Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lake Pflugerville Triathlon and An Update from Italy

This morning was the 2nd annual Lake Pflugerville Triathlon. I did it last year and I decided I will do it every year. Then in 20 years when they recognize all those who have done it every year, I'll be in that group!

With my spring devoted mostly to training for the America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride that I did on June 1st, I didn't get swimming in my schedule and my running decreased drastically. Usually starting in February I try to swim two times a week. This year, I only swam 5 times before today and it has all been in the last two weeks. And most of my riding was on my road bike, not my tri bike.

With all that being said, I got a new PR (personal record) today of 1:29:10. Not bad in my opinion. I was 14th in my age group and 170 overall (I think there were around 350 people in the tri).

Swim: 12:26
T1: 1:39
Bike: 45:29 (18.5 mph ave!!!!)
T2: 1:06
Run: 28:28 (9:29 per mile - slower than last year)

The winner in my age group came in at 1:19:xx. The top four places were all 1:19 and seconds. That's some tough competition.

A couple of guys from church did the tri today as their first triathlon. I didn't see her at the time, but Cortney was there at the finish and got some pictures of us all crossing the finish line. Head over to her site to check out the pictures.

After the tri, I came home and showered. Then around 1:00 we tried to call my daughter. They are in Italy today. When I got the hotel, it didn't sound like they understood English very well, but I got out of them that the kids were in the restaurant eating dinner. I forgot that now that they are in Italy they are only 7 hours ahead of us and not eight. So we tried back an hour later and he said 10:30. That meant we had to wait some more. When we finally got through later, he handed the phone to the leader who was helping to direct calls.

Once again, my daughter answered the phone in the room. I don't know if it's because we tell her when we are going to call or if she just answers the phone all the time. Anyway, she wanted to know if the boys (my husband and son) were watching the soccer playoffs between Italy and Spain. I told her they weren't at the moment because they were next to me waiting to talk to her! She had been watching the game in the lobby and was trying to find it on the tv in the room.

I first needed to get caught up on Greece, so I asked how the donkey ride in Crete was. She said it was so much fun, but "mom, donkeys don't listen like horses do". Of course not. I think she got a picture of her donkey. She said they had also gone to the Olympic stadium and got to run on the track. One of the leaders got pictures of them crossing the finish line. Now that's cool!!!

I asked her how Italy was and she said good. They went to a cheese factory today to learn the process of making cheese. She said it was interesting and she took lots of pictures. Then she said, "Dude, Italians eat a main course, and appetizer, then dessert, and then more food. They eat a LOT!" Well, of course they do!!!

She said she still had about half her money left, so I think she just went crazy when she got there buying souveniers, but then probably hasn't bought much since then (and Grandma J, I'm curious to see what she has bought as well!). I reminded her she still has a week and a half to go.

I told her we probably won't call again until Thursday and she is fine with that. I've seen emails from other parents about kids being homesick, but I'm not getting that vibe from my daughter at all. It is interesting, though, to see the emails from the other parents and see what their kids are telling them. One of the parents said their child mentioned something about picking up trash and wondered if they did a community service project. Some of the kids have gotten sick on the overnight ferries (I sent dramamine for my child but have no clue if she has had to use it or not). And they've also been to see a castle and the cave where Zeus was supposedly born. Guess the donkey was more interesting to my child!

I think they are headed to Sicily tomorrow and they are supposed to climb Mt Etna at some point this week. My husband said that he saw on the news that it errupted this morning, so who knows what will happen with that. The program won't let them go if they feel it is too dangerous, but how cool would that be to see fresh lava?

From Pflugerville to Italy, that's the news for now....

Friday, June 20, 2008

Updates from Greece

One week ago today, I put my 12 year old on a plane to Greece. During the program meetings, the leaders had told us that the best way to talk to the kids while they are gone would be for the parents to call the kids. They said in the past some kids have had problems using calling cards and it has caused stress. We have a copy of their itinerary and know that they should be in their room by 9:00 every night. So, we sent her off without any way to reach us and told her we probably wouldn't call until Sunday. That way she could enjoy her first full day in Greece and she would be able to talk to her Dad on Father's Day.

Saturday morning around 7:00 we got an email from the point person of the phone tree. She had talked to the leader. The group had arrived safely, had just finished lunch and were headed to the beach.

