Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for January, 2010

Spencer, Indiana

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

On Sunday, Sarah and I headed out for a photography trip. Somewhat randomly, we chose to go to Spencer, Indiana, a small town not too far from Bloomington. It was raining on and off throughout the day, and we drove through downtown Spencer, surprised at how vacant the place was. There were a number of shops and restaurants, but many of them were closed, the spaces for rent. It was eerie, seeing such a deserted downtown. Spencer has a really neat courthouse complete with a clock tower that reminded me of the one from Back to the Future. It’s different in many ways, but has a similar vibe, I think.

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Railroad tracks run right alongside one of the roads, in a bit of a strange way.

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As you might expect, in a town where many of the downtown buildings are vacant, some things are falling into disrepair. It’s not too bad, but some awnings and roofs have mold visible on them.

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I especially liked the dusty scooter in front of a law office.

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Then there was an odd Mexican-looking building, which was for sale. This gave us second thoughts about the house we put an offer on. OK, maybe not.

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This fallout shelter was labeled for men only.

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There was another fallout shelter on the other side of the building, which I expected to say “WOMEN.” But it had no designation at all.

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There also appeared to be some sort of …. uh … dungeon(?) … beneath the courthouse.

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🙁 CLOSED

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There was also a very detailed statue of a soldier, commemorating the town’s WWI heroes.

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It was an interesting outing. Seeing these scenes made me want to learn more about the history of the place. I try to picture the downtown area in a past era, bustling with people, rather than vacant like this. I wonder what it’s like on a weekday now, even, when the courthouse and the post office and the remaining businesses are open.

I’m sure we’ll return to Spencer at some point, and maybe we’ll branch out beyond the square next time.

Winter is hell for bikes

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

I had some mechanical problems today that reminded me just how harsh winter can be on a bike. More about that in a moment …

We got a couple inches of snow yesterday/last night. Conditions weren’t too bad this morning, except in a few places. The parking lot in our apartment complex and the bike path both had ice, with a layer of crunchy snow on top.

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Some of the less-traveled roads had snow on them. The city decided to try a new snow-management technique: dropping lots of salt, instead of plowing. Needless to say, this didn’t work at all.

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But, the roads that get more traffic were in pretty good shape. They were just wet, and slushy at times.

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On Steve A’s recommendation, I’ve started waxing my bike when I clean it. He said, basically, that it would make it easier to clean the bike, and hopefully help prevent so much slush (among other things) from building up on the bike. For now, I’m using a spray-on wax, and it definitely does seem to help. Today I found that while it doesn’t prevent slush from building up on the down tube, it does make it not stick as well. On my way to work, once it reached a certain point, it actually fell off on its own.

By the time I got to work, more slush had built up on the downtube. This happens despite my low fenders. But, most of  it was easily removed by simply tapping it with my boot.

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That didn’t help my drivetrain, unfortunately.

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After work, I hopped on the bike to head home, and for a few minutes, all was well. But then after I stopped at a light, I tried to get going again and spun out. I thought maybe my chain had fallen off, or wasn’t quite in gear, but it seemed to be fine. I continued on and everything was fine again, until I stopped at a stop sign, and started pedaling again. I pedaled like mad, but the bike wouldn’t go anywhere. I looked down and the chain was intact, but I was pedaling freely forward, without turning the wheel. It felt just like pedaling backwards, but I was pedaling forwards!

This was a truly weird sensation, and occasionally I could get the gears to engage, but mostly, I was unable to move. I was about two blocks from a bike shop, so I walked over to see if they could do a short-term fix to at least get me home. No dice … and apparently the cassette on this bike is really old and weird and they can’t replace it, either. I had another wheel at home, that would require some adjustment and probably a new cassette, but I still had to get home.

So, the two miles home from that point were a combination of walking, coasting downhill, and trying to get the gears to catch. They did a few times, so I ended up walking probably a mile, and riding the rest. Naturally, parts were quite icy, which would have made for a great test of my studded tires, but I had to walk. Damn.

I made it home safely. I still need to put the other wheel on, and make some adjustments. Ugh. I’d just ride the Trucker tomorrow, but it’s very icy, and I really need the studded tires (they won’t fit on the Trucker).

Wet, blustery snow

Monday, January 25th, 2010

It was around 30 degrees during my ride home from work today; not too cold, but between the blustery winds and getting pelted with wet snow, I wasn’t exactly comfortable. Most or all of the snow melted on contact with the roads, but I’m expecting it to freeze overnight. My ride to work in the morning could be interesting.

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