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Was That a Tailwind?

By | June 12, 2012

Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Half Moon Bay to Ano Nuevo
32 miles

There was a lot of loud squawking around our campsite last night, and at least some of it turned out to be raccoons unzipping my trunk bag and stealing my delicious muesli bread that I didn’t even try yet. At least they were kind enough not to destroy the zipper, like some squirrels I know.

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After I cleaned that mess up, I took off my back wheel to put on my new tire. The back one, which carries the most weight, was definitely in the worst shape. Getting the last six inches of the tire tucked into the rim is the hardest part. I finally did it, but my thumbs are still hurting. I’ll get to the front one in a few days, when my thumbs can take it.

After that, I was very hungry. We finished packing and went into town to have a leisurely breakfast and look at maps. We both left with extra pastries for later in the day. We also stopped at the post office and another terrific grocery store, and got on the road around noon. We were doing great compared to yesterday! And, we were thinking we might only do a 25 mile day.

We got a pretty detailed description of the road ahead from a cyclist at the cafe. There was some climbing, including a two mile long hill, but nothing too terrible. Again, it was nice to get more accurate road information from someone who was used to biking it.

Yesterday, I was somehow quite a bit faster than Sadie going uphill, and I could mostly keep up with her otherwise. Today I would completely lose her as she wound downhill ahead of me, and I wasn’t climbing nearly as strong. My legs seemed to be saying, “Yes, hello! We are here!” At the top of one hill, my quads felt like they were going to pop out of my legs. This type of riding takes some getting used to. Also, the speeding downhill parts are still scary. I hope to be used to that in a few days, too.

After 15 miles of this, Sadie suggested we go to a restaurant that had come highly recommended for lunch, but it was two miles off our route. We’d have to go two miles out, and then two miles back to our road. Four extra miles! And there might be more climbing. On other trips, I have definitely passed up stops that were less than a mile off route, in order to not add any extra miles. What the heck! It’s always a good time to try something new.

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Duarte’s Tavern in Pescadero was worth it! Cream of Artichoke Soup! Warm and crusty bread! Crab Sandwich! Olallieberry Pie! And the ride back to our road felt easier than the ride in, even though it was uphill on the way out!

With ten miles left, happy bellies, and the wind at our backs, we finished the day quickly. I even coasted uphill for a bit, with the wind pushing. What a treat to have a tailwind! I was telling Sadie that I’d experienced virtually no tailwinds on two trips across the country, and I was starting to think the problem might be me. I must have been mistaken about that. Bring on the tailwinds!

The tent sites are just an empty meadow at the very far end of this campground. Our tents nearly blew away as we set them up. A long shower in a heated comfort station (bathroom at a fancy campground) made up for that. Even though it was getting chilly, I found a spot in front of a tree that sort of blocked the wind and practiced yoga for bit. That was lovely! Is it too much to hope for another tailwind tomorrow?

A Day Late and a Bra Short

By | June 12, 2012

Monday, June 11, 2012
San Francisco to Half Moon Bay
33 miles

I spent the morning having a great time talking with Lori, at her place outside of Berkley. We have alot of ex related things in common, among other things. Sometimes it’s validating just to talk those things out. Just as she was explaining how her ex was consistently inconsiderate of other people’s time, I realized I had completely lost track of time and needed to leave for REI right away to meet Sadie and pick up my bike. Happily, Lori drove me to the BART station. Back on the San Francisco side, I decided to wait for the next bus rather than walk a mile, even though it would make me a little late. I just had too much gear to carry comfortably without putting it on the bike.

It was almost 1:00 by the time I arrived. My bike was there, and they agreed to let me put it back together myself. I had to put one wheel back on, the seat, the handlebars, and the pedals. It was all pretty straightforward, but I was just glad to have done it myself.

