"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Saturday, October 28, 2006

10/28/06: Bike Tour-Ahhhhh!

33 miles (53 km) - Total so far: 82 miles (132 km)

Finally! I feel like I'm touring rather than hauling a load of steel! We got started rather late again, but not nearly as bad as Tuesday. I decided to take the route we should have taken the first time, Cherry Creek Trail to the state park. Weather was awesome, views great, and riding smooth; a welcomed change from Tuesday! My adjusted load is now 65 pounds; down from 115.

Yes kids, I dropped 50 pounds of needless shit.

The handling actually felt like a bike again, no issues that I had Tuesday. My speed was better, and hills much easier. Goes without saying I suppose, but for any would- be tourists: IF YOU DON'T NEED IT LEAVE IT!! I was lucky enough to be able to start over.

A few interesting people we met. A lady named Ty who said we were "living her dream"! We chatted with her near the reservoir, and she even gave us $2! It was a nice gesture from a great person. The dollar I got is my new mascot, I LOVE the symbolism!

At a picnic area at the state park, we ran into Jordan. He's a few days from retiring from CDOT after, as he put it, "wasting my whole f-ing life working for the government. He identified with what we're doing very much! He says he'd love to do this and had lots of questions. Of course we encouraged him & he reminded me a great deal of myself in the spring. Good luck Jordan, and congrats again!

Finally, we met a father and his two sons riding near the C-470. The older of the two seemed amazed that we were living off of our bikes! The younger one? Not so much. I think he'd rather be playing video games.

We did take a wrong turn in Parker and had to backtrack, but only a couple miles. I talked Bruno out of biking Parker Rd.! Not ready to deal with that yet!

We found a perfect spot to camp just off the CC trail between Parker and Franktown. We got there an hour or so before sunset, so we had time to eat some rice and chill out before dark. I liked that! By the way, Raman Noodle seasoning works well with rice! At least the oriental does.

So, as I type this in my tent, today was a much better beginning. The weather's chilly and they have alot more snow down here, but I'm dry, warm, and literally a happy little camper, as long as no one bothers us! Thanks Laina for letting me use the sleeping bag! How come is it yours is wider, almost a foot longer AND warmer???

Friday, October 27, 2006

10/27/06: Bike Tour-Yawn...

Not alot going on today, although it's gorgeous outside! Bruno and I went and bought food, and I got another pair of biking shorts. Other than that, it's been nothing but surfing the 'net, and watching 'Gladiator'.

We're both getting a bit restless... I got the panniers re- packed last night, and will go through them again tonight. Eliminated a TON of stuff; much lighter. Also going to replace the tube in my back tire with a thicker one. We should be ready to push off early tomorrow morning; much earlier than noon!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

10/26/06: Bike Tour-Blizzard, Eh?

Woke up to the snow. Heavy, wet snow. Quite a bit, but not nearly what I expected. The Winter Storm Warning yielded about 6" of snow here, but further south toward Castle Rock and Colorado Springs & Pueblo (the way we were going) received as much as 2 feet!

We chose wisely.

In retrospect, taking 285 would have been a disaster! Conifer got something like 22"! This whole episode has made us think in terms of how to respond if we're faced with this in the middle of nowhere. Also, the Pocketmail may have saved our hides. We'll arrange to have someone keep an eye on the weather if we can't.

Seems elementary, doesn't it?

We've decided to stay here through Friday, to let the snow melt a bit. Temps statewide east of the mountains are to be near 70 Saturday, and the forecast says nothing about ANY kind of rain far into next week. We've decided to take a more easterly route at the beginning, to try to drop in elevation and lessen the chances of more 'blizzards'. I have to say... Coloradans have a strange definition of 'blizzards'. We've seen much worse in Michigan, and people just go about their business! I think it may be a matter of the media getting people worked up so they'll watch their weather 'forecast'!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

10/25/06: Bike Tour-Blizzard! REALLY?

21 miles (34 km) - Total so far: 49 miles (79 km)

The decision was a no-brainer. We got the details on the snowstorm heading for the front range, and heard forecasts of up to a foot of snow with sustained winds as high as 60 mph, and gusts to 90! The options were easy to weigh:

1- Ride it out (HA!)
2- Get a hotel (almost as outrageous)
3- Ride back from whence we came and try again after the storm moves through

Since we were only 20 or miles... on a direct route... it was easy. We packed up my first stealth camp and turned back.

