I’ve been home for a few weeks now. I’ve been trying to write about our trip, but haven’t been able to focus on what happened. We rode into Antelope Wells, New Mexico (which was really just a border crossing), and were picked up by Taylor’s boyfriend, who was coming down to pick her up anyway so they could start on their motorcycle trip back to Philadelphia. Meghan and I were dropped off in Las Cruces, where we hung out in a hotel, walked to Walmart and met up with Evan, and went to Applebee’s to cash in a gift certificate she’d been holding onto. In the hotel room, Meghan and I lay in our respective beds and talked about how it all felt like a dream from which we were now waking up. Not one of those real dreams that shudder us, take us out of our comfort of knowing real from imaginary and take a moment to realize that no, we did not murder a vampire and win a million dollars, but rather one of those distinctly fabricated dreams that display all of our hopes and fears and we wake up feeling more whole and yet torn apart, and completely separated from what took place in our sleepspace.
Lifting Weights at Midnight
Clumsy but ambitious, with vegan recipes, health tips, and tales of mountain bike and hiking trails. I’m not a quitter, I just fall down a lot.
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:
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:
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.
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Living in a camper is really living the dream. A dirty, filthy dream. We do have a shower—that is, when we have water, which isn’t all that often. The shower itself is basically a bucket with a hose. I’m being a bit dramatic here, because there isn’t a much better feeling than, after no way to bathe for a week or two besides baby wipes and dry shampoo, standing in a plastic basin with water spraying into your chest and rinsing it all away into a drain. It took until Arizona to fix our plumbing issues, and we now have both running water and a working shower, but the water is fairly limited, compared to a house shower, and the hot not cold water lasts for only three minutes.
Evan and I camped out in the parking lot of McDowell Mountain Cycles, a bike shop in Fountain Hills, Arizona that’s co-owned by one of our former coworkers from The Bike Shop That Shall Not Be Named, back in Pittsburgh.