Friday, August 19, 2011

Its been a while...

Hello world! It's good to talk to you again. It's been a while, I know, I'm sorry. But damned if life hasn't been jam packed with awesome and amazingness. A lot really has happened since my last post. I suppose I should try to sum it up as best I can. But how to do that?
a poem? ... to verbose
paragraphs?... too long
photographs?... I don't have enough
bullet points?... well i've already started so why not continue

So here we go, my attempt at summing up my time from Humboldt through Kensington/San Francisco and on to Santa Cruz.

- Backyard halfpipe with 7-30 year olds at the same time
- Tempurpedic mattress
- Fullbody wetsuit longboard Surfing with the cousins
- Playing soccer with a full grown black German Shepard
- X-Games watching with the fam after dinner
- Farming on the hill
- Swimming at broken bridge/ swimming the rapids with the kids/ jumping off the rocks-bridge (simply gorgeous)
- Surfing again (man im starting to get the hang of this whole surfing thing)
- Backyard Bonfire with family and friends
- so much more... it was an amazing time to just slow down and do things as they came up rather than push so hard to make things happen.

This leg of my journey really helped me to solidify my affirmation in taking the time I need for me to do what I want/need and not worry so much about what other think or how they are doing. Life goes on and people will still be there. There isn't an immediate need to constantly be in contact with everyone and everything at all times.


- 4 hour drive down with my Aunt non-stop calling/texting to see where we were at (love you Karen)
- Chilling by the pool
- mini-drive to Kensington with Momma Bean (my nic-name for my mom)
- Dropped off at my new place to live with a bed and dresser already set up for me and a great welcoming by Reuben and his Dad, David.
- Unpacking and setting up and feeling a smile well up inside me that I have arrived and a new journey has just begun.
- Dinner/Dancing/late night shenanigans with Reuben and two of his friends from Piedmmont (I could do a whole entry on this but probably should not...)
- "Best day in the bay" with Carin Johnson (if you don't know her you are missing out)
- Gardening for three days straight... getting nowhere and still loving every second of it
- RAMBLER: reuben's dog that is the sweetest and most loving dog (except for your dog of course)
- Goal setting by Lake Anza
- Illegal Rock jumping with high school kids, doing a 1 1/2 flip off the rock and feeling awesome about it. A helicopter showed up to tell everyone to stop swimming. then as we left a cop showed up to issue fines... luckily we were already dried off and walking out at that point. Some people had to swim across the lake to get away :) ahhh i love to excessive nature of law enforcement.
- Failed attempt to hike Mt. Diablo... apparently dogs are not allow on the trails. bummer
- Kensington Farmers market: Helping out and truly feeling apart of the town and that this whole west coast thing is going to be amazing. (oh and getting free food is a killer perk)
- Bike ride to Ceasar Chavez park at Berkeley Marina. Riding out on the pier and feeling like I'm in the bay. What an awesome day that one was
- All the late nights playing ping pong in the garage
- Job hunting: having possibilities show up so quickly (thanks friends)
- Bus ride on the 17 to Santa Cruz: surprisingly mild and easy to handle.

And here I am in Santa Cruz about to get picked up by my mom and head out for dinner. Gonna chill here for a few days then my brother Seth has invited me down to Big Sur for a camping and surfing trip. How fuggin ideal is that?

All of this vacation time is soon too end as job hunting will eventually (hopefully) turn me back into a normal human being with responsibilities and such. I seem to have rediscovered my playful side that has been missing for so long. I have found myself not only saying "why not?" when asked if I want to do something random, but I'm also seeking out these types of things. Like making a kite from scratch (ill update you on how well it goes when it's done). Like jumping off rocks even if its "frowned upon". Like going out dancing without a care in the world with people ive only just met and having an amazing time. Oohh yeah. Living life is fun

Be well and jump sometime today.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I made it to Arcata (what a journey it was)

So I made it here safe and sound. Had quite an interesting ride with.  Joel the man of many stories. The only major problem is my clothes somehow did not make it here with me.

Somewhere along the way from Lukes house to our first stop one of my bags mysteriously disappeared. It either popped out the back of the guys camper or someone came by and snagged it. I'm not really sure which option is more possible but its a total bummer. All my clothes where packed into that single bag. I had nothing left but the clothes on my back.  A total loss.

Earlier that day I had misplaced a more important bag, the one with my wallet, journal, computer and books, but someone was kind enough to turn it in to the store where I picked it up 5 min later. My mind must have been scattered to the max about the journey ahead and what it was going to be like.

