Maren

Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Balboa Island

1/4/22

What a beautiful day! Janna was a wonderful host to the area for me. She took me first to Laguna Beach, south of here, where on the recommendation of my friend Mimi (hi, Mimi!) we went to the vegan food cart The Stand, which is in a building attached to a bike shop—so cool! I enjoyed an avocado sandwich.

Afterward, we went thrift-store shopping. For $14.42, including tax, I snagged three (three!) new-to-me activewear shirts, and a bottle each of travel-sized lotion and hair conditioner. I can now pitch at least one of my existing three shirts, which was ill-fitting to begin with and now has pretty bad pit stains at this point in my journey. I might pitch even another one that is also getting pretty grungy; we’ll see how much room I can make in my suitcase.

Then we went to Balboa Island, which was really cute. Look at the banana stand! (“There’s always money in the banana stand.” I’m assuming that that aspect of Arrested Development—which was set here in Orange County—was based on this business. There was also a nearly identical one a few doors down.) We enjoyed some chocolatey banana treats there.

Finally, we returned to the Newport Beach peninsula where Janna lives, and took a golf cart ride(!) around the neighborhood, during which we passed and waved at a number of her friends and neighbors. We got to the end of the peninsula just in time to catch the sunset: magical!

When we got home, we threw all my new clothes into the washer and dryer, and then Janna generously offered to darn one of my socks! I had planned to do it myself—after discovering the hole with dismay this morning—but she insisted, and she even had a “darning egg”! (Thanks again, Janna!) We also talked more about the historic hamlet of Waterford, Virginia, where I grew up and where some of her ancestors lived as far back as the 1600s. We even called my parents, in Waterford, to say hi and thanks for putting us in contact. (Hi again, Mom!)

Tomorrow I’m taking her up on her incredibly generous offer to drive me to Escondido—saving me a long and convoluted combo of bicycling and train-riding, which I especially appreciate during this COVID-frenzied time when it’s probably safest to stay out of crowded, enclosed spaces like trains—to stay with my friend Michele and her doggie for a couple of nights, and hopefully see a couple more friends as well.

I’ve enjoyed my brief time in this beach-town area. I know I’ll be turning inland soon!

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

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Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

Long Beach to Newport Beach

1/3/22

Well, you’ll all be pleased to learn that I did get the $20 cash deposit back, as promised, when I checked out of the motel this morning. Phew!

I exited my room into the sunshine, and soon pedaled south toward the beach. I passed some cool artsy buildings and street paintings along the way. When I arrived at the beach, I biked the length of the path to the north, then turned around to head south for the rest of the day, to Newport Beach via the Huntington Beach Bike Path.

The ride itself was pretty uneventful. The temperature was mostly comfortable, and the sun stayed out all day, with no clouds.

I was disappointed to note, however, that various stressors from many different areas of my life seemed to nag at my mental state, distracting me from the amazing Pacific Ocean to my right. I chided myself for not fully embracing the present moment, then felt extra glum for chiding myself.

Ah, well. The human condition, eh?

But I pulled in to Newport Beach in the last hour of daylight, and was charmed by the cute beach-town-ness of it.

I arrived at my host’s house, on the peninsula with the water on either side, and we shared a meal and some lively conversation. She has family ties to my hometown in Virginia—which is how we met—so that is fun. I’ll be here one more night; I hope to explore a bit of the area, probably with my host as a guide, tomorrow.

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

To Long Beach: a perfect bicycling day

1/2/22

Today was a nearly perfect day! I’m happy to be on the road again, after a restful two weeks in LA.

My ride to Long Beach was thoroughly pleasant. After some very car-centric LA streets for the first few miles, I found myself on a car-free bike path (although unfortunately not loud-moped-free) next to a canal, and it stretched for miles and miles. The weather could not have been nicer (yay!) with temps in the mid-60s, continuous sunshine, and the gentlest of breezes. I felt like my life was beginning again, after the recent rainy hiatus.

