Thursday, June 29, 2006

Green Heron

Originally uploaded by TimothyJ.
Testing out my new 40-150 lens on my fairly new Olympus Evolt-300. The bird was paid for its time and signed all proper releases.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

San Francisco The Last Day

I had to be at the airport before noon, and had a little packing left to do, so my final morning was going to be short. I had no desire to miss my plane.

I had to pick up a few gifts and raid the ATM. The only ATM for BOA I had spotted was Ghirardelli Square, a few blocks away from the hotel and the waterfront. So I headed there and visited the ATM. Then I stopped and snapped a few shots of infamous fountain with turtles and breastfeeding mermaids. It caused quite a stir when it was first unveiled. although there seems to be little information on it online.

Leaving the square I stopped on a stair case leading down from Ghirardelli Square and was attacked by a bird. He went right after my head. I ducked down and looked around, but could not see anything. I stayed there and fiddled with my camera, and the damn bird attacked me again! I finally spotted him, and figured he was protecting a nest, so I just left the area. I had seen a biker get covered with bird crap my first day in town, and while I did not mind getting attacked so much, I would mind a bird dive bombing me.

I picked up a few souvenirs and then snapped a few last pics before heading back to the hotel and then the airport.

My trip home was uneventful, for the most part. My luggage arrived intact, although they did open, search and repack my bike case. The only bad part was arriving at the economy parking lot at midnight and realizing I could not remember where the hell I parked my truck. I ended up walking up and down the rows of cars for an hour before I found my trusty Ranger.

Overall, this was one of the best trips I have taken. I hope to go back.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

San Francisco Day 5

Day 5 was going to start with a bike trip to Haight-Ashbury and the Golden Gate Park, a small part of which I cycled during the race. Sadly, I awoke to a flat tire on the front of my bike, mentioned previously. I did not want to risk a flat so reluctantly decided to skip Haight-Ashbury until another trip. I headed, instead, to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

I had been looking forward to SF MOMA. I like modern art and so this little trip had been on my calendar from day one. Sadly, about 40% of the exhibits were closed, including the Picturing Modernity photo exhibit I had been looking forward to. I still did get to see some interesting stuff.

• The Art of Design – The architecture and design collection was a wonderful collection of how artistic design can be useful in architecture, industrial and household design. From buildings to motorcycles to furniture. This was probably my favorite open exhibit, but I did feel it should be bigger.
• Shomei Tomatsu: Skin of the Nation – An exhibition of a Japanese postwar photographer who documented the aftermath of the atomic bombing, the influence of the American military, the 1930’s economic boom and pop culture. So many fascinating photographs with a nuanced insight into life in Japan. The exhibit really gave a fascinating glimpse into postwar Japan.
• Beyond Art and Life – The contemporary painting and sculpture collection was a diverse collection. I think I appreciated the paintings more than the sculpture.

No photography was allowed inside, so no pictures for you!

After MOMA I wondered around the Market Street area taking pictures.

Then I walked towards Chinatown, to get a photograph of the front gate, which I had not seen on the previous trip.

Then I just headed back towards the bay, taking in what I could. I passed the “seedy” part of town, then the “churchy” part of town, and then made it back to the Lombard area.

For my final evening in town, I did not want to do much. I did want to try and get some pictures of a few Victorians. I walked a few miles, snapped some pictures, and then made my way towards the water front again. I saw more parks with, again, lots of people using them. The evening was very nice. Many people were out with their dogs after work. Little dog parties were forming at several parks. Lots of people were out exercising. This is a great city.

There was this lush park above the bay with lots of people exercising, and a dog party going on. I found this great statue with some intricate tile work at the base. If only I could have taken it home....

Sunday, June 11, 2006

San Francisco Day 4 (After The Race)

After a short nap, and a search for a decent sandwich on a Sunday afternoon, which was hard in San Francisco for some reason, a trip to Alcatraz was on the schedule.

