Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Final View of the Pacific: Bigfoot, Whales, Baby Dinosaurs, and Breaking the Comfort Zone.

“Sort-of-Sabbatical” Day Seventeen, Tuesday June 19

When I first starting cooking up a “some-day” tour of California, a few little grey lines at the tippy top of the state map caught my eye.  There’s nothing overtly special looking about the loop comprised of CA 92, CA 299 and CA 3, no can’t-miss (relatively speaking) destinations along the way, and although grey squiggly lines on any map call out “For a Good Time, Ride Here”, when you’re sitting at your kitchen table in Tucson, AZ, those particular routes just seem so… far away. Exotic, even.

It must have been a good instinct, because an 89 mile stretch of CA 92 is also known as the Bigfoot Scenic Byway. How could you not ride the road that “takes you through the region boasting the most sightings of Bigfoot of anywhere in the country?”

So, after coffee, scones, conversation with yet more generous camp neighbors, and a little canine playtime with their German Shorthair Pointer, I leave Joseph Stewart State Recreation Area in Oregon, and head that direction.  If I told you CA 92 was a fearsome test of cornering skills, I’d be lying.  But even the humble corner is made to be enjoyed, and I’m having a party on the asphalt, with a pirouette here and high kick there, ho ho**... I’m on my way!  No wind or fog, no rain nor bitter cold, no black-as-night redwood shade,  distracting world class views (although the Klamath River is simply lovely) or must stop destinations keep me from my appointed rounds.  I’m riding in that perfect place, brushing the very outer edge of my comfort zone and life is simply grand.

The day brings me another gift!  The Salmon River Outpost in Somes Bar stocks not just the usual ice cream sandwiches, but fresh organic fruit and espresso as well.

Salmon River Outpost Somes Bar, CA

I haven’t really decided where I’ll be staying tonight, which is unusual for me.  Evidently there are whales to be seen at the mouth of the Klamath River, but I missed that opportunity a few days ago. Plus, in a desperate search for fuel, I skipped the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway through the Redwoods on that same day.  Although I’ll be taking a chance at finding a camping spot if I head back in that direction now, It Makes Sense At The Time to do so anyway.  Besides, after my last few short days of riding, I’m in the mood to put some miles behind me today.

So after my snack I take a 140 mile detour to the Klamath River Overlook, back at Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. The viewpoint turn off doesn’t feel like an official park road, and I’m starting to wonder exactly where I’m going. The road is becoming alarmingly narrower and steeper the further I go, and I’m having very clear visions of having to stop to turn around, finding myself in a situation where I can’t reach the ground, and consequently having to pick up my loaded bike on a blind hill.  Yep. I do indeed miss the parking area.  Instead of continuing on, hoping to find a place to safely if not comfortably turn around, I chicken out  and gingerly balance and tippy toe my heavy-to-me bike backwards down the steep hill. I am, admittedly, rather terrified if not in a life-threatening sort of way, then definitely in a don’t-want-to-drop-much-less-have-to-pick-up-my-pretty-motorcycle sort of way. But I manage my awkward, wimpy maneuver, and, even better, no one sees me do it. Hah!

Although you can’t see them, there are, indeed, whales down there.  In fact, I could hardly see them.  "They look like ants!"  - errr, minnows, maybe, I'm so high over the sea.   I stare at a rock for a long time before deciding it’s not a whale.  But I do see a few and they delight me to no end.

Klamath River Overlook Whales Feeding

I’m having another bone chilling moment in a very windy place, so I eventually need to move on. Plus, there is the pesky matter of still not having a place to stake my tent.  It’s getting late, and for the third time today, I’m stretching my comfort zone, although this time it’s not in the fun way.

I head south, towards CA 299, my starting line for tomorrow, and begin the hunt for a campsite.  They are full, full, and fuller.  It’s getting late, late, and later.  Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time, eh?  By the time I pull into Big Lagoon County Park, I know I’ll be camping there whether there’s a space for me or not, and I’m already working out a pathetic “but I can’t ride at night” plea, should I need to deliver it to a stony faced camp host. I’ve simply run out of daylight, and I really can’t safely ride even another mile.

