When I was a kid, my favorite snack was Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts.  They were filling, portable, delicious…  what’s not to love about a pop tart?  Sure, there is no health benefit to this amazingly tasty treat, but that’s not the point.  It’s like having a bit of a  taste vacation from  what might otherwise be a daily, healthy diet.

Colectivo upped the ante by introducing their own spin on the fresh toaster pastry.  I am quite fond of the blueberry variety; what is quite frightening, though, is the new Nutella pop pastry. I haven’t tried one yet, out of concern over the potential loss of all self control.

Who can say no to Nutella?

Sailing with a cyclist

When I was on this summer’s bike tour through Oregon, I ran into Robert, a Scotsman who was cycling from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. We ended up biking together for over a week through Oregon, Idaho and Montana, before we went our separate ways in Missoula. I took the train back to Milwaukee, and Robert continued to bike across Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, and recently, Wisconsin.

He’s now staying at my house in Milwaukee as he continues on his cycling journey east. Yesterday he took a day off from cycling, so we went sailing on Lake Michigan with my friend Matt. We had a great time, talking mostly about politics, culture, and sailing.

I had a great adventure cycling this summer, benefiting from the generosity of those who hosted me. It was good to host Robert, to introduce him to my Milwaukee home. Good to give back a bit to balance out all the goodness people afforded me on this summer’s travels.

Matt and Robert, sailing and resolving the world’s issues.

Cycling along the Milwaukee River

While cycling along the Milwaukee River, I nearly ran into a work of art created in the spirit of Andy Goldsworthy.


A collection of cut wood shaped into a shelter with a single circular entrance–it reminded me of a work of Goldworthy’s that I saw last spring at the Hess Winery.

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Sticks of wood shaping a circle, somewhat off-center. Both complicated and simplistic, it’s work that makes one believe that art is something we are all capable of creating.

Finding a place to write

A year ago, I wrote the first draft of a book that’s about adult friendship. I did this because I don’t have many friends, and I figured that writing a book about friendship may help me understand why. The project is coming along; some answers are slowly presenting themselves as to why I only really know a half-dozen people on this planet. But it’s taking time. I had to put the manuscript down for a while to let some of the ideas germinate. I opened the document today and started to work on it again.

When I was in grad school, getting a fine arts degree in writing, I learned that the space you write in is critical to the writing process. I’ve been scouting out a suitable place to finish this writing project, and I think I found one: the back corner at the Stone Creek Coffee on Silver Spring. The baristas are nice, the coffee is good, the music is contemporary but not too contemporary, and it’s not too busy after nine in the morning. Hopefully, I’ll be spending a ton of time here for the next 6 months.

Working on chapter 3 of what will become The July Rides.

An empty beer garden

There’s too many beer gardens in Milwaukee. I know this, because yesterday I was biking home and decided to stop off at the Hubbard Park Beer Garden–which is not to be confused with the Beer Garden at South Shore Terrace, the Estabrook Park Beer Garden, the Landing at Hoyt Park, or the Traveling Beer Garden (which locates itself at Greenfield Park in West Allis, Grant Park in South Milwaukee, Scout Lake Park in Greendale, and Doctors Park in Fox Point). The beer garden was nearly empty, and that’s somewhat sad, because it’s a great place to be.

Sad, yes, but personally wonderful given that I’m an introverted outdoor beer drinker. A half liter of Sheepshead Stout, a half hour in the shade of oak trees, and nothing but gratitude that I live in Milwaukee. If this beer garden were in Seattle, where I used to live, it would be jammed non-stop.

Too many empty tables.
What’s left of the Sheepshead.
The Wabi patiently waits for me to finish the beer.


Cycling with all the right people

I don’t necessarily enjoy cycling with other people. Introversion is my thing–being alone, the “company of one.” I do enjoy cycling with Sue, my wife, because we know each other so well that it’s like biking by myself.

But every year, we ride in the Scenic Shore 150, A 2-day bike ride that starts in Milwaukee and ends 150 miles or so north in Door County. The route follows Lake Michigan, which is both scenic and less humid. More importantly, the event is a fundraiser for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; this year, everyone raised a total of $1,343,659 for blood-cancer research. Sue’s Mom, Gayle, died several years ago from complications associated with leukemia, so we always ride in her honor.

That’s what makes it such an interesting social event. We ride in honor of Gayle, one person who was impacted by cancer. But everyone is pretty much riding for that one person in their life who was, or is, affected by cancer. We rode with cancer survivors, with people who know friends and family who are fighting cancer, and people like us who ride in memory of those who have passed. It’s an odd blend of emotions, to enjoy cycling, the good food, the beer, the scenery–and the company of those who have also experienced devastating loss.

