Sunday, December 16, 2012

Together we raised over $13K!!

The donations have been tallied and I'm thrilled to report that we raised $13,211.04 in support of the Hopi Cancer Assistance Fund (HCAF).  This includes individual, tribal, and corporate donations, as well as donations received during the Kickoff event hosted by Hopi Cancer Support Services.  I want to offer my deepest thanks of appreciation to everyone who supported this fundraising effort. In addition to the more than 300 donors who generously gave in support of this worthy cause, the success of the fundraiser would not have been possible without help of people working behind the scenes to promote the event, manage donations, and provide technical and administrative support. Special thanks to Gloria Lomaheftewa, Coordinator for the HCAF for her work providing financial assistance and emotional support to Hopi cancer patients and their families. I also want to thank Monica Nuvamsa, Executive Director of the Hopi Foundation for seeing the potential of the fundraiser and lending the support of her organization and amazing staff. As a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, the Hopi Foundation supports creative collaborations that promote community capacity building and self-sufficiency. Working in partnership with the Hopi Foundation and Hopi Cancer Assistance Fund is an example of what can be achieved when people can some together in collaboration and support of a common cause.  


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The end of the journey

After more than 1,500 miles and 24 days of peddling, my big bicycle adventure is over. It was an experience of a lifetime, but less than 24 hours after we rolled into our final destination, Ventura, CA, I was on a plane headed for Albuquerque, NM to participate in the Joe Sando Pueblo Studies Symposium at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.  After the symposium and a few days of rest and relaxation, I promise to post photos and information about the final day of the ride. I'll also provide an update of our fundraising efforts for the Hopi Cancer Assistance Fund. Until then, I want to thank the many family members, friends, and colleagues for their donations in support of this worthy cause. I also want to offer my sincere thanks to everyone who visited my blog and offered words of encouragement and support as I peddled my bike down the Pacific Coast.  Askwali!       

Monday, October 22, 2012

Day 27: Arroyo Grande to Lompoc, CA

Today's 45 mile ride took us from Arroyo Grande to Lompoc, CA. As we near our final destination the traffic has increased and the quiet country roads have become a distant memory as we pedal down parts of Highway 101 with cars whizzing by at 70 MPH. As terrifying as it sometimes was riding along narrow winding roads with little more than a guard rail between us and the sea crashing several hundred feet below, I prefer it over the southern California traffic that we are now encountering. 

With only one day left to our ride, I think everyone will be happy to roll into our final hotel in Ventura tomorrow afternoon. In addition to the fatigue of biking 45-85 miles each day, after nearly 4 weeks of excellent weather and well-organized travel, we encountered our first rain showers and hotel snafu. When we arrived in Lompoc we found that our hotel, the O'Cairn's Inn, had closed!  Apparently someone forgot to notify WomanTours and we arrived to find the hotel vacant except for a few workers removing furniture from the rooms. Fortunately for us, there was a Red Roof Inn next door and we were able to get rooms for our entire group. As for the weather, it started with sprinkles around 3 pm and by 5 pm it was raining. Normally we eat outside, but tonight we crammed into the hotel lobby where we enjoyed our final dinner prepared by chef Michelle while watching the presidential debate.   

Today's destination was Lompoc, CA, traditional homelands of the Chumash. In fact, the name of the city is derived from the Chumash word "Lum Poc" which means "stagnant waters" or "lagoon." Today Lompoc has became primarily a military town of nearby Vandenberg Air Force Base. Located close to air force base is a Federal Correctional Institution. Not exactly the quaint seaside towns we've experienced during much of our trip, but Lompoc has its charm with the many murals that decorate the city's public walls. 

Day 26: San Simeon to Arroyo Grande, CA

Day 26 and only 2 more days until we arrive in Ventura, CA.  Its hard to believe we've been on the road for nearly a month, but my sore bum reminds me that we have. Sunday's ride from San Simeon to Arroyo Grande was a short 52 miles. Because check-in at the hotel in Arroyo Grande wasn't until 3 pm our guides, Cye and Michelle, tried to discourage us from starting our ride too early. Maybe it was force of habit or simply the collective knowledge of being so close to our final destination, but most of us had our gear packed and our tires pumped by 7 a.m.  