As we drove I started to get more and more used to the truck. It was a little wonky and didn't have power steering which meant I felt every turn, every push of wind and such. It was long and arduous but I was serinaded by Joel and his tails of bummerness about the west coast. We would pass threw towns and he would describe them as "real shitholes" and proceed to tell me why each spot was no good and not worth visiting. It was an interesting practice to keep engaged while still filtering out some of the negativity he was projecting. He seems like someone who has struggled with life and seems to feel victimized by its circumstances.

But man in spite of all the bad talk I really was amazing driving threw the coastal mountains, right along stream beds, threw mountain passes etc. It was simply gorgeous, sunny all day, what I thought were massive trees left and right. All the sudden as we were coming down out of the mountains we see a sign for redwoods national parks and it was like a wall at that sign, the trees seemed to jump up exactly at that sign. There width went from two of my body size to two cars widths. That warm sun I was just describing well that was all blocked out and we were now driving threw a nice cool breeze. It was simply awe inspiring. Now I've seen redwoods before, but driving into a whole forest like this with such a stark difference and line was just outstanding.

And then there it was sun glistening and sparkling off the crests, clouds hanging and increasing the dramatic effect, BAM the pacific ocean. I found myself interrupting Joels "bummer tales" with comments of "man that's gorgeous!" or " whoa look at that, its amazing". The difference between our two out looks could not have been more stark.

So after a bunch of miles through this dichotomous way of viewing life I made it safe to my cousin Noah's. Dropped my stuff off to an empty house and drove Joel to his final destination. It was good to get out of the car after 9 hours sitting tense and pushing hard.

Arcata and Trinidad are right on the Nor Cal coast and simply gorgeous as the Redwood national forest is their backyard. My cousins wife Crystal picked me up and brought be back to the house where I finally felt I was able to relax and enjoy. What an amazing location my cousins have. So close to the beach and some sweet surfing (that I got to do a couple days later) but still up and removed a bit so they have their privacy. Totally solid.

The very next day I dressed in the same clothes as the past two days, as I had no other alternative. Got some breakfast with the family went out to the back yard where Noah had built his son an amazing halfpipe. This thing was fully professional with resin boarding, smoothed out with coping and all. Man could his 7 year old son Taj shred it up. He hopped up there and busted out a dropping, rock and roll and tons of other tricks. He was killin it and it was fun to watch. We then went into town to get me some new clothes. I was able to snag a whole new wardrobe for crazy cheep as Ross. It felts so good to know I had some of my own clothes to change into and feel comfortable.

Taj ripped up some stairs at the grocery store and got some spectators while he was working on his Olie and 50/50 grind. Had some fun with Iya Noah's daughter two. She is a super sweet soul with tons of kindness and connectedness to her brother and others. Its amazing how independent she is. Last night Noah, Ansel (my other cousin) and I went out surfing and Iya came to the beach on her own and kept herself entertained the entire time!

Man where the waves perfect for a beginner though. It was super glassy, not to big and just a gorgeous day to be out there. It actually got pretty darn hot (with a full body wetsuit on of course) and I was able to stay out til my arms got tired. Ahh surfing, being on the water feeling the waves and having a killer time with family. It doesn't get much better than that!

I have to say its pretty easy to settle in to summer life here in Humboldt. It is foggy a lot of the time, but yesterday it burned off and got nice and warm! The sun out, tons of sweet people around, surfing, chillin, man how did I get so lucky.

Well I'm off to continue enjoyin this vibe. Be well.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Everything checks out

Today was a good day, as most have been in portlandia. Its been sunny most of the days, warm, and inviting to be slow down and exist on whatever level I need to. I've been really enjoying watering the beautiful gardens that Daniel has created. For me its been the perfect way to slow down and get in touch with caring for something else. This mind set has made it much easier to care for myself in the ways that I need.

Speaking of care. I went to the orthopedist trained chiropractor who was suggested to me by Luke's acupuncturist. At first I was hessitant about going to a chiropractor for my knee with tendinitis. But this man was great. He sat woth me for like 10 minutes and we just talked. Through this talking something I thought was totally unrelated came up and he made a possible connection. So right before I left NYC I had some bad digestion problems that I had to go to the doctor for. They gave me Cipro which is an antibiotic. Apparently a major side effects is tendinitis (see the link). Of course I had no idea and I went ahead and took it cause I needed my stomach to get better. Little did I know it would have a lasting impact of my bike journey.    Drugs are crazy man!

