Friday, December 11, 2009

1 Frozen tear..

I know it sounds cheezy but its true.  Today I rode my bike to school and arrived to find that one of my tears (that come because the air is so cold) had frozen on my face.  Its that Cold!!!!.  The weather has been clear and beautiful here but so cold.  The high every day has been around 35 and the lows have wavered around 5-12 degrees. But I have committed to riding my bike as much as possible, so frozen tear be damned!  I can handle it.  

I don't believe that I have ever lived in a place this cold, although I know the whole nation is pretty cold right now.

This is a picture collage I just learned to make.  expect more.

This entry is actually meant to be about a topic that is hot on the public forum here in Portland and other big cities as well:  Gentrification. 

Its an interesting concept that defines the process of socio-cultural change in an area that is usually urban.  It is usually fueled by rising housing prices and services that cause lower income folks to have to move.  My friend Jeff asked me if it just had to do with whites pushing black people out, and its not that simple, but usually it has to do with a minority group being forced to move out of an area because a dominant, more affluent group has moved in.  What it creates is a division or economical segregation in a community. 

Its something that is happening in Portland and in San Francisco and I find it very interesting and actually difficult to have a strong opinion about. 

As I have mentioned, Portland is made up of these wonderful little communities and neighborhoods, but what makes these communities great is the art, the coffee, the shops, the restaurants, and of course the people.  but when all of these great, expensive, amenities move in, people are forced to move out.  And the cultural makeup of the neighborhood changes. 

As much as I love these neighborhoods and believe that some of the communities are safer and possibly more accessible because of the development, they are scaring and changing the urban population of Portland.  All of us wonderful art-loving, coffee drinking, liberal, white people are pushing others out.  And diversity in places like Portland and San Francisco is changing.  

I am still learning about what all this means, but when I watched one of my favorite Hispanic, poor, students leave the school for a cheaper neighborhood east of Portland, I was affected.  Myself, a privileged, educated person has inadvertently pushed this little student out of the urban portion of Portland.  Should I feel bad?  I don't know.  Should I be aware?  Yes absolutely.  Should cities remain the way they always have been?  probably not.  But cultural diversity makes this city and this country beautiful. 


listening to

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rainy Day Commute

This is what I've been waiting for....sort of. BTW thats not me in the picture...dont have any rain pictures yet.

For the second time this week I commuted to work (Sub Job) on my bike. As always, i absolutely loved it. Although today was a little different, it was raining. So I rode anyway, and passed lots of others who were doing the same thing.

I love using my bike as transportation. You've probably read prior entries that boast about its health benefits; both physical and mental, but its also an incredibly visceral experience. When riding, the wind (and rain) is in your face, you have to think about the cars and the lights around you, and your getting a workout. Now I have no problem with driving in a warm car once in awhile with good tunes playing on the radio, but riding does something for me that nothing else can.

There are a few problems though: I dont have all of the rain gear I need, my shorts and shoes are drying in the staff bathroom, My bike was made for racing, not commuting in the rain, so its forks are gettting clogged with leaves and dirt, and I dont have rain gutters to keep the rain from shooting in my face, which really just adds to the visceral expierience. I am realizing that all of these things are quite essential if I choose to continue this form of recreation.

To keep everyone posted on the job situation, I have accepted a part time aide job at a elementary/middle school and I will continue to substitute teach until something else comes up. Meghan just had three interviews this week for some great jobs and we're keeping our fingers crossed.

Listening to the Portland rain on the windowsill: that will probably be a pretty common sound through the winter.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

New Trails.. and Re-newed shelves

Downtown P town after a little rain
From building shelves
I wanted to post some fun pictures I took this weekend, now that I think my camera is working correctly again. This last weekend was a lot of fun. We went out with Rick, Shannon, Vanessa, and Jackie. After a few beers we hit some food carts that sold Putine-- a French Canadian after-bar delicacy that I haven't had since being in Montreal. Its french fries, cheese curds and gravy--very healthy I'm sure. It was not quite as good as the authentic food, but it was damn good.

From building shelves
Meghan Rick and Shannon

From building shelves

Jackie Vannessa and Daren.