The first part of our ride was on Cabrillo Highway (also known as the Pacific Coast Highway)  where we continued to enjoy views of the ocean. A short detour into the seaside town of Cayucos found us having arrived for the Sunday farmer's market and antique fair. By then the morning was starting to warm up so I decided to stop for a latte and croissant. Twenty minutes later I was back on the road peddling towards  Arroyo Grande.  

Cayucos is the Chumash word for "kayak," or "canoe," which was used by the Chumash people to fish in the bay, particularly in the rich kelp beds just north of the current Cayucos pier. In 1842, Martin Olivera and Vincente Feliz received the Rancho Moro y Cayucos Mexican land grant. In 1867, Captain James Cass settled on 320 acres of this land, and founded the town of Cayucos. 

Turkey vultures perched on a rock south of San Simeon.
I suppose with only a population of 18 everyone must live in harmony with one another or maybe not, which might account for the small population. Hum, sounds like another good setting for an Alfred Hitchcock movie. 
Farmer's market in Cayucos

South of Cayucos was Morro Rock. The rock is really a "volcanic plug" created thousands of years ago when magma hardened within a vent on a then active volcano. The Chumash tribe considers Morro Rock to be a sacred site and although it is illegal for the general public to climb the rock, the Chumash people are permitted to climb Morro Rock for their annual solstice ceremony.   

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day 25: Big Sur to San Simeon, CA

We're less than 200 miles from our final destination in Ventura, CA. Its hard to believe our journey is almost at an end, but after three weeks on a bike seat I have to admit that I am looking forward to some time away from my bike.  The trip has been amazing, after nearly 4 weeks of living out of a suitcase I am looking forward to getting home and wearing something other than biking shorts!  

Saturday's ride from Big Sur to San Simeon was in the van. The pain in my wrists and numbness in my fingers returned despite stretching and icing my forearm.  After thinking over the fact that we have 4 days left to ride, I decided to take a personal rest day. It turns out I wasn't alone as 6 other riders also opted not to ride today. With our bikes loaded on the roof and everyone packed into the van, we drove out of the Big Sur Lodge and we immediately glad to be in the van instead of riding the steep winding roads.  On the left of the 2-lane road was a steep mountainside and to the right was a sheer drop of several hundred feet to the waves below. I applaud those who chose to ride, but I know I made the best choice for me and was glad to spend off the bike. 

As we made our way south on the Pacific Coast highway we stopped along the way to see the hundreds of elephant seals sunning themselves on the beach just north of San Simeon. Hunted nearly to extinction for their oil-rich blubber, elephant seals have made a remarkable comeback. Protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, they are expanding their range outward from remote islands and are now colonizing selected mainland beaches such as Piedras Blancas in the southern range of Big Sur, near San Simeon.

A park ranger explained that elephant seals come ashore and form colonies for only a few months of each year to give birth, breed, and molt. The rest of the year the colonies disperse and individuals spend most of their time in pursuit of food, a quest which involves swimming thousands of miles and diving to great depths.

Elephant seals basking in the sun north of San Simeon

Another reason for opting to ride in the van was that we had reserved tickets for a tour of Hearst Castle, a National Landmark located in San Simeon on the Central Coast of California. Hearst Castle was designed by architect Julia Morgan between 1919 and 1947 for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who died in 1951. In 1957, the Hearst Corporation donated the property to the state of California. Since that time it has been maintained as a state historic park where the estate, and its considerable collection of art and antiques, is open for public tours. 

Photo of one of the many parlors at Hearst Castle

William Hearst's library

William Hearst's office

A view looking out a 3rd floor balcony. The day of our visit it was very foggy which obscured the view, but lent an air of mystery to our tour.

The garden included quite a number of marble statues and sarcophagi

View of the Neptune Pool from an upper terrace

I have no idea what plant this is, but the flowers hung like ornaments and were quite beautiful.

This looks more like a scene from "The Legend of Hell House" than the main entry into Hearst's Castle.

This is a marble sculpture in the main garden at Hearst's Castle. The naked women reclining is holding an ear of corn that she is feeding to a goat. Notice her hair style, very similar to the whorls that Hopi maidens wear. I wish I could have found a docent to ask about the history behind the sculpture, but our bus back to the visitor's center was about to board.    

