Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Runner

The last few days on my double digit below zero temperature runs I have been thinking a lot about what drives me to do the things I do, what makes me the way I am, why I am motivated by certain things. Now I am not trying to get deep here but I am just thinking, and wondering about this song.

Manfred Mann - The Runner

I remember as a little kid that I actually taped this song off of the radio (you guys remember doing that right?) and it was one of my favorite songs. This was long before I ever started running. I still love the song to this day and it is one of my favorite songs to listen to while running. I know the video is pretty sick, but it was the early 80's and I guess that was cool then. I just wonder if this song has had an actual subconscious influence on me?

I mean what if I had taken a liking to this song instead

Weird Al Yankovic - Eat it

Would I have turned out different?? I think maybe....

If simple things like this do by chance have a life long influence over us, whats gonna happen to the video game kids of today??

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

excited about christmas break!!

So.. Rebecca and I both have time off from December 25th through January 5th and I can't wait.

We have absolutely nothing planned except that we are not going to be visiting our families.

Sorry family.

Its been a long time since we have really been able to spend a good deal of time together without anything else going on. We were considering planning a vacation, but we kinda backed out on that idea. There are some things that we can do around the house, plus I think I've probably spent 340 nights in a hotel already this year, and I really prefer my own bed.

However if we do get the urge to fly to San Francisco to climb hills and eat dinner or down to Savannah to eat Beignets on River street we will probably do it.... Thats how a life of temporarily having no responsibilities should be.

It was 27 below zero this morning. Tomorrow is supposed to be warmer!! It is actually supposed to get above zero, that wasn't supposed to happen until Friday but I am happy that its coming a little sooner. I kind of wussed out the past couple of days and went to the YMCA to run rather then back out into the cold after having spent the day tramping through the forest in 2 feet of snow. I'm sure I'm not alone in despising treadmills, I usually only run on them a few times a year because I pride myself in running outside regardless of the weather and now I remember why. First I hate not going anywhere. Second its really hot because there is no wind resistance and Third I sorta wonder if people think that I'm weird or showing off because everyone else is either walking or maybe getting on and running for 5 or 10 minutes. I don't feel like I can run like I want to. I just feel out of place I guess, Running is supposed to make me free from everything. I want to run and not be restrained by the "dreadmill". So ya, I'm just gonna save the treadmill for double digit below zero days!

Todays Random animal picture.
A Funny looking goat.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sorry bout the lapse!

Wow, hard to believe its been over a month since the last time that I posted. Being back in Minneapolis, time goes a bit quicker. I've been pretty busy since coming back from out West, dinking around with my house and what not. I've been to Michigan 3 times in the last month, its been good to see my family. Now I am just ready to stay home for awhile. Hopefully starting next weekend I will be able to. I think Rebecca is getting a little sad thinking that I was gonna be home for awhile, but still ending up out of town most of the time.

At the moment I'm on the road again working in Northern Minnesota sitting in a hotel room and sorta figuring out a preliminary racing schedule for next year. Its kind of complicated because I really don't know where I'm gonna be at a particular time of year, so it's more of a wish list of races I want to do and then sorta wait and see what happens. I know I will do the Lifetime fitness triathlon. And my "A" running race for next year will be the Xterra trail run Nationals . I really want to do the Steelhead Half Ironman as well, but that is only 2 weeks after the lifetime triathlon, so it really depends on where I am working as to whether or not I will be able to get back for that. On top of those, there are a bunch of other races on my wish list including a bunch of small local races that I would like to do.

My running has been going pretty good, and I'm happy with the progress that I have made over the last year. I am really excited that I have gotten back in to trail running, I haven't been injured since last January so I'm gonna knock on wood and hope it stays that way. I'm gonna hit the pool hard over the next 3 months now that I am in town and see what I can do in the water. I guess as far as the bike goes, haha!! Serious riding outside this time of year in Minnesota is fairly dangerous, so I'm looking forward to more spin classes and a lot of time on the trainer.

