Berkeley!

11/27/21

I’m really enjoying Berkeley. No surprise, I guess; it’s known to be a pretty cool place.

Yesterday I met up with a friend in Oakland, for some cashew-based vegan ice cream at the Mr. Dewie’s shop. I had tried this ice cream before—the pints are sold in Portland—but I hadn’t remembered that the company is based here in the East Bay. I sampled four delicious flavors before deciding on a “split single scoop” of coffee and chocolate-orange chip, topped with caramel sauce. Yum!

On the way over there, I cycled along the waterfront. Somehow I had never put it together in my mind that Berkeley faces the bay too! (Um, duh?) I had always associated the city with its downtown area, near the BART station, and then also the hills on the east edge. But of course, the west edge of town is the water. I got to bike along it to get to Oakland, and it was beautiful.

This morning, I said goodbye to my Warmshowers host Thomas, and headed to my new place with our friend Mimi. She was cycling in Napa with friends this afternoon, so I took the opportunity to meander by bike through neighborhood streets and a couple of parks, including the UC Berkeley campus and its lovely eucalyptus grove. Today I also experienced the Berkeley Bowl grocery, which is a cool longtime institution of a natural-foods store; a longtime neighborhood Chinese restaurant with very affordable and delicious large portions (and a very apropos fortune in my cookie); and finally, the fabled vegan franchise Cinnaholic, which I also just learned was founded here. I got a decadent cinnamon roll while catching up with my friend Jessica, whom I had met when she was my Warmshowers host last time I came through the East Bay, last month. It’s been great to see friends—and keep making new ones!—on this journey.

I’m really enjoying this area. Looking forward to a couple more days here, before I head south.

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A needed reset

11/26/21

Well, it’s the morning after the holiday; I took last night off from blogging, because festivities ran late and I wanted to enjoy them.

I’ll start by saying this holiday brings up difficult feelings, as I imagine it does for many of you. It’s an American tradition, but the more I pay attention to the actual origins of it, the more it feels strange to celebrate a whitewashed myth about racial peace and reconciliation that does not acknowledge the tremendous harms that white people brought to indigenous people when they (my ancestors) arrived. I like to follow some Native news pages on Facebook; Indian Country Today is one of them. Here is a piece they published yesterday, telling about Thanksgiving from the Wampanoag perspective.

We have a lot of work to do in this country, to recognize and acknowledge past harms, and find ways to repair them, going forward. I think educating ourselves, and sitting with discomfort, is an important first step, so that’s why I’m sharing my feelings and this educational link here.

Having said that, I do value the gathering of families and friends that this holiday has come to represent, and the “harvest feast” aspect of it. Of course, as a vegan I also mourn all the turkeys who are bred in order for their lives to be cut short every year for this purpose. For the past ten years or so, I have mostly attended an all-vegan “Friendsgiving” with my sister’s friends in Seattle.

This year, I was blessed and honored to share a different all-vegan Friendsgiving here in Berkeley… and it was even sunny and warm during the day!

My host, Thomas, a brilliant and fascinating car-free vegan cyclist who is in the process of building a “sustainability think tank” here in Berkeley, hosted a small potluck gathering in his home in north Berkeley.

Yesterday morning, he showed me his community garden plot, a few blocks away, where he weeded, watered, and harvested many ingredients for the evening’s meal, including parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme for the stuffing! (Which he made from scratch, from a loaf of his own sourdough bread he had baked the previous day.)

On the way to the garden, we passed a madrone tree, and I was able to introduce him to madrone berries! (Another recent host told me that these are also known as “strawberry trees.”) I hope to snag another few berries from the sidewalk while I’m here in this place.

After visiting the garden plot, I took a walk around Berkeley a bit. I found it startlingly deserted, presumably because of the holiday. I walked very briefly on the campus, and then made my way up Shattuck to a beautiful little park called Live Oak. I found a little picnic-table spot by the water, surrounded by tall trees, and just sat for an hour or so, letting myself “reset” from my recent tension. It was exactly what I needed.

Then I returned to the house, and shortly afterward, people began arriving for the meal. Everyone was delightful, and the food was delicious and abundant. I got to meet Mimi, my new friend who has been so helpful to me with lodging and recommendations here in the Bay. She also brought a really fun game, Ransom Notes, which we played after dinner.

