Tag Archive | miles

Episode 6 – The Mangler

The landscape outside Naselle

With Southbend in my rearview (figuratively speaking) and only a few towns ahead til the end of Washington, I set my sights on the town of Ilwaco. Unfortunately, due to a late start and my wandering soul’s good intentions to take everything in, Ilwaco was not where I would end up that night.

Passing the 4,000 intertidal mudflats, the numerous shells strewn about by accident or by design, put this part of the world’s secret on display. The Willapa oyster, smoked, friend or cooked, a gumbo, a burger or raw, was apparently the creme de la creme of oysters. That’s quoting a local resident. Despite what the episode may say, I did for lunch have a fried Willapa oyster burger, and while yes, I’d rather have breaded fish or beef between those two buns, this was pretty damn good with homemade tartar sauce.

The church in Naselle

So yes! No Ilwaco, yes to some random town  called Naselle that had not much more than a shopping centre, a church, a gas station and a motel for 30 bucks a night. After sneaking my bike in the room (they had told me I could keep it outside…if I had to argue for it’s right to stay inside like people due, I would have seemed a bit off), I went to the a-joint  restaurant/pub/karaoke bar for some eats and a beer to wind down. Lucky for me, it was karaoke night and in a small town like this one could only imagine the wonderfully unique inebriated locals that would come spitting their sorrows into a song. Well tonight was a good night, because it seemed to be biker night. Not just any type of biker, but as I sat at the bar conversing with the bartender a wide-stanced shadow lured me to see who had entered into our midst. There stood the large sized lot, posed like a pose take a photo, tattoos faded, masses of blotchy colors, hair blowing in the wind. Drinks were consumed like bullets from firing squads, laughs drowned out conversation, slaps on the back would have hospitalized me. Their women sat on their laps, my knees hurt from thinking about such weight situated on my frail frame. Nothing was frail about these ladies, their saliva was iron ore, their sweat was ethanol, their glance made doors where walls once were. Then the singing commenced. Duets, solos, manage a trois, a guy constantly laughing and talking to his friends instead of singing, you name it, it happened. A large man, who reminded me of Gimli from Lord of the Rings, perched tidiously on his stool beside me, the leather screatching beneath him as he swivelled to catch the performance. We talked, I don’t remember about what, partly because it was about nothing, partly because his English has turned into slurred jargon. He introduced me to “Bill, Ted, Ryan, Ethol” a slew of characters from his motley crew. It was his turn to sing, he stared at me for support, so I sang loud too, not knowing what the hell I was singing. He asked where I was staying.

“Right here, at the Inn”

“Wellllll….whhhhhy don’t you come stay with uuuussss??”

“Well, thank you, but I already paid for my room”

“I can take care of that”

Not wanting him to take care of that or me or anything, I slowly slunk out, like Alice at the tea party and passed out in my room, exhausted and beer smelling.

The next day I packed, returned my key and zooooom, I was on the Columbia River, one of the widest rivers in the US, Oregon was on the other side, but it was still a world a way. Many boats over the centuries have been engulfed by this moody body of water and I saw a few victims washed up on the shore. Lewis and Clark, the great explorers almost died in the Columbia several times. I tried to imagine crossing such distance in a canoe. I looked at my arms. Not much there, I would probably have capsized two strokes in. In boats, unlike bicycles, there are no downhills, no cruising. And before me stood my only way across this monstrosity of H2O that separated the two states. The Megler Bridge, one of the largest bridges in the states, over 4 km in length, I wasn’t really sure if bikes were allowed to be on it. Well, there wasn’t really an information booth insight, unless I wanted to round the bend, go in the wrong direction, back to Ilwaco. To hell with it, it was windy, so might as well throw caution to it and see where it flies. And fly I did, cars zoomed passed me, my camera tried to capture the moment I crossed over the boarder, you barely can make out the Oregon sign. Winds tried to hurl me off the side into the blue below. Not a single car honked, so I knew I was in the clear on that front. I wasn’t in the clear for many other fronts. Headwind tried to blow me back into Washington as well. The clouds were heavy and looked like at any moment they would unleash, slickening this already terrifying crossing. At the last moment, the bridge turned upward, into a steep incline. So this is where the boats go under….so happy it’s at the end and so suddenly. My legs screamed at the sudden hill, my hands worked quickly, changing my gears around so I could manage. There was no possible way I could stop and readjust. Finally, the incline, declined. I was in Astoria. I was in Oregon.

