Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Who knows...

what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!

I've been working on this for a while and finally made the time this weekend to finish it off. I took it down to the port last night for a hammer session. Didn't develop any squeeks or rattles...I guess that's a good sign.

I also decided to try my hand at building a wheel. I'll reserve judgement until after the first ride. ;)

Just when...

you think you've got it all under control (everyone is ready for the first day of school, soccer is on track, you've found your off season rhythm for training) and you turn around and the garden has gone Crazy. You can't turn your back on those things for a minute! Today we harvested: beans, chard, beets, rutabaga, squash, onions, a carrot and apples. Don't leave your car windows open in our neighborhood this week ;).

Thursday, August 24, 2006

And then there were eight..

Nine little planets
Spinnin round the sun
Just hangin out in space
Not hurtin anyone.

But at a gathering of the astros
they put it to a vote
and poor little Pluto
they decided to demote.

And just like that
Pluto's just a floating rock.
The astros made is so
with some measuring and some talk.

I'm sure Pluto doesn't care
what the lofty astros say.
It'll simply do the same old thing,
go on its merry way.

But what about the astros
now that the Pluto debate is done?
Maybe they'll put their minds to work
on the renaming of the Sun.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Worked over by the G-Man

Yesterday the G-Man dragged my sorry butt over Sierra Rd.

I'd never heard of Sierra Rd. before the Tour of California this year. After climbing Teton Pass a few weeks ago I thought I would be ok. (I checked today, they have almost the same grade and elevation gain. The Teton Pass climb is 0.5 miles longer)

Well, I made it but it wasn't pretty. I'll add another thing to the long 'needs work' list for the off season.

Thanks to Ms. C and Little C for hanging out with Little M while G and I rode. I owe you guys!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Crazy Runners...

I can't say running has every been my favorite sport. Sure, I logged plenty of miles in my Triathlon days. Without a doubt, it's one of the most convenient ways to get in a workout. In my looming 'off' season I'm sure I'll pull on the running shoes and someday it would feel good to complete a marathon. But I've never experienced a 'runner's high' and I would much rather ride my bike or swim than run. So when I see suff like this it seems like some crazy shyte!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Morning Ride...

Cold quiet rain storms
squeezed from early fog wind
by redwood fingers

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I don't get it...

So last night AC is giving me the report from the Tuesday Night Port Ride and she mentions that there were two guys there who were not wearing helmets. For those of you who are not familiar with the port ride, it is a 'Crit. Simulation' ride for any and all comers. Recently the organizers have painted a 'Start/Finish' line on the course and collect money for cash primes. Needless to say it can get serious on the prime laps. In fact, several weeks ago two guys went down on the final lap and both ended up with separated shoulders.

So why would you go to this ride without your helmet?

Amazingly, one of the helmetless ones was from a team that has lost two riders to tragic accidents this year.

It seems pretty simple to me: You're on your bike, on the road - there's a helmet on your head.

Maybe we can just all make it a team rule!

PS. Just to clarify, this isn't me and he had a helmet but wasn't wearing it in the photo.

Monday, August 14, 2006

And this is only the beginning

For 6 years I was a teacher in the Oakland public schools. I swear, there is no bureaucracy thicker than that of a bankrupt school district which has been taken over by a state administrator. In the last year, I managed to overcome a lot of guilt about leaving the east Oakland families I knew and loved so well, and take a job in the Berkeley public schools.

I was offered my new job in April.
I wasn't offered a contract to sign until late June.
I then found out in July that I needed many things in order to be hired in Berkeley which I currently didn't have:
* a social security card
* fingerprints
* a negative TB test from the past 6 months
* a letter from Oakland verifying my years of service
* a letter from Oakland certifying that I had resigned from their district.

Despite 10-15 unanswered phone calls to the OUSD bureaucrats, a visit to the district office, and several more phone calls (all, thankfully, answered) to the BUSD offices, I now have a meeting tomorrow to sign my Berkeley contract.

Oakland, though, hasn't come up with the certified resignation letter (even though I have sent 2 letters of resignation letters to Oakland in the past 2 months).

AND, although I haven't worked for the Oakland schools since June 2005, I found out last week that they still pay my health insurance (remember, they went bankrput a few years back). Resigning seems to be really, really hard!

So, I don't think I'll actually be hired by Berkeley tomorrow.

You'd think there were people lined up to teach urban middle school math. But there ain't...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

38 Hour BendOR

A couple of good bike rides. Three nice meals. A little Oregon dirt in our eyes and maybe a little in our blood...stay tuned.

Now we're home and trying to figure out what to do with a bushel of zucchini.

Meet Mr. Zen

Oh my stars, is driving through eastern Oregon a bore. We decided to head to Bend, OR under the guise of good biking, but really it was simply to avoid driving home through Nevada. But can YOU tell the difference? We couldn't.
I knighted Mike as Mr. Zen as he has this spectacular ability to just drive and drive while I alternate between tearing my hair out from boredom and napping.

But Bend. That's it. We're settling here. Thanks to Gianni's advice we have gotten great biking advice, eaten like royalty, and are jacked up on Joe.

