Garmin Edge Explore 820

I thought perhaps I would jot a few notes on the various gear I’ve brought with me. I’m nothing if not a gadget junkie and especially if they have maps and GPS.

I can’t recall how long ago I bought this bike computer but it was a long time ago. The Garmin 820 is now a bit dated but there are newer models that are very similar. And what I’ll describe below can no doubt be done with them as well.

There are two capabilities I have taken advantage of on this trip that I hope others use as well but they require some setup. The first is LiveTrack and the second is Courses.

I won’t try to repeat everything that Garmin explains just as well here, but in a nutshell, the LiveTrack feature allows you to share a real-time view of your location on a map during a ride, so friends and family can follow along. You (the rider) must install the Garmin Connect app on your phone first and then pair the phone (via Bluetooth) to the bike computer. You pair once and then on a ride you just start the LiveTrack using the mobile phone app. An email is sent to the people you have setup using the app and they get an email with a link to a map they can watch.

Using a ‘Course’ essentially allows me to watch my bike computer to see where I should turn next on a pre-loaded route of my or someone else’s creation. If you google around you will find there are a variety of ways to set this up.

This is the way I like to do it:

I first choose an area I want to ride and then go to https://www.gmap-pedometer.com/. This is a simple map site that has been around for years. Good for walkers/runners/bicyclists to sketch out a route and show you the distance. I won’t explain how to do that but it’s pretty easy. Once you have created the route you want using this tool, you can save it using the directions here as a GPX file. And once you have a GPX file you can ‘import’ it to the Garmin Connect website here. Once you’ve imported the course, it can be sent to the Garmin device of your choice via Garmin Express. Express is a desktop/laptop app that syncs data to/from a device like the Garmin Edge 820.

Once you’ve synced your Garmin bike computer, the course is there to find by name. (So don’t forget to name it when you import the GPX.)

When I’m ready to ride, I start the bike computer and select the course. The bike computer display shows me the turns that are coming up so that I can simply follow the course as I cycle. If you get off track, the computer beeps and let’s you know. Granted, a paper map or even google maps on your phone is handy too but I find the convenience of the bike computer pretty handy. This does of course depend on GPS working really well so if for any reason that is sketchy … it just doesn’t work. It can reacquire if GPS starts working again. But to avoid the frustration, it never hurts to have a backup map. 😉

Trail at Paulina Lake

I’ve still only barely adjusted to the timezone change since arriving in Bend but that has some advantages. I’m waking up pretty early. So on a recent morning I took a drive down south of Bend to Paulina Lake.

There are actually two crater lakes in this spot that caught my attention on a trail map I was perusing for interesting hikes. But Paulina Lake – the western one of the two – has a trail that goes all the way around the lake. I figured the views must be great – and I think they were.

The morning I arrived – a weekday – I easily found a place to park and then headed off on the nearby trail. Around the lake is a little over 7 miles. Most of the trail is right along the lake and pretty flat. There is one section that requires a climb up and then back down again but it’s not a particularly long section.

The trail can be pretty rocky in various places. You can see some of that in the photo here but some places were much rockier. And at least in one section you encounter quite of bit of Obsidian. Essentially a kind of black volcanic glass. Pretty cool to see.

A one point along the trail you encounter a campground. A modern campground. Plenty of parked RVs, some of which were running generators. Ultimately not too much of a distraction along the way.

Lots of anglers out in boats on the lake. I even saw one guy in hip waders fishing from maybe 5 yards off the shoreline.

Great views all along the hike though and I enjoyed this morning outing a lot!

High point along the Paulina Lake loop trail

My return trip to Bend is in full swing and I’ve been enjoying a mix of hiking and biking – both road and mountain bike.

One of my favorite hikes is the trail at Tumalo Falls. This is not the first time I’ve done this trail and I enjoy it every time I find myself in this area.

