June 30, 2005
Portland, Oregon (Finally, with Photos!)
I guess there is a lot to catch up on. It's been hard to write in here, due to the terribly event that took place shortly after we arrived.
After leaving Bozeman, we spent a day in Missoula, and rode some really fun trails. the we headed to west, and spent a fun evening and day with airielle in Moscow, Idaho. she has just finished college, and it seemed like she was gonna be moving to Vermont before too long. We had not hung out in 2 years, so it was very good to catch up. we also had a lot of fun playing with her chocolate lab, Cooter, possibly the dumbest lab i've ever met.
After that we drove to Portland, and met up with Andrew at his house in the Northeast. He's living with Billy Nickey and Julio, Billy's dog.
We went riding friday up at Topaz Creek with Dustin, Drew and Billy. It was one of the most beautiful rides we've done, there were times when the river that runs alongside the trail looked so amazing that it distracted me and i had to get off my bike and just take it all in.
Saturday we relaxed, and then went to River City Bicycles to hang out and drink beer with Billy Spaceman, my old friend from Reno days. We were lucky to get to meet Kristine, his girlfriend, and we had a really fun evening drinking beer at the shop, making new friends, and bike dorking out.
The next day, Mikey, Drew and i went riding up in the Columbia River Gorge, tearing down trails in a light drizzle that made all the roots very slippery. we had a really good time, and took some minor crashes that caused no injuries, only laughing.
On Monday, Mikey and I went riding with 2 employees from the bike shop up on Mt. Hood. the downhill trails were really well maintained, and even though we'd warned ourselves against riding with shop kids, we managed to hold our own.
On that same day, while working as a messenger in downtown Portland, Kristine, Billy Spaceman's girlfriend, was badly hit by a semi truck on Broadway st. She was taken to the hospital, and initially we were informed that they had her in stable condition. The next day however, we learned that she had passed away in the early morning. this was a terrible shock to all of us, and our hearts went out to her friends, family, and to Billy, who she'd been seeing for more then a year. we went over to his house on Tuesday night and sat shiva with him late into the night, and i felt so sad and helpless that there was nothing anyone could do. everyone kept describing what had happened as "insane, crazy and unbelieveable," but it wasn't any of those things, just the worst and saddest thing that can happen in life. everyone kept hugging Billy, who seemed so held together and strong, much more so then i think i would have been.
Drew was gonna come with us to Canada tomorrow, but he's sticking around for the memorial service. he also wrote some touching words on the graveltech website, worth reading i think.
so other then this tragedy, Portland has been ok. I've been able to hang out with Drew a lot, and all the mountain rides we've done have been top caliber. Yesterday Drew took Mikey and me to Alpenrose velodrome,and we took a track racing class. I've been riding track bikes for more then a year now, and it was really fun to finally get to ride them where they were intended to be used, on a closed track. Alpenrose has some of the highest banks of any velodrome in the U.S., and it was very intimidating riding up on them at first. by the end of the class, we were riding pace lines, racing, and making attacks and passes 15 feet up on a 43 degree bank, and Mikey and I agreed that it would be very fun to have a velodrome near to our respective cities. I know there is one in San Jose, but the 1 hour drive from San Francisco will be pretty impossible since i have no car.
We're heading up to Canada tomorrow for about 10 days, i'm really excited, i've never visited our neighbors up north. then we'll come back down and stop here again, and hopefully visit Jenny and Co. in Seattle and Bob in Olympia. then it's south to SF, for some riding in Marin.
In other news, i wanted to express how happy i am that grandma Dorothy did very well on her surgery, and i look forward to seeing her fit and well when i pass through reno again.
As you can see, Drew has showed me how to use Flickr to insert photos into my blog entries, making them much less boring i hope. You can look at my entire summer roadtrip album here, including the before, during and after photos of Mikey's tough crash scar.
I will try and continue to insert new photos as i take them.
Be well, all.
