Monday, March 28, 2011

Planning Part...VI I think. The Mecca Trekka.

After frolicking in the tall trees for a while, which will remind me of my high school basketball days when I was the only starting player under 6'4'', we shall depart for one of the most anticipated destinations on the trip. Romantic and progressive, green and populated, exciting and peaceful, hilly and traily, Portland, Oregon is arguably the American Mecca of Cycling. My brother, for a time, spoke dreamily of Portland and how at home he felt there. It is an undeniable truth that the Chipman, Bergsma, Andersen family is slightly too interesting and progressive to be considered anything but an attitude-minority in Michigan, so we have been known to get sauced up on daydreams about far off places where compassion has a firmer grip on social and political institutions. Even so, very few of my family have found themselves pointing to anything but their hands when asked where they live, and we all live quite happily in the TRUE land O' the lakes (sorry, Minnesota, you're 10,000 measly lakes pines to be our 11,000, and ours are quite a bit more prominent, too {but Minnesota rocks; my sister was born there}).

At any rate, here is how we will get ourselves from Crescent City to Portland Oregon. We shall leave from Redwood National Park on June 2nd.

June 2nd: Crescent City to Gold Beach: 52 miles
Route: Highway 101 North
Lodging: State Park

June 3rd: Gold Beach to Coos Bay: 80 miles
Route: US 101, Oregon Coast Hwy
Lodging: State Park

June 4th: Coos Bay to Florence: 70 miles
Route: US 101 Oregon Coast Hwy
Lodging: State Park

June 5th: Florence to Otis, 78 miles
Route: US 101, Oregon Coast Hwy
Lodging: State Park

June 6th: Otis to Portland 75
Route: Oregon 99
Lodging: Probably Chad and Amanda's lawn, in our tent.

That's it. may cause changes to our lodging plans. State parks are getting expensive, so it would be grand if we could find people on Couch Surfing who would lend us a plot on their lawn to pitch our tent. We shall see.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

This land is your land

Picture this with bicycles, more mustache, and less Mary, more ukulele and harmonica, a little more soul, and many more Japanese people with their curls in an uproar over nuclear energy. 

Let's remember to conserve some energy, today, or something.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Loving History of Stuart Arlin Chipman

Our dialogue with you, reader, has started at the beginning of Stuie’s and my journey across America.  This plot arc was essential for keeping your interest; however, the beginning of our physical bicycle voyage starts in the midst of a long friendship.  This presents a problem in that we would like you to understand this blog as a story of growth.  Ergo, therefore, it is appropriate, in order for you to gain a full understanding of the narrators’ growth achieved during the bike trip, to provide a brief explanation of the narrators’ growth achieved before the bike trip.
Though I’ve eked out a relatively average existence up to this point—one that, when explained, would only bore the reader, Stuie has managed to assemble a rather singular history.  And because he is much too humble to describe it to you himself, the tale becomes my obligation to relate.  I graciously accept this task, and, though I know that it is cliché to say “and these words may not do it justice,” they have never been truer than in this instance (which is also cliché (see what I did there?)).  So I begin:

Stuie was raised by squirrels, but he wasn’t your typical feral child for one important reason:  he was actually birthed by a tree squirrel.  The circumstances of this are similar to the classic myth “Leda and the Swan” in Greek mythology.  The twist here is that, instead of a god impersonating a swan and seducing a woman, a god impersonated a man and seduced a squirrel.  Also, the swan story is a myth; this story is true. 

Yes, my biking companion is half squirrel, half god.  His squirrel genetics are portrayed very obviously in his early childhood pictures—the uncontrollably bushy hair, the massive, protruding front teeth, the wild-eyed stare.  He has, since, grown out of most of his defining squirrel traits.  However, one only needs to notice his hairiness to be reassured of his squirrel heritage.  Conversely, it is evident that the god genes manifest themselves strongly in Stuie’s actual appearance.  Here, you may say, “That kid doesn’t look anything like a Greek god.”  But I counter:  he doesn’t look much like a squirrel, either.  He looks like a human.  It is arguable which pole he’s drawn towards on the looks spectrum, but most are happy with the human median.

