So How’s it going…

So how’s it going, one might ask – the shoulder, the trip(s), the rehab, the separation, the benching, the touring. Great! As with early retirement, “how did I ever have time for work”. Loving it actually.  The freedom to chase any rabbit that scampers across the ADHD landscape of the idol mind.  The ability to focus deeper than casual-ality allows.  Being one that could only read, when all the other distractions and chores were stowed, it’s great to follow a thread without reaching an early snag. Not that those threads come from any great fabric, more like following early childhood wonderment. Why not look that up!  Could it be that difficult to master Thai tones? Could I actually learn Objective C+? Now, if I was bandwidth-less, it might be another story, but right now it’s just great. Great!

What’s probably the most fun is not being on any schedule, save sustenance. This isn’t any monkish pursuit, just an opportunity presented by a manufactures defect, a spouses retreat, involuntary immobility and isolated comfort with broadband.  I have been making the rounds with my Thai friends, not a clue what most the conversation’s about. sittingWonder if there’s an app for detecting “trite prose” or for translating it into impressive trivia?  No Joy!

I’m smiling, just now, thinking about a friend who commented that he was waiting for a translation of an email. Perhaps he’ll be asking for one of this. So I should get on with “How’s it going”, besides the supercilious, great.

IMG_6104The shoulder was (emphasis was) 95% on Saturday when I consented to join as cycling marshal to a running race with the Trang Cycling Club (TCC). It was a 7 km race not far from the couch, and a good chance to test out the recovery.  All’s well, home by 9 AM more rest, and then an evening visit to the Thai version of a Baby Shower (on the anniversary of the first month – much more practical as you get to see the child babyand men are invited).  At the shower the TCC members offered to drive us to yet another short “fun run” out in the country a waterfall we’ve often cycled to.  Okay, 9 km to the pick-up point, a 6 km run up a paved road and then back home.

Unfortunately I felt sooooo good that I decided to say yes to riding back home, maybe 35 km. Not to worry it was still early in the day, I was on the mountain bike, no pain, it had been 15 days since the accident. The ride was fun, I did just fine, strong in fact, but the guys decided since this was their normal Sunday ride it should stretch out some.  I knew we were taking a different way home but it never occurred to me it would be almost 90 km by the time I hit the shower.  Felt good the whole way, only when I got out of the shower did I slip back to 70% healed. So I’m back in rehab for another week or at least until memory or swelling fades, whichever comes first.

TajStanna is enjoying her Wednesday Ladies Hiking group outing, for at least another 3 Wednesdays.  Been to India, currently in Bhutan and soon to be in Nepal. The best thing I heard was, “I’m sure you would not be happy on this trip”, but “we probably need to come back to Bhutan by ourselves”.  India and even Bhutan hotels all have wifi so we’ve “talked”/texted each day. I wasn’t sure any photo log of the adventure was ensuing, because none to the messages or emails had a single shot.  It was when I bhutanweavingswitched the MB Air over to Stanna’s user side that I saw her iPhone Photo Stream was in high gear and had uploaded almost 600 photos thru the Cloud and back to the MBAir I’m typing on.  Little did this tech savvy guy know, she had it totally under control and was worried the 1,000 iCloud limit would lose the earliest photos. (It doesn’t, if you have a computer with iPhoto pulling each photo off the cloud.  Done automatically in the Mac world.)

With my spouse away the Thai mice want to play, more. My friend SunSern has seen to it that I’m not excluded from anything interesting going on, not to mention lunches where he wanted to let me experience those Thai treats most farangs/westerners wouldn’t conscience.  You know, foods hyped on those reality shows.  I’ve now tried just about every part of the pig, except that one featured on the Planet Money show about calamari (don’t ask).  As my dad used to say, “I’ve had it twice, my first and last time!”.

Most interesting this week was the search for a foundry that would melt a metal specimen  that TigerSong got from his son’t metallurgy program. Said to be super special, he wanted


to see if they could forge it into a knife – while we wait I might add.  An old master was found at the second foundry and they fired up a forge and blower, and within minutes the egg-sized cube was welded to a piece of rebar and glowing that iridescent orange.
IMG_6129Assigned to photograph the process I jumped when the glowing cube came quickly out of the blast furnace and dropped onto a steel stump. Bang, bang, bang and it was over.  Stopped.  It wasn’t until 15 minutes later I learn why they had search for a more suitable scrap of metal in the “bone pile” and began forging another knife.  The first premium select pilfered cube had cracked on the IMG_6135second swing of the sledge.  Not good, it wouldn’t flow and therefore was unsuitable for sledging into a blade.  Interesting process, this rural shed-style foundry specializes in making Rubber Tree knives.  Crude knives with a centimeter hooked blade for scarring the tree such that the liquid runs into it’s cup everyday for 30 years.