I brought new tires with me from Chicago, but I decided to wait and change them out at camp. I knew that would be very time consuming for me. I’m a very slow flat fixer, which is similar to replacing tires. Even so, we were still there for almost two hours. I also bought a new pack towel, and returned a disappointing sports bra. Unfortunately they didn’t have a new one in my size to replace it, which slightly throws off my three sets of clothes packing plan. But I think it will work out.

We left REI after 3, which is a very late start for a bike trip. It took a few tries to actually ride away. I was putting my gloves on when I realized they were both literally about to fall apart. So I ran back in and bought a new pair. We had about five hours of daylight to ride almost 35 miles to the campground in Half Moon Bay, and we weren’t sure we could make it.

After a mile or so, we stopped at the Rainbow Grocery, which is amazing! There is going to be so much better food down the west coast than across the South!

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Even our bikes are happy to be at the Rainbow Grocery!

While I was waiting for Sadie, I checked out my odometer, which was on, but not recording distance or speed. I was excited to find I still had the instruction booklet in my handlebar bag. Maybe I could fix it! After about 10 minutes, however, I realized it was the instructions from two odometers ago. Looks like I need to replace my odometer again. This will be the fourth one in a year.

Unsurprisingly, there were a few very steep but relatively short hills as we left the city.

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Hipsters in San Fran have gears.

We made it through these and wound through Golden Gate Park to the coast. We decided to take the meandering way rather than the more direct busier street. We hoped we wouldn’t regret it later.

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A concerned citizen in rural Florida warned me about this!

So far, Sadie and I have realized we both stop a lot and like to take pictures. My friend Charlie thought stopping once in ten miles would be onerous. We may well have stopped eight times in the first three miles. It’s nice to have that in common.

As we left the city, past the box houses on the hills, the climbs got longer.

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On the first hill, I felt great. On the second one, my legs felt tired. The third one was curvy with little to no shoulder. It reminded me a lot of my first day climbing out of San Diego last spring. But it wasn’t raining and there were no semis or Border Patrol. And it really wasn’t that steep. I didn’t cry and I only walked once. I sincerely hoped there wouldn’t be a fourth.

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There were numerous spectacular views, at least.

About 7 miles out we decided we were really done and started seriously looking for a place to stay. But the hostel a mile down the road only had one bed, and wouldn’t let one ofus sleep on the floor. And the RV park four miles away did not allow tents under any circumstances. There were some expensive looking inns.

A woman pulled over to make sure we were okay we were looking on our map and the Internet. She thought we looked lost. I find that funny because it’s hard to get lost on Highway 1. But we were looking for information. She said the last seven miles we were trying to avoid were quite flat. She’d ridden that way many times. That was good to hear, because drivers and cyclists don’t always have the same conception of flat. And our map’s elevation profile confirmed it. We decided to go for it, after all. Besides, we didn’t have much choice.

We sped off, averaging 16 miles an hour for at least the first two miles. That’s twice as fast as I usually ride while touring! I couldn’t quite keep up that pace the whole way, and we got on an oceanside path where that speed wasn’t practical anyway. It was too windy (long i) and there were a number of kids and dogs. But we still arrived in the campground before the sun dropped out of sight.

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Just barely before, but before. See the sun back there? It’s not down yet!

There was another cyclist in the hike and bike area who had also left San Francisco today, though much earlier than us. He was an older man named Jesse, and this was his 28th trip down the coast. He chatted happily while we faded as we set up camp. Sadie has been riding since Portland, so she had an extra day to rest. I just took an extra day to get started. But here we are! I’m so happy to join her for this adventure, and to see where the road takes us!

Not Leaving San Francisco, Yet

By | June 11, 2012

Sunday, June 10, 2012
ORD to SFO

I had planned to fly in, take the BART directly to REI, pick up my bike, put it back together, meet Sadie, and ride south. But there was no biking today. I checked my tracking number last night, and my bike was scheduled to be delivered Monday, tomorrow. Oops. I arrived without incident at the San Francisco airport and started calling friends to find a place to stay the night. Sadie, staying with friends of friends in Oakland, was not sad to have another day to rest and run errands.

