An unfair title, as I know so little about both life and horses, but I imagine it to be so. The ride can be bumpy. Smooth it out with a saddle. You’ll get off and feel awkward, but you will continue moving. Like a horse, life is also beautiful and strong. My horse is the Transbay bus. Dependable, powerful, trustworthy, it welcomes the sun into my morning on its journey across the bay. The bridge workers, like busy bumblebees or lazy swaying grass, move to and fro or nowhere at all, measuring, investigating, replacing (bolts); performing the finishing touches on modernity.
Back to work you slackers! To any and all who read this, who still follow this blog because they haven’t found the unsubscribe button, get on the saddle and ride the horse of life today!
View of a rainy downtown San Francisco from my potential future office. Moving to a new city, making new friends, finding your way around and looking for a job are all parts of the journey that I hadn’t fully planned for. It’s challenging and exciting and made much better by having a supporting partner to help me through this transitional process. Not to mention, there are plenty of transients in my hood ready and willing to pass the time in conversation! You have to take a walk around my part of town to know what I mean.
Heading out to the easy bay again this weekend, en route to Santa Cruz tomorrow with Mandi and our friends Melia and Sam. Near-100% chance of rain but no worry, we brought cards and the wineries are open til 5. Have a happening weekend y’all!
RIP BIG RED
STOLEN: 2 days ago on Mission and 17th St, in sunny San Francisco.
distances are far
You brought me here.
They took you away.
Many touched your metal. With love.
You were taken in haste.
It must be a sign that I am to stay.
You don’t like me anymore?
I never could have sold you. You beautiful thing.
Unnamed all this time. No name for me to call out.
I will learn to love another. In time. Because I must.
There is nothing sweet about this sorrow.
Goodbye big red.
Well…THAT’S IT! I made it! What a beautiful place to end a beautiful journey. Sorry for the radio silence for the past 2 weeks. I have my reasons! Had to ship my Iphone back to ATT in time to avoid a second phone subscription, so I was in the dark from Eureka, CA, until a few days ago.
It was a long and arduous journey, but one that I wouldn’t trade for the world. It lasted about 70 days, leaving NYC on August 2, arriving San Francisco on October 12. It was only fitting to roll across the Golden Gate bridge at sunset, alongside my Canadian friend, Pete.
The last week, largely on the coastal highway 1, was unbelievably beautiful. In the small village of Leggett, CA, the 101 and the 1 split apart. Choosing the 1 will send you climbing the accordion-like hills for hours, up up up, til you reach the top, and then, oh yeah, the long descent. An incredibly long and winding road, that eventually led to her door. A week later.
I will try and get all the pretty pictures of the sea side from Pete, who is now at his very remote cabin in British Columbia, whenever he returns to an interconnected computing device. For now, suffice it to say, it’s gorgeous here.
The first half of the ride, from NY to MN, I was accompanied by my friend Jilda, from Brooklyn. It was her first foray into the adventures of camping, washing clothes in a lake or river, and perhaps a bit of light trespassing. She started out with much stronger legs and ambitions than I, but a few weeks in our paces matched up.
The second half of the journey I was on my own…but I did get a lot of help along the way. My mom and her friend (my once roommate), Melanie, cheated me across South Dakota, to the Black Hills, where my journey on 2 unpowered wheels resumed. They saved me some 400 miles of cycling, or about a week’s time, which made the difference between a cold and a closed campground in the high country of Wyoming. Thanks ma!
Leaving the heavily-scented-of-pine Black Hills, crossing into ranch country of Wyoming, I was pleasantly surprised by Wyomingites level of generosity and hospitality, as well as their numerous stealth mountain ranges. First I came across the Bearlodge range, before the Devils Tower, having to deal with climbing that unforeseen range. Next came the Bighorns, much larger in scope and grr-ness. Climbing out of Buffalo, in the afternoon, up into the heart of the mountains, on a 7% grade, took over 2 hours of pedal mashing, but I got there and found a campsite just in time for sunset. And made some amazing camping buddies. More climbing to reach the pass at 9666’, then down and through a fertile agricultural valley until reaching the Absaroka range, framing the eastern edge of Yellowstone. I was helped up those by my friends from Cody and their big strong pickup truck. But I did have to fend for myself climbing out of them, and out of the park, into another river valley, into Jackson, and then up and over the grueling Tetons, a 10%-grade climb to 8400’ I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.
That got me out of Wyoming and into Idaho. I was warmly received my first night by some friends I made at the microbrewery in Victor. Idaho was also full of many annoying yet beautiful mountain ranges, each with a few worthy mountain pass opponents of their own, but by then I was up to the challenge. Residents of the western states all tout with pride their state’s geographic and geologic diversity, and for good reason, but I must confess they all seemed equally diverse in their offerings, each complete with high desert landscape, forested and barren mountains, lush river valleys, stark alpine mountain zones, mineral deposits, rich and poor soils, lava fields and dormant volcanoes, solitude and company. There is so much to explore in the rocky mountain west; I only saw the tip of iceberg as big as Alaska.
