Saturday, July 30, 2011

Recumbent Ride

July 23, 2011

For days after my big hike in the Shawnee Forest my legs were incredibly sore.  My bike riding keeps me very fit cardio-wise but I was not prepared in the least for the type of exertion I encountered during during that 8 mile jaunt.  By the end of the week I was feeling good and was once again itching to get out for a bike ride.  

I decided I would head straight west from town and ride 20 miles before turning back.  I loaded my bladder with ice cubes and water placed it in the seat bag.  The relentless heat wave was into its second week and again I took off on my next adventure in humid 90 degree temperatures.  I often wonder how endurance athletes managed to stay properly hydrated back in the days before wonderful invention of the Camelback.  On hot days I routinely consume the entire 70 ounces that my pack holds.  I suppose I should pick up a 100 ounce bag for my longer days out.

The 20 mile turn around point put me at a rural crossroads with a small pizza joint on one corner.  That is the green and white storefront in the photograph.  By this time of the afternoon storm clouds were gathering from the intense heat and I could hear rumbles of thunder even though the sun was still shining.  After a short break I got back at the controls of my recumbent cycling machine and pointed myself to the east.  

For the next 8 miles I cruised across the flat agricultural lands and watched a huge dark gray storm cloud ahead of me.  The storm was moving from the south to the north and I was hoping it would slide on by but I kept encountering the big fat raindrops that often precede a deluge.  The drops would taper off and stop altogether then resume.  Finally the heavens opened up with a massive downpour complete with vertical lightning bolts and thunder crashes.  I kept cranking the pedals and the rain actually felt great but after a mile the precipitation was falling so hard that visibility or lack of it was beginning to be a problem.  One of the few downsides to riding a recumbent is riding in heavy rain. On an upright bike one can lower their head and only look up briefly to maintain course.  This works very well if you have a helmet with a visor like on a mountain bike helmet.  Unfortunately on the recumbent my face was looking directly into the  storm and I could not lower my head even if I did have a visor.  I suppose if I was wearing goggles I could have kept going.

Luck was on my side and I spotted an old one room brick school house along my route that offered a bit of shelter.  I rode out  the rest of the storm with a piece of farm equipment stored in the school house.  Being out on the flatlands during a thunderstorm always makes me nervous so I was thankful to at have a least half a roof over my head.    

Through the hole in the far wall cornstalks are visible bending violently in the wind.

These one room schoolhouses are all over the surrounding countryside.  Many are decaying like this one but others have been preserved and turned into homes with additional structure added by the owners.  It is amazing to think that at one time in the not too distant past this was the institution of primary education in rural America.  Each township had it's own schoolhouse because of course with no cars or school buses the classroom had to be accessible to all children.  

After the storm passed I got back on the road and finished up the last 10 miles of my ride watching the lightning show to my left as the storm receded to the north.  I noticed on my cycle-computer that the temperature had gone from 91 degrees before the storm to 72 degrees.  Nearly a 20 degree difference.

Out and Back

Bike:  HP Velotechnik Street Machine
Ride Time:  2:32:24
Distance:  40.00 miles
Average Speed:  15.7 mph
Max Speed:  28.00 mph

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Insulator Post -- Glass in the Air -- Southern Ohio

Click on photograph for a closer view.

Having been interested in antique glass insulators for a few years now I don't get overly excited when I spot an existing line during the course of my travels.  It has even become a sort of game between my son and I to see who notices old glass on poles first.  All of these lines that I have seen in various states of disrepair are old signal circuits running along rail road right of ways.

This photograph taken in the Scioto Valley a few miles upstream from the confluence of the Scioto and Ohio Rivers.  The Scioto lies between the trees and line of distant hills in the background.

Deep in the hills of Adams County I noticed a railroad and it's accompanying poles and wires as we made our way to the Serpent Mound Memorial.  The road was curvy and I was not able to get a good look at the insulators but it was fun to watch pole after pole of green and clear glass glinting in the sun as the miles ticked by.  Later that day as we retraced our route back to the campground I could not stand it any longer and I had to stop the car and snap a few photos.  

