Saturday, July 28, 2012

Historic Haskell Institute

I'm riding to work--through the drought as they say.  It is hot here in KS, mes amis!  Over 100 degrees for weeks!  This day I decided to take a few photos for you because we did have rain and things cooled down a bit.

This is the corner of 23rd Street and Barker Ave.  23rd is also K-10--a busy hwy to Kansas City.  At this busy intersection a cyclist has to be careful.  Even with a green for me to cross, people run red lights without the slightest care.

Also, on the way home, people turning left never stop for me in the large cross walk, even as its been recently painted and stands out.  People are at the light (usually on their cell phone) and I'm crossing when it turns green--even though I have the right away, most people speed through and will not stop.  I have to firmly hold out my arm as to say, "Stop!"  It has helped that I have a huge bright white flicky-light on my handle bars, and I aim in the faces of the motorists so they notice.  That usually works.

All the football players are back and have started practice--not outside yet but mostly in the weight room.  I see them all walking from the dorm over to Curtis Hall to the cafeteria to have breakfast as I ride into work.

I used to be able to take the cross-town bike and running path from The Little House right to Haskell.  K-10 ran right over the path.  But right when I started working at Haskell in early January, construction started up--so--I had to ride down busier Barker Ave.  The original bridge was a WPA project, and that bridge stood for many years!  It was getting quite old however, and I could see the wear and cracks as I rode underneath on my way to visit Little Egypt.

Click on to see a bigger image of the 1926 Haskell Stadium.  Olympian, Jim Thorpe, was here to play an exhibition game to dedicate the stadium.   I read it was packed full for that game--about 10,000 people.  Also, Haskell Stadium was the first lighted stadium west of the Mississippi.  A good chunk of the funding came from Oklahoma Oil Money--Indians that gained enormous wealth from oil and gas leases on their families land allotments.  A few of those Indians that donated about 2/3rds of the money (from Oklahoma) had attended Haskell.  A lot of funding also came from World War I Veterans--students also did a some of the work building the stadium.  It was a big deal, and I try to imagine what those days were like around here...

I'm riding my bike on the road that runs next to the stadium.  This is the back view of the main campus buildings.  From the far left to right--Tecumseh Hall, about 1906, in the middle is Hiawatha Hall built  in 1889, and then last on the right is the Auditorium, build in 1930 (as a WPA project.)

Here I am at the Haskell Library--not a very interesting building really.  Besides the collection of books, there's several classrooms, the main computer lab, and a large TV production studio.

My office--one of the hats I wear here is Catalog Librarian.  Those big red books are Library of Congress Subject Headings--still sometimes faster to use 'em rather than the web.

Besides the regal Red Tail Hawks that claim Haskell Campus as their territory, there are several pairs of small falcons.  If you're on campus and you're patient, you can often spy a quick glimpse of one on the  hunt.  Since it was a cool morning, they were out and enjoying the calm breeze.

Hiawatha Hall--has been unused now going on 20 years but recently I've heard rumor of a restoration.

This is the practice field, which was a brilliant emerald green from the over-night rainstorms we had here in Lawrence!  Now its starting to get muggy!

I have seen historic photos of ivy growing on the walls of Hiawatha, much like this one--I have no doubt that this ivy is well over 100 years old.  It gets cut and they try to get rid of it, but still parts of the root system survives and lives to grow another year--and another!

Olympian Billy Mills came from South Dakota to go to Haskell when it was a high school.   He was a high school track star then and State Champion as well.  He visits often and is revered--I hope I get to meet him some day!

Barker, the street I ride on to work, used to go through campus through the early teens, but here it remains as it has for over 100 years--a dirt road.  Haskell Institute, when it was a boarding school, had large farms on campus and the boys worked this land with horse and mule teams and later with steam tractors.

I believe this is an experimental plot maintained by the biology dept.

From here I'm walking out to the Medicine Wheel.  I'm feeling stronger and physical therapy has been helping my knee.  Since it was cooler today (like I said, weeks of 100 degrees!) I went for a walk over the noon hour.

Out here, or very close by--before there was a Haskell Institute (1884) both the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails passed over this part of campus--more so the Oregon Trail as I believe there were until recently (like 30 years ago) Oregon Trail wagon wheel ruts on the KU Campus.  Travel had ended on both trails almost 20 years before Haskell Institute was built.  By the early 1900s, the memory of the trails, and the route, were fading--being plowed over by farming.   The Nat'l Park Service, and the Daughters of the American Revolution, re-marked the trail with historic markers.  The NPS again remarked both trails in 1968.