June 28, 2005
June 20, 2005
Ah, Montana. Ah, tons of mountain biking, camping next to rivers and waking up with frost all over my sleeping bag, drinking cheap beer in pretty much all of the bars in town, making new friends and sitting on a couch right next to a stream near their house and listening to Mikey play guitar at night, and eating tons of boca burgers.
We arrived friday night, and owen, who unfortunately couldn't get away from work to make it up, provided us with the number of an old high school friend of his. We met up with Derek and had a few beers, then went and saw the new batman. i was so excited for it, the previews made it look gothic and dark, but it was chock full of crappy, trite dialogue and too many explosions. the next day we rode a good canyon trail, and then yesterday we rode two more. all the trails here are steep uphills followed by very fast decents down the same trails, the whole out and back system. i usually prefer loops, but the decents are making better, though battered and bruised riders out of us.
Montana reminds me in a way of Alaska, though i am hesitant to say so, since they seem mighty prideful of their state up here. It has that same feeling of crisp fresh air, huge skies, mountains surrounding everything, giant trucks everywhere, and very friendly people. Mikey and i were talking about how nice it would be to live up here, very outdoorsy lifestyles abound, but then we heard about the negative 20 degrees months in the winter and that idea fizzled. the summers are very good though, i'm sure i'll be back.
next stop: Moscow, Idaho, and then on to visit drew.
on a surprising note, i have developed a pronounced drawl, and can find no way of getting rid of it. you could say i'm going through with-drawl. hehe.
(this place really makes me miss Alaska, i had to say it)
June 16, 2005
Rapid City, South Dakota
Before launching into detailing all the fun mnt biking we've been doing here in the beautiful Dakotas, I'm trying to think of how to describe our time in Iowa City, Iowa. Maybe i'll just make a list:
Hung out with Virginia, an ex prostitute who now drinks Old Crow and Pabst for breakfast while driving her maroon chryster car around selling pot to the locals and supplying text for experimental music performances both while she's at the gig and while away.
Hung out with Lewis, a native Iowan who took us swimming in a reservoir and told us about how when he was in jail for cridit card fraud, that he almost married his then fiance even though it was her fault that he was in jail. with his 1500 dollars lewis is now planning a 7 month bike trip from mexico to brazil, and is certain he can purchase a airline ticket from iowa city to mexico city for less then $150 dollars.
Hung out with Mikey's friend Kate's female friends, all of whom work or have worked at the Pleasure Palace, one of the two Iowa City porno stores. they were happy to recount stories of all the bizarre patrons who frequent the "arcade," and were all perfectly content to drop out of community college, spending the entire day smoking pot, and lounging in the brand new Walmart inflatable pool they'd installed in their backyard. (note: Lewis was fired from his job as a janitor (read: jizzmopper) from said porno store)
while we hung out at the porn store for nigh on half an hour, Lewis gave us a "selective biography" of an elementary school classmate of his who, last summer, decided that god thought that porn stores were bad, and decided to take matters into his own hands by shooting the clerk of the other porn store point blank 3 times in the chest with birdshot (the clerk lived). Lewis felt that his teasing of the gunsman in their youth had direct correlation with the incident, and concluded that "kids can be cruel, but that doesn't mean you have to go shoot up a porn store."
We slept in the most disgusting hovel (that's right i said hovel) i've ever seen. the day began with the zanax addicted roommate almost burning down the house after he put a whole pizza box in the owen for 40 minutes. there were no utensils, plates, or surfaces on which it was safe to put food.
anyways, after we fled Iowa City we drove past some more corn fields and empty plains and ended up in Rapid City, South Dakota. i must say that this state looked mighty fine after Iowa. we went riding yesterday on part of the centennial trail, and today a local bike mechanic who helped us out a great deal took us riding on some trails near rockerville (what a good name for a town, eh?). Josh was extremely fast on his 29 inch single speed mountain bike, and i found myself stopping to pant and gasp for air on more then one occasion. Near the end of the trail, when mikey and i were both exhausted, Mikey misjudged a narrow decent that he describes as "really steep" and managed to halt his tumbling near freefall by using his right cheek against a craggy rock. He didn't cry though, because he was embarrassed. also, he will have a nice scar that will always remind him of his summer spent with his cousin, me.