At the end of the bike path, I joined Hwy 1—the Pacific Coast Highway, a high-traffic road—to arrive in Long Beach. I rode it for several miles before arriving at my motel for the night, which if I’m honest sketched me out a bit when I pulled in shortly before dusk.

The “office” was simply a window of bulletproof glass. While I waited for someone to answer the doorbell to check me in, a haggard-looking man rolled up on a bike to use the vending machine in the parking lot.

While I was checking in, some other residents came by to complain to the attendant that they had had some groceries delivered to their room from Walmart, but the groceries were nowhere to be found.

I had to fill out a registration form, and even put down a $20 cash(!) deposit, which the attendant assured me would be refunded when I check out in the morning. I didn’t have $20 cash on me, but there was an ATM a few steps away. Hesitantly, I went ahead and took out the money, for the low fee of $2.95 (plus whatever fee my credit union will charge me.)

Wow. Hmm.

But, as soon as I settled in to the tiny but clean room, I headed back out on my bike to hit the highly rated local outpost of The Grain Café, an all vegan and all organic restaurant. I ordered breakfast for dinner: a tofu scramble with sweet potatoes and toast on the side. Naturally, I also had to sample their chocolate cake. (Isn’t it photogenic with a Brompton in the background?)

Now it’s time to rest up for my ride along the coast to Newport Beach tomorrow!

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

New year, and featured on the Rose Pedals podcast!

1/1/22

Happy New Year to all, and thanks to everyone who waded with me through my mucky tale of woe yesterday. This trip has had its ups and downs, for sure, and I think I’m now ready to move on from Los Angeles, after two very restful weeks here in my cousin’s place. (Thank you again, Nathalie! You rock!!)

Today I took it easy again, and tomorrow I plan to head south to Long Beach.

But the cool thing is, I woke up this morning to the news that the podcast I was interviewed for in late November is now up! After a variety of internal and external challenges in the past month, it was really refreshing to hear myself talking so excitedly about how wonderful my journey had been at that time, and to reconnect with some of what had inspired me to do this in the first place. I’m excited to see what comes next.

If you’ve got a free hour, I invite you to listen. My host asked some great questions:

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

A varied and challenging New Year’s Eve in LA

12/31/21

Welp, by the time you read this, it will be 2022. May it be less horrifying than the last two years. (I’m not holding my breath.)

I don’t wish to sound ungrateful. I’m living my dreams in many ways. I know I’m very lucky and privileged to be having this adventure.

And I’m nearly a third of the way through it. Wow. I’ve had an amazing fall season, an amazing end to 2021, and an exciting beginning to this leap into the beautiful unknown I’ve undertaken.

But I’m not gonna lie, this time in LA (and parts of the time before it) has been challenging. The near-constant rain for days on end over the past two weeks. The mystery inner-tube problem a couple of days ago. The near-absolute lack of in-person human contact for two weeks, amid a pandemic that encroaches ever more closely into my social circles. And heck, Betty White just died. Damn.

I’m planning to head south day after tomorrow, on the 2nd.

Today I decided to scope out the light rail network here in LA. It’s actually a pretty impressive network, and yet it can seem nearly invisible if one is biking or driving here.

On the 2nd, I’m planning to cycle to Long Beach. But I want to have a backup plan in place, in case of mechanical troubles or running short on time for any reason, so I thought I’d try bicycling today to the Washington Street Station, where I could catch the train to Long Beach if need be. I wanted to see what the station looked like, how fares are paid, what the trains were like (easy to board with my rig?) and do a dry run of biking there.

It turned out to be quite a journey, more than an hour by bike each way.

I thought I would stop off first at a neighborhood bike shop, to check and see if my tire pump was working OK. After running into trouble inflating my tire the other day, and then having the bike-shop folks find nothing wrong with the tube, it later occurred to me to wonder whether the pump might be damaged in some way. How ironic would that be: that the very act of attempting to top off the pressure in my tires might be what caused them to lose all their remaining pressure?

Argh.

