Monday, June 21, 2010

Alaskan Husky

Took my son's dog while he ran his race this past weekend in Duluth, MN. It was a rescue dog and he was told it's an Alaskan Husky mix (not to be confused with Siberian Husky).

Alaskan Husky is not so much a breed of dog as it is a type or a category. It falls short of being a breed in that there is no preferred type and no restriction as to ancestry; it is defined only by its purpose, which is that of a highly efficient sled dog. That said, dog drivers usually distinguish between the Alaskan Husky and “hound crosses”, so perhaps there is informal recognition that the Alaskan Husky is expected to display a degree of northern dog type."

Cooper, the dog, has a lot of hound in him and seems to catch people's eye. I must have heard "What kind of dog is that?" and "He/She sure is a beautiful dog" a few dozen times over the course of the day.

Checking out Lake Superior.

Chris at the finish. Not sure what the guy? behind him is up to. Oh well, all in fun!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Duluth MN, Piedmont Trail 6-10

In Duluth, MN to watch our Son, Chris run Grandma's Marathon. Another leg in his "Where's Chris Scotch" tour to promote awareness and to raise funds for St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

Went out the day before the race for some mtbing on the Piedmont Trail.
Been raining a lot here the past week or so and today was the first day the locals could get out. Met Barry, below, in the parking lot and we went out together. A mile or so in, Barry busted his chain. I had a spare quick link and tools so we got him up and running again, but he decided to head back to the trailhead and get some tools to tighten up his chain.
He was running a single-speed rigid. Way out of my league, especially on this trail!

Very windy today so stopped to remove a small tree that had gotten blown over the trail. Larger one on the right posed no problem.

Views on this trail are the best....

Trail was muddy in spots, met 4 other locals, one who which only lived a few blocks away, so he invited me over to his house to wash the bike down. Didn't think my wife would appreciate "Essence of Northern MN Swamp" permeating the hotel room for a couple nights when I brought the bike into to room.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Norway for a Day

As part of my trip to Sweden for work recently, myself and 3 other co-workers took a day trip to a papermill in Halden, Norway. Halden is located south of Olso, where we flew into from Stockholm.
While we were there, we visited a castle after our visit at the papermill. As castles go in Europe, it isn't very old, being built in mid 1600's to defend Norway from the Swedes basically.
Wikipedia doesn't mention WWII when the castle was held by the Germans.

The co-workers were from China, South Africa and Sweden with the Swede a US resident who has been in the States for 20 years or so now. We had a discussion as to the situation during WWII when Norway was taken control of by the Nazi's and how/why Sweden remained neutral during the war.

"On the pretext that Norway needed protection from British and French interference, Germany invaded Norway for several reasons: strategically, to secure ice-free harbours from which naval forces could seek to control the North Atlantic; to secure the availability of iron ore from mines in Sweden, going through Narvik; to pre-empt a British and French invasion with the same purpose; and to reinforce the propaganda of a "Germanic empire"

My Swede co-worker stated that there were iron ore mines in upper Sweden that the Germans needed to "run the war". The Germans were buying the ore from Sweden and as part of the agreement Sweden would not be attacked by Germany.
The South African and I thought that was interesting in that the Germans were normally just taking everything they wanted during that time period. But, we all speculated, maybe Germany didn't feel the need to be doing battle with everyone they came in contact with in the region to save troops for other fronts. At the time, they were already in Finland, as before the war officially broke out, the Finns had asked for help from the Germans to keep the invading Russians out. When the war officially broke out, the Finns were then by default part of the Axis. With Norway in their control, they had Sweden pretty much surrounded.

It was also mentioned in the discussion that Sweden had a better military than both Norway and Finland, so maybe the Germans just thought better of it....but, it would seem that Sweden was in a pretty precarious position in that if things had gone a little differently, it would only be a matter of time before Sweden would be controlled by Germany.

So, would it have been wiser, not knowing at the time that the Axis would eventually be beaten, to wait and hope for the best (and let other countries do battle with the Germans and watch from the sidelines, let alone provide iron ore for the German war effort) or to join up with the other countries early to defeat Hilter and the Axis as quick as possible before more lives were lost in the ensuing years and run the risk of the Germans picking off countries one-by-one on their own time table?

Wiki has an interesting page on this topic and our speculations weren't too far off:

"Military factors

Sweden was able to remain neutral throughout the war. According to Erik Boheman, the Swedish secretary of state during the war, the main reasons were luck and the development of the war, in combination with the Swedish people's spirit to resist an invasion, and perhaps also some diplomatic skillfulness. But according to German contemporary sources, Hitler considered Swedish neutrality as beneficial to Germany, didn't want to spare troops necessary for occupation and was afraid that Norwegian partisans and Allied special forces will cross into Sweden and attack mines and railroads. Indeed, Sweden supplied 10 million tons of iron ore per year to Germany from 1940–1943, as much as in the pre-war year 1938, in addition to vast numbers of manufactured ball bearings. In compensation Germany exported coal, fertilizer, and iron at affordable prices. The Swedish trade with Germany was terminated in the autumn 1944, without any Swedish deficit."