I had initially considered renting a hotel room for this holiday night, because I didn’t know many people in the area, and thought maybe a quiet, solitary place might be the best way for me to spend this holiday. But the Friendsgiving was wonderful; I’m so glad I did that instead!

I’m planning to connect with some family on a Zoom this evening, which will be good, since I’ve been falling out of touch with everyone on this journey.

But between now and then, I plan to meet up with a new local friend at a vegan coffee shop, and also head out on my bike for a bit, perhaps exploring the Berkeley marina.

It’s another sunny day in the mid-60s. I could get used to this.

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Reunited, and it feels so good…

11/24/21

OK. Remember when I forgot my helmet in Pleasanton, back in early October? (Seems like forever ago now.) Well, today I got it back!

As you will recall from a few days ago, I took a spill on the sidewalk in Golden Gate Park, and my helmet hit the concrete. I have heard that after any impact—even a relatively minor one like that—it’s not safe to wear the helmet again. So, I was feeling some dread and annoyance that I would have to spend the money, time, and effort to buy a new helmet, yet again. 

But then! I remembered that I was in the Bay Area, and that I had left the previous helmet a manageable BART ride away in Pleasanton. I messaged my Warmshowers host from October, and sure enough, he still had the helmet! He agreed to leave it out for me today when he went to work.

So I got to experience the BART again. I always enjoy light rail. I biked from the home of my Alameda hosts over to the Fruitvale station, and when I disembarked in Pleasanton, the 40-minute ride to the previous host’s house took me along a truly lovely bike path (which I hadn’t known about when I was there before). I actually took a wrong turn, which resulted in about an extra half-mile of beautiful path riding. I even made a point to sit and rest on a bench along the path, to drink in the moment and enjoy some more quiet respite from my recent overwhelm.

I picked up the helmet, and felt the satisfaction of a full-circle experience as I strapped it on.

Then I rode back to Alameda, packed up my things and said goodbye to my Servas hosts, and set a course for north Berkeley, where I am staying with the friend of a friend of a friend, who is a fellow longtime vegan and never-owned-a-car cyclist. He will be hosting a small “friendsgiving” gathering tomorrow, which I’m looking forward to attending. For the past ten years or so I have attended my sisters friends’ vegan friendsgiving gathering in Seattle. This year I can continue a variation of that tradition, but with new people, and warmer and sunnier weather!

The ride up here took me nearly two hours, but it was almost all flat, and very pleasant except for the harrowing bridge ride out of Alameda. (That grated road surface, yikes! Scary enough on two wheels, but with a trailer added into the mix? Wow.)

Once I got into Oakland, I enjoyed the beautiful waterfront path along Lake Merritt, including those distinctive California trees with the twisty-bark trunks.

I’m looking forward to taking some time to experience Berkeley and Oakland in the next few days, and hopefully connecting with several friends as well as meeting new ones!

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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Alameda and Bay Farm Island, and more bike challenges

11/23/21

Today was a complex day, full of ups and downs. Right now, the ups are what stick with me, so I’ll mostly focus on those.

I went to the Brompton-approved bike shop here on Alameda to check on the rusty part of my bike. The mechanic told me it wasn’t something to worry about at this point. He lubed it for me—at no charge—and sent me on my way. What a relief!

Then I checked out the local natural foods store, just a few blocks away, which was part of a larger marketplace. Then I went to sit in the sun in a local park, which was a welcome respite from all my recent errands and stressors. I finally got a chance to catch up by phone with a friend I’d been wanting to talk to for weeks, which felt good.

And then, my friend Selina, whom I had never met in person but only online, came over from San Francisco to do a short bike ride with me in the afternoon. We crossed over the bike-and-ped bridge to Bay Farm Island (which isn’t actually an island—in fact, it’s the site of the Oakland airport) and saw some beautiful late-afternoon-light views of the bay and some lovely trees.

Afterward, I headed back to my Servas hosts’ house, but not before stopping at the nearby Safeway for a few sundries. On the way, I took Shore Line Drive, and got to see the sun setting over the bay. Beautiful.