First campsite.Tearing down as the sun comes up.

Normally, this would seem like a setback, but not so. I discovered about 20 minutes in to the ride the day before that I had packed entirely too much! It was suddenly becoming obvious what I could do without, and that list was getting longer with the mile. By Wednesday morning, I was glad to be able to drop that stuff off!

We initially intended to just retrace the C-470/ Platte Trail, but my experiences on the 470 Tuesday didn't exactly leave me missing it. We stopped off for breakfast at Le Peep at Quebec & 470, and relaxed for a few minutes and decided this would be a good opportunity to get some real street riding experience, fully loaded and good practice at finding our way on the fly. So up Quebec to Dry Creek, etc. We cut and weaved our way home, at a nice slow pace (no hurry, right?) and enjoyed it!

Heading home ahead of the snowstorm.

Just as the first rain drops were falling, we got back. Some 27 or 28 hours after we left! Eventful 27 hours it was. The place had a different vibe when I walked in. Now and again, it's good to disturb the 'assumed course' of events. For those of you who've seen "The Hunt for Red October", I equate it to a 'Crazy Ivan'. The look I got from one of our roommates when she walked in to see me was PRICELESS!

Roommates: Bad idea.

But, it's fun to stir the shit now and then! I was particularly interested in the visitor she had while her hubby was at work and my GF was headed out to her job! It makes me appreciate what I have. A little perspective does one good.

As I went to bed, no snow. It's supposed to hit Thursday AM....

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

10/24/06: Bike Tour-Launch!


As I type this, we're packed and ready to go. I spent most of last night sorting, packing, eliminating stuff and eating hard- boiled eggs. We got to bed around 1:30, and up at about 7:30; plenty of sleep. I eliminated more stuff today, threw on the oversize handlebar bag and I'm set. I decided to take Anna's advice and leave the hammock here; I'll use it next time!

We decided against 285 after comparing weather forecasts. 35 for a high in Fairplay, and snow later in the week. 72-80 all week toward La Junta. Easy choice! We're going to venture out via the Platte River trail, get south of the metro, then head toward Punkin Center... yes "Punkin". From there? Not sure, but perhaps toward the Texas panhandle or E. New Mexico. Not sure of specifics other than getting out of Denver.

Six months of planning and anticipation gives way to the reality...away we go.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

10/22/06: Bike Tour-Prelude Update #5

I'm not doing so well at the 'updating more often' thing! In my defense, there hasn't been much to update over the past week. We were waiting for Bruno's bike to arrive, which it did Friday, and for a package from Montreal which should be here tomorrow or Tuesday. After that gets here, we're all set and will probably leave the next day.

He took his bike into Campus to get the cassette replaced, and we enjoyed arguing with the jagoffs in the repair department. There seemed to be some conflicting information regarding the 'estimates' for the repairs on the bike. Come to find out, there are no 'estimates'! They charge labor based on the 'item' rather than 'time spent'. So, there are "quotes" rather than "estimates"! With me so far? There should NEVER be ANY difference in "quotes" between different people unless one is skimming, incompetent or simply too lazy to learn the pricing scale. Guess which it was. Yep! The second guy we talked to was simply too lazy to get off his ass and look up the charges! When we pressed him on it, he seemed to be quite inconvenienced and annoyed! God forbid someone would want to know what they're paying for!

Heavens No!!!!

Come to find out, they in essence charge $60/ hr. for labor; $1/ minute according to this guy's own estimate. He invited us to 'check around' and compare, which we did. Suffice it to say Campus Bike's 'service' department wont be touching my bike again. It seems like people would realize that hammering people for money once, trying to take advantage of them, then becoming indignant when they demand an explanation of the bill, thus not having them return, is less profitable than repeat business and word- of- mouth! Same story... everywhere. I'm particularly pissed in this case because of the amount of money I've spent there over the past 6- weeks. I hope that the $15 in labor is worth the lost business. Foolishness.

We decided to get the Pocketmail, but after it arrived Thursday, discovered it didn't work! We sent it back and are supposed to receive a new one tomorrow. I was on the verge of saying to hell with it, but it seems useful for things like this. If there are any problems with the next one, "To hell with it".

