eugene one more time

i returned to eugene just a couple days before the uber-popular holiday of thanksgiving, a holiday that for as long as i can remember has always troubled me. it doesn’t take a genius historian to recognize the lies, the fallacies, the roust of the story we have been told since we were wee ones. yet and but it seems so benign as far as american celebrations go…wanting to gather friends and family to give thanks. if that is the reason for the gathering, why was it always so damn stressful? why do grocery stores and markets depend so heavily on the capitalism that week and especially that wednesday before? and then there is black friday the day after…all so consumer and money driven. gather the crew and spend spend spend and the capitalists give thanks.

i feel like if i made this post during the depths of “the holiday season” people would shut down or get defensive, and there would be no discussion or giving of space to question why and how we celebrate what during this time of year, and as we are doing more questioning in this country about how and why we celabrate events such as columbus day and moving it to indigenous peoples day, we can do the same with the last thursday of november (a month to celebrate the people native to this land). and i have to say, my favorite moments for this time have been the many friends-givings i’ve gone to or hosted over the years.

this year, in eugen, was a pretty special one. i spent it with 2 people who have also been questioning how to mark this time of year; a time that has been marked by countless cultures through the ages for many reasons. it is also marking the ending of the adventure that started two and a half years ago when i left oregon, along the coast, sent off by these same 2 humans. this wasn’t planned, but that is how great moments come to be when i just let them, and it is in retrospect that i realize just how right it was for us to be together during this time.

we decided that we would try and go camp somewhere, make it just a simple celebration of all we have to be grateful for individually and collectively. one buddy found the last remaining cabin on the coast and they snagged it! yahoo! we just needed to make it over the coastal range where snow was called for. it was a cold morning, and we did see snow up on the peaks through the whole journey, but when we got over the costal range we came across a managed herd of elk in a meadow, a cleared space from ranchers come to settle the area back in the 1800s. we had a snack as we watched the herd graze, then it was off to the dunes and the ocean. it was sunny and that kind of warm/cold one can find along the shores of oregon. so we wondered in the sunshine, ate more snacks, watched the surfers, and smiled as the sun began to decend on the horizen indicated it was time to go check into the cabin and set up, start a fire of our own, before the sun moved across the horizon and out of sight. but not out of mind.

one of things i’ve been learning more about as i spent more time with these wonderful humans is about the sun and the moon, its movement and how different cultures have marked time, space, and ceremony by its phases and placement in the sky in relation to life on this planet. the solstice is one event that we all agree is meant to be acknowledged in some way, but what is it really marking? something we had been thinking was that both summer and winter solstice, in the western world mark the first of summer or winter, but really, when one considers the way the sun travels, it is the mid point of summer and winter. for example, the first day of winter marks the time the sun starts winning the battle over darkness and we get longer “days”. in the pacific northwest, this was vital to our mental health. so much to unlearn and re-educate myself on, for “traditional” cultures have acknowledged this movement of the sun and seasons differently, and i feel deeply moved to learn the ways of people who lived based on the land/place.

~~~

once our abode for the night was set up, we poured some wine and we all kind of went into ourselves. i contemplated all the ways i’ve concidered celebrating thanksgiving. once, i heard that it had been suggested that it be a fasting holiday instead of feasting, so i’ve considered that. i’ve read the thanksgiving “prayer” of the haudenosaunee (iroquois nation) while preparing food for folks to come over. i’ve spent the day in solitude, meditating. but how do i want to keep moving forward in how i mark the movements of time and of the seasons, for lately i have been considering that the only constant is movement not change, but that is another discussion for another time.

we did make a lovely simple meal together that night. we gathered around the heater in the cabin. we read (one worked on school projects), and we chatted until it was time to snuggle into our sleeping time. and i slept, i believe we all slept and dreamt deeply .

the morning brought a slow walk around the lake our cabin overlooked, staying in the sun as much as possible with our mugs of coffee. watching the sun hit the cold air as ducks swam out of the rising fog. we made it back just in time to pack up for check out, and it was off to find a sunny picnic table to make the pancakes and snausages (vegan sausage). we all took turns flipping flapjacks for ourself or one another, basking in the warmth and the view of another lake amongst the sandunes separating us from the pacific. and then it was time to point roscoe (the latest adventure vehicle in their lives) back to eugene for a(n) (anti) black friday party. it was a perfect celebration for us, for me. old friends. new friends. good times.

this was just so damn perfect on so many levels. i have taken this gift i have given myself, of walking away from one life, to contemplate how i really want to be in this world. i turned 50 during this time (a cold winter night alone in colorado before i made the wonderful friends i would soon know). i’ve visited the friends and family that have helped me and encouraged me to be me as long as i’ve known them. i have made so many new friends and gained a faith in so much beyond myself, but not in any organized faith. all things i will talk more about as i keep unpacking what these past 2-1/2 years have meant to me, the foundation this time has created for how i want to move in my life.

today i am finding a new place in the desert southwest in a small city on a few boarders with such open expansiveness that there is room to contemplate so much. and everywhere i go there is proof of all the people who have moved through these lands for centuries. i couldn’t be happier. what a wonderful place to keep working on decolonizing my life. one of the many ways i am doing this is by trying to read as many people of color as possible, mostly women and queer folks. same for the music i listen to, movies, and food too. one truth i have come to recognize, and am willing to talk “come out as” now is i am calling myself a writer, finally. one partner i had decades ago told me a would write a book one day. i though she was had no idea who i was. sure i could write little article to go with photos if no one else was available for the paper. now here i am working on a book, a story, that keeps getting bigger and bigger. than i can actually see as becoming a series. and there is more, another big big project, but i will wait to release that when it has more form.

some resources for ya, if you are considering the disconcerting feelings that come up specifically around thanksgiving (also known as thankstaking or the deeper truth of thankskilling, i’ll post some at the end. i am not saying we need to stop celebrating thanksgiving. i do think the roots are beautiful; to give thanks for all we have done to prepare for the cold months of limited resources that allows us to go in and repair, heal, create…it is a gift. even if we change nothing in how we gather, it is important to know what and why we are gathering…i think.

thanksgiving toolbox

anything by the tierra incognita media

read indigenous peoples history

follow indigenous people hike

these are just a few that can lead you down the interwebs to so much more. and if you have favorites, share them. let’s lift up their voices!

eugene

so much has happened. eugene, surprisingly inspiring for me. i spent 3 months here, and once i gave up on the idea that i would or should get a job, i welled up with creative ideas. plus, PLUS, i arrived to adventure buddies, and adventure we did!

first off, i don’t want you think i barged into my friends’ lives for 3 whole months. i have my faults, but that i did not do. i did reach out to the local hostel and did some work-trade for a bunk, so i guess i did sort of get a job, but it was 4 hour shifts 5 days a week, so not so bad. and it was super easy for me to request to work/not work certain times to go adventure. also, i met even more people moving around this world in different ways for so many reasons, reasons i will be exploring in many ways.

