Here are some pictures of my dog from the past year. I don’t always have the camera so I don’t take a ton of photos, you’ll have to trust that there has also been a lot of swimming, hiking, and playing with friends. It is easiest to take pictures while she is sleeping, or playing on my bed. It has been a good year, we’re still learning a lot.
Taking care of a dog is another kind of adventure, which I had no experience with going in. Hoping to learn more in the years to come, but this first one has been pretty good.
I wrote this mid October 2016, but thought I would add more to it and never did. It is probably fine as is, though I don’t know if it is really relevant at this point.
I marked six months since settling back in Pittsburgh from Detroit. On my first long ride in that time (relative, I know, but truly, except one impromptu overnight out to a campground on the GAP trail about 25 miles out and back in the morning, I have hardly done more than commute) I rode from southwestern PA to southeastern MI for Bike!Bike!. Which is to say, mostly through Ohio.
My friend Emily spent the summer biking around Europe, and returned wanting more, and to my surprise actually followed through on joining me for this ride. We set out when I got off work Saturday, September 24. We found a nice camping place about 20 miles out, it was already well dark. The next day was lovely for us, and we ended it in West Branch Park, with many hot air balloon sightings. We nervously set up camp in the picnic area after a fine supper. Excellent stargazing. The next morning some clouds had rolled in. We were on trails a bit of the day, and were joined by some rain. I forget how much weather can affect mood out there, and we found ourselves a bit grumpy until the sun came out mid afternoon. The remainder of the day was joyful. We saw a cat hit by a car and stopped to look for it, unsuccessfully. Not finding a great camping spot, we asked a stranger somewhere before Wakeman, OH. They agreed to let us set up in their back yard. The best stargazing yet, along with some fine (not to boast) camp stove peanut noodle soup, and only good conversation and into bed long before you fine folks were done suffering through the first presidential debate.
The sun was out all day Tuesday, but the wind was fighting us with some seriousness. We were on rail-trails most of the day, but it was slow going. My friend Danielle lives in Toledo, and we were planning to visit that evening. After a rough day, including losing each other for a half hour or so, I called Danielle to check directions and, still about 20 miles and only a half hour shy of sundown, she offered to come meet us in the car. We went a little farther before pulling off in what felt like an easy spot to be found and waited. This should not have been an interesting story… but cops. Danielle pulled into the wrong place to look for us, and once we figured out why we weren’t in the same place, she did come get us. We packed up our persons and things, and started in towards her home. She’d brought her roommate along, and he commented as we were heading off, I wonder if that guy called the cops. Not more than a few minutes later we were indeed pulled over, ordered out of the car (at gun point, the cop made sure we knew) and interrogated. Though we “didn’t look like your stereotypical burglars” he had to be safe. The story got straightened out eventually and after an hour or so we were allowed to leave. What if we had looked different?
We left Danielle’s house into a chilly rain. The ride north was relatively easy, and pleasant in spite of this. We made an excellent lunch in the late afternoon, got to Detroit as the light faded for the day. Began checking in with old and new friends from all over, a wet few days of catching up and learning and fun. Sunday, Emily and I were discussing how we weren’t quite ready to leave… There were several people from Pittsburgh driving home, all leaving shortly after the final meeting, with room for extra people. Though it isn’t too hard to get home other ways, this would be the easiest. I took one, and though Emily was taking another, though turned out she stayed on another week.
I spent just a week away. Back to work. Back to house. Back to The Big Idea and to teaching at Free Ride. And hosting! for the first time I was asked to host cycle tourists! Two separate people contacted me, for the same day, actually, and so I ended up with three visitors last night, which was fun.
My blog writing process is always the same. I think of many things I could write about while riding, though rarely make notes, but imagine they will stick with me and make this time easier. These thoughts are gone by the time I actually start. I write a little, pick some pictures, stall a lot, write a little, stall some more. It can be a bit frustrating, and sometimes I don’t feel like I have much interesting to say, and eventually it has taken too much time and I just post something. You are welcome to report disappointment, but probably I won’t be writing again for a time, so why bother.