My friend Lori was a little stressed, as she was working on packing up her house to move, but she agreed to let me stay with such short notice! Phew. As it happens, I have had a lot of experience packing over the last few years. I felt like I could be useful.

Rebecca and I have found that having a friend around to listen to you when pack is particularly helpful. Managing stuff can be more difficult just for the emotional weight the things in our lives carry. When you can pass on the stories of the knickknacks, clothes, books, scraps of paper, half-used bottles of lotion, and so on, it becomes easier to sort them, box them up, and sometimes even let them go. As this goes along, when you find a task that doesn’t involve deciding, then you can hand that over to your listening friend as well. I wrapped and boxed many breakables at Lori’s.

I’m so happy I was able to offer something in return for a place to stay! I felt like I was in the right place at the right time. I was also able to introduce her to the three box method of sorting. (One for keeping, one for tossing, and one for giving away.) It’s such a useful strategy, but it’s even easier to use when I’m not the one making all the decisions!

I also got to have dinner with my friend Sara. She recently married her long-time partner at a tiny ceremony in Reno, and she started working for the Burning Man organization just two weeks ago. She also has more experience as an aunt than I do. There was so much to catch up on!

I’m so thrilled I got to visit with two terrific friends. I think my bike arrived right on schedule after all.

Living the Dream

By | June 11, 2012

Saturday, June 9, 2012
Rogers Park to Wicker Park, Chicago
8 miles

I fly to San Francisco in the morning to meet Sadie and start riding down the coast to San Diego, but I started riding with my gear tonight. It’s really easy to get to O’Hare airport using public transportation in Chicago, but from my house it just takes a long time, at least two hours. But if I leave from my friend Charlie’s place in Wicker Park, it’s only a 35 minute ride on the blue line. So his place has become my go to launch pad for early morning flights.

It’s easier to bike panniers across town than to carry them, so I put the rack back on my mountain bike. I normally only use it for winter riding, and I keep the rack off to make it as light as possible. My touring bike is of course being shipped to the West Coast, from REI to REI. So, I strapped everything to the mountain bike, and headed out at about 10:30pm. Luckily, it’s no problem to leave my bike at Charlie’s for the three weeks I’m gone. It just blends in with the six or so other bikes he has laying about his apartment, not counting his roommate’s three or four. As long as he doesn’t start scavenging it for parts, that is!

I was about a mile from my house when I saw Bonnie, the trapeze school office manager, waiting at a bus stop. What a great start to my trip! I pulled over to talk to her for a few minutes. I love running in to people I know in random places about town. It makes me feel so local. Also, I needed to let her know a few things about the office from that afternoon. One less email to worry about!

It’s great to ride through Chicago at night, because the streets are pretty empty, but really well lit. Except for a few areas dense with bars, like the last mile or so before Charlie’s. Though I saw a surprising number of women in fully sequined dresses, none of them stepped out into the bike lane without looking, and no drunk bros waving their arms around incoherently accidentally knocked me on the helmet. (It’s happened before.) I’m getting used to cars stopping in the middle of the road, instead of pulling all the way over to the right.

However, note to drivers: if you’re going to rush around a cyclist and stop suddenly in front of them, i.e. cut me off, pull over all the way to the right so I can pass you on the left, like traffic normally works. Don’t leave space for me to go around you on the right! Why would I want to pass you on the right? So you can cut me off again?

I made it through Bucktown on a Saturday night, so I think Highway 1 should be a piece of cake. But, I will miss flat Chicago. I stayed in the same gear I normally ride in, even after I loaded about 50 pounds on my bike. I’m only saying that because I weighed in at 60 on the last trip. But it sure doesn’t feel like that much! I also think my rear tire may have been flat. It was sure squirrelly. But it has been a year since I loaded this much stuff on the bike and rode anywhere. It might have been me.

