Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Man cannot live by running alone

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

At least I can’t, not anymore.  As much as I love running, over the last few years of ‘only ultra-running’ type workouts, ie. SLOW RUNS, my upper body has continued to get weaker, and my body fat has gone UP.  NOT a good thing.  So I’ve started a new program with some high intensity running, and high intensity weight lifting.  Not isolated, body builder type stuff, but explosive, full body workouts including uphill sprints and gymanstics ring workouts.   All it REALLY means is that right now, I am very tired, and very sore, but hey, I’ve lost 5 lbs. (only 25 more to go!) 

Update on the HISTORY CHANNEL Modern Marvels SUPERHOT episode, that features the Badwater Ultra, with a few seconds of ME running in the event.  It will be rebroadcast Saturday the 28th at 7:00pm Eastern. look for #32, Spiderman shorts and cowboy hat.  Shouldn’t be difficult to find, huh?

Ashley, the horse whisperer, has trained another of our Arabians to ride.  She did the same with my horse, we got them as youngsters, having never been ridden.  And two weeks ago, she got on Uno (TCA The One his registered name, we call him Uno) for the first time.  Since then, her and I have done several rides around the property and he’s just doing great.

Ashley on UnoAshley on Uno









 Fathers Day has come and gone, and my big present?  A pedicure from Emily.  Full blown deal, she primped, painted and ground dead skin off my feet with this electric drill thing.  Don’t I look pretty in my flaming Superman pajamas and painted nails?  Thanks Emily!

Dad’s Pedicure

OK, I admit, not my first pedicure either! The first was by Tamara the night before 2003 Ironman USA, in Lake Placid, NY.  Which was one of my most memorable events, not my best, but very cool, finishing in the same Olympic Skating Oval that Eric Heiden dominated the Olympics with 5 gold medals many years ago.  LINK TO REPORT OF THAT EVENT  Her and Ashley gave me French Pedicure.   Pretty weird, I know.

My latest passion/diversion

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Headstock with custom decalWhat have I been up to lately?  Building my own electric guitar.  William and Ashley both have Fender Stratocasters, and I have bought, then sold a couple different Gibsons to try to find something I like, spent quite a bit of time at Guitar Center playing various axes.  Eventually I realized the Strat just seems perfect. 

Designed in the early 1950’s by Leo Fender, it is STILL the mainstay guitar of SO many successful musicians.  The list of guys that consider(or considered) it their main guitar stretch from Buddy Holly, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa,  Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pink Floyd, to John Mayer and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. The Strat’s where it’s at. 

Rather than buy another of what we have, I decided to build my own from parts I selected myself.   It’s still the same guitar, just a ‘custom’ version done exactly like I want.  I started with an unfinished body mostly shaped and routed, then started searching for the neck and other bits and pieces I needed.   William helped me with soldering, polishing, installing the tuners, and in general, being another set of hands and eyes to help be sure everthing was set right. 

Basically, it has become my obsession over the last couple months to get it finished.  Of course, it took much longer than I thought, but I really couldn’t be happier with the result.  I have a full picture gallery of the complete process here  You can click each photo to read the description of what process I was working on, and also access full size photos.

 I used a Swamp Ash unfinished body.  A birdseye maple neck, with rosewood fretboard. I wanted to build a pretty much vintage correct Strat, with my own upgrades as I saw fit.  The basic inspiration was from Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Number One Strat(pictured at bottom of page), thought I obviously did not try to ‘copy’ that guitar, with the enhanced grain, different coloring, different wood, etc. that I used  But I used vintage style tuners, tremolo,  saddles, string tree, and real bone nut  just as would have been on a 1950’s or 1960’s Strat.  I did the contouring on the body to be similar to that era.  An amber tint to the neck gives that older, vintage, yellowed vibe rather than the bright white maple of a brand new Fender.  The decals on the headstock are Fender inspired, but my own take on them.   I even stuck a small quote from Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones on there.  The finish is old school Nitro Lacquer, just as used back in the day.  At one time used for automobile finishes, it’s too toxic for that use these days.  I replaced the modern, cool abalone fret marker dots with cream colored clay dots, to also give a more vintage look.  I think it came out pretty nice.  It’s a joy to play, when I can wrestle it out of William’s hands.