It’s not comforting to spend the night in a place that has the distinct menacing vibe of a suspense psychothriller.  But if you’ve got night vision problems like mine,  and Door Number One offers possibly getting slashed and murdered, while Door Number Two offers definitely crashing, definitely wrecking your pretty Ducati, and possibly sustaining serious injury and/or dying, you will stride steadfastly and confidently through the former portal, without so much as even knocking. The campground is threatening in the creepiest of can’t-quite-figure-out-why ways.  The usual signage is absent, and I’m having trouble determining if the space I’ve claimed is actually an official site or not. The host seems to have abandoned his post, and other campers are walking around looking a bit dazed and confused. The washrooms are locked and campers are expected to make use of a couple of soiled and overflowing porto-lets instead.  There’s not much to do, and it’s getting dark fast.  If I build my tent quickly enough and hide within, perhaps the axe-murderer (or - eep! - Sasquatch!) will pick on someone else.  I turn on my little emergency GPS transponder thingy.  You know.  Just in case.  A few moments later another motorcyclist rolls by and stops to chat.  I don’t bother to hide my relief, and, honestly, neither does he.  We are Motorcyclists, and We Are In This Together.  He can’t quite figure out the sketchy scene either, and invites me to share his spot.  Since I’m already set up, I decline (gasp!  maybe he’s the axe-murderer?), but I do take him up on his offer to share his campfire for a stretch.  (Campfire?  Axe-murderer or not, I’m IN!)  Turns out he’s not an escaped criminal (as far as I can tell, but who can really know these things?), but “NolaNomad,” a Super Duke riding chef, on his very last day of a five week motorcycle tour of Colorado.  We have an enjoyable evening discussing the finer points of the culinary uses for fennel pollen (Gah!  Why did I not collect some on the Channel Islands earlier??), camping hammocks (he has one hanging up – very cool, but I would freeze), and, of course, motorcycles.

It’s early morning and I’m awake, happy to discover that I have not been slashed by an axe murderer or carried away by BigFoot overnight.   But I realize the sound that brought me to premature consciousness is a loud chorus of what can only be baby dinosaurs.***  With this level of noise, there must be an awful lot of them and they’re right next to my tent.  And although I went to bed thinking anything could happen in this creepy place, assault by baby dinosaurs is not one of the potential hazards that came to mind.

I blow a hasty kiss goodbye to the Pacific, as it shall be the last time I see her on this trip, and flee to the mountains.

*I can’t help myself. Thanks again, Sausage Creature.
** Turns out, I'd see the same grey whales, at a different point in their migration a few years later in Baja.
*** Not really.  Turns out I was sleeping right next to a cormorant rookery.  I poked around a bit out of curiosity, but wasn’t going to disturb the demarcated area.  I couldn’t see them, but for a few early risers flying overhead, but – wow! - what a sound!  Fascinating.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Turning Inland (Crater Lake National Park)

“Sort-of-Sabbatical” Day Sixteen, Monday June 18

I wake up to a vaguely familiar sound I can’t immediately identify… Rain! Make lemonade, They say, and since it’s a rare treat for me to luxuriate in the cozy soundscape of a rain shower, I make no hurry to climb out of my pillowy-billowy goose down cocoon.  I’m not concerned about the delay, since, as is so often the case in this land so dense with must-see-ums, today’s planned destination is only a 200 mile hop away.  My little rain shower is an especially friendly one, because it graciously moves off after a short while, allowing me to stay dry when breaking camp.

What Mother Nature hast giveth, She now taketh away.  My happy rain shower is back, and it’s indubitably icy cold as I head east.  But a sunny window opens briefly over the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway, revealing a startling variety of shades of green.  This is no camera trick!

North Umqua River from OR Rte 138

By the time I reach Diamond Lake, the weather is simply Siberian.  The only options around for food and fuel are at the Diamond Lake Resort* so I stop at the Cafe to stoke the metabolic fires.  The place is packed with hungry and cold fishermen, seeking shelter and clutching cups of steaming coffee while contemplating the icy looking waves on the lake.  It’s a good strategy for the moment, and I’m happy to join them, even if my burger isn’t a memorable one, and the restaurant itself is drafty and cold. I fill up and have so much coffee that I start asking for decaf, but no amount of food and hot drink will nudge my core temperature into the normal operating range.  I’m thoroughly chilled and I simply can’t shake it. But I have things to see and trails to hike, so I move on.

