Somewhere is nowhere…….

A couple weeks back I drove down to Phoenix to visit my aging father. I was set to travel fast and comfy in the Toyota Camry, bicycle on the back and tent camping gear in the trunk. My plan was to spend a couple days in Phoenix then head north to Sedona, northeast towards Durango, northwest to Fruita, west to the San Rafael swell, south west towards Red Canyon, west to Zion and then burn it for home. I was *thinking* of doing this in 10 days from Friday to Monday. I was traveling alone. I had a general idea of where I wanted to camp and ride and a bit of info as to what I would encounter. There is probably a name for this type of planning, like, ” ambitious overreach”…… or something like that.

Phoenix was hotter than Hades but the desert was beautiful.


Sedona was crowded with tourists in town but out of town it was amazing.



One of the things I wanted to see on the trip were some nice pictographs or some evidence of the “ones who came before”. I got lucky with a bit of ‘local knowledge’. It was two visual clues and, ” you’ll have to figure it out on your own from there”.



This one looked sexual to me?

My favorite.

I did not even put a scratch on the depth of desert beauty in the Coconino National forest, absolutely gorgeous. Driving north from Flagstaff I started to question my plan. I rode two days in Sedona and burned a ways into my time bank on the second afternoon. At Kayenta, Az I was looking at 120 miles to Cortez and the turn off for Monument valley was coming up. What to do? Moab or continue east? I was losing my resolve and took the turn onto 163 north into Utah. Some unsolicited advice; don’t attempt Valley of the Gods rd an hour before sunset in a car with 10″ of ground clearance! I made it but a bit sketched, especially with the rain damage at all the washes.


I made camp at Fisher towers early on the next morning. Did a hike in the morning and a ride in the afternoon.



The weather near Moab was perfect. The Colorado was flowing really muddy from the huge rain event. And it looked like there must have been a good bit of rain on the plateau as well.


Thursday morning and I asked myself, “north or west?”. One more ride in Moab then it was hammer down westward.

More than a few miles from the car, alone, facing some substantial chunk. “Be present, pay attention, you got the chops geezer boy”.

Blazing down Hiway 24, the San Rafael Swell looming to the west, I realized that I was never going to be able to enjoy and savor the true spirit of the amazing places I had put on my itinerary. As in Sedona I was only scratching the outer surface. Time is needed, lots of time, to experience the true essence of any of these places. Each one on it’s own. I had talked to only 11 people in the last 4 days and I was feeling a little lonely to be honest. I thought of Susan and Hamal just as Temple mountain rd and the Goblin valley turn off came up and said to myself, “f’it I can make Escalante before dark easy”. Hammer down on the gas….again.

Looking east towards where I came from.
I jumped up early in Escalante and got to the Thunder mountain trail head at 8 am. It was cold but I knew the sun would warm it by the summit. The first part of the single track from the campground was good but the descent was hammered and blown out.
Erosion from a recent rain event and way too much wear from equines. The fast flow at the bottom was gone as every little cross trickle was a blown out wash. Not the fun that Dick and I had enjoyed two and half years ago. I never saw another person on the trail. I was really getting lonely when I got back to the car. Ugh, the car…the freaking car. I think one of the realizations I came away with on this trip is that all of us in the first world are really only who we are because of the easy access the magic fluid oil gives us to move freely around the surface of this planet. It is truly amazing and I was proving it to myself in my own CAR!  Sure we ride our bikes every chance we get, but we get to most of the places we do  by CAR. Something to ponder in another blog post perhaps? Perhaps not. :-)

I was still toying with the idea  of camping near Zion and doing a hike and a ride. I got there in the early afternoon and when I realized that I was one of about 20,000 humans trying to steal a little bit of the soul of this place on a Friday afternoon  I knew my fate was sealed. “Burn some gas Buzz, burn it for the cause of home sweet home”.

A picture that has been taken a million times one more time.


Some of my thoughts in the final push home: “If I can make it thru Las Vegas before rush hour I’ll see how I feel”, ” Damn are all these cars coming down into the valley from LA?”, “I’ll see how I feel at Barstow”, “I wish Susan would return my text”.” “I wonder if Hamal will still smell like the same dog?”, “I’ve got 20 minutes of sun in Barstow, I’ll see how I feel at Mojave”, “Damn look at all those blinking red lights on those windmills, must be thousands of them”, ” Bakersfield 58 miles, 90 more from there, I’ll get a burger in Wasco and I can be home by 10:30″

Windmills in the twilight of Tehachapi pass

My best buddies in the whole world!

It is dry in Cali, dusty and burned to a crisp.
smoke on the trail

At the end of this summer season the trails in the backyard are as good as they have been in many years and as good as anything in the county right now.


Nowhere is somewhere too.


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I’ve had an old Nokia flip phone for about the last five years. I averaged about 250 minutes per month of talk time and no texting.  It was satisfactory for my needs. Recently a good customer of ours gave his old iPhone 4S to me. I carried it around in my brief bag for about 3 months before I finally stopped at the AT&T store to check my options. I ended up with a pay as you go $25 a month plan, 250 minutes voice, unlimited texting with pictures. I shined any data considerations as it seems to work pretty good as a mini computer on the available wireless networks. I’m in my 3rd week of modern connected technology and I honestly feel all the cool features of the smart phone have wasted a bunch of my time and created a good bit of anxiety in me. I find myself ‘checking’ it all the time, but there seldom seems to be anything there of much use or that I didn’t know already? Battery life is good, sound quality is bad, camera is ok for what it is. Maybe its just me, my age and they way I came. I actually thought of sitting down and writing a letter the other day to see if I could concentrate that long. Serious! I came across a nice essay by Rebecca Solnit that pretty much aligns with my feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a technology luddite. I use many modern *tools* to get my job done. Here’s one:
Sram XX1 and carbon fiber rims……pretty darn good technology! Helped me find the flow on a recent solo trip up to Ord
These trails have a nice feel.
Took the Hamal jammer to the beach the other day. (iPhone photos!)



An open seat at the fire pit
The persistent marine layer that defines summer on the Cali coast is in decline…fall is just around the corner

So much disturbing stuff going on in the *connected* world. I am still able to find my peace and solace and for that I am thankful. As for the rest? Perhaps the answer is blowin’ in the wind?


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Definition of TONE

1: vocal or musical sound of a specific quality ; especially : musical sound with respect to timbre and manner of expression
a : a sound of definite pitch and vibration
b : whole step
3: accent or inflection expressive of a mood or emotion
4: the pitch of a word often used to express differences of meaning
5: a particular pitch or change of pitch constituting an element in the intonation of a phrase or sentence
6: style or manner of expression in speaking or writing
a (1) : color quality or value (2) : a tint or shade of color
b : the color that appreciably modifies a hue or white or black


I have been thinking about what is the nature of the minor discrepancies that define individual perception. How can two human beings be embedded in the same life context and perceive two seemingly different realities? Thousands of researchers have studied this phenomena from every angle possible for hundreds of years. Many theories have been proposed on what is the true nature of reality.


No doubt our limited physical sense skews the subtle tones that emanate from the tiny vibrating strings of energy at the deepest surface of our reality. I accept that the perception problem is mine alone.


My prejudice, bias and belief; my old eyes,ears and leathery fingertips conspire to fool my process.


For me these things are real. Somehow more than belief, more than just knowledge.

There is a road here and it is not closed….to a bicycle
Often overlooked appreciated by a few.
Beams of light.
A favorite track.
Shared with favorite friend Jerry.
Bionic not blink, he has a habit of disappearing.
Respect the “others”.
After dinner glow show.
We can make it if we run dad.
Perfectly imperfect.
Hamal and Christophe Riblon
Riblon is going to win the stage!
Of subtle hue, tone…..
…and flow across the great sky.


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The brown is back

Some things I’ve seen on and along the trail in the last month or so. Cali has dried out dramatically in the last 30 days. Summer is here early, rattlers are about, crunching grass, morning and evening fog, flowering cactus and thistle…a bumper crop of apricots. Enjoy.




























