April 30, 2009


1 - Go to "wikipedia." Hit “random”
or click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random
The first random wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 - Go to "Random quotations"
or click http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3
The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

3 - Go to flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”
or click http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4 - Use Photoshop to put it all together. (yay practice! :) )

5 - Post it to Facebook as a note and tag the friends you want to join in - be sure to include me so I can see your work!

5a - Put the person who tagged you at the top of the list.

April 29, 2009

Through the Rockies on my own.

I had made the journey once before, under different circumstances though. I found myself making this journey once again. My Raleigh reliant road bike is stowed in the bicycle room in the baggage car, my cabin, though small seems like a vast empty music hall. I leave for dinner as the four chime sounds and I see in the corner of my eye the porter entering and turning down the bed for the night.

The dining car is filled with groups and couples, occasionally here and there, there are businessmen sitting alone eating dinner by themselves, but after putting down their flatware, they'd shift over to the bar car for joviality. I remained planted. My business bag in the chair next to me, a few books peer out from the opening, their covers reaching out their arms asking me to pick one. I dont pay any attention to any of them, instead, I'm peering at a familiar face looking back at me. I look into his little brown eyes, his antlers peek out like a set of rabbit ears. His big brown nose is mottled from months of nuzzling and falling asleep. That flip floppy moose never left my side since college. Now I'm on a Canadian Pacific dining car, racing through the Rockies on my way to a Canadian Timberwoods conference in Ottawa. I had to leave my cushy little apartment in Vancouver for this at the request of my foreman at the furniture workshop.

I've been to Ottawa once or twice. I think it was twice. The last time, I went with a special someone. I pulled the sliding door to the observation car, hearing it hiss behind me as it closed. I looked ahead of me, the stairway climbing up to the observation platform. I sushed my feet over the faded carpet, my sperry topsiders illuminated by the ground guiders. I take a seat at a familiar booth, the porter comes by with the small iron brazer to keep the booth warm. I pull out moosie, set him onto the table. The heat of the brazer starts to warm him up, the smell of pink grapefruit starts to fill the car, a few couples heads turn to find the source of the smell, the look but turn back.

At ten, the lights are extinguished, the waiter made his rounds, I order a pot of earl grey and he brings it around and places it on top of the brazer. His white mess jacket disappears at the end of the car and descends to the lower half of the car. I sit quietly, the orange glow from the coils dimly illuminate the table top. Moosie rolls over as the train turns over a large curve. I pull the heavy sheepskin blanket up higher over my lap and my head drops back. The stars drift slowly through the clear ceiling. The cold mountain air laps up against the window, occasionally tangoing with the warm air making little foggy spots. The snow capped peaks rush by, the tall pines fall over behind me. I cock my head forward again realizing i'm the only person in the car left. The slow shlucking of the wheels makes me shiver. The moonlight illuminates the car dimly and the pale white light makes the car seem to be lonely. The porter comes up, his white jacket is dazzling in the light he makes a small comment, that the car is closing. I bundle up the blanket, tuck moosie into my arm and I walk out. I look back one more time, I can feel her under my arm as I walk out, funny thing is, she's not there anymore.

I change into an undershirt and basketball shorts. I click out the light I lay in the top bunk. She would have been in the bottom and joined me, but I laid there like a log, my arms outreached, embracing the extra pillow just with one thing on my mind.

50 Things to do in an Elevator

1. Make race car noises when anyone gets on or off.

2. Blow your nose and offer to show the contents of your Kleenex to other passengers.

3. Grimace painfully while smacking your forehead and muttering: Shut up, dammit, all of you just shut UP!

4. Whistle the first seven notes of It's a Small World incessantly.

5. Sell Girl Scout cookies.

6. On a long ride, sway side to side at the natural frequency of the elevator.

7. Shave.

8. Crack open your briefcase or purse, and while peering inside ask: Got enough air in there?

9. Offer name tags to everyone getting on the elevator. Wear yours upside-down.

10. Stand silent and motionless in the corner, facing the wall, without getting off.

11. When arriving at your floor, grunt and strain to yank the doors open, then act embarrassed when they open by themselves.

12. Lean over to another passenger and whisper: Noogie patrol coming!

13. Greet everyone getting on the elevator with a warm handshake and ask them to call you Admiral.

14. Censored by your son.

15. On the highest floor, hold the door open and demand that it stay open until you hear the penny you dropped down the shaft go plink at the bottom.

