Sunday, September 18, 2011

Camping Revisited

For the record, in all the 30 years we have been camping, we have encountered bears twice. Once when a careless camper in our group left apples on a table and once during the night. It's a pretty good indication of a bear in the campsite when you wake up in the middle of the night to a symphony of pots and pans being hit by spoons echoing through the forest.
We have yet to encounter snakes, although I do not venture outside the tent after dark for any reason.
We have encountered more snakes, deer, foxes, coyotes, wild turkeys, rabbits, moles, squirrels withing 2 miles of our house on the American River Trail than we've ever seen  while camping.

Camping in Bear Country Just a Question

We have a favorite camping spot up above Arnold on Hwy 4 called Golden Pines RV park. It's about a mile past Calaveras Big Trees State Park. The front of the RV Park had enough plastic flowers, fake rock waterfalls and gnomes decorating yards in permanent spaces to make one wonder why the owners bother to live in an area that has real waterfalls, wildflowers and redwoods.
The tent campers are in a beautiful wooded area down the hill from RV sites. No gnomes in sight. Whew.
Each time we check in to camp, I always ask about recent bear activity. Response this year, there were a couple of bears early in the year trying to get into the dumpsters, but nothing since May. Garbage is picked up each night at 8 pm and campers told not to leave food out. There are no bear, snake, tick, lyme disease, rodent warnings posted anywhere. Owners keep dogs on leash and clean up after them. We love camping there.
We hadn't been to Calaveras Big Trees for many so decided to visit using one of our free park passes. Just an aside State parks do accept donations to help keep them open. Thank you gift is free day passes. Gee that's good business.
We were given a park guide and dog regs. All dogs must be on a 6' leash and cannot go on any trails. Strict regs for dogs, as explained in a pamphlet from Gov Schwartz... are because the dogs may frighten wildlife, get bit by a snake, cause disease in the wildlife, attract ticks, contaminate water supply, fall off a cliff and get injured, and some people are frightened by dogs. There are bear garbage cans, bear lockers, warning signs for bears, snakes, ticks, lyme disease, and rodent diseases. We drove through the park and walked on the fire roads. Missed the main attractions since Sam the dog, our 14 lb water contaminating, people scaring, tick attracting, injury prone dog was not allowed near the really big trees.

Two questions.
First why are there so many more bears, snakes, ticks, rodents, dog fearing people in a state campsite than in a private one a mile away? Do adults and children not frighten animals, get bit by snakes, fall and injure themselves, get lyme disease, come home with ticks and contaminate the water system.? I know my husband must have contaminated many a water system while camping and fishing.
Secondly, why would a person who is afraid of a dog on a leash even bother to camp in a campsite that warns of bears, snakes, ticks, lyme disease, falling off cliffs?
I'm sticking to my private campsite with plastic flowers, gnomes and fake rock waterfalls. Apparently there are fewer risks and cleaner water.

Whoops, I did it again, Skirt etiquette part 2

Ever had one of those mornings when you wake up and realize you are really late to get someplace? I woke up last Friday morning and realized I had exactly one hour to get to work. That means 1/2 hour to shower, do hair, makeup, throw something in a bag for breakfast, load my bike and to figure out what to wear and 1/2 hr to drive downtown, park, and pedal to work.
What to wear consisted of grabbing skirt and top that matched and didn't require ironing.
Mission accomplished and I am out the door by 7:30 looking reasonably put together, make up on, hair fluffed, food in the bag and most importantly, coffee in the to go mug.
Fifteen minutes later, arrive at free parking space, unfold the bike, put the seat up, hop on. On no, I should not have picked a short sort of tightish skirt. I lowered the seat about 8 inches so I could lift my leg high enough to get on and off the bike. I had to peddle sort of knock-kneed and each time a car came toward me, I stopped pedalling, posed on the bike with my knees together and and let momentum take me forward. Must try to keep lady like decorum while riding.
Made it to work with 7 minutes to spare, skirt and dignity intact. 
Tomorrow wearing longer looser skirt but not so loose it flies in the wind.

