A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Black & White

On a few of the blogs I follow the authors have posted some black and white photographs. I enjoyed seeing them. I used to do B&W all the time when I had a film camera. Remember those? I even built myself a little darkroom. Then digital cameras came along and I sort of forgot about B&W for awhile. Well, thanks to those bloggers I dug through images dating back almost 10 years in search of B&Ws that I did with digital cameras. Here I post a few if for no other reason than to get me to start thinking "Black and White" when I look through the viewfinder and push down on that little button.
I think people pictures, particularly portraits, look better in black and white.
Especially when they are of your newborn grandson and his grandmother.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Burning Man Meets Handcar Regatta

At Sunday's Handcar Regatta I discovered this facade of an old country house parked on a side street. I immediately thought this is so much like a something to be seen at Burning Man. The band was just starting up playing with a country bluegrass flare and they were good.

I then walked around behind and saw there was more to the house than I imagined. 'This is even better.' Upon close inspection it sure looked like it had a coating of playa dust.

Then I saw the needlepoint.

I learned that it indeed had just returned from the Black Rock Desert and this year's Burning Man event. The little stove in the far left is fully functional. They would bake batches of brownies and give them out to people on the playa. If you look closely in the attic you can see where they slept. This is the ideal way to spend a week at Burning Man. I wonder how they got the house out there? I didn't think to ask. Maybe it is pre-fab, coming apart in sections and lies flat on the trailer it sits on for transport.

Nearby was this little art car which was quite slick. Notice the sticker on the lower tail fin, a DMV (Dept. of Mutant Vehicles) permit from Burning Man

and then I saw the Snail.

I saw this art car on the playa in it's 2009 debut and thought it the best of all. Here it was at the regatta. I complimented the artist once again and he said it is his attempt to put "Art" back into art-car. I think he's done that very well. The Snail is mounted on a Volkswagen Bug chassis and every panel is individually cut and riveted into place. Too many people were in the way for a side shot so here is one of it on the playa.
Flames shoot out from the antenna. You have to have fire at Burning Man. And the searchlight on top does work. Light up the night!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Imagine Create

There was a lot imagination and creativity in the art that was present at the Handcar Regatta. I get overwhelmed at events like this. There is so much to see everywhere I turn.

It doesn't take much to make the ordinary something different.

Then there are the pieces that a lot of effort and thought went into creating.


Bones alone can be art

A bird in a cage, why not?                                

No art is complete without paintings from the small detail on a parasol to a large freestanding mural
Probably the most unrespected type of art is the tattoo. Tattoos were in abundance at the regatta with the women probably most of all displaying much of the tattoo work. I do not have any tattoos. Never will either. Not that I don't like them, it's the needles I don't like. Then again I would never be able to decide what kind of a tattoo to choose. And if I did choose one, I know sometime later I would be asking myself  "Why? What was I thinking?" I'd grow tired of looking at it and want something else or it to be gone all together. So I just admire tattoos on others and am quite happy with that. But of all I noticed that day, this one here struck me the most. This guy obviously is a craftsman in the old style. Good for him and I liked his tattoo best of all. It wasn't until I got home and viewed the photo did I see the old stick style folding ruler and hand wrench around the side of his calf. I wish had been a little bit more over to the side and captured the entire work. As I said, there is so much to see at events crowded with people that I don't see what is right in front of my eyes.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Yesterday was the Third Annual Handcar Regatta in Santa Rosa. I didn't know about the first two. People create people-powered modes of transportation for competition on the abandoned railroad tracks of Santa Rosa's old railroad station. Many who attended dressed up in period attire. Think of the Victorian-era, Jules Verne, Sherlock Holmes and you get the idea. I was most taken by the imaginative eyeglasses and goggles that were created. It got me to thinking for next year.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


This mural is on a free-standing cinder block wall at a local elementary school. I suspect the kids were given free rein to paint the wall as this wish. Very creative and imaginative. Perhaps another Diego Rivera will emerge from this class.