We had bought tickets for the night tour of Alcatraz, which the guidebooks recommend, since it has extras as well as a sunset over the island. We hustled down to the wharf to grab a bite to eat before boarding the 6:30 boat. Along the way we passed the infamous Bushman, who scares unsuspecting tourists as the stroll down the sidewalk.

After a stop to a truly bad Johnny Rockets, where the service was exceptionally horrible, we had to scramble to make the boat. They boarded late, but we left on time. We sat outside where the wind was whipping around. Gulls traveled with the boat, one in particular hanging right above or behind us the entire trip. The view going to the island was fantastic! It was made even better by the knowledge that I didn't have to swim back this time, unless I fell off the boat or island, which I had no intention of doing.

The view facing back to San Francisco wasn't too bad either.

Once docked at Alcatraz, the tour guides split everybody into groups of 60, walking us to the prison and told us about the facility as we walk up. I won't go into all they told us, but I will mention they covered the islands history as a fort, a military prison, a federal prison and as a territory occupied by Indians.

Al Capone was covered heavily, as he is the most notorious prisoner, but there were other prisoners with interesting stories. I highly recommend the night tour to anybody interested in the prison. They give talks that cover much more detailed information than the standard audio tour. I do not want to short change the audio tour as it was fantastic and covered lots of history of the time the island as a prisoner, using audio of actual prisoners and guards.

We had time to roam parts of the island. The views are great, but most prisoners did not get to enjoy them. There are parts of the prison that are crumbling, since the military prisoners who built most of the concrete structures did not take much pride in their work. There needs to be a lot of restoration. Our guide told us of conservative visitors who said the prison needed to be repaired and reopened!

Night began to fall while we were on the island.

Then it was time to leave, as night fell on the island. The trip back to San Francisco was cold as the wind was really picking up. Luckily I was wearing my $15 Chinatown jacket I had purchased earlier.

More photos at Flickr.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Race- Escape From Alcatraz!

Race morning is like being in the Army. You get up early and hurry up and wait.

I met Doug in the lobby and we rolled down to the transition area at 5:15. We set up in a few minutes and I figured Doug was right- we could have left later. We snapped a few pictures, double checked what stuff we had already doubled checked, and then I suggested we just get on a bus.

The race organizers had stressed getting on the bus early and getting to the boat. If you miss the boat, you miss the race. If you get to the boat late, you miss the boat. If you miss the last bus, better have taxi money. I did not want to be crowding onto the last bus trying to catch the boat. Funny, they ended up holding the boat because the buses were running late.

At the dock we hung out for almost an hour. We were sitting in the cold as the sun was rising. It was not that cold, but I knew jumping off the boat into the water would be. That is the moment I hate most about triathlons- getting into the cold water early in the morning. It is times like that when I think bowling would be a better hobby. We were carrying our wetsuits and dry bags delaying squeezing into neoprene. They loaded us onto the boat at 7:15 or so. That was a nice boat. I am not sure what I was expecting, but that was pretty nice. There were cameras all over the ceiling, so I figured it had to normally be a gambling ship, or a gambling paddleboat. Everything had been removed, and triathletes were sprawled all over the floor; stretching, sleeping, talking, or finding that place some go to before the start. The boat was delayed, as mentioned above. We started out before the 8 o’clock start.

All the announcers, at every venue and meeting, were Aussie. I have no idea why. I was waiting for the obligatory national anthem, which I find really silly and unnecessary at sporting events, and was wondering if we would hear the anthem with an accent. If we had I am sure some obsessive compulsive wingnut tri-geek would have blown a fuse. Doug had gone to the restroom when the singing began. We also had a prayer by an ultra-religious former pro triathlete, who I am sure used to believe God actually cared about how she finished. When Doug returned I inquired if he was peeing during the anthem or the prayer. I won’t give it away, but he was taking a leak when one of them cranked up.