That being said I started to feel a whole lot better about this whole injury thing. Now it still could be that I just completely over did it. My weak ankle could have upset my knee just a little bit and the extra effort of the journey could have put it over the top and cause it to happen. But the added effect of the Cipro probably did not help the situation. The doctor dude told me that I was already doing a lot of good things by resting, massaging, and icing. The major thing he suggested was to take it even easier, and ice more. He said to ice after any physical activity. So guess what I'm doing right now!

I am a firm believer in the fact that all things happen for a reason and the best way to move forward is to accept this and find the best possible next step to continue.

So that's what I'm doing. Taking my anticipated journey that came to a hault prematurely and finding a new path as my step forward. I feel that I'm already doing what I was hoping the west coast would encourage: slowing down and being more mindful of what I do and how I do it.

Speakin of my next step, I got to meet up with Joel and do a test drive of the truck we will be taking down to Arcata. Interesting dude that Joel. Got himself some tickets in Cali that he decided not to pay. $3000 dollars later and a revoked license and this guys needs a ride back to sort things out. I have some experience with this as I was 16 once and sped a bit too much and got my license taken away. Not a fun thing to have happen. One major difference here is that Joel has got to be 35 or 40 and owns two cars. I mean what was he thinking. Oh well, it has given me the opportunity to drive myself and my bike to arcata and get a visit in with my cousin.

Next step, Luke's show then off to Arcata/Trinidad CA for some solid chill time on the NorCal coast. I hear my cousin built a rockin 6" mini ramp for his son. That will be sweet to check out. Now after a burger and a wonderful day I'm ready for some nice rest.

Be well and look up every once and a while you might be surprised at what you see.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Next STEP (ie not pedaling)

As I have expressed in past entries... my knee is messed up. I pushed too hard with too much weight over too many hills that I had not prepared for. As a result pedaling is out of the picture. After some thought and reflection it seemed the only option was the throw in the towel and take care of myself by catching the train or a ride to Berkeley, CA where I could set up shop, slow down and really take care of my body for the long haul.

My brother Luke kept suggesting that I check out Rideshare on I was a little bit skeptical as I've never done anything like this and didn't know what to expect. So far what I have learned about is that it's like hitchhiking but with a buffer in place. You can get to know the driver/passengers before you agree to drive/ride with them. I think it's brilliant as it takes most of the dangerous elements out of the hitching experience.

So last night I posted:
"I am a 27 year old Bike tourist who's knee went out when I was on my way south. I need to get to the bay area to heal up and get better. I have my bike and my gear that I need to travel with me. I will pay extra for the extra stuff. Let me know if you can accommodate my needs." I added a few pictures you all have seen and laid my head to rest wondering what the universe would serve up to me in the morning.

Well come morning time I had two condolences and offerings to drive me to the Bay area. One guy from Isreal who has done a bike trip from Helsinki to Milan, and another couple that does trips all the time. Not knowing how to proceed I checked back with craigslist and found a guy who needed someone to drive him and his truck to Humboldt county CA. As I was originally planning on heading through there to visit my cousin and his family and really didn't want to miss out on this I contacted him to figure out some details.

This is the story, with more details to come of course. He has his license suspended in Oregon and thus can't drive his truck. He needs to get back to California with his truck so he can actually get around. He specifically said that he doesn't want any hippies or people looking to transport any illegals he just needs to get back to the other city.

Here are the key particulars for me. A) he has space for my bike B) he is basically taking me to my next stopping point anyway C) I will be driving and can make sure I stay safe along my journey D) If this works out I get to stay and listen to Luke's band play Thursday night.

Once this option started to settle in the more and more I liked it and the less and less I wanted to just head to the bay area. Besides my homeslice Reuben was going to be out of town anyway. So, its ending up either go to Bay area and set up shop alone and sad for the end of my journey or take a truck trip over the mountains to my cousins, continue the journey and enjoy some time with great family. Hmmm... difficult decision i know.

The real test is tomorrow around 12 Im going to meet up with the guy and his truck and do a meet-greet-drive. He wants to make sure I can actually drive the thing and I want to make sure he is legit. If all goes well Friday morning I'm gonna be heading to the Arcata coast in a little truck with a camper on the back. So I will be sure to check back in tomorrow after things get figured out. Other than that it is looking like I have tons of options even if this doesn't work out. From my add requesting rides tons of people are contacting me and offering up space for me to get to the bay area. Pretty solid if you ask me.


