Wednesday, December 30, 2009

McQ's FAVORITE PHOTOS OF '09

In no particular order, here are some of my favorite photos 'n' memories from 2009.

Here's a primo campsite at the foot of Sahale Glacier in the middle of the North Cascades. Jim Robbins (now of Maine, dammit) and I went on an awesome hike there last August. To get there, head to Cascade Pass and just keep going. Up and up and up ...

The lovely Jen McQuaide snapped this photo just after I finished the Padden Mountain Bike duathlon. Perfect composition: she managed to get Team Unattacked's Titanium Cowboy and Mellow Johnny in there as well. (Not to mention my fringed cowboy shirt.)

John Clark (Mellow Johnny) rides the Little Summit Trail near the top of Mount Constitution on Orcas Island.
 
Cool shot taken by Baker McQuaide at the Bellingham Skatepark.
Some really cool guy racing the Padden Mountain Pedal just moments before his dang chain busted. Photo by http://www.adamleahyphotography.com/.

Scott "Titanium Cowboy" Young joined the 29er ranks this past year and, to noone's surprise, proved to be a fat-tire stud right off the bat.

Swans near sunset in the Skagit Valley.
 
Chiropractor nice guy Steve Noble ripping up a descent on Lower Bob's up at Galby, as the kids call it.

And lastly, the McQ family wishin' y'all a Happy 'n' Healty 2010!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

FIRST EPIC IN A WHILE

video
Epic ride today, first one in a while. Stopped to shoot a quick vid wherein we recreate the scene of da' Assaulting Alder incident and shortly thereafter came across Laura Todd and Val Thompson who were so helpful that day.

Then it was on to the ride: down Interurban, up Fragrance Lake Road, Lost Lake Trail to the Dictionary, down So Easy (which isn't) and around like we're doing the Samish Loop. Then up the helatious climb to the Pine and Cedar Lakes end of the world, down Hemlock and on toward home.
The lovely Glenn Gervais was with us, rockin' his new Motobecane 29er with flat pedals. That's burly. (I'm digging the way I'm hunched over in the below pic; that's Glenn in the middle and the Clark man on the right.) The ride has two mega climbs, probably totally about 3,500 feet, but the Hemlock Trail descent from Pine and Cedar is so cussing fun. That one, and the Alternate Incline Trail over on Blanchard might be this cross-country rider's favorites. So great to get out today!

Friday, December 18, 2009

RANDOM RANDOMNESS


I admit, I've been pretty poor with the blogging lately, what with the no races going on, and the tree incident of six weeks ago that knocked me out of riding and running for about three weeks and general holiday season messiness and crummy weather.

But I did go cross-country skiing last weekend up at Manning Park, about three hours east of Vancouver B.C. Even took a lesson for a Seattle Times story I'm writing that'll appear New Year's Eve, I believe. Great fun, that was. Snowed almost the whole time I was there.

Last night, by the way, I laughed so hard I almost had my first asthma attack in 20 years! The Upfront Players http://www.theupfront.com/ did a benefit for Whatcom Middle School that featured Ryan Stiles. All my favorite Upfronters were there--Galen, DK, Billy, Sally--and it was just crazy, crazy funny. If you ever get a chance to see Stiles with these guys, you gotta go--it's a no brainer. You'll laugh like nobody's bidness.

Also, been wondering about this blog. About blogs in general. Has facebook killed the blog? Unless it's a blog about say, Tiger Woods chasing tail or whatevuh, are the blogs dead?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

EARLY SEASON SNOWBOARDING


Headed up to the Mount Baker Ski Area to give snowboarding another shot. 'Til now we hadn't quite dialed it in yet as a family. I board, Jen boards, and Baker liked to think of himself as a snowboarder but betwixt you and me, he'd not quite gotten there yet. Still way too frustrating for him. Until ... yesterday!!!

Great time had by all--that's Bake in the lower right, Jen way up in the upper left, me behind the camera, Mount Shuksan livin' large there in the middle. Bake's a fifth grader (fifth graders ski and board free at Mount Baker), almost 11, and I think now has the strength and patience needed. Hung out mostly on Chair 7 with some blue run forays off Chair 8 and Chair 5. Super cool, super fun, super cold.

Below is the view just off Chair 5.


And this is the Nooksack Ridge, also in view from up there.
 
