Sunday, December 15, 2013

My Inner Child Lives

In the past couple of weeks I've been working on my layers.  One day it's near 60 and raining cats and dogs.  A few days later and temperatures can't make it out of the 30's or 20's.  Riding around with neoprene shoe covers, rain pants, a rain cape (which happens to be three sizes too big), a shower cap hidden under my buff and beneath my helmet, and my usual ski goggles wasn't ridiculous enough for me.  I had to top it all off with a Santa hat on my helmet.  Could this be a cry for attention?  Actually, it was just a supreme effort to not end up wet and cold, and it worked.  Instead of riding around feeling miserable and wishing I was somewhere else, I was laughing and thoroughly enjoying the adventure.  Embarrassing?  Sure, I guess... but who cares?  I was out riding.  It really brought home the fact that riding my bike makes me feel (and sometimes act) like a little kid. 

On one ride as we went past our favorite fish pond, we noticed the ice was getting thick.  The pond was frozen completely over except for the small area by the waterfall.  It was a sunny morning and I expected to be a bit chilled until we had ridden a few miles, but in no time at all I felt completely comfortable.  Is it possible that I'm finally getting the hang of this layering thing?  All I know is that I had a great time riding around with the trails almost to ourselves.  

Other than my own very strange get-up, I really haven't encountered a whole lot of "unusual" lately.  I did think this Christmas decoration might qualify.  Pretty clever:

We saw that house on our way out to participate in the Hanukkah Menorah Parade a couple of weeks ago.  A friend of ours from the Bike-Pgh message board really wanted to adds bikes to their holiday car parade, so last year he arranged permission from his rabbi to put out an open invitation (non-demominational) to join them in celebrating the Festival of Lights.  Just the name "Festival of Lights" seems very well suited to those of us who can't get too many blinkies loaded onto our frames/helmets.  We happily joined them for the second year in a row with homemade, battery powered menorahs - but no Santa hats this time.  The theme for this event was blue and white, not red and green.  I revamped my menorah because I wasn't all that happy with last year's effort.

We had a great time in spite of the light rain that fell (for the second year in a row).  Last year the parade was slow, with some police assistance blocking intersections.  This year the group ended up fragmented and we had to be extra careful at the intersections as we had a few youngsters joining us on their bikes.  The really cool thing is that a couple of other cities heard about the Pittsburgh Menorah Parade and decided to have one of their own this year. Our friend Ben is a trendsetter.  Who knew?

On other recent rides I found this during a stop at Thick Bikes:

can not figure out how anyone could even get on it, let alone ride it!

We've done some Soupaneuring.  We stopped at the Smallman St Deli in Squirrel Hill before the menorah parade and I had some chicken soup (which seemed appropriate). Last week we rode along looking for somewhere new to try and discovered pho van on Penn Ave. This was my first ever stop at a Vietnamese restaurant.  I tried the "Pho ga" which was a HUGE bowl of chicken soup with rice noodles.  It's served with a plate of bean sprouts, jalapeno peppers, some variety of basil that smelled a bit like anise, and a lime wedge.  Very interesting:

On another day we discovered some unusual ducks hanging out on the Northshore Trail.

I still haven't been able to identify them.  They seemed to be together so I'm guessing they were a pair.

Recently we climbed up into Spring Hill to find some mosaics and stumbled onto this retaining wall that I remembered from one of Rick Sebak's shows.  I believe it was in the "North Side Story" from his Pittsburgh History Series.  Really cool!!  Dates back to the 1930's:

We also stopped to see the new WWII memorial on the North Shore.  They did an excellent job on this.  I'd recommend checking it out: