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Shakedown, Day 2

June 17, 2012

While there is something cozy about camping during a storm (as long as there is no drama like falling tree limbs or gale-force winds), it’s also nice to sleep inside. The storm seemed farther away and the flashes of lightning bounced behind my eyelids as I slept.

Gus, a postal worker, had left for work at o-dark-thirty, although Larry went up to see him off. Sally fixed me breakfast when I got up and we sat and chatted for a long time. Finally, late-morning we headed up the road (even though Gus and Sally live right off the trail it’s inaccessible to La Porte). There is a legendary bakery there and, as it was graduation weekend, we snagged some of the last baked goods.

Here’s a fun fact about La Porte City. Did you know that the actress Annette Bening grew up there? And she still has family there? She brought the fam by for a family reunion a year or so ago.

By now we were deep in the heat of the day and a SW wind had come up (headwinds!) so it was clearly time to head back.

Hot though it was, the air was cooler in the shade of the trees that line the trail. First, though, we had to backtrack to see just how badly the bridge was damaged by the flood of 2008. Check for yourselves, friends.

After making me stand on the side of the bridge so he could take a picture of it in the background! I got to take one of Larry standing farther back? The joy of NOT having a fear of heights.


The trail back went faster. I was getting some good experience handling the loaded bike on the overgrown limestone trail. Think single track without hills.


By the time we got back to Center Point, which is where the trail was closed for replacing, we were tired and hungry and hot. We toyed with checking into a hotel but didn’t come across one so we rejuvenated ourselves the RAGBRAI way, with a greasy bar meal and a nap in the park.

Feeling like a Rogue of the Night, we hit the surface street. It was dark by then and the skinny moon was obscured by clouds. It. Was. Dark.

This is how I looked when we got to the trailhead in Boyson. I look like my mother. When she was 75 or so.


We had the last bit of trail to Hiawatha to ourselves. We sped along, fast, lit, and out-of-control, or something to that effect.


Shakedown ride

June 17, 2012

Hello, I’m Julie, your cruise director on the Love Boat. Whoops, sorry, my mind wandered off for a sec there!

On Memorial Day weekend, Larry and I took the fully loaded touring bikes (he on his Nishiki and me on his LeMond) to ride the Cedar Valley Trail. There’s a description and map of the trail on the GORP site, with a cute subhead, “Rolling on the River.” The reality of its situation today is a bit less than cute. When we got to the trailhead in Hiawatha the county guy told us that the trail was closed for paving from Boysen to Center Point but that we could get around it on the county roads that parallel 380. Worse, though, was farther north; the damage caused by the Flood of 2008 still hadn’t been repaired. The bridge into La Porte City was out and the trail was partly impassable, he said.

Elwood: It’s a hundred and six miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.


I am giddy

May 4, 2012

After two days playing it safe taking the bus to work, I rode my bike in. It was so nice to get back in the saddle that first I had to stop at the Iowa City Bike Library First Friday Commuter breakfast.

Audrey took a picture of me with Fanny Fiets.

Then it started to rain, so Fanny and I had to scurry to work. In appreciation for her service, I found a nice, covered spot for her to wait.

A great start to the day! Giddy, I tell you, giddy!!

Before I forget, my anthem for the day. Or, maybe, my life.

The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round

May 3, 2012

Yes, day 2 for Annie riding the bus to work. I’ve definitely noticed that I’m groggier longer in the morning without my refreshing two-wheeled stroll through downtown and across campus. To that end, I’m posting this sweet video from Cascade Bicycle Club to encourage us to make our world a better place one ride at a time.

In the merry month of May

May 2, 2012

Yesterday, I posted to Facebook a favorite bicycling video in honor of National Bike Month. You can see it here. People for Bikes: If I ride

I bicycled to both jobs and home.

Last night, one of those special May thunderstorms rolled in—you know, the too-warm-to-be-spring number that “spawns” (storm chaser talk) big ass storms.

So, I took the bus to work. This is something I do, oh, a dozen or so times a year when the weather’s bad. Or, if I don’t feel like carrying a change of clothes to change into after riding through it. The bus stops around the corner from my house. I try to time my arrival at the stop with the arrival of the bus. Thanks to Bongo, all things are possible.

It’s easy as pie, boys and girls. Online,, or text the following message to 4-1411 ‘bongo <bus stop number>.’ You can find the number at your stop or look it up online.

See you on the road!

The ride and I

April 17, 2012

Some days I head to work early, walking out the door just a few minutes after the sun has risen. My quiet street is even more peaceful than usual, although I can hear the bustle of the cross street nearby. My bike, an Electra Amsterdam, glides down my driveway to the street, its bell rattling a gentle ping as we roll over the cracks in the street. We stop at the corner to watch the cars go by. I’m waiting for a space to join the procession.

I am among them, yet I am not one of them.

We glide past neighbor’s houses. Early morning rides give me a chance to ogle their yards, gawk at the progress of paint jobs, even to smile at lawn ornaments, like the adult dog and puppy planter on the front steps. Inside the neat houses, people are getting ready for the day. A few are already waiting for the bus, which runs sweep behind me. I could have loaded my bike onto the rack at the front of the bus and gotten to work that way. Sometimes I like the bus ride. I can read. Or I can just look out the window and let someone else do the work.

As I continue on my journey, the street merges with another, giving me a superpower moment. A yield sign for incoming traffic to my left means that  I can stick out my left arm, gesture with my hand and enter the lane. Yield to me, four-wheeler. Heh.

The houses here are quiet, too. Their occupants are mostly students, who keep a different schedule. Some mornings, ubiquitous red cups litter the front yards. Today, though, it’s clear the night was a quiet one.