as for the creativity that opened up in me once i recovered from logistics hangover, i am still amazed at how much i am giving in to it. it could be the space i am creating and plans i am laying out so that i don’t spend precious mental space worrying and fretting. but i have started having dreams at least once a month about ideas and directions that i want the book/story/potential series i am working on. things i haven’t been able to work out during waking hours.

i have also taken the time to teach myself how to draw, or should i say let youtube videos teach me to open up to the possibilities that i can create with pencils and pens..maybe water colors. i have never let myself do this. art supply stores intimidate me. i have looked at art classes, but was shy and afraid of not being good enough to share, and they always make you share.

so i have taken one of my dry bags and filled it with my journal, sketch pad, and a pen and pencils…my little art bag. it is so fun. sometimes when i am on a hike or some such fun activity, i don’t always want to write, or the words won’t come to describe my thoughts and feelings, so i draw it. i has effected all aspects of my expressive outlets. my photography benefits as i adjust for lighting or looking for the small details. same for my writing. if i am imagining a scene to write about, i can sketch out not just what i see, but people, lighting, feeling tones for the place come to life sort of speak and fill in what i’ve been missing. its great! also, it is yet one more thing that i can use to procrastinate what i am “suppose” to be doing now. so win win!

adventures! so many!

first, i got there and eugene was having a late summer pride event! it reminded those of us who came out in the 80s and 90s of those smaller community prides we use to have. ones that were free instead of 20 bucks or more and use local area entertainers instead of big names that blow the community’s budget for other things. i do appreciate both for different reason, but definitely love the smaller community feel.

my fellow bike adventure friend took me on a bike path tour one day. showing me how to get to the river trails, what streets are good for getting to favorite breweries and bike spaces. then he left to visit family and left the two of us alone to mischief. the other pal in this crew is more of a walker, so we walked all over the town. he showed me how to get around to the parks and buttes to walk and wonder. we went to the museum, heard some music, and he introduced me to some of the friends the two of them had made since being in eugene. this was the first time the 2 of us had so much time with just the 2 of us, that we really got to know one another even deeper. such a special time i can’t even express.

the adventures i had in eugene were mixed with solo and buddies. it has been so long since i had an adventure buddy, i forgot how much fun it could be. the adventures i had with my friend in kansas city was remarkable, but it was piece of my longer plans. also, with all the flooding, the planing was different. so planning micro-adventures with someone was just so fun.

eugene does have a wonderful public transit system that reaches out to nearby communities, including the mckenzie river ranger district, so i took a couple trips out there to wonder the river woods and hot springs. we took the bus down to cottage grove to bike the covered bridge route and play around those little towns. all for the cost of a regular bus ride of $1.75 or $3.50 for a day. i also rode my bike out to springfield fairly often for the fun of riding the river trail out to have a beer or for big queer yoga on friday nights.

i can’t say enough just how beautiful this valley is. how easy it is to so any different unique nature places from ancient forest to high deserts and mountains. hot springs and ice cold rivers.

i do have to say getting back to the trails up and around the sisters wilderness was pretty great. my buddies had decided to get in a backpacking trip before school kicked back into gear for the year. so we decided to rent a car and i would drop them off and we’d camp out together for a night. then i would get another car and pick them up and we’d have a little hike and adventure on the way back. there had been a fire recently where i walked them into the start of the loop they were doing. it was eery for sure, but still so beautiful. i feel fortunate to have experienced this forest in both situations, and to see the freshness of the fire mixed with the growth already returning. it was so soothing to be back up there smelling those piney forests and absorbing high altitude sunshine. catching the views of the first snow setteling on the peaks of the sisters’ peaks.

sitting by those high altitude lakes i was able to do more internal exploration of what is my responsibility to these areas that i both recreate in, and have reverence for. it is where i am refreshed, renewed, and fills me spiritually. it is a deep relationship that i feel whatever “wilderness” i am in, and it should be, needs to be a reciprocal relationship. so what is my responsibility? what do i have to give back to these forms of kin?

settleing in eugene for the winter is certainly a tempting thought, but there are many dark sides to this little city, besides nike. certainly here was the first time on this trip i truly felt unsafe. it was the topic of many conversations i had here. it was a tough topic to talk about because it could go in many ways and we wanted to make sure that people knew that we weren’t talking about the fear of the high rates of houseless folks living on the streets and in tents by the river. it is mostly in white men and not just the drunken frat boys. there is a high rate of people on meth and other drugs that are unpredictable who will do about anything for their next fix. it is a complicated topic that goes deeper into a myriad thread of our social ills in this country.

on the flip side, i think that being in eugene was more of a coming home than being in portland for a few weeks, but we’ll talk about that when i do a portland adventure wrap up. but that will be after our overnight to the coast #optoutside!

philly

where to start.

i could go the linear way…today and the next…i could group it into activities…my thoughts i had there…humm

well let’s start with getting oriented and see what happens.

i left off with the arrival to philly, getting the basic rulelessness of philly and eating dive take-out chinese food that really hit the spot. i met the roommate and the house doggo. we caught up a bit before it was passed time to get some sleep.

i woke and listened to the city around me, then i got a text from with-in the house. it surprised me at first, but eventually i came to enjoy the quiet interactions from the comfort of soft clothes. usually it was an update on work schedules, ideas for the daily activities…

everyone went to work and it was just me and mr. dog. to get my bearings i went for a walk around the neighborhood. i found the local punk coffeeshop/cafe with lots o’vegan options (p.s. i really enjoyed this place and it was below a super cool bike shop that mostly i watched people of color go up and down the stairs with every day bikes and wearing regular clothes). i also found the all vegan donut shop, (yum), and the local co-op that i had heard a great deal about (not all good not all bad).

at some point i texted another friend of mine that i lived with for a minute back in the portland years who had moved to philly. we made plans to get together while i was in town. we had a good catch-up and they let me know about a couple of actions happening around the city that i would end up going to.

this first day (and most days i was there) the sun was shining. it was hot, but not humid and super hot. this part of west philly reminded me of portland 10 to 15 years ago. especially north portland. perhaps it is because of the cusp of rapidly encroaching gentrification of a historically black neighborhood. i could see myself trying to find a way to spend the summer here. these first few days it was super tempting to look at job and housing options for the season.

that night we met some of my friends’ friends for happy hour at the taco place and chowed on vegan nachos and margaritas…yum. the conversations were fun and lively with lots of laughter and smiles. it is always nice to get to know my friends other friends, especially friends who don’t live in the same place i do…to know friends are well cared for and loved is a wonderful feeling to me. also, one of the women hails from russia. while in n.c. i read part of a book on the oral history of punk music in russia that my friend did the cover art for. she actually knew some of the bars and places in the book. it was a super cool connection.