As we approached Alcatraz everybody was zipping up their wetsuits, putting neoprene accessories like hoods and booties on, and spitting in their goggles. I grabbed Doug from the spot I had staked out near the stairs, and we went out the back door. We were on the second floor with the other “older” triathletes, and figured to be jumping off the boat rather late. I wanted to get into the water as early as possible. We were on the back stairs between the 1st and 2nd levels when the pros went. We went down to the first level and started to walk toward the side facing San Francisco, but were blocked by a race official. He directed us towards a door into a hallway. With the flow we went through another door, made a left, and suddenly Doug was crossing the timing mat at the side. We had somehow fumbled our way into going just a few minutes after the pros. I heard “1, 2, 3, go!” and Doug was gone. I adjusted my goggles and watched the guy in front of me jump. Doug would have a six second or so head start. I stepped over the timing mat to the side with the rail immediately on my left. “1, 2, 3, jump!”

The water was maybe 8 feet down. I aimed way to my left to make sure the guy behind me was not going to land on my head, and then I started swimming. The water was cold, but not too bad. I think the booties helped. They were cut low, and so the water ran in around my bony ankles, but it stayed there. I did not have cold water constantly streaming by my feet, leeching the precious heat from my skin. My goggles had a bit of water in them from the jump, but soon I did not even notice it. The huge electronics tower over the city, that we were supposed to site on, was obscured by fog. It had been sunny on the way out, and looked like a beautiful day, but about the time I jumped into the water a thick fog swept into the bay. I could, however, see the gold dome over some palace of fine arts- I had trouble the entire visit remembering just what the building was. I headed a bit to the left of that dome.

The bay was choppy, and I swallowed a lot of water. I found myself alone with a large pack on either side of me. I thought of the sandwich theorem from college calculus, and figured if I kept between the two groups I should hit the landing as I was supposed to. The swim from Alcatraz is not a straight line. There is a strong current as you near shore, basically there is a river running through the bay. You try to swim into the current towards the left of the landing, and while swimming towards the shore let the current carry you to the right. If you get to land too quick, you will hit some nasty water in front of some rocks. If you get there to late, well you might not get there and could end up being swept out under the Golden Gate to China or nearby parts. Usually officials are directing you to keep that from happening. They will grab you up and reset you if they feel the need. If you are too smart to listen to them, they will grab your stupid ass with a hook and reset you anyway.

The swim record is about 20 minutes. This year the first pro hit land at 28 minutes, slow because of the less than ideal conditions of the current and the chop. Doug was at 41 minutes and change and I made land at 42 minutes and change. I was not upset. My back had tightened during the swim and I was hoping it would not bother me later.

Watching a lot of triathletes trying to run out of the water and strip off wetsuits is probably like watching drunks trying to get home and strip off their clothes to have sex. They tend to lose their balance, have trouble finding zippers and you might smell the faint smell of urine. (Disclaimer: I really had to go to the bathroom on the swim, but just do not enjoy pissing on myself in a wetsuit, as many triathletes do. Sure I have, but I avoid it. Sometimes I strip off my wetsuit in the water and pretend I am neatly folding it while I pee, but the water was too cold for that today.) I stripped off my hood, swim cap and goggles and prepped my hair for the “Exiting The Water” tri picture. I was hoping the footies would not only keep my feet fairly warm, but would pad my feet for the mile run to the transition area over rocks and pavement. I ran by the wetsuit strippers- the most popular job for race volunteers- and headed for my bike.

The footies did help and my feet did hurt much during the run. After a half mile I was warming up and started reaching for my zipper on the back of my neck. I was fumbling with the zipper like the aforementioned drunks. I was really having trouble and this with an Aquaman wetsuit, which is one of the easiest to unzip. Finally I had the cord in my hand and I pulled, opening the zipper. As I ran into the transition I was peeling the wetsuit down. At my bike I peeled it down, stepped on it and pulled my feet out. I looked over and saw that I had beat Doug to transition, although I saw later he did have a faster swim but lost time looking for his shoes. As I was quickly putting on my helmet and stuff, Doug reached his bike. Them I watched as he beat me out of transition- damnit!