Update 5-17-2012. Wearing my somewhat loose spandex workout shorts has solved the problem. Long skirts, short skirts, no problemo.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Little Bike Great Highway Big Hills Giant Race

August 26 was Little Red  Bikes' first road trip.  First stop was the SF airport to pick up Emily. Neither one of us had picked up a passenger at SFO. First pass around to find SWA terminal,  I left a little paint from the right bumper curbside at Southwest terminal. Nothing like the sound of bumper on curb to get the blood pumping and people waiting at the curb to notice your arrival.  Todd jumped out and I fully expected him to hand me the bumper parts. He surveyed the damage and started looking for Emily so I figured it must not have been too bad.(Two little scrapes near the bottom of the bumper) 
Circle two, still no Emily and Todd got back in the car. Circle three, jerk to the right does not let us into the right lane to return to the terminal so instead of heading to the airport, we're headed back on the freeway. Circled through San Bruno, then somehow made it back to the airport. Third time was the charm. Emily was waiting at the curb. Horray.
I'd had more than enough of driving and Todd had had more than enough of my driving. His turn. Of course, the online driving directions I printed out and taking a wrong turn got us lost. We hadn't bothered to put directions in Garmin while we were driving to the airport. Emily is the Garmin wizard and soon we are on our way. Fortunately we were on the right route before the fog became so thick we could hardly see in front of us. We made it to our hotel in the Sunset District.
All three of us participated in the Giant's 1/2 Marathon in San Francisco on Saturday morning. That's 13.2 miles starting at ATT Park, past The Ferry Building, Fisherman's Wharf, through  Golden Gate Park to Fort Point under the GG Bridge and back again. The race ended in ATT Park running around the infield. What a thrill to look up and see the stands, the giant Coke bottle, the scoreboard  from the player's view. Not such a thrill to walk up to the steps to the food level after walking at a 13:45 min pace for 3:02 hours.  My legs were cooked.
I was rewarded with a too small t-shirt, Tim Lincecum bobble head doll and no medal. They were out. Picked up my free bananas and whatever else was left to eat. Early birds get the worms apply to food and bling after races.
Back to the hotel to soak our aching feet in garbage cans full of icecubes and water. After a shower and lunch came time to ride the bike. Time to test  Little Red Bike along the Great Highway and hills in the Sunset district.

One look at the traffic on the Great Highway, Hwy 1, convinced me Sat afternoon at 2:30 is not a good time to start riding.  The safe route is the side road, La Playa, that parallels the highway.  That is my route.
Not only did I want to attack the hills on the little bike, I again wanted to test the theory walking muscles are different from riding muscles. I rode on La Playa, then went up a hill that didn't look too steep, rode on a parallel street, then went up another hill and continued the progression for a few miles.  Even though the muscles are different, the fatigue level from the walk is still there  I loved the downhills. Little Red Bike did great. Zippy on the hills, no problem changing gears.
The ride was too short but proved to me it is going to be a great addition to vacation toys.

Sunset District hotel and restaurant recommendations can be found in the Impromptu Eats and Sleeps blog coming up next.
Enjoy Bev

Friday, September 2, 2011

Why is Willie Weir on my reading list?

I was introduced to Willie Weir in an article in The Sacramento Bee Thursday Scene section. It was one of those foggy January mornings. I poured myself a cup of coffee, assumed my early morning reading position, at the kitchen table, and slipped the rubber band off the paper. As is my habit, I glanced at the weather forecast, ignored the front page and went for the Scene section.
Adventure cyclist Willie Weir was featured. I had no clue who this Seattle guy Willie is. I am a sucker for anything the hints of an adventure so started reading. The article spun a tale about a man who rode across the US with no plans, no agenda, camping in peoples' yards and garages. He found the best of people, the people who care, the kind of people not featured on the front pages of most papers.
I was hooked. He was speaking that evening at REI and I had to be there. I arrived about the time the talk was starting. There was still a line outside waiting to get in. It was clear I was nsot going to hear Willie Weir speak that night. I bought his book, went home and read most of it that night.
Travels with Willie is a joy to read. I was transported from a cold dark depressing evening into a bike ride across small town, side road America.
I wished I was on an adventure like Willie's.
A couple of months later I noticed in another Thursday Scene section Willie would be back in Sacramento speaking for 3 nights in a row at REI. I signed up for all three nights.
The first night I was mesmerized about the tales of riding across Eastern Europe, the second night about cycling in Turkey and the third about adventures in Columbia. I went from disbelief that someone would embark on these adventures, to thinking I can never to this, to how can I make the spirit of his adventures part of my daily life.
Thank you Willie.