Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Dead Horse Point - Moab, Utah

Nine miles northwest of Moab, Utah - there is a place where the Colorado, and Green Rivers have chiseled patterns into the earth that are so intricate - you would think someone carved out the patterns with an X-Acto knife. This place is Dead Horse Point. If you haven’t been to Dead Horse Point, the next time you go to Moab - you have to go. You just have to. Dead Horse Point is an overlook that stands 2,000 feet above the confluence of the Green, and Colorado Rivers . When there is snow on the La Sal mountain range, some say the view rivals that of the Grand Canyon . I could hardly disagree.

For 300 million years these two rivers have been etching their way south to the Canyonlands to create one of the most picturesque landscapes I have ever observed. I’ve been there twice – once with my friend Nick Bezzerides, and once with Mike.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Joyride With Mike Kalan

This is the story I shared at Mike's funeral in Portland....

To begin, I met Mike one day while mountain biking at Cherry Creek reservoir in Denver, Colorado. At the time we were both attending Cherry Creek High School, and oddly enough I didn’t meet Mike at Cherry Creek high school, but while riding at Cherry Creek reservoir on a spring day. I was mountain biking on a trail and Mike passed me - so I decided to continue riding with him. At the time I didn’t know it, but from then on there would be many, many more great rides – and great times to be had.
The story I am going to share is from 1993, when Mike was home on a break from college at Valparaiso.

One evening Mike, Eric Shoemaker and I were hanging out at Mike’s parent’s house, while Mike’s parents were out to dinner. Since Judy and Darko were gone, Mike decided to take Eric and I out for a joyride in his parents Saab 9000 CSE. For those of you that have seen the Saab car commercials, you know these cars are literally airplanes on wheels – they absolutely fly! So Mike took us out on some roads in south Denver and got the Saab up to 120 miles per hour that night.

When we got back to Mike’s parent's house from our joyride, the brakes on the Saab were so hot they were smoking. The smoke filled the garage with the staunch smell of burning brakes; similar to the smell when following a semi down a steep hill. Mike decided to pour water on the brakes to cool them off, which created even more smoke in the garage. Next, Mike had Eric immediately light a cigarette to help diffuse the strong smell of the burning brakes in his parent’s garage. Mike was running around frantic, and I nearly wet my pants because he was expecting his parents home at any minute. All three of us were terrified because the garage was now filled with the smell of burning brakes; while the garage floor was covered with the water Mike had poured on the brakes. Mike quickly had me sweep out all the water and things looked pretty good by the time Judy and Darko arrived back at their abode. I’m not sure if Mike ever got in trouble for this, but I know this was one scary moment for me.

Hanging out with Mike was always exciting, adventurous, and never boring. Because of Mike I will always remember “destinations don’t count – it’s all in the going.”

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Description of Mike - From Mike's Funeral

Mike is on the far right in the photo.

This is from a handout at Mike's funeral that is a great overall description:

Michael Allen Kalan was born to Judy and Darko Kalan in Denver, Colorado on April 24, 1971. He grew up in the Denver area with his two younger sisters, Kristy Kalan and Jenny (Kalan) Johns. When he was younger, he enjoyed riding his bike and skiing in the mountains. He attended Valparaiso University, where he majored in Mechanical Engineering and met his wife Wendy Fabricius. He became a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, VU bike team, and helped out with sound systems for a variety of campus events. Mike participated in the Co-op program at VU his junior and senior year, working with Parker Hannifin in Arlington Heights, Illinois and Ashley, Indiana. Upon graduation, Parker Hannifin hired Mike as an engineer, which provided him with a variety of experiences and places to live: Plymouth, Michigan (6 months), Schaumburg and Barrington, Illinois (2 years), Corona, California (2 years), Wapakoneta, Ohio (6 years), and Portland, Oregon (5 months). His last job title was Plant Superintendent of which he was very proud and honored to have.

Listening to music, Jeeping and bicycling were some of Mike's passions. he loved all types of music, and could never hop into a car or leave for a bike ride without listening to music, which of course had to be very loud. He could always find the deeper meanings to songs and knew the beat of every instrument when listening. He bought a Jeep while living in California, which he took on numerous excursions, most notably Big Bear, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, and Death Valley. He enjoyed a handful of excursions in Ohio and Oregon and was looking forward to exploring Oregon more. Bicycling, of course, was his biggest passion. He road from a very young age and began competing in cycling as young as 14. He was an extraordinary bike mechanic, putting together bikes at proficient speeds. There was excitement in putting together all the components that would make a bike as light and competitive as possible. While living in the Midwest, he proved to be one of the best cyclists around. He loved racing, determined to continue even after he had his children. For a couple of years, he even was sponsored on Schwinn's Homegrown team as a semi-professional rider. It was a great honor for him. he could barely let a day go by without a bike ride.

Mike and Wendy were married on June 15, 1995. Alexander Michael and McKenna Ruth were the two joys and prides of his life. Despite his busy schedule, he always made time to spend with them. He impressed upon them his joys of music, biking, and learning. He taught them so much in his short time with them that his influence will be forever upon them. Mike went beyond the description of a loving husband. His love, friendship, forgiveness, support, tenderness, humor, and commitment were limitless.

