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Northward Ho!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Short & sweet...too busy packing for many words...just psyched over all the new territory I'll be covering with 14-15 others from our bike club as we head up to the 1,000 Islands territory of Northern Upstate New York and Ontario Canada.

I've mapped some of the possible rides which we may take:

Point Salubrious & Pillar Point Tour


Long Point Tour


1st & 2nd part of Thousand Islands Tour
(Wellesley Island would not map with RidewithGPS)



Looks like some ferry rides will be on order...just being around water ALWAYS gives me boost! Cycling 'round water? Better yet!

Car-pooling with a couple others, one long-term member of the club, the other a newbie who is a yoga instructor.

Here's the hostel at the lighthouse where we are staying:


Hoping there'll be enough room to shoe-horn my guitar into the Volvo wagon we're taking. I'm WAY overdue for dusting it off and seeing if I can remember how to play anything...lol!

I'm emptying out my iPhone so there's room for lotsa pics! :-)

Keep 'er Sparkin' everyone!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BILL60 8/31/2013 1:45PM

    Have a super time.

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SHEENADEE 8/31/2013 11:18AM

    Oh, now this sounds like lots of fun. Have a great adventure!

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MYLADY4 8/30/2013 11:19AM

    I agree with the others, better take lots of pictures. Have a blast and enjoy.

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HIPPICHICK1 8/30/2013 10:42AM

    Sounds like a wonderful trip! Enjoy.

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L*I*T*A* 8/30/2013 10:10AM

    enjoy the beauty around you...
have a safe and enjoyable trip...........
blessings and hugs.....lita

emoticon emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 8/30/2013 8:49AM

    Sounds absolutely fabulous!! Welcome to Ontario, send a wave in my direction please. My dear sister has just been visiting in that Wolf Island area (on Amherst) and absolutely loved it. DH went to law school in Kingston which is a glorious city. Gananoque is so picturesque too.

Comment edited on: 8/30/2013 8:51:43 AM

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CHANGE4FIT 8/30/2013 8:18AM

    Have fun and be safe. Can't wait until you share your experience with us here on Spark!

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KANOE10 8/30/2013 7:42AM

    Have a wonderful trip. It sounds very exciting. Take lots of pictures.

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CRAVINGLIFE 8/30/2013 5:21AM

    Hope you have a great and safe trip! Can't wait to read all about it. Should be beautiful!

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TWEETYKC00 8/30/2013 4:57AM

    I hope you have plenty of fun with your riding!

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PATRICIAAK 8/30/2013 2:54AM

    Have a terrific trip. Looking forward to the pics.

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NADINEL 8/29/2013 11:53PM

    Have fun, be safe. I am looking forward to seeing some of those pix.

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RECREATING_ME 8/29/2013 10:56PM

    Have a great time, Don! I'm sure you will have lots of great pics and stories to share upon your return.

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MARYANNB25 8/29/2013 10:53PM

    Have fun, Be safe and enjoy the trip. emoticon

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MISS_VIV 8/29/2013 10:45PM

    Have a safe trip and enjoy.

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Why I Love To Ride Long Distances...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Just came across this wonderful piece from NPR / The Oatmeal:

'Why This Compulsion To Run Long Distances?' A Runner's Beautiful Confession


Now although I am NOT a runner, I could relate to SO MUCH of what he shared so creatively, but from a cycling point of view!

When I ride:

"Demons are forgotten

Krakens are slain,

and Blerches are silenced."


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RECREATING_ME 8/28/2013 11:30PM

    I love The Oatmeal! His commentary is always spot on.

For me, the exercise I completely lose myself in is strength training. Haven't been able to find a way to do it to my liking since I had to drop my Y membership, though. Need to work more on a solution...

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HIPPICHICK1 8/28/2013 9:33AM


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GREENGENES 8/27/2013 11:44AM

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing!

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BILL60 8/27/2013 9:12AM

    Very nice!!

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WATERMELLEN 8/26/2013 6:45PM

    Really liked this link AND I very much enjoyed the MCC jasmine song too . . . you are surrounding yourself with good stuff and sharing it, thanks!

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_VALEO_ 8/26/2013 6:29PM

    Really enjoyed your link! Though I am no runner... or biker either.