Many of the insulators were the common CD 154 Hemingrays that were used up into the 1940's and 50s but after I got out of the car and got a closer look I noticed that each cross arm had a couple CD 145 "Beehives" still installed.  This got my attention because I have never seen a beehive up in the air before.  My experience with beehives consists only with the ones in my personal collection and those on display at the shows.  The only thing I know for sure is that Samual Oakman patented the style in 1884.

I have no way of knowing how old the beehives are that we saw along this line.  I have California beehives that were made between 1912 and 1916 in my collection so I know the style was being produced as late as that time frame.  Looking around online I could not find a date when production of the CD 145 style stopped but its a fair assumption to guess that some of the beehives we saw could be nearly 100 years old.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Macro Photography

When one walks into the forest with the intention of taking a few interesting pictures two options present themselves.  1. Photograph the trees.  (I think I've got that covered.)  2.  Press that little macro button and get down on the ground.

Theres a lot going on two inches off the forest floor.

Shawnee State Forest, Scioto County, Ohio


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day Hike

Family Campout -- Episode 4

While looking at the park map I noticed a seven mile day hike that looked like fun.  Great! I thought.  Having decided not to bring the bikes along on this trip I figured we would have a good opportunity to enjoy some quality hiking for something different.

We planned to do this hike as a family but unfortunately the weather got hotter and more humid each day.  In the mornings we rose early around 7:30am and by 9:00 it was sweltering.  On the scheduled day LeeAnn and Wyatt decided to bail on the hike and spend the day at the Park Lodge swimming pool.  I can't say that I blame them and then I realized this arrangement would let me attack the loop at my own pace and get in the zone as they say.

I filled my camelback bladder with 70 ounces of water and stowed a bag of pistachios as a salty snack. I set out into the forest sometime before noon.  Extreme heat does not seem to bother me and long ago I learned how important it is to stay hydrated.  I enjoy the cleansing effect of a good sweat brought on from intense physical exertion.  I certainly got my fill of both this day.

The trail followed densely wooded ridge tops where a cool breeze always seemed to be blowing and descended into steamy and moist ravines where the air was stifling and still.  I knew it was hot when I saw the exposed tops of rocks buried in the trail sweating like water pipes on a humid day.

At about the three mile mark I encountered a young woman hiking the opposite direction.  We exchanged a quick greeting and continued on each going our separate ways.  I was beginning to think I was the only one hardcore or perhaps crazy enough to be out on a day like this and not relaxing poolside or in the lake.

I continued on pushing the pace enjoying the much different physical challenge offered by this hike as opposed to my usual cycling efforts.  Climbing is tough be it on a bike or on foot but descending steep rocky trail is extra strenuous and taxing all the while using caution to avoid turning an ankle.  I love the solitude of being out in the wild on my own but at the same time I am well aware of the risks.

In the distance ahead of me I began to here the distinctive sound of a chain saw.  This did not surprise me as had I read a small sign posted near the trail head warning that work was being done by the forestry department.  As I drew nearer I could hear the saw suddenly idle down followed a sharp cracking sound then a dull ominous thud.  Hearing it in person has much greater impact than watching that show on the discovery channel. 

Rounding a bend in the trail I came upon the work crew sitting down taking a break.  When I reached them one of them asked "A pretty hot day to be all the way back here isn't it?"  That's funny I thought to myself as they were decked out in work pants, hardhats and heavy leather chainsaw chaps.  Being on the clock though they had a reason for being out on such a hot day.  They were good guys and even offered me some water from their big orange water cooler. 

With my senses heightened from the exercise the smell of the freshly upturned soil was intense.  Walking on the loose ground did become annoying when I had to periodically stop to remove chunks of clay and pebbles from my lowtop hikers.  mosquitoes, flies and gnats attacked each time I came to a stop.

At about five miles the trail split right down the middle of a huge black raspberry patch.  I had walked almost half way through the patch which sat on the top of a long ridge before I noticed it.  I was busy looking for photo opportunities and nearly missed the berries all together.  This unexpected find made the whole day worth it.  Some of the fruit was just coming ripe.

