Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Good Times Ahead

       " It has to get worse before it gets better"...who said that? Yeah, like remodeling a home or reshaping a life. We all need perspective...before and after pictures. Well, it's early February and NorCal is having some weather issues that revolve around excess precipitation after five years of drought. Which is worse and which is better? The pendulum swings to and fro, at what point do we decide we are satisfied? Some are never satisfied. 
        I am making a concerted effort at adopting "perpetual satisfaction"...focusing on those things that are perfect right now. My relationship with the 'Love Of My Life' which next week is a 41 year bond. The fact that I have two workable legs, two workable arms, two good eyes and two good ears... I've been concentrating heavily on Thankfulness during the last year or so...it has made a difference.        
        I'm particularly fascinated with Mockingbirds... their song changes so radically every twenty seconds. You might think that they are not happy with who they are...but, I think they just enjoy being every bird out there...searching for excellence in song, the tune that makes them feel great for the moment.
        My advisors in the early 70's would say, "Be Here Now" and "Don't Push The River"and "Just Feel It."  I get that, we are only influential through how we live our lives...not by what we preach. We cannot change the circumstances of the day but, we can tune in to the excellence of each moment. I try to stay with that for the majority of my waking hours...not easy but, I think a worthy goal. It's right there in front of you, the green leaf, the flower, clear water, birds, little critters, blood coursing through your veins....miracles that we witness every second. Take a moment...because that's all you get...fantastic moments.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Getting Out There

        So stormy since September....California, north and south, is brilliantly green. Our Governor Brown wants it to stay that way...he offered token resistance to Trumpty Dumpty in the "state of the state" message today saying, "California is going forward, not backward." I'm not sure we can fight the undertow.
        I spend way too much energy and emotion fretting about the direction our state, nation and environment are headed. There's not much that I can do about it, that I am not already doing. Repairing and launching bicycles back into my neighborhood still feels important and may become increasingly important when gas prices return to four or five bucks a gallon...and they will...we are still talking "finite resource" here. As John Muir once exclaimed, "The money-changers have broken into the temple we call Planet Earth." ...and it ain't pretty.
        As I've said before, I feel like an alien in this resource-depleting culture...and yes, I know that I am part of the "problem". Our aim, as a society, has lost sight of the target....Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All Living Things.
        These green hills and the coming phenomenal wildflower displays and the full-to-the-brim mountain lakes are inviting me to immerse my heart and soul (and bod) for most of 2017. This will be an exceptional year of refreshment, recreation and beauty....so, don't forget to "Get out there" and breath it in... suck it in with your pores and let it cleanse you of negative energy and emotions.
        This is advice I give myself and anyone else who might be listening. Life is too short to waste the rest of it cowering inside and "grumping" about the issues you can do nothing about. When I go to the polls I usually vote for Peace and Freedom (four out of the last five Presidential elections). Every morning that I awake I celebrate the new sun and I pray for Peace and Freedom.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Upstream

        I am hoping to be smarter and more active in 2017. I've got a good start on one resolution ....the elimination of ale from my daily regimen...one or two a week is plenty, oh yea, I like the little buzz but, I don't like the big belly that comes with it. I've decided that it's really an adult soda pop...tons of sugar goes into it's production and you can't rely on the little yeasties to consume all of the calories, so you know where it ends up...midriff bulge! I am not so sure it's the greatest substance for your gut fauna and flora either. Since the 7th of September I have stopped imbibing the daily one or two 12 ounce ales that I so looked forward to after every day of work at the bicycle shop.
        The walking habit has left me too...this one, I vow to bring back. In preparation for the new Labrador that we are presently planning for, I need to restart my twenty year routine of hiking at least 30 minutes a day along the single track trails and double track roads that wander the woods behind our house.
        As usual, I again vow to ride my bicycles more hours this year than previous "non excursion to Europe" years. This shouldn't be too hard. Lisa and I awarded ourselves with new mountain bikes for the first time in ten years.  She really seems more interested in wandering the roads less-traveled with me...this will help us minimize our exposure to the hoards of increasingly distracted paved road motorists.
        The fifty or so newly refreshed mountain lakes that ring our Sierra/ Cascade zone are calling us like never before...the cycling and hiking required to access these gems will also add to our cardio-vascular mileage totals. The rush from diving into a cold mountain lake or stream is definitely worth extra fitness points. You're probably thinking that New Year resolutions are worthless, I disagree...they really do remind me to get my head and body pointed in the right direction. I'll be rereading this little essay monthly.
        2017 will be a year of increased activity for me...no need to sit around and watch... the News, entertainers or sporting events...these events are totally out of my hands....but, I can make a difference in my health and attitude by getting "out there" breathing hard and getting wet as often as possible.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wild Swimming