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PATRICIAAK 8/26/2013 4:38PM


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GIRANIMAL 8/26/2013 12:52PM

    I emoticon it! I just wish I had more time to ride somewhere that is NOT the city, or a guarded inner-city sanctuary like one of our bigger, lovelier parks. In one of my old neighborhoods (across town) I used to looooooove riding through this enormous, gorgeous park at around 5:30 a.m. -- and that was back before I'd lost a pound and was in the worst physical shape and state of my life! But at near dawn in a beautiful setting with no one around but the squirrels, the birds and the homeless folks still asleep on their benches, those were also some of the best mornings of my life. It indeed gave me clarity, which I greatly needed then.

Comment edited on: 8/26/2013 12:53:23 PM

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L*I*T*A* 8/26/2013 11:38AM

    emoticon emoticon

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DAISYBELL6 8/26/2013 10:29AM

    I'm out there slayin' with you!

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VALERIEMAHA 8/26/2013 9:59AM

    I've loved that piece for a long while. Seems like I might have even sent it to you...but who knows with this Swiss Cheese brain'o mine!
P.S. And your misty, mystical desktop?

Comment edited on: 8/26/2013 9:59:40 AM

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Canta Quartet!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

I am still filled to overflowing with all that this weekend had to offer...! I SO wish I could bottle it for those times of need.

Between yesterday (47 miles) and today (59.5 miles) I just could not stop those wheels from rolling and rolling and soaking up as much, more and more of the perfect weather, perfect company, perfect EVERYTHING!

Today especially...! I started off by heading down to Binghamton for the Chris Thater 5K race, www.bcstopdwi.com/bcstopdwi/thater , not to run, but to watch fellow local Sparker STRIVERONE wrap up yet another race and to meet up afterward so that we could hop on our bikes and do the Hallstead/Great Bend Loop down into Pennsylvania.

Another bike club member mentioned wanting to join us (I'll be heading up to Tibbett's point with him next weekend) and while waiting for STRIVERONE yet another club member caught up with me and was up for the ride. That made four of us. Little did I know ahead of time, as I had never ridden before with STRIVERONE before, that the four of us would be such a HIGHLY compatible quartet of strong riders! Double kudos to STRIVERONE for doing so well AFTER having run a 5K...whew! We just hung together so nicely throughout our thirty-some miles down to PA and back. One of the club members showed me a neat little detour on our return route and lead us up into the hills off the main road for some climbing workouts.

After returning to Rec Park in Binghamton I had another 10 miles to head back home from there. Another bike club member who lives up around my neck of the woods was heading home also so he joined me and we took the River Road loop for yet MORE climbing and adding another coupla miles to the route.

Throughout my rides both yesterday and today a song kept coming to me with a melody that is so lovely and complex and actually a good dose of minor key usage, no strong beat to power me along...so how does that fit with my being so enthralled by the sun, the flowers, birds overhead, woodchuck scurrying for cover and the four of us thrumming along in such harmony?

1) Beauty...the music embodied the sense of gratitude, savoring and accenting all that the visual, tactile world was laying out before me...intensifying the experience even more.


2) Self-soothing...music has always been for me a treasured method of a self-embrace, self-affirmation. And it's calorie-free, unlike other unhealthy methods of self-soothing which shall remain nameless! :-)

Here is the song which I've carried with me through my weekend outdoors: Canta Canta Mais. This is yet another gem from Maestro Antonio Carlos Jobim from Brasil, composer of so many songs you have heard but may not know were written by him. Certainly Girl From Ipanema is his most well known work. But his works encompass so much more.

There are many versions of this song which have been performed by many. My earliest introduction to it was through another artist who is among my favorites, Paul Winter, from his 1969 Winter Consort Album:


I think it works best for me as an instrumental, even if the lyrics do speak about singing.

Probably a rough, rough English translation from Portuguese. I'm betting the lyrics were very idiomatic and nuanced:

Sing, Sing
Feel the beauty and
Sing, Sing
Forget the sadness
So much, so much
so sad
Ah ...

Sing, Sing
Sing, go, go
Follow singing alone
Sing, Sing

Here is a vocal version which has a series of artwork/pictures highlighting the theme of "beauty"


A very thoughtful piano rendition:


And finally Jobim (who is sadly deceased) himself at the piano with orchestra and choir:


Finally (you mean I haven't shaken you off yet?) a little artwork that made me think of the transitions so many of us here among our SparkFamily go through in our journeys, taking flight, reveling in our freedom and living our lives with SPARK!