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Smiles and miles

Miffs smiling must have felt good!
A very steep pull
Arrrrghhhh …..I got this Buzz
Miff survived and lived to smile again!
Trees of life
Then down
On the Soulo day ride
Walk the Hamjammer
Damn Bill! We’ve been climbing for 2 hours are we going to get somewhere?
a little bit of hike a bike
We’re there Buzz…the middle of nowhere


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Gone to sea

Once upon the timeline of my existence the vibrating strings of my constituents became aligned and harmonized with a man I shall call E. We shared business, leisure and intellectual pursuit. Our life view seemed very similar. We shared a love of the sea, his for sailing and boats, mine for surfing and windsurfing. Our friendship lasted for many years and each of us became comfortable and accepting of the others quirks. Susan and I moved south to our current homelands the same time he sold his business and retired from full time work. We remained friends and traveled the miles to visit each other often.

Around this time E hatched a plan to buy a small boat and take it north to the Puget Sound and beyond. He would sail the inland waterways, visit they many islands and live on his boat. He had a passion for the designs of L.Francis Herrishoff, particularly the H-28. Although small in living space, the H-28 was a beamy, shallow draft design that sailed quite well across a broad range of conditions. It was not meant for offshore sailing but would do in a pinch on the unintended longer passage. One day a few years later I was down on the bay front when I noticed the stern of a small sailboat that looked very similar to what I remembered of the H-28. It was tied to the Sylvester Brothers tug dock and easily accessible. On further inspection I discovered it was a perfectly restored H-28 named Katrina and it was for sale! I called E immediately and in a matter of a week he was Katrina’s new master.

During the next 6 months E commenced to sell or give away most of his accumulation of lifestuff and outfit Katrina for his plan. He stayed with Susan and I until he had Katrina in a live aboard condition. E also decided that he would sail Katrina north to the sound. This decision troubled me deeply and I urged him to transport the boat by land. In all my years working for the Harbor district, around the waterfront, surfing and windsurfing I knew the the northwest winds of the California coast are a year round phenomena. I had first hand experience having fished on a few Albacore trollers and crewing on the delivery of a 65′ troller in a 14 day passage from Moss Landing to Hanalei, Kauai. Motoring north is tough enough but sailing north on this coast is only attempted by the most experienced. E was determined and his plan was to leave in early spring. Spring is when we would pull out our windsurfing gear. Spring IS the windy season in California. I became worried of his judgement and started to question all the quirks I had become comfortable with.

One Saturday I had ridden my bike into town to do my weekly equipment maintenance at the shop. The phone rang, it was Susan, ” Honey, I ran into E at the grocery store and he said he is leaving on his trip this afternoon”. I was astounded, at that time he had only accomplished a 2 hour sailing sea trial in the bay and motored to the fuel dock. I pedaled to the Embarcadero and his tie slip as fast as I could. I arrived as he was literally letting go the last line. I said to him, ” Are you ok? Your going?” He replied,” I’m going to try and make it to Monterey in 3 or 4 big tacks”. I roughed the math in my head and thought he’s going to have to sail out at least 80 to 100 miles to make that work. Offshore, beating upwind on the California coast, in March, in an H-28, a horribly bad idea in my estimation. By then he was well away from the dock and he shouted finally, ” Don’t worry Buzz, I know what I’m doing”. I raced down the Embarcadero, along the inner jetty as fast as I could. E unfurled the mainsail and the jib. He sheeted them both when he pulled even with Target rock, Katrina heeled over, accelerated and sailed straight out into the glittering afternoon sea. It was one of the most beautiful sailing scenes I have seen in my life. It is etched in my memory. Breathtaking.

By Monday afternoon the northwest winds were blowing 25knots+ on the beach, I could only imagine what it was like 80 miles off. I was seriously worried.

