There’s no place like home

Flying back home, I looked out the plane window to see this:

My house is just out of sight to the right of the frame. Nothing like living in a city that’s mostly water. I realized then that Dorothy was right.

I spent a few days in Estes Park, CO for a niece’s wedding, then a few more days in Oregon for another niece’s wedding. If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire, I won’t look any further than my own back yard, because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.

Lumpy Ridge, Estes Park
Mt Hood

That doesn’t mean I won’t leave my back yard now and then. But, back in my own back yard (On Wednesday night’s bike ride), I happened upon a badger crossing the road, then waddling off into the undergrowth. I didn’t try to take a picture – badgers are notoriously vicious. A few miles up the road, a doe bounded along beside me for about 100 yards before darting across the road and disappearing into the woods. A bit later, two dogs came out into the road to greet me. I guess that made up for none of my friends being able to join me for this ride.

Home, sweet home

In between the two weddings, I was home for La Fete de Marquette, our annual Bastille Day celebration. We celebrated with Cajun, Zydeco, and New Orleans funk royalty. Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys played sets both Saturday and Sunday.

bassist, Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie (Sorry, I can’t find his name.)

They were followed by Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie. Geno is the son of the late John Delafose and learned Zydeco accordion from his dad.

We rounded out the day with George Porter, Jr and Runnin’ Pardners. Porter was the bassist for the Meters, Wild Tchoupitoulas, and the Neville Brothers; in other words, he is the bassist of New Orleans funk.

George Porter, Jr.

And, speaking of bassists, I also caught a set by Josh Cohen at the Art Fair Off the Square. While he also got funky at times, here’s something completely different:

La Fete is held in McPike Park. While waiting in a food line, I heard someone lamenting that it used to be Central Park but, as usual, wealth won out and the park was renamed after some rich person who gave the city a lot of money. I was happy to inform her that, while that is all too common, it wasn’t the case here. Milt McPike was the principal of East High School. (Articles about him often attach the word “beloved”. Personally, I can’t imagine loving my school principal, but “respected” might fit.) Milt was a role model – an African American athlete who made it as a pro (San Francisco 49ers) but also got an education so he would have a life after football. He spoke at my children’s kindergarten graduations, telling them that he expected to see them all graduating from East in 18 years.

Milt McPike, from Madison.com

UPDATES FROM THE ROAD

Charlie getting higher, photo courtesy of Charlie’s facebook page.

Bob, Terry, and Ken from last year’s coast-to-coast ride have completed their 1600 km circumnavigation of France. Charlie is on his 8th crossing of the US, now in Montana, going east to west. Jeremy abandoned the Great Divide Ride in West Yellowstone, MT, having completed 929 grueling off-road miles in 12 days. His hands had taken a beating.

Flying to Oregon, the clouds parted and something looked familiar below. The map showed we were flying over Gillette, WY, the site of last summer’s worst nightmare. I followed our route in reverse from above, looking down and at pictures from last year. It looks different from 30,000 feet. I had to supply the details.

Last year at this time – CycleAmerica World HQ, Cannon Falls, MN

P.S. Happy Golden Birthday to you know who. (Well, you may not, but they do.)

Niagara Falls

Saturday, 4 August (I know, I had the date wrong Thursday)

(Friday night) It is so humid in Port Dover that the grass is already wet with dew before sunset. The laundry I hung six hours ago is still wet. Even the shorts I washed yesterday, hanging for their second day, are still wet. I have one dry pair left. My sleeping bag is still soggy from last night before I go to bed. My tent rain fly is wet inside and out.

We’re in a “Conservation Area” that looks like a campground to me, but seems to be more an enclave of summer homes. 

Many of the trailers are up on cinder blocks. Many have wooden front porches or decks. Some have gardens and fences. While they are travel trailers, not mobile homes, it appears that most have not moved in years.

We rode 5.5 miles before breakfast.

I read a play by Gary Soto the other night.  It was written in Spanglish. (I know him primarily for his picture books for children, also in Spanglish.) This got me thinking about Spanglish and about the Lone Ranger.

The hypothesis I am about to explicate is one I developed some time ago. I could find no evidence to support it. As those who have heard my explanation of the origin of the town of Kaukauna well know, this does not stop me from making stuff up.

The Lone Ranger calls his sidekick “Tonto”. Those with even a rudimentary understanding of Spanish know this means “stupid”.

Tonto, in return, calls the Ranger “Kemosabe”. This could be rendered as “(E´l) que no sabe”, or “he who doesn’t know” or, more simply, “know nothing”. [Imagine the accent is on the E; that was the best I could do.]