As for the other exercises: the Thai tones are near impossible for an aging tone deaf guy, the book on Shame by Brenè Brown outstanding, and I’m now a struggling dyslexic coder.

Plus I have another week till blog-a-sition 101 homework again.

Two Trips in One


Stanna is off on an adventure with her “hiking ladies” this time to India, Bhutan and Nepal.  She’s exploring new territory as she did in 2012 with her last “ladies’ adventure” in Switzerland. This will probably be the precursor to a trip we’ll have to make just like the follow-up to her Switzerland trip, when we hiked the Haute Route in Fall 2013.

I’d like to brag on how little she’s taking (note the tiny backpack on my back and the small messenger bag over her shoulder), but she’s got a diplomatic courier carrying hiking shoes and a couple items of fleece into India for her assault on the colder climes.

IMG_6033She staged this trip from Ayuthaya north of Bangkok a couple days early because the last time we travelled north from Trang to catch a flight the train had to turn back due to flooding.  This also gave her a chance to suss out our accommodations and plans to meet up in Bangkok just prior to returning home in early April.

Her trip is a couple of days in New Delhi for the Durango contingent to de-jetlag and a little Taj Mahal’ing. Then into Bhutan and thence Nepal. (Been wanting to try thence just once). It’s a commercial company they’ll be traveling with called OAT – Overseas Adventure Travel, with whom several of her hiking friends have travelled in the past.

We’re hoping to see photos from the sites and trek before we meet up again, but no telling how the bandwidth opportunities will allow while she’s traveling.


As is usual here in Trang, any time we depart there is a cadre of companions gathered to wish us bon-yoyage. There are small gifts and questions about when we’ll return.  I’ll be going thru the same gauntlet in April. And unless some other choices materialize between now and the dead of Durango’s winter we’ll plan on coming back.  We’re adding an exercise ball, a yoga mat and two more bikes to our stored stockpile here in Trang.

We’re recalling all those postponed invitations folks never collected while on Paradox.  Thailand is a great place to visit us, so maybe we should both plan on meeting here next year.


Next Visa…


Most tourists don’t have to consider visa renewal as a part of their travels. And for foreigners visiting the US they can easily see most of the US in their 90-day visa allowance.  In many countries US citizens are allowed 30 days automatic visa with no prior approval (other than TSA, the airlines and all those other secret agencies).

Thailand is one of those countries that automatically give the US tourist a 30-day visa on entry.  Since we like to be considered a traveller rather than a tourist by lingering longer in a country, we have to consider longer visas or visa renewals. Throughout our sailing adventures we faced this same requirement, so it’s common and easy to deal with in Thailand.  In our case this year we purchased, thru the Thai consulate in the States, two 60-day renewable visas so that we only had to leave the country one time during our 100+ day stay.


Most of the younger tourists do a “visa run” every 30 days, and almost every city has a travel agent that can book your “visa run” to the nearest border.  A van ride with 13 other “farangs” costs between  $20 and $30 to zip you to the border and back in a long but fast day.  I say “fast” because these vans travel at light-speed, and their license evidently allows them to drive with impunity.

You check out of Thailand, walk across the no-mans-land a hundred yards to Malaysia where you check-in at one window and check-out at the next window (if you don’t want to wander around their boarder kiosks).  Then back the same distance and check-in to Thailand for your automatic 30 days or in our case the second 60-day pre-approved allowance.  (It used to be only 15 days at a border crossing, but in November 2013 they changed it to 30 days, same as arriving by air.)  Stanna wouldn’t have needed the extra 60 days had we known, because she only needed 10 days before her next adventure.


She also didn’t count on my injuring my right shoulder and squelching her chance for a hair trim.  Our Belgian friend Louisa gladly filled in after doing her husband Rik’s hair.  I’d visited the local Thai barber earlier in the week which is an amazing experience for 70 baht ($2).  No waiting, takes 5 minutes (when you want it all off) and he even shaves you with a straight razor blade. He did miss one thing, because Louisa gave me an eyebrow trim which I’d never had before. Wonder how oftenIMG_0505 I’ll have to add that to my list at home when I run the #1 blade over my head. Something tells me I probably need to choose the #3 instead.

