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Samoa, Manilla, Trinidad and Eureka!! All in a Day.
Tahoe finally relinquished its snowy grip on me, and I said farewell to my friend Keoki for the severalth time and actually did leave. I understand that there has been some much prayed for, much better powder snow up there since I've left. But, as they say, "There are no friends on a powder day!" so perhaps I'm better off out of there. Keeping my friends is something I put a lot of effort into.I left in a minor blizzard, and stayed the first night with a friend of Keoki's who throws bombs for a living. I gathered that she wasn't paid nearly enough for skiing about with a pack full of explosives on her back, doing avalanche control from before sun-up on storming mornings. She had cycled across Australia, too, so we had something in common. Hugging treacherous bends, almost licking icicles on the rock faces I passed, to keep out of the way of trucks that Americans call cars, I spilled out of the brim of Tahoe Basin, and set about intently heading for where my hands would regain their feeling. Down!
Down to the welcoming warmth of a self-styled hippy family in Pollock Pines, down to be cycle-escorted along a bike-path by American River, with its salmon hatchery and endless tailings from gold prospecting (once an eye-sore, now historical) by Karen, who I met at a supermarket with her mother and son. Through Sacramento, whose senate building had once suffered a kind of terrorist attack when someone had rammed it with a truck laden with condensed milk(!!!!???) (it had just finished being cleaned of the resulting smoke damage and was at its most dazzling white), and where I was warned to be careful of the liberals in Davis, my next stop. "I thought that's what you were in Sacramento." I'd replied, to which my advisor had said, "No, we're a bunch of farmers!" I'm not sure which group I should be more afraid of, actually. Via Davis where I found out that in USA, it's generally only east-coast cats that get brain tumors. Thanks Pete! Great piece of trivia to get people talking at dinner parties. And into the humdrum of the Bay Area; San Francisco. Frisco is a throwback word, so I won't use that. John and Lily made me feel at home yet again, and I went on a few adventures with John, to do such things as observe a Peace March (more like a saunter), and meet an artificially intelligent robot called Slats. The march was strictly kept in check by the police, but Slats was totally unpoliced, even though he/she/it (and at times could be each) threatened "a subtle combination of mathematics and extreme violence!". Next I meet you, get me to play my recording of my Interview with the Robot. It's hilarious! I rode a "Critical Mass," a kind of taking back of public space for human-powered propulsion, with a new friend on his hi-fi-equipped "Soul Cycle", to the accompaniment of James Brown, echoing from the office blocks, audible because of the traffic all having stopped. Gladly, that passed peacefully. I got a rare puncture, though, and had to drop out. I rode the streetcars, but didn't take a boat to Alcatraz, contenting my self with my previous visit to San Quentin (see report#24 on www.WorldCycle.org). I headed north, with one final crossing of the elegant Golden Gate, and visiting people I'd met in Tahoe, Japan and Fiji, before escaping Bay Area's gravitational pull. I've been riding in earnest since then, much of the time in torrential rain. But at least when it rained, the sunny day head wind seemed to reverse and push me along. Along past orange California Poppies flowering on the verges. Funnily enough, that's California's state flower. Along towards the Avenue of Giants; Remnants of millenia gone by, jaw-dropping, sky-scraping Redwood trees stand proud. Clear masters of the forest. If they contemplate, I'd reckon they're still relieved at having been narrowly spared the axe and chainsaw. And you know that elsewhere on my journey I've seen drive thru - banks, -fastfood restaurants (of course), -espresso bars, -tomatoes and -liquor stores? Well they've got a drive-thru tree here, perhaps you are aware! A man who'd survived a four-storey fall without a parachute, and his wife, 13cats, 5dog 5horses, gave me bunk space, chicken and wild rice, and saved my sorely tested tent on one showery evening. And the next day I passed through all the places named in the title of this report, though I still haven't found out why they were so named. Then I came into the state of Oregon, where the law has been used to much different effect than in California, and logging is much more freely allowed. Fewer trees. Larger rivers. Rain again. And this time my saviour was a woman backpacking with a dulcimer (sp?). She let me share her yurt. So now I know what a dulcimer is and what a yurt is. In return for that, Esther, I'll tell everyone I can, about www.WholeWheatRadio.com And perhaps after my recording of the robot, I'll play you Esther's song in the yurt, with rain playing percussion on the roof like a drumskin in the background, if you ask nicely enough.
Over a bowl of clam chowder at Mo's in Florence (seemingly THE place to eat clam chowder) I met a 6'4" sociology professor who recounted a story about someone who is about to become pretty well known. It seems that a certain Mr B*sh has nominated one Professor P to the board of directors of something like the Peace Institute, or Peace Department or some such. So P is on the up and up towards being well known. But P, some while back, took it upon himself to attack our Prof. 6foot4 with, he said, unfounded accusations of anti-semitism with the sole purpose of having Mr 6'4 de-jobbed. Jewish friends and organisations leapt to Prof. 6'4" 's defence, and he kept his position, but P has never retracted his allegations. Now apparently there will be something like a senate hearing with a view to installing, or otherwise, Mr P in his new Peaceful persona, so Prof. 6'4 is planning to pop along and merrily make Mr P wish he'd apologised a long time ago, by peeing on Mr P's fireworks. Remember, you read it hear first. Prof. 6'4 was a very interesting fellow clam-chowder consumer, with lots of topical things to say.
One particular of his observations, gave an insight into the sign of the times, when he told me of an email from one of his students. The student said, "You are not patriotic, are you, Prof. 6foot4 ? I bet you haven't even got a [USA] flag on your car!" The distinction between patriotism and nationalism these days, is being blurred left, right and centre, don't you agree? All this is taking place not a million miles from a town called Eugene, which started in 1846 with one small pole-cabin, with only two tiny windows and a door, and where the founders, Eugene and Mary Skinner and their daughter did't see another white person for 3days short of 4months. I entered Eugene with trucks hissing passed kicking up spray and rainbows from the recent or happening rain.Now it's home of Bike Friday (folding bikes that fit in a suitcase that converts to a trailer. See Ron Enders, who I met in Vietnam using one, in the friends' section of www.WorldCycle.org), and the Center for Appropriate Transport which designs and produces all things bike, including large load carriers used by a company which used to be called PedEx. FedEx leaned on them with threats of litigation and top lawyers, so they're now called Pedallers Express. Also somewhere here are Nike, I think. Eugene is a university town, with the subversion and undergroundness to go with it; lots of people riding bikes; especially along the extensive riverside trails; mixed teams playing soccer of a Sunday afternoon on the sports fields; tomtoms and bongos a-plenty with impromptu dancing and ball-on-string twirling after the Saturday folk markets; and organic food cooperatives. I glimpsed snowy peaks to the north from the top of Skinnner Butte, which flies the Stars and Stripes boldly. For me, there's a little of the future in both. Be Safe!
PS Thanks to all of you who've been checking out this www.WorldCycle.org, who've emailed me, and those Americans who've not been fearful of my arrival on your doorstep with my 200lb (91Kg) loaded bike (yes, I just weighed it!) and have welcomed me. And to those who are waiting for me. R
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