Entries tagged with “Go-ing”.

Having switched my schedule to only work four days a week has drawbacks and advantages to be sure. While those 10 hour days can get to a girl, I love having Wednesday off. Anywhere I might go is less crowded than it would be otherwise, and the day usually remains uncluttered by chores that can’t be avoided on the weekend. For every time the car goes to the mechanic for routine maintenance, there are trips to the beach, days at the river, and hikes in the forest.

Enzo’s First Beach Trip!

Whenever I’m evaluating a hike, I do an effort-to-reward ratio analysis. How hard is it to get to the payoff compared to how good the payoff is? This calculation will decide whether I think a particular hike is worthwhile on a given day.Horsetail falls is a perfect example of a low effort/high reward hike. You literally drive right up to it. You can get a completely clear view of the falls from inside of your car. Personally, that usually feels a little too  easy, for my taste.

Conversely, Dog Mountain remains the benchmark for me with high effort/low reward for me. Admittedly the day I went had unfavorable weather, which colors my evaluation. Thinking no hike of only 3 miles could defeat me, I had no idea those miles were more or less all vertical. Then approaching the top, coming into knee deep snow and cloud cover that obscured any view whatsoever. Even when I have seen photos of the vista at the top, it was no more spectacular than lots of other spots in the gorge where the only effort required is to pull over to the side of the road. Couple that with the Black Toenail of Doom I sustained on the descent, and this one gets no love from me.

This was the view

I recently downloaded the AllTrails  app and was looking for a likely jaunt. Living on the doorstep of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest means I’m spoilt for choice, but that it can be hard to narrow it down. I needed a trail that would be dog-friendly, as it would be Enzo’s first real hike, and one that wasn’t too long to expect him to keep up.

Falls Creek Falls popped up and is a perennial favorite. I’ve probably done it no less than a dozen times, but I have loved it each and every one. It has excellent effort/reward, so off we went.

I always seems to underestimate the amount of time it takes to get to the trailhead. North of Carson, the turnoff isn’t too far out of town. However, since the last mile or so of the journey is an unpaved – and DEEPLY rutted – gravel road, that last bit can be painstakingly slow.

The trail follows Falls Creek pretty closely right from the start. At no point on this hike do you lose the sound of water, which is lovely. Near the beginning of the hike, there is a small shore off trail to dip your toes, if so inclined. The footbridge is a little bouncy, so I thought Enzo might balk, but he scampered across without a pause.

Falls Creek

A gentle but steady ascent, the trail is well-maintained and compacted dirt. A second footbridge near the top is there to cross a small water flow that, at the height of summer, happened to be dry. Other times, I have seen a fairly substantial waterfall in this spot, so seasonal differences are definitely to be considered.

April 2017

Beyond the second crossing, in a few places, there has been rock fall that requires a brief scramble. These are easily navigable even to those with some mobility challenges; just take it slow.

Coming around the last corner where the falls come into view it always a delight. Walking through a shaded canopy for some time, barely able to see the sky overhead, you suddnely encounter a glorious double cascade quite unlike many others found in the area.

It is not only the size and formation of the falls, but the proximity that astonishes; close enough to feel the spray, one needs to crane the neck a bit to take in the full view.

The Eponymous Falls

Should one be so inclined, it is a steep, but fairly easy scramble to get down from the viewpoint to the shore of the basin pool. I didn’t make the effort myself, but Hodie said it was quite refreshing. Negative ions everywhere.

Enzo made it the entire 2.5 miles uphill, but was reluctant to walk on the way down. Hodie’s friendboy Nono volunteered to carry the puppy for a while. This worked out great, and when he started squirming to be let out of the backpack, we knew he was ready to walk the rest of the way down. Considering this is the same dog who will frequently just give up and lie down mid-neighborhood stroll, I was happy he was so cooperative.

Nono and Enzo

We booked it downhill since we were all starving and got back to the car in good time to make it to Backwoods Brewing for pizza. The patio was accommodating for the puppy under the table, and the pizza was top notch. As I always do, I eyeballed the “Real Women Drink Beer” t-shirt and considered it for inclusion in my closet. Didn’t pull the trigger, but maybe on the next trip to Falls Creek Falls, I’ll make it happen.

