Friday, October 24, 2008

Common Courtesies

OK, be forewarned...

What ever became of common courtesy among cyclists?

Even as the number of bike-commuters grows daily, I see less and less camaraderie in evidence -- it should be us vs. the cars/trucks/buses/potholes, but there's this negative vibe in the air of cyclist vs. cyclist.

It didn't use to be this way. (oh God, I'm gonna sound like a geezer, but:) I remember when people on bikes watched out for each other, helped each other, said "hi" to each other. If you rode by someone else on a bike, you at least muttered a greeting; if someone was on the side of the road and their bike appeared to be broken, flatted, or such, you at least asked if they needed help.

Now, I'm lucky if 1 out of 3 riders I see so much as gives a glance acknowledging my presence, and the number afflicted with, as my wife calls it, "grim rider syndrome" greatly exceeds those who are friendly. Is everyone really so bent on achieving their training/commuting goals that they can't say hi? The results aren't much different even when it's my darling wife and my adorable daughter on our tandem, and that's just sad.

Today's experience was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back, inspiring this long-winded rant: I dropped my chain on the single-speed on the way to work, and while I didn't actually need help, I was pulled over on the side of the street with an obvious mechanical problem, and four riders went by without saying anything whatsoever. I passed one of them about five minutes later, and just couldn't think what to say to him... "Thanks, you jerk, for not seeing if I was OK? I'll be sure to do the same for you?"

That's just not me. I always ask. And say hi. And wave to people on crappy bikes. Because we're all fellow human-powered travelers, who need to stick together and watch out for each other, as the car-drivers sure as heck aren't gonna watch out for us. And it's those little common courtesies, so easily forgotten, that otherwise remind us of our shared experience as cyclists.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Airship coming to Moffett

Kind of cool -- Airship Ventures is bringing their new Zeppelin NT airship to be based at Moffett, and it should be arriving some time this weekend. I really like their size comparison chart, which includes a giant squid! One-hour flights are a bit pricey at ~$500, but what a fun experience it would be! You can follow the progress of the airship on their blog, which features lots of nice low-altitude photos.

Robots and Sci-Fi exhibit @ SFO

There's a great exhibit in the north terminal connector at SFO, featuring the artifacts of the 50s-60s space craze. (SFO Museums has many exhibits of very high quality; I've always impressed by them, and I try to take a little extra time to look at them when walking through the airport!) This exhibit brought back many childhood memories...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Home at last (or nearly so)

We're just now coming in through the Golden Gate -- home never looked
better!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Day 16

Off we go - leaving Port San Luis, heading for San Simeon - about 40
miles up the coast. I'll fill in the last couple of days, spent
waiting out the big winds, after we get underway.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Days 12 and 13

We sailed from SB yesterday morning; was sunny & calm & smooth up to
point conception, then a headwind and big steep waves all night.
Trying to get a nap in the forward berth was like an amusement park
ride, I was catching air when we went over the biggest waves! We got
in to Port San Luis at 5 this morning, just beat and in need of rest
and food. It is incredibly warm, no wind. Will and I just got back
from getting fuel; the Coast Guard brought in a sailboat that got
clobbered today - reports are of 40-knot winds through Saturday! So,
(a) our choice to come up last night looks comparatively good, but (b)
now we have to play it day by day and see if there's a break in the
high winds. We'll definitely be here tonight, though.

Coming by Vandenberg air force base (on the coast just south Santa
Maria) last night in the dark was interesting - they have numerous
space & missile launch complexes all lit up, for miles along an
otherwise desolate coast. I had the 10-2am watch, and enjoyed the
brilliant stars and bioluminescent bow waves once the half-full moon
set.

