Jennifer and I spent the last weekend in Ames for no particular occasion. While I love the fun of being home at CHristmas or Thanksgiving with all the family in place, it was actually really great just to spend some time with my parents, see Jennifer's family and pass some time in lovely Iowa spring weather.
The general routine is to fly in late one night, crash at the McMakens and then spend the next day or so trying to maximize time with my folks. Saturday morning I ended up working a Bike Rodeo with my dad at the Nevada (pronounced Ne-VAY-da) Police Department's spring safety fair. A bike rodeo usually consists of a helmet giveaway, safety instruction for kids, and a couple of willing souls from a local bike shop trying to make a bunch of really crummy bikes safe enough to ride. The Nevada Police auctioned off a bunch of bikes that they'd impounded or recovered over the years and as the morning crept onward it was clear that we were working on a bunch of refuse. On one hand, it sucks, because people with low expectations purchase a bike for a 'good deal' and then are left with something that barely functions. Deals are only deals when they are worth more than you paid for them. I joked with my dad that next year he should head over a day in advance and pay the police $20 bucks to throw about half of the bikes in a dumpster.
On the other hand, this is the type of repair that I am truly excellent at. My years working on shitty bikes at Michael's Cyclery, Grand Performance, Skunk River Cycles and Trophy Bikes prepared me well for fixing crap and fixing it fast. I got a surprising amount of satisfaction from quickly identifying the real failings that would keep a bike from moving or stopping and then hosing it down with Tri-Flow and making it do its thing, at least to a small degree. I am a top-shelf kludge-master.
The remainder of the day was spent hanging out with Claire, who sort of surprised everyone last minute by making the trip from Iowa City. It was great to spend time with her and have some tasty drinks and catch up on the various craziness that is her life. Her husband is now helping one of their catering customers put together a hydroponic system on his roof in his spare time, which is nearly nil. I can oddly identify with that. My people are helping people, even at the expense of their own free time or sanity.
We had an oversized dinner, oversized numbers of beers and other drinks, and then had a small backyard fire in the pit that my dad had constructed from pieces of an old bed frame and the guts of a washing machine. Classic style.