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Real Live Nature!

By | July 15, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Skagway, Ak

After a leisurely morning, including yoga on my own, I disembarked, had my picture taken with the guy in the eagle suit, then took a shuttle bus four blocks into Skagway. I had a few minutes to wander amongst the diamond shops in the restored gold rush town. Apparently, in addition to eating 22 hours a day, many people who take cruises want to save 5% on vacation diamond earrings, so you don’t have to worry about losing your good diamonds on the trip.

I met my excursion back by the ship. We hopped in a van to go to the top of Yukon Pass and bike back down. It had been rainy and cold for the last two weeks, but we had a beautiful clear and warm day!

At least 13 miles of this 15 mile ride was coasting. There was a small climb of less than a quarter mile, and a flat spot as we returned to town. One guide led the group, moderating our speed, which was fine with me.

I was sort of surprised how comfortable I felt hurtling down hill for the few sections we were off the brakes, and gently braking for the rest. Nikki, who wrangled the stragglers in the back, repeated over and over again how we should apply gentle pressure on both brakes at the same time. I’m not sure if they’ve actually ever had a guest go over the handlebars from stopping their front wheel too quickly, but they sure wouldn’t want to anyway. I have logged a few miles on a bike,

which could explain all these self-portraits with the bike helmet

but big downhills and high speeds have always made me nervous. It doesn’t feel as fast without 60 pounds of gear pulling you down, and there was no Chicago traffic either, which was lovely. The view were stunning, of course.

If I had to do it again, I think I might have liked to get up earlier in the morning, rent a bike on my own, and ride up the hill as well as back down it. But it felt great to be back in the saddle, even for a little bit. The ride only lasted about an hour, and only then because we stopped at several view points for informative talks. It always amazes me how fast you can cover ground coasting down hill.

We learned about our guide, Kristina’s, history crush on one of the entrpeneurial and and adventurous founders of Skagway. We also saw the narrow pipeline from a glacial lake that provides an abundance of hydroelectric power for the town.


I also found out that Kristina has been taking aerial silks lessons, and she was very interested in any information I had about circus performing. They even have a group that practices acro yoga in Skagway. Unfortunately, we weren’t staying in town long enough to jam.

Nikki also explained how the town’s supplies arrive every Tuesday by boat, and they hadn’t showed up yesterday. She recommended getting a look at the empty grocery store before they restocked, as the boat had made it in today.

I ate lunch after the ride at Starfire, the Thai restaurant in town. It has great yelp reviews and came highly recommended by Sadie’s boyfriend. Knowing about how it’s challenging to stock up in Skagway, I was only briefly surprised by the curt, five item menu. I’m so used to Thai restaurants having so many options! Everything having so many choices, of course, but some instances make it stand out more. The pad thai was yummy.

I ran into Ben and Becky as I strolled through town, and they wanted to hike up to Lower Lake, so I joined them. We found the trailhead by the railroad tracks and then walked up hill. It was so nice to get away from cruise shops and the paved paths and the organized groups and to finally just wander around in the woods! The steep first half mile

tee hee

took about 40 minutes, with a few twists and turns. We met one couple who had not found the lake and advised us to turn back. We followed the path in the opposite direction from where they had come. Then we ran into another couple who had easily found the lake, and felt the trail was quite well marked.

We arrived at the lake without too much more confusion, and we played around the shore.

Becky waded into the freezing water again, while Ben and I watched. Ben did not fall into the water balancing across this bouncy tree limb to a sand bar, but he certainly looked like he was going to.

We couldn’t see the end of the lake, but decided to start walking the loop trail around it. We still had two and a half hours before the ship was to sail. The first section was slow going as we picked our way through boulders and roots, and we still couldn’t see the other end. After about 20 minutes, we were wondering if we should turn back. Then a family crossed our path going the opposite direction. It had taken them only an hour and a half to get up the hill and most of the way around the lake, so we knew we’d be fine. They also said the path was about to smooth out.

What a beautiful day of adventures!

So much moving around. I guess I’ll have to make up for it by eating extra desserts! Oh wait, I do that on the cruise anyway.

Right Place, Right Time

By | July 15, 2013

Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Juneau, AK

So, speaking of small world, a few weeks before we left, Sadie, with whom I biked down the west coast last June, posted on facebook that she was leaving soon for Alaska! But I’m about to leave for Alaska, too, I messaged her immediately. We cross-checked schedules and discovered we would be in Juneau on the same day!

