Maren

Chilaquiles, bicycling, swimming… and lightning??

10/4/21

Well, it was an action-packed last (for now) day in Los Angeles! The temperatures looked more manageable than yesterday. I still chose to postpone my visit to the Huntington; I want a full day to appreciate its splendor, and probably 70s-ish temps would be optimal, which I hope to find in late October or early-mid December, when I come back through. But I did venture out for those chilaquiles!

I had it all planned out: I would bike part of the way, and then take a city bus for the rest of the way, including the hilly part.

But when I biked to the bus stop, what should I discover but that the bus ran so infrequently that it would deposit me at Sage Bistro after 11 am… when the brunch menu would no longer be available!

I thought, hmmm, could I actually bike the whole way after all? The timing seemed iffy, but I thought I’d give it a try. (I was hoping to avoid the cost of a Lyft, and in addition, my Lyft app was acting up, not allowing me to open it, so it didn’t appear to be an option anyway.)

As I felt stress rising in me, I reminded myself that I am capable of going with the flow. It might be a fun challenge to see if I really could cycle the whole way. And if I were to arrive late, I could enjoy something else on the menu; I know that their whole menu is delicious.

I set off along the Arroyo Seco bike trail. (The name means “dry streambed,” which was quite accurate.) This being LA, the trail is accessed by cycling along a freeway on-ramp for about fifty yards. I was perplexed and frightened by this prospect at first, but I went with the flow, and found what I thought was the trail.

But.

It turned out I took a wrong turn early on, and ended up on another trail, which sadly was made of bumpy concrete, and after maybe a quarter mile, it dead-ended.

I could feel those chilaquiles slipping from my grasp, and I was having a hard time letting them go.

I made a gut decision to try calling a Lyft after all. Miraculously(?) the app opened this time! I cycled back to the point where I found I could join the actual trail, and biked it just long enough to enjoy the experience of the smooth pavement in the middle of a canyon. Then I exited to a surface street, and ordered the Lyft. In the “note for driver” field, I indicated that I had a “small folding bike” with me. I marveled at how perfect this Brompton is for my way of traveling. I can take it on buses, trains, and in car trunks, and then ride it like a “normal bike” as much as I want, when and where I want.

The driver appeared within three minutes, and we easily stowed the bike in the trunk. After I hopped in, we got to talking, and it turned out he was a University of Oregon grad (was even wearing a U of O jersey!) and furthermore, hailed originally from San Diego.

It felt like the magic was returning. Perhaps calling the Lyft was just the right thing to do!

He dropped me off at 10:48. I wheeled the bike around to the back of the bistro where I recalled that the entrance was. I found no bike parking (boo) but locked it to a railing.

I was seated a few minutes before 11:00, and the server handed me a brunch menu. Those chilaquiles were to be mine!!

They were as wonderful as I remembered.

Afterward, I had planned to take a bus home, because the sun was direct and the mercury was showing mid-80s, and Google Maps had shown me when I checked earlier that there would be 1000+ feet of elevation gain to get back to my cousin’s place.

But I checked again… and bizarrely, Google Maps had apparently changed its mind—it was now showing only about 300 feet. I knew that the bus would drop me at the foot of a 200’ hill I’d have to climb anyway, so I figured, OK, I’ll bike the whole way!

In any case, I needed to stop somewhere to pick up dinner and snack provisions for the train ride this evening. I busted out my HappyCow app (it shows where all vegan and vegan-friendly establishments are, worldwide) and it showed me a nearby place called Kitchen Mouse, with grab-and-go sandwiches. Perfect! I pedaled over there and found a “loxdown” sandwich, which looked ideal for my purposes. (The “lox” is made from marinated carrots.) I also selected a decadent-looking s’mores bar.

I made it back up the 200’ hill, feeling pretty hot and sweaty by the crest where my cousin’s place sits.

I recalled her earlier invitation to use the complex’s pool. Perfect! I had a few hours free before she would pick me up after her work to head to Union Station.

The dip in the pool was wonderful. For most of my time there, I was the only one in the water, and the temperature was absolutely perfect.

