Category Archives: life

Being a Tourist in My New Hometown

I’ve been in Bayfield for about a month and a half now, but haven’t really done too much exploring until now. This past week my brother and sister came out to visit and we did a bit of the touristy stuff.

Sunday afternoon we headed up US550 to Ouray.

Tilt-shift Photo of Silverton, CO (Photo by Chris Hammett)

Tilt-shift Photo of Silverton, CO (Photo by Chris Hammett)

We went to Wiesbaden Hot Spring Spa where they have a “vapor cave” a dark cave with water piped in from the hot springs at around 108F. It was hot. We couldn’t stay in there for more than 10 minutes or so. Luckily they had an outdoor hot springs pool as well.

(On a random-small-world-note, before we left in the morning I was looking at Twitter and saw someone post saying her and her family were visiting Durango and headed to Ouray for the day. I sent a message about maybe meeting up, an impromptu tweetup of sorts) and then forgot about it. That night when we got home I got a message back saying she didn’t see it in time, but was at the hot springs at the same time we were!)

After three hours at the hot springs we were hungry! We had lunch at O’Brien’s Irish Pub and then stopped by the Ourayle House Brewery for some beer. (I’ll be posting about that at BeerNBikes.com soon).

The next day I had to work but that night we went down to Ignacio to go bowling at the Rolling Thunder Lanes. My sister and I both bowled in a league as kids, so that was fun.

The next day we went out to Pagosa Springs. Even though it’s only 30 miles away I hadn’t been there yet. We stopped by Pagosa Brewing Co first and had dinner and beer (which I wrote about at BeerNBikes.com) and then went out to the Pagosa Hot Springs. They were less hot than the vapor cave, but hotter than the other pool at Wiesbaden which was pretty nice. They had about 20 pools or so, we went in maybe 10 of them. It was a much different experience. We all sort of felt like we were at a miniature golf course because of the way it looked.

(Another random-small-world-note, someone from Twitter was at the brewery at the same time as us also, we found out about it the next day!)

It was fun having my brother and sister come out to visit and explore the area with us. Anyone else that wants to come out, there’s plenty more to explore.

Winding Mountain Pass (Photo by Chris Hammett)

Winding Mountain Pass (Photo by Chris Hammett)

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Celebrating Edward Abbey

Edward Abbey died 20 years ago tomorrow. I’d never even heard his name until at least 10 years after he died. But since the first page I read in The Monkey Wrench Gang I’ve been captivated by his writing. I’ve read nearly all of his books since. I agree with him on a lot of things, and disagree on a lot of other things, but I always find his writing thought provoking and entertaining.

Monday at Maria’s Bookshop in Durango there’ll be some people gathering and reading to celebrate old Cactus Ed. I’m excited to go and meet some like minded people, hear Ken Wright and Kate Niles (among others) read and just have a good time.

There’s more info at The San Juan Almanac and Maria’s Bookshop.

Small Town Living Part Two: The Grocery Store

“The Grocery Store” is the official name of the grocery store in town. There’s only one so I guess it makes things easy.

Yesterday I was shopping for ingredients to make some calzones (made them totally from scratch, dough, sauce and everything) and I thought it’d be nice to have some artichoke hearts. I couldn’t find them but knew they carried them because I bought some a few weeks before. I couldn’t find them so I thought I’d ask where they were.

I saw two Grocery Store employees nearby, an older woman and a younger boy. I asked where the artichoke hearts were and the kid looked at the woman. She laughed and said “I knew you’d look at me” and then he responded “I don’t even know what thems is” in the thickest backwoods country accent I’ve ever heard. She found them and he found out what they were. And I made some damn fine calzones.

Welcome to Colorado!

If you haven’t heard, Kinsee and I moved to Bayfield, Colorado! Kinsee grew up here and I’ve been anxious to get out of California for a while now. I don’t know when I fell in love with the Four Corners Region (probably around the time I discovered Edward Abbey) but Durango (the “big” city nearby) seems like the perfect place for me. Four breweries in Durango, one with a location in Bayfield, lots of cyclists and plenty of other outdoor enthusiasts, Durango seems like a good place.

I’m just getting settled in, but Kinsee’s already been blogging about what’s going on in Durango at her new blog, Durango Dirt.

The weather has been beautiful ever since we got here, I’ve heard that we’ll get more days of sun per year than San Diego (330 vs 300).

We went to Ska Brewing for the release of their new IPA Modus Hoperandi, not quite a West Coast IPA but not bad at all. Kinsee wrote about it here. One of my new favorite blogs, Beer at 6512 (the elevation in Durango) also was there. Turns out Durango has quite the blogger community because Hank at Songs From the Wood was there also.

