Saturday, November 23, 2013

Forty Years Ago I Moved To The Mountains, The First TIme.

        Done with college, finished with the BA, finished with the BS, I headed for the hills with my bicycle and my big green duffle bag, I moved to Bodfish on the Kern. This was as simple as it gets. I found a small cabin for which I bartered with work,  pruning fruit trees and repairing sheds on a small ranch on Erskine Creek.
         Soon after this migration to the shores of Lake Isabella, I walked into the office of the local weekly newspaper and offered to write a column recounting my human-powered adventures in the hills outback of reimbursement necessary. Little did I know, this name...Bodfish would attach itself and follow me around for the rest of my life.
         I developed a knack for riding my bicycle, sleeping bag attached to the backrack, beyond the end of the pavement, in every direction from Lake Isabella. These outings were always worth twenty column inches of adventure.
         I froze my phalanges in Philistine Canyon, developed butt sores just beyond Saddle Springs and soaked same in Miracle Hot Springs. The desert and Sierra all wrapped up in a single package and my bicycle would take me anywhere in one tenth the time...hiking with a pack or walking behind a mule was of no interest to me.
        Off road cycle-touring didn't seem like a big deal to me, I seldom flatted a tire and always had plenty of water. Jeepers and motorcyclists were always curious and generous, but few and far between.
        Three years later, when I settled in Chico, Ca. and staged a bicycle ride in the Upper Park of Bidwell...which I originally planned to call the Bodfish Bump, but advertised as the Bidwell Bump in my Pedal/ Pedestrian Advocate newsletter, local cyclists thought I was "off my rocker".
         We staged it in August of 1976 and the temperature "in the shade" that day was 106 degrees. A dozen fool-hearty souls participated and everyone won a prize. The sport of "Mountain Biking" was birthing all over Northern California but I maintain, this is the only fat tire event in which everyone won a prize.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


        I start every day the same...pantless. I roll out of bed, take a drink from my waterbottle and stroll into the toilet to pee. I greet the light of a new day by going out on the upstairs balcony, under the skylights, find the top of the stairs and descend. The dog is still asleep on her pillow at the bottom step...I put a toe on her shoulder, she wags her tail twice and stays in place. It really never varies. Pantless, I walk through to the kitchen and flip on the electric teapot, grab an envelope of black tea and throw it in the cup that I used for tea the night before.
        Here's where it it cold in the house?  Do I have a pair of pants or slippers within reach, anywhere downstairs? Should I flip on the furnace and go out on the back porch to get kindling and firewood? About this time I start to focus on the dreams that filled my night. That was a mighty weird one...yeah, maybe I should go up and get slippers or pants. I grab the remote and turn on the TV, it's usually on the Weather Channel. Still, without pants, I stand waiting for "weather on the eights". Wow, that's crazy, those people have some serious weather to deal with. I flip on a light, a subdued light that won't deplete me of vitamin A, ah, there are my pajama pants that I took off on my way up the stairs last night...still need slippers. So, I am addicted to electricity and living in a house. The remainder of my day varies wildly but, at least I get my pants on.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

4,000 lb. Bullys...Part One

       We were soaring down Chandler Canyon off the West slope of the Warner Mountains, deer hunting season in Modoc County, the only motor traffic we'd encountered were "quad motorcycles". I made a tight right turn over a rickety bridge and Wham! there he stood, the biggest jet black BULL I'd ever seen. He only had time to turn his head and take a step back. I skidded to a stop, (We were on mountain bicycles and we were camped on Plum Creek), but before I could warn my riding partner she made the same bridge crossing and stopped. "What BULL", she asked.
        We were discussing "motor bullies" earlier in the day...intentionally, or not, these big truck guys and gals who are reluctant to give a brake (or even a couple of feet of cushion) to us self-propelled types who meekly make our progress down a common roadway. I have been extremely fortunate during a half million miles of cycling throughout North America and around the World to have only been "brushed", by the callous operators of cars and trucks, two or three times.
        Surprising and frightening a mighty large bull at the road's edge is another matter entirely. The result could feel very much the same, but being rammed and pummeled by a snorting pure-bred beast could bring our incredible lucky stretch to a very abrupt end. We took a wrong turn, at the next opportunity that presented itself,  and therefore added an unplanned hour to our four hour loop.
        When we returned to Plum Creek campground we found that we had one camp neighbor, a young man on a motorcycle who was tent camping just above us. We were salty and tired....badly in need of a dip in the creek (no showers at this free campsite). He walked down to our tent and said he'd failed to find a better swimming hole on this stretch of the creek. "So, you don't mind if we take a plunge here." I wondered, out loud. "Go for it, man, you've got to sleep clean."