Donations to Discovery

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Video shot 1/11/10 - Highlighting the Best of Sumner Lake State Park

Sumner Lake State Park is 16 miles north of Fort Sumner New Mexico. It's set in a remote area and exists because of the CCC project to build Sumner Dam in 1936 - 37. It is an anomaly of wet and dry in the Chihuahan Desert / Southern High Plains of New Mexico. This video shows the contrast of wet and dry. It was shot from the East Side Trail with the lake to the west and the arid reaches of rolling hills and draws to the east.


Video shot 1/11/10 - Quick Preparation for a Campfire Breakfast

Grilled Sausage, Green Chiles, Chili w/ Beans, Toasted Bread, Grilled Bologna and Eggs cooked in a Foil "oven" -

  • Cut a piece of foil 20" x 10"
  • Make a rim on it by crimping the edges.
  • Put the foil over the open fire and use a piece of bologna to "oil" the foil.
  • Break the eggs onto one end of the 20x10 foil.
  • Fold the foil over and crimp the edges to form a sealed "oven".
  • Cook for 3 - 5 minutes (depending on how hot the fire is).
  • Remove from fire.
  • Open the foil and enjoy perfectly cooked eggs.... courtesy of an open fire and a foil oven.

Video shot 1/19/10 - Protecting your hands while Hiking

This video talks about wearing gloves while you're hiking especially in rough and rocky terrain. I'm wearing a pair of mechanic's gloves.... really great for hiking because there's padding on both sides of the gloves to protect the palm and the back of the hand and fingers.


Video shot 1/19/10 - How To Video on some simple tips / precautions for Preparing for a Hike

Part 1 of this video highlights 2 simple tips for protecting yourself while hiking:

  1. Use Vaseline on your feet to reduce the risks of blisters.
  2. Tuck in your pants legs to reduce the risks of tripping.

Video Shot 1/16/10 - Riding the Dirt Roads between Anton Chico NM and Villanueva State Park

This was the evening I got lost in the maze of dirt roads between Anton Chico and Villanueva NM. I ended up on this dirt road going to nowhere.... all's well that ends well... about 3 hours after sunset I finally decided to shut it down and camp out for the night when along comes a truck full of young folks just riding around out in the middle of nowhere. They picked me up and carried me back out to I40 about 10 miles further west than where I had started that morning. Well..... I had to get lost at least once.


Video shot 1/14/10 - Highlights on the Shoreline Trail at Santa Rosa State Park and the Clothes I was wearing

At the end of the day I did a quick recap on the Shoreline Trail at Santa Rosa State Park, my Columbia Fishing Shirt, Columbia Hiking Shorts and Rocky Long Johns.... they were all Wills On Wheels Winners of the Day!


Video shot 1/14/10 - Changing Clothes with the Conditions

Continuing to adjust clothes to changing conditions to avoid sweating.

Video shot 1/14/10 - the many uses of Duct Tape!

How to Video on Clothing and Controlling Your Body Temp while Hiking

Discovering America on 2 Wheels - 1/14/10 - shot at Santa Rosa State Park - sorry for the low resolution video quality - shot it on my cell phone so I could send it to my blog.... bottom line is that you have to dress for changing conditions and continually adjust your clothing as the conditions change.


Video shot 1/11/10: Sunset over Sumner Lake

This was the view at sunset looking over Sumner Lake from the Eastside Campground Overlook.... made me realize why I was doing all this!

Video shot 1/11/10 - Sumner Lake East Side Trail - end of trail

this was a view of the Sumner Lake at the end of the East Side Trail.... the whole "bay" videoed was full of waterfowl - Canada Geese, Mallards, Mergansers, etc.

Video shot 1/11/10 - Sunrise at Sumner Lake State Park

Walking down to the edge of the lake at sunrise was a real treat.... between the honking of the Canada Geese and the quacking of the Mallards and the peeking of the Sun over the horizon and the crisp, coldness of the January morning.... all my senses were in high gear.... and ready for the wonderful treat that Mother Nature had laid before me!

Video shot 1/4/10 - Snyder Wind Farm

Snyder Wind Farm 8 miles east of Snyder Texas on Hwy 180... This was a Wind Turbine farm that sports the tallest wind turbines in the world on towers 345' tall.

Here's a link to more info about it:

http://www.energy-daily.com/reports/Enel_And_GE_Soar_To_New_Heights_At_Texas_Wind_Farm_With_Tallest_Turbine_Towers_In_US_999.html


Video shot 12/31/09 _ Lake Mineral Wells State Park - Penitentiary Hollow

Video Shot 12/31/09 - Lake Mineral Wells State Park - the sounds of Waterfowl leaving the Lake

Video Shot 12/31/09 - before Sunrise on Lake Mineral Wells

Video shot 12/30/09 - Lake Mineral Wells State Park at Sunset at Fishing Pier near the Park Store

Video shot 12/30/09 - Lake Mineral Wells at Water's Edge below Shelter #3

Video shot 12/30/09 - View of Lake Mineral Wells below my Campsite

Video shot 12/30/09 - Rest stop 7 mi east of Mineral Wells Tx on Hwy 180

Video shot 12/30/09 - on Hwy 180W between Weatherford and Mineral Wells Tx

Video shot 12/19/09 - Dinosaur Tracks in the Paluxy River at Dinosaur Valley State Park

Video from 12/18/09 - View of the Paluxy River from my campsite at Dinosaur Valley State Park

Video from 12/18/09 - Frozen Clothes at Dinosaur Valley State Park

Video from 12/14/09 just south of Evant Tx on Hwy 281N

Different Usernames - that's a problem so....

I've got accounts on Twitter, YouTube and now Blogger.... the problem is they all have different usernames.

I'm trying to get everything to be displayed as "WillsOnWheels" as the Username or "person".  I can change my Username on Twitter but not on YouTube.....

So I had to delete my YouTube account and create a new one with Username = "WillsOnWheels"....

It'll take me 15 minutes to get the Intro video reloaded on the new account.

Once I do I'll change the link to the Intro video on the prior post.

It would have been a lot easier to have set all the accounts up at the same time, but that's not how it happened... I didn't even know I was gonna "Discover America on 2 Wheels" 2 months ago....

Such is Life.... Live and Learn.... Die and Forget it All!

Rewind on my Bicycle Adventure so far - Downloading Videos of trip to YouTube and my Blog

I'm going back through all my files and selecting some videos to post to both YouTube and this blog.... so let's go Back to the Future and see what I saw....

Ok Family... and yes I'm

Ok Family.... and yes I'm talking to you... if you're still alive... raise your hand and respond... Can you find the video on YouTube and is it OK?  Does it get the message across?

Introduction to "Discovering America on 2 Wheels" video on YouTube

Here's a link to a video introducing my bicycle adventure and blog on YouTube.

Please check it out and let me know what you think:

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Discovering+America+on+2+Wheels&search_type=&aq=f

I'll upload other selected videos of my trip and post those to YouTube also.

I'm also working on getting the connection to Twitter so that my blog posts are automatically acessible on Twitter but there appears to be a problem with the TwitterFeed.com database / hardware so I'll continue to work on it.

I'll continue to upload selected

I'll continue to upload selected videos from my trip so far to YouTube. Tried to link blog w/ Twitter but the TwitterFeed site has a problem.

I've just submitted an Introduction

I've just submitted an Introduction video to YouTube... do a search for "Discovering America on 2 Wheels". Let me know what you think!

Test 2 to Twitter

Working on Blog link to Twitter

I've been working on the set-up for my posts to go straight to my Twitter account.... we'll see if it works.

Life Returns to the Tidal Marsh

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Preparing to Ride Part 8

Preparing to Ride Part 7

Preparing to Ride Part 6

Preparing to Ride Part 5

Preparing to Ride Part 4

Preparing to Ride Part 3

Preparing to Ride Part 2

Preparing to Ride Part 1

Welcome to New Readers - How to Use this Blog

If you're a new reader I want to welcome you to Discovering America on 2 Wheels.

