Friday, August 31, 2007

Little Red Bike Cafe

We're headed out for one last summer trip this afternoon...but first I had to visit The Little Red Bike cafe which just opened a couple of days ago. Owners Ali and Evan have been teasing us with blog posts and food pictures for a while now so it was great to finally go in, and see that the small place was packed to brimming already with customers, mostly from around the neighborhood.

The food was every bit as good as expected and I can't think of a better way to start a bike trip.

We're off to Idaho to ride the Couer D'Alene bike rails to trail. Sixty-five miles and no cars! No camping this time so stay tuned for updates from the road.

I still hate technology

Originally uploaded by ephany

But since I am a slave to technology, I had to rent a mac so I could finish the final projects for my online Photoshop class. I made look and feel like home before taking the baby to the Mac Dr.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

All nighters

I just pulled a couple of all nighters to finish up my online Photoshop class. I'm so glad to be done. It was sort of something I squeezed in between all my summer adventures. You can get a lot done on the train once you find an electrical outlet...

For a hot minute, the link to my projects is here.

Monday, August 27, 2007

NoPo Night

We went out to watch the last week of racing at PIR and cheer on some of my teammates. Kim Reuter took home first and Kem got the spirit award (in my book) for guts and persistence.

I'd forgotten my bike headlight so I went home for a hot minute, changed into my grubby and extremely dorky clothes and headed back to Delta park for my first softball game. I haven't played softball in, well, never except for subbing twice last season, but Maureen in her infinite wisdom put me at 3rd base.

Then we proceeded to get our @sses handed to us, but we had fun. And we only lost 20/12 which is not bad considering we gave up 15 runs in the first inning. I let a bunch of grounders go by, but redeemed myself by catching a fly ball that came straight at my head. "You looked surprised," said one of my teammates back in the batting cage.

"Yeah, I was totally surprised. Next time I'm going to work on playing cool." I got up to bat twice but the guy couldn't pitch to me so I walked and got to run around the bases twice. They have a lot of weird rules for Fall season softball like, you start with one ball and one strike which is just crap. I don't care if we only have an hour, I need all the chances I can get! Also, you're not allowed to touch home plate. Ever. It's a safety thing, so you don't plow into the catcher but it definitely lacks a sense of closure. I'm going to have to talk to my therapist about this.

Fortunately the rest of our games are earlier in the evening so I'm hoping Jess will be off so I can have my own cheering section.

By the time the season ends, I think I might actually suck a little less.

In which I explain why I HATE technology

I was just going to post a quick update to say that all the slide shows seem to be malfunctioning suddenly when they were working just fine a few minutes ago. It's not just my site either so I assume that waiting will fix this problem. In the meantime, you should all know the way to the Flickr page by now.

And while I'm at it, I suppose I'll go ahead and get in a good gripe session about the rest of my technological woes.

Let's start with my phone. I came up for my 'new every two' upgrade this month, so just before we left for vacation, I went in and got my new phone. Based on a good review from a family member, I tried the enV, which flips open to a nice big screen, has a qwerty keyboard and takes great pictures. I was back at the store in less than two hours. The phone was way too big to fit in my pocket and it turns out, I don't want text messaging to be a two-handed endeavor. You can text with the phone closed, but the buttons and the screen are tiny.

On to the Chocolate. At first glance, it seemed perfect. It was about half the size of the enV, sounded good and had a cool slider thing going on to expose the keyboard. I could deal with the funny Ipod ripoff control wheel slider and the funny touch sensitive buttons. But alas, within a day I ran into another problem that i couldn't overlook--the Chocolate was half the size of the enV. My thumb was starting to cramp from trying to text on the tiny keypad at the bottom of the phone and I was going blind trying to read return messages on the tiny screen. I concluded that the Chocolate is a phone made for kids.

Next up: The LG9400. It slices! It dices! It's (drum roll please...) A TV! That's right, the ultra cool, ultra large (for a phone) side-swiveling screen will play your favorite shows for just $15/month. Yeah whatever. I already have a TV that I barely watch. I really liked the style though, the size was right and the keys were in the middle of the phone and a decent size. I loved the large, easy to read screen.

You can see where I'm going with this. There was just one problem with the 9400. They forgot to make it a good phone. That's right, it sounds like utter crap. I finally figured out how to describe it while I was pretending to understand what Jess was saying yesterday. It sounds like someone talking into a megaphone that's pressed up against a mattress. Fuzzy, unintelligible, much like the parents in the Charlie Brown cartoons.

I really tried to make this one work, as it was the last of the 'hot new phones' in the LG line up. Well, I text a lot more than I talk anyway, I rationalized. But I just can't do it. Between the crappy sound and the swiveling screen which, while cool on the surface, really means that the speaker flips to the side and you have a square millimeter of ear space in which you can actually hear the person on the other end, I've gotta ditch it and go for something a little less cool, and a little more phone-like. The sound is a little better with the screen swiveled vertically, but then the buttons are covered up, which is useless if you're trying to check voicemail, call any kind of customer service or anything else that requires key entry while on the phone.

The result of all this that the people at the Verizon stores (I've been to two now) pretty much hate me, but so far they've made all my exchanges. Usually with the warning that, "we're really only supposed to do one exchange." So then I call Verizon customer service and without fail, they tell me that nope, I'm still in my 30 days and they won't rest until I'm completely satisfied. "Of course you have to get the right phone--it's like dating!" was one reps analysis.

In order to ward off the shards of hate that surely await me on this, my fourth exchange, I called Verizon again last night. I was on for over an hour with a few different issues (one of them being my stupid Internet phone which cut off in the middle of the call and I had to call back and go through the whole stupid menu thing again). They were helpful as ever and in fact, Albert was so helpful and so sympathetic that I asked to speak to his supervisor at the end of our call so I could tell them how great he was. He put a note in my file so that hopefully I can avoid any hassles when I go back in.

As for what phone to get, I'm still up in the air. I have a feeling I'll end up with the same phone as Jess, digging yet another notch in our hopeless twinning belt. But she's had it for a while, it works well and best of all, you can hear what the person on the other end is saying. Yup, I think I'm going to have to let go of my trendy ways and go practical this time.

Now if only---if only that were the end of my technology woes. But wait, there's more! My laptop which went through several bouts of cold and flu this spring is making that dreaded sniffle again that indicates I'll probably be going another week with no computer or letting even more money slip through my fingers to rent a laptop so I don't go insane. I know there's never a good time for someone like me to give up the computer but I really feel the need to put special emphasis on what a really horrible no-good time it is for the baby to break down on me like this. I have two major Photoshop projects due by the end of this week and life continues to move much faster than I can write about it. I haven't even gotten to our vacation or our STP ride, for crying out loud.

I think I'm just going to try to limp along and see if I can get my projects done without blowing it up, and then I'll take it in before we leave for our Idaho bike trip on Friday, where nothing will get done to it because it's Labor Day weekend and I'll be without it all next week anyway.

And that my friends, is why I hate technology.

(Posted from Jess's computer)

SS Pussycat Alley cat race

On a whim I left softball practice Saturday morning and headed downtown to check out the SS Pussycat race and see what an all-girl (and trans) messenger style alley cat race was all about.  Since I was on my slower commuter bike, I opted for the 'style' race over speed in order to avoid climbing the west hills to Council Crest. 