I started the day with stretch class at 7am, which was a nice warm up for yoga on my own. Sadie texted that she would meet me at 10am at the Sandpiper Cafe. I figured they’d have wifi, so I got there early and got one blog post finished.

On the Road Again!

It was very exciting to meet Sadie’s boyfriend. He had lived in Alaska for a few years, and was very interested in moving back. He had a lot of information about the areas we were visiting, and it was not surprising to find out he works as a programmer.

Sadie and Krishna had to get to the airport, so after brunch I jumped on the Blue Bus to the glacier. Justin, one of our trapeze instructors, used to live in Juneau and told me about this bus. Other than that, I did very little research for this trip because I imagined I’d have ample down time to lounge around on deck and surf the web. Not possible. There will never be free wifi on the ships, one of the fitness guys told me. It would keep people from spending money. Whether through being informed consumers, or just from having something to do with their time, I guess he’s right.

Krishna and Sadie had taken the train up to the Klondike Summit, and at the end of the ride, the guides thanked everyone and said, “Now, a representative will be coming through the train with special Skagway Klondike t-shirts that are not available any place else. So, put your money in your hand and be ready when they come through your car!”

That’s what pretty much everything on the ship is like. Put your money in your hand, so we can come and take it from you! And a surprisingly high percentage of people seem happy to do this.

But we’re on the cruise for a family vacation, with 15 of us traveling together. It works really well for us to have dinner together each evening, and then we can do activities throughout the day or in port in smaller groups or on our own. It’s fun to run into each other and share intel on snacks or hang out for a while when wandering around the ship looking for new places to nap.

But it was nice to know about the bargain bus to the Mendenhall Glacier. My ride out was a private trip. The driver told me how he just up and leaves sometimes. Once he hitchhiked to Seattle, then Spokane, across Idaho and most of Montana.

At the visitor’s center, I checked out the trails. The east glacier trail went into the woods, not to the Glacier. The Nugget Falls trail went to the bottom of the falls, not to the Glacier. The west glacier trail went closer to the glacier, but the trail head was several miles away at the other park entrance.

I took off on the falls trail. It was crowded with many cruisers continuing their habit of stopping in the middle of the path and blocking the way. But there was a lot of moss and wildflowers as I wound through the newer deciduous forest, which had formerly been covered by the glacier. Up higher, you could see the older coniferous forest which had not been under the glacier at one time.

At the end of the path, I picked my way around a boulder field to find a better view of the glacier and the falls. It looked like I could almost make my way around the falls. Well, if I had climbing equipment I knew how to use. I can dream, can’t I?


I took lots of photos and headed back.

I had practically returned to the starting point when I came across Ben and Becky, so I turned around and went back down the trail with them. Becky took of her shoes to wade through a stretch of frigid water and get a better view of the falls.

Ben and I stayed back to shiver, and we got to see a kid fall in, whose dad told him not to stand on that slippery rock.

As the three of us reached the end of the trail, we discussed what to do next. Ben and Becky had been scheduled to take a helicopter ride on to the glacier, but it had been cancelled due to the weather. They were really disappointed, but had jumped on a last minute whale watching trip and had seen on orca family up close, which even got their guides excited.

Then I got a text from Sadie– their flight was actually for the next day and they were returning to town! I rushed back to meet them. We had Mexican food, dug around a used book store, visited a natural foods store, and sat in a coffee ship and used the wifi.


Just like old times! I didn’t see whales up close or set foot on a glacier, but I got to spend the day with Sadie, which is how I really like to travel!

Just to Say I Did

By | July 15, 2013

Monday July 8, 2013
Ketchikan, AK

At our first stop in Ketchikan, I chose to go snorkeling, probably mostly so I could say I did. Well, I did! The water was about 60 degrees, and we wore 7mm wetsuits with hoods and booties and gloves. A warm current comes in from around Japan, so the water’s not as cold as you might think. But I was ready to get out and drink hot chocolate by the end.


There was a lot of kelp, just like southern California, as well as sea stars, sea sunflowers (they have more legs), sea cucumbers, sea urchins and jellies. I also saw a rock fish blending in to the rocks and a small orange eel.

We spent an hour paddling around the coast line, with our guides stopping periodically to pull up some animals, tell us about them and pass them around. They were very knowledgeable, and it was also interesting to hear about their seasonal work. One of the guides was from the Chicago area, but now spends most of his time as a dive guide in warmer climates. This was his first season in Alaska.