our days together were spent in lovely relaxed (to me anyway) ways. we went to the museum. saw a wonderfully disturbing exhibit as well as the rocky statue and footprints. it was remarkable to me how many people come to the museum just to see the rocky statue, so much so they moved the statue from the top of the stairs (you know where he ran up in the first rocky) to down and off to the side of the stairs. we walked the historic streets of philly (once crashing the filming of some t.v. show we had never heard of). we talked and caught up on what’s been happening in our lives, our minds, our hearts. we ate good food, consumed good beverages, and had lots of fun.

the moments we were off doing our own things, i walked the streets of philly, explored so many varied parts of histories that philly holds from pre-revolution to social justice actions, including an action against ICE that i went to with the other friend i have here. all the walking and wondering, the pouring over maps that listed important names as the names of parks or centers: malcolm x, paul robeson, du bois, MOVE, and mumia just to name a few. i tried to get to the edgar allen poe house, but just couldn’t get make the time for all the things.

one day i was walking around the historic area where independence hall is and the liberty bell, historic homes that had “servants quarters” i.e. slaves. i rounded a corner and spotted the “first bank” of the u.s. it stopped me in my tracks and i read the plaque. it talked about how it was proposed as a way to pay of the huge debt that this new founded country now had due to the war for “independence.” within just a few blocks i would run into at least the first 5 banks in the country. the last couple i ran into trying to escape the area. i was overwhelmed by the obviousness of the connection between war and banks and the merchant class and just how much we have not changed at all, the cycle this country spins to keep the capitalists of capitalism in control of the labor class. i needed to get away and clear my head.

there is a park by the house of the statue of liberty so i found a shady place and sat and calmed my thoughts and did a favorite activity of mine, people watch. there were people of all backgrounds speaking many languages, and i could not calm down. it was much more like a punch. normally this is a scene that warms me from the inside, but with the fascist want-to-be dictator that the u.s. has as a president right now, i was embarrassed (?), saddened (?), pissed for sure. that we as a country of immigrants (unless you are native american), that we would do any less than welcome those seeking refuge with open arms, is outrageous to me. granted these were tourists with some level of privilege ($$ everything in independence area cost money to enter except the liberty bell), and most likely would not have border issues when trying to return “home”, but i held some doubts for sure.

it was decided that we would take a day to go to the roommate’s parents house in jersey to swim, and break the city’s heat, so refreshing. what a great idea, go play and splash in a pool during the heatwave. it was a super fun day. we swam. we drank. we ate. we played games. we watched a couple thunderstorms roll by. we drove back to philly during another storm, tuckered out. i fell into a deep sleep.

i woke with the urgency of needing to make plans to get moving again. i couldn’t stay in philly. maybe i will return one day. there was a deep part of me that wanted to stay and see what i could get involved in, but i had a deeper need to get back west of the rockies. no matter how hard i try, i am not an east side of the country kind of kid. also, i could tell by the conversation i had with many people that i would most likely fall in to the cycle of working too much to make ends meet and consume things i don’t want to in the long run, and not make the time and space for the creative ventures i am trying to get started and move ever more forward.

eventually i found the route that would take me west. i chatted with my pals in oregon to make plans for my landing. and then i relaxed into my final few days in philly, and this led me to some great conversations that helped me work out some of my thoughts i’d been having while there.

my friend and i had a conversation one night about whether living so close to the deep history of the neighborhood, and racist history of philly, lent to having a sense of responsibility to that history? it is related, i think, to how i feel about living so close to nature and feeling a responsibility to protecting and making responsible choices in how i move around in my life. i mean, i can’t imagine white people calling the cops on black folks while having a picnic in malcom x park…just sayin’ but if gentrification keeps happening…

another night, at the first micro-brewery in philly that is right next to the punk cafe, i chatted with the bartender. he had recently returned to philly after going to school on the west coast. he was able to give himself the time and space to return and and come out to his family and the challenges of being a young gay black man in west philly (and the world). we talked about many things, including the similarities he is witnessing from his time in oakland and being back in philly around gentrification, housing, and wages.

but make no mistake, my last days weren’t all politics and heavy conversations. i ate a lot of vegan foods…went to the straight edge pizza place for amazing vegan “wings”. i had all the vegan treats i could get in my mouth. we went to an irish punk bar for some tasty vegan snacks and good beers. p.s. i do love me a good irish punk bar.

the morning of my departure was to be early, so we said our so longs the night before. i had decided to bike to amtrak instead of waking my friend and loading up the car for a ride to the station. this would be the only time i would bike in philly, and i am glad i did. i had been wanting to ride, but touring bikes are not really city prepared as everything is quick-release aka easy to steal. i rode away in the early morning during rush-hour traffic in busy bike lanes. it was a beautiful morning and a nice ride.

while waiting at the red cap post to be directed to where to load my bike i met a nun from a west philly church who encouraged me to get confirmed or something like that, just to be safe, like an insurance policy for my soul i guess. she was very nice about it. i told her i’m more along the lines of buddhist. she assured me that was ok, but i should still get to a catholic church. she reminded me of what dorothy day of the catholic worker movement might have been a little like. i also met a couple that would be on the train with me all the way to sacramento. little did we know what was in store for us in the coming days.

a couple of side notes. after getting into eugene, i read that the chinese restaurant we went to closed it’s doors the end of that month. rent was getting too high. the owner told the story of his family coming to the united states, and the support he has had since arriving in philly.

i also learned why a pizza shop i had tried to go to a couple times, but had a paper note that they were closed. seems that the staff believed the owners had fired a black employee for racially motivated reasons, so the staff locked up shop. the sister bar/restaurant did the same a couple days later in support. well that explained my confusion, and also reinforced my feelings that people were taking actions and not just sitting in meetings talking about the theory of racist management practices.

i can’t express just how much i am grateful for this friend, and this visit. we’ve known each other for over 20 years now i guess. we met when i lived in syracuse, and this is the second time we visited in person since i left ny. there are for sure gaps in our knowledge of the others’ experiences in those years, yet our friendship has stayed important and strong to us both. who knows where we will meet next.

i can’t wait to tell you about the adventures i’ve been having in oregon!

beyond asheville

the pals i stayed with on the west end of north carolina are some of the best people this world has set in my path. we shared good food. we shared lovely inspiring conversation. we shared quiet times on the deck watching trees, the light shift and change, the plants and botony adjusting to the heat, storms roll through, puppy adoration for a canine who is now part of their family, walks in the woods every day witnessing the constint changes of places people think of as consistant. there is something special that happens to this spirit when i see my pals, friends, buddies, those i love, doing what they love/building and achieving their goals: working on building the skills and practicing to make dreams come true, building the life they envision…lifting people up….there is so much here that i have no words for, but i will carry with me for a long long time.

these daily/multi-daily walks/hikes were so inspiring. we chatted about what it is like to walk the same paths on a regular basis through the seasons, to see all the changes. just in this one week we saw a change in where and what mushrooms were growing, or some new flowers starting to bloom on the trees and bushes.

