Apparently, today was the wrong day to ride to work.
This morning when I rode to work, it was a sunny winter day. When I walked to lunch with some office mates, it was pretty nice out. Around 3 o'clock, I looked out my 18th floor office window and gulped - it was snowing like the dickens. Then I remembered that riding in the snow (or rain) always makes me feel more alive. When I unlocked my bike for the snowy ride home, I had a smile on my face. I wasn't smiling when I wiped out in Wash Park trying to take a corner too fast. Luckily, I didn't get hurt and made it home just fine.
This weekend, a college friend (Miller) and I hopped in his car and headed to Nebraska to visit an old friend. We went to college with the guy and he is appropriately named "Cletus". Friday night, we stayed at Cletus's girlfriend's house in Torrington, Wyoming. The highlight of that evening was going to the drive-through liquor store and ordering some Guinness. The guy working there looked at us a bit funny, but they did have it. We learned that up until last year, you could get a mixed drink at the drive-up liquor store and drink it on the way home.
After having a couple beers, we asked Cletus what the plan was for Saturday. He said he had to work in the morning and we could meet somewhere to watch the football games in the afternoon. I told him we wanted him to put us to work. He said he'd call us later in the morning and we could come out and meet him. I said I'd rather do it the right way and get up and start at the crack of dawn like he does.
The next morning (or rather 5 hours later), he woke us up, we had some black coffee and cough drops for breakfast and we headed out to Gering, Nebraska. The drive to Cletus's Feedlot was one of the highlights of our trip. When we left Torrington, it was dark and the Sun was just beginning to rise. The drive was 30 minutes and we got to enjoy one of the most beautiful sunrises I've ever seen.
The smell of cow shit began in Torrington and didn't end when we arrived at Cletus's workplace. Instead, it proceeded to get worse, and stuck with us for most of the weekend (as it eventually ended up on our clothes). That morning, we started off by shoveling the snow and ice from the feeders. Then we fed some cows by driving through the fields and "flaking" off bales of hay. Next, we drove around the feedlot with shotguns and tried to scare off the black birds that were eating the cows' food. Our shot-to-kill ratio was abysmal. Then we helped Cletus shuffle the cattle around while he "scraped" their pens with a front-end loader. Walking around in 6" deep cow shit was quite the experience. To end the day, we helped "doctor" a calf that was bloated. This consisted of sticking a pipe down its throat, then shoving a tube through the pipe into its stomach. Miller got to experience the smell from the end of the hose and he's surely traumatized for life.
One interesting technology-related thing I noticed was how much they used wireless and laptops on the feedlot. The main office (or rather trailer) has a wireless network setup and they have laptops in various buildings that connect to it. These laptops were Dells running Windows (I didn't see what version) that used applications to track the cows (by ear tag). Within seconds, they were always able to find out the medical history of a cow and enter new data after they treated it. It certainly wasn't modern-looking as there was lots of dust and dirt on the laptops. However, it was interesting to see how they effectively used technology to track everything.
After working on the feedlot, everything was pretty much standard for a visit to Nebraska. We enjoyed some beers at the local bar during the Seattle game, took a nap and then headed to "The Pink Palace" for the best steaks in town (or so the locals thought). Following that, we played some pool at the "OT" and retired way too late.
Sunday we drove back and laughed at all the memories we created while in Nebraska. It was truly a fun weekend, one I won't soon forget.