Monday, July 29, 2013


After cruising the strand and kind of falling in love with the energy of the beach towns along the strand, I decided to make Venice Beach my home base. So much going on there, a daily artist market, lots of sun, sand and music. I rode my bike back to Lake Elsinore, picked up the micro gypsy caravan and headed back to the coast. Building the micro gypsy wagon and thinking about where I wanted to take it has been a long process but finally, gypsy caravan and myself are cruising that magical 22 mile long strip of bike path known as "the strand".

Yesterday the caravan got it's first road test, as I pulled it from Redondo Beach all the way to Venice Beach. It seems to pull just fine and definitely gets a lot of looks. After spending the evening at the beach, I pedaled off to a spot I had checked out to sleep for the night. Had a wonderful night's sleep, listening to boats go in and out of the harbor entrance and awoke to the barking of seals. Today I am going to park at the beach where I can keep my toes in the sand, and do some organizing, in the caravan, and get ready to start painting again.



After my day of rest at the beautiful little campsite off the bike path, I rode until I made oceanside, stopped at the beach there and made coffee and oatmeal on my little coleman one burner and celebrated having made it to the ocean. It's been months since I've seen it. Oceanside seemed like a pleasant little seaside town...people surfing and playing in the sand...everyone seemed friendly. Cleaned up after breakfast and asked a cop for directions...he told me that I had to ride though Camp Pendleton, but said all I needed to do was show my ID and they would let me ride through. I guess they try to be accommodating since they are taking up quite a bit of the local coastline. I pedaled up to the gate, ID in hand and showed my driver's license to the nice young soldier dude. He very politely informed me that they would unfortunately not let me through because I didn't have a helmet. I was kind of thrown by that and told him I didn't own one. He said sorry, regulations...nobody can ride through without a helmet. Besides, he informed me, I was at the wrong gate anyway and they couldn't let me through there even if I did have a helmet. He said I would need to enter at the main gate, across the freeway. I asked the soldier dude if he thought they might let me in there and he said he doubted it. So, crestfallen, I pedaled off to the main gate. Apparently the first soldier dude had called them and told them about me because the second soldier dude here at the main gate seemed quite animated about flagging me down. He somehow had gotten the impression that I was attempting to pull a fast one...that the first soldier dude had already told me that I couldn't enter the base. I said, "no....he just said he wouldn't let me in and that that was the wrong gate." To make this long story a little shorter, I ended up talking to 5 different soldier dudes, all very adamant that I couldn't come on the base without a helmet. So I asked the guy who seemed most in charge of the whole thing what I could do then...and he suggested a route that took me about 20 miles east, back the way I had just come, to go around the base. It seemed like there was simply no option, because that certainly wasn't one for me. I asked if there was somewhere nearby that I could buy a helmet and he informed me that he really didn't know, but that if I did then maybe they would let me through....MAYBE? "What do you mean MAYBE?" That's when he informed me that they might not because I had so much maybe some of it was explosive devices or something. Finally, he went off to ask someone if there was anywhere I could go to get a helmet, and I suggested to one of the soldiers who were assigned to guard me, that maybe they should have "loaner helmets"...yunno, turn it in when you leave the base on the other end...they said that wasn't really one of their primary concerns. Then the head soldier dude came back and said it must be my lucky day, because his superior had told him to just let me go on through. I was elated by then, and told him to tell his superior that I loved him. They gave my bags a cursory search and I was off into the rarified world of military base the sound of artillery practice and stuff being blown up. Right here I would insert a photo of the soldier dudes but I had the feeling they wouldn't want to pose for here's a picture taken from the inside of my tent...which has nothing to do with this story...

looking out from within...