Saturday was the first real downpour that we've had to deal with here and it rained and rained hard. But I had to get outside. I grabbed the mountain bike and went out to get soaked. It was reassuring to know that I wasn't the only one. I think that people don't let rain get in the way of their plans here.
From building shelves

The other fun thing we did was build a set of shelves from old drawers. I found the idea in a magazine and we went to this warehouse on Mississippi ave that sells old building stuff to re-use. Jackie helped and we built some pretty nice shelves. If you want to know how exactly to make them email me. Here are some picture of the process.

From building shelves

From building shelves

From building shelves

From building shelves

From building shelves

It was a lot of fun and I think it turned out pretty good. Jackie also built a spice rack out of an old drawer:
From building shelves

From building shelves

Listening to remixed M. ward.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Amazing class--Strange Situation

I'm sitting in Mr. Franzen's class working on my substitute skills. If it were more consistent, it would be a great job: good pay, no papers to grade, no classes to plan, etc. unfortunately I haven't gotten as much work as I'd like; although my name is getting out there with the English teacher crowd.

I am dumbfounded by the current class I am in. Its a communications class that the teacher has turned into a music cooperative. They do everything from develop band logos, create websites, write and record music, and at the end of the year each band will perform at a local venue. Its all supported by the teacher and a local record producer (The guy who produced the Decemberist's latest). All I have to say is WOW! What an amazing idea. What a way to teach kids communication and marketing, while totally engaging them. After last weeks sub job at a middle school, this invigorates me. Their website is

Quick little story that encapsulates the outskirts of liberal Portland:
I was leaving a sub job of three days as a PE teacher at a middle school that was once a suburban, predominantly caucasion school and is now becoming more integrated and diverse due to the economy and the gentrification of Portland. I think that the teachers don't really know what to do.

So this woman says to me, "Before you go, tell me one thing."
I responded politely, "sure"
"Who are the worst kids to work with?"
"I'm not sure what you mean." I said truly not understanding.
"Which group, which race i mean."
"I'm sorry, I think all kids have their ups and downs and I'm not about to pick one out based on race."
she then interjected, "Its the black kids huh?"
I was stunned and did'nt quite know how to react. "I don't agree with you.."
"They're just disrespectful arent they? Don't make up excuses, you know its true."
I looked off and wanted to respond respectfully but didnt know what to say. I pretty much disagreed one more time and left. I don't tell this story to paint myself as this perfect politically correct teacher in a world of racism and disenfrachizement. I just want to put it out there to show that there are still people out there who really think that way.

I probably should have said more, but I was on my best behavior. What would you have said?

I am enjoying subbing but am interviewing for some other jobs, including an ESL job at an Elementery school. Wish me luck and I will keep this updated a little more regularly.

Listening to: the murmur of an English teacher on the other side of the wall.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Colors of Fall… in PORTLAND


Let me give you some context for this piece:

Daren says “I want you to be a special guest on my blog.”

“Your special guest? What do you mean?” said Meghan

“I have changed the theme of the blog to our transition into Portland and I want you to write about your experience with the transition.” said Daren slyly knowing Meghan’s fear of people reading her writing.

“Well that is a pretty broad topic. And I don’t want it to be like writing in my diary! Could you give me a more specific topic to start with?” Meghan said teasing him.


Daren was surprised and said each word jokingly frustrated and channeling his teacher tone of voice “The Colors of Fall… in PORTLAND.”

“Oh…….hmmmmm……… okay. I could do that.” She said satisfied.

So ladies and gentleman, my first piece for A Lesson Learned:


The leaves are turning and falling to the ground, making the streets of Portland glittered with gold, vibrant red, and breathtaking oranges. I told a friend of mine that I feel like I am living in a nature calendar (specifically the one my Uncle gives everyone for Christmas). When growing up I was always in awe of the months October and November, and I even remember a trip my mom and I took where we were “Chasing Fall”. It’s hard to find Fall in California, besides just the wrinkled brittle leaves that fall into pieces and clog the gutters of the streets. Here in Portland Fall smacks you in the face, and distracts you from everything else happening the grey skies, fits of rain, an evil notes from your neighbor that you have taken their “assigned” parking space and are going to tow you. Let’s just say for know I see Portland as a delicious plethora of colors that satisfy my inspiration palate. I want to create anything with the fall colors! I can’t get them out of my mind!