Here's a quick recap of my adventure so far.... on 12/6/09 I left Lake Jackson Tx on a Trek 3700 Mountain Bike with an 8-gallon Action Packer with 25# of gear in it bolted to a seat post mounted rear rack and shouldering a backpack with 35# of gear in it and took a route up 36 turning west at Rosenberg on Alt 90 through Eagle Lake then taking Hwy 102 to I10 to 71W to LaGrange then Bastrop State Park then McKinney Falls State Park and then past Austin to Marble Falls and a first "2-day rest stop" at Inks Lake State Park just north of Marble Falls Tx.

My route continued out of Inks Lake State Park east on Hwy 29 to 281N in Burnet. I continued up 281N but was delayed a couple of days in Hamilton Tx. I cracked a rear rim on my bicycle and had to have a new one UPS'd in. From Hamilton I took 281N to Hico Tx where I transitioned to Hwy 67 with another stop in Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glenrose Tx. After leaving DVSP, I overnighted in Burleson before the push to the Leg 1 final destination - North Richland Hills Tx - a northeast suburb of Ft Worth which I reached on 12/19.... 510 miles in 13 days.

I stayed with my son, stored my bike and backpack in NRH and rode back down to Lake Jackson for Christmas. I visited the LJ Verizon Wireless Store and came out up to speed on the latest wireless technology with an LG Env3 (chosen for ease of use, LG reliability and QWERTY keyboard) with VZW Navigator and a Gateway Netbook w/ a VZW card built in.

I returned to NRH with my son after Christmas, created the concept and the blog for Discovering America on 2 Wheels and populated the blog with the text, message and commentary from the first leg which amounted to about 150 posts. I learned how to link my cell phone to my blog so that my text, pics and video would be sent to it wirelessly real time.

On 12/29, I began Leg 2 by leaving Fort Worth in the snow and began a due west route on 180 with a first stop of Weatherford. I then cycled to Lake Mineral Wells State Park and spent 3 days there exploring the beautiful lake shore trails. I mailed all my camping gear from the Mineral Wells Post Office to the Muleshoe Tx PO near the New Mexico border because the next 300 miles would be spent in motels. My trip down 180W went by in 60 mile increments with stays in Breckenridge, Anson and Snyder where I picked up Hwy 84 to Lubbock and then Muleshoe Tx where I learned a labeling error on my part had resulted in the Muleshoe PO returning my camping gear to Lake Jackson!

Adapt and Overcome.... after some quick thinking and research, I realized the best course of action was to buy new camping gear in Clovis NM which I did before continuing to Sumner Lake SP near Ft Sumner NM where I stayed at a beautiful park on a man-made lake in the Chihuahan Desert of New Mexico waking every morning to the sounds of quacking Mallards and honking Canada Geese.

I took a back road route over a caliche road from Sumner Lake SP to Santa Rosa NM. I was expecting to camp out at Santa Rosa SP but a "blackout" due to budget cuts closed the NM State Parks on 1/14 and 1/15.

I left Santa Rosa bound for Villanueva State Park but made an error in attempting to access the park from the east from Hwy 84 through a labyrinth of dirt roads between Anton Chico and Villanueva State Park.... I got lost for the first time but was rescued by a truck load of young folks and transported back to I40 where I resumed my westerly trek before turning north on Hwy 3 to Villanueva State Park.... the best kept secret in the New Mexico State Park System... nestled in a sandstone canyon on the Pecos River, this park was amazing in the rugged beauty it held in its small footprint. I was the only one in the park and enjoyed the solitude of hiking the rim trails on both sides of the canyon before departing on the final 50 miles to Santa Fe.

Stiff head winds on I25 prevented me from reaching Santa Fe but I overnighted in a wonderful Baptist retreat - the Glorieta Convention Center... nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains at 7400' elevation. On 1/21 I cruised the final 25 miles into Santa Fe and my destination for the end of Leg 2.

My wife flew into Albuquerque and met me in Santa Fe where we re-discovered the highest elevation state capital in the United States and its unique variety of Old and New cultures. I left my bicycle and backpack in storage in Santa Fe and we flew out of Albuquerque on 1/24 and returned to Lake Jackson.

Since then I have been working on gaining corporate sponsorship for my continuing bicycle trek across America. I will be returning to Santa Fe in the near future to look for a home there and get going on Leg 3.... Leg 3 will either be a "wagon wheel" around Santa Fe.... it is at the center of many natural wonders and dramatic scenery from one of the latest National Park additions at Valles Caldera National Reserve - already known as "the Yellowstone of the Southwest" to the ancient cliff dwellings of Bandelier National Monument to the red cliffs and desert of Jemez Springs and the snow-capped Redondo Peak.

The other alternative to Leg 3 is an 1150 mile run down the Historic Route 66 now I40 from Santa Fe NM to Los Angeles CA with a detour at Flagstaff to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
So that brings you up to date.... the details of everything described above along with hundreds of pictures and a number of videos are contained in the 900+ posts to the blog.

I hope you enjoy this site.... its imagery and commentary.... it comes from a heart of passion for the great outdoors and a deep appreciation of this country and the people in it.... who have welcomed me with open arms, helping hands and warm and friendly conversation.

As you scroll down on the blog, the list of 2010 post titles are displayed at the right. The dates of the post are not displayed but once you click on one the date will be noted on the post.... once a post is accessed, you can scroll down and click on "Older Post" or "Newer Post" to go forward or back in time from the post that was accessed or just click on another post title to the right.

You can become a follower by setting up or using an existing Username and Password from a Google or Yahoo account. Once you "Sign In" at the top right, you can click on the "Follow blog" prompt and provide the inputs requested to become a follower.


Please submit "Comments" and suggestions on the blog.... I am trying to turn this blog and the adventure that generates it into a new career so your comments, likes and dislikes are important to the development of this site and my own future success.

As you'll see if you read a few of the blogs, it is a combination and variety of anything and everything that I encounter in my winter trek across America on a bicycle. It is a journey of Discovery in more ways than can be captured in the text and pictures which wall paper this blog.

I hope you'll ride with me on this butt numbing, thigh screaming, lung busting, snow laden, irreverent, humbling, impassioned, introspective, mystical and magical search for the best things in life....a once in a lifetime thrill ride I call

Discovering America on 2 Wheels.

Later today, I'll fill you

Later today, I'll fill you in on my discussion w/ Don Wolfe and upload the videos I did this morning and some other pics I took today.

Back at the hacienda... what

Back at the hacienda... what a great day! Met a guy named Don Wolfe while I was down at Surfside... looked like the 4th member of ZZ Top...

Roseate Spoonbills, Ibises, Willets, Egrets and Yellow Crowned Night Herons in the Tidal Marsh





















along the beach in Surfside

Surfside was hard hit by Hurricane Ike destroying many seaside homes and eroding at least 75 - 100' of beach... Rebuilding and recovery continue...

Heading back... but it is beautiful out here!

This message has been sent using the picture and Video service from Verizon Wireless!

To learn how you can snap pictures and capture videos with your wireless phone visit www.verizonwireless.com/picture.

Note: To play video messages sent to email, Quicktime@ 6.5 or higher is required.

Yes...Waiter... I have a reservation for one...


Yes... that granite table over there...

With a view of the Gulf...

No thanks...don't need a menu... brought my own...

I'll be having jalapeno sausage and cheese kolaches washed down with hot chocolate and a cinnamon roll for dessert...

oh and could you turn up the sunshine please....

it's a little nippy out here a 1/2 mile in the Gulf!

OK... now it's just me and the gulls...

... just the way I like it!

Ok... make that 3 adventurous souls...

Surfside Beach

...and the tide is out.... way out!

Am I the only one here?

Nope... there's one other adventurous soul out here!

This message has been sent using the picture and Video service from Verizon Wireless!

To learn how you can snap pictures and capture videos with your wireless phone visit www.verizonwireless.com/picture.

Note: To play video messages sent to email, Quicktime@ 6.5 or higher is required.

OK MacGiver!

I stopped at the Valero Corner Store to pick up some food and hot chocolate and wanted to drink my HC out on the jetties so I duct taped the lid on... and away we go...have I mentioned I never go anywhere without duct tape? Now I remember why!

the Gulf of Mexico

Man.. this north wind has slicked the Gulf down flat as a pancake... it looks like a lake...and that Sun hitting it makes it look like a great snowy glacier... you know there's beauty in everything... sometimes you just have to open your eyes.