The weather here has been a dose of reality! It's been a roller coaster between sun, snow, wind and some rain. Fall in the Rockies! We took Bruno up into the mountains Friday, and found ourselves in a snowstorm. Some areas got up to 2- feet of snow, and I-70 was a mess:

I suppose the snow causes the nuts to fall from the trees:

"O" is for obedience!

Yesterday, we decided to go to the Denver Zoo, since it was free. Had fun; took lots of pictures.

Who's watching who?

Other than that, we've rented movies, talked and just chilled in the 8 days he's been here. Nothing terribly exciting, but in the next few days we'll make up for that.

One development may be a change in plans- again- about the route. We've discussed going straight to Mexico, and seeing how far/ long we can go, and suspending California/ Arizona. Bruno's all about it, but I'm not sure that's for me. I'm still in the pondering phase. Going to Tampico to see a friend is one thing; heading toward Central America is another.

It's funny the conflicting information you find! Some people equate Mexico as a third- world country filled with savages who prey upon 'poor helpless' Americans! Others have no problems whatsoever traveling solo and self- sustained, all the way to South America. It's made me realize, and further embrace one of the fundamental reasons for this trip: stripping away influence and 'imposed fear'. Seeing things with my own eyes and drawing my own conclusions. Between the media, hippies, neo- cons, religious nut jobs and politicians, a person can't hope to cut through the 'bullshit' on their own without personal experience to draw upon. I'm of the belief that the 'bullshit' runs just as deep on both sides of the ideological river.

Personally, my mind has been quite agitated. Too much to think about; too much idle time. I've been a bit moody! My girlfriend didn't really like the fact that I mentioned our 'disagreement' on 'spending time', but I believe now she understands why I asked her NOT to pass the link to this page along to her friends and family! The positive side of that is that we've, somewhere, come to an understanding (?) on this.

As I get closer to shoving off, I'm becoming more aware of the "Anxiety of Departure" that seems to be a common theme in most epics. Leaving everything you know and care about for uncertainty is difficult. In some strange way, I'm enjoying that anxiety. I suppose that comes from expecting it.

Bruno and I are going to dig into maps today, hammer out a rough initial- route. Thanks for the info/ suggestion regarding 285! I love that route, but never really gave much consideration to it as it pertains to this! We'll definitely look at it today and let you know what we decide. If anyone has experience/ thoughts on Mexico, I'd love to hear them. Baja????

More from the zoo:

Didn't realize they played...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

10/15/06: Bike Tour-Prelude Update #4

Bruno finally got here last night, after spending nearly 60 hours on a bus! Crossing the border was uneventful, after that dealing with Greyhound's profound lack of customer service was the biggest challenge. The bus got to Denver on time after a six hour customer service related delay in Kansas City, and we were able to be there when he arrived.

Now it's a matter of waiting for the bike to arrive, so we'll have most of the week to get acquainted and come up with a rough idea for the 'plan'. Not much else to do until then, so we'll take him up into the mountains either tomorrow or Tuesday, and basically just hang out for a few days. We get along well, but the anticipation of getting on the road is getting difficult for me. I've tried not to bombard him with too much, although the thoughts of the trip pretty much dominate my mind these days!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

10/12/06: Bike Tour-Change in Plans II

(I thought it was) Thoreau (who) said something to the effect of "Go on your own journey, and go alone!" I'm beginning to fully understand that philosophy!

Things changed rapidly, again, last night. We discussed options and Bruno decided to ship his bike and take Greyhound to Denver from Medicine Hat, SK. He found shipping, got the ticket and boarded the bus at 1 this afternoon. I was thrilled, because the bike would get here and he would presumably arrive at 5pm Saturday and we could go from there. Simple, right?


Apparently, either Greyhound or the border officials reserve the right to refuse entry into the US from Canada to anyone holding a one-way ticket. He discovered this in Regina, after riding all the way from Medicine Hat by-- get this-- READING IT ON A WALL! So, the kid's bike is on it's way to my house, and he's afraid he wont be able to cross the border and he'll be stuck in Manitoba.

I'd be shitting too.

Here's my question: Why didn't the person selling the ticket TELL HIM ABOUT THAT IN THE FIRST PLACE???? Why'd he have to read it on the wall? I believe he's going to exchange his ticket for a round trip (back to Canada) in Winnipeg, but Christ!

This is going to turn into a rant; I can feel it. I think I'll add another section for that...