So I hitched up the trailer, pump inside, and headed over to Raffi’s Bicycles in Highland Park. Someone—who I’m guessing may have been Raffi himself—greeted me warmly and asked what I needed. I explained my concern, and said I just wanted to test my pump in a bike shop, so that if it ended up deflating the tire, I’d have another pump nearby to use (and purchase to replace this one.)

As it turned out, though, my pump seemed fine. He examined it visually, and said it looked OK. Then I attached it to one of the trailer wheels (figuring that would be easier for a non-Brompton-shop guy to replace than the rear wheel of the bike, in case there was a problem) and it worked just fine. Finally, he attached my pump to a tube he had sitting around in the shop, and found that it worked fine on that too.

So… I guess my mind was laid to rest, even though I’m still perplexed as to what went wrong the other day, and therefore mildly uneasy to think that the problem might recur. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t.

I spent the next hour or so cycling down to the Metro station.

I went through China Town. I passed City Hall. I went through Little Tokyo, and found a festival of some sort in progress. I overheard the music while I went to an all vegan doughnut shop (Donatsu) and got a black sesame doughnut and a churro one. Then I meandered over and happened upon a small Japanese garden! Very cool, although it didn’t appear to have an entrance; it was only for viewing from outside, apparently, at least for today.

I pressed on. The rain was gone today and the sun was out, with a high in the low 60s, but I did find that the temp seemed to vary frequently from too cold to too hot, and back again. I appreciated my layers.

I cycled through some areas of extreme poverty, with people living in tents on the street. Several of them were yelling “Happy New Year!” to each other or, in one case, to me. It felt bittersweet and sad. I wasn’t really feeling a holiday spirit.

Eventually I arrived at the light rail stop. It was above ground; I hadn’t been sure whether it might be a subway. The fares seemed reasonable, and pretty easy to get at the machine, although like so many other major cities, they require you to first pay for a plastic card, onto which you can add fare going forward. I didn’t get one, but made a note that maybe I would get one tomorrow, if I needed it.

The frequency seemed good; it seemed like trains were arriving in each direction about every ten minutes. And the boarding seemed very bike-friendly, with the floor of the cars almost exactly flush with the platform. Nice!

Having scoped it out, I turned to head back home, since the sun was starting to drop and I knew I had about an hour and a half—including some uphill—to get back.

I did decide to make a stop at a vegan restaurant on the way back, to pick up some dinner to go. I found it strangely labyrinthine and surreal to make my way to The Vegan Joint. (The naked mannequins nearby seemed both disturbing and apt as a reflection of my inner state.) When I did arrive, the street seemed weirdly deserted—as if in a post-apocalyptic filmscape—and the restaurant appeared closed. Upon closer inspection, though, I discovered it was open. The young employee inside seemed very friendly, and after poring for some time over their very extensive menu, I decided on a pumpkin curry and a slice of chocolate cake.

I was glad to have the trailer with me, to make toting this meal easy on the return trip.

Before too long, I happened past LA’s Union Station, which was a fun surprise. I did wonder if the indoor flooding from yesterday’s heavy rains had been ameliorated. That photo I saw from someone’s Twitter feed had been surreal and sobering, with passengers wading through a couple of inches of water to get to their trains. I was so glad I hadn’t been trying to push my rig through that.

I was about to encounter some weather-aftermath problems of my own, though.

As I neared the Highland Park neighborhood, Google Maps directed me down into the Arroyo Seco bike path. I hesitated a bit before descending into it; I suspected that the arroyo might not be so seco after all the rain, and I worried about getting stuck in a puddle or mucky path.

The stream running down the middle of the canal actually seemed quite manageable, though, as I joined the path, so I felt cautiously optimistic.

But before too long, I did encounter some mud that stretched across the whole path.

Great.

Deciding to proceed rather than take my chances turning around in the waning light, I pedaled through the mud. It coated all four of my tires. Ugh. I took solace in the fact that at least it wasn’t deep enough to hit the bottom of the trailer.

I pressed on, admiring the lowering sun’s rays along the path.