Intracoastal facing northeast

View of the Intracoastal Canal from the Surfside Bridge - facing southwest

This message has been sent using the picture and Video service from Verizon Wireless!

To learn how you can snap pictures and capture videos with your wireless phone visit www.verizonwireless.com/picture.

Note: To play video messages sent to email, Quicktime@ 6.5 or higher is required.

There's the Surfside Bridge!

You know... after going over what I've been over for the last 6 weeks...somehow... it just doesn't look that big anymore...I guess my perspective has changed... probably a good thing...

Saltgrass Bait and Tackle

...where I buy my live shrimp when I fish the jetties...No... not today!

Low tide in the salt water marshes leading to Surfside

Where's that been all my life?

... been up and down this road for 25 years... and never noticed that... guess I've slowed down a little... enough to notice stuff like this...probably a good thing...

This message has been sent using the picture and Video service from Verizon Wireless!

To learn how you can snap pictures and capture videos with your wireless phone visit www.verizonwireless.com/picture.

Note: To play video messages sent to email, Quicktime@ 6.5 or higher is required.

Well... I don't think I'll be needing that...

Bucee's Bathrooms

One of the things that have set Bucees apart from the rest of the gas station / convenience store pack is their bathrooms... they're beautiful... wish I had a bathroom this nice at my house... and they're always clean...No wonder they continue to expand throughout Texas... people see a Bucees sign and they just pull in... if for nothing else, just to gawk at the bathrooms!

stopping @ the Bucee's @ 523 and 332

Missed Sunrise at the Jetties...

I elected to do a few video segments on prep'g for a ride... but I'm enjoying my ride down 332 w/ the sun rising dramatically behind a drifting landscape of clouds... it's gonna be a Great Day!

Headin' for the Gulf of Mexico!

...sounds dramatic... and epic... but it's only 13 miles down the road... but it's neat to ride out on the jetties!

This message has been sent using the picture and Video service from Verizon Wireless!

To learn how you can snap pictures and capture videos with your wireless phone visit www.verizonwireless.com/picture.

Note: To play video messages sent to email, Quicktime@ 6.5 or higher is required.

I almost forgot!

There was another reason I got up early this morning... beside jotting down my thoughts on HOW YOU DO A CROSS COUNTRY BICYCLE ADVENTURE....

I'm gonna ride my spare mountain bike down to the Surfside Jetties and Beach and watch the sun come up.... and check out the wildlife....

Gulls, ducks, porpoises.... people fishing.... sound of the waves crashing on the Granite Blocks that make up the jetties....

It's one of my little places of peace and solitude in my hometown area.... funny how many people that live here have never walked out to the end of the jetties....

Maybe it's not their thing.... Maybe they're missing something....

Sometimes you don't have to ride halfway across the country to have a satisfying adventure.... sometimes it's just a few miles down the road....

But you gotta....

Get Out and Get In It!

It Don't Happen Indoors!

Good Saturday Morning.... and Welcome to...

Discovering America on 2 Wheels!

How Do I Do Something Like This.....Assuming you're crazy enough to want to!

If you're reading this blog, you probably have some interest in bicycle riding or outdoor adventure or me or none of the above....

But let's assume for the sake of argument that you're thinking about doing something like this in the future.... taking a cross country trek on your bicycle.

How do you get started?

How do you do it?

What knowledge, experience, equipment, planning and preparation is required?

I mean your mind might have a problem wrapping itself around the concept of taking off on your bicycle and just riding day after day and overnighting in State Parks and Motels and sometimes at the only places available... like a guy's front yard or the back of a convenience store.

Well, before you dive off into that ocean, let me make a suggestion.... TAKE IT ONE STEP AT A TIME!

First of all, let me qualify a few things....
  • This is the first time I've done this.
  • I am not an expert on this subject.... as it says in my profile, I'm a semi-retired chemical engineer.... I'm not a professional outdoor adventurer, cyclist, Survivor contestant or Superman.... I'm just a 47 year old guy with a passion for the outdoors who likes to ride his bicycle who decided to do this thing...
  • What I've done and what I'm doing would be considered by most reasonable folks as inherently risky and dangerous.... and I don't totally disagree.... but so is driving a car.... and walking across a wet floor.... and walking down a flight of stairs.... the point is that much of Life is about Managing Risks and Making Good Decisions in whatever you're doing.... and there are ways to do that.... even when you're riding your bicycle across the country.... alone.... in the dead of winter.... Ok I'll stop there... I've almost talked myself out of Leg 3..... Nah... I'm just kidding... you get the point!
  • None of what I'm about to say in the posts that follow is an endorsement or recommendation to DO WHAT I'VE DONE... it's just an explanation and description of WHAT I'VE DONE & HOW I DID IT.... so as I said on another post on a different subject.... Buyer Beware!  Travel at your own Risk!  Posted - No Trespassing! .....
With all that said, I'm gonna proceed with the posts on What I Did laid out in titles prompted by the letter "P" as follows:

  • Past Experience - you gotta have some from a variety of different areas - Bicycle Riding, Hiking, Camping Out, Logistics of Trip Planning, Internet Access and Use.... and lots of other stuff.  If you don't have some experience at doing something like this, you have to get it and that will take time....
  • Plan - What? Geez you mean you have to have a plan to do something like this? I can't just throw some stuff on my bike and in my backpack and take off (I unintentionally made it sound like that's what I did in my Introduction Letter that I sent out to quite a few folks... but there was a lot more to it than that...)  Yes, you need a Plan.... for everything.... and then you need a back up plan... or the flexibility and ability to change that 1st Plan when it doesn't work or something goes wrong.... so yes, you have to do your homework and you must have a documented plan...
  • Prepare - Oh Boy... this guy is really getting boring now.... I've got to Plan and Prepare....Yes, you gotta make the list, check it twice, figure out who's..... sorry that's somebody else.... You gotta prepare and think about "What if" scenarios.... you gotta test your Plan, your Equipment, your Approach and Yourself.... that's part of the Preparation.... and there's much more....
  • Pull the Trigger - Once you've done the preceding and taken out a 2nd life insurance policy and notified your next of kin....and checked everything out and got your wife's approval and your kids' sarcastic sneer and a lick from the dog and waved at the Postman... then you gotta go... you gotta leave... you gotta roll down the driveway and start.... your own adventure.
  • Pay Attention to Details - "It would have been fine except for..... If I'd've only thought of ..... Man I wished I'd...." - Yeah Yeah Yeah.... coulda woulda shoulda .... once you get out on the road, you're gonna have to pay attention to what you're doing... to your surroundings .... whether you're on the road actually riding or getting off your bike or walking into a convenience store or setting up camp at a state park or hiking down a trail or talking to someone or any one of 1000 things you'll do, encounter or process on any given day.  Get used to it... you don't pay attention to the details.... and you'll end up paying attention to the details ... in a way you don't want to!  I keep a little 3x5 "Composition Book" and pen in my pocket all the time and I'm continuously jotting down notes throughout every day.... OK - you're probably thinking "Anal Retentive" about now.... Fine.... Whatever.... I told you I'm just telling you what I did .... what works for me.... you figure out what works for you.... there's more than one way to do things.... but in the end analysis.... you're gonna have to Pay Attention to the Details!
  • Put Yourself into a Daily Routine - a Routine.... a Routine you say!  Heck - that's what I was trying to get away from.... I'm out here on the Road baby!  I'm Free!  Routine! Routine! ... I don't need no Stinking Routine!  Well, guess what?  You do... let me explain....  It doesn't matter if you're waking up in a motel, at a State Park or wherever.... you gotta be somewhat organized about how you begin, progress through and end each day.... you know what I mean.... you can't just do stuff randomly... well I guess you can but you'll probably end up wasting a lot of time in pain and anguish looking for something or being cold or being lost or hungry or standing at some undisclosed place without something you need.  I've already posted several times about my routine when I first get up at a state park in cold weather.... 1) I brush my teeth (I do this the first thing in the morning no matter where I'm at - just one of them things); 2) I get a fire going; 3) I put coffee water on to boil...... I do that same thing every morning I wake up at a state park... that's the beginning of a daily routine.... it starts my day right.... for me.... for you it may be something different and there's a lot of "routine" things that follow that... I'll tell you about it.
  • Pedal....Pedal....Pedal.... don't quit Pedaling.... Persevere!..... don't get discouraged... don't listen to the Naysayers.... just Pedal!  I'm not sure where this one fits in.... but the bottom line is that you're not in a car.... you're not on a motorcycle.... you're not floating through the air on a Southwest 737.... you're on a bicycle.... the bicycle don't move unless you put some effort into it .... unless you expend some energy.... unless you pedal.... for long periods of time.... like hours.... like all day long sometimes.... if you've got a plan, then you probably have a goal or a destination for each day you're on the road.... sometimes that goal is attainable and sometimes it's not.... sometimes the weather won't let you get there.... sometimes your body won't.... but you've got to Pedal...like 10's of thousands of times.... so get used to it!
  • Pause... Hang on - you just got me jacked up to Pedal....Pedal....Pedal... now you say Pause! What's that about?  Well it's part of the Pedaling and it's part of the Process.... you gotta Stop and Smell the Roses.... I didn't see any Roses in my 1250 miles between Lake Jackson Tx and Santa Fe NM.... probably cause it was in the dead of winter... but if I had.... I would've stopped.... to take a whiff.... and a picture!  I probably paused too much.... but Geez - that's what it's all about.... I hadn't been to most of the places I was riding by and through .... it was all new and wonderful to me... and I was curious and amazed and delighted.... so I paused a bunch.... to go in and check it out.... to take a pic, to send a text message, to share, to absorb, to visit, to eat..... Oh My Goodness..... did I forget to talk about eating.... Heck if you don't eat.... you can't pedal.... and if you're pedaling a lot.... like several hours per day.... you're gonna have to get used to pausing to eat.... at least every hour to hour and a half.... I'll talk about this in a lot more detail.....
  • Practice taking care of Yourself!  Just cause you're out on the road or in a State Park doesn't mean you can't take care of yourself.... Do the Shower thing.... Do the Spit Bath thing in the restroom of the Convenience Store.... take your Vitamins.... take your medicine.... eat good nutrional food.... monitor yourself (how do you feel? how do you look?) .... get your sleep.... stay in contact with your family.... pray if that's what you're used to doing.... meditate if that's what you're used to doing.... wake up in the middle of the night and go stand out under the stars and Howl at the Moon!.... whatever.... this is supposed to be an experience that makes you better in every way.... it's not supposed to be something that turns you into something resembling a homeless person or worse!
Wow.... I had intended just to throw some Outline points out there and I ended up running off at the mouth.... again!