Next stop, Montana. Owen can't come up, which is a total bummer. After that, a visit to Airielle in Montana, then on to Portland. we may change our focus and ride in BC, Canada instead of Utah, since it will be so very very hot there in the summertime, and BC is full of shady trees. Plus, i've never been to Canadia, i've only heard stories of milk sold in bags, polar bears, and igloos. sweet.
June 13, 2005
Iowa City, Iowa
We arrived last night and were gladly met by mikey's friend Kate, who promptly took us to get burritos (since we're west of the mississippi, i figure it's ok to eat mexican food). Then she showed us a typical Iowa bar, and we rode 40 minutes each way on dark country asphalt to a reservoir to go swimming. The water was warm and it was excellent to look up at the sky and actually see stars.
Chicago was a good time, the highlights were:
Hanging out with my cousin JJ and her serious boyfriend Aaron, who brews his own excellent beer which i drank a lot of.
riding around the city, which is the best way to explore a new place.
eating at the Chicago Diner, which reminded me of the Paradox in Portland, but not as greasy or good.
Going to bars a lot. a lot.
seeing cubs fans have fistfights in the street near the stadium.
I remember a long time ago talking with ms jennifer andersen about being fascinated by the midwest. part of me thinks it's flat ruralness is almost disconcreting, i'm so used to mountains or seas, i wouldn't know where to escape to if i needed somewhere to hide. The people are very nice though, as they are reputed to be, and half the time i imagine aaron buskirk frolicking through his youth in cornfields.
So i bought a new bike while in chicago. it's a Gunnar Ruffian steel single speed mountain bike, which is pretty much exactly what i wanted. i bought it from some tweaked out metal head in the Bucktown neighborhood, and just buying it was a funny experience. we showed up and he came out of his apartment, muttering to himself about how he lent the bike to somebody and it would be back in half an hour. we wandered around his barrio, looking in dollar stores and listening to the L train rumble by for almost 2 hours before the bike finally materialized. it was this garrish shade of yellow, but it fit me alright, and seemed a pretty good deal at $750. i'm taking it to the shop today to get a new chainring, and then i should be set for the dakotas. sounds like owen might meet us up in Montana, which would be totally excellent.
June 09, 2005
we're in chicago, visiting my cousin JJ and her paramour Aaron. it's really cool to be here, i have always wanted to visit this city.
the good things about visiting philly were hanging out with kelsey and anthony, becoming friends with kelsey's roommate sara, exploring the city, and eating really well. it's good traveling with mikey, i think we're gonna have a very good time.
so i'm trying to think of something else to write about besides my bike, but i've been stuck on it. on sunday night Kelsey's roommates were moving stuff into and out of the house, and didn't bother to lock the deadbolt before going to sleep. the next morning i went down to help mikey load up the car for our drive to Chicago, and had that sinking feeling when i saw that my bike wasn't in the downstairs living room. i looked at where i had left it, propped against the wall. then i looked again, in the way that you do when you can't find something and keep checking the same places for it. we looked on the front porch, and found everything overturned. then we looked in front of the house and found a shitty beat up bike leaned against the garage, abandoned. Kelsy called said idiot roommates and they hadn't borrowed the bike, and i knew it was gone. i found myself feeling so bad, because i had done so much with that bike, taking it with me to Alaska the first time i went up there, taking it to Europe for a year, riding it on countless rides around Reno, and now it was gone. and it isn't like i left it unlocked on a busy street, i left it inside of a house that should have had the doors bolted shut.
it made me think about how i generally try not to become attached to material possessions, and that this circumstance had more to do with all the memories associated with that bike. combine this with the fact that i don't really have enough money to go buy a new one, and pay rent and deposit when i move back to SF, and pay tuition at the court interpreter's course right after i move back there, and i'm kinda in a hard spot i wasn't supposed to be in. i'm still gonna buy a new bike, but it won't be the same. this is my 3rd bike stolen, and though i don't believe in karma, i wonder if i did something shitty to deserve this. if so, i can't think of what.