After weaving through and around triathletes who seem to have trouble actually getting on their bike, I was off. Everybody was drafting, as there were a bunch of us starting out. I picked up speed early and was passing bunches. A faster guy came by and I shadowed him. A few miles down, we turned left and headed up the hills.

This was a hilly course, but I am used to that. What I was not used to is how rough the roads were. All the road building corruption in Georgia usually leaves us Atlantans spoiled with very smooth roads- they are constantly getting repaved so somebody’s brother can make a fortune. This must not happen as much in San Francisco. We were bouncing along like toddlers suspended from a doorframe by a spring. I passed Doug on the first hill as I opened her up. Five miles into the ride I knew I had to stop and pee. Again, many triathletes have no problem pissing on themselves while riding, but I don’t mind losing a minute to stop and take a leisurely piss. I do not need that warm shower to warm me up after a cold swim. After my business was concluded, I remounted my dry bike in my dry cycling shorts and resumed my ride. Doug did a double take as I passed him a second time- I love doing that to people. The descents back into the city were not as fun as they should have been with all the bouncing around on the rough road. A minute or two after an hour, I hit the transition area for the bike to run transition.

I would like to point out that I am pretty quick in transitions, and I have won age groups and masters divisions by taking time out of people in transition. I beat Doug into the second transition, but damn if he did not beat me out yet again! He had about 50 feet on me and I was determined to catch him.

I kept Doug in site during the first half mile and pulled up next to him part of the way through Crissy field. As we ran we joined a very cute girl from Sweden who I proceeded to chat up- hey why not, it is only a race? She was very nice, was indeed from Sweden, as the silk screen across her rear end suggested, and had been in the US for about 3 weeks. I saw Doug pulling ahead of me again as we were being beaten by a strong headwind. I tucked in behind a guy and started drafting. Every now and then I would pass the person in front of me and bridge to the next person, keeping Doug in sight. I was safely tucked in behind him when the path turned upward.

Doug and I started training together in 1992 at a masters swim group. Eventually we started cycling and running together. We have been pretty much training together for 14 years, on and off. I do not feel the need to beat him, but it is a good goal for me to stay with him on the run. We train at similar paces and end up finishing with similar times. I have a better Ironman PR, and he has better PR at every other distance. As tired as I was from walking all over San Francisco the previous 3 days, I figured if I could keep his pace, I would be happy with my time.

So I was happy to be right behind Doug as we started up into the hills. We ran up a trail and then up a very narrow staircase. We ran more trails, through a low tunnel, and then down onto Baker Beach. I was a ways behind Doug on the beach, around the turnaround and then gained some time just as we hit the sand ladder.

The sand ladder is the most notorious section of the Escape run. Imagine round landscape timbers connected together by heavy cable and then dropped down a high sand dune. Now think 400 steps of this sand ladder. I had run hills getting ready for this. I was hoping to pick up a little time running up the steps- Yeah, I was a stud! I walked up the sand ladder.

We ran back across the coast trail, the tunnel, and then down the narrow staircase, which had traffic going in both directions and a long line waiting to ascend for those people still heading towards the beach. I, of course, started running my mouth. “Everybody relax, take a deep breath and go to that happy place. The line will move right along.”

I reeled Doug in running down the coast trail after the narrow steps and we started the last two miles of flat running. I looked at my watch and figured we could go under three hours. After a mile and a half, however, I had to back off. I was hurting and could not hold the pace. I told Doug to go and I would see him at the finish. I walked a little bit, listening to people tell me I was almost there which was pissing me off really bad, and then started back up. I did my Deon impersonation as I crossed the finish line in 2:57:56, just 22 seconds after Doug.