An amazing cast of characters showed up for the event and after I registered, I fortified myself with a chili cheese dog from Harry's hot dog stand.  While I was imbibing, Jonathan came over to say hi.  Another woman was close behind him.  She introduced herself as Scout and said she reads my blog--the second unexpected person to tell me that.  It's always nice to know I'm not actually shouting into the wind at nobody.  Someday I dream of being popular like Fatty and having readers who, you know, comment so there's like, actual dialog.  But alas, baby steps.  I also had about 17 people tell me they A) recognized me from Flickr/Starbucks/Somewhere B) Met me at ________, including a woman who said she met me in the past year at a bar underneath an apartment building (or some residential dwelling) while I was reading a book .  I have no memory of any such thing and doubt I would have spent precious time away from mom last year in a bar if there wasn't something more compelling to do there than read.  Perhaps she met the other bald black girl who lives in Portland.

Speaking of black girls, there was another black woman in the race so I went over and introduced myself at the start and we chatted.  She had just heard about the race from a flier and was wishing she could find out about more bike events in Portland so I pointed her to the source of all things Bikeportland.  We were told in no uncertain terms that we would need an empty 16 oz water bottle to complete the race so I bought a water from Harry, drank most of it and put the rest in my bike water bottle. Finally everyone was registered and it was time.  Our bikes lay in the grass and we positioned ourselves in a group for the running start.  At the spray of the water pistol, we ran for our bikes, picked up our manifests and commenced racing.

Our mission included visiting eight Portland fountains with two pick ups and deliveries.  Our route was up to us with the caveat that your first delivery be made before your second pick up. After glancing at the locations, I decided to hit both fountains in inner NE first and headed towards the Broadway bridge.  In less than two blocks, it finally occurred to me why my ride had been so bouncy and slow all morning.  DUH, I had a flat!  Oh the horrible timing of it!  And to make matters worse, unless I'm on a trail, I don't generally carry pump and patch kit around town.  Not only was this a really inconvenient habit, but I could've actually gotten race points for “being prepared” which included having a pump and patch kit among other things.  Dang, I knew I should've taken the roadie!

Luckily it was a slow leak so I had enough air to limp along to Veloshop just a few blocks away.  Molly was sponsoring any trans riders who entered the race so I knew she'd be sympathetic to my cause when I walked in saying, “Molly, I have an emergency!”

I waited pretty patiently considering, while one of her employees fixed me up.  I warned him the tire was hard to seat correctly but he didn't seem to have any trouble.  That is, until I got back on the road and felt the tell tale, kaCHUNK, kaCHUNK of a deeply uneven tire.  Well, no time to be picky, I had a race to ride.  Most of the terrain was pretty bumpy anyway which helped to hide my tire problem.

Now with a 15 minute handicap, I raced over the Steele bridge and up to Holladay park.  The volunteer check point boys (a fabulous group of supportive testosterone if ever there was one), were sitting there with stamps in hand.  Unfortunately, the “challenge” was somewhat aborted by the shape of the fountain.  The original idea was to make racers limbo under the water.  But even a contortionist would've been hard pressed to make it under the pitiful foot-high arches.  “You can make up something creative if you want,” was the alternative.

I did the first thing that came to mind which was to ride figure eights through the swirls, for which I received a solid opening score of 9 out of 10 points.  “Most people didn't do anything,” he confessed.

At that point Jess called from work and I tried to explain the concept of the race on my way to fountain number two at the Rose Quarter.  Then I had to hang up, as it was obvious I was heading into the water.  Originally, I intended to try to take pictures on the route, but it became clear pretty quickly that I should probably stow all electronics in my waterproof Timbuk2 bag and keep them there.

Mission number two was to fill my empty water bottle.  This deceptively simple task was complicated by the fact that the fountain in question only spurted up in seemingly random bursts through holes about the size of a quarter (which was also the size of my bottle opening!).  I looked with envy on some of my competitors with wide-mouthed water bottles catching ounces of water per spurt and got down to it.  Picking your hole was important because some of them spurted more often.  Finally I found one in a series that went off one after the other, which made it easy to time my catch attempts.  In a surprisingly short time, my water level was declared good, and I got the blue dye seal of approval.  Then I had to run around the fountain collecting ten plastic toys and I could head to my next challenge.

Each stop got wetter and wackier as the day went on.  The only tame stop was the fountain in Pioneer Place shopping center.  I got there the same time as two other races and we couldn't find any checkpoint boys.  I heard a group of security guys talking about how they didn't allow scavenger hunts so I figured they'd been thrown out.  We took pictures to show we'd been there and raced on.

The rest of the day's tasks included:

  • Playing Twister in the Salmon St springs fountain
  • Singing a sea shanty (I didn't know what this was, but it's s pirate song). This was also the site of another “I've seen you on Flickr” conversation with Austin—a very nice boy married to <a href'””>a very nice bicycle frame builder</a>.  I chose “What do you do with a drunken sailor.” Dignity? Who needs it?
  • A “boat race” involving herding a plastic boat through a waterfall
  • Sticking my head in Chimney fountain and holding my breath (I got the best time of all who'd been there so far)
  • The dramatic rescue of a 'baby' from the Keller auditorium fountain.  The 'mom' in this scenario was really into her part!

Finally I was finished and could make tracks to the finish line at Sellwood park, having thoroughly soaked myself in creative ways.  But not before I foolishly agreed to carry a care package from the last stop and got two beers shoved into my bag.  Like I needed the extra weight!  I don't even like beer, ugh. I stopped once along the Esplanade to pick a couple of blackberries for one extra point.  It's a good thing I was in it for the fun, 'cause I was pretty sure I wasn't going to be a top contender.  But I did have a lot of fun.

There were cheers for each new arrival, especially Andrea who, though she isn't able to walk, rode up Council Crest on her recumbent.  Now that's bad-ass.

When everyone had arrived including the boys (to much cheering), the results were calculated and prizes were given.  The organizers did such a fabulous job getting fabulous sponsors for the race, that there was literally a pile of phat prizes to choose from—and we did get to choose, in the order of our finish.  Natalie of Sweetpea fame dominated the speed race and won the overall title and a cool bike trophy.  There were more than enough prizes for all the competitors with some leftover for the awesome volunteers.  I scored this super cute t-shirt from Sweetpea bicycles.  I also had a nice conversation with Natalie who is a perfectly charming person.  Maybe someday I'll have a bike to match my shirt.

The guy who had given me the beers came up to me with a very suspicious expression.  “Um, excuse me, but why didn't you deliver our beers eh?”

“What do you mean, they're in the cooler over there.”

“They were supposed to go to the Rose Quarter!”

“Well, I told you, you were my last stop!”

“Oooooh, WE were your last stop.”  Apparently there'd been some confusion and they thought I was heading to Rose Quarter before finishing the race.  I assured them their beers could not have been safer.

I stayed long enough to watch this crazy bike-dive into the river.  I heard Natalie explaining to someone that they used to have someone else poised to dive into the river after the bike, but this year they'd gotten the brilliant idea to tie a rope to it! Genius. :) 

After the spectacle, I headed out for the long, slow, uphill ride home.  It's a good thing I didn't try to ride the Portland Century the next day, as I woke up one big sore muscle.  I saw quite a few other pussycats out there though, coming back for more.