Link to artwork: t.co/CSPJftIjmd

Wishing a fine week ahead to all!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHANGE4FIT 8/28/2013 9:10AM

    What a great blog-thanks for sharing your day and inspirations!

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VALERIEMAHA 8/26/2013 9:57AM

    Thanks for so palpably sharing the ecstacy...I'm feelin' it!!!

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WATERMELLEN 8/26/2013 7:48AM

    Chain link to birds -- evocative for sure. All these links are lovely -- I particularly like the Winter version -- and of course your description of a day full of joy and companionability and outdoors and strength.

Like you I wish we could bottle these moments and relieve the thirst of the dry patches. But your blog serves that function, actually --


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PATRICIAAK 8/26/2013 12:46AM


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GREENGENES 8/25/2013 10:55PM

    Thanks for sharing the wonderful music and artwork. I also prefer the instrumental version. Would love to hear a string version of that piece.

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SAM60SUMTHINK 8/25/2013 10:23PM

    Don, what a wonderful ride... AND !!!

Thank you for sharing those fantastic links to stunning music. Checking out first the links you provided, I traveled beyond those and enjoyed the journey!! Hmmm... how I wish I could still play the flute; listening to variations of "Canta Canta Mais" made that part of me that so loves music want to be a part of it. Incredible!! How perfectly the moving notes suited your ride!

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Church of the Holy Spokes

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Okay, I'm going to edit the title of this blog as I had this inspiration (while cycling of course) but I DO want to preface the title change by saying this is with absolutely ALL respect for ALL faiths and denominations...I just felt that this sums up one of my strongest methods for connecting with a higher power as you'll see later in this blog if you haven't already read it.

Yes, yes, today was another great ride...but you know, they aren't ALL super rides. Last weekend, for instance, I had perfect weather for a 50 mile solo loop through our county...try as I might I just couldn't get into it and "feel" this ride...it just boiled down to grinding out the miles. Like pulling the pump handle up and down endlessly with nary a drop to show for it.

Today was a whole different animal. Let's distract first with a pic from my morning commute after arriving in Binghamton along Cheri Lindsay Park the fog is lifting...heading for the hills:

It was supposed to be a whole different ride from what I originally proposed. I think cyclists getting together always reserve the right to change their minds, even in mid-route! While much of what we traveled I've done many times before, we connected the dots between different points via Route 221 from Marathon to Willet (a tiny speck of a town with little more than 4 corners...I was surprised to find it had a farmer's market once a week. LOTS of climbing which made up for the relatively flat remainder.

My inner radio dialed up an old Blood, Sweat and Tears song written by Laura Nyro (RIP, such a loss!) "And When I Die":


Such a cool song on so many levels but today it got me waxing philosophically as I pedaled along. I am not by nature a readily spiritual person. I envy people who are. It just doesn't "happen" for me. Unless I'm on my bike. The wind, my body pumping away, the flowing line of the horizon demarcating the green hills of earth from the sky, yin and yang, sun beaming down, the thrill of the descent and sense of accomplishment from the climb...brought to my radio another song from Jan Garbarek, "Arietta"...a thoughtful poignant straddle between major and minor keys, conjuring for me a sense of connectedness with the world, with my body and an appreciation of my accomplishments:

I see this person posting the song felt it captured a day in their life as well.

I've been following a meditative practice every morning when I first wake up and I realize it follows similar path, as David Byrne said, "I'm breathing in. I'm breathing out." www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuY4FR-bmGY
I have a growing respect for the power our breathing can contain.

We discovered an old single lane bridge over the river:

Soon after resuming our ride we saw a fox scurrying across the road while down in the valley following along the creek which flowed into what would become Dorchester Lake:

Here it opens into the lake a bit:

And here is the south end of the lake where it is dammed up. You might be able to see all the cool walking / jogging trails which run along and around the dam:

I had a scare this past week as I had checked my pulse and it was dropping a beat in the mornings again. Got into my primary care doc's office and he ran an EKG and all was (whew!) well! I had feared interference with my big upcoming rides! This added to my appreciation of today's ride as well...!