So not surprisingly, one of the first hikes I did on this trip was this one. It’s the trail that keeps on giving. At the trailhead you are treated to a spectacular falls of about 100 feet, and it’s a short walk up the trail to a viewing platform to get a really good look and listen.

But then you keep on walking up the trail along Tumalo Creek. And all along the way you find spots like this photo to the right.

In my case this visit I hiked up along the creek for 3-something miles and then turned back to make it an out and back hike. Not surprisingly given the direction of the water, the return trip on the trail is mostly downhill. And for that reason too – and because it’s a pretty popular trail – mountain bikers that ride this trail must only do-so going uphill.

As to logistics: I recommend getting out there early. It’s a very popular trail and spot not far from Bend and it fills up fast. Parking is very limited though you can find a spot along the side of the road into the trailhead if you can’t get a spot amongst the maybe dozen available at gravel lot. When I finished my hike I counted 30+ more cars along the road that weren’t there when I started. And this was a Monday.

Some other notes: there’s a pit toilet there at the trailhead in case the need arises. You need a parking permit. $5 on the way in at a self-pay station unless you have a $30 seasonal pass (not available on-site).

I should preface this blog post with a little history… I have traveled to Bend, Oregon at various times over the last 20 years or so and always in the summer. Each time I have been charmed by the city and what it has to offer. And so, with vaccinations starting at the end of 2020 and some hope we’d all get a dose soon and that a return to travel was gonna be possible in 2021 I booked a place to stay here in Bend, right at the start of the year.

And so, here I am. It has actually panned out at least to get here. We’ll see how it goes.

Photos below are of the place I’m staying upon arrival. I have a one-bedroom apartment above a garage that’s a relatively short walk into the downtown area of Bend. All of the photos in the gallery below are of my stay with the exception of the last one. That last one is just a nearby food truck lot that’s not far away and that I had remembered from a past visit in 2018. I had lunch there upon my arrival into Bend. There are both food and drinks available from various vendors and plenty of outdoor table space to kick back and enjoy.

I hope to post more here as my visit unfolds and I discover more…

My Bike in the Mexican Hats

As much as I have appreciated the rains we’ve gotten recently I must admit it was nice to have some blue skies and a bit warmer temp again today. We really need the rain and I do hope we get some more soon. It’s in the forecast.

With the return of the sun though, and as I cycled again close to home, I sensed that summer was nearly upon us. The constant breeze of spring had diminished and it felt like the doldrums of summer. And it was warm and humid this morning!

As the photo here suggests, we’ve gone from the lovely Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush of early spring to the ‘Mexican Hats’ that my bike is perched amongst.

Not shown but plentiful this year are also the blooms of the Prickly Pear cactus. When it’s in bloom it’s a sure sign that soon summer heat will be upon us.

And if those were not enough, the Magnolia trees and Crepe Myrtle have started to bloom. The Magnolia trees in particular are a welcome addition for the scent alone.

And if you’re a cyclist like me, you begin to notice that the little lizards come out to sun by the side of the road. They always scatter to the curb when you bike by. They’re fast! No chance you’d hit one.

It’s a pleasant time of year to cycle. Not too hot yet – provided you ride at the right time – and not so chilly you need to break out the colder weather gear.

But … it’s only late May. Soon it’s gonna just be plain old HOT and far less inviting. So get out and ride when it’s at its best.

There’s something about autumn in central Texas that has me make a point of capturing photos of the fall color. Finding fall color here can sometimes be elusive. But I have great memories of fall color when I lived in the northern midwest and it’s a favorite season so I do take notice when I see any great displays of fall color around here.

The last time I posted about our Austin fall color was in 2018. I don’t remember if last year was just really busy or there just wasn’t much to take notice of. But this year, despite how much of a dumpster fire that 2020 has been, we’ve seen some really nice displays of color since early November.

Right now, the oaks are putting on an excellent display of color and I’ve made a point while out on my bike or while out walking to snag some photos. All of these photos were taken within biking distance of my front door.

