Sunday’s outing.

Abandoned House I
The other abandoned house, in Infrared

After that, we drove around for a while, eventually ending up in a small town called Coveyville. I would’ve liked to have checked it out more than we did, although sometimes it’s good to do a cursory overview first, and then go back later and try to fill in some of the details. When we do go back, I want to go to the Covey Cemetery, and I think there might be another one there. We checked out Donica Church, but it wasn’t the small, quaint, old building we were hoping to see. I stopped at a fork in the road at the top of a hill to get some shots, since there was a good view.

View from the fork in the road.

Haunted land
Haunted land.

I road about 21 miles on the road on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s ride was in two parts: first, a test of the commute route I had planned … all went smoothly. The second was out Russell Road to State Road 45, which I then took further out and took Mount Gilead Road back. I’ve ridden Mt. Gilead many times before, but I went in the opposite direction this time. The huge hill was even more impossible in this direction, and I had to walk part of the way. You can see this route on Bikely.

Sunday’s ride was out Smith Road to Snoddy Road like I’ve been doing, but then I went out Rhorer to Harrell to Handy, and eventually ended up by the Monroe County Water Purification Plant, which I didn’t even know was there. I encountered a weird redneck hippy guy who asked me for directions. I attempted to help him, but probably wasn’t too helpful. Then, I went down a big hill and found a park and some boat docks I didn’t know existed. This was a cool ride, and I definitely need to explore that area more. View the route on Bikely.

Automotive isolation

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

I drove to work today because of rain in the forecast. It had clearly rained some before I got up, but it wasn’t raining at that time. Still, I didn’t want to take a chance and get dumped on on my way to work, and then show up soaked. Ultimately, I’d like to be able to bike to work even in the rain, but I’m not equipped to do that yet.

On my way to work, I reflected a bit on biking versus driving. It felt strange driving to work after two days of riding the bike; I think that one reason is that biking makes me feel an increased sense of self-reliance. If for some reason I couldn’t drive, I could still get to work (or anywhere, for that matter) on my bike. There’s also something really rewarding about getting around using your own power. However, I felt a bit lame bailing on riding because it was supposed to rain. It wasn’t even raining — in fact, it was beautiful outside. It would’ve been a perfect morning to ride.

The thing I kept thinking about, though, is how much more isolated you feel when you’re in a car. You’re largely shielded from outside noises, smells, etc, from bumps in the road, and from other motorists. Your vision is greatly obstructed. You can still notice things like hills, but they don’t have the same impact.

On a bike, though, all of these things are much more intense. You can see everything in all directions, just by looking around. There isn’t really anything separating you from the pavement, or from the things around you. When you’re going fast, you feel like you’re going fast, the pavement blurs beneath you, and you focus on where you’re going, and you’re in tune with what’s going on around you.

The automotive isolation is taken further when people (including myself) play loud music in their cars. Maybe some people like feeling isolated from their surroundings — sometimes I do, I noticed, as I turned up the volume on my stereo to drown out the sound of a truck — but how much do we miss by doing this? On a bike, you have to deal with the truck sounds, but you can also hear and see a lot more — birds, trees, the sky, etc. You feel the pavement below you, including any cracks, bumps, potholes, and other irregularities, but you also feel, and hear, the texture of the pavement itself. And in the morning, there’s that smell … yes, that smell, which I can’t describe, but is unmistakeable.

I also realized this morning what I liked about a car I used to have, a crappy 1994 Ford Escort. It was a piece of junk, but there was always something I liked about it that I couldn’t put my finger on. Now I think it’s that while cars are designed to isolate you as much as possible, from noise, bumps, wind, rain, etc., the Escort did all of those things very poorly. In that way, it was closer to riding a bike than driving a car.

That’s not to say that I want that Escort back. Not at all. But I’m looking forward to riding my bike more and more, to stay in tune with my surroundings, get around under my own power, get in shape, and more importantly, have fun!

Commute day two: a little better

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

My ride home last night was completely uneventful. I unzipped the legs from my convertible pants so I could wear shorts home, and rode around the corner to the bike shop where I got my bike. I wanted to see what they had in the way of racks and rack bags/panniers. They didn’t have a whole lot, they had some grocery bag-type panniers (which don’t close) and some Ortlieb panniers. Ortlieb makes some great stuff, but it’s just too expensive ($120 for a pair of panniers … and that’s a good price). They were out of rack bags.

The ride home took me about 15 minutes or so. I did have to wait a bit to cross the Bypass — it wasn’t too bad, but again, the students are gone now, so it’ll be worse in the future. I feel like something should be done about the intersection between the bike path and he Bypass, because while I like riding on the bike path, that street crossing can be very problematic. There is no stop sign or light, and it’s a busy street — it can take a while before it’s possible to cross. It’s almost tempting to simply do that part of the ride on 10th Street, so I can avoid having to cross the Bypass without a light. It’s a real shame that we have this nice bike path — the nicest part of my ride, probably — but its utility is undermined by the fact that it dumps you out onto a busy street that’s difficult and dangerous to cross.

My commute this morning went well. It was very similar to yesterday’s ride, only it was warmer, and I encountered even less traffic. I pretty much rode straight across campus without stopping. I did have to stop at both stoplights on my way here, but only briefly.

I got here fairly early, and changed in the storage room this time. I was much better than changing in the bathroom stall, but I did have to wait for some people to dump their recycling first. It was a little nerve-wracking changing in there, since someone could enter at any time — however, I was hidden in this back section, and would have been able to be decent by the time they got back there. I brought my other pair of shoes today, and I’m planning on leaving both pairs (black/brown) here most of the time.

I still had a problem with being a bit too sweaty. Maybe I need to ride a little slower in the morning to avoid that, or maybe I just have to get used to it. I hear tell of a shower in this other company’s area, but I don’t have access to it. I could ask about getting access, I guess, but I’m not really sure if that’s a good idea.

I’ve had a camera with me during these commutes, but I haven’t stopped to take any photos yet. Maybe I will on my way home today — after work will probably be a better time to take photos, since I won’t have to worry about getting to work on time.

It’s supposed to rain the next couple of days, and while I want to try commuting in the rain sometime, I don’t think I’m ready to do that just yet, so I’ll probably drive instead.

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