Archive | July, 2016

July 28, 2016

29 Jul

Hello friends and family,

 This week we have been riding RAGBRAI across Iowa. For those who don’t know, this is an group ride with up to 10,000 cyclists. We have been camping in small towns across the state who have opened their towns, homes, churches, and parks to accommodate 10,000 hungry and tired cyclists. Generally this large crowd overwhelms the local Internet service so we have not tried to make any posts. Rest assured that we are alive and well. 

That being said after 5 days and almost 300 miles riding the rolling hills of Iowa in the sun, we are tired. Two more days and we’ll be able to dip our front wheel in the Mississippi River. The scenery has been great, the food abundant at every turn in the road, and navigating thru 10,000 cyclists on the road a continuous challenge. 

Our host town this evening, Ottumwa, is a bit larger than the others and Internet service seems good so far. I’ll  attach a few pictures in the hope that this post goes thru. We’ll provide more on the classic ride when it is done.

A town stop along the way.

Enjoying some pie after the ride – a Ragbrai requirement !

A long line of cyclists on the Iowa road.

Riding across Rathbun Dam.

Until later,

Love M & M

July 21, 2016

22 Jul

Today ,we left Lincoln but stopped to visit The Arbor Day Park and home of J.Sterling Morton in Nebraska City,Nebraska. This man  who started Arbor Day also served as the Secretary of Agricultural under Grover Cleveland.  It is a beautiful 240 acre estate, now a park,with many trees and given to the State of Nebraska by the Morton family. If the name sounds familiar that is because his oldest son did start The Morton Salt company.Each of the four children were very successful with another son starting the Argo corn starch business. 

After taking,I-80 across the state of Iowa  today, this evening, we  are  in Coralville, Iowa. We are just an hour away from Muscatine, Iowa where we will board the bus tomorrow at 1:30. The bus ride back to the western end of the state takes us to Glenwood,the start of RAGBRAI. On Saturday, we will ride with Rob and Linda Young ,20 miles  round trip,to The Missouri River to dip our bike wheels in the water and also ride a little in Nebraska.  Rob and  Linda are also working on riding their bikes in every state. Even though we rode in Nebraska the past 2 days, we can’t pass up getting Nebraska on their list as well! The RAGBRAI start is actually early on Sunday morning . We expect to be up every morning at 5am! The sun just gets too strong to ride late in the day!We are looking forward to a fun week!

Love M& M

July 20, 2016

21 Jul

We headed off this morning again on the bike path to see The Capitol Building here in Lincoln. It is truly impressive taking 10 years to build and costing $10 million 

We took the elevator to the 14th floor where we saw these views of Lincoln.

Our tour guide was a young adult who has a vision problem and will eventually go blind. The State of Nebraska has a program here at the Capitol which teaches them job skills as well as life skills so they can care for themselves now and in the future. They come from all over the state and are housed close by the capital for the duration of the summer program. Seems like a great program. We biked a few blocks and were on the City campus of University of Nebraska.  The university has 2 campuses,the other being east campus were the tractor test lab and dairy store are located. They are about a mile apart and easy to bike between.  On the city campus,we visited the football stadium which can hold 91,000. 

We rode around the campus and then rode on back towards our hotel by a circular route. On the way was a nice park with picnic tables in the shade which provided a great spot for a stretched out rest from the sun.A on Friday relaxing day. After dinner,we started gathering our stuff together for RAGBRAI.  It is coming soon!

Love, M&M 

July 19,2016

21 Jul

For the next couple of days we are in Lincoln, Nebraska which in addition to being the state capital is also home to the University of Nebraska. Today we headed out on the bike path to pedal into Lincoln to go see a few sites of interest. Marsha went to The International Quilt Museum. Their goals are to have quilts from around the world as well as across the centuries. They also have a commitment to analysing quilts which are brought to them. They have a large storage facility for the quilts they own and thus can change their displays often. The 2 displays there now are one from Southwest China and one from the Mountain Mist Batting Company (who make the filler used in quilts). Both were terrific! 

Meanwhile,Manny was at the tractor test lab at the University of Nebraska just a few blocks from the Quilt Museum. 