A strange and unfortunate thing happened outside the Safeway, though: I locked up the bike to go inside, and when I returned and approached the bike to unlock it, a man sitting on a nearby bench stood up. Perhaps he had a neurological problem or something; he reeled after standing up, and then fell awkwardly to the sidewalk. It was a difficult thing to observe, and reminded me of my own fall (from the bike) just a few days ago. Like me, he lay on the ground dazed for a bit, as several onlookers stopped to see if he was all right. He seemed lucid, but said he was “not all right.” People called paramedics, and helped him to his feet, including a woman who seemed well versed in such protocols. I stepped away briefly, to give space to the people surrounding him who seemed to know what to do to help. As I walked back to unlock my bike and head home, the woman was sitting next to him on the bench, and addressed me as I approached the rack: “He wants to know if the bike is OK.”

I had actually seen his head hit the front wheel as he went down, but it seemed to be a minor impact (compared to his impact on the concrete) so I assured them both that I assumed it was fine. As I walked the bike to the curb, two fire trucks pulled up and paramedics jumped out to help him. I carefully navigated around the trucks to begin pedaling just a few blocks back to the house.

But as I did, I noticed that in fact the bike had sustained some damage.

Oof! I had just managed to shake off most of my stress from the past few days (lodging has been falling into place; I dropped off the pants for mending; the bike had had its OK from the shop just a few hours ago) and now it all flooded back. What was this new damage? How would I fix it?

I biked home to the painful sound of my front tire rubbing against something. I tried to manually straighten the fender, and checked to make sure the brakes were OK and not rubbing, but the sound continued.

I knew I would need to leave the house pretty early in the morning, because I was to head all the way from Alameda to Pleasanton, then return to Alameda and pick up the trailer, before setting out for north Berkeley, where I’ll be staying the next two nights. But I wouldn’t be able ride the bike like this.

It was now dark; I assumed all bike shops were closed. The Brompton-certified one wouldn’t open until 11 tomorrow.

Argh!!

After I got back and told my host Lucy about the situation, though, and we looked over the bike together, I checked Google again and discovered that another nearby bike shop was still open for another 40 minutes. I took the chance to bike ten minutes or so over there. The mechanic put the bike up on the stand, and adjusted the steel wires connecting the fender. They are bent at special “odd” angles, by design, so I had been afraid to work too hard at manually adjusting them myself, lest I inadvertently bend them out of shape in a way that would cause lasting harm. But the mechanic saw what needed to be done, and bent them quickly back into alignment. The wheel spun easily, and no further action seemed to need to be taken. He also declined to charge me for this quick-and-easy fix. What a blessing! (If you’re ever bicycling in Alameda, I can personally recommend both Alameda Bicycle and Westside Joe’s Bikes.)

So… I was on my way again, and feeling OK again. I returned to the house and enjoyed another delicious home-cooked meal and good conversation with my hosts, Lucy and Dan. They even took a picture of me for their “Servas book” of all their guests*. (They said I could share the photo here; Selina also gave me permission to share the selfie she took of the two of us on the bike bridge.)

So… all’s well that ends well, although if there’s one thing I’ve learned on this trip, it’s that nothing ever “ends.” Things sometimes go smoothly, and sometimes don’t. And either one can change in an instant, and even change back again in an instant. So, I’m doing my best to breathe as much as I can, smile and laugh (or at least chuckle ruefully!) as much as I can, and trust as much as I can. Tomorrow is always a new day. And I’m looking forward to it.

* Incidentally, if you’ve been reading about Servas here on my blog, and you’re curious about possibly becoming a host, I would encourage you to look into it. Many Servas hosts in the US are upwards of 70 years old, and although this represents a treasure trove of wisdom and travel experience, some of them are beginning to “retire” from hosting, and it’s such a wonderful organization that they (we) all hope for more new members, both hosts and travelers. All the hosts I’ve stayed with or met up with have said they’ve had wonderful experiences.

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A colorful co-op + a ferry ride to Alameda

11/22/21

Today was eventful!

My Servas host Susan had told me yesterday about a worker-owned cooperative grocery store not too far from her, called Rainbow Grocery. I wanted to go take a look.