So, I'm a bit annoyed tonight. But, while I rant, I also realize that this is because of a lack of preparation. Lacking information, and a clear- cut plan of action if Vancouver didn't work. Part of the flavor, and I'm sure in a few days we'll laugh about it... just not tonight! He's supposed to call from Fargo, so I know he got in.

Pretty much the whole week has been spent trying to get Bruno here, working, and watching my Tigers in the playoffs. I hate to admit it, but if they make it to the World Series, I'll have to grab the portable XM radio to listen. I've been waiting 22 years for that!

One interesting thing happened today. Encountered my first Black Widow. HUGE! I'm working with a friend (Eric) maintaining properties that have gone into foreclosure, mowing & winterizing. We found this little monster hiding in the tub drain. I had heard that the Brown Recluse was in Colorado, but didn't expect to see a Widow. Got some pictures of her, and let her be. Can't believe I didn't squish her, but she wasn't hurting anyone. I can deal with snakes, bats, and just about anything else; not a fan of spiders!

Decided to work a few days next week, since we'll be waiting for Bruno's bike. Might see if he wants to ride along with us. The bike will take 7- 10 days, so we've pushed the start date back again. Guessing either the 21st or 22nd, but maybe as late as the 24th. I suppose there's one positive out of this: making more money! Also, all this has shaken me further out of my "how" funk, and back to the "why's". And Bruno's got another story to tell!

I looked at a few routes from Denver to S. Colorado; there's not much out east. La Veta pass seems like the best place to cross the mountains, on Hwy. 160. The pass is 'only' 9000 ft. or so, and descends into the San Luis Valley to Ft. Garland. We could ride south from there into New Mexico to Taos. I know that route to Taos well from living there. At that point we could cross New Mexico going across the Rio Grande Gorge bridge (seen Natural Born Killers? The bridge scene.) and west. We'll discuss all that later, but a trip to the Sand Dunes would be quick too. Also thinking about a Route 66 route. I've always been a fan of the Mother Road, and it seems that the still- existing stretches would be perfect to ride; little traffic, lots of relics etc., and lots of towns. I really want to do the the section in W. Arizona that leaves I-40 near Seligman and goes to Oatman. We'll see, eh? Gotta get outta Denver first. Didn't Seger sing that?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

10/11/06: Bike Tour-Change in Plans

"A Change in plans?" HA! Get used to THOSE words! -x 12/23/09

Sort of a trying week but funny things happened that made me realize, or better put: remember, that if I just let things happen they tend to work themselves out!

When I began to do some real research on getting me and the bike to Seattle. I quickly realized that I would need to ship the bike a week in advance (Monday) in order to have it there, re- assembled, and ready to go. I called Velo Bike in Seattle and everything seemed fine. Then the question to myself: "When's Bruno going to get there??" He's not yet to the Rockies, the weather's getting colder, even in the Plains so I can only imagine what it's like in the mountains!! Would he even make it? It started to become apparent that plans laid down in the abstract weren't manifesting in the reality! I felt caught in limbo because if I ship the bike on Monday, then Bruno realizes it's too late in the season to bike the Rockies... say on on THURSDAY, I'm 15 kinds of screwed! Coupled with my own paranoid visions of biking the coast in gale- force winds and driving Pacific rains... I wasn't very optimistic.

I decided to do some soul- searching, and went back and read some 4-6 month old entries from my journal, about WHY I wanted to do this trip in the first place. In the beginning, the vision was one of a solitary biker, riding into the sunrise from Denver to a non- existent destination. Just going. When I found Bruno, it seemed that it would be great to have someone to share it with, to be able to reflect on where we were, where we were going, and what we'd learned and experienced. He was biking toward Vancouver, and since I didn't really care, and had always wanted to see the Oregon coast, Seattle made sense. The late- October weather has always been a warning flag in the back, and sometimes front, of my mind and I should have listened to it!

I went as far as, over the weekend, to begin an email to Bruno, explaining the seriousness of the situation as far as logistics go, and to implore him to turn south if there was ANY doubt about Vancouver! I had all but determined that if he was going to continue west, I may just set out, alone, from Denver rather than risk a wasted trip to Seattle!

I couldn't do that because of the commitment I made to him and didn't send the email.

One of the primary objectives of this trip was to be flexible and to take things as they came; let them add flavor to the experience. After some reflection, it was obvious I'd found my first opportunity to practice that.