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these walks and chats had an enormous effect on me. first i reflected on land and my relationship to place. where have i thought i “knew” the land because i walked it one day in one season in a particular year. was it a wet/dry year? hot? stormy? flooded? low river or high? somewhere in-between? migration season? north or south? for whom? even if it is for a week or a month, it is still only just one snapshot of a place. is that enough to build a relationship with the land or to develop a sense of place. i think that is part of why i do like to get to, and set up, camp early in the day vs. making the miles, passing out, and waking early to start it all over again. to walk. to sit. to listen. to watch. who moves through here? what grows here? how does the pollen move? do i have time and enough information to learn of the people who moved through here before settlers/colonizers/capitalists/agriculture/towns/mining? what story does the land have to tell me? what is the language of the land.

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the other piece of this experience is that now i have an even deeper desire to develop a sense of place. i want to be able to see some place if not every day, then every other day. i want to see the changes. i want to see those first red, yellow, orange, brown leaves of fall. the first buds of spring that actually show themselves in winter. learn the path of the sun/moon. i want to build and develop a relationship with at least one little piece of land. town or not wherever i rest again, it has to be convenient to get to some living piece of land. in other words, not have to drive an hour or bike too far. even better if i can just take a short stroll that leads me to a longer one. its all part of learning how to see/listen/experience/smell/noticing…all the things that make me a better animal, more feral you might say.

~~~

one day, while one of them was in class, i borrowed their car and followed the road that followed the river. so beautiful. i went until i found a riverside park that people put their boats, rafts, kayaks, whatevers in to float. there are 2 signs here. one tells the history of how the “cherokee” hid in the rhoadundrum bushes to avoid being sent to the oklahoma indian territories as part of the indian removal act in the journey known as the train of tears. on the other side of the park is a sign acknowledging the white man who “gifted” this land for “the people” to enjoy. it is dedicated to his wife and children who died before he did. it is part of what i find funny (?) about public lands, that what was once stolen from people who had no concept of owning land can be given back to “the people to enjoy” but not to the people who previously lived on the land prior to european settlers/colonizers. public lands is a term that is being tossed around a great deal right now, and not a conversation to take lightly for many reasons. these thoughts are not meant to take away from the beauty of this land, but to add to just how wonderfully magnificent this river valley and mountain range is.

~~~

after wondering around, i went back to the river center. they have wifi and thereby i could get some phone services to know when my friend was ready for me to come on back. i thought i might sit by the river and write, but all i could really do was watch. i watched the people, the rain, the boats, the water shift and move, people practice various moves in various floatations – it is like a dance. ever since i learned that water crossings are best to do earlier in the day because they rise as the snow melts and the mountain gives up more liquid to the stream, i try and watch it and see if i can notice it going up. i mean this is something i have witnessed but through a day as we crossed a stream early in the day to play and picnic in a meadow. when we came back late in the day, the crossing was indeed more difficult, deeper and more swift. for sure a more difficult, more technical crossing where we helped one another work their way back to camp. it indeed was a wonderful day.

leaving north carolina behind would not be easy, but that is the only way i was going to get up to philly for the next friend visit…so stay tuned as you are hopefully engulfing on a summer adventure of your own.

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oh ozarks

i’m sitting at the bike hostel in farmington, waiting for…well waiting for a couple things.

first, my bike needs some help

second, the storms have come again and that means wtf!

so the bike repair. in humansville my bike took a little spill when a sudden gust of wind came up. i had just gotton off my bike at the city park. i leaned my bike against, most likely a rail for horses to be tied to, turned to unload a bit before i locked it up. i’ve gotten in the habit of locking it to whatever i lean it agains, not so much for theft (no one wants to push that sucker around), but to keep it from falling over for various reason…like this one.

it had been fairly calm all day so this gust was a total suprise. the bike went crashing and the weight of the bag i have on the front snapped the front derailer cable. the rear one was slightly damaged but still usable. so i have ridden through the ozarks on a 1x.

at one point, when 16 miles felt like 60, i thought i was a so out of shape and that there was no way i was going to make it across and around the country. i pushed my bike. i cussed the hills. i cussed myself for not being more prepared. the humidity did not help. sweat and salt everywhere. fortunately the temps weren’t too high and the cloud covers were nice.

when i finally rolled into ellington and got set up at the route 76 bike hostel (way to go elington!) i was at my wits end. i had learned (by way of posted notes at the hostel) that the people at opy’s general store are very welcoming and have free wifi for bikers. and how right they were…well the people there are more than welcoming they are freaking amazing! so i set up and started doing some research. what are my options to still see my friends and get around the country?

while i was in the store, and later at diner, and then again on another day i learned some vital details. it seems that many people have commented that this section of the route is concidered some of the most challenging. what? the ozarks? i know it felt like it to me, but for others? as i ran into racers over the course of the couple days i spent in elington, who have more technology than i do (or know how to use maybe?) i learned that some of these hills have 18% or more grades to them. ahhhhh ok.

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i think the challenge also is not just the grade of the hills but that they are on curves, a banked curves at that, with no shoulder and lots of truck traffic. and if there is just a bit of edge to the road it has those ruts to let drivers know they are close to the edge, so one ends up having to ride in the road anyway. it is challenging and nerve wrecking! i would have to use all my mindfulness practice to calm my breath and mind during my breaks, and it renewed my dedication to meditation and mindfulness practice, and to remember that everything is impermanent, like this hill or this big logging truck.

it was in this realization that i took some pressure off myself. it was ok to go 16 miles with 2,000’+ of climbing. after all look at the amazing people you have talked to! the kid who appeared out of nowhere during a water break and asked if you could play with him. the cows that come running to great you. the healthfood stores you found. the people you talked to who value quality food. and something i’ll write about more later when i have more time to feel about it, i’ve come closer to the edge of the place where i can finally have a cathartic breakdown.

i’ve been tryig to have one since i left portland, well before i left portland. as i was transitioning through the end of challenging parts of menapause and the end of my time at i had concidered a dream job at a co-op. i have gotten really good at all my boundries and walls and defense mechanisms through all my years that even i can’t get though them now. but i’m getting closer. i tear up now. i almost cry in-fact i get do get chocked up, but then i catch it even as i want to release it.

now, for a different sort of challenge, trying to cross the mississippi river. for fucks sake! so i had seen that the chester bridge, which has been closed since early june is still closed. cape gerardie is where all route 76 riders and racers were being detoured through. that closed yesturday. chester bridge may open this weekend, but then many of the highways are closed on the illinois side. sigh…there was a big storm as i rolled into town yesturday, and it is currently storming with heavy rains right now.

this has me thinking so much about weather patterns (oh and it. snowed on the summer solstice in steamboat!), and what happens when those imbedded in the power structure try to manipulate and control nature like rivers and the oceans. i have had some wonderful conversations with the farmers in these small towns, especially when i get up early and go to the local diner for breakfast. a few times, it seemed a couple of them waited until some of their buddies left and we had a chat about how difficult it had become for them: doughts floods heat cold ice. if they adjust and shift and change with the weather patterns, the patterns change again.  it is chaos and those who live on and work on the land feel it and know it. there is a concerned look in their eyes. i’m not sure if it is for their livlihood or the future or what, but its there.