I didn't notice the name of this bronze sculpture but I decided to name it "looking for callouses after a hard day of riding." 
Even through I didn't ride, I wanted to share the map of our route. Most of our ride for the past few days has been primarily on Pacific Coast Highway, also known as California State Route 1.

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Day 24: Monterey to Big Sur

On Friday we continued our journey southward riding from Monterey to Big Sur. I had visited the area before and was looking forward to the opportunity to ride my bike down the world famous 17-mile drive. To drive the section of the road within the Pebble Beach Gated Community costs $9.75 except for residents and visitors on bicycles. Ride did not disappoint. As we rolled out of the hotel we were greeted with a nice marine layer that kept us relatively warm.  Riding along the shore we saw sea lions, otters, and some spectacular seaside mansions. 

Sea Lions basking on the rocks in Monterey Bay

A shot of the sunrise as it breaks through the fog looking back towards Monterey.
I'm not a horticulturist, but I have been captivated by all the flora I've seen during my trip.  This interesting succulent was growing along the beach between Monterey and Carmel. Speaking of horticulturist, when I asked a fellow rider how to spell "horticulturist," she told me a story about Dorothy Parker, a well-known American poet, short story writer, critic and satirist reputed to be able to use any word in a sentence. When asked to use the word "horticulture," she responded "you can lead a whore-to-culture, but you can't make her think." Get it? Horticulture/"whore-to-culture." Well, I thought it was pretty funny.

This plant stands about 4 feet tall
Cypress juniper trees

I'm not sure what kind of plant this is, but I thought the bottle-brush looking flowers were quite beautiful.

I know tsunami's are a very real threat in coastal areas, but I still chuckle whenever I see these signs and try to imagine myself running (or riding) towards higher ground.

17-Mile Drive is dotted with golf courses, including the world famous Pebble Beach

This picture isn't very good, but there are hundreds of seals sunning themselves on this rock just off shore.

The famous "Lone Cypress" tree is a 250 year old growing out of the rocks along 17-Mile Drive and the official symbol of Pebble Beach.  

 Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo, also known as the Carmel Mission, is a Roman Cathoic mission church in Carmel, CA. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and a U.S. National Historic Landmark. it was the headquarters of the original upper Las Californias Province missions headed by Father Junipero Serra from 1770 until his death in 1784. In 1988 Pope John Paul beatified Serra, moving him to within one step of sainthood. Franciscan priests promoting Serra toward sainthood praise him for spreading the Catholic gospel into California and saving thousands of Indian souls for God's kingdom in heaven. In a critical biography of Serra, Daniel Fogel focuses on the Franciscan friars' cultural and psychological impact on the Indians they baptized and brought into the California missions. While the friars made diligent efforts to protect "their" Indians from smallpox, mission Indians suffered devastating mortality from measles and syphilis -- the latter introduced by Spanish and Mexican soldiers raping Indian women. Equally devastating than the epidemics was the that by teaching the Natives Catholic dogma in Spanish and Latin, the friars hastened the disappearance of the Indian languages and left the Indians without resources to claim the formal rights they had under Mexican law and later U.S. law. 
Counting down the miles to our destination in Big Sur.
Pig or javelina crossing?   

As we near the end of our Pacific Coast ride, the days are beginning to blur.  Half the time I don't know what day it is and the other half I don't know where I'm coming from or going to. In addition to sharing my ride with family, friends, and colleagues, this blog has helped me keep track of the ride and all the places I've been. Below is our route from Monterey to Big Sur.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day 22 & 23: San Francisco to Santa Cruz to Monterary

After our rest day in San Francisco, we prepared to leave early on Wednesday morning for the 84.5 mile ride to Santa Cruz, CA.  About half the group decided to take a 20 mile "bump" in order to avoid both the hills and the traffic of a work day in San Francisco. In addition to the traffic, I wanted to avoid a stretch of the California Route 1 known as "Devil's Slide," so named because of the many landslides that have destroyed the steep, narrow, cliff-hugging road. The photo of Devil's Slide to the right comes courtesy of Wikipedia and shows a large area of slope failure marked by unweathered orange rocks and sharp truncations of vegetated areas. Having lived in the Bay Area for a number of years in the mid-1990s, I've experience too many earthquakes not to develop a healthy respect for mother nature. 