After a prosperous week I was through Idaho, having stayed with hosts in Victor, Idaho Falls, and Boise. My night in Hill City was the most memorable, which affirmed my suspicion that the smaller the town the crazier its inhabitants. In a good way.
Next came mighty Oregon, a tough one to cross, with desert regions hotter and emptier than I’d seen, mountain climbs long and lonely, and nights near freezing. That was only the first few days. Things changed by Bend and points east. I was hosted by a very gracious couple from warmshowers.org, rode over the Cascades at MacKenzie Pass which ended in the greatest descent of my existense (and yours too I’d bet, should you ever get the chance), arrived at Eugene in the darkness of a Friday night. There I spent the weekend with my buddy Boris, who came down from Portland; we still rode a good 15 miles on the off day. By Monday I was on the Pacific coast at Florence, OR, with my toes inches from its icy water.
It took 5 days to reach the Eureka-Arcata region, where I made a new friend, Mike, and was visited by an old friend, Mandi, from the south. We spent the weekend there, then drove through the Avenue of the Giants, alongside the 101, until Garberville, where I reunited with a campground companion from a week prior, who was on pace to reach SF the same time as I. From there it was me and Pete, four wheels, two bikes, one road, one goal. We detoured from the highway 1 near Santa Rosa, explored that city for a few hours time then set off into wine country, crashing for the night at the pricey Best Western of Sonoma, CA. With a goal of reaching San Francisco that night, Friday, we had no time to stop and imbibe on the goodness of wine. Marin county was a real unexpected treat of cute hippy-wealth suburbs, unlike most suburbs we know, and untouched (since last logged, anyway) forests and farmlands, with roads inaccessible enough to still be pleasant for biking. We pushed hard through Fairfax, Larkspur and Sausalito to arrive at the big red bridge just in time to watch the sun fall off the edge of the earth.
Now what? I’m here in SF, rekindling a romance and starting a new life. I am very fortunate to have a place to stay while I get my feet set on new ground. Mandi and her friends, classmates and roommates have been very welcoming and inviting. Now is time to get moving. To find a job. To find an apartment. To become a member of this community. To get to know Mandi’s parents. To explore. To play golf. To read books (already joined the library). To get involved. To volunteer. To picnic in the park. To play tennis ($4/90 minutes, what a deal!). The weather is abnormally agreeable right now, all the more reason to close the lid on the laptop and stroll outside. It’s a new town, not a mini-New York but an entirely different entity with entirely different people. The beach is 20 minute bike ride away; downtown 20 minutes in the other direction. Market street runs on a diagonal, confusing my efforts to familiarize with the street grid. Hills spring up like monstrous pubescent pimples across the city, able to be circumnavigated if you have the know-how (which I don’t…yet). It was a helluva trip. If you get the chance, go on your own journey. Biking ain’t bad, you can cover a lot of ground fast, but speed isn’t a necessity. When the journey is the destination you’re there once you start.
Took a chance on a side road of the 101: hwy 197 to 199, only 7 miles, along the Smith River (ebbs/flows with the tide), through the beginning of the towering redwoods. Heard about a gravel road that runs parallel to the 199 for 6 miles into Crescent City, amongst the trees. That’s next. Sorry Mandi if I don’t get so far today. I’ll get it tomorrow!
Had to add this link because it’s an important topic.
Met a large Alaskan crew using Kelly Kettles and was decidedly sold on their use. Instead of compressed gas or liquid fuel they burn something readily available most everywhere: wood. Then I got to thinking, there must be some cheap ways to make DIY woodburning stoves. Thinking back to my trip in January to Mali, where everything was low-tech, they converted used coffee cans to stoves for boiling tea that looked like this:
Fuel on the bottom, allows air to come in and combust, which draws in more air and forces the fire upward. SIMPLE! CHEAP! EASY TO MAKE! So that is what I will do when I get some time in SF - make low-tech camping gear. In the meantime, if you are planning to hike/backpack/camp/save money/build something, try it yourself and let me know how it goes. Most online things suggest adding a fan, which cost about 2 bucks, run off a battery, and force air into the fire.
Started today above this map, at Umpqua Lighthouse. Now I’m at the bottom: Langlois. It’s brisk and windy. Wanted to get a little further but the plague of the flat tire has struck. Pulled out a picture frame nail. Patched hole in tube. Pumped tire full, put on bike, rode away, tire got squishy again real fast. A nice older lady let me use her decrepit air compressor, as I was thinking, hoping that I just didn’t put enough air in tire. Of course I’m wrong.
Reached the coast! Thus far coastal riding is much different than inland. I’m not alone or unique anymore. Many other young folk like myself are in similar journeys. The 101 highway is very busy, with little, rock-littered shoulders and big trucks, semis and RVs blasting by. Near the ocean it’s cool and crazy windy. It is anything but flat. Huge sands dunes are everywhere but nearly invisible behind the thick forest. I’ve only seen the open ocean once, and that was on a lengthy detour, but I’m pretty glad about that due to the big winds out there. Now I’m in Bandon, hoping to reach Port Orford by sunset.