Jonathan was at the start of the race and his picture set is here.
Rachel followed us around catching all the best embarrassing moments.  Here pictures are here.
My few pics are below:

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Portland Century

Last summer Jess and I rode the 60 mile option of the first ever Portland Century. To say the ride had challenges would be accurate. It was the first year, they didn't know what to expect. They were hoping for 300 riders and they got 1300. This year, I felt the folks at Good Sports Promotions would be ready for anything and they did not disappoint.

I volunteered for Saturday course marking so I could ride for free on Sunday, but instead I got a job offer—work the Maywood Park rest stop at the 205 bike path for the 25 mile riders. I accepted.

Aside from having to haul myself out of bed at 4:45 this morning, this was the easiest job I've ever had. Over 800 people took advantage of early packet pick up the night before which made the start line into a totally chill, relaxing environment. I don't think I ever saw lines at the registration or the preregistration tables. Breakfast and hot coffee were on tap. Bag check for those who wanted to lighten their load before heading off. Questions got answered in timely fashion. I pinned numbers on riders. I met a guy who just rode his bike across the country from D.C., stopping along the way to help build houses as part of bike and build. He found out yesterday about the ride and thought it would be a great way to see Portland. He signed up for the 100 mile ride and got to see the best we have to offer in biking.

At 9:00 I left the start line and headed to my rest stop, where a rest stop fairy in a Penske truck (ah, those Penske trucks bring back memories!) arrived with supplies. Greg, the S.A.G. Driver stopped by and help me set up.

There was a table of PB&J fixings, Clif bars, bananas and plucots (plum/apricot cross). Another table was entirely devoted to strawberry shortcake.

After a slow start, I spent about an hour and a half frantically cutting cake, dishing up strawberries, while enthusiastic volunteer Bill dished out whip cream. I asked lots of people how their ride was going and heard delighted reports about the course, the markings, the food and people were having a great time. As much as I would have liked to participate, it was great to be part of making the ride such a huge success.

At 1:00, we closed up shop and waited for Greg to come by to pick up a rider who had bitten off more than she could chew, pulling her daughter in a trailer. He arrived with hot pizza from the Blue Lake rest stop and we all dug in and then headed for the finish.

Though I was technically done for the day, after I got my meal, I hung out at one of the booths for while, selling t-shirts and handing out checked bags and just observing tired happy riders collect their goody bags of beer, coffee, a Cliff bar and other sundries.

Congratulations to GSP on a great event!

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

It's 8:17 in New York

That's how I'm consoling myself about getting up at 4:45am this morning. Wow, this whole having a job thing sucks! But then again, it's only one day.

I'm off to work at the Portland Century

Thursday, August 23, 2007

What I love about Portland...

Is that you can go out to a fine dining restaurant in the grubby shorts and t-shirt you wore to Home Depot.

I borrowed a very big truck, owned by a very large guy. I've borrowed it before and I have no trouble driving stick except...I couldn't get the seat to move up. Apparently, there's a trick to it that wasn't necessary last time. So I made do, looking like a 12 year old on a joy ride and killing my leg stretching to push in the clutch. But hey, what is all that biking for, if not for emergencies such as these?

As if that weren't bad enough, we waited till four in the afternoon so it took 30 minutes of parked traffic on the freeway to get there. I just kept thinking of it as a good workout.

We got our supplies, including 8 fence posts, 13 2x4's, 102 6 ft x 5.5 inch slats, and 8 bags of 80lb concrete mix. The truck swallowed it all and said, "May I have some more please?" I know people think of me as a hard core biker, but I would not have wanted to carry that on the Xtracycle.

It was Jess's turn to supply cheap labor, so her friend T is coming over tomorrow to help us get the posts placed, level, straight etc. She has fence building experience so we're really happy to have her help.

After we unloaded, Jess went on a date with her friend and I returned the truck (it was *very* nice to be able to reach the pedals again!) and then was left to my own devices. I was hungry and wanted to blog away from home so I solved both problems by coming over to the Equinox. Everyone was sitting on the patio and the lighting inside is dim so I didn't have to worry about my shabby state. The waiter-turned-manager gave me a warm greeting. He was our waiter for mom's last meal here on her 55th birthday. I love these guys and besides that, everything I've ever tasted here is incredible. So if you need a party in your mouth, stop on by and tell 'em I sent you.

I had a lovely salad with pear, chevre (cheese) and prawns wrapped in procciuto. I passed on dessert since we still have cake at home, but the manager informed me that I had no choice because Tara was buying me dessert. Well, I never look a cheesecake horse in the mouth but I wisely took it to go so I can share with Jess.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What are you at, getting terribly fat?

Jess rode to work today, which is a big deal when you have an exhausting 12 hour nursing shift and a 6 mile uphill ride home against inevitable headwinds. I'm always impressed when she does it. I had a meeting in NW this afternoon after which I met her at work so we could ride home together.

She's been 'waiting for the baby' for a few days (AKA PMS) which usually means eating more than usual. Her last snack was at 6pm and by the time we got home just after 8:30, she was starving. I sent her off to shower and headed straight for the kitchen to whip up garden burgers with all the fixings and corn on the cob.

When she came down, she proceeded to inhale everything in sight, along with a few things that weren't, like chips and salsa. Shortly after that, she got out the carton of Ben & Jerry's Phish Food (light) ice cream and a spoon. I tried to gently discourage her from having cake too, but she said, “I'm PMSing and I can do anything I want.” So I wisely cut her a piece. The nice thing about not being a man, is that I get to have my turn to be bossy every month too, but in the meantime, it's just a survival game.

Before you could say “oompa loompa,” she was starting to have regrets. As I sat at the table organizing pictures on my computer, I could see over my monitor, her looking down at her belly with an expression of remorse. Then she started talking to it. “Belly, I ate too much and now you're fat and bloated and...” I didn't hear everything she said. After a few sentences she suddenly looked up at me.

“You're not even listening!”

I remained calm. “You're not talking to me, you're lecturing your belly about how fat it is. It's an A/B conversation. I'm not required to listen or respond...and besides I did to hear you.” I was quite pleased with myself for my mental agility.

“Well, it was funny!” she said.

“Yes, it was,” I agreed. Survival game.

She stood up to demonstrate her over=stuffed state. Her belly did indeed stick out pretty far. “Wow, you really over did it,” I said.

“Well, I'm waiting for the baby, so I'm really hungry and then there's the water retention, plus I had a lot of salt...” Her stomach seemed to be actually expanding with each explanation and I forgot survival mode and blurted out the first thing that came to mind.

“Are you going to be able to lay on that belly for your back rub or will you be too wobbly?” I rocked my torso back and forth as I said it, as if lying on a beach ball.

My life could've ended right there, but fortunately, she literally fell down laughing and so couldn't give chase. Her laughing set me laughing and we giggled and snorted and wiped tears from our eyes for the next 10 minutes. At one point she tried to punish me by biting my leg, but I pushed her away, saying, “No, you've eaten too much already!” which just set us off again.