We also saw several bald eagles around the shore.


Later, I wandered around the Creek Walk, which was a raised boardwalk along the river. It used to be the red light district, but now is filled with tourist shops and small exhibits.


There was also a funicular that takes you up to a resort, with their own totem poles,

at the top of the hill. It’s like a cross between an elevator and a tram car.

Of course I paid my $2 so I could say I have ridden a funicular!

I also had patchy cell reception today, and got Facebook messages from two friends. It turns out Adam, from the Boston TSNY, had worked for four months on the ship we were on, and recommended the Burger Queen in Ketchikan. Unfortunately, they’re feeding us so much on the ship, it’s hard to eat on shore! Micah, a terrific acroyogi, was just arriving in Alaska on another cruise, but our schedules made us just miss each other. The world is so small, as usual

Napping Up the Coast

By | July 15, 2013

Sunday, July 7, 2013
At Sea

I slept poorly, so it was no trouble at all to be up for a 7am stretch class. Then I stayed for the 7:30 abs class, and then did yoga on my own for a while. Then there was breakfast in the dining room and laying around on the thermal stone tables in the spa. Then, a bit of shopping. I bought a watch. There is not readily accessible wifi or cell service after all, so I needed one.

Katie and I attended a talk on acupuncture, which was really a sales pitch. I’m already sold on acupuncture, but am not going to pay $150 per treatment on the ship. I have an appointment at Ravenswood Wellness Center already scheduled for when I get home!

We also listened to a naturalist talk about glaciers. It was mostly about what the naturalist used to do: “Here’s me almost getting washed off a boat by a 50 foot wave! Here’s me losing thousands of dollars worth of equipment in a snowstorm!” These are all the reasons why he works on a cruise ship now, he said. He also mentioned that when Yellowstone explodes, which it will, because it’s 40,000 years overdue, it will kill everyone in a 500 mile radius. At the end, he said that our captain is very good about getting quite close to glaciers on our scenic cruising days, so we’re all looking forward to that.

I also went to a TRX class at the gym, which involves doing exercises using your own body weight and two straps suspended from the ceiling. I don’t usually do any workouts that involve reps. Left on my own, I would have happily tried a few of each. After three sets of each exercise, goaded on by the instructor, I’m still very sore two days later. Sort of my idea of fun, but not really.

We also laid out on deck for a while. Here’s Katie and Jared in their lounge wear. We also took in a Genesis concert on the big screen.


So many places to nap on a cruise ship!

It was formal night, so we all got dressed up for photos on the stairs and dinner. I do think it’s fun to get fancied up, and I don’t usually have the opportunity to do so. I think a lot of people get something out of the fancy dress, like at Halloween or Burning Man, which is why I like to wear boots with my formals!


Stick to the Plan

By | July 9, 2013

Saturday July 7, 2013
Chicago to Vancouver to Sea

I met my brother and sister and their spouses at O’Hare this morning, on our way to an Alaskan cruise. Katie and I had made a plan to meet at the check-in counter between 6:30 and 6:40am. She texted me last night to say they just found out their shuttle wouldn’t get them there til 6:45, and was it ok if we changed the plan. I thought it was an ish plan in the first place, so of course I was fine with it. Ben and Becky had just been dropped off by her dad when I walked up from the blue line entrance. Katie walked in the door exactly at 6:45.

We waited in line much longer than necessary because one couple had a three agents with furrowed brows problem that got resolved with frowning passengers and the customer service representative smiling at the end. We still made it to our gate with plenty of time to spare. I ate my traditional airport breakfast of McDonald’s egg and cheese biscuit, and I threw an extra yogurt parfait in my bag for later. (Cringe and shudder all you want, but that’s what I eat at airports. Except for Midway Airport, where you can get great baklava. So there.)

The Vancouver airport has a nature exhibit, basically an indoor river, that you could nearly kayak down. Unfortunately, we could only gaze longingly at it from above as we hustled, not through customs, but to our direct transfer to the cruise ship port. With a flash of our papers, we were escorted onto a bus which was promptly shut and officially sealed, I am not at all kidding, with a sticker, to prove, when we arrived at the dock, that we had not set foot on Canadian soil. We traveled across Vancouver for 55 minutes, through downtown in our hermetic bubble, in the city but not of it, trapped with a bus driver practicing his most dated and sexist tour guide shtick. We gazed longingly at the mountains, the parks, the artsy shops and the Asian influenced restaurants, the expensive real estate with the fabulous weather and the strong social safety net and almost non-existent violent crime rates, and the amiriteguys “jokes” droned on.