I was toast after I finished. My time was not great, but it was good and I had given it everything I had. Overall I finished 389 out of 1663, and 72 out of 223 for my age group. Compared to other racers, my bike was my strongest event, but I was not very happy with it. Of course I should not have expected better since I chose to play tourist and walk all over the city.

One funny note: I had borrowed a set of Spinergy race wheels for the race from a buddy. I was doing a short ride to make sure they worked well with my bike when they fell apart. I put my old race wheels on right before leaving. The morning after the race I had a flat tire. I checked the tires and saw that they were completely worn out and had cord showing through the tread. I was very lucky that I did not flat during the race. You figure a former bike mechanic might notice something like that.

The race was run well. The organization is fantastic. The volunteers were super. The course was the toughest non-ironman I have ever done. The only complaint was that so many people were trying to get to Whole Food’s after race meal, that the line was incredibly long and not moving fast. I was too tired to stand in line any longer than the 20 minutes that I did. The food coming out did look great, however. I do recommend the race for all. It is truly a race that everybody should do at least once.

Race picks of yours truly!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Doggie Blogging

I am behind on my race and San Francisco blogging, but I will offer up some Thursday Doggie Blogging for you enjoyment. Bennie and Hilda out for a walk today.

Monday, June 05, 2006

San Francisco Day 3!

I started the day with a nice 5-mile run with friend Doug and Simon of England. It was a nice jog along the waterfront. I could so live here!

Second on the days list of things to do was a swim in the bay. Doug and I squeezed into our wetsuits and hit the water near the Maritime Museum. A minute later we were back on the beach cussing. Talk about cold. 55 degrees and my feet were in agony! We went back in for about a 10-minute swim, and it was better. Added to the list of things to do was to get neoprene footies.

The race meeting was at 1 o'clock, so we headed down to the race expo after a visit to the hotel for hot showers. There were lines for various age groups. I got into the 40+, "A-M" line, behind a dozen people. Doug got into the 40+, "N-Z" line, which had nobody in the line. Everything went quick, and the meeting was very quick. They kept harping on "DO NOT MISS THE BOAT!" No refunds if you do. You are just SOL. Did I mention they kept saying not to miss the boat? We did hit all the expo merchants and nobody had neoprene footies. They all had sold out in a half hour after opening. Wow! They really missed the boat. They could have charged a fortune for those things.

Soon we were pedaling down the bay to go to Sports Basement. The store is huge! They, too, were out of footies. The girl explained they had sold out and the dealer was out. We went back later so Doug's wife Terri could shop, and I found neoprene footies for use under flippers. They only covered the foot to just below the ankle, but ended up working well.

Next was a drive up to Muir Woods to see redwoods. Words and pictures just cannot do these trees justice. As Neal Peart discussed in his book Ghost Rider, to think there are so few of these pockets of old growth trees left, after the logging companies raped the land, that they are all named! Once old growth covered most of the US, and the few remaining pockets all have names! How pathetic? I was in awe of the trees and the area around them. The trees are massive. The plants on the floor, which prefer shade and indirect light, are beautiful. Deer would let people walk right up to them as they grazed. It was really a treat. To think that Muir and his wife bought these 700 acres to preserve, and then corporations tried to take it from them by eminent domain so they could log it, dam it, and make a lake out of the area? Luckily Muir worked out a deal with the US government and Roosevelt. They donated the land and Roosevelt used the Antiquities Act to designate the area a national park, thus saving it. Every now and then, government does something right!

Leaving Muir Woods we drove to Muir Beach Overlook. Again, wow! They views were stunning. The land just plunged to the ocean. Luckily there was very little fog so we could see for a long distance. The guidebooks were right about seeing these views. In the distance you could see boats heading towards the bay.

Sausalito was next, but by then the sun was setting and we were getting tired. We buzzed through, drove up the hills, got some nice pictures and head to the hotel.

I love this place.

As usual, more pics are on my Flickr page.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

San Francisco Day 2!