It’s not any warmer at Crater Lake National Park.  In fact, much of it is under 15 feet of snow, some of which fell yesterday. I’ve yet to pack snowshoes on my motorcycle**, so it appears I won’t be spending the rest of my day exploring the area on foot.  Even riding around the lake is out, since the East Rim Drive hasn’t even been plowed yet.  But this doesn’t mean it isn’t spectacular, and though I must briefly detach from my electric vest life line in order to do so, I can’t pass by the Watchman Overlook without dismounting and gawking with chattering teeth.
 Crater Lake National Park

It takes some grit to convince my frozen arms to push the bars left and right hard enough to have a good sporting run, but the show must go on, ho, ho,*** and the road down to the campground, my final stretch of the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway for the day, is a short but serpentine delight.  The campground is at a lower elevation than the lake viewpoints, but a little math reveals that waking up to freezing rain is a very real possibility.  I have no desire to test my two tires on ice in the morning, no, no, so I head down 40 more miles to even lower and blessedly warmer territory.  The ride takes me through a fairyland of tall evergreens, almost certainly the stateside home of Hansel and Gretel, and on to Joseph Stewart State Recreation Area, for an amble by the Rogue River and its Lost Creek Reservoir and pleasant conversation with the friendly campground hosts.

Rain, cold, and an unsatisfying lunch, but all on two wheels.  And though I don’t consider my day a bad one at all, motorcyclists aren’t lying when they say a bad day on two wheels is better than a good day anywhere else.  I return to my plush cocoon and look forward to the morning, no matter what weather the day may bring.

*The word resort is a generous one, at least by my definition.  Think grill, old school gas station, and and simple cabins.  Not a complaint, just an observation and disclosure.
** Although I plan to this winter.  And I like to think I’ll write about it, too.
*** In tribute to Hunter S. Thompson’s Sausage Creature.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hello, Oregon!

“Sort-of-Sabbatical” Day Fifteen, Sunday June 17

I’m surprised that this morning is the first time I have to navigate in fog.  This isn’t a hazard I deal with much in the desert, and I’m relieved to learn that the vision deficiency that keeps me from riding at night does not apply to fog. The mist sticks around just long enough to be an amusing novelty, while I make my way to the state line.

Hello, Oregon!

The road may be a bit straighter, the views a little more hidden, it may be misty with the threat of rain, but there’s no shortage of eye-popping sights.  In fact, there are just too many, and I know I’ll get nowhere if I stop every quarter mile taking photos, so I’m riding hesitatingly, paralyzed with indecision. I can’t seem to commit on the fly to any one best spot and instead, ride right on by each spectacular glimpse through the trees, missing one opportunity only to find a better one a few hundred yards down the road.  And then another.  And another.   By the time I get near Pistol River State Park, I finally grind to a stop.  I must take a photo!

Pistol River Area OR

It’s not long before I discover my first Oregon factoid. All gasoline stations are, by law, full service. At my first fueling stop, the young attendant proudly announces that he knows how to fill a motorcycle and is clearly having a difficult time not salivating all over the shiny red Italian gas tank. But more often than not, it’s an awkward affair.  I hand my credit card over, the attendant swipes, picks up the gas pump and hands it to me.  I shrug and fill my own tank.   Clearly the system was not designed with motorcyclists in mind.

I’ve got a short travel day ahead of me, primarily because I’m not sure where I’m going.  I camped out at grocery store in the early morning fog for a bit, stocking up on groceries, and availing myself of a power outlet while I researched weather, camping and routes using my agonizingly slow phone.  I’ve had it in the back of my mind to explore the Columbia River Gorge, the temperate rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula, and eventually tag the Canadian border, but now I wonder if it's worth riding several days in the rain just to achieve the proverbial stamp on my passport. It seems I’ve reached the end of the sparkling weather on the coast and I need to decide what to do.  So I decide to decide tomorrow, and plan a short day of riding and wandering around the southern Oregon coast in the meantime.