There's actually a lot more flesh to the bones above and I'll spend the next few days filling in the details...

It's not just for you.... it's for me too.... I gotta start getting ready for Leg 3....

What better way to do it than document the Do's and Don'ts I learned from Leg 1 and 2?

See ya!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pork Chops - a marriage of Deep South and Middle East - Part 5

Those 4 pork chops were less than 1/2 the loin and the entire loin only cost $7.86 so those chops were probably about $0.75 a piece..... the 2 bags of brown rice were about 60 cents a bag and there was 1 bell pepper and an onion and a handful of raisins.... I know I didn't have $5 in this whole meal....

My wife and I ate lunch till we were stuffed and there were still 2 chops left (I cut them about 3/4 - 1" thick) and they were tender and delicious and had that wonderful Indian food spice and smell.

The pop of the orange zest, the texture of the raisins, the acidity from the lime juice and the earthiness and comfort of good ole pork chops with an Indian influence were a home run.... my wife who doesn't eat much meat kept asking me for one more little bit.... and just a few more vegetables please and can I have some of that juice.... and oh I love the raisins in this....

Yeah.... I'll be cooking these again!

Quick recipe:

  • Good quality pork loin - slice in 3/4" chops and dust all over with seasoned meat tenderizer, salt and pepper the night before cooking and seal in container and place in fridge.
  • Coarse chop a large bell pepper and onion - Note: I needed more veggies with all that meat... I'll probably use 2 and 2 next time.
  • Fine dice 2 - 4 cloves of garlic.
  • Zest 2 teaspoons of orange / tangelo peel.
  • Lightly coat the veggies with olive oil and dust with salt and pepper. Sprinkle lightly with Turmeric and Red Curry Powder.
  • Lightly sprinkle the pork chops with Turmeric and Red Curry Powder.
  • Put a 2 quart pot full of water on to boil, salt the water and drop in 2 bags of Success Brown Rice.
  • Get an iron skillet to high heat and add 2 tablespoons of Canola oil.
  • Sear the pork chops 3 - 5 minutes on each side.
  • Turn the heat down to low, add the bell pepper and onion cover the skillet and cook for 3 - 5 more minutes.
  • Check the pork chops for doneness. I like to take them off when the meat is still pink. In a cast iron skillet they'll continue to cook for at least another 5 - 8 minutes. Hit 'em with a hard squeeze from a couple of lime slices and a teaspoon of orange zest.
  • Turn off the heat on the rice, drain the water, cut the bags of rice open and pour into a serving bowl. Add 1/2 cup of golden raisins and a teaspoon of orange zest and a squeeze of 1/4 of a lime.
  • Take to the table and plate.... Make a bed of rice and spoon the vegetables and au jous over the rice and pick up one of them bad boy pork chops and place it on top.
  • It's a beautiful meal that tantalizes all the senses.... it's got kick, it's got style, it's got culture, it's got texture and it's got me convinced to do that again..... first time I ever tried it and it was Great!

Don't be afraid to take a particular style of cooking and tweak it a little bit.... that's what I did and both my wife and I were surprised how good it came out!

Just another great Discovery.... in the kitchen this time!

Indian Pork Chops Wow - this is the South? Part 4

Southern Indian Pork Chops WOW Style - Part 3

Indian Pork Chops Southern Style - Part 2

Pork Chops Southern Style .... but with Indian Influence Part 1

Post on Blog about my approach to buying a house

It's a long post w/ a lot of detail but hope you find something of value in it that will help you.

This message has been sent using the picture and Video service from Verizon Wireless!

To learn how you can snap pictures and capture videos with your wireless phone visit www.verizonwireless.com/picture.

Note: To play video messages sent to email, Quicktime@ 6.5 or higher is required.

Buying Real Estate..... I do it MY WAY!

I've made mention of the fact that I'm gonna talk about Financial Management and Money Management Principles and have made a few references to "Rule #" such and such and all that.

First of all, let me say I am not a Financial Advisor, Financial Planner or anything.... I have no accreditation in anything financially related and I have made as many or more mistakes financially as the next person.... anything I say is to be taken with a grain of salt.... and if it's not it is to be sliced, diced and filtered through each individual's own little Veggie-matic.... that thing you call your own brain, experience, preferences, etc.

What I say about financial managment, planning or anything money related is my own personal opinion, perspective and approach based on my priorities, personalities and weird idiosyncracies!

So Reader Beware!..... or Caveat Emptor.... or Laissez Faire.... or E Pluribus Unum.... or Habeus Corpus....

.... or whatever other Latin or other antiquated language expression that says "You're on your own Buddy!"


With all those qualifications, disqualifications and general non-sense stated, here's how I go about buying real estate:
  • Step 1: You have to have your financial ducks in a row before you even think about buying a house. I'm kinda getting the cart before the horse.... talking about buying a house because that's just part of an overall financial plan.... but since that's one of the umpteen things I been working on I figured I'd talk about it. Before you even think about buying a house, here's some things that should already be in place - You should already 1) have a monthly budget in place and 2) be adhering to that budget and 3) have tracked that budget for at least 12 months and 4) have at least 6 months of your TOTAL BUDGET in the bank as an EMERGENCY FUND! If you are doing that.... then you've already completed the first critical steps to any sound family financial plan - you have a plan, you know where you are (what you're spending) and you are tracking / controlling your spending (you're following a budget / the plan) and you have a back up plan - kinda sounds like the prerequisites for a cross country journey doesn't it..... violate any one of those critical steps and guess what.... you get lost.... or worse!