Though I have permission to post this on the blog, Jess declined to have her belly photographed for posterity.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Portland to DC, day 6: Columbus, OH – Washington D.C. (420 miles)

Departure time: 10:00am EST
Arrival Time 9:30pm EST
Penske trucks: 4
Dead deer: 1
Wish I had brought: my brain

We only had about 7 hours to drive today so we didn't bother even pretending to try to get up at the crack of dawn.

Kansas City signaled our departure from corn & field country and a re-entry into city territory. This made for more interesting scenery, but also meant that it was much harder to find empty radio stations for the Ipod adapter. We were forced to listen to the radio much of the time and it got old pretty quickly. There's only so much Justin Timberlake I can handle before my eyes get a little crazy and I start to twitch. And the 'Beautiful Girls' song became particularly torturous.

We passed through West Virginia and then out of it again into Pennsylvania for a hot minute and back to WV. They don't even bother putting up the welcome sign until the second time as if to say, “no you're really here this time, promise!” We stopped in a cute little place called Morgantown for lunch at the Mediterranean Deli and Market. Looking out the window, I spotted a woman on a Specialized road bike in full Lycra (and a helmet!). I can't wait to get home to my bike. We also had our first lesbian sightings of the entire trip. How do I know? Well, we can just tell these things...gaydar you know. Also, the “Spank Me” T-shirt was kind of a give away.

I started dancing to the cheesy 80's music inside Coldstone. When Traci ordered me to stop, I reminded her that she needed me to haul all her shit up to the 11th floor of her new apartment building and therefore I could do whatever I wanted. She had no answer for that. I got more shit for recognizing 'Waiting for a Star to Fall” in the first 3 notes.

“Ah but what's worse is that I know all the words,” I said, and proceeded to sing along. By that time she had gotten her ice cream and headed outside. She said the air conditioning wasn't conducive to ice cream eating, but I know better.

On our way back to the car, we spotted two more lesbians, making a total of four for the entire trip, all in a little West Virginia town of all places. Like Mastercard, we're everywhere you want to be.

Back in the car, we finally got out of the city so we started Traci's Ipod back up. The first song in the play list was The Chipmunk song which I think pretty much absolves me from my cheesy 80's moment.

The scenery in WV reminded me of home except that I had to snicker when Traci told me that people refer to the hills there as 'mountains.' Perhaps they are in the technically geological sense, but as far as I'm concerned, anything I could ride my bike up, doesn't qualify.

The names of the lakes and mountains were pretty amusing as well. Cheat Lake and Fairchance Rd could be reached via the same highway exit. Then there was Deep Creek Lake and finally our favorite (not), Negro Mountain, elevation 2740. We both did a double take on that one. I can't believe that with all the hub bub about sports teams names and such, no one has gotten around to protesting the moniker of Negro Mountain. I don't even want to know how it got such a name in the first place.

We got into the hills of West Virginia and Maryland and our little truck started to struggle with the climbing. The only efficient way to get up the hills was to try to get momentum on the downhill, not unlike in cycling. This plan doesn't work out so well however, when there's a state trooper sitting at the bottom of the hill.

I'm sorry officer, I was just trying to make it up the next hill. I'm sure if you average my speed over the crest, it would come out to sixty-five...

Luckily Traci was paying attention and nixed the momentum strategy.

We stopped in Cumberland on a tip, looking for a cool geology feature near the visitor's center. It was after 6:00 and the visitor center was closed so we had to content ourselves with another cheesy tourist picture.

I wonder if the people who fought and died on the very land we were standing on ever thought their history would end up on small plaques detailing battles over the railroad station? While we were reading these, I saw another U-Haul pull up in the parking lot. A man got out and pulled a nice looking road bike (and helmet!) out of the back and set off on a bike trail. I tried not to drool. Two more days...

With all the junk food I've been eating while sitting around on my ass, it's a really good thing I'm riding 200 miles next weekend. I can't wait to be moving under my own power. And when my butt starts to hurt from the saddle, I'll just remember what my knees felt like after 2994.8 miles in the car.

Our geological feature turned out not be in the town but on the road itself. The Sideling Hill road cut is just that...a big section of rock that was cut out to make room for the road. We stopped and took the bridge over the road to see both sides but unfortunately the information center was closed. Geology geeks can find more information here.

After that it was the home stretch to D.C. We couldn't go straight home though because Jess had been going on and on about a place called The Dairy Godmother that served frozen custard in the style of her childhood home in Wisconsin. The place is closed on Tuesdays so it was now or never. Fortunately they were open till 10:00pm because it took is almost that long to get there. My brain was fried from the road I guess and when I called to ask the best way to get there I repeated the instructions back three times yet still managed to omit the vitally important detail that we should get off GW parkway at hwy 395 until the last second. Of course that wasn't enough warning and little did I know that there aren't that many exits off the parkway. We took the next one and ended up wandering around Arlington with Traci in full tired/cranky/road rage mode before we finally found it.

When we walked in, the first thing I noticed, besides the fact that it was completely packed, was the huge roach crawling around on the wall above the counter. Welcome to D.C.! Traci worked in a restaurant in D.C. One summer and and she told me that roaches are more a matter of management than elimination. So I didn't let the disgusting sight put me off my goal. I ordered a vanilla custard and it was indeed very good. But I think I'll be just as happy with cake batter ice cream from Coldstone, which fortunately I can get at home.

After that we finally made it to Columbia Plaza in downtown D.C., Traci's new home. She had gotten permission for us to park in the loading dock and we had an appointment to unload the next day from 10:00-4:00. They give you an elevator key so you can completely monopolize it for as long as you need and they pad the walls as well, which seemed appropriate for our mental state after so much driving.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Day 5: Kansas City, MO – Columbus, OH (657 miles)

Departure time: 8:30am CST
Arrival Time 12:30am EST
Penske trucks: 7
Dead deer: 2
Wish I had could've brought: Mom

Our alarms went off at 6:00. I had showered the night before so I went right back to bed, waiting until Traci showered before getting out of bed.

When she woke me again, it was 7:26 and she was still sitting in the chair by her bed with her laptop on her lap, talking on the phone. While she was on hold, she explained that today our reason for leaving late was so she could set up her appointment to get cable/Internet/phone in her new apartment.

She couldn't do that from the road? I thought and said. But this was her trip and I was just glad for the extra sleep. As much as I loved the idea of getting on the road at 7:00am so we'd have a decent amount of time to relax in our new city, it also required getting up before 7:00am. We've never been morning people. But she had specifically said she wanted to start early today so we could see the arch in St Louis and get to Columbus in time for her to visit some college friends.

I hadn't even thought about the arch, but once she mentioned it, I thought it would be totally cool to see. We could at least stop and see one really cool landmark on this trip...and besides, after leaving at noon the day before, I felt positively accomplished about getting out before 9:00.

Our free breakfast was right in line with the rest of the accommodations at the 'Quality Inn,' which is to say, severely lacking. No hot food, some boiled eggs I didn't trust and tiny dry looking muffins. We both went for the relatively safe Fruit Loops. At least the milk was on ice. I got a Styrofoam cup of orange juice, and longed for my environmentally friendly familiar surroundings. The OJ was sour and I nearly spit it out. We took 2 minutes to finish our cereal and I took a yogurt to eat in the car. Traci reminded me to grab a spoon.

“We have spoons in the car,” I reminded her. Lovely, New Seasons biodegradable spoons made from corn. I couldn't wait to go home.

