Monday, August 31, 2015

Subaru CURED!

 subaru_fixed_  Today was the moment of Truth!   It was the moment where I find out if the $80 ( and some change!) ultimately fixed the problem with the Subie’s hiccups after fueling. The “Check Engine” light has been off ever since I made the repair and as Cheryl filled up the gas tank to the max,  I started the car with out any problems!  No stalls. No stutters. Just the normal “Vroom!” of the engine starting up.   I almost didn’t notice that it was a Subie Shines!major moment.  Which was probably a good thing since I did not do anything to mess with the results….like step on the accelerator to “prime the pump.”

Thus!!   Subie has been cured!   And is now in Full Recovery!   This is a good sign, so now I can finally get over my cough….You see,  I believe my health and the Subaru’s health are linked somehow. keep-calm-and-love-subaru-9   I’m not sure of the details…..but when the Subaru acts funny…I begin to feel bad as well.  Maybe we are linked spirits.   I have heard that, for some people,  a car is an extension of them. Everyone should have one I’m beginning to see the evidence in that saying.  Subie started acting weird when I started coming down with this cold.  Now that I’m almost over it,  Subie is feeling and acting MUCH better. 

To keep the feeling alive, I also changed the oil today.   I have been monitoring the mileage for a while, since my counter resets every time I disconnect the battery terminal.  Hopefully that will take us up to the twin cities before the next one.  

Foggy Trail Run So, other than that,  Cheryl and I ran/biked 14 miles yesterday.  Not much to note other than the fox was thick and heavy.   It never really lifted until well into the afternoon.  The heat definitely picked up.  I’m sure it tipped 90 degrees today.  This makes running and biking much more adventurous.  Cheryl may have to wake up earlier tomorrow, and that means I will have to as well.   She wants to top 100 miles one of these weeks, but she only ran 7 miles this morning.   I guess it could still happen later if she is feeling ambitious.  We shall see.

First Oriole of the year! For the First time this year,  I have seen my first Baltimore Oriole!   Not only was it up close and personal, it was outside out very window perched on the hummingbird feeder!   I quickly put out some mandarin Oranges to see if I can coax it back.  Hopefully he will stay a bit longer and grace us with his presence.   They are a very pretty and colorful bird.   Usually the neighbor has one or two hang around, but this year, nothing……until now.   I’m very excited!  Even as I’m writing this, I’m looking out the window to see if he has returned and finds the oranges appealing. …( A peeling……hehe!  Peeling oranges….hehe!)

Tomorrow we have a 15 mile run scheduled.  And I guess we have a Date with Barb at a Sushi place in town.  Next week, I’ll be starting my Pearson Project…..Lots of things to look forward to in the near future.  Hopefully things will all work out. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Walk on the Wild Side

Walking through the jungle of CORNCheryl ran 20 miles yesterday, so tonight, we decided to take a recovery day and walk around he country roads instead.  It has been a while since we actually “walked” these country roads.  Butters are easier to Identify Ever since Cheryl has taken up running, she now thinks walking is too ‘slow” and would rather the run to get it over with faster.  For me,  the only  thing different from the bike riding is the distance.


Painted Lady  butterfly in mid flightOne of the cool things about walking is you can see the world around you a little closer.  Butterflies can be seen and identified better.   It still is a challenge trying to capture them on film though.  Still, I think they look kind of cool in a bSulphur and a White flying,  they look like Farieslurry flight photo.  It makes them look like some mythical Fairies. 

We decided to take a different route than normal.   One that takes us by Cows rather than horses.  Cheryl surveys the Cows

It has been a rather glum day today. The Grandmother Cow with all of the young ones.  Humid and overcast for the most part.   Also, I have been battling this stupid cold for over a week now and am ready to be done with it!   The “tough” stuff is over, but the lingering cough and sniffles really get on my nerves lately.  I’m not sure if the humid weather helps or hinders the recovery. 

Cheryl is doing much better with her version of tThese roads are cool...when they are not muddy!he cold.   She is actually thinking she might want to run 15 mils tomorrow at the 8 minute per mile pace.  Overcast, gloomy, and depresed....This is My world with sniffles.She seems to have skipped the coughing phase of he cold.  Lucky her!   you can run with sniffles, but not a cough. 