I suddenly had an idea: what if I could wash off all the tires in the stream? I wanted to clean them off before heading into the condo building, and I couldn’t think of another way to do it.

Right before the “exit ramp” up to the street from the path, I did exactly that. I removed each trailer wheel in turn, and walked it down to the shallow but fast-moving water, which looked pretty clear, not muddy. Each tire did indeed get pretty well cleaned this way, and I was pleased to have accomplished this. Next, I walked the bike down, and dipped each tire into the stream enough for the water to spin it around and wash off the mud.

Yes! Good! Weather, infrastructure, and ingenuity had all collaborated to solve a problem.

But then.

I don’t know if you can see it in the photo, but I biked up that exit ramp (which was sandy, and therefore undid some of my cleaning right away as the sand stuck in the grooves of the tires) and found the gates locked at the top.

What?

How could this be a thing? You can’t lock people into a bike path, can you? Was I supposed to just be stuck in that concrete canyon all night?

Argh.

Doing my best to stay calm, I looked at the map. Should I turn back? If I did, I’d lose all my progress, as well as have to go through all that mud again.

I decided to continue onward instead, even though it didn’t look like there was another exit for some time. Worst-case scenario, I figured, I would indeed just turn back and go back to the entrance I had joined the path from.

Before too long, though, I noticed a staircase.

This was not my preferred method for exiting the pathway… but I wanted to get out ASAP. Luckily the trailer was quite lightweight, with only the bike pump and my dinner inside it. I detached it and carried it up the stairs. Then I carried the bike up.

Once I got to the top, I saw that my problems were not over. If I were to go back to the place where the gate had been locked, I could see that there was another gate stretched across the path.

And I could see why: mud and rock slides. I had been a bit wary, biking in the canyon, to look up at the high walls of bare dirt and rocks. What if they came avalanching down onto me, in a rain-induced landslide??

And now, looking to the right—the direction I needed to go—I did see mud stretching along the path, as well as rocks that had indeed fallen from above.

So then I understood why the path had been blocked.

But that didn’t solve my problem; I needed to get out of there, and back home!

I decided to turn left rather than right on this upper path, hoping that eventually I could exit to a street and turn back.

But after maybe a quarter mile, I found another locked gate. No way around it.

Great.

The light was really dimming by now, too.

I turned back. I figured I would carry the rig piecemeal back down those steps again, and keep going in the canyon until I could find some way to exit.

But I passed a young couple out walking, going the opposite direction from me.

How did they get there? Where had they come from?

I asked them, and they indicated they had come from the area where I had been locked out. We went back and forth a few times, with me insisting that there was no way for me to get through, and them assuring me that there was.

I walked back to the staircase, and assessed my options.

I really wanted to get back, sooner rather than later. Reluctantly, instead of descending, I headed toward the gate, crossing my fingers that no rocks would come tumbling down the cliffs onto me. I navigated the fallen ones on the path.

Then I reached that mud.

Ohhhhh, that mud.

I didn’t want to ride the bike and trailer through it. Way too messy. (I had just cleaned the wheels!!)

I took the rig apart again, and carried first the trailer, then the bike, through it.

It was such a mess. My shoes got completely caked in the squishy mire. And then when I started biking again, there was enough mud left on the path ahead to get it all over the tires again anyway.

I ended up having to walk it around the gate, through more mud.

What a mess. My filthy shoes were now tracking it onto the pedals, too.

I exited the path onto the freeway off ramp. A car soon came up behind me, which was stressful since there was no room to pass. I hoped they weren’t drunk and/or impatient because of the holiday. Fortunately, they gave me the time to get to the end of the ramp, and onto Avenue 60.

Then I needed to stop at the grocery store again. I locked up the rig as best I could, and then tried to figure out how to navigate entering the store with my shoes caked with still-wet mud.

I wiped them on the thick rubber mat outside the store, adding brown goo to its relatively pristine blackness. I noticed that all the other customers had driven to the store. They weren’t muddy. They just walked right in. I felt like such a ragamuffin.

