Category Archives: americana

SLC to Denver.Day2/ morning: The ranch to Duchesne UT

Well I left paradise at the ranch and Johnny and Donna a bit reluctantly because they were so great.

Johnny took me back up the canyon from his ranch to hwy 40. (Note cool belt from clothing business days)

It’s kind of like Highway One in BigSur in that you think there’s nothing on the other side of the road from the ocean but when you go off on one of those roads, there’s all kinds of houses tucked in here and there.

This picture is Johnny dropping me off. He also showed me a great app where I can see what my altitude is.

He hates having his picture taken. As soon as the camera is present he freezes up. In person, this guy is very attractive. For all he’s done, there was nothing pompous about him at all. Both of them had amazing stories and it was a big joy pleasure inspiration and blessing to have met them.

I did about 43 miles yesterday (w a big pass) and am doing a lttle over 50 today with no huge climbs. I’m now in Duchesne (about 26 miles) and am eating breakfast and powering phone.  Johnny gave me a banana, an apple and trail mix packages to get me to Duchesne.

I am going to go to the town museum and then take off for Roosevelt UT, 28 relatively easy miles away where I have a hotel reservation.

There was nothing from the ranch to here but beauty and this is LITERALLY a one block town. I love that in this one block, they have a museum!!


SLC to Denver.Day1/part 2: From the Summit to the ranch

I made it to the sumitt at 11:15 and my destination at strawberry reservoir was only 6 miles away so I hung out at the lodge at the summit texting and then I called strawberry lodge and canceled because I didn’t want the day end at 1 o’clock

  So I decided to try for Duchesne which is 50 miles away and Fruitland which is closer. Five miles past Strawberry  I start to have a stick in my right side.  I’ve never had them before so I didn’t know what to do and it was excruciating and I got off and walked my bike for a while even though it wasn’t hilly and then I got three texts in a row and I realized “oh my goodness this is not nowhere, there’s Internet!”

 So I Google and I find out what to do; which is a lot like a Self-Breema exercise or even more like kundalini yoga. Riding with my hand over my head stretching that side and breathing specifically.

It is getting quite a bit better and I think that I will actually maybe make it when a man and his wife pull up in the car and he asks me if I am OK

I say not really and explain about my side cramp and he offers for them to take me to the ranch where I can camp which is nearby. He suggests for me to leave my bike there and come with them to the ranch where he can get his pick up and then drive back and get the bike.

I offer that I’d rather ride my bike and he can get the pick up and we can meet that way. After he leaves I continue to do my exercise and my stitch continues to improve. I pass several entrances to campground roads that I could have stopped at which is good to know because I would have made it without the kindness of strangers but thank the mother of God that I didn’t have to.

So Johnny comes with his pick up which I expected to be old and beat up (why?) and its not. It’s top of the line nice. We turn off Hwy 40 onto a small side road and go down and down and down the windy road to the end which is perfectly their house.

Well it turns out this man Johnny and his wife Donna are just incredibly amazing people. First thing about them is: one is instantly completely comfortable with them. it’s almost strange.There such a warmth and familiarity about them.

They are amazing here’s one of the things he has done. Johnny has been the captain of search and rescue for this entire county for 25 years!

The short story is, he found me and and rescued me. Donna did the same. They both noticed me when I was climbing the summit earlier in the morning. She was worried about me I think, God bless her, and so was he.

Johnny has also been a private pilot. They owned a cattle ranch which is where I’m sleeping also sheep and goats. And they grew hay professionally.

They’re real comfortable team: 54 years married with four children and lots of grandchildren and lots of great-grandchildren.

They are 74 and they’re in amazing shape. They also owned the Heber City hardware store and they owned had a Western clothing  apparel business. And I think he was mayor of Herber City too at one point.

This is their log cabin ranch home complete with a river stone chimney.

And this is them. As you can see there both very cute.
This is the view out my tent


SLC to Denver.Day 1/part 1: Heber City to Daniels Pass, Utah

imageThis is Josh dropping me off at my campground.imageThis is Josh Van Jura in his garage in front of all his bike race numbers.

My new bike is not my old bike Silver. Her brakes are in a different place and this place I am very used too so my instinctual reach is wrong each time. Im working on that. Ditto for gear changes.

Woke up a bit scared for todays climb. Up at 6 and at breakfast at 7. Couldn’t eat it all so I wrapped up half of it in a napkin which I forgot after filling up water bottles in the bathroom. I left the extra food for later there. Its an hour later here and I just don’t eat breakfast that early and I guess I’m not even awake yet.