After the swim, I returned to the condo and began the task of packing up all my things, when I was startled by the sound of raindrops(!) on the skylights. Shortly afterward, the rain was joined by lightning and thunder! My cousin had just been telling me yesterday how little rain the area had had for the past year. (She estimated six days of rain during the entire year. Wow.)

My phone’s weather app had shown no indication of this storm. It had predicted a 40% chance of rain on Friday, but otherwise full or partial sun for the entire 9-day forecast.

And yet, here it was: rain pouring down outside the floor-to-ceiling windows, and lightning flashing through the skylight, followed by claps of thunder.

How bizarre.

I was a bit concerned about how we should load up all my gear into the car; I didn’t want it getting wet before boarding the train. We managed it all in the complex’s garage, and made the drive in the storm.

The rain had mostly abated by the time we arrived at the station. My cousin helped me to reassemble my rig just outside the front doors, and then we said goodbye and I headed straight to the platform. I made it up the ramp with the whole rig together, then took it apart when I arrived trainside. This time, I found a helpful sleeper-car attendant, and plenty of room to stow things in my now-usual way.

I ate the loxdown sandwich and s’mores bar (both amazing! Go to Kitchen Mouse next time you’re in LA!) and then enjoyed my signature Amtrak cocktail in the dimly lit lounge. Once again, I had hoped for some human connection there, but ended up sipping solitarily.

Such is life. I’m on the train to New Mexico, and it’s lovely. The attendant made up my sleeping quarters, and then kindly bent the rules to allow me to still sit up and type this in the neighboring roomette, since it’s unoccupied.

There is no WiFi on the trains, so I’ll post this tomorrow. Soon, I’ll drift off to dreamland, and then shortly after I wake, we’ll be pulling into Albuquerque, and the next stop on my wondrous journey.

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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The best-laid plans

10/3/21

Well.

It got to 97 today. Blazing sun.

The way to both Sage Bistro and the Huntington Gardens involved a lot of elevation gains.

And early in the day, I started having all kinds of tech drama with my phone. (Specifically, running into hard data limits on the plan I share with my sister and her partner.)

Plus, I woke up this morning feeling disoriented and out of sorts from some bizarre and stressful dreams.

Things don’t always flow smoothly.

I had been really looking forward to these two destinations today, but I could feel that they were not in the cards this time around. And fortunately, as I reminded myself, LA is the one spot I will be visiting not once, not twice, but three times on this year’s journey. Late October and/or mid-December should(??) be better-weather times to enjoy the Huntington.

As for Sage? I’m still going to try to get those chilaquiles tomorrow, before I leave for Albuquerque on the evening train. I plan to combine bicycling and transit to maximize time efficiency and avoid tackling all that climbing right now.

But today turned out to be a day for sitting inside to stay cool, doing lots of texting and phone calls with my sister and Verizon, and then eventually having a good Zoom chat with my sister—my first since before I embarked on this journey three weeks ago.

We managed to get the phone plan all squared away, and my initial sense of stuck-ness is now returned to the flow of things working out.

Eventually, in the late afternoon, I did venture out to a local vegan burger place, and enjoyed a tasty and reasonably priced meal. I made it back up the 200 feet of hill to my cousin’s place, and even sat for a little while in the dusky light in the park next to her complex.

When she returned from a late day at work, we spent several hours in wonderful conversation about family and life. And she even shared this family-favorite photo of our grandparents on a cruise before they were married (gasp!) back in the late 1930s.

My days don’t always unfold as I hope or expect, but at the end of this day I am feeling happy and satisfied.

Perhaps chilaquiles tomorrow… or perhaps an as-yet-unknown adventure?

And then… heading east on the train!

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!)