During our layover in San Francisco we were visited by a number of WomenTours alumni, including Jan B. who signed up for the ride but cancelled a few weeks before the start in order to care for a friend diagnosed with breast cancer. I met Jan several years ago on a WomenTours ride in Santa Barbara and credit her with teaching me how to shift when climbing hills as well as inspiring me to embrace the challenge of a long distance ride.  In her early 70s, Jan is amazing and my role-model of how to live life to the fullest regardless of age. She drove in from Sacramento and greeted us as we rolled into the hotel in San Francisco and was there to bid us farewell as we departed on Wednesday morning.   

Me and Jan B.

A few miles down from where the van dropped us off.  Several weeks ago I would have cringed at the thought of riding 54 miles, but now the distance almost seems not only doable, but short. 

A glimpse of a white sandy beach more typical of the California coastline.

During our ride into Santa Cruz we rode through a lot of agricultural areas. I know its difficult to tell, but they are harvesting brussels sprouts. 

On the ride into Santa Cruz I spotted at least a dozen hawks.  I wasn't quick enough to activate the zoom on my camera, but there is a red-tail hawk sitting on the middle post. I brought some homa (ground corn) with me and said a prayer for the many Native people suffering from cancer and other chronic diseases. 

A shot of some of the coastline along the ride into Santa Cruz

Waves crashing on rocks at Pomponio State Beach

Counting down the miles until I arrive in Santa Cruz

Perched on a cliff about 50 miles south of San Francisco, the 115-foot Pigeon Point Lighthouse, one of the tallest lighthouses in America, has been guiding mariners since 1872. Its five-wick lard oil lamp, and first-order Fresnel lens, comprised of 1,008 prisms, was first lit at sunset, November 15, 1872. The lens stands 16 feet tall, 6 feet in diameter, and weighs 8,000 pounds. It sits in a lantern room that had been constructed at the Lighthouse Service's general depot in New York before being shipped around the Horn. Although the original Fresnel lens is no longer in use, the lighthouse is still an active U.S. Coast Guard aid to navigation using a 24 inch Aero Beacon. 

Pumpkins for sale in prep for Halloween.

It was a glorious day of riding and although I didn't ride the full 84.5 miles from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, I'm pretty proud of the 59 miles I did ride. The weather was sunny, clear and warm with mid afternoon temps in the high 80s. 

After yesterday's 84.5 mile ride, today's 42.7 mile ride from Santa Cruz to Monterey, CA was a welcome reprieve after so many hours on the bike seat.  Because of the short ride, we got to sleep in and didn't leave the hotel until 8:30 am. I was looking forward to the ride, but about 10 miles out I started to get sharp pains in my right hand. I pressed on for another couple of miles but found that I wasn't able to grip the handle bar and decided it wasn't safe to ride.  I flagged down the van and rode with our guide Cye the rest of the way to Monterey. I was disappointed not to be able to complete today's ride, but with 4 more days of riding ahead I thought it best to give my hand a rest. When we arrived in Monterey I made an appointment for a massage. After an hour massage, the pain was nearly gone. The masseuse showed me a number of stretches to relieve the tension in my forearm and shoulders and suggested I take a couple of ibuprofen to reduce the inflammation. I guess three weeks of riding can take a toll on the body, but I thought it would be my legs that would give me problems. Tonight I'm icing my forearm and hand in the hope that I'm pain-free and able to ride tomorrow.  

Before my massage I rode my bike down Cannery Row (made famous by American author, John Steinbeck). 

Not the most flattering picture, but several folks have asked me to include more photos of myself.  As the one taking the pictures I'm usually behind the camera, but I managed to take this photo with my arm outstretched. In case you're wondering, the black disk protruding from my helmet is a "rear-view" mirror so I can see the traffic behind me.  I know it makes me look like a bug with one antenna, but fashion is secondary to safety. 

A shot of the beautiful Monterey coastline from the bike path that goes along the coast.

Another beautiful view of the Monterey coast.
Below is a map showing our route for the past two days. The California coastline is less mountainous than Oregon so we have been able to enjoy long stretches of flat road with only the occasional hill for a cardio challenge.  

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