Thursday, September 15, 2011
During our first day astride our gear laden bicycles in France...September 13, 2001, we sprinted from the airport under our own power and found our way into the pastoral French countryside in less than twenty minutes. The first hilltop town SE of the Chas. De Gaulle Airport featured a small contingent of greeters...what, for us? The mayor and a few of his friends were waiting for "The Americans" that were pedaling up to their town. They hugged us and gave us a flower, saying "condolences" in french. It took us awhile to figure out how the French always knew that we were Americans. That afternoon, we had skirted around Paris and were now headed for Dijon, we did a little grocery shopping in San Souplez...Lisa wanted to be the navigator, so we gave her the map and said "Have at it". She led us into the stunning agricultural hinterlands around San Souplez. It was harvest time and the scents from the fields were intoxicating...an hour later we entered a wondrous little town that looked a lot like San Souplez...Hey, it even had the same name! Colby said, "Mom, give me the map." The mayor of San Souplez saw our return and asked if we needed anything..."Maybe a place to camp", I tried my french here. I didn't think she understood, but a few seconds later she opened a gate behind what turned out to be her house and said "Voila". Her family brought us dessert later that evening and invited us into their house....again, they offered us condolences for the attack on America.
Friday, September 9, 2011
Ten years ago today we scrambled to make a flight out of LAX connecting to Pittsburgh, Pa. It was late afternoon when we arrived in Pa. and we had a three hour layover before continuing on to Paris, where we were scheduled to arrive in the early morning hours of Sept. 10. As we flew over Washington D.C. at thirty thousand feet the pilot comes on the intercom and says, "Below, you can see the unique street layout of our nation's capitol." It looked like a large bicycle wheel...good omen. The next morning, we arrived in Paris, rescued our bicycles from three "Brutus" baggage handlers, found a shuttle van to the Sheraton and slept for the next eighteen hours (when we weren't raiding the lounge refrigerator). Daybreak, September eleven, 2001...took the train into central Paris, a little stressful...I leave my passport at the money exchange booth near the Louvre (this occurs to me as we reach the top of the ferris wheel and I reach back to see if my wallet is secure in my pocket). Retrieved my passport (lady was just closing her booth) and the three of us walked up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triumph, a large band was playing and marching around the monument...the traffic was manic in the roundabout, couldn't get closer so we took a left back toward The Seine. A city bus pulled up next to us with Eiffel Tower flashing on it's destination board. We jumped on the bus when a woman with two small children said, "You are Americans, have you heard? New York City has blown up along with the White House and The Pentagon!" I'm thinking every city has it's whackjobs and this one has really lost it. I ignored her and we exited the bus at the Tower bus stop. We are standing in a ridiculous line waiting to climb the tower when I notice that people ahead of us are leaving the cattle chute, ducking under the rail to get out of line. There's an air of excitement and through a mix of many languages I pick up the words Bush, New York and Pentagon. Now I'm concerned, we step out of line and head toward the WC. Colby says, "What are you doing? I've always wanted to go up the Eiffel Tower and he starts to cry. "Let's pee first and then we'll figure it out." My ears were big now, something very unusual had happened in the U.S. of A. We regrouped and figured, whatever it was there was nothing we could do about it now so...let's go up the tower. We enjoyed the big view of Paris from the little glass room at the top and then we were all shuttled, rather hurriedly back to the base...they were closing the Eiffel Tower, effective immediately! ... to be continued...
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Naja gets fed at 8am, then she rests...for no more than thirty minutes. At 8:15 I either go on a bike ride, without her...or I split rounds of Lodgepole Pine (the first warming) and stack it. Anytime I am in the yard working, Naja brings me toys to throw...a Chuck-It, a frisbee or an old nasty tennis ball... between swings of the maul she butts in, with drool spilling from her jowls, while holding one of aforementioned items and expects me to give it a hearty toss. I toss, she gives out a single bark while heading off in hot pursuit. We continue this ritual for nearly an hour before going back inside for the second cup of hot coffee and a shower. I emerge, am slow to get dressed while taking multi-vitamins and fish oil. Naja waits at the door for our next move. The ride to work is astride a bicycle pulling a dog trailer...Naja runs alongside for the first mile, which includes a potty stop on the same empty lot before catching up with me. Depending on the traffic situation, I let her trot alongside, nearly halfway to work. When I say, "Load up!" she immediately lunges into the trailer and turns around so that her nose is pointing backward...she really doesn't care where we are going, she revels in the memories of where we have been. For the next seven hours she patrols the downtown one quarter acre that surrounds the bicycle shop, where she has worked as greeter, crotch sniffer and 'tween the toes cleaner ( if you are wearing sandals). She partakes in a Spa Rotation Treatment by laying on hot blacktop for twenty minutes, cold concrete for five, followed by a one hour nap on a pile of cushy pillows. If someone comes into the store with sandals or flip-flops, schedules can change. At four PM she moves to the shady asphalt at the front of the store...when I've got everything put away and I lock things up, this is where I exit the building, bike and trailer are parked here and she's thinking about that 5:30 feeding that happens after we walk through the door at home. One important exception to this routine is the bike trip to the lake....at five thirty we may be headed East, dog in trailer and sweaty old man turning the cranks with great determination, to deliver us to our magical, volcanic sand-covered beach known to us as Naja's Paradise. The water is warm, the sun hits here for another hour or so and we have a stash of tennis balls. Both of us, in our birthday suits, running, swimming and shaking off excess water until we remember....it's time to eat! We hide the balls and run/ride back to the highway before loading up and rolling back to our mountain village that sits under the Big Snowy Mountain. Ahhh...we've earned our kibbles and quesadillas and an evening of cheering on the Giants.
Two weeks left, Summer becomes Autumn. My summer was not a vacation and will not be immediately followed by a vacation, this year. Holding it all together... this is what I've been doing in Chester's Old Town during the summer of 2011. Six viable businesses remain and sixteen are empty or on the verge of calling it quits. We need new energy...and buckets of it. I'm thinking of sending out a press release announcing a new Geothermal Hot Springs Resort opening in Chester, California during the summer of 2012! Why Not, hey, that's what we will name it...Why Not Hot Springs. One can only hope that this fictitious prospect will get the wheels turning in the brains of our wealthy fans and cheerleaders...Chester has cheerleaders. Nestled between a National Park and a large warm lake, at the juncture of the Cascade and Sierra Ranges...you know Chester, California has fans. We do sit atop hot vents and fumaroles...and the purest water aquifer around, so...let's bottle it and bathe in it, and tell the world to "come on in, the water is fine".