Train to LA

10/2/21

Today was a full day of train travel: roughly 10 am to 8:30 pm on Amtrak’s majestic Coast Starlight. My Warmshowers hosts were kind enough to drop me off at the train station in San Jose, which made my morning much easier. I did have some more stress loading my bike and trailer onto the train, which I guess will simply continue to be a theme. In this case, no Amtrak employees said anything discouraging, even as I saw that they did see my bike and trailer. But when I boarded, the luggage area was uncomfortably full. I had a few minutes of near-panic, wondering what on earth I could do to find a place to stow these items. We boarded about 15 minutes before departure, so there was time to work on it, but there were no staff in sight for most of that time. I asked a fellow passenger to help me heft the trailer onto the train, but then I worried I would have to get it back off the car and maybe into the little baggage area on another car. After awkwardly attempting to rearrange some other passengers’ bags (which were also rather heavy and bulky) and realizing I just couldn’t squeeze out enough space in that area, I finally walked along the outside of the train until I found an employee, and asked her what to do. She said to “put it in that little room next to the baggage area.” Hmmm… did she mean the little quasi-baggage car that they seem to have in some coach cars now, and I had somehow overlooked it?

No: “There are passengers in there, but don’t worry, there should be room.”

Hmmmm… OK…?

I went back, and sure enough, that extra room had seating for passengers, and a space for a wheelchair. There was one passenger napping in the front seat, but a large wheelchair space ahead of him, which thankfully was unoccupied and appeared to be just the right amount of space for the trailer. I dragged it rather unceremoniously into place, then went back and hoisted the bike onto the third rack in the baggage area (oof! I definitely felt all of its 40 pounds) and then slunk upstairs to my seat, hoping all would be OK.

It appeared that it was, and when I disembarked, the conductor helped me to unload it all. Then I did have to struggle to reassemble everything on the platform, and make my way down a steep and narrow ramp while pushing the trailer as a cart with my left hand, and rolling the bike with my right, and then figure out where to meet my cousin, who was picking me up. But I sorted it all out.

The train ride itself was as beautiful as always, although the rolling hills were definitely browner than I was used to, since I usually take this train in the winter for sunny getaways in southern California, and the hills are greener then.

I did find myself feeling a bit bored and restless on the train, which felt sad. I wanted to just fully embrace the ride! I always hope for magical interactions with other passengers, but sadly they do not always happen, and today was one of those days. I did take an hour or two to sit in the sightseer lounge car, first eating my prepacked lunch at a table, then sipping my “Amtrak signature cocktail” (I mix it myself: sweet tea with vodka, from the lounge) from a sideways seat overlooking beautiful vistas.

But then I returned to my seat, and succumbed to scrolling social media on my phone, despite knowing that both my battery and data plan were running low. I wished I could be more “Zen,” simply enjoying the scenery and breathing deeply. But, such is my way of being in modern life, I suppose. I did listen to some music on my iPod, and write in my journal. (And, of course, snapped all these photos!) But having the feeling of social connection through my phone felt important, so I chose to indulge.

When we arrived in LA, I was so happy to see my cousin; it had been a couple of years at least. She has a new place now, where I’m happy to stay for the next two nights.

Tomorrow (or today, when you read this, since I forgot to ask her about the WiFi so I’ll post this in the morning) I will brave the 90+ degree temps to cycle to Sage Bistro, and then the Huntington Gardens, in Pasadena. Perhaps I can take a dip in the pool afterward to refresh.

Now, a good night’s sleep!

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!)

Hakone Japanese Gardens

10/1/21

Another full day! After a leisurely morning, I hopped on my bike for a brief excursion into downtown Campbell, a charming little town. I biked along the vibrant main street—filled with mostly locally owned shops—and then wended my way along the riverfront path on my way to a grocery store to replenish my Clif bar stock and pick up some food for tomorrow’s train ride, before heading back to my backyard tiny house.

Shortly afterward, my hosts and their neighbor and I all piled into the car to visit Hakone Gardens, a 100-year-old Japanese garden in nearby Saratoga. We stopped at a nearby Veggie Grill for picnic-table provisions beforehand, and enjoyed them in the pleasant shade of the garden.

The shade throughout the garden was very welcome, since the temperature was about 90 degrees today. It felt very comfortable in that environment.

After the garden, we came home and rested for a bit, and then headed out to San Jose’s First Friday free art walk. We visited several art galleries, and walked the blocked-off main street lined with artists and vendors, and my hosts encountered half a dozen old and new friends along those few blocks. For a city of a million people, it felt very neighborly.