On the ride over, I stopped at an alterations-and-dry-cleaning shop in the neighborhood that had recently opened. The man inside seemed to be already doing a brisk business. He said he could mend my pants (for $10, which I’m very happy to pay) but they wouldn’t be ready for a full week. I hesitated, not wanting to wait that long, and actually said no and left the shop. But then I stood out on the sidewalk and looked at my phone’s calendar. I wouldn’t be back in San Francisco for exactly a week, as it turned out. And who knows what kind of luck or wait times I might find at other area tailors. I decided to go for it, and dropped off the pants. My leggings and cycling skort will have to suffice for the next week, in the east bay!

Then I biked over to Rainbow. On the way, right next to a Whole Foods tucked into the hilly neighborhood, what should I see but a Next Level Burger! This is an all vegan burger chain founded and based in Bend, Oregon. I have one in my southeast Portland neighborhood. But I had no idea they had expanded to San Francisco, and I hadn’t noticed them on my Happycow vegan app. I didn’t need to stop, but it was a fun little hit of home to see it.

I arrived at Rainbow—situated right under a sky-blue-painted overpass—and was so glad to experience it! It is an old-timey co-op, but also very large and modern-looking. The selection was incredible; I saw a number of items I’d never encountered before.

After buying a few things, I pedaled back to Susan’s place to put together my rig and prepare to cross the bay to the island of Alameda. You can see from the photo of the houses across the street from her just how steep that hill is. (And that’s not even the steepest section of it.) It took some doing for me to figure out how to reassemble my rig without it rolling down the hill without me, but I eventually managed.

I took a route slightly longer than Google maps suggested, because there was no way I could maneuver my bike up that steep hill, so I went around to gentler slopes on other streets. It was a pleasant ride along the waterfront to reach the ferry dock. The ferry ride took about 45 minutes; we stopped first at Oakland, then Alameda. It took about half an hour for me to ride to my Alameda Servas hosts’ house, on very flat and pleasant streets. I was greeted very enthusiastically by their energetic pit bull, as well as the human occupants of the house, who have many varied interests and travel experiences. We had a wonderful dinner of curried lentils and various roasted vegetables.

I had chosen to stay in Alameda because I have an online friend—whom I haven’t met in person yet—who I believed lived here, and we were going to go on a bike ride together tomorrow. We spoke tonight, though, and I had completely misunderstood: she lives in San Francisco, right near Golden Gate Park! Doh! I’m hoping we can either meet up tomorrow in a “central” place like maybe Oakland—or heck, even here in Alameda—or perhaps I could stay another night in San Francisco in a week, if I can find a place near the park. (Possibly I can stay with one of the two Warmshowers hosts I stayed with near there a few days ago.) I’m sure something will work out, one way or another. I would like to explore more of Golden Gate Park, since I only experienced a fraction of it.

Meanwhile, my wonderful friend (who I also haven’t met yet) Mimi (hi, Mimi!) has been helping me to find lodging here on the east side of the bay for the next few days, since my original hosts ended up falling through. It is such a puzzle sometimes to work out my lodging, but with many wonderful human and group resources, I can remind myself to treat it as a sort of game, and then it becomes a fun adventure.

Tomorrow I plan to go to an Alameda bike shop to see how my bike is holding up. (There is a rusty part I want to check on.) I’m glad there are several Brompton dealers in the Bay Area.

But now, I need to 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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A new park, and good human connections

11/21/21

Today was a good day. The sun shone, and the temps were in the mid-60s. I managed to replace at least the bite valve on my hydration pack; not sure how long that will fix the problem, but I would think the new one would have to be better than the one that got run over by a car yesterday.

I also got to see a childhood friend from the tiny historic hamlet of Waterford, Virginia, outside of which I grew up. Kristin, and her sweetie Eric, took me on an excursion first to a nearby REI to get the bite valve, and then to McLaren Park, a large grassy, hilly, and at times forested park within city limits. We reminisced about our ‘70s and ‘80s childhoods in Waterford, and about various friends and classmates from over the years, before parting ways in the afternoon after a nice lunch at a nearby pizza place. It’s always cool to reconnect with people from times past, and circle back around to old memories, seeing how they fit within new times.

Afterward, I returned to my host’s place and enjoyed the sunshine and some pretty purple flowers in the late afternoon on the front patio.