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for those of you who say “yeah but they have crop insurance.” well pay attention to the freaking farm bill. it effects so much of our everyday lives farmer or not. see, they can only make a claim if they have their seeds planted by a certain date, and in years like this, in nebrasks iowa missouri illionois the dekotas…they couldn’t get their seeds planted before the floods hit. in some cases farmers have been going out against their nature and planting seeds that they know are going to get flooded out, washed away. they know it is a waste of seeds, time, and energy, but it means they will be able to make an insurance claim.

its a funny world. in many ways i feel totally disconnected to what is happeing (spotty to no cell service and reallllll slow internet when i get it) but then i get to talk to people not reflected in the daily news cycle. or people that have been relegated to “small town mentality”. i am beginning to have some faith in humans again.

as for my traveling adventure, it has been amazing. deciding to go slower and not follow anyone else’s expectations, by giving myself a break, i’ve camped or stayed in some fun places.

one humid sweaty day i decided to try this campsite that was on an older map that i had. i had just spent a fair amount of time having a snack at elly’s spring…so beautiful and i was biking through a protected scenic river way, why not camp here? then when i pulled into the area and saw that the park headquarters was abandoned and the down the road, the river running over the road, i remembered that it had been flooded out a couple years ago. but there were brand new pit toilets. this is also a trailhead for the ozark trail. there were a few cars in the parking area so i went for a walk to the river with some food, my chair, and my water filter.

i camped out by the toilets since it was suppose to have scattered storms figuring i would just tuck into one of them instead of dealing with a wet tent in the morning. i learned that this spot is a local’s favorite and that they recently got word that the park service is going to start rebuilding and repairing the campground. and as for the abandoned park headquarter building, it has flooded up over its roof!

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as a side note, that night the trees, the grass, the whole view was full of fire flies! i had had nights where i spotted a few here and there, but this night!wow! this is one creature that i did miss while living in the pnw, and one of my biggest arguments against lawn chemicals.

in ellington, there is a little house turned bike hostel set up my the city council. at diner that first night i met one of the members who told me the advocacy they were doing for cyclists traveling through this area of missouri, like wider roads without those ruts. i ended up staying a coupe nights here. the first alone, the second with a couple of the trans am racers (some guy and the 2nd woman i’d seen of which there are only 6 this year).

the next day i met an astralian racer who actually does some of the organizing of some of the races i follow downunder. the next night i stayed at a state park called johnson’s shut-in for swimming holes and something different…why not right?

in ellington and now in farmington, several mornings i’ve woken up with an unpleasant feeling in my stomach. it usually comes on as i’m getting packed up or i’m part way through breakfast. one morning…actually this one morning i went to the local cafe in ellington for the 2nd morning. after the first breakfast they made me was so good, i told them i was going to stay another day to get some some done and would be back the next day. i showed up and he had made me special vegan sausages! the couple that runs this place is amazing! go to vintage cafe in ellington when you are in the area. you will not be disappointed, unless you show up after closing time of 11 am.

at first i was worried i was sick or maybe that last tick bite infected me with something. but i think it is my intuition telling me to stay put. days i was going to leave, like was packed up and ready. i felt sick and laid down for “just a minute”, woke up hours later to a huge thunderstorm, or found out that there was a big car accident in the direction i was going. in this recent case i probably would have been caught between open and closed bridges.

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this bike hostel in farmington has been amazing! it is the old old jail. the upstairs has been converted into a super nice bike hostel. the first night i arrived during a big downpour. like so bad i couldn’t use my phone to call for the code so went to the library and asked if they could call for me while i dripped all over their carpet. it stormed until after the bike shop closed so i had to take my bike in the next day. as i was coming back from picking up my bike, a big group of 20+ riders started showing up. they are with the bike the u.s. for ms, and they were so nice!

they welcomed me into their group. we talked and chatted and shared stories of lives blowing up so going on adventures. we shared logistical info. we celebrated one of the guy’s birthday. a bunch of us went to dinner together. the evening was capped off with watching the movie seven. i hung back while they all packed up and took off in the morning, and then i was going to pack up…but then the thunderstorms started up again, so tomorrow. and tomorrow i can make one last run to a healthfood store here before a bigger push to get across the mississippi river.

i keep thinking that i should be in a hurry, but for what? yes, i want to see my friends sooner than later, but i’d like to show up with good stories to tell and not just miles logged and elevation climbed.

welcome to summer friends! i hope you are finding ways to celabrate, enjoy, and adventure.

Kansas City I

Going from cool brisk days to hot hot hot in just a quick moment is jarring. Also going from never really experiencing allergies to full on miserable is also disconcerting, however, none of that really matches realizing the first part of my adventure that I thought was pretty fool proof proved, well, foolish.

I kind of though making it to kc and then doing the Katy trail in late may, was going to be just fine, not like my idea of walking the Oregon coast in April. The Missouri River is experiencing flood stages it hasn’t seen in awhile. Lots of questions came up.

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Are they still going to have ped jam? Can we still bike there? Ok it is on, but how are we going to do this? Should we do this? Is it even going to be enjoyable?

The organizers of said ped jam did an amazing job of redoing the route and making good event spaces. The bands showed up, and so did the sun…and rain. Friday was a perfect let it flow kind of day. We left late which effected meeting some people we hoped to meet up with in Columbia (the jam was suppose to start in Columbia, but the spur trail is closed, so it got moved to rocheport. The timing left us with an hour of wtf do we do until we can check in…so we went to this little town that my friend had found some of his ancestors were from. We had hoped to bike through there and do some exploration, so when we saw the sign for it, we detoured.

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What is it about walking through cemeteries that can feel sooo hum connecting? I love reading the names and dates of people I have no known connection to.

We got to the kick-off party with a perfect amount of time to set up camp, get some beers and food at the food cart, then a friend met us at camp. Lovely conversations. Met the neighbors for the night, then celebrations were on. A giant bonfire. Music. Fire dancers. More music. Accro-yoga. More beers. Fireworks. More music. And no rain until the middle of the night.

 

In the motioning we packed up and gave our bags to people who transport them to Saturday night’s campsite. Got coffee. Watched allllll the other people start to show up. Listened to some music and then decided to head down to the next venue. We really wanted to see this band called the Barney sisters…so good! The are like 9 and 11 or something like that. (We got to meet their mom while they performed with the the Kay brothers later that night). There were a couple of bands here we wanted to see…and eat lunch. We knew we had somewhere around 10 miles to bike to the next venue where a band I really wanted to see would be playing so we headed out.

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This section was a mixture of road and Katy trail….so much flooding. The river truly looked like a ginormous lake in so many spots. It was certainly more than 10 miles, but it was such a nice ride…hot but nice. The organizers did a wonderful job at putting up signs without holding our hands. We had heard that the people running this had been out well past midnight on Thursday putting up sandbags to keep space accessible for us. I wonder how many times they must have routed and re-routed this course to make it work.