There is debate about what god’s sperm Stu came from.  Knowing this would provide insight into his past actions and his future abilities, but not even Stuie knows.   Some people, after having seen him play basketball and/or publically speak, have been confident that he came from Hermes’s seminal fluid.  But, having known and observed him for over fifteen years, I’d bet on Clapton’s.

He was named (and I spell it in phonetic Squirrellish) “stwEEE.”  This roughly translates to “smells like rotten lasagna in the artificial swimming pool,” a romantic concept in Squirrel culture that adequately portrays his genesis.  Of course, as my friend gradually began associations with the human race, “stwEEE” was humanized to “Stuie” and, later, to “Stuart.” 

An individual ignorant of Squirrel culture might argue that our subject’s high degree of intelligence, relative to that of a squirrel, is one indication of his divine conception.   That would be wrong.  Stuie was blessed to be raised and educated by Squirrels.  Within the Sciuridae education system, he learned three languages by the age of four—tree squirrel, prairie dog, and mountain beaver.  By the time I met him at five, he knew seven languages, and he was semi-conversational in English.  Of course, most Squirrel formal education is done within the first two years of birth, so, by the time Stuie was ready to enter the human education system, he was better prepared than most children:  he was adept at identifying types of nuts, and he could effectively smell and locate garbage within a three mile radius.  Obviously, these abilities are useful in life, as well as on a bike trip.

As the boy grew, it became apparent to his tribe that providing for him within Squirrel civilization would become unsustainable.  Wisely, his mother gave him up for adoption.  This is how he came to enter the life of a human.

I had the privilege of meeting the young Mr. Chipman while we both attended Diane Beetle’s daycare.  We grew to be acquaintances, but our time together at this stage in our formative years would be short lived.  Alas, Stuie’s mental prowess shined to such an extent at this early age that he independently invented the chimichanga.  Having such a limited upbringing in terms of human culture, let alone cuisine foreign to North American forests, he ignored insistence that the dish was already in existence and used a hyperbolic determination and creative tenacity, traits that would become classic Stu, to market his product.  He left his home and, for the next seven years of his life, battled with courts, judges, copy rights, governments, and other embodiments of “the man,” trying to legitimize his unoriginal creation.  Finally, deciding to delay the battle to further his education, he returned to Sault Ste. Marie.  I haven’t spoken with him for some time about the subject, so I don’t know what his current feelings and intentions are towards the chimichanga.  But I’m quite sure Stuie’s interests in law, Mexico, and the Spanish language are founded in these early life struggles.

He and I would find each other again in middle school, where we played on the same basketball team.  He displayed godly prowess on the court.  Because he ran faster and jumped higher than most others his age, he didn’t feel the need to change out of his khakis during contests.  Open gyms would often show a formally-dressed, squirrelly individual punishing the confidences of his peers.  This ensemble arrogance angered his distant family on Mt. Olympus.  The gods thought themselves to be the only beings that should look stylish while exercising.  For punishment, they stunted Stuie’s growth, and plagued him with a belly button with an abnormally high magnetism for lint. 

After hooping together, we became close friends.  I found his ability to converse with squirrels amusing, and he valued my ability to reach things on the top shelf.  We matured into high school together.

Our sophomore History class provided an impetus for growth within Stuie’s life and our relationship.  He handed in a paper that used the word “you” too many times for the teacher’s liking, so, in an extreme act of discipline not surprising with regard to her witch-like disposition, she cursed him to live the same class period over and over.  Initially, he fell into a deep depression and would often spend hours sitting at his desk picking at his belly button lint.