Then tonight’s dinner guest arrived: Maryjane, another longtime Servas host, traveler, and organizer like my host Susan. We had some great conversation about Servas, travel, and all manner of topics, over a delicious home cooked meal.

Tomorrow I will be making my way over to Alameda, quite possibly on a ferry! If I have time, I might also stop at a local co-op grocery: Susan told me about it today, after I remarked that a recent host had lamented the lack of any co-ops remaining in the Bay area. I hope I’ll have time to take a look; it sounds like a colorful and venerable institution.

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!)

Golden Gate Park: The Japanese Garden!

11/20/21

Many of you know what a Japanese garden aficionado I am. I have wanted to see this garden for many years, but each time I came to San Francisco, it never seemed to work out.

But today was the day! And it did not disappoint. The weather was sunny and beautiful, and the garden was delightful.

Riding over there was slightly challenging, since my right palm was still pretty sore from yesterday’s fall, and my Band-Aids kept coming unglued. And, on the way back, my hydration pack’s valve fell off yet again, not only soaking my left leg yet again, but rolling into the street and into the path of a passing car. Oof. I watched in chagrin as the car’s tire rolled right over it. Afterward, though, I still felt compelled to rescue it, so I ran after it and reattached it. It is still sort of usable, but clearly this is a ridiculous situation at this point. I plan to visit REI tomorrow—with one old and one new friend, who happen to be right in this new neighborhood where I’m staying tonight—to see if I can swap it out for a functional one.

Anyway, back to the park: After enjoying the Japanese garden, I went across the street to the botanical garden. Sadly I had very little time to explore its 55 acres (I was reminded of my ill-fated attempt, a few years ago, to appreciate the New York Botanical Garden’s 250 acres in the last 45 minutes they were open that day) but I at least made it through the “Australian garden” and also to the redwood grove.

Then I headed back to my Warmshowers host’s house north of the park, packed everything up and said goodbye to her two cats, and pedaled across town to this neighborhood, known as the Dogpatch. I saw some great San Francisco street views on the ride. A small ways up one of the iconic impossible hills in this city, I met up with my Servas host for the next two nights, who turns out to have grown up (decades before I did) in northern Virginia also. The childhood friend I’m meeting tomorrow, who lives just a few blocks away from here, is also from there, naturally. And, my host invited her downstairs neighbor over to join us for a wonderful home-cooked meal, and it turned out that neighbor used to live in Portland. It’s a mobile society we live in, and one never knows when fun intersections will pop up.

I’m looking forward to whatever tomorrow may bring!

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 Golden Gate Bridge… and taking my first spill

11/19/21

Well, I’ve had quite a range of San Francisco experiences today.

First, when I emerged from my host’s wonderful 1930s-era house about noon, it was raining. I was not thrilled about this, but at least it wasn’t very cold—high 50s. I wore my rain jacket, but didn’t bother with rain pants.

It was hard to see much scenery, though, while watching all the raindrops build up on my glasses as I navigated the streets of a busy and unfamiliar city. Still, I made my way back through Golden Gate Park, then north through the Presidio, and by the time I arrived there, the rain had mostly given way to fog.

That was a bummer, though, since I had really hoped for a sunny day to see the bridge. (Sun is forecast for the next few days, but I don’t think I’ll make it back to the bridge, unfortunately. Ah, well.)

It was pretty riding through the Presidio. Curving streets, eucalyptus trees, Spanish architecture, palm trees… all shrouded in mist. I stopped at the Korean War Memorial, and passed the national cemetery, both of which added a somber tone to the weather conditions.

As I approached the bridge, I could see Alcatraz Island. All such iconic views on this morning’s ride.

Last night I had felt twinges of some sort of guilt or regret for having initially crossed the bridge in a car, rather than officially “arriving” in San Francisco, via that glorious span, with my rig in tow. But today I was glad for it; I think I experienced a lot more of the surrounding scenery—and at a more leisurely pace—than I would have if I had been doing it out of utility. I am finding many such “tradeoffs” in this journey: sometimes I have a vision of how I think something will be, or how I hope it will be, or how I think it “should” be… and that version of events does not come to pass. I feel twinges of regret or disappointment, or sometimes even guilt or remorse… but then shortly afterward, it turns out that things actually unfold in a way that turns out to be better. A good life lesson.