Sunday after church we went out to eat for Father's Day and then hurried home to call. After some problems with calling internationally via my cell phone, we finally got through. She was so excited about everything. She wasn't able to sleep on the plane because the seats didn't recline far enough. The food was good - mostly chicken and pasta. The desserts were fantastic. The beach was ok. Gifts had already been bought for mom, dad, and brother. They had been to the Parthenon and she had taken lots of pictures. Oh, and "we get to ride donkeys in Crete". We asked her when she wanted us to call again. They are on several overnight ferries getting from one island to another, so we decided I would call again on Wednesday.

Greece is 8 hours ahead of us so I would have to call from work. About 1:15 my time I called. The hotel said that their group would not be back to the hotel until after 11:00. That meant I needed to call again around 3:00. And when I did I got the following message "all international circuits to the country you are calling are busy". What????? So I kept trying and finally got through. It was about 11:30 their time. My daughter answered the phone but sounded like she was asleep. She said they had just gotten in bed. Since I knew she was tired I asked how she was doing with money and she said fine (she still had over half of what we sent left). I asked when she wanted us to call again. She told me to call on Sunday so she could talk to everyone. And she reminded me that "tomorrow we get to ride Donkeys in Crete". I can't wait to hear about the donkey ride!

In the meantime, we recieved a few emails from the leader regarding their activies.

From the Leader:

Hi everyone-= this will have to be quick! Breakfast is nearly over and we board the bus to do our sea turtle project...anxious to hear what that entails! We are in Crete...and let me just say, I am not sure what I really knew of Greece to begin with, but I never realized how dry and dusty and mountainous it is...just thought of the blue water with the white buildings I think! It is strange that the 2 mix so well! The bouganvilla bushes are enourmous and geraniums grow 4feet tall, while hibiscus plant trunks are the diameter of a softball!

We are staying at this amazing villa in Crete that has an enormous pool- they went swimming yesterday afternoon. It is a great set up with very tasty food...many are beginning to venture out and try new things on buffets...kudos to Alexander for eating so many new things and encouraging others! He is a trooper!

Yesterday we hiked a LONG way up the mountain to the Dicteon Cave where legend has it that Zeus was born...pretty amazing cave- and I have been quite impressed with Innerspace Caverns...this one was a million times more! It was hot hot hot outside, and very cool inside. Everyone was amazed!

Update from a parent who spoke with the leader because she couldn't reach her daughter:

Hello everyone,I just spoke with Miss Rachel at the Lavris Hotel. It was about 11:30 PM Greece time. I had called her because I had been unable to get an answer in Michaela's room. She said that they had just had bed checks, were taking their showers, and packing up to check out in the morning. She then asked me to forward an email to everyone with the following information.

Miss Rachel mentioned that for any parents who were having trouble reaching their kids, they could call them again in the morning when they wake up around 6:30 AM Greece time (10:30 PM Texas time tonight). They are checking out after breakfast in the morning around 7:00 AM. They will be on an overnight ferry tomorrow night and then on to the Pavlina Beach Hotel in Peloponnesus on the 20th.

The kids had a great time today. After their excursion to learn about the local endangered sea turtles, they learned and performed Greek dances with the locals (lots of documentation with pictures and videos), and went for a swim at the beach. They didn't make it back to the hotel until after 10:30 PM.

Miss Rachel said that they did get to do a couple of unplanned activities in the village today. They were invited off the street into the home of a local couple that were bakers that wanted to show them how they made phyllo dough and baklava. The bakers wanted to sell them lots of baklava, but, Miss Rachel was able to get tiny pieces of baklava to taste for just 1 euro each. It was worth it, she said, for it was the best baklava she had ever tasted, made fresh on the spot!

They also got to visit with a local Greek Orthodox priest in the community who shared with them information about the Greek Orthodox church. He did a wonderful job conversing with the kids in his broken English, and the kids had lots of great questions to ask him. What a way to experience the local culture first hand and go with the flow!

The kids are getting to have different roommates. Everyone is getting along so well! Miss Rachel said that when they have to get in groups of four, with at least one boy in each group, they have no problem forming a group immediately. Everyone is becoming best friends!

So, it seems like they are having fun and experiencing the culture first hand. They will be on another overnight ferry Saturday night and will be in Italy when we call on Sunday. I think on Sunday they get to see how various cheeses are made and get to taste them as well. That should be fun.

I had hoped that things for me might slow down while she has been gone, but that has not been the case. I did get in a "mock" triathlon on Sunday with a friend from church who is doing his first triathlon this Sunday. And I've managed to do some kind of workout every night this week, including swimming two nights. Saturday will be a rest day for me. I actually get to sleep late (well, late for me) because I don't have anything to do except go to a baby shower at 2:00. I'm not going to workout because I have a triathlon on Sunday, so hopefully it will be a relaxing day.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sending a 12 Year Old to Italy and Greece for 20 Days

In case any of you have been wondering why I haven't updated since my return from Tahoe, I think the title of this post says it all.