We're heading home tomorrow. But to Bend, we'll be back.

Park Hopping

We wanted to leave Jackson with a Bang! After climbing Teton Pass the other day we decided against the 90 mile three pass loop the locals call 'Around the Block'. Instead, we parked in Teton National Park and headed north with hopes of reaching Yellowstone, 35 miles to the North. The road was pretty good, the early traffic was light and we hoped our tired legs would wake up along the way. The scenery was spectacular. We made a couple sight seeing stops to enjoy the Tetons from other angles and watch a beaver swim.

I don't think I've ever seen as many motorcyclists as we've seen while here in Jackson. The Cowboy Bar seems to be the in town hang out, the line of motorcycles out front reminds me of the lines of Vespas in Italy. While riding to Yellowstone we were frequently passed by large groups of Harleys migrating through the parks like a line of roaring geese. I don't get why this is fun or communing with nature but it seems to make them happy.

We covered the 35 miles to Yellowstone pretty quickly but our legs were not coming around and Ali was starting to feel worse. After a short refueling stop and helping eight families with their vacation photos at the entrance to Yellowstone we decided to head back.

There were not many hills along the route but our legs were on strike. Finally, 10 miles from the car Ali decided to pull into the local lodge and let me get the car. I could see the afternoon thunderstorms building over the Tetons so I put my head down and hammered. The lightninig strikes on Mt. Moran ahead of me motivated me to ride faster. Unfortunately, the rain won the race to the car and I rode the last 5 minutes in the pelting rain.

After picking up Ali, driving back through the Teton storm (which included hail at this point) back to Jackson we packed up, said our goodbyes and headed to Boise.
Jackson Hosts

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Teton twister

Today was both a relaxing and eventful day all wrapped up into one.

After a leisurely morning in Jackson, we decided that our road bikes had collected too many dead bugs, a sure sign of too many days atop the wagon. Using twigs, we peeled the dead bees out of our gears and headed up Teton Pass. The road from Jackson to the top of the pass climbs 2000 feet in 4 miles which was a lot harder to ride then it looked! We road up with my brother and his girlfriend who then took the single track down while we opted for the road.

After 3 days here of hanging out with the natives, I was ready to venture into Teton National Park and be a tourist for a few moments. We drove through the park, stopping at String Lake where I had hoped to take a short dip (of the skinny variety). Unfortunately, even at 5pm, the park was riddled with tourists which took all the fun out of my swim. Tomorrow, though, we'll be back.

As we were heading back to Jackson, we passed about 20 cars parked alongside the road. Wildlife! I jumped out of the car to ask the guy with the largest telephoto lens what the hell he was looking at. In a strong foreign accent, and with broken English, he responded that his tour book said that you can see bears from this exact spot on the road.

"Wow," I commented, "So where are they?"
"I don't see one. But the book say that they climb up zee tree," he eagerly responded.
"Are you watching one right now?" I asked.
"No. The-or-eti-cally they are here. The books says it. That's why all the people are here," he explained.
"Have you seen a bear tonight?" I responded.
"No. I'm being patient. I think they are too."

Oh dear, now these were the real tourists. As we drove away, we spotted both antelope and elk, but I guess these weren't of interest to the bear-stalkers.

But the real gawking came when passing the Jackson airport: AIRFORCE 2. Yes, with the war in Iraq and the increasing violence between Israel and Lebanon, our very own Dick Cheney is home in Jackson. I mean, it is the best fishing of the season, after all.

Friday, August 04, 2006

A Day In The Backyard

Ali, Ben & The TetonsBack in Berkeley, we have veggies in our backyard. Here in Jackson they have miles and miles of trails...oh, and the Grand Tetons.

Stanley to Jackson Hole

Sunrise panarama

Somewhere in the wee hours of the morning, Mike woke me up to see the incredible sunrise out our window. As our motel room in Stanley was on the river, overlooking the Sawtooth Mountains, we had left the window open all night so we could enjoy the music of the river and wake up to our unbelieveable view. We were not disappointed.

Since our time in Stanley was limited and our ride yesterday was just so-so, we decided to do the 'epic' Stanley mountain bike loop: Fisher Creek Trail. We now had two locals recommend it to us. One, a guy in a Sun Valley bike store, was so excited about this ride that he used his shop's fax machine to xerox a copy of the route from a guide book. I wasn't so keen on doing it...half of the 17.8 miles of trail were marked as black diamond and I'm just not so keen on the technical descents. Mike convinced me that if (when) I needed to walk, I wouldn't fall of any clifs, but that we shouldn't miss the ride everone was talking about.

About 1/2 of the ride was through forest which had seen a huge fire within the last few years. Everywhere you looked, you were on a tiny sandy single track (literally no wider than 1.5 bike tires), peeking through charred trees with brilliant pink and purple wild flowers blooming beneath them. It was so damn cool.
fisher creek trail3fisher creek trail4fisher creek trail7
fisher creek trail11 mountain panorama

fisher creek trail9We found some quarter-showers along the side of the road when we were through and were thrilled to be able to clean up before our 6 hour drive across Idaho and into Wyoming. As we ventured further and further into rural Idaho, we reminded each other to heed the warning of a billboard which I sighted in Idaho Falls: "WARNING TO TOURISTS: DO NOT LAUGH AT THE NATIVES."