In the last several months I’ve been trying to spend as much time as feasible out having adventures. Given the limitations on my resources – both practical and psychic – I’ve sought out what I think of as single serving vacations. Never longer than a weekend, and sometimes just an overnight, these little mini-break holidays go a long way toward helping me feel like I am not withering away in my convalescence and wasting my life in bed.

Both Pinterest and Instagram have been remarkably robust sources of inspiration for these trips, and several weeks ago, looking at the PNWonderland feed I saw a photo of Colchuck Lake and was completely smitten. Research implied the hike was roughly 4 miles and and a 4 hour drive away to encounter what appeared to be a breathtaking alpine lake ringed by dramatic rocky peaks. I knew I could toss the ol’ futon in the back of Quincy and make a pretty great job of the trek and set it as #1 on my list of must see spots.

After weeks of contemplation – and delays due mostly to illness – I finally had the wherewithal to undertake the journey. I re-read the trail guide and was gratified it seemed to strike all the criteria I prefer; stunning vistas (the review described arriving at the lake as a “religious experience”) a decent though not outrageous out and back distance, and enough elevation gain to scare off most casual hikers. I noted Google considered the trip a 5.5 hr drive, but given my experience was generally that I could reliably expect to shave an hour off any estimate, I felt sure I’d arrive much more quickly.

In an effort to do so and just outside of Hood River, I got pulled over and issued a citation for speeding. I deserved it. I wasn’t paying attention and made absolutely no effort to defend my actions. The officer was polite; the fine substantial. Boo.


Stonehenge at Maryhill

Taking his admonition to slow down to heart, I made small detours in the interest of scenery a few times and tried to enjoy the drive through Eastern Washington as much as something like that can be enjoyed. There are – interspersed among long stretches of folded brown rolling landscape – occasionally sights of great loveliness, and I made an effort to savor them in the fading daylight.

That being the case, it took every bit as long to get to Leavenworth as Google had implied. After 5+ hours in the car, I was delighted to roll into the eastern end of town to encounter the comforting fluorescent glow of the Safeway. Arming myself with a few additional supplies and some deli General Tsao’s, I prepared to complete the last leg of the trip in the fading twilight. Ascending the 4 miles of rutted gravel road in low light was an adventure all its own.

I hadn’t bothered to secure a campsite, as I was intending to a) Sleep in the back of the car and b) Rise at the crack of dawn to start my hike. This worked perfectly well as I simply tucked Quincy into a parking spot in the corner of the lot at the trailhead popped in my headphones to block the noise of the other folks who had done just exactly the same thing and went to sleep.

Long about 5:15 a.m. my eyes popped open and I started to sort through my gear to prepare for ascent. Having done some further reading on other websites, I had amended my expectation that this trail would be quiet. It was variously described as “busy” and “extremely popular.” Knowing that to be true, and paired with my inability to sleep past the first faint light in the sky, I thought taking advantage of an early start was my best bet. I stuffed my swimsuit, a snack, a bottle of water, and a jacket into my daypack and set out within the hour.


Stuart Lake Trail: Gateway to The Enchantments

I took off at a good clip and made decent time to the river crossing at 1.5 miles. The trail was well-maintained and had a pleasant, variable character. Mostly packed dirt with rocks and roots to avoid, the most notable feature in the early morning was the remarkable din of the creek running alongside. It was a chattering and lovely sound that filled in air in the otherwise silent morning.

Once across the first bridge, the personality of the trail changed notably. Almost immediately, I began to see and feel the climb ahead of me. I realized pretty quickly my knees were going to be in for a rough time on the way down. This hike is rather dramatically lopsided; it is very much all up one direction and all down the other. What had been a rolling walk turned into a stair-step tramp of some challenge.


Even at that early hour, it wasn’t more than 45 minutes or so before a group came in around me. Though I am determined and unrelenting – much like when I run – distance is achieved at a much slower than average pace. With hiking in particular I have to be especially careful; given my lack of depth perception and questionable balance, I tend to trip, slip, and fall with shocking regularity. Moving slowly and choosing my route with great care helps mitigate this outcome, but never eliminates it entirely. I fell no less than 6-7 times over the course of this hike. I have learned how to do so in such a way that I wasn’t hurt at all, but it injures my dignity to have other people witness my clumsy and lumbering progress. As such, encountering a crowd of skilled and fast-moving hikers is kind of a bummer for me.