Last summer, we received a letter in the mail addressed to: The Parents of XXX. The letter informed us that our 12 year old daughter had been nominated for the People to People Student Ambassador Program. We knew a little bit about this program because the daughter of some of our friends was nominated for the program the year before. She had spent two weeks in the summer traveling through parts of Canada. It sounded like an interesting program, so we decided to check it out.

We attended an information meeting and found out that this year's program would take the students to Italy, Greece, and Sicily for 20 days. What???? Can I go???? Sorry, only delegates and their leaders are allowed to go. The People to People Student Ambassador program was started by Dwight Eisenhower. He believed that "people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments". He believed encounters between people of different backgrounds would form the foundation for lasting world peace, so he created People to People with the idea that ordinary citizens of different nations could solve their problems and find a way to live harmoniously with one another.

We then found out how much it would cost to send our daughter and about choked. But we felt it was an opportunity of a lifetime and so we raised some money and paid a lot of our own. We sold some candles and even had a wine tasting event featuring wines from Italy. That was a fun night!

Ever since October, the delegates from our area have been meeting once a month on a Saturday morning from 9-12 to get to know one another better, to learn more about the countries they would be traveling to, to learn about the culture, etc. The kids each had to pick a topic (history, government, arts, culture) about one of the places they would be visiting and had to give a presentation to the group. It's amazing how knowledgeable 12 year olds are on the computer. Some of those presentations were amazing. At a recent meeting, the kids were told to pack their luggage and bring it to the meeting where they had a "suitcase relay". I think that opened their eyes about luggage. Most of them thought the bigger the suitcase the better. I think the relay changed their mind.

So after all the preparation, the clock was ticking down and when I got back from Tahoe, I knew that making sure she was ready would be my number one priority. She had luggage (that we thought she was going to take); she had clothes; she had a travel pillow; she had a camera with an extra memory card. But she didn't have Euros (which they wanted them to go ahead and have for when they get there) and she didn't have a prepaid Visa card that could be reloaded or that could be used to get money out of an ATM if she needs to. Time for mom to get to work.

Getting the Euros wasn't that big of a deal. I just had to run into downtown on my lunch hour one day and get them. But I had to make sure to go to our bank the day before and get cash. Once that was done I set out for Euros. After giving the bank my social security number, my drivers license number and whatever else they asked for I had the Euros. But not nearly as many as the dollars I gave the bank. The exchange rate stinks right now.

After checking on line and calling several places about prepaid Visa cards, I found out that you can get a prepaid Visa card very easily. But once it's gone, it's gone. You can't reload it. I found a couple of places that had reloadable cards, but you have to be a member of their bank to get it from them. The one I found online would be great, but you have to be 13. She's 12. Ugghhh. I called our bank and explained the situation and they said they would let me set up a checking account for her and then give her a check card. We could control the amount of money in the account and it would work anywhere Visa is accepted, even at an ATM. Perfect. So we go to the bank after work and they say they need to see her ID. Ummm. She's 12. She doesn't have an ID.

Next step in the process. My husband takes her to the Department of Public Safety to get a state issued ID card. He took a copy of her passport (the leader already had her original) and had her social security number. But it wasn't good enough. They sent him away with a list of what would be good enough. So I left work early, went home to get acceptable documentation, and headed back. Our ticket said the wait time would be 9 minutes. We waited over an hour.

Finally it was our turned. The lady scrutinized the documentation, finally decided it was ok, took her picture, got her thumb print and said "sign your name". It was one of those things like you sign for a credit card and it was very sensitive. The counter was tall and my daughter was short and it just wasn't happening. It took over 10 minutes for her to get it done. Finally we had what we needed.

The following day we headed back for the bank. We got everything all set up and my daughter walked out of the bank with her very own check card. Boy did she feel "big". I even walked out with my very own check card because up until now I've been in the old ages and have still been writing checks. Now I have a check card like everyone else!

