Play ball!

The Assembly of the State of Wisconsin has passed a bill proclaiming that “No sporting event may be held in a venue the construction of which was financed at least in part from moneys contributed by a state agency or local governmental unit unless the event is preceded by the playing or singing of the national anthem.” (AB 226, 2021)

The bill does not define “sporting event”. If I take a Frisbee to the park and toss it with a friend, is that a “sporting event”? How about a pick-up softball game? A kids’ soccer game?

A park is, by definition, “a venue …financed…by a state agency or local governmental unit” (unless a National Park). Therefore, it appears that any sporting event in a park must be accompanied by the National Anthem – if this bill passes the Senate and is signed by the Governor. Understand that this is a state that failed to pass any legislation establishing safety regulations related to COVID-19.

I, for one, am fully prepared to sing the National Anthem when I throw a stick for Bailey to fetch. If I don’t feel like singing, I have it ready on my phone.

I’m going to define this trip as a “Sporting Event”. In several weeks we will pass through Wisconsin and we will ride in “a venue…financed…by a state agency or local government unit”. Just in case I forget then, here is the National Anthem to kick off Cycle America 2022!

I think I’ll propose that this be the legally-required version (Ha! And you thought it was going to be Hendrix, but in MA that might be illegal.)

In Massachusetts, you must sing it correctly. To sing the anthem “other than as a whole and separate composition or number, without embellishment or addition in the way of national or other melodies” is a crime. (General Laws, Part IV, Title I, Chapter 264, Section 9.) Having heard some renditions before sporting events, I might be inclined to agree.

Day 1 Everett to Skykomish 76 miles, 3517 feet of climbing for 680 feet of net elevation gain.

Don’t expect these data every day. I set my altimeter according to Google at our start point. I believe there was a misplaced decimal point, as we were 160 feet below sea level when we reached Puget Sound.

Cold! Wet! Death-defying busy highway! Drawbridges without shoulders! And that was all in the first five miles.

We rode west (West!?) for the first 16 miles for the obligatory dip-the-rear-tire-in-the-Pacific-Ocean photo op – our first scenic detour. We didn’t actually make progress toward Boston for the first 30 miles. It’s a good thing crossing the continent is mostly incidental to having a good time.

Sealed with wax, it will be merged with the Atlantic in 9 weeks.

To yesterday’s list we add France and British Columbia to the homes of our riders. It rained a bit overnight so we packed up wet. My neighbor carefully dried her tent, then went inside for something. When she came back out, it was raining. Breakfast was forgettable – hash browns that had been rehydrated and heated. “Hash whites” would be more accurate. Coffee was ½ hour late and pale brown water. It looked like the water of Castle Rock Lake but lacked the flavor. It ruined perfectly good water. Thanks to my former co-workers for the shot of espresso at “Proper Joe”, a coffee shop at mile 30. The town of Snohomish seemed like a pleasant place if it weren’t cold and wet. My former co-workers will keep me in espresso and beer as I cross the continent. Thanks again! And feel free to comment below. Just don’t give me too much work news – remember the “former” that goes before co-worker.

I probably wrote of Skykomish’s history as a Superfund site last time, so go back to June 17, 2018 to read that story.

The rain stopped after a few hours and we had a cool and cloudy day. Arriving at camp, I dried out and pitched the tent, cleaned and lubed the bike, then took a shower. As they say, take care of the horse first.

After going back and forth a few times I decided not to bring a sleeping bag since I was usually too warm four years ago. Too warm has not been an issue. I need to sleep in more clothes tonight.

As usual out west, the most beautiful views were in places that it was barely safe to look – no way could I stop for a picture. Tomorrow we go up and over Stevens Pass.

Lush – that’s what you get when it rains all the time
The Cascades, shrouded in fog.

When the going gets tough

…the half-fast go for a beer. Today, the going got tough. Today was supposed to be babysitting and rain in the morning, a solo ride in the afternoon. Last night the babysitting was postponed, and at 9 AM the sun came out – just enough time to join today’s club ride.