If you read Bruno's update, you'll find that it all worked out. When I read that he 'doubted' he'd get to Vancouver, it was time to act. No man can tell another what to do. I'm glad that the realization was his. We chatted for a few hours on gmail, and batted around the idea of me driving to Montana to pick him up. That was actually a selfish offer on my part; it would get me on the road faster! In the end we decided that a bus from Swift Current to Denver made the most sense. While he'd have to ride Greyhound for 2 days, it would get him here Friday and offer him the chance to recharge for a few days. From my standpoint, it's cheaper to pay half of the bus ticket than to drive, and again, (selfish, I know!)get me on the road next week! The anticipation is intolerable!

BUT-- fate again steps in! When he got to the bus station today, he discovered that it would cost $355 to have his bike shipped here! Plus the $200 for the ticket.

Ummm... no.

So, he hitchhiked to Medicine Hat, Alberta and is on his way to a Couchsurfer in Lethbridge. We're back to trying to figure out how to get him here. I can't take our Mountaineer that far because it needs shocks, and the roommates can't go. So it looks like a rental car. Oh, joy! It's about 900 miles from Denver to his border crossing. He'll need to get that far, one way or another. Not going to deal with customs! It looks as though, unless there's another bolt of lightning, I'll leave either after work tomorrow or really early Friday. It's something like 14 hours each way; doable on a good night's sleep. Gets us back in Denver late Saturday. (?) One good thing about this experience: my Canadian geography is improving immensely!

So the plans, and of course the route, have changed dramatically. We'll have to sit down when he gets here and figure out which direction to go. Pretty easy when "North" and "West" are ruled out! I'm thinking a little east, then quite a bit south! I've always wanted to see the parts of northern New Mexico I missed when I lived in Taos, and relish the isolation! Bruno wants to see the Grand Canyon, so that would fit, and I have a friend who MAY still be working at the Lake Powell resort in Page, AZ. We both want to go to California. San Diego for me, and San Francisco for Bruno. We'll figure it out. Getting on the road, and getting south, is of more importance right now.

My friend in Tampico, Mexico has decided to leave in January. I think she's had enough of teaching English! I suspect there's more to it than that, and I'd love to find out 'what' that is. So I'm not sure we'd be able to get there by the time she leaves, unless we go there first. Always an option I guess. No Tampico?, There's always Baja! Mr DJ, cue up Van Halen's 'Cabo Wabo' if you please...

I said in the last update that my girlfriend wanted no part in my transport. After I posted that, it remarkably changed! She offered to take time off work, rent a car to Seattle and fly home. I found that interesting! No need for any of that now. Throughout this process, until now, she's not really shown an active interest in taking part in ANY of this, beyond discussion. She doesn't 'get it'. It's always been a 'nuisance' for her to go to the bike shops, REI, etc. Now that the departure date is less than a week away, she's beginning to panic. I find it ironic that all this time we could have spent 'together' we spent rushing through bike shops because she didn't want to be there. What would she do after we rushed home? TV! Wasting days off watching TV, then complaining about 'time together'! 'Time Together' isn't defined as going to dinner or to a museum, and it sure as hell doesn't mean watching TV/ movie! It means taking an active interest in the other persons life and sharing it with them. My answer to the 'quality time' question: "where were you and what were you doing all this time?". Seems a bit one- sided. She's a conventional person with socially programmed thinking and while I understand it, this has always been a problem. I must say I do appreciate the fact that she's tolerated me for the past two years, but that's just it--- she's tolerated rather than trying to understand & come along for the ride. So now, when I'm REALLY trying to focus my mind like a laser beam, I'm not going to deal with any Desperate Drama. She chose 'Ellen' and "Days of Our Lives" and it was generally a 'bother' to take part and 'spend time' with me over the last five months, so am I being unfair? Would you believe I saw this coming?

I'm fascinated more and more by my own mind, and how if I let it the view out the 'front window' changes. It all seemed so clear a month ago, but when I got lost in the 'how', the 'why' sort of faded to the rear. I suspect that will be both my greatest battle and liberation. As long as I keep the right set of glasses on my mind's eye! I'll begin to update more frequently from now on; I'll try to do it as close to daily as possible once Bruno gets here. Thanks too to the folks who've signed the guestbook! You'll be happy to know that reading 'it's not about the "stuff" did help, although I do believe I'm still taking the hammock!