Wednesday night we spent the evening making sure we had everything and I had my daughter go ahead and pack. The luggage set we had bought her had two suitcases: a big one to check and a smaller one that can be taken as a carry on. She packed in the big one. And the suitcase had what I considered lots of extra room. When I travel, I like the suitcase to be full. Not stuffed, but full. So I had her try to get everything in the smaller suitcase. It was just a little too small. Hmmmm. I had seen a luggage set at Target the week before and I actually need a new carry on suitcase (the one I've been using for YEARS finally feel apart coming home from Tahoe). So Thursday I headed to Target at lunch and bought the set. I brought it home and had her try out the 24" bag. Perfect. It was full, but not stuffed. There will be room for souveniers.

Thursday night she had a volleyball game with her church team and then my brother and sister-in-law came over to tell her by. About 9:00 we got in bed. I could not sleep. I woke up when my husband came to bed later and then the alarm went off at 2:00 a.m. We had to be at the airport at 4:00 a.m. This morning. Got up. Got ready. Loaded the car and headed out the door at 3:00 a.m. Got to the airport a little early, but I'd rather be early than late.

I guess the airport is use to groups like hers. Each child was allowed one checked bag and one backpack to carry on. The airline already had the luggage tag printed out to put on the checked bag. The kids lined up in alphabetical order and the tags were put on and luggage carted off.
Next step was to take a group picture.

After the picture, the kids got their boarding passes and passports, said their goodbyes and headed for the security line.
You could tell they were all excited. Some almost forgot to say good-bye. Most of the kids did well. They knew to take off their shoes and to place their loose belongings (like jackets) in the plastic bins, but what most of them didn't know was that they needed to hang on to their boarding passes and passports. Most of them, including my daughter, sent those documents right through the x-ray machine. Luckily it was early and the workers knew it was a big group and were real good about it.

I stood there and watched until all the students and the leaders made it through and then I left. And I was exhausted. Rather than come all the way home and then head all the way into work, I just went straight to work from the airport. I arrived at 5:30. I didn't want to risk setting off any alarms, so I stayed in my car, ate my granola bars for breakfast, and tried to nap a little. Finally at 6:15 am I decided to head inside. I actually had a productive day. I think staying busy helped me stay awake. I did ok until the drive home and then the lack of sleep started to hit me. I picked up my son and headed home to the couch. I couldn't really fall asleep. I gave in and ran on the treadmill and here it is almost 10:00 pm. I should be in bed. I'll get there soon. But I wanted you to know why I haven't updated lately.

As of right now, my daughter is somewhere over the ocean. I tracked their flight on one of those web sites until they were out of American and Canadian airspace. I've got a flight alert set to text my phone when the plane lands in Greece (which will be around 3:00 am my time). We'll see if it works. I should also get a call to let me know they've arrived. The leader will call one parent and then a phone tree will work to call the rest of the parents. We most likely won't talk to my daughter until Sunday. She wants to wish Dad a happy Father's Day. I can't wait to hear her perspective on getting there and seeing Greece for the first time.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride, Lake Tahoe 2008

Grab a cup of coffee (or whatever you drink) - it's a long report.

***** Video Slideshow Has Been Added At The Bottom*****

On Memorial Day, I got my bike ready for transport and took it to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society office to be shipped to Tahoe. There was excitement in the air as we all gathered one last time before event weekend.

I managed to get in a run Tuesday, but the rest of the week flew by with lots of things to get done and the excitement of the event. Can you tell I was excited? After Tuesday, I did not get any more workouts in.

Friday morning, I woke up just like normal. The only difference was that after I dropped my son off for school, I headed to the airport instead of to work. I got there a little early, but I didn't mind. I got my bag searched when going through security because I forgot to take my tool kit out of my bike bag. Ooops! At least I remembered to take the CO2 cartridges out. That would not have been good. The rest of the team arrived one by one until we were all there (at least all of us on this flight). We boarded the plane and took off for Tahoe.

When we landed in Reno, we gathered our luggage and went to our shuttle van for the trip to Tahoe. It was about a 45 minute ride, but it didn't matter because the views were spectacular. Our bus driver even stopped at a convenient store so we could get some snacks. When we pulled up at our hotel, I was happy. We stayed at the Marriot Grand Residence in South Lake Tahoe on the California side. Nevada was not far away.

When I did the Nike Women's Marathon in October, there were 5 of us girls who decided we would do this bike ride together. And all of us kept that promise. The husband of one of the girl's did the ride, too, so they were in a room together (obviously), but the other four of us were sharing a two bedroom suite. And SWEET it was! There was a jacuzzi tub in the "master" room, two fireplaces, a full kitchen and a HUGE balcony. I could get use to that. The only disappointing thing at all was the fact that the gondola outside the hotel was closed for maintenance. Darn!