Wow, there is just so much to do! I am still a bit foggy headed from the trip out, but have been busy.

Got up yesterday and rode my bike down to the Marina, out to Point Hood, and over the hills and out to Ocean Beach. Some of those hills will be in the race. They are steep, but candy compared to some of the stuff I see in North Georgia. I enjoyed the ride. Ocean Beach was fogged in so I could not see any surfing, but one surfer told me it was small but clean. I met an English chap named Simon, and he tagged along. A very nice guy. He is joining us for a run tomorrow (today).

Back at the hotel my training partner Doug called the room. He had arrived. His family had arrived. His lugged had arrived. His bike was in Chicago.

Doug, Terri, Kenzie and I headed out for some sight seeing in his rented Grand Cherokee (Parking at the hotel $25 a day plus tax). Lombard Street was first on the list. Then we headed up to Coit Tower and saw some great views of the city. Seeing all the housing and businesses crammed together from above is pretty amazing. There is no wasted space. The land is far too valuable. The lady in the elevator going to the top of the tower was a wealth of information, but I could not understand a word she said. She was very nice and enthusiastic, however.

We drove down by the Marina, and then over the Golden Gate to see some of the views from the other side. Very windy to me, but locals said it was rather mild. I had trouble holding the camera still for some shots. People next to me were taking the same picture, but I just know mine are better. We drove through Golden Gate Recreation Area and meandered down to Rodeo Beach, where I had been in '99. Through the fog we saw a bunch of surfers who could not catch a wave. Military buildings dotted the hills inland.

After a short stop at the hotel we headed out for diner in Chinatown. We actually found a parking meter to park at. We loaded a bunch of quarters in, and got 17 minutes of parking. They should put dollar bill feeders on those. We ended up in a little place right by where we parked. After we looked over the menu the lady/manager/hostess came over and asked if we had eaten there before. We said not. She grabbed our menus and said "Don't you worry, I bring you out something good. What you like? Chicken, chicken, beef, shrimp? I bring you three dishes. You like. Trust me." the table behind us said, "Trust her." We did. It was good. I did ask specifically for pot stickers. They were good. Luckily, I did not visit the restroom until after we ate. It was right next to the kitchen. There were a few health code violations going on, but I bet it was the same in every little place.

We strolled through Chinatown. I did not see the entrance gates, but saw a bunch of cool shops. I bought a very cool fleece lined, reversible windbreaker for $15.99. It will probably fall apart the first time I wash it, but at that price does it matter? The proprietor of this Chinatown establishment was of Hispanic origin. Go figure. The kite shop was very cool, but who knew you could blow almost $200 on a single kite?

Back at the hotel Doug called the airline. His bike would be delivered between 2:00 and 6:30. Doug explained to the guy it was now actually 7, passed 6:30. The guy said his bike would be delivered between 2:00 and 6:30. They should have flown Frontier Airlines.

Back out we strolled to the marina. We visited the sea lions, which were even more noisy that yesterday, barking steadily. Street performers were out in force. I had seen the statue guy yesterday- he just stands on a box and does not move. Tonight we saw Bush man. He sits on a box holding some greenery he has probably stolen in front of him. He then cares people as they walk by. There was a crowd of people standing across the street watching him. Hi-jinks galore. Walking back by him Doug tried to scare him. Bush Man did not find that funny. The sun setting over the bay and Pier 39 was nice. It did get cold quickly.

Back at the hotel, still no bike. Thus, it was the end of Bike Watch 2006 Day 1.

As always, more pics on my Flickr account page.

Friday, June 02, 2006

I am beat. Will write tomorrow. Until then see tons pics at my Flickr account.

Getting to San Francisco.

I flew out of Atlanta Airport at the ungodly hour of 6:30 am. Bad planning! Take the 9:30 flight. I could not take MARTA since MARTA does not run until 6 am. The cost of parking made that a $60+ mistake. Baggage security and examinations didn't start until 30 minutes after airlines ticket counters opened and made a mess of things. Luckily I was near the front of the line.