Another interesting page: Why did Sweden remain neutral....

Of course, the USA stayed out of the "European battle" as long as possible (although sending supplies "secretly" to the Allies) and if not for Pearl Harbor we would probably have stayed out longer still.

My question is, if Sweden was supplying supplies to Germany during the war, was Sweden really neutral or had they in fact picked a side as the result of their actions?

This question reminds me of this quote, though:

"THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. THEN THEY CAME for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. THEN THEY CAME for me and by that time no one was left to speak up."

Norway is a beautiful country and quite rich due to their oil deposits. "Today, Norway ranks as the third wealthiest country in the world in monetary value, with the largest capital reserve per capita of any nation." taken from Wikipedia

The South African in our party stated that he had read that Norway's working population (the country has a total population of 4.8 million people) could all stop working and with the money the government has in reserve, their earnings could be covered for the next 300 years. Interesting, if it's accurate.

The Norwegians are watching the Gulf situation closely as they contemplate deep sea drilling.

"Today Norway’s Oil and Energy Minister Terje Riis-Johansen said that new deep-water drilling areas licenses have been halted. He said Norway would at this time wait until a U.S. investigation on the cause of the rigs explosion until issuing new deep-sea licenses. This is significant given that Norway pioneered offshore oil drilling. We stopped for lunch, which was very good, at a truck stop and 5 of us ate for $150 (USD). It's also a very expensive country to live in! The airport is very nice and they were sweeping the parking lots, maybe a sign of their wealth and standard of living. In the 4 hr. drive to Halden and back didn't notice one old car on the road, something we all noticed and commented on individually."

Bikes parked at the papemill....nice travel trunks.

View of the castle from the town of Halden.
View from the Castle. Ocean going vessles can come into Halden.

Per-Olaf, Swede now living in the States.Derek Liang, from China.
Herman, from South Africa.

These were not bricks but rocks....wondered how they could get just the right sizes in all the right spots to make this "road" or path look like a work of art?
Rent a bike at the Holiday Inn in Amsterdam on my return trip home.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A small way to give back.....

to those who put everything on the line for us.

To honor the courage of our military and the strength of the American spirit

Sea to Shining Sea Bike Ride

Sea to Shining Sea (S2SS) is a 4000 mile bicycle ride across the United States by a group of wounded warriors. Hosted by leading not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, World T.E.A.M. Sports. The event will honor the courage of our military and the strength of the American spirit. Since most of the riders will be disabled American veterans, the ride will provide dramatic proof that disabled Americans can lead productive lives and accomplish feats most people only dream of. All funds raised after costs will go to other athletic events World T.E.A.M. Sports runs for disabled Americans and Soldiers’ Angels, a leading support organization for United States service personnel.
Click here for Website Link

Come July 6th or 7th, as they make their way through Illinois and into Indiana, I'll be riding with them.
One of the riders is married to the niece of my Sister-in-law.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Week in Sweden

Wanted to bring my bike, but packed it in a regular bike box like I always have for international travel. When I got the Delta/KLM counter in Appleton, WI they wanted $200 bucks, I said "no way". Last fall when I used United/SAS there was no charge so will have to see if they have changed their policy.
Tried to rent a sailboat/hobie cat in Stockholm where I have in the past, but the place was out of business, looked into renting a mtb bike (Gary Fisher Wahoo) for 3 days but that was $100 and as I will be working, didn't see the justification in that, so I just strolled around taking in the local scenery. No, I wasn't stalking.....a friend asked about Swedish women, so took a few shots for him....really!!

A tasty looking dish below....I MEAN THE SHRIMP SALAD!!! Get your minds out of the gutter!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Grand Forks, ND & Battlecreek Trail, St. Paul, MN

Continued on after the Jail Trail to Grand Forks, ND for a wedding. Rode the Salsa the morning before the ceremony on a paved trail that follows the Red River north then crossed over into MN and came back down. Interesting how high the Red gets. It was outside it's banks some but was receding from the spring run-off. It's amazing how the residents have to deal with this on a somewhat yearly basis. From living in the midwest, one always "hears" about the flooding and I've read a few canoe books about it, but until one actually sees the area and effects in person, it's hard to really understand it.
A huge tree had made it's way inside the trees lining the river and finally grounded laying across the bike trail. The water had to be pretty dang deep to float this baby in.
That's the bike path that still has water on it, then the row of trees lining the bank and then the Red River just barely visible through the gap in the trees.

The flood in 1997 was truly an 100 year flood. The next highest was in 1897. Locals told me water was running over the bride in 1997.
Looking across to MN from Grand Forks.
Stopped in at the local bike shop to have them look at my rear derailleur. The guy check it out and tuned her up....$6. What a deal! Nice riding and nice folks up in this part of the country.

Later in the week hit Lowes Creek in Eau Claire, WI and Battle Creek in St. Paul. Dan below, a guy I met on the trail at Battle Creek, let me tag along as he hit all the good spots. The trail is a little disjointed so I appreciated the help, thanks Dan.
With the great weather been hitting a number of the trails in WI. Been a good couple weeks since the Cheq 100 to keep up the riding.