What we didn't have was water, since our gallon from the previous day had gotten a leak in it. I knew we needed gas though and the station just before the freeway said $2.99 so I figured we'd stop there on our way out.

This was the start of the day's mis-communications. Traci passed right by the station and hit the highway. When I asked why, she said she'd wait and get gas down the road. “Well, I need water,” I told her. Sometimes I can't figure that girl out. It made absolutely no sense to me to pass up perfectly cheap gas at the outset of the day in favor of having to stop less than 15 minutes later. When the next station came along, she was all set to cruise merrily past it as well and I had to tell her to pull off. I was sick of dehydration headaches.

With three full water bottles, some Tang and a full gas tank, we got on the road for real and I passed the time until my drive shift reading Mixed by Angela Nissel, a book about being biracial in America and the funniest thing I've read in a while. We stopped at the rest stop just past the Missouri border. Not only did the toilets flush automatically (of course) but the sinks were fully automated. All you did was stick your hand under the appropriate spot and soap squirted into your waiting hands, followed by a stream of water and then a blow dryer that actually lasted till my hands were dry. “A no-move, no-touch experience!” boasted the sign above the sink. I would've been more impressed if I hadn't turned around to find a door handle waiting to be pulled. All that, and they couldn't reverse the entrance to push on the way out? At least then you can use your foot, if you're that paranoid about germs.

I took over after a couple of hours, with 129 miles to St Louis. We agreed to stop there, see the arch and have a real lunch since breakfast was so bad. Once we got into city territory, our Ipods became useless because we couldn't find a dead radio station for the radio receiver adapter. Traci thought a new adapter that worked with any station instead of our current four preprogrammed ones would work better so we looked at our Rand McNally Atlas from Wal-mart which helpfully lists the location of every Wal-mart in the country. There were stores available at three of the next seven exits.

We got back on the road and straight into the worst traffic jam I've ever seen. Three lanes of traffic and the only one moving was the one on the right and only because those people were headed towards the exit. We did see a group of six guys on motorcycles and they were all black, so of course we took pictures. Poor little deprived Oregon girls.

I thought I could finish the drive to St Louis before handing over the wheel, but the traffic jam did me in. The boredom of sitting in one place and inching forward was too much. I could barely keep my eyes open. I figured if I did hit someone at least we were only going 5 mph, but decided there was no point in risking it. I put it in park and we switched seats without getting out. I thought about making a movie of the traffic jam with some commentary, but I was too sleepy. I rested my head on my balled up shirt and promptly fell out.

Some time later, I woke up to Traci hitting me on the leg. Apparently, it had taken a few tries. I jerked upright, still woozy and half asleep, but I saw immediately why she was hitting me. We were approaching downtown St Louis and the arch stretched up magnificently in front of us. I snapped out of my fog enough to grab my camera and take a few pictures. Traci said there was an elevator that went to the top or close to it. Now that I'd laid eyes on it, I couldn't wait. For an hour or so we could feel like we were on a real road trip.

St Louis ArchWhen the arch passed out of view and we crossed the Mississippi, still moving away, I spoke up.

“I'm confused.”


“We seem to be going away from the arch.”

“Oh, did you think we were going to stop?” She looked stricken. “I'm sorry. I didn't mean I wanted to stop—I just wanted to go through downtown so we could see it. I want to get to Columbus.”

I got terribly upset when she said this and she could tell. “Do you want me to go back?” she asked.

“Well, yeah!” I said, knowing we probably wouldn't. She went on to explain that she didn't know where we could park the truck downtown and how we'd end up in Columbus really late, etc. I could've pressed the issue, but I knew she was right.

None of it made me feel any better. For some reason, I had been focusing on that arch as the only thing I had to look forward to all day. My feeling of disappointment magnified all out of proportion as the miles ticked on.

Before we left Portland, I called my grandmother to check in. I usually call her before a big trip, cause I know she likes to schedule her praying and worrying time. We talked about the trip and things in general. She asked how I was doing in a way that I knew really meant, how's the grieving? I told her what I tell everyone, that I'm generally fine until I'm not. I told her about going back to the beach where I took mom this time last year. She asked how that was and I said it was fine. The things you would expect to be hard (like mother's day) don't really seem to get to me.

“So what does trigger you?” she asked.

“I don't know until it happens,” I said.

Apparently, this was the new trigger. Steer clear of aborted trips to the arch of St Louis. But it was too late. The disappointment caused the wave of grief I'd been holding off for two days to swell up and cover me completely.

I tried to go back to sleep, but instead just sat there with tears streaming down thinking about mom—how she should have been doing this trip instead of me, or we should have all been on it together or at least Traci and I should have been able to call and tell her to watch some cheesy movie we'd made of our trip to see the arch and posted on the Internet.

After a while, I reached for my book again, hoping to distract myself from having a full scale meltdown in the car. It sort of worked. I still had to wipe my eyes and nose with a napkin every few minutes, but I wasn't a total wreck.

Then Traci asked if I need the rest area that was coming up.

We pulled into it, our little truck dwarfed in a row of five or six semi's. Traci stayed in the truck while I got out and made what seemed like a mile walk to the bathroom/visitors center. When I got inside, there were two open stalls and two women waiting in line. “No toilet paper in those,” I heard one of them say.

Great. I can't even wipe my eyes
, I thought. I kept my shades on and tried to breath deeply. I could just imagine what I looked like to strangers, 'cause when a stall finally opened, the older woman who'd been waiting said, “You go ahead honey.” I must've looked as on edge as I felt.

So I went in and peed and cried in peace. Sobs wracked me but I kept them silent except when the noise of flushing or blow drying gave me cover to wail in peace. The last thing I wanted was to have to explain to some nice traveler that no, I was fine, just my mom was dead.

But I couldn't really take up the stall for too long so eventually I pulled it together long enough to wash my hands and go outside. I took a big wad of the coveted toilet paper and continued my breakdown at a nice shaded picnic table, undisturbed by other travelers.

When I was finally done, I walked back to the truck, where Traci was still waiting. When I opened the door, she said, “Thanks for not ditching me and hitching back to Oregon.”

I assured her that I wasn't mad about the arch incident and I wasn't going to ditch her. “Mom already ditched us both.”

Not only did we not stop to see the arch, but St Louis was now well behind us and no lunch had been had either. Traci had assumed that the row upon row of suburban exits containing endless food choices would be repeated on the other side of the city, but that was definitely not the case. Now we were both starving and I had a headache from crying.

We finally stopped at some tiny podunk—I can't even use the word town-- and ate at the Red Apple family restaurant. The floor was dirty, our table hadn't been wiped and I sat gingerly on the outside of the booth to avoid the crumbs and what looked like a smudge of Crisco on the inside. At least I didn't see any roaches. I had encountered my first one at a Taco Bell a few hundred miles back and I was just a little freaked out. “Welcome to the east coast,” was Traci's response.

What the Apple lacked in cleanliness, it made up for in the one waitress on duty. She was friendly without seeming fake—the total picture of a small town cliché. She asked if we were ready. I had been studying the menu trying to find something that might be safe to eat. I hadn't quite decided, but thought a salad might be OK so I said I was ready, even though I had no clue what I wanted. When Traci ordered a BLT, I decided to follow suit. On this trip I seem to always end up ordering something different and then wishing I'd gotten what she ordered. My instincts were correct. The BLT was surprisingly good and so were the fries. We made short work of them and got back on the road.

