Monday, June 30, 2008
Here is the stream we camped along - I believe it is May Creek. We found this dangerous to ford as the light was quickly fading and the water very heavy and fast and cold from the melting glaciers and snow high above. So we set up camp on the banks and quickly turned in. The only mistake was forgetting to put Maggie's food in the bear bag, so unfortunately, during the evening the raccoons enjoyed her breakfast.
But back safe and happy in Bellingham, bruised and sore from a ten mile hike each way. I must admit, I never hiked this length before in my life, so this was a minor milestone. And already I am thinking about things I will do on the next trip, namely less food, less water (yes, I will spent the hundred bucks on a filter), fewer clothes, wearing better boots and more time. And I learned how painful improper weight distribution can be on the back, collar bone and shoulders. But my German WWII rucksack fared quite well. I hope we share many more trips together.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
So tomorrow looks like a foray to Desolation Peak a few miles south and a few more east of SR20. This area was made famous in Dharma Bums and Desolation Angels. Unfortunately I gave those two books away, but they were both beautifully written and contained many underlined passages.
I not know how far in we will get into the park due to restrictions on four-legged companions, but we will probably camp on the trail somewhere near Ross Lake. We did splurge and bought a $99 tent at REI. And my WWII rucksack and twenty-year-old Coleman sleeping bag will facilitate my minimalist approach to many things in life, including camping. One can easily sink a grand or two into all the fancy camping equipment that's out there. Kerouac and Muir would scoff at that, as do I.
Today is doing some community stuff, tonight is a slow-food dinner party, then tomorrow is off to the North Cascades. So I do not know when I will write next.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
But on a side note, the local community car share is getting a pickup truck for errands. As a friend once told me: Sooner or later you need a pickup; or a friend with one. This will be good for getting top sil and such for the garden and not needing to borrow the company truck, but instead taking this pickup for a few hours. It is late, but I can still get a garden in the ground.
Today is supposed to be hot. The temp is forecast for eighty Fahrenheit, which is hot for Bellingham. But it is summer and cyclists spring forth on the roads like the horsetails from the ground, replete with cute outdoorsy women that randomly smile and wave to you as they pass by on their bikes, making life in Bellingham a bit more pleasant.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
But it is just as nice taking a break from the work day and typing for a few minutes here on this web log. It is still chilly here with a temp of fifteen degrees Celsius. Probably warmer in the sun, but the dog will need to be the judge of that, as I am chained to this computer for a few more hours.
And if my thoughts appears a bit scatterbrained, it is because they are. I am still decompressing from my trip back east. I did score a funky (albeit basic) t-shirt at a cool coffee shop in downtown Scranton where the coffee was quite good. I don't fully grasp the concept of the shirt, other than implication of Scranton being backwards?
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
But a great day. Off to another meeting and I get to cruise on my bike down to Fairhaven. Maybe I am a simpleton, but I live for these trips on the beautiful nights like this.
Here is a picture taken a few weeks ago at Montara, Cali on the PCH. This was during a business trip late last month. My housemate gave me a ton of great pictures of Magilla (taken at the dog park) but I cannot seem to format them and they are huge in size. Maybe tomorrow. Or maybe I'll take my camera tonight. Or not.
Monday, June 23, 2008
May people cannot tolerate the clouds, and many do not last (especially those from much sunnier climes) more than a few years. But I love the drizzle, and today - a day of sun and breeze and seventies - makes those dreary days seem a world away.
As is the trip I recently returned from of PA and Ohio. The memories and great times are now in the attics of my life. But great times lie ahead, and already the summer schedule is filling up. And I did get a tent yesterday, so I am all prepared to camp in the Cascades. More on my minimalist camping philosophy is sure to follow.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Well it looks like summer is here. A morning of sleeping in, pancakes, and catching up on mail. And doing the thing I miss most when not in Bellingham: bicycling (after the dog and housemate, of course). I am glad to be back in this little corner of the world in the City of Subdued Excitement. And on my cruiser.
And my trip back east of chaotic sleep and eating shed seven pounds. But with spring in bloom here in temperate Cascadia, many of the vegetables are already being harvested - this means pot lucks (two so far in the next month - one at my place) made with fresh and bountiful local produce. That loss will be short lived.