Of course it is hard being away from home. I miss my family and friends and my Teen Center. I have been on a little bit of a rollercoaster of emotion: one minute I am filled with excitement over what is coming up and then I am screaming as I plunge down into the reality that we have moved here and don’t have jobs, and only a few friends. And then I am coasting, with out a care in the world, feeling safe and calm that we have made the right choice. I don’t mind the rollercoaster but it can be exhausting. I am always going to miss home, no matter where I am, but I still have to go and see and do, before it is too late and I can’t. My main reason for moving was yes the job situation, the cheaper cost of living, the awesomeness of Portland, but also I never want a moment later in life where I am haunted with the words “What If?”


So, here I am trying out the Northwest. There is so much to do here it is a little overwhelming. There are: so many places to see music, good music, and SO MANY GOOD RESTURANTS (some of you may not know I am little bit of a foodie), and the coolest movie theaters, with $3 movies where you can bring in beer and pizza to the theater and the most outstanding bookstore I have ever seen! The crafting community is amazing here and I’m excited to take my place in it. I see possibility here, even if things look a little dire on the job front. Which, I can’t even say that. Daren has had a sub job everyday this week and have a big ol’ list of jobs to apply to. At this point in my transition to Portland I feel: hopeful, excited and strangely…… comfortable. Even without a couch! Ha ha! Hopefully we will find one this weekend.


Listening to: The symphony of rain on my front windows, and a little Be Good Tanyas in the background.




Saturday, October 17, 2009

Why you ask? Well let Me tell you:

Over the last few weeks a lot of people have asked me why Meghan and I chose to move to Oregon.  It has, of course, made me reflect but also put me a little bit on the defensive, so here goes my manifesto:

The job market in Santa Cruz has not been very lucrative for educational jobs or any other jobs for that matter.  There are industries that are growing in that county, but most of the jobs come from either farming or UCSC, and there aren't enough.  It may be a sign of the times, but Meghan and I were not having much luck.

We did a serious analysis of some Bay Area communities compared to Portland and looked to see what the cost of living was and what kind of community we wanted to live in.  Many of the Bay Area communities were prohibitive because of rent prices and our parents places were less-than-appetizing. (Don't take offense to that mom and dad, you know how it goes)

We found, through the job boards that there was a lot of opportunity in education (my field) and in parks and rec and non-profits (Meg’s field).  So after some call backs, but much difficulty trying to get a job from a city 11 hours away, we decided we’d move up and see if our luck improved.  I was put on a few substitute lists and would hopefully be able to use that to get involved in the local school districts and have some transitional work. 

Meghan and I both decided that our energy would be much better spent paying less rent in the place that we wanted to work and live rather than paying an arm and a leg in place that couldn't support our careers.

Aside from all of that Meghan and I have been flirting with Portland over the last few years.  We have some good friends here who have shown us what an amazing city it is.  Portland has the lowest cost of living than any other city on the west coast and for that reason it draws creative types like us.  It has a vibrant and non-traditional art scene.  The music scene in Portland is the envy of much of the US.  It is one of the most well-educated and well-read cities in the country, along with that is the amazing Powell’s city of books.  It promotes bike usage as a main source of transportation along with public transit; it is possible to be car-less here.  The mountains and forest surround the city on all sides.  Although it lacks some of the Bay Area’s Diversity, it is decidedly a progressive city that encourages thinking and conscious growth.  It is a city, but it is not as gigantic as some of the other cities in the west (pop. 550,000), along with the downtown, it is  a city of neighborhoods and (we hope) community. 

We are young and idealistic and feel like Portland is great match for us both.  In times like these, sometimes we must go out on a limb to succeed and I hope that both of us are able to do that here among our creative, left-wing brethren.  I realize that this transition will not be easy, as people in all states in all cities are dealing with the recession and its repercussions.  There is also the difficulty in changing locales.  We must deal with social changes, geographical changes, and weather changes (read R-A-I-N).  With all of these things hopefully moving in our favor, we hope that Portland allows us to grow and individuals, and as a couple.  We hope that we are able to overcome some of the inescapable difficulties that a recession brings.  We also hope that friends and family of whom we hold so dearly are able to take the time to come visit us (we have  a second bedroom) and help us to explore this new realm.   We also hope you continue to read our blog and share our experience of transitioning to a new city, a new state, and a new life(sort of).