Then we went to see a play in a local theater a few blocks away. The theater is just now reopening for live performances. (We did need to show proof of vaccination and also wear masks indoors.) It felt good to see a live play again; it had been a couple of years for me.

This has been a wonderfully full and rich stay in Campbell/San Jose! Once again, I am so appreciative for warm and generous Warmshowers hosts.

Tomorrow, I’ll be boarding the train again, this time for Los Angeles! I’m looking forward to seeing my cousin, meeting up with a Facebook contact, enjoying my favorite chilaquiles at one of my favorite restaurants, and exploring the incredible Huntington Library gardens!

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!)

Pleasanton to San Jose (and forgetting my helmet, again!)

9/30/21

Well… on the road there are (many) ups, and then there are some downs.

I awoke this morning and enjoyed my Chinese food leftovers from last night, took a leisurely shower, and got everything prepped to leave. I did several “sweeps” of the house, as usual, to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything.

Nope, all looked good.

I put my rig together outside (it’s so much easier to load the trailer outside the door, rather than trying to waddle it out while fully loaded) and took off down the shady street into the beautiful clear late morning.

I had made it several miles down the road when it suddenly dawned on me: I’m not wearing my helmet.

What?? Where was it? How could I have forgotten it? (Again!) Did I leave it somewhere? When had I last seen it?

Should I try to go back, and search again? No, I’m sure I didn’t leave it at the house. Did I leave it at Chipotle? Argh, that’s even farther back away.

Then I remembered that my rear light was on it, too. Argh! I had been so happy and proud of myself when I discovered a nifty way of “doing” the rear light, back in the hotel on my first pass through Klamath Falls.

Now I was out on the road with an unprotected head, and missing that cool rear light, too. (I did eventually find the other light I thought I had lost, but it’s not a style that can attach to a helmet like that.)

What should I do?

I decided to let it go, and to press forward and buy another one (argh—memories of Tacoma) in Fremont, which was only about 13 miles away.

I did my best to enjoy the ride and the beautiful scenery, but I was kicking myself for leaving it behind (and still not even remembering where it could be) and for losing that cool rear-light setup.

I got to Fremont (which had some great bike infrastructure–see pics) and found a bike shop in the same shopping plaza as a little locally owned natural-foods store where I hoped to stock up on Clif bars. (As it turned out, they didn’t have any. Argh again.)

I went into the bike shop and quickly identified another simple, low-cost helmet. (Don’t worry, I wasn’t skimping on safety—all helmets have to meet safety standards before being approved for sale.) I wanted a white one, since it provides better visibility, but there were no more in stock in my size (same as in the Tacoma shop, as I recall) so I got a black one.

The employee who rang me up kindly let me use the employee restroom, which was a lifesaver since the natural-foods store had a prominent sign declaring no public restroom, and I was way overdue for a bathroom break.

As I rode away, I realized that this new helmet was not going to work with that same kind of rear light, either. I’m going to have to come up with a new configuration.

I was disappointed on a few levels, but really, in the grand scheme, this was a pretty minor problem. I made it to Fremont with my skull intact. I quickly found a bike shop, bought a new helmet that fits just fine, and got on my way.

(I eventually did remember where I had left the helmet: in a box in my host’s living room. The box had hidden it from my scanning eyes. Lesson learned: don’t store any belongings out of plain sight! I’ve even put the word out in the Buy Nothing Travelers’ Network, to see if by chance someone will be commuting from Pleasanton to San Jose in the morning, and might be willing to pick up and drop off the helmet for me. We’ll see… if not, I can let it go, or heck, even possibly get it in November, when I come back through the Bay Area.)

I found an all-vegan burger place in neighboring Newark for lunch, and enjoyed my meal outdoors.

After all that, I pressed on for the last three hours or so of the day to San Jose.

I admit that it was not the most scenic or relaxing of rides. I felt the dry desert landscape around me, and felt a bit like I was in a post-apocalyptic movie or dystopian novel. I could see why Californians yearn for rain (even as I, as a longtime Oregonian, have planned this trip largely to escape the rain for the season.)

I pedaled past the airport. I pedaled along major thoroughfares. I pedaled along a few car-free bike/ped paths, but some of them paralleled freeways, separated only by wire fences.