I gathered and ate four or five handfuls of the delicious fruit and within minutes I felt the energy from the natural sugars coursing through my body.

The trail followed raspberry ridge steadily downhill and with a few more ups and downs I finally found my self nearing the end of the loop.  I passed this odd stone structure shortly before meeting back up with the short connector leading back to the trail head.  A chimney maybe but strange with no mortar between the stones.

Everyone has their own idea of what an "epic" day is but for me this was it.  After putting in an all day effort like this I have a new found respect for those who carry their gear, hike, camp and then get up the next day and hike some more.  Back at the campground I put on my bathing suit and took a long cold shower.  Returning to the campsite I sat down and enjoyed a beer happily reflecting on the days events before starting my spaghetti dinner at sunset. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Highlands Nature Sanctuary

Part III Family Camping in Southern Ohio

On the afternoon of our first day spent exploring the area we discovered the Highlands Nature Sanctuary.  This 2000 acre preserve is located in eastern Highland County along the Rocky Fork between Rocky Fork  Lake and Paint Creek.  

A short foot trail winds to the bottom of a dolomite gorge carved out by the Rocky Fork.  Outstanding examples of Ohio's geology and diverse plant life abound in the park.

Climbing down into the gorge I could not help the feeling of being transported back in time.  Seeing this part of Ohio as it would have looked through the eyes of  Native American inhabitants or early explorers as they mapped out the details of the Ohio territory many years ago.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Great Serpent Mound

This is part 2 of my series documenting our family trip to southern Ohio.

Thanks to my keen interest in history I noticed that our campsite was about 20 miles away from the Great Serpent Mound effigy built by the Native American Fort Ancient people roughly a thousand years ago.  Thanks to Harvard archaeologist Frederic Ward Putnam for recognizing the important historical significance of this site over a hundred years ago and seeing to it's preservation for future generations to experience.

At the bottom of my post are links to additional information about this most interesting Native American earthwork.

The Serpent Mound was not a burial mound but most likely constructed as a ceremonial site.  The snake was a popular effigy among Eastern Woodland Indians as well as other ancient cultures around the world.  At 1,330 feet long Ohio's Serpent Mound has the distinction of being the world's largest effigy mound.


Near the Serpent Putnam did excavate two conical burial mounds.  By studying the human remains and artifacts buried within he was able to attribute these burial mounds to the Adena People who lived in the area preceding the Fort Ancient peoples.  Excavations and radio carbon dating done in the 1990's proved the Serpent Mound to be younger than the burial mounds and indicates that the builders of the Serpent could have adapted the existing burial site to their own uses.  The following pictures from the museum located in the park show how the burial mounds would have been constructed building up a conical shape as more graves were added over time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Family Camping

Turkey Creek Lake,  Scioto County Ohio
I had fun messing about with my tent during Field Day last month so I thought it would be fun to take the family out for a few days of real tent camping.  My wife LeeAnn usually handles the logistics and planning for our adventures away from home so I left it up to her to search out a destination and secure reservations at one of Ohio's many State Parks.  We have not done much camping in the past few years but because our son is ten years old now we thought we better let him in on the fun.  I grew up experiencing the magical adventure that is camping and I would deeply regret not giving the opportunity to my son.  

LeeAnn chose well and got us a great spot at the Shawnee State Park Campground through the State's Department of Natural Resources website.  We have our favorite locations that we have returned to over the years but lately we have decided to visit some of the other parks in Ohio that we have never seen.  The park is located in the middle of Shawnee State Forest a 100 square mile expanse of public land located in Scioto and Adams Counties and bordered to the south by the Ohio River.  As I was studying the map I noticed to my surprise that the nearest town was Portsmouth, Ohio which was once the terminus of the Ohio and Erie Canal I blogged about earlier this year.

The rugged and hilly topography of the area was created by thousands of years of erosion as surface water made it's way south to the Ohio River Valley.  This is as close to mountains as we get here in the buckeye state and I love spending time in the hills of southern Ohio.