We had similar walls at our school but they were made out of wood. We played handball using either a volley ball or kick ball for the game. You hit the ball with your fist and it had to hit the ground first then bounce up and against the wall whereupon your opponent did likewise. I loved the game and could play it for hours as it was about the only game with a ball I was good at. I was good at 4-square too. Sometimes I would skip lunch just so that I could play these games even longer. Tether-ball I was terrible at. My timing was always off and most of the time I'd miss the ball and hit the rope which would wrap around my arm with great force leaving rope burns. Worse still was hitting the ball where the rope tied onto it. Extreme pain.

Ah yes, games during recess. The best of times at school. It made going to school worthwhile.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Bicycle Obelisk

Last month this art piece appeared in my town of Santa Rosa. It created quite a stir in the community most all positive save for drivers gawking at it instead of paying attention to their driving. The "Cyclisk" as it is called, stands 65 feet tall, weighs over 10,000 pounds and took 4 months to build all of recycled bicycle parts. The artist who lives in nearby Petaluma said around 340 bicycles were donated to create the piece. The bike parts were welded within a rectangular framework in a warehouse in Oakland. The finished work was then trucked to Santa Rosa and hoisted in place by a crane. The $37,000 art piece was funded by a 1% tax on all community commercial projects that exceed $500,000. The 1% must be designated for public art and in this case it came from the construction of a nearby new Nissan auto dealership. The irony of this cannot be missed. The artist waived his fee so that all the money would go into the art piece.

I've seen obelisks up close in Egypt but personally I think this one is more impressive.

The Little Red and White Bicycle Seat

Back Lit by the Sun

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pogo Sticks

I stopped by to see what my son and his family were up to. My grandson Miles wanted to show me his new pogo stick. Fifty years ago I tried a friend's pogo stick. That lasted about ten minutes. Back then all pogo sticks were the same. Made out of heavy gauge steel pipe, if you fell and it landed on you, you had the bruises to show for it. They were as long as you were tall so your hands were up by your face. And worst of all, they must of had garage door springs inside. No way could a scrawny little kid such as I was, jump up and down on the things. Mile's pogo stick is just the right size for him. The foot pegs have rubber pads. In days of old they were all steel and guaranteed to skin your shin when your foot slipped off. Now there is foam padding along the shaft and custom hand formed foam grips to hang on to. Not the skinny vinyl bicycle handlebar grips of those prehistoric models. And best of all, the spring actually compresses when the little guy jumps on it. What a wonderful age we live in. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

"You're Up Here"

I rode a new trail in the park yesterday, one I have not been on before. I had been putting off doing Marsh Trail thinking it would be a long relentless climb on a narrow rock strewn track. Plus, once at it's end you are miles well into the park and if I am hurting by that point, it may not be all that pleasurable coming back out. I also planned to pack a lunch and see how it would go carrying a sandwich and shorty soft drink in a fanny pack. Last week I went to the store trying to find a small backpack to wear as I see other mountain bikers doing. I don't care to wear backpacks for my back gets real sweaty and thankfully, I couldn't find anything to fit my needs so this forced me into the fanny pack trial. Lastly, I planned to take it easy and do the ride at a slower pace than usual. Hopefully I wouldn't peter out as soon and could ride further.

Four and a half miles into the ride I turned onto Marsh Trail. It proved to be a gentle grade with no get-off sections and I was liking it. Midway I could hear a bike coming up behind me as I was sweating and puffing along. I pointed to the track beside me to let him know I knew he was there and to pass me on that side. As he passed he said "How you doing?" I replied "Not bad for an old man" whereupon without hesitation he came back with "You're up here." As he rode away uphill I thought about that thinking he was right. I am up here and I rarely see anyone else of my age riding mountain bikes in Annadel. I wish I could always think like others do about what I do.

By the trails end I was really enjoying it. Marsh Trail gets my vote for the best in the park. I met the same guy at the picnic table and we visited for awhile. I thanked Brian for his remark and found out he was 10 years younger than I. He told me if I liked Marsh so well I will even more so for Bay Ridge. It is the last remaining trail I've not been on as it is even further out and I didn't know what I would be getting into but based on what Brian had to say about it, I am now looking forward to the Bay Ridge trail. My lunch on the fanny pack worked out real well as I hardly knew it was back there. Best of all the sandwich wasn't smashed.