16. Do Tai Chi exercises.

17. Stare, grinning, at another passenger for a while, and then announce: I've got new socks on!

18. When at least 8 people have boarded, moan from the back: Oh, not now, damn motion sickness!

19. Give religious tracts to each passenger.

20. Meow occasionally.

21. Bet the other passengers you can fit a quarter in your nose.

22. Frown and mutter gotta go, gotta go then sigh and say oops!

23. Show other passengers a wound and ask if it looks infected.

24. Sing Mary had a little lamb while continually pushing buttons.

25. Holler Chutes away! whenever the elevator descends.

26. Walk on with a cooler that says human head on the side.

27. Stare at another passenger for a while, then announce You're one of THEM! and move to the far corner of the elevator.

28. Burp, and then say mmmm...tasty!

29. Leave a box between the doors.

30. Ask each passenger getting on if you can push the button for them.

31. Wear a puppet on your hand and talk to other passengers through it.

32. Start a sing-along.

33. When the elevator is silent, look around and ask is that your beeper?

34. Play the harmonica.

35. Shadow box.

36. Say Ding! at each floor.

37. Lean against the button panel.

38. Say I wonder what all these do and push the red buttons.

39. Listen to the elevator walls with a stethoscope.

40. Draw a little square on the floor with chalk and announce to the other passengers that this is your personal space.

41. Bring a chair along.

42. Take a bite of a sandwich and ask another passenger: Wanna see wha in muh mouf?

43. Blow spit bubbles.

44. Pull your gum out of your mouth in long strings.

45. Announce in a demonic voice: I must find a more suitable host body.

46. Carry a blanket and clutch it protectively.

47. Make explosion noises when anyone presses a button.

48. Wear X-Ray Specs and leer suggestively at other passengers.

49. Stare at your thumb and say I think it's getting larger.

50. If anyone brushes against you, recoil and holler Bad touch!


Its been two months since i've been forced into singledom.

April 26, 2009

Moped Diaries: Day Four

Finally, I got the acheies to write again!

Our stint just across the Oregon border didn't last long, the place by far was the most beautiful leg of our journey, yet the journey wasn't half over. My hands held onto the cork and leather handlebars tightly, feeling the vibrations of the little two stroke, hearing the gasoline sloshing. I revved the engine again, lurching forward, faster, over the small hill, and up into the sky. I twisted the handle yet further, the moped roared into the sky, leaving the ground, floating or being pulled up by strings as if some great being desired to meet me in my bike. Suddenly, before me, the clouds amassed themselves, to form a great greek temple, and sitting was a great, white stony face of Zeus himself. Where his pupils should have been, only was a great distance of white, like in those ancient roman statues. His mouth opened, lightning seem to flash into it, and began to suck me into his mouth, darkness enveloped me. Shutting out all light, the world closing thick in, there was a terrible ringing. It didn't cease. It was like the sound of a million hammer heads falling onto one single anvil.

My eyes popped open. It was Ashton's fucking alarm clock going off. What a weird dream, I hadn't had a dream in years, taking careful note to orient my bed in a way in which dreams wouldn't filter into my head. But I guess, in the wilderness, that doesn't matter whichever fucking way you slept. Today marks our fourth day, four days since I last showered, since I last shaved, shitted in a porcelain god, eaten in a restaurant with leather bound menus and since I last remember sleeping on a mattress between clean bed linens. I looked around me, a low misty rumble kept me constant companion, other than Ashton of course. The tent seemed to sag with a bit moisture, the entire thing in itself wanted to suffocate the two of us. Ashton had thrown the clock out of the tent and resumed his face plant into his small bundled up jacket, now an improvised pillow. I leaned back again, closing my eyes, squeezing the lids as tight as possible and opened them. That bleak green color of the tent burned as I stared. I sat up, grabbing my fountain pen and the weather-all journal. I wrote a few lines and tossed them aside again.

The past three days, I had been wearing a ratty pair of old Abercrombie and Fitch jeans, and once, a pair of Columbia waterproof pants. I looked at the old jeans. There was a hole where the seat would be, the threads were stretched bare thin. I chuckled at them, reached into a side pocket of my backpack and pulled out a small silver case and an old paisley bandanna. I ripped it into two, sewed it into the seat and replaced the items into the little pockets here and there. I retrieved a silver pin from the case and gave Ashton a quick prod.