It is supposed to get hot over this upcoming week.  Hopefully we will be able to get a few long runs in before the really bad stuff hits us.  Even yesterday, we finished the 20 miles JUST as the rain began to fall.  It pretty much rained on and off all day yesterday. 

DAVIS!  What a cool catAnd lastly,  a few shots of the neighborhood cats.   This is Davis…..he lives down the street.

And these guys live above us.   They are very young and These guys are very friendly.rambunctious. And I hear,  very friendly to strangers. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

One Tough Nut To Crack!

The Tool of my dreams?  Maybe While trolling around last night on the internet,  I stumbled across a very cool tool that splits rusted nuts off bolts.  Called:  Wait for it……..The Nut Splitter tool!

I thought that THIS was my solution.   No long extension cord needed,  No propane torch,  no welding, no drilling, no oil, no more cursing….( by me, that is)

After watching several videos, I figured that this was a message from the heavens.  I was so excited to learn that Menards had one in stock that I barely slept last night.   Let' Crack this NUT!I showed Cheryl the videos and told her how it worked, and  she decided to allow me to have just enough money to purchase one.  ( So now I KNOW this is the right tool!)  You can probably imagine me wagging my tail as I skip down the aisles of Menards, nut splitter in hand, eager to get another crack at the job of replacing the Emission Vent Valve Solenoid.  ( Let’s just call it the vent valve…..I hate looking up and typing the official name of the thing.)

I drop down the Charcoal canister,  Latch on the Nut Splitter, and begin cracking!

Where is the Earth Shattering KABOOM?Problem:   Where is the rewarding “POP!” of the nut as it fractures?  I can see I have gone through it.    Time to spin it around to the other side. 

Again…no sound….Unlike ALL the videos on You Tube….This nut is flared at the bottom.  I’m doing nothing more than splitting the top part of the hex.    I grab a hammer and screwdriver and begin whacking away.  An Eternity later….The nut looks even LESS like it will ever come off.   Time to whip out the cutting tools.A flared nut was NOT in the video.....

I barrowed an extension cord from the neighbor and dug out all the Dremel bits and WeCheer accessories I could think of.   I even had the Drill on standby  in the event this did not work.  Time to Slice and Dice

I ended up slicing off chunk after chunk until the darn thing finally gave way.Wish I could have taken a picture od the SPARKS!  ( sparks are cool!)   I could hear trumpets in my brain as I FINALLY got the flared part off the bolt.

not much left when it finally gave in to my MIGHTY WECHEER!With the nut and bolt FINALLY off,  it took about 3 minutes to replace the bolt, line up the holes and replace the vent valve with the new one. Hmm....I think this WAS a stud....not anymore. What should have taken less than 30 minutes took me about two days ( 5 hours total…not counting drive time and shopping for parts….Old Parts next to New PartsOr research and diagnostic time.) It is not like I had anything else to do with my time…and I actually enjoy solving problems on the Subaru….( as long as I’m able to fix them!) New Vent Valve with New Shiny nut and bolt.

So, I also replaced the stud on the Charcoal canister and put everything back together.   The Check engine light is off Hopefully the Check engine light will stay off now.( for the time being)  Hopefully everything…including the stalling issue at the gas pump, will be remedied.   It will probably take a full week to find out as we were forced to fill up the gas tank this morning, and the problem ( as expected) persisted. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cheryl’s Average 12 mile Check Engine Run!

12 miles in the morning light   I’m running out of titles….So I’m looking for just about anything to grab on to.   It’s just the way I write things.

So Cheryl ran a “mere” 12 miles this morning.   12 miles.   That is all.  cool enough for Cheryl to start out with a long sleeve shirt She said it was easy!   12 miles!   I guess that means that the training runs are serving their purpose.   When 12 MILES seems like a walk in the park…..then you know we are on the right path for a Boston Marathon finishing time!   ( did I mention it was 12 MILES?) 

