Corolla, NC

Corolla is a seaside rental town up on the top of the Outer Banks.

wee toaty explorer with sword

It's very hot here.

wee toaty explorer with flag

So hot that I have nothing witty to say.

wee toaty explorer with flag flying

Of course, it's the humidity, not the heat.

wee toaty explorers and flags

Makes you see things that might not be there.

context shot

This is another in the continuing series of wee toaty explorers, a project to keep me busy while I'm on the road. A nice summary is here.

Buried Cable?

I guess it's hard to bury things in the sand.

Rocky Mount

Just time for a quick little guy in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

boxing apple

Rocky apple on stairs/steps

apple in front of tree

Mayan fountain

This is another in the continuing series of wee toaty explorers, a project to keep me busy while I'm on the road. A nice summary is here.

Spontaneous Writing

Flying to North Carolina for a beach trip is fun.

Yep. That was supposed to sound sarcastic.

I mean the flying part, of course, not the beach part. That's going to be fun for real.

One of the ways I tried to make this trip better was to play a game. One hour before touchdown in Dallas, I made the iPod give me two random songs. To win, I had to write a story that started with the first song and ended with the second. Here it is without editing; did I win?

"It's raining in Baltimore." The clown looked up from his iPhone. "It'll probably rain all week, the paper says."

"What paper?" The magician never looked up from his book.

"The Sun. Oh, OK, I get it. Their web page says rain all week." The clown shuffled around their shared space on the train. He touched everything in the room twice before speaking again. It was a tactic he developed after the magician had told him to 'dam up that babbling brook of a mouth.' He looked over at the magician and wondered whether he should speak again, yet.

The magician was tall and thin, all legs and arms hinged together like an erector set. He was abrupt and sullen. His nose was perpetually in a book or a snifter of brandy and everything (and everyone) beyond the reach of his nose seemed to fill him with disdain and derision. The clown monitored his breathing for fear of a rebuke from the magician. Although he never raised his voice, the magician could make a person feel two feet tall with a sentence that could fit into Twitter.

The clown loved him.

It might be more proper to say that the clown was preoccupied with the magician and hung on to the hope that in the rare instance when he might make a word appear that word might be kind. The clown knew the value of rarities. In five years, the magician had said exactly one kind thing about the clown, and the clown was addicted, trying to find the right button to push to make another burp of praise emerge. So far, the combination had eluded him.

The clown walked the room again, a little more slowly. The circus had not been his idea. He stumbled into it because he was good at being clumsy -- broadly and obviously clumsy -- without hurting himself.

"The weather report could be wrong." He had touched everything four times, everything except the magician's chair and book, and he blurted out the first thing that came to mind. Inwardly, he chided himself for being clumsy in speech, too. Now, he'd have to do another round of touching before speaking again. The magician turned a page. Before starting his rotation, the clown went to look out the window.

The train passed through falling rain. It was about 50 miles west of the city, heading into Baltimore for a week of performances. There would be no tents or animals in carts. The circus would perform in a block building near the Inner Harbor. The clown had never lived the tent-circuit, but he was melancholy for its disappearance anyway.

"The train is stopping," the clown noted and then metally kicked himself. He hadn't touched anything since his last utterance. But the magician didn't seem to notice the breach of ettiquette. The train really was coming to a stop. The clown stared out at the rain, now falling in its naturally vertical direction.

He sighed and leaned his chin on his hand. There was not so much to see out the window. The rain and a sort of fog shrouded the world. The clown sighed as quietly as he could and leaned his head on the window. Looking down away from the car, he could see that they had stopped on a bridge. It was impossible to see how high they might be.

The clown wondered what it would be like to step off the bridge and fly.

Minutes passed. The clown remained affixed to the window, watching the mist stir below. The rain tapered off and eventually ended. The clown's range of visibility increased and he could make out some hills to the side. The bridge spanned a deep valley. He wondered if there was a river down there. And without warning -- for what warning does the sun ever give? -- the sun broke through the clouds. It was late in the afternoon and the sun peeked through a break in the valley, its glowing orb below the clown's line of sight. He looked down and gasped.

The sun picked out bits of the mist, or maybe the spray from the tumbling river below, and projected a tie-dyed color explosion on the other side of the trestle. Red and orange, green and blue, a bit dim but vibrant, the mist glowed below the train. The clown was transfixed and did not hear movement from the magician.

The magician placed his hand on the clown's shoulder.

"Where are we do you suppose?" he asked.

The clown gulped and responded as levelly as possible:

"Somewhere over a rainbow."