"Morning sexy pants
"Oh hello. Me breakfast in thirty?
"Sure sure. Cook it yourself mkay?
"Lol, Of course.

I pulled on a thick pair of corduroy pants, I wrapped the thick pea coat around me, placing the cashmere scarf she had given me between my neck and the rough wool. I stepped out, pulling on my heavy, sheepskin lined boots. I chunked around the campsite, nudging the remanants of the fire pit from last night and trying to stoke some life into it. I threw a few dead branches, a few wodges of newspaper and a little splash of fluid. I dropped a match onto the papers and they sprung to life. Opening up and crisping again as the newsprint faded into obscurity. I placed another log on top, then arranging the cooking platform on the side and placed the kettle with a small amount of water into it.

Ashton stepped out, walked to the bikes and pulled a smallish rectangular box from a rear side pannier and a small blue enamel bowl. He poured several handfuls of Cheerios into the bowl and commenced eating. I took a tin of sardines and a slice of bread and speared it with a sharpened stick, held it over the fire for a few moments and removed it and placed the little sardine fillets onto it and rolled it up. We both looked at our watches, mine said 9:30am, ashton's for some reason said 10:10. We looked at each other, puzzled, and grabbing each a section from the newspaper, we walked off to defecate. The newspaper served purpose twofold. Literally.

We put out the fire, loaded the panniers, buried the trash and unlocked the bikes. Portland, here we come!

I read a book somewhere about the amazing and beautiful bridges of the Oregon Highways once. The pictures in the book certainly did no justice to the genuine articles. They simply were amazing as our little motors hummed peacefully over them. The graceful arch of concrete, design celebrated and oriented carried our loads so carefully over the span, Ashton and I were compelled to take pictures of each and I remembered again to remount the camera on the front pannier rack. Ashton took the lead and we were chugging it north, further north. We arrived in Florence around lunch time, only a third of the way there. We refilled on gas, stocked up on provisions and treated ourselves to lunch in the diner. I had ordered a small pork chop with onions and mashed potatos on the side, Ashton ordered himself a salad with a side of tuna. We left the diner, our tummies and our gas tanks full and we roared off again.

By three PM, we arrived in Tillamook, this was our farewell to the 101, We now had to turn up onto the five and continue into Portland. Portland would be the first city where we would treat ourselves to a night in a motel. As a chance for the tent to dry in the shower and for once, enjoy sleep in a spring mattress and with clean white bed sheets. By five, we arrived in the outskirts and we checked into a Super 8 motel in the north part of town. We parked our bikes in one parking space, locked them and took our bags off. We checked in, then placed the panniers and bags all over the room. Then took out the tent, shook it and hung it to dry in the shower. We exchanged looks and stepped outside again, and unlocked the bikes.

We rode into the downtown, grabbed a few drinks at a local bar and rode back to the motel. We pulled a map out and stared at it. We literally could now walk right into the state of Washington. We covered the majority or Oregon within one day and dash it all, it was fucking amazing. Tomorrow morning, we would follow the five up into the city of Vancouver and enter the State of Washington. We each took turns using the shower for the first time as well as making use of the washing machine facilities in the building. Soon we both looked decent again, with the exception of our fairly scraggly looking beards we both now sported. Ashton's fully fledged and possibly hiding a bird, mine only covered my cheeks and my chin and upper lip. It didn't hang, it looked like lichen clinging to a tree. Our clothes cleaned and packed into the leather and canvas and nylon bags, we each climbed into our beds and turned out the light.

April 19, 2009

Sensory Registration

Mankind is with but five senses. Sight, smell, touch, taste and sound. No doubt, one cannot help but remember the joy involved with the flooding of memories coming back the moment that sense is triggered in the right way. In my life, I never noticed how prevalent that was until these past two months of the single life.

I was moping as usual, I stared on my shelf and picked up the little vaporizer bottle of Bath and Body works Pink Grapefruit. Unfortunate that they dont make it anymore, but I was afraid to spray it, for fear of wasting it all. I popped off the cap, took a little breather and it took me back. It brought back so many happy thoughts and memories. Helping Bri pack, nuzzling Moosie in my arms for the first time, coming home from work, exhausted and hopeless. The lobby smelled so familiar. It just hit me that moment and I couldn't place it. I opened my mail box to find a perfumed letter just for me! That is one my favorite moments in the past two years here at Cal.

