Friday, December 18, 2009

The Doctor Was In

Our friend, Lia's coworker, Melanie Adams, came over a week ago for an Apple slash Blog tutorial, which made me laugh, because I am not, never was, and never will be a person that should be considered knowledge in said areas.

We bought our Apple this past summer. All I basically know how to do is click on the Safari button. But here Melanie was, the pupil. We finished Apple 101 in about 15 minutes. I made up about half of it.

Next we went to the blog portion of the seminar. I had no idea how to teach without just doing it, so I ended up creating a blog for Lia. (She was actually in the room and (though she will not admit this) gave me permission. So I got to thinking, I could do the old liaerickson bloggy thing or come up with something a little more creative. So I tried "doctormamma" since Lia is both. It was taken of course. So I tried "doctorladymamma" since Lia is all three. It was free! So faster than you can say bilirubin, I was blogging away as my wife. It was awesome! Here are my first two entries before Lia forced me to erase it from the webisphere:


My family

See how healthy they look!

The Doctor is in!

My name is Lia Erickson. I am a doctor and a wife and a mom.
Write me if you have a question.
I have all the answers.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Taste and See

The Good Book says to taste and see that the Lord is good.
This morning David decided to take the psalmist literally.

He said he tasted like chicken (although he found him a little bit rubbery).

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Roadside Santa

Anna Rose and I were driving down Jonestown Road after doing some Christmas shopping. Santa and some elves were waving from the roadside.

"Hey, what's Santa doing here?" asked A-Ro.

"Where's he supposed to be?" I asked.

"At the mall," she said.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Turkey Trot

We headed up to the land of the Scarlet and Gray for an O-H-I-O Thanksgiving. It was a great holiday even if two days ago, on the return trip, we vowed never to go on a road trip again until our children were out of diapers. Like I said, it's been two days, and to my surprise the trauma of travel is already wearing off. I've already looked at the calendar for the next time we might be able to snag a chance to visit Lia's family. Our friend Julie Bell says that just as mothers get childbirth amnesia (and therefore voluntarily go through the agony over and over and sometimes over again), parents get traveling-with-children amnesia. I am a case in point.

Truth is, Columbus is a cool town, only made the better because Rich and Sue (Granddaddy and Grammy) Simpson live there (along with Lia's sister Cara and her family). We seem to have a great time every time. This time was no different (plus the entire family was able to come).

The above picture was taken after one of those aforementioned great times. Lia and I ran in the annual "Original" Turkey Trot. Everywhere I saw the word "original" as it corresponded with this particular run, there were quotation marks around it (which I think means that it really isn't the original). Strange. It is certainly the first in proximity to Lia's parent's house.

Lia and I ran well, both earning finisher medals and a pumpkin pie for being two of the first two thousand runners (you read that right). We left both the medals and the pies at Lia's folks' house (oops). But we also received outdoor performance longsleeve t-shirts, which was all we really wanted and the only real reason for why we signed up. We remembered these. I am wearing mine as I write this. Lia wore hers under her running vest (Lia suffers from that age old condition of cold torso, warm arms). Oh, and while you are examining the photo, yes, those are pictures of sushi on my hat (I have no explanation). If you take a look at the look on the gal to the right of me (photo left) you will see she has no explanation either.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Third Time's the Charm

It's that time of year again. We were welcomed to the mall yesterday by Burl Ives's baritone singing "Holly Jolly Christmas," so it was clear what time it was: time for the annual drama with Santa Claus. For those of you who have not walked with us through these encounters. Here is a pictorial walk down memory lane.

A-Ro year one.

Year two, A-Ro's hair was longer but little else had changed.

This year...First off, yesterday was November 11th. Christmas is like a year away. We still haven't put away Halloween costumes. So I was unprepared when Lia, who was off yesterday, invited me to meet her and the kids at the mall for lunch. I thought we were going to the mall for lunch. Little did I know that she had an ulterior motive.

We go down the elevator, and there he was - the same holly jolly fellow from last year. I thought we were looking for the food court. Lia led the way. Anna Rose's eyes grew big and teary. I went over to my wife's ear and whispered, "I'm not ready."