My MO with this club is to start near the back, let the fast folks disappear, and join the moderately-paced group. When we get to the hills, those riders disappear behind me and I end up in no-man’s-land between the two groups, riding alone for the rest of the day.

Today was a relatively flat ride so I hoped I could avoid that fate. We started out as usual. One of the fast group drifted back to us, saying he’d rather be sociable than fast today. I had several miles to get to know this person and we had a nice chat. We rode along in a group of six. Three took a shortcut so three of us were left. When we hit the wind, the third rider kept drifting off the back and we kept waiting for him. We picked up a fourth and had two well-matched pairs. We couldn’t talk much while headed into the wind and the two pairs drifted further apart. The person I was with tweaked his knee and decided to take a shortcut home. So there I was, in a 20 mph headwind which was pushing rain in my face, with 30 miles to go and no one in sight. Oops, I did it again.

Eventually I decided on a shortcut. I saw a way to get to a bike path that would cross my route and be a straight shot back. Trouble was, it didn’t actually cross the road I was on, it passed under it. It took some doing to get to the path. Now I was on a straight shot home, but the wind had shifted from southerly to southwesterly, so it was back in my face again. The rain stopped and the sun appeared again.

I have mixed feelings about rails-to-trails conversions. They mean a dedicated off-road path, but they also mean that railroads will never come back. Other than the route, the infrastructure is gone. They are good for the slow and casual rider, families, people with strollers, and others who feel safer away from cars and moving slowly. They are not paved, and riding on dirt or gravel takes its toll over time. The town roads follow the contours of the land. I am riding in and of a place. The railroads cut through the land – flattening and straightening the world – but when the world grows back along the path, it can become a smaller disruption in the (adapted) natural world. Today’s path mostly ran through open land with no respite from the wind. In the last 10 miles I came into some woods for a bit of relief. When there is a bike (or multi-use) path, drivers think bicyclists no longer belong on the roads. Today the pros outweighed the cons.

Spring peepers (tiny frogs that make big sound)

The spring peepers are out in force and the magnolias are blooming.

(6)

Sugar moon/Purim/Equinox

Here is my St Patrick’s Day Black and Tan, which I should be drinking with hamantaschen. Alas, I made no hamantaschen. A good thing, since I may fail a random drug test after eating too many poppy seed ones.

Image from Cheftimestwo

Also this week, the full moon known by many names arrives. The Ojibwe call it The Sugar Moon for the obvious reason noted in our last post – the maple sap is flowing. The Dakota call it The Worm Moon, as beetle larvae appear out of thawing tree bark. It might also be The Crow Comes Back Moon (northern Ojibwe) and several other names.

Moonset

Spring arrives Sunday morning (March 22); unless you’re in the southern hemisphere, in which case fall arrives. Along with the previously-mentioned signs of spring, the lakes melt. In early winter, as the lakes freeze, they give up large amounts of heat for the change of state from liquid to solid, resulting in fog. In late winter, as they thaw, they absorb large amounts of heat for the state change from solid to liquid, with the same result.

Fog forming across the lake as it thaws. Ice remains in the foreground, but I wouldn’t want to walk on it.

In other weather-related news, the Good Weather Bike made its first appearance. The studded tires remain on the Bad Weather Bike, anticipating the spring snowstorm.

My local paper runs a list of celebrity birthdays every day. Tuesday, March 15, was a banner day. Saxophonist Charles Lloyd is 84. Bassist Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead) is 82, Singer Mike Love (Beach Boys) is 81. Bandleader Sly Stone is 79. Guitarist Ry Cooder is 75. Drop down a generation and rapper will.i.am (Black Eyed Peas) is 47.

Friends

…and I don’t mean the TV show and I don’t mean Quakers.

A blogger I follow recently referred to me as a friend (and I agree). That got me to thinking. That, and a visit out of the blue last night.

My daughter has “Internet friends” all over the world; people they have never met in the flesh, but many they have met face-to-face via FaceTime, so we know they are who they say they are (as much as we know that about anybody, but that’s another story).