The area is sprinkled with viewpoints, parks and interesting sounding places on the map, like “Seven Devils” and “Face Rock,” and I hop from one to the other, trying to capture the scenery, but somehow I can’t manage it. I zoom in, I zoom out, try this angle and that, but I can’t simultaneously capture the interesting shapes of the mammoth rock formations strewn about in the shallow surf, and the grand scope of the wide vistas. The day is flat grey, which, although part of the charm of my immediate experience,  doesn’t offer any interest to the shots.  It’s beautiful and special, but on the camera it’s just not working, and I’m frustrated.

Bandon, OR Scenic Viewpoints (1)

When I roll into Bullard’s Beach State Park, I learn my second factoid about Oregon.  Camping is remarkably cheaper than the $43/night * I’d been spending in California. And there are showers.  And the showers are free.  Plus, I didn’t have to reserve my site days in advance.  As I set up my tent,  I’m nodding with approval until an opportunistic raven catches me off guard.  It’s ransacking my luggage, only a few steps from where I’m standing, and is has my cheese sandwich nearly unwrapped. I have to make an embarrassingly loud commotion before it decides to lazily flap barely a foot further away.   I can almost hear its eyes rolling at me,  and I tuck into the sandwich before finishing the task of unpacking.

The park includes the Coquille River Lighthouse, and I get a little tour up the narrow spiral staircase to the top.  Remember the signs warning of rogue waves at McKerricher State Park two days earlier?  Seems that the lighthouse parking area was hit with just such a wave in 2001.  Right outta the blue.  Weird.   And just a few weeks earlier, the first debris from the March 2011 tsunami in Japan began to arrive in the area.   Also weird.

Coquille River Lighthouse Bandon, OR

Since today I’ve decided to set up camp first and explore second, there’s still enough daylight for me to head further up the coast.  A logging truck reminds me that I'm not in Arizona anymore (as if I hadn't noticed already). It’s alarming, staring down those enormous tree corpses that look like they might strike back on the human race by sliding out from their restraints at any moment**.  I keep a wary distance until I can pass.

I’m wandering aimlessly now,  a port with fishing boats here, an unusual bridge there, and I completely miss my planned turn off that would loop me back to my campsite via more curious sounding venues and unexplored roads.  But I’m feeling lazy and, honestly, too strangely indifferent to seek it out or even photograph those sights I do find mildly interesting.  I sigh as I turn the bike around.  I’m annoyed at the caution I must exercise regarding my inability to ride at night. And my tent, which I usually keep with me until the end of the day, just in case, is on the other side of a drawbridge at the moment.  I’m forced to plan for the possibility of a significant delay.  As I head back the way I came, my spirits are perplexingly low.  Perhaps I was right a few days ago when thinking the rest of my trip is bound to be disappointing. Or maybe I’m reluctant to admit that the outbound portion of my trip is coming to an end.  The entire state of Washington, along with most of Oregon, is blanketed in rain which is projected to stubbornly stay put for days.  My time is not unlimited, and it just doesn’t make sense to continue in the rain when there is plenty of sunshine along with countless wonderful destinations inland and south of me.  So while I still have much to see, and probably 2,000 unexplored miles to traverse (not counting Sort of Sabbatical Phase Two!), there’s no denying that tomorrow my trajectory, however circuitous, will turn on itself and reverse course.

My funk is abruptly cut short when dinner at Tony’s Crab Shack brings much needed focus to my day. As I stroll in, peering at other diners’ plates in what I hope is an unobtrusive manner, one of them*** guiltily admits it’s her third night here in a row. I’m sold, and order the half plate of crab.  After only a few bites,  I scold myself for my modesty and frugality.  Why did I order the half plate, when the whole crab plate was clearly the wiser choice?  Afterwards, I stroll about the place, which is part crab shack and part bait shop (the two are safely and securely divided, as far as I can tell) and enjoy happy memories of Zeek's Creek Bait and Tackle, first stop on so many father-daughter childhood fishing trips long ago.  I snap a photo to send to my brother, who will instantly understand the reference.  Certain things are universal – colorful lures, buckets of worms, minnows and eels, and a decor of proudly displayed photos featuring the ones that didn’t get away.
 Tony's Crab Shack Bait Shop Bandon, OR

Tony's Crab Shack Bandon, OR
I'm pretty sure this is Tony.

I take one more walk to the ocean before dark, to revel in the mist and surf. On the rare occasion of such weather in Tucson, people step outside their front door in wonder, and call over to a neighbor who invariably has done the same thing, “It’s gorgeous out today, isn’t it?”  Ahh, perspective.

