Litton Trail and the Canal

I really like the irrigation canals around here. Sadly, there is not always a legal path next to them, if the homeowners have anything to say about it. (The trail is such that I have to assume that a lot of people have ignored this sign.)

Two Bike Rides in One Week!

W00t! Life is looking up.

And when I say up I mean up. I will eventually stop complaining about the hills around here, but you'll have to give me time.

You can put it in a bottle, if you want.

At any rate, I would really love to be able to make it up to the 5 Mile House, which (as the name implies) is about five miles away. It is pretty much five miles straight uphill. Plus, it is on a busy highway (20) with minimal shoulders. But across the street from the 5 Mile House is a little shop that had a case with lovely looking desserts in it last time I was in (granted that was four months ago). I figure if I get up that hill, I'll be allowed to eat some cake, eh? And then it's all downhill back to home.

But I'm still afraid of taking my chances on the highway, certainly until I have more confidence on the hills. So I'm trying to find alternate routes. Sadly, there aren't a whole lot of alternate routes.

Oh, before I go on, I wanted to draw your attention to this jewelry. If you have any biking women in your life, take a look. This woman is making (and selling) this and another bike necklace to raise money for an anti-cancer ride.

Speaking of art, I stopped to take a picture of this, somewhere halfway up.

I wonder if that rope is supposed to be used to tie the thing to the hitch of a car. Whee! The real reason I stopped, of course, was just to catch my breath.

I decided to see how far I could get along Willow Valley Road, which Google assures me eventually comes out onto Route 20. Google, of course, does not tell me how steep the hills are or how narrow the road becomes. The nice thing about Willow Valley Road (at least the part I rode on today) is that the speed limit is lower (25-35 mph) than the highway and traffic seemed a lot lighter. However, after a couple miles in (half an hour of riding for me, still), I came to an intersection. This is the road I came up on:

Down Hill on Willow Valley

That's not so bad, really, for a 35 mph road. It's wide enough for side markers and there's even a line painted down the middle. But at the intersection, here are my choices:

Continue up Willow Valley

Scott Valley

The road in both directions becomes fairly narrow, with some ditching going on on the sides. Worse, there's a sign that says "End Speed Limit." Oi. Since I was already half an hour into my ride (including all the breaks), and I wanted to stick to about an hour, I decided to turn back and try again another day.

The ride down the hill was freezing! I rode down into town and stopped at the Broad Street Bistro. Yum.

Total distance: 6 miles.

The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)

My office window overlooks the back yard and, more specifically, my new almond tree. I enjoy looking down on that tree and pondering the distant future, that far-off time when the almond tree I planted on this year's birthday will bear fruit. I picture chili-lime-garlic roasted almonds, eggplant battered with almond flour, cereal toppings, cookies.

I wonder how hard it is to make amaretto.

Sure and it will be some years before the tree produces. In fact, whether it will even produce is a question still to be resolved, but dreaming of the future is a nice way to pass the time. And there is no doubt that I enjoy staring out at the trees in the yard. In addition to the almond, there are a bunch of different types of conifers, none of whose names I know. The one closest to the window has very long needles, they look to be as long as nine inches. Its branches are nicely shaped for climbing, though I'm too old to partake in that sport any more. I can also see that it has an unexpected inhabitant and I break off my yard-gazing to yelp. I nearly knock my soda across my keyboard.

"No. It cannot be. It has been too long."

I look again and I panic. A leap from my chair brings me to my knees as the chair skitters away. Shouldn't have bought that high stool for office work. I scramble to my feet and run directly into my office door. I growl and shake my head, then I pull the door open, tear down the stairs and run to the back door. You will be proud that I avoid running through the glassed back door, though I do find it hard to stop my momentum as my socks find no grip on the hardwood floor. I slide to a stop against the jam. Once the door is open, I am across the porch in a flash and standing under the pine (or whatever it is) tree. I take a breath. I do not want to look up, but now that I am out here, what else is there to do? I take another breath and crane my neck back.

Finally a Bike Ride

What with all the traveling I've been doing, I've only been home on select weekends over the last six weeks. And every one of those weekends has been rainy and dark. But this week, I am back in Nevada City for the entire work week as well as next weekend and the week following! So today's sunny interlude between rain showers meant that I had no choice but to take the opportunity to hop on the bicycle again. A month break like this means that I'm still not up to these hills.

