Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Toto I Don't Think We're in Colorado Anymore

Sunday, 8/22, Haswell, CO

Well the grasshoppers are quieting down as I wait for the cyclists. They are just out of town. No cell service, no internet—but a fully charged laptop—hence a few minutes. They are cycling from just down the road apiece. Annie will be first. The others are basically together. A call was made from Vernon when they were in Sugar City saying there were no services. This we, Cynthia and I, took to mean that they had no food or water and that we had to hurry to get them sustenance.

So there was concern, but the concern was mitigated or suspended because we had to get Cynthia to the airport to go home as her house had been burgled the night before. What exactly had been taken we didn’t know, but seems her new laptop, hard drive (with her book on it), a big screen TV, and a CD player from her son’s room, but not the peripherals to some of those things such as new and expensive cables, likewise speakers. It will remain to be seen what exactly is gone, seems some lights in the house weren’t working either, but they may be just non-working bulbs.

Anyway two of the cyclists have arrived and we are talking about the Obama and the CIA. And they are talking about the merry-go-round at the Haswell City Park. Now they are all here and talking about heading on to Eads for the night; perhaps the Travelers Lodge, maybe the city park.

Tuesday, 8/24
, Leoti, KS

Well more time to catch up. We crossed into Kansas yesterday and into Central Time. This past evening we spent at the High Plains Motel in Leoti, KS; a nice place with a full complimentary breakfast. I got up with the cyclists to have breakfast and to make sure I didn’t sleep in as I had yesterday to the “late” hour of 9:00 AM! By the time I finally left Eads, CO Scott and Annie had made it to Tribune, KS and they also beat me to the hotel in Leoti, but that was just a block and bikes are faster than cars in town.

Vernon and I went to the Mexican restaurant in town (Charlie's Mexican Restaurant). I had gorditias with homemade gordo tortillas. They were wonderful. The excitement happened when a lad leaned his chair back into the lattice screen sending it into our table, twice. No Tecate was spilled in the process, but a few bits of dried plant material ended up on Vernon’s beard.


I have gotten some chances to ride. I rode the first bit to Monarch Pass from Gunnison, CO (a town with another Toggery—like my home town Bishop, CA) on Wednesday, August 18th as we thought we were just going to Sargents, CO that day. It was a very nice ride and wonderful to be cycling with Vernon again. We originally thought we'd "take" Monarch Pass the next day, but with the weather so nice it was decided to go for it. So the cyclists headed up and out. And Cynthia and I continued in the vehicle to Poncha Springs were we booked in at the Rocky Mountain Lodge. After unpacking the car, settling things into the room, and getting a few celebratory six packs of microbrews and a bottle of wine; I got back on my bike to meet the riders. Well they were just about around the corner at Mimi’s an Eastern and Western Food and Ice Cream Stand at the corner of US 285 and US 50. Vernon bought me a green tea ice cream cone. Yummy and we rode back to the hotel.

Vernon and I had a nice cabin with a kitchen. It was so wonderful to have a space to ourselves (other than the tent) and a real kitchen. I think the latter is what I miss most about home. As to the former; we try to keep expenses low for all so many times we’re in a room with all six of us (or five as it is now). Many times tho the hotel/motel owners/managers will not let us be in a room with more than five due to fire regulations. And when Vernon sets up the tent, he always sets it up facing east. Hence the sun does get me up early, not only with its bright light, but with its heat. And he does this even on rest days, as he did while we were “resting” at Celeste’s in Pueblo.

And I rode part of the way to Pueblo, from Westcliffe to Wetmore. In Westcliffe we stayed at the Grape Creek RV Camp in two cabins (missed making a real dinner that night as the thunderstorms started in just as I was about to cook). It was wonderful to go to the Visitor’s Center/Chamber of Commerce in Westcliffe and have the woman working there assist us in finding a place to stay. They regularly keep track of what is available and she even called around for us. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case in Gunnison, where I had to make all the calls and I wasn’t even afforded a place to sit down to make them! Such service faux pas are particularly frustrating to me as that is my profession. And they lost the sale of an apron there at that Visitor's Center in Gunnison. Alas.

