The Perfect Bicycle Storage System for Me

Storage in my garage is sometimes at a premium from all the “stuff” we accumulated over the years and not having enough space to organize and store “stuff”.  Even though my wife and I have downsized and de-cluttered we still seem to have “stuff” we don’t often use or has some sentimental value.  I have often heard people say that if you haven’t used something in 6 months to a year you probably don’t need to keep it.

Bicycles take up a lot of floor space so having a way to store them off the floor is helpful. There are many bicycle storage rack systems on the market from hanging bikes from the ceiling to wall mounted racks.  I found that I did not have enough head room to hang my bicycle from the ceiling using ropes and pulleys, like the 2-bike Elevations Garage Hoist kit, nor did I want to hang a wall mounted storage rack like the Homee Bicycle Bike Wall Hook Rack Holder Stand Bike, so I searched for a storage rack that could store my bicycle off the floor while still leaving some floor space for other “stuff”.  I found this Delta Donatello 2 bike leaning bicycle rack that serves that purpose but what I really found appealing is that it functions perfectly to keep the bike off the floor so I can do routine maintenance.  This storage rack can accommodate 2 bicycles and has adjustable arms to hold almost any bike and leans against a wall with a tab that can secure the rack to the wall for added stability.

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Delta Donatello 2 bike leaning bicycle rack

As I said earlier, there are a multitude of bicycle storage racks on the market and each serves a particular purpose depending on our individual needs.  With a little research each of us can come up with the perfect bicycle storage rack to make room for our other “stuff”.

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Fly Fishing and Taggart’s Grill in Utah

Have you ever been to Utah?  If not, you need to travel there to see spectacular mountain ranges whose color and appearance change with the seasons, and situated among those mountain ranges are some of the best fly fishing trout streams in the west.  My son lives outside Park City and his girl friend’s brother, Berk, is an exceptional fly fisherman, and in fact he is very close, in my opinion, to being an expert fly fisherman.  He he knows the rivers in this part of Utah, ties his own flies, studies insect hatches, mastered fly casting techniques, understands trout feeding habits, fishes many rivers in the area, and as it turns out he is a very good fishing guide.   My wife and I visited our son in May 2015, and during this visit Berk took me fly fishing on the Provo river about a mile below the Jordanele Reservoir dam.  The Provo river below the dam is a cold water stream because water discharges from the bottom of the lake which makes for ideal trout habitat.  He even provided all the fly fishing gear and waders for my first fly fishing excursion.

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Fly fishing in the Provo River

This was my first time casting a fly rod but I had a basic idea of what to do by having watched fishing shows.  However, watching others cast a fly rod and actually casting one yourself are two different things.  Berk was a very patient instructor but he was constantly reminding me to watch my back cast, keep my rod tip path straight, keep my rod tip up, mend the line if the slack went downstream of the strike indicator (flip the rod tip upstream so the extra line is above the strike indicator), keep your eye on the strike indicator, etc.  With each cast I seemed to forget at least one of these techniques and had to be reminded again and again.  Like I said he was very patient.  I must have done a few of those things right because I ended up catching 3 German brown trout that day.  In addition to teaching me the basics of fly fishing, Berk managed to catch 5 or 6 of these beautiful fish himself.

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Beautiful German brown trout

On another visit in December 2016, Berk offered to take me fly fishing on the Weber River across from Taggart’s Grill, a restaurant he and his family own “nestled in a picturesque high desert canyon in scenic Morgan, Utah.  They offer a diverse menu featuring classic American entree’s, gourmet burgers, hand crafted sandwiches, and decadent home-made desserts.   The grounds surrounding the restaurant feature lush landscaping with a variety of vibrant flowers and foliage, a beautiful Koi pond featuring cascading waterfalls, and a small family of friendly peacocks.”  The restaurant is  located just off  I-84  between Morgan and Henefer Utah.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of dining at Taggart’s Grill you are denying your taste buds a very special treat.

