My friend Shane

My friend Shane recently passed away and when I received the news of Shane “on the great adventure” it shocked me.  Shane always sported a full head of black hair, olive skin complexion, and always moved with a purpose in life.  Shanes membership in the Los Angeles Adventurers club, I believe was one of the highlights of his life.

Unlike anyone else I know Shane celebrated birthdays by inviting Adventure club friends to come hike with him to the top of Mt. Baldy.  Yes, an 11 mile hike to the top of Mt Baldy, considered the highest point in LA at 10,064 feet. On a clear day one can see from the Pacific ocean to as far away as the Mojave desert.   Shane even though I never said the words to you, you inspired me to always be on the lookout for that next great adventure.  Shane you will be missed.  My birthday is coming up in ten days.  Dare I say, a hike to Mt. Baldy in your honor Sir.  But first, I need a set of those Tibetan prayer flags.

2010-08-15 09.56.38

Shane and everyone else whom I’ve had the privilege of meeting and calling friend from the Los Angeles Adventurers club, know how to enjoy life and squeeze it for all its worth.

2010-08-15 12.06.12.jpg

Shane’s Tibetan prayer flags after stringing them up on the summit of Mt. Baldy.  No doubt these ones are originals brought back by him from the Himalayas.

2010-08-15 11.04.48

PA080027.JPG

And yet on another hike.  Vance and Shane.  Who else but Shane would take you out on a hike on opening day of hunting season.

P8070013.JPG

Rick and Shane just prior to a “training hike” to the top of Mt. Baden Powell.  Thank you my friend, till we meet again.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Camino de Santiago – Training

Today is Monday around noon.  My weekdays follow a somewhat familiar pattern of waking up, some form of exercise, plus projects and daily household chores.  The freshly cut bamboo pole is now waiting to become my new hiking pole and self-defense weapon.  A smaller grandchild version you might ask?  Don’t get Patti started.

This past Saturday, the start of my first official twelve-mile hike with the So Cal Camino hiking group (Facebook So Cal Camino hiking group for further info)  The Camino Frances is a 483 or 790 km walk across northern Spain.  It takes around four weeks to complete.  The Camino Frances i.e. Camino de Santiago (same hike) starts in France (St. Jean/Roncesvalles) and ends in Santiago, Spain.  Watch the movie, “The Way” for a  hollywood version.

In 2001, I attempted a thru hike of the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) right after retirement.  A thru hike is where one starts and finishes the trail in one complete season.  The PCT is a 2,650 mile hike from the Mexican border to the Canadian border.  At the 701 mile mark I called it quits at Yosemite (Kennedy Meadows); hikers could not continue even if they wanted to as a result of the worse snow pack year in ten years.  After over a week of waiting for the trail to open some hikers stayed while others skirted around a major PCT section, and still others like myself searched for and moved on to new adventures.  (Visit http://www.trailjournals.com/trawlercat for my daily PCT journal)   If you are going to challenge yourself then why not do it all the way.

To do any long distance hike there is an inner and an outer form of preparation that needs to take place.  The outer form includes the physical training and planned equipment to carry or use.  The inner or mental state for some is usually the harder part of the preparation phase.  It becomes far easier when one is passionate about the project or life in general.  So why am I doing this hike?  If you already researched the camino then you will know that it has existed for over 1,000 years.  The journey for some is  religious or spiritual.  For me, the Camino de Santiago is a way to honor the memory of my recently departed mother.

We all have the same amount of time in the world.  No one gets more or less; the difference is in how we choose to spend it.  My spiritual and physical well-being was already tested on the PCT; I’m looking forward to this new pilgrims path to stretch and expand my soul.  A way to gain further understanding and knowledge.  And now I leave you with the following words from William Ward.

“To laugh is to risk appearing a fool.

To weep is to risk being called sentimental.

To reach out to another is to risk involvement.

To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.

To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.

To love is to risk not being loved in return.

To live is to risk dying.

To try is to risk failure

 

But risks must be taken.