So, yes, this was like that. And although I was disappointed that the bridge was so fogged in that I could barely take any photos, I still enjoyed making the crossing under my own power. I stopped at the “vista point” on the Marin County side, but it was so foggy the bridge was completely invisible! So, that iconic selfie will have to wait for a future trip, I suppose.

I turned around to head back “home,” and as I approached the bridge, the fog did begin to lift a little. Some shafts of sunlight shone in. That was pretty cool.

On the way back, I went through Golden Gate Park again. I have now been through that one section of it four times—twice in each direction—under various weather and lighting conditions. (And I think I have managed to take at least one, and sometimes two or three, wrong turns each time!)

This time, as I headed down MLK (I think? Might have been JFK) I saw a sign for a fern pond, or something like that. Glancing over, it looked really cool, almost like the “prehistoric” garden I recalled visiting in the Austin botanical garden a few years ago. This looked like a place I wanted to check out. And glancing at my watch, I gauged that I would have enough daylight left.

Unfortunately, all that rain made the streets and paths very slippery. As I turned back and onto the sidewalk from the street to go check out that natural area, I found myself slipping, then crashing onto the sidewalk, where I lay dazed for a few moments with my bike resting on top of me.

A few passersby stopped to see if I was all right. I sensed that I was, but I could feel some cuts and bruises forming, on my left knee and both palms, where I had made impact with the sidewalk. (I was thankful for my helmet, which I heard and felt hit the concrete as I went down. Guess it’s time to buy yet another new helmet, since once they take an impact, they are considered no longer safe.)

I thanked the passersby for their concern, and one of them lifted the bike off me. I told them I was all right; I kind of wanted them to walk away before I stood awkwardly up.

When I did, I saw that the left knee of my trusty nylon capris (worn almost every day on this trip, after I purchased them 15+ years ago for a group bicycle vacation on the big island of Hawai’i) was ripped open, and muddy. Aw, man.

The REI leggings underneath were unscathed, which was remarkable because when I got inside to check, I found that my knee was all scraped up underneath.

Biking back to my host’s house (with a detour to check out that pond anyway, dammit, and it was very pretty) I felt the discomfort in my knee and palms. But, my host gave me some Band-Aids and Neosporin, and my new Warmshowers host for tonight (just north of the park) gave me some Naproxen as an anti-inflammatory. So, I’m thankful. These things do happen, and it could have been a lot worse.

Unfortunately, as I biked over here to my new host’s place, my hydration pack’s bite valve came off in the street, leaving the open tube to drench my left leg and foot. This added insult to my recent injury… and it was about the sixth or seventh time this has happened. The first was on my ride between Arcata and Eureka, about two weeks ago. It has now begun happening almost daily, so I know I need to address it. (It’s only a matter of time before it happens in a place where the bite valve rolls off into irretrievable oblivion, leaving my clothes soaking wet and me without an easy way to stay hydrated.) I contacted Osprey’s customer-service email tonight, though they say it may take seven business days to reply.

I can see I’ll need to stop at a bike shop and/or outdoor-outfitters shop or two here in San Francisco, or at least in the bay: I’ll need a new helmet, possibly new nylon pants, and a new bite valve and/or bladder for the hydration pack. I also recently noticed some rust on a component of my bike the other day, so I’m going to take advantage of being in a metro area where there are several certified Brompton dealers. Hopefully they can tell me whether I need to worry about this part, and if so, they can replace it for me.

So… yes, an eventful day, and that’s just in my little bicycling world; that’s not to mention the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict. It can be hard for me to process everything that’s happening in the larger world. Sometimes on this journey I feel separate from “the world,” for better or worse. I see many problems in the world from a different vantage. I’m hoping that being “outside” of my social circle, outside of the working world, outside of traditional societal ways of living, for a whole year, will give me some sort of new perspective or new empowerment to do my best to help bring about changes that we need. I’m doing my best to trust that.

For now, I’m resting in my basement room here in another charming San Francisco house, this one from the late 1800s. It’s a bit cold in here, and my feet are still damp. I hope I will get a good night’s rest, and that I can enjoy exploring the park tomorrow, especially the Japanese garden.