Are these affectionate nicknames among friends? Or is it a comment on the power relationship? The Lone Ranger, in his arrogance, calls his sidekick “stupid” and thinks he’s putting one over on him. Tonto, in return, calls the Ranger “know nothing” but says it in a respectful tone. The joke is then on the Lone Ranger and Tonto exercises his power in the only way available to the oppressed, slyly and (apparently) innocently. 

We rode past a huge estate, said to have 27 bathrooms. One of our staff asked if it were correct that the owners made their money from vegetables. The pastor of the church where we were eating smiled slyly and said, “or something green and leafy.” It was only after the snickers died down that I remembered that we are in tobacco country. In the photo, the mansion is barely visible through the morning fog. Ironically, it is on Radical Road (see photo below).

Ther are lots of wind farms in Ontario and solar panels frequently stand among the soybeans.

We rode through summer homes along Lake Erie and into the town of Dunville, where I stopped for espresso and a scone.BBCB4FCC-3928-4322-B38F-E3CD247AB805

We rode on to lunch, where we said goodbye to Ally and Ed, who set off to meet up with the rest of the family for their ride home to New Jersey. A few hundred yards later we passed a mailbox reading “Ed and Allie”.

Gelato in Fonthill after lunch, then a quick ferry ride in a pontoon boat (I was the only passenger) before the final stretch into Niagara Falls. Then it was “hurry up and wait” for the campground to be ready. I hadn’t stalled enough – but I have wet clothes to hang and I want them dry today.

More kids growing up

I went on a long ride Sunday – long mostly because of the 20+ mph headwind for the first 35 miles. I got home in time to see Joel Paterson and the Modern Sounds at the Pursuit of Joel PHappiness Festival. Joel is a phenomenal guitarist who can play anything. He has a number of bands to give him a chance to play multiple styles. The Modern Sounds play old jazz and swing with a little rockabilly, R&B, and blues in the mix. He started playing in these parts as a kid, then grew up and moved to Chicago. He also figures into my life in an indirect sort of way.

Those who know me in another part of my life know I work in health care. It was Joel’s mom who started me on that path. When I was 20 I injured my ankle. I was treated in an emergency room (after fashioning a crutch to get back down from the mountains, but that’s another story) while traveling but it didn’t get better. Walking was an interesting adventure. Running was out of the question. I went to my local free clinic (The Near East Side Community Health Center, which has merged into Access Community Health Centers, run by my friend Ken Loving – another story for another time).

In the free clinic, there was a volunteer position called “Patient Advocate”. The Advocate’s job was to act as a medical assistant (gathering health history and chief complaint) and more. It was the advocate’s job to be sure the patient’s needs were met. The advocate helped the patient formulate questions for the doctor, guided them with follow up questions as needed, and ensured that their needs were met before the doctor left the room.

Joel’s mom was my advocate. (She had also been my sister’s high school classmate.) Before I left the clinic that night, she extracted a promise that I would return as a patient advocate after I saw the orthopedic surgeon they referred me to.

I went back and volunteered as an advocate for a few years. Something must have stuck with me, as I became an Occupational Therapist about 25 years later. Patient advocacy is still an important part of my job.

Joel has a YouTube channel that can give you an idea of his range. Or you can look at what others have uploaded here. I’m not sure what to pick to just link to one or two things. Here’s a Scotty Moore tribute:

Here’s a bit of swing:

How about blues?

Now go listen to him live and buy his albums. A musician can’t make a living if all we do is watch his/her YouTube videos.

Back to bikes for a minute. A while back I posted a series on bike safety. I thought I was done but I left something out – and it’s something I’ve used the past few days.

It’s a baseball metaphor. For those of you who have played, you know what it means to “look the runner back”. You can skip the next paragraph. For those who don’t, read on.

If you’re playing shortstop and there’s a runner on second and a ground ball is hit to you, your natural play is to throw the batter out at first; but you don’t want the runner on second to go to third. You “look him/her back”. You make eye contact in a way that says, “If you break for third, you’re out. Better stay where you are.” When the runner turns back to second, you make your play at first.

It works with drivers. You’re at a four way stop. The car to your left was there first and has the right of way. You let her/him go. The car behind her/him decides to go at the same time. You look her/him back; making eye contact in a way that says, “wait your turn.” That driver know it’s your turn to go and was hoping you’d be cowed because their car is bigger than your bike. Most of the time, the driver will acquiesce, knowing they were trying to pull a fast one. If they go anyway, you let them. You both know what’s what.

In this way you can be an assertive, not aggressive, bicyclist.