The Abbot Classic

I had to take a quick trip up to Seattle, but today I got on the bike and did a loop of the Nevada City Classic route before making a bigger loop. I can't find any information about times or laps for the race (our paper stinks), but we timed one lap of the women's race. It was just under 3 minutes, using our highly accurate timepiece.

It took me 8 minutes, 40 seconds.

And I only did the one loop.

But they didn't have to deal with the old tourist drivers down Broad Street or the nine stop signs.

Really, I'm just glad I could make it around once. I didn't think I could.

Nevada City Classic

Today, our little town hosted the Nevada City Classic.

Nevada City Chalk

What's that? You ask? It's a bike race.

Nevada City Chalk with Bikes

It's one of the oldest pro-am races in the country. Last year, Lance Armstrong won. He was not competing today. I took a walk around the course, I'm still not sure I could do the trip in less than 20 minutes. I'm also not sure how they all got that right turn onto York Street without every single one of them falling over (or getting squeezed stuck between buildings on Commercial).

Many of the bikers spent an hour or so before the race riding the course, which surprised me. I guess it's good to get the lay of the land, but you'd think it would tire them out.

This is what Broad Street looked like before the race started.

Broad Street for the Nevada City Classic

It felt kind of hemmed in, so we chose a spot in the sun next to the Outside Inn. (I bought a bike shirt from them, as if I'll ever have the guts to wear a form fitting shirt like that.) The weather was gorgeous. The sun warmed things up, but I doubt it got up to 80 in the shade.

East Broad Street and the Outside Inn

There were five races today. These are the "old" men: both the over 35s and the over 45s competed together. (I think they called it the Masters race.)

Masters Biking in Nevada City Classic

These are the women. They went really fast.

Woman Biking in Nevada City Classic

I didn't know who to root for, so I rooted for anyone riding my brand of bicycle.

Close biking women

#217 there is riding a Kona. There was one other woman on a Kona.

Jose Saramago

Apparently, Jose Saramgo has passed away. He wrote some great books.

Here is an early book tale I wrote.

Circles? You Got Circles?

I rode to the circle in Grass Valley today. I went down along Nevada City Highway/Main Street and came back along Idaho-Maryland/Sutton/Town Talk. It took forever and still is not quite the longest ride I've done here (that would be the ride up to 5 Mile House and back), but it's nice to get over 10 miles.

Google Maps doesn't show the circle in map form nor in satellite form. Is it really that new? I know the art is new, but the circle itself?

Imaginary Penguin Covers

Douglas Coupland has created a series of Penguin Book covers to describe our world to the world of 1935. Hard to believe that a publishing imprint started in the '30s. I'm kind of surprised that our shelves are not more populated with the iconic orange spines of Penguin classics.

Busy Weekend

The weather continues to be grand, though today is a bit on the hot side for my taste.

On Saturday, we wandered up to Tahoe for their Renaissance Festival. It was a nice wooded lot and the drive up was lovely. The faire itself was probably about 1/3rd the size of Maryland's.

On Sunday, we made the owner of Wolf Creek Wilderness very happy by purchasing two new kayaks, paddles, life jackets, and roof mounting equipment. I don't think these things are recyclable... We had to run right up to Scotts Flat Lake to give them their inaugural voyages.


I can't wait to explore that lake and the many other ones in the area.

Python Modules

Oh, dear blogosphere, I have just started trying to learn a new scripting language.

Isn't that special?

This one is called Python. It is indeed named after Monty Python, which has some weird resonance because I just heard an interview with Eric Idle on the radio the other day.

At any rate, I'm learning Python so I can do some scripting inside Teleplace, an interesting looking business-oriented 3-D environment. The problem is that the Python in there doesn't provide all the normal modules, so you have to bundle up the ones you need. Unfortunately, the modules I need are not always obvious. That is, I can see what I'm importing, but not what they're importing and then those are importing and so on.

I can put my "import urllib2" into my file, package it up and put it into Teleplace, but then Teleplace just tells me I also need cookielib. So I add that to my packaged libs and try again and it tells me the next one I'm missing. I don't want to do this all day.

Do any of you know how to make a dependency tree in Python? Yeah, maybe I should search that on the Google.

I Dare You Not to Go Out On A Day Like This

STOP THE PRESSES. While in the middle of writing this post, I was informed that my flash fiction story has been accepted for publication. This is my second story acceptance! This one pays ten times what the last one paid. OK, so the last one only paid $2, but still.