And more:

It’s been a few more months now and I thought I’d post an update about how the cycling has been going since my prior post.

I’ve managed to keep up a pretty regular regimen of riding. I try to get out most days for an hour+ unless it’s raining or I’ve got something else planned for the day.

Early in September I was away for a couple days and then at some point mid month we finally got some rain so my Sept mileage is off my August pace but I still managed to log over the 300 miles threshold again this past month.

That was no doubt helped by some fantastic weather here in Austin as September came to a close. It’s not unusual for summer to linger on well into the fall around here but somehow we managed to get a nice blast of cooler fall air and the last week of the month has been spectacular. I took the photo of my bike propped in a big batch of Lantana just a couple days ago. The Lantana seems to be outdoing itself so far this fall.

Who knows about October… I hope we continue to have great weather like this. Maybe I can get out to the Texas hill country and do some longer rides. We shall see…

Monthly Cycling Sept 2020

I haven’t posted here in a while and with the time I have on my hands right now I probably should be.

Two coincidental events came together at the start of March 2020. One was me concluding that it was time to take a break from work. After nearly 13 years at the most recent company … I needed a change. The opportunity presented itself. Timing was right.

Meanwhile, the world was being consumed by COVID-19 and it only really hit the fan here in central Texas about mid March. Good timing to be around home!

Either way, and certainly together, I have been spending a lot more time at home. And I’ve taken at least some of that time and spent it getting out on my bike(s) more. The Garmin data is pretty clear. I recently snagged the data over the last year and since the start of March, I’ve logged a lot more time in the saddle:

Because of the pandemic, almost all of these miles are very close to home though.

Observations

I’ve always ridden close to home but typically my rides would be on weekends – and certainly not during a pandemic. These days a lot of my riding is on weekdays.

Early in the pandemic there were a TON of people that were getting out on the streets! In my suburban neighborhood I have never seen so many people out running, walking, & biking.

On the one hand it was and has been great to see so many people out exercising in some way. But on the other hand … lots of people have become obstacles in a way they never were in the past.

People like to be in groups and try to ‘socially distance’ from one another so they end up walking and running in the street instead of the sidewalks – and in the place I’m trying to bike (and stay away from cars too). Even now, there are lots of people to dodge on the street. Not as many as earlier this spring though. (People are increasingly back to work – and it’s also just getting a lot hotter here as summer approaches.)

Meanwhile, kids will be kids… they have no idea what side of the street to ride on. So they are often coming at you on the wrong side of the road. And you never know if they will decide to cross to the other side right in front of you.

And since I would typically ride the neighborhoods on weekends, I had no idea how many service vehicles are around during the day! In these neighborhoods, I think I know where a lot of stimulus checks are going. People are getting new floors, new roofs, new additions, new windows, new paint, … meanwhile there are landscaping crews with trucks and trailers and mowers and blowers everywhere! Then there are the pool cleaners (or installers!). And the power-washers. I had no idea so many people power-washed driveways and rock walls. Nor had I any idea how many people would be getting completely new lawns delivered on trucks.

I’ve also learned all the different schedules for garbage pickup around the different neighborhoods. If it’s Tuesday, the streets over in Glenlake are lined with garbage bins (and the trucks that pick it all up). If it’s Wednesday, Westminster and lower Riverplace are stacked with trash bins… you get the idea.

UPS, Fedex and innumerable delivery vehicles are in and around the neighborhoods all day everyday. Not unusual at any time but with the pandemic on .. it’s noticeably higher traffic by delivery vehicles. They are everywhere.

In any case, I had no idea how busy the streets would be around here during a typical day.

Best time to ride: Sunday morning. Nobody’s mowing (at least not landscape crews), and the service vehicles are all gone. Traffic is low. People are about, but it’s mostly quiet.

I hope to keep up my riding even as the summer heat comes on here in central Texas. At this point I’ve become used to the obstacles and plan and ride accordingly.