Years ago I tired of flimsy and leaky department store tents so when we go as a family our home away from home is the Cabela's Extreme Weather Tent.  Our model is a 10' X 10' square dome that stands 7 feet tall on the inside with a huge rain fly I like to call the turtle shell.  The tent has numerous guy points and uses 45 tent stakes to keep it firmly planted to Mother Earth.  The Cabela's literature boasts that in testing the tent withstood a 75 mph blast from a jet engine and I believe it.  I have weathered a couple storms under the shelter of the tent and always felt safe and secure.  

The tent was furnished with high quality steel tent stakes but to cut down on weight I substituted generic orange plastic stakes.  The bag of 45 steel stakes alone probably weighs 30 pounds.  Although we are not backpacking I like to take it easy on the aging 4-cylinder of my compact SUV.


When we are not out engaged in some outdoor activity our favorite pursuit is camp cooking of course.  A staple at our camp is something we call "Campy Potatoes"  This is a hearty dish packed with Carbohydrates and fresh colorful vegetables that satisfy after a long hard day afield.

The recipe is very simple and requires only a sharp knife and your imagination.  In this case we diced up our potatoes and red bell peppers.  When we were shopping for provisions we spotted carrots in the grocery already chopped so we saved a little effort there.

Next combine the pieces onto a sheet of aluminum foil with spices and a dollop of butter.  The possibilities are nearly limitless with this recipe.  Onions, broccoli, cauliflower, corn and even mushrooms could be added.  

Fold up the edges of the foil into a loose packet and wrap again with another sheet of foil.  Repeat this procedure until you have four layers of foil to protect the goodies and plop the package down on the grill. If the fire ring does not have a grate simply position the pack right in the hot coals at the edge of the fire and periodically rotate to prevent hot spots.

While our foil packs cooked we grilled some filet mignon to add a little protein to our feast.  The potatoes take about an hour to cook depending on their placement in the fire and this allows ample time to cook and eat the meat leaving the vegetables for a delicious second course.


On the last night of our four day excursion I prepared my old standby Spaghetti with meat sauce and fresh mushrooms.  It's extra work carting along the pots and pans but well worth the effort.  Why is it that food just tastes better when enjoyed in the great outdoors?  

As an interesting side note the Coleman camp stove and matching cooler in the background are the first pieces of camping gear my wife and I bought together 20 years ago.  They look new in the photograph but they have dings and scratches from use over the years.  Most importantly they still function as flawlessly as their first time out.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Recumbent Ride

Thursday, July 14

I've been watching the Tour de France on satellite television and needless to say this little bike race across the French countryside inspires me to ride.  I planned to ride today after work and even had my route picked out.  Earlier in the day I was thinking of riding the Motobecane road bike but by the afternoon I settled on the recumbent as my machine of choice.

Ideal weather conditions with calm air and lower humidity made for a good ride.  As my loop progressed I continued to feel strong so I kept pushing the pace and increased my average speed by half a mile an hour over the last half of my ride.  I rarely reach speeds as high as 16.5 mile per hour average on the recumbent  so I am pleased with my performance.  Keep in mind that average speed calculations take into account slowing down for stop signs and sharp turns and accelerating back up to cruising speed.  Much of the ride was traveling well above the 16.5 mph speed.

If I were a serious racer of bicycles I would certainly include these recumbent rides into my training regimen.  The HP Velotechnik weighs in at 33 pounds or about 15 pounds heavier than the Motobecane road bike.  I'm sure its no illusion that when I hop on the road bike I feel like I can really fly.  I guess one could train with a bowling ball or two in a backpack and ride the race bike but that would not be fun or comfortable.

Local Loop (extended)

Bike:  HP Velotechnik Street Machine
Ride Time:  1:27:33
Distance:  24.22 miles
Average Speed:  16.5 mph
Max Speed:  30.00 mph

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

News From A.R.S. KD8JHJ

After the crazy logistics of Field Day I finally got my amateur radio gear returned to my basement ham shack and back operational just in time for the SKCC Week End Sprint on July 10th.  With the heat and humidity of summer settling into the Ohio valley the cool climate controlled environs of my "man-cave" is the place to be.