"That's the best time to do it," Lia replied.

"But look at our daughter. She is going to lose it," I said.

"But Ned, she's wearing her reindeer shirt."

She was. Who dressed her? I wondered.

"Listen. I don't feel comfortable forcing my daughter into doing things she clearly does not want to do."

(I do this all the time, Lia reminds me.) Besides there's no changing her mind. And there's nothing I can do but let it happen.

So Lia squats down to A-Ro and says: "If you go and tell Santa want you want for Christmas, you can ride the carousel."

Anna Rose looks up, looks over to Santa, looks over to the carousel across the way, looks back at mommy, and says: "I want a princess castle and a princess pony."

Lia takes her hand. Third time (and a little bribery) is the charm...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


We went with a Serengeti theme this year.

Rosie was a giraffe.
David was a lion.
Lia was the Chick-fil-a cow.
Just kidding. But she did take us all to Baa Moo Farm.
I thought about disguising myself as a pumpkin.
Anna Rose thought that was silly.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Davidson Cup

The Class of 97 Davidson crew joined forces once again for the first ever Davidson Cup - a series of events that pitted half of us against the other. We farkled months ago for teams. I lost to Macon Stokes over the phone, so I was on Team Black. Team Red was made up of the winners.

However, as it played out...I'm getting ahead of myself. We unfortunately had some last minute cancellations. Those who made the trip to Athens, GA were Will "the commish" Baldwin (the host), Team Red: Pat "It's all about the closing speed" Fernando, Qilai "smoke 'em if you got 'em" Shen, Rick "beware the chicken wing" Apgar, and Rix "I only sink the hard putts" Threadgill, vs. Team Black: Hayes "Mr. Davidson, Mr. Denver, Mr. Pretty Much Wherever" Trotter, Clyde "I bike Heartbreak Hill for breakfast" Wright, Brian "Never Underestimate the Goose" Luskey, and Me.

Round One Friday night was Poker. Head to Head. The chips were against us. Hayes and Clyde had never played before. I bluff as good as I can dunk. It wasn't going to be pretty. Somehow we eeked out a tie. Part of the game was to decide who got to sleep where. I slept on the family futon, so you know where I measured up.

Saturday, we started the lawn game portion of the competition, Bocce and Croquet. Hayes and I had a strong lead in Bocce before Apgar remembered that he played college baseball and deadeyed the jack ten rounds in a row. We lost 21-17. I wasn't planning on losing in croquet before the bocce debacle, but I was definitely not going to lose croquet now. Hayes and I put on a demonstration. It was off to Frisbee Golf. Skins format. Split in pairs Team Black was in the black for both rounds. Hayes and Clyde blanked their opponents; Goose and I won 15-3. Our only slip happened when Rix sunk this prayer putt from the bottom of a ravine, and I missed from ten feet. After a little football watching over adult beverages we entered the arcade potion of the Cup. We played some frozen tundra putt putt, then pop-a-shot, to finish up with air hockey. Despite Fernando's dagger shots during pop-a-shot, Team Black by the end of the night had an insurmountable lead going into the final day.

Sunday had three events: paintball, kickball, and Scrabble. I've only paintballed once in my life. I didn't do it again because I didn't like it. The thing is I didn't like me. Nothing against the paint or the balls. But you put a gun in my hand, and I turn into something I don't like. Case in point. First round. Fernando was coming at my bunker to "knock" me out of the game. I shot him in the head. Then after he stopped, I shot him again in the groin. And then again in the groin. And so on. I think I shot him six times in the groin before I got a hold of myself. Kickball was less violent. But Scrabble was a no holds barred death match. In the end. Team Black was victorious.

Great fun was had by all. Again, no camera, no pictures. But Hayes and Will did take some video. The DVD is forthcoming. Davidson Cup II will be in the fall of 2014. Clyde is in charge. Destination TBA.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Washington D.C.