Listening to: some lame new-agey music on the local radio station

Moving to a New Land

Being that it was much more difficult than I thought to leave so many family and friends in the San Francisco bay area and the Monterey bay area, I thought that it might be fun to document our transition from Santa Cruz to Portland through a blog.  It will be a good way for me to reflect on all of the changes that happen and it will be good for people who are close to us to see what we’re up to.

I am still trying to decide if the blog will have a separate address or if I will just use the platform of Lesson Learned.  I will try my best to get Meghan to post a few guest entries as well.  We’ll see how that goes.

I think Ill start with the present and work my way backwards.   There is a ton of great entertainment here, but being that we are not in the most ideal financial situation, we will have to choose wisely.  Today I picked up the Willamette Weekly to see what was going on tonight.  I was surprised to see that a band made up of a few of my favorite musicians was playing downtown.  The band is Monsters of Folk.  Unfortunately we would not be able to both go due to the price.  So we looked a little deeper in the weekly rag and found out that Michael Chabon was reading at Powell’s books. 

Chabon has written a number of books and stories that I have just loved.  He wrote The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay about a Jewish refugee living in New York, The mysteries of Pittsburgh, Wonder Boys, and well the list just goes on and on. 

He was great.  His first story was about the difficulty men have carrying wallets, phones, keys, etc. in their pockets, yet carrying a bag robs them of their manhood.  Although it was focused on the infamous “murse,” it was really an essay about the societal pressures of being a man in a society where masculinity is changing, but only slightly.  We thoroughly enjoyed it and hope to enjoy more from Powell’s.

Prior to our night of entertainment, we’ve really just been adjusting to the move-in and the change that is the Pacific Northwest.  We drove our moving truck over a number of mountains and it took longer than we thought.  Then we arrived and had a hard time remembering what our apartment even looked like.  As it turns out we have a spacious apartment with two bedrooms, room-specific heating, and stylish 70’s brown carpeting.

We haven't really met any neighbors, but our immediate neighbor looked a little scary.  She came out in her bathrobe in the middle of the day to yell at another neighbor. 

It seems that very few people in the complex have cars, probably because they walk everywhere.  We hope to meet them soon.  With the weather as cold as it has been, a BBQ is sort of out of the question.  Maybe we’ll host a pot luck, or maybe we just wont meet them. 

Moving to a new city is always  a bit of a social challenge.

Listening to Bela Fleck Beethoven's 9th symphony

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sunrise over an empty ocean-

Fall in Santa Cruz

Early in the morning, when all is quiet on West Cliff Drive, and all one can hear is the lapping of un surfable waves on cliffs is when I feel most at peace.

This morning was absolutely gorgeous. The air was cool from fall slow resurgence on the central coast. But the sun was shining and slowly warming me and all of the early morning revelers. I went to check the surf, and although it was unrideable, the morning was brilliant. I will miss the way the fall and winter bring a magical ocean to my backyard.

There is nothing quite like breathing in the ocean air just after sunrise.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Search

Here I am, back in Portland and this time its for real.  Meghan and I have decided to move here and we are looking for housing.  In about two and a half weeks we will really be moving here. 

Over the last few weeks I was surprised at the kinds of reactions that I received from friends.  Many of them have been completely supportive of the transition, but they are also sad to see us leave.  Then there are some who cant figure out why we are leaving.  Its in times like these that I realize that we all do have an immense impact on each others lives, and that by leaving some of our friends and families lives will be impacted.  Its good to know that there are people out there who care so much about us.

I have many explanations as to why we are leaving, but there are some very obvious ones.  We are still in our youth, and along with the things that are making California harder to live in ( see below), we want to take life by its reigns and live it to its absolute fullest.  

I read this article a few weeks and I thought it to be very interesting, it doesn't explain our situation specifically, but it name a number of very interesting perspectives on leaving.

Dear California, I'm dumping you

I’m not dumping California, I’m just moving to a place that is supportive of living the way I do, a place that has jobs, a place that has youth, and a place that has cheaper rent. 

I have a list of things that I may or may not share.  I must say that we are very excited about moving to anew city and making it a new home.  The challenges will of course present themselves but the rewards will also make their way through.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Public Option (double political entry day) sent me this video and it tugged a few heart strings with  me. 