The ride from Westcliffe to Wetmore was wonderful—the uphill part that is. The downhill was a bit scary; many twists and turns (nothing like downhills on highway 34 from Alsea, OR or on Carson Pass—those I like). At one point I felt like I was going to slide out. And I took seriously the slow downs of 30 and 35 mph on some of the curves. Now Vernon kept insisting I get off my brakes, oh well honey, I didn’t. He’s been riding longer and knows his bike more. Sorry if you were burning your brakes out following me—there’s a spare set in my now non-handlebar bag along with the clothespins and the line.

We had arranged to meet Celeste at the City Park in Pueblo, Yeyo and I found our way there (Yeyo being sick that day had decided to join Cynthia and me in the car). I went too fast over a speed bump and dislodged the bike rack—the bikes were fine and Scott readjusted the rack, but I was a bit nervous about putting anymore weight on the rack so I left my bike chained up to the fence at the entrance of the park before I went to get Cynthia and Vernon. Yeyo rode on to a Mexican restaurant at the corner of Pueblo and Thatcher where we decided the new meeting place would be. When I got to Cynthia and Vernon, Bob Kinsey (running for Senate for the Greens) had caught up with them. He’d come from Colorado Springs.

In Pueblo, we were hosted at a potluck by the Colorado Greens at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Pueblo. We got press from the local paper (Ex-lawmaker takes on new venture). Both Bob and Gary Swing (running for Colorado District One’s Congressional seat—also on the Green ticket) were at the potluck. Gary’s line is to solicit the “swing” voters. I love it—who says Greens don’t have a sense of humor! I also had fun, perusing the UU and gathering their information to take back to the “office”. I did get a chance to ride in Pueblo. Vernon, Annie, Scott, and I rode from the Mexican restaurant to Celeste’s house after retrieving my bike. And from Celeste’s Yeyo, Vernon, and I rode back and forth to the potluck. Each time we got lost in different way—but we ended up where we were going by following the canal.

Continuing Thoughts

Each of these towns that we pass through, seem to be facing challenges of staying afloat. Many boarded up buildings, some towns with only one restaurant or hotel where there had been many. I still see the similarities between the shuttering of rural America and the shuttering of places like in Oakland in the downtown and along San Pablo Ave. What will come to all these places? What will come to your town? What will we all do about it together?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Bike4Peace 2010 Yaney's First Blog Post

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

We are in Baker, NV now at this wonderful hotel and restaurant, the Silver Jack Inn and Lectrolux Café. It is a cross between Nepenthe at Big Sur, the Thyme Garden in Alsea, OR and Summit, OR. There are sunflowers everywhere, art, wall hangings, swallows nesting babies mouths wide open right above our door, a mannequin’s leg wearing a hat. A walk up the street and there is a cob wall with a small display of prayer flags over the gate into the backyard of the house. It is nighttime and now the kids working for the Nevada Conservation Corps are out using the wi-fi at the café. I’m just trying to get a chance to write about our adventures at least once.

Bike4Peace 2010 has been a long strange road. We started out in Oakland at the Black Dot Café with a potluck arranged by the Rev. Sandra Decker. We waited a while for Cynthia to arrive. Most of us had never met. Annie and Scott didn’t show up until the ride start the next day at 7:00 AM in front of the House of Common Sense.

As Vernon and Ron had done the first leg of the trip backwards from Martinez to Oakland*, they decided it was not a good route to start the ride on. So we decided to take the Amtrak bike commuter train to Martinez where we were going to meet up with the Valley Spokesmen from the Livermore area. This would cut a good twenty miles of riding off the first day of what purported to be 100+ miles. It still wasn’t enough to take off as we were to come to know. The ride out of Martinez was nice. But Cynthia and I had a tough time keeping up. It was hot and very hilly. Cynthia who had ridden less than me particularly had a hard time keeping up. So as the day progressed we all got further behind. And there were at least three flat tires. I had one, Vernon two. Finally our friends from the Spokesmen, Peter and John, decided to call in the rescue troops at about 6:00 PM. John’s wife and friend Dave took some of us, bikes, bags and all to a meal in Winters; while Ron, Peter and Vernon continued on to Davis, where they were similarly rescued. They got into our hosts house in Sacramento about midnight—yikes—six hours behind schedule.