We made it back to Atlana, my father and I, the both of us. I wonder why, at times, when I was alone so many people asked if I get scared and why not and what about my mother and this and that, but when I decide to goad my dad into riding 700 miles with me from South Florida back to his home in Atlanta- possibly more miles than he had put on a bike in his life- no one wants to know why I was not scared of this responsibility. Well, I was a little nervous. He made it though, and enjoyed bike traveling and/or spending two solid weeks with me, in case you were worried but hadn’t told me.
I think traveling by bike isn’t quite as some people who haven’t tried it would imagine. It isn’t so grueling, really. It can be in moments, but mostly, it is something to do for fun. Traveling by bike is slow, but you go at a comfortable pace and enjoy the slowness. If it isn’t fun anymore it is time for a break.
On traveling with another person: These two weeks were the longest I have been on the road by bicycle with another human ever. (By a lot, I think my previous record was five days) My father and I are pretty similar in some ways, including both being annoying and easy to annoy. It is important, when considering traveling in any form with another person, to consider how you interact and in what ways you can make keep this from becoming unpleasant. We hardly had any time apart during the two weeks, which actually worked out ok for us. I may have been obnoxiously encouraging, especially towards the end of the day, but we actually managed to continue civilly. I was prepared to do this with him, and in fact only to bike this section if he wanted to join me, and so compromising was relatively easy. We had some trouble when we would both hope for the other to make a choice we felt indifferent about. Some tips: predetermine a communication strategy, using bells and maybe hand signaling, because you can’t always hear words well from the bike. Plan to check in periodically, especially at turns or tops of hills. If one person doesn’t feel hungry regularly, they should eat whenever the other does. Remember that you want to have fun and also that you want the other person to have fun and that stressing at them will trouble you both.
My dad is unprepared for and uninterested in camping. This meant a bit less flexibility with stopping, especially as we got into Georgia. As towns that people may actually want to stop in grew fewer and farther between, sometimes the options for places to sleep were 30+ miles apart, making the choice on where to stop a bit less of a choice. Occasionally we had friends, family, or warm showers folks to visit with, which is can be nicer than a motel/hotel, depending on how social one feels.
There are hills as you start getting into Georgia. You cannot just hand someone your strategies for hill climbing, nor the idea that really, out there exist hills miles long and much steeper, these aren’t so bad… But it is better just to acknowledge that these are hard. It gets easier each day, or seems a bit less imposing at least.
I have made two previous entrances to the city of Atlanta by bike. My takeaway was, this will probably be the worst part of the trip. Turns out, though population density and thus traffic definitely increase as you get closer to the city from all sides, coming from the south east feels a bit less suicidal than any of the roads I found to try from the north and west.
And so we made it back to Atlanta. Sometimes I feel like my dad refuses to say good things about the trip, but I am trying not to overcompensate by making him say something positive in addition to noting how sore he got and how big the hills were, because there is actually no reason for me to get so defensive. I know he had fun. If he needs to point out that even though he made it it wasn’t easy, that is ok too.
For now, I am pretty much done traveling. I am hanging out with my family in Atlanta for a bit. I expect to be in Nashville the 25th or so, and then my mom and I will drive back to Pittsburgh the 28th-ish. I am excited about this. I am not the wanderluster that you may imagine. I am sure there will be much that I miss about traveling, but for now I am looking forward to having some of the regularity of living in one place for a while.
Today went smoother than expected, even had time to wander a bit around Macon before dark
It has been a lovely couple of days here in southern Georgia. We made it to Douglas last night, where we were taken in by Luis and Amber through Warm Showers. We had a great stay with them, and today continued zig zagging our way into the hillier part of the state.
After most of a day in Saint Augustine, we pushed ourselves up the way to Atlantic Beach, where we are visiting a friend (specifically the mother of a friend of my parents since college) who is excited to have us.