I need to find a way to cycle somewhere more remote on a regular basis but where? … that’s still TBD.

Fall Color

Since I have posted in past years about our Austin fall color I would be remiss if I didn’t jot some notes on this year’s display.

I’m actually writing this on New Year’s Day of 2019 and back dating this post but I’m trying to catch up on my notes here. Call it a new year’s resolution.

2018 fall colors came earlier than I remember in past years. In fact, if you click thru the link above I had noted last year that we usually see our best color around the solstice in late December. That was not the case in 2018. In fact, both the photos here were taken the weekend of Thanksgiving.

The red Oak leaves were shot in Hunt, Texas. And the shot below was just in my neighborhood here in Austin.

I wasn’t the only one that noticed the display of color this year. Here’s just one reference I recall running across late in the year.

Fall generally seemed to be wetter and cooler than I remember in past years and I gotta figure that was a factor. And maybe some perfectly timed sunny days.

Sunday afternoon in the hammock

So you might think that in Texas, lots of days would be ideal for just hanging around in a hammock. I mean, we get some pretty good weather year round and plenty of sun, but the reality is that there’s really only a few times a year that I think, wow, I have to take time out and get out there and just kick back in the hammock. The temp, the breeze, the humidity … it has to be right for me to want to [ideally] snooze in the hammock.

Today was one of those days.

At mid afternoon we had temps in the low to mid 80s and a light and occasional breeze that was just about perfect.

As I lay there gazing up into the Live Oak above me I was treated to some visitors. First came the woodpecker. Hard for me to tell what kind. It was very animated and jumping from branch to branch and pecking away. It appeared to have plenty to feast upon.

Then came the hummingbird that swooped in out of nowhere. Without the motion of its arrival I would never even have noticed it. At best, it was only 2 to 3 inches tall and once it lighted, it hung out on a branch for quite some time. It was practically invisible without the movement of flight.

The other visitor I noticed was a lizard shooting up the same tree. Again, hard to tell exactly what kind but there are so many Texas Spiny Lizards around here that’s likely to be the case in this instance too.

This warm and restful moment was accompanied by the scent of Star Jasmine. (see pic) My neighbor has some planted and over the years this vining plant has taken over a rock wall nearby. There’s nothing more evocative of late April and early May for me than this scent. It blooms in places around the city and central Texas and when I catch a whiff I just have to stop for a moment. It’s imprinted on me and as memorable as Lilacs, Bluebonnets and Easter Lilies.

yellow flower
Cactus

It’s that time of year in central Texas when things bloom and as it warms up in the spring in late April and into May, the yellows and reds seem to be more prevalent.

We’ve had a pretty good display of wildflowers this year. My last post here showed the bumper crop of Bluebonnets. Since then I’ve snagged a few shots of yellow flowers. My Instagram feed has, in fact, become a bit repetitious. Lots of flowers.

The two photos posted here though were a couple I didn’t post to Instagram. Both of these were taken on walks in my neighborhood.

I have no idea what the daisy-like flower is but we had a ton of them around here for a while.

As it’s warmed some more, the Prickly Pear cacti have really started to open up. This one here I caught shortly after a recent rain.

Click the photos for larger images.

It won’t be long now and it’ll start to feel a lot more like summer and only the hardiest plants will bloom around here. Even the birds seem to go somewhere else in the summer. But the cicadas … they always return. I have yet to hear them but they’ll begin to screech soon and that’ll be a sure sign that summer is upon us.

I mentioned the Bluebonnets in the last post so I’d be remiss if I didn’t post an obligatory shot of the Bluebonnets this year. We’ve gotten rain at the right times throughout the fall and through the winter and early spring and this year we’re seeing a bumper crop of Bluebonnets and other wildflowers.

I took this one just in the last hour or so on a walk at the end of the day. As you can see by the bit of light hitting the trees in the background it was before sunset but not by much.

