Bicycle Touring from San Diego to Las Vegas via Death Valley

Bicycle Touring, USA 8 Comments »

Lived and written by Luis Omar Lopez & John P Morgan Jr

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DAY 1 – San Diego to just south of Temecula (71 miles)

Written by Omar:

We didn’t start on our bikes until late around 10 or 11 our first day and soon as the noon heat began to hit we began the hundred turns and out of the way miles of straight-up straight-down hills it takes to get out of the city and towards the desert while avoiding major freeways. I saw a homeless man carrying his sleeping bag 10 miles into the ride and realized I’d forgot to pack mine. I decided not to turn back and instead hoped some cheap solution would pop up. We felt our first pains early and stretched ass-to-ass like turtles on our backs on the sidewalk for the benefit of everyone else stuck in traffic. We got a few happy honks and then kept going, stopping at every McDonald’s on the way to steal free Powerade, we moved inland then backtracked towards the coast across Del Mar, then back inland again for good, climbing a long uphill through Escondido to Old Highway 395 that runs along the side of the 15 North. John began breathing hard and soon couldn’t swallow any water so we stopped at a 7-11 for a break and using webMD via his iPhone John self-diagnosed himself with EIA (exercise induced asthma). In the parking lot two girls ran into a car backwards pulling out of their spot. The stout troll in the hit car got out in a rage, cursing the world first for his bad haircut, his shitty flat-top that made him shorter and fatter, and then for the 3 inch smear on his maroon 1995 Saturn. It was good theater and we rode off again until after dark trying to reach Temecula but ended setting up camp in a burnt out patch of dirt between the freeway and some golf course and all night the semis croaked their Jake brakes over our tent and down the hill to Temecula. I wore all of my clothes and borrowed John’s silk liner bag and was warm enough.

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The Cozy Kitchen

Bicycle Touring, USA 5 Comments »

My Bike on the California Coast

On an Oregon State Park beach after watching the Pacific sun dim to a bearable brightness and then slide behind dark gray clouds coating the horizon a Canadian kid came over to me and said hello. Comeau was too touring by bike. He’d been on the road over a month cycling from Edmonton, Canada to Vancouver and then down the coast. He carried a fraction of the gear I had and barely enough cash to buy a bus ticket home.

Comeau showed me some of his low-budget travel maneuvers. We walked into Best Western’s along the coast, filled our stomachs with eggs, waffles and pastries and our pockets with fruits and granola bars for the questionable price of a confident posture and coy smile.

Most of the Oregon coast was a beautifully scenic ride along ocean cliffs and through forests as we traveled from small surf town to small industry town.

In a particularly unaccommodating community characterized by the logging industry and dune buggy rental shops, my Canadian friend and I visited a small diner called the “Cozy Kitchen”.

Comeau asked our waitress Lisa for some hot water with which to mix his oatmeal. Despite my concern with asking a business to supply hot water so he could eat for free at their table, she kindly brought a steaming kettle along with honey and brown sugar on a glimmering silver platter.

Considering the sun was setting and the ugly little town didn’t have much to offer for a place to setup our tents, I wondered how far Lisa’s kindness might go.

“Maybe she’ll let us camp in her yard?” I posed to Comeau.

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The First Day of Pedaling – Talk to Strangers

Bicycle Touring, USA 5 Comments »

I envisioned an exit from downtown Portland with a slight breeze at my back as I pedaled down a long, straight and flat road with wide shoulders. Less than a quarter mile into my first self-supported bike tour the white line hit the edge of the pavement, the head winds started and the road turned almost directly upward. It stayed that way for most of the day.

I’d been running pretty regularly and I didn’t believe the mid 50’s woman cyclist I’d chatted with outside the ACE Hardware store who told me that running 30-40 miles per week didn’t mean anything when it came to cycling hills. Climbing mountains on that first day put a blazing fire in my legs I hadn’t felt since my years of self discipline conditioning in martial arts classes.

Thought it felt as if hot knives were being driven into my thighs with each down stroke, the cognitive battle was even worse. The first day was truly a test of spirit.

Should I have started extended bicycle travel without any training? I can’t do this. Maybe I should take a break? Am I really fit for this? Do I really want to be riding my bike across countries? Cycling isn’t necessarily for everyone. I’m probably better off backpacking. People make mistakes; maybe I just made a mistake. This isn’t just my mind; I’m actually reaching the limits of my physical ability!

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Traveling Again…

Bicycle Touring, Plans & Itineraries, USA 6 Comments »

In a few weeks time I’ll embark on a new adventure. This one will be somewhat of a different flavor. Instead of travelling by motored transport as usual, I’ll be pedaling a bicycle!

Surly Long Haul Trucker

Start Date: Early August
End Date: Unknown
Departure: Portland, Oregon
Direction: South
Destination: Unknown

For the past two weeks I’ve been daydreaming about pedaling through Central and South America. Daydreaming about travel is normal, but to daydream about the same place and specific travel idea…thats very unusual for me. So I decided to do it.

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Southbound

USA 6 Comments »

The first stop was DC where we stayed with a friend of mine named Dale, who helped Desiree’s soar throat and headache with an energy healing. The next day we ate tamales at the Native American History Museum, rubbed leaves between our fingers at the Botanic Gardens and climbed the stairs to Lincoln’s Memorial for a breezy sunset.

From there was a drive through the Shenandoah mountains and down the Blue Ridge Parkway. Rolling far from both sides of the winding road were huge hills bursting with fresh green. As the night neared, thick fog rolled in. It became difficult to drive and Desiree’s throat was getting worse.

In Southern Virginia, late at night, we stopped at a local gas station. There was grey bearded man wearing a camouflage hat and a one piece camo jumper, which was unbuttoned halfway allowing a mesh of white netting to spill out from his chest.

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Don’t Forget My Postcard

USA 7 Comments »

“Have fun. Don’t forget my postcard. Drive safe. Buckle up. Stay awake. Pass on the left. Green means go. Full throttle. Open road. Live. Love. Learn.”

That’s the SMS I received from my friend Eric this morning. I read it aloud to Desiree as we pulled away from our temporary home in Providence. Since mid February we’d been staying in a spare room at my friend’s place. Today when we moved out of that room and into a Thrifty rental car, we were departing on a loosely planned zig zag road trip across America.

The winter in RI was cold and grey and it took a toll on my spirits. I have vowed never again to return to the northeast during winter months. However, it wasn’t all bad.

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Weekend In Death Valley

Audio & Video, USA No Comments »

Highlights from a weekend I spent in Death Valley National Park with my sister’s boyfriend Johnathan and his friend Eric Wu. We hiked about 6 miles in the canyons, had lunch at the lowest point in the western hemisphere watched the sun set over sand dunes and rise over mountains.

Death Valley and a Sorry Town

USA 2 Comments »

Death Valley was great. We barely beat the traffic out of LA and drove straight and smooth for hours. We ate dinner at a KFC in the desert. The cashier was a cute thin blond with crooked teeth. She didn’t eat meat and we laughed at her job together. In the corner was a party of six in their late sixty’s, grey haired, overweight, toothless and so happy to be there. Against the windows was fat man, a really fat man, so fat he hung off the chair on all sides, spilling over it like a ball of dough. His head hung; the energy to lift it while waiting for his multi-gallon buckets of fried chicken was too much. His mother paid and they waddled out together carrying what looked like a weeks worth of groceries. We talked about being that fat and having no teeth. We talked about how it wouldn’t happen to us. How we felt bad for him and how we didn’t.

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Friends in the Promenade

USA 1 Comment »

Chance found me in the middle of the Santa Monica Promenade today. The sidewalks bustled with shoppers, street musicians and young idealists wielding clipboards.

I wished so bad that I had my camera when I came upon these two. There was a bum holding a sign, asking for money. He was dirty, but not the dirtiest. I don’t remember exactly what his sign said. It was some attempt at striking a sympathetic chord. Anyway, I was more interested in the irony of the scene, for next to him stood a girl, holding her own sign with the word “Greenpeace” scrolled across it.

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Sundance Video

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WATCH THE VIDEO!
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4min 56sec, 18.1megs

A very amateur compilation of my very amateur footage take during my week at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Many thanks to my good friend Dominic and his pal Marciano Agabon for a sweet place to stay and access to all the shows, films and parties. Thanks also to all the very cool and interesting people I met who made the week so awesome and memorable.

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