Eventually, however, he realized the blessing that existed in having unlimited time.  He used that eternal History period to gain extensive knowledge in a multitude of areas.  He learned about Paul Revere and Lewis and Clark, Davey Crockett and David Bowie.  He learned to play foosball and chess and twenty questions.  He learned to converse well with people and appear interested in what they say, and he learned insights into the lives of his classmates, including myself.  At last, he broke the curse by convincing each person in the class one thing that he/she had doubted.  He convinced me that turkey bacon would be a good substitute for peanut butter, an idea that would become a cornerstone of our friendship.

Stuie adapted this last anecdote into the screenplay Groundhog Day starring Billy Murray.  (Interestingly, he wanted Matt Damon to play the role instead of Murray.)  The royalties that he would have received from the success of that movie would have given him a comfortable life.  But, in an act of familial altruism (classic Stu) and, perhaps, insanity, he established a trust fund using the royalties to provide for all former, current, and future Punxsutawney Phil’s.  In fact, each groundhog, if it so chooses, could receive enough funds to attend a four year university and establish a career for itself. 

We progressed into the later years of high school, and, at seventeen, Stuie finally asked his childhood sweetheart for her hand in marriage. Barbeau, the Tree Squirrel Queen, happily accepted.  Of course, the story becomes complicated after this proposal and the addition of a female third-party.  So, perhaps, it would be best to clarify this sub-story with a subtitle.

Stuart of Swinton

… to be continued in a later blog post (but only if there’s a mandate for it (so comment on this business if you dig)).

After high school graduation, we parted ways, each to an establishment of higher education that would best enable us to pursue our interests at that time in our lives.  Stuie left to SVSU, and I, Hope.  And this, reader, is where I must discontinue the story because you probably know as much about his exploits during his college years as I do, or you could, at least, investigate his exploits just as easily as I could.  Though, friends he and I are, the distance between us makes it difficult to visit one another, to enact further adventures together.  I’ve only been able to see squirrel boy a few times a year, and these times are used to summarize our time apart.  My knowledge of his history during these years is only provided to me by word, not action.  Now, you can see, reader, this bike trip is as much an adventure, an exploration, as it is a reunion of a friendship. 

Man, I'm gettin kinda mushy with these posts.  I'll ease up.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Planning Part V: The V-stretch, San Francisco to Redwood National Park

To hell with Planning Part IV.  I had to skip that to enhance the symmetry of my title.  V-stretch – the thing that they make you do in gym for the Presidential Fitness Test.

We’ll be cruising up Hwy 1 for most of this business.  And after taking it easy the last couple of journey segments, we’re going to try to push it a little more here to see what we can do.  Once we get to Redwood National Park, we can rest a day, fondling trees and whatnot.  If we get tuckered out along the way, we could stop at one of the state parks in Cali.  They’re everywhere.  

May 27:  San Fran to Sonoma Coast State Park (85 miles)
We’ll  pass through Sausalito and Bodega Bay.  Robin Williams lives in the former.  I’ll look for him. Hitchcock’s Birds was filmed in the latter.  We’ll be cautious.

May 28: Sonoma Coast to Mendocino Headlands State Park (88 miles)
We will pass through Gualala.  I’m sure I’ll have jokes for that by then.

May 29: Mendocino Headlands to Humboldt Redwoods State Park (101 miles)
Yass.  We will have the opportunity to drive through a tree at the infamous Drive Thru Tree Park near Leggit.  Soon thereafter, we will be driving on State Route 254, The Avenue of Giants—named in anticipation of Stuie’s and my arrival.  I expect there will be big trees or big windmills.

May 30: Humboldt Redwoods to Dry Lagoon State Park (87 miles)
We’ll pass through Eureka.  It might be nice to explore with all its fancy pants gold rush houses.  

May 31: Dry Lagoon to Redwood National Park (52 miles)
Gah!  We’re gonna miss the Blackberry Festival in Klamath.  We’ll be three months too soon for that.  Klamath – like how they say “claim” in the King James Bible.  A little north of there, there’s a False Klamath, too.  That’s no joke.  I just wonder what the dispute is.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A sweet symphony played fireworks the first time we met.