On Wednesday evening Susan and I had just sit down for dinner when the phone rang. It was E. I can’t tell you the relief I felt in that moment. I said, ” Where are you? Monterey?”. He replied, “No I’m in Watsonville”. I said, “Where’s Katrina? tied in Monterey or Moss Landing?”. He did not reply for a few moments, then, ” uuuuhhhh Katrina is not tied anywhere she is drifting north of Point Conception 50 miles out. I was lifted off her around 2pm by the Coast Guard helicopter. I called a mayday and they flew out to me. They told me to abandon they were not coming back”.

For all these 25 years since I have often reflected and tried to recall exactly what I said. I know I did not say, ” I told you this would happen”. I think it was more technical in nature, “…. how much water was in the boat? How strong was the wind? How large were the seas? Were you seasick? Was the hull breached?” What I do remember is what E replied, he said “YOU don’t know what it’s like Buzz” I did not reply for a long minute or more. I was thinking…thinking of the terror I felt that night on the tiny 65′ long Lusty a 1000 miles to windward, Beaufort force 10+ winds and giant, chaotic seas. Thinking of how I came to my peace and gave my fate up to the universe…..thinking. And then E said,” Well I guess this is the end of our friendship”. I was astounded, angry that he would think that. I did not reply. He said good by and hung up.

In the next week I made contact with a nice young man at the local Coast Guard station, he called me a couple times with updates of the position of Katrina, one from a fly over by an F-18 out of Lemoore NAB and a sighting from a fishing boat. I had organized a pilot friend to fly out into the channel to search. Another friend with a 40′ fishing boat was on call to go out and tow Katrina once she was in range. And then I got a call from a friend at the Port San Luis harbor office, ” Buzz, I think a fishing boat just towed in your friends sailboat. It was a small white sloop about 28-30′ right? It’s funny she is in almost perfect condition, the rudder is broken from banging back and forth all these days but she only had about 50 gallons of water in the bilge. Why did he abandon her?”

To this day I do not know why E called the mayday or why he abandoned Katrina at sea. I know thru the grapevine he did get her back. I also know that he did eventually get Katrina and himself to the Puget sound…. by land. He wrote Susan off and on for a couple years, but I have not spoken to him since that night on the phone. I’m sure we are both guilty of more than a couple of the seven deadly sins. To this day I think I see him sometimes and I go back to make sure. E would be in his early 80’s by now.


When I was in my early 20’s my dear friend Winston gave me a copy of Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha. It was a beginning for me and I have used it as an allegory of life. I have often wondered which character would suit me best; Siddhartha the protaganist, Govinda his friend and follower or Vasudeva the enlightened ferryman. I would be happy as any of them. Perhaps…. they are really one and the same? Perhaps WE are really one and the same.

Perhaps someday we will realize it, perhaps not.


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Awaiting touchdown

I was going to wait until my cyber friend Miff arrived from Oz for my next blog post but what the hey? Pix and more pix. Life as *we* know it on the central coast. The weak part of me worries that it will end or stop someday… but the strong part of me knows that all we have to do is be capable of perceiving the details and making them meaningful to survive.

Lunchtime roll..
I will tell you about my experience with ‘asses’ someday…maybe?
You know were this is going…??
Bike church
Snuck another roll in there!

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You thought you were a bad***


Take the time..think about passion…then….. some warm bread with butter and jam all over!!


Just so you know I’ve been rollin’


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Fire in the sky

After a couple weeks of cold weather by Cali standards we have had some nice weather.
That Oak limb is about 3 1/2 ‘ in diameter and cantilevered about 20’ out. Strong and old.
The Hamal jammer has been enjoying the heck out of it!
We saw some pretty substantial sized surf out at the park last Sunday.
Thursday evening after a quick frontal the sky. Photo by my lovely Susan
Susan got a neat shot of Hamal and I taking our own pic.
The shot we got
The after set lasted a long time
You can tell……I love this dog.
Jerad and I both had full non biking agendas for our normal Sunday ride day. So at the urging of the Reverend we under took a full moonlight ride Saturday night. Other than the cold, the howling damp onshore wind off the sea and the fact that the moon went behind the clouds permanently at about a mile into the climb….uhhhh…let’s just say it was *interesting*. :-)
It was dark at the summit. Yep.



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