Its called “We cant afford to wait”  and its a collaboration between REM and Moveon.  I of course am highly influenced by music, so this really brought the current issue to the forefront for me.  But I am also a newly uninsured American with my unemployment lurking over me. 

As much as people believe that health care will be ruined if it is made public, and that it will cost everyone else more money in taxes, I believe that it will have its challenges, but the reality will be less b.s., and more accessible care.  The current system is out of control, and I hope it changes, for the people in this video, and for my family an friends who cant afford health care…me included.

Lets work together to support this change.

Educational Propaganda

With all of the Uproar around Obama’s speech.  I was hoping for a little bit more edge on his topics.  I thought he might quote Karl Marx or raise his fist in solidarity with the Black Panthers,  but to no avail.  He was appropriate, straightforward and had some basic unbiased points for all students.



I even think that some of his points veered away from what conservatives were hoping he would say.   He re-iterated the American “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps”  ideal, which to me, is a bit of a farce, but so be it, watch and think for yourself, write what you think in comments.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lagunitas Hop Stoopid Ale


Beer Style: American/ imperial IPA

Taste: extremely hoppy; slightly bitter

Aroma:  sweet malt mixed with hops

Look: light brown

Alcohol percentage: 8% aba

This is my first beer review, which I hope to do on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.  I will try to review a variety of different beers including commercial beers, my personal homebrewed beers, and friend’s homebrewed beers.  If you know a beer I should try or brew beer yourself, please send it to me for a review.

I am a fan of big hop aroma and flavor in a beer, but I believe that some IPAs and double IPA’s go too far into the bitter category.  This beer exists in a nice in-between realm.  It is made with a hop extract, which according to the bottle is not something that is normally recommended in craft brew.  It has a deep hop scent and a nice hop flavor, that doesn't quite match the aroma.   I think it is an easy drinking beer for a 8% aba beer.  After drinking a full 22 its bitterness becomes evident.  The only other beer that I’ve had that has this strong of hops and flavor was a special release beer that I had at the Anderson Valley Beer festival, that Lagunitas tapped on limited release because they dry-hopped the keg and it was incredible.

I enjoyed this beer, and I enjoy many Lagunitas beers because of their hop content, their flavor and their individual mythology.

Grade: A-

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Delight.

I just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver’s latest, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.


I picked it up off of the library’s display shelves, thinking that I might get to it, being that I have been reading a lot lately about food and the environment, including The $64 tomato and The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  As it turned out, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I ended up forcing my girlfriend Meghan to read it, and feeding off my friend Anne’s responses to it.

Its an easy read about Kingsolver and her families’ transition to a local diet based around an old family farm in Virginia.  It discusses each of the trials and joys through a year of growing and raising their own food, and basing their diet on seasonal foods.  Not only does it include her poetic prose about how wonderful it can be, but it also brings in two different perspectives, her husband and teen daughter.   along with their points of views, the reader is treated to a set of recipes that follow the families’ year.

I felt that the book was informational, enjoyable, and easy to follow.  I’m sure that it helped that I am currently procuring a garden and it discussed some of the things that I have come up against like too many squash to handle.  To me it read like a softer and more positive perspective on the slow food movement and Michael Pollen’s Omnivores Dilemma .

I thought that the lifestyle they live is interesting and even attainable to us city folk, but it does have its pitfalls.  In an economy like ours, even though we may want to focus on the environment and local organic agriculture, it is extremely difficult.  There are many discussions about how to truly change the way food is consumed we need to make it accessible to all, including the poor and disadvantaged.   The government’s food stamp program now works at farmer’s markets, but its difficult to justify a purchase of a small bag of vegetables you might get from a farmer’s market compared to the two bags you might acquire from a cheap supermarket.  Growing food is also surprisingly easy, but its difficult to have enough land or sunlight to grow enough for a family of 4. 

