Patient Goats at the Maryland Zoo in Druid Hill Park

Patient Goats at the Maryland Zoo in Druid Hill ParkI’m writing this blog the day after this particular ride. Here’s what I remember: I got on my bike earlier than I thought I would, but N. takes L. & J. out to play early, before naptime, and she invited me to join them all at the zoo. I hopped on and pedaled quickly, enjoying that flying turn onto Remington Avenue, pedaling hard up the hill and flying back down, a left into the park where kids were pouring into the pool. I continued on to the reservoir path, going the wrong way, saying my how-you-doin’s to speedwalkers, bicyclists, and that guy with his dog. Continue reading

Wall of White Men at 11 & 1/2 West Chase Street

Wall of White Men at 11 & 1/2 West Chase StreetIt was time to bid vacation a mini-farewell and get back to work today, so that’s what I did, most of it from the comfort of my air conditioned apartment, because that’s just the kind of lucky duck I am. But then it was time to get out, and I hopped on the bike and headed to Federal Hill to meet A. for gossip and work–reading for her, administrative this and thats for me. The ride was hot and sweaty and pedestrians seemed to have it out for me, stepping off the curb and right into my path more than once. I used my outside voice to encourage their sharing with me the Inner Harbor loop and thought to myself, everyone needs to learn how to share, not just the drivers. A couple hours of work later and I was headed back toward Mount Vernon for a meeting at the offices of Baltimore Heritage. I love this group, and I mean love. Continue reading

Fluid Movement’s Water Ballet at Druid Hill Park Pool

Fluid Movement's Water Ballet at Druid Hill Park PoolAs N. and I rolled back into town from our epic journey to Rosedale, Maryland, she asked, “So, are you going to take a bike ride?” Maybe, I said, maybe not. I went ahead and took a ride–a short one–up to Druid Hill Park to check out Fluid Movement‘s water ballet inspired by Moby Dick. I took the street into the park to avoid what was sure to be a parking hassle. There were volunteers directing cars down and up a safety-coned street and others directing drivers straight up the hill. I went ahead and grabbed a parking spot right in front, smug bicyclist that I am, and got my ticket for the show. My favorite part of the show was just the fact that so many grown people would decide to devote this much time and energy to put on a water ballet. And also the youth diving team doing their show to this song. I grabbed a seat, read every single word and name in the program, and then enjoyed the conceit, the dances, the swimming, and the music. It’s just joy and that’s it, this show. A quick hour later and I was back on the bike, speeding the downhills home as the clouds rolled in. What a great weekend, eh?

Crowds Gathered for Bike Party at Pearlstone Park at Preston & Cathedral

Crowds Gathered for Bike PArty at Pearlstone Park at Preston & CathedralFriday’s evening ride took me down the hill and to the right to Pearlstone Park, a place I’d been a bunch of times but didn’t know it had a name, to meet up with 1,000 other bicyclists for another edition of Bike Party. I hadn’t been planning to go, but when R. asked if I wanted to go, I couldn’t think of a reason not to–always an excellent situation for saying YES. This Bike Party was going to be a little different–the police wanted to be more involved. I guess there are some concerns about 1,000+ cyclists taking a good 30 minutes to get through intersections, holding up traffic and, well, I can’t think of any other reason the police would want to be involved, right? Continue reading

Fire Trucks on Display at the Baltimore Convention Center on Pratt Street

Fire Trucks on Display at the Baltimore Convention Center on Pratt StreetAfter a morning finishing one book, starting another, and sending some emails I should have sent months ago it was time to get back on the bike and pedal around in a surprisingly beautiful day. I headed down the hill to the Inner Harbor with an eye toward redeeming a coupon for a trip through the historic ships parked there. Well, that coupon expired in May, so I decided to just wander around to see what I could see. First stop: Harborplace. I’ve never been in there, because why, but today I decided to go check out the McCormick Spice store. Continue reading

Empty Storefronts in Baltimore’s Old Town Mall at Gay & Orleans

Empty Storefronts in Baltimore's Old Town Mall at Gay & OrleansI’m back in Baltimore, and after some cat-snuggling and email-answering it was time to head out on the bike. Oh, Surly, I missed you! We made a quick stop in the neighborhood for a sandwich before heading down the hill and taking a right on Gay Street for a slow trip through the abandoned Old Town Mall. This place is just a few blocks off the main downtown drag, but it might as well be in, well, east Baltimore. I snapped this picture while pushing my bike along, and it felt like a ghost town. I idly wondered if they might make this an Ole Tyme Ghost Town or Colonial Williamsburg-type tourist destination–what’s the difference? Or will it someday be that–urban disaster tourism, a la New Orleans? I continued along, saying my how-you-doins (I missed those–the west coast doesn’t share this neighborly ritual) and noting the couple of storefronts that have managed to stay open, and then I was back on a bike lane and pedaling along through east Baltimore and down to Fells Point to stare at the water and then heading to O’Donnell Square for frozen yogurt before heading home through Patterson Park and back up the hill. It just felt good to be out there and on the bike, good to be home. I really, really like this place, from the parks and bike lanes to the Old Town Malls–all of it.

