Sunday, September 15, 2019

More on Juristac

Waning Gibbous Moon

Last Sunday's walk to demonstrate against the proposed sand and gravel quarry on Amah Mutsun sacred lands received very little press coverage locally - disappointing, but not surprising. The dominant culture continues to value monetary gains over spiritual/cultural/native sovereignty at the expense of environmental degradation and continued multi-generational trauma.

Photo credit: Robert Eliason
BenitoLink, the local San Benito County online news source, published an article and some photos today describing the walk and some of the event's leaders. You can read "Community Walks for Juristac" here.

Photo credit: Robert Eliason
So far, this is the only one I have found. I hope there are more news stories to follow.

Photo credit: Robert Eliason
Recently, a YouTube video was posted that captures the beauty of Juristac and the Amah Mutsun's reverence for the site, again featuring Tribal Chairman Valentin Lopez. Chairman Lopez is a retired California Highway Patrol commander who speaks strongly and eloquently for his people.

For a concise summary of information about the Amah Mutsun tribal band, click here.

To sign the petition  to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors against the quarry at Juristac, please click here.

Peace, Love, and Justice,

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Walk for Juristac

Waxing Gibbous Moon

Today at 1:00 p.m. PDT I will join with local indigenous people of the Amah Mutsun band and their allies to walk ~ five miles from the San Juan Bautista Mission to Juristac in the hills north of town to demonstrate against a proposed sand and gravel mine on Amah Mutsun's sacred ceremonial land.

I will not post any pictures from the walk in deference to and out of respect for the wishes of the tribal leaders. I ask for your prayers and support for the safety and success of this peaceful demonstration.

You can watch and listen  to Tribal Chairman Valentin Lopez address the United Nations here.

For more information, see the Protect Juristac web site. Please consider signing the petition to the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors to stop the quarry from forever scarring this important and sacred land.

Peace, Love, and Responsibility,

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

San Lorenzo River Walk

Waxing Crescent Moon

The San Lorenzo River is not very long. It starts up in Castle Rock State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains and empties into the Pacific a little less than thirty miles away, near the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, CA. Until the powers that were did a bit of remodeling in the 20th century, the river caused some pretty big problems, flooding the low-lying areas near its banks several times and wiping out homes and businesses in the process.

That's the Boardwalk on the right, with the roller coasters, etc.

The solution, however temporary it may be, was to build tall levees on either side of the main channel and encourage stabilizing plant growth. The river was essentially harnessed and funneled to the sea. This allowed some very hip development to blossom near the levees, including  bike paths, walking trails, a skateboard park, hoops, beautiful parks, and an art colony that is both upscale and, if I may use the word, fabulous.

The skateboard park scares me, but I guess there are actual humans who can navigate that pipe.

This morning I wrangled Spugly the Spectacularly Ugly Palomino Transporter, through doomsday rush hour traffic to meet Aptos, CA's own Captain Chem for breakfast at the Sunrise Cafe in Soquel to fuel up for a two-hour walk on the San Lorenzo River Trail.  We began the hike in Ocean View Park, quickly cutting down to the trail which was built atop the levees on either side of the river. Ocean View Park is a nice little neighborhood park with playscapes for the kiddies and its own Free Little Library. You can tell that Santa Cruz is a university town by the contents of the FLL. There was a well-used biography of Madeline Albright to name only one of the heady titles begging to gather dust on your nightstand. Ow. I am getting a headache just from thinking about cracking open that baby.

Long live the Little Free Library.
San Lorenzo Park was one of the highlights of this walk, with ducks and lily ponds and grassy playing fields and lots of welcome shade. Right next to the park are a couple of county government buildings with crowded bicycle shelters. Clearly, lots of the county employees use the trail to get to work and store their bikes in the cages during the day. They are not the ones clogging the freeways.

The star of the show, however, was at the turn-around point just past Highway One. It's called The Tannery Art Center, a thriving little community of densely populated apartments and condominiums clustered around upswellings of grand public art. I truly love this place, even though on a Tuesday morning there were no people around who may or may not spoil the very fun vibe (it's not that I distrust my fellow humans, you understand, but, well, there is that potential). This complex has just about everything I like, including full-court basketball, lots of bike racks, and instant access to the trail. Pretty cool.

I could easily move right in and never ever not once ever get inside a motor vehicle again. I might need a sizable cash loan forthwith. Please stand by.

Peace, Love, and Designed Living,

Monday, September 2, 2019

Aqua Magic

Waxing Crescent Moon

It's hard to believe I have been living in my tiny trailer for five years. I must say that life at The Farm ( Mission Farm Campground for those of you not in the know) suits me well. If anything, I wish I had even fewer possessions and distractions. The simpler life is the better, if you ask me - less stuff means fewer things that can go wrong.