Later, a swamp formed (now called the Baker Wetlands or the Wakarusa Wetlands) and Indian families would camp out here while visiting their children.  It was also the escape route to which run-away Indian children attempted to flee Haskell Institute--when it was a boarding school.  

Today, after walking a bit, Gentle Readers of This Blog I am suddenly out of the confines of my office and treading in the prairie grass.  There is a cacophony of birds and insects calling, singing, buzzing, jumping and flying.  Swift falcons dart over me and give me a piercing glare.  

Callie would love it out here!

Cheers!  Bruce

Friday, July 20, 2012

New Gear for Commuting

I had a back rack and a folding basket put onto the commuter bike.

I bought these on close-out sale at the local bike shop so I got a good deal!

Here it is un-folded--I think its very clever!  Made by Wald, in the USA!

I will be able to carry a few more groceries this way.

I've been biking to work and to physical therapy, mes amis--he's a photo of historic Haskell Campus--the Gazebo and Hiawatha back there in the distance.  It was 108 degrees a few days ago--a record for Lawrence and also the hottest spot in the nation.  Not much green left as we've had a drought now for several weeks.  Almost 70% of the corn crop in Kansas has been lost.  It is hot here Gentle Readers of this Blog--hotter than Tucson even!

I enjoy the ride to and from work--mostly my route is under a canopy of trees so I stay a bit cooler.  The commute is only about 8 minutes, and that's bearable in the 100 degrees plus heat.

Thanks for coming along for the ride!  Cheers!  Bruce

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bruce's Bike Therapy

They closed the Jim Thorpe Fitness Center for the month of July without notice, Gentle Readers of This Blog.  That's kind of how things work at Haskell Institute.  So I'm working out at a fitness club a few miles down the road with my coach Will.  So rather than drive to work--so I can drive to go train--well why not just ride the bike to work and then the Club?  That's what I did.

After weight training, I made my way home--and I as I got to the streets I know so well, I thought, what the heck?  I'll just go downtown.  I was warmed up, had a good workout (Will makes you work-out that's for sure) and when I got to Mass Ave, I thought I'd ride on this usually busy street as the traffic was light--and I'd have about a two-mile, flat, straight shot into old downtown.

So I put it in high gear and pushed my legs as much as I could.  Big Sexy is such that once I get going, I can really move on this bike!  Well, leg has a ways to go--but I did get the heart rate up, which is good.  So I just rode into downtown Lawrence and here's some photos for you!

Local Bike Shop.  If you have money to spend on the most expensive trendy gear--this is your place!  The mechanics are the best though, and do it right!

Most inhabitants can't afford the Madones and the expensive Specialized carbon fiber beauties that have in the shop.  Bikes in this town are no-frills and practical--short distance errands, riding to the pub, going to class at KU, and getting to work.  You cannot get away with creative parking, mes amis--you will get a ticket.  You must feed the meter if you can even find a spot to park--if not, you will get a ticket.   If you're a student at KU you can pay several hundred dollars a semester for a permit, but good luck finding a spot!

I enjoy Liberty Hall--its a film "Art House" and also has an awesome video rental store too.  The Liberty Hall you see above is the 100 year old version.  The original 1850-ish building burned down, I believe in 1863 during Quantrill's Raid.  I've also heard that this was a stop on the Underground Railroad--the residents of Kansas Territory ferried runaway slaves through this area, and there are said to be tunnels under the Hall to hide slaves.

The Eldridge Hotel right across the street from Liberty Hall--rebuilt after it was burned down by the Quantrill's Raiders--but not until William Quantrill is reported to have had his breakfast--then they set fire to the establishment.  Gee, my kind of Scum!

There are all kinds of businesses going up--and coming down here on Massacusettes Avenue, Gentle Reader of This Blog.  You can't tell from my photos, but there were a lot more people about this early July evening than normal.   There was some kind of conference at the University, and all the attendees were on Mass going to the pubs and the restaurants.

I haven't explored this block yet.