The weather has been nice and cool in the mornings, so ( with no job to attend) we have been able to push back our run time to a more Reasonable start time.  Namely, a time when I’m fully awake And the sun it already up!  Long Shadows already! This, of course, means that there are fewer animals, monsters, aliens, and other anomalies to see during the experience.   A few rabbits and an occasional deer, I guess.  In other words….rather boring.   It’s ok though!   We still enjoy the time talking about problems, discussing our future plans and braiding each other’s hair.   ( ok, I made that last one up….My hair is too short and sparse to braid!)

Cheryl thinks that was "easy".  When we got back to the car…..Subie let us know that there was a problem under the hood.   I lovely “Check Engine” light came on.  These are loads of fun!   Unless you don’t have a computer that tells you what the problem is.  Subie says, "Surprise!"Otherwise, they just cause an anxiety attack in people like myself.  Cheryl is usually not concerned with these things,Ethan's "worst case Scenerio" imagination. thinking they are just a fluke that will heal themselves.    I always visualize the worst case scenario….specifically:  SUBIE ABOUT TO EXPLODE!

However,  the Subie has been a little odd this last month or so.   Whenever we fill it up 1The overall problem we face...without a coputer to tell us the REAL problem. with gas,  he stalls for the first few minutes of trying to get him started.    It is an odd thing,  until we looked it up on the Subaru Forums.  Apparently the vent that allows the gas tank to recycle air is sticking.   This causes Dangerous gasoline Fumes to escape and kill Polar Bears in the arctic!   Save the Polar Bear....and fix your Check Engine Light! If it is stuck off,  gas will glub back up the nozzle and get you clothes wet, stinky and flammable.  Before the world BURNS! If it is stuck open….say goodbye to the atmosphere!  Obviously,  this is a SERIOUS problem that must be taken care of IMMEDIATELY! 

Thankfully, this does not make the car “un-drivable” and  we can still run our car without any problems.  The Check Engine Light is annoying, but won’t cause us to be stranded along the highway…or burst into flames. So, there is no REAL reason to fix the problem …other than the planet dying.  That being said,   I don’t like it when Subie is feeling under the weather and  I want to fix this problem ASAP.  PCV valve?   Nope....not this easy.   Cheryl did some looking online and one of the potential “cures” is the PCV valve located in the engine block.   So easy even I can change it!  

It's ok though...we bough the wrong one anyway. The only Problem:   We bought the wrong valve!   The nipple part is too large and the hose will not slip over the top.  AND….Problem two:   The PCV valve is located on the Lower half of the car,  not the top….with a rotating screw in that keeps losers (DIY-ers)  like me from working on their own car problems.   I’m sure it is ultimately to “Protect” my car from the whims of an amateur.    So…on to the next solution. 

 Check out this Iowa Grime! AND the bolt I already broke off! charcoal canister dropped.   Vapor Canister  Vent Solenoid! This is located under the car near the back right tire…so it should be covered with dirt and really really rusty!   I removed the charcoal canister so I could get to the vapor canister.  Only ONE short 12 mm Nut is all that was between me and “Job Well Done” .   ( You might be able to see how I “failed” on one of the charcoal canister nuts already!)lube up the ONE nut that has to be removed.    ONE NUT!   The Difference between success and failure!

THREE HOURS LATER….the nut refused to budge!   I even enlisted Cheryl to come out and be my “extra pair of hands” .   After several attempts at “pretty good ideas”,  we reassembled and are now looking for other options. Even Cheryl can't crack it! The Options are pretty clear:  Cut the Bolt…..Or Break the Bolt. Then replace the bolt and nut with new ones.  The final verdict is the right one….there are no other options that will work in this situation with our limited resources.  And I will have to take a stab at it tomorrow as I’m pretty fed up with it currently.  

There IS a silver lining though…..One,  I know what the problem is so I can plan accordingly .  Tomorrows plan.....this should work! Two,  I found out the people at Advanced Auto are retailers and NOT mechanics…so don’t ask them for any help, ideas or why their computer can’t understand the Subaru’s computer. ( that is another story all together!)  Last and perhaps BEST of all….I got really sexy pictures of Cheryl actually holding tools!   Now…. only I actually know what she was doing, but the pictures give the illusion she actually knows what she is doing under the car.  So sexy!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cheryl’s Mini Mascot Madison Marathon.

early Morning Start.   With pretty Blue Lights!   Those are a lot of “M’s”!   I love alliteration.   Very poetic and flavorful on the ears.   If only every title could sound so interesting……but first let me focus on the event at hand.