It’s not always bliss out there on the bike.

But, as the sun dropped a bit in the sky, I approached San Jose and found some shade in the bike lanes. I rode through several parks on a scenic bike path. When I got to San Jose, I even took a brief detour to see the downtown area (see pic) before continuing on to the suburb of Campbell, where my Warmshowers hosts for the next two nights live.

And once again, I received a warm reception. My host served me some homemade vegan pumpkin curry for dinner (yum!) and showed me the adorable tiny house in the backyard (see pic) where I’ll be sleeping.

I met their two fluffy cats, and put a load of laundry in the washer before heading out, along with the wife of the couple and their neighbor, to a local park where the husband was doing sound for a local concert-in-the-park event. We enjoyed the folk musicians (who sang, among other original and cover tunes, Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi, which took me back to the “soundtrack” of the bus between Ashland and Klamath Falls the other day.)

When we returned, I retrieved my clean clothes from the dryer.

Tomorrow, we’re planning to visit at least one of two nearby Japanese gardens, and possibly also a “first Friday” street fair in downtown San Jose. We might even see a play!

What a range of experience in 24 hours.

This is my life now. Thanks for following along.

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!)

Las Trampas Regional Wilderness

9/29/21

Another beautiful day here in California! Temps reached the low 80s, which felt just about right.

After a leisurely start to the day (including a “breakfast ride” to a nearby Chipotle) I had a wonderfully nourishing Zoom conversation with a Portland friend, and then met up with a local Pleasanton friend who I initially met, years ago, on Instagram, since we so enjoyed each other’s tree photography. She’s a fascinating and passionate person, and it was great to spend time together live, rather than just via text or phone.

We headed up to Las Trampas Regional Wilderness Park, about 17 miles north of where I’m staying. She does a lot of her tree and nature photography there.

I’ll let these photos speak for themselves, but suffice it to say that there was much beauty to be found in both the dry hills and the trees we walked among, along the dry creek bed. The sky was brilliant blue. Apparently in rainier seasons, these hills are much greener, but I found a powerful beauty in the seasonal dryness, too.

After the hike, my friend dropped me off at my local “home,” and soon afterward my host returned from work, and joined me for dinner at a nearby P.F. Chang’s, which is one chain restaurant I had long been curious to experience. I got a generous portion of the “Buddha’s feast,” so that I could take some home to have for breakfast tomorrow.

Then this evening, I got a phone call from another close friend in Oregon. One challenge I’ve been finding on this journey is how to stay meaningfully connected with close friends, since I have so little time for phone or video chats. But I’m finding that opportunities do present themselves, tucked in between all my outdoor, athletic, and local social activities.

It’s all working itself out. 

This is my life now.

At this moment, it’s time to rest up for my ride to San Jose 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!

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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!)

Oakland to Pleasanton, and the Hayward Japanese Garden

9/28/21

Today I got back on the road, covering about 31 miles. I got a late-ish start, and there was some direct sun and elevation to be had as I traveled from Oakland to Pleasanton.

My wonderful Oakland host saw me off today (with the below pic she took of me) with some vegan chocolate chip cookies and banana bread she had baked. (Jessica, if you’re reading this, I enjoyed some of them this evening—yum!)

I headed out of Oakland on the route she suggested, going along a beautiful waterway on a designated bike path, after the industrial edges of Oakland.

Before too long, after another industrial stretch, I found myself heading into the small community of Hayward. I had heard about its Japanese garden, and had wanted to visit there my last time in the Bay Area, in September of 2019. The garden’s limited hours, and my very limited time, precluded that then, but I arrived today in time to enjoy its very rounded and green aesthetic. I enjoyed my time there.

Then I needed some fortifications and a rest stop, as well as a place to charge my phone, so I found my way to a nearby Chipotle. That journey took me across the freeway on a cool-looking bike-and-ped bridge.

After lunch, there were some hills to climb in the sun! (See the top pic.) Luckily the high temperature was in the low 70s, and the hills weren’t that steep; they were just long. I rested in almost every shady spot I could find, as cars sped past on the multi-lane highway. It felt safe enough, but admittedly not as pleasant as some of my other recent rides.