Another footbridge across the creek left me momentarily stumped. Heretofore, the trail had been clear and easy to follow. At the terminus of the railing, there was nothing but a huge tumbled rockfall and no discernible route away from the landing. It took me a full and thorough investigation of the shore to realize the trial snaked around behind a large rock and away to the right. Once again, my lack of depth perception left me at a disadvantage; I could not readily see the distance between the rocks when confronting them from directly in front. This continued to be a challenge for the rest of the hike, as it increasingly bent its way back and forth along a cliffside littered with boulders and stones.


Find The Trail; Colchuck Lake Edition!

It was also at this point that the stripe of the ramble changed again. Most of the elevation gain was realized in the next 1.5 miles. At times, it felt like a climb rather than a hike. More than once, I was gripping rocks and hoisting myself over and up to regain the trail. I was increasingly dubious that anyone would reasonably consider this “moderate.”

Finally after 2.5 hours of hard haul I reached Colchuck and its deep teal waters.


Colchuck Lake

While the lake was undeniably lovely, and the setting dramatic, it was actually rather difficult to get down anywhere near the shore to take in the spectacle in any encompassing way. Calling this view a religious experience seemed a bit hyperbolic; similar only in being won by dint of a grueling and demoralizing progress. The photos I was hoping to get were all constrained by the angle I could manage given my vantage. More, after weeks of all but unrelenting heat it was not only cool, but raining. The weight of my useless swimsuit hung heavy in my daypack, indeed.



The descent was its own brand of brutal. My knees were protesting the unrelenting downward progress after the first half mile and had four more to tolerate besides. By that time of the morning, the traffic on the trail was nothing less than hectic. Progress, already slowed by aforementioned caution, was further hampered by the need to frequently step aside for uphill traffic.

All things considered, though it was beautiful, I didn’t consider the effort-to-reward ratio on this particular trip to have worked out that well. Given a companion, a longer timeline, and a clearer expectation of what was coming, I think it would warrant a return trip. The area boasts several other lakes in a looped trail system called The Enchantments. It seems like it’d be a worthy use of a weekend to see more of the landscape thereabouts. On the whole, I’ve had pretty good success with the Instagram-Pinterest Adventurelark Trip Planning Method. Call this one a qualified win.


Drew and I decided to take a bike ride this weekend. I’ve been running a good deal, and feeling like it’s time to start rounding out my exertions with other ways to break a sweat. Swimming and lifting are great in their place, but I have a nice bike that hasn’t seen the light of day enough lately. So.

Given the drastic variation in our skill and fitness levels  we usually stick to either the Springwater Trail or the Banks-Vernonia Trail  when we ride. These are both paved trails with predictable conditions and a mild grade as a nod to my considerable inexperience with any other kind, but I was feeling adventurous and thought a change of scene might be nice.

A quick search for a Rails-To-Trails came up with a few good options, but most of them were either disappointingly short or inconveniently far away. Finally, when I expanded my search to include Washington as well as Oregon the Klickitat River Trail popped up in my results. The photos looked lovely and the mention of pavement and packed dirt surface seemed promising. A drive out to Hood River being a pretty regular occurrence for me, I didn’t see the distance as prohibitive.

If I had read the trail info on the website for the trail itself – rather than on the rails-to-trails results – I might have realized the “pavement” and “packed dirt surface” were in limited supply and that a road bike wasn’t sufficient to the journey. Alas, I did not settle on this idea via that route and didn’t give a second thought to what kind of conditions we might encounter.

The Lyle Trailhead boasts a recently paved parking lot with modern bathroom facilities. Even at 10 a.m. the lot was completely empty. What traffic we did see was all over in the nearby gravel lot that served the riverbank and the kiteboarders headed out on the Columbia. It seemed strange to me that such an accessible and seemingly well-maintained bike path would be deserted on a weekend morning, but I was more inclined simply to be grateful than to consider too deeply why that might be the case.

We mounted up and started riding. Within about 300 yards, the asphalt gave way to gravel, never to return. Over the course of the ride, it would devolve into an array of variably challenging alternatives, but it was never again as favorable as those first few hundred feet.  My Trek is a hybrid with tires of a fairly reasonable width, Drew however has a road cycle suited for long touring rides; he’s gone to Ragbrai several times with this rig and it is patently meant to be used on pavement. It was clear within a mile or so that we were in for more of a challenge than we had bargained for. We both felt like the drive and the effort made it worthwhile to simply forge ahead and make the best of things, nevertheless.