  • Step 2: Decide how much you can spend on housing / home / your next real estate purchase. Now you see why you had to have a budget in place already. If you have a budget in place, you are already tracking your housing costs and you know how much total you have going out and coming in and how much you have in savings... and NO - the EMERGENCY FUND does not count as savings or down payment.... as far as you're concerned it doesn't exist.... you don't put it in any risk assets (like the stock market).... you don't tie it up for any length of time (like in a long term CD).... it stays in a dedicated savings or money market account that allows quick and easy access. At this point, some or most of you may be saying - What's this guy smoking? I can't even pay my bills, buy groceries for my kids and this guy's talking EMERGENCY FUND! I got it .... I understand... I grew up dirt poor myself.... I know what it's like... but you know what... you got to overcome the thought process of "the world's got me down and it's stomping on me!" DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO! If you're not making enough money to make ends meet, sit down and think and make a plan - can you get more schooling that will give you a better opportunity for better pay? Can you relocate where the cost of living is lower and the pay is higher? Can you give up a bad habit that's costing you money - like smoking or gambling or chasing wild women or wild men? Hell I don't know what' s up in your life but I can tell you... I ain't talking down to nobody cause I've been at the bottom looking up.... so take heart.... you can do it! Now back to the regularly scheduled program.... Bottom line is that there are easy to use calculators out there that take a combination of data like interest rate, duration of loan and beginning principal and spit out a monthly payment and don't forget to add in TAXES and INSURANCE to the mortgage payment calculator. In my opinion, you should put down as much as possible on a house .... I don't like or endorse going into debt and the ONLY THING I would endorse going into debt on is what is known as an Appreciating Asset... like real estate.... not cars, boats, 4 wheelers and for God's sake.... don't borrow money and put it in the stock market! I know... I know... real estate can go down in value too.... that's what precipitated this whole economic crisis.... the drop in housing prices in highly inflated markets like Miami, Las Vegas, Phoenix and places in California and the subsequent default of mortgages and the subsequent bankruptcy of the "payers" of these insurance policies on mortgage defaults aka CDS's aka Credit Default Swaps.... spare me the details.... I been reading about it for 5 years..... 2 years before it happened.... I understand it .... I just shake my head and realize that it was just another financially engineered instrument for transfer of wealth from the lower and middle class (out of their 401k's) to the upper class (hedge fund owners)..... I'm 47 and I've seen this cycle about 5 times now.... and if you don't know it, realize it and protect yourself from it, then you'll end up after 30 years with not much in your 401k living on Social Security (yeah right - it'll probably be abolished just about the time I'm eligible for it) and wondering where all that money went that you "saved" in your 401k..... the whole system is engineered by a very few people in control to take your money... and they will do it.... unless you protect yourself.... WHEW! I got that little gripe off my chest.... now let's go on with the plan of buying a house! Once you've figured out how much you can put down on a house and how much you can afford to pay monthly and not violate your budget, then you have a total purchase amount.... in another words you've figured out how much you can spend on a house. Let me give you an example... let's say you have $5000 in savings to put down on a house and you can afford about $600 per month in total housing monthly payment - How much house can you buy? Here's a link to a Comprehensive Mortgage Calculator that's available on Yahoo Finance: http://finance.yahoo.com/calculator/family-home/hom03 The way most of the calculators are set up is bassackwards.... they should be set up to where you put in the mortgage payment you can afford, the annual taxes and insurance on the property and the term you want to pay in and the interest rate for that term and then it spits out the principal amount (amount to be borrowed)... but that's not the way it works.... (just part of the financial pitfalls that are engineered to bury you in debt you can't afford).... you got to put in a principal amount and all the other stuff and then it spits out your mortgage payment.... so to make the resulting mortgage payment match up with your budgeted housing amount.... you gotta do a trial and error input on the principal amount to get it right.... get it? Let me show you an example with the data from above... I've already "played" with the calculator so I know the right principal amount to get the $600 per month payment but this is just to show the process anyway.... so here's a couple of "screen shots" that show the input and the results:







Here I've put in the following data: $45000 loan amount, 5% interest rate, Loan duration of 15 years, $50000 sale price on the property ($45000 loan + $5000 down payment) and I've input taxes of $2000 / year and insurance of $1000 / year and no PMI (private mortgage insurance).  PMI is the amount you have to pay on your mortgage amount that goes into a big pool at the mortgage company to handle the loans that go into default... they're basically making you pay for your own future loan default.... is that sick or what?  Anyway, if you put enough down... you don't have to pay PMI... I don't know what the exact threshhold is, it varies with credit rating, down payment, purchase amount, etc. but for this example I'm waiving the PMI cost...

The next screen shot shows the results:






You can see at the bottom of the screen shot that with this data you get a total monthly payment including principal, taxes, insurance and $0 for PMI of $605.86 - close enough to the desired $600 budgeted amount.... and you end up paying $19054 in interest over the 15 year life of the loan. 
 
Oh and one other thing.... PLEASE DON'T GET A 30 YEAR MORTGAGE! You will pay 2 - 3 times more interest on a 30 year mortgage than a 15 year mortgage and the monthly payments aren't that much different.... if you're considering making a decision to get a 30 year vs 15 year mortgage - do 1 of 2 things.... either save a little more down payment or buy a little less house and stick with your budgeted housing amount.
 
I did the exact same deal except changed the loan time to 30 years and the interest rate to 5.5% (for a 30 year loan) and guess what the interest paid was?   Take a look.



Check that out at the bottom.... you only pay $100 less per month but you pay $46982 in interest which is $27928 more in interest compared to the 15 year mortgage... so let me add this up and subtract that out....

15 year $45000 loan at 5%..... I pay a total of 180 payments of $605.86 (including taxes and insurance) for a total of $109054 over the life of the loan (remember that includes taxes and insurance).

30 year $45000 loan at 5.5%.... I pay a total of 360 payments of $505.51 = $181984......

so I pay a total of $72930 MORE for the house and I DON'T OWN IT OUTRIGHT FOR ANOTHER 15 YEARS!

Holy Declining Net Worth Batman!.... why don't they teach us this &*%! in high school or something?

Ok.... point made.... let's move on!

  • Step 3:  Become an Expert!  On the area where you want to buy.... on the houses in that area.... on the prices of the houses in that area.... on everything associated with and remotely related to buying a house in the state, county, city, area, subdivision, street and dirt where you want to buy a house....Become an expert on it!!!  Huh? Don't they have people that do that for a living.... called real estate agents?  Yes they do and guess who they represent (in most cases unless you sign a contract, pay them a fee and hire them as a "buyer's representative")..... they represent the SELLER!  Now let me say right here right now.... I got nothing against real estate agents.... all of them that I've met are great people.... they work hard for their commissions... they have to take what basically amounts to about 2 - 3 semesters of classes to get their real estate license and they have to handle and process a ton of convoluted and confusing paperwork.... but the bottom line is that their (I'm gonna use a big word here) FIDUCIARY RESPONSIBILITY is to the SELLER ....NOT YOU! That's the way the system works... you know let me just divert here for a minute and throw out another little observation.... well kind of an exaggeration maybe... but you'll get the point..... I have seen people spend more time researching the label on a 67 cent can of green beans in a grocery store aisle than they spend buying a $150000 house.... I'm serious.... people just throw their hands up and say.... "I don't know nothing about that.... just shove the papers at me and let me sign away my financial life for the next umpteen years and I trust you that I'm getting the best house at the best price and it's in good shape and it's not about to fall off in a sink hole or get flattened by a mudslide or flooded by a hurricane or burnt down by faulty wiring...."  Geez.... it's no wonder.... oh boy.... I'm not gonna say it .... let's move on!  So how do you become an expert?  KNOWLEDGE IS POWER GRASSHOPPER!  So how do you get knowledge... you get it 1 piece of data at a time and you document it and you compile it and you compare it and you use it to make sound decisions with that hat rack on your shoulders you call a head... you use your noodle and you trust yourself and no one else and you INSPECT and VERIFY and DON'T ASSUME ANYTHING!  By now you're saying, this guy lost me about 14000 words ago.... well you know what.... this is a complicated and complex world filled with a lot of information and misinformation and you gotta do what you gotta do to parse it and break it down and nibble at it and package it to where you can handle it..... if you can't do it.... find someone who you trust and have them help you do it and learn from them!  There's too many victims in this world!  Don't be one of them.... Ok to the nuts and bolts of data collection... Here's a series of screens shots showing an Excel worksheet that I've prepared to begin collecting all this information that's gonna turn me into an expert on real estate in Santa Fe....what do I mean by expert?  I mean I wanna feel confident that, at the end of this process, I can buy a quality home that meets my wife and my criteria at a price that is significantly below "market value".... how much below?  I don't know.... I haven't collected the data yet.... I'm not an "expert" yet... but I will be and here's how I 'm gonna do it.  First, I do a quick Internest search for  banks, mortgage lenders and real estate agents in Santa Fe and get some names and numbers.... here's my worksheet for that info:




