I might have deeper thoughts later or I might not.

I'm in Keokuk, Iowa, today.

The hotel receptionist aslked me what brought me here and I answered, "Random chance."  And it really was. I couldn't head home for the weekend from St. Louis, so I just picked a random place to use my hotel points and drove up here to see what is here. 

I cut myself shaving yesterday. I have a big gash on my chin. it's probably not as big as I think it is, but it's still bleeding a day and a half after cutting it. So I didn't shave today. 

So here's the thing. This is my America. I can randomly drive to a town and spend a weekend there. I can look like a mess. I can go to a river side restaurant and nobody cares that I'm wandering around their town looking like a vagrant. 

I don't have to have a reason for anything I do. And even if I did, it's nobody's business. 

That's what I think of when I think of Freedom. This is my America. 

But nobody is afraid of me. I'm an old white guy. I don't want my country to become a place where you have to have a good reason to do something like drive over the state line to another town. Where we are so driven by fear that we lose our ability to wander, to explore, to innovate. 

I want everyone in Anerica to be allowed this freedom. And I sure don't want to give it up myself. 


Even after a week, I was still a bit blarsted from jet lag. Rotterdam is a lovely place.

Though Amsterdam is where most of the mushrooms and smoking seem to be, I couldn't resist this one.

My hotel in Rotterdam was just more nicely placed than the one in Amsterdam, being right on the water.

Lighthouse Century

So I signed up for this century ride (choosing the metric century as my goal), thinking that the cost and deadline would get me out biking to work up to a point where I could ride 65 miles in one day. And this definitely worked -- getting me out on the road three times a week, including progressively longer rides on the weekends, as described earlier.

I also knew that there was a risk I'd not be able to actually do the ride because I had a gig in Denver during the week, ending on Friday. My task was to finish the class in time to get from Denver to Phoenix in time to take the last flight from Phoenix to San Luis Obispo.

I didn't have much trouble getting out of class. It was a good group of hackers and they picked up things more quickly than I'm used to. So I got up to the airport to find that my flight was delayed. Since SLO is such a small airport, there really aren't many options for rerouting. But the flight was only delayed enough to make my connection time (assuming that nothing else changed) be about 15 minutes and the planes were actually scheduled so that I'd land at B1 and leave from B2.

Of course it didn't work out that way. The delay didn't get worse, but the SLO flight was moved to a different concourse. After we landed, but still taxiing, I checked my flight information to find that USAir had rescheduled me for a flight first thing in the morning!

Still, I'd been upgraded to first class from Denver, so I was sitting in 1A and I bolted up the jetway and over to the gate where my SLO flight was. And I made it! They had scheduled a flight for me in the morning so I'd be guaranteed to have a seat just in case, which really would have been good had it been needed. So I got home on the late flight and was able to get about six hours of sleep. And in the morning, I drove over to Morro Bay to register.

It was a gorgeous morning.

The sun is rising from the right direction to shine onto the Morro Bay power plant.

I got my number:

and I bought a jersey:

I love the zebra stripes. The zebras today were on the north side of San Simeon. A couple on the trip told me that they also saw whales crest during the ride. I saw the swarms of birds that usually mean whales, but I never saw them.

Other free stuff included a rubber bracelet, the patch in the picture above, and a wristband for the BBQ bash after the ride.

The ride had three rest stops. The first and last were in a park in Cambria. Lots of people the first go around. They provided an awfully good variety of snacks:

But the main reason for that stop was to get a chance to refill water bottles and just sit in the shade. The view of the ocean from the park was popular.

The second rest stop was at the turnaround point, which was a lookout spot from which you can see the lighthouse for which the ride is named. There wasn't much shade, but it was fairly crowded. (The lighthouse is in this picture, I promise.)

And this is the point at which we really started to spread out in terms of speed. By the time I got to the final rest stop, the crowd had thinned quite a bit:

And then from this point on, I never passed another person. I was passed quite a lot, of course. I wasn't the last one back to the school, but I might have been the last metric century rider -- the 85 and 100 mile riders mostly beat me, too.

But the important thing is that I made it. I hadn't ridden my bike hardly at all this year until I decided to train for this in August. And with living in the mountains, it's been six or seven years since I rode more than 10 miles in a day. So I'm pretty proud to have made it through.

The next thing is to see if my weekly biking sticks. If I still get on the bike on Tuesday to go have dinner at the Wee Shack, it will have been worth it. Maybe if I work at it all year, next time my bottom won't start hurting in the first 20 miles.

All Biking All the Time

Good News: Registration positions opened up on the SLO Lighthouse Ride, so I'm going to be able to do the ride next week.

Bad News: I have to keep biking to work up to this thing, which takes a whole lot of time out of my week, so all there is to report on on this blog is biking.

Yesterday, I stayed on track, making 55 miles.

Of course, for me, that took 8 hours or so. It seems that next week's 65 mile ride might just barely be possible.

The zebras were out this week!

Stay tuned for next week's big ride. Hopefully I'll make it back from my trip to Denver.

Biking Progress

Well, I've been doing OK on working up to the century. My plan was to do the metric century (only 65 miles) because I'm so dang slow and there aren't enough hours in the day. Today, I did 45 miles (10 more than last week). If I add 10 miles next week and can do another 10 the following week, then I can do the century. Here's my chart of distances so far this year:

(Green is biking, yellow is walking, red is kayaking. A drop off in the others was to be expected, I guess.)

