Hawkes Bay NZ Water trail

Friday, September 30, 2016

First week of conscious vegetarian meals done and dusted!

I made it through my first 4 days of mindful late lunch/early supper meals at work. Lentil soup, marinaded goat cheese, white bean dip and tabbouleh, along with fruit, both fresh and cooked, crackers and ginger cookies. I'm proud of myself. Only 1 coffee bought at work and 1 candy bar. Seems it's possible to break the bad eating/spending habits with ample preparation. OK, here's part of $44 worth of mainly organic groceries from PCC. Decided it's still cheaper and healthier than eating out. I will select some more recipes from the Cafe Flora book for Week 2. I'm really proud of myself. Week 1 of Fall quarter is stressful because my class enrollment is in flux. I had 3 new faces in my 4th day class, and next week I expect more. Many students don't have the textbook, don't want to buy it, or insist on buying online, despite my advice. So, several won't have the book next week either. Oh well. This is a lesson I let the students learn on their own. Delivering a good lesson that's both interesting and fun under such circumstances is the sign of a very skilled teacher. I know I'm getting better at it, but it's still stressful all the same. I'm teaching another new class at a different level as well, so stress x2. That's the way it is for a contract college teacher. Today I also did the first of what I hope will be 11 Friday morning bike rides around Magnolia. I call them my "training for India" rides. I'll be starting the planning for my next short trip abroad, in December, when classes are done. I like warm weather and going against the crowds at Christmas, and I'm not going to Australia, because I went this past August. Going in late winter was absolutely the right time to go. I made the time to visit Sydney instead of rushing immediately north. More relaxed, more of a vacation than simply a trip to visit relatives. I hope to do it again next year, and will choose another part of the country to tour.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

You've got that right!

From today's newspaper. I'm back in the classroom for Fall Quarter. Because I'm an evening teacher on a campus with limited services after 6pm, I've found it lonely and a big challenge to bother to cook for myself. Unsurprisingly, this loss of discipline has hurt my stamina on the bike, and excess weight is threatening once more. So, this fall, I'm doing my own version of "Julie/Julia," deliberately cooking for myself using the Cafe Flora cookbook. I've owned this inspirational vegetarian/vegan book for years, but always thought was "too much work." Well, not anymore. I'm figuring if I can keep up the planning and preparation, revise the recipes to serve only one person, and stockpile dishes, flatware and nice napkins in my desk, I will be able to teach myself how to eat well, keep the weight off, and save money. I announced my plan to one of my four teacher office mates last night. She commented: "you need to be a good cook to do vegetarian." Yes, this is true. In my past life I had been a good cook. I have an added gift of having done some professional culinary training. I've let it slide because I needed to endure many unwanted life changes in the past 2 years. Well, that pain is in the rear view mirror, and gradually receding. I'm not happy, nor am I unhappy. It's a strange place to occupy. Last night I made marinaded goat cheese, white bean dip, and garlic mustard lentil soup. Today I plan to grill an eggplant for another meal later this week. I teach 4 nights, so I am preparing the individual dishes to cater 4 meals. I have access to a microwave but I have to go to another building to find a sink. The last thing I need, though, is a wet and dirty dish rolling around in my panniers when I bike home at 9:30pm. As fall turns to winter, only a hardcore group of people will ride to and from work in the dark and the rain. Yup. It's time to get serious.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Wrapping up the road trip

I'll be in Seattle in a couple of hours. Ahead is the big clean out of the van, and washing the sand off and lubing my bike. I've not driven so long a trip, solo, before. My trip odometer has clicked twice to 0 already. So, I'll have driven easily 2,500 miles. The van started to buck a bit near Denio, NV, so I think it'll need an oil change and a service. All those 7,000 foot mountain passes and sage brush and sandy desert basins. Nevada was a new state for me and doing it by myself was valuable. I read somewhere: "the cure for loneliness is solitude." Perhaps this will be true for me. Won't be long before these peaks are blanketed with snow, and many roads impassable until May or June. These golden aspens growing sat 10,000 feet in the Great Basin National Park shout "winter's coming!"
What a blessing to be able to visit these sorts of unexpected places.
It's been a summer full of new experiences and chances to review my past life for the things I still want to hold close. Now it's back to the classroom for a few months after this long "beauty fix."

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Crater Lake

The weather is turning cloudy and it's very cool today. I rode the crater's Rim Drive several years ago. I plan only to drive on West Rim today. It would be nice to stay at the Lodge tonight, but I really need to drive further North so I can be back home in Seattle tomorrow. So I've just stopped for lunch and the view at the lodge instead.

Barn near Lakeview, OR

After a wonderful early morning descent from Nevada, including a 3-mile, 8% grade road off the high plateau that holds the Sheldon Reserve, I'm recalling fabulous routes of past Cycle Oregon rides, where the roads go forever, then pass great barns like this one.

Pioneer building in the NWR

This sandstone brick building is now used by The Refuge's staff for storage. Life in this remote place, nearly 90 miles from the nearest town, Lakeview, OR, beggars the imagination.