Our seal was checked at four separate check points to make sure no one accepted dangerous packages from strangers or defected for a free liver transplant or smuggled in farm animals or fruit or a second bottle of booze. I wondered if anyone of my fellow pre-cruise cruisers had read David Foster Wallace’s essay, ” A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.”

Then we were off the bus, and we followed guides through two more checkpoints, and I horrified everyone by declining to set my bags down again and have my memories of boarding photograph taken in front of the fake scenery in an otherwise bare concrete hallway, with dirty windows looking out on the Cascades. Then we were divided at a fork, abruptly and almost forcibly, Ben and Becky to the left and Katie and Jared and I to the right, and then we were in our stateroom, so we had gotten on the boat. Becky had called out, “Meet you at the buffet on 14,” as we were prodded down our separate hallways, and we wondered how she knew there was a buffet on deck 14. The only reason I had boarding passes or seats on the plane or arrived on the correct day at the correct time was because my sister actually read the ten pre-cruise emails they sent us and printed out important documents for me and sent me texts telling me what to do and when to do it, with confirmation codes included, without me requesting that she do so. But neither of us had any idea about the ship’s geography until we were in it.

But we were hungry, and after staring at the tv for a few minutes, because a plane had crashed earlier today at SFO and 75 percent of my immediate family on this trip is diagnosably anxious if not outright scared of flying. As usual, the outlier being me, who likes everything about flying, down to on-board lavatories with their vacuum flushing and economical and well-labeled use of space, and ashtrays, even though it is a federal offense to light a cigarette on an airplane.

So we determined it was around 2:00, though our cell phones were roaming and sending us messages that it cost extra to send and receive texts because we’re in Canada, ostensibly, and none of them showed the same time. And we knew that our Muster Drill was at 4:30 and dinner was promptly at 5:30 and we might have time to shower somewhere in there after sitting in transit, sweating the sour sweat of getting out of bed very early and waiting and nerves and the opposite of exertion through several time zones all day long.

Katie and I mustering

And we found our dad and the rest of the family, who had flown in earlier in the day from St. Louis, at the buffet as soon as we walked in the door, as if that were on our itinerary as well.

And then dinner was over and we did not know what to do. We did not have a schedule any longer. We discussed our options, came to no decisions, and went for a walk. We stopped at the fitness center to determine class times throughout the week, and I ended up flying Sergei and Christo, the trainers, and Sergei was a pretty big guy, and they were impressed, and said to come and see them again.

Then we discussed what we could do tonight again, and settled on the hot tub, and then sat around in the water, and then for a while out of it. Another passenger, unasked, informed us where there were changing rooms and we could get more towels.

So far there is no cell reception, and wifi is really expensive, maybe fifty dollars an hour, we heard, so we sat without our phones and with nothing to do, and we thought about things we left undone at work, and that was it. And Ben and Katie and I discussed how we had all taken gymnastics lessons for years, and were never any good at it.

When Katie and I returned to our room to turn in for the night, we reviewed the Princess Patter schedule for the next day. We could show up for a new activity every half hour starting at 7am. Or we could sleep in and then lay about the deck interspersed with spurts of eating and scanning the horizon for whales. The first world questions remain: do something or do nothing on vacation? Are we wasting our precious free minutes, or using them wisely? I set my alarm for 6:30 just in case.

San Diego!

By | July 4, 2012

Thursday, June 28, 2012
Encinitas to San Diego
22 miles

We started out by having breakfast with Kay O. Like Sadie, Kay O had been on the Odyssey bike trip around the world in 2000 with Ben Willetts, which is how I met both of them in the first place. Kay O, who has completed Paris-Brest-Paris, came to meet us on a cruiser with a chain that kept falling off. This made it extra unfortunate that her partner Jeff wasn’t able to join her for this trip, because he is known for being able to fix a deraillieur with a rock.


After a leisurely second breakfast, we figured we should get on with finishing this trip. We stopped to take pictures of surfers,


and soon found ourselves at the top of the north end of Torrey Pines Hill. As we waited at a light due to a lane closure, ten or so day cyclists, in full spandex, gathered at the light with us.

