So here I am in San Francisco, a day earlier than I had planned. Don't know how long I'll stay, but certainly long enough to wear flowers in my hair, leave my heart here, sit on the dock of the bay, and drive in my taxi, getting tips and getting stoned (feel free to add any other SF song references you can think of).
I had planned to blog at least once more before it was all over, some pompous essay in which i'd compare myself to Moses after 40 years of desert walking finally at the foot of the city of Jericho, only to die before he sees what's within the gates. But it seems the california coast encourages illiteracy because I could not find a single library along the way, and it would be
silly to write that post now, seeing as I have gotten to set my eyes on the city of SF afterall, without having to dig a single ditch or blow a trumpet.
The final numbers: 9 days of biking, 794.83 miles. It seems appropriate that I came to SF on a cross country trip 50 years after Jack Kerouac wrote "On the Road" which chronicled his own cross country trip to SF. But instead of granola bars and gas station tap water, he had hard
alcohol and sex. But otherwise, the similarities are uncanny.
let me see what is worth sharing since last we spoke...
ON THE RADIO
When I first got that little portable radio, I was so enthralled to hear human voices that it didn't even matter to me what I was listening to: telethons, experimental electronica, the local news in spanish.. with the exception of Dr. Laura, she's too much of a bitch. But, as expected, I started channel surfing within two days, only to find that in Northern California, country stations have the strongest radio waves. How quickly i went from saying "I hate country" to yee-hawing out loud, pretending my Trek was a buckin bronco, and yes, even getting a little choked up when Kelly Pickler sang about how she wished her mom was still around to see her wedding. What can I say? Country goes great with redwoods.
When I was a kid, my family would go on these two week vacations every summer, usually involving hundreds of miles driving. My dad at some point started really liking an AM radio station that played really mellow oldies and American standards, so much so that he started recording the station so we could hear it on these mammoth road trips. Hours upon hours
listening to America, Bread, Air Supply, England Dan and John Ford Coley, Neil Diamond (not "Kentucky Woman" neil diamond, but "heartlight" neil diamond, which i did hear while biking
and began imagining I had ET on my Bob trailer floating me over the hills. this probably makes no sense if you don't know the song, but damn do I love it), Anne Murray, the Carpenters... a
veritable army of passive, unoffensive soft rock and adult contemporary superstars.
And i hated it at the time, but you know what? I can't get enough of that tepid soft rock
soup now. I can now understand why abusive parents raise abusive kids. Thank god my
dad wasn't an alcoholic.
In CA, they don't have adorable accents like they do in MN, the kind of accent that always reminds me of Mrs. Poole, the next door neighbor on Hogan's Family. But I do love their adjectives. At a rest stop, I met a guy who said he'd seen me riding for a while on Highway 101.
"you biked from NJ?"
"I've driven cross country, but that's pretty gangsta do to it on bike."
"Yes, well, often times my actions are best described as "gangsta." Good day, sir."
My west coast friends, is it syntactically correct to use "hella" and "gangsta" together to suggest the penultimate or the superlative? For example, is it grammitcally correct to say the new neil diamond single is "hella gangsta?"
ANY MORE RIDING?
Ross had suggested I ride down from SF to Houston, TX to see a dear friend, but I think my touring days are over for a while. i'm perfectly happy on a couch instead of a wet sleeping bag. After yesterday, I just feel spent. Nothing left in me. But that's a good thing, I think. You can't fill a cup that's already full, right? I think i'm ready to return to my life, whatever that may be.
MASS LEECH EXTINCTION
I may continue blogging on this site, albeit without ever using the word "bicycle" again. Or I may make a new blog and retire this one along with my spandex shorts. But thanks for all the support and comments... as always, it's good to hear from you.
Q and A
Q: Is the car driver hitting you from the passenger side? Did this driver aim at you?
A: Mrs. Shu, I do not think the guy driving the Hummer was actively trying to hit me. I think, as many drivers do, he was just trying to go as fast as possible despite any obstacles, ie, my body.
Q: Any trouble with fog during the early morning hours?
A: When i left portland, it was a hot day, something in the 90's. The next day, I made it to the coast and within ten miles of the ocean it suddenly was chilly and difficult to see. The mornings were the worst for fog; I'd keep my back light on even with the sun out because visibility couldn't have been much better than 20 feet at times. Also, I didn't bring a tent this time thinking that a reduced load would save me another couple trips to a bike shop. It worked; i had no bike issues at all, but, unfortunately, instead of being in a nice, dry tent, I slept in my sleeping bag wrapped in a plastic tarp, the type you use to collect leaves. With the morning fog, I woke up every morning to a wet sleeping bag. Not pleasant.
Q: Did you get the H2 owner's information?
A: When i asked the guy for a business card or contact information, he said he didn't have any, like he didn't understand why I wanted it. Well sir, you hit me with your automobile. I think it would be wise for me to be able to contact you in case, say, it turns out that the medical community does a study and finds out it's not healthy to get hit by SUVs. I didn't get the impression that he was trying to weasel out of his responsibility; he was an older gentleman and it just seemed like he had no idea what was going on. The car was brand new, no license plate, but he did give me his home number which i called a few minutes later to confirm it was real. For a few miles i was playing with the idea of calling the cops, sueing him for some ridiculous amount of money (he has a H2, he can afford it), and living off the lawsuit money for the rest of my life. But it seemed less than ethical considering i have absolutely no pain of which to speak.