I liked how this shot turned out. I captured one main Bluebonnet up front and in focus while you still get some perspective of how prolific the flowers have been this spring. There wasn’t much light left but – enough.

Spring arrived here in Austin weeks ago. The Bluebonnets and enumerable other wildflowers are and have been in bloom for weeks. The Live Oak leaves are fresh and bright green again and their old leaves are being blown or have been raked into piles and carted off.

That means that hot weather will be upon us in short order. You can sense it like a freight train coming around the bend. It may not be “Summer” here yet but hot weather is just around the next corner.

It has been sultry through the weekend and into the early part of this week. The breeze has been from southeast and temps have been near 80 and while not ‘hot’, it’s just warm enough and different enough to feel uncomfortable at times – particularly when at this time of year we tend to shut off both heat and AC and just open the window(s).

So it was very pleasant today to have a front blow through with a little rain late in the afternoon. I got home in time to throw open windows and door and let the low 60s temps flow in. Wonderful!

I snapped the photo included here out the back soon after getting home. We may get some more rain overnight. The skies sure looked like it. In the mean time, you can’t beat the cool breeze coming out of the North right now. A breath of fresh air.

It’s a new year and time once again to focus on a new goal to keep me in the saddle, so to speak. At this time of year, even here in Austin, it’s often gray and at least chilly if not actually cold (where cold is reserved for temps around freezing). As much as I always enjoy getting out to cycle, gray and chilly isn’t typically a recipe to motivate me to get out there.

But then the realization hits that I have a bike tour that I’ve already arranged for the new year. At least I’ve put a deposit down. I don’t have flights or any other details worked out. There’s still the ingress and egress to work out. Using a bike tour company, the getting there and getting away are the main challenges to work out.

This year I’ll be cycling Corsica and Sardinia. Here’s the tour company take on Corsica at least from when I expect to be cycling and the distance. Details at this juncture on things like elevation are limited but based on what I know, I expect the tour to be “lumpy”. These islands in the Mediterranean are not flat.

For Corsica, day 1 and day 11 with “no cycling” is typical. Actually, you do cycle on day 1 but it’s just to make sure your bike is in working order. It’s short.

Day 11 is a transition/travel day from Corsica to Sardinia.

Looks like a good mix of cycling and rest days. (Where some of those rest days may involving hiking or some other activity.) If you’re keeping score at home, my tally of the mileage works out to be around 719 miles.

I hope to be ready to simply enjoy those miles rather than consider them a major challenge. So… I’ve been getting rides in any time I can so far this year. And, I expect to keep that up.

If you search back in this blog you’ll find that it’s pretty typical for me to go out looking for fall color at the end of the year. Here in Austin what would qualify as our autumn and winter seasons can sometimes be counted in days so if and when we have some fall color I try to take notice and capture just a bit. Fall has always been one of my favorite seasons.

Like most years, fall color peaks in Austin, TX closer to the winter solstice rather than after September concludes as it does in the more northern climes. So these pics are of course recent and just prior to Christmas.

These three photos all come from a single end of year walk and in fact were probably all within 100 yards of one another. The office complex just a couple block walk from my place has some nice trees and landscaping so as I walked through the area I snapped a few pics. (I was of course under the watchful eye of some security dude in a pickup the whole time … which is kinda weird in a way but maybe something for another post.)

My favorite of the bunch was the still bright red Oak leaf juxtaposed alongside its siblings that had already dropped to the ground. It was the only one I posted to Instagram.

I like Cedar Elms and it’s typical of them to get a lovely yellow hue before the leaves drop completely so I think I caught this one just in time.

You can get a sense of the time of day as well as the kind of filtered solstice winter light at the end the afternoon in the last of the three pics. I think this is called Maiden Grass (it’s not full enough to be Pampas Grass). I have some at my home as well. It’s one of the ornamental grasses we have planted all over this part of the world. Looks good year round. It’ll get cut back and then reappear in the spring.