I just got back from my first Colorado bike ride. I rode from our house in Bayfield to Ignacio and back. It was about 19 miles, mostly flat, but my sea-level-lungs need some adjustment to the altitude up here (we live at 6900 feet). When I left it was about 22F, I averaged 17.5mph and it had warmed up to almost 40F by the time I got back. And I did that on my fixed gear because my road bike is still in the shop getting assembled and tuned.

We’ve been here less than a week but so far so good. Once I get a little more settled in expect a lot more blog posts from me.

Happy Birthday Moustache!

Today my moustache is turning one year old! It’s been exactly a year since I was last clean shaven — I only trimmed the moustache once in this past year, but other than that just a comb and wax is all that touches it.

A year ago I was in Puerto Iguazu Argentina. I was visiting the falls on the Argentine side one day, and going to the Brazilian side the next. While laying around the hostel that night between the two trips I got the bright idea to shave off my beard so later it would look like I’d been to Iguazu/Iguaçu Falls at two different times in my life. So I pulled out the razor and started shaving. Beards have come and gone in the past year, but that hair above my upper lip that we affectionately refer to as a moustache has been with me the whole time.

Below is a photo time line of the first year in my moustache’s life.

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La Mesa Bar Bike Adventure

There are all sorts of bars in La Mesa, the city I grew up in, that I’ve never been to. Places that I wondered about when underage, but just didn’t seem cool enough once I could get into bars. Last night Kinsee, Derrik and I rode our bikes to five of those La Mesa watering holes.

First up was Centifonti’s, I’ve walked past it a few times before and always assumed it was a restaurant or bakery, I was shocked when I saw a coupon in the Citybeat advertising their “Boot of Beer”.  Why a place like this serves a boot of beer is beyond me, but we weren’t concerned with that, we just wanted our 112oz of cold, foamy Stella Artois. I felt a little out of place at first, most of the patrons were older than the three of us combined, but as we drank the boot I stopped worrying about La Mesa folks and started having a good time.

Pouring the Boot

Pouring the Boot

Drinking the Boot

Drinking the Boot

Finishing the Boot

Finishing the Boot

Next up was Pete’s Place. Pete’s used to be one of two dive bars on La Mesa Blvd, but they both recently closed. Pete’s Place opened back up after some remodeling, Joe and Andy’s, the other dive hasn’t reopened yet. When tearing down the old walls they apparently found nice brick walls behind them, so Pete’s Place looks nice these days. Even though they got remodeled the bar tender said they still have the same people hanging out there and drink prices didn’t go up. $3.25 for a decently stiff whiskey and 7up was pretty good.

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Brick Walls

Brick Walls

After Pete’s Place we rode down the street, passing such places as Hoffer’s Cigar Bar and the Turquoise Room at the Riviera Supper Club for the tried and true Falcon’s Lure. They only serve beer and wine but we found some good local brews. We played the jukebox (I resisted putting on Alice’s Restaurant, three times), met a local who showed us a magic trick, he originally wanted us to buy him a beer before showing us the magic behind it. When we showed no interest whatsoever he decided to tell us free of charge.

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Bikes in the Bar

Bikes in the Bar

We sprinted down University Ave to The Dragon Room at Wong’s Golden Palace. This was the most divey, and least fun bar of the night. We walked in and it was almost silent, no music was playing, and nearly dark. No one was behind the bar so I asked a guy sitting there if he’d seen a bartender around recently. He looked at me and laughed and said “nah”. Then he started yelling “MEATLOAF! MEATLOAF!”, shortly after that the bartender started walking over. We didn’t feel comfortable ordering drinks from someone that responds to the name Meatloaf so we went into the restaurant and order our Flaming Volcano drink. We downed the drink and got out as quickly as we could.

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The Volcano

The Volcano

The Flaming Volcano

The Flaming Volcano

Last was Mr G’s Tavern. It was bright with loud but not too loud music and a decent crowd. One patron was apparently trying to make fun of us and our bikes but I didn’t let him get away with it.

Him: “So you guys ten-speeded in here huh?”

Me: “They’re single-speeds actually.”

We quickly became friends with him and another regular named Tim. By the time we left we’d earned his respect by riding around the hills of La Mesa with only one gear.

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A Few of the Regulars -- We met Tim

A Few of the Regulars -- We met Tim

A Couple of the Other Regulars

A Couple of the Other Regulars

Photos mostly by Derrik.

New Years Resolution: Training for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic

Last Sunday afternoon, while most people in San Diego were watching the Chargers lose to the Steelers I was out enjoying an unseasonably hot day in January with a bike ride through La Mesa and up Mount Helix. One of my new years resolutions this year is to train for, and ultimately ride in, The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic. The Iron Horse is a 47 mile race/ride from Durango to Silverton Colorado. The idea behind it is the race the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Train from the start in Durango to the finish in Silverton.

