Tag Archives: really hot fire

Getting ready to leave for a while, no Feed

Every so often I have to completely disconnect from modern life and spend some time closer to nature than our modern hyper-connected world. I know that reads like a cliché, but clichés start as truths that get repeated so often they lose their meaning. So I’m going to spend the next 5 days at a clothing-optional campout with about 700 like-minded people, celebrating the change of the season and the Celtic New Year. We traditionally have a consecrated camp fire that we bless at the start of the camp and do not extinguish until the last thing before we leave. Our fire pit at that point is so heat-soaked that the water we put on the fire boils for up to 10 minutes after the fire is out. I put a picture of the fire pit full of boiling water from the spring edition of the campout with the report I made from that camp.

fire pit full of boiling water and no fire

I will not be taking Francis/es this trip, although I had planned to. Unfortunately the growth on the back of my neck makes riding Francis/es impossible at the moment. I find this deeply annoying, to say the least, and the hoops my insurance is making me jump through to get this thing removed are even more annoying. I have to make an appointment with my PCP to get a referral to a surgeon in my network, then get an appointment with the surgeon, then get the surgery signed off as “necessary”, then schedule a day for the surgery… Of those steps more than half are just for the insurance company, the PCP has to agree with the Lab Rat Keeper, the surgeon has to be “in network”, and then some bureaucrat has to agree with the LRK, the PCP, and the surgeon, that I need to get this thing off my neck so I can finish a cup of coffee and see where I’m riding my bike. Stuff like this is why the US needs single-payer health care like the rest of the civilized world. If we had single-payer then this thing would have been removed from my neck shortly after starting to interfere with my everyday life.

One thing I like about this particular camping trip is we pay for someone to shop and cook for the group, and she does a fantastic job of preparing gourmet-quality food in primitive conditions. I’m not sure of the menu this trip but I have heard rumors about crab legs, boudin sausage, and all kinds of snacky goodies. Our cook has Carnivore, Omnivore, and Vegan options for every meal, and they are always delicious. Being a cyclist with the definition of a cyclist being “eating machine on two wheels” I take a little from column A and a little from column C and a bunch from column B.

I bought a new tent for the fall this year but I’m also taking the old tent in case there’s something wrong with the new one that can’t be fixed at the campout. I’m also taking the air mattress that is the main reason for buying the new tent and fervently hoping the old tent stays packed in the car. I have been accused of packing “Party Central” this year as the new tent has space to put two queen-size beds and still leave room to stand between them. This is so Mrs. the Poet can camp with us next spring, although I’m still trying to figure out how to pack the bed frame to go with the queen-size air mattress I’m buying…

Packing for this event is… interesting. While the entire event is clothing-optional there are certain gatherings that are not, in that some types of clothing are NOT allowed. One that I plan on attending does not allow bifurcated lower garments, i.e. no pants allowed. Males are allowed to attend only when they wear a skirt. I have a long skirt (mid-calf) to wear specifically at this meeting, red with blue mimosa blossoms on it. The skirt really accentuates my farmer tan from wearing shorts all summer with usually ankle-high socks so I have “socks” showing whether I wear any or not. Also there is such a temperature swing at this time of the year, some times you need long pants and sleeves with heavy socks and gloves, other times you need sunscreen… and maybe some wicking garments if you are wearing anything at all. I have attended gatherings this time of year that had temperature swings from high 50s F to low 90s all in the same gathering, sometimes in the same day. Needless to say packing for that involves a lot of clothes that never get worn but forget to pack them and… The forecast is 50s in the morning/late at night with low 80s during the day which means layers or lots of wicking clothing. And spandex shorts for moving around in.

And I have to stop typing and get packed so I guess this means I’m ending the post now.

PSA, Opus the unkillable badass Poet

Wreck-Free Sunday on a Monday, or how I spent my spring break

I got back from my camping trip late last night nearly exhausted from my adventures and somewhat the worse for wear. I’m nursing a sunburn on my scalp again because I had to remove my hat to be able to see where I was going during part of the campout, and in spite of wearing long sleeve shirts every day I managed to get some sun on my back and arms somehow.

This was Francis/es public debut as a working bike, and I couldn’t have hardly picked a better demonstration ground than where I was. Spirit Haven is ~100 acre semi-primitive camping area about halfway between Austin and Houston, about 2 miles north of Flatonia and 26 miles west of LaGrange, just east of TX 95. There is one “road” that loops around the grounds that is about 3/4 of a mile around from the front gate to the point where the loop comes back to itself (AKA “the end”). This “road” is actually more of a double track with some mud/dust, some gravel, lots of ruts, and washboard. IOW small enough to make riding a bicycle easy and pretty much a wash over going on foot, but rugged enough to make riding a cargo bike a challenge. Photography was limited to your own camp site so I can’t show much in the way of pictures, but I did get a few.

This one is a typical load I moved around from Vendor’s Row to a camp site.
not very heavy, but hard to steer around

My best customer as a passenger, she took like 5 trips to or from Vendor’s Row.
Passenger service
As you can see a Clyde can be used for passengers. It just isn’t as easy as a dedicated pedicab.

This was not without complications. The roughness of the road and the geometry of the bike combined to have me wind up with blood in my shorts twice in 4 days of working the event because of bad fit. I really need to raise the handlebars about 6-8″ from where they are in the pictures in order to have the hardened parts of my butt resting against the saddle, and probably a broader saddle to absorb the bumps. Riding around getting blood in the shorts from resting against the wrong parts of the butt is a highly sub-optimal condition for making money on a cargo bike.

Speaking of making money I did make a few bucks at $1/ride or delivery anywhere on the grounds. Delivery was for anything that fit in the cargo bed and less than 300 pounds, and I had a wood delivery that came very close to those maximums. I also had a passenger run that did likewise 😉 Running close to max loads caused the front tire to deflect a lot bouncing over the washboard “road”, but the ride was smoother with a bigger load. Launching caused Francis/es to live up to hir name as a stubborn mule especially in the open field of Vendor’s Row, but I never lost a load or rider on launch. I did dump one rider at the end of her ride when I pulled off the “road” and into a hidden hole that caused me to lose my balance. Because of the way the bed was built it was a “no harm no foul” kind of a dump, but I still felt pretty bad about the rough end to the ride, especially as she was recovering from a really bad car wreck (a semi running near DOT maximum GVW T-boned the car she was riding in from the driver’s side at 70 MPH, killing her husband instantly and putting her in hospital for 3 months).

The group I was camping with blesses their camp fire at the beginning of the camp, than never lets it go out until either the end of the event or some weather emergency requires all open flames to be extinguished. The evening fires can have flames over 8 feet tall from a stack of wood right at 4 feet tall, and let me tell you it can be quite a sight. Having a fire going that long and that hot causes a lot of heat to get down into the ground under the fire pit. This picture shows how much heat there is after burning for more than 4 days continuously.Boiling water in the fire pit
That water is boiling furiously 5 minutes after the fire was put out. Yes it really was that hot.

Now that I have this post almost done I have 5 days worth of e-mails to sort through and file before I can get my online life back in order. Not to mention 5 days worth of comics to get caught up on so I don’t lose the threads of the plots.

PSA, Opus