That reality had always been foreign to me until I started blogging. Now I have people all over the country whom I would call friends, or at least friendly acquaintances, though we have never been face-to-face even on FaceTime.

My best friend R from my ten years in California appeared out of the blue last night. I got a FaceTime request from an unknown number. I declined it and said “Who are you?” He was an hour and a half away and passing through. We had a great walk and talk in the park a few blocks from my house. We stayed several feet apart. He got back in the RV and disappeared. I walked home for dinner.

Three of us (R and F and I) used to get in hot water together regularly in the Bay Area. I mean that literally. We would go to a hot tub place, sit in the tub together and talk, then continue the talk over dinner. (Truth be told, I’m more of a sauna guy, but hey, this was California;) We asked each other the kinds of questions that made us think and feel and know each other and ourselves more deeply than usual.

R and I once drove 50 miles to a jazz concert. We argued economics (or discussed passionately) for most of the drive and part of dinner. We heard and saw a great concert, then continued the discussion on the drive home and sitting parked in front of my house for too long. As I walked into the house I realized I had just learned something about love. I had spent my formative years (18 to 30) in a close-knit community, where we agreed on most things and our disagreements were, in the grand scheme of things, pretty small. Now I was having a disagreement that was pretty big; but I realized that I could disagree about an idea and love the person speaking it.

This is a friend to whom, when I am gone, I think I may be invisible. We have had no contact in over ten years. But when we are together, he is here 100%. He is fully present – so I don’t begrudge him the fact that he is fully present somewhere else with someone else when I am 2000 miles away.

Those years from 18-30 were present in our talk. The park contains a memorial to an old friend. We had a community of interlocking organizations and friendships. (See previous post and reference to the New Nation – building a new society in the shell of the old.) I initially knew Orly through an organization I worked for, People’s Office. We were a community center providing some of the services that the internet provides now. If you needed someone to fix your plumbing, Orly was the guy, and we had his number at our fingertips. Need to get bailed out of jail? Find out what’s happening in town tonight? Need to get your car fixed at the Co-op Garage? Having a bad acid trip? We could help you. If you had a problem we hadn’t run across before, we’d find a way to help you. Several organizations got their start that way.

Later Orly apprenticed to the electrician who wired the co-op when we got a new building. That electrician happened to have a PhD, but he’d put himself through school as an electrician and liked it. It was only years later that he worked as a psychotherapist, using that degree. Working at the neighborhood grocery co-op, I knew pretty much everybody (and what they ate), and they knew me. S liked to work Sunday mornings so she could see who came in together to pick up bagels and the New York Times. She thus knew the neighborhood gossip first. It was that kind of town.

Moving back after ten years in California, my re-introduction to the community was Orly’s funeral. He died during a heat wave just after I moved back. We had a canoe funeral procession down the river. His flower-filled canoe was towed between two others. We rounded the bend out of the river and into the lake, pulled up on shore at the park, and had a big potluck. It seems that everyone I knew was there. I was home. Orly and the canoe are memorialized on a plaque on a park bench right where the river flows into the lake (where we took the walk back at the beginning of this post). That park is also home to the Marquette Waterfront Festival, with which we welcome each summer (the weekend that school gets out).

So there are that kind of friends, too. Those whose lives weave in and out of our own for years. Those we may never know well, but who make our lives richer anyway. Those we have a deep connection with somewhere along the way, but not forever, but they are still part of that fabric. Then there are friends like the half-fast cycling club, folks I’ve ridden with for 10-45 years. Sometimes a bike ride is the best place to talk.

A song from the Women’s Movement of the 1970s. I couldn’t find a recording by the writer, Ginni Clemmens (without buying the whole album). She was a Chicago folksinger in the 60s and a stalwart of women’s music in the 70s. She died in 2003 on Maui.

You may have noticed that I refer to living people only by an initial and dead people by name. I guess dead people can’t defend themselves and living people may not want to be identified here, so I don’t name them without consent, and I don’t tend to contact them to ask for consent.