Michael Phelps – The Man Is a Machine

I’ve watched quite a bit of the Olympics so far, and I continue to be amazed at how Michael Phelps keeps racking up the medals. I just watched him win the semi-final of the 200 Meter Individual Medley. He was in 2nd-ish place for the first three laps, but when he touched for the last time, he absolutely exploded into the lead and never lost it. 

After Phelps’ semi-final, fellow USA team member Ryan Lochte won his semi-final. And he beat Phelps’ time by 1 100th of a second. Wow. It’s going to be an interesting final.

Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony

Oh. My. Goodness. We’re watching the opening ceremony and I am absolutely blown away. This is staggeringly beautiful. I think this just might be the most beautiful Olympic ceremony I’ve ever seen. Stunning. Breathtaking.


I just got back from my first ride of the year and all I can say is “Ouch.” About 20 yards into the ride my legs were berating me for being a heretofore lazy idiot who now expects them to actually do something besides walk to the fridge. I made one circuit around the park, plus a little extra for a pathetic total of 3.79 miles. Sad, sad, sad. Now I have to try to stay motivated to actually hit the trail at least a few more times this week so I won’t keep starting over…

And I need new batteries for my GPS unit, which died 6 minutes into the ride. Not that I really need it to get around, but the geek in me likes recording my rides via satellite.

Another Exciting Gladiator Night!

Thomas and I just got back from another exciting evening with the Gwinnett Gladiators, and what a night it was! The visiting team was the Alaska Aces who, unfortunately for them, lost 5 – 0. There was much cool stuff tonight, which began even before the game started.

First, we had excellent seats, directly behind the visitor’s bench. We arrived about 40 minutes before play started to watch them practice. As we were sitting there watching, one of the Aces came into the box and Thomas started a-waving at him. The player, Smith I think it was, turned around and hit the ice, apparently without noticing him. He came back within about 5 seconds, picked up a new stick, tapped on the glass with his old stick to get Thomas’ attention, and then gave Thomas his stick! That was extremely cool and prompted Thomas to say “I’m going to cheer for that team tonight!”. Then during the second intermission, they drive a Cadillac truck onto the ice, with Maximus, the team mascot, firing t-shirts into the crowd with a t-shirt gun. Thomas was jumping and flailing about trying to get one, when a guy walks up to the glass, gets my attention and then lobs one underhand over the glass to make sure he gets one. And if that weren’t enough, when they dropped coupons for Buffalo’s Cafe from the ceiling, a woman pointed out to Thomas where one had fallen, so he got one of those too! What an evening.

Unfortunately there are only two more home games this season. I sure wish we had discovered them sooner. We’re going to take in one of the final two, but then we have to wait until October. Ah well, it will be worth it.

BTW, all three photos were taken with my LG VX6000 cameraphone. The first one I took two weeks ago at our second game. The bottom two were actually taken by Thomas at tonight’s game.

Evenings With the Gwinnett Gladiators

Friday night I took Thomas to his first ice hockey game and he loved it! He loved it so much we went back for another game tonight (Saturday)! The team is the Gwinnett Gladiators, part of the ECHL, which is an AA hockey league. What excellent hockey! This team is really good, and this is their first season. Last night’s game was against the Pensacola Ice Pilots, which the Gladiators won 4 – 1, and tonight’s game was against the Greensboro Generals which we lost in a heartbreaking sudden death overtime 4 – 3.

I didn’t catch the attendance numbers last night, but tonight there were 5,406 fans, which for a minor league team in its first year, seems like a good crowd to me. The fans were just as enthusiastic as I’ve seen at any NHL game, and just as rowdy at times. The pre-game lead-in to the teams taking the ice is well produced and very professional. The announcer does a good job of getting the fans into the game. And the players give it everything they’ve got, but with amazingly few penalties. Last night two of the Ice Pilots got ejected for fighting, but no one got tossed tonight. Which is good.

We got there before the game started to watch them warm up and lo and behold, a puck came soaring up over the glass in our section. It hit the net over the glass and fell to the floor. I jumped out of my seat and high-tailed it to pick it up for Thomas. He was very happy, indeed!

And what’s probably most amazing is that my darling wife, who generally hates spectator sports, went with us tonight… and… enjoyed the game! She’s willing to go back again! Hoo-ray!

It’s been years since I’ve been to a hockey game and now I’ve been twice in one weekend. We are planning on going back next weekend when the Gladiators take on the Florence Pride. O yeah, Scooby Doo will also be there…

I Found the Old Mill Wheel

Tonight while riding at Tribble Mill Park, I found the remnants of the old mill wheel. I had been within about 20 feet of it before and never noticed it, but a fellow last week told me where to look. I looked tonight and sure enough, there it was. I’m going to go back with the camera tomorrow and take some pictures which I’ll post here.

It was a strange thing standing there on the stone wall next to the collapsed steel(?) wheel. I was struck with a sense of profound sadness; which was odd since I didn’t know anything about the history of the mill. I have been getting this feeling a lot lately as I look around at all of the construction work going on in this area. Old houses are being torn down or moved in droves in order to build yet another Walgreens or a new strip mall. Houses that have been there for decades or longer; each with histories and lives, happiness and sorrow. Enormous trees that were there before the houses. I’m all for progress and such, but there’s some point where you just feel like saying “Do we really need another drug store?” I don’t know where that point is, but lately I keep sensing that we’ve passed it.