Because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The people who risk nothing may avoid suffering and sorrow.

But they cannot learn, feel, change, grow or really live.

Chained by their servitude they are slaves who have forfeited all freedom.

Only a person who risks is truly free.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Food – Cuban Style

One cannot travel far into the countryside without encountering fields of bananas.  And if I recall correctly every home in the countryside had a food forest growing in their back and side yard.  The usual, bananas, avocados, mangos, guava and an assortment of other fruits we are not accustomed to seeing.  Sugar cane fields in August were planted in the Holguin province and everyone was hoping for rain.

Below in the picture is a type of bananas not grown to eat raw.  To eat either boil or fry.    A bag of fish.  Small, tasty and delicious.  The guy on the bicycle stopped us on the road to sell us the two fish for 10 CUCs.  Way too expensive said our driver.  Seemed like a good deal to me but, what do I know.

The small hut by the sea is where we sat and enjoyed a delicious plate of garlic shrimp, cucumbers and avocado and cole slaw appetizers.  A large packet of crackers completed the appetizer entrée.  And of course the champion of the meal – ice-cold Cristal beer.  The culprit for my five-pound weight gain.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

El Chorro de Maita – Guardalavaca, Holguin, Cuba

El Chorro de Maita is a 16th century archaeological site made into a museum.  Worth the visit.  We nearly did not get a chance to visit since neither one of us had any Cuban CUC currency on us at the time.  However, the tour guide let us in for free.  To repay her I dug deep into my backpack of gifts and came up with pens, pencils, memo pads to hand out.  This is a must do if you plan on visiting Cuba.  Stock up back home at your local .99 cent store with anything school or health or beauty product related.

If I recall the story correctly about the Chorro de Maita; a farmer digging his field made the discovery.  When he reported the discovery he was paid handsomely and his home was moved to the adjoining lot.  This place is where native royalty was buried.  The arrows on the body point to the exact location where a gold or otherwise artifact was found buried with them.

After the tour I walked around the area taking pictures and came across the guy below selling bananas.  Once again I pull out my bag of goodies and made a trade.  I usually carried things like Goya food seasoning, deodorant, cleaning sponges and of course school supplies.  Pencils and a memo pad got us four ripe bananas.  Being extremely satisfied with the trade he headed home and came back with a bag of avocados and a garlic ring.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Switching Gear for the Idaho Backcountry Ride – August 2018

Tomorrow the street tires come off.  Above our planned route.  Starting in the historic town of Jarbidge, NV our planned route crosses range lands and then heads into the Boise National Forest and treats riders with views of Andersen reservoir and Trinity lakes.

For me Burgdorf Hot Springs makes this a bucket list ride.  Lewis and Clark made history on the legendary Magruder Corridor and Lolo Motorway which skirt the roadless Selway-Bitteroot Wilderness.

We will reach modest hints of civilization as we pass through Sand Point, Bonneys Ferry on our way towards the Canadian Border. 

 

 

More to follow.

 

Posted in Adventure Motorcycle Travel | Leave a comment

We travel not to Escape life; but, for Life not to Escape us. – Anonymous.

Holguin, Cuba:  The greatest boon on earth to the traveling man is bringing home as complete a photographic memorandum of his travels as one desires.  My Fuji film digital camera did just that; too bad I forgot to pack it before leaving Miami.  Thanks Sis for offering to mail it back.

DSCF9157

Photo above:  An American with a vision by the last name of Boston once upon a time gathered up a few investors and built this sugar processing plant in the province of Holguin, Cuba.  The place quickly prospered and employed hundreds.  The town took on the name of Boston.  After the revolution the bearded one not only changed the name to  Nicaragua, Cuba but, by closing the plant brought economic ruin to the area.  And today with a total disregard for even the most routine of maintenance the place is quickly falling to the ground.  During our visit the two extremely talented workers that can produce any mechanical or industrial part needed were producing an aluminum cutting apparatus for some farm equipment.  Somewhat similar to an oversized razor blade.