Sorry, the next two entries will have no pictures. But even without the visuals, they are worthy of a report. The weekend of the 17th, Lia and I drove up to Washington D.C. for a wedding slash pediatric convention slash our first weekend without children since David was born.

It was a fantastic time. Even with the rain. I had it in my mind that I was going to go on a bike ride and so I did (along with many other Washingtonians I might add (It was the annual Bike the Capital Day)). Once you got going you could hardly tell that the wind chill was below 40 degrees. The next day, no rain. Lia and I ran around the National Mall. I did a similar loop the following morning in the sunshine.

We slept.

We also had the honor of attending Robbie and Kelly Mills wedding. The ceremony was in a small Episcopal church in Georgetown. The reception was on the river. I can't remember the name of the place, but its insides looked like the inside of a cruise ship to me. We danced and ate and talked and laughed and I felt a little bit old because I thought the music was too loud. But what a time! I don't think I have the words to express the joy I was feeling. I just love Robbie Mills.

Adding to the allure of the Capital was the fact that Lia had just finished Dan Brown's new book, and I was in the midst of it. It was pretty amazing to read something and then look out the window and see it.

The highlight, at least the most wild moment, occurred the final morning. I finished my run and started packing our stuff. We needed to leave at 10am in order to get back to Winston in time to make the Young Life banquet (I had a role). However, as I biked my bike over to the parking garage this cop stops me and tells me to go back to where I came from. They had found a suspicious package in the garage. they were shutting off the whole area. I explained that I had to get to my car because I had a performance to get to. She didn't give a rat's tail. The FBI guy who overheard me was more compassionate. He started talking into his collar about me. Next thing I know I've got three FBI dudes who have made it their mission to get me into that parking garage. I packed the rest of my stuff. Could there really be a bomb? I wondered. It was then I realized that the hotel we were staying in was also serving as the temporary Iraqi embassy and that particular morning, the Iraqi government was hosting a business summit at the hotel! Two hundred of the most influential, powerful Iraqi's were standing in the lobby. I got to get out of here, I thought. So I get my stuff and take the elevator down. The guy in the elevator was a teenager, shaggy hair 6'3", 125lbs, carrying his bags to the cab. I put my bags in the car, and as I get back, the FBI asks me if this bag on the curb was mine. I say, "No." He gets red and starts talking into his collar. So I say, "I know the guy. He's harmless." FBI guy tells me if I can't find him, he's going to put the hotel on lockdown. I run back to the room. Lia had returned from her meeting by now, and I say, "Let's get the heck out of Dodge." I get in the elevator. Teenage guy is standing there with round two of his bags. I take him to the FBI. I carry our bags to the car, and we slip out just in the nick of time.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The County Fair Conundrum

I can't decide whether the county fair is the greatest or worst thing America has to offer. Here in Winston-Salem we have the Dixie Classic Fair. It is classic. It's got the rides, the games, the food, the celebs...Rick Flair made an appearance Saturday Night! Rick Flair! Sure, the guy hit his prime twenty years ago, but would you arm wrestle him? There is a lot about the fair that feels a bit twenty years ago. The thing is I can't decide whether to call it dated or vintage. That's the conundrum. Is it awesome that I can ride the very same Zipper that I rode when I was a teenager? Or is it troubling?
My kids think the fair is cool. And there is not a little joy in that. David rode his very first Ferris wheel. The Ferris wheel carny did make me pay for him. It cost $16 for the family to have the three minute experience. But hey. He rode a Ferris wheel.

Daisy and Anna Rose went on a pony ride. That was cool. It was Daisy's first time ever in the saddle. That was cool. I stepped in poo. That was not cool.
Then there's the elephant ears. Where I grew up, we called them funnel cakes. They call them funnel cakes down here, too. It just depends which row you are walking down as to what they are called. I bought the family a funnel cake. I told A-Ro it was an elephant ear. We all partook. Ravenously. Until about halfway through when we all got stomachaches. The worst part - it tasted so good, we just kept on eating. It was awful. I never felt so sick in my life.