We all will remember Mike as a man who fit as much into his 35 years of living as possible. Those who knew him now know him more than they ever could because of his death. His faith in his loving Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was not often spoken, but it was lived in his daily life. Mike never pretended to be someone he was not. Dying while doing something he loved befits him, as troubling and hurtful to us as it is, but he would never suggest to anyone to stop doing what you love out of fear. God knew he had found so much beauty and love in his life and wanted to show him what we can only imagine, complete joy and love in the heavenly home God has made for us. Mike would want all who knew him to know that promise for themselves.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Three Months Later

So it's been three months and it's still hard to believe Mike is gone. :*( Some days I just have a really hard time seeing photos and realizing Mike has moved on. I stare at them and let my mind play back the memories I have of Mike and I. Like the time we went to Wasatch for Kristy's graduation from high school. Eventually I will tell the whole story, but initially we stopped in Vail to ride the catwalks....then we were off to Moab to ride. We then attended his sisters graduation in Wasatch and then headed to Salt Lake City to spend the night - where we managed to drink four Long Island Ice Teas in twenty minutes. It's a long story, but probably one of the best experiences I had with Mike and his family. At work I have cycling photos of us at my desk that I look at to relive the memories and great times I had with Mike. I have a handful of fabulous friends that are truly great people, so this is especially hard since Mike was one of them. I admired Mike because he took things pretty serious, and he excelled at everything he did. He always had to be the best - and he always had to have the best of everything.

Eventhough Mike took life pretty serious, he was never shy of taking advantage of an opportunity for horseplay. Like the time we were mountain biking at Cherry Creek reservoir and I was drafting right on his rear wheel. We were flying along and all of the sudden he bunny hopped. Mike was kind enough to jump over a fresh mound of horse dung and let me ride right through the middle of it - splattering it all over ME and my bike!!! Mike could not stop laughing!! I'm not sure if I ever got even with him for this one??!!??!! Grrr.

Well it's late so I'm off to bed.................more later..........

Saturday, October 14, 2006

September 23, 2006 :*(

The date was September 23, 2006. It was 3:39 p.m., and I was leaving the last place my best friend called home. Portland, Oregon. Paradise for many. It was a spectacular - sun filled day in Portland. With its lush, deep greenery, Portland reminded me a lot of Pennsylvania. Large meandering rivers and dense forests of trees everywhere that I could see from my tiny window at 38,000 feet. Stellar bridges and ultra cool infrastructure packed my memory for the two days I spent saying good-bye to my best friend.....Michael Allen Kalan. April 24, 1971 ~ September 15, 2006.

It was a good Saturday - better than the last. Which is when I got a call from Mikes cell, and it was his wonderful wife Wendy. Initially, I was excited because I thought Mike was calling to chat since we only texted each other earlier in the week. But instantly I knew something was really, really wrong when it was Wendy on the phone and not Mike. It was after that Wendy told me Mike was in a crash with an SUV while on his bike Friday, and that he had died on impact. WOW! WOW! So far September 16, 2006 has been the worst day of my life. What a sad day.

The last time I talked to Mike was on Tuesday September 12 around 5:40 p.m. Mike was in Atlanta and we exchanged a few text messages. I think the last time I heard Mike's voice was on August 19th when he called me while driving home after getting his hair cut. Of course he called me while the wind was in his hair and he had the top off of the Jeep. I told him to call me back when he got home since it sounded like he had the Jeep in a wind tunnel. Many of the times Mike would call he always had the top off the Jeep - and I could barely make out what he was saying. Perhaps my hearing impediment is from all of those days in high school we spent in his parents basement cranking up music so loud it made our eardrums bleed. Great times!! Now that I look back on it....Mike always enjoyed having the wind in his hair. = )

I still can't believe it happened. And I guess I don't want to believe it. When I see Mike's name in my cell phone it's hard to tell myself I can't call him because he won't answer. NEVER. Today I called Mike's cell phone several times to hear his voice say "Mike Kalan" on the voice mail recording. I know it's crazy, but a little therapeutic. I hope Wendy understands if she sees all the missed calls. I hope I can call it a few more times before his service gets cancelled. *Press "play" or "pause" on the players below to start/stop the music or voicemail recording. The voicemail recording player will be updated when I can find a better player.

The first time I met Mike was while riding mountain bikes at Cherry Creek reservoir in Denver. I was cruising along a dirt trail on my new Giant Iguana mountain bike in 1988 or 1989 and Mike passed me on his red, white, and blue Schwinn K.O.M. mountain bike. K.O.M. = "King of the Mountain." So he rode by and I decided to tag along with him. He was riding swiftly, but I was able to keep up eventhough I had just started getting into cycling. We were both in high school at Cherry Creek at the time, and had some of the same physics/engineering classes. It's amazing how vivid my first memory of riding with Mike is to me now.

Mikey I miss you!