I took some napkins out of my backpack, and did what I could to wipe off my feet. I was having limited success, and now my hands were getting mucky too.

As I leaned into the door to throw the napkins into the trash, I noticed the container of hand-sanitizing wipes just to the right of the garbage can. Aha! This was what I needed.

I proceeded to use about a dozen of these wipes to clean off the uppers and outer soles, and then started digging into the deep grooves on the bottom, which were filled with mud.

Eventually, having removed maybe 80% of the offending material, I decided I was in good enough shape to shop. I wiped my feet again on the black rubber mat, then on the red rug-like mat inside the door. I grabbed another couple of sanitizing wipes to clean off my hands, trying to clear the black muck from under my fingernails.

I got my groceries and stood in line, hoping that my cloth mask was protecting me from the omicron that seems to be seeping around and through everyone’s masks these days.

Good lord. What a day.

I then pedaled the 200 feet up the hill. Arriving inside the lobby doors and onto the mud mat, I eyed all the tires again.

Still messy.

Ugh. I didn’t want to stain the common-area carpets. I dug out a few more napkins from my pack, and did my best to remove the worst of it. When I exited the elevator onto the carpet, I checked carefully and was pleased to see no trail of mud behind me as I wheeled the rig down the corridor.

Inside the condo, I carefully removed my shoes and the trailer, and set about enjoying the pumpkin curry and cake. Doom-scrolled Facebook for a bit, then sat around in a bit of a funk.

Yeah. Not the best New Year’s Eve, if I’m honest.

I think I’m about ready to move on to the next part of my adventure. I’m nervous about it, though, after this long and surreal rest. What does this new year hold for me? What will the road bring to me? I hope it’s good.

And I wish a not-totally-terrible 2022 to all of you.

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

Free year-review/new-year-intention sessions

12/29/21

It rained all day again today. I stayed in and got some cleaning done.

It’s going to rain all day tomorrow, too.

I might leave LA the day after—New Year’s Eve—since it’s supposed to be sunny again then. I’m not totally certain yet.

But I would love to support anyone reading this with a free one-hour session, by phone or video chat, to review/energetically wrap up 2021, and/or to set some intentions or visions for 2022. Not any hard-and-fast “resolutions,” or anything tinged with self-criticism or shame. But if you’d like to support yourself and give yourself some cool things to look forward to in the coming year, I’d be happy to help hold space for you to articulate some dreams or visions. I love helping people to visualize and hold space for their dreams.

I can offer these sessions tomorrow, Thursday the 30th, between 10 am and 7 pm Pacific Time. If that timing doesn’t work for you, we can make a time in the next week or so, although scheduling can get a bit tricky for me once I get back on the road again. But I trust that we can and will find a time, so don’t be shy to message me if this calls to you!

Mechanical trouble… and a musical interlude

12/28/21

Today was sunny here in LA, and the next two days are forecast to be rainy, so I thought I’d jump on the opportunity to grab a few more groceries at the market at the bottom of the hill. Heck, maybe go back to the vegan doughnut place again too, farther away. Yes… after a very lazy and slow morning, I decided around 1:00 it was time to go outside and get a bit of exercise.

First, though, I took care of a few errands. Yesterday I had taken out the trash and recycling. This is the first time I’ve stayed anywhere long enough to do things like needing to replenish groceries, or take out trash. But this time of rest in LA is an opportunity to take care of all kinds of errands, such as the various medical appointments I’ve managed here as well.

Today I needed to clean out the bladder of my hydration pack. I hadn’t had to do so yet, amazingly; the water had continued tasting reasonably fresh this whole time, since September. But yesterday I started tasting some mold. Yuck!

I can get so nervous about doing any kind of physical chore. I’m always afraid I’m going to screw things up. How was I going to clean this bladder? I’d never even taken it fully out of the pack. I pictured that I would put it back in wrong, and not be able to figure out how to get it right. That’s assuming I could even clean it effectively.