         Yeah, I know...it's an unusual time of year to be dreaming of and planning for next year's "wild swims". It's all about my personal level of optimism. 2017 will be record breaking in my quest for Bodfish Bingo/ UBES swimming points. I did horribly in 2016 due to my problem with workaholism...and a little reluctance to dip into warm stagnant ponds and lakes.
         Resolutions are due in a couple of weeks and mine will include a record breaking spring and summer of dipping into various lakes, streams and pools of the far West. UBES is the acronym for the University of Bristol's Expedition Society which, on their webpage shows how to obtain points for your brave dips into cool waters.
         Here's the other thing...we have received 200% of our normal precipitation in Northern California, the water tables have been recharged and the lakes look delicious. I resolved three months ago to watch a lot less daytime TV...including NEWS, politics and baseball...instead I'll make a point of   driving and riding my bicycle to many of the fifty lakes within 25 miles of my home in Chester, California.
         I will be expanding upon this theme in upcoming entries...hence, the expanded name of this blog. Passing the mid-sixties in age has helped me focus on what's most important and I've decided that Wild Swimming (which is what we were doing in the womb before we took our first breath) makes this life a beautiful full circle.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving...Another Chance To Give Thanks

         We have much to be thankful for...right now. I am not only thankful for each breath and the company I keep but, I am thankful for the rain pounding on the skylight above my head. Lisa and I have had another year of excellent health and stupendous luck. Our outdoor equipment enterprise (Bodfish Bicycles and Quiet Mtn Sports) is on a roll...great numbers three years in a row. Colby, Emily, Lisa and I have put a lot of energy into making it a clean, effective and happy place to find tools for a healthier outdoor life.
         Our most recent "Big Adventure" in France unfolded without a hitch....no fender benders, no unplanned dismounts from the bicycles and zero negatives from the natives or fellow travelers in the French countryside. Sooo much to be thankful for...we really "hang it out there"...you wouldn't believe how vulnerable we are most of the time, yet our faith in our angels and fellow beings is boundless. We seldom let fear enter into the equation, when it does...we banish it quickly.
          'Keep your chin up, keep your balance and always move forward' is our credo. Two months of riding our road bikes nearly everyday in the demanding SOF hills will whip you into shape and improve everything about you. Would we do it again? ...in a heartbeat.

Friday, September 30, 2016

See-Through Toilet Paper

        Camping in France is exceptionally good. Our fellow campers are from all over the world...we all have warm showers and clean bathrooms...men and women all use the same unit, so Lisa and I often get to take a shower in the same stall...some of the showers are even hot and some are communal shower rooms with six heads coming out of the wall at different heights (family shower). The toilet paper situation is not as good, we don't stay in places with bidets so, you'd better carry your own paper. If they provide paper it's as this as a Chinese rice cake...and falls apart like one.
        The bicycle riding is phenomenal...sharing the road with very courteous and non distracted drivers. Many of the roads we ride are only ten foot wide and curvy so you have to be extremely alert when driving them. Potholes are few, I'm not sure how the French gov't can afford to keep up a million miles of pavement to such perfection. We have been concentrating on the high roads of the Pyrenees during the first three weeks of our vacation and will move toward the lower lands in October.
       Our fellow cycling fanatics are from all countries and of all ages.. The majority of the French cyclists are men over 60 years old. French women are usually on sensible upright bicycles and working on errands. We have rented a Citroen Berlingo van for 7 weeks...it's a five speed stick shift and about the same size as my Honda Element. This is a huge advantage on narrow roads.
       We have not found many swimming opportunities, as yet, but the water quality is exceptionally good anywhere in the Pyrenees. The prediction is for a warmer than usual October so we may find ourselves swimming more in the lowlands.
        Nearly everyone in France smokes which conflicts a little with our healthy vacation strategy. Wine instead of beer, ale...along with bio foods and healthy cheeses with Dijon moustarde on Pave sourdough bread, on top of three hours a day climbing the hills under our own efforts... makes for lighter and healthier bodies when we return.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Fifteen Years Later...

        France, it has been fifteen years, to the day (Sept. 10). Our first journey across the Atlantic landed us in Paris. 2001 was not a good year for America, however the three of us had embarked on a fantastic adventure and we were treated very well around the world, for six months, on bicycles. We are on our sixth journey across the Atlantic (2016) and we expect great results one more time.
        We travel with bicycles and the focus is always on improved fitness while searching for the finest cheese and wine and swimming holes of each region. We have no set itinerary, we follow our noses, throw out our camp in the ripest of locations. Yes, we expect to be lucky...the glitches are few and far between...we've experienced a week of bad weather in Italy one year, we had a fender fall off our rental van in the Pyrenees, we lose track of baggage occasionally and now we have a broken bicycle, but none of this gets us down for long. The fact that we pre-plan minimally is what drives our friends nuts.
        What brings us back every couple of years is the courtesy and respect we are shown while pedaling the back roads of France. I have written all of this before and yet, I am pleasantly surprised each time we experience the "love of cyclists" that shows up when we jump in the saddle here. We are more focused in on the "south of France" these days because we can still climb outrageous hills and the weather seldom disappoints. Yes, I know "bad luck" lurks but, we works to keep our immune systems strong and our attitudes topped off so, I'm thinking we have set the stage for another superlative expedition.