I got to "go to the river" yesterday. A day of enjoying the sunshine, rocks, river jumping and generally good people. Solid day if you ask me. Before I even arrived in Portland I kept hearing that "if its a nice day out you should go to the river". Every time I heard this I said to myself "right on, the Columbia river is right there, so there must be tons of spots to chill and enjoy the sunshine." Apparently I was mistaken, for when we journeyed out to the river we drove over the Columbia and just kept right on going. We drove for a good 30 minutes into Washington back country and found this great creek called Rock Creek. It was a little bit of a hike in and off the trail to get to a spot that wasn't over run by people but this ended up being well worth it. We found an outstanding spot that had a great wading pool, spots to jump in, rocks to scramble over and explore.

After a while of jumping and cooling down we set up shop and ate some food, drank some whiskey and basked in the sun. The day couldn't have been more gorgeous. At the start of the day I was worried about how many clouds there were in the sky. However, later on in the day I grew to love those clouds as the sun was pretty strong and they provided needed respite. It was really cool to go out with relative new people and be able to enjoy myself so thoroughly. It was just Dana (Luke's band mate), his girlfriend and two of their friends. Now I've met Dana before and hung out with him a little but nothing to long or in depth. So it was nice to really get a chance to relax joke around and have fun on a day off.

After a while it was time to pack it up and head home. We were all pretty tired from the sun and fun. On our way back we happened upon some salamanders sitting in the warm pools by the creek. They were so cute and very friendly (even though I know as a scientist that you should never ascribe human emotions to animals... very dangerous thing to do indeed). We had fun holding them for a little bit then put them back where they came from and headed on.

I came home, took a nap and made another kick ass dinner. Man do I love my protein. Quinoa, lemon pepper Chicken, and a fresh green salad from the garden. MMM MMM Goodness. I laid low all night and relaxed into my book and my decision to not continue my journey. By this point it almost seemed inevitable that I was gonna swing the non-biking way of things.

So I am now well rested, still injured but excited to have a new step to my journey. To Arcata, CA I go. I still have a little bit more time left here in Portland and want to make sure I get to see and experience as much as possible. It's been great so far and I can only expect that to continue.

Be well.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Portland and all things enjoyable

So these past few days I've been outwardly very focused on my knee, with good reason. However, now I would like to focus on how nice being in Portland has been. My brother Luke has been so very understanding with my situation and has been supportive in every way he can. He has a lot on his plate right now with an album deadline coming up, his work and needing to take down his studio space all in the span of a few days. I can only be appreciative of the time and energy he has given me. He continues to offer his advice and connect me with his friends for hang out time and shared experiences with other knee injuries and recoveries. For all of this I have been greatly appreciative.

Speaking of hang out time I got to go to PDX Pop Now which is a free concert series that happens for 3 days in Portland highlighting local bands. Luke's friend Michelle picked me and another friend Rene up and we went down to the show together. It was nice to see some live music even if the sound was pretty crappy. The crowed was all over the place and half of the fun was just people watching. Portland women are beautiful in a completely unique sort of way. Each and every person seems to have their own style and approach to how they put themselves together. It shows in their outward appearance as well as when I speak with them.
This is The Lovers live onstage. They had a great performance and stage presence I can only imagine that if the sound were better I would have really loved them. We got to see the start of one of the outdoor sets and it was much better sounding even if the music itself was a little old and dated. I couldn't help but think they sounded like another band I've heard before. For some reason I remember my brother Seth introducing them to me and saying that they are a Brooklyn based band. They have a really unique lead singer voice, kinda higher pitch and maybe a little bit whiney. Not really sure. Once I hear it I will remember.

Anyway that was a good night. As was this one day spent in the Fernhill park across the street from Luke's house. The house Luke lives in has this wonderful Golden retriever named Lola. She has one of the sweetest spirits Ive seen in a dog in a long while. Well Luke and I went to the park to hang out and enjoy the sunlight as it had rained on be for the past 5 days. The sun was wonderful and so were all the dogs in the off leash area of the park. I got to just kick it with the dogs and check out the beauty of the summertime. What more can you ask for when you are incapacitated and cannot continue on a journey you set out for yourself. It was nice to be in the moment and just enjoy for a while.

These past few days I have been waking up and hanging out on the back porch in the sunlight working on my stretches and coming into the day slowly. Today was one of the best mornings yet as I woke up on my own, made a cup of tea, did some yoga and some reading on meditation. Then hung out with Lola while I ate breakfast. Later I got to water the front gardens where all the greens are growing for the wonderful salads I get to eat. It felt good to give back to the house a little bit as I feel so well taken care of being here. Then I just went back out to the porch and hung out, read, rested, looked around, and enjoyed the warmth of the sun. In my reading a major quote stood out to me and my injured status.