I was enjoying my April 18th by taking in a flick dedicated to the 103rd anniversary of the 1906 earthquake. But after the banjo minstrel band left the stage, I sat, sunk into my seat moping. Again. But all of a sudden, the Castro theater was filled with the most extraordinary sound. The sound of the mighty Wurlitzer is a sound I could never forget. Especially played in an old jazzy way. The organ rose with a bald man at the console. The hall filled with sound and my head was abuzz with memories of ice skating in Paramount. I thought instantly of the Wurlitzer organ at that ice rink and memories of just trying to get around the rink just once. Warren as his name was played beautifully, his ability to control so many sounds at once as well as play with his feet was simply a gift. I sunk deep into the velvet chair, in a trance as it were, thinking of a simpler time. When I was ice skating, not looking at my feet, but into someone's eyes.

Castro Theatre

On Cal Day, I found myself wanting to get away from it all. What better than to enjoy a nice day in San Francisco. In an hour, I was pushing my way through throngs of tourists as a local. I knew what I wanted to do and I did it. I walked through the Castro, enjoying lunch at a local establishment, went to fisherman's wharf and bought cheap stuff. Granted, what I did was the pinnacle of what every tourist did but that was for that brief moment.

It was getting late and I had to be back in the Castro for a performance by the Peninsula Banjo Band. This, I could not miss. The band played, the organ played then I watched the film. It felt amazing to be in a motion picture palace once again. You dont know the thrill when you see the MGM lion roar on a screen the size of your house, or the fact that of all places, this movie theater had a balcony, and corinthian columns and murals on the walls.

So I say, enjoy a film, support your local motion picture palace. Not cineplex. Palace.


I sat in the shade of the bus kiosk. I stood, leaning against the frame of a wall and enjoying the muted light that penetrated through the scratched and opaque ceiling. There was a hot gust of wind, the street rippled for a second under the monotony of the weather. You could feel it, the moment you stepped out from under the shade, you felt like melting, you felt like dying.

The infernal bus never came. I started to walk. I cursed myself silently for choosing to walk on the sunny side but with that, came a reprieve when I walked changed directions and found myself on the shady side. I leaned my back against the cool granite walls of the city college. Now, I arrived again at another bus kiosk. Serviced by more reliable buses but I had not escaped that dratted weather. I looked across the street, staring calmly at the walgreens across the way. I thought for a moment, ran across, made a purchase and again found myself on the shade of the kiosk. When I had came back, there seemed to be thirty more people than when I had left. That's the bus for you.

The bus came, I walked to studio, and secluded myself in a bathroom stall. Whipped out my purchase, gave myself a good dusting and I was free of wet and heat. Thank you Goldbond Medicated Body Powder

Used to

There are alot of things I used to do. Things I did that made my regular life, well, my regular life. Little things you'd never notice yourself doing when you were happy, say for instance, tying your shoes on one foot then the other, the exact same way over and over. But once there is that impact, that event that changes your life, changes the way you live, you notice everything you've lost.

Change happens both ways. For good and for bad, and some people can never let go of their habits but at some point change has got to give. Man and woman are not made from granite, we are not made from iron and we are not made from wood. If we were made from granite, we would be hard and stern. Changing only to the elements and to human force. If we were made of iron, we would be cast and be brittle, and the only change we would see is the corrosion from neglect. If we were wood, we would be flexible yet rigid, many yet easily destroyed and changing to any means possible. I think we are clay. Soft, malleable to any form, possible to make rigid permanently but still, with time to mold and work and play with. If you look at people around the world if they were clay, the only ones who have been fired in the kilns are those who are six feet under.

My head used to be filled with music. Operas, librettos, scores, orchestras, symphonies, songs, melodies, jazz bands. Nary was there a night I could fall asleep without difficulty as my own head sang me to sleep. Then what happened? Where has the music gone? I lay in bed, gaping at the ceiling in a fish sort of way, trying to breathe, thinking of all my bodily functions trying to shut down. No more jazz, no more Shostakovich, no more Gilbert & Sullivan, just silence. Plain as day silence. Even throughout my daily life, the music isn't there or isn't as strong as it used to be. I wonder where the pit has gone?

