Friday, January 29, 2010

Could be worse...

As I sat by a roaring campfire roasting marshmallows with my new friends Adam and Dave last night -- finally, other touring cyclists! -- one of them turned to me and asked if I was capable of negativity. Oh my, yes. Not often, but yes. Today, for example....

This morning I'd turned down the guys' offer to join them for omelets. I'd woken up early and had packed my stuff and scarfed the better part of a pot of 7-grain cereal (aka gruel thinly disguised as food by the addition of dried cranberries, some walnuts, and half a banana) by the time they emerged from their respective tents. I wanted to get a jump on today's biking and try for a 60-miler. As it turns out, I made it exactly 34 miles to one of the lamest campsites ever. But I'm getting ahead of myself....

So: Big Sur. Beautiful, but I'm fairly certain it means "Biker Purgatory" in another language. The hills! Not even a mile into today's ride, I found my legs tired. Half a mile up the first hill I had to hop off and start pushing. After a mile of dragging Ollie, I stopped -- still on the same [censored] hill -- to get a cup of coffee and a carrot muffin (with cream cheese frosting). I downed the coffee in about two gulps, deciding to save the muffin as a reward for reaching the Miller Library, which was only about another mile and a half ahead (the first half of which was, you guessed it, straight uphill). Arriving at the museum, I was surprised at the proliferation of posters sporting negligee. Odd, I thought. I started chatting with the lovely archivist who politely pointed out that I'd stopped at the Henry (not Arthur) Miller Museum. That explains it. I ate my muffin and contemplated. Not quite the literary stop I'd imagined. I'd never really cared for Death of a Salesman anyway. The day was not lost. Yet.

I biked all day. There were some breaks in the headwind but the hills never stopped. What did stop was the appearance of open campsites and/or places to refill my water bottles. By 20 miles I'd gone through most of my water; by 25 miles I was ready to pitch a tent on the next scrap of grass near a fountain; by 27 miles I came to the 3rd closed campground of the day; by 29 miles I almost cried reading a "water at next campground: 5 miles" posting. At 34 miles, well short of my usual average, I wobbled into a campsite proffering potable water. But no showers. Or handsoap. Or electricity in the restroom. (Raise your hand if you can guess whose headlamp battery just died this evening.) And those stupid sinks that won't stay on so you have to freeze one hand at a time (because, of course, they only run cold water). Seriously? People pay to camp here? It was not one of my finer moments. I think I may have even dropped the f-bomb once or twice under my breath. (Sorry, mom.)

[I am reminded of a scene in Young Frankenstein when Dr. Frankenstein and Igor are shoveling the frozen ground and then laboriously dragging a corpse out of a grave in the dead of night. "Could be worse," Igor mutters. "Worse?? How could it POSSIBLY get any worse?" Doctor F hysterically shrieks. (I love Gene Wilder.) "It could be raining," Igor suggests. Cue thunder. And rain.]

I can't help wondering if this might be some kind of karmic payback for ordering codfish tacos last night. For some reason I'd thought cod were in the "good" category of the Seafood Watch guide I'd picked up earlier this week at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Turns out they're in the "avoid" column. I should've gotten the salmon. And more detailed information on campgrounds. I called them "death tacos" once I realized my error, but I ate them. Sending them back would just be wasteful.

On the bright side, at least the tunes on the mental mp3 player were good ones today: a mix of CAKE hits. And I dipped into the emergency goodie reserve tonight to comfort my (stinky and grumpy) self with a dinner of sauteed zucchini and shallots with basil olive oil (thanks Alessandra) and garlic salt (thanks Mark) to go with my macaroni and cheese. (I'd no butter or milk, but I'd picked up a cup of plain organic yoghurt yesterday by chance and I think Brown Cow's "cream top" variety might be my new favorite macaroni addition. Try it. You'll never go back.) What I wouldn't give for a hot bath and a nice glass of Pinot Noir right about now. And, oh look, it's starting to rain. Dammit.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


  1. Hang in there. Could be worse ... could be SNOWING, with wind chills below zero! :-)

  2. I am reminded of that book "Benny's Bad Day" just about 30 times worse. I started a job at a school a 20 minute, 3.7 mile uphill away from where I live, the grade is nasty, but I'll stop complaining and think of your trials on this day every time I go on it hereafter.

  3. Thanks, Pam, for putting things in perspective. My parents have been filling me in on the east coast snow storms. Come to sunny central California. :)

    And, Dan, always happy to help others put things in perspective. (Hope the new job is a good one!)

  4. It figures that when Ibti uses the words "CAKE mix" she's referring to music, because if it were baking, she'd start from scratch.


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