"Everyday we touch what is wrong, and, as a result, we become less and less healthy." Thich Naht Hanh. He goes on to suggest that instead of only touching that which hurts but also touch and smile with that which is not hurting. He suggests breathing in and smiling to the fact that we don't have a toothache, as we all know how much touching and focus teeth get when they do ache. So today in my practice of stretching and massage I shifted towards a more balanced approach of acknowledging that which hurts but also appreciating that which does not. Perhaps in doing so I can engage other areas of strength to help this area of weakness.

Working with what I've got is all I can do. Slowing down has been amazing. Allowing myself to breath in, breath out and to focus on not much other than that is quite a gift. I can only hope that this translates into some healing for my body as well as my mind.

Be well and love life.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Today marks day 3 of rest time here in PDX. I truthfully did not not expect to spend more than 1.5 days here. Originally I wanted to stop in and see my brother play some music (the show got postponed before I even arrived) and then head back out onto the road. Life as it would have it had different plans. So here I am seeking the source of the pain and a possible solution.

Instead of just keeping with the same plan of "rest will heal everything" I decided to be a little bit proactive today. I thought a little bit deeper about my knee, where the pain was and what could be the cause of it. As I ruminated there came a small little light bulb... maybe its past injury that is just over a year old on the same leg. Yeah the one where I shattered my ankle and still have metal in there, THAT ONE. I know that my left leg is weaker that my right. I spend about 4 months not using the muscles below my knee at all. And it is still visibly smaller than my right leg.

Not to hard of a connection to make if you ask me. However, I wanted to take it one step further, I wanted to know just what was pulling on what to make my knee hurt so much. So I decided to give myself a little anatomy refresher. Looking at some pictures online and some books Luke's roommate had around the house I was able to identify the muscles and tendons that were paining me and seemingly weaker than they are on the other side. My Rectus Femoris was very tight and requires lots of massaging daily to be normalize with the other side. That connects directing to the Petala (knee cap) which in turn connects to the ACL below. This keeps the knee from moving too far forward and controls the general rotation of the knee (in conjunction with other tendons of course). Well this is the main area of pain the ACL/Patela.

Next I needed to find a connection to the ankle the possible source of the pulling and straining on the patela and ACL. traking down the shin the Tibialis Anterior connects into the same place as the ACL and tracks all the way down to a major hot spot for my ankle injury. This muscle and corresponding tendons are also wrapped by the Extensor Retinacula down on the front of the ankle. When the surgeon went into my ankle to attach all of the metal after my severe break they had to add an extra pin across the tibia and fibula down around this tendon. This is because this tendon was severely stretched by the break and rotation of the foot during the injury. xray with hardware So these are definite weak areas of my ankle that the rest of my body would need to compensate for.

During my recovery I was able to get back to walking and a general good range of motion fairly quickly. The physical therapist was happy with my progress but I always felt that I needed more as I could feel the difference between my two ankles. That being said I really was not good about doing the exercises I could at home. I was only and still am only doing the exercises when I hurt. Rather than doing them as preventative measures. Well it appears my concerns about my ankle were valid, and my lack of work have combined to create quite a situation for myself. My weakened ankle and my pushing to ride hard have combined to hurt yet another part of my body. My knee is still in pain and hurts with every pedal that I try to take.

I have yet to resign this campaign down the road. But I am seriously contemplating the pros and cons of continuing vs. putting everything on hold to address my physical well being. The great thing about the road and journeys... they are always there to come back to. If I were to stop riding and take a train down to the bay area it would not be quitting in my mind. It would be following the path I need to, a different journey. Originally I felt that this bike journey would be good for me to process the past 4 years. Maybe I have put too much on hold for the past 4 years and in order to move forward to more adventures I need to actually slow down and take care of myself in a good environment. Finding balance is what keeps coming to mind. So this is what I will set out to find. Wish me luck in making the correct decision as it approaches.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Injury Time Out

So today was my first day in a few that my butt didn't even touch the saddle I've come to know so well. No time pedaling and no miles under my belt. But that being said it appears that it was exactly what I needed. My knee is still hurting quite a bit. There is a huge amount of compensation going on for my former ankle injury all the way from my left ankle to my shoulder. That side of my body is tense and struggling with what I'm demanding of it. So I needed some time to stop, slow down and assess where I am at, and how I want to proceed.