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Taggart’s Grill near Morgan, Utah – photos courtesy of Mike Baker

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After that brief commercial break let me get back to my fishing tale.  December in this part of Utah is what you expect of winters.  Cold and snowy.  The temperature on this day was 29 degrees and there was a foot or more of snow along the banks of the Weber River which was running clear and very cold.  We left the restaurant late in the day and walked under the interstate highway to the river.  The sky was overcast and snow flurries drifted down around us.  Again, Berk provided all the gear and equipment I needed.  About a week before I arrived Berk had two pesky raccoons that were residing in his chimney or somewhere on the roof of his house.  Being a fair minded individual he told the raccoons they had 8 hours to vacate the premises or else.  Well, or else happened, and since he ties his own flies, Berk took some clippings from the raccoons fur and tied a few flies and gave me the honor of testing his new flies on the German brown trout population in the Weber River. After several casts upstream and letting the “raccoon” fly drift downstream I hooked a trout.  Berk was happy his “raccoon” flies proved worthy and I was glad to have participated in his experiment.  We fished for a couple hours until the light faded and our feet and hands were nearly frozen.  I managed to catch 3 trout and Berk caught a half dozen.  We released these fish, as Berk always does, unless he wants a few for a meal or a friend asks for a few trout to eat.

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Sorry for the blurry picture

My wife and I look forward to our next visit to Utah to visit our son and his girlfriend, a lovely young woman whom we consider our daughter-in-law.  They live up in a canyon at about 8,000 feet above sea level which is inviting to a lot of the local wildlife such as moose and elk.  We look forward to visiting at a time when there is not several feet of snow on the ground which keeps these large creatures down in the lower elevations to forage for food.  For now we regularly get pictures and videos of moose and elk wandering through their yard seemingly unconcerned about the human inhabitants.

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This young bull moose almost came to the back door – photo courtesy of Mike Baker

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This gal slept outside their bedroom one night – photo courtesy of Mike Baker

Keep Moving on the Water

Fishing is another activity that keeps me moving.  However, to say I am an avid fisherman would be a misnomer.  I like to fish but to be honest I don’t fish as much as I would like.  There are so many activities I like to do to Keep Moving.  It is not often that I focus on one activity for any length of time with the exception of training for my bicycle trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.  I usually rotate activities depending on how I feel and if I have a specific goal to achieve, i.e., getting into “softball shape” each spring and fall.

Fishing and boating entered the picture when we retired to Beaufort County, South Carolina.  With thirty-eight percent (38%) of Beaufort County consisting of water in the form of tidal creeks and rivers, not to mention the ocean, I wanted the ability to see more of the county than you can see from a car.  So when I retired I bought an 18 foot Key Largo center console fishing boat because of the great fishing and dolphin watching opportunities.

My initiation to salt water fishing came the first time, Eddie, the Director of the County department I worked for asked me to go fishing in his 21 foot Carolina Skiff.  I jumped at the chance because I had no experience with salt water fishing.  On the day we decided to fish we left the Station Creek boat launch on St. Helena Island just before low tide and passed through salt water marshes lined with oyster beds and marsh grass all accented with the aroma of pluff mud as we headed towards Trenchards Inlet and south to Gale Break, a location on the north side of the Broad River across from Hilton Head Island. What makes this such a special place is there is no development and with the exception of the very limited view of Hilton Head Island 4 miles to the south there is nothing but pines, palm trees, sand, and driftwood.  I could stand in the surf for hours with my Ugly Stick fishing rod watching the waves and the white puffy clouds and feel like I was the only person on earth.

On the way we took a side trip up a small creek where Eddie caught a few mullet for bait using a cast net.  I am still learning to throw my 6 foot Betts Saltwater fishing net and I produce a good throw maybe 2 out of 5 times.  No doubt I scare away more bait fish than I catch.

Gale Break is an area where the shoreline is constantly undergoing transformation from storms and shifting tides.  At one point there was small “lagoon” with an entrance channel created by a sandbar curling away from the beach that afforded us a place to anchor the boat in calm water.   From there we would walk over the sandbar to the beach to surf fish.  Each time we went to Gale Break over the next few years sandbars appeared where none existed the year before or navigation channels around the sandbars changed.  I went back to Gale Break a few years later and the tides and storms closed off the entrance channel and turned the “lagoon” into a saltwater pond that would flood at high tide and return when the tide receded leaving redfish, flounder, mullet, and other species stranded until the next high tide. For a while this became a good place to catch bait fish.  But subsequent storms eventually filled this saltwater pond with sand and it disappeared.

I don’t think a fishing trip to Gale Break with Eddie ever ended without us bringing a few redfish home in the cooler.   I don’t know about elsewhere but in South Carolina to keep a redfish they have to be between 15″ and 23″.