“You’re almost there!” they told us. Looking down the hill and back up the other side, I got a little nervous about which route to take. The main road climbed steadily off to the left, but there appeared to be a steeper road to the right. Which one was the right one? One of the cyclists at the light assured us that we could take the steeper one if we wanted to, but both went to the same place. He himself was going to take the longer and less steep one. So were the other bikers, so so did we.

I’d cycled up this hill before, but only on the back of the tandem. Still, I remembered it as a challenge. This time, it wasn’t. That felt good.

The UCSD campus is at the top of that hill. I had alerted my friend Windy, who works in the math department there, that we were about to pass through. He took a short walk on his lunch break and met us. After catching up with him, we decided to stop at a shopping center just on the other side of campus. Sadie was still looking for a dress to wear to the wedding. At this stop, she found a dress and cute shoes!

All these extended stops were making this short mileage day quite a bit longer. We needed lunch! After that, we rode about a mile to the cafe that makes my favorite ginger Boba tea. How could we pass that up?

We realized that Sadie was within just a few miles of hitting 1500 miles on her odometer. We had several more miles to ride downhill into Pacific Beach. We’d take the Rose Creek bike path, my old daily commute when I attended UCSD and lived in PB. The rest of the day’s route would be quite flat, until right at the end, when we had to go back up hill to Normal Heights. I used to live in that neighborhood, so I had been debating which way we should go all morning. Texas Street was more direct, but steeper. Washington Street was more gradual, but a bit out of the way, including going a few blocks the wrong way on a one way street. But it did go past fresh tortillas in Old Town.

We’d been updating Ben with our progress throughout the day. He was too busy getting ready for his wedding to ride in with us, but he thought he would try to meet us somewhere. Then he offered to pick us up in the van if we wanted. Sadie and I considered. We’d already made it to San Diego. We’d reached our goal. If he picked us up on the far side of the bike path, she’d have 1500 miles as well. We told him to come get us.


So that was the end of the road! We drove up Texas Street instead. I went to yoga class with Mara, then we met Kay O, Ben, Sadie, and Cammy, another Odyssey rider, later at the avocado curry place. (Thai Village, on Mission Blvd.) If you find yourself in San Diego, you must try it. I don’t know why anyone eats anything else there but the avocado curry.

The end of our trip was satisfying, delicious, and full of good friends. I vowed to eat nothing the next day.

Almost There

By | July 4, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Capistrano Beach to Encinitas
40 miles

Between 80 miles yesterday and such an interesting host, we finally left Sue’s treasure cave about two in the afternoon.



We rode past the San Onofre nuclear power station

(That’s it, behind the trees.)

and through Camp Pendleton Marine Base. Our map and a quick Internet search indicated that the base might only let cyclists through during certain hours, which we were quickly approaching the end of, having started so late. But there was conflicting information on the Internet regarding this, and if the base was closed to us, then we’d be allowed to ride on the freeway. We went through at least two unmanned gates with signs that said we were on base, so we were starting to think that they were relaxing security in this way.

It appeared that we had left the base, so we recoinnoitered, checking our map, and headed west under the 5 freeway. Then the road stopped. We re-recoinnoitered with both map and Internet, and we realized that we hadn’t passed through the main gate of the base at all yet! We headed a bit east, and found a gate with guards. It was past the time our map said we could go through, but they let us right in.

We were quite hungry for lunch by the time we rode another seven miles through the main area of Camp Pendleton. We had passed a caravan of large troop transport vehicles with “Student Driver” signs on them, as well as a kid’s day camp event. It’s very interesting to see what’s on a military base when you don’t usually get to. We stopped for a late lunch at a Cuban restaurant in Oceanside.

We were tired, and neither the energetic Latin music nor the yuca frites nor the passion fruit shake was really making much of a difference. We calculated it was another 17 miles, including a climb off our direct route, to get to the friend’s house we had arranged to stay at this night. We also realized we could be at a hotel in Encinitas, without leaving the street we were riding on, in eleven miles. We called and said we wouldn’t make it.

We stumbled in to the EconoLodge just in time. Both of us were so exhausted. We realized from a Facebook post that another cycling friend, also coming to the wedding we were heading to, was going to be staying in Leucadia at her sister’s, a mile from our hotel! We arranged to meet her for breakfast and went to sleep.