So this Portland respite is much needed and probably much deserved (if I do say so myself). I was treated to a wonderful 2 hour massage by Luke's house mate Dan. He is an amazing, intuitive and responsive massage therapist that worked with me and provided an outstanding amount of attention to everything I was feeling and needed. His attention and my recognition of my level of pain led me to a place of questioning whether or not I should continue. If after 5 days this is whats happening to my body, what about after 1.5 months? Can I really handle that much time on the road and in the saddle? A lot of questions and thoughts have been rolling around this noggin of mine.

I decided to relax into it and keep all options open. Maybe I do stop, take a train to San Fran and work on my ankle then restart at another time. Or maybe I take some time here in Portland (without over staying my welcome) and continue on when I feel I'm ok. Maybe I just keep going and self medicate with stretching, anti-inflammatory, and less mileage. With all options in mind I went through all of my gear and purged another 10 lbs out of my packs that I don't need to carry up all those hills every pedal of the way. It was a way of making a tangible step forward when I know that I can't really push my knee forward without just giving it time.

So it's time that I'm working on giving it. I am going to take an extra day here in Portland to just rest and recoup. I have taken extra pounds off my bike. I am going to do less miles per day and take more breaks. One of my mental goals of this trip was to slow down and be more mindful and reflective of myself and my surroundings. I have to be honest, I've got the surroundings bit down pat! I love biking through the forests and experiencing the weather. Man is it beautiful through these woods. However, I have really been missing out on the mindfulness of myself. I have been pushing too hard and I'm feeling the consequences. I feel this is an overflow of my NYC mentality. So many times when I was living in NYC I would just push hard until the next break, or until the weekend and then allow myself to recover. Now looking back this strikes me as a Binge and Recover way of living. Push push push until you can't anymore, take a few days, rest and recover but then repeat. I know this is not the way everyone does NYC. And I know that the people who knew me in NYC might not think that's the way I did it. I was not out every night of the week, I didn't party all the time, or go to tons of shows. However, I did push hard with the work I was doing, put in the extra effort and time with those I cared about. At the end of the week I was mentally and physically exhausted and in desperate need of the weekend. I would recover over Saturday and then Sunday would begin the work week for me. Taking care of household business and preparing for the week. 1 day off in 7. Not a great ratio.

Here I am on the open road, with no time limit, no need to be anywhere at a certain time and I can't seem to shake this way of being. I still pushed hard. Every pedal I felt that I needed to feel the resistance, to know that I'm pushing harder and going as fast as my little legs could carry me. What is that? What is that all about? I'm on the road to enjoy it, not beat it to pieces. So here I am, at a cross roads that I expected... kinda. I knew I would struggle with the transition out of the Big Apple. The change of pace and lifestyle after 4 years is bound to be tough and challenging. I just didn't realize it would come this soon or be this stark.

In some ways I thought that just by saying that "the goal of this journey is to slow down and reflect" that is exactly what I would do. That the goal would be a self actualizing prophecy, just by saying it BAM it is true. Instead, here I am struggling with this major transition and figuring out how to make this happen, in reality. Slowing down, reflecting, listening not only to my surroundings but to myself. These I feel are my next steps and areas for growth. I feel that I am very good at listening to others and very adept at doing what I can to cater to their needs. I have always struggled with doing the same for myself. Now, on the road, all by myself I need to find a way to make that happen. Put all my knowledge and understanding I have gained from those around me to work. I know how to do it, it's just a matter of making it happen and reaching out when I need it.

All of that Heaviness being said today was a great day. Portland was sunny and warm. People were out and enjoying it. I was able to allow myself to slow down and start to take it all in. Hanging out in the park across the street from my brothers place really helped. Nothing to do but sit and enjoy the dogs playing and the sun shining. After a good burrito from a food cart and free hand made Ice Cream (paid for by the local bank) it was a perfect way to spend an afternoon. Even if I was struggling with my knee pain and whether or not to continue my journey. Simply being able to enjoy a beautiful day made it all worth while.

I think that in the end I will take an extra rest day, slow down, stretch, push less and think more. I want to continue on, but be more mindful of how I am doing.

Be well, and do good work y'all

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Entrance to Portland (and other stories I forgot to tell)

Today marks Day 5 of my journey.

It has been been pretty jammed packed so far and much more than I had expected has already happened. The road is simply gorgeous. Thanks to American Cycling Association and their lovely little maps I have been on back roads for the most part with NO trucks, very little traffic and just the sounds of my bike tires and the woods besides me. Those have been the best moments thus far.