Crossing into Wyoming at Teton Pass, we paused to find the slopes where my brother had taken me backcountry skiing last winter. They sure look less scary in the summer time. We landed in Jackson and collapsed on the couch at my brother's cabin, so happy to have family with us and a home for the next 4 days.

Traversing Galena Summit

catch and release car plateAfter a couple of wonderful days in Sun Valley it was time to continue our meandering journey to Jackson. While at our morning fuel stop Ali couldn't resist snapping a few shots of local humor.

<-- Yuppie hick humor flamingo art
New art for our Berkeley yard-->

Once in the car, we headed North along the Big Wood River into the hills and over Galena Summit. On the other side we descended into the Saw Tooth Valley, bordered by the Saw Tooth Range on one side and the White Cloud Mountains on the other. The road passes over some of the head waters of the Snake River. It's amazing to watch this little trickle grow into a wide, raging river as you drive down the valley.

In an effort to help Ali understand my 'fascination' with fishing we stopped at the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery. I find the whole concept of fish hatcheries and their conflicting missions a bit humorous. On one hand the DFG (Department of Fish and Game) is trying hard to save the salmon populations that are disappearing because of all the damns along the Snake River. On the other hand they are also farming Rainbow Trout to plant in rivers for sport fishermen, planted fish that will displace other native species like Cutthroat and Greyling. The holding pens at the hatchery have some amazing fish that will be used in the effort to save the Snake River Salmon. These fish swam to the ocean several years ago, survived in the Pacific and then swam thousands of miles back up the Columbia River to the Snake River to this little river...amazing.
rainbow troutchinook salmon

We made our way to Stanley (population 100) , a funny little crossroad town in the middle of the Sawtooth Valley. Behind the gas stations and souvenir shops we found the Stanley Bakery; a nice alternative to truck stop food.

stream crossingAfter yesterday's epic ride we decided to try an easy mountain bike 'trail' that was marked on our guide map. Unfortunately, the trail was mostly jeep and ATV trails. The forest was beautiful but there were no spectacular views and the riding was dusty. We used a washed out bridge (one which Gianni would term an 'oopsie") as an excuse to cool off in the stream (funny, without a pole in her hands, Ali doesn't seem to mind wading).

As we were tooling down Highway 21 on our way back to Stanley we heard a soft thump from the roof of the car. A quick peek out the sunroof confirmed we had lost my front wheel from the roof rack - Oh firetruck! I was pretty skeptical we would find the wheel again but Ali would not be deterred. We backtracked, Ali mounted her road bike and I drove behind (running interference for the light fast moving traffic) and Ali found the wheel down a steep embankment!wheel in woodswheel rescue

After a mediocre ride and the wheel incident, we were ready to put our feet up and drink a beer. We were pleasantly surprised to pull into our hotel and discover peaceful little cabins on the bank of the river. Ali madly snapped photos out the window of our motel room, delighted with our solitude and our view.

staney hotel5

To make us appreciate our little slice of heaven even more we ventured to the near by Red Fish Lodge for dinner. When we got out of the car we thought we had stepped onto the set for a teenage summer camp movie ... not exactly the atmosphere we were looking for. But a glass of trappist ale went a long way toward making things right.

redfish lake lodge

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Sun Valley: Hitting the hills

Ali in panorama low res

Despite my good intentions to learn to enjoy fly fishing, we decided that it was best for Mike to have some time to ponder life and fish on his own in the wee hours of the morning. To be honest, standing waist-deep in the river yesterday while learning to fish was fun, but damn cold. Mike and I bonded and all, but I wasn't up for the 6am plunge into the icy cold water. I left that for the boy.

So, while Mike headed out to fish this morning, I jumped on the bike and headed out for a short jaunt on the road. The crisp, clear air was a treat and while heading up some mountain road, I detoured into the Sun Valley resort to check out the fancy folks. While toodling around, I overheard a conversation between a 10-year-old girl and her babysitter (But when in Sun Valley, I believe we call the babysitter an aupair...but anyway). The girl was standing in front of a bike rental shop which hadn't yet opened. She was begging her aupair to rent a bikes for the 2 of them and let her "ditch" camp in order to go for a bike ride. "Please don't call my parents on the cell," she begged.

I didn't stick around to hear the resolution, but I was tickled that this young girl preferred to ride a bike than head to day camp.

Post-fishing and biking, Mike and I enjoyed huge Mexican chocolate lattes and read our little hearts out until we could sit still no more.

Mike as a specAnd then we were off. When mountain biking, our physical fitness far surpasses our technical prowess, so we often found ourselves frustrated as we'd tumble off our bikes. But mountain biking around here is truly spectacular. The single track is literally endless and we finished an epic 4 hour ride without seeing any other people. Love was in the air, though, as we rode through clouds of butterflies searching out their perfect mate.

Moth Sex Mike wishing for O2

Tomorrow we head for the tiny town of Stanley, in the heart of the Sawtooth mountains.