I’ve never ridden 50 miles, but I have no doubt that I can do a 50 mile ride. The part that starts to worry me is the two 10,000 foot mountain passes between Durango and Silverton. Living in coastal-California all my life, I’ve only been above 10,000 feet a few times, and never ridden a bike up that high. It’s going to take a lot of exercise and training to get ready for this.

So Sunday I donned my new lyrca shorts (those padded spandex like shorts road bikers wear), bike jersey shirt and rode off in the 85F+ heat. I only rode about 15 miles, just warming up, my first time riding in quite a while but it felt good. I was huffing and puffing as I got to the top of Mount Helix, which isn’t a good sign seeing as its only 1000ft or so above sea level, but I’ve got time to work on that.

Unfortunately toward the end of my ride the freewheel on my maintenance-neglected bike siezed up, so I need to do some serious cleanup on it, and probably take it into the shop for a tune-up. Luckily I’ve got my fixed gear I can ride for a while.

I’ll be posting periodic updates here on my training progress and hopefully come the end of May some pictures and my results.

My First Ever White Christmas

Photo by Kinsee Morlan

As close as I came to a Snowman. Photo by Kinsee Morlan

I spent my first ever white Christmas in Bayfield, CO with my fiance and future family-in-law.

It snowed quite a bit before we got there, and kept snowing for almost two days straight after we arrived. Even though it was about 25F outside most of the time, it didn’t feel like what I expected that to feel like. It was cold but I thought it would feel colder.

We spent some time in downtown Durango, which has a nice main street that reminds me a lot of Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz. I also got my first taste of one of the many Durango craft breweries, we had lunch at Carver Brewing Co. Quite fine beers indeed. I got to meet a ton of Kinsee’s old high school friends and spend time with her family.

I also acted like a small child playing in the snow much of the weekend. I think I had only seen snow fall once before this. I shoveled the driveway quite a bit (I’m told the novelty wears off soon), made a snow angel, went sleding and tobaganing and even made a face print in the snow (that was cold!).

I really wanted to build a snowman and have a snowball fight, but the snow was far too powdery and soft, it crumbled in your hand as you tried to ball it up, it was nothing like the icey hard snow I’ve played in before.

Kinsee shot some video of my playing in the snow, I’ll post some of that soon.

Christian the Lion

My friend Oliver sent me this video.

This might be my favorite youtube video ever.

Sensations lead to Memories

Yesterday, dripping wet from running to my car in the pouring rain, I turned the heater to full blast and put on Okkervil River’s Down the River of Golden Dreams. As the music started to get going the sounds, the wet hair and clothes and the smell of the heater all sort of combined nostalgically reminding me of the rain, space heaters and most importantly, listening to a lot of Okkervil River when I lived in Santa Cruz.

As I listened to the whole album, and then some other songs of theirs, most of the songs reminded me of a specific event, person, time or feeling.

It Ends With a Fall reminds me of walking down a brightly lit and decorated Pacific Avenue after work, on cold but dry December evenings, working my way through the Christmas shoppers and then down to a dark Laurel street and a lonely walk home alone.

Blanket and Crib – a housemate who didn’t like me much and never really gave me a chance.

The War Criminal Rises and Speaks– The smell of fresh baked bread coming from the Subway on Pacific Avenue.

The Velocity of Saul at the Time of His Conversion– This memory is much more recent. Standing on the deck at a friend’s apartment, winded from running, drunk from drinking, tired from not sleeping, a phone call and a conversation, Ryan playing this song for me as the night quietly winded down.

Song About a Star- New Years Eve with a German anarchist, staring up at the stars in the cold night just before midnight.

Red – drunkenly slow dancing, waltzing even at times when my feet would remember thats what they were supposed to do, in the common room.

Kansas City – Sunday afternoons and cooking with Elena, making and drinking vin brulé. Pretending like we knew what we were doing in the kitchen while talking about freedom and autonomy.

Westfall – Megan playing it on the guitar and the unexpected looks on people’s faces as she sang the lyrics.

Listening to Otis Redding at Home During Christmas – A cold December night spent drinking room temperature Guinness at the Poet  with a new friend. Talking about the past and the future.

No Key, No Plan – Scrawling the lyrics out on the shower wall with special shower crayons.

A Favor – Lying in bed in silence with a friend, this song blaring from speakers, but neither of us with the energy to get up and turn the volume down. Finding out the next day that she was sure we were dying and our lifeless bodies would be found the next morning.