Sunday, January 31, 2016

Trailblazing for a driveway

Today we went to our new property for the first time as the proper owners of it. We brought a Ryobi chainsaw and hedge trimmer so we could cut back on the brush and small trees which covered the path we wanted to clear for the driveway. The very first thing I did upon arrival was almost get the truck stuck in the ditch in front. After switching to 4-wheel drive and a few tense moments later, we were free. 

I was pleasantly surprised at the power of the Ryobi 14" chainsaw, as it is battery powered so I wasn't expecting much. It also lasted a good hour of felling small cedar trees and other nasty vine-like wild trees which cover the entire 6 acres. Cassie cut a walking path to the further reaches of the property, about 300 feet from the road where we plan on erecting the barn. 

We figure the first phase of the project will involve clearing a path for the driveway and deciding where we will eventually install utilities. Once the driveway is put in, we can plot out electric, septic (leach bed), and cistern. Pre-purchase inspections told us that we should have no problem with a low-cost septic system but digging a well would be unlikely, probably due to the limestone bed underneath the soil. These utilities should be large enough to supply a barn with shower/bathroom and someday a 3-bedroom cabin. But today, we were happy with removing 50 or so cedar trees, cutting some paths, and plotting out possible barn locations by placing "stars" on Google Maps.

We ended up clearing a path for the driveway about 200 feet long and 12 feet wide. The first 100 feet or so were a challenge because of denser growth, but the next 100 feet were mostly clear except for an occasional tree. We plotted some points about 300 to 400 feet back where the trees started getting dense again. The Northerly portion of the tract has a higher elevation, so this is the probable location of the barn and cabin. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Seaside and the 50K that wasn't

While Jim and I really enjoy the woods, we are never opposed to spending time at the beach during an Ohio winter. If I could live in Florida in January and February, and Ohio the rest of the year, I would. Months ago we had signed up for the Clearwater Distance Classic 50K in Clearwater, Florida, in January. We spent time in Florida in 2015 on Jim's birthday, and it was so much fun we decided to do something similar this year.

When it was time to head south, I was more than ready. I also had big, big plans for a very short trip.

The first of my big plans consisted of getting a tour from Dr. Charles Levy, Chief of the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service at the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System. Sounds important, right? Well, he is a pretty big deal. He is also extremely nice. I was more excited than I can possibly explain to get a tour of the virtual reality system he is developing to help those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. This topic also happens to be the focus of my PhD dissertation so I was beyond excited! Our plans also consisted of hanging out with Mary, my long time bestie from West Point days of yore. There aren't many awesome people you get to call a friend for 20 years, and we find adventure wherever we go.  Another of our big plans was to visit Jim's Aunt Sally and Uncle Paul in Orlando. While we had seen them a few years ago at a Clouse reunion, Jim had not been to Orlando to visit them in over 20 years. Jim even added in a lunch with Bill Rodgers! Somewhere in there we planned to run a 50K as well. Not bad for a 4 day trip, eh?

I've found that one of the best things in life is spending time around good people and discussing interesting topics with those folks who also share your interests. It really is exhilarating, and I had plenty of time to do that this trip. From talking about life, the universe and everything with Jim and Mary to virtual environments with Dr. Levy, Shiva, and David and then to talking about running with Bill Rodgers and then onto General Longstreet, the founding fathers, and Jesus with Paul and Sally, it was one of the best weekends ever.  The beach was an added bonus.
Jim found a new friend!
Mary and I hanging with the turtle.

On the beach!

We had some GREAT food here!
Lunch with Bill Rodgers
The 50K did not exactly turn out as planned. It was delayed an hour due to a large line of storms, but we were happy to get an extra hour of sleep.  Unfortunately when we arrived at the start, we heard rumors that the marathon and ultra were downgraded due to the threat of bad weather. Since we never heard anything official, we did not really know until the half marathon turn around point. The rumors were true, and we were routed back to the Start / Finish area. Less than 100 miles away, 2 souls had lost their lives due to a tornado. The winds were crazy and kept changing direction while we ran. They went something like this:

8:18am 22mph, gusts 26 mph
8:30am 31 mph, gusts 36mph
8:48am 33 mph, gusts 40mph
9:00am 33mph, gusts 38 mph
9:36am 36mph, gusts 43mph

The conditions were rough, and it would have been an extremely difficult 50K.
Flying in the Storm
Holding my hat since it wouldn't stay on my head
Since our race was cut short, we were able to have brunch at Lenny's with Mary and two of her friends from the area. I also got a chance to try duck bacon for the first time ever. It was delish! After a great brunch, Jim and I headed to Orlando to see Paul and Sally.

We had a great dinner and great time catching up with them. Jim's family has some of the nicest people you will ever meet. These two are sharp cookies, and they took great care of us on our last night in Florida. Wish we could have stayed longer!

While our race didn't turn out as planned, the rest of the trip was amazing. Times like these help me to realize how great my life is and how many wonderful people you can find in the world.  I can't wait until Jim's next birthday!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Land Ho!

Jim keeps threatening to write a blog post... one of these days :-). This week was a big week for the Clouse clan. After months and months, the purchaser finally closed on Jim's house. After 6+ months, it seemed as though it might be a pipe dream, but lo and behold it happened! We celebrated with a 7 mile run and dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, sans cheesecake. If you know me, you know I quit cake and the like 4 years ago. Yay, me!  Poor Jim turned down the cheesecake as well but seemed happy enough with a second loaf of honey wheat brown bread.

While we were waiting for Jim's place to sell, we spent a lot of time searching online and driving around to find a spot that had everything we wanted at a price that wasn't crazy. After many miles and one false start, today we closed on 6 acres in an area where we were really hoping to find some land. So, the adventure begins!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Low Bridge, Everybody Down...♪

♪ ...Low bridge cause we're coming to a town
And you'll always know your neighbor
And you'll always know your pal
If you've ever navigated on the Erie Canal 

If you ever find yourself running along the Erie Canal with Jim, you will hear this song. I'm from Texas so that might explain why I completely missed this song during my childhood. In fact, the only version I have heard is the Big Bad Jim rendition. 

Jim and I discovered the beauty of the Miami and Erie Canal Heritage Corridor on Christmas day, and enjoyed it so much that we returned to see more the next day. It turns out it a 40 mile trail along the towpath that runs from Delphos to Ft. Loramie. There are a lot of very neat historic structures to see along the way, AND it is part of the Buckeye Trail!

Now, if you do now know about the Buckeye Trail then you are really missing out! Before I decided to move to Ohio, I did a search for trails in Ohio. A girl has her priorities, right? It turns out that there is a trail marked with blue blazes around the entire perimeter of the state. That told me that Ohio was my kind of place. It wasn't the only reason I took a job in Ohio, but a good job and 1,200 mile trail are very persuasive. Secretly I dream of section "hiking" (or more like running) the entire thing. 

Time for some pictures of our Miami to Erie Canal towpath adventure (cue the music...♪ )

St. Mary's Memorial Park

End of Day 1
Back to the Little Tunnel - Day 2
Into the Rabbit Hole
One of the many neat locks along the way
Who put that there?
NOT a romantic story. Seriously.

Turn around point - Six Mile Creek Aqueduct

The 7 mile journey (14 round trip) turned out to be a little adventure. Places like this make Ohio a great place to live. After years of living here, there are still so very many places to explore. We don't even have to go very far to find them! 33 miles to go...