It was $50 to fly my bike out to California, which was very reasonable. Frontier Airlines is great, reasonable and has nice, intelligent, earnest and sometimes very funny staff. Somewhere along the line, however, my new luggage came unzipped. Everything was there, but my luggage hit the carousel in San Francisco with a pair of Speedos hanging out. Some people thought that were very funny! I would have as well, except I had to claim them, the luggage and thus the Speedos. Wearing them at a swim workout is one thing, saying you wear them in an airport does not seem as cool. The bike arrived in perfect shape.

I have a love hate relationship with flying. I love to fly, but am scared of heights. Thus I always ask for a window seat to stare out. I flew to Denver, and then hopped a flight to San Francisco. Flying over the Rockies was very cool. Both flights were nice, but the flight attendants on the second leg of the trip were hilarious. "We have coffee, water, juice and Coke products for you to drink. Again, we have Coke products. We do not have Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Cherry Pepsi, Lemon Pepsi or Diet Lemon Pepsi. We have Coke products. [In a deep whisper, that was rather sexy] We have no Pepsi products."

Later I asked that same attendant, "Do you have Pepsi?"

She answered, "I have Coke."

"How about Diet Pepsi?"

"Diet Coke."

"Cherry Pepsi or Lemon Pepsi? How about Diet Lemon Pepsi?"

She finally figured out I was pulling her leg, and unlike Delta flight attendants, she did not hit me with anything.

They have an in-flight map on the little TVs on the back of the seat in front of you, which would be very annoying except I wanted to know where we were flying. It also gave our speed and altitude. When we approached airports I would watch the speed and altitude drop. When the speed dropped to 300 mph and the altitude to 15,000 feet, I would think, well we are safer now if we crash- actually no, we would still all die. At one point I looked out the window and saw this huge round rock below the plane. It looked familiar to me. Suddenly it dawned on me that we had just flown over Half Dome, the monument made famous by Ansel Adams. That seemed very cool to me.

I arrived at the Comfort Inn On The Bay at noon, and the great people here had a room available for me. The shuttle I used to get here charged me $20 extra to carry my bike case. It was $50 to ship the damn thing across the country but $20 to drive it to the hotel from the airport. Even worse was that the shuttle had square wheels and bounced us all the way into town. I was in the room early, however, and was able to hit the marina area for the afternoon. There was guy stacking and balancing rocks that was very unusual. I had a great bowl of chowder, but it made my mouth swell and go numb. I am allergic to some seafood, but can usually eat shellfish. I think this was crab chowder. Perhaps it was the French roll it was served in?

I have been reading Neil Peart's book Ghost Rider while traveling. I am a big Rush fan (as a lady on the flight told me her son and husband were). What this guy went through, losing his only daughter in a car crash and then his wife 9 months later to cancer, or, as he says, a broken heart, is unimaginable. The book is about his travels on his motorcycle to try and stay moving and away from the darkness. During his travels he is told his dog has to be put down and then his close friend, who was supposed to meet him and ride part of trip, is busted for drug smuggling. When it rains... I am halfway through it now. I recommend it to everybody.

I am headed out to the Great Highway for a bike ride down Ocean Beach this morning. I am going to try and watch a sunset there one evening. I will be playing tourist for the next 5 days, as that interests me more than sitting around resting so I can have a semi-good race. I want to experience the race, but am not too concerned with my time. That may be a way of saying that I am not in good shape, but I really do want to see so much of this city.

I will post pics on my Flickr account, but remember these are all taken with a compact Olympus Stylus Verve digital. I had thoughts of buying a new Olympus digital SLR for the trip, but decided not too. Cartier-Bresson shot everything with a Leica rangefinder, so I should be able to get some good shots with the little camera that fits in the back of my jersey pocket.