Despite my contentment, however, I have continued to harbor in the back of my mind a nagging feeling that I might not exactly belong. Before I moved in here, I didn't know the first thing about RVs or RVing. The nice, patient people at the park had to teach me everything, from hitching my rig up to Spugly, to connecting water and sewer lines, to leveling my rig in my assigned space, to building a redneck deck out of purloined ag pallets, to the proper feeding and caring of propane tanks. I was, and I am, a neophyte, a rookie, a hyper-educated virgin misfit compared to the seasoned park residents who have slowly brought me along.

A pull-behind Fleetwood Prowler was not really meant for full-time living. Everybody knows that. But last week, to my extreme befuddlement, the plastic commode in my tiny Greyhound-style bathroom failed all of a sudden - rather spectacularly. A rusted metal doohickey popped out of the gray plastic flush-handle thingy (not "popped out" really so much as shot out like a whirling Ninja Kunai Shuriken blade) and rattled off the particle board cabinet under the sink before spinning to a halt on the fake linoleum floor. This shocking display was accompanied by rushing water and, ahem, other leakage. I never pulled my pants up so fast in my life.

I have since learned that this calamity happens every so often to inveterate RVers, but nonetheless I was astonished. Where the heck was I going to poop?

The fortunate thing about living in a one hundred ninety square feet space is that everything is pretty close by. I hopped out the door, turned two corners, and cranked off the water faster than Carl Lewis. Then I grabbed my chest, leaned against my trailer, and stumbled back to the beach chair on my redneck deck slower than Fred Sanford.

Semi-recovered, I logged on to YouTube for some very funny redneck lessons about how to swap out terlets. Some of the scenes showed my exact 1993 model, the Thetford Aqua Magic IV, manufactured with care in good ole Ann Arbor, Michigan. The videos were SO helpful. The RV pros were SO clever. I love those guys, despite their utter disregard for grammar, dentistry, "bad" cholesterol levels, and butt-crack modesty.

To make a long (and icky) story short, I was able to remove the dead, gross, stinky, nasty potty and install a shiny new Thetford Aqua Magic V with only minor cussing fits and one weird trip to Camping World. This thing is so pretty I almost don't want to pee on it.

My friends, I am so proud of myself. I think I have finally arrived.

Peace and Love from The Farm,

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Home Again

Full Moon

I escaped from Sacramento this morning just in time to miss the 105 degree afternoon. Whew! Even though the train was an hour late, I was happy to board, score some coffee, and enjoy the ride. The sunrise was pretty cool at the station.

I was preoccupied with people watching, dozing off in my seat, and catching up on news, etc. on my phone until we hit the Carquinez Strait near Benicia. The Coast Starlight is famous for its beautiful scenery, but this stretch is an industrial funk zone giving way to tidal flats. The flats can be pretty in the right light, especially when there are lots of birds, but today they were kinda blah.

The obligatory Jack London Square stop at the Oakland Harbor doesn't quite capture the essence of Oaktown. The Square is basically bourgeoisie yuppie safe tourist stuff. Oaktown is a seriously messed up, beautiful sociological experiment. It's a collection of intelligent oddballs like you rarely see elsewhere. They are way ahead of the apocalyptic curve here. Jack London Square does not prepare you for any of that.

Once you get away from the big city, east bay, railroad-graffiti ghetto, you start to see farmland - beautiful, productive farmland not yet cemented over with malls and McMansions. Why turn this productive, carbon-trapping food bank into a heat island? We know it is dumb, but we keep on doing it.

Where is the cement coming from, you ask? One place is the Granite Rock A.R. Wilson Quarry near Aromas, CA. We passed right by it on the train. Business is booming for these guys as Silicon Valley marches inexorably south toward San Juan Bautista, Manifest Destiny on steroids.

People still have good ideas and act on them, though, like the establishment of a wildlife sanctuary and learning center at Elkhorn Slough near Moss Landing. Once upon a time, the San Benito River emptied out into Monterey Bay through this slough, before movement along the San Andreas Fault altered the river's path toward the north.

Soon after this, I was de-training in Salinas and pedaling the Dream Machine toward the San Juan Grade to go home. It's a 17-mile ride with one long, curving climb up to the Monterey/San Benito County line and the Vergeles fault and down the other side to San Juan Bautista. The grade is 4 or 5 miles long each way and pretty steep. The temperature was 92 degrees F and there was very little shade on the narrow asphalt road. I was really struggling to make it with about a mile to go to the top, sweating "profusely" and feeling pretty wobbly. I had resigned myself to pushing that loaded bike for a while when one last trail angel showed himself.

A sturdy young dude in a white pickup passed me, continued most of the way up toward the pass, then slowed and turned around. He came back down to where I was panting on the side of the road and asked if he could take me and my bike up to the top. He also handed me a fresh bottle of water, no doubt because I looked and sounded like I was about a quart or three low. That decision was a no brainer, in more ways than one. In a jiffy, I was barreling down the other side of the pass, dodging potholes, and burning up my brake pads toward The Farm.