Mold a statue's arm of clay over another statue, then remove the other statue, the arm begins to sag under its own weight. It cannot support its own. Unless you fired it or made it rigid. But where is this rigidity? Where is this "backbone" so to speak? She tells me it comes from touching your bases. Finding that root element that can define all. That's all fine and dandy but how on earth do you stick a skeleton into a clay statue that's already made? It's impossible unless you start from scratch. As a student, there is no time. If I were an artist, I would have plenty time to do whatever I felt like. Quite.

But even now, I feel the pressure, I feel the problems bearing an ungodly weight upon me. The pains in my lame arm start to become apparent and I suffocate. Where is air? Where is feeling? Where is my skeleton, on which I can build my life on?

I dont know.

April 09, 2009

Out of the Dust

Move it Buddy!

The soldier turned, he looked back into the eyes of a stumpy, irate Manhattan cabbie. His tweed cap sat squashed like a flat persimmon on his head and his mustashe twitched from side to side. The soldier stepped back in between the safety of the parked cars and the driver returned to his cab. He sighed watching the cab just inch past him at a crawling pace. He returned to the sidewalk with his bag and and swung it over his shoulder.

Watch it you jerk!

He turned once more this time, facing a woman in her mid twenties wearing dark sunglasses, holding a coffee and the leash of a small dog in one hand and in the other pressing the phone up to her head.
You almost made me spill my triple mocha frappacino!
He stood aside, apologized and walked.

He served in Iraq, that damn war. All guts, no glory, it's all for this? To be disrespected in your own home? He came back from a place where people shot at him, to defend the so-called rights of the people there. The same people who are like our people. The same jerks and shits. Here, he felt alienated. Here, it was no better than in Iraq.

April 07, 2009

Zen Biking

A Zen Teacher saw five of his students return from the market, riding their bicycles. When they had dismounted, the teacher asked the students, "Why are you riding your bicycles?" The first student replied, "The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!" The teacher praised the student, saying, "You are a smart boy. When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over, as I do." The second student replied, "I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path." The teacher commended the student, "Your eyes are open and you see the world." The third student replied, "When I ride my bicycle, I am content to chant, nam myoho renge kyo." The teacher gave praise to the third student, "Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel." The fourth student answered, "Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all beings." The teacher was pleased and said, "You are riding on the golden path of non-harming." The fifth student replied, "I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle." The teacher went and sat at the feet of the fifth student, and said, "I am your disciple."

April 04, 2009

Moped Diaries: Day Three

A familiar feeling stirred me awake this morning. I sat up again, this time, I felt unaware of what was going on. I stared around, taking in the green nylon walls, the large purple mass besides me. The walls of the tent were pushing and pulling, the wind battling against the human element. Every of often, it sounded as if the tent was being pummeled with peppercorns and I realized it was rain. I nudged Ashton to stir him and he turned over and sniffed. I nudged him again but this time, he farted in retaliation. Giving up, I tried to cozy myself back into the position I was sleeping in. My eyes couldn't put the darkness before them again, the flashing green nylon kept my eyes open. Suddenly, I hear a buzz. It sounds like a small gong going off. I realize Ashton brought an alarm clock. He sits up instantly, clicks it off and runs out the tent.


He doesn't hear me. He's too busy frolicking in the tempest. The rain is coming down hard and fast, Ashton starts to disappear into the rain and through the thick of it and the fog, you cant see him. I pull out the church key and open a tin of milk. I sit watching the grey figure shuffle through the rain jumping over logs and running through the grass. A few minutes later, he reappears in the tent sopping wet. I hold out the can for him to have a sip of milk. He takes it and finishes it. I pull on compression leggings for warmth, and a pair of waterproof pants. Heavy woolen socks and I replace the boots on my feet. I pull on the heavy pea coat and the rain slicker.

We climb onto our bikes and start to ride. The world immersed in rain is different, gray figures muscle around us as we continue riding. We are soaked, the headlights barely cast into the gray fog. We ride, our cyclometers read 130 miles. My tank is running a little dry and Ashton switches his motor off. We pedal, we keep moving. We are in Oregon.

There are hardly changes in scenery from when we left California to when we arrived in Oregon, the trees are just as majestic as ever and the only noticeable difference was the lack of sales tax when we filled up our tanks at a small roadside gas station. This was truly a paradise as we kept riding up the coast.