Oh- a cool story. Yesterday while working I saved a fox!! I found a fox that had been caught in a snare, the wire was wrapped around his neck and there was no way that the poor guy could get out. I think he had probably gotten caught yesterday morning because he was in really good shape and didn't appear to have any injuries other than the snare around his neck. I was wearing thick leather mittens and thick boots and clothes so I wasn't too scared of being bitten, and with the help of my crew I managed to pin him down and use my leatherman to cut the snare off of the tree and then slide it off of his neck and release him unharmed!!

We got a pretty decent storm today and tomorrow the temperature is supposed to drop to 41 below zero, actual air temp! thats not including wind chill. I can't wait. After working out in it all day, if I still have fingers and toes I am considering going for a run in it...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Beauty of the Section Corner..

I suppose that maybe it is only something that a boundary surveyor can appreciate.. But this is essentially what my job boils down to.

(the pix are prettier if you click on them!!!)

Finding section corners.
Our entire country is divided up in to one mile squares. And at the corners of these squares are section corners.
Surveying is a profession that is far from most peoples minds. But it is impossible to overstate the affect that it has had on our country.
This corner was on top of a mountain, the surveyor that originally placed it there had no way to drill in to the rock. So he piled stones around it to hold it in place. It has been that way for about 100 years.
I often find myself wondering about the original surveyors of this land. My job is to retrace their footsteps.
I wonder how they did it. They were away from home for maybe years at a time.
I wonder about their family, whether or not they were married. They didn't have phones in the 1800's when most of this was originally surveyed. Did they just get an occasional letter from home when they got near a town??
It must have been a tough life. I sometimes think that my job is tough, but I know it isn't. Not compared to what the original surveyors must have went through. They lived in tents or slept under the stars. This is not a forgiving land. I am sure that death was common.

I often wonder why they did it. Look at these pictures. There is nothing around for literally hundreds of miles. I often wonder why I do it. Does my job even make any sense? I know the answer. I love surveying. I feel that it is one of the greatest jobs that a man could be lucky enough to have, although I am often not sure that it makes any sense.
I hope that from looking at these pictures you not only get an idea of the vastness and loneliness of the thousands of miles of uninhabited landscape that I see, but you also begin to understand what I consider beautiful about my job.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Some pix n stuff from the past week.

I have been busy as usual the past week. I put in 164 hours last pay period (2 weeks). So I really don't have a lot to say because all I do is work and run.

Today I was working in Nevada and look what I saw.
This is my friend wild horse!!

After we stared at each other for about 20 seconds, he decided that he had somewhere else to be. He stopped for one last look before disappearing over the hill. I doubt that he has seen very many other humans. This is near Massacre Ranch, which is about 190 miles North West of Winnemucca, Nevada. The nearest town.
I think that this is the only building left standing at Massacre ranch. There are numerous foundations and trails and other antique oddities. Its very eerie and kind of scary, given the name and the remoteness.

This is a forest fire that I saw near Bly, Oregon on Saturday. I think that it had just started earlier that day, because usually they are a lot smokier if they have been burning for awhile.

Random trail shot. This is a gorgeous trail.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Vacation! sort of.

I took a quick overnight trip to Ashland, Oregon so that I could have sort of a mini vacation. I can't call it a real vacation because I had to work yesterday, and today I am taking a 12 hour OSHA safety class online. I'm not doing all 12 hours of it today, but a good chunk.

I went to Ashland because in the October edition of Trail Runner magazine, Ashland is named as one of the 8 best trail running towns in America. I stopped at Rougue Valley Runners when I got there and they pointed me in the direction of some good trails.

Oregon is full of great running towns. And I LOVE all of them! I really really want to live in Oregon or Northern California one day. Eugene, OR is considered "Track Town USA", and this past summer they held the Olympic trials there. Bend, OR is also a great trail running town, and has been called the #1 trail running town in America, they recently held the Xterra trail running national championships "which I competed in" there . All 3 towns are home to numerous world class runners and triathletes, and there is a fair chance of seeing an Olympian while out on a run "according to magazines". I'm not sure if I have seen any, although I have seen a lot of runners out and about.