Pretty simple huh? Well this is just the first step in data collection.... the next one has a little more to it.
Anyway, in this stage you get people's names and numbers and you call them up and tell them your name and tell them you're looking to buy a house in the area.  Now remember I'm looking for a bargain.... and these are times when real estate bargains do exist.... so what do I ask about....the code word for bank or mortgage company foreclosures is "real estate owned" aka REOs... tell them your criteria... you know like 3 bedroom 2 bath 2 car garage 1500 - 2000 ft2 adobe style construction, etc.....ask them to e-mail you a list of the REO's aka foreclosures they have that meet that criteria.... preferably in Excel format.... that way it's easy to copy and paste into the worksheet....

Then you start filling in the data in the following worksheet (now this thing is several pages wide because there's so many columns).... you may not have to collect this much detailed info but I wanted a "comprehensive checklist" for each house I was considering so I could remember and compare.... and narrow down... so here's some screen shots of that worksheet.....




I'm just scrolling this worksheet to the right on these screen shots so you can see all the columns of info I'll be filling in:
 




 
 


 


Now let me tell you what has happened with me when I've done this in the past.... you're gonna look at a bunch of houses in different areas and different subdivisions and you're gonna take notes and make observations and come back and populate this worksheet and at first, it's just gonna look like a bunch of random information.... but after you've looked at 20 - 30 properties and you start grouping them together in similar location or similar square footage or whatever, you're gonna see something emerge.... you're gonna start seeing the lower $ / ft2 numbers emerge.... that's what I want to see... I want to know for any given location or subdivision and for a given square footage and architecture and for given features.... I want to know how much I'm gonna have to spend per square foot.... I've already learned from my conversations with the contacts I have that the $/ft2 will vary significantly in Santa Fe depending on where you buy.... fine... good to know.... downtown near the plaza and Artist Road is more expensive.... it's expensive out by St. John's College... less expensive by the Santa Fe Community College.... and after talking with 5 or 6 folks I already have a good idea of what a bottom dollar cost per square foot is ..... now I'm taking the first steps to become an expert..... Oh yeah.... 'bout now you're probably saying "Yeah... this guy's got the time to do this".... well it didn't take that long.... heck I've spent 3 times longer typing up this post on what I'm doing than the actual doing that I've done.... if that makes any sense..... I probably got about an hour and a half of phone time in and maybe 15 minutes to set up the worksheet.... let's see I've invested maybe 2 hours into a process that involves one of the largest purchases I will likely make in my life and that will determine where I live for the next few years.... yeah I can spare a few hours to do that.....
 
  • Step 4:  Once I go through the "Become an Expert" process, I will have narrowed down the list to a few choice properties.... I want to have more than one choice.... I've got to make sure I have completed all the inspections on the checklist..... I mean I'm gonna check, inspect and test everything... I'm gonna crawl through the attic, run the water in every faucet, flip every light switch, start a fire in the fireplace, plug a little light into every socket, run the dishwasher, turn on the AC, turn on the heat, get up on the roof and walk around, check the caulking around the tubs, look in the crawl spaces... by the time I get through with this house I'm gonna know it like the back of my hand.... no stone unturned.  I'm also gonna find out the name or names of a few reliable independent inspectors and select one.... not for inspection now.... that comes a little later.

  • Step 5:  Once I go through the final personal inspection process on a few choice properties that we've narrowed the list down to and my wife and I have found what we think is the ideal house for us and it's at a good listed price based on the extensive analyses, inspections and comparisons we've done on many properties then we're ready to make an offer.  Guess what I don't do?  I don't offer them what they're asking for it.... I don't get this.... people seem embarassed to ask people to lower their offering price on anything.... folks... EVERYTHING IS NEGOTIABLE!  Well almost everything... you get what I'm saying.  I just basically assume that the offering price is at least 20% higher than what the seller will take for what they're selling.... so I'm gonna offer significantly lower than the asking price.... in fact I've already got a fixed price in my mind of what I'm willing to pay for the house... I've got a top dollar price.... no higher.... how did I come to that price?  I looked at all the data I collected and came up with my price.... sounds bogus.... fine.... you go through the process and see what happens....so I got a price that I'm willing to pay for this house.... is that what I offer?  NO... OF COURSE NOT - that's not how it works.... I look at the difference between what they're asking and what I'm willing to pay and I subtract that from what I'm willing to pay and that will likely be my offer... .what are you talking about?  Let me give you an example - Let's say I want to pay $80000 for the house of my choice.... the seller's asking price is $100000... difference is $20000.... my offer will be $80000 - $20000 = $60000.... why?  Because if you split the difference between the ASK ($100000) and the OFFER ($60000) what do you get.... yep the $80000 price that I'm willing to pay.... SELLER and BUYER meet in the middle and both parties think they've negotiated a good deal.... which they have. 

  • Step 6:  Make the offer official.... sign an Earnest Money Contract... with qualifications.... whoa - what's that mean - with qualifications? Never make a written offer on a house or anything of significant value without having some "OUTS" or at least some hurdles / events / contingent criteria that have to be met.... for example, the most common qualification is that a BUYER will have to sell their current house before purchasing the new house.... old house don't sell in a given length of time... offer on new house is null and void.... simple as that.  Another common offer qualification is that the offer is contingent on the buyer receiving adequate financing to buy the house.... mortgage lender doesn't qualify him for the loan... offer on new house is null and void.... simple as that.  One I always put in is that the house has to be inspected by a licensed residential inspector and I have to approve the inspection.... I don't like something about the inspection.... offer is null and void... You want the seller to replace the carpet with a carpet of your choice.... put it in as a qualification.... you get the picture.

  • Step 7: Let's say the offer goes through.... the Property and the Seller meets all the qualifications.... purchase of the house is a GO!  All that remains is closing on the house RIGHT?... this usually occurs at a Title Company with a Title Agent sitting down with a stack of documents about 6" thick and they start passing the documents around for the Buyer and Seller to sign..... WRONG!  That's not the way to do it!  Closing costs and documents should be ready for your review well in advance of the closing... at least a week or two before the closing.... Make an appointment with the title agent to have the documents ready for you and sit down and review them.... if you don't want to do that or you don't feel comfortable doing that.... get a copy of all the documents and take them to a lawyer of your choice (that is independent of the Seller and the Title Company) one that represents your interests and have him review the documents.... Review the total costs that will be due from you at closing... there's gonna be stuff you haven't even considered... you'll have to pay a proration on the taxes and pay for insurance for the coming year.... and pay for this recording and that recording and this fee and that fee....usually it's about 5% (may be as much as 10%) of the purchase price of the house.... oh and here's the deal .... you can get the Seller to pay for things that you might normally have to pay for... BUT you need to think about that ahead of time and put it in the qualifications of the Earnest Money Contract in Step 6.....

  • Step 8:   Once all the documents are reviewed and approved to your liking and the closing is imminent, you probably need to make contact (if you haven't already done so) with the local utility, TV, internet, etc. companies and the Post Office and anything or anybody else to make sure this stuff is turned on, pointed in your direction and going to the right place.  Bottom line is you're moving to a new place and you need to make sure your life is moving with you.  Don't wait till after you move in and you're sitting there in your new house with no electricity and no heat freezing your bejeebers off to call the utility companies.....