Going the speed I am I can hear the birds communicating to one another, feel the slight change in forest temperature as I travel from a shady spot to one that was previously in the sunlight. I can smell the differences in forest make up on the air and try my best to savor them all.

These past two days have taken me off the maps and on to Google map directions to my campsite and then on to Portland. What a drastic change. There are two really good things about these directions the first being that they worked. The second is that they kept me off any major highway or byway. This is huge for my safety and mental well being. That is pretty much all I can say for these directions though. There was very little sight seeing and alone time in the woods. In fact even though it kept me off the major roads it in turn kept me right along side them. If anyone has ever heard of I-5 you know what I'm talking about, if not then it is a major interstate that runs from Portland, OR to Vancouver, BC. It is no minor highway. A lot of today and yesterday was spend within eye or ear shot of said highway. Quite a different experience.

This brings me to one of my first forgotten stories. As I was riding, what I will call, "off route" to my campsite yesterday I was passed by a female rider. Feeling a surge of energy, (oh my god there is someone else on the road, I can actually talk to her!) I slowly caught up to her on the next hill and started talking. Turns out she is from Canada, I knew before she even told me her accent was awesome. She was returning from a sailing trip with a friend of hers. She told me that they started in Kalama, Washington and sailed out on the Columbia River to the pacific and then north to Vancouver. Sounded pretty awesome to me. Her only catch was that she drove down from Canada and had to come back to pick up her car. So she joked that its been like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Remember the movie with John Candy? Well it was a good one. Anyway, she had taken a boat to two trains to her bike to her car. So its more like Boats, Trains, bikes and automobiles. It's official she has the movie beat. We chatted it up and I ended up helping her with directions, thanks to my trusty GPS mapping system built into my phone (that was fully charged cause of the nice people at Nipps Burgers in Longview). It's funny how things all come together sometimes. We rode together through some pretty epic Railroad yards. Well maintained and actually kinda beautiful to see for their mechanical wonder. One of them said that their engines run on remote control. If that's not a child's dream I don't know what is. Remote controlling a train yard, HECK YEAH.

Forgotten Story #2
(warning this one is a little racist but funny/interesting)

Before I arrived to my campsite two days ago in the Old growth forest I stopped off at a corner espresso shop to warm my body and spirits before I set up camp in the rain after a full day of riding in the rain. The place was barren inside, apparently designed for drive up customers only. This old asian lady was running it, I assumed her name was Marry as it was Mary's Corner Espresso (I later found out that intersection was called Mary's Corner). I ordered a nice tall coffee and a scone. She was so nice and we got to talking. I told my story for another time, allowing some of the details to wait for the right questions. Where are heading? Where did you start? Where are you from? Why are you doing this? What do you do? etc. That's generally how the line of questioning goes.

Somewhere in that line of question we got to talking about the Washington forests. I expressed how amazing I found them. So lush and green and full of life. At which point 'Mary' asked me why I want to move to California when the forests are so wonderful up here. She said her sister "the jokester" likes to say the trees in Washington are like Asian hair, long and straight. Where as "the trees in California are all kinky like black people hair because they are always struggling for water, not like Washington."

As I retype it I wonder if that's not a 'Had to be there' moment. Anyway I found it funny and quite possibly an accurate assessment... of trees.

Day 5:
Everyone at the campsite woke up at the same time. Apparently a few Crows mistook themselves for roosters and as of 7:04 am they flew right into our site and started crowing at each other. It was perfect for me, but from the looks of the other campers they were not that happy. I packed up camp (keeps getting easier and easier) and stretched in hope that it would help my knee not hurt as much.

Today's riding was short (29 miles) but definitely not sweet. I started out and only a few miles down the road I had to stop and tape my knee up again. It was pretty painful and I was struggling with the uphills. Looking back, I think my seat is set too high and I'm gonna need to lower it. I also need to slow down my average pace. I think I'm cranking too hard and my body doesn't like it so much. All throughout the day of riding side by side the interstate all I could think of was arriving on Luke's doorstep. It was so close and I really needed the break. The directions were a little convoluted. Left, right, right, left, right right, etc. but it got be there. Through a few towns and onto the bridge over the Columbia.

I hate to admit it but at some points I unclipped my left leg and started pedaling with just the good leg. I figured why add insult to injury ;) As I came continued over the bridge a lady rode up behind me. She seemed like she was a seasoned rider as she looked at all my gear. I nodded and smiled saying "too much gear huh" She nodded with a smile "yeah way too much". She chatted it up with me about her husband and son who rode to San Fran once. Said the hills are pretty tough at times. We rode together until I was only a few blocks from Luke's house. Nice to have someone around who knew the area and wanted to talk.