Minneapolis by the way ranks right up there with them, and in my opinion actually has a better system of trails within the city. The only thing lacking in Minneapolis is mountains, however there are lots of lakes and woods not to mention the Mississippi river that help bridge that gap. I think that being below zero for weeks at a time might take away some points though for many people . Our new house essintially borders Theodore Wirth park, which is a large urban forest that has many running and Mountain biking trails that connect to all of the Lakes and the trails all over the city. I can't wait to be able to stay at home so that I can tear those trails up!!

I took a few pictures while I was in Ashland, unfortunately I forgot my camera on my mountain run last night, but I took it on my run this morning and got a few pix.

Here is a picture on the road coming in to town, to give you a general idea of the terrain.

And here is "town"

Hopefully the neighbors aren't scared of spiders.

Here is the entrance to the stunningly "really" beautiful Lithia park. I know it looks tame, but trust me the trails get very wild. There is a half marathon here every summer that starts right at this sign and gets over a mile of vertical elevation gain.

Random trail shot. You can sorta see it drop off.

A store that Rebecca would like.
All in all I loved Ashland. Its a very artsy town, there are a lot of neat shops and restaurants. It's very clean and safe like all Oregon towns. Plus its home to a Shakespeare festival that lasts ten months every year, and a large part of downtown is built in dedication to that which is kind of neat.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday night babble.

Usually I don't really watch tv very often, occasionally I watch cnn or the weather channel, but thats the extent of it. The last two weeks, I have had the tv on almost constantly when I'm in my hotel room. The only thing that I watch now is CNBC. The mess in the economy is amazing. The stock market has become absolutely fascinating to me. I have a new hobby and I love it. In addition to trading real stocks, I have also opened some free practice accounts. So essintially I can "pretend" that I am trading masssive amounts of stocks and it doesn't cost me a penny. I've also been "pretending" to trade in foreign currencies. Thats fun, but is still confusing to me and I don't think I would attempt it in real life. The biggest problem so far is that its costing me a lot of sleep, I've been staying up til all hours "studying" stocks. I can't wait to get home so that I can get some sort of real balance in my life.

I wonder if maybe our country will finally see the end of this conspicious consumption binge that we have been on. I wouldn't mind. I think we all are a little spoiled and maybe have too much stuff. I think if we tighten our belts a little we can all come out stronger when this mess is over.

So, if anyone is really bored. I have been slacking off lately when it comes to working out, and to get myself back in gear, I decided to run 100 times in 100 days, I am on day 2 of it right now. You can check out that blog at

And of course, here are some pics of the animals I saw today.

Here is a California donkey that kept making weird noises.

A California Lizard

And here are some California deer. Apparently they are very spoiled and need to have a roof over there head.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

No Rest

So, about an hour or so after I made my last post, the one that makes it seem like I'm not very busy, I got news that I needed to go to Elko, Nevada. Its about an 8 hour drive, So I packed up all of my gear and moved over there. I ended up working for a few really long days over North of Wells, NV which is the town that got ruined by a pretty big earthquake back in February. When I say really long days, that means more than 12 hours because I typically work about 12 hours a day.
I finished up over there yesterday and then today I drove to Klamath Falls, Oregon which took about 12 hours because I detoured through Reno so that I could stop at REI, which is my favorite store!!
So anyways, between that and studying the stock market crash to see if theres any way that I can get rich off of it, I haven't had to much time to post or sleep or workout. It should lighten up a little bit tomorrow. I have a nice easy task for this week, I will be working just South of Malin, Oregon on both sides of the California/Oregon state line. And its actually in a flat, farmed valley. My legs will appreciate that.

I did take a couple of pix the last few days. If you click on them, they get bigger. I recommend going back to my first post and clicking on the rat. He's actually cute for a rat.

This first picture is of a gorgeous canyon that I hiked up. I took this picture about 1800' above, and about 6 miles in from where I parked. Where I parked was probably about 30 miles from the nearest paved road, and that is actually one of the most easily accessible places on this entire job.

