Monday, May 21, 2018

Invasion of the Moose Kissers

First Quarter Moon

They are here.

As prophesied in the Book of Alces at the turn of the 18th century, aliens from the planet Skowron X are among us. They can pose as normal homo sapiens for years, living among us and working important jobs (like teaching Chemistry) and sometimes even reproducing. They have been known to laugh hysterically, perhaps overtly over-zealously, at re-runs of Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. Who can blame them for that?

The presence of a real live moose, however, triggers a stored response, an automatic swooning lust that cannot be tamed. The desire for carnal moose knowledge is so strong that it has brought these creatures to Earth across unimaginable expanses of time and space, searching from galaxy to galaxy to quench this thirst, to satisfy this primal urge, to plant a tender smooch on a clearly aroused damsel moose.

I suppose there are worse things. After all, love is love, no matter what wormhole it crawled out of.

Peace, Love, and Eww, Okay, Whatever,

Saturday, May 19, 2018


Waxing Crescent Moon

Thursday I rented a 2018 black Nissan Rogue in Bishop - plenty of room for the Dream Machine and gear in the back - and I had a pretty sweet 28 mpg ride home. The shortest open route across the Sierra Nevada was over Hwy 108 across Sonora Pass, so I took it. Lots of snow up top, but the road is in great shape.

Yesterday I jumped (stepped cautiously) through all the hoops to see a doctor at the San Juan Bautista Clinic and I got my ribs x-rayed at the hospital in Hollister. The examination was quick and efficient and so was the hospital procedure. The whole thing took far less time than I imagined and I had the results by the end of the work day.

The damage: left side rib #4 is fractured with no displacement; left side rib #6 is fractured with slight displacement. Both ribs should heal on their own in 6-8 weeks. I am taking ibuprofen for pain as well as applying a heat sock (partially fill a sock with rice, tie it off so nothing spills, microwave it for 4 minutes, and use as a heat pad - awesome). I need to pay careful attention to my breathing. Even if it hurts (and it does), I'm supposed to take ten deep breaths every hour or so to keep my lungs clear. Otherwise, pneumonia is possible. I like doing that anyway, and the Vitamin I buffers the pain, so it's no problem. I really cannot see myself sitting around for 6-8 weeks, so I will have to invent some workarounds to exercise creatively/safely.

All in all, not so bad. I saw some great scenery in the Eastern Sierra and met some more interesting travelers on the road. I wonder, though, if I will ever be able to walk this way again. The stuff of dreams.

Peace, Love, and Self-Hypnosis,

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Voodoo Chile

Waxing Crescent Moon

Whoever is sticking pins in their Palomino doll needs to cut it out. Now.

The question of whether this trip is jinxed or not has been settled and the answer is a definitive yes. Today I fell over sideways on my fully loaded touring bike with my left foot still clipped into my pedal, scraping a few layers of skin from my left knee and breaking or separating a rib on my left side. It only hurts when I breathe.

I had just finished the four-mile 6% uphill grade to Conway Summit, so I was pretty gassed and simultaneously pretty excited. I was stopped, right foot unclipped, and eager to get off the bike, take a photo/eat a snack/chug some agua. In other words, I was not fully engaged in the moment. That's when the damn blue voodoo meanie struck in the form of mild vertigo. Blam. Over I went.

And because I wasn't fully engaged, I did not relax through the fall like I have trained myself to do. I resisted the ground and I could feel something pull apart at the point of impact. This is not supposed to happen.

Well, that snapped me into focus pretty fast. Winded from the climb, the first order of business was to stand up, squirt my water bottle on my grit-covered wound, and struggle to catch my breathe. Sips of air. Tiny little sips.

The scenery was still nice, anyway. I tried to compartmentalize the pain and act normal. Soon I stopped at the touristy Mono Lake highway overlook/turnout and asked a lady to take my picture just in case this was my final bicycle trip ever.

Then I had ten miles to go to Lee Vining, my destination, the first four of which were, yep, the reciprocal 6% downhill grade with a scary hairpin turn. Of course, massive truck traffic appeared out of nowhere. Jinxed!  I must append the "only hurts when" clause to include the application of bicycle brakes when bent over in a tuck in notorious Mono basin crosswinds alongside hellbent semis. Enough with the stickpins already.