We saw this cross, the largest I've ever seen, in the town of Effingham, IL.

My next drive shift came up at the Indiana border. Depression makes me tired and after 30 minutes, I was struggling, but Traci had been driving for hours, so I felt bad giving up so soon. I pulled into a Flying J and bought a couple of iced bottled frapuccinos and jumped up and down for a minute. After that I was fine.

Once again, near the border of Ohio, where Traci planned to take over, we hit (almost literally) another ridiculous traffic snarl. I had to change lanes to avoid hitting the car in front of me the change in speed was so sudden. After that everyone started merging into the left lane, so we followed suit. After crawling along for 20 minutes with no idea why, we finally passed two cars pulled over on the side of the road. They didn't look like they'd been in an accident, but there were two black, shaved headed monks standing outside the cars wearing long flowing bright pink and purple robes. Sadly, I could not get my camera out in time for that one.

Traffic picked back up after that and I was relieved from driving shortly after we crossed into Ohio. Traci graduated from OSU and even though it was late, we stopped to see her friends J and D and sat visiting on their porch for a half hour. Under the circumstances, I thought I displayed great patience. Finally we went to the hotel, another Comfort Suites that was much cleaner than the Kansas City Quality Inn. There was no Internet signal though and I had been assured hotels with wifi on this trip. A quick reading of the information card revealed that access could only be had through the wired Ethernet system. If you don't have a cord, one can be purchased at the front desk, the card said.

What kind of primitive crap was that? We weren't even going to be there a full 12 hours. So annoying. Traci went to check it out and the front desk clerk offered to loan it to us if we brought it back by the 6:30am shift change. But in the end, we needed the sleep and Traci just bought the cord. I spent an hour or so catching up on mail and fell into bed.

One more day of driving to go.

Do nothing day

It feels like I've been waiting for this day for a year. Somehow the summer I envisioned of chilling out, grieving and writing turned into the summer of running a million miles an hour. Which actually isn't too much different from any other summer, but the month and a half of non-stop travel really took it out of me. In hindsight, I would've made some different choices.

But finally things are slowing down and I'm staying in one place for more than a day and today was the ultimate prize--a day of doing pretty much nothing. I did get up in the morning to run out for emergency craving groceries so I could have biscuits with fresh blackberries that we picked last week.

I worked on the blog for a while, uploaded some more pictures, caught up on my bloglines and puttered for a while. Across the table from me were two of my favorite girls being unbearably cute:

After breakfast, we played some Chinese checkers. I don't play often, but I used to play with mom and Grammy when they tired of scrabble wars, or were willing to switch games to I'd have some tiny chance at winning. Jess hadn't played in years and needed a short refresher course. I helped her with her strategy and she improved quite a bit in just one game. I predict in another 4-5 games, she won't need me at all.

We spent the afternoon watching movies. This is always a risky activity because we are TERRIBLE at picking movies at the video store. The badness generally falls into two categories, boring/unrealistic plot (Deja Vu) or completely depressing.

First we watched My Brother, which came from the Indie film section, starred Vanessa Williams and the cover description promised "an uplifting tale" in which two brothers overcome impossible odds, blah blah blah. Right. After an hour and 40 minutes of watching the older brother make one stupid choice after another we get three minutes at the end where he comes back and they supposedly live happily ever after on the sale of the diamonds Isiah stole from some Italian mafia guys. Oh but the best part...the endless flashbacks where we get to watch their mom waste away from some terminal disease! Like I really need to see more of that right now.

Our other movie was one I pulled off the shelf without a second thought because it fell into the category of one of my major obsessions: horses. Ruffian is the true tale of the greatest filly in horse racing history, who not only was never beaten in a race, but actually led the field at every pole of every race she ever ran and set or equaled the track record every time. I actually read a book about Ruffian during my 'horse phase after Seabiscuit came out. So I'm not sure how it was that I completely forgot that she broke her leg in a match race with Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure and died.

But hey, until her leg snapped in mid-run with the up close gruesomeness only modern special effects can provide, I was really enjoying the flim.

Euthanized horse aside, the special features were really excellent and included the real footage of all Ruffian's races and interviews with her trainer, the sports writer who covered her the most, jockey and others.

In the evening there was more puttering on the Internet, dinner of leftovers from our recent bbq and cake. Even though we had a ton of sweets in the house from our party on Saturday, I had to make a lemon cake for Cory--standard payment and we sent him home with the pan. "How often do you make this cake?" he asked.

"Whenever we get our bikes worked on," I said. And it occurred to me that indeed, I haven't made a lemon cake for myself to enjoy since my birthday. I figured if I was going to violate the 'sweets in the house rule' then I would rather have my own cake so I formulated a quick exit strategy for the store bought cookies and cake leftover from the party and took them down to Kinkos for the staff to enjoy.

We played one more game of Chinese checkers before bed and I won by just two moves. As soon as Jess learns to look for sideways jumps, I'm a goner.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Portland to DC day 4: Denver, CO - Kansas City, MO (603 miles)

Departure time: 11:45am MST
Arrival Time 11:00pm CST
Penske trucks: 6
Dead deer: 1
Wish I had brought: The cast of Live Wire

Our pattern of setting a ridiculously early waking time and then not waking up was well established by now. Besides, driving on no sleep isn't such a great idea. So I wasn't surprised when I woke up around 8:00 and Traci was just starting to pack up the box she forgot to pack up the day before. I took my time showering, getting dressed and doing a very thorough search for anything I had brought. With a whole house to roam, I had left things laying in every room. Not very smart, but I managed to get it all.

We wedged the last few items into the truck and then headed to Traci's friend's house to drop off her car. There was visiting and showing off of the dog, the cat, the kid and the jeep. It was getting close to 11:00 when I just stood up and declared that we were leaving. We still had to stop for breakfast, which we did at Denny's.

I had been warned by several people about the utter tedium of the drive ahead of us once we left Denver, and I wasn't disappointed. The land stretched on in unending flatness where the most exciting thing to be seen was miles of corn. My music wasn't helping me so I put on my podcast of True Stories, a performance hosted by Courtenay Hameister who also hosts the Live Wire Radio theatre show. The stories were as twisted as I've come to expect from Courtenay and her friends and kept us laughing all the way to the Denver border. (If you do nothing else this week, download the podcast and listen to Jim Brunberg's performance of "One Night

We stopped in Burlington to see the Kit Carson Carousel. As we pulled into the fairgrounds we saw a sign that said, “Rides 25 cents.” We figured maybe it was leftover from the historic beginnings of the carousel but the rides were actually 25 cents! Sweet. Rides happened every thirty minutes and we were right on time to catch the next one. Traci picked a row of giraffes. I wasn't expecting much excitement since the animals didn't go up and down but that little old merry-go-round had some speed! We got up to ten miles per hour, enough to feel a few g's and sway towards the outside.

After we rode the carousel, we paid a dollar (a dollar!) to go into the museum and check out the history of the carousel, the restoration and the story of the theft and subsequent return of three of the animals in 1981. There was a cut out of a carving in process and a demonstration of how a pipe organ works. Very cool.