There’s also a good number of folks who do this ride that are not regular cyclists. You can tell they’re physically hurting by the end of the second day. But all that pain quickly dissipates when they cross the finish line, get their  finisher’s medal, eat some food, drink some beer, and continue to engage with the other cyclists who rode for this common cause.

I find cycling to be one of the most meaningful activities I engage in. Raising money for blood-cancer research just makes it all the more meaningful.

Sue rode with a photo of Gayle on her back.
Enjoying one of the rest stops along Lake Michigan.
Years ago, we sold this tandem (a bike we used to bring our kids on the Scenic Shore) to a family that still does the ride with their kids.
Time to pack it up for next year.


Last will and testament

Today is my 53rd birthday. It may be an odd thing to do on your birthday, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to make a legal will. I have a living will, but that document focuses more on “end of life” issues–not issues of my “estate.”

The most important part of the will is who gets what. Sue, my beautiful wife, pretty much gets it all, with 3 notable exceptions:

  • My books—specifically the poetry—shall be distributed to Robin Lewis. If this beneficiary does not survive me, this bequest shall be distributed to Kait and Evan Howell. If this beneficiary does not survive me, this bequest shall be distributed with my residuary estate.
  • My bikes shall be distributed to Denny Keough. If this beneficiary does not survive me, this bequest shall be distributed to Kait and Evan Howell. If this beneficiary does not survive me, this bequest shall be distributed with my residuary estate.
  • My beer making equipment shall be distributed to Evan Howell. If this beneficiary does not survive me, this bequest shall be distributed to Suzanne Schlicke. If this beneficiary does not survive me, this bequest shall be distributed with my residuary estate.

So, if you’re Robin, Denny, or Evan, be prepared to score some good stuff in the case of my final demise.

What better place to write your will than at Cafe Hollander, where they give you a complementary birthday beer.

The 2nd Annual Matt Stachelski Memorial Bike Ride

I took a week off from the blog to recuperate from the 6 week bike ride Kait and I did. But as they say, there’s no rest for the wicked–or for the cyclist. So part of my week off involved preparing for, and helping execute, the 2nd Annual Matt Stachelski Memorial Bike ride.

We started the Matt Stachelski Memorial Bike Ride last year, as a way of honoring the memory of Matt Stachelski–a great guy and the best student I’ve ever taught. He died in a house fire a couple of years ago; in lieu of the tragedy of his death, his family and friends decided to coordinate a bike ride, an opportunity to share in one of Matt’s greatest passions–cycling. This was the second iteration of the event, an opportunity to get together, ride bikes, and talk about what a great guy Matt was.

It was also a fundraiser for a scholarship that was established in Matt’s name. If you weren’t able to participate in the bike ride, you can still donate to the scholarship by clicking here.

It was good to spend some time with those who knew Matt, as well as with those who didn’t know him but may now have an appreciation for the person he was: genuine, intense, inspired.

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The start of the ride.
Matt’s friends tipping a few back at the beer garden.
A litre of beer and a serious pretzel.
When you’re serious about beer, you bring your own inflatable beer couch.
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Selling bicycle jewelry to help raise funds for the scholarship.
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Welcoming everyone to the event.
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MSOE student volunteers–and their professor.


A day with Kait

We leave on the train tomorrow, heading back to Wisconsin. I’ll enjoy riding the train with Kait, just as I’ve enjoyed biking with her for 35 days through Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. I enjoyed  spending the day with her today in Whitefish.

It’s been a great trip, this big bike ride, because I was able to do it with Kait.

Trying out a hammock chair at the Whitefish Craft Fair.
Having a beer at a brewery. 
Kait bought a great dress to bring back to Minnesota.

Kait takes photos of the wild

Kait has a pretty nice camera that she took on this bike tour. It has a great zoom lens that captured some wildlife quite spectacularly. The camera brings it in pretty close; it’s nice to mitigate the physical distance between us and these creatures (I especially appreciate the photos she took of wild mammals–such as the mountain goats).

A pair of eagles outside of Kalispell.
Mountain Goat
A mountain goat in Glacier National Park.
The wild Montana chipmunk, trying to eat our food in the campsite.


Road to the Sun

The bike tour may have ended, but the adventure hasn’t. Today, our friend’s Steve and Meg drove us to the top of Logan Pass, up the Road to the Sun. I was able to experience this trip on bicycle 2 summers ago; it was much easier by car (and much safer, given the car traffic and proximity to wildlife).

I’m glad Kait was able to experience this place–probably the “biggest” place I’ve been.

The farther you walk on the path, the more remote it all becomes. Be sure to bring your bear spray.
Kait encounters a mountain goat.
A bit tired, a bit blissful.