23 June 2010

#Schultzfire Day Three

I don't really know what to say.

In a sense, I've "experienced" a lot of Arizona wildfires.  I remember most of the big ones pretty well:  Big Bug near Prescott in the 1970s.  Radio on Mount Elden in '77.  The great Arcosanti grassfire in '78.  The fatal Dude outside of Payson in '90.  Rodeo-Chediski on the Rim in '02.  Aspen on Mount Lemmon in '03.  Brins above Sedona in '06.  Crown King in '08.  Others, too.  But somehow, probably because of my proximity to them... because I was in Scottsdale or Tempe or Flagstaff, and they were somewhere else, they seemed kinda far away.  I was always impressed by all of them... by the pictures I saw in the news... by the devastation I saw first-hand later on... But still, all those fires were, to put it in simple terms: far away from me. Ya know...

Hardy, last Saturday, just a mile or so from our house changed all that.  But, it turns out, Hardy was just the beginning.

Then, I look at this picture (above), or I replay the video again.

Then I look at this map of Schultz (below).

And I'm completely speechless.

View Flagstaff fires in a larger map

21 June 2010

Steve Garro Speaks: Pure Genius

Photo credit: Bill Hatcher
My friend, Steve Garro, maker of Coconino Cycles, former Hot Shot, and current Flagstaff Live cover-boy said something absolutely genius today on a mountain-bike forum we both frequent.

I think it bears repeating (and repeating, and repeating) until it becomes policy.

"I'd like to see fires banned EVERY year on a set date. June 1st, for example. Forest-wide. If you are cold put on some clothes, go to bed, or drink more. Hell, I'd like to see a permanent ban on fires in a 20 mi. radius of Flag year-round. We have to live here. If we lived in Kansas and people could start tornadoes, everyone would want a tornado-starting ban around their house."

20 June 2010

#Flagstafffire. Not a good meme.

The last couple days have been rather exciting around here, as we've watched two extremely impressive looking, dangerous fires burn thousands of acres of woodland just a few miles from our home.  Lots of our friends have been evacuated, but so far it sounds like everyone's okay.  We've offered... "You can stay with us."  But so far no one's taken us up on it... It's true: our house is kinda small... And it's also true: we live in the barrio.  And we understand: to some staying here might seem, somehow, a bit more dicey than facing a forest fire.  However, it's also a fact: our neighborhood, Sunnyside, Flagstaff's only home-grown barrio and its sole enclave of real, authentic cultural diversity (and the best restaurants), can also lay claim to having the city's lowest risk of fire... forest fires, anyway... hanging around here, in the 'hood, on the Fourth of July or on New Years Eve, well, that can be a little scary sometimes. 

Anyway, the last couple of days I've been taking a few pictures and following all-things-fire-related things pretty closely on Twitter using the hashtags #flagstafffire, #schultzfire, and #swafire For this kind of thing, keeping tabs on fast-breaking local information, I gotta tell ya: Twitter's pretty dang amazing.

The Hardy Fire started on Saturday morning, June 19, just over a mile south of our house.  It looked like this (see: below) for much of the day yesterday.  The tankers were flying low over our house most of the day.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

The Schultz Fire (below) started late this morning a few miles to the north of us, but behind Mount Elden.  The plume eventually rose some 8500' and was visible, per the Twitter-sphere, for more than 100 miles.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

All I can say is: It'll be nice when this is all over, and everyone's back in their houses safe-and-sound, to get back to more mundane Twittering... about this-and-that... or seemingly important personal epiphanies ("I love brownies!")... or whatever clever Internet meme or viral video's made me smile.  But for the time-being, my Twitter stream will most likely continue to be a lot of retweets (RT) of the fire information others have provided.

17 June 2010

How to: The three-camera hike

Veit Springs (or the Lamar Haines Memorial Wildlife Area) is a mellow little hike through the aspens on the lower slopes of Humphreys Peak.  The mile-or-so-long trail from the small parking turn-out on Snowbowl Road [aka FS 516] heads up along an easy alignment, mostly on an abandoned roadbed, to an old herder's cabin and a few nearby springs and seeps. We figured this spot would be a good pick for a walk on a summer weekday, despite all the traffic on the road, obviously heading up to the 'Bowl for the Skyride.  Plus, we're in puppy-training mode these days, trying to give the new little-dog lots of opportunities to be out with us in the woods and learn from the old big-dog how to chase butterflies, stay-close, and do-the-right-thing.

To make things a bit more interesting today, along with our snacks and water, I packed three different cameras for our little excursion. Our daughter had her  Fuji J28, my wife had her Canon S5IS, and I took a few pictures with our Nikon D40. Nothing special or award-winning, but I thought the different perspectives were sorta interesting.