*Vernon had started out the trip from Corvallis on Saturday, July 10. I rode with him the 88 miles to Florence, OR—only had trouble with chafing—we made it in about twelve hours. We stopped at Alpha Bits in Mapleton, OR for lunch. It is a restaurant run by the Alpha Farm folks in Deadwood. He then headed down the over the mountains in California, too much climbing in the heat. Vernon had texted me about passing out under an overpass in 106 degrees in the shade. He met Ron in Chico on the 21st and they rode together to Oakland and that was a tough ride too. So by the time he got to Oakland, he was gaunt and shaky. It was almost like coming home from boot camp!

But back to Bike4Peace 2010 a late start in the morning from Sacramento, confusion over what was going to be needed at the REI for the cyclists and for Yeyo’s bike, etc. contributed to another late afternoon too hot to ride situation. But riding on the American River trail with no cars from Sacramento to Folsom was wonderful. We were supposed to be in Placerville for a potluck lunch at noon. Cynthia sat down too tired to move at Folsom Prison. We all finally met up at a water store at the intersection we were supposed to take for Placerville. Our hosts in Placerville took many of us, again bikes, bags, and all to the new venue for the potluck, which had been moved to 6:00 PM. Two cyclists, Annie and Scott got there about 4:00 PM, while Vernon and Peter got a wee bit lost and didn’t arrive until 6:00 PM. But in the meantime, Cynthia, my friend Lucy, her friends, and I had a nice nearly woman only time. A rare treat for me!

We were slated to stay in Fairplay that night at Fitzpatrick’s Winery and B&B. Vernon thought we’d have to stay in Placerville, but our host Rick said, “Oh no you’re not.” He’d long ago made the arrangements for us to stay there that night, and Diana (the proprietor had saved us two rooms (one for the lasses and one for the lads). So we got transported to this wonderful place in the world. If you are ever in Fairplay, CA do stay at Brian and Diana’s B&B and don’t forget to have a taste of the ports. My favourite was the Zinfandel Port. (End post for the night due to low battery)

(Continue post morning Wednesday, August 04, 2010, Milford, UT)

Next day we started out with oatmeal and coffee, prepared by Diana at the early hour of 6:30 AM, but late for the start of a ride. This has been and is one of my favourite rides; the ride from Fairplay, via Omo Ranch Road to Highway 50 at Cook’s Station. It was a beautiful, windy road, much like riding up my hill, only more. And since I was in the middle of pack between the strong riders: Annie, Peter, Scott, and Yeyo and Vernon and Cynthia, I had the whole road to myself with nary a car. It was different not to have Vernon at my back suggesting ways to improve my cycling. I sure appreciated the rides up my hill in that I was able to do this ride, without walking and I learned how to breathe and seemed to have my gearing in synch with the climbs. But I was sure glad to see Scott at the intersection with Highway 50 and we both had a huge lunch at Cook’s Station. This would prove for me to be a mistake as I had no energy to continue the climb to the campground at Silver Lake.

In the meantime, Marie, who’d been at the potluck in Placerville and had arranged hosting for us on the fourth night in Woodfords, CA offered to assist us in sagging should we need it. Sagging is taking gear, offering rides, water, food, etc. to cyclists on the road. And did Cynthia and I need it. We caught up with each other at Hams Station—a place to avoid—at least with the present owner, as he said his kitchen was closed and that perhaps Cynthia might want to find a Lenny’s (next door to Denny’s). Sigh. If they ever get a new owner, perhaps you might try again, but the place is very run down and the restroom door doesn’t even close.

We had originally thought to stay in Kirkwood and have a rest day there, but because of Marie’s local knowledge we stayed at the Silver Lake Campground, just a bit further from the Carson Pass summit, but not much and it was downhill to Kirkwood (mostly) from Silver Lake.

The climb in the morning from the campground to Carson Pass was wonderful. I made it all the way, and not too far behind the strong cyclists. Vernon and I stopped a few times; always in the shade, and only once not at the top of the hill. And the ride down the pass—phenomenal! Not over 35 MPH, the wind being a gentle brake on the downhill speed. The wind in my ears made it a bit difficult to hear the cars, but only once was that a problem as I had one car and two motorcyclists behind me. The woman on the motorcycle behind the guy told me to “get off the road.” Alas. I never felt in any danger.