Today, the Clark Man, Glenn Gervais and I were going to ride to the top of Lookout Mountain just beyond Galbraith, but when I woke to 30-degree temps and 30-plus mph winds--and a high wind advisory for the next 24 hours--I wimped out with nary a second thought. The Assaulting Alder incident is still less than a month ago and I'm real tentative right now about heading back into the woods when it's windy out.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

CHUCKANUT RADIO HOUR - JANUARY


On January 12, I'll be doing a live reading of a humorous (I hope) essay at the Leopold for a live taping of the Chuckanut Radio Hour (http://villagebooks.com/chuckanut-radio-hour). To whet your appetitie, as it were, here's a humorous essay I read on the show about a year ago. It's called "Remomeling" and is the story of a man, a wife, and their little (annoying) home remodeling project. Please enjoy. 

It all began with a simple rearrangement of furniture.

“What if you move your couch over there?” suggested our friend Deb. She’s a kind-of Feng Shui-Declutter Nazi.

That sounded harmless enough so my wife, Jen, and I swung the couch over this way so it faced the front window, shoved the TV-cart thing in the corner, slid that chair over there. Ten minutes work and our lives were transformed. Woo-hoo!

But no. It doesn’t stop there. Scanning our living room, Deb reminds Jen how much we hate the carpet—it is pretty gross I admit (still, it’s not hurting anyone)—and quicker than it takes Jen to nod in agreement, they’re both down on their hands and knees with prybars and claw hammers yanking up carpet tacks to see what’s underneath.

What are they possibly hoping to find? Honduran mahogany floors fit for some fancy-pants photo spread in Sunset magazine? Come on, I love our house, but let’s be honest. It’s a low-slung bungalow that has apartment-grade carpeting written all over it. And that’s OK with me.

What they do find under the carpet is some icky, spongy, underlayment; enough dirt to cover the infield at Safeco Field, and below that, some vague flooring of unknown composition.

“Quick!” I say. “Put the carpet back. Something might crawl out.”

But no, Deb proposes we rip it up and replace it with laminate wood floors that we install ourselves. Let me repeat that last bit: That we install ourselves. Jen leaps up and down like a contestant on “The Price is Right” while I scan my memory banks trying to figure out whatever I might’ve done to make Deb suggest such a plague upon our house.

***
The problem is that, unlike, seemingly every single person in Bellingham who’s not me, I do not possess the gene that predisposes a person to find home improvement projects the least bit enjoyable. I’m not a do-it-yourselfer; I’m more a you-do-it-while-I’m-off-doing-something-fun-er. I’m not lazy; it’s just that when it comes to doing stuff around the house, I’m averse to any kind of work, activity, or exertion. OK. I’m lazy.

Still, I enjoy being married to Jen and if installing laminate floors is what it takes to stay that way, I’d suck it up. Thus, over the following weeks our lives were filled with ripping, sawing, measuring, pounding, drilling, cutting, installing; complaining, loafing, whining, clock-watching, faking injury—each of us bringing our own unique skills and talents to the project.

When it was over, we had fresh, easy-to-clean, sorta-wood floors and our home was purged of all gross, icky carpet. Purged too, I’d hoped, of any future home improvement whims.

Wrong.

“A claw foot tub would look perfect in there,” Deb says one afternoon upon exiting our bathroom. “Maybe a new vanity too, and some nice new flooring, and a bright sunny paintjob to match—what’d’ya think?”

I think you should have your mouth wired shut, is what I think, but don’t say.

Bathroom remodel it was.
***
Twenty years ago, when Jen and I first moved to Bellingham, we’d see this handwritten sign taped to the darkened window of a downtown tavern that had long since gone out of business. “Closed for remomeling,” it read, which tickled our undergraduate funny bones to no end.

The misspelling suggested a remodel gone horribly wrong. As did what we saw through the window: piles of sawdust, three-legged sawhorses tilted on their sides, holes punched in walls. I’m reminded of this because for a while that’s exactly how our house looked.

Bathroom remodels involve plumbing and thus a whole level of gross, disgusting, nastiness that makes me woozy and cross-eyed just thinking about. So we called in a contractor, who called in his plumber, who called in what I gathered was his fugitive nephew desperate for a few bucks so he could stay on the lam. It was a mess.

Our lives were closed for remomeling.
***
But you know, things always get better. That darkened tavern? It’s been reborn—remomeled as it were—as a vibrant retail-residential spot, a cornerstone of Bellingham’s downtown renaissance. And eventually, the contractors went home and quit treating our bathroom like it was their personal ATM, withdrawing money with the frequency of gambling addicts at a casino.

And I have to admit: our house does look great. Our fresh, wood-like floors give our home a charming cottage feel. The bathroom is impressive too. Even if, being a man, I’m not capable of appreciating the wonders of bath-taking the way a woman does. No matter. Jen’s happy; I’m happy.

All is well.