The 9th annual World Naked Bike ride also happened to be going on this evening. I saw one guy in a vest and nothing else turn off Damen at Clybourn. I figured it was over. But as I got close to his house, Charlie rode up behind me. He was headed for the Jewel to get snacks, but saw online that the naked ride was supposed to pass by 2 blocks up any minute. Suddenly, we heard a lot of yelling and honking. There they were. Some totally naked, others in various stages of undress or costume. Riding your bike naked looks very uncomfortable to me, but everyone looked like they were having a great time. Seeing us on bikes, many of the riders beckoned to us to join in. We just waved back. If I wasn’t riding fully loaded, I would have at least followed the parade for a bit. We even saw a few friends in their underwear.

Earlier, a speedy hipster cyclist had buzzed past me, commenting, “Serious panniers.” I don’t think he meant it positively. But I yelled back, “I’m riding to California tomorrow,” stretching the truth a tiny bit. He turned around to come back and ask me about it. A guy weaving on a wierd little motorbike asked me “What’s up?” when I gave him a bit of a stink eye. I don’t like people on the road acting inconsistently, especially when it’s hard to navigate with all that stuff on my bike. “Living the dream?” he asked, trying a little too hard and too weirdly to be friendly. “Well, I am riding to California tomorrow,” I replied. He didn’t have a pithy response to that. In a city full of cyclists, naked ones even, a loaded bike still turns heads.

It felt good to be self-contained on the bike again, and not nearly as traumatic to ride away with all that weight as when I started cross-country last spring. I have been riding a good ten to twenty miles nearly every day for a year since I’ve been in Chicago, so I feel like I’m in pretty good riding shape. At least, as long as the terrain is flat. It will be very interesting to see what an actual hill feels like!

Recent Sightings

By | June 11, 2012

Thursday, June 7, 2012
A list of notable things I have seen lately that I’m sorry I don’t have pictures of:

Santa Claus on a Harley trike leaving the Walmart near my mom’s house. If I were a big old man with a bushy snow white beard, would I wear a red thermal under my overalls when I went out for a ride on my hog?

A huge semi truck stuck under a bridge on Ashland, near Cortland, with about half of its roof peeled back like a sardine can, just like in the cartoons. Insulation was hanging out everywhere, and I think the cut was about six inches deep. The truck looked so big and the bridge so short compared to it, I’m surprised he even tried. I wish I knew how they got it unstuck. If I hadn’t been on my way to work, I would’ve liked to stick around and watch.

A huge man at the doctor’s office in Kenosha wearing a black concert T-shirt, which, upon closer inspection, said, “One night only! Coming to your town! Santa Claus!” When he turned around, I saw that, on the back of the black bowling shirt he wore over the Santa tee, was an airbrushed picture of Al Pacino from Scarface, lording over two piles of cocaine. Being airbrushed, the mounds of blow could have passed for clouds, but they were at the bottom of the picture. And two friends I mentioned this to later, who have both actually seen this movie, confirmed that the character is a coke dealer. And since this man made quite a large canvas, the piles were each about the size of a slice of bread. Seemed excessive to me.

Willie Nelson in concert! My friend Bob, whom I have known since the first grade, is a harmonica player, and has made the acquaintance of the harmonica player in Willie’s band. That’s Bob’s story to tell, but suffice it to say, Mickey offered Bob comp tickets to their performance in Waukegan at the gorgeously renovated Genessee Theater (I’m also sorry I don’t have pictures of that!), and I was lucky enough to be invited along. Willie Nelson is a cultural icon! And relatively current in the news! And who doesn’t love On the Road Again?

So, Willie is pushing 80, we think, but he still looks just like Willie, scraggly grey braids and red bandana rolled up around his forehead, and he still sounds gravelly like Willie. That kind of voice just gets more so as it ages.