Sadly, though, I waited too long to sign up for the SLO Lighthouse Ride. I'm on a waiting list, but I'm kicking myself for putting it off. The motivation to get out and ride disappeared when I realized I probably won't get to do the organized ride. I have my fingers crossed, and if I can't do it, maybe I'll find another one.

But at least I got up and did my ride today.


My Nevada City readers (if you're still out there) will not be impressed by the elevation gain on this ride -- I start at 60 feet -- but the winds here are tough, folks. And they come from the side so there's no relief in a round trip. 

Still, I'm pretty sure this is my first 20 mile ride since I moved to California six years ago. It's probably equal to a 4 mile ride up in the hills but I'm trying to dig out of a sedentary hole to ride a metric century, so it's a good baby step. 

Spoke Lives

Well I broke another spoke today, just a day after getting another spoke replaced. 

I guess that means I'm back on the bike at least. 

No Hope in Spokes

I decided it was time to clean up my exercise act and get back on the bicycle. I'm going to work up to the Lighthouse Century.

And, of course, I immediately broke a spoke. I'd like to think it's the fates out to get me, but most likely my weight is just too much stress on this ole bicycle.

The sea fog here is terribly hard on the bike. Everything is rusting so quickly.

Under the Boardwalk

(well, under a pier at Morro Bay)

Before and After

In spite of the dryness here, that walnut next door just seems to grow like crazy. I've cut it back once since I moved in, mostly because it was trying to puncture the roof of my shed. (Before I put a solid roof on it, it was just plastic. Take a look at the link and see how fast that walnut has been growing around the cactus.)

So, I got out there and cut it back again today. Here's the before shot:

And here's the after shot:

The gloves I wore weren't as thick as I thought. My hands have needles in them. I've never liked cactus. I'm still surprised I didn't notice them and make their removal a condition of the sale.

I don't know how you prune the cacti. I just ripped off some of the pads from the prickly pear. They're unexpectedly heavy.

Off Moonstone Beach

It took me a year and a half, but I finally got up my courage to get the kayak out into the actual ocean.

I launched from the boat ramp in Cambria, which is somewhat protected from the heavy waves and so is easy to jump into the kayak from.

Just off shore are lovely kelp beds.

I did a quick circle of this rock that is just visible from shore.

But my kayak isn't built for the ocean (it's not a sit-on-top) so when the wind and waves picked up, I headed back into shore.

Foggy Bottom

There's a big rock out there somewhere.

Here's hoping the fog isn't around for the fireworks.

Uh Oh!



You might remember that I noticed a few chairs gathering in Cayucos right before the 4th of July last year.

It's going to be a different scene this year:

I'm glad that I got to see the traditional bringing out of the chairs last year, anyway.

From Drought to Deluge

A few weeks ago I was in Dallas.

It was hot and steamy. It makes this apple look more like a tomato.

More important, it was raining. And raining hard. At 3am, I got to wake up because my phone was giving me flash flood alerts. I'm glad that it was able to know I was in a flash flood area, but telling an out-of-towner to move to high ground isn't quite enough info. First of all, I'm not sure what a Texan would consider high ground. And second, even so I wouldn't know where it was.

Still, I figured I was safe in the 3rd floor of the Hampton Inn.

And so I found it was important to find cover wherever I could.

I just wish I'd brought a tanker truck so I could bring the water back home with me.

Drought Effects at South Lake Tahoe

The lake is shockingly low. Here are a few pictures.

Some of the docks don't even make it to the water.

Worse, some of the boat ramps no longer make it to the water.

Things are not good.

South Lake Tahoe

I'm up at South Lake Tahoe for a conference.

I'm wiped out, so the only thing I can think of is 4th grader jokes.

Do you remember this one?


The most horrifying restroom ever is in a restaurant in Cambria.

Playing Chicken

I had to drive an hour south to get my car worked on, then I meandered back up to Arroyo Grande to have my tire fixed, and I took a little walk. I saw this sign:

I thought to myself, "Nobody does that, right? Abandon a poor chicken by the side of the road?"

Apparently they do. Apparently they do.

Oh, well, there you go. If it were me, I'd change the name to Hope Diamond Creek and see what people drop off then.

And I wouldn't go around decorating the restrooms with chickens.


So very much of my little slice of Cayucos is either wooden decking or gravel. 

There isn't much rain here, but when there is, it's often hard and heavy. It'll move the gravel down hill. 

So that migration, combined with my general neglect has left the place looking shabby. Weeds clumped into the back yard and then have died.

A couple weeks ago we were faced with a rare 100% chance of rain a few days ahead of the event.  It was not a big storm and it didn't do anything about our drought, but the plants around here are resilient. Many of them seem to survive just from the occasional fog. 

So that weekend I got out there and raked. After a half hour of raking in the back, it now looks like this:

I did the same to the front, a much bigger patch. After two hours of taking, I got about half the front redistributed and unweeded. Now I need to get some refresher gravel. 

Or build some more decking. 


Today's exciting lunch excursion is Giovanni's Fish Marker & Galley. 

Considering that this is an order-at-one-window-pick-up-at-another kind of place, 
it has a bit of ambience. Still, the thing to look at in Morro Bay is always the same thing: the smokestacks. 

Actually, it is nice outside on a sunny day watching real fisherman doing their jobs. 

In spite of the steaming seafood thing sitting right out front, there is enough on the sandwich menu to satisfy people like me who don't eat fish. 

I had a grilled cheese. 

So there's not much to say about the food. It's cheap. It's fine.