Then there are the carnies. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's nice that we can provide decent employment for men and women with felonies on their record. Who knows, I might need a job someday. It's just...I don't know what I'm saying...I guess to me it's just a little unsettling that we give them the controls to the Viking Ship.

And the germs. At Lia's office, the Dixie Classic Fair is the unofficial official beginning to the flu season. From 8-10am, her practice provides a walk-in clinic. The week before the Dixie, they averaged about 30 patients. The Monday after the first weekend of the Dixie, they saw 88.

But then, there's this.

Monday, September 28, 2009

235th Annual Johnny Appleseed Croquet Invitational Championship of the Known Universe is awash

The 235th Annual Johnny Appleseed Croquet Invitational Championship of the Known Universe (which Lia covertly turned into my birthday party), sadly, was rained out Saturday morning. It's all right. Rain happens. We had an impromptu gathering at the casa instead. Fun was had by all.
The Briggs contingent representing the old Alma Mater.
Richard and Paul holding down their wives.
Ned and Mark, current buds. Dave and Will, future buds.
Photo by Lia. Nice diagonal.
Daisy, Anna Rose, and Kerith all wearing Anna Rose's clothes.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Help, My Wife is a Triathlete

Lia made the transformation from extraordinary female to extraordinary female triathlete this past Sunday. She competed in the Angels Foundation Triathlon at Tanglewood. It was a sprint distance: 300 meter swim, 20 kilometer bike, and 5 kilometer run. She finished in 1:25. Pretty impressive in my opinion.

When I took this picture, I was running beside her. She appears happy and at ease. However, I learned later she was actually at that moment fighting off a stomach cramp. About five seconds after this picture she told me to leave her alone because I was stressing her out! For some reason the fact that I was sprinting by her in our double jog stroller made her feel worse.

What can I say? I was excited. I may have lacked compassion and come across a little over zealous. At least I was behaving in character. How could I react any different? I was watching my wife fulfill one of her lifelong goals. And she was doing with style. The bike photo below captures it I think. Here she is: zooming up the hill, gliding into her second transition, smiling from ear to ear. What joy! What an accomplishment! And one thing is sure, one triathlon will not be enough. I caught her perusing websites last night before bed.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Dream I Dreamt Last Night

I was in a car, a roadster, with my mother in-law Sue. She was telling me about this poem that Caitlin's friend Evelyn wrote about me. Caitlin is my sister in-law/Sue's daughter. I do not know Evelyn well. I did not know she wrote poetry. But Sue said they had all been amazed by how well Evelyn was able to capture me in words. They couldn't wait to hear what I thought.

I couldn't wait to read it. We had parked in a gravel driveway. The rest of the family, including Caitlin's friend, was inside. I asked if I could read the poem before we entered. I would have asked the same had it not been a dream. She handed me the sheet.

"Ned is..." it began. As I read, I was awestruck, astounded, amazed. Never had I been so well defined. It was like my lifelong search for identity was finally over. My deepest essence, scripted in beautiful bubble letters, had been masterfully refined to fit on a half sheet of paper. It was a miracle.

It was also at this point that my sleep slipped to doze. I reread Evelyn's poem. My poem. I re-reread it. I remember reading it multiple times. This was a dream, I told myself. But of course it was more than a dream. God was speaking to me. He was using this dream to answer my questions. The questions we all have. The two deepest ones: who am I? why am I here?

And I was really coming into wakefulness now. And as it came the words were fading. Like the delete button pressing down. But I managed to find a pen before the first phrase was erased. I found an index card. I wrote down the words. Grateful, I fell back to sleep.

The next morning, I awoke to read this:

Ned is finger lickin' gum shoes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Good Times in the Yadkin Valley

The last month, instead of traditional going-out-to-dinner dates, Lia and I have been going on afternoon excursions. It's a great perk that this current season of life provides us. As I think about it, we are very fortunate. Maybe its this out-of-the-ordinary-ness that's caused us to wait nearly three years before fully taking advantage of it. I don't know, but I'm glad we finally have. In fact, we've had so much fun, we've gotten downright evangelical about it.