...deep and bright blue ones that burst slowly, pulling on the heartstrings as they expand, the white spots of their shining forever engraved into my mind's eye.

The Maiden Voyage of Lionel and Stuie
There were those awkward minutes
Of looking at each other
In a dimly lit room with a big comfy couch
Fidgeting with this and that
The sweat of anticipation already on my brow
Getting ready to do the deed.

And I sit there on that big comfy couch, with my layers on. My biker shorts and socks go on first, followed by basketball shorts with a torn right pocket and a cut-off shirt from a St. Ignace Red Hacker that Robbie and I dominated 9 years ago. Then come the shoes and the headphones. Then a red bandana that hold tops of the headphones down behind me ears and keeps my hair from getting caught in the helmet. Then the helmet. And I’m ready to mess shit up. And I have thrown a tire-pressure gage, a hoodie, an orange, my wallet, and my keys into one of the saddle bags strapped to Lionel’s skinny ass.

And we roll out onto the sidewalk
To the sound of Radio Paradise on my i-phone
To the silence that we make as we glide
To the California sun lighting up the water in the bay
And we take our noisy, silent, glowing boogie north on Pacific Highway

At first, I think that all the joggers on the trail to the left of the road are very perfect-looking, but then I notice that a lot of them look more like me, or me forty years from now. Atop Lionel, I cruise at about 30 mph towards my destination, Cabrillo National Monument. From my grandpa’s condominium in downtown San Diego, one can look across the bay, over Coronado Island, out to the tip of the spit that finishes off the big, C-shape. Atop that very tip sits Cabrillo National Monument, commemorating the place where Cabrillo, this Spanish dude, first landed and started the settlement that would eventually lead to the founding of San Diego. Now, atop that hill at the point, sits a light-house and a visitor center with a gift-shop. It is 11 miles around the bay from my G-pa’s place to that gift-shop.

As my pedaling breath becomes heavier
So does the breath of the mansion-covered hills to my right
Exchanging air with the yacht-covered waves to my left
In a majestic demonstration of CPR
That blows us about in the bike lane

I stop to make sure my back tire is sufficiently inflated. I stop under an overpass that is the entrance to the San Diego airport, noisy with lots of cars. And I bend the air-valve on Lionel’s tire twisting the pump as I fill the tire with more air. Dammit. A drink from my fancy-pantsy new water bottle, and on we go.  After we pass by the marina, we reach the end of the flatlands of our voyage.
The long line of dark pavement shooting into the heavens challenges us
And we bond in our strife against gravity and geography
Needing each other to reach our goal: to be together at the top
Becoming only closer with each painful rotation of the chain under my feet
Cohesion under external pressure, the chemistry of true love

And at the top of the hill, the Naval Base radar-jammer kills my I phone radio
Paradise Radio gives way to the live music of just plain paradise
The fizzing of the chemistry of true love

Funny as it is, I made it out to the point. I had to pay $3 to get in to the finish the last half mile. Whatever. It is a pass for all week, so I can go 5 times before I have to return to Michigan. I climbed the last 70 feet to the precipice of the hill where the lighthouse sits. To my right, the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, shiny in the evening.  Japan, Hawaii, and Guam are somewhere out there, along with a huge floating pile of trash brought to rest by the currents who wish to politely hide our crap, enabling our addiction to stuff.  To my left is The City over the bay. Tis a pretty city.

I peer back at the towers from whence I came
As most people must do at the end of a voyage
Tracing with my finger and my thoughts the jagged line of my travel
As most people do at the end of life
Lookin pret-tay good from the top of a little mountain

I began my trek back around the big-C , which was mostly downhill. I guess that’s true about life, too, but I’m all about trying to be a groundbreakingly happy old-person. My expertise is limited in this area, but I have a long list of things that have foiled that plan for other people: shitty spouses, spoiled children, houses too big for them, too must stuff, crap jobs, not maintaining their physical health, etc. I hope that my retirement is marked by lots of laughing, cooking, singing, playing with people young enough to have more passion for life than me.  With that in mind, I found myself passing the military graveyard on the strip to Cabrillo.

