July 15th - Quiet in Aspen

Aspen is a very cute town (maybe a little too cute) with a ton of old and old-styled buildings.

We were told that the hosts in Aspen wouldn't be ready for us until 4:00pm. Since the ride is only 30 miles, we choose to hang around Aspen for the morning and head out at 1:00 or so for Carbondale. As a test, the Carbondale folks bought us all lift tickets for the gondola in Aspen. 

July 14th - Independence Pass

The trailer looks odd in a campsite after two months without leaving asphalt.

Independence pass was today. Everyone's been anxious for this pass for the whole trip; at 12,100 feet it's the biggest paved through road in Colorado. (The road up Pikes Peak is higher but doesn't go anywhere.)

It wasn't that bad. The road was a perfectly uniform 6% grade on the way up and traffic was light enough to stay safe. The descent had more switchbacks, and I think we came down faster on the bikes than the van could. 

The pictures speak for themselves. 

July 13th - Out of Hartsel!

I didn't get a picture last night, so here's the one room schoolhouse/church/community center we stayed in.

Although the ride into Hartsel was pretty, I'm glad to go. It was a long, rough ride with lots of headwinds and climbing. Today's ride was just what the doctor would have ordered, if doctors prescribed bike rides to cure ailments. Moving on. 

After a short ascent out of Hartsel (and a ton of bugs - my legs were speckled) we crested a mountain pass and started 15 miles of descent. Curving past huge exposed rock formations at 30 miles per hour was an enormous relief from crawling up hillsides. 

Lunch was at the base of the slope, followed by a gradual climb into Twin Lakes. We rode alongside a tiny little tributary to the massive and flooded Arkansas river. That was neat. 

July 12th - On the road again

Andrew and I spent a little while wandering Garden of the Gods. The rock formations abruptly jut out of the ground

Today's ride took us 85 miles from Fountain to a little town called Hartsel. Along the way we passed through Colorado Springs and Garden of the Gods, and climbed a pair of mountain passes. 

I was sweeping again today, so I hung out at the back with Andrew. Fortunately, no one has any major mechanical issues today. Unfortunately, a few weren't feeling up to biking after a week off, so we spent a lot of time roadside waiting for people to catch their breath. We can usually bang out 85 miles in 8 or 9 hours, but Andrew and I were on the road for 12. At around for miles from Hartsel, the van came for us as we ran out of daylight. 

But I shouldn't complain. The ride was absolutely gorgeous, especially the pair of mountain descents. Even route 24, which was busy and a little scary, was beautiful. The road barely fit between the winding walls of the river valley it followed. Later in the day, the valley opened up and the road straightened out. Safer to ride on but less breathtaking. 

All told, it was a nice return to the bicycle. Especially the mountain descents. 

July 11th - Blitzed to the End

Some dark and nefarious person inside just cut out a window. Isn't that cool?

We wiped up the Blitz Build today with ice cream and windows. Our bike and build house has windows and blue board now, and the houses across the street are looking pretty good, too. The fence is done, the roof is up (except for singles, which a professional offered to donate) and things are looking pretty progressed. 

July 10th - Supporting the Walls

The girls working the saw made a sign today!

Quite frankly, I forget what we did today. I only transferred these five pictures from my camera, and none of them ring any bells. We made more progress on scaffolding the across-the-street house, at least. 

Oh! I remember! I spent most of the day adding sports between the walls and the roof trusses. I cut a bunch of wood chunks down to 22" and installed them in between two roof trusses. Then I nailed down through the new support into the wall below. These supports reduce the amount of wobble in otherwise floating walls and reduce future drywall damage. 

July 9th - Food Rescue

Can you believe that all this would've gone to a landfill?

Today I hung back at the church for the morning. A local food rescue organization was providing lunch and I wanted to help them cook. 

Their schtick, as they explained it to me, is being a pair of wheels. Groceries and restaurants throw out expired food all the time, even if the expiration is just a number. They act as a middleman, finding grocery stores that discard food and delivering it gratis (via bike!) to low-income areas and food pantries. 

We had an assortment of fresh produce and some desserts from Trader Joes - all expired by a day or so but otherwise fine. After chopping the onions, peppers, potatoes, and whatever else we had, we cooked up a stir fry sort of dish. I suggested using the sweet potatoes on their own, and prepared them mashed with a little cinnamon. 

Delicious. 

July 8th - Divide and Conquer

Habitat says out our hard hats in the morning. The front of each has our name, and the backs have a picture that describes us. A doodle, really.

We left the ranch early this morning to return to the build site in Fountain. Along the way, we saw some mile deer (correct me if I'm wrong) and some really nice views. 

We split into a few smaller groups today to work on installing riding trusses on one house, house wrap on another, and a fence around a third. 

The pictures have captions again today, so click and browse!

July 7th - At The Ranch

The horses pi grazing in the back pasture

Today was a day off, and I got almost two days of for the price of one. Helen's parents picked us up from the build site yesterday after helping out for a few hours. The four of us headed up to the ranch for a light dinner and a night in a real bed. 

The next morning, we slept in. Helen read a book while I worked on the broken refrigerator. After taking the whole thing apart, defrosting everything, and checking the defrost timer, I found infinite resistance across the heater coils. Infinite resistance means no heat. 

I looked for a local replacement, but failing that ordered a new one online. Until it's installed, we can defrost the thing by hand. 

Helen's cousin Micah came over for a while in the afternoon. We hung out with the horses and chatted amongst ourselves for a while. 

All in all, a very good day. 

July 6th - Walls Up

This Habitat affiliate has some cool equipment including this whatever-it-is, some big earthmovers, and an old pickup truck.

This was the second day of the Blitz Build. We polished off the framing work and stayed to install scaffolding. The scaffold will let us work on installing the roof trusses and sheeting safely. 

This is working out to be a nice site, albeit a little slow-paced. 

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