Thursday, September 30, 2010

Morning in camp

I was tired after dinner, and it was getting dark already in Crescent City, and it was only 7:30. We'd biked about 60 mi that day, and had a bigger day coming up: our longest climbs and 79 miles. I had hoped to take my new mp3 player to my tent with me, loaded with an audiobook, since I'd found it tough to prop both myself and my 900+ page novel, Shantaram, up in my tent each night.

But we kept losing the internet connection at the campground, and I couldn't load anything. I figured I'd try to keep myself awake until 9 pm by studying up my new user manual.

Then I discovered that the new player had come with a few songs on it! I had no idea how much I'd been missing music since I'd left Seattle last Wednesday. After I listened to all six songs, I pressed "menu" and found the FM player. I ended up rocking out in my sleeping bag until I decided I'd better get to sleep so I could rise early next morning; with the long day ahead, I wanted to be packed up and out of camp early.

It was a restless night, damp and worried I'd oversleep the morning. At last I woke and was delighted to see "6 am" on my watch. I immediately unscrewed the valve that keeps air in my air mattress, then lay there thinking what a good invention an alarm/valve unscrewer would be for campers.

I sat up when the air was out and pulled on the bike clothes I'd laid out the night before, then put my watch on. Which is when I noticed that it was now 5:15. And my air mattress was flat. There I lay, on the cold, hard ground, a phrase long associated with lonely graves that had now acquired new meaning for me.

Nevertheless, I managed to fall back to sleep, which meant it was 6:45 when finally I did leap from my bag. I didn't get out of camp that day until 9:15, but I still made it to camp last night before dark, and that's good enough.

Along the coast on my bike

Yes, I'm on the bike trip! We're having a rest day today at the KOA campground between Arcata and Eureka. It's our foggiest day, and I'm sharing a funny little cabin with two new biker friends. What a pleasure to get in yesterday after 79 miles and lots of climbing, and not have to set up my wet tent!

Even more a pleasure was sleeping a solid 9 hours without dampness! Some of our group have gone into town today, but I've spent most of it in the porch swing on our cabin, reading the tome I brought along.

At lunch, I made myself a grilled cheese and ham sandwich and cooked up a lone box of vanilla pudding, serving it to myself and a few othersh the strawberries that were going to be garbage if they weren't eaten pronto.

But how's the biking? you may ask. You can read all about it at fellow biker's blog, Let me add that the meals have been great. One of our leaders suggested on day one that there be a prize for the best cooking team (we each buddy up with someone, and take responsibility for two nightly meals).

The weather has been usually warm and sunny, but with foggy mornings, which mean we often seem to bike past amazing ocean views -- we think.
We can hear them, but we can't always see them. Which can be good, since you can make them anything you like. We do hear the seals and the gulls and the surf, often as we lie in our sleeping bags at night.

Yesterday we left Crescent City, CA, and climbed and climbed until we got to the redwoods of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. It was humorous when we finally reached an official park sign that said, "Big Tree." Right. We noticed. Some of our group saw the Roosevelt elk that live there at the park.

We crossed the glorious Smith River, then rose again to stunning ocean views, complete with lighthouses and stack-studded coves boiling with surf. We rode past a huge lagoon and miles of smooth surf. We finished the day with a rural route through backroads on the edges of Arcata.

With 79 miles to fuel, we kept sharp eyes out for food. We stopped in Orick for berry pie and soft-serve ice cream. We stopped in Trinidad at a hippy cafe for organic cappuccino and an inch-and-a-half thick slice of homemade zucchini bread. We sat in the sun on their garden patio and enjoyed it, before leaving town on a one-lane crumbling road along the edge of the sea.

I'd like to edit this, but I'm writing it at the KOA office in a glare. Forgive the errors!

Monday, September 20, 2010

What I'm Taking to the Potluck

A dancing buddy is having his annual party. We're going. I'm taking this.

Oriental Pasta Salad

Start heating a pot of salted water for linguine. Meanwhile, shred a carrot and a cabbage, or open a package of shredded coleslaw. Then stir up a dressing of toasted sesame oil, vinegar, and soy sauce, plus, to taste, minced fresh ginger and garlic and one of your Mezzetta Hot Chili Peppers from the jar in your fridge.

Into a big bowl, slice a bunch of green onions.

Finely chop one bunch of cilantro, then a cup of toasted peanuts.

When the water boils, break 8 to 16 ounces of linguine a couple times into the water. When it’s nearly done, dump the shredded vegetables into the boiling water (or, for a cool salad, leave the veggies raw). Drain it all together one minute later and add it to the bowl with the green onion. Toss with the dressing and the cilantro and half the peanuts. Top with the remaining peanuts. Serves 6.