The sailboat races run tiny down behind the graveyard.
The alabaster triangles glide across the panorama
Carrying along their cargo, people riding the right winds
But I lower my gaze to the pale stones
Holding down their cargo, people caught up in the wrong ones.

And I descend home
Plunging from the hills and the sky
Like a bird diving for a bath
And as the wind holds me up
I think I must be feeling what the birds feel when they hang in the wind along the bay
Motionless in the sweet juice of life

The LO Ryder is my sail
and I have many more
and no pallid stone will hold us down before our time

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tell Em That It's Human Nature

Understand that we have good reason for ending our journey at Blissfest: : : :  we get down.   I’d like to adequately describe it for you, but I can’t convey the whole concept through words.  I’d have to dance it.  Okay, I’ll try with words.

Gordy, Stuart, then Katie
Bliss is a happy festival.  Some of it’s in a field, and some of it’s in the woods; there’s good music and good people.  And all things good.

My first Bliss was three years ago.  I don’t know exactly why I decided to go.  It was probably a combination of my sister Emily’s description of her adventures there the previous year (Maybe, we’ll ask her to give her testimonial.) and Stuie.  Members of Stuie’s family had been going for years.  He had never gone, but he knew how dope it was, and he encouraged me to go with him. 

So me and Coop (you’ll get to know Coop, our peaceful ginger gorgeous friend through other stories) drove down to Saginaw to pick Stuie’s ass up.  Then we drove to East Lansing to meet up with Gordy, Stuie’s brother, and Katherine, Stuie’s brother’s wife, and Katie, Stuie’s brother’s wife’s husband’s sister.  And Mercy Sakes Alive! it looked like we had ourselves a convoy. 

(Well, we shot the line; we went for broke with a thousand screaming trucks and eleven long-haired-friends-of-Jesus and a chartreuse micro-bus.)

In about ten minutes or so, we were driving past the hundreds of tents and campers and nearing the Bliss entrance.  We drove in, rolled down the window for the ticket taker, and heard that beneficent greeting for the first time, “Happy Bliss.”  We were happy and blissful.  When people say, “Happy Bliss,” they mean it.  It’s not like the hollow “Have a good one” that sometimes spills out from people that pass on the sidewalk at Hope.  Nah, people at Bliss want you to have a happy bliss.  It’s a salutation, a blessing, and an understanding.  It feels good to hear and say.

Now, that was an intro.  I’ll stop describing Bliss ’08 because this was the only year Stuie attended.  I’ll save it for him, if he’s in to it.  (No pressure, Stuie.  I just don’t want to be a story hog.)  I’ve gone back each year since, and each festival has been a different beautiful.

A few weeks ago, I had an assignment to go into Hope’s Career Services to talk about strengths.  I went, and, after impressing the counselor with my deltoids and flactoids, she asked, “What was one of your happiest moments in life?”  Bliss.  

So I described for Trudy the last performance on the third stage on Saturday night just this last summer.  The third stage is small and personal and the artists look at you when they speak and sing to you when they sing.  Emily, Coop, everbody, and I arrived early so that we could find a good spot to sit.  We sat in front and ate chocolate-covered-cheesecake-on-a-stick while the openers opened.  Then May Erlewine and Seth Bernard played.  We dig them.  They sing sincerely.  Other performers played with them, too.  The tap dancer and fiddler were pringles.  The lead guy from the band Steppin’ in It played the keyboard and wore a fedora.  Real good.  It was obvious that a few members of our posse developed a small crush on him that night.  Yeah, I had a mancrush on him after that, too, for a bit.  But May.  Daisy May does this smile-bodyshake maneuver when she emphasizes a note on the guitar which is worth writing about (see what I did there?).  She looks so joyful when she does it; it makes everyone else joyful, too.  Seth was grinning and waddling around, swinging his guitar and Moses beard.  They finished.  