After reading this book, I have changed the way I look at food and will change my diet based on seasonal and local vegetables (that I can afford).  But I think we need to continue to look for ways to bring these ideals to the mainstream lowest common denominator.  With the way things are going, we will develop these things through need not want or personal philosophy

Listening to Boards Of Canada

Monday, August 10, 2009

Waltzing with Bashir

Last night, I finally took the time to Waltz with Bashir.  Its been sitting on my coffee table for a little over a week now.  Meghan and I really wanted to watch it, but knew that it would be an intense viewing experience, so we waited for the right time.  And after a oppressively hot day, that time came:

In the first few frames of this movie, we knew we were in for a treat.  The opening scene was images of vicious dogs running amok on a town only to terrorize a man living in the upper story of an apartment building.  I was of course trying to connect the metaphor of the dogs with the powers of War.  It turned out to be a mans dream, a constructed recollection of the Lebanon War. The man was assigned to shoot dogs as they approached a village so that villagers wouldn't be aware of their entrance.  One night he shot 28 dogs and each of them came to visit him in a dream.

The rest of the movie flowed in a similar manner, between documentary-style interviews and the seeming acid-induced memories of war.  The use of Animation played an important part in the construction of the film.  And its cut from animation to real shots at the end has a deafening effect.

Dreams, reality, PTSD, and memories all collided in peoples re-telling of their individual war stories, while the director/writer of the film tried to piece together his fractured memory of the Sabra and Shatilla Massacre, through other men’s recollections.

The Film brought up very real aspects of war, the kind of things that we don't often see or want to see in a war movie.  It showed the weakness and fragility of the soldiers, it showed the incoherent destruction that war brings, and it really personified how PTSD works. 

I was floored by the integration of the images and sounds of the film:  Water and its symbolism ran throughout the film, guns took literal and figurative meaning as guitars, phalluses, and fragility. Music played an important part in the ebb and flow of the film: specifically a scene in which the soldiers are being hunted by a young boy with an RPG and a classical waltz plays and a dance that encapsulates the insanity of war and the title of the film.

From what little I do know about the conflicts that happen in Israel and Palestine, I entered this viewing experience with a critical eye.  I didn't want  an unfair view of what is happening, I believe that the film also has a very critical viewpoint.

I believe this is required viewing for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of what war is. 

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Healthy Diversion from the job search pt 2

a video of the big sur highway

I met Phil on the road in two different random places. I first ran into him as I was riding to the grocery store in Santa Cruz, and he inspired me to get on the road. I later passed him in San Simeon. He was a teacher traveling from Vancouver to Mexico, and had quite a story to tell, but the thing that stood out to me the most was this: I asked him what was the best part of his trip wondering which part of the coast was most stunning and he said, “All the wonderful people I’ve met.” And it clicked, that was the true reason I decided to go on this trip. He had dealt with loneliness, and a knee injury, but had overcome it and is probably in Mexico or on the border as I write.

David and Jacob

I also met David, and his son Jacob. They were a father son duo who, every year rode from SF to Pismo beach for a family get together. They were the most joyful people that I have met in a long time. David Told stories about traveling and giggled like a school boy. He was honestly interested in everyone’s story who was traveling through. And his son Jacob (I hope the name is right) is a Paramedic who volunteers for Rock medicine through the Haight-Ashberry free clinic. He insisted on going on a bike beer run and having a fire, being that this was their last night on the road. We drank, ate, and enjoyed each other’s company in Morro Bay. I stopped the daily poems on this day, to make room for conversation.

Suzanne and Christopher- Canadian cyclists going for the border- both teachers-one unemployed

The next day was hot and long. I rode through San Luis Obisbo and into Santa Barbara County. There were some monster hills and the heat was demeaning after all of the coastal cool weather. I passed and re-passed a training group from Santa Barbara who had a support vehicle, and didn’t even change their own tires. I camped alone in Gaviota State beach after riding about 93 miles. I definitely was able to tell the difference between central and southern California. There were bigger roads, more cars, and drier climates, and less trees. I slept well that night and rode the remaining 30 miles to my friend Christopher’s house in Santa Barbara.

Christopher was my neighbor in Humboldt County. I hadn’t seen him in a long time. It was a momentous reunion. He is a wonderful man. He showed me around his peaceful sanctuary of an apartment, and we sat and discussed life and politics with his female friend. We ate an amazing watermelon, cherry tomatoes, and some of the most amazing popcorn that I have ever had. (Christopher dressed it up with his brand of natural ingredients)

Later that night we shared songs on the guitar and a great six-pack of beer from the north coast brewing company. He and I have very similar taste in music as he is an avid Bob Dylan, Ray Lamontagne, White Buffalo, and Eddie Vedder fan.