Willie would start out most songs on his own, so he sort of sounded like he was talking, maybe telling a story, but then he’d strum a chord, or whatever it is guitar players do, and then the band would jump in and you’d realize he was singing, not chatting. Bob had mentioned the band had been playing together for some forty years, and they don’t rehearse. I wondered if they also don’t play with a set list. Maybe they just knew the music so well, Willie would just start a song and they started playing when they knew what it was, which was quickly.

Whether that was the case or not, they barreled through his songbook! Sometimes it sounded like he hadn’t finished one song before he’d start another. He didn’t even pause as he’d tear off his red bandana and toss it in to the audience, nor when he replaced it from a small pile of pre-rolled and tied bandanas sitting in front of the drummer.

On the way there, I told Bob I was excited to see Willie, as he is a cultural icon, but I felt bad that I couldn’t call to mind too many of his songs. But when he played, I pretty much knew them all. In fact, I couldn’t remember a time when I didn’t know most of them. I’m certain that I never had heard the one with a chorus of, “Whiskey for my men, and beer for my horses!” before, but by the end of it, I felt like I’d known it forever too. (Though the story of that song seemed to be valorizing vigilante justice, which I do find questionable.)

Summer nights and thunderstorms. Spring was awesome! It came early. Everything bloomed early. I’d forgotten how green and beautiful it is, and how wet and fertile spring smells, and how the smell of spring rain makes everything else smell better, too!

So summer’s early as well, and it’s amazing. Especially when it stays warm at night and you can bike around and play in the park, and between the city lights and the longer days, it takes a really long time to get dark, so the sky just gets deeper blue. I did try to get a picture of this:

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Baa, Baa, Black Sheep! Have You Any Wool?

By | May 30, 2012

We set up the outdoor trapeze rig this month at Belmont Harbor. It was delayed a bit due to a permit issue, but opened to beautiful spring weather.

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On our first weekend out, two older women stopped by to see what was going on. Terry, in the green, was disappointed not to be able to try the trapeze, due to her health. She mentioned that she always loved to do out of the ordinary things, like bike across Europe!

She told me how she rode around Europe in the 1950′s for 5 months. She had such a terrific adventure. Of course, her mother was sure she was going to be kidnapped or murdered. But everyone she met was so friendly. Many people invited her to stay in their homes. Most were very excited to meet an actual American.

I told her how my mother thought the exact same thing when I decided to start traveling by bike. Of course I meant to write down our whole conversation right away, but I waited a few weeks, and now I’ve forgotten most of it. What remains is how awesome it was to meet a kindred traveler.

To which I would also like to add: Look mom, she was doing this in the 1950′s! She’s way crazier than me!

Destination Shopping

By | May 30, 2012

Continuing to catch up from December:

Rebecca had heard that, in these great swaths of the American Heartland, the outdoor world stores were not to be missed. We set our sights on Bass Pro Shop.

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We were greeted by a herd of buffalo.

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Add on the waterfall,

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more furry friends,

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Santa, bacon jerky,

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a shooting gallery,

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and fancy food at the ocean (?) themed bowling alley and cafe, it did not disappoint.

Stuff on the Move

By | May 30, 2012

December 7-14, 2011

In early December, I returned to San Diego for an advanced Acro Yoga workshop presented by Jason and Chelsey of the Yogaslackers, and Lux, with whom I had the good fortune to study in Seattle last winter. Of course, I also ran around visiting as many friends as possible. Each day was scheduled densely, and I didn’t get much sleep. And there were still so many friends I missed seeing! By the end of the workshop, I could barely stand. I had both based and flown a lot of new material. But no one else seemed nearly as sore as me. It was only when I woke up the next morning with a fever that I realized I wasn’t just worked over, but sick, too.

Still, there was no time to rest. I was renting a truck to take the rest of my stuff out of storage in Karen’s basement in San Diego, in order to put it in storage in my mom’s basement in Kenosha. My amazing friend Rebecca had agreed to drive back with me! Road trip!