Suddenly, we have a bike lane,  a space of our own on the two-lane road. The stoplight at the edge of downtown seems to catch me every time. Kitty-corner is the Bluebird Diner, where a few patrons are sitting at the tables and the waitress is moving around with her coffeepot in hand to top off their cups. My bike carries my own cup on the handlebars. On warm days people sit outside at café tables and I wonder, “who are these people, and why aren’t I one of them?”

Ride on, girl.

The bike lane turns into sharrows here, pointing us through the north edge of downtown, between groups of students walking across intersections to go to class, past cars rushing past to get to distant parking places so the drivers can take a bus and ride to work. We glide past them all, past the loading dock where the Coke and Pepsi trucks take turns waiting to unload their empty nutrition.

I shift gears as I start the downhill and swoop through a left turn. I am officially on campus. Many days, even the colder ones, I meander past the riverfront, enjoying in winter the sight of eagles catching their breakfast, in summer, the river as it purposefully moves past our town on its way to bigger things on the mighty Mississippi.

Right here, I have a choice. I can jump back on the road and work my way up the hill. Today, I keep out of the street by riding on the wide sidewalk and over the pedestrian overpass. The quiet morning turns up the volume as I ride past construction sites where men work with cement mixers, drills, cranes, all punctuated by the occasional “hey,” as a hard-hat yells to get another’s attention.

As I spin up the hill, the bus that picked up my neighbors labors past me. I let them have the road and turn into campus, sliding past the bus passengers and car drivers who are let off at the street to stride or labor up the hill to the their workplaces.

But we are still rolling on. I slide off the path and shush through the grass to the rack under the pines, right at the corner of my building.

Another day. Another dollar. Another ride.

Wheels that work

January 18, 2010

Hola queridos, we’re getting to the end of our stay here in Lima. It’s been a great time of friendship, exploring and adventures. Larry has “new” eyes. Anne enjoyed getting to know a city she merely passed through 35 years ago while a poor college student. One of the things that’s very apparent about Lima is that it is much more prosperous than it used to be. There are lots of late model cars on the road, lots of new construction and lots of awesome places to eat. However, there is still a large underclass here, making their livings in some creative ways. Here in Lima, as in most other developing countries, a bicycle, or its parts, can mean the difference between life or death, between being able to feed your children or having to leave them at an orphanage to be cared for. For me, a bicycle is a choice and fun. It’s a luxury.  Here, bicycles are so much more than transportation, sometimes they’re just parts to be used to deliver supplies, some are outfitted to carry things for sale, or they can also be a moveable salesroom. For instance, this being the summer in Peru, ice cream vendors seem to be everywhere. In the neighborhoods they make their presence felt by using a duckcall. We’ve seen bikes outfitted to carry LP gas tanks (the size we use on BBQs), to carry equipment (including push lawnmowers), and to deliver periodicals to newsstands. The neighborhood where we’re staying, San Isidro, has its security officers on bicycles, as well as in cars.

Aside from having to “fight” the light when taking pictures, I also hate to take pictures of people without their permission. I’ve tried to take some pix of the ice cream salespeople but but they didn’t turn out well. Here are some street vendors near where we had lunch the other day:

In an earlier blog I showed a passing gardener:

Here’s a more traditional use for a bike that I saw at a swank jetty:

Peruvian-made bicycles have rods instead of cables for braking.

Then there are the guys for whom wheels will always be a way to have fun. Larry learned how to ride a skateboard on this trip.

Ciao, mijos!

Creatures at the beach

January 17, 2010

Yesterday we went to a nearby Lima beach so Kevin could surf and Larry and Anne could continue to be on vacation. Here are some pictures of the human and otherwise creatures at the beach.

Birthday Day

January 16, 2010

So, it’s my birthday. And, I’m lucky to be able to celebrate it with friends in a warm, exotic place. (The only thing that’s missing is my kids. I miss you tons, guys!) This is the big 5-6 for me. I suppose I just have to keep the word “big” in front of all birthdays now. I started the day with a nice big bowl of “Quaker Larry,” oatmeal with fresh mango. Later we went to Centro to tour the catacombs at San Francisco Dominican priory.

The plaza was loud and hot and busy. Here is a picture of Larry and Kevin.

We left there quickly and went to Barranco, to a hole in the wall place called Cafe Tostado. Bow down before  lunch.

Worship before the platter of conejo con naranjas. We weren’t sure if the naranja referred to oranges that the rabbit was marinated in before it was pan fried or to the color of the fried sweet potatoes. That sort of discussion came after the three of us worked through the conejo, sweet potato, rice, and refried beans. Oh, and we had mushrooms marinated in oil as a starter (with roasted garlic and red peppers).

Kevin told us the story of the restaurant. During the ’80s and ’90s when Lima (actually a lot of Peru) was too dangerous for people to spend any time in public places, some of the local men would hang out at the house of the owner of the restaurant. He would cook for them and they had a safe place to socialize. What is now Cafe Tostado is the roofed over entry and garage of the house. Here I am with the owner for a special birthday picture.

That is pretty much the entire kitchen.

After that we had almost enough energy to stroll or waddle (stroddle?) around the area a bit. When we got back to the apartment, both Larry and I took naps. Kevin, being young and surf-obsessed, went surfing.

Now it’s about 9:30 and it’s birthday dinner time. As I type this, Kevin is preparing filet with asparagus and potatoes. We picked up sweet little desserts at a local bakery and for happy hour Kevin is making a local version of Pisco Sour.

All bow down.

Blooming things

January 16, 2010

Growing in the park behind the apartment.