Sunday, August 11, 2019

Investing An Hour Each Day

       It's my morning habit...a dog walk, a bike ride or a session in the TheraSauna. Moderate exercise for sure, but usually followed up by ten thousand steps at work putting bicycles on display and then putting them all away before five pm. The sauna fools the body... you are sweating so, you must be exercising. I sweat more in the sauna than I do on the dog walk or bike ride.
       Sauna time is precious for so many other reasons...solo in the sauna provides time to get back to the basics; stretch, breathe and encourage the toxins to flow. The more you practice the better you get at flowing freely through the pores. When sharing the corner cabinet TheraSauna space with friends or family,  conversations also become free-flowing...the naked truth is the only truth....resulting in reflections on the time we've shared and forward looking discussions on the days ahead.
       I've read that in Finland and other Scandinavian countries this friend and family "sauna time" is treasured and considered just as important as mealtime for folks to counsel and be counseled, therefore  revealing the emotional state of each family member. This closeness and honesty between family members is something Americans abandoned long ago. There is no room for criticisms and judgements when you sharing the hot box, we all have our flaws and our shortcomings but when we're this close (and naked) we definitely feel more compassion and tolerance for friends and family.
        Regular sauna sessions result in deeper revelations and confidence in the mental states than any other therapies could.  So, come on America, invest in home saunas and share them with friends and family. Get to know those around you, those you care about, better than you ever could any other way.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

For My Nineteenth Birthday I Moved To Hawaii

        Fifty years ago this week I was scrubbing pots, mopping floors and wrapping silverware for United Airlines on the night shift at the Honolulu Airport. Two months earlier I hadn't been west of Chicago. My escape from the Midwest was a decisive one. I needed a challenge and I wanted out from under the constant scrutiny that comes with living close to hundreds of relatives. I was allergic to Michigan air, freshly cut grass, ragweed and my stepfather (who I think was a descendant of ragweed). Ocean air, Desert air and Mountain air have all been very good to me since I left behind the humid, pollen-filled Midwestern air.
        Don't get me wrong, I love visiting Michigan and all of the hub-bub that goes with such trips...but no, I wouldn't want to move back there. I can breathe in the West. I can be a little different (liberal). I don't own air conditioning or a land line, I still commute to work on a bicycle. I survived thirteen years without owning a car. I didn't decide to have offspring until I was thirty-nine. I was a "strange duck"... a big kid who had no interest in playing football, shooting guns or snagging fish.
        I was the first in my family to graduate from high school or college. I took no scholarships or financial aid packages and I didn't go to college to avoid going to Asia to shoot at "Communist sympathizers". My number in the first Draft Lottery was 366...last, beyond last...no pressure to stay in college. I went to Grad School, got an advanced degree in Education while working several part time jobs. I don't think I would have been given the space to do that had I remained in working class Michigan...there would have been too much pressure to get a "real job".

Saturday, August 3, 2019

A Week Without The Internet

        You'd think we went on a wilderness camping vacation...last thursday a faller dropped a tree on an important transmission line near Chester resulting in a twelve hour power outage. Frontier, our internet provider decided to upgrade along with it's reboot and subsequently blew out most of the older modems. Hey, this wasn't actually a tragedy...slightly inconvenient but not horrible. Not being connected (intentionally) to any microwaves was cleansing.
       Chester sits at the halfway point of the PCT and hosts an impressive variety of hikers who are either starting their trek in Chester, Ca. or refueling for he second half of their summer adventure. I have hiked several 100 mile stretches of the Pacific Crest and I never had the desire to text, call or fb anyone. I didn't want music or financial news or tweeting gossip. In fact, I imagined that I was free of civilizations' ability to keep track of me...even though my campfires would have been easily spotted by satellites, I didn't think anyone would be concerned with my whereabouts.
         The PCT hikers of this century are glad to be on the grid and complain when they find a canyon or hollow that blocks their signal. One senior hiker shared a story, "I hiked all day recently and hadn't seen a soul. The first person I saw that evening was sitting on a rock watching the sunset and I thought Great, someone to talk to and camp with. I said Hi, she nodded without looking at me and said, "Not now." She was typing on her phone. I walked into the twilight instead of camping, realizing I'd just encountered a Zombie."