The origins of the tractor test lab is rather interesting. In about 1915 when powered tractors where just coming on the market,  a Nebraska farmer named Wilmot Crozier purchased one of the new tractors to replace his horses. However the new tractor broke down before he ever reached his farm. Crozier actually purchased three tractors before he got one that actually worked. Apparently other farmers had similar problems. A few years later Crozier was elected to the state legislature where he introduced and passed a law that any tractor to be sold in the state of Nebraska must first be tested at the University of Nebraska to prove performance ratings published by the manufacturer. This law is still in effect today. As a result the work done at the University of Nebraska test lab has developed into an international standard for tractor testing. Since 1920 pretty much every tractor model ever built has been tested at the University of Nebraska. The tour of the test lab museum showed many of original tractors tested as well as video of tractors being tested on the dirt track outside the building. Some of the old tractors have been restored to working condition by students at the University. In the last 20 years a new test lab has been built with state of the art instrumentation. Also the old dirt track has been rebuilt with concrete equivalent to an airport runway. Testing is conducted by students in the agricultural engineering department. 

After these museum tours, we meet up again for lunch in a local pizza place and them a stop at the University dairy store for a sample of Nebraska ice cream.

Refreshed with the cold treat, we rode the 10 miles back to our hotel on the city bike paths. The bike paths in Lincoln are very nice with many parks and gardens along the way. 

Love M & M

July 18, 2016

21 Jul

We slept in Monday morning as both of us felt like we were low on actual sleep due to the high altitudes we had been at. While the feeling of shortness of breath got better as we were in Colorado, it was still affecting us so more sleep sure felt great! On the way to Lincoln, Nebraska today,we decided to take US route 34 to see more of the towns than if we drove on I-80. It was very interesting!  Some towns very small with nothing but a crossroads but some with actual small main streets with a few stores. We stopped in a little park in Trenton  to eat lunch.

We had hard boiled eggs,cheese,humus,carrots,and crackers left over from Vail so we finshed up quite a few of these goodies. As we continued driving across Nebraska, we saw three large cattle ranches,one even with a cowboy rounding up the herd. These ranches were quite large,cattle as far as the eye could see! No wonder the restaurants here in Lincoln were offering 100% Omaha Steak!

The big town coming across Nebraska was McCook with many stores including 3 Casey’s  (which are like Wawa but not nearly as good). We did get on I -80 just north of Holdrege to finish the last 160 miles into Lincoln. We took a Hampton about 9 miles out of the city and with a bike path very close.

A good traveling day even though it was  in the car .


July 17, 2016

20 Jul

We went to mass this morning at St. Patrick’s  in the town of Minturn. I mention this as the pianist who was also the singer/ cantor had a beautiful voice and was a very gifted pianist. In such a small town ,it is not that common to have someone with so much talent.  So nice! We returned to Vail for the lovely brunch that Lisa and Dave Cicchenelli hosted for everyone! Again what a gracious and generous gift. We were able to get a Menendez Family picture with many of the family but we still missed 8 Menendez who were there at the Wedding just not at the brunch when we took the picture. Wish we could have gotten everyone! 

After saying goodbyes to some of the family leaving,Manny,Eric and I did walk down to the Solaris place courtyard to hear a Jass quintet play. They were good and we listened to 3 of their songs but felt the 3 songs were very similar. With this area in full swing for the Sunday Market Day,we did buy 3 fresh Colorado peaches and then at the Left Bank restaurant tent purchased a peach cobbler, a vanilla scoop of ice cream and a scoop of peach sorbet.  Finding a shady spot to sit down ,we shared the 3 choices and found each of them to be fabulous! The peaches we actually had later and they were juicy and perfect! We headed back to our car,packed and ready to go,said goodbye to some more family,and headed East towards Denver. Eric came with us and being the good sport he is figured out a way to be seated in the back of our van now converted for traveling. The traffic heading out of the mountains was just like the Jersey  shore traffic heading home on a Sunday! Packed,slow and stop and go! When we  finally were able to get off I-70 we took a short break from the traffic. After stretching,a bathroom stop, a cold drink and switching drivers,we were finally doing the last 8 mile descent to the flatlands heading into Denver.Eric goggled a great restaurant in The North field shopping area,called Salati Italian Street Food. It was super good and all fresh ingredients!  We walked around outside at this shopping area (set up very much like Exton Main Street) just alot more stores. We then had ice cream before we headed onto the Denver Airport to drop Eric off for his flight back to San Francisco.  Unfortunately, Eric had a long haul to get back. His 9pm flight was delayed to 11pm. He never got home till 3am on Monday morning! Ugh! We did not want to stay at a hotel at the airport as it was only we traveled on for another hour to Fort Morgan,Colorado where we pulled into another Hampton Inn. Too bad we did not know Eric would be so delayed. We would have taken a hotel room at the airport so he could have at least hung out in our hotel room. The joys of airplane travel. Even the hour further east in Fort Morgan,we noticed a good deal of lightning which is what delayed Eric”s flight. We are very glad that he made it back to San Francisco safely!  