While I was walking out, I found a lucky horse shoe!!!

And here is a self portrait that I took after getting back to the truck. I am waiting on my crew. I am always waiting on my crew. It seems like for every mile we walk, I somehow gain a 15 minute lead on them.

And yesterday the snow arrived, here I am turning around after I hit a spot that was just to steep. We ended up getting about 5 inches. Probably more at higher elevations.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

La la la!

Wow this is a slow week. There have been a few times like this. Basically we are waiting on a new contract to get signed. Thats one of the problems with a 3 billion dollar project. It gets too political and there are way too many people involved. They would rather pay you to do nothing, than pay you to get a head start on some work that hasn't been signed for yet, even though everyone knows it will be approved, because its work that has to be done. So, right now I am getting paid 12 hours a day to do nothing. Its not as fun as you might think. I would much rather be working. I can't stand to do nothing, especially when the 5 cups of coffee starts kicking in.

Usually when I am bored, I will find a small mountain top lake to drive through.
Like this one for example.

But if you do that to often, it can lead to this happening.

And when that happens, this happens.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Life of a cow

Today is another day that I really don't have anything to say. I did have some great ideas this morning, but when I was done doing everything else that I had to do, I had absolutely no inspiration left. So I decided to write about cows.

For some reason, in my job I have developed sort of a friendship with cows. I can't explain it but it seems like often times they are just staring at me, and I am just staring at them.

I think that cows simply want my job, and who can blame them?? If it weren't for the fact that I never get to go home, I would honestly believe that I have the greatest job on Earth.. There are times however when I would be happy to trade places with a cow, if only for the day.

Sometimes I think they just want me to pet them, or give them food, look at these guys, they are begging for attention. Notice the giant tumbleweed. Yep, thats Nevada.

There was a cow that got pretty serious about taking my job, he actually tried to leave with me. I ended up talking him out of it. I mentioned that sometimes I only have beef jerky for lunch.

Some cows like to follow us, they will run along for miles just to see what we are doing I guess.
Before I came out here I never really thought much of cows. Now that I have spent time around them I can't say that I have figured them out, but they do seem to have a personality. I think that some of them are smarter than they let on. I sorta root for them. When I see the cowboys coming out to round them up I sometimes try and scatter them and get them to go hide in the woods. They are more like wild animals than midwestern cows are. Most of the country out here is open range, so there are no fences or anything like that. They are born in the wild and find there own food and water, they just wander about living their life. I like to think that I provide as much entertainment for them as they do for me.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

First post. random ramblings

Hmm, first posts are difficult. I guess I'll start with a picture of the rat that I scared in to a tree while I was surveying one day, the poor little guy was so scared that he wouldn't even look at me. He stayed perfectly still for several minutes as I stood there looking at him, I could see his heart beating and his whiskers moving once in awhile. I'm pretty sure he thought I was going to eat him.

I have been considering blogging for awhile, so that I can in some form maybe keep track of what I'm doing with my life, I mean I do it for my workouts and it works quite well but that doesn't really require any thought.
I have been reading a lot of blogs lately, a lot of travel blogs, triathlon blogs, crime blogs, political blogs, music blogs, all kinds of blogs and I'm amazed at how many people read them. I mean, I stumble across some random blog like "bikesnobnyc" and there are literally thousands of people that follow his blog and his rantings about bicycling.
My random thoughts for instance, are that right now I am working in Lakeview Oregon, which by some measures is the most isolated town in the lower 48. I can't even buy a newspaper here, and I'm a hundred miles from the next tiny little town, yet I am completely up to date on all the news in places that I actually care about. Almost everyday of the week I read online newspapers from Lansing, Pontiac, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York, Chicago, Portland and San Francisco. Ok, so thats mind numbing information, but its my first post right? I'm just thinking about how interconnected everything is becoming. The way information technology is heading we are gonna be reading each others minds at some point, so I might as well blog. Anyways, I'm not really sure what the focus of my blog is going to be yet. Vagabonds and Surveying?? I doubt it. My cat Nala, maybe. Look for more posts soon.