The sadness I felt was in knowing that this mill wheel was once part of a thriving mill. Yet here it was collapsed and broken in the woods. The wall that once diverted the water from the river lay in pieces. I didn’t know any of its history, but all that was left were ruins. I did a quick Google and found this story about the nearby town of Dacula. In it I found this

In the 1920s, he [Newton Giles Pharr] bought Tribble Mill, a water-powered mill where farmers had their corn ground with a mill rock imported from Germany. Situated near the rapids of the Alcovy River toward Walton County, the mill also offered a cool summer outing — people would travel out from town and wade, swim and picnic near the water.

which confirmed some of my thoughts. I don’t know when the mill was destroyed or how. The wheel is now broken and rusted, but it looks like it was once around 12 – 15 feet in diameter. I can imagine it tirelessly turning the shaft which turned the cogs which ultimately turned the meal-grinding stone, hour after hour. I can just imagine folks in their bathing costumes sitting on the sheets of granite by the river having a lunch of chicken and fresh fruit, with the mill behind them grinding out corn meal. I could almost feel the spirits of those who used to frolic there. It was a very sad moment; I don’t know that I can explain it any better than that.

Still More Trails

I spent nearly two hours at Tribble Mill Park tonight exploring new trails. I had no idea how long I was out there, but it was a blast. These trails are becoming something of a Siren song: each time I’d think “OK. I’m going to head back now,” I’d see another trail and hear it beckoning to me. “Come on! This way is much nicer than that way. Try it, you’ll like it…” in a very ethereal voice. So I went. I was tearing down trails that were no more than 5 or 6 inches across. Root, rocks, gullies, slippery rocks with running water. I had to stop at one point as I came over a rise because the other side was waaaaaaay too steep for me to navigate down and remain in one piece. I finally had to look down this one trail and say “NO! Foul Temptress! I rebuke you!” when I realized how dark it was getting…

But the temptress that was that last trail would get the last laugh. When I made it back to the parking lot I decided to take one more trip around the paved trail. I was a little over a mile into it when I got stung by a BEE right under my right eye!! Holy crap, that hurt! I felt the impact, then the stinger enter. I slapped at it, knocking my sunglasses off along with the little bastard before he got too much venom into my face. I’m still swollen and it hurts mightily, but it could have been much worse.

After a few minutes of lightly touching my cheek (Ow! That hurts!) and cursing some more, I headed out to finish my last lap (another mile and a half or so). I got back to the car, packed up and went home.

With the exception of the bee sting, it was a lovely evening.

I’m Digging the Off-Road Thing

I have recently started doing some off-road riding out at Tribble Mill park, as I’ve mentioned before here and here. I kicked it up a notch this morning when I drove out to the Yellow River Regional Park which is about 10 miles from my house. They have two main trails here, the River trail and the Creek trail. I rode the River trail and it was glorious! I encountered a few other riders, but for the better part of an hour it was just me, all alone in the woods. The sounds and smells of an unspoiled forest are a wonderful thing. All I could hear was the “singing” of Cicadas (or something similar), the sounds of my wheels on the trail and my own breathing. There was quite a bit of mud and sand (not fun) in some places but generally good trails, quite a bit of them paralleled the Yellow River, which provided its own sounds to my journey.

I was actually in the woods for about 1.5 hours, actually peddling for an hour. Near the end of my ride I came upon three other riders and we chatted for 10 minutes or so about equipment and such. Nice guys, they were. I tried another Clif Bar, but just like the last one I tried, it just sort of tasted like bird seed held together with some sort of paste. At this point I much prefer PowerBars.

Anyway, I had a lovely ride, came home thoroughly filthy and smelly, but happy and content. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, which is a bummer. If it were not for the rain, I’d be out on that trail again.

First GeoCache Find

As I mentioned yesterday, I got a handheld GPS unit and was going to give GeoCaching a go. Well, today when I got home, Thomas and I headed out for our first “treasure hunt.” The cache we were after is actually in our subdivision, which made it a good first hunt since it was so close and I had a pretty good idea of where it was. Yes, this does somewhat violate the spirit of GeoCaching, but for a first go with a 4.5 year old, I wanted to make certain we found it.

And find it we did! We parked by the pool, got out, sprayed our arms and legs with Deep Woods Off! and started out. I let Thomas wear the GPS unit around his neck and showed him how to read the map display. I told him that the line showed us where we wanted to go and that the arrow was where we were, and it needed to point as closely as possible to the line. He got a real kick out of that. “Daddy, we need to go to the right. Oops! Too far!” It was fun. We had to trek through some weeds that were taller than he is, but we found the cache and opened up. There was a ton of stuff in it. Some toys, a big sea shell and some stuff I didn’t recognize. We looked at all of it, recorded our find in the log book, took a little green MatchBox type car and left a Disney trading pin of Goofy. We then closed it back up, walked around the lake a bit, then headed for home.

Thomas had a ball, and I rather enjoyed myself as well. He’s ready to go on another hunt, only next time he wants one that isn’t so close to home! That shouldn’t be a problem. According to GeoCaching.com, there are about 30 in the area.

I Got A GPS Unit

I finally got around to getting a handheld GPS unit today. I got the Garmin eTrex Venture and took it for a spin today when I went cycling at my usual location. Pretty cool little unit. Good price, too. On of the reasons I got it is because I had heard a while back about a sport called GeoCaching and the website that supports it. I had also heard that there was a cache remarkably near my house; actually in my subdivision. So tomorrow, assuming the weather is good, Thomas and I will head out, GPS in hand, to find our first cache. I’ll post tomorrow night with our results. From the comments I read about this cache, and my knowledge of the area, I don’t think it should be too hard to locate. Of course the website reminds us that GeoCaching is “deceptively easy.” We’ll see.