Harper Custom Stratocaster

Tobacco Burst StratocasterThe back.  Note the neckplate with big letter H and my name circling it.

This is what I started with

This is the body that I actually started with.

Copy of SRV’s #1






Above is a copy of the actual Stevie Ray Vaughan guitar that was the starting point for what I was wanting to do.  Below is a Fender replica guitar of the same.  I wanted to do something like this, but actually build a better guitar than I might buy off the shelf, with my own twist on it. 

Fender Replica

SRV Last Call

SRV was killed August 27, 1990 in a helicopter crash following a concert in East Troy, Wisconsin, headed to Chicago.  Also on stage that night had been Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Jimmie Vaughan. (though obviously none of them were onboard the helicopter)











The 282 Foot Dash

Friday, March 14th, 2008

I went for a run yesterday, and I felt that desire to crank it up again.    I am about to enter a 100 miler for November, and start serious training for that.  Kind of excited about it, after taking several months of rest. 

 When I got home from my run, Tamara and my daughter Emily were waiting for me to help her complete a homework assignment of measuring how far one of her parents could run in 10 seconds.  In her PE class, they had to see how far THEY could run in 10 seconds.  So, Emily marks a starting line and sends me off, Tamara monitors the clock,  Ashley is down the street to mark the finish spot.  I’m feeling like an idiot trying to sprint on legs that don’t do a lot of sprinting these days.  While they are screaming wildly for me to go faster like it’s a real race,  the neighbors are sitting out on their property with friends,  drinking beer and wondering what the heck the Harper’s are up to now.

The measurement was 282 feet and some inches.  Not even a day later, and I wish I could do it again, I could go much farther with a better start and quicker accelaration.  I slow getting to top speed.  Funny how I can break that 10 seconds into 3-4 different pieces just like you might a long distance run.  Forget it, I think I’m too old to start training for the 100 yard dash!

I came inside the house gasping for air.  WOW, that was hard!  I cannot believe how long it took me to recover from that effort of 10 seconds of 100% effort.  It’s very different to run like that, to give 100% effort from a complete rest,  than it is to do the long aerobic distances, or even to sprint to the finish of something like a triathlon run, or 5 or 10k.   It was fun, and Emily was impressed that I went far.   

Me and William out for a ride

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

William and I did some riding this weekend…

William and Dad

 William and I did some riding this weekend.  The day before, on Friday, I went riding with a buddy, DirtBikeMike.  He had a pretty bad crash while following me.  I had to go back and find him, he had gone down hard.  Arm was very swollen, he’d had the breath knocked out of him, and his ribs were hurting.    We could get his bike to start, but something was broke in the gearbox.  SO, we had to leave his bike, and I had to ride him out of the woods on my bike, to get back to our trucks, went straight to get ice and ibuprofen.  Then got as close as we could to his motorcycle with our trucks.  It left me 1/2 mile by the GPS calculation for me to have to go in and push his bike out.  Mike couldn’t do anything but sit in the truck.   1/2 mile is a LONG way to push a 350 pound motorcycle on dirt trails!   I ran in, and actually got out pretty quick, but that was certainly my workout for the day!

Some additional photos at

Weekend of Riding

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

Horses on Saturday, Motorcycles on Sunday.  What could be better?

On Saturday, Ashley and I, took Reggie and Rocky to Croom for some trail riding.  It’s a State Park about an hour from us, hundreds of acres of hiking, biking and horse trails.  I’ve run hundreds and hundreds of training miles out there,  now I’m starting to rack up miles on my horse.    We ended up riding about 4 1/2 hours and had a great time.  Covering a lot of ground that we’ve never seen,  I was on Rocky FAR longer than I ever had been.  We did quite a bit of trotting, and though I worried about overdoing it, he never acted like he was tired, and today, Sunday, he does not seem sore.   He truly seems to love the trails as much as I do, he’s curious, wants to see what’s around the next bend,  hates to stop, and always wants to be moving, and moving quickly if I’ll let him.  I’m lovin’ it.   Ashley and I were both exhausted when we got back to the trailer.  Here are some photos from our day, and a couple of videos.  Click the thumbnails to see a larger photo, and click the link to see the video segments.