Just Past The Pavement

Just Past The Pavement

As far as it went, you could hardly ask for a nicer setting. The river runs close alongside the trail for nearly the entire length of the section we rode. There were high rolling hills, trees, and all manner of wildlife. We saw several bald eagles, a heron, and a variety of other birds. The day was overcast and warm, but much less brutally hot than the previous several weeks and overall, conditions seemed quite good for a ride. 



Somewhat quickly however, things devolved. Only his considerable athleticism allowed Drew to make anything like reasonable progress. I was in much better shape on my set of wider tires than he was on his super skinny road wheels. Large flinty rocks littered the trail at intervals and no one surface dominated the others to allow one to adapt or predict what might be the most appropriate riding speed. At turns sand, packed dirt, small dense gravel, large rocks, wooden planks, and asphalt all made an appearance. We made good time over anything flat and firm, but all too often that would give way to a particularly rocky or bumpy section which would require either a considerable slowdown or to dismount entirely. Fairly early on, I lost my bike out from under me once trying to skirt one of the several gates we encountered. Though I landed on my feet and was entirely unhurt, I remarked that though I have to get hurt to know I am having a good time, I’d prefer it happen later in the ride.*

Backpack As Sweat Catcher

Butt As Yet Not Totally Numb

Predictably, given the unsuitability of riding road tires over a surface suited to mountain bikes, one of Drew’s tubes gave way. Repaired with relative ease, we carried on. Our original plan had been to at least attempt the entire length of the 31 mile trail. It became apparent within the first 4 miles or so there was simply no way we were equipped for such a task. His bike and my lack of saddle time were a considerable impediment to the conditions. 

Bridge To Nowhere

Bridge To Nowhere

I began to look with fondness over at the highway that paralleled the trail on the opposite river bank. Somewhere around mile 7, Drew suggested we ride back down over the road rather than navigating the whole beast in reverse. My initial concern over the lack of a shoulder to ride on gave way to exhaustion and thirst (having left both of the two bottles of water I’d brought back in the car like a moron) and I agreed taking the road back made the most sense.


No Cows Were Spotted In The Making Of This Blog Post

No Cows Were Spotted In The Making Of This Blog Post

Once on the road, things sped up considerably. My initial concern about riding on the highway was quickly put to rest when I noted that the shoulder was present and even generous for most of the 10 mile length of our ride back. Moreover, traffic was both light and considerate. My only difficulty was with the rolling hills we had managed to avoid on the very flat trail surface. Drew handled them with alacrity and was far enough ahead to be out of sight for a fair portion of the ride, but I was flailing in granny gear more than once. 

Once the trail returned to the side of the river I was riding down it occurred to me that proceeding back over the flat packed surface of the trail might be faster for me than trying to keep pace with Drew over the road. Delighted I wouldn’t have to mount the last long incline I saw climbing in front of me, I turned with more speed than was wise to re-enter the trail. As soon as my tires hit gravel I knew I was about to make good on my earlier suggestion that I get hurt a little closer to the end of the ride.


Owie, I Had Fun!

Owie, I Had Fun!

As is my custom it ended up being the Best Possible Version of the Worst Case Scenario; the bad thing happens, but it’s a lot less bad than it could be. My hands took the brunt of the damage – again, I was technically prepared with gloves, but hadn’t actually bothered to put them on – but I did end up with some road rash on my elbow and a nasty bruise on my right leg. Scrapes notwithstanding, and having known people who came away from bike crashes only by aid of LifeFlight, I was relieved not to have been much more badly hurt. 

So only having ridden roughly 20 of the 62 we’d planned, I was still duly exhausted and ready to reward the effort. Everybody’s Brewing up in White Salmon was beckoning, and the Mediterranean Plate and Little Sister ISL felt like due recompense for my pain and pleasure. 

Hey Hey Hey, Look At Little Sister

Hey Hey Hey, Look At Little Sister




*Naturally this came back to haunt me. Like asking the universe to smite me. As if it needed the encouragement.

I have itchy feet and ants in my pants. I have no idea what I can do to fix this, either. I’ve been out of town every weekend for a month. I made plans to stay home this weekend but instead started fantasizing hardcore about going on a 5 hour road trip so I can do a 9 mile hike. And then maybe get in the car and drive another 4 hours to go look at a waterfall I’ve been meaning to photograph. I doubt I’ll actually go this time, but the voice insisting I should jam Quincy with gear and hit the highway at 2:31 p.m. on Friday is clamoring.