A restaurant in Astoria

Washington had been my learning curve of the basics of touring. Oregon would be the intermediate and hard level as the landscape turned into a roller coaster of peaks, cliffs and gullies. As I sat in a coffee shop, staring at the poster proclaiming that Ninja Turtles had been shot in this town, I thought of how great this trip has been a rekindling my inner child, how much fun it was to play again, how one should never loose this light, this light that keeps one exploring, and wondering and being curious about all things, making the world new everyday.

Advertisements

Photo of the Day – Apocalypse Now San Symphony

Helicopter, constantly landing and taking off

Camp Pendleton, California. America is scared, in a constant state of readiness. The enemy is not an outside virus, but a cancer, unrecognizable deep in the capillaries and veins of the each state. And though, the painting looks unified from a distance, closer up, you can see the harsh hatch work of troops in green fatigues in well drilled marches, odd white bubble satellites  on the side of arid landscape hills monitoring each phone call where Russia is mentioned and Apocalypse Now helicopters, dark brushstrokes in the sky, up and down, every moment taking off and landing. It’s not entirely true and just gave me a chance to be a bit floral with language without getting too abstract, but there is something to it. Why is there this massive base in Southern California? A militarized city in the desert? A helicopter, so big, that if you hadn’t noticed it’s approached, you’d feel it, darken your skin to ash, eclipsing the circumference of the sun.

Photo of the Day- Apocalypse Now Sans Symphony

Helicopter, constantly landing and taking off

 

 

Camp Pendleton, California. America is scared, in a constant state of readiness. The enemy is not an outside virus, but a cancer, unrecognizable deep in the capillaries and veins of the each state. And though, the painting looks unified from a distance, closer up, you can see the harsh hatch work of troops in green fatigues in well drilled marches, odd white bubble satellites  on the side of arid landscape hills monitoring each phone call where Russia is mentioned and Apocalypse Now helicopters, dark brushstrokes in the sky, up and down, every moment taking off and landing. It’s not entirely true and just gave me a chance to be a bit floral with language without getting too abstract, but there is something to it. Why is there this massive base in Southern California? A militarized city in the desert? A helicopter, so big, that if you hadn’t noticed it’s approached, you’d feel it, darken your skin to ash, eclipsing the circumference of the sun.

Photo of the Day – Rare Pines in the City

This piece of beauty lies within the city limits of a sprawling mecca. San Diego to be exact, the last big American city before Mexico (there are a few smaller places before California ends and Mexico begins….unexpected, smaller places that you only find out when you think you’ve made it to Mexico by bicycle once you’ve hit San Diego only to realize you have four more cities, a least, to pedal through before your victory dance commences). Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve only is what it is because a few nature enthusiasts saw the importance of maintaining the rugged, natural landscape that existed before it was dipped in concrete, sprinkled with bits of steel and sold to aimless suits and ties and skirts, who meant to make it by building skyscrapers with windows facing other viewless windows on even bigger skyscrapers.

Don’t read into the description wrong, I love those big skyscrapers and their histories. I love hearing of the odd personalities that once sat behind the old oak desks and spewed out decisions to their underlings or the shoe shop owner who lost it all by investing in two million pairs of the shoes that didn’t make the fall fashion. The millions of continuous stories and people watching, make these buildings as vitally interesting to me as the “landmarks”, the religious centres, the “must see before you die”s. History is not too much different from gossip, with our interests lying in the unabashed, the more display filled and unbelievable epics, but also in the minutia of day to day life.  I find the functional and dysfunctional, the awe of the past and how the present came to be, the rust and the sheen, as equally as enticing and question riddled.

Anyways, I’ll get into that when I am not as zonked out as I am right now. Nature was something I had little to no desire seeking out before traveling. I liked history and nature to me was just untapped land that would look way better with, I dunno, a temple to Zeus to engage your imagination or an aqueduct running through it’s tundra or mountain scape. That’s before I travelled a realized that the shapes that I had associated with nature were as varied as the building styles of all cultures and that they too had their stories. In fact, much of what I respected in the man made monoliths, the variance, the impossibilities of balance,  were stolen from their larger, and more natural predecessors.