I woke this morning to find that the yummy organic nectarines I bought
fresh in SB, and carefully stowed in the netting slings we use to keep
all the produce, were dashed against the wall during the night's
adventures and the juice proceeded to drip all over my sleeping bag...
Bleah! Seems to have cleaned up nicely though.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Day 11

Took care of chores today, walking many miles in the process... Got my
first latte in 12 days (and oh, it was good!) at Red's cafe. We found
a new stainless steel air pot for the boat, to replace the glass one
that fell and broke a few days ago; I got some shorts, Alan wanted an
iPod, and we experienced full crowd immersion after 11 days of near
solitude. We found a laundry that we could drop our stuff off at for
$0.75/lb, which sounded like a bargain! After picking up groceries and
the laundry, we went to Joe's for dinner - a wonderfully old-fashioned
place that serve traditionally delicious food, suitable for hungry
sailor-types.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Day 10

(Note: I re-organized a couple of the posts below -- I somehow skipped Day 6, and then numbered the following days wrong. Maybe forgetting what day it is, is the sign of a good trip?)

We sailed from Santa Cruz Island over to Santa Barbara (about 25 nm) under delightful conditions -- light wind, brilliant skies, balmy warmth. Had a perfect view of the lovely oil platforms cluttering up the coast... We got in to the Santa Barbara marina around 5, got a slip and tidied up the boat, and got our first showers in many days (oh, that felt sooooo good!) Went to dinner with Bradley. Back to the boat for a nightcap and conversation; we got to bed around 1 am.

Day 9

We went explored around Cuevo Valdez a bit - this part of Santa Cruz
Island is owned by The Nature Conservancy, so some parts are posted
off limits as private property. We were able to see a marvelous hidden
waterfall, accessed through a sea-tunnel, as well as the sea-cave for
which the cove is named. It is interesting for its three entrances
into a central cave; we took the skiff into one of them.
The day was very nice and warm, and we even went for a swim after all
our hiking around. Soon it was happy hour, and we enjoyed some snacks
on deck and appreciated the calm air and pleasant sun. However, a
breeze started coming up as the weather shifted around to the NW -
pretty quickly, there was a stiff wind. We had put out both bow and
stern anchors, to steady us against the previous night's swell, and
now the anchor configuration caused the boat to turn sideways to the
freshening wind. This caused the bow anchor to start dragging... We
wouldn't be safe in the anchorage under these conditions, so we
decided to pull up the anchors and go down to a more protected spot
around the west end of the island.
Will started getting the skiff ready to go get the stern anchor picked
up, as I motored Libertine to take the strain off the bow anchor. As
Will cast off the skiff's stern line, the bow attachment fitting chose
that moment to come undone... and the skiff started going rapidly
downwind, much to our astonishment! Will dove in after it, and climbed
aboard. Fortunately, we had left the oars on the skiff, so Will could
get back to us... otherwise, he might still be on the island :-)
We eventually got both anchors, the skiff, and Will back on board and
departed around 6 pm under increasing winds.
We made our way down the coast of the island, with big wind and
following swell making for a wild ride; we finally made it to
Smuggler's Cove around 11 pm, wind blowing 30 knots but offshore.
There were at least a dozen other boats in the anchorage, not too bad
in the daylight but tricky to navigate in the dark. We put the anchor
out as close in to the beach as we could, and had some quick soup for
dinner and went to bed.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Days 7 and 8

We sailed under delightful conditions from Cuyler Cove northeast
around the corner of Santa Rosa island (catching our 3rd albacore
along the way) to anchor at Ford Point. Even in the shelter of the
anchorage, by afternoon the wind was howling 40-50 knots, blowing the
tops right off of the wave crests. Fortunately, it was blowing off
shore, so we weren't too concerned, but it sure was loud.
We left the next morning and crossed over to the northern side of
Santa Cruz island. We stopped to look at Painted Cave, a huge sea-cave
over 150 ft high and 600 ft deep. Conditions were too rough to take
the boat in the cave, though, so we continued on to Cueva Valdez, a
pretty little cove at the foot of a wooded canyon. We have it to
ourselves; it is quite calm this morning, a bit gray and drizzly at
the moment but we'll go ashore later and explore.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Day 6

We explored San Miguel Island a bit - took the skiff over to the
beach, and hiked down the beach, then up a trail to the top of the
bluff overlooking the bay. Discovered a marker on the bluff
commemorating the Portugese explorer Joao Rodriguez Cabrillo, buried
on the island in 1540. Many weird and wonderful plants there, and lots
of seals sleeping on the beach. A volunteer ranger and his wife were
hanging out on the beach, and we chatted with them for a bit. They
come spend a few weeks on the island, and have it mostly to themselves.