Other than visas and personal grooming, the week has been subdued by shoulder recovery.  The expectation that it would heal in 4 or 5 days has been dashed and searching the Web narrows the prospect down to a tear or contusion in the right


rotator cuff region.  Thanks to a couple of internet consults with friends in the know, and a visit to a local highly regarded Thai physician, I should avoid the call for surgery and concentrate on stabilization, medication and rest – with a little mild personal PT as pain allows. Photo credit to NYTimes and ADAM, Inc. Every day it’s incrementally better and the sling is still in use.


Last on Stanna’s list of Trang highlights, besides one final trip to our favorite Panang Curry restaurant (sparing you the photo), was visiting the Buddha we watched being cast two years ago just adjacent to a Temple addition here in Trang.  One of our past blogs featured that process and the fact that we wrote our names on metal foil that was added to the boiling metal before it was poured into the inverted molds. The temple now gilded
has walls which are in the process of being painted with various Buddhist stories and symbology. Some of the painting is gilded with gold as you can see in the photo above. All IMG_5984the filigreed plaster trim and tiny glass mosaic for the temple is produced on site inside the cavernous temple.  Thailand has over 37,000 temples and most are added on to and finished as contributions allow. Perhaps next year, if we visit Trang, they might have the interior and exterior completed.  I’m including a couple of photos from the casting process we watched in 2012. They melted the bronze, and for the top-knot gold, right on site and then in an elaborate ceremony in the evening, ritually poured the molten metal contributions into heated casts.  The sculpture was cast in three parts plus the top-knot. We learned that in this day-and-age the castings were transported back to Bangkok where they were brazed together and finished, before shipment back to Trang.



You see notice of recalls almost everyday in the media and Consumer Reports has an entire page on items it feels important, but how does one find out about a handlebar stem on a second hand bike?  Evidently Trek recalled a number of bikes in 2000 that had defective handlebar stems (the right angled metal piece that connects the front forks to the


handlebars thru the headset on the frame).  My Trek 2500 Alpha SL that I’ve really enjoyed riding was one of those bikes with the defective stem.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of any problem until I pulled the handlebars clear away from the connecting stem on a slight uphill grade last Sunday.

Googling for a replacement stem, I immediately was led to a number of sites headlining the recall of that particular stem. Nature of the problem with this particular stem design is that it only uses one single bolt to secure a capture plate holding the handlebars to the stem. In my case the bolt stripped out of it’s threads in the aluminum component and the plate dropped away freeing the handlebars during a ride. I’ve noticed that Trek doesn’t use a quill stem any longer, but I did write them to see if the bike was still covered under the recall.

In case you’ve found this post while searching for info on Trek Icon stem failures, the warning signs of failure are a “creaking” sound.  I couldn’t find the source of the “creak” on my bike but it’s easily recognizable, just never occurred to me it was between the handlebars and the stem fitting. The recall notice says over-tightening is a problem. Wish I’d tried to over-tighten then it would have stripped while I was static.

AfternoonSlingBesides searching for a replacement stem, I’m now “sling’ed up” hoping for a speedy recovery.  After four days the road rash is almost healed on the knees and elbow, but my shoulder is still suffering from the impact.  The helmet doesn’t show a single scratch so my head never hit the pavement, but I can show you the evidence that my hip slid on my iPhone for quite a distance.


Immediately after the accident I had full range of motion on the right arm and shoulder, but after it swelled I can’t lift my arm above my chest, so I’m more inclined to start thinking I’ve some degree of torn rotator cuff.

Only an MRI can determine that degree of soft tissue iPhonedamage and all the sources I’ve read say emergency surgery isn’t always called for.  Since Stanna is off to Nepal in four days I’m planning on recuperating here in Trang and will decide on whether I need invasive treatment when I return to Durango and have her to literally “lean on”.

So there won’t be too many cycling posts for awhile.

UPDATE: Went to see a doctor in order to qualify for an MRI (Xray won’t show soft tissue injury) in case I needed to have one.  Doctor rotated arm and shoulder round and round, palpated all points and joints and said that I should just do limited activity for two weeks and see how it heals. He doesn’t think I need surgery unless I was a younger man who was going to do lots of heavy physical labor lifting over my head.  So I’m a happy guy.