  • Step 9:  Close the deal... you've done your homework.... now pull the trigger!  Once you're done and everything is recorded and documented, put a copy of the documents in a Safety Deposit Box at your bank or credit union or in some place of safe keeping.

  • Step 10:  Move in and Enjoy your new home in the Confidence that you've made a great investment in your financial future.... and you did it yourself!
Well that's about it for now.... and Yes of course.... I can't close this thing out without one more disclaimer.... so here she is.....

Real estate purchase or ownership may not be suitable for all individuals.  Consult a real estate broker or other professional to determine your suitability. The advice given above is of a general nature and should not be taken as a recommendation to buy or sell real estate.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I am at the house...and I am making plans and contacts... and I'm thinking.... again....

Good Afternoon all!

I've got lots of rat killin' to do on and off throughout the day... my "To do" list is about 2 pages and 4 days long ... but here's some stuff I'm working on:

  • make contact with the local newspaper, the Facts, to try to set up a story about my bicycle adventure and blog.... talked to Katelyn, a Sports Report... and she seemed receptive... she will talk to the Editor, Yvonne and get back with me.
  • placed a "check it out" ad for my adventure and blog in the Facts, the Source (local weekly "sell it buy it" bargains paper and the Houston Chronicle.

  • plan on doing the same for several other major papers in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington.

  • Will also run an ad in the Santa Fe paper and in select cities along Leg 3.... wherever that ends up being... I'll have more on that developing plan later.

  • have already sent e-mails with the blog Intro letter to many more businesses, websites, publications, etc. and plan to follow up with them by phone. These include Texas Parks & Wildlife, Texas Monthly, Genoveva Chavez Community Center in Santa Fe, many bicycle shops along my 1250 mile route, the local fitness center - Family Fitness, adventure and endurance activity related sites and many more....

  • already made contact with one potential sponsor and have got contact people for 2 more.... won't name anything until I make some progress.

  • made contacts with several banks and mortgage lending places in Santa Fe and had several conversations regarding "real estate owned" - REOs - in the possession of these institutions... when I go back to SF, I'll be planning on looking at a purchase of a modest home for my wife and I from one of these "foreclosures".... there's no shortcuts on this.... it takes time .... you gotta do your homework.... become an "expert" on real estate in a given area and then be patient and wait for the right property at the right price... I'll talk more about this process in a future "financial management" post....

Let me interrupt this boring list for a minute and share something....

In case you haven't figured it out yet.... I'm planning some pretty significant life changes here - New Career.... New Location.

I'm working to turn this great adventure of Discovering America on 2 Wheels into a sustainable vocation... yep that's right... this is what I want to do with the rest of my life...

I feel like Chris Berman is commentating on some full back breaking a trap play up the middle from the other team's 47 yard line... (note the significance of the number 47)

" and he's broke free at the line of scrimmage.... and what a collision with the free safety at the 35.... he was almost flattened but somehow managed to right himself and he's angling toward the right side of the end zone with the wide receiver Joe Blow providing a screen... and a stiff arm to the cornerback that was being blocked at the 15.... he's spinning and falling and catches the ground with his left hand.... being caught from behind by a pursuing linebacker who dives at his ankles and trips him... he's rumbling, bumbling, tumbling and stumbling for the goal line.....

..... and he's in for the SCORE!"

You know... this whole thing wasn't actually planned to turn out like this.... and I don't even know how it's gonna turn out...

I mean I named this whole effort "Discovering America on 2 Wheels".... thought it was catchy and cool and captured a bicycle adventure across America and all....

but Geez...

I wasn't prepared for what has happened....to me....

I wasn't prepared to lose 23 lbs in 6 weeks....

I wasn't prepared to be so alone and yet be in contact and conversation with so many people....

I wasn't prepared to experience the beauty of the land that I've rode through and walked on....

I wasn't prepared for people to be so nice to me.... to open their minds and lives up to me and to help me and to extend their hospitality and hearts to me....

I wasn't prepared to be in Constant Communion with God....

I wasn't prepared to come home.....

It's changed me .... a lot.... but I still have some of my same old failings.... like my temper....

Man - if I could change one thing about myself that would be it.... I've tamed the beast somewhat.... probably partly cause I just don't have the energy I used to.... kinda hard to jump up and down and do back flips with a red face when you're older....

But that bastard still reaches up and bites me in the ass every once in a while.... like last night....

Got into an e-mail discussion... well she called it a "pissing match" .... probably a better description.... with my ex-wife.... my daughter's mother... I've made one or 2 references to her in my posts....

Here's the revelation about ex-wives especially if they're also the mother of your children.... in other words, divorced with kids....

First of all, if you do it right.... I mean raising the kid.... you got to talk to 'em (the ex-wife) all the time.... I mean I've talked to my ex-wife and communicated with her WAY MORE since we've been divorced that when we were married.... let me think about that for a minute.... maybe that was the problem.... anyway.... that's another story....

Second of all.... you know what really makes me mad about the whole "gotta talk to 'em all the time, gotta communicate this and coordinate that" thing.... and I only get mad when there's a disagreement.... I mean it don't take a $200 / hr session with a shrink to figure out it's hard to get mad at someone who's agreeing with ya....

... anyways, the thing that makes me mad about dealing with my ex-wife.... mother of my child...

....is that 99% of the time when we have a disagreement and I end up getting pissed off.....

SHE'S RIGHT!

Yup... if I'd just shut the heck up and listen and grunt a couple of times and nod my head and say "Sounds good" I'd be a lot better off and all parties would be better off for it....

But NOOOOO! the freakin' testosterone's gotta kick in and I gotta jump up on the table and arch my back and throw my head back and beat my chest and howl at the moon....

Typical dumb ass male!

Oh and it gets worse.... geez can it get any worse....

My ex-wife and my wife are like ..... buds ..... so you know what that means!

Yep .... they team up against me ..... Oops there I go again.... making myself the victim.... see how easy it is?

No - what they're really doing is using their combined knowledge of me and their own unique characteristics (they're opposite in a lot of ways and alike in a lot of ways) to try to help me make a good decision and come to reasonable solutions that are in the best interest of our daughter (yeah you heard me right.... step parents have ownership in this little kid raising thing too).

You know.... when you think about it.... I'm one lucky son of a gun .....

I've been or am married to 2 of the smartest women I've ever met..... smart in totally different ways.... but smart nonetheless.

Now if I could just shut up and listen.....

Sorry... I kinda got off track there for a little bit.

Okay, back to the list of what I'm doing...

  • gotta go get new tires on my truck at Brazosport Tire in Clute Tx.

  • plan to set up separate account at the Credit Union where I bank for "Discovering America on 2 Wheels".
  • set up appointment with a lawyer to talk about this little venture and find out how many different ways I can screw it up and get screwed up by it .... oh just a little observation here.... anytime you're getting ready to do something .... dive off into something.... anything.... new business... buy a new house.... sell a house.... buy rental property .... marriage .... divorce.... whatever.... find you a decent lawyer (hint: there's a direct correlation in competency and cost..... the more competent, the higher the $ / hour), make you a list of questions about what you want to ask 'em about and schedule an hour and go pay your $200 (yep that's about how much a good lawyer will cost / hour) and just go sit down and ask your questions and then listen and take notes.... it'll be the best investment you'll ever make!

  • investigate setting up a YouTube account for my blog videos.

  • investigate how I can get my posts or an abbreviated version of them to Twitter.
  • research a lower cost health care provider .... oh my goodness.... don't even get me started on this one.... I could fill up a chapter in a book about health care costs and do's and don'ts... it'll have to wait.... but I got a lot to say about this subject.

  • go return and exchange some items at Walmart and Academy.

  • take some clothes to the cleaners.

  • replace the bathroom showerhead and clean the tub.

  • collate all expenses for both legs of my adventure into an Excel worksheet.

  • eat lunch with my sister, Vicki.

Whatcha doing?

Nut n Honey!