Rocks and Waves and Blue Skies at Glass Beach in Fort Bragg


I meant to go for a bike ride today, but by the time I had time to myself, I was more in the mood for a slow amble. I walked right toward the ocean–is there another direction out here?–and took a right on the main drag for a stop at the post office to drop some postcards in the mail to M., S., and N., who rang me from her amble at just that moment. We swapped stories from our ambles, agreed it was The Greatest Day in the History of the World, and then parted phone ways to continue our respective walks. Mine took me to the fence blocking off the beach where the lumber mill used to be. There are still piles of lumber and reminders that work used to be done here, but now it is all NO TRESPASSING and that alone made the homes lining it a different world from the mansions just up the road; even paradise finds itself structurally adjusted. And then I found the entrance to the state park, and oh my, look at it. I walked, I sat, I listened, I waded, I waited, and then it was time to head back. I took my time walking along Highway 1, past the boarded-up bed and breakfasts and the gas stations and restaurants and the other attempts to figure out what to do to make this a place to make a living after the mill closed. I stopped for a fancy coffee, stopped in the store that sells only socks–I wonder how that’s going to turn out–tried on some ridiculously expensive shoes, and picked up an album for N.–don’t tell–and then it was dinner with friends and a walk back to E. and S.’s for wine, brownies, and baseball, just like the old days, another vacation win, much to think about, just like I like it.

The Pacific Ocean From the Pacific Coast Bike Trail in Fort Bragg, California


E. and S. know me well, even if it has been a decade since we lived in the same place, so of course they offered up a bike ride this morning, first by the post office so I could run an errand–my favorite sort of bike ride–and then to the town’s bike trail. In this town, the bike trail skirts the Pacific ocean, and at the risk of sounding melodramatic, it took my breath away.  I know, my breath seems pretty easy to take, but c’mon, we’re talking about Yosemite and the Pacific here. It is all just spectacular. We pedaled along, smelling the ocean air and dodging the gaps and holes in asphalt that gets routinely washed out, saying our good mornings to other walkers, joggers, cyclists, and guys with fishing poles heading down the beach. I could get used to this breathtaking business, for sure, but then it was time to turn around and head home, promises of more rides tomorrow. It is all fog and cool breezes out here, and I wish I had my Surly with me to do some of Highway 1. Patience, patience, try to enjoy what’s here now and not just what you wish could be, I thought to myself as the ride ended too soon–a helpful reminder in general, I think.

View of Vernal Falls From the Lower Bridge in Yosemite


S. and E. said we could rent bikes and ride around Yosemite (I was in YOSEMITE!!! ZOMG!!!), or we could go on a hike. Ordinarily I’m all for bikes, but today I wanted the slowness of the walk so I could stare, because this place is so marvelous I just wanted to look up, wide eyes that I feared would never open wide enough to get it all in. I mean, these are the biggest granite monolith rock formations in the world–I’m not going to speed by them on a bicycle. Instead we joined many of the other 20,000 visitors at the park today on the Mist Trail straight up the hill toward Vernal Falls. As we crossed the first bridge the scene took my breath away, and then S. urged me a bit more to the right, saying, “It’s over here.” And then this view, which I couldn’t actually capture with my cell phone camera, that made my skin tremble and my eyes get weepy. Oh, John Muir, you were right. We walked almost to the top, every direction too much to handle, and then we tripped back down before getting back in the car for a long and winding drive to the coast. We got a 45 degree temperature change today, and tomorrow, the ocean. Vacation, you are ridiculous, and I approve. Now somebody lend me a bike.

Trayvon Martin Protesters Gathered at City Hall To Demand Justice

Protesters Gathered at City HallThe clock clicked to 5:00pm and it was time to slather on the sunscreen and get on the bike for another ride down to McKeldin Square for another rally demanding justice in the Trayvon Martin case. That’s not a demand that’s going to be met following this particular rally, of course, but the rally brings like-minded folks together to feel community in anger, mourning, frustration, but also to revel in the pleasure of the crowd itself. My favorite moment from Sunday’s protest, for example, came when I was locking my bike up to the racks in the Inner Harbor (there’s a rack! As N. would say, wowwwwwwwwwwww!). Continue reading