I really enjoyed the Katy roundhouse that is just a few miles from boonsville. Here I got to finally see velvet and the undercurrents live. So good. We stayed for some of the next person. They would be super great to see in a different venue with a sound person that had skill sets that worked better with their performance style.

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Rolling into boonville was exciting. The flooding was so unbelievable every time we crossed a high bridge to get a full view of the effects. Kemper park, where Saturday night’s festivities were held was perfect. We opted to camp along the right field foul line of a little pee-wee baseball field instead of up the hill. We gathered our gear and set up camp. Got oriented to where everything was or would be. Bathrooms. Water. Showers. Food. Beverages. Music. Fireworks. People we might know. And then we just sat and watched the park fill up with people. It was actually very interesting. So many different types of people from all over the Midwest. Their jersey’s or other apparel giving hints of their local bike clubs, breweries, or various landmarks.

Eventually we worked our way down to meet a friend, grab some food. Give phones to the solar charging station. And watch all the talent we were surrounded by. So much good music, the fireworks, those fire dances were using glow in the dark juggling pins and hoops to perform with this night…but we got tired…and I just don’t do well in crowds anymore, so we went back to camp and sat in our little camp chairs and listened to the last 2 bands…well the last one I listened to in my tent.

I have to say that the fireworks these 2 nights were perfect. The designs were on point…simple yet exciting. The boooms were not super explosively loud, just night pops. They lasted around 15 minutes, then we were back to music. I haven’t enjoyed fireworks this much in a very long time.

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We had another nice middle of the night rain. The morning was cooler and we took our time getting our stuff together and heading out. We indulged in some good coffee. Breakfast was a fail for the vegan me so I had some snacks that I brought along, but did engage in some good coffee and a dirty chai. We may have been one of the last ones out, but it was nice to not feel rushed and too watch the whole camp break down…also we got to thank some of the organizers that we were introduced to Friday night, and had watched just stay so calm and, well, organized over the weekend.

We did miss the first band that was playing at the Katy roundhouse Sunday, but we made it to rocheport in time to see most of the set of Dawson’s hollow while we had some lunch. It was just 2 miles into the end of the road…up a big climb or 2 and it was over. We got everything tossed into the car, changed into not so sweaty shirts. Had one last beer as we listened to part of the final band. Thanked more people. And pointed our way back to good old kc.

After seeing all the flooding, watching people actually try to bike into flood waters, and wonder what the trail must look like under the flood. Wonder how long the clean up will take. Be super thankful for all the work that must have gone into clearing the parts of the trail we could actually ride on (especially considering the condition of the flint hills trail I had rode earlier). Well, I was at a loss as to what the fuck am I going to do now?!

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We settled in. Hung up the wet and muddy gear. My friend went for a sleep over with his boyfriend. I started searching alternative routes. Should I just go west instead? Can I make it east at all. Tornadoes have been in every state around me, and just down the road from us. So what feels safe enough to go for and know that I can grab a hotel again if it gets super sketchy?

So I think I have a route sketched out. I will go a little south and then pick up the trans am route 76. I even found a winery were I will pick up 76 that is open to cyclists! What(?!) camp for free at a winery?! Yes please!

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tgifebuary

yesturday i woke to the smell of spring in the air. it was a perfect balm to a winter-weary soul. it seemed like january was it’s own year. i don’t really know why. sure it was cold. reallll cold. and lots of snow. all good for the ski industry, but it wore on me. the sky has been so grey that it feels like being back in the pacific northwest…grey and cloudy for days…weeks. and with all the snow, it feels like life is a black and white film. in fact, some of my pics i can’t tell if i shot them in b&w mode, or color.

oh well.

as of today, i have 70 days left at work, not work days, but time with a job. and that notion is also a balm in its own right. and it is a bit of “oh shit”. that is 70 days to get everything dialed in a little more, get rid of the things i’ve collected in the past 13 months, get back into bike/walk travel shape, and gather maps and outline a plan. it is all coming together pretty nicely to be honest.

i’m keeping the plan open to possibilities of festivities and spontaneous encounters with new and old friends. so. if you would like to. get (or keep) in touch and let’s do some riding and playing together. join me for any part or give me a reason to come to your parts of the world.

in the coming weeks, i will start posting my basic outline of adventure. until then here is a sample of me playing with the new adventure buddy: fuji film xt20 camera. this pic range from around new years on the mt to birthday weekend and don’t forget the eclipse. it’s a fun camera to play with for sure. and yes, there is that double exposure setting that i am super stoked about!

winter moons

as i have written before, living a life on the move and mostly outdoors, has put me much more in tune with the rhythms, the ebbs the waxing the waning the rising and falling of tides moon and sun. i feel so much more connected and grounded in ways i never thought possible before. and perhaps, just as i begin to take it for granted, it catches me off guard. december’s full moon was no exception.

one night, walking to dinner a with a friend, the moon lit up the mountain with such awe, no picture i took could do it justice. the next morning, walking to work there was the moon still up, preparing to set on the other side of the valley, with the sun rising from the opposite ridgeline. i was enamored, completely at a loss for words.

around this time i was reading an article by craig childs (one of the few cis-male writers of nature and the wild that i can still appreciate and enjoy without wanting to crumple their papers and burn them in my mind). it was on traveling alone/solo. why he does it, very similar to why i do it. how watching the moon and sun rotate around us rotating around. and for some reason, i wrote this thing…i don’t know what it is. i don’t do poetry much. so i guess its just my outpouring of recent lunar experience.


i’ve learned to start my day by looking up. 
i leave my house at some point and i look to the sky
as kind of a reference point.
where is the sun
the moon
what are the colors
is there fog in the valley?
how deep is the blue?
the depth of the snow clouds
can i see across the valley
can i even see the valley?


i started looking up more 
or at least recognizing that i am
because i would see the moon in the early evening
and again in the morning
summer of the moon


this would happen to me in the pnw


in the summer


it seemed it never got dark
the sun up so early, before the roosters even
and wouldn’t set until…so late
the days so long
and now, here in the mountain town


of winter


the nights are the same and the moon the sun


i find that it gives me some kind of direction
i don’t understand it really, but i find a comfort in it


seeing the moon it all its stages tugs something deep inside me


maybe it is a kind of internal tide that is drawing something


something deep inside me out…i can feel it trying to leep


i wonder if the nocturnals of our world feel this as well


my guess


most likely


they feel it 
know it
deeper
than i ever will.


the vindication of gravity

i’m just going to leave this here like this.

i just invested in a new camera, look forward to new pics as i play with how i want to share my photo side more. i am excited to return to my photographic roots with something more than my phone. i’ve missed the way i have used a camera in the past to document and share all kinds of experiences. the next full moon, i hope to go on a snowshoe hike…its a supermoon (still don’t really know what that is supposed to mean. aren’t they all?) and a lunar eclipse.