After getting settled, we met the group so that we could go to dinner. We all went to the Lake Tahoe Pizza Company. I had some yummy pasta. Then it was back to the room for the evening.

Saturday morning we got up early (well, early Tahoe time, but not for us back home). We met our group for a nice easy 20 mile ride to get our legs spinning and to make sure the bikes were ok after being shipped. All was well. Then we showered, went to get our "Biked It, Liked It" souveneir shirts, went to packet pick-up and then met the team at the Driftwood for breakfast. Yumm again.

After breakfast we were free for the day until 5:30. The roomies and I decided to do a little shopping first. I got the kids their t-shirts. Then one of our teammates who had rented a mini van offered to drive us around the lake so that we could see the course. Not sure if that was a good idea or not. It prepared us for what we would face on Sunday, but it also gave us something to think about all night. Some of those hills are tough.

At 5:30, we met in our staff person's room to decorate our helmets and get last minute ride details. We all put Texas flags on our helmets. This was done to show Texas pride, but also made it easier for our support staff to find us out on the course and for the rest of us to be able to find our teammates in the sea of Team in Training jerseys. Then Carson gave out some "awards". For those of you unfamiliar with Team in Training (TNT), if you fundraise for and complete each type of event they offer (marathon, triathlon and century rides), then you get what is known as a "triple crown". It's really just a pin to wear, but there aren't many triple crowners. Well, this was my triple crown event and Carson gave me a purple crown to wear to the pasta party.

After our helmets were decorated, we headed for the pasta party at Harrah's. As usual, it did not disappoint. The food was good and the speaker was great. He was a fairly young guy (in his 20s or 30s) and shared how chemo and doing a century ride were similiar - in top 10 fashion. He was funny.

After the pasta party, it was back to the room so we could get all of our things ready for Sunday. I decided to see if I could attach my purple crown to my helmet and see if I could wear it through the ride. I was able to get it on, but would it stay?

Sunday morning we met downstairs at 6:00 am. Our start time was 6:30. We got to the start line just in time to take off. We had kind of been assigned groups to ride with before the ride and my group included four other people. We had decide to go slow at the start. You see, around mile 11 you start climbing and then you hit the switchbacks. If you've never been to the mountains, switch backs zig zag up the mountain. And they are steep. I knew from driving the course Saturday that it would be a slow climb. And the bad thing is that right as you get to the top (and are out of breath and feel like you are going to die) there is a photographer there to take your picture with the beautiful background. And you better be smiling, because this is the one and ONLY place on the course where a professional photographer takes your picture. I made sure to leave some space in front of me and gave him a big smile.

A short downhill, another uphill and then a NICE downhill followed. At the bottom of that hill was our first Central Texas aid stop. We stopped to use the restroom and refill on gatorade. The next part of the course was fairly flat for being in the mountains. We passed though Meeks Bay and Sunnyside and then turned off on the bike path to head toward Truckee. I wasn't so fond of riding on the bike path (single file each way with lots of manholes, cracks and center posts sticking up), but the view was great as we were riding right along the Truckee River. The two guys in our group were drooling over what the fishing would be like. But no time to fish, we had a bike ride to finish.

Central Texas was suppose to have another rest stop before the "official" rest stop at the turnaround in Truckee. We missed it somehow, road into the Truckee rest stop and right back out. We caught our stop on the way out. This time, on our way back to Hwy 89, we did stop along the Truckee River and take pictures. It was just too pretty to pass up. And the cool thing for me about this part of the course was passing Squaw Valley. I grew up snow skiing every spring break and Squaw Valley is home to Olympic training. Oh how I'd love to go back in the winter and ski there.

Anyway, on with the ride. Getting back to the highway meant getting back to some hills. Dollar Hill was the first one we came to. And soon after, we were at King's Beach for lunch. We stopped. I had a veggie sandwich from Subway and some chips. No coke for me, though. I was afraid it would upset my stomach and I knew we had some long climbs still ahead. At this point, we were about 72 miles into the ride. We were at the lunch stop for about 20 minutes before heading out. And thanks to our pre-ride drive of the course, we knew that as soon as you leave King's Beach, you get to climb a hill, again. We climbed up to Crystal Bay, went through Incline Village (the name is a little scary, huh?) and got ready for the LONG climb to Spooner.