Finally we arrived at a nice turn out and rested from the downhill and headed off to Diana’s (a different Diana) Starlight Lodge. One more climb to go and I got chain suck, within about a quarter mile or less of the turn off to her road. Only then did I walk the bike for a bit. This climb I referred to as “taking granny out for a spin.” I was soooooo slow. When we arrived at the Starlight Lodge I immediately took off my shoes and riding slacks (the latter to prevent sunburn). It was gorgeous, a log cabin mansion. Diana wasn’t yet there but the main house was unlocked, so we went in. She arrived soon after and apportioned rooms, asking if there were any couples. I immediately went and wound my arms around Vernon. We took the room with the huge bed, almost taller than me and Annie took the blue room across the hall. Cynthia was given a room downstairs and Scott and Yeyo went to the cabin—a large domicile in it’s own right. Peter had turned around at the Carson Pass summit to return home. So that left the six of us core riders finally just on our own for a bit (well once Cynthia got there, she and Marie were hanging out—oh and let me mention that Marie does the most gorgeous tie dye!) If you are ever in Markleeville, find her and get some! Her name is Marie Bravo.

Settling in to showers, doing laundry and having a spot of lunch were the first business at hand. Later would be assessing the route, discussing our difficulties of the past few days, and really having our first meeting of the group around the large dinning room table. Thoughts of tandems for Cynthia and Yeyo and Vernon and me were discussed. Ideas of train rides part of the way through the tough parts were also floated. But what it came down to was that most felt better about renting a car for carrying panniers, and for those needing to be transported to the day’s end locations. That was arranged for Carson City the next day after many phone calls back and forth between Annie and Scott and the rental agencies. And we got a very welcome chance to catch up on email and to see about further hosting opportunities, etc. And at last a chance to rest almost a full day, as we arrived sometime early afternoon or late morning.

Diana had asked some people over for dinner that night, it was her 59th birthday. Dinner was delicious, roasted rosemary potatoes, hummus and more that I can’t remember at the moment. The next morning Diana got up early at 5:00 AM to make us breakfast: scrambled eggs, pancakes with nuts and flax, coffee, etc. yum and the strong riders and Vernon (also a strong rider but the one who stays in back to make sure we are all okay) left for Carson City to meet Cynthia and I at the car rental place later in the day. Vernon road fully loaded to Carson City from the Starlight Lodge.

I was soooo sad to rent the car, partly because I was sleep deprived from the last week’s activities (and I haven't even mentioned the Jack London Inn, the Berkeley remembrance trip or the potluck at the Black Dot, well not much). I felt so bad for Vernon that the brave adventure needed help, that I wasn’t in the shape I needed to be, that we were going to use a vehicle, it all just came crashing down. I’ve acclimated to it some now as I sit writing this in an air-conditioned motel room at the Affordable Motel in Milford, UT but it is still difficult and I know I want to ride more. Cynthia and I are taking over the role of sagging the others. I think soon I will be riding with them in the morning and maybe be sagged myself if need be. I miss riding with Vernon at my back (in spite of what I said earlier in the Omo Road remembrance) and he is quite exhausted when he gets in. But in the meantime I’m securing hosting and lodging so I am more valuable that way.

Anyway, rental car in hand, gear loaded from Diana’s car to the rental, goodbyes to Diana, the last Trader Joes shopping until when, forays into Walmart (sorry) and the bike shop in Carson City, a trunk bike rack purchased (for three bikes); the cyclists headed off to Silver Springs for a campsite at the Lahotan Reservoir and Cynthia and I loaded into the car to meet up with them (they got there first and had pizza ordered for us by the time we arrived). We all headed east, thus ending the Bike4Peace 2010 bed and breakfast leg of the tour. Next stop after Silver Springs was Middlegate, NV for a stay and rest day at the Middlegate Station, an American experience not to be missed, thus beginning the night ride/hotel leg of the Bike4Peace 2010 tour.