July 16,2016

19 Jul

This morning,Manny and Eric did the Berry Picker hike,which was 3 miles up the mountain right from our condo in Vail. My leg is still being bothered by phelbitis and I needed to organize and pack clothes so I took the gondola ride up to the top and met Manny and Eric there. We strolled around on top for an hour and took in the views below.

The picture above is taken on top as well but is where Eric came in after running 26 miles on Thursday. 

The big event of the day was our niece,Jessica getting married to Erik Anderson.  The outdoor setting was lovely and the reception after was a big party with much dancing as the band was terrific! A beautiful day from beginning  to end!

Manny and his 4 sisters. 

Jessica  and Erik entering the reception. 

Father,daughter dance.

A great time was enjoyed by all!



July 15, 2016

18 Jul

Today Marsha relaxed at the Vail condo and sewed Jessica’s initials on a handkerchief to be used during her wedding ceremony. This is a long standing family tradition. Jessica’s initials were added to a long list of previous brides in the family. 

After a day off yesterday, I (Manny) joined 10 others in the family for a hike to Booth Falls and beyond to Booth Lake. This was a strenuous hike and rate by Lisa as a “Black Diamond ” hike. The hike followed Booth creek up the mountain through Aspen groves and alpine meadows.

Two miles up the trail we came to Booth Falls which were really a series of water falls. The upper section is pictured below. 

Here we had some snacks and the majority of the group decided it was time to turn around and head back down the mountain. Four of us  (Eric, Jacob, Elisabetta, and I ) continued on up the mountain to Booth Lake. The scenery and wild flowers high up on the mountain were fantastic including this backwards view of 14,000 ft Mount of the Holy Cross.

Indian paint brush was in full bloom on the mountain and we learned that this flower grows in a symbiotic relationship with hummingbirds which were also frequently seen.

Finally we reached Booth Lake at an elevation of about 11,500 ft. The lake and the surrounding snow packs made an awesome view which the picture below only catches a glimpse. 

This was an awesome hike which truly displayed the splendor of God and I felt like I was walking through Heaven. I am thankful for the opportunity to accompany these young people in my family on this hike. All in, it was 10.2 mile round trip, 3200 ft of climb, and just over 6 hours in duration. 

Love M&M

July 14, 2016

14 Jul

I know I am relaxed as I am having to look at my watch to know the day and date! Yesterday,we rode the 40 miles from Breckenridge to Vail. Once again over Vail Summit via the bike path. It was the easiest summit ride of the 3 we have done. The elevation climb is not as great as Breckenridge ‘s elevation is 9,600 ft  and  the Vail Summit is 10,600.The bike path does a gradual climb for the 8 miles from Frisco to Copper Mtn and then jusr 4 miles from Copper Mtn to Vail summit. We enjoyed the Vail Summit more this time as it was warmer!  Able to take more pictures (see below) and enjoy the views on the 16 mile descent into Vail even with the wind which did kick up!  Our Colorado Bike adventure covered 3 mountain passes ,262 miles,1 uhaul -plan B, 5 towns, and countless stunning views of this beautiful area!  We are tired but glad to have completed the journey!

Today,we dropped Eric off at the Vail Summit for his 25 to 30 mile run back to Vail. He is training for his 100 Mile run on August 7th in Cleveland. We continued on by car to Breckinridge .  Polly and Carol wanted to ride their bikes from Breckenridge to Vail today. So we came to drive their car back to Vail as well as pick up some gear we had left behind so as not to ride loaded over the Vail pass.

Love M & M 

July 11 ,2016

13 Jul

Sorry for being a day behind in writing the blog! Eric,our oldest son,joined us in Vail,Sunday night. On Monday,all three. of us rode from Vail over the Vail Pass at an elevation of 10,600 ft. to Breckinridge. It was beautiful but certainly a challenge! 

We stayed in Breckenridge last night.This morning 10 of the Menendez Family joined Lisa on a hike up to Mohawk Lake here in Breckinridge . It was an 8 mile round trip hike reaching 12,000 ft. But I will confess that I stopped at the waterfall at about 3 miles up,so doing just a 6 mile round trip.Manny’s sister ,Claire,decided to stay with me and we enjoyed nice conversation and relaxation till the rest of the group returned. Again beautiful weather and just gorgeous scenery!

Still here in Breckenridge tonight and tomorrow our return ride to Vail,doing the Vail Pass one more time.

Have a great night!