It was in this spread the joy spirit that we invited Derik and Bree Briggs, Tim and Lindsay Musser, and Paul and Stefanie Rudnicke to go on a mini wine tour last weekend. Jonathan Murfee was kind to let me borrow the Young Life van. (Unfortunately he and Allison had prior engagements so they could not come.) So just the eight of us piled in and headed into beautiful Yadkin Valley. We visited Rag Apple Lassie, which Lia and I had been to before and liked. ( The picture above is with their steel cow. (The vineyard is named after the owner's 4-H winning heifer.)
Hanover Park Winery was the surprise. ( It is on the smaller side, but it has charm. The main building is an 1897 farm house. We entered and were ushered directly to the back room for a private tasting. The whole time I was waiting for the real group to show up. (We had not reserved a private tasting.) But we went with it. A minute in, this guy in a safari get up comes sauntering in. Grape juice stains on his Columbia shirt. His name is Michael and he happens to be the owner and winemaker. He spends the next thirty minutes telling us his life story. It was truly amazing. And the wine was good. Even better with the experience.

And so, the morals of the story: afternoon dating is good, driving around Yadkin Valley in a party van with a bunch of your friends is good, and pretending you are someone else in order to get the deluxe treatment is also good.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


So Lia's big birthday present this year is a road bike. She doesn't usually get this big of a present, but she's been especially good this year, and since having baby number two, she has set her sights on becoming a triathlete. So she needs gear. And she already has the running shoes, the bathing suit (albeit not one of those newfangled ones that are now illegal), all she needs is a bike.

I don't know much about bikes. If you have been reading the blog, you may remember not so long ago I went on a bike ride on my bike. My is a term I use loosely. It is not exactly mine; it was loaned to me without a specific date to return. It's a 1980something blue wonder with a frame that will outlive me and components that a bike mechanic might put on their worst enemy's ride. I'm not complaining. I got it for free. I was loaned it for free. And it gets me from point A to point B. Not to mention it gives me the extra muscle and cardiovascular work out as bonus. It's like the shock boost they put in your Smoothie.

So I've been learning up on bikes, now that I am buying one. I've got a couple friends that race them. I have a father-in-law that lived on one a couple summer's ago. I've been compiling info. So last thursday Lia and I head to the shop with my limited arsenal of what I'm after. We land on a Cannondale Synapse with an aluminum frame, 105 Shimano components, Shimano wheels, blah, blah, min-ah-min-ah. They are going to have to order it, but that's ok. Lia's birthday is not for a week.

Now, I'm not sure if this has all been planned or not. The whole experience was a bit jedi mind tricky. But they happened to have the same bike in carbon, with SRAM components blah, blah, min-ah-min-ah... And under the guise of "sizing it out" they put Lia on it. She takes it for a ride. I had brought "my" blue wonder with me so I went along. I have to admit she and it looked good. They get the measurements they need. We say thanks. And just as we turn to leave, the guy says, "To save us the leg work, we'll knock $600 off the carbon bike." Lia and I look at each other. We ask them for permission to sleep on it.

I go home and stay up all night researching Cannondale Synapses. From what I can gather, it is a good deal. Still, I don't know. It's more than we planned to pay and nicer than we probably need. Finally, my friend Matt calls back. I had left a message earlier. I explain to him my dilemma. We go back and forth and so on until Matt says what I need to hear. He says, "Ned, you are Homer Simpson giving Marge a bowling ball for her birthday. It's for Marge, right? So what if the holes just so happen to fit your fingers. The bottom line is you are buying yourself a bike for Lia's birthday." Exactly. Decision made.

The next day, I got, I mean Lia got her Cannondale Synapse carbon fiber, jet propulsion, lightning racer.... what a birthday! Thanks Matt.