I am out of the bay area which means the coffee is weak and there are more dry cleaners than tattoo parlors. There were even dry cleaner drive throughs in salt lake city. I have never seen so many dry cleaners.

In San francisco if you are the guy wearing the suit and tie you’re not the guy making the money. Now the Guy in the jeans with the tech T-shirt that’s the guy making money.

Starting out after a few miles I realized i didnt have my bike shorts on! as I never wear them at home so I stopped at the Port-of-Entry station where big semis stop.imageGuy there was nice. Says he sees all kinds of people like me doing this. To me thats encouraging. He says he knows I will make it and promises to follow blog. That helps. Ah, the kindness of strangers.imageI talk to flowers at the side of the road and animals.image imageAnd myselfimage image

At The restaurant at the top of the summit has glass lamps with copper cut outs! incredible right?

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SLC to Denver.Day 0: Back on Track, Camping in Heber City

Yesterday, when I  landed at the Salt Lake City airport, my phone came alive and I saw a voicemail was waiting for me. I listened to it starting in the little tube you walk through from the plane to the terminal. It was from the bike shop I shipped my bicycle to telling me that it never arrived. I spent the rest of yesterday’s afternoon trying to figure out what happened and what to do. I knew where the food court was from the time Noah and I were here. I go this and that kind of food over a couple hours spent calling all kinds of numbers trying all kinds of things. But to no avail.

I started the next day with sad tears and three locks on #113 Motel 6 door in the bad-ish  neighborhood.  I had planned to spend the night swimming in little America hotels’ pool but I decided on the cheap side because I wasn’t sure what was happening.hey it was only from there I went to Starbucks carrying my pannier bags and had 2 grande cappuccinos.

At Starbucks I called a sister of a friend of mine who I’d never met, Roz Newmark who help me tremendously. She has long distance cycled with her husband extensively in this area and lives in Salt Lake City.  Between Josh and Roz I know about different bike options and different bike shops and I decide on the closest and the cheapest as I’m walking around the city (a mile or so) in my flip flops carrying my panniers

Long story short I buy a TREK 520 from Salt Lake Cyclery. Roy helped me and they were fantastic I got such a deal. So here is my advertisement for Salt Lake Cyclery:  They were the best. I got fully outfitted better than I was before for $1500.

I am now ending my day in my tent in the campsite it’s really really nice with a swimming pool and a hot tub that’s open at night.

Josh took me here. God bless him. This is a little where noah and I left off from our bike trip here two years ago..  I passed by the places Noah and I were and it was a little painful missing him but the swimming pool at night made me miss my kids the most. There is nothing better than being a mom with your kids at a pool late at night in a campground.

 I am now here, 45 miles from salt lake city and one mile outside of Heber City. Josh took me here. He picked me up from the bike shop and we drove his electric car to his home near Park city and then we got his other car because the electric car was out of electricity. It was really fun to see his house. It’s an Alpine mountain house and he has two jobs. he’s an important engineer with the Utah government and he also started a company that makes cool bike bags. It was fun to see it, especially his sewing studio and his blackboard painted refrigerator.  The garage was superb. It was like a sports equipment store. He absolutely does everything .

Noah and I met him two summers ago after we had just ridden up Emigrant Canyon and over Pawley’s pass which is a 3000 foot climb that we were totally unprepared for with the altitude adjustment.  Noah and I were walking our bikes because we couldn’t get in the bicycle position any longer without having massive spasms in our legs and Josh stopped his car and said “Are you guys OK ?” and we said “No” and he helped us and here he is helping me again! You see, he has trendous time demands and still goes out of his way to be helpful to strangers. He’s really an incredible guy. Left home at 13. Can you imagine?
So here I am now in the valley I’m surrounded by mountains on all sides of me I’m at 7000 feet and tomorrow 1 flat mile out of here and then it’s 18 miles up to a pass that is a lot higher. I forget how much but how much but folks around here talk bout the “pass” with respect. The views I’m going to see are going to be so wonderful as in full-of-wonder, as in breathtakingly amazing and huge and all around me.

The sky above me is the biggest sky.  you can see sky 360° here.  it’s so marvelous

July 22

We were up at 6, on the road by 7 and in a full body sweat climbing in the early morning sun by 8.




The manager at the Bennow campsite outside Garberville told us there were no hills between here and Leggitt but when we met the hills, we realized he probably never leaves Benbowland.

We reach “Confusion Hill” when it opens by 9. It is like “Mystery Spot” near Santa Cruz where gravity and magnetism operate differently. I love these kinds of places. I think there are 9 or 11 in the USA.



We have a lot of fun there and then move on.