For a main dish, I add sauteed tofu or chicken.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fremont Harvest

I took photos this week of my landscaping, here in Fremont. The tomato plant is finally producing, and even the scarlet runner beans are ready to set beanlets on those brilliant orange-red buds.

Unfortunately, I'll be biking off to California this week, so I won't have enjoyed much harvest, but I hope my condo pal upstairs enjoys it.

I come from a family where the tomatoes of summer and fall mean tomato sandwiches. Not tomatoes on sandwiches, but tomatoes as the entire filling. Since my best tomato crop in Washington has always been cherry types, and I don't like a sandwich that small, I like to make what I call Tomato Salad Sandwich. I halve my cherry tomatoes, add a dab of mayo, a minced clove of garlic, and a little salt and pepper, and pile it, open face, on a couple slices of my toasted bread. That's what I did with the dozen tomatoes you see in the photograph.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Moliere or Monty?

Call me shallow, but I enjoyed the Village Theater's production of The Full Monty much more than (what I'd expected to be a bit higher-brow) A Doctor in Spite of Himself the night before.

As Misha Berson said in the Seattle Times, there was little evidence of Moliere in the Intiman Doctor, but lots of slapstick, burlesque kind of humor, most of it turning on issues of marital bickering and sexual shenanigans. The audience loved it -- standing ovation. And the acting was terrific. Just not especially my kind of humor.

As for The Full Monty, the acting was heartfelt, the singing superb, the story touching on so many issues I like to think about: the importance of work, the nature of man, the enjoyment of bodies. It's funny; I have never been to a strip show, nor do I ever want to go: Hooting and hollering over somebody's merely physical attributes is embarrassing to me. But I don't underestimate the importance of bodies and touch and just good old skin-on-skin time. And I was moved by the reminder in The Full Monty of just how much a man needs the love of a woman, physically and in every other way. I don't remember seeing and hearing a lot about that in the culture lately, perhaps because singles culture these days is so focused on "I want a man, but I don't need a man."

You can do a fine job making the best of things, but what if a woman does need a man? What if a man needs a woman? What if people need partners? What if that's simply the plain old truth?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Not Bike Training

Just when I was going to get on my bike, after I'd hurried around and cleaned the bathroom and dusted and vacuumed, eaten lunch, zipped through my grocery shopping, all in anticipation of a 2 pm departure time for my hilly urban ride -- it started raining. Soft and warm, but definitely wet.

Since one of the things that has been neglected in the new, shortened days of my going-steady phase is just good old hanging out at home with a book and a brownie and James Taylor on the stereo, I decided to consider the rain a gift. Now that the brownies are in the oven, along with the first butternut squash of the season (just so it will be roasted and ready when I need it), the rain has stopped.

But that's okay. Home alone. Even with a sweetheart, a woman needs some of that home alone time.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bike Training

My original plan had me leaving next week to bicycle the Southern Tier route from San Diego to Saint Augustine. But then I got this thing going with a sweetheart, and my head said, Not smart to leave a man in a new relationship for eight weeks. My heart said, I'll miss him too much! So I traded in my long trip for a short one. I leave next week for a two-week trip from Eugene, OR to San Francisco, 680 miles along the Pacific Coast.

In my mind, I would have spent a training week at friends' homes in Port Townsend riding hills. Or at least had several rides on good old South Whidbey Island. But one thing I've learned, now that I'm in a relationship: The 24-hour-day ain't what it once was. Where do the hours go?

I rode nearly 200 miles last week, including a 46-mile "some hills" ride at a "moderate" pace with Cascade Bike Club. My average for the ride was 14.5 mph, and though I only briefly lost sight of the riders ahead, I worked my butt off to keep up. Yesterday I took the ferry to Bainbridge Island, and rode a hilly 37.5 around it. But the whole way, I was looking at my speedometer and wondering why it was taking so long to get to "over with."

So I was thrilled this morning to read in my "Before you Go" booklet,
It's also important that you avoid overtraining. If you begin to feel increasingly tired, depressed, irritable or start to dread riding, you may be training too hard or too often.

It cheered me up so much that I found myself an "urban hilly" route I plan to take this afternoon to my sweetheart's place, where he'll feed me dinner and take me to the theater tonight for music and laughter. We plan to see The Full Monty in Issaquah.

I've tried numerous stores in Seattle, and can't find a cue-sheet holder or map holder for my bike, so I Googled it, and found a good plan for sticking a heavy-duty office clip on my handlebars and putting my cue sheet in a baggy and clipping it on. Worst case, I read that some people use rubber bands to affix the baggied cue-sheet to their forearms. I'm good to go.

All material copyright © 2009 by Mary Davies