After a semi-good night’s sleep, we rose early to ensure a good parking spot and acquaint ourselves with the coarse.   Scouting out the coarse, or the “area of operations” is very important in the pre-race hours.   We have learned a thing or two from previous races that finding essential areas is very important to make a run run smoothly. Bathrooms!  Check! ( See how I was able to put two run’s together and have it STILL make sense?  Pretty cool eh?)  

It’s is ALWAYS a good idea to find the bathrooms BEFORE the event….Or before too many people show up.  (Lesson learned from Grandma’s Marathon.)

Lakeshore!  Check!It is usually a good idea to find the start AND the finish line.   This saves the headache of trying to find each other after the race is over and there are thousands of people milling around.  This event finished by the water front of a large lake.Really Big Chair...Ummmm.


    I'm Up!  I'm Up! The after party was scheduled to take place  on a very scenic deck overlooking the water.   The bistro’s they had setting out were very colorful and perhaps a little too large for people as small as Cheryl.  I can sit with the Big Runners Now! Undaunted,  She wanted to make sure she could sit at the “Big Kid’s Table” with the rest of the finisher, when the time finally comes. 

Mascot Spotted!  From there, it was time to hunt down the Mascot!   Cheryl read that Bucky the Badger ( The University of Wisconsin’s official Mascot) was going to be there.   I had to ree him from his Wheel Chair BrigadeIt is ALWAYS a good idea to try to hunt down the Mascot BEFORE the you are hot, sticky, slimy and gross.   And before everyone else swarms the poor guy trying to get selfies. As Gratitude for my saving him,  He posed for a pic with Cheryl. We located Bucky next to the start gate where Cheryl was lining up for her pace group.  I quickly pushed some kid in a wheelchair out of the way so Cheryl could pose for a picture.   Mission Accomplished!  Cheryl finds her spot behind the gates. 

After that, it was the usual:   Cheryl waits inside the gates;  Sing the national anthem;  Thank all the people for coming;  Ready, set, GO! A crowd ammasses!

I secured a nice position under a tree and away from the crowds.  Luckily, the crowds were smaller than they were at the Bix 7.    I had some time to take a few scenic pictures of the surrounding area…including WAY too many pictures of Bucky.  ( What can I say…..He’s a Mascot!)  I also took pictures of birds and random strangers, police cars, and the Pep- BAND! The Pep Band Prepares!  

The Band ROCKED, by the way.   Sure there were not many of them, but the sound and spirit really elevated the event to a new height for me.  I can’t help it, music seems to make everything more festive!  The COURSE ( As in Race Course,  Not Coarse.  The Music adds some Serioous Spirit! I guess I have been misspelling that word all along.) circled around at a few points and the Band was cool enoughMoving on to Mile 2! to follow the crowd and continue the spirit music.  DJ’s are cool, but seldom mobile.    The Band was able to march over and keep the sound playing.   

I think I see Cheryl!  So the start was slightly uphill and the runners were thinI think I SAW Cheryl enough for me to identify Cheryl and take a few early pics.   There were over 3000 runners here, but most of the 5k’ers were segregated to a different start location.   This thinned out the herd considerably so I could see people and select out my target much easier.

Cheryl at Mile 2 I then ran to the two mile mark where the runners were routed to run.  ( More Alliteration!)  It was amazing how the groups had thinned out even more at this point.  Cheryl was even easier to find this time!   Now I'm thinking I'm seeing Double! Check out her “twin” .  ( black top and orange shorts)  Sometimes the only way to find her is to look for the colors of her clothes.  It can be a challenge when you see someone running in the same outfit ( or one that closely resembles her’s) in the mile of a huge crowd.   Luckily,  most of the people running were behind her and I was able to score some “mid-race footage”!