Now Middlegate Station is something you must experience if you are ever on the road from Carson City to points east on Highway 50 (the “Loneliest Highway in America”) past Fallon do check it out and see if you can find the Bike4Peace 2010 dollar bill near the grill. Middlegate Station is a hotel, bar/restaurant, and camping area. They boast the monster burger, which if you eat it all you are awarded a t-shirt saying that you did so. It is sort of like AlphaBits and the AlphaFarm but a redneck/country western version of a commune. Those who live there run the facility but refuse to call it work. The motel is made up of old man camp trailers that look sort of like railroad cars and aren’t much wider. Each room has its own distinctive rundownness. Walls in the rooms are merely paneling on studs but there is enough soundproofing between rooms, mainly due to the constant running of the air-conditioners/swamp coolers. Vernon’s and my room had the only coffee maker. Cynthia’s and Annie’s room had the best real AC. Of course I must add here that if you are ever in Fairplay, CA please stay at Fitzpatrick’s and do tell them we sent you. They hosted us for free as did Diana at the Starlight Lodge. So do patronize them if you can. Middlegate tho is affordable.

However before Middlegate, Cynthia and I visited John in Fallon. He was referred to us by an ex-wife from the Seattle area. He loaded us with farm fresh eggs, potatoes, onions and garlic (probably enough of the latter for the whole trip).

So with Middlegate began the night riding; Vernon rising at midnight with the others rising in time to push off for 1:00 AM. Cynthia and I sleeping in until 3:00 AM (or later as the night rides progressed). I think I will feel like I’ve gotten sleeping in time when day riding starts again (perhaps tomorrow) with a later wake up time of maybe 4:00 AM or 5:00! Many times the riders got to the destination before us, but not today as it was nearly and 80 mile ride.

We stayed in Austin, Eureka, and Ely Nevada; each town with its particular charm and sadness. Many buildings boarded up, out of business, etc.; much like the buildings in Oakland on San Pablo Ave. and downtown; each town a remembrance of vibrancy long gone. Austin a small town about three blocks long has no grocery store. I wonder if it ever did, in talking with my parents they say my cousins Ted and Bev lived there and had their children there. I’ll have to ask them. Now the only groceries are in the service station convenience stores. They do have a very nice restaurant across from the Lincoln Motel. I think it is called the International.

In Eureka we stayed at the Sundown Lodge, conveniently located across the street from the grocery store and the Owl Club (a chain casino). We cooked over the camp stove that we bought in Carson City, eggs in the morning and macaroni and cheese for dinner. In between times folks made sandwiches, many for their night rides. Reminds me we need a shopping trip today. We stayed all in one room, except for Paul who had hooked up with us at Middlegate. He may be going his own way tomorrow as we approach Cedar City for a rest day and a change from night riding.

In Ely we stayed at the Hotel Nevada and Gambling Hall, a place frequented by the stars back in the heyday of Hollywood. Vernon and I were in the Gary Cooper room. The others stayed in a suite with a room full of single beds (two a bunk) and another room with a double bed. We ate $5.00 breakfasts all day long, met a waitress who knew the scoop on the state of our country (even without internet). Of course now instead of a well appointed lobby with opportunities for musicians there are only slot machines. Sad…….

And last night we stayed at the Silver Jack Inn in Baker (as mentioned before); my last time in my home country of CA/NV. It was a soft night, lightning in the distance, Milky Way visible, crickets, breezes and only one car in the time I stayed out looking at the sky hoping for a glimpse of an aurora. They, Baker and the Great Basin in Nevada are facing their own water wars, reminiscent of the Owens Valley and LA. Las Vegas wants their water. Cynthia says that Las Vegas will run out of water in 2012. A pipeline is being built, ranchers are selling. The property of the Silver Jack, the block it is on, and the block across the street are for sale by the owner of the Silver Jack (a San Francisco artist/investor). As I was watching the sky last night I heard a stream gurgling and I was saddened. Baker felt like a mini version of Bishop, CA my home town.

And in entering Utah, I truly felt like I was leaving home.

Today our sag vehicle helped a group of folks crossing the continent on horse back. And for now I must blog off as I’m hungry and haven’t really eaten since yesterday. Plus I have administrative duties to attend to. I need to find out about hosting in Cedar City, some has been offered, but is still not secure. And I should probably secure our camping through Utah, except for Caineville where there appears to only be a Rodeway Inn. I’m still not sure there is any camping at Hite’s Crossing. And then there is following up on leads in Colorado. Plus it’s time to give the computer over to someone else.