Suffice to say I made it to town and now this trip is done. I'll see a doctor when I get home, but most likely I won't be doing anything fun for quite some time. Stir crazy, here I come.

Peace, Love, and Upper Body Compression Tees,

Saturday, May 12, 2018


Waning Crescent Moon

Wet. Sloppy. Thunderboomers moving in.

I was packed and bundled up tight against the cold wind this morning, heading out of Carson City. Couldn't help but notice that yesterday's tailwind was now in my face. But no matter, I was only going 16 miles to Gardnerville or thereabouts, wherever I could find a safe campsite. Then Peg's Restaurant highjacked my attention.

Peg's was awesome. It was jampacked, but there was one open counter seat, so I figured that my destiny was to order up a chicken breast with scrambled eggs and watch the people for a little while. Man, good decision. Plus there was a grocery store next door where I could snag some snacks and water for my ride.

However, by the time I had finished eating and doing my chores, the sky had developed some serious welts and bruises. Low, dark clouds were moving in. There was a lightening and hail warning on my Smartyphone courtesy of the National Weather Service. And I turned back into town for a zero day.

It is too early to call this trip jinxed. I am just going to exert some patience and good judgement while all the freaking journey zombies wear themselves out trying to discourage me. Rope a dope, that's my game, at least for the time being.

To kill time, I donned my rain gear and walked to the Nevada State Railroad Museum. History junkies and mechanics would love this place. Every kind of rusted metal wagon, railway gizmo, red caboose, and corroded boxcar known to man is on display, and there is a mini-train ride for younguns.

My favorite thing, though,  was the metal wild horse sculpture in front of the Chamber of Commerce, which shares space with the museum on the grounds here. It's a cool thing to do, going to the railroad museum. I recommend it.

Afterwards, I stopped at the Sportsman's Warehouse to look for another warm layer, just in case. Score! I found a lightweight half-zip fleece on sale for $9.99. Size L, deerslayer brown, with a touch of camo. Just the ticket for slipping under your rain jacket during one of those lovely afternoon Sierra Nevada hailstorms.

The forecast is more of the same the next two days. Patience. Good judgement. Hearty breakfasts.

Peace, Love  and Camo,

Friday, May 11, 2018

Butterfly Express

Waning Crescent Moon

Cold. Northeast wicked wind. Am I in Canada?

Got up at six and bucked the wind over to the Wagon Wheel Cafe in Alturas - just west of the railroad tracks on the road to Canby. Good eats!

Then I briefly toured the part of town I didn't get to see yesterday. I'm pretty sure the Wild Mustard Coffee Shop serves as the de facto espresso intellectual center of the county.

Meanwhile, the newish, shiny courthouse with the copper (?) dome and Roman-looking lettering lends gravitas to the setting. If you want to be taken seriously in this world, use a "v" wherever a "u" goes. Lawyers, when they're not Wild Mvstarding, do lawyer stuff there.

But the best thing about Alturas is the Sage Stage headquarters. That stellar group runs like clockwork. The bus arrived right in front of the Rite Aid exactly at 8 a.m. and they dropped me off in Reno at 11:45 a.m. precisely as promised. A sweet 50-something angel lady knitted me a blue butterfly on the way. That more than made up for Thursday's hussies.

The East Sierra Transit Authority (ESTA) bus was less efficient, but it dumped me at the Walmart in Carson City nevertheless. Back on my bike, I hurtled along with a tailwind across town where I am now holed up trying to stop my teeth from chattering.

This trip and all its incarnations have been hard to manage logistically, physically, and meteorologically.  There is definitely some weird tension in the air and my knee is, well, just plain shot. So I'm trying to focus on what is good and what is beautiful. E.g., I am grateful for my blue yarn butterfly. And I like this bush.

Peace, Love, and Layers,

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Sage Stage One

Waning Crescent Moon

Klamath Falls is great. I hope all of you get to spend some time there some day. The OC&E Rail Trail (the former Oregon, California, and Eastern Lines) extends almost one hundred miles toward Bend OR, old railroad track converted to hiking, biking, et cetera. Only the part nearest Klamath Falls is paved - the rest varies from gravel to dirt to rough scrabble. I rode about ten paved miles this morning after a Mini-Volcano breakfast at the Black Bear Diner.