The blue wildflowers are by far my favorite ones of the many on the side of the road. Something seems so special about them. They have an otherworldly quality to them even though they are quite natural.


The road itself also can be beautiful.


We are trying to make it to Leggitt well before the southbound bus gets there at 12:20. It stops at a very cool place called “The Peg House” which is a store/restaurant/music event center. It has an old cop car covered with counter culture stickers out front.


Peg House is owned by Gary and his wife. I met Gary when I biked alone Seattle to Oakland last summer and I knew he was a supercool guy. I called from the campsite last night and asked him if we could leave our bikes with him while we took the bus to Oakland and come back later for the bikes. He said “sure” in his easy friendly way.

We get our lunch and are chatting with Gary as we eat on his picnic tables out back. He (man of a million hats) also happens to be a UHaul dealer. He offers us a brand new (4,000 miles with clean car smell) truck to drive back. A new UHaul! I’ve rented plenty a UHaul in my day but never anything remotely new.


It would be more expensive than the bus but not by much and then we could still be on OUR road trip, with much more flexibility and make it in much less time than the 7 hours the bus was going to take. Plus we needn’t return for the bikes. We took him up on his offer.

Just as we were loading in the bikes, we met these guys who approached us and asked, “Hey, are you guys from San Francisco!?”


They recognized the jersey I got Noah from Box Dog Bikes, a super cool bike collective at 15th and Guerrero in SF. They were from another cool bike store at 14th and Church in SF. 3 blocks away! Both shirts are sponsered by “Four Barrel Coffee” on Valencia between 14th and 15th which is the best coffee shop in SF and thats saying a lot.

We chatted and shared stories. They told us about this crazy bike messenger race from coast to coast. They were super nice and invited us to join their rides when we got back. They were doing the big steep hills in SF! We explained we were not in that league but thanks for thinking we were.

Noah and I did 609 miles in 12 days (counting Utah) and we felt very happy about that as we got into our squeaky clean UHaul.

Leggitt is where Hwy 101 and Hwy 1 meet. Instead of going 101 south immediately we drove over the hill to coastal 101 as was our bike plan. I wanted to show Noah the ride. I did it last summer and Noah never wants to do it. It is (this is a fact, not my opinion) the steepest public road climb and the twistiest road in all of California. It is gruesomely hard and merciless.

When we drove it, we passed 14 cyclists crawling diligently up. When you are on the bike, you only see cyclists now and then but in the car, you see many.

We are extremely grateful to have been two of them for a short while. When you read this I know it all sounds like just plain hard work but what it really is, is wonderful as in full of wonder.

Amazement at what you can accomplish if you try. Deep appreciation for the kindness and connection with strangers. Marvel as marvelous at the overwhelming abundance of beauty in nature.

There is a simplicity and satisfaction of doing a bare bones basic trip like this that can’t be put into words.

We got back to Oakland before nightfall. Everything seems like unnecessary extra and a bit too precious here but I know it won’t by day after tomorrow. Noah is already out with his friends and I am looking forward to being back in the studio and making art.

Whatever that is.


Thanks for reading this blog.

July 21

Tomorrow is July 22. The day we were supposed to fly back from Denver in our original trip plan. Noah only wanted to do two weeks.

It is lunchtime and we are at Myers flat which is nearing the end of the Giant’s avenue.

Noah would like to go home tomorrow. If we do 70 miles today we can get to Leggett tonight and maybe catch a bus out of Ft Bragg (another 45 miles) tomorrow.

We start out early.



Avenue of the Giants is as wonderful as I remember from biking it last summer. As soon as we are in those trees we both feel a timelessness that is palatable and relieving.


We also enjoy eating blackberries at the side of the road which are plentiful. As soon as you say “ok I’ve had enough” you spy a cluster that looks like it will taste even better. It’s hard to stop.


There is an enormous and varied amount of wood carvings on living and dead trees.


There are all kinds of redwood attractions. There’s the immortal tree and the eternal tree and the 1200 year old tree and the tree you can drive through ( very old and still producing greenery) and the tree with the small house in it etc.





Of course there is also the dead tree.



There is one good thing about a giant heavy logging truck passing you on a road with very little shoulder which is you get a big burst of wind pushing you along for a moment.

Mostly, thank goodness, there are wild trees.



After we got out of the avenue, we started climbing in a big way. We were prepared for it in that we knew about it and were clearly no stranger to the long 7% grade hill into Garberville. It didn’t sound like it would be as bad as the Klamath climbs.

What we didn’t expect was how hot it was going to be.


We took this photo on the mileage counter machine on Noah’s bike at 4:45 pm. We had forgotten about it earlier and kept trying to get the temperature on our iPhones but they kept having the “alarm too hot!” sign and we couldn’t get them to operate.