Tired already....

you 'member I talked about "hard work".....

Hard work is a given.... but you gotta have a plan.... lotsa plans....

No shortage of that here!





Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How far to school?

It was more like 10 miles...

Scrubbin' down the patio w/ Simple Green and Clorox

I know I know... get a pressure washer... by the time I'd get it out unrolled and hooked up I'll be done w/ this Old School rub a dub dub scrub action...

I've used a high pressure washer since I was 12 years old... yep started out working summers when I was 12 pressure washing and scraping and painting houses for a guy... making $20 a day... hard work but good money for a 12 year old...

First "salary" job was actually when I was 10 working at a place called Worthy's Auto Parts sweeping floors and stocking parts for 50 cents an hour...

In my spare time I was seining carp for the local bait shop owner and picking okra... yeah it's the truth...

I grew up pretty poor... never missed a meal and always had clean clothes to wear but if you wanted something extra you didn't go ask Mom or Dad... hell they were just trying to keep the wolves away from the door!

You wanted money... you went out and got work... even at 10...

and no I didn't walk uphill 7 mi in the snow both ways to school....

Since I'm always talking 'bout the equipment I use...

Let me introduce you to the baddest mowing machine (short of a 5' bushhog behind a 4WD 3 cyl diesel Kubota tractor) I've ever come across...

....looks like your standard run-of-the-mill self-propelled mower right?

If you can... take a closer look at the writing on the top of the mower... first of all... it's made by Troybilt... yep the guys that revolutionized the rotary tilling industry w/ the 1st mass produced rear tine tiller... so there's a rep there from way back...

2nd... notice the horsepower ... 6.75 hp ... that's not foot pounds that's Clydesdales baby... you ever heard of putting a near 7 hp motor on a 21" self propelled mower... short of a Yazoo... Man I'm really dating myself now...

... having that motor on that frame is 'bout like having a 427 Big Block in a Triumph... let's see... what did they call that now?

Oh yeah... a freakin' Shelby Cobra....

I keep the blade on this thing razor sharp & let me tell you what....

if you can walk through it...

you can cut it w/ this Troybilt 21" Tuff Cut!

Mowing the Back Yard - Conclusion

I tell ya... all this thinking... will drive a drinking man to drinkin'.... MORE! ... and you can probably see the mower ain't moved yet... so ... time to get to work... HARD WORK... oops there's another rule of mine... not enough time in the day.... LATER!

Finishing the back yard....and thinking... there I go.... thinking again!

Yeah I know... how exciting is mulching the leaves up in the back yard...

Well it's like anything else... it's gotta be done... and believe it or not... it's part of a sound financial plan... huh?

What's he talking about?

Somewhere in the list of learnings I'll share soon is the concept / rule of...

"Take care of what you have!"

Sounds simple enough... and let me say I ain't preaching here... I'm observing... and takin' notes... for about 40 years...

Here's what I've seen...

People buy stuff... houses, cars, boats, 4-wheelers, bicycles... anything and everything....

Some stuff they need... some stuff they don't...

Oh geez don't get me started on that one... that's a different rule...

Anyway people buy stuff and they don't take care of it...

I don't get it... they want it so bad they gotta go borrow money to buy it.... they get it....

Then they don't take care of it....

Kinda like gettin' married...

Meet someone... can't live without 'em .... get married ...

...then you don't take care of 'em....

Following the "Discovering America on 2 Wheels" blog

My wife and I were discussing the blog and I was lamenting that I kinda thought I'd have more followers by now.... and she responded with wisdom (like she always does)....



"Well William.... most people are passive readers of the blog.... they check in and check out...."



.... and I guess she's right, because I've got several blog comments from folks I've met along the way or knew prior and they weren't on the "Followers" list....



If you want to become a "Follower" it's pretty easy....
  • First, you need to set up either a "Google" account or a "Yahoo" account (I think there's a 3rd way but don't remember what it was - will get back to you on that).... you can use your e-mail username and password on either one.
  • Once you have an "access" account set up, you just go to the "Discovering America on 2 Wheels" blog - www.WillsOnWheels.blogspot.com and up at the top right of the screen, click on "Sign in" and then sign in.
  • Once you've done that, click on the "Follow" or "Follow this blog" prompt next to the "Followers" tiles and go through the input requests.
  • .... and I think that's it...

If that doesn't work, leave a comment or e-mail or call me and I'll edit the instructions.

I know.... when you look at the "Followers" list it looks stupid... I'm following myself....

kinda like the blind leading the blind....

Peter Piper picked a peck of Pickled Peppers...

... and Willy Milly ate them sumaguns... just had about 6 of my Sis Diana's wonderful pickled peppers w/ my breakfast... they're just right... not too hot... not too mild...just the right amount of salt...maybe I can talk her into letting us know how she cans them!

Recap of yesterday

If you haven't noticed I'm riding my spare bicycle all over town for my errands... basically if it's not at night and I don't need to haul anything, I'm riding my bike... one thing I don't want to do is give back everything I've gained.... or gain back everything I've lost....

I'm as light now as I've been in at least 3 years.... still got about another 8 - 10 lbs to go... but definitely going in the right direction.

Like I said in an earlier post, I may have to go back on the road to get some rest.... but here's what I knocked out yesterday:
  • cleaned house, washed and folded clothes, washed dishes, ordered firewood, paid bills, paid taxes, checked on tires and tried to meet with the Brazosport Facts editor, made a haircut appointment....
  • made contacts in Santa Fe re inquiries on houses, real estate...
  • and oh yeah.... mowed and weedeated the yard.... actually blowing the leaves off the roof, out of the gutters and out of the flowerbeds was the hard part.... worked on this for about 3 hours till about DARK:30 and was about to go put on a bicycle helmet with the headlight on it and continue....

when I decided it was time to quit (when I was basically mowing in circles in the dark).... just like me .... just keep bulling forward.... sometimes I wonder.... anyway I finally shut 'er down....

and ran (well I actually drove my truck) over to Randall's to pick up some milk, OJ, Tecate, Limes and light bulbs..... geez half the lights in the house were out....

The wife gets home about then and I knock out another Cast Iron Skillet dish - kind of a repeat of the morning meal (I liked it for lunch... why not for supper!).... we talked about the day while she drank Chardonnay and I drank ice cold Tecate in a frosty mug with a lime soaked rim coated with salt and I mowed (yeah I know mowing was still on my mind cause I didn't finish - Grrrr!) through a platter full of sausage, tortillas, bell pepper, onion, garlic, jalapenos and 2 eggs.... Man I was so hungry...

Me and Mals got up from the table and went to the living room to watch my favorite good guy - bad guy.... Jack Bauer!

Yep - here comes 24 again!

I guess I'm gonna have to figure out some kind of satellite link up or something while I'm on the road..... cause I ain't missing my 24!

I mean come on..... this bad ass dude does most of the shizbah we wish we all could do but we gotta follow the rules.... only Jack got his own set of rules....

Ok I know I digress.... anyway I kept my eyes open long enough to see Renee Walker make it inside the Russian "ring of terror"....

and then hugged and kissed the wife and kicked the dog (just kiddin' - I don't have a dog) and staggered off to bed....

Whew! ...... I need a vacation!

...send it straight to my

...send it straight to my cell @ 979-285-7219 and I'll review it, follow up w/ you if I need more info and then post it to the blog!

Good Morning!

Man... I'm gonna have to go back on the road to get some rest...

I'm starting this post on my cell phone but will fill in the details on the blog... it's faster and easier that way... recap of yesterday and plans for today... and yes... some of it has to do with expanding horizons and Discovering America...

I'm not just gonna tool you around town on my bike while I run errands or cook for you... although that is part of it... speaking of which...

Special thanks to my sis, Diana, for submitting the pic and prep instructions for that scrumptious Cast Iron Skillet Chicken dish...another great example of inexpensive, delicious, great eats in America...

This is exactly what my blog is about... it's not just about me and some great adventure... it's about enjoying life to the fullest in everything... including delicious and healthy eating!

All readers, please do me a favor... if you have a favorite recipe-tip-info on anything that supports this theme, make a blog comment...OR...better yet