Monday, November 10, 2014

Slimming Down in San Diego

jogging on treadmill
We've been in San Diego for nearly two weeks now, and it hasn't taken us long to begin a regimen of eating better and exercising more.

When we were living day to day, week to week, from one city after another, we ate poorly and ate too much. On top of it, we were often so busy seeing sights, meeting people, doing business, that we were too mentally exhausted to hit the hotel gym.

When Sash and I left San Diego last June, I was about 179 pounds. A few months later, after we finished up with Sturgis and finally arrived in Longmont, CO, I was 200 pounds. In Longmont, we stayed at a Residence Inn, which has a decent gym, and I was hitting it every other day.

Since then, I'm now on a pace of hitting the gym about 5 days a week, doing mostly cardio for 60-75 minutes, with some moderate weightlifting.

I don't really know what my weight is right now, because the condo we're renting doesn't come with a scale, and nor does its gym. But I'm definitely smaller than I was when we left San Diego last June. I'm guessing I'm 170 right now.

Sash is focused more than ever on eating healthy. She's eating more organics and higher fiber. She also got us both using the MyFitnessPal app, which has really helped us both to track our calories in and calories out. The app has shed light on how many calories I was consuming through beer. I always knew a pint of craft brew was around 250 calories, but the app does a good job of showing you how it sabotages your weight loss efforts.  As a result, I've greatly curtailed my ale.

Is our road trip over?

No, we're just spending the colder months here in San Diego. We rented this condo on Airbnb for 3 months. At the end of January, our plan is to head north through California and Oregon, and spend a couple months across various cities before reaching Seattle, WA sometime around April. Of course, plans can change, and the way things have gone with our road trips, they always have. But we definitely want to do a north-west swing.

I actually have a lot of hotel rewards points, as well as credit card points, so we'll likely take some weekend trips and redeem those in during the meantime.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Salvation Mountain, CA: Brush Strokes Across the Land

i-8 west imperial valley
Me riding west along I-8 through Imperial Sand Dunes, CA
The road is no place to raise kids. They wouldn't understand it, nor what it means to ride it.  It's lonely, long, empty. It gets cold and then it gets hot. There's infinite beauty, and then it dumps you into chaos.

I've met other motorcycle gypsies during the 18+ months that Sash and I have made the highway our home.  Some of them have been doing this many more years than we have, and have logged hundreds of thousands of miles.  Meanwhile, I have yet to put a hundred thousand miles on my Honda ST. On the one side, it inspires me to keep on going.

But on the other, they remind me there's a lot to be said in dedicating your life to something simple. And I'm a guy who doesn't like routine.  I ride from town to town because I hate staying in the same place all the time.  But then again, riding from town to town can become a routine too.

Riding up CA-111 through the Imperial Valley of California, I'm hit with the smell of steer manure, hay, and aerial pesticides. The 91 degree F temperature (32.7 C) feels just fine at 80 MPH, and even though I'm back in my home state, I still feel removed from this land that raised me from a child.

When I owned a home in Riverside County, I figured it was only a matter of time when my property value would plummet due to the eventual disparity of people to water. There's only so much H2O trickling down from the Colorado, and there's so many more thirsty souls pouring into this place, that it's got to come crashing down at some point. When you figure farmers in the Imperial Valley are now focused on selling grain to China, sucking the Colorado River dry has become more about profits than it is about sustaining humanity.

But now that I no longer own property, and now that California is just a place I return to in the colder months, I don't seem to care anymore. I'm just kinda waiting for the crash to come so that I can look back on it and ride away.

Does that make me a doomsday survivalist?  No.  I'm just not attached to any piece of land, that's all.

Meanwhile in 1984, another man, Leonard Knight, decided to dig roots into this state. The Vermont native traveled west by car having finally found Jesus. Through a series of stops and jobs along the way, he ended up in Slab City, a community of snow birds and squatters who live rent/tax free on an old military fort east of Niland, CA. He started pouring buckets of paint on a hill side in the glory of God, and earned respect as a local folk artist.

Salvation Mountain became the name of his new artwork, which he continued to paint and build over the next 30 years. But I'm not sure it's right to say that Leonard considered California his new home. Painting a hillside and constructing a tribute to God was just the highway he chose to ride, and this plot of desert wasteland was a canvas waiting for someone to paint it.

While I'm not looking to pour buckets of paint across the highways of the United States, it's still a canvas I'm painting.  There are millions of miles of pavement creating a web of roads that stretch across this country, and I'm just a paint brush leaving behind a trail of color.  I wonder if I were to sit up in Space, looking down at the USA, what images would I see in the brush strokes I've left behind?

And what of the people I've met?  How did I influence them?  What will become their canvas?

But like with California, I don't really care anymore.  If I influence others to live more simply, or live as a motorcycle gypsy, then great.  If I cause others to do the opposite, then great too. There was a time when I lived for my job, and for my family, and for my friends.  But now, I'm living just for myself, and just for today.