Late that night my beautiful girlfriend, Meghan drove in from Santa Cruz. I decided to spend the weekend in Santa Barbara with her instead of continuing down the coast. We stayed up late and talked more about the past, the present, the state of education, the economy, and materialism that afflicts our society.

The next day the three of us walked endlessly around downtown Santa Barbara. We had an amazing meal in one of the local cafes, and walked along the wharf, the beach, the thrift stores, and up and down state street. Meghan and I saw the so-cal-ness that we hadn’t seen since we lived in San Diego. There were men driving bright red sports cars up and down the strip, overly processed people with Botox, silicone, and everything in between. But we loved the sunshine, the good company, and the incredible Spanish colonial architecture that makes Santa Barbara beautiful.

That night and the next day I spent exclusively with Meghan. We spent the morning in Santa Barbara and then trekked over the hills to the ine country of Santa Ynez Valley. We stopped in some small towns and tasted wine at two different wineries. We even visited the Danish town of Solvang and had ice cream.

We’ve tried to separate ourselves from the high-brow wine culture that we sometimes look down upon, but damn, was this wine good! It makes two buck chuck taste like kool-aid.
At the end of the weekend, as we were driving home, I think both of us felt at peace. The sun was setting, we had escaped the pressures and stresses that come with layoffs and unemployment. Returning to Santa Cruz felt good, but with the return comes reality: Get a job! Do something! Figure out your life! And with that our journey continues…

Wave music ebbs and flows with meditative churns of the bike
Friendship and connection forms tribes of cycle nomads
In the perfect clime of a Santa Barbara sunset
Love, community, health, beauty all become one

A healthy Diversion from the job search pt 1

As you may or may not know, last week, I set out to ride about 300 miles more of the pacific coast that I didn't cover with my friend Perry last summer. It was a needed reprieve from the lackluster world of online job hunting.

I chose to break this entry into two pieces because of its length. Im hope you enjoy it albeit is a bit long, but it was a much needed reflection.

I set out in the afternoon on Monday without much preparation (not like me at all) and rode from Santa Cruz to Monterey. It was a difficult ride through headwinds and strawberry fields. It was gray and cold (here on the coast its foggy and cold when it's hot inland). Id didn’t see any other bikers and I highway one brought the smell of dead fish, pelican poop, and exhaust. The campground in Monterey is on a hill above town. Its a steep climb to end the ride on, but when I arrived, I was greeted with a, "hooray, you made it."

It came from a lovely traveling woman from Texas. I say traveling because her plight was a bit of a mystery to me. She was well-educated, in her 60s, a lively discussionist, and a self-proclaimed artist, yet she slept on a tarp with a sleeping bag, (cowgirl style as she called it). She gave me a bit of advice in the job search: decide on a passion and volunteer, live humbly and eventually you will get to do what you love.

the short poem i wrote for the day went like this:

Dark, breathless sun hides
wind, fog, loneliness haunt the skyline
Nightime brings laughter, cheer, beauty.

After chatting with her amongst others including a number of teachers, I went to bed and slept heavily preparing for my ride through Big Sur.

One of the things that drew me to this ride was the want to rider through the coastline around Big Sur. I grew up visiting this place with my family, and I have always wanted to experience what I think is the most beautiful expanse of road in the world on a bike. And it did not fail to inspire.

The road brought more fog, cold , and hills, but it was stunning. Everytime I stopped people talked to me to find out where I was going. I ate lunch by the Big Sur river, and had very little problems climbing the big hills through the day. I stopped at Kirk Creek campground and was very lucky to camp on the cliffs above the ocean. That night I hung out with some Australian cyclists, who had ridden all over the world. We bathed in the cool ocean, and discussed linguistics and world politics over dinner. That night I also met an artist couple who was travelling around the west coast on motorcycle, and I reconvened with a lovely Canadian couple who I kept running into throughout the trip. I think they were trying to ditch me, but just couldn’t.