Bullards Beach State Park

Bullards Beach State Park (1)

*Includes reservation fee.
**I’m told it happens.
***Small world moment!  Turns out the couple lives in Sedona, AZ and she is good friends with a former employee of the Tucson Symphony!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Oysters and Redwoods

“Sort-of-Sabbatical” Day Fourteen, Saturday June 16

My morning  begins in the company of friendly camp neighbors.  Pancakes and coffee (in a cup with an automated push button stir feature!) appear before me and I, traveling sans camp stove of any sort,  am not too shy to enjoy their kind generosity. Although they’re not riding now, they’re motorcyclists, too, so we have much to discuss.

As pleasant as the company and hot breakfast may be, I do eventually break camp and leave the lovely McKerricher State Park.  In a happy Eating on Two Wheels coincidence,  I’ll be passing through Arcata, CA on the very day of their annual Oyster Festival.

The festival is One Seriously Big Win, and I’m not the only one that thinks so.

Arcata Oyster Festival (1)

The lines for oysters and beer are long, and it’s disappointing to have to abstain from the beer, but while waiting, I have plenty of time to ponder my choices and discuss their merits with others. I’m surprised when the couple in line behind me offer to purchase my motorcycle jacket.  I guess I’m not the only rider that has difficulty finding small sizes.  I decline.  I’m sort of using it, yanno?

Oysters are lightly barbecued around these parts.  There must be a hundred grills in action.

Arcata Oyster Festival (2)

Arcata Oyster Festival (3)

The “Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor” oysters are sold out, so I give the candied bacon ones a try. Smokey and delicious, with a sweet salty kick, but in the end, the spicy garlicky* ones are my favorites.

Arcata Oyster Festival

I’ve spent a few hours sampling before I head, once again, north.  I want to arrive at Del Norte Coast Redwood State Park** in time to hike amongst the trees.  And when I do arrive, it’s with a brief moment of confusion. It seems my motorcycle has arrived ahead of me!  Right next to my assigned spot, I see a red Ducati 696, nearly identical to my own. I’ve seen plenty of bikes at campgrounds, but this is the first Ducati street bike I’ve seen, other than my own.  Turns out, it belongs to Alec, another friendly camp neighbor, who has not just a motorcycle with him, but a small camper loaded down with countless toys - canoes, bicycles, and a space for his Ducati. He’s just acquired the bike, and before I’m even unloaded, he’s visiting, eager to investigate my luggage system, taking photos of every detail.  I am so proud!

Del Norte Coast Redwoods SP (6)

The desert dweller in me can’t believe my campsite looks like this:

Del Norte Coast Redwoods SP

I carry my gear up a few darling wooden steps to my perch within the lush growth and set up camp. As I had hoped, I have time for some hiking.   Oh, the lively greenness of it all!

Del Norte Coast Redwoods SP (5)


Del Norte Coast Redwoods SP (2)

… and slugs…

Del Norte Coast Redwoods SP (3)

…and ferns…

Del Norte Coast Redwoods SP (4)

…not to mention the preposterously tall trees. I’m a long way from the  Mojave Desert!

Del Norte Coast Redwoods SP (1)

Like most days on this trip, I’ve not ridden nearly as far in one day as I typically do when touring.  In California, it turns out, the points of interest are just too close together for me to cover even 300 miles most days.  It’s not a bad problem to have, but it’s certainly different.  Despite the leisurely pace, I’m tired, and find myself at a fireside campground talk to keep myself awake until nightfall.  It’s enjoyable, so why not?

Tomorrow – Oregon!

* Not surprising, because I put raw garlic and chile flakes on nearly everything I eat.
** Redwood National Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods, Jedediah Smith Redwoods, and Prairie Creek Redwoods are contiguous and all fall under the joint jurisdiction of the National Park Service and California State Parks. So much to see in just one small area.  *sigh*  I’ve barely scratched the surface.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Back in the Saddle*: More glory on the Pacific Coast Highway (Mendocino and McKerricher State Park)

“Sort-of-Sabbatical” Day Thirteen, Friday June 15

Funny, I think of San Francisco as northern California, but if you look at the map, it isn’t at all.  It’s hardly past the half way point up the coast, really, so – what luck! - there’s plenty more of the state left to see.

