Tuesday, June 30, 2020

So Many Adventures...So Little Time

       We are sitting on the bank of Domingo Lake and it hits me....How many times have Lisa and I pedaled to the perfect swimming hole and broke out a lunch for, what we always call 'A French Picnic' or 'Pique Nique de France'. Dozens, no hundreds of times. We are in our forty-fifth year of cranking out these kind of destinations and we do this exact thing at least ten times a year. We do it in France we do it in Oregon and we do it in Vermont. We've done it in Colorado, Italy and New Zealand. We have well-earned skinny dipping and lunch memories from Michigan, Spain and Maine.
        It's our MO and we want more. We've committed part of our life savings to a new AWD Ford Transit van and we are determined to continue to find new lakes to bag throughout North America. We'll show our swimming-obsessed labrador Nori Jo some of the perfectly remote places to plunge (plongee) in perfect fucking French style.
       People stupidly ask, "What will you do if you sell the bicycle shop?" After twenty-seven years of  nursing this business through thick and thin, you don't think we've figured out other things we'd rather be doing? Wild swimming with the Bodfish...best answer.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

KVCC Ribbon Cutter

         I was eighteen, in college, as the editor of the KVCC Valley Voice. My most-read editorial ended with the phrase..."Stick with us and we'll show you a rainbow (of opinions.)" Exactly one year later I moved to Hawaii to become a U of H Rainbow. I had stood on the stage at the opening of the college with Kalamazoo Valley C.C. president Dr. Dale Lake. I made a short speech about how thankful we less privileged SW Michigan students were to have a accredited school to continue our education. Dr. Lake and I held an oversized pair of scissors as we attempted to slice the ribbon that would launch this school for it's first group of 600 students (mostly from Kazoo area high schools.) It took three tries to cut the ribbon.
         A couple dozen of us had met for two years to determine what kind of curriculum would be presented here. We represented all twelve high schools in the region. The first campus buildings were temporary units set at the eastern edge of a very big paved parking lot. Most of us were not really sure what we would gain from this effort, we just knew that we wanted to continue with our education and this was the only way we could afford to do so. We were quite sure that the ten acre parking lot was overkill.
        That was over fifty years ago and it opened my world considerably...my best friend and study partner was a beautiful young lady named Pat Robinson who had attended Kalamazoo Central High School. She was the smartest person on my newspaper staff. I loved hanging out with her. I knew my stepfather was a racist but, I was really taken aback when my mother warned me, "If you bring that girl home you are going to have to find a new place to live." Yes, she was from the other side of the tracks. Black and beautiful.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

People Just Want To Ride Their Bicycles!

        More so now, than ever....people just want to ride their bicycles! Once busy thoroughfares are quiet and therefore accommodating. The danger of contracting a virus is far less than the dangers we cyclists usually face...the threat of being run over by a distracted motorist.
        In California, bicycle shops (specifically the store that performs maintenance and service on bicycles) gets a pass here in the Spring of 2020. We are considered an essential business...for commuters, families and recreationists who have been told, "Get out in the fresh air and sunshine while physically separating from others by two meters. The warm sun and circulating air is the enemy of the Covid bug."
       Who is going to keep these self-propelled vehicles operating throughout the Spring?... Bicycle shops. Families are spending more time together now than ever. The kids are not going back to school for months. Most parents are working from home, if at all. They are facing the hour by hour dynamics of home isolation like never before. We only imagined this kind of huddling when we considered burying a bomb shelter in our backyard during the Cold War with the USSR. A bicycle ride can provide the perfect opportunity for an 'attitude adjustment' superior to any other outing. Shopping used to give us the chance for that getaway time...no more, keep shopping to a minimum. Just get out and get up on your bike.
        A Spring Tune Up is usually inexpensive, especially if you go to the store where you purchased your bicycle...a little air in the tires, a little lube on the chain is often all you need (unless you left your cycle out in the snow all Winter). Bicycle mechanics are used to washing their hands several times a day. In fact, most of us are familiar with decontaminating our hands with solvents and alcohol based grease removers from the time we get to work until the time we lock the door in the afternoon.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Disaster Movie