Monday, July 27, 2009

PB - the stache

I'm having a hard time writing this one. The man was larger than life. Larger than words. He was my friend, my mentor, my partner in crime. We laughed together, cried together. The man gave real honest to God bear hugs. He also kicked my ass. He was a wild man. He was a tender heart. He was a husband, and just about the greatest dad I ever witnessed (and not just to his kids). He was Paul Barclay, one in a bazillion. And he died on July 11, 2009. I was there. I didn't make it in time, but I was given the honor of being there. He was gone. I told him I loved him, that his wife loved him, that my life and the lives of a thousand others will never be the same because of him. (For those of us who knew him, we know a thousand is an understatement.) It was his heart that broke. I know this is not medically accurate, but a heart as big as Paul's was bound to break at some point. As it says in the Good Book, Paul had eternity in his heart. Now, he is brand new in the eternal life to come.

I decided in his honor to grow a mustache. I started growing it the day of the funeral. John, his son, inspired me. He's growing one too. Others are as well. My personal plan was that I'd sort of grow out the beard a bit and then shave it down. It's been a week, so I shaved it down yesterday. Oh man. It looks like I have a woolly worm Scotch taped to my lip. It's been on my face one day, and I can already tell this is going to be one difficult tribute to live with. But gosh darn it, I'm going to do it. At least another week. I'm fine as long as I don't look in the mirror. 

A-Ro is 3!

Anna Rose turned 3 this month. Wow! 3 whole years. Now that's something to celebrate. It was her idea to have a party. "So that my friends can bring me presents," she explained. 3 years and she has it all figured out! We asked her to come up with a list of whom she would like to invite. Grammy, Pop Pop, Lucy... (she got the big present givers out of the way first)... Mommy, Daddy, Winnie, David... Mac, Daisy, Hannah, Mary Douglas, Kerith, Evy, Harper, Barnes, Wesley (all below but for Barnes and Mac who were out of town). We asked her what she wanted. "A hippopotamus," she said. "What color?" "Purple." (Like I said, she got this birthday thing figured out.)  
We had a blast. I particularly love this sequence. (I did not particularly enjoy it in the moment, but the faces, especially A-Ro's, are priceless!)

By the look on A-Ro below, I believe we had a pretty stinking satisfied birthday girl...
Photo shop in David and we got ourselves a Christmas Card!
Daddy and daughter sharing some cake. (I use the word share in the broadest of meanings. We shared in that I fed and she ate. The girl didn't save me one bite!)

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Blue Ridge Bike Challenge

I'm having a hard time deciding on a tone for this entry. Part of me feels compelled to write in a "this was hard, I can't believe I did it" voice. Another part of me feels led to take on a "this was so awesome you must add this trip to your bucket list" attitude. I have this strange mix of humility and pride about this thing. There were moments when I was terrified, exhausted, humiliated, and in pain. There were other moments when you could not wipe the smile off my face with a twenty-five pound eraser. It was just one of those trips: Two days, two bikes, four legs, 172 miles and over 15,000 feet of elevation gain and loss.
So I had this idea. I've been wanting to do something with my friend Rob Paynter, who is a pediatrician despite what his last name might imply. He works beside my wife at Forsyth Pediatrics. We have become friends over the last few years. He is a biker. And if you want to meet him in his element, it is best if you go there via pedals.

I like to bike. It's just I tend to partake in activities that require less gear. Everything bikish I own has been either given, borrowed, or stolen. I'm not kidding. Bike: Longterm Loan. Helmet: Borrowed. Glasses: Given (they're for carpentry). Shirt: Borrowed. Shorts: Stolen. Underwear: None (are you supposed to wear underwear?). Socks: Stolen. Shoes: Given. All the same, I gathered the pieces to look the part. I took this picture in the Lynn Cove Visitor Center bathroom. I looked so good I couldn't help it...ha!...not!

The point is I had this great/not-so-well-planned idea to bike a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway with him. According to plan, Rob jumped at the idea. Immediately, I felt less secure.

I mean, I knew I would be out of my league, but as I started planning I began to realize that I might not be able to do it. I didn't fully realize (and truly did not comprehend until I did it) that the Blue Ridge Parkway is never flat.

It really isn't. I think in the 172 miles there were maybe two portions that were flat for more than a mile. I'm not kidding. You are going up or down the entire time. (And the downs go down so fast, it really feels like you are going up the entire time).