After a two day sabbatical from my sort-of-sabbatical, it feels good to be riding again.  Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, I don’t have the glorious open roads I had earlier, when I retrace my path north of the Golden Gate Bridge.  But as I continue away from the city, the traffic eventually thins out, while the pavement remains smooth and ever-twisty.   Even so, I find myself thinking something I’ve never thought before or since:  I almost don’t mind being stuck behind this RV, it’s that beautiful (the view, not the RV).   And then I have another thought, a terrible and terrifying thought:  The rest of my trip - no way, no how can it possibly measure up.    With more than a little sadness,  I brace myself for disappointment, and make a special point to savor what remains of the painfully beautiful California coast I've come to adore.

Are you tired of the Pacific Coast Highway yet?  Clearly, I am not.  As I wind my way ever northward, the ocean view slowly shifts into something more cozy, rustic, and rugged with a misty feeling even though the sky is clear, recalling a Folger’s coffee advertisement backdrop, perhaps, with less of the sparkly almost gaudy Hollywood blingy-blue green of my more southerly exploration.  But it’s getting cold, too, and, in a bizarre break with my character, I’ve yet to reach for my electric vest.   I quickly realize that by the time I reach Mendocino, there’s a very good chance I will simply fall over when I try to put my feet down as I come to a stop.  I am that unsure I’ll be able to move at all.  When I do arrive, I don’t fall over, but I can barely make the left hand turn into town towards the gas station, because I can’t move my arms.  A BMW rider passes me impatiently as I try to do so, and I wonder what he must think I’m doing.  A moment later we find ourselves at the same pump, paying  nearly $6/gallon for gas.  He makes a funny comment,  but I don’t even care about the price.  I’m freezing, and hungry and need to stop.  Besides, Mendocino is beautiful and I have a special point of interest here to visit.

Here’s the Kelley House Museum.  Remember my host in San Francisco?  Her name is Kelley.  No, not Kelly, but Kelley.  It’s also her mom’s maiden name.  And no, it’s not a coincidence.  The museum is closed by the time I arrive, but I have fun peering in the windows.

Mendocino Kelley House Museum

After a bowl of blessedly warm and caloric but not particularly delicious angel hair with tomato basil cream sauce at “A Cultured Affair,” I head to the water.  It makes for a nice backdrop for the flowers everywhere and I lazily dabble around a bit, enjoying the peaceful landscape while waiting for the pasta to raise my core body temp and blood glucose levels before continuing on my way.

Mendocino Coastliine (1)

Mendocino Coastliine

Even though the population density is thinning out, campgrounds are still full and I had only one option when I made a reservation a few days ago.  But the West Pine Campground at MacKerricher State Park is everything the Lake Casitas Campground was not.  Such a diversity of beauty!  Tall pines create a feeling of quiet and privacy at each site, but a few steps away lie rolling dunes covered in interesting plant life. Beyond, the frothy sea.
 MacKerricher State Park Beach

I continue down the beach, looking here and there, and I nearly trip over a sea lion.  Pardon me!
 MacKerricher State Park Beach Sea Lions

There’s tidal lagoon Cleone Lake to explore, and the trail and boardwalk around it takes me deep into those trees you see at the far side.  It’s a Central American jungle back there, dense with enormous and unrecognizable brilliantly green plants having leaves so preposterously big they might double as a kayak and float me across the lake, up to the distant floating mats of pink flowers that are too far away to photograph.  Such a bizarre contrast to the simple blustery coastline only a few steps away!

MacKerricher State Park Cleone Lake

The surf is up at Laguna Point, and I’m captivated by the crashing waves, but I have no real luck in preserving the excitement on camera.  Too late, I notice my SD card is full, and the other is by now a mile or two behind me, in the Ducati top box.    I’m mesmerized by the surf, and it’s not hard to believe the signs describing the potential for dangerous rogue waves. “Never turn your back on the ocean!”  “Stay back and stay alive!”

MacKerricher State Park Laguna Point

MacKerricher State Park Laguna Point (1)

Back in my tent, consciousness ebbs into slumber as I listen to the roiling sea.

* I started this post months ago.  Funny that my “Back in the Saddle” post should appear after my unexpected blog hiatus.