Meanwhile, I hope you’re all taking good care of yourselves.

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More San Rafael nature, before San Francisco

11/18/21

I had one more day back in San Rafael today, before my San Francisco adventure begins tomorrow. I mostly took it easy, relaxing and chatting with my very interesting host, who has been a political activist and labor union attorney for decades. He is currently focused on climate change, and specifically working with California labor unions on addressing climate change.

After a good chat and some good snacks, I did head out to explore the nature around San Rafael for a bit. The bay looked beautiful from the waterfront park area near the house, and then I checked out a very small portion of China Camp State Park. (The Doobie Brothers’ China Grove played involuntarily and relentlessly in my head all day—every time I was reminded of the park’s name—for better or worse.)

This park exploration involved a bit of “off-roading,” which I rarely do. The Brompton isn’t designed for it (it’s a London commuter bike by design, meant for city riding and folding to take on the Tube) and mountain biking has never been my jam anyway. But I braved a bit of it today, walking the bike up the steepest and most uneven terrain. I got to some amazing views at the top of a hill, then gingerly alternately rode and walked the bike back down the steep and rocky slope into a neighborhood. I stopped to rest for a bit in a neighborhood park, then went back to the house, via what I thought was a shortcut, but which turned out to be a very steep hill. (They are ubiquitous here!) Rather than turning around, I challenged myself to climb it. After a few rests, I made it to the top, and along the way there were some cool clumps of trees in traffic-calming islands. The descent was once again kind of scary, even on smooth pavement, but I rode the brakes and made it back to the house.

My hosts were heading into the city for a fundraiser concert tonight, and were willing to tote me and my rig along with them in their car, so that I could avoid the rigorous ride and climb across the Golden Gate Bridge. Driving across it tonight was my first time experiencing the bridge, and it was as beautiful as I had expected in the nearly-faded daylight. I’m looking forward, though, to going back tomorrow on my bike (sans trailer) to experience the bridge more fully. I did bike through Golden Gate Park tonight, to get to my next Warmshowers host, who lives in a charming house built in 1936, the same year the bridge was opened. (The bathroom tile—which I assume is original—is wonderful!)

I was feeling a bit lonely tonight, since it’s been very difficult for me to stay connected to existing friends. I’ve been socializing nonstop on this journey, in person with new people, and I love it. But it can be overwhelming, and it’s a lot to take in, energetically and informationally. Meanwhile, I miss the feeling of connection to my friends and family. I put out a post on Facebook tonight to see if anyone was up for a phone call, and ended up talking to a Portland friend for an hour, which felt great.

Now it’s time to sleep. Tomorrow, I’m excited to see the bridge, the park, and the city in daylight!

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!)

More beautiful trees, in Samuel P Taylor & Point Reyes

11/17/21

Today was another full day!

I got up early (for me, meaning before 8) and packed up my bags to send them off—without me—in a Lyft to my next San Rafael hosts’ house. The husband at that (this) house met the Lyft driver less than half an hour later, and unloaded the trailer and two bags, then texted me that they had arrived safe and sound. I continually give thanks for the marvels of modern technology.

This step saved me from having to carry the trailer along with me on my adventures today, which started with a ride to Roy’s Redwoods, just outside of Samuel P Taylor Park. There was a bit of a climb to get there, but I made it OK. I was to meet a friend of a friend there—he was driving from Santa Rosa—but I ended up getting there half an hour early, so I began walking the redwood loop myself. After the initial (beautiful) grove right near the parking area, the rest of the loop seemed a bit scant on redwoods, but there were many beautiful spots with various kinds of trees. My friend met me partway around the loop when he arrived, and then we loaded up the Brompton in his car and headed out to Point Reyes Station, where we walked two short trails, including one that marked an earthquake rupture from 1906!

Then we drove around the Marin peninsula for a while, along the scenic (but dangerous—oof) Hwy 1, and stopped in at the lovely and historic Pelican Inn for a drink in the lowering sunshine.

Then it was time for me to meet my Warmshowers hosts for the night, so my friend dropped me at their house in San Rafael. Tomorrow I hope to explore another nearby nature park (Marin is chock-full of them!) and then make my way to San Francisco.

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!)