Torrey Pine Sate Natural Reserve was one of those places where it was as if nature took offense to my attitude toward it and and flung open it’s insides to reveal the dramatic curves of it’s jutting rock edges, where these rare pines cling desperately perched over thousand foot drops into the banging percussion of the emotionally churned blue sea’s clambering waves. Such a fool I was to doubt the thousands and thousands of whispering words that nature’s picture drenched my soul in. And yet with all the words merry go rounding in my innards, I stood silent, letting the my surroundings piously brag to me.

The edge and bottom of California - Torrey Pines Nature Reservation

Photo of the Day – The Legend of Crenshaw Blvd

Crenshaw Blvd. Recognize.

Growing up as a big fan of hip hop I recognized the name Crenshaw Blvd as I pulled into the parking lot of a small strip mall on the corner containing a bank, a Chinese restaurant, a KFC and something that was either a laundry mat or an old folks home (hard to tell). The street’s name was synonymous with gangsta music to me with images of 2pac riding by in a Cadillac, screaming profanities at the 5-0 and Eazy-E playing bones on the corner with his homiez. I didn’t relate to that life style, no, and never tried to emulate it all too much (I did have a FUBU shirt, that was multicolored and glowed in the dark…I wore it once). I admired the spirit behind the music, the unabashed enthusiasm, a window into a world I didn’t know. I wasn’t interested in “the struggle”, “the hustle”, “the grind” or anything else political, economic or social relating to the music, I was infected by the fat beats and the stories from a place that was as far away as Mars.

So here I was. After biking through the pretty arty streets of Malibu, and catching the Bohemian vibes and reefer induced rhythms of Venice Beach, 20 minutes or less away, I was smack dab right in the middle of my musical oasis, something I had heard of countless times, but had never thought would ever live up to it’s hype. But with everything, that music describes no just a place, but a time, and a right exact time to be exact.

I had met up with my friend in Santa Monica and she was showing me around the city for a few days. Chance had it that I really needed to use the restroom. My friend spotted the random parking strip and pulled in. As I stepped out into the humid air, the glint of the blue, swinging sign with white lettering above the intersection caught my eye immediately. BAM. There I was. Crenshaw. I took a deep breath. My friend waited in the car, gave me the thumbs up. I looked around. Just an average intersection in a big city, nothing too special. My first choice for bathrooms was the Chinese restaurant.  Nope, no English and no bathrooms for non-patrons. Wasn’t too keen on entering the non-descript purpose buildings, men stood at the window staring out like inmates shoved into a holding cell that was too small to do anything but be squeezed against the caged walls, eyes bulging towards a dissipating freedom. So it was KFC.

And how gangster a KFC was it? It actually was! I entered into a stark room. There was no open counter, no waiters with smiles to greet you, just a two way glass wall with small slots in it. It felt like I had entered the visiting centre of a prison. I approached the glass, not knowing where I was to address, I started into my own reflection…..”Hello?”

“Hello, welcome to KFC, can I take your order?”

“I just need to use the restroom, please”

Click. Click. Clackity. A door, appeared out of no where.

“It’s unlocked”

“Thanks”

I braced myself, I expected a flickering fly filled single florescent bulb highlighting all the murky, gut wrenching details of all types of matter. Quite the opposite, I could eat, say, a popcorn chicken, off the ground it was so clean. Crenshaw, a real mind fuck it was, but I am so glad that the bottomless Mimosas had kicked in and I had to stop and see this shit hole to most, but this childhood fairytale to me.

Photo of the Day – Scary Energy Drink

Um. I love you Germany…but not for this. Not. For. This.

 

....Yup

Photo of the Day – The Old Road

This post is for anyone who has driven down the coast or ridden via the 101. The 101 has gone through many different stages and this is one of them. The current road in California at this point goes through the valley. This more treacherous and scenic portion was closed the vehicles years ago and now used primary by Camp Pendleton near San Clemente to test tanks and as an emergency runway. When it’s not being used by the military the path is the perfect bike path on top of a large mountainous sand embankment along the shining bright blue ocean. Cycling the path, I saw some version of a futuristic looking helicopter take off and land several times.  Before leaving the base, I stopped at the near to the barracks Micky Ds, eating among staff sergeants, corporals, majors and some very big and you don’t want to fuck with privates (tee hee).

The Ol' Highway 1 Oh 1 in Cali