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Swimmingly

        Just about everybody who comes through the door here at the bicycle shop asks, "How is it going?" If it's July, my answer is usually the same...Swimmingly. Lisa and Nori and I sweat through some hectic and difficult days operating out on Main Street and I am so thankful to have my family's help and counsel, but...the promise I must make nearly every day is...Yes, I will take us swimming in the lake no matter how tired I am. The ale and easy chair (and the Giants Game) will have to wait until after the evening baptismal.
        We don't always end up at the perfect skinny dipping spot. So some of my hikes from the garage to the front door of our house (200ft.) are performed in wet shorts...what are my options here? Nori is a Black Labrador so she will promise us anything if only we give her 30 minutes of lake time, nearly every day! Our child is still a waterdog, he lived the same pattern when he was at home...addicted to whitewater.
        The Summer slides by so quickly that I annually remember not to complain about a short trip to the lake...a one million acre-foot reservoir of Mt Lassen snowmelt. I personally prefer the smaller pothole lakes that are peppered about the southern slopes of the Cascade Range. Too numerous to list here, if you are really curious, wander into Bodfish Bicycles and Quiet Mountain Sports and I will hand you a copy of my publication Bodfish Bingo...a lake bagging card which, if executed correctly...could result in prizes being awarded from the Bodfish inventory.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Rebranding For The Gravel Grinders

       Ten years after experimenting with pedaling off-pavement and writing columns for the local newspapers about my dirt road bicycling exploits, I self-published Cycling The California Outback with Bodfish. These adventures started in 1973 shortly after I'd relocated to Bodfish, California from the lower elevations in California.
       I'd always wanted to be a "mountain person". My adventure bicycle spirit took me over Sherman Pass (before it was paved), to Saddle Springs and Kelso Valley, to the top of Breckinridge Lookout from the Bodfish side. My C.Itoh road bike had fatter than normal 27" tires and proved quite durable during all of these exploits.
       My son, who is no-doubt smarter than I, has a publishing idea for me..."Put a new cover on your California Outback book emphasizing that these routes are Gravel Grinding loops." He probably didn't realize that I still possess 1,000 of the 10,000 Outback books that I printed many decades ago but, my answer, Great Idea! A bible of Northern California Gravel Grinders.
        This is what retirement is going to look like for me...revisiting all of the loops I featured in my four bicycling books; Butte Country Bicycle Journeys, Cycling In The Shadow Of Shasta, Cycling The California Outback and California Dream Cycling...all with Bodfish. I'll just have to come up with a way to release myself from the retail grinder that I've been so heavily involved with these last 25 years. Working on "The Complete Bodfish" book of questionable road surfaces...sounds like a great project for my 70's.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Quiet Mountain Sports Culture of Chester, California

        Most people get it...a few don't like it...but, most get it. My son was four years old when we started Bodfish Bicycles and Quiet Mountain Sports in Chester. At eight years old he announced that someday he would buy the lot across the street from our rented bike shop location and he would open "Noisy Mountain Sports". "I'll do more business than you." Eight year olds are very clever but I got him on this one...three years later, I bought the lot across the street (the present location of Quiet Mountain Sports).
        Shortly after we opened the shop (Spring of '94) people would poke their head through the door and say things like, "There's nothing wrong with snowmobiling or "a motor is better than no motor"...or "I'll make all the noise I want." I heartily agreed with all of them, they have the right to recreate however they like. However, most who commented were fans of Quiet Mountain Sports activities.
        We had boats and bicycles right from the start. My friends Debbie and Vernon Pew were crafting beautiful Navarro canoes in Potter Valley, Ca.  We sold a couple hundred of them before Vernon gave up the business for health reasons. In 1998 we evolved into "lake kayaks" first from Old Town and then we started with Hobie in 2000. Now we are all Hobie. Pedal, paddle and sail with boats or boards.  We switch some of the inventory over to XC skis and snowshoes during Winter...when Winter decides to show up. This business formula has succeeded right into year 26. BTW we've stopped hearing comments from defensive "motorheads".

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Every Day A Niece Or A Sister Gets Older..Listen To Your Elder, He's Not Getting Older

        I am now an Elder...willing to give advice...if anyone is listening. Whatever you do, don't get grumpy and don't be bitter. Stay light-hearted and playful...any thing else is a waste of time, a wasted life. Keep playing, keep laughing in your heart...did I already say that? Old folks repeat themselves. Alcohol, in moderation, is a good thing...helps deflate the seriousness of each day's issues. Don't be bitchin' at people around you. You can't change them for the better anyhow. You can only push them toward worse.
        My 69th year is almost complete and I believe I am in a good place...moving well and playing with my new dog every single day. The wife gives me a hug and a kiss every morning and evening and she means it when she says, "I love you." I feel it throughout my being, when I say it back to her. Stay forever young and try to sing a new song every morning while you are brewing coffee. There are things to worry about but, I try to limit the 'worry time' to only a few minutes each day. Inflammation is a killer, try hard to avoid inflammation...Advil or Aleve is helpful here. Don't mix alcohol with your anti-inflammatories...bad for he liver and pancreas.
        I'm thinking that after seven decades we can stop striving for perfection and cease being competitive. Actually, we could have given up on each of those things a couple of decades earlier. I don't shave every day and I don't look in the mirror more than once a day. There's no fixing or primping me now. "I yam what I yam..." I didn't come this far to make it un-fun.