I Want To Go To Here

You’d think, with how much less energetic I’ve been feeling overall, this wanderlust would take a hiatus.

Apparently, you’d be wrong.

Today marks the beginning of the multi-part and days-long celebration of a truly momentous occasion; on Monday June 29th my daughter, darling, and light of my life is turning sixteen.

Hodie. Beeps. Goobs. Bitbot. Potty-Bear. BuggaDoo. The Pagoda. Future Crazy Cat Lady.

Hodie. Beeps. Goobs. Bitbot. Pookah. BuggaDoo. The Pagoda. Future Crazy Cat Lady.

Apart from the fact I find it bizarre that I am old enough to have had anything happen to me sixteen years ago, I also find it mystifying that I am the mother of a person who as of this year can:

  1. Tie her shoes the non-weird way
  2. Retain gainful employment
  3. Unabashedly sing with me in public
  4. Independently select and purchase gifts for the adults in her life that they really like
  5. Request I make her a cocktail and enjoy the result
  6. Rationally calculate the cost/benefit ratio of a trip to Disneyland and reject the proposition
  7. Articulate that simultaneously training in ballet and carpentry will make her a total badass
  8. Successfully travel the length and breadth of Portland via public transit
  9. Accept and complete commissions for art projects in a variety of mediums
  10. Autonomously conduct her secondary education with only minimal supervision
  11. Plan, shop for, and prepare a multi-course meal*
  12. Own a bank account and ATM card
  13. Meaningfully deconstruct political theory and successfully identify logical fallacies
  14. Drive a car**
  15. Declare her intent to be a crazy cat lady who also has birds and possibly a hedgehog
  16. Speak authoritatively about her preference for a Vanagon Weekender, rather than a Westfalia

She can also take my breath away with her sweetness, stun me with her insight, and reduce me to tears with her humor. She is unquestionably the best thing that has ever happened to me. I am grateful every day that I get to be her mother and that she still appears to like*** me a lot.

Tonight we leave for her requested birthday activity: camping up in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest on the Washougal River with her two best friends. Considering it is one of my favorite places in all the world, and she absolutely my favorite person, I feel like I’m the one on the receiving end of a pretty great gift.


*Guaranteed, said meal includes some combination of potatoes/pasta/cheese

**After a fashion and apparently with much greater confidence and ease than when I am present

*** Most of the time.

One of the side effects of all the steroids I’m taking* is that my already tenuous grasp on sleep has become even slipperier. Though I have gone to considerable lengths to control for sound, light, and other elements of sleep hygiene it has been my custom these last few weeks to waken at about the same time the very faintest traces of light begin to show in the eastern sky.

The Angle of Approach

The Angle of Approach

This works out to be a time that a lot of people still consider the middle of the night. And I am one of them.

Try as I might, I am usually unable to coax myself back to slumber. At some point, I realized that given the turn of season, and the impossibility of running after work for the intolerable temperature that time of day, I might as well avail myself of the insistence of my body and use my wakefulness to put some miles under my feet.

I love running first thing in the morning. Everything is limned in pinkish light and cool as it will be all day. It is quiet and still on the streets and down the trails I favor. The city is stripped of pretense and beautifully bare. Places are unhaunted by a populace too occupied with their devised reality to notice or participate in the full flower of the one around them. I am elated to encounter the bronze-haired Portlandia as I have always known her; maiden earnest, singular, and strong. That is how I prefer to see her, rather than the awkwardly hewn caricature she has been wrought of late.

So, despite a list of complaints that range from a shocking need for drinking straws at every turn for my newly sensitive teeth, to aching tendons, to butterface of EPIC proportions, I am grateful to these chemicals in my blood. Not least that they allow me to rise from my bed of pain at all, but also so that I do in such very good time as to see my city in a way that reminds me why I love her after all.


*Not the kind one takes to get mad gains in the gym, though don’t kid yourself; ‘roid rage is a thing. I can’t speak with authority about whether my testicles have shrunk…

I came to Bend for a mini-break/work weekend. After the best Tom Kha soup of my life and a few solid hours of progress on chores, it seemed like time to get out and enjoy the scenery. The weather was clear and cool and perfect for a hike.