We had reserved a 12-foot truck, which I knew was going to be too large, but it was the smallest one we could get. When we got to the truck rental place, they only had a 16-foot truck for us! It looked so big. Neither Rebecca nor I was thrilled about the idea of driving it over the mountains, or through cities, or at all. Plus, it seemed like it would cost a lot more in gas. At first, they insisted that was the only truck available. They called around a bit and seemed to confirm that. I didn’t have the energy to continue pressing, but Rebecca was insistent. Thank goodness for her!

With her persistence and friendly nature, they seemed to conjure a 12-foot truck out of thin air for us. We rushed over to the Mission Valley location to pick it up. By this time, it was about 6pm. We had originally planned to leave at noon, and we still had to load up the truck at Karen’s.

I’ll spare you the details of getting everything out of Karen’s crawlspace, over a French drain with loose dirt underfoot, then up a flight of stairs and outside in the rain, but we did it, just the two of us.

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I only filled up the truck this much. Did I really need this stuff?

 

We arrived in Las Vegas at about 3am. Our friends Levi and Jaq had left the door open for us, so we tiptoed in and crashed.

We got to visit with Levi and Jaq and their adorable dogs, Deer and Fawn, very briefly in the morning before hitting the road again. We planned on reaching Denver that night. Utah, which is beautiful anyway, was even more gorgeous covered in snow. Unfortunately, it was dark by the time we drove through the mountains in Colorado, but there was an amazing and huge full moon. Everywhere we stopped, we were warned about the coming snow, but the sky and the roads remained dry and clear the whole way. There was definitely snow on the ground already, though, which was fun to play in whenever we stopped.

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Yay for snow!!!

 

It would have been more fun, but I had the worst sore throat I can remember. I sat at dinner trying to figure out how I could eat my soup without swallowing.

In Denver, we stayed with Francisco, an amazing acroyogi who used to live in San Diego. Sadly, the best part for me was that I had arranged a doctor’s appointment in the morning.

I actually felt a little better the next morning, and the quick test at the doctor said I didn’t have strep throat. More Advil, then. I actually ate a bowl of cereal for breakfast without too much wincing.

So far, this hadn’t been the most fun vacation for Rebecca. I was so happy and thankful to have her along. I just couldn’t have done it without her! Even with me dragging along, we were still making pretty good time, so we started looking for places to stop and enjoy.

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The Buffalo Bill Trading Post boasted, in addition to a stuffed, two-headed cow, a hand carved miniature version of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. The creator had spent over 20 years carving and painting about 20,000 pieces. It was crazy and wonderful all at the same time. Many of the pieces also moved. Some rotated, and some followed little tracks made out of bicycle chains. It was quite a spectacle.

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We also finally stopped at a Weigh Station. The truck rental office had told us we had to stop at them. We were kind of excited to see how they worked! The first several we came across were closed. When we finally pulled into one, we found that they weigh you in motion, so you just keep driving slowly over the scale, and then drive away. It was pretty disappointing that no one came out and talked to us so we could find out more about what was going on. And we’re pretty sure that the people watching us from the office laughed at us as we waved at them from the cab of our truck.

The next one we came across scanned us in some way as we continued to drive in the right lane of the interstate, then gave instructions on a digital sign. It told us we didn’t have to stop.

We took this picture as we parked in the truck area of a rest area. It seems to explain why the Weigh Stations weren’t particularly interested in us.

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We stayed at a hotel that night just over the border into Iowa. Rebecca thought she might go out to Karaoke, but I just fell into bed. The next day I got a call from the doctor’s office in Denver. The more lengthy test showed I did actually have strep throat. Next stop, a pharmacy in Iowa!

Fall!

By | December 29, 2011

September and October, 2011

The changing of the seasons was one of the things I most looked forward to in staying in Chicago, and it did not disappoint. I loved it! Every day that I rode my bike, especially, the crisp air and the colored leaves filled my heart with joy! The yellow leaves in particular enchanted me, and the way they stand out against the sky that only gets that color blue in fall.