here’s to a new year and new projects and new plans based on past lessons and challenges.

so much kindness

i finally packed up and headed of playas de tijuana. my plan was to get down to rosarito, about 30 km south of playas. i knew for sure that there was this bike shop down there and i wanted to get my bent wheel fixed. i figured if i got it fixed early enough i could just keep going south and find a place to camp. however, coming out of playas was straight up! there was no easing into it. i had looked at the elavation profile before leaving, and figured it was just a few hundred meters, should be ok, but wow! within minutes i was sucking air and drenched in sweat and my legs were burning. and as for the long tunnel? it was frightening. not because of the traffic flying by. there was plenty of room. but because it was still going straight up and now curving and the just kept building. i jumped off the bike and started pushing. it gave me time to catch my breath, drink some water, and take inventory of my situation.

this wasn’t really anything new. i’ve been through this at some level almost every day. its called bike tour, and anyone who ever thought that the world is flat has never backpacked nor gone on a bike tour. something else was happening to me. i just wanted to go home, and not just home as in back to portland or oregon, but kansas. it was a little disturbing. i have never really wanted to go back to kansas except to see friends and family. so as i climbed hill after hill alongside traffic that was flying by me i was more than a little flustered.

one thing i count on when hiking or biking is the general rule of what goes up must come down. eventually, i was able to roll downhill and into rosarito. i couldn’t decide between getting a hotel room, not something i had planned on doing until i started to get so flustered, then head over to the bike shop. however, as i rolled into town, i started to feel better so i went bike shop first, figuring that if it got fixed quickly, i would head on down the road to a camp spot.

so i rolled into the bike shop…super small and in a residential area. well i rolled my loaded up bike into the shop and started to explain what was going on. turns out, he spoke less english than i spanish! eventually, we worked it out and he stopped what he was doing and fixed my wheel. we did use his computer for a little translating. when we put the wheel back on, i asked him what i owed him and he wouldn’t let me pay. he also wouldn’t except a tip. i left with a good wheel and a hotel suggestion, and yet one more story of kindness.

it didn’t take him long to fix the wheel, but i was emotionally exhausted, so i opted for a hotel and a swim and a shower. that evening i walked down to a taqueria recommended by “happy cow” app. however, the smell of all the cooking cow turned me to this cute little cafe with an outdoor patio. it was so delightful, that i went back for breakfast. that night, i turned on some movie and started making plans to turn towards the mid-west. this wasn’t an easy decision and one i will talk about more later. but with the pressure of how to make it further south with a record heat wave off my mind, i made some playful plans.

after breakfast, i started south again. i knew that i wanted to make it down to k58 campsite. it is a fairly well-known spot for surfers to come from all over baja and southern california, and well, the more time i’ve spent around surfers, the more i like them and their relaxed laidback attitude. yet, just a few kilometers down the road, i made a little stop.

i had seen that there was a bike cafe about 15 minutes south of rosarito, but it didn’t look like anything was there via google maps. still, i kept an eye out anyway. i’d been told about this amazing bike culture in this area and that there were a few organized big rides between rosarito and ensenada. so when i saw the signs for it, i jumped six lanes of traffic and rolled up to the back porch.

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i leaned my bike up against the patio’s fence and walked by these fancy pants road bikes. inside i found 3 guys of various ages in their fancy cycling gear, two women off to the side, and a young guy behind the counter. all heads turned towards me with full friendly smiles. i was asked where i was going/coming, and where was my bike? eventually they asked if they could get me anything. soon i was holding a huge cup of hot coffee and our conversations continued. it was lively and fun. eventually, the “older” guy sitting at the counter turned to me as he was going through his little seat/tool pouch and pulled out a pocket knife.

you have one of these?

yup, two. one for food and one for other things.

hmmm, you have a gun?

ha! no! i’d probably get shot.

hmmm well, your president thinks we are dangerous and bad people

fuck that guy (oh shit gotta watch that knee-jerk reaction). i mean he’s not my president. i can’t stand how he talks about or treats people. as for border imperialism…..

well. i bought your coffee.

no no no

already did.

i’m standing next to him now and reach out my hand to shake his as we continue with conversations about biking and such. when he is about 1/2 way to his bike he turns and comes back to me, now with his bike glove off.

that was a very friendly shake and i want to do it right.

so we shake again.

soon it is just me and the owner and my still very hot cup of coffee, and we continue to talk for about an hour. he was born in san diego, went to school and college in that area. moved to rosarito to be with family. his wife and her family (his wife and her mother were the two women at the shop) live in the area. he opens the shop at either 6 or 7 in the morning. leaves for san diego around 3 or 4 to work nights (the mother of his wife closes the shop). he has some kind of special pass to get back and forth quickly over the border. i actually talked with many people who do this. so if you think the people from mexico are lazy and such….come talk to me.

 

i didn’t want to leave this area. everyone i talked to was so kind and shared so much with me. the owner of the bike shop gave me a few suggestions of places to camp. he even said “hell, camp across the street. i open early tomorrow. come in for breakfast!”

i was so tempted.

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finally, i climbed back on my trusty stead (i should come up with a name for by wheeled friend). i had around 30 km to ride for the day before i could rest, and i was pretty sure it was going to be one rolly ride.

central coast i suppose

heading out and on down the coast was an odd feeling. this past week has been full of the well usual bag of mixed feelings and observations. i actually thought it would be somewhat easy to find vegan foods in california, but nope…at least not on the coast! (i’m so looking forward to meeting up with vegan friends down in san diego)!

when i stopped in this little town for my first break/some coffee, i met some local cyclist all who recommended moro bay’s campsite, so that is where i was heading. whatever town i was in was really cute and friendly. it’s where i posted my last post from. so i point toward moro bay and started peddling.

then there was a series of little towns with names i struggled to pronounce for some reason, so i won’t try to spell them, but finally my hunger won out and i had to stop at one of them for some food. i was told there was a good taco place, but when i found it…all smoked meat! as i walked away, so did another couple (from moro bay!) who was also looking for at least some vegetarian food. i finally gave up and went into a “saloon” hoping for at least some fries. nope. just booze. damn it! so i had a beer and sat to decide my next move. iv’e found that if i just sit for a minute, things will work out.

just as i was taking my first sip, two women saddled up next to me…and we all rode the evening out together! the two women were mother and daughter-in-laws. the mother just started asking me questions and we just kept going. next thing i know she buys me another beer and then rushes us across the street to this other place that faces the ocean, so we can watch the sunset…and she wants to buy me dinner! ok!

eventually i had to pull myself away. i still had 45 minutes to a campsite and it was dark! i rolled in and found the hiker/biker area, but just pitched my tent quickly and dozed off. it was saturday night and the campgrounds were not quiet, pretty, but not quiet. there is a golf course on one side and the bay on the other, and that water just carries sound so well. so i got up and out before anyone roused and found a breakfast place in the bay and try to decide my next move….and my heart got broken!