Back to the original post:

My goodness, but it's a beautiful day for a bike ride. 64°F and sunny. I just took a quick loop up to Gold Flat Road and back. It was almost chilly at the beginning. (It was hot and sticky by the end, but that was all from exertion.) This is why we moved here, people.

That and because everybody is so sane and quietly composed here.

No, wait, that was the other place. You know, we were a little disappointed that yesterday's police blotter wasn't filled with escaped llamas and evil cell phone ray shooters.

At any rate, where was I? Oh, yes, I went for a bike ride today. I've been getting two or three in every week that I'm not traveling, and it feels good. It feels good, aside from all the difficulty breathing and getting up hills, that is. Did you think I was going to blog about the biking and not mention the hills? It's been more than six months, you think I'm going to cut it out now?

Of course, I only stopped at stop signs this time around, except once for a drink on the way down Nevada Street. That's pretty good. Oh, and I stopped to take this picture:

This is what the old firehouse looks like if you assume that the street is perfectly level. Isn't that a cool perspective? I'm going to take pictures of other buildings, eventually, but I want to wait until there are fewer cars around. It's hard to get a good shot of some of them.

Vote Early, Vote Often

It's Primary Day here in Nevada County (and California as a whole, of course). I walked over to the Rood Center to vote today.

Every Vote Counts

It's not terribly exciting because the county has such a high percentage of mail in voters. In fact, our ballots came to us with a note saying that our neighborhood doesn't have a polling place at all. So that ballot up there is my mail-in ballot. I just waited to the last minute. (The other interesting thing about the ballot is that the color might give away which party you enrolled with.)

I suppose one doesn't have to vote by mail even if one receives a ballot. There were four little voting boxes in the office inside the Rood Center. Only two people were using them when I peeked in, though.

demonstration garden sign

One thing I liked was that they set up a nice little place for protestors. At least, that's what I assume the sign is pointing to that says "Demonstration Garden."

Won't Do That Again

bicycle glove

One time at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, there was one of those painted statue guys. You know, some bloke paints himself all over in gold or black and pretends to be a statue or a robot on a pedestal. This one was approached by two pre-teen girls. They asked him to do something, but he just stood there motionless. After a few minutes it was obvious they weren't getting the idea, so he sort of nodded to the box of change on the ground. They threw in a coin and he went through the robot motions. Toward the end he sort of bowed forward, turned his head, and motioned for one of them to kiss him on the cheek. After a bit of hesitation, one of them leaned in and gave him a quick peck. He let out a loud squeaky whistle and returned to his statue position.

"Right," she said. "Won't do that again."

Today I got tired of the big hills behind my house, so I rode across the highway and up the big hill at Gracie (by way of the big hill on Nimrod, really everything is a big hill here, enit?). About thee quarters of the way up, I found an irrigation ditch I didn't know about. It had a nice looking path along it, and since I was tired of riding up hill, I thought the relatively flat ride along the water would be nice.

Then I came to the aqueduct.


Well, I didn't like going back the way I came, so I gave it a shot. I did not ride across the boards. I don't have the balance or confidence for that. I walked the bike across, with my feet on the edge of the aqueduct.

walking on the edges

So the other side was back to nice level path, and I continued happily along until I found another aqueduct.

another aqueduct

As you can see, the boards are now down the center of the aqueduct, meaning it's too hard to walk along the edge and hold onto the bike. (Did I mention I was wearing clipless shoes? That means they have little metal cleats sticking out right on the ball of each foot.) Do I turn around or go forward? How many of these can there be? I didn't want to go back over the other one, but what if the path ended on the other side and then I had to come back over two?

I decided to press on.


And I made it to the other side and found the path continued, nice and smooth. It was really a nice ride from there to Pinewoods Road, where I abandoned the canal and rode way down hill to Gold Flat.

And I have to say: I won't do that again.

The Old Airport

I rode my bike up to the old airport today. I'm disappointed that there's no longer an airport on the site. We looked at the house across from the abandoned runway last fall, but decided to avoid dealing with a bank-owned home. The view from there, however, is amazing.

I had heard a rumor that the site had been slated for a solar farm at one time but that it fell through. Today, the place is surrounded by a fence and filled with construction stuff. I wonder what's going in there, now?

The airport is on a big, big hill behind the city. My mobile phone reception was awesome there. It was better than down in the house, to be honest.

old airport

more old airport

Remember Space?

These are some of the most haunting pictures I've seen today. They're apparently of decaying abandoned Russian space operations.

I have no idea what any of the text says.