Is there something about the air quality in fall that makes it look blue in that way, or is it only because of the contrast with the yellow leaves? I kept trying to take pictures to capture the colors, but they don’t really do them justice.

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Whether it was the thrill of living in a new place, after 15 years in San Diego, or a remembered imprint of the weather where I spent the first 23 years of my life, autumn felt right to me. October was the first month where finally I stopped telling people that I would probably be gone by the end of the month.

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I kept busy in September and October working in the office at the Trapeze School New York in Chicago. When I wasn’t there, I was probably doing Acro Yoga. You can still find me every Monday night at class at Urban Lotus.

Practicing “Mermaid” on Mondays

 

The outdoor trapeze season came to an end at the end of October as the weather became wetter and more unpredictable. We packed up the rigging and stored it away for summer.

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Meanwhile, progress on getting the school set up in an indoor space continues to move forward, albeit at a glacial pace. As of this writing, we will be opening soon in the Armory on Broadway, though there is no date set yet.

The most notable thing, however, that happened in October is that my nephew, Travis Jax Melnick, was born! My brother Ben and his wife, Becky, are proud parents of the cutest baby in the world, and I get to be the weird aunt!

TJ and I on Halloween

It’s pretty terrific that I am living this close to this much of my family for the first time in years, just in time for this momentous occasion!

Every Year I Think I Won’t Go Back

By | October 15, 2011

Burning Man was epic.

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Seen on the way out. Tee hee.

There were friends everywhere I turned. There were acroyogis I had met all over in my travels.

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Whitney from Phoenix

There were reminders of the past and invitations to the future. There were some of the biggest, most dramatic fires I have ever seen.

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That’s the man burning in there.

Each day was more amazing than the last. The weather was tremendous and the connections were magical. I did a high hand to hand for the first time ever,

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This is Mara doing one.

took a plane ride with my friend Jeff from Reno,

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Jeff and his plane

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The city from Jeff’s plane

saw several sunrises, and danced into the void of the open playa.

I walked into Farmopolis just as my friend Kristin had the bartender pull a tarot card from her deck. She turned around, saw me, and said the card must be for me. “Ten is complete,” she said. “This is a nine. You’re almost done. This woman (pictured on the card) is swimming with the flow of the river. She only looks back a little.”

I rode on pirate ships,

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submarines, and magic carpets, and I talked to wonderful strangers. One man I met in the ice line gave me a pendant from his Trojan Horse camp.

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It was one of the most impressive pieces of art on the playa, and it was the first thing everyone I met asked me about as I wore the necklace around for the rest of the week.

My friend Greg held relationship transition workshops inspired by the dissolution ceremony Ben and I had created last year at the temple. Outside of the workshops, between people I knew and people I met for the first time, I came across to at least six couples who were navigating the end of relationships and told them my story. I hope it helped them.

My expectations were particularly challenged at the temple burn. What has in the past been a silent, contemplative event, was nosier and rowdier, with more conflict and confusion. With the largest crowd ever and so many first-timers, it could hardly be helped, but I didn’t like it. My friend Windy helped me stay tethered to the present and experience as it happened, rather than as I wished it to be. It was rewarding to come out the other side of frustration, and the night continued to be more and more fantastical, with a huge, otherworldly aerial production and the vast spaces of the open desert. In the end, we only returned to camp when I could no longer ignore a painful blister on my toe, but that was as it should be as well.

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When one door closes, another door opens. Sometimes when it opens, too.

After a massive organizing, packing and repacking effort, for which I am forever indebted to Toymaker, Mankx and Becca, I left San Diego to drive back to Chicago. I may be there yet, but the Trapeze School scheduled me to work. With a too-brief stop in LA to visit Kate, I made it back in three days.