Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I was returning home from an appointment with the eye doctor and decided to ride south on Shields in Fort Collins. That ride took me past the entrance to Cathy Fromme Natural Area. I took a side trip from the commute home and rode the north leg of the sidewalk that runs through the natural area. It was great!
The road enters the natural area and has a small parking area for cars. My bike didn't need that... The north leg of the concrete path runs 2.5 miles on a wandering path up and down through the prairie area. It is classic prairie, with birds and rodents of various shapes and sizes rustling in the grass.
I was not paying close enough attention to the concrete during the ride and ran over a rattlesnake. I thought it was a branch of a tree and by the time I had detected the classic diamond pattern on the back, it was too late to avoid the impact.
The rattlesnakes are helpful rodent control on the prairie, as are the raptors flying above. Unfortunately, I wasn't attentive enough to miss that one. Fortunately, by the time I returned to that section of the trail, the snake had moved off trail to another area. I suspect I did him some damage (sorry about that), but apparently not immediately fatal damage
Sunday, September 21, 2008
What a Day...
Saturday was a day full of surprises. Coleen was scheduled to volunteer at the hospital in Fort Collins, and the boys and I were scheduled to help with Gary Butler's service project for his Eagle Scout rank. Heather and Heidi got the "morning off".
Coleen had agreed to watch Kara Lundmark all day Saturday so the Lundmark family could go to Elitch's for a day of fun. Unfortunately, that collided with Coleen's volunteer time at the hospital and with the service project for the boys. Fortunately, Sarah stayed with us Friday night while Ben went to Granby to golf with his dad. Sarah was able to cover the Kara collision easily by hanging around during the morning at our house.
Coleen's volunteer time at the hospital was very busy (she tests newborn baby hearing) because there were many babies which needed to be tested. When she returned to the car at the end of her time, she found a nice note on the car alerting her that her left rear tire was flat. In traveling to the hospital, or some time prior, she had apparently collided with something sharp.
Coleen couldn't find the jack or the spare tire or a tire iron. We're all still very inexperienced with the details of our Honda Odyssey van. We've driven it thousands of miles, but hadn't yet experienced a flat tire. She pulled out the owners manual (the original owner kindly kept the manual) and read where to find the tire. Unfortunately, she couldn't find the jack or the tire iron, even with a review of the manual. She called home.
By the time Coleen called home, the boys and I had returned from the service project. We had dug steps into the side of a small ravine at Carter Lake Open Space. We finished about 12:30 PM, then drove home as quickly as we could. Eric and Alan were registered for the "Best of Especially for Youth" which started at 2:00 PM, so they needed to shower, dress, and drive to the event in the little bit of time we had. That meant I didn't have a car to rescue Coleen.
Coleen called AAA Colorado and asked them to send someone to fix her flat tire. About 45 minutes later she called them and discovered they had dispatched a driver from Johnstown, and the driver had driven to the wrong hospital looking for her. He went to Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, instead of Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins. Since they are part of the same hospital system, it is somewhat understandable. The driver told Coleen that he wasn't allowed to go as far north as Fort Collins. Coleen looked again, found the jack, removed the flat, mounted the spare, and drove to Markley Honda to have them fix the flat.
Meanwhile, back at home, Eric, our 16 year old new driver, was rushing to get to Best of EFY on time. He backed the van off the concrete drive onto the gravel drive (all still part of our property) and bumped into Sarah's little Geo. The bump was enough to knock the passenger side rear bumper completely off the car, and leave it hanging on the car. Sarah's car was now "out of commission" and Eric was running late. I called the Loveland Police Department, and they said that since the accident was entirely on our property, we could report it with a "counter report" during regular working hours. Eric was distraught, but at least didn't have to wait at the house to file a police report for the wreck.
With Sarah's car out of commission, Heather and Heidi would be unable to attend their 3:00 PM event. Fortunately, they found a ride with friends.
I looked at Sarah's car in more detail and realized that although it looked bad (the rear bumper was hanging from the car by a single screw), there was very little actual damage. The bumper assembly on her Geo Metro is a plastic wrapper over a composite (fiberglass like) bumper. The plastic wrapper had been peeled off, but the composite bumper was unaffected. The plastic wrapper was flexible enough that it had taken the bump, peeled a little paint from the impact area, and returned to shape. Since the underlying plastic is almost the same red color as the paint, it looked like it might be possible for me to reassemble the bumper assembly.
I gathered a list of fasteners that needed to be replaced, and rode my bicycle into town to buy the fasteners. The first store had a few, but not all the fasteners I needed. The second store had the rest.
Coleen's work with the van continued through the early afternoon as she took it to the local dealer (Markley Honda). They confirmed she had probably driven the tire while it was flat, since the side wall was damaged and could not be repaired. She had learned last week that all four tires on the van would need to be replaced, so this was the time, and she spent the $500+ to replace the tires on the van.
At home, the repair process started by removing the plastic bumper wrapper from the car. Once I had it inside the garage, I applied epoxy to the underside connectors which had been pulled through by the impact, and used a little more epoxy to attach an existing mounting bracket to the previously damaged passenger side connector on the side panel. The connectors I had purchased on my bike ride were not all the correct size, so I made another trip to the auto parts store (this time using the van which Coleen had returned to the house).
Eventually, all the parts were available in the right place at the right time, and I was able to reattach the plastic bumper wrapper to the car. The final reattachment used nuts, bolts, and washers in some places that were previously push through fasteners because I would handle the nuts, bolts, and washers with simpler tools. I think it finally ended that the plastic bumper wrapper was better attached to the car after the accident than it was before the accident.
We had another schedule collision. I am enrolled in the Association for Software Testing Foundations course series, and am starting the "Bug Advocacy" course this weekend. I had no time to complete the homework for the class, and ended the day by accepting that it would have to be done on another day.
Sarah finally went home late in the afternoon, taking Eliza with her. She was a champ through the whole experience, handling all the little crises with style and grace! Thanks Sarah!
Friday, September 5, 2008
In December, 2006, our home town of Loveland, CO was pounded by a tremendous snow storm. My diabetic mother-in-law lived with us at the time, so we had to dig out far enough that we could drive her to the dialysis center.
This photo shows the 4 foot high snow bank we created from shoveling the snow from a portion of the driveway. Ultimately we spent many hours shoveling all the way to the street, then had to lift her into a four wheel drive truck to get her from the neighborhood to the main streets.