Man, I am so lucky. There is something pure in trying, even when you know you will never be as tough or as strong as you once were. I saw this plaque up on the Tahoe East Shore Trail the other day. Good message, Nancy, whoever you are. I am sharing all these places and happenings with whoever wants to read them. Never doubt for a minute that you are loved.

Peace, Love, and Home Sweet Home,

Monday, August 12, 2019

Hurrah for Harrah

Waxing Gibbous Moon

I forgot to mention the butterfly migration at Tahoe. The whole time I was riding yesterday I was passing through swarms of California tortoise shell butterflies. They were beautiful!

(Photo from the internet)

Despite a crabby, customer-service-challenged bus driver, I made it to Reno this morning a-okay. I had found a super-cheap deal on a room at Harrah's right across the street from the Amtrak station. PLUS they let me check in at 10 a.m. So Hurrah for Harrah! You are alright in my book.

Tomorrow morning I will board the California Zephyr bound for Sacramento, the first leg of my train ride home. Meanwhile, I took a couple of little walks around downtown Reno to see some sights.

I like the Truckee River Walk and the public art display. These features show a lot of pride and a fun, happy attitude about the town.

The weather extremes are too radical here, but I like Reno (and Carson City,  too) as places to visit and from which to learn. The casinos are unnatural and possibly unsustainable, but they serve dual purposes by employing lots of people and by giving quasi-insane, addictive personalities places to chain smoke and to incinerate their paychecks

Peace, Love, and No More Bus Rides for A While,

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Nice Ride

Waxing Gibbous Moon

The Redlight Hostel was too weird for me. My assigned bunk, 5B, was like one of those train berths in an old time movie, with a mattress big enough for one bod, a tiny light, a shelf for some stuff, a sheet and comforter, and a pillow.

I slept okay, it was very dark with the curtain closed, but each time I woke up, there were never-heard-before snore sounds. Not really loud. Just very original. One sounded like a cow. You try sounding like a cow while inhaling. It's not easy, is it?

Eventually, it was time to rise and shine. I collected my panniers and crept outta there like a cat burglar. Oh yeah, there were cat snore sounds, too.

The first order of business was a cheap omelet at Jack's Diner down the street. Good enough, and very friendly California girls on staff. Are California girls making a comeback? Hope so.

Then I had a really productive phone conversation with Tayeesha the Amtrak representative. I learned that I could NOT get my bike on the train at Truckee under any circumstances. I could, however, roll it on the train if I went to Reno and left from there. And I would not have to dissemble it and pack it into a bike box.

Soooo, Tayeesha helped me, with great courtesy and professionalism, to make all the right reservationary decisions to deliver me back to Salinas on the 14th. Most excellent. All I have to do is get to Reno by 8:00 a.m. Tuesday.

There were obstacles, of course. Mt. Rose, a 10,000 feet mountain  was in the way between Truckee and Reno, so I was not going to ride there. That meant hitching or busing. Hitching with a bike and panniers is awful. Scratch that.

Is there such a thing as a bus that would do the trick? The first few results were gloomy. As in $100 gloomy airport shuttle buses. Surely there were local or regional buses that the food service and hospitality staff use to come to work, right?

I decided to ride the TART bus from Truckee to King's Beach (85 cents!), then ride around the Nevada part of Lake Tahoe to Stateline, where all the major casinos are. That would give me some beauty and some exercise for my last day. Then I would hunt for a cheap bus east from there - a gamble, but one in which I felt confident.

Nice ride! The lake was gorgeous, the weather perfect, and even though the traffic was horrendous, I was okay with it most of the time. The highlight was definitely the new bike path between Incline Village and Sand Harbor. It's only a few miles, but what a view what a view what a view!

After Sand Harbor, the path ended and the uphill, shoulderless road was jampacked with Sunstruck beach goers. The tension of the crowds made the tough climbs that much harder. Truthfully, this part was not that much fun.

At Stateline, the flow worked in my favor almost immediately. I asked and I was answered. A local bus would connect with another local bus in Gardnerville to take me to Carson City ($2.00!). So I am staying at my old standby Carson Rodeside Inn and I'll take a regional bus to Reno tomorrow ($2.25!). I guess you could say it's working out pretty good. Or at least pretty cheap.

This trip was very educational. I learned that I have new limitations to the amount of pain I will trade for the realization of a goal. I learned that my mind and body work closely to prevent me from further injury. And I can confirm that I am indeed completely, thoroughly, definitively over the hill.

When I get home, I will re-assess The List, the things I had silently sworn to do by seventy. I won't say at this point that they won't get done. But some of them don't sound that fun any more. I might just re-write The List.

Peace, Love, and Self Improvement,