Perhaps I'll die laying down these brush strokes, just the way Leonard did.

Photos of our ride from Yuma, AZ to Palm Springs, CA...

Me riding north along CA-111
past the Salton Sea
Sash at Salvation MountainRiding north along CA-111
through Brawley, CA
Sash riding west along I-8
through Imperial Sand Dunes
Me riding north along CA-111
looking across Salton Sea.
Flowers painted by Leonard
Knight at Salvation Mountain
Me inside Salvation Mountain
admiring the handiwork.
Border Patrol agents with drug
sniffing dogs along CA-111
Sash enjoying the cooler air
inside Salvation Mountain.
The sign marking the entrance
to Salvation Mountain
Some rusted trucks painted by
Leonard Knight
Here's the actual Salvation

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Rehabilitating in Yuma, AZ

us-95 arizona motorcycle
Sash riding south along US-95 just miles from the Mexican border
Yuma, AZ has always been my favorite destination when I needed an easy respite from San Diego. And as such, it's always been the best contrast to the frenetic, chaotic pace of metropolitan life.

Riding down here from Las Vegas the week before, we nestled ourselves into a hotel and have enjoyed a rehabilitation from the madness and noise of Sin City.

Even more so for Sash.

Her inner-ear infection seems to have gone away the days we've spent in Yuma. She was also able to produce some work in the form of social media postings for clients and even produced a video for Ride Empowered.

Even though Yuma and Las Vegas are only a day's ride of 295 miles along the US-95, the two cities are world's apart in culture, amenities, and character. Yuma is slow. People aren't in a hurry to get anywhere, and it doesn't take that long to get from one end of town to the other. There aren't many choices here either, with the exception of taco shops.

In other words, Yuma is a good place to go if you don't want to think.

It has only one tourist destination, Yuma Territorial Prison. There's only one choice for craft beer, Pint House Bar & Grill. There's only one Harley dealer, and one metric dealer. If you want a coffee shop, there's only one, aside from the seven Starbucks.

It's rather relaxing having fewer choices. Sash and I have fewer arguments about where to go for lunch. Everyone here dresses the same and acts the same, and that has an homogenizing effect on you. It's like going to a mountain retreat to refocus your sense of self.

Perhaps it's just a coincidence too that here in Yuma we've stepped up efforts to eat healthier and exercise more. That is, the last four months we've put on a lot of weight, particularly during our two weeks in Sturgis.  I've actually been hitting the hotel gyms the past 30 days or so, but have since increased my workout regimen here in Yuma.  Now, Sash is hitting the gym too, and the two of us are tracking calories on MyFitnessPal, an Android app on our phones.

And that's something about living the motorcycle gypsy life. It's otherwise a lot of riding, eating, and hanging out with people.  Folks always insist you eat at their favorite place, and others are wanting to buy you dinner.  You need the metabolism of a sea otter just to keep from looking like Roseanne and Dan Conner.

While we were in Yuma, we got to meet Dennis Munden who runs a business called "Motorcycle Maps". He's actually from Boaz, AL, but was in Yuma visiting other people.  His business produces apps for iPhone and Android that list names and locations of great little hole-in-the-walls and mom-and-pops across the United States. It's like a database of cool places for motorcyclists to go to.

On our last full day in Yuma, we took a ride south to the Mexican border, though didn't cross. We only made a loop along US-95 and then came back around on AZ-195. The ride gave us an opportunity to discover some of the more authentic, ethnic Mexican eateries, instead of the Americanized-varieties you find closer to the Interstate.

Today, we're leaving Yuma and are headed to Palm Springs, CA for a few days.

Here are photos from our week in Yuma...

Sash looking "gangsta" along
US-95 towards Mexico.
Downtown Yuma is the best
place to go drinking.
Having carne asada tacos at
La Flor Mexican Restaurant.
Me, Sash, and Dennis Munden
at Logan's Roadhouse.
My Surface Pro 3 at The
Coffee Bean
in Yuma.
Dennis Munden showing his
Motorcycle Maps app.
Outside La Flor Mexican
Restaurant in Yuma.
Awesome chow at Tacos Mi
Ranchito in Yuma.
Sash made this bean, meat, &
cheese dip for the NFL games.
Our healthier breakfast at the
Having chef salads at Penny's
Diner in Yuma.
We bought Sash the new LG
G3 smartphone.
They don't have speed bumps
in Yuma.
Me riding south along US-95
headed towards Mexico.
Tacos Mi Ranchito in Yuma
has awesome Mexican food.
I bought Sash this turquoise
skull bracelet in Yuma.
At the Yuma Quartermaster
Sash "getting physical" at the
hotel gym.

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About Steve

San Diego, CA-based motorcycle rider who likes long road trips, old rustic bars, craft beer, and tough women. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, writing about the mysteries of life. (Read more...)