June 08, 2005
A Sad Story
Everything on our trip was going really well until this happened.
so fucking lame.
June 03, 2005
Traveling by Car
sorta fell off the blog thing, so much going on and i fear that i am just recording and not getting down what i'm noticing or feeling about what i have been doing. gonna work on that.
so i left SF, after catching the Old Crow Medicine Show at the Great American Music Hall with Kelsey, Carter and his gang. the show was really fun, even though i maintain my prejudice against seeing bluegrass music anywhere but outdoors with a dusty dirt dance floor. Driving through the night back to Reno from SF was nostalgic, and even though it had been years since our frequent Reno-SF-Reno drives to see shows, i could still fall asleep before Concord and wake up just in time to see the lights of Reno flickering from atop Mccarren.
The next evening was even more of a walk down memory lane, since Zoinks was playing a reunion show after having been broken up for at least 7 or 8 years. Zoinks was one of the first punk bands i ever saw, and i was thrilled to hear them play pop punk songs from my angsty teenage years. turns out i wasn't the only kid who'd fled reno but returned to see the show, there were old friends there from Portland, Seattle, and the L.A. area. the show was really fun, they actually played 2 sets, one at the new Record store, and one at some fratty bar that luckily had $1.50 beers. The songs all sounded as good as when i was a teenager, and during the second set i leaned over to chris mcclendon and whispered, "close your eyes and you're 16 again."
Seeing all my old friends really got me to thinking about how that part of my life, and also what was my early 20's are firmly in the past. seeing all the old friends getting married, having kids, and getting divorced, and also seeing people who had been my best friends when i was 21 and who now i regard as little more then irritating made me feel not old, but at least made me directly aware of the feeling of aging. I asked Chris Mc if he ever felt the same way, and he agreed that he was weirded out by it. "Remember," he told me, "i always said i'd be dead by 25. that means i only have 4 months to go." good old Chris, always knows how to put things into perspective.
the show finished, i hung out and drank a lot with Carter, and managed to track down Dawn, who is near to finishing her masters. I then caught a Greyhound bus to Sacramento, lugged my bike onto the airport bus, and flew out here to New York.
the weather here is even nicer then a month ago, all springy and everyone is thrilled to be walking around in the warmth, before it turns muggy and oppressive. my cousin Mikey and i were talking about how in places where there are seasons, which i guess accounts for most of the country besides coastal California, that people get stir crazy and build up all this energy and expectation for when the warm weather comes. that means that they go manic a bit in june out here, and everyone is riding bikes, eating in open air cafes, and the like. it's nice, and makes me feel like someday i will again crave the seasons and even the winter, though now it still seems to me faintly cumbersome and dreary.
we went on our first mountain bike ride of the trip yesterday, with Mikey's friend Yaniv. Yaniv is one of the best Israelis i've met, meaning he's as good as my buddy Ran in Israel. Yaniv is studying at Columbia, and he has all the good characteristics of his nationality, the boisterousness, the humor, the jokes,without the affected snottyness or lame nationalism. Our ride was north of Mikey's Westchester home, through hilly green northeastern terrain. the tree roots didn't stop me up as much as i had feared, and i kept up and often led even though i only have the single speed bike. it was so fun tearing down the single track trying not to get beheaded by tree branches, all three of us were whooping and loving it. it was an excellent first ride, and made me even more excited about what's to come in the next two months.
tomorrow we finish loading up the subaru and head out towards philly, to hang out with kesley and anthony. from there it's west to Chicago, and then continuing on towards the pacific, but not too quickly, oh no, there's plenty of time.