Well I had been told that at the other end of the base was a bicycle path I could get on, but when I got to it, there was a big iron gate across it and two guards...a soldier dude, and a soldier dudette. I asked if this was the bike path and they said it was but that it was secured...and I couldn't go now it seemed I wouldn't be allowed to leave...eventually they said they thought the bikes were being detoured onto Interstate 5!...the main north to south freeway that runs through california...the one that always has those signs prohibiting bicycles and pedestrians...I couldn't imagine that I was being given accurate information but I pedaled up to the onramp and sure enough, there was a sign that said "bicycle detour" and the sign about prohibiting bicycles had that line blacked out with electrical tape. So off i pedaled to Interstate 5....and that ride was such a war zone that it made the explosions on the military base seem like a Chucky Cheese by comparison. Cars and trucks where flying by me at 70 to 80 miles an hour...huge trucks whose slipstream whooshed me around like I was riding through a hurricane...and there was no way to get off...all I could do was keep pedaling and wondering whose brilliant idea it was to detour the bicycles onto a main interstate. Finally, after a long, hot and generally terrifying ride, I came to the offramp where I could finally leave the freeway. After a while, things seemed to mellow out and I was just watching the towns and beaches go by. Eventually, exhausted, riding in the dark, I simply couldn't go any further and found a small tree to lean the bike against, roll out my sleeping bag and collapse into sleep.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013


After leaving Lake Elsinore at the crack of dawn and the bike as loaded as possible, I passed through Murrietta, Temecula, and then headed west through Rainbow Canyon. I was pulling a long fairly steep hill, (at least it seemed that way to not-too-in-shape-me at the time) and I pulled over for a beverage break. I happened to stop at the top of a trailhead so, exploring a bit, I found a nice flat clearing off below the trail beneath some small trees at the base of a huge boulder. What the hell, I says, that's a pretty good start for my first day...and besides, it was starting to get hot, even though it was only 10AM. So I bushwacked down to the spot with my bike and set up my camp, spending the day kicked back and delighting in the few breezes that blew through the tent.
Early next morning I was packed up and pedaling toward Fallbrook. I arrived at Live Oak Park, chose a picnic table and made coffee and soft-boiled eggs and a bowl of oatmeal...topped up my water supplies and pedaled off again. It was a day of warrior training...long grades but beautiful scenery. I rode all day, eventually coming to the bike path along the river that leads all the way to Oceanside, and the coast. I pulled off on a little dirt road and found a beautiful little spot to camp in the trees, set up my tent and collapsed in it. Decided to stay another day, get the bike better organized, have a bath, and eat a lot...and rest my aching legs. It's been an awesome day in an awesome spot as I write this from my tent. Had to take a break to tie my trash bag to a long line because a squirrel keeps trying to steal it. Tomorrow morning it's off to the Pacific Ocean.

Monday, July 15, 2013



This morning, at first light, I will climb onto my over-loaded bicycle and pedal out of Lake Elsinore and westward toward the cool breezes of the Pacific Coast. From there I will turn right and head north on Highway One to...I'm not really sure to where, but what the hell, it's the journey not the destination, right? I am taking this trip for many reasons....partly for my mind and get stronger both mentally and physically, and partly because I just need some time to think about the next chapter of my life. What better way to think than to pedal up the coast and watch the scenery go by. Also, I am on a mission to find my next home base. I'm looking for a place with interesting people, beautiful surroundings and a conducive environment to set up shop and studio and build a full size gypsy wagon to live in. I am also on a quest to find the perfect margarita. I am packed up with oil paints and an easel that attaches to my bicycle, and about 20 or so finished paintings to sell along the way. I have clothes, food, camping gear and an open mind. The journey over the mountains will be, i expect, a challenge, as I am not at all in any kind of bicycle touring condition...I figure that will happen along the way. The temps here have been in the 90's and up over a hundred on some days, so I will probably ride in the morning when it's cool enough and find shade and paint and relax during the heat of the day.Once I get to the ocean I will breathe a big sigh of relief as the cool sea air will make the rest of the journey much kinder. I will be writing my blog about the trip, and posting photos and new paintings as they come off the easel, so I invite you to follow along and keep me company. I hope you will. Stay tuned my friends