Showed up at the house with luke already preparing a kick ass salad made from the ingredients in the garden, some smoked steak and fried eggs. Nothing could have been better. After a much needed shower and a nap I headed off to the local coffee shop which definitely held up to the Portland standard in coffee, Extracto. Then a stint in the local "soaking pool" to ease the pain of my knee and muscles and some good conversation with everyone around. Man this day was packed and its not even over yet.

We then went to a local bbq joint, so damn good. I got the brisket with collard greens, corn bread and squash cassarol. A helluva lot of food, but I ate it all! And still managed to have room for a good ol slice of pecan pie. Gotta love southern cookin/bakin! 

So an end to another packed out day. Its amazing how much can happen in one day when you are open to it all. If you think of all the things we do in our routines, that are second nature now, it really adds up to a lot. I felt that when I was back in NYC I had so many thing packed into my routines that they didn't even count as doing things. Now as I slow down I realize that I was packing my days in just as much there just with a lot of stuff I overlooked or didn't highlight as being important to notice. Just some random thoughts at the end of a kick ass day. Be well world and love life (its the only one we've got)


Pic 1: welcome to oregon (my first state line)
Pic 2: my animal cookie life sized

Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 4: toughest day yet

Today started off with prospects of good weather and a nice ride along the rivers feeding into the Columbia on my way to portland. I planned on pushing the milage a bit today to arrive earlier in the day tomorrow to enjoy more of Portland. Little did I know what the day had in store for me.

As I started out from my amazing campsite in the old growth forest my legs and arms were a little bit creaky from the constant new movement and all the cold rain. I didn't think much of it as I thought I just needed to warm up. Well after warming up all the pains went away besides my creaky knee. I stopped a drug store to pick up some icy/hot and advil. Then tried to tape it up like they do in the pros (it actually helped a lot, until it came off from all my sweat). I also got directions to the nearest verizon store... apparently in all my excitement of sleeping in a warm clean bed I left my phone charger there... no contact with the world = bad.

So here I am biking down the road with a slightly painful knee and verbal directions for 9 miles to the next verizon store. Thank god the woman knew what she was doing (and I remembered it all) for not to long after I was eating a great burger from Nipps in Longview, WA and getting my phone charged up behiind the soda machine (such nice people here).

I had though ahead for such instances, having already written out the google directions to my next campsite on the way to Portland I would be ok that far... after that however, I did not have directions. So thanks to some very nice people I'm was back on tack and hit the road.

The combination of the tape and icy/hot worked really well until the tape fell off. And I started biking up a steep hill. A REALLY steep hill. And when I say really steep I mean I was in the lowest of my low gears and crankin hard. This thing ended up being 1000 ft verticle in 1 mile. I had to stop 3 times to catch my breath and drink some water. Finally I ended up walking the bike the last bit as I wanted to take care of my knee (see mom and dad I do listen to my body).

Every cyclist know that with great work, up hills, comes great rewards, downhills. This was the best downhill I have been on in my life, not cause it was the steepest, but rather because it was perfectly sloped. I didn't really have to break, there were not turns on steep sections. It's like it was designed for a cyclist who just had a rough day and didn't really need much else to worry about. Ahhhh the fresh air and cooling effect of wind on my sweaty jersey (too graphic sorry, but it felt awesome).

On down the road I knew I was getting close to my campsite (still further than I had anticipated) and what did I see but a little gift from god: Fresh Raspberries $1. You have no idea how great they tasted, and how cute the mother and daughter who sold them where. Wow I can still taste em. They were great fuel for the last clim of the day. I think I was only able to do it cause I knew it was the last climb. At the top there was a traffic jam. Apparently an oversized load truck got too close to the ditch and slid on in... traffic was shut down so much that I, the person biking up the hill with 60 lbs of gear, was able to pass a few cars. Imagine the looks on the people as they saw me pass them by... So Good!

Another campsite. Less bugs, less rain, more used to it. It keeps getting better and better. In spite of all the trials of today, I feel very successful. The highest milage yet 67.5, a detour, I'm so close to portland I can taste it and I'm still safe. Tomorrow will be a much lighter day (25 miles) and I plan on getting a massage for my achy body (thanks pops for makin that possible).

Peace and love

1 pic: the top of my climb

One more

This was the view at the top of my mile long 1000 ft hill I had to climb with all my gear. Totally unexpected and took everything I had to get up it.