These are the kinds of stressors that catch me on this trip. As long as things are going smoothly, there is no problem. But when something starts to go wrong, I realize just how crucial these things are, and worry that they will be somehow ruined. I need that hydration pack on a daily basis! I supposed that in a worst-case scenario, I could simply pitch the bladder and buy a new one. But of course I didn’t want to do that.

Anyway, I Googled how to do it, and I was pleased to discover that I was indeed capable of this minor feat. I used some bleach and warm water, and took several photos of how the bladder and its tube are threaded within the pack, so that I could reassemble it OK.

Mission accomplished! I was feeling good.

Another task I had been putting off for a few weeks, but knew I wanted to do before leaving LA, was to inflate all my tires: the two on the bike and the two on the trailer.

This, of course, I have done many times on this trip. It’s not difficult; it just takes a few minutes. Today I decided to do this before leaving the house.

But I hit a snafu this time. (Oh, the irony: cleaning the pack was easier than I thought. Pumping up the tires turned into a thing.)

I got the trailer tires just fine. Also the front tire of the bike. But then on the rear tire, as soon as I attached the pump and began inflating, I heard a big hiss. I thought maybe I hadn’t attached the pump well enough. As I pulled it off to try to reattach it to the valve, all the air hissed out of the tube. The gauge read zero.

Great.

I’ll make a long story as short as possible: I tried several times, and got nowhere.

Reluctantly, I decided to drive the bike to a shop that handles Bromptons. The closest one I could find was in Pasadena. I had considered trying to just replace the tube myself, but I found the prospect too intimidating. (I had watched a how-to YouTube video several times before embarking on this journey, and it had intimidated me. I watched a different one today, and it also intimidated me. There are a lot of steps involved. I pictured myself flubbing several of them, and ending up with a broken-down bike and a pile of parts sitting next to it. Then, of course, I judged myself—and anticipated others judging me if they knew of my reluctance to learn and practice to do this chore myself—which added to my anxiety.)

But then I decided, guess what? I’m not going to let shame and embarrassment affect my decision making. I get to make my own choices. I can choose to make things easy on myself if I want. And I happen to be in a metro area with several Brompton-certified bike shops. (Turns out there are more than the two the guy had told me about the other day.) I happen to have access to a car to transport the bike. I’m grateful (always, always!) that this particular bike folds up so small, so that if I do have mechanical trouble, I can transport it in a car—whether I’m driving or someone else is, like a host or a Lyft driver—to a bike shop.

So, yes: once again, I chose to lean into the support I have around me, rather than berating myself for not being “good enough”/tough enough/mechanically savvy enough to do everything myself. I find it a poignant lesson, and it’s one I’m continually learning on this trip. Maybe later there will come a time when I really do need to figure out this stuff for myself. But that’s the hypothetical future. In the actual present, I’m choosing to be gentle with myself.

So. I packed up the bike and took it to Pasadena Cyclery. They were willing to work on it, but told me it might take an hour. I was initially disappointed that it wouldn’t be instantaneous, but then decided to check out a highly rated vegan Asian-fusion restaurant in Pasadena, Naughty Vegan. I dropped off the bike and headed over to the restaurant.

I was quickly reminded again how much I don’t enjoy driving. Finding the restaurant was pretty easy, but finding parking was a trial, and I had to pay for it, and it was complicated to pay for it as well: I had to find the pay station before returning to the car, and insert my ticket and then my credit card to pay, before then getting back in the car and driving out of the garage.

The meal was nice, and although it was not exactly toasty to eat outside (low 50s) at least it wasn’t raining.

I returned to the shop. The mechanics had replaced the tube, although even they were stymied as to what the problem had been. Many of my Facebook friends had speculated—based on my “help” post earlier, when I had thought of trying to fix it myself—that it was a problem with the valve. But the mechanics visually went over the old tube in front of me, and couldn’t find a puncture in the tube, nor any apparent mechanical problem with the valve. It was odd, and I’m a bit concerned that the problem might recur somehow, but I did do a test ride once I left the shop, and the new tube seemed to be working fine. (It’s still fully inflated now; I just checked.)