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Me and my neighbor Bob showing off our redfish after a fishing trip with Eddie

At times those fish seemed to feast on the cut mullet we used for bait on the incoming waves as the flood tide rolled in.  There isn’t much better than a dinner of freshly caught redfish.  My wife lightly coated the fillets with Zataran’s and pan fried the fillets until they were a flakey golden brown.

I’ve learned a lot about saltwater fishing but still consider myself a newbie.  For example, knowing when to fish on certain tides, moon phases, consideration of the wind direction and the effect on surf conditions, learn about fishing inlets where small fish move with the tide, and other environmental factors that affect how fish behave and feed. But the great thing about fishing in the ocean and its tributaries is you have no idea what type of fish you will bring to the surface.  Could be redfish, whiting, sharks, lady fish (although once you catch a lady fish you will know what you have the next time you hook one because those fish are quite acrobatic), stingray, etc.  So if you haven’t gone fishing in a long time find a body of water, wet a line, and enjoy the peace and serenity that is the next best thing to catching fish.

Keep Moving by Volunteering

My blogging theme of “Keep Moving” involves more than just riding a bicycle, jogging and other forms of exercise, travel, gardening, volunteering, and other hobbies.  It is about doing and experiencing things you never thought you would have the time or money to do, or things you have dreamed of doing all your life but work and “life” got in the way.  It is about having a reason to get out of bed each morning with the idea that “I can do anything I want today.”  In retirement no one expects you to be at a certain place at a certain time.  You control your time and how you spend it.

Many people choose to work part-time in retirement which is wonderful.  Some work for financial reasons and others work to keep them engaged with other people and keep them moving instead of retiring to a recliner in front of a television with a bag of Doritos.  If I would work part-time in retirement it would only be in a job that I did not have to think too much.  Give me a task and leave me alone.  I would not want to supervise other employees or be in some high stress position.  Just a job, not another career.  I obviously did not go in that direction but I can see why others do.  I am fortunate and very thankful that I do not have to work to get by in retirement which is a blessing.

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Many people do volunteer work to keep them involved and active by giving back to their communities.  My wife and I have a very good friend who volunteers at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank near her home.  She is a very talented individual and those running the food bank soon discovered she had skills they could use.  She eventually agreed to work part-time for a few years before retiring again but she still volunteers one day a week.

On a recent visit I had the privilege of joining her and a group of her fellow volunteers to spend a few hours filling 280 boxes of food to be distributed as supplemental food for needy seniors.  Seniors are a growing demographic needing assistance but are often reluctant to ask for assistance, and that specific need is expected to increase by 50% by 2025.  Each box contained 2 boxes of cereal, 2 boxes of milk, 2 boxes of macaroni, a half gallon of orange juice and a half gallon of cranberry juice, 2 cans of green beans, 2 cans of canned pears, canned mixed vegetables, canned potatoes, canned white meat chicken and recipes.  These items will then be supplemented with fresh vegetables.  It was quite a production and was probably the best workout I had in the past two weeks and gave me a greater appreciation for the work these volunteers do each week.

The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, a member of Feeding America, was founded in 1981 with the idea that “hunger is unacceptable, that everyone deserves enough food, that food sustains life and nourishes our health, and we are called to serve neighbors in need without judgement”.  Today this organization serves 25 counties and 8 cities on both sides of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Their location in Verona, Virginia serves as a central distribution center for distribution centers in Lynchburg, Va., Charlottesville, Va., and Winchester, Va.  They provide 114,400 of people in need with nutritious food each month through a network of 215 food pantries, soup kitchens, churches, etc.  What is remarkable is that much of this service is provided by volunteers.  For example, according to their website, in 2016 there were over 24,000 volunteer hours that made possible the distribution of over 25 million pounds of food.  For more information about the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank or if you wish to make a donation or offer your services you can check out their website:  www.brafb.org.

 

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There are many people in my Sun City Hilton Head community who regularly volunteer at food banks and church sponsored thrift stores, while others volunteer at local schools and churches. These are people who have been blessed throughout their lives and felt the need to give back to their neighbors and their communities.  With all the negative news in the world today it is sad that more volunteers do not receive recognition for their valuable contributions to their communities.  These are definitely people that make the world a better place.