But on another note, the aphids bombarded me when walking under the hawthorn tree today, so it looks like I will need to employ broods of lacewings to get rid of these things. Off to the library to return a book, and the nightly visits to watch the sun set will hopefully return quite soon. It is that time of the year. Seventies and sun: Summer.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
For now, an event-filled summer awaits me in Bellingham – from sailing to camping to hiking to motorbike trips to Victoria. And there is a full summer planned with gatherings with all sorts of people from Bellingham – from my Summer Tour of Permaculture, to a Slow Food group I will be attending next weekend with my housemate (traditional meals enjoyed in a more relaxed setting), to the myriad other events that I forgot that I committed too (oops), as I have a problem with turning down invitations when it includes meeting like-minded people in my town.
Oh well, I hope I can post this in the airport, as I will have an hour or two before I catch my bus. Sooooo glad to be home.
And the picture is from a community garden I stumbled upon last week in Cleveland. Seeing things like this in the industrial northeast lifts my spirits.
Friday, June 20, 2008
But this is my last day away from home. It is always nice to end a trip when you long to return home. I guess I am not a big fan of extensive travel anymore.
But living in a cool town such as Bellingham that incorporates the daily activities that one would do on vacation (eg, biking, nightly sunsets) really doesn't make living there such a chore. Unlike the pained look on the faces of those facing the daily rigors of places like Seattle or Pittsburgh. But living in Bellingham, one does forego a cushy lifestyle, as (something like) 80% of the residents make less than $18/hour. But obviously money cannot be an indication of happiness, as the happiest people I know have transcended the silliness and futility of material pursuits.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I am writing from a coffee shop in Shadyside, a place where I lived for many years in Pittsburgh when I went to grad school. The street had a lot of funk in the 70's (so I've been told), but gradually morphed from a neighborhood of art galleries and small clubs and shops into a row of mostly national chains (Talbots, Banana Republic, blah, blah, blah) with only a handful of local establishments remaining.
Oh and the picture is of random homes in Mt Lebanon - a cool neighborhood where I spent the past few nights. There are many larger homes than these and a few smaller. Most are built of stone with mature trees abounding.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
But today was truly a day to have fun and we went to Kennywood, an amusement park that's been in existence in Pittsburgh since 1898 and is still a fine example of a magical, classic park with all the fun rides. I only rode a handful of rides in the park, and by far the most fun were the three roller coasters from the 1920's (see picture). These were all wooden coasters that offered tremendous fun, exhiliration and nostalgia: the Racer, Jack Rabbit and Thunderbolt. And I must admit,I was feeling a bit woozy after the last one.
And it was Mt. Lebanon Day at the park so my nephew (who downloaded these pictures) and sister knew all sorts of people (mostly younger folk, so I am led to believe this had something to do with school) from this beautiful old-line suburb (although not really my cup of tea) south of Pittsburgh. The second picture is of those more daring than I (or with a change of clothes) that got totally soaked on this Raging Rapids ride. And it was a chilly Bellingham-like day: cloudy, some rain, and in the high sixties with brief sun. But it was indeed a fun day.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
The fact that the service sectors pay less than trade and industry is interesting in the sense that we've forsaken our once mighty industrial base in the name of cheaper goods from overseas only to become a service economy earning lower wages. And lower wages means lower tax revenues on many levels in a time of record government spending. I wonder what the future holds for our country?
But from the first-tier suburbs yesterday to the exurbs today. And off across the verdure of the State of Pennsylvania on the beginning of my travels back west - first automobile; then via air. Much looking forward to my return home and life on two wheels.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Off to visit family today, and tomorrow is the final leg to Pittsburgh, and then home and back to my mellow life in Bellingham. Five more days of travel, and I changed my flight today to come back a day early. Not much more to say here. Sunny and beautiful.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Sing me sweet and sleepy
Sing me sweet and sleepy
all the way back back home
It's a far gone lullaby
sung many years ago
Mama, Mama, many worlds I've come
since I first left home"
- R. Hunter
A night that turned a bit warmer with a brief half hour shower this morning. The sky turned soupy with the summer humidity and the sun disappeared into the white sky. But I pulled up camp and moved on without incident. Back to the donut shop in Tunkhannock - about five miles up the road. Same people drinking the same coffee; same (or probably fresher) donuts in the trays of yellowing labels of Cake and Sour Cream and Iced and Glazed. I wonder if there were donuts in the Blueberry or Chocolate trays within memory; the majority of the trays were missing. But the two I had were just great. And the coffee, although not the world's best, was quite good. I love these vestiges of simpler times.