Evening seems to come faster when you are in Oregon, no sooner had we crossed the border did the sun begin to set and run. We pitched our tent in a dry spot under a fallen tree in a gully, parked and set up the stove and a small fire. The orange sky turned to a madder lake deep red into a convulsing purple then into the cold, clear darkness of the heavens. The clouds had parted, the rain stopped and the stars vivid. I felt as if we were camping beneath the tip of the world. I pulled a small square frying pan, placed two sausages in it, and let it roast over the campfire. Ashton on the other hand was trying to cook a small pot of rice over the campstove and it had a little trouble, but in the end, with some ketchup, we were fine. We washed the dishes, placed them aside, away from the tents and we pulled out our instruments again. I started strumming out, picking "Little Brown Church in the Vale and Ashton took up the harmony. We sat and sang until our little fire went out. Into the tent, into our sleeping bags and lights out.

April 02, 2009

Moped Diaries: Day Two

A low moan rattled my sleep. I shuddered waking up and sitting up in my sleeping bag. I rubbed my arms in the heavy woolen sweater, blinking without my glasses and taking in my surroundings. The light green nylon fabric of the tent walls glowed eerily as I sat. Ashton still was rumbling with sleep in his sleeping bag and I gently rocked him to stir.

"Wha? Huh?"
"Morning sleeping beauty."
"Oh. Hello."
"Is that all you have to say to me?"
"Come on. Lets get washed up."

I drew the narrow silver canteen from the front pannier and poured it into a small wash pan and set it on top of the propane burner. I set up a mirror on a fence post and set up my shaving kit, carefully setting the badger brush on the post by the mirror and setting up the razor. The water began to steam and I poured half into the mug and set the rest aside for Ashton to wash his face. Slowly stirring the cream into a foam, I wrestled it onto my face and carefully shaved off the growth from the last two nights.

"Dude, this water is hot."
"What? You dont wash up with hot water?"
"No. Duh."
"Just do it. It'll feel better."
"You ought to keep your beard. It might keep you warm on the road."

Suddenly, that thought hit me. Warm face. I wiped off the cream and packed up the shaving things. We sat on our camp stools and as breakfast was cooking over the stove, we talked about where we were. While I was shaving, Ashton had taken a location with the lensatic compass and plotted our position on the map. Thirty miles out of Fort Bragg. We decided to fill up on gas there and one of us would move one of our panniers to the other person's bike and would hold a jerry can instead. I volunteered my front canvas pannier. Ashton stared at it, and clipped it behind my rear pannier.

"Problem solved!"
"Fine. But you're carrying your own gasoline too."

We pedaled to Fort Bragg and made it there by lunch time. We bought and filled to jerry cans and hooked them to our panniers. We stopped in town for an hour or two, to replace the things we had used up last night. A new tin of beans, a tin of beef, a loaf of sourdough bread and a pack of extra socks. I stopped outside the hardware store to pick up a small hatchet. We might need firewood at some point I thought. My moped was staring to look like a carry-all on wheels. The nice thing about it all was it looked rugged. The classic looks and lines of the derringer bike, the old school seat and panniers, it was meant for this. Ashton rolled by, his panniers and carriers filled with sketchbook paper, pencils, cans of lighter fluid, some old newspapers and a small bag of charcoals. We pulled out of Fort Bragg at three and continued up old highway one.

We rode, the wind pushing against our helmets and faces. It made me wish I had bought pilots goggles from the surplus store. As we rode, the flat rolling landscape soon became a harsh, rough, terrifying yet subtle landscape. It undulated but it fought back sometimes. Highway one was truly a road built to the world. It didn't plow through the landscape like most interstates did. This truly was second to god. We rode and rode. Our tanks not seeming to grow empty. Every so often, we'd stop and stretch, enjoy the land. Ashton would pull the sketchbook out and draw. I realized then, I forgot to use the camcorder. I quickly pulled out the small powershot and set up a rig on the handlebar to record us as we went.

Winding through steep and curving road, we rode over gigantic, beautiful concrete arch bridges, walked through forests now and then and stopped for a hot dog for dinner. This time, night caught up before our tanks were empty. This time, we settled camp away from road. We drove down a small path and parked in a clearing. We pitched the tent up, locked the bikes together and started a small fire. The darkness seemed like a cold blanket wrapped around my shoulders. I missed that feeling of someone wrapped up besides you. Ashton and I certainly were missing our better halves. The girls were going on a trip with each other to Florida. Ashton had scoffed at the idea and said it was only helping the industry. He could be like that sometimes, but it was fine. We balanced each other out. I had managed to strap my mandolin to the front pannier and I pulled it out. Ashton pulled his uke out and we started to jam into the night. Our two bodies, illuminated by the slowly dying fire, our fingers jangling around, pulling out a tune as best as possible. We laughed, shared a can of beer and turned in.

