Category 9. Fun Stuff

A Memorable Morning

Last week, the Beloved Spouse and I were in Portugal on a bike trip organized by a company called Backroads. We have done such trips before.

Backroads trips are a nice way to get enough exercise while vacationing to feel good about enjoying the local foods and wines, in my case all in close proximity to the Beloved. Rounding out the experience, there’s always an optional and mercifully light daily lecture on some aspect of local history, culture or agronomy, so we can learn a bit about the lands we ride through. 

The groups of paying participants in such trips tend to consist of seven or eight middle aged or older couples and maybe a couple of strays – all are outdoorsy, almost by definition, and we have found most to be genuinely interesting people...

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On the River

I’m looking out over the narrower end of Lords Cove, low-lying, grass-covered Goose Island and the Connecticut River beyond. On the river’s farther shore I can see a few houses and the entrance to a tucked-away marina. It’s late in the day with a nice breeze rising off the water. I feel proprietary about this scene – and the river’s lower reaches generally.

Where a river meets a sea, both change. Rivers are fresh and often muddy, flowing ever onward; seas are grander, salty and tidal. The waters I see are all of these things, with different elements predominating by turn – and distinctly moody besides.

The river can be – and frequently is – the picture of serenity*, but when the wind is up and the tide is running, the waves and current can make headway in a kayak – my usu...

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When somebody dies the personal meanings that he or she has invested in things are lost. “Sunt lacrimae rerum”, wrote Virgil – “There are tears at the heart of things”, in Seamus Heaney’s translation. Those tears belong to the person for whom the things evoke particular memories. Orson Welles got this aspect of our psyches brilliantly right when he made Rosebud – the name on a worthless and otherwise forgotten children’s toy – the emotional touchstone in the life of Charles Foster Kane.

I have my own Rosebud; probably you do, too. This is the story of mine.

When I was a boy, I was very conscious that my father had made it...

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To See America

The Idea – 1/11/16

Three months from today, I am going to set out from Los Angeles by bicycle, hoping to ride to Old Lyme, CT. I have dreamed of doing this for thirty years; it’s now or never.

Over the next three months, I’ll give a lot of thought to the logistics, and try to get fit enough so that I’ll make it.

Just now, though, I have to tell the Beloved Spouse about the plan. I’m not sure she’ll be thrilled.

Day Zero – 4/10/16

This is the first in a series of daily posts that I intend to write over the next six or seven weeks about the attempt I am about to make at riding my bicycle across the country.

I sent three bikes – my two beautiful new steel Mariposas, pictured below at home just after their arrival a month ago, and my much older carbon fiber Parlee – on ahead to Los Angeles w...

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The Big Walk

The posts below describe The Big Walk – from Grand Central Terminal to Old Lyme, CT – in sequential order.

These posts differ slightly from the ones I wrote each day after walking for six or seven hours. I have cleaned up the typos, added a few interesting details, and cut a bit here and there to make the original posts fit more smoothly into one continuous narrative.

Day One (7/26/14)


Walid, yours truly and Vinny

Vinny, Walid and I had a great day today. We walked from Grand Central Terminal to my home in southern Westchester County – roughly 18 miles by the circuitous route that we followed through midtown, Harlem, the neighborhoods of northwestern Manhattan and the central and northeastern sections of the Bronx.

Everything worked...

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