Visited Steamtown to buy a postcard, this morning. I read somewhere that Scranton was never even a big railroading town, so having this national historical site here is odd. But fortunately having a congressman with good connections in Washington helps.
Tonight ideally will be spent at a friend's house in the country with a big yard an a place to pitch my tent. Again, another friend said "sure she'd let you camp there." We'll see. The three prior nights placed luck in my favor. Pulling up stakes to move on to Philly tomorrow. I feel like I've been traveling forever but the trip is winding down.
Friday, June 13, 2008
"Don't be hanging round old Catfish John"
Come the morning I'd always be there
Walking in his footsteps in the sweet Delta dawn
Catfish John was a river hobo
Lived and died by the river's bend
Looking back I still remember
I was proud to be his friend
Here is a picture of the place I camped last night in the Endless Mountains and likely will again tonight. This was a bit more legal camping site than the night before. Although technically, I didn't get the owner's permission. But I did back in 2006. It is a beautiful, quiet site and conducive to a great night's rest. Another star-filled night nestled in this sycamore grove by this old lazy river under a waxing gibbous.
It is remarkable to sit on the banks of the mighty Susquehanna (the longest non-navigatable river in the US), and spending countless minutes looking at the teeming life of fish fry, tadpoles, insects, birds, crayfish and snails makes you see how intricate a web we live in on this planet. I canoed this river many years ago and always seem to return to it.
Currently, I am having a yerba mate in a little coffee house on Courthouse Square in Scranton. On to a series of social events this afternoon.
Earlier this morning when I drove through Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, I saw a sign that read "The World's Best Coffee." I pulled in for a sixteen ounce and two of the remaining donuts.
"Any sign the says 'The Worlds Best Coffee' is worth a stop," I said.
"That's what I do," he said. In the self-induced vicissitudes of my life, I sometimes wonder what I do. At least he knows.
And the donuts and coffee were splendid on another great (although getting warmer) day in Pennsylvania.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
years ago (World's End State Park) no longer has any individual tent camping. So what turned out to be a fine day ended up with me pitching a tent in near darkess on same questionably legal land near the Loyalsock Creek. I still slept like a baby, as the smells and sounds of being in a tent quickly brought back great memories and made me realize why I am drawn to this area on my trips back east. Here is a picture of the Loyalsock, where we camped many summers.
And although I no longer go to the weekly Vippasana sittings at the local dharma hall, I find these gurgling streams to be very calming and spent a half hour (or hour?) in a hope to seek some meditative clarity. But I am also somewhat grungy today and I feel as though I am living the carefree days of yore with all my worldly belongings in the trunk.
I am still more than a week out from returning to Bellingham, and spending time alone is both refreshing but causes homesickness. More soon.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
But it is nice to get out of the cities and off the interstate and on the back roads, meandering by the relics of a bygone era: small cafes and town squares are the norm, versus today's homogeneous crap...oh, never mind.
The next few nights will be spent camping and the weather is predicted to be perfect. I just took this picture of Warren, PA, a town near the Kinzua Dam where I camped a few times and sailed my little wooden boat when I was living back here. Pictures help, but the smells of life and rejuvination are remarkable and cannot be captured by these little pixels.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Not much more to say. Tomorrow I head into the Allegheny National Forest and Endless mountains to camp for a few days. As wi-fi is not always readily available in these parts, my posts may be sporadic for the next few days.
Monday, June 9, 2008
This greeting of mine,
The winds and the birds shall deliver
To the Queen of the West,
In her garlands dressed,
On the banks of the Beautiful River."
- H. Longfellow
Here are two pictures (one of the fire station across the street) from the coffee house where I write today in Hyde Park Square. When I lived in Cincinnati, this was one of my favorite places to come and work. Many of the neighborhoods have these small fire stations nestled into the community. And Hyde Park is considered upscale, so I also get to watch the beautiful people of Cinti. A great time was had here, but it is time to move on.
I-71 lies ahead and the next leg of the trip takes me to Cleveland. I do not find the heat too bad here; I find the air conditioning inside to be much less tolerable than the temps outside. Not being used to A/C, I find the temperature swings from inside to outside to be quite dramatic. I miss Bellingham ("Oh, why was I tempted to roam?") and the connection to the outside world that open windows bring. (And I thought the days of wearing fleece inside covered with down comforters were behind me for the year.) Enough complaining.