Several months ago, thanks to the @OregonExplored Instagram feed, I discovered Chush Falls. Though I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Bend and Sunriver I hadn’t done much exploring around the area outside of town. The shot of the waterfall was feral and gorgeous and I very much wanted to see it. I had planned to swing through Bend at the end of a road trip in January, but since I wasn’t able to make it then, I thought this would be the prefect opportunity to check it out.

The wilderness area where the falls are situated suffered a somewhat serious burn back in 2012 with the Pole Creek fire. Much of the hike from the forest road was still a landscape twisted, black, and barren. The path was soft, wide, and would have lent itself perfectly to a trail run if I hadn’t been feeling under the weather. Everywhere was evidence of the fire.



The hike itself was a bit of a ramble. Mostly flat, with a few short steep sections. The trail was well-marked and though counter-intuitive at times, it’s carefully maintained and easy to follow. There are a few places to ford small streams, but it’s a hop-and-a-skip in almost every case. The trek is redolent of baked mesquite and warm earth. 

Up the last bit of elevation gain you abruptly confront a sign declaring End of Trail. From this vantage, you can see the top of the falls though a screen of trees, but the view is largely obstructed. Off to the right is a vague, but relatively easy scramble down to the creek and a much more direct view of the falls.

Chush Falls


The water pouring over the rocks was absolutely clear. The falls were roaring and just as wild as promised. The spray was so intense getting closer would have left me soaked and without a clear photo, but I’m sure in hot weather it is tremendously refreshing. The effort to reward ratio on this was well in its favor.


I was in Bend at almost this exact time last year. Virtually every detail of my life is different now than it was then. The ways in which my life has improved are multitude and I wouldn’t trade it.

Yet despite the fact that I am undeniably happier, in better physical condition (recent spate of ailments notwithstanding) and closer to where I want to be than ever, I cannot help but dwell on the realization that the last time I lay in this bed, it was with someone I was falling rapidly and unwisely in love with. How though I do not want him back, and never have since I sent him away almost six months ago, I still miss him in ways I wish I did not. 

Wise people assure me that it is not so much him I miss as simply having a lover. I believe they’re right. That his significance, though real, is primarily situated in his being the most recent, rather than the most important. I can say with surety, that is true. For, though I loved him very much, there were always things that felt disconnected and I never fully trusted him or the situation.

Yet as I approach the full measure of time since I ended the relationship now matching the amount of time we were even together, I want the scales to tip away from thinking about him everyday. From things I objectively know are ordinary and unremarkable still feeling poignant and of import.

When I compare my life to a year ago, things are better in every particular. The only thing missing is a dangerous headlong tumble into the arms of someone who wasn’t really interested in catching me. As ecstatic as that feeling is, even that wasn’t better, just more exciting. I am far happier without him; I just want my heart to come around the curve, catch up with me, and notice.

this disease causes me to vastly overestimate my physical capacities. i think i am stronger and have far more stamina than turns out to be the case. this disease is made worse by the application of things like red bull, or more pertinently here, 5 hour energy (which i bought a case of at costco today WOOT!!) this fine Sunday, my disease manifested itself in the following way: first i went to the gym for an hour and a 1/2 and then decided to go on a 40 mile bike ride. full on.

i live at the top of Sylvan hill and since i value my life, i will not attempt to ride either up or down it. so i took my trusty trek and loaded onto the max. i started my ride at the pioneer place mall and rode all the way out to where the pavement ends on the springwater trail. this is somewhere past the 20 mile marker. this seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to do before i left my house.

by the time i’d wheeled thru gresham i needed a snack FUCKING HARD. having left the house without any food wasn’t so smart, i’ll admit, but i’m pretty sure the 1/4 pound of ham & cheese hot pockets and 1/2 a bag of chili cheese fritos wasn’t necessarily the brainiest thing i have ever done either. there was some protest from the abdominal region. especially after i climbed back aboard the trek just a few short minutes thereafter. abruptly i felt the need for a little break RIGHT NOW DAMMIT. my belly felt the 50 or so crunches i had subjected it to that morning were enough of an insult without the addition of enough nitrates to kill a small camel. i decided that the bench by the trailside looked like a lovely place to take a wee siesta.

my view from the bench was quite lovely actually…

after i’d rested a bit i hopped back on the bike. turns out i was only a couple hundred yards from the end of the pavement at this point. the trek has super skinny tires, off road is out of the question. i was fairly sure my ride back was gonna be brutal, so i was quite happy to make my little u-turn and start heading west.