Is that a Polar Bear?  I snapped a few more pictures of people.   Notably the large Polar Bear.   Funny how the people running seemed to notice me more than the fact that there was a Polar Bear running behind them.  Now I'm thinking I'm Hallucinating! I’m not sure how far the Bear made it, but that Fur must have been hot to run in.





 Another Mascot! I moved on down to the finish and set up on the skywalk overlooking the final stretch of the race.   The 5k-ers were trickling in while a NEW Mascot was cheering themCheering on the "slow"....Er...5K people. on with high-fives and waves.  Small trivial:   I was on the very bridge that the movie “Back To School” was filmed on.   ( I guess,  I was not even aware that movie was shot in Madison Wisconsin)  

The Guy in Blue may not look it...But he is a Olympc Gold Medalist In Speed Skating!In addition to the Lion,  the guy in the Blue shirt was an Olympic gold medalist in Speed Skating.   I guess they asked him to join the race because the other two mascots were not enough.   However, I fail to see how speed skating and Half Marathon Running have much in common.   It didn’t really matter though,   The more the merrier, I say!   

First guy from the Half MArathonThe winner of the race came in at a blistering speed ( for a 13.1 mile race) Big winner!  With a new record!beating the course record by 30 seconds!  ( if I remember correctly) The nearest competition was 4 minutes behind him.



pacers are all alone!  I was impressed that the pace setters pretty much came in alone.   I guess there were not many people that were relying on them for the pace.  Next pacers are being left behind! This race had only been running ( pun intended) for 7 years now.   So it is possible that there are still not many Elites ( from Kenya or Ethiopia) in the running….( another Pun!)

Finally Cheryl is in sight!   Shortly after the 1:40 mark,  I kept an eye out for Cheryl.   I had a good vantage point so I took plenty of pics as she raced towards a new 13.1 mile record!.   Plenty of pics,Check out the "happy couple" sprinting to the end.  except the one of Bucky giving her the high 5!  Nice.

Cheryl crosses, but I fail to snap the Bucky High FiveSo, for the final tally:   Cheryl ran the 13.1 miles in  ( official chip time) 1 hour 43 minutes 59 seconds!   A full one minute and 54 seconds off her previous time for this distance. ( she also set a new 10k record!) 

Overall Place: 461 out of 3202 finishers

Gender place:108 out of 1775 females  

Cheyl Sporting her new Finishers medalDivision place:  12 out of 214. females age 40-44.  even MORE happy!( Must have been some “real runners” in this group for that level of competition)

Average pace: 7:57 minutes per mile.   ( That is well above Army standard…and we only ran 4 miles at a shot!)


Check out the GLEEM!

Mascot Hubert,  Mission Successful!  So Cheryl linked up with me at the after party for our complimentary beer and bananas.  We managed to track down the Lion Mascot and take his  picture as well.   Small note:  While cropping these pictures, I noticed that there was this lady who seemed to be oblivious to our Photo Op.  Lady wants to be in on our Parade! It was almost like she wanted to be part of the picture…so I decided to include her….Enjoy!


Who makes the Brats in Wisconsin?   We decided to skip the Brats, even though we ARE in Wisconsin….the home of all things German. We instead decided to save room for Ice Cream and see about lunch on the way home.   The Entire Trip only took about 3.3 hours….minus the bathroom breaks…mostly for me.  ( I like coffee while I drive!)   Cheryl drove most off the way back…thankfully.  Cheryl drives I was on the cusp of a cold late last night and did not sleep very well.   I welcomed the break from driving.  Plus Cheryl wanted to drive the Subie because she does not get the honor very often and I drove all the way to Madison on Friday. 

In the end,  it was a fun Spur-Of-The-Moment trip that went off pretty well. Cheryl got a race in while being able to run at a fast pace.   Good training for the Twin Cities Marathon coming up in October!Driving Subie after a successful run....what could be better?   Now the Work begins to see if we can extend the distance for that pace.Our Next Target!    See ya then!    We have several more 20 mile training runs scheduled before the race….so we shall see how things work out.   In the end,  this was one of the only runs available in August, and the weather and race planning all worked out.   Enjoy the remainder of the pictures.   I shot many many more than what are listed here on this posting.    Enjoy!


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