80 Miles

By | June 27, 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Santa Monica to Capistrano Beach
80 miles

We spent two days off staying with Jess and Brent and their awesome Corgi puppy, Zelda, in Marina del Rey.


We stayed in my good friend Chris’ room while she was still up at Sara’s in Ventura. We had two massages in two days at a Thai place we stopped in on the way back from breakfast. I ended up with a therapist, Mark, who had been a bike racer when he lived in Thailand! He had also lived in Indiana and done the little 500. So he knew exactly where I would hurt. What a wonderful coincidence to have met him!

I also got a chance to go out to the Acrogreens near the Santa Monica pier on Sunday, where acrobats and acroyogis gather to play. I did a few hand to hands with Ernie, a stuntman who I have met there before. I also saw Jonathan, who owns TSNY, the trapeze school I work at, and met his wife, who is a champion acrobat. TSNY has a location right there on the Santa Monica pier, but I thought Jonathan was from New York, so I was surprised to see him.

Mostly at the Acrogreens, I chatted with Jon, a retired rocket scientist who is often there with his friend Larry. He is also a cyclist, so we had lots to talk about! Also, I taught him some basic acro. He he had been coming to the greens for so long, he thought he should get around to trying some eventually.

On Monday, I had lunch with my friend Nick. It was very fun because I met him in Chicago, and he mentioned he would be in LA visiting the neon benders he works with for his art pieces. He does the neon on the man at Burning Man, and it’s time to work on that for this year’s event. Originally, we thought we would just miss each other, but we ended up being there at the same time!

Later in the day, Sadie and moved over to our friend Charlie’s apartment. Charlie had been on Odyssey with Sadie and Ben, but it had been years since either of us had seen him. We were excited to hear that his girlfriend of a year or so had gotten him to eat vegetables, finally. He now thinks they are delicious, and says he feels much better now that he is eating so much more healthy food. He always used to wake up feeling like he got hit by a truck, but now, at 40, feels great in the mornings! (Ben Melnick, I hope you are listening!)

Sadie and Charlie

Also, Charlie works for Elektra bikes, and he outfitted us with new bells. We went out for a delicious Italian dinner, joined by his roommate Susie, who needed to be kept awake after a long weekend in Vegas with friends. She had great stories about a five week camping trip she took with a friend after they got out of college. I apparently horrified everyone by describing how a ten year relationship can quietly fall apart if you’re not paying attention.

Tuesday morning we were well rested, and actually left the house by 8:30, which was a record for us. We even left the overpriced but scrumptious smoothie place a few blocks away where we ate breakfast by about 10.

I don’t have too much to say about the long 80 miles that followed. About 40 of it was on bike paths.




I kept up with Sadie much more closely than any other day. I was making a concerted effort so I wouldn’t get left behind at stoplights, so I probably pushed harder than usual, but it still felt good. Much of the day was quite flat. It just took forever, between stopping at lights with the city riding, and winding around beach bike paths. Luckily, the paths weren’t too crowded for the most part. We still had to watch closely for small children wandering across and got stuck regularly behind groups of slow cyclists out cruising.

We rode for a while down the LA river, which is little more than a viaduct. It is definitely looking better and greener than the last time Ben and I rode down it for an organized ride. Much of the area around it still contributes to a view of LA as a dystopic wasteland, though. In one section, there was a tent city of homeless people clustered around an underpass, next to wall of graffiti. A lone man in black with scraggly hair strode away in the rubble, wearing thigh holsters that looked like they held long knives. I wish I had a picture of that!

Just past that strip along the river is a tidy suburban neighborhood. There are not many entrances to the riverside bike path, probably to reduce the transient traffic through the neighborhoods. We missed the first entrance, so we had to navigate past the homes for another mile or so before we could get on the path. We came upon this unsettling street:


We spent an hour or so in a cozy coffee shop in Torrance, which we found off our route because we’re getting good at recognizing the street patterns of downtown areas. The rest of the day saw only brief stops for water and power bars, and more riding. We were meeting Sadie’s friend Sue at Sue’s mother’s home in Capistrano Beach, which is right after Dana Point.

This meant we were retracing much of the route of the first day of the Odyssey ride, which ended in in Dana Point. Sadie hadn’t been able to finish that day of riding, so she was extra determined to have a strong finish today. Of course, this time, she’s been on the road for six weeks already, so it was no problem at all. Sue even met us in Dana Point and made a video of us arriving!