coming back i felt like every part of my body was protesting at the treatment i had subjected it to. knees, thighs, abdomen, shoulders, wrists. ugh. i had vivid fantasies about how my couch was going to feel once i got to sit on it. i needed a break, but every bench i encountered seemed to be occupied by people who seemed like semi-permanent residents. like, they had auxilary furniture surrounding the benches. i was smelly, sore, and, i’ll admit, am not overly fond of trail-dwelling hobos even under the best of circumstances, so i did not feel like sharing my bench with anyone else. or asking them to share theirs, as the case may be.

after about 13 miles, i found an unoccupied bench and sank down upon it with the gratitude i usually reserve for the toilet after a 45 minute car ride and frantic dash indoors.

i am MUCH happier to be sitting down than i appear

i am MUCH happier to be sitting down than i appear

i was counting the miles in single digits and for this, i was fuckin overjoyed. the sun was starting to wester, and all i wanted in life was a soft place to put my ass. the max station began to seem like a source of satisfaction and pleasure i had previously only known in the beds of certain lovers i have had.  godDAMN i have never been so happy to make use of public transportation. ever.

back up the hill home. carried the bike up two more flights of stairs. then, oh, then. my home. my couch. thankyoubabyjesus. i have rarely been too freaking tired to stand still under the shower, but by god, i was at first.

i guess i’m proud of myself, though i feel like a dumbass for thinking that 40 miles would be a cakeride. i imagine my hubris will be punished. i expect to feel like i got beat with sticks by this time tomorrow.

pray for me…

i like to think of myself as a pretty adventurous soul. i like to go, and do, and try stuff, so when my friend suggested we go surfing i was all for it. nevermind that it was early October and forecast was rainy and windy and 12ft seas…

i will admit, i felt pretty tough and cool with all that gear strapped to Klaus’ rack…

we made it down to indian beach on saturday and the place was de-sert-ed. there was only one other vehicle in the parking lot. at first i think to myself: “sweet! beach all to ourselves!” then i get out of the car and think: “clearly, we are insane…”

cause it was sideways rain, windy-as-hell, and chilly as all get out. i had never before used a wet suit, so i was still somewhat skeptical about its ability to keep me from losing a vital percentage of my overall body heat. and last time i checked, hypothermia is not hot. also, though equipped with what SHOULD work as chest-mounted-built-in flotation devices, i am not the world’s strongest swimmer. i was getting slightly nervous about how rough the ocean looked, plus, when we unstrapped the boards, the wind picked them up and tossed them off the top of the car and cruelly down to the pavement. i found myself looking at my companion and saying: “have i made it clear i don’t want to die like this?”

nevertheless, we hoofed it down to the water and gamely waded in. it was at this point i discovered what i can only describe as the most magical thing i have learned in years: if i wear a wetsuit i can go in the ocean in october, and it is totally comfortable. seriously, this is life-changing information.

so. after a brief introduction to surfing basics, i wrestled myself on top of the board i’d been handed and managed to ride a pretty nice wave back to the shore. i was on my belly the whole time, but i can see why people abandon real life to do this all the time. i have to liken it to the feeling i had the first time i was on skis; the feeling was one of body-engulfing ecstatic giddiness. this obsession? it has me.

bolstered by my initial success, i waded back out into the water and took hold of the wider board my friend offered me in the hopes that though more cumbersome, it might prove slightly more stable for me and thus easier to mount. trying to wrangle this board was definitely more challenging, and about 2 minutes after he handed it to me, i managed to set it parallel to the wave (just exactly like you aren’t supposed to) and when the swell caught the board it smashed me full in the face and knocked me under. the degree of distress this caused my compatriot was considerable; apparently there was lots of blood.

i was fairly equivocal about the whole thing. i am constantly hurting myself; twisting, spraining, bruising, burning, scraping, or otherwise mangling myself. i fall down frequently doing nothing more complicated than trying to sit in my chair at work, so this pretty much seemed like par for the course. i spat blood into the ocean for about 10 minutes, but other than that, it didn’t really slow me down. plus this way, i’d look EXTRA tough and cool!!

ultimately, it was a really great experience. almost as soon as we got in the water, the wind let up and the rain stopped. the water was rough, but not scary rough. i had a few people tell me it wasn’t really an ideal day to get started on, but even if that’s true, i’m hooked. as far as i can tell, that just means, it gets better!