breakfast was fine….more potatoes and toast. however, the owner (and host) moved here from china and wrote a book about his adventures. i walked around the bay for a while and decided to sit down trying to figure out how a bay that was this beautiful let a power plant be built RIGHT ON THE BAY! i mean really who thought this was a good idea. it was built in the 1950s (before the clean air/water acts) and decommissioned in 1914 by a houston based company, dynegy.

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bay side power plant

so there i was sitting and looking out over the bay at the paddle boards, kayakers, sail boats, people living on boats waking to their morning routines, and all of a sudden i heard these screams coming from behind me! i turned and saw the moro bay aquarium and the sea-lion sign. then i heard the calls from the sea lions on a pier in the middle of the bay. and then i felt the tears roll down my face. those amazing beings behind me are certainly suffering. i could hear the pain and eventually anger in their voices! and then i heard little kids laughing (they get to feed the sea lions). i can’t imagine what kind of pellet food they feed them. i immediately started searching for a way to let them out. there had to be a trap door somewhere….

i decided i had to get out of town so i just started cranking the pedals. half way up the hill i spotted a juice bar, so i pulled over and sat down and did some research…still needed to decided where i was going. i found a petition that was old, but still going and then i found out that due to the family that owns the aquarium not willing to update and improve the space, it is closing down in 2018. supposedly the city wants to open a bigger better faster aquarium, but please no! NO!NO!NO! no more aquariums or zoos, just stop! there is no need for it.

but while i was at the juice bar, i met a really nice guy who grew up in the area and was getting ready to take his two kids to do some work in community gardens and then spend the day at the beach with the cousins. i started to feel a little better about moro bay but needed a little break so i book a hostile just a little ways up the road in san luis obispo (slo). as i rolled into town, two things happened. one, i remembered the bugs bunny episode where he got lost “should have made a left at albuquerque” and ended up in slo. the other thing that happened was all kinds of signs that put to mind the industrial prison complex, like the california men’s colony…really? sometimes i let myself forget that california has a huge prison industry.

the people at the hostel were super nice. check in wasn’t until 4:30, but they said i could leave my bike there and wonder the town….wow what a town full of homeless folks right next to very wealthy. i found a little tavern to sit and chat and do some writing. there was some religious festival in the park, otherwise i would have stayed there.

when i got back to the hostel, there was a full on party going on at around the table. more than a few people were living there while they were trying to find homes….an recuring theme in hostel land these days. some already had jobs. one person was born and raised there, but couldn’t find a place to live. i got in an argument with a young guy who just graduated from college and got a job right away in the area working with satellites. our argument was about resources allocated to space vs. the ocean. i should have known better, but couldn’t help myself. he was so smug and sure of himself.

i tried to go to bed, but there was an insane snorer and the only one in the room who slept that night. so up early for the free breakfast, (the staff member was so nice), and off to pismo beach. this area is full of campsites, but no h/b so i shelled out 25 bucks for a campsite, but the place was pretty nice and a great little walk to the beach, but i was so tired that it was dinner and an early pass out for me…didn’t even get a page in the book read.

the next few nights were pretty uneventful. some long rides in rolling grass lands that look like the area of kansas i grew up in. in fact kansas has been on my mind so much lately. maybe its the landscape. maybe it’s getting closer to time to return? i don’t know, i’ve said i’ll never go back….yet i’ve returned twice. 3rd time? can i really live anywhere? i don’t know.

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even the sea weed is different here

when i rolled into el capitan campsite i went for a stroll. it was a long ride for me (54 miles) and wanted to put my knees in the cold ocean, but it wasn’t cold! in fact i waded in up to my waste. i wanted to jump in, but i already had tar stuck to my legs. there are 3 off shore oil rigs in sight. as i was gazing off into the water i noticed a splash, and there they were, the porpoises i was told i might be able to see! it was a joy to watch them jump and play. i decided to stand there and watch them vs. trying to go get my camera and try to take a pic that wouldn’t come out anyway. oh ya! and when the raccoons woke me up, i watched the half-moon set over the ocean-big bright pink! thanks raccoons!

oh ya! and in pismo beach, while i ate dinner, i watched hawks and estreals soar around! one buzzed some peoples’ fire rings checking out the meat on their grills.

yesterday was another 50 some odd miles to my first warmshower host. todd with sandbox coffee lets people stay in the enclosed patio of his coffee shop after they close at 8 pm. so i arrived, said hi and went to explore the area. i have to say that i really enjoyed the ride into ventura. in fact i enjoyed the ride all the way from goleta (and the university of santa barbara there has the most magnificent bike trails. infact! they roll all the way through santa barabara (though confusing from time-to-time due to construction. but portland and psu, you could learn a great deal from how they have things set up and labeled! i was giddy with all the people, of all ages, using the trails!

i actually was pretty much on a bike trail most of those 50 some miles into ventura! and i went through this amazing surfer dirtbag kind of r.v. area just outside of ventura. there was a whole area dedicated to overnight r.v. parking. people had their stuff set up! there were r.v.s and vans of all kinds. people with bikes and surfboards all just doing their things and waving and saying hi as i went by.

so i dropped my panniers off at the coffee shop and rode around town until hunger got the best of me. the two people who served me (caught shift change) where amazing. the first person was born and raised in ventura! also her former partner was in a popular punk band that i have listened to. when football came on, it was time to return to my nest at the coffee shop, plus they were having open mic night out on the patio!

it was nice to watch the sunset and listen to some kind, older, white guys play old folk songs…i did like the woodie guthrie and bob dillon. as people left, i made my bed and tried to sleep. as great as this setting seems, it was some gosh offal sleep! the patio was lit up! and is right next to a busy road. now that i’ve started to get use to as most camps are next to the highway, but the lights! so when the person who opens the shop showed up at 5:30, i was prepared. by six i was packed up and ready for the already made coffee and a bagel sandwich!

and here is where i sit now, having watched the sun come up. i’m going to go a little easier on myself today….30-40 miles. i’m excited to get to my friends and then on into mexico. its a few days off yet depending on my pace. but i’m starting to feel like i should be doing something with my time right now with all the relief needs due to natural disasters. or maybe it is time to finally do an internship with an animal sanctuary? i guess i’ll know when i know.

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really never enough sunsets…also where i saw the moon set hours later

i feel like i should mention that i haven’t listened to music at all on this trip so far (well the songs stuck in my head from who knows what), i tried to listen to a podcast but fell asleep. i do go to facebook (my friends post news i can trust) to check some news and small updates. last night i thought i might watch a movie on the ol’ laptop, but didn’t feel it. my mind feels really good. its only been 2 weeks on the road, but already feels like a lifetime. i haven’t had a day off the saddle since big sure and i’m feeling the need for it; to just be in a place for a little while. but i’m also excited. the woman at dinner last night told me there is some bioluminescence on the beaches in the area right now! hope to stay up long enough.

whatever happens – i’m having the time of my life! and with all the sweat and lack of shower, my hair is looking good! for real no sarcasm!