The opener came on for a feel good closing song.  He had that tall, lumberjack look.  I can’t remember, exactly, but I want to say that he had red hair, but it wasn’t as pretty as Coop’s.  He started singing “I would walk 500 hundred miles…” and a few lines into the song our friend Sam got up to dance, then everybody was dancing, smiling, laughing.  Dancing our shit off, getting so down with our badselves, and…

We’re back to my need to explain things using dance.

Bliss '09 Drum Kiva; photo by Jose Silva

Monday, March 7, 2011

The LO Ryder

On Saturday, I drank the proverbial Redbull, and gave myself wings. Unfortunately, those wings still needed the rack installed and some steel pedals to replace the insufficient, plastic ones which would not have survived the force of my hairy legs pressing my feet down into them, SO I had to come back and pick it up the next day. 

But oh, what a day. 

When I mounted that sleek, red and black, smooth-rolling ray of glory, I felt at peace and overwhelmed with excitement all at one. The salesperson had tried to sell me a hybrid bike with flat handlebars and generic derailleurs and shifters. He said that every single person he sold that bike to had been very happy with the purchase and had a wonderful trip. Well, no thank you, Village Bicycle (that insult loses something when it is directed at an actual bicycle). I prefer to fulfill my dreams atop a more unique, special, and hardcore piece of equipment. 

And I found one. One with an aluminum frame, a carbon fiber fork, Sora shifters and derailleurs, steal pedals, 28 tires with a sweet, red line on the treads, 18 speeds to enjoy the ride at whatever level of effort/velocity one prefers (and when I say “one” I mean Stu Chipman, because this is his ride), rear and front reflectors, and not one, but TWO water bottle mounts. All that, with a 10% discount that barely cancelled out California’s heinous sales tax or 9.75%, came to $1,134. Actually that’s inaccurate. All that, plus a helmet, a rack, saddle bags, spare tubes, tire tools, multi-tool, new pedals, a pump, a tire gage, and a flat repaid kit—THAT came to $1,134. 

And what did that money buy me? It bought me freedom. It bought me miracle grow for my personality. It bought me the Silver Surfer’s Surfboard and Amelia Airheart’s plane. It bought me King Arthur’s Excalibur and Gandhi’s diaper. It bought me a microphone for that voice inside me that needs to be expressed in order for me to be me, that anybody needs to express in order to be themself to the world. 

Which brings me to the name of my bicycle. Lionel Owens Ryder. Three parts, equally important. 

The flight to San Diego has always been a hazardous experience for me. I once slept one night in the Mexico City Airport, watched a sandstorm engulf Phoenix for just long enough to prevent me from making my connection, spend that night in Phoenix, and then had my replacement flight to San Diego the next day delayed for 6 hours. All in all, it took me 2 and a half days to get from Guadalajara to San Diego. Had I a bike, I could have made it faster that way. 

But this one was good. It was uneventful, apart from a food vendor picking his nose in the Chicago airport. And on the flight, we watched The King’s Speech. Lionel is a protagonist of this story, a speech pathologist who assists the King of Britain with controlling his stammer. He is cheeky, Aussie, witty, and more importantly, the catalyst for allowing the good King, Bertie, to find and be himself in life. Bertie’s fear and calcified conceptions of the possibilities of his environment had become barriers between that valuable spark of humanity inside him and the world of people around him. Lionel helped him reduce that fear. 