When we pulled into Garberville we were completely beat and then I got stung by a yellow jacket. I am allergic to them and so I got all swelled up. It was 98 degrees in the shade at 6 pm so we decided to get to the nearest campground which was 3 miles away with wifi showers a pool and a hot tub.

I was thrilled to finally wear my new bathing suit in the cool pool even with my balloon like right shoulder.

Garberville is a town made from marijuana money of the early Humbolt farms. It is a strange place. I loved the impulse item at the register of the large chain grocery store. Very fine pruning shears.


Whoops I forgot to mention that when Noah and I were melting on the climb and the phones were burning up, we had a moment of clarity and ditched our bikes


And scrambled down the mountain side to the South fork of the Eel river below. By the time we scrambled up again we were almost dry!


July 20

All around this town and some others are these.




We couldn’t get into the rodeo because they wouldn’t accept credit cards and we ran out of cash many days ago.

The crowd outside the rodeo was very interesting however and we hung around for a while at the carnival watching the crowd have fun.





I also thought this traveling ministries church in a truck was interesting.




The “church” was next to the “free fallin’ ride.


Eventually we left and went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner which felt like home.

July 20

We woke up to rain 😦



Still, it is beautiful!! Photos don’t do it justice. The sound and air are also beautiful. But wet.

We did only forty miles with practically no hills. Noah’s mat deflated permanently last night so we bought a new one at Eureka which is not a nice town.
Pictured below.


Arcata, the small counter culture town 5 miles north is fantastic!
The poster board outside the health food store looked historic but it was all advertising current events. The stools at the smoothies counter were done in top notch mosaics.




The food in California is marvelous. As a vegetarian I am used to the only two items on the menu I can eat being grilled cheese or eggs and hash browns if its early. In Trinidad and Arcata there was teriyaki tofu and red quinoa tabouli etc. feels like food wonderland to me.

We are stopping early because the next campsite is 30 miles south and we are more for a 40 mile day than a 70 mile day.

Also, there is a rodeo in town!!! Yeehaw. So we are now going to set up our tent and then go to the rodeo.

We are only 15 miles from the beginning of “Avenue of the Giants” the ancestral redwood home. We will be there first thing in the morning. 🙂

July 19

Today we met Zeke Gerwein. He stopped where we stopped. He is going the other way. I noticed his water bottle was from “Missing Link” in Berkeley! He is going to King middle school.

He looks like Harry Potter. Small, brown hair. Brown eyes with crooked glasses. He is riding the entire west coast of the USA, from the Mexican birder to Canada, raising money for Sierra club!
Different adults are riding with him during different parts of the trip. He even road the lost coast!!! North of Ft Bragg which is impossible! 20% grades on dirt roads!! Wow!

His blog is on the site “crazyguyona” his individual blog is “headwinds’R’us”. We met him with his dad who had been with him since Gualala. They were carrying more than twice the gear we were and riding mountain bikes.

They gave us a few tips of scenic roads as alternatives to hwy 101. We followed their suggestion. Once I got off and walked because on county roads the grade can be 20% whereas the state roads are 6.5 to 7 % max. We only did 50 miles today. It was tiring though because the winds were against us. I figured because they were with Zeke and so be it. Also we had lots of hills and cold wet weather all day. I was beat when we got to Trinidad, a town of 311 people.



We saw some elk but the were hiding in the talk grass between us and the ocean.


We saw goats and cows too.



At one point there was a random giantic chain fence by the road. It was beautiful in its way even though it prevented nothing from getting in or out as it was only thirty feet long out if nowhere.


Trinidad was full due to a kayak fishing competition . Folks had come from all over to see who could catch the most fish while kayaking from A to B. I wanted to stay at this Emerald place.


It looked very nice and was next door to this other place which I though looked interesting but Noah didn’t.


When I got to the office the sign said it was full. Noah said there’s no hope. I said I can’t go any further; they have land and I have a tent and money it will work out.

Cody, the cool young fellow at the desk said he always saves one tent site for the saddest story and we were it!
Yahoo! We got the site, set up and fell asleep quickly.

July 19

There’s precious little reception in redwood land so here’s a photo from Orick’s cafe where we are eating now with Internet. We biked up and out of Klamath and then took a detour off 101 through a state park with huge trees.



We are so glad there is a place to eat here because the town is only 650 people and we are a bit tired. Even though its only been 25 miles the wind was against us and we have 30 more to go so its nice having this rest and warm food.

Hope to write later but I doubt ill have reception. We’ll see!