Shelton NWR

After another lonely stretch of desert driving from Winnemucca, NV, I turned onto Hwy 140, towards Oregon, and discovered a free night's camping at Virgin River in the Refuge, along with a warm springs pools, and bath house with shower. Several fish live in the pool, so I used my camp shower, then had pasta along with a spectacular high desert sunset. A few mosquitoes but it got cold pretty quickly after dark, so I had a warm night sleeping in my van.
What an unexpected treat to find in this remote region. This is the pool at 7:30am, where my only company poolside was a puffy quail.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Thoughts on deserts

When I look at my road atlas, I see that after a day of driving west, I'm about 1/3rd of the way across Nevada's Great Basin. I've done close to 350 miles since leaving Bryce, and a photo like this, taken in the intense heat on an arrow straight road, doesn't begin to do justice to the surrounding desert. The road bisects plains of stones, tufted grasses, and occasional dry washes. It climbs up and over 7000+ foot mountain passes, and grey peaks rise in the north and the south. In some of the higher areas there are stretches of juniper trees and pinyon pines. Here and there, a dirt road heads towards a spring or a place in some distant foothill obscured by the glare of the sun. Once or twice there's a small stand of cottonwoods, marking the site of a long gone cabin.
It's hot inside the van because my a/c system is broken. Hot air blasts from the dashboard and I try to drink water frequently to keep cool. The block ice I bought in Mexican Hat 3 days ago has melted and sloshes around in the cooler. I should drain it out. I find this sort of long distance driving a bit unnerving. I can't help wondering about the prospectors and miners who ventured through these same desert basins and ranges, by horse or mule or on foot only a few generations ago. What drove them to these regions? It's hard to imagine what they expected to find, and how it felt to be alone out here.

Monday, September 19, 2016

In Eureka, NV

After a long day of driving through the desert, I'm staying in a hotel in a truly ramshackle gold rush town. Much smaller than Ely, 77 miles back. I guessed wrong, thinking this place would be the larger town. This is mining country for sure. There are collapsed mine shafts dotting the hillsides. Ely was pretty ramshackle in its own way, filled with run down motels and strange locals walking around town. Eureka has the most extraordinary collection of boom era buildings, including an opera house. Most are boarded up. I peeked in the closed bank on Main Street. It looks like a stage set from Bonnie and Clyde. Except the grilled bank counters and ornate fixtures are the real thing. What a find!

Another form of gold in Nevada

These shaking aspens near Mt Wheeler are spectacular.

From Great Basin National Park

About halfway up the scenic drive to Wheeler Peak, a road with 3,000 foot elevation gain to 10,000 feet. I'd driven through the desert in the distance. This Island in the sky makes John McPhee's book Basin and Range very meaningful.

Hwy 21 from Milford, UT to Garrison, NV

This route goes through several ranges and desert basins. I seemed to be the only one driving west today. There's not a lot of "there" there.

Monday at 7:30am from the Rim trail

Brisk and breezy but a view worth getting up to see.

North Campground at Bryce National Park

Surprisingly, at 4pm there were still campsites available. $20 for a site in Loop C. I even had time to warm my sun shower and use it before a 36 degree night in the park.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Hwy 12 Boulder to Escalante, UT

Have I found a superb 33+ mile bike route through Calf Creek Canyon. Driving East to West gives an extraordinary vista of wind carved sandstone. It's above 80 degrees right now (2:30pm Mountain Time) but with an early morning start and an overnight at either end, this is a marvellous find for a cyclist. Perhaps in Spring? It might be chilly. I drove over a 9,600 foot aspen clad pass to get to Boulder from Torrey, but I love finding juicy things like this.

Factory Mesa near Caineville, UT

Making my way west on Hwy 24 through Capitol Reef National Park. I like the blue greys and dusty yellows of the high desert of Central SW Utah. It suits my contemplative mood. I explored this region in the mid-2000s, when I was a different person. It's still lovely in its stark barrenness. Many things have changed; some remain the same.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Sweet and savory with a big helping of memories

The classic hybrid of Mormon and Navajo cooking, served for lunch on an upper 80s day at Bluff's Twin Rocks Trading Post and Cafe. I always order this at the end of a San Juan River trip.
Speak, memory.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Mexican Hat rock at sunset

Another chance to enjoy the spaciousness of this region.

Entrenched meanders

I've kayaked through the Goosenecks several times, but this is the first time I've looked down on them from above. At water level it's a meditative experience. You travel several water miles to pretty much make no progress at all. That's what's fun.

You can see for miles and miles

Looking toward Monument Valley in Arizona, at least 40 miles south. Off to Goose Necks State Park to visit the overlook. The San Juan river flow has been super low, and warranted a change of plans. Slogging through yards of quick mud at Clay Hills takeout did not appeal. Perhaps I'll return for a lower San Juan River kayak trip one day.
It's lovely to be here again after a 7-year absence. But I know just how challenging a wilderness trip is in this region. Fun, yes please; ordeal, no thanks.


Now for the 26 mile shuttle back to Bluff from Mexican Hat. It's been fun.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Pour over Camp, San Juan River 8am, Thursday, September 15

"Time lost can never be recovered," he said, "and this should be written in flaming letters everywhere."
- Isaac's Storm

Looking downriver towards Mexican Hat

When you are broken, you run. But you don't always run away. Sometimes, helplessly, you run towards. - H is for Hawk

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Saturday, September 10, 2016

From a restaurant in Monticello, UT

Sometimes these wall decorations are quite charming.

Green River in Green River

The view from the Tamarisk Diner in Green River, UT, a place to channel the spirit of John Wesley Powell. It's in the upper 80s and blue blue blue. From here it's on to Moab and finally to Bluff, in the SE corner of the beehive state.

Gassing up at American Fork

That's part of the Wasash (sp?) range near Salt Lake City in the back. I've brought my road bike on a lo-o-o-n-g drive to Bluff, Utah, where I hope to do some kayaking on the San Juan River. In a week I will drive home at a leisurely pace, and see if I can fit in a ride in the San Rafael Swell area. I've not been here since 2009. Been a while.