The climb up to Spooner is about 8-9 miles long. There are a couple of very short flat spots, but the rest is basically UPHILL. The whole way. There were times when I was repeating "just keep spinning, just keep spinning" in my head to the tune of "just keep swimming" from Finding Nemo. And that's exactly what I did. I just kept spinning. Most of the time I was going about 6mph. Being that the climb is 8-9 miles long, that means that you are climbing up a hill for about an hour. I've never been so happy to reach the top of a hill. And reaching the top of that hill meant one thing - I was very close to the finish. (But that doesn't mean I was done with the hills).

And let me back up and say that not only is the climb to Spooner long and hard, but you are sharing the road with cars. For those of you who have been to the mountains and driven those two lane curvy roads with no shoulders, imagine there being bike riders next to you. Lots of them. That's how it was. At times it was scary. When you have a rythym going climbing up a hill, you don't want to break it. At one point, there were cars on my left, a guard rail on my right, and a slower cyclist in front of me. I was afraid if I got much slower I'd have to stop. But somehow I managed.

Ok, back to the top of Spooner. There is a final rest stop just over the top of spooner. This served as our last Central Texas stop as well. And the tradition with our team in that when you get there, you wait for everyone else and then the whole team rides (or tries to ride - you'll read in a minute) the rest of the way in together. So we stopped. Tooked more pictures. Some people stretched. Used the potty. Ate some. Refilled Gatorade. And waited. And then the last teammate arrived. We were ready to finish the last miles.

We headed out as a group. The next several miles were all downhill (which was quite fun after so much climbing). Some of the group REALLY fly down the hills and some don't. At this point we are back on a four lane highway with the right lane blocked off for bikes. Our plan was to re-group at the Zephyr Cove Resort at the bottom of the hill. I was having so much fun going downhill I almost missed it. We stopped again and waited for everyone to catch up and then headed in. From here on it we did stay together, even through the last few "blips" (as our coach called them - basically more hills). We managed to stay together somehow and right before reaching the state line, we got into our pace group with 2 riders side by side followed by another two riders, etc. I got next to my friend and running buddy, Brandi. We had decided to do this ride together and had stayed together the whole time. We were crossing that finish line together! And we did.

What a feeling. I had just gone 100 miles on my bike. I don't even like to think about driving 100 miles, but I had just ridden my bike that far. And the best thing - my legs didn't even really hurt. NOTHING like they feel after running a marathon. Even with all those climbs. Wahoo!!!!

We got our medals, I got my triple crown pin, and we went to look at our pictures. After they take them on the mountain, they develope them and have them for sale at the bottom. I found mine and it was PERFECT. No one else was in my photo and I was smiling! I'll have to try to scan it in and post it here.

After getting our photos we headed back to the hotel. We went down to the pool, but it was too cold for me to get in even though it was "heated". Hey, I'm from Texas. I need warm water. Then we showered and went to the victory party. Ate too much food. Headed back to the hotel and packed.

We got up Monday morning to re-load the bikes for the trip home and then caught the shuttle to the airport. It was 11:30 pm when I got back in my car and the temp on my car gage said 81 degrees. At 11:30 at night. I want to go back to Tahoe.

It took me so long to post this report because I wanted to include pictures and decided to do a video slide show. It's the first time using this program, but I think it turned out ok. There is one caption that is off, but you'll figure it out. The pictures don't really do Tahoe justice, and I didn't get any good pictures of the big climbs. That would have meant stopping while climbing and, well, that just wasn't going to happen. Hope you enjoy!

Ok, sorry to disappoint folks, but I can't get the video to load. I've tried twice and it is now almost midnight which means it is WAY past my bedtime. I'll try again tomorrow.

*****I tried one more time to get the video slideshow to load and it wouldn't. I think the file was too big, even though in the Blogger FAQ's it states that there is no maximum size limit. So, I broke the slide show into three parts and have added them below. This was my first time using Movie Maker. It's pretty fast, but I haven't figured out how to fade the music (therefore, there are abrupt stops) and I haven't figured out how to manipulate the text (it just appears in the middle of the slide). But, you'll get to see the pictures and get a feel for Tahoe.

When I have more free time (like that's ever going to happen), I just need to play with it. I've only done one other slide show before and I used Photoshop for that. It was very easy to move the captions and adjust the slides to fit the music on that, but took forever to get the pictures in. I need to find a program I like that is easy to use because I enjoy doing this kind of thing.

so, enjoy....

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Coming Soon......

A full report of America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride is coming soon. Suffice it to say that the ride lives up to it's name. It was a perfect day for a 100 mile bike ride. I got home at midnight Monday night and have spent the evening downloading photos. And of course I had to go to yoga. But I should have time tomorrow night or Thursday night to write out a long detailed report. Stay tuned......