As the date got closer and closer, I got more nervous. One night, I decided to plot the route, just to get my head around it. I bought some graph paper and pulled out this Blue Ridge hiking book we happen to own, and I started placing dots everywhere there was a mile marker and elevation note. It was terrifying. Our portion of the route just went up, up, and up. In fact, the first 18 miles were only up. From Asheville (2,400 ft) to Mount Mitchell (5,700 ft) (the highest point east of the Mississippi). So getting my head around it wasn't helping.

So I decided to train. I had two weeks. That first week I woke up every day between 5:30 and 6:00 and rode. In seven days I put in 170 miles. That was pretty good, I thought. The most I did at once was 35. That was probably not good, I thought. What is good, I ask you? The next week I biked twice for fear of over doing it.
June 26, the logistics began. I drove to Cumberland Knob (our destination) with John "I'll take World History for 500, Alex" Clevenger. We dropped off my car. Drove back. Got Rob. Our friend Allison "My second home is a tent" Davis (who was going that way (to a lakehouse) anyway) took us to Asheville. (See before picture above) We stayed with Russell "Not related to the famous outdoorsman" and Priscilla "Used to be Nutt" Muir friday night. P-Nutt escorted us to the parkway. We unloaded (Ned, literally, in the woods). Said our good-byes. And Rob and I were off.

Uphill we went. This photo was taken at Craggy Gardens. We entered the cloud about 5,000 ft. We are about 5,600 ft at the taking of this picture. I am smiling. Two minutes later, we are careening down the mountain in less than 20 ft visibility on wet pavement. My hands were throbbing from squeezing the brakes so hard. I was not smiling.

Fortunately, once we got to Mount Mitchell, the clouds parted and it was sunny skies there on out. We flew. My smile was back. Rob had us clocked at over 45 mph at one point. He could have gone faster. I could not have gone slower. (I tried; it felt safer to fly.) The downhill was short-enjoyed. Before I knew it we were slogging it up another behemoth. It was one after another after another after another all day.

The crux of day one was between mile marker 324 and 321 (mile 60 into our trip). It was three miles and 1,400 feet of elevation to Chestoa View. It slaughtered me. We took this picture at the point I made us stop to take a break.
We took another break about 1 mile later. No view this time. I just couldn't go any further. I really couldn't. I was too tired to even unclip my left foot, which is why I fell, got this cut you see here. Pretty sweet, huh. I was going about -1 mph when I got it. Ha!

Rob was a great sport. I'm sure at any moment, at every moment, he could have smoked me. At least gotten frustrated for the pace I was making us take. I asked Rob later that evening (we had taken a taxi (my idea) into Blowing Rock for dinner) if he had gotten tired at any point. He said, "No." That made me feel a ton better.

As we sat down to Mellow Mushroom, I dubbed him "Oak Legs." I dubbed my own "Weeping Willows." We talked, laughed, even cried as we ate about the equivalent of our body weights in beer and pizza. We walked home. I went to bed. It was 8:30 pm.

The next day was more of the same. Up, down, Up, down, Up....But it wasn't as difficult and not as surprising. Only 77 miles and 5,000 something feet of elevation gain. (I can't believe I just wrote only.) We took this shot as we left Ashe County. The thing about the Blue ridge Parkway is it's so stinking beautiful. And combining the beauty with difficulty was downright magical. I'm having a hard time putting it into words. I guess, when it's hard, you just appreciate the beauty more. At the same time, I was also aware of how much I was missing - the sweat being in my eyes, my heart squeezing the insides of my chest cavity, my lungs burning - I'm sure I rode right on by things, if I knew they were there, I would have wanted to stop and see. There was also the knowledge that starting hurt so bad after stopping. And I was hurting already.

All in all it was an incredible two days, even for an infrequent biker like me. A trip I will never forget. One that I will most definitely do again. What do you say? Blue Ridge in? Check out our new logo, inspired by my greasy weeping willows!
(No matter how hard I try, I always seem to get grease on me. This perfect chain print was not done on purpose and occurred two seconds after we arrived at Cumberland Knob.)