The second poem went like this:

Jagged Cliffs haunt a solitary coastline

Riding like the wind through innumerable beauty

Moments of perfect silence on the Big Sur Highway

The next day was another incredible day. I left early so I was gifted with a completely empty highway for at least the first few hours of the trip. Then I rode into the sun and into the San Simeon area, where I was expecting a phonecall. I rode into Cambria for lunch and set up camp to get my phonecall. As soon as a I got comfortable and turned on my phone, I realized that Cambria was complete and total dead spot. I asked around and found out that I would have to ride 5 miles back to San Simeon, where Hearst runs the airwaves to get service. So I packed up and re-traced my ride to relax on the side of the highway just to get a phonecall from EDD. That night I made it to Morro Bay to be treated with some new friends who were continuing and finishing their rides.

Ever Been to Harmony, Ca?

Twitter Feeds from My Bike Trip

Just in case you missed my posts here are my Twitter feeds from my bike trip from Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara:

The web address once again is

  • Back home from a beautiful trip, feeling rejuvenated, but have a lot to clean. Oh yeah and I gotta get a job.6:52 PM Aug 3rd from web
  • In Santa Barbara- good friends, good times, good music- life is good.12:27 PM Aug 1st from txt
  • Serious day today about 90 miles just outside of santa barbara eating like a king tuna bean vegetable burritos campground gourmet!7:58 PM Jul 30th from txt
  • "CA will always remind me of smells: strawberries, eukalyptus, gas, and pine." canadian cyclist Suzanne11:03 AM Jul 30th from txt
  • People looking at me funny as I eat pb and bannana sandwich in slo11:01 AM Jul 30th from txt
  • A gentle Japanese man recounts stories of world travel and tacos round the fire.10:35 PM Jul 29th from txt
  • The quiet of big sur gave way to sunshine and pieces of chaos warm fire friend and beer end d3 perfectly10:32 PM Jul 29th from txt
  • D3 sitting on the side of the road on Cambria searching for cell service.2:02 PM Jul 29th from txt
  • D2 big sur jagged cliffs solitary coastline riding like the wind. Moments of perfect silence on hwy12:01 PM Jul 29th from txt
  • Drinking Coffee in Carmel, bitter delicious coffee. Is there anything better?8:55 AM Jul 28th from Twitterrific
  • sc to Monterey: dy 1 cold fog and annoying wind make pedaling hard through the strawberry fields. But Good people at the site mend days w ...9:27 PM Jul 27th from txt
  • Going on a bike tour to Santa Barbara or beyond. Hope it goes well.1:09 PM Jul 27th from txt




Monday, July 27, 2009

Solo Bike Tour

Im going on another bike tour down the coast. I will write about it when I return, but I will update the Twitter feed:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

el canyon de los reyes

After four days of walking up kings canyon, I realized three things:

1) Its called Kings Canyon because its a Canyon, and if you want to get to the high peaks you better be ready to climb!

2) There is no human king that could be the namesake for this canyon, the beauty of this natural place is far more powerful than any human.

3) No matter how bad the economy is, nor how many wars are being fought, the outdoors will remain great in every sense of the word. If you ever feel like the state of the worlds affairs is bringing you down, go outside.

Last week, my longtime friend, Dom and I decided to take a backpack trip to Kings Canyon National Park. At the trailhead, we decided to attempt a 48 mile loop, not realizing how difficult it would be to climb 7000 feet and walk that far in only 3.5 days. So about halfway through the journey we abandoned the entire loop, and decided to enjoy the distance that we had gone.

overall we hiked about 40 miles and climbed 5000 feet. So it was nothing to scoff at. It was hot, and awe-inspiring. the granite walls of the canyon seemed to climb on forever.

We saw three rattlesnakes, one bear cub, and a number of deer, one who nearly ran into the tent in the middle of the night and scared us to death. We met a lot of people who were hiking much longer distances than us (the 211 mile John Muir Trail). We fished, we ate, we swam in the cool sierra waters, we wandered through the wilderness, we pondered life, and overall we escaped into a beautiful enveloping natural landscape.

here are a few more pictures of the trip:

the 10,000 feet dance!

a columbine at Dollar Lake

rattler #3

a refreshing King's river dip

food doesn't taste any better than this

not as tired as he looks

climbing through a granite meadow

after a discussion about politics and the economy

end of the trail.

ad for your viewing pleasure, a slideshow: probably not too appropriate.

Listening to Magnolia Electric Co.