Meanwhile, I had asked them to give the bike a quick once-over to see if there were any other adjustments or safety issues I should be aware of before I get on the road again. They did find some gearing adjustments—on both shifters—and tuned them up for me, at no additional cost, which I appreciated. (I did notice that they had quoted and charged me $25 labor for the flat repair, rather than the $15 they advertised on their sign, which I assume is because it’s trickier to change a Brompton tire—especially the rear one—than a regular bike’s tire. I was happy to pay it, for the peace of mind of having knowledgeable mechanics do the work—plus some extra—to get me back on the road.)

So… this was not how I had hoped to spend this sunny day. But in addition to trying the new-to-me restaurant, I decided to indeed stop again at Donut Friend on the way home. They were almost sold out for the day, but I did manage to nab the last jelly doughnut they had, which I thoroughly enjoyed consuming after I got home.

I don’t like mechanical snafus. But I am so grateful that all of this infrastructure was in place for me today—as well as plentiful time to handle the issue—and no rain to navigate while driving today. The situation could have been a lot worse.

I’ve got at least a couple more days in LA, both of which I expect to be rainy. I’ll be doing some laundry and cleaning. Perhaps some phone calls or Zooms with friends and/or clients.

One other thing I’ve been exploring during all this rainy down-time here is creative expression, and music in particular. On Christmas day, it spontaneously occurred to me to record a “duet” of myself with myself, singing one of my favorite winter songs (which I learned in 8th grade chorus class, and still remember both the soprano and baritone parts). It is by no means polished, but I would like to share it here, in case you’d like to listen.

I’m thinking a lot lately about music and singing, including some of my original songs from years ago. Maybe I’ll do more… we’ll see.

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Quick trip out in the sun

12/26/21

It seems like the days here in LA have been alternating almost exactly: sun, rain, sun, rain. Yesterday I stayed inside the whole day, and reflected on life a bit after a family Zoom.

Today the sun came out again, so I headed out to local restaurant Kitchen Mouse for some treats (the “loxdown” sandwich, OMG! I had it in October, and couldn’t wait to try it again) and the grocery store to stock up on a few more items.

On the way, I decided to stop at the open greenspace across the street from the condo building. The building courtyard itself was bright and sunshiney, and then the little concrete path along the ridge looked pretty cool too, so I snapped a few photos.

Then I came home, enjoyed the sandwich, and had a Zoom with a friend. I’ve got a few more days here—mostly rainy!—and I’m enjoying the slow pace and opportunity to “reset” before getting back on the road.

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Santa Monica Pier

12/24/21

I did something weird and scary today: I drove a car! More specifically, I drove on LA freeways! Eek.

I hadn’t been behind the wheel of a motor vehicle for probably at least a year before today. And the previous time was probably at least a year before that. Suffice it to say, I don’t drive much.

Mostly this is for environmental reasons, which is also why I’ve never owned a car. But a side effect of rarely driving is that I get also get quite nervous behind the wheel, which becomes another reason to avoid it.

I was imagining—without even explicitly thinking about it—that I would make it through this year’s journey without driving. I figured I could handle it even in LA. But I decided to do it today, for a few reasons. For one, I really wanted to see Santa Monica (I had visited once before, and really enjoyed the aesthetic of the beach and pier area). My initial plan had been to stay there for a couple of nights, after this time in Highland Park, before heading south to Long Beach. But I haven’t been able to find lodging there yet, despite a few efforts.

I’ve also been keeping an eye on the forecast, and there’s spotty rain here in this area for the next week or so. Biking to Santa Monica would take me the better part of a day, so I didn’t want to do that if I wasn’t planning to spend the night there. Transit would have taken a couple of hours each way, and by the time I realized this afternoon would be clear, and thus a good chance to go, that wouldn’t have left me enough time to actually enjoy the area.

And… my cousin was kind enough to leave her car key here for me to use. Although I prefer to avoid driving for the above reasons, another theme I’m embracing on this trip is to receive kindnesses and gifts when offered. Several previous hosts so far have offered to loan me their cars to run errands, and I have declined. But today seemed like the day to do it.

It was a process for me, mentally, emotionally, and physically/logistically, but I made it through! This involved everything from taking photos of the parking spaces in the building, and also in Santa Monica, so I would remember where to return (to) the car… to folding up the bike and placing it gently on a blanket in the trunk, so as not to harm the contents of the trunk… to studying the driving directions ahead of time—remarkably easy on the freeways—so that I committed them to memory and didn’t have to use my phone on the way out there… to spontaneously making up songs to sing to keep my courage up as I actually traversed the freeways at about 50 miles per hour because I was scared (lyrics like “I’m doing this at my own pace, and that’s OK/people can pass me if they want, today”)… to leaving the beach at 3:00 so that I wouldn’t have to drive in the dark… to choosing to avoid freeways and let Google narrate my directions on the way home… to filling up the tank afterward (and even pumping my own gas, which is extra unfamiliar to me as an Oregonian.)

Whew. Did it all. (And only got honked at once!)

Even in a car, it takes a while to get there and back, so I only had about an hour and a half in Santa Monica. But I took the chance to visit one of only two co-op grocery locations in LA County (same co-op—their other location is in Culver City) and there I saw an item I’d never beheld before! I had to snag one to see if I liked it, and surprisingly enough I did. I’ve never considered carob to be a remotely adequate substitute for chocolate, but this product was a kind of hybrid: carob powder mixed with cocoa butter. It was pretty tasty.

Then I biked the groceries back to the car. (I had parked on the street, several blocks away, so as to only have to park once.) I stashed them in the trunk, and biked down to the pier.

On the way, stopped at a light, I heard, “I like your Brompton!”

Nice!

I looked up and it was a guy at an open-air bike shop, The Bike Center. Turns out they are one of only two Brompton dealers in the LA area. He said he personally owns a Brompton, too, and so do all the other workers there. How cool! Luckily I didn’t need any maintenance today, but it was a fun little interaction.

Smiling at the serendipity, I proceeded a few blocks to the boardwalk area. It was mobbed with people, and I put on my mask to walk around. But the pier was cute and fun to see, and I cycled under the boardwalk and down the beach a bit. The late afternoon light looked cool.

Then it was time to head back. Avoiding the freeways this time was definitely a good idea for my nerves, even if it probably took me longer to get back. Parts of the drive were pretty, with palm trees and cool streets and buildings, and golden light on the hills.

So, that was my multifaceted adventure for the day! LA definitely contains a variety of experiences for someone like me.

Tomorrow is a holiday, and also looks to be kinda rainy here, so I probably won’t make a post tomorrow. But whether or not you celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful day.

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

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Classical Chinese Garden at the Huntington

12/23/21

I was still feeling a bit achy today from that booster shot. More importantly, it was pouring rain all day today here in LA. I can hear it thrumming on the skylight as I type. I hope the earth is getting a good soaking. I’m a bit bummed that it’s not good out-and-about weather for me, but I’m also once again grateful for having this cozy place to rest and take it easy indoors. I ordered pizza delivery from LA’s all-vegan pizza place, Cruzer Pizza, and had a few chats with friends.

So, no new photos from today, but I still have this stash from my time at the Huntington Gardens the other day. This is one of only four Classical Chinese Gardens in North America. I’m fortunate enough to have visited all four: this one, the one in Portland (built during my time there), the one in Vancouver, BC (almost identical to Portland’s—perhaps the Portland design was influenced by Vancouver’s), and the one in Montreal, within its botanical garden. (Sadly, when I visited there the pond had been drained for maintenance, which changed the overall aesthetic of the garden quite a bit.)

More than Japanese gardens—which are very much designed individually, to fit within their particular landscapes and climates despite lots of similar design elements—I find that Classical Chinese gardens have a very distinctive and similar look. They incorporate lots of nature, but the buildings and structures seem to be especially important to the overall look and feeling of the gardens as well.

I hope you enjoy these photos.

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

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Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)