On the way down Nevada Street, there's a bit of construction at the bridge near the Amigos intersection. Traffic was being routed through the parking lot.

I rode up Sacramento to Railroad Avenue and across 49 on Gold Flat. Coming down by the Speedy Mart, I was happy to find that the Nevada Gas company is once again open for business (across from the bike shop, it looks so nice for a gas station) and the stop signs at the bottom of the S. Pine hill are gone! However, I tried to come back up Main Street and the hill bonked me. That's going to take some work.

It's only 5 1/2 miles, but the legs are getting a little bit of a work out. I've been laughing at the Oxygen Bar, but I have to admit it's tempting today. It burns, man, it burns.

A Camel in Bangalore

So, I was in Bangalore for a little less than a week and I didn't really get a whole lot of daylight free-time. Any time I did get seemed to be eaten up by a combination of traffic -- it takes forever to get anywhere -- and bomb checks. At many places, we had to stop to have a guard check under our car with a mirror.

Here's the guard at the hotel.

guard with bomb mirror

Because of this, it wasn't until the Thursday night that I actually got to go and walk somewhere. I like to take a look around before I pick a spot to put the wee toaty explorers, and I generally don't know what I want to make until I pick the spot. So this particular week is a bit rushed.

close up of guard and camel

The sculptures themselves were a bit rushed, but the photos were also rushed. I kinda like to take the pictures without anyone noticing, but there is absolutely no daylight time on any of the streets I could find where there weren't people around. I know it's well-known that there are a whole lot of people in India, but it didn't really sink in (even after sitting in traffic or eating at the customer's cafeteria) until I tried to do a photo shoot.

At any rate, I was not actually interrupted or anything. In fact, I was pretty much ignored. Over time, I guess I'd get used to people watching.

guard and camel trespassing

Another note: my original idea was to make a cow that wanders up to a guard who has to check it for bombs before letting it in. There are cows everywhere, of course. But since there had been a bombing in Prune, I felt that was a bit insensitive, what with the religious connotations of cows and all. There are also dogs everywhere, but dogs are too small, so I went with a camel. I did see one camel in the streets during my week.

A Doctor at Walnut Creek

Walnut Creek is in North Austin, Texas.

I've been a shut-in in the evenings because of the rain and sleet, so I made a few more figures than I normally do. This morning the rain continues, so instead of the hospital outside of which I wanted to place these guys, I found a bridge over Walnut Creek. That kept the rain off while I shot.

It's still dang cold, though!

running doctor clay figure

apples chasing doctor

three apples, clay figures

doctor and apples at cliff

Oops. Got my hat in that shot. I might be a little overly proud of the details on the apples.

apple details

Here's a context shot.

Granada and Sierra Nevada, Spain

The other Sierra Nevada mountains.

Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind

Another in our series of dog walking posters. I like the skinny legs on the dog along with the blocky human.

This one doesn't say anything about scooping or pooping directly, but it was the sign next to it that caught my eye.

They must be having trouble with actual cooperation.

This was in San Francisco. I thought anything goes in the city by the bay. But there's an entire totem pole of don'ts at the botanical gardens.

Texas Likes Bikes

I saw this license plate in Austin. I really like the incorporation of the local lingo.

bike plate

After the Rain Life Flows Like Blood

Well, the rain finally stopped for a spell here in Austin/Round Rock. The light is still pretty bad for picture taking, though, so this poor wee toaty explorer is not so clear. On the other hand, I expect he'll be noticed pretty quickly and maybe someone will give him a nice home.

'Cause this poor, tired party-goer needs some attention, I think.

I was kind of proud of his sad balloons, if I do say so myself.

This is the first one I've labeled. I'm not sure who the Abbot of Uneason is, but I'm pretty sure he's someone who never took a penmanship course.

Focus

Wow. Having real trouble focusing. I don't know if it's the rain or the travel or what. Can't think straight.

I have been thinking about how hard it has become to write. I used to just babble and babble on this thing. Now, I take a lot of pictures. It feels lazy. I miss doing the book tales, but I'm so easily distracted.

Anyway: "Hi, from Austin. Wish you were here. How are you?"