Yet more to come!

April 01, 2009

Moped Diaries: Day One

The start of a new series

That site should give you an idea of what I want to ride.

The cold gray fog still shrouded San Francisco, wrapping its misty arms around the towers and pooling in between the buildings. In the narrow back alleyways of the Western Addition, I woke up, I looked at the big ben clock on the nightstand. Six thirty four. The slow whirring ticking sound resonated on the table. I sat up in bed, rubbing my thighs briskly through a pair of old basketball shorts, blinking in the cold sunlight streaming through the shutters.

The hot tap rumbled as the steaming water emerged out of the tap into the dirty porcelain basin. I washed my rough face and brushed my teeth and packed my toothbrush. The canvas leather saddle bags sit by the door, ready and waiting to be mounted. One final check around the apartment, it will be a long time before I see this place. I grab the pairs of saddle bags and sling them over my shoulders. With my free hand, I grab the square leather case with smaller things, and the small camera case. The door behind me clicked, I locked the deadbolt and walked downstairs, nearly stumbling down the narrow flight of stairs.

Outside, the cars rush by on Hayes street, not noticing me or even giving a second thought as I begin to strap the saddles onto the pannier carriers on my new Derringer moped. I stand back and admire the handiwork, the craft of how everything just fell into place with each other. The drop head handle bars, the chrome plated twin vee engine, the heavy sprung Brooks saddle, I was ready to go. Ashton is supposed to meet me at the corner of California and Arguello and I take off, setting the chronometer as I go to keep track of how much time I would spend on the road. The pedaling part would come later as I speed up hills, through Golden gate park and arriving at California and Arguello.

Around ten minutes later, I hear the whinny of a 1972 Pierce engine with Ashton in the seat. We shake hands, we grab a coffee in the gas station, and stop one last time at the bicycle shop. We wait outside for a few minutes until a skinny girl in flannel and tight jeans opens up the shop. We wander in, pick up a set of ten extra tubes, several extra tires and an extra pannier basket. This one is going on Ashton's moped since one fell off on the way over. We fill up the last time before we leave San Francisco for our journey north. I pulled the heavy pea coat up close, tightening the crash helmet and adjusted my mirrors. It's time to go and make the pilgrimage.

Sailing down Park Presidio with the traffic is exhilirating, coasting down the road through tunnels and up slopes, we find ourselves crossing the golden gate bridge, north into Sausalito and the rest of Marin county. Our engines pumping warmly between our legs, we cruise at a comfortable 30mph through on side roads, winding up on narrow coastal roads, finding log cabin like buildings nestled into the network of trees. Minutes turn into hours and there never seems to be an end to the ceaseless forests and windswept beaches. Here and there, our bikes emerge from the woods in a road cut into a mound, the sand blowing from dunes over our heads. Crooked slat fences undulate into the landscape. Falling and rising and collapsing and in some places gone. Cattle here and there dot the cold fields. Grey clouds moving only so still as if a statue in a museum were moving in the corners of your eyes. We run out of juice 8 hours into the trip. We are now halfway between the border of California and San Francisco.

We pedaled for another few hours, until the weaning hours of darkness began to settle. We pulled off into the side of the road, locking the bicycles to a fallen tree and to each other in opposite directions. I pull out the old pup tent my father gave me as well as a tin of beef and a tin of mixed vegetables. For the longest time, I knew Ashton to be vegetarian. I knew for this trip, he would have to at least eat some meat and he obliged. The tins sit under the burning propane flame. He lights his hurricane lamp and darkness begins to envelope us all around. We pitched along a fence along highway one. The only people who would bother us were the CHP and I doubted that they would really bother with a lonely stretch of road alongside the ocean.

We shared stories, dreams, hopes and what we were expecting. our sleeping bags unravelled into the tent and the light out, we began to fall asleep. We lay there for a little while before we broke into conversation again. We just couldn't believe what we were doing was actually, finally happening. We had been planning this trip since the second year in college when I was at Berkeley and he was at SF state. He had an obsession with the moped since high school and I was and still am into fixing up my 1970 Raleigh Imperial road bicycle. He would laugh, I would too. Sleep caught our better sides and we were out for the night.

more later! Stay tuned.