Fuji CanonNikon
veit spring me smiling at the camera in the woods veit spring
veit cabin me and daddy hiking with my new puppy rubi veit spring
veit spring
veit cabin

12 June 2010

UtilityCycling dot org: Learning to ride

When I got my first teaching job here in Flagstaff, seventeen years ago, at the school where I used to teach (as of June 8), it was for a fifth grade position that had just been vacated by a woman named Sarah; there's still stuff in my closet with her name on it.

A couple of years after that, I started working at the bike shop.  Around the same time they hired me to work on the sales floor, they also hired a nice, quiet high-school-aged kid named Chris as a mechanic-in-training.

Back in the day, Chris' friend Josh visited him at the shop occasionally and he often rode bikes with us after-hours, and early on Tuesday mornings now and then, too.  For a short while, Josh's sister Melanie also worked at the bike shop.

Sarah is Josh and Melanie's mom.

And now, it just so happens, I'm doing a little work for Josh.

It's a small town.

Josh, who's by now all grown-up and one of the cleverest people I know, invented a rig called The Cello a few years ago, adapting a B.O.B Trailer for fully self-contained travel.  It's quite a thing.  But even Josh admits: it's got limited appeal in an altogether too-limited market.  Still, there's no denying: it's dang clever.  And, perhaps fatefully, the design and marketing experience he gained by working hard to bring The Cello to market helped him become very familiar with the bike-trailer industry.

So, a few years later, being as clever as he is, and seeing an interesting niche in the marketplace, he started-up a little online retail company out of his garage called Bike Trailer Shop, selling all sorts of essential, esoteric, and hard-to-find trailer and travel gear for bikes.  Not-surprisingly, Bike Trailer Shop has done quite well; it's grown to the point where Josh has hired several additional employees, moved his warehouse operations into a much larger location downtown, and expanded into the Bike Bag and Kid's Bike markets, too.

Josh has begun to weave all these aspects of his many business ventures together, quite naturally, under a large umbrella covering all aspects of what you might call Cycling With A Purpose.  Among his most recent endeavors is a new information-based website called UtilityCycling.org.

Some time ago Josh asked me if I'd be interested in contributing to Utility Cycling once in a while, focusing on my experiences riding with my kid and together as a family.  I was flattered, of course.  And stoked to get some real work writing productively (that is, not just writing narcissistically on my own blog) about bikes and such.  But as happens, life got busy, one thing led to another, and my first 'deadline' got back-burnered for more than a month, while Josh waited patiently for me to clear a little room on my plate.

My former classroom 
Well, summer's here at last! My classroom's closed-up and almost ready to move to my new place: Marshall Magnet Elementary School. Finally, my plate feels a bit less crowded!  And so, just a few days ago, I actually got around to writing my first piece for Josh's website.

And here it is: Learning To Ride... at UtilityCycling.org.

09 June 2010

Tuesdays with Ken

The Tuesday Morning Ride (TMR) is Ken's ride.  He's been leading it, every summer-Tuesday at 6:30 AM, with very few absences, for more than 20 years. I've been along for the ride semi-regularly during my summer-break for about the last 15.  In view of his undying commitment to the Ride, it's only fair that this truly-terrible, jittery, jumpy (and, for my camera: nearly-fatal) video should feature Ken prominently.  Thing is, when you follow someone on a ride, especially if you follow them closely enough to be able to talk together on the climbs, with a camera mounted to your handlebars, you tend to take a lot of video of their hind-parts.

Most Tuesday Morning Rides go something like this: meet at the shop at 6:30.  Start riding by about 6:40.  Determine the destination in-route. Ride a bunch of empty trails. Stop and talk. Ride a bunch more trails. Stop and talk some more. Ride. Stop. Ride. Stop. Ride.  Get back home 3 or 4 hours later.  That being said... this video could pretty much have been shot during any TMR in the past 20 years.  As it so happens, I shot it this past Tuesday when Ken, Tim, and I rode Lockett Trust, Shultz, Fort Valley, Dogfood, Once-ler, Common Knowledge (aka: Spotted Owl, or new Orion Spring, or New Secret), Gnarly, The Pickle, Brookbank, Lower Oldham and Night Ranger.  The June-woods were both empty and dry.  It was, as is typically the case, a fine TMR, despite Tim's rather memorable OTB dismount on Pickle wherein he, "left [his] mojo back up there beside the trail somewhere."

However, because of the near-death experience of my camera (wherein the plastic-threaded tripod mount on my Sony Webbie HD camera completely sheared off the bottom of the camera, sending the camera flying as I was bombing down Oldham Trail... See the last few seconds of the video), this may very well be the first and last Tuesday Morning Ride video of all time, perhaps the only record in moving-pictures that will ever exist of this memorable Ride and all that it's meant to so many of us over the years... Compounding that sadness, for all of us TMR fans, we're also gonna have to deal with watching a few seconds of Ken's butt in order to relive it now and then whenever we watch this video.

It's a terrible video.  But, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Ed Abbey