It was cooler this evening as some rain had come in and blown out the hot thick air that's been here for a few weeks.  It was nice to be outside and not like in an oven.  I liked riding faster on a road bike rather than the heavy Desert San Campus Bike.  My hope is I can ride to the Fitness Club, and Physical Therapy--I started that, and really liked my therapist.  Her name is Sandy.  She went through an evaluation of my injury and well--it turns out that I'm not as strong as I would have liked.  Its obvious I have a pretty seriously injured knee--and the muscles are weak.  But everyday, as I've said--I get feeling better and better!

Cheers!  Bruce

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Test Ride Post Injury

69 Centimeters of Terror!

I wasn't sure about clipping into pedals, but I did have regular pedals on Big Sexy.  I think I did that back when I brought rollers to Celebrity Spin as a way to save from crashing if I lost balance.  Big Sexy, as the nick-name implies, is a huge 69 cm frame steel road bike from the 80's.  Its so tall I have to kind of jump up on board and then scoot to get going.  I figured if I could saddle up Big Sexy and not crash I'd be doing okay.

I wanted to get on a road bike to one--see how it felt with the knee, and two--get where I want to go faster.  Because there's no pedals to clip in and out of--just regular pedals--I figured I'd be okay if I started to fall.  Trouble is that the bike is so tall, you have to lean way over and plant the leg on firm ground--to get on or off--otherwise you smash you nuts.  The left leg being weak, I was not sure I could hold my own weight, but ended up I could.

When I first tried to saddle up Big Sexy, I thought I'd use the height of the curb to help me out.  This proved a mistake as I ended up almost falling over--my left leg is weak and it strained and hurt for a moment--but I righted myself.  I was probably just nervous, mes amis, and afraid.  After a couple of tries, I was on the bike and able to pedal, stop (planting my injured knee) and start back up again.

Back up on a big road bike, I made quick work of a few miles to downtown.  It felt good to fly down the road again!  When I made it to Liberty Hall, my destination to drop off rented DVDs, it was a bit more awkward to stop, go,stop and get up on the side walk.  Because of the slope of the sidewalk I found things precarious--plus with a concert about to start at the Hall (an old Opera House) there were people around waiting to get their seats, having that last cigarette, etc.  A couple of blokes waiting for the show came over and commented on Big Sexy, the hugest bike they've ever seen, they said. 

Physical Therapy evaluation was today.  I was disappointed that I wasn't as strong as I thought.  Sandy, my therapist, had me do some moves to test my strength--right leg strong, as you would imagine, left leg has a long way to go.  The good news--complete recovery back to 100% Gentle Readers of This Blog!  Sandy said short trips to work and for errands would be okay, but really I need to wait awhile before going out on the road for any regular riding.

Cheers!  Bruce

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Back On My Campus Bike

Biking to work in the morning.

I'm happy to report that I've begun riding to work again!  My left leg is gradually getting stronger and I'm not so afraid of falling.  My muscles were so weak in the left leg that I was not able to support my weight when I'd swing my right leg over the bike.   I still have to take things very easy, Gentle Reader--but pedaling loosens up my leg and the muscles get to move and "wake up" after being supported on crutches for a month.

Cool in the morning but not for long!  

Starting out early so there's not so much traffic, and taking it easy the mile and a half to work has built up my confidence and the strength in my leg.

The streets around Haskell have been repaved!

There's been a lot of construction right around Haskell, mes amis, and people (mainly Haskell employees) are impatient and race through short-cuts.  Neighborhood streets have been repaved, and Barker, the road that leads to Haskell, is brand new.  It sure was a rough, torn-up road--but like other streets around Haskell, they're putting in speed humps--big speed humps!

Riding on Campus.

Hiawatha--built in 1898--the Girl's Gymnasium, in need of restoration.

Students I've met have told me that they've been in discussions with the administration to restore and put some money into many of the buildings on campus.  Old and New buildings are getting repairs, new furniture, and like Hiawatha--one of Haskell's iconic buildings--money for restoration.

I wanted to tell you that this past May, Haskell graduated the largest number of students in its over 125 year old history--budgets are low, but recently staff have been working hard writing grants and planning for a make-over of the campus--All Good!

Campus Bike

Its easy to store the bike inside the office in an out-of-the-way place.  My car bakes outside in the parking lot on these hot over-100 days.  I'd get off work and open all the doors, and then let the breeze push out all that hot oven-like air before I could get in and drive home.  I'd leave the garage door open at home so all the heat could dissipate.

I sure missed the days riding to work--its hot now but I leave my shirt un-tucked, un-button my collar, and ride easy.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Cheers!  Bruce