That was pretty much the most excitement we had all day. We crossed into Kansas and made our usual stop at the rest area visitor's center. Our welcome to the Midwest was cemented when a girl in the bathroom asked one of the cleaning workers if she had anything to get the permanent marker off her back. Soon the woman was enthusiastically scrubbing the girl's back with orange degreaser which seemed to work pretty well. I didn't get to see what the writing actually said and I can only imagine how it got there, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was alcohol involved.

This was also the point in the trip when I noticed that every rest stop contained toilets that flushed automatically. I have no real complaint about that, it's certainly nice not to have to touch it, even with my feet—but every time I go into airports or other places where things are automatic, I get the feeling that in another hundred years, we'll have so automated everything in our lives that we'll completely lose all motor function. We'll be a lot like that Star Trek episode where Kirk and the gang beam down to a planet where the inhabitants are just big brains sitting in huge jars of formaldehyde, or the 21st century equivalent.

We moved on and for the rest of the day it pretty much just looked like this:

The road through Kansas

Late in the afternoon we went through Topeka, a place I've made many jokes about (I'm sure the next CSI is going to be set there), but never thought I'd see personally.

I ended up driving the last shift and for once I was feeling really awake. Traci was fast asleep which left me to listen to music and think, which wasn't necessarily a good thing. Whenever my brain has free time, there's a good chance thoughts of mom will wander through.

When I finally reappeared in my math class after the funeral, my classmate LC made the analogy that grief is like walking along the edge of the ocean—your feet are always wet and then every so often, a big wave comes up and takes you out. I really liked the analogy even though I hated the annoying therapy voice she used when she said it. When I went to Hawaii I rented a boogie board and spent the afternoon riding the waves and I made the mistake just once of turning my back on the ocean. One minute I was standing there happy-go-lucky with my board hand—the next second I was eating sand. Grief does indeed feel just like that.

I hadn't had a big wave in a few weeks and driving along highway 70 through flat Kansas country, I had too much time to think about how fun it would've been if mom had been with us and remember fun things we did do, taking road trips to California to see the family just about every summer of my entire childhood.
The music wasn't helping and I had to skip carefully through the Ipod shuffle for upbeat songs. It really would not do to start crying while driving at high speed on a strange highway at night.

I managed to hold it together and soon I was distracted with the city itself. Kansas City was much larger than I expected. We couldn't see much besides the lights of buildings and the massive stadium home of the Kansas City Chiefs which we could see the inside of pretty well from the road. But the sheer density of the city and the fact that it took forty-five minutes to get through it, made an impression.

Our hotel made an impression as well, unfortunately not a good one. When we walked down the hall to our room, there were seven or eight kids playing in the small hotel pool with no parents in sight. Our room was grungy and dirty, especially after the bright clean Comfort Suites in Ogden. But the final straw was when the kids got out of the pool and went on to amuse themselves by running up and down the hallway yelling. It was after midnight at that point.

I called the front desk and asked if they would say something to the kids and/or parents.

Desk clerk: Where is the noise coming from?
Me: We're in room 112.
DC: And where is the noise coming from?
Me: They're running up and down the hall.
DC: Do you know where the noise is originating?
Me: That would be in the hallway. Outside our room. Room 112.

I wasn't hopeful but I wasn't getting dressed again to go out and yell at them. I went to bed and eventually fell asleep.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Portland to DC, day 3: Denver - packing day

Departure time: N/A
Arrival time: N/A
Dead deer: I should hope not!
Penske Trucks: Just us
Wish I had brought: Men folk (not)

When we were at the storage place in Portland packing up the truck, it was like we'd stepped into a 1950's time warp. First the woman in th storage space a few doors down from us (who was working by herself), asked us, “How come you're moving it all yourself?” in a tone that clearly said, Can't you find some nice boys to do that for you?

I replied, “Um, because it's our stuff.” in a friendly tone that I hope still managed to say, here's a ticket to the next bus headed for 2007.

Later, a new group showed up, two men and a woman, all over 40. The guys asked us how many more loads we had in a tone that said, How soon before we can monopolize the elevator on our floor? And we said we had a lot more loads to go in a tone that said, Did you not see the sign that says ALWAYS CLOSE THE ELEVATOR?

We exited with our load and they went in with theirs. As we loaded the truck, which always involved moving the ugliest chair on the planet that Traci has insisted on carting back and forth across the country twice now, the woman who was with the two guys said, “You girls don't have any menfolk to help you?” Yes, she actually said, 'menfolk.'

Never leave home without your flux capacitor
, I thought. We told her no, we didn't and continued loading.

The next time we came down with the mattress and box spring. They were too big to fit on our small carts, so we'd just hauled them to the elevator without one. When we got downstairs, I ran to open the truck and when I came back, Traci was moving the bed spring by herself by turning it end over end. The guys were heading into the elevator so I told her to leave the box and come get the mattress so they could head up. We each took an end and hefted it without fuss up and out of the elevator.

“Strong girls!” we heard one of the guys say as we left, which set us both laughing. I've been told that some straight girls make a point of hiding their strength from guys so they won't have to actually do things for themselves. Maybe that's why these guys were so astonished that we could move our own stuff.

I doubted we would have the same commentary in Denver and we definitely wouldn't have any help. At least I got to sleep in.

We went to IHOP for breakfast and I couldn't play my usual game of count the black people because there were too many! I lost count almost immediately. We definitely weren't in Portland anymore.

When we got home, we split up. Traci worked on packing up the rest of her stuff in boxes, while I opened up the truck and repacked it to make room for the new items. Not only was it not as bad as I thought it would be, but I kind of enjoyed it. I spent two holiday seasons working as a UPS loader in days gone by and my training came flying back to me in no time. After an hour, I had a nice space opened up. I went and helped pack up the rest of the boxes, and take apart shelves and by 3:30, we had it all laid on the lawn. Then I went to work, telling Traci which items to hand in and fitting all together like a jigsaw puzzle with just enough room left to throw our travel bags in the next morning.

Packing a truck is a lot like Tetris
When we were done, we ate the leftovers from dinner the night before, showered and then headed out to play. My reward for packing was a trip to the REI flagship store in downtown Denver. We were confused about the flagship label, since the first REI is located in Seattle and is also considered a flagship store. An employee enlightened us that the label is based on the size of the store, not the order in which they were built.

The climbing wall was impressive. After I signed up, I got a pager so I could roam the store while I waited for my turn. It didn't take long to get called. In checking out the walls, I wasn't sure what route to take so I asked, John, my belay partner, for help deciding. Climbs are generally rated 5.6-5.9 but I had no idea of the rating of my other sporting goods store climbs. Medium hard was the best description I could come up with.

John described a few of the climbs and the choices seemed to be a medium climb that looked so easy as to be boring—and a 5.9 route that looked well beyond my ability.

I decided to take the challenge.

(Note: Traci made a video of most of the climb which doesn't seem to have made it onto my hard drive. If she survives her first week of law school and sends it to me, I will update and include it ~K)

After the climb, I just had riding the mountain bike trail to cross off my list. Time was running short, but it wasn't very busy and I found someone to help me right away. My hands and legs were still barely working from the climb, but I figured biking is something I could do in my sleep.

