Today is our second rest day! We pushed through the Great Basin in two days, and road 80 miles from Wamsutter, Wyoming to Slater, Colorado, keeping our eyes on the prize of the wonderful cyclist oasis that is the Brush Mountain Lodge.
Please excuse typos of all sorts, im writing this from my phone with crappie Internet coverage.
I have a lot of stories on my mind lately, and a lot in draft as well. From going on an epic hike with a bum knee in a hail storm at Great Sand Dunes to getting lost on my bike on a mountain in Los Alamos and getting saved by a man wearing all purple, plus everything from moving into a new house to painting an 8-room law office in Albuquerque to the avoidable death of (yet another) friend, it’s been a busy, confusing, heartbreaking, heartswelling, monumental month. I have these stories lined up, like I said, but today I left for my morning walk with the dog ready to put them on the back burner and write a post about the importance of finding what in life will keep us going (for me it’s riding my bike, writing, and celebrating the physical challenges of the body [a reason I love boxing]); by the end of the walk, I was feeling a bit less depressed—isn’t that the goal, to always strive to feel just a bit less depressed than the moment before?—I was sick of thinking about that sort of thing. I still think it will be an important story to tell, but the story I want to tell right now is a story with forward motion, the story of preparing for my bike trip. Here’s a picture of all my gear:
There’s something about wind that makes me anxious. A good storm is one thing, but wind, even (or especially) without rain gets my pores opened and pupils dilated, and my thoughts are whirled around in the chaos.
This week we’ve been camping at the Black Canyon Campground in Santa Fe National Forest. There is a bathroom right next to our campsite and just past that, a hiking trail. I wake up in the morning at 7:15, feed the dog and use the facilities. Go back to bed for another 20 minutes. Evan makes coffee, I let the dog out, and then head out on a hike with the family. It’s a lollipop trail that takes about 45 minutes and is pretty hilly, and by the time we are done, I have enough of an appetite for breakfast: almond buttered toast, protein shake, or maybe some fried polenta and vegan sausage if I have a big training ride ahead of me.
Long time readers may remember the unfortunate condition of my back. While I’ve always had back pains since my teen years, due to sports related injuries and childhood stupidity, it got worse during the start of this blog due to a few bad bike accidents. The worst crash was in 2011, when I smashed my tailbone and ultimately created a problem with my spinal column that makes it narrower than it should be. Having a lifelong practice of stretching and strengthening has helped me maintain my back health for the most part, and yoga is an integral part of that in my adult life. Acclimate weather, stress and sitting for too long (like in the car or at the computer) are all triggers for pain, and not just for those of us who’ve experienced back trauma.
When I posted my recent review of my new Osprey hydration pack, my hiker friend Wendy was excited. After our 10-day trek down the coast of Newfoundland on the East Coast Trail, her pack has stayed, well, packed. Her hydration bladder is now funky, stinky, and discolored, and she obviously doesn’t want to drink out of it. But that doesn’t mean you need a new bladder, woman! As long as there is no serious rip in the bladder or crack in the seal, the bladder is worth trying to save before spending mad money on a whole new hydration system. Before throwing away that bladder, try these steps:
The only hydration pack I remember really owning was a Camelbak Rocket that my dad bought me when I was 19 or so, at my first bike shop job. My parents were upset that I was staying in Santa Fe to work rather than returning to Massachusetts, and I interpreted this pack as a peace offering, a gesture of love and support even though I was driving them crazy and breaking their hearts. I used that hydration pack for almost 15 years, and finally retired it when we moved out of our house in Pittsburgh to begin our great road trip adventure.
After spending time in Joshua Tree, Orange County, Los Angeles, Death Valley, and Grand Canyon (stories coming, promise), we are finally back in Santa Fe for the summer. We were going to take longer to get back here, but some opportunities presented themselves for us to arrive earlier and help out a friend with house sitting. In the spirit of saying YES to things, this was a good choice. We were asked by other friends to house sit for a week and they will pay us for our efforts, plus we found more stable living for the summer and fall in the childhood home of an old friend of mine. Evan already found two jobs, and I have some stability to focus on writing, which has been obviously lacking for the past few weeks that were spent in California.
We spent our first night in California at Pilot Knob, a BLM site just over the border from Arizona, outside Yuma. It was a vacant, dusty field, and we just pulled in far enough that we could have some mild privacy without getting ourselves stuck in the sand that got more loose the deeper we drove into the abyss. There was some black mass to the east, a burned out camper, and a lone RV parked the north, tucked way in the back of the field. There was some other debris spread about, between the black mass and the singular RV. Time passed as it does, I took some photos and did some work while Evan disappeared to explore. After a while, I got worried when he didn’t answer my phone calls or shouts into the empty space. I put on hiking boots and grabbled my knife and headed out into the settling darkness. He was just on his way back from the black mass, and took me over to see it.