As the sun began to drop, I reached Pleasanton, which—true to its name—was filled with pleasant houses on wide, shady streets. The space felt welcoming.

As I climbed a few more short hills on the way to my new host’s apartment, I took in some beautiful near-sunset views of trees in the hilly fields. I believe that’s where I’ll be hiking with a friend tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to it.

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!)

Oakland, Berkeley, and (OMG) Claremont Canyon

9/27/21

Wow. Today was breathtaking!

After a leisurely start to the day (including a wonderful phone call with a local friend of a Portland friend, and some delicious avocado toast prepared by my Warmshowers host) I set out on foot to explore my environs a bit.

First I headed up College Avenue, through the Rockridge neighborhood. I loved the aesthetic! The architecture, the street trees, the transportation infrastructure… no wonder people love this area. I moseyed along, soaking it all in, until I crossed over into Berkeley, and soon stopped into a local vegan bakery (Timeless Coffee Roasters and Bakery) for a decadent chocolate turtle, which I enjoyed a few minutes later on a shady curb.

Then it was time to scale some serious hills, and see some unbelievable views. I headed up Derby Street until I reached the entrance to Claremont Canyon.

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves: wow! (Of course, that shining city across the bay is San Francisco, lit from above like the Land of Oz.)

I got in a good workout by climbing those hills, and then walked back “home” in time to head out by bike with my host for dinner at a nearby Burmese restaurant. I tried some unique dishes, including a tea leaf salad! (Pictured, before we stirred it up as one does before consuming it.)

Before dinner, I marveled that I was seeing Facebook posts about heavy rains in Portland. It was their first real rain in months, and people were jubilant about breaking the summer drought. I was happy for the people and plants and land up there, but (not-so-secretly) also happy that I was avoiding the rain and chill I had so intentionally set out to escape on this journey.

No sooner had I said this out loud, however (and, ahem, made a Facebook post about it) when the clear, sunny Oakland skies suddenly turned dark, and a mist began to descend… which turned to a full-fledged rain as we pedaled to the restaurant.

Doh!!

At least I was wearing all non-cotton clothing, so by the end of the meal I was mostly dry, and after sitting inside at home for the next few hours (the rain having stopped falling during dinner) I am once again cozy and snug.

Tomorrow, I’m biking to Pleasanton, with plans to stop along the way at a vegan doughnut-and-gelato shop (yum!) as well as the Hayward Japanese Garden, which I had hoped to visit on my last trip to the Bay Area but had missed.

I’m loving this journey!

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!)

Oakland!

9/26/21

I woke up early on the train, just as the sun was coming up, and a little after 8:00, I disembarked at Emeryville. I had intended to continue through to Jack London Square in Oakland, but then realized that Emeryville was actually closer to my host’s house, so I decided to get off there.

While putting my rig back together on the platform, I was approached by a couple in their 50s or early 60s:

“We tour on our Bromptons too! Is that one of those Dutch trailers?”

Wow, cool!

“Yes!”

“Oh, cool! We wanted to get one of those for this trip, but the distributor in Boulder was out of stock.”

Once again, I felt lucky for my timing: I had bought both the bike and the trailer before the COVID-related shortages hit. How differently this year would be unfolding for me right now if I hadn’t been able to get this trailer.

I asked if they were local Oaklanders.

“Oh, no! We’re from the DC area. I’m from Falls Church, and she’s from Alexandria.”

“Oh, wow… I grew up in Loudoun County!”

They expressed surprise, and the woman added, “I used to live in Ashburn!”

We all marveled at the small-world-ness of it all.

“Where are you from in Loudoun?” they asked.

“Waterford.”

I said it matter-of-factly, but expected to be met by blank stares; even people near Loudoun County aren’t always aware of that tiny historic hamlet.

“Oh, Waterford! What a great little town… we’ve done some great gravel bicycling out there!”

Wow. Small world indeed.