John, the bike club fellow that rode with me today, I discovered is also heading up to Tibbett's Point for the Labor Day weekend of riding! He's been there before and was able to fill me in a bit by sharing some of the fun stuff he's done in the past. He ALSO expressed a great deal of interest in doing the FANY (Five hundred miles Across New York) ride next year:


I've been wanting to do this also but shared my frustration in considering the logistics of getting myself and my bike to the Niagara Falls area for the start of the ride and then back home from the Saratoga Springs area after the ride was done. I shared Augie's (he's our 80 year old HERO of our bike club) solution: "Simple. You just get on your bike in Binghamton and RIDE up to Niagara Falls and when you're done with the ride in Saratoga Springs you just ride home!" I said to Augie "I want to ride the Five Hundred Miles Across New York...not Five THOUSAND miles across New York...!" :-)

John had a great thought: rent a van to get to Niagara Falls and when done rent a van to get back home. Split the costs between 2-3 folks and it wouldn't be TOO prohibitive. Now THAT would be such a COOL ride to do!

Okay, enough meanderings for a late, late blog...another day to ride coming right up!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VALERIEMAHA 8/25/2013 11:03PM

    What an extraordinary journey with you in text and images and I've always especially loved that BST song. Oh, and BTW, I REALLY think your blog title is outstanding!!!

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SASSYCHRIS1952 8/24/2013 6:26PM

    Hi Don! I enjoyed the blog plus the beautiful pictures! I am also glad that you went to the Dr and you are ok. emoticon

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BAZOOKABOBCAT 8/23/2013 9:44AM

    What an absolutely beautiful post! And quite soothing!

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HIPPICHICK1 8/23/2013 9:06AM

    Fabulous photos! It looks like heaven.
I hope you can figure out a good way to do FANY.

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JAMER123 8/21/2013 11:55PM

    Love the songs you talked about. I can use them while I meditate. Gets me into a wonderful start of the day!! Great blog!!!
emoticon emoticon

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RAINBOWFALLS 8/21/2013 10:43AM

    I love the music choices coming to your head. The Blood Sweat and Tears song has always been a favorite of mine. I too would find my inner self while taking the beautiful rides you do. There is so much country to see right in our back yards. Great photo's - thank you for sharing.

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_VALEO_ 8/19/2013 4:48PM

    Thought I commented it but got sidetracked with your links! (Thanks for sharing)
LOVE your pictures! And I'm so glad to read that your GP said it was only a false alarm. Bike on!

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MOTHEPRO 8/19/2013 11:30AM

    emoticon It sounds like a wonderful ride! Beautiful scenery!

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PMRUNNER 8/19/2013 5:49AM

    Nice! Hope you get to do the 500 miles across ny ride!

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SAM60SUMTHINK 8/19/2013 12:26AM

    Don, I'm glad to hear the heart scare was 'just' a scare and all seems well!
(Loved the music and the pictures!)
The FANY ride sounds great; 5 concurrent almost-century rides for an incredible cause. Takes admirable stamina to do that in less than a week! Maybe when you get to Saratoga you can all rest a day or two before heading back. Hmmm .... maybe there would be a good show at SPAC. What a finale that would be, huh?!

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CHANGE4FIT 8/18/2013 11:15PM

    Great blog, Don. I can sense the exhilaration in your post, but have to admit your title had me a bit worried- Glad the heart is beating steady.

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ROMANTILLY 8/18/2013 11:36AM

    Such a poet Don. Thanks for being a member of this team and sharing.

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L*I*T*A* 8/18/2013 10:17AM

    great that all worked out well with your heart.......
way to go..........love the songs and pictures...
R> emoticon emoticon

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GREENGENES 8/18/2013 9:46AM

    Great stuff! I haven't thought about that song in years. I like your taste in music!

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OUTDOORGIRL69 8/18/2013 9:32AM

    As always Don, I love reading your blogs. Love the pictures & remember the good points of living on the East Coast back when.

Thanks & have fun on your rides.


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FERRETLOVER1 8/18/2013 8:15AM

    Love those pics! I love to see the fog lifting, especially. I saw that on my walk this morning - I live across the street from a golf course and could see the fog over the course behind the houses - slowly lifting!

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WATERMELLEN 8/18/2013 7:57AM

    Gorgeous pics -- love that "When I Die" (not that this is happening anytime soon). And it's so true (as I recall from my running days, and still experience XC skiing or even on the elliptical): sometimes I anticipate one of those great euphoric workouts and it's just a slog, and other times I'm just showing up and euphoria happens.