Fear forces an ugly silence on all that it touches. It silences our confidence. It silences our hope. It silences our compassion, our love, our curiosity, our joy. All that makes us human. All that makes us the individual work of art that we are. What Lionel did for Bertie was to liberate him from an indentured servitude that we all face, some to a greater degree than others. We step through life to the rhythm of a tune that somebody else has composed. We focus on finding ourselves, our own special dance that will give us the satisfaction of having been a person, not the caricature of a job description. The charge of our indentured servitude is to exist in that inescapable dichotomy, to dance or stand still, to live or die.
What happens when the tune does not support that dance invented by our hearts and minds? Or when the floor is a shitty surface on which to bust our brand of move? Or when the smell of the dance hall suffocates us and provides no air for our acrobatics? Or when our dance partners are woefully unfit for complementing our style of shimmy?  What happens when what is inside of us cannot take the form that it should, because twisted, indifferent fate has allowed a seed to fall in the desert? For many, like a song in a foreign language, they make a noise that is never fully appreciated. For the fortunate, Lionel happens, and they translate themselves into a fit expression of their being to an appropriate audience.
The fear hits us because we begin to doubt that we can do our dance in this hall, on this floor, in this air, with these people, in these shoes. It leaves us when we becoming willing to tear up the floor  so that we can cut a rug, open a window, find a new partner, and step sin zapatos, if need be. The fear begins to subside when we realize that we are not stiff, rigid object thrown through the world to be deflected unforgivingly by the preexisting obstacles of life, and we enjoy the epiphany that allows us to see that we are more a current of liquid energy that warps and bends and becomes more complicated with each object it hits, soaking each of those objects in the essence of its composition, making that object the perfect means of expressing our soggy song.  

The fact is, all of us have a little John the Bartender in us (See Billy Joel’s Piano Man). We all decide on daily basis which parts of ourselves will live and which parts will die. If people are not careful, they may find that their favorite parts of themselves have died and all they have left are dirty dishes to wash and fake smiles to flash. Get a bike. Or a plane. Or a college degree, or a canvas, or pair of dancing shoes. Or someday, some musician may sing of how you died slowly behind of bar serving small shots of yourself to unforgiving practicalities. 

My sister Sally is also a speech pathologist. So I am quite proud of her and glad that my bicycle is named for a major player in her profession. 

The second name is burrowed from Jesse Owens, Midwestern athlete extraordinaire who stunned Hitler at the 1936 Berlin Olympics with his 4 gold medals and three world records. The Aryan race was forced to accept that poverty, not genetic superiority, is responsible for a group of people becoming dominant in athletics. Power to the people.  L.O. Ryder is sleek, agile, and fast. Jesse Owens was also a long-jumper, but I do not intend to compare my bike to its namesake in that regard. Also, my bike is black. It would not have been right to give it the names of three white men. 

The last name, Ryder, is borrowed from Jack Ryder, the 2nd President of Saginaw Valley State University. This is name that bears personal significance for me, as Ryder was responsible for the massive growth of SVSU towards what it has become today. The opportunities, support, and overall wonderfulness of SVSU as an institution leave me with much to be thankful for. It has been the stepping stone to my future, which looks pretty sexy at the moment. It occurs to me that because I am talking about a university, that people may assume my appreciation is limited to the professional realm. Not the case. The friends and mentors I have acquired in my 4 years at SVSU will remain integral parts of my life for as far as one can predict, and that takes no backseat to my admission to the University of Michigan Law School. Being a lawyer and having the chance to go to an elite school will certainly develop and satiate aspects of my person that need development and satiation, but all that would be for naught if I did not have such special people to share my life with. 

So thank you, Jack Ryder, for helping SVSU become the place where I could grow enough to be worthy of the University of Michigan Law School, and the place that attracted Alyssa Tarrant, Caitlin Cooper, Shannon Davis, Bryan Crainer, Cortland, Rose, Jess, Moni, Topo John, Jamie, Courtney, Brady, MJ, Kathy, Bob Lane, Mark Nicol, Julie Keil, Dan Cook, Judy Kermin, the Gilbs, Diane, Helen, Noah, Brian Thomas, Steve Sherlock, Janna Kern, Stephanie Sieggreen, Eduardo y Santa, Paul Teed, Melissa Brown, Kayla Thompson, Dan Stone, Joel Thorne, Elson Boles, Rodbod, Vance, Joe Chrysler,

And all those other people that have made SVSU what it is. It is for all of you that my bike is named Ryder. 

The LO Ryder.