Gazebos were abundant. I scored four in and around KF before it was time to load my bike on the Sage Stage shuttle to Alturas, CA. The best one by far was at the Veterans Memorial Park on the edge of town.

The bus ride was interesting, skimming over forested volcanic tableland marked by chocolate-colored buttes and ridges. Most of the trees looked like junipers or cedars to me, with taller jeffrey pines mixed in for good measure. Lots of horses and colts and lazy cattle.

The bus driver was nice, helping me with the balky rack and counting my two pairs of panniers as two pieces of luggage. She could have been a stickler and charged me for another ticket ($13.50), but she didn't.

The two other passengers were neurotic, nearly fossilized seventy-ish gals who had come into KF for a Walmart shopping spree. I have several female friends (and two beautiful sisters) who are five-to-ten years older than these two. But nobody I know is as screwed-up ancient and unhappy as them. Every single thing they said was negative. And non-factual. And bigoted. I transcended the whole thirty minutes of ugly conversation by projecting myself into the pastures and pretend-running with the wobbly baby horses. That was way more fun.

Eventually, the bus dumped the sad mad hussies off to their sad hussy homes and took me and the Dream Machine into Alturas, the humble seat of Modoc County.

I checked into the Hacienda Motel, possibly California's cheapest clean hostel. I like it here. The proprietress is a most friendly Thai American beauty queen without a bigoted bone in her body. She referred me to Nuch's Thai Restaurant around the corner for dinner. Yum!

Tomorrow I will finally get all the way to Carson City and I'll start my ride sometime Saturday morning. It's going to drop below 40° F here tonight, so I'm glad to be indoors.

Peace, Love, and Pad Meekow,

Wednesday, May 9, 2018


Waning Crescent Moon

My twice-postponed bicycle tour of Highway 395 is in motion - or at least this version of the trip has begun. Yesterday, my Mission Farm neighbor Matt delivered me and the Dream Machine to the Salinas Amtrak station for an overnight trip north. Destination? Klamath Falls, OR.

The train left at 6:30 p.m., slicing through the farm land near the Salinas River before bisecting Elkhorn Slough, seabird/waterfowl heaven. As many times as I have hiked there, I have never seen the train pull through the reserve. Late in the day, the water was golden and the birds seemed unbothered by the human/railroad imposition.

We crossed the San Andreas Fault near the A. R. Wilson Quarry by Aromas and shot the gap at Chittendon over the dark waters of the Pajaro River. After that, the landscape opened up as the track made a wide swing and headed north by the familiar towns of Gilroy, San Martin, and Morgan Hill. I even got one last glimpse of Fremont Peak standing guard over San Juan Bautista and the San Juan Valley.

By the time San Jose and the megalopolis of the Bay area came into view, the Sun had set and I nodded off in my lower level coach seat. I slept off and on, rolling through the darkness in train pretzel pose.

Morning brought close up views of still snowy Mt. Shasta and lots of little waterfalls next to the track. I did not spy any of the purported hairy creatures who may or may not inhabit the woodsy woods woodsy in this area ;-) My attempt at taking a photo of Shasta through a dirty window on a rocking train follows.

An hour or so later, I detrained in sunny Klamath Falls, tired and hungry for breakfast.
"Downtown" KF is nice. In fact, this is one of those cool places where people like me would love to live. It's laidback, historical, organized around waterways and the railroad, and home to the Klamath Grill - grrrreat breakfast. I have been informed that, out of respect for the Me Too era, I should refrain from comparing waitresses to insects, so I won't do that, at least for a while.

I found my way to the OC&E bike trail for a relaxed spin to Wiard Park, where I found two gazebos (I must keep Gazeebook fans in suspense for a while, sorry) and a glorious basketball court.

My actual bike trip won't start until I execute a two-part bus ride to Carson City, NV tomorrow on the "Sage Stage" and the Eastern Sierra Transit Authority shuttle. Mass transit in America is kinda patchwork. Tries your patience.

I am looking forward to a comfortable sleep tonight at the KF Mo 6 and a raging breakfast in the morning at the Black Bear Diner next door.

Peace and Love on the Road,