Croom 2008 Video 1

Croom 2008 Video 2

Ashley and Sir Reginald (Reggie)Ashley and Sir Reginald (Reggie)Croom Trail RideCroom Trail RideCroom Trail RideCroom Trail RideCroom Trail RideAshley and Reggie       

Then Sunday, I was to meet a buddy for some motorcycle riding in the dirt.  He ended up not being able to make it, but I headed out to get dirty anyway.  I hooked up with a couple of other riders on the trails, and not a mile after that, I ran out of gas(having to turn my tank to reserve.)  That sent me heading out of the woods, back down the road to fill up.  After that, I went exploring on many trails in the Withlocochee(sp?) Forest that I’d never been on, and found and marked on my GPS a trailhead for some horse trails I’d also never seen before.  Maybe a future trip for me and Ashley.  Never crossed paths with any other motorcycle riders, but did see both wild turkeys and deer.  I rode about 75 miles total, and was so busy riding I never stopped and took any pictures.  

KTM 625SXC  Back home, safe and sound.  Awesome weekend.

Rock and Roll

Friday, February 8th, 2008

William’s hobby has infected us!    Ashley and I are trying to keep up with William, who’s kind of our teacher.

Our guitar Collection

William’s 1997 American made Fender Stratocaster  Ashley’s Strat   White Strat Dad’s

Lowest High Point

Monday, January 28th, 2008

On the way back from Alabama, William and I made a detour to begin a quest that I’m sure will last for many years.  We are going to climb to the highest point of all 50 states, that is our goal.  On January 27, 2008, we started the quest in Florida at the lowest of the 50 states high points, Britton Hill, a whopping 345 feet above sea level.

Some will be easy, almost administrative, like this one, whereas others will be quite the adventure.  We intend to do each one with some type of hike or some adventure associated with it, so even if a high point is drivable, like Alabama, we will go to the bottom of the mountain and do the climb/hike to the top if it is at all practical.  On this one we did about a 1 mile hike around the park, just exploring the nearby woods. 

We don’t have a timeline, and plan to just have a fun time of knocking off as many states as we can.  We’ll probably get 7 or 8 mostly in the East this year.

 But number 1 of 50 is down.  We took a few photos and I’ve set up a separate photo album where we’ll have photos of us as each high point here…

Florida Peak to Peak Trip

Monday, November 26th, 2007

Well, that title is not exactly correct, firstly, it’s not about a run, and there isn’t much in Florida as far as high points to climb, BUT we live right at Sugarloaf Mt, some 310 or so feet above sea level, the highest point in the Florida Peninsula, and the THIRD highest point in the state.  AND William and I made weekend of a two park camping trip into the panhandle to some caves, to the highest waterfall in Florida, which also sits on Falling Water Hill, slightly taller than Sugarloaf and the SECOND highest point in the state.

The trip was the result of me meeting to deliver a motorcycle that I sold to a guy from Louisiana.  I used the meeting as an excuse to make a weekend trip with Will.

I have a full photo gallery posted at

Here’s the short version… (click photo for larger image)

 First stop of the tripGood thing Mom isn’t around right now.  She wouldn’t exactly be loving this.Very cool tour of a suprisingly large cave.  About a 30-40 minute tour.Many HUGE sinkholes in the area of the waterfall.Our campsite.  This was the first test of our new backpacking tent and sleeping system.And we end the trip about like we started it, eating.  Seafood at a restaurant on Mexico Beach

We spent all of our time hiking, exploring, and just hanging out.  A very cool weekend.