Planning Part III: The Nearly Strawberry de Oro Bit

Finally!! The Second Leg of the trip is conceived in a tumultuous relationship between my fingers and this keyboard, which all weekend has been under the stereotypical types of stress a relationship can suffer: I'm out at the bar every night, texting other girls, or simply too lazy to give it proper attention. After some counseling, we rekindle our flame and make some sweet bloggy music.

 I will not post the step-by-step directions here, because they are boring, and this should not be boring. I will create another blog for that, designed as a resource for the G-unit and myself. If you are entertained by turns, street names, and measurements of distance, check that out. 

First, I entertain the idea of a new approach. The weather is shitty today in San Diego, which makes me think that the weather may occasionally be so bad that it doesn't support our traveling via bike. So, for each 6-8 day leg of the trip, I think we will plan 5-7 days of biking, upping the intended mileage slightly, and plan to have 1-2 days of total rest. This way, if we should be unable to travel on a day, we are not set back, or if we simply wish to spend more time in one spot, we can do that. Oh, yes. So here it goes.

The Leg: May 16th to 26th. 488 Miles. Requiring 9 stops. 1 day allocated for rest. We narrowly miss a number of Strawberry festivals, a situation about which I can barely express my dismay.

LA to Port Hueneme (67 miles)
   Route: Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1)
   Lodging: Is an issue, here. The problem is that the California Coast is very populated, the State Park system is broke and charging an arm and a leg to stay there, and people don't really like hippies sleeping on their lawn. We will work in this. I am keeping a list of places with lodging uncertainties. We will seek out a church if things get bad. Benedictine chapels are obliged to accept travelers who need a place to stay. Out of respect for them, they will be our last resort. But I'm not ruling it out. 
PH to Goleta (51 miles)
 Route: Pacific Coast Highway
Lodging: We will go to Lake Los Carneros Park and see what that turns up. Failing that, we will find a church.
Goleta to Orcutt (65 miles)
 Route: Cabrillo Highway 101, and California 135, a little logging sort of road that branches off Cabrillo Hwy at the Primary Care Hospital for Cats and Dogs. 
Lodging: May Grisham Park or Pioneer Park, neither of which are designed for sleeping so we'll have to sort that out, too.
Orcutt to Montana de Oro State Park (52 miles)
 Route: Los Osos Valley Road
Lodging: In the park. The strategy will be to sit outside with a sign that says "Share Campground for $15" to cut our costs in half. Sites are charged by site, and can fit 8 people. We figure anybody rolling with less than 6 people would be happy to split up the costs with us. 

MDO to Salmon Creek Fallls (58 miles)
Route: Cabrillo Highway
Lodging: Salmon Creek Falls is in a huge kind of state preserve. I find it hard to believe that we won't be able to find a place to pitch a tent there. If we have to, we shall find a cave under the falls. Then, when we play our funky Gypsy music, people will thing the falls are singing to them.
Salmon Creek Falls  to Carmel (72 miles)
Route: Pacific Highway & Cabrillo Highway
Lodging: Jack's Peak County Park or Carmel River Peach Park

Carmel to Santa Cruz (55 miles) 
 Route: Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail and Cabrillo Highway
Lodging: Wilder Ranch State Park

Santa Cruz to Redwood City (51 miles)
Route:  Mountain Charlie Trail, and a bunch of other roads along the way
Lodging: There are so many parks here. Stanford University is also along the way, so depending on what my admissions status is to Stanford Law by then, we might get a place to stay there. It's only 10 miles or so short of our endpoint.
Redwood City to San Francisco (40 Miles)
Route: Bay Shore Boulevard
Lodging: With some friends of Stuie's brother's, whose name is Gordon, whose friends' names are Maciah and Ree. They attended Gordon's wedding in Cancun and made it better for everybody.  

That's this leg of the trip.  We should see some amazing things, and I will add detail as I learn more about what's happening in the area. Likely at the end of the run there will be festivals enough. The beginning is unfortunately timed so that we are a week early for all the happenings. Kick. in. the. pants.