"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"
- Helen Keller

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you?
When those lights show up in your rear-view mirror, you know you’re busted. But this time, I had no idea why. Honest officer.
Turns out my window tint was too dark for the front side windows. I didn’t even know there were laws about how dark my window tint should be. Since I bought if from a dealer, I figured maybe the officer was ticketing the wrong guy. Turns out I was wrong. There aren’t any laws about selling a truck with front side windows that are tinted too dark, just about driving that truck. That was me. I was driving the truck, so I was busted. I was a criminal. It would cost me $80.25 and I would need to remove the tint. The officer even offered up some tips on how to do that involving ammonia. Of course, I Googled it and he was right on all counts. My window tint was not only illegal in Iowa, but in every state of the union. To remove it, you should spray it with concentrated ammonia. I don’t think so.
The tint is actually a film that comes off in one piece. The glue was a couple of hours with a razor blade and WD40. Everyone but Google knows that to dissolve adhesive, you use WD40, not ammonia. Especially not undiluted ammonia.
I sent my payment in by mail, because I was guilty. The actual fine for the tint was $15. Court costs were $60, and the state of Iowa attached a surcharge of $5.25 for being a criminal. That’s me. I’m a criminal. Or I was, because now my windows are legal. The truck is not as cool looking, or as cool on a sunny day, but I suppose at night I can see better. Works for me. Still, next time, I’m driving around the town of Independence.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Our Alaskan cruise was scheduled to leave from Whittier and end in Vancouver, so we had to fly to Anchorage to begin. We were unable to book the land package to Denali, so we just added a couple extra days in Anchorage. Besides, it would be too stressful to travel the same day the cruise ship left, even though their schedule would have allowed it. What if something went wrong and our flights got delayed?
So we get to airport at 5:00 in the morning for a 7:00 flight to Minneapolis to find out our flight was not delayed; it was cancelled. Not to worry, Delta already had us confirmed on a flight leaving the same time the next day. The next day? If we wanted to leave a day later we would have booked it then. Turns out we could get to Anchorage today, just not on Delta (bonus) and not through Minneapolis. So we flew through Chicago and Seattle and our flight to Chicago was leaving at 6:30. I see why they want you there two hours ahead of time.
In Seattle we had time to eat and discovered they served an Alaskan ale that was decent. Our one land excursion for the cruise was to visit the source of this brew at the Alaskan brewery in Juneau. This was going to be a great trip.
We arrived in Anchorage without any further problems. Our travel advisor has booked us at the Captain Cook right downtown Anchorage. Nice place. Our room had been remodeled from two previously separate rooms so we had a living area, a sleeping area, two TVs and two bathrooms. Suite.
Anchorage has several micro-brews, so we found a couple within walking distance and had fun at those. The weather was perfect. We could even see Mt McKinley on the horizon, which we were told was rare for that area.
We took advantage of the weather and rented bicycles. (While we were waiting for our bikes, we were talking to Continental pilot behind us in line and he said he had been flying into Anchorage for three years and this was the first time he had even seen the airport as he landed.) We jumped on a bike trail that ran along the coast (Anchorage has lots of beautiful bike trails with easy access from the city.) On our way back, we had to stop for a moose that was blocking the trail. It was so unexpected that neither of us got a picture of it before it sauntered away. It was awesome.
We had a great time in Anchorage, but it was soon time to board the ship, or rather board the buses that would take us to Whittier to board the ship.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Race
We had planned a cruise of Alaska’s inside passage for our 25th wedding anniversary, and the time was near. It would be my first three week vacation since I started working for Rockwell 34 years ago, and I was pumped. The cruise part was only a week, so we had time to do some other stuff too. Like go see a friend of ours swim, bike, run a triathlon in the Detroit Lakes area of Minnesota and camp out at their lake side cabin. Sweet. Our tent was back on-line after we replaced the tent poles that were broken during a storm earlier. The tent was ready, but I wasn’t sure Janie would be. I guess she could sleep in the truck again if the need arose, but what were the chances we would get hit by anther storm? She wasn’t going to miss this race, so we hit the road.
The cabin turned out to be a nice property on a bluff over looking the lake. Plenty of room for a tent. I parked the truck close by just in case, but the weather was perfect. We all piled into their boat for a “booze cruise” of the lake. It was great. It was also the last nice weather we would have that weekend.
The next morning was race day. We didn’t have far to go to get to the lake the race was at. I suppose you’re never far from a lake in Minnesota. It was overcast, but it looked like we might squeeze it in. I had never seen a triathlon before. Lots of people, old and young, and lots of bikes. Everyone was excited. The racers were required to write their age on one leg and their race number on the other with a waterproof marker. Tracey figured that was so you could see how old the people passing you were. Her goal was to not get passed by anyone older than she was. I saw lots of people older than me who could have passed me anytime they wanted to. My goal would have been more inline with not dying during the race.
So everybody gets their bike stashed, and we get past the race instructions (summary: be careful) and we’re ready. Swim first. Makes sense; get the most dangerous part over before you get tired. The lake is shallow enough to sort of walk/swim for a ways if you don’t mind walking in muck thick enough to suck the racer chip thingy right off your foot. This lake wasn’t near as clear as the one the cabin was on.
After you get slimed by the lake, you get to ride your bike. Then, if you survive that, you get to run. It was entertaining to watch the various strategies for the transition from the bikes to running. The wind was starting to pickup during the bike race and it started to rain during the run. Then it really started raining. Probably felt good after swimming in that lake.
Tracey finished in good time. Everybody got wet, but we all had a great time. Next year I may try this. And if anyone older than I am tries to pass me, they’re going to get tripped.