I had to fill out a waiver first though and my hands were shaking so much that my handwriting looked more like a that of a four year old on crack. But I managed five fun laps around the single track trail.

Feeling satisfied with my adventures, we left and headed to Little Shanghai restaurant to have dinner with my friends G & B. I haven't seen them since the 90's and we had a nice time catching up over delicious sizzling rice soup.

When we got home, there was a lengthy and stressful search for Traci's phone. I looked all the places she had already looked with no luck. Finally, even though she swore she hadn't packed it into a box, I went and opened the truck anyway and called her from my phone to see if I could hear anything. I didn't, but I heard a shout of glee from inside the house that meant she had. It had fallen off her desk and into a garbage bag. We didn't think too hard about what a disaster that could've been.

While I was trying to get into the truck, it came to my attention that I wasn't exactly sure where my keys were. I borrowed Traci's and wondered if this was just our day to lose everything important. But I found them in her purse of all places, while she swore she didn't put them there but she has been a little scatterbrained on this trip at times.

Finally with all our essentials located, we could get some sleep.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Portland to DC, day 2: Ogden, UT – Denver, CO (782 miles)

(Note: I'm finally getting around to posting the rest of the blogs from our cross country drive last month. ~K)

Departure time: 8:30am MST
Arrival time: 9:30pm MST
Dead deer: 2-3
Penske Trucks: 6
Number of black people spotted between Portland and Denver: 2
Wish I had brought: No Doze

For those of you with short attention spans or busy schedules, you can cut to the chase:

Movie disclaimer: This represents about 5 hours of self-taught Imovie skills, so expect weird transitions, bumpy camera work and uneven audio. Basically, you'll feel like you were there!


The deer count is in question because I saw what may have been two halves of one deer about a quarter mile apart. These are the few times when I'm glad I'm not on a bike...

Everyone was a tad bit crankier this morning as we got started, but thankfully, nothing came to fisticuffs. Traci mentioned going to Antelope Island in the morning, but then I thought she said it was too far out of the way. So when she asked me if I still wanted to go, I was confused. "It's not too far, it's just 10 miles," she said. "Do you want to go?"

"I'm ambivalent," I said. Wrong answer. She had a little tantrum about decision making. Turned out she was ambivalent as well and hoping I'd make up her mind for her. "Fine, let's go then!" So we went.

Just outside Ogden, we took the exit and went down a street until it ended and turned into a long causeway leading to the island. I found it a little creepy, the way the road stretched out so deserted over the water. The smell of sulfur hit us so hard, my best mouth breathing couldn't conquer it. There were about a million little gray and white birds off to one shore, no doubt feasting on brine shrimp, one of the many delicacies the island offered to it's huge bird population.

We were the only car on the road. As was my habit, I was checking the shoulder of the road for bikability. I checked my odometer so I could figure out how long the ride from the mainland to the island would be. When I looked up again, I saw a speck of red in the distance, not big enough to be another car. Holy crap, could it be...?

"Traci, get the camera, there's a biker up there!" She obliged. Somehow I always feel better when I see bikers in the towns we stop in. The fact that he was acting out my exact current fantasy (minus the sulfur smell and the 90 degree heat at nine in the morning), put me in a good mood.

We did a quick tour of the visitors center, skimming plaques with information about birds, bison and antelope they had to be reintroduced into the island. The island is huge and there's a ranch at the far end. I would've loved to go rent some horses and go out in search of seeing some bison up close if we'd had the time. I wondered if the biker would see any.

It was 10:00am when we got back on the road. In my zeal to figure out my new video capabilities for blogging, I had stayed up pretty late the night before and forgotten that we'd crossed a time zone during the day. My computer clock said 1:00am when I finally shut it off, which I realized belatedly meant 2:00am local time. As a result, I didn't last long behind the wheel. By noon my eyes were droopy and I yielded the cockpit to Traci. I spent most of my non-driving time sleeping throughout the day and the rest of it reading the entire manual for my new camera so I could learn about cool features like color filters:

I was very glad that the next day would be a 'rest' (i.e. non-driving) day.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.


While I would've been perfectly content to wipe the sweat off my brow from making Cory lunch after he finished digging our fence post holes, Jess decreed that I should get off my lazy butt and do a house project. So we hung up the road bikes, which of course took about 1.8 hours longer than it should have and necessitated a trip to the store, which is what happens when the toolbox that's not really a toolbox isn't organized so that you think you're out of #10 two inch screws when in fact you have plentysix of them on hand. But I digress.

Wait, you're thinking. Didn't you already do this project in like, May?

You're so observant! Why yes, we did. But sadly, bikes fall down, go boom. So we bought a support board that's been sitting in the garage for over a month and re-hung them. They better stay put this time.

They don't make 'em like this anymore

There's no denying that when it comes to bike shops, I'm something of a ho. There are so many to choose from and I dabble in several different ones depending on the need of the day, location, price convenience etc. But I've always had a special love for Seven Corners (now on 21st and Powell) bike shop. This is mostly because of Cory, the fabulous guy who owns and runs the shop. When I was searching for a replacement for my stolen KHS mountain bike many years ago, he was the only one who didn't laugh at me when I said I didn't want the 'upgrade' of disc brakes and yes, I really did want grip shifters.

I went to see him and he basically custom built me the exact bike I wanted, and for a great price. Cory doesn't seem to have customers, he just has a lot of friends who need bike stuff. And that's why we still make the almost eight mile trek to have him work on our bikes or pick up some gloves or just say hi.

On one of these visits, we mentioned needing to build the rest of our fence sometime this summer.

"Oh yeah, I have a great post hole digger, I'll dig the holes for you," he said.

When you think about it, it's kind of an outrageous offer, but clearly, he didn't think so. So last week I called him up and sure enough he said, "What time should I come over?"

As I type this, he's out in the yard, working on hole five of eight. He didn't want breakfast, coffee or soda and we'll probably be hard pressed to get him to eat any lunch...although I'm sure we'll have no trouble getting him to take the lemon cake I made, which doesn't seem like nearly enough of a thank you for such a hard morning of work. But, much like my dad was at the grill yesterday, he seems to be happy and in his element.

Still, it boggles my mind a little when I think about it.

So like I said, they just don't make 'em like Cory anymore.

Just start somewhere

To say I'm completely overwhelmed with how 'behind' I am on this blog would be an understatement. We've actually been back from vacation since last Sunday night but I've been running a million miles a minute since then. So this an attempt to just post something in the hopes of making the task less daunting.

Wednesday we had a day that was more like what I thought my whole summer would be like. Sleep in, have a nice breakfast, slowly mosey out of the house on bikes to go pick blackberries. After that we stopped a the Bike Gallery so I could look at shiny new mountain bikes (more on that later) and then to Trader Joe's since we were in the neighborhood. They've finally moved into their new space in the old Gold's Gym location and it's huge and very nice to have so much space.

Then we hoisted ourselves and our groceries up the Alameda ridge to the Kennedy School for a Women for Bikes meeting. Then we headed home and paused to look at the amazing sunset/moonrise over the west hills.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Gone Camping

We're headed back to Crater Lake to ride our bikes around the rim and then go explore around Bend. Back in a week. Maybe I'll actually update before the year month is over...