We left our bikes at Sue’s mom’s, took pictures on the beach,




and drove up several steep hills to Sue’s house. Sue is a photographer who travelled with the rodeo circuit and lived in the Marshall Islands, among other interesting things, so her house is like a treasure cave. You never know what you will find! She made us steak and baked potatoes for dinner, and I fell asleep before I even finished eating.

Losing Weight

By | June 24, 2012

Saturday, June 23, 2012
Ventura to Santa Monica-ish
65 miles

Another morning when we just could not get going. Until we hit the UPS store. We realized we wouldn’t need to camp anymore, since we had friends to stay with for the rest of the way to San Diego, so we mailed our camping gear home. Fourteen pounds, see you later!


This is my bike with its new, slimmed down profile.

Once again, we rode away about noon, even though we knew we had at least 55 miles ahead of us. We stopped for fruit early on, and at the Missile Park associated with Point Mugu Naval Air Station.



We learned many interesting facts about missiles over the years, but I just have a hard imagining anyone saying, “Honey, let’s take the kids to the missile park today!” But there were several families enjoying an afternoon with their children there.

After that, we got back on the 1, and stopped a lot less. We wound through the Malibu hills, passing Zuma Beach, among others. Traffic grew heavier, and though there was a wide shoulder, it was often full of cars parked on the road to avoid paying to park in the beach lots. We also had a tailwind, and, aided by the terrain, we zipped through.

We said later it felt like a video game. We had to pay attention to cars on both sides of us. There was more traffic today than probably all the other days of this trip put together. As we got even closer to Santa Monica, the cars were slowed, often to a stop, and it felt a little easier to just pass them as they sat in gridlock. It was exciting, but we were not sad at all when we reached the Santa Monica bike path.

Except that’s really a beach boardwalk that winds lazily past the pier and through Venice Beach. It was crowded with beach goers cruising along, or walking in the bikes only lane. It was just another kind of traffic to navigate. I guess I wouldn’t expect anything else from Los Angeles. After 60 miles, all we wanted to do was get off our bikes and eat dinner.

We were momentarily distracted by Zelda, the 13-week old Corgi of our hosts, Jess and Brent. Then Sadie’s high school friend Selena picked us up and whisked us off to dinner. It was a treat not to have to take the bikes! We are so looking forward to two days off in Santa Monica!

I was sure it was way easier to ride now that my gear is fourteen pounds lighter, but my legs are still ready for a rest.

Moving Sluggishly through Southern California

By | June 24, 2012

Friday, June 22, 2012
Santa Barbara to Ventura
46 miles

We had a hard time leaving the house this morning. It was just too comfortable! We finally got three miles away, headed for second breakfast, when Sadie’s pedal fell off!


The way that pedals are not supposed to come off. Luckily, we were 2.5 miles from five bike shops. It couldn’t have happened at a better time.

It only took a few minutes for Sadie to get new pedals, and the bike mechanics sent us down the road to a breakfast recommendation. Backyard Bowl’s specialty was like a smoothie with granola and more fruit on it. Delicious, and it was next door to a chocolate shop and a crepe place. I did get a few chocolates,


but mostly we just spent a lot of time on line and sending texts, trying to organize places to stay for the next few nights. And wasting time on Facebook.

We finally got on the road, and never felt like we were quite getting up to speed. We rode for a while on the 1, where it was a full on freeway, with a large shoulder marked for a bike lane.


As we neared Ventura, two cyclists caught up to us and slowed down to chat a bit. Pete and Steven had spent the previous night at Steven’s apartment in Santa Barbara, where Pete had gotten rid of all the gear he felt he didn’t need for the rest of the ride, but Steven had had to pick up the things he had originally left at Steven’s because he didn’t want to carry them on the bike. They had encountered several of the other cyclists we had met along the way, so we compared notes.

This was their first bike tour, and they were so excited about it, they were already planning their next one. Their energy was infectious, and it seemed to help us wake up and finish the last few miles into town more strongly than when we began.

We arrived just in time to drop our stuff off at Chris and Sara’s, but then we had to kill some time before they were finished with a previous commitment around 9ish. We headed out to a movie with unloaded bikes. It makes a huge difference. That was the final six miles of the day. The movie theater was three miles away, exactly where we had just come from on the way in to town. We enjoyed watching Brave, and having milkshakes and popcorn for dinner, but backtracking still feels wrong.