My sustenance for the trip north will be some donuts from Busken. Mmmm.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Unfortunately there were few on bikes on the road today, as Cincinnati is also a town quite conducive to auto transportation and the choices of climate are 72 degrees inside or 92 degrees outside. I miss screen doors and windows and cool breezes off the Puget Sound (I really dislike air conditioning) of Bellingham. But it is drizzly and chilly today in The Ham, so maybe being in the heat is not so bad.
But we crossed into Northern Kentucky last night to see Jerry's Little Band - an older local Dead cover band that has been around forever here in Cincinnati. This morning is recovering from a late night and realizing it's 2pm and I've done nothing yet today. As Kentucky's largest legal crop is tobacco (marijuana is reputed to be number one) and they still allow smoking in bars. And everyone does. So I smoked a cigarette or two too, as to not be bothered by the second-hand smoke. But this is a vacation (sort of). C'est la vie.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
But I came upon an uncommon sound driving down the highway: the cicada. When I left Cincinnati a few years ago, there was a big brood hatching; this brood went underground in 1991 and emerged this year - earlier, I've read, as things are getting a bit warmer in the world. But the sound of these womderful insects, couple with the heat and humidity of the east was nice to visit.
And I was told the weather was beautiful in Bellingham, so it will be nice to come back to the changing seasons. I wish that I was there now, but many good times await in my travels in the Midwest and East Coast. Time to get ready for a wedding.
Friday, June 6, 2008
When both flights take off and land on time, a minor miracle has occurred. A smooth flight to Pittsburgh (it probably looks as nice today as this picture that I took from the web, although I am not near the downtown).
Friday morning, quite rested. It is beautiful and sunny at eleven a.m., but supposed to be a scorcher. Catching up with an old friend and keeping him and his wife up way too late reminiscing and laughing. Off to pick up a rental car and then off to the Queen City in a bit. The highway beckons.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
I know you're out there
With rage in your eyes and your megaphones
Saying all is forgiven
Mad Dog surrender
How can I answer?
A man of my mind can do anything"
- Steely Dan
Today is a (now) funny story about purchasing a vehicle, and and a crash course in placards and sundry legalities involving an oil truck delivered from Philadelphia. It is always a wise thing to be nice to men in uniform at the truck scales on I-5 when they can potentially cause much grief. And as much as I hate cell phones, today mine quickly came to the rescue. A few quick calls to some trustworthy co-workers (actually more like friends) quickly rectified the situation.
Today? More drear. More clouds. More cold. Out of the frying pan into the fire. The next few weeks will be traveling to the inexorable humidity and heat of the east. And sadly leaving my house mate and wart-faced pit bull/boxer as summer begins to unfold in Bellingham and spirits lift.
Oh, and the picture is of the living room, replete with the overflowing colors from the pink rhodies filling the room. Someday the eighties decor will come back in style. Just wait and see. It's Maggie's couch anyway.
The next post will be from on the road.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Today is a day that the East Coast sounds tempting: Rain, followed by drizzle, followed by clouds. But the east is experiencing temperature in the nineties. A friend stopped by today and the three of us decided that the crummy Bellingham weather is still preferable to heat and humidity the the other parts of the country already (or will increasingly) see. But I am looking forward to the visiting and fun of friends and family.
Monday, June 2, 2008
When you do not have a car, you need to have a fully utilitarian bicycle and a decent rack. This was a picture of how I transported the tools to this work party last week a few miles down the road. In another town, passers-by would think that I am Sanchez the hired help (sorry about the ethnic slur) on his way to tend their garden, but in Bellingham it is just another cyclist that takes advantage of this über-bike-friendly town. In spite of being ringed by mountains, the town itself is quite flat, and a one-speed bike is entirely sufficient. This think I miss the most when traveling is this humble little one-speed cruiser that has taken me over hill and dale for the past few years with nary a complaint.
A productive day that began at seven fifteen with a phone call from the 605 area code (wherever that is). Signing off at one p.m. from a coffee shop in downtown Bellingham...
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Hopefully the trip back east will put me back in Bellingham for some nice weather this summer. This was a summer that was earned and I have no plans to travel further than a hundred miles from Bellingham from July through October. Now it is time to get to sleep, as a mellow week ensues, yet I am sure it will fill up quickly.
Oh, and the picture above is from the Pacific Coast Highway near the lighthouse in Montara, California. I took this picture a few days ago.