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HAPPY-DESTINY 8/18/2013 6:36AM

    What a wonderful blog!

As I sit here typing . . your Blood Sweat and Tears are conjuring the memories of yesteryear as are the photos you posted of a land of my childhood!

Though I have never had the pleasure of riding that area on a bike . . YET . . I see the calendar says . .'Yes . . there is still time'!

I too drop a beat now and then. I have had all the workups including but not limited to catheterization and Holter monitors for a week at a time! They said at St. Joseph's cardiology unit that my heart is healthier than 98% of the 6+ billion people on the planet with NO suggestion of cardiovascular disease . . even at 53 years of age!

I say 'Pump on'!

I hope you can do the ride from the Falls! What an awesome photo journey that would be!

Keep on Keepin On!

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STRIVERONE 8/18/2013 4:22AM

    I spent Sunday on a mower. Not terrible, but you definitely had the better ride. Thanks for sharing it.

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PATRICIAAK 8/18/2013 2:28AM

    bike on!
glad your heart checked out OK

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Dawn Is A Feeling...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I am SO loving my cycling commutes...especially in the morning! Chilly today, high 40s...still fighting to keep my shorts as I hate cycling with pants, but have switched to long-sleeved t-shirts. It isn't long before my Kattelville Hill has warmed me up and I've got my inner radio going as I never *really* listen to music while riding...I leave that to the Future Darwin Award Winners...lol!

I'm able to tune out worries or minutia of the day and just soak up the ride and savor the peeling off of the chilly, foggy dew and the sunny blue skies that increasing make themselves known from behind the cloak of the morning.

Al Jarreau's "Mornin'" captures the feeling of good will that just flows through my ride as I wave to other cyclists I pass and offer a cheery "Mornin'" to the walkers or a friendly "comin' up on your left" to avoid startling them.

Mornin' everyone! www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzXNdLVZs3k

I changed my SparkPage background to share the morning foggy Chenango River and sun peaking through the trees along the Otsiningo Trail which is part of my ride. I'll add another pic later of the Chenango as I approach Binghamton where you can see the fog lifting over the hills.

Here is another tune that took hold later in my ride, a blast from WAY back, The Moody Blues, "Days of the Future Passed" as shared on YouTube by fellow SP member HIPPICHICK1:


The early part of the album especially:

"Dawn is a feeling, a beautiful ceiling,
The smell of grass just makes you pass into a dream.
You're here today, no future fears,
This day will last a thousand years.
If you want it to."

Who could ask for a better way to start one's day?


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHANGE4FIT 8/18/2013 11:20PM

    Your writing always inspires! Love the Moody Blues-got to go see them a couple of years ago-superb.

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RECREATING_ME 8/17/2013 7:11PM

    The second paragraph of your blog post sounds like a little slice of heaven! Just putting everything aside and fully experiencing the beauty around you. Definitely a great reason to take the time to exercise in outdoors!

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WATERMELLEN 8/16/2013 8:21PM

    Oh what a lovely blog -- and wallpaper pic -- you have cycled yourself back into a good place!!

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KANOE10 8/16/2013 9:15AM

    That was a lovely song about the dawn. I am an Al Jareau fan. I walk in the early morning and am noticing that it is getting cooler.

What a great way to start the day.

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1EMMA2011 8/15/2013 6:40PM

    Love the Moody Blues!! Thank you for your beautiful thoughts & music!!


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PATRICIAAK 8/15/2013 6:18PM


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_VALEO_ 8/15/2013 4:59PM

    Temps are lower in the mornings here too, we can feel that fall is on its way. I understand how you can feel while biking. What a great way to start the day!

Wow, thanks for sharing the two videos. I hadn't listened to Al Jarreau since ages... The Moody Blues' video is a gem.

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L*I*T*A* 8/15/2013 2:41PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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OUTDOORGIRL69 8/15/2013 12:11PM


You are doing real good.

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_LINDA 8/15/2013 10:55AM

    Wow! Very mellow music! Looks like a gorgeous commute you have! I have never heard the first tune before, new to me. I sure enjoyed the video put together by Hippie Chick, very well done an a pleasure to listen to as well as watch!
Thanks for sharing, a bright perk to my morning!

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KESTRYLL 8/15/2013 8:57AM

    Keep up the good work!

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