        We've executed the drive from Burbank, Ca. to Chester, Ca (nearly 600 miles) at least 40 times over the last 40 years. One has to psych-up for the escape from the West's most populous regions to the least...from the San Fernando Valley out through the desert suburbs of Palmdale and Lancaster to the relatively safe roads beyond Mohave. This last Sunday we found it a very different experience...we shared the eight lane fwys of I-5 and I-14 with only a handful of trucks. It was daylight (7 to 8am) and there were stretches of freeway with absolutely no cars in sight. Soooo...was this a set-up for another SoCal disaster movie?
         Beyond Mohave...nothing moving. A group of nearly 100 passenger jets were parked south of the highway for dry storage where we usually see a only two dozen. I treat my Honda like I want it to last for a couple of decades so,  I try to keep the speed down near sixty miles per hour. When there are no other cars in sight 62 miles per hour feels very slow. The few cars I did see passed me like I was standing still (maybe 90 mph)...have I seen this movie? A Mad Max movie? I was wishing I had a weapon...more than just an oversized pedal wrench. The Coronavirus (Covid-19) has convincingly changed the motoring mentality of the majority of Californians.
        Sure it was Sunday but, suburban Californians race to malls and 'big box' stores on Sundays. By 8am everyone is filling the football field-sized parking lots, jockeying for the best slots...on this day, the parking lots were empty. The boulevards that underpass the freeways were empty...really, there was no one in sight. We'll never see this again, I told my wife in the passenger's seat. I must say, I prefer a little more activity than this...how are the gas stations going to stay open?

Sunday, March 15, 2020

He Is A Liar, A Con Man And A Cheat

       When I was growing up in the fifties, such accusations (He’s a liar, a con man and a cheat) would only apply to a mob boss, Mafia Don or a huckster (that my step-father didn’t approve of) probably from some Eastern European country. My step-father, to his credit, taught Honesty (with a capital H) to all of us little people who were nourished by and benefitted from his hard work and strong principals. Not in so many words, he explained, to me and my siblings, that our personal integrity and reputations (and therefore our future) depended upon how we dealt daily with the issue of honesty.    
        I’m not incredibly intelligent, I’ll never measure up to the ideal of material wealth by American standards but, I did take to heart the teachings of my surrogate father and I continue to operate under the idiom that ‘Honesty is the best policy’.
        Of course, in his world, politicians and community leaders were not beyond reproach...in fact, they were roundly admonished and criticized for their progressive ideas (ie. Eisenhauer, Martin Luther King, Kennedy and Johnson). None of these were tagged by their personal lawyers (for a decade) as “A liar, a con man and a cheat.”

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Feeling Kind Of Insane...Six Weeks And No Rain

        February and March are normally our wettest months...if not in the shape of snow, definitely in the form of rain. It has been six weeks without either. This is truly insane...the new normal and, we worry about the flames. The first week of March has already squeaked by and now we are not trusting the weatherman's eye. I am thinking we always need something to worry about. Why do we worry when there's nothing we can do to change the politics or the weather?
        Now, we have Covid 19 a new bug in the air and plenty of talk about it, to give us a scare. I'm really not worried, I'm not flying anywhere... this month or next. So, I really don't care.   ( I'm stuck in a Dr. Seuss loop here.) What I really mean to say, is that we really shouldn't worry, we should just go out and play.
        Oh brother...it's what my sisters always say. Is this what it's like when your mind goes astray? Ok, I'm looking forward to Spring, maybe it'll be wet. But, if you were a thinker like me ...you wouldn't take that bet. Give me a wrench, ball bearings and grease...aren't we all glad I didn't become a priest.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Yes, They Are Watching Us....Infecting Us..Wherever We Go

        A friend and I had this discussion while skinny dipping up in the Caribou Wilderness a few years back..."We think they are mosquitoes, what if some of them are drones...tiny drones?" This sounds a bit like paranoia, but in this 'day and age', who can blame you? A virus spreading through our civilization is much more common than we like to admit. It was inevitable...we are all facing infection and we are all being snooped on.
        I enjoy my time on the internet. I have so many questions about the world around me...type in your questions and slowly, you are revealing (to the keepers of information) your soul. Humans exposing their souls. Machines collecting this information and putting it to use. Bugs invading every secret hideout, some of them natural, many of them developed for private gain.
        As my friend says, "There is nothing we can do about this." Except for....find a refreshing small lake in a wilderness nearby for secret swims and do not carry your smart phone with you. We dismissed the 'mosquito drone' worry immediately by laughing it off and reapplying the Deet. Being kept track-of is a more serious and pervasive conundrum. We are being watched nearly everywhere we go...satellites could spot us as we plunge into our secret lakes. So often, we volunteer our warm bodies for information gathering, nearly every waking moment of our days.
        I have imagined how I would drop-out of society, a plan of escape, if it all became too much for me to handle. It's not bullet-proof, especially if I mention it here. It involves bug-out supplies in my go-bag and a bicycle. I would stay on the move along the backroads of society...the unpaved roads...and hope they would accept my debit card when I get hungry.