July's sprint theme was QRP low power.  QRP operation is encouraged with extra bonus points but not required for participation.  I really did not feel like turning my rig power all the way down or using my QRP specific transceiver so I just left the power set at my usual 50 watts and had fun all the same.

Conditions on the air were a mixed bag with great regional propagation Saturday evening on 40 and 80 meters.  Sunday morning and midday received signals were very low and hard to copy.  I held out as long as I could and then went swimming with the family.  By the last few hours of the sprint as the sun moved closer to the western horizon signals got louder and activity increased as SKCC members flushed out those last contacts.   

SKCC July 2011 Week End Sprint Log KD8JHJ

7.120    W1LIC    Maine
7.117    K4CNW    South Carolina
7.110    NE0S    Missouri
7.057    K5KV    Louisiana
3.551    NW2K    New York
3.552    W1LIC    Maine*
7.055    AA9L    Wisconsin
7.111    W5ZR    Louisiana
7.118    AC2C    Maryland
7.108    KB4QQJ    North Carolina
3.549    N3WT    Maryland
3.548    AC2C    Maryland*
3.550    NG3V    Virginia
3.554    N8AMM    Michigan
14.046    AE5VB    Louisiana
14.049    W4CU    Florida
14.052    W5ZR    Louisiana*
14.048    K4CNW    South Carolina*
3.551    K9SKC    Michigan
7.114    NW2K    New York*
7.055    VE3FUJ    Ontario, Canada
7.050    WA1AR    Massachusetts
7.050    AK3X    Maryland
7.053    W4NA    Virginia

*Denotes multiple band contacts


Digital Goings-on at KD8JHJ

e-qsl received from K4VO confirming our excellent Feld Hell ragchew on 20 meters

After nearly two months of CW (Morse code) only operation I have been feeling the urge to boot up the laptop and  generate some digital transmissions.  With three years of ham radio under my belt I am a dyed in the wool CW nut but sometimes I like to give the decoder between my ears a rest and let the computer do the work. 

Yesterday after work I powered up the station and was purusing the digital watering holes around 14.070 MHz when I came upon the unmistakable cricket chirp of  Hellschreiber at 14.074 MHz.  I quickly switched modes in the software and tuned in the station.  Mark, K4VO in Birmingham, Alabama and I exchanged 599 signal reports and then had a pleasant keyboard conversation for half an hour.  With only 550 miles between us reception was very clear and strong using the 20 meter band.  I have been looking forward to playing with Feld Hell now that we have at least a few sunspots increasing the solar flux value.  I would love to make some DX contacts with other Feld Hell stations in Europe where the mode originated.  I have one or two in the log already from the past couple years but now with solar cycle 24 heating up even if only lukewarm I believe I will try a little harder and start sending out some CQs. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bike Ride with LeeAnn

In a stroke of brilliance my wife came up with the idea that we get up early on Saturday and go for a ride on the B&O Trail.  Our son had spent the night at a friend's house so we had a rare opportunity to go cycling together by ourselves.  The greenways of the bike trail were cool and peaceful and we even got to see a whitetail deer crossing the path ahead of us.

After a solid 20 miles I loaded up LeeAnn's Cannondale onto the bike rack and I took off on my own for the 16 mile trip back back to town from the trailhead.  By that time the temperature was soaring towards the 90 degree mark but breezes were light so I was able to keep fairly cool and maintain a decent pace along the smooth pavement of Ohio St. Rt. 97.

Near a small village called Blooming Grove I passed the birthplace of America's 29th President Warren G. Harding.  

As I rolled into town I spotted this perfectly good 8mm spanner and had to swing back around to pick it up.  It even says "Goodwrench" right on it.  One of many tools in my box I have found while out on the bike.

B&O Trail w/ LeeAnn 20 miles
Ohio St Rt 97 solo 16 miles

Distance:  36 miles
Ride Time:  2:41:42
Average Speed:  13.3 mph
Max Speed 28.3 mph
Motobecane Odometer:  248 miles