 

Everything was operational, powered by 440V.  Mostly US manufactured equipment from NY, Cincinnati, Ohio and one Soviet era machine.

The now decrepit dock and abandoned track.

DSCF9229.JPG

And finally the feast under an avocado tree with the nearby ocean breeze blowing.  If only one could also bring back the smell and taste of a delicious meal.  Priceless!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Holguin Random Pictures

 

An old Wurlitzer record player now playing.  An old radio on the bar counter ready to turn on and enjoy.  Earlier I consumed the first and second mojito; one slightly weaker than the other however, my thirst is now quenched.

My thousand word picture of the revolution.  “How do you like my little revolution now suckers”.  (Note: not a literal translation)

After the one hour flight jet lag wears off and you consume the first of many drinks everything around you feels like you are drifting back in time.  Time that without a cell phone or wi-fi suddenly slows way down.

In Cuba as a visitor you feel like an explorer on a mission; nothing can hurt you, certainly not the people and this is a country without snakes; dogs don’t even bark or want to bite humans.  They are also on a mission, in search of food.  However, your body in Cuba may become your worse enemy.  If you are not used to standing, can’t stand the heat, humidity or bugs, or seem to crave snacks or drinking water; or your body weight is such that you can’t stand for hours or walk endless steps, then low budget travel to Cuba may not be for you.

But do not despair my friend.  High end travel to Cuba is entirely available.  Resorts abound.  Endless tour buses and/or personal tours in old cars or jeep safari’s are available.

 

Above some random pictures.  My bar seat.  The shower in my casa particular (B&B like room) that cost me 10 CUCs (less than $10 a night)

My shower and hot water 240V thinga ma jig.  Totally scared the crap out of me for fear of electrocution I opted for cold showers.  Random people walking.  And if a picture is worth a thousand words to you then walking is my explanation for longevity of life in Cuba.  Almost daily I met someone in their 80s, out walking.

Above a Cuban breakfast kiosk.  And on this particular morning I somehow managed to consume an expresso coffee and milk, mango juice, one bar of a peanut brittle molasses mix, a small bar of crushed peanuts, the worse Iron beer soft drink in my life, and a half  bottle of water.

An hour later we stop in Las Tunas for a visit.  My first impression of this town is its  distinct sewer like smell.  My stomach begins churning.  Next I start to sense a  Mt. St. Helens type eruption.  No time for immodium.

Next I catch a strong whiff of what was later described to me as a pig shit odor.  But, this is a housing development I say.  You are correct my friend but, people here still keep a  pig or two in the back room of the house for fear or something stealing the critter.

Quickly I begin distancing myself from this location.  The treatment.  Three ice cold Cuban Crystal beers in their distinctive green bottles.  Once again, all is good with the world.  Eruption avoided.

 

Twins in their youths and today.  A fact is that people in Cuba live longer lives than in the US but, the women tend to age at a faster rate.  Don’t get me wrong.  They are some of the most beautiful people in the world.  However, that same woman ages at twice the national average.  Must be a climate change sort of thing.  The Cuban diet is totally hormone free.  You can taste the flavor in everything you eat in this province.  The Cuban people also have no choice in exercising.  So rarely do you encounter someone obese.  It is all the walking and waiting for everything that does it plus the humidity and heat.  Want to lose some weight.  Visit Cuba.

 

And were it not for the Pope, Cuba today would still not have any religion.  Castro outlawed it and in 1962 also stopped their postal system.

 

If non of the above have so much as peaked your interest in a possible visit of this 60s era encapsulated country then your sense of adventure needs a reboot.  Three Cuba provinces down.  Another 13 to go.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Loma de la Cruz, Holguin Cuba

And on my second visit to Cuba I land in the province of Holguin.  It is said that Christopher Columbus landed in an area now known as Gibara, on October 27th, 1492 and said it was the most beautiful country that man has ever seen.  Fast forward a few hundred years and I doubt that he would come up with the same assessment.