I had planned on returning by South Burma Trail as I've been on it before and is good for going down on. But this Marsh trail looked like it would be even more fun for a return trip so I doubled back on it and was not disappointed. A good ride, taking my time and having lunch along the way. Although Brian was riding much further than I did, he too said just taking your time, stopping often and enjoying the view is what he does. Yep, that's the ticket and I need to practice that more often.

I've noticed these boxes being put into place on the pit toilets around the park this summer. I don't know who is responsible - local bike shops, bike clubs or just some individuals but it's a nice thing. Threaded onto the very long cable (so that nothing disappears) are all the tools one would need to make a repair or fix a flat tire on their bicycle. Included is a tire pump, tire removing levers, pliers, phillips and straight blade screwdriver, adjustable wrench and two sets of allen wrenches. Pretty cool.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Racy Girls on Bikes

Here are some more women who rode the mountain bike race last weekend. These women have my respect and admiration.  Go Girls!

Lastly, here is this poor fellow who didn't let a little thing like a flat tire keep him from finishing.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Day at the Races

Here the come.

My son and I arrived at the staging area an hour before the start so that we could mill around and gawk. Initially it didn't seem like a large turnout but taking into consideration such short notice for the event and the absence of any real advertising in bike shops and such it seemed okay. The highest number I observed was just nearing 150. We could see ways everything could be improved but for the first race to be held in 20 plus years we felt they did a good job. As the riders meeting was going on we started down the track to our spot on Rough Go trail where the participants would be coming down in their final mile.

We spent a fair amount of time trying to scope out the most promising photo opt spot...meaning where most likely crashes would take place. Settled in, soon the first runners appeared. There was a 12-mile cross-country run which began after the bikers took off and their route ran up Rough Go. Rough Go is a steep uphill rocky grind and the first runner a mile into the race was a young woman surprisingly. Even more surprisingly was the fact that their were very few runners...only a few dozen. Hopefully this event will be held again next year with more publicity and many more participants as the ultimate benefactor from the proceeds is Annadel State Park.

After about an hour the first mountain biker began to appear coming down the rough rocky trail. These were those who did the "beginner's" loop of 9 miles. An hour later came those who did the intermediate route of 18.5 miles. Lastly after 3 hours of riding came the 25 milers. Of that group two or three rolled through and we found ourselves sitting there for the longest time wondering "Where are the rest?". That was it! Everyone rode the two shorter routes.

The two of us packed our gear and hiked on down the mountain. We were expecting something like what we experienced riding the Rockhopper back in '87...it wasn't like that. All the riders were stretched out from one another by the end of the trial so their was no real competitive effort towards then end which could of led to some good over the handlebars crashes. Most all were quite cautious through the rock garden. But we both felt that next year we'll do this. It's very low key and the only thing that would make it hard would be myself pushing my pace faster than I should. I'm looking forward to it as too is my son...I think.

          This is about as close one rider ever was to another.

Here is my chosen spot thinking something was bound to happen. The rock behind his rear wheel many riders were clipping with their right pedal. It was only a matter of time someone would get spun around and crash. Finally towards the end it happened. The poor fellow landed on the boulder in the lower left hand corner of the frame. I kid you not, I saw the boulder move.
This is him at an instant before striking the rock with his pedal. he crashed hard into the boulder in a cloud of dust. I jumped up and asked him if he was okay and he said yes. Naturally he was more embarrassed than anything else. He walked his bike 10 feet further to where my son was, checked his left hip and thigh out then carefully remounted and rode off...very slowly. Of course I didn't get a picture of him draped over the boulder and my son too missed the crashed. Afterwards we talked about it and I felt bad for planning for weeks to be at the right place at the right time for that perfect unique crash photograph, not thinking how seriously hurt the person could get. This guy must be very sore today.

A father/son team. I liked their matching outfits. They were taking it real slow and dad was very encouraging and supportive of his young son. They were having a good time.

This was the first woman through, no doubt doing the shorter course. I loved the streamers on her handlebars.
I really admire the women who take part in this sort of activity. This one here did the 18 mile route and you can see she is having a good time. I was surprised to not see that skinny little stick girl who plagued me those days when I first started preparing myself for this event back when I thought I was going to do it. I would have bet money on her.
Just before leaving for the day, I took a picture of the rock which caused problems for the riders. Notice the silver-like edge to it, that is aluminum left behind from all the pedals that connected with it.