From there, I pedaled about a mile to my host’s charming tiny house, an ADU in the backyard of a classic house in a lovely old Oakland neighborhood. She and her two fluffy cats greeted me. After I got settled, her friend came over from across the street, and we all headed out on our bikes to the local Brompton-friendly bike shop, also about a mile away, because a small screw had worked its way out of my front fender and I wanted to get it repaired when I was still in a Brompton-friendly city. (There aren’t many authorized dealerships in the US.) The repair was quick and inexpensive, and we were on our way to a wonderful vegan soul-food restaurant, Souley Vegan, that I had visited once years ago and had always wanted to revisit. Along the way, I was thoroughly impressed by the extensive bicycle infrastructure in Oakland: miles of separated bikeways, and copious pavement markings.

The brunch was delicious. Afterward, they led me on a scenic route back to the neighborhood, where the lively annual block party was underway right in front of the house! We made margaritas and vegan chocolate chip cookies to contribute to the potluck spread, and then watched neighbors play ping-pong, volleyball, and various other games in the blocked-off street. I chatted with several neighbors—including one who was intrigued by my hybrid bike-and-train trip, and another who was deep-frying delicious falafel he had made from scratch—and later, I even got to jump in a bouncy house!

After the party, we felt very tired, so we’re calling it an early night tonight.

Tomorrow I hope to do some walking in a nature park, and then meet a friend for dinner at another nearby vegan restaurant.

But now, it’s time for sleep, with a big fluffy cat to keep me warm!

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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Klamath Falls and the OC&E Woods Line State Trail

9/25/21

What a wonderful 24 hours I had in Klamath Falls! I admit I had some stereotypes in mind going into it. (“This is a conservative rural town. I won’t have anything in common with the people here. It’s boring, with nothing to do.” Etc.)

What I found were wonderfully engaging (and not at all conservative) Warmshowers hosts (they even had a James Baldwin quote on the guest bathroom towel!); a brilliant and hilarious dinner guest of theirs from Tucson (but originally from Oklahoma, and he had that particular kind of regional wit to complement his uncanny physical resemblance to Marshall Rosenberg); an adorable rescue dog and six(!) resident rescue cats; a charming farmers market with decadent locally made vegan chocolate-espresso doughnuts and a woman there wearing a Doe Donuts T-shirt (“Go vegan. Stay vegan. Eat donuts.”); an all vegan Middle Eastern restaurant (though sadly it’s closed on Saturdays, so I missed it); impressive bicycle infrastructure, such as physically separated, two-way bike lanes on several major streets; and lengthy and beautiful dedicated bike paths both along the canal in town and heading south out of town into California.

My lesson: check your assumptions, Maren.

And, enjoy the fact that people and places can surprise you in delightful ways!

I spent most of today getting to the OC&E Woods Line trail, riding it, resting under a rare shady tree there, and then returning from it. The paved section is 7.6 miles long; the whole trail totals 109 miles. (I had heard about it from my Salem Warmshowers hosts. All these hosts offer such a wealth of knowledge!)

So, my round trip was about 15 miles, plus about five miles each way to and from my hosts’ house on the northern edge of town. The weather was perfect: sunny and low-80s temps. And the scenery felt distinctly different from that of northwestern Oregon. This is desert country.

When I returned from the ride, I was tickled, to say the least, to see that my host had set aside a gift for me from her neighbor’s tree: a large bag of Italian prune plums. (I hadn’t even told her my plum story! The fruit magic is following me.)

And now, I’m sitting in my berth on the southbound Coast Starlight. (I’m posting this later, since there is no WiFi on the train.) I boarded at 10 pm—after another brief kerfuffle with station agents as to whether or not I’d be able to load the trailer, but I did it again without issue, same as before—so my bed was already made up when I arrived. I see that since my last overnight train trip in 2019, Amtrak has upgraded their blankets. (Pretty fancy, eh?) They look warmer than those paper-thin ones they used to provide; I guess I’ll find out when I try to sleep tonight, through the chilly mountains of northern California.

So… it’s goodbye to Oregon, now, for the coming year. These past two weeks have shown me the untold and amazingly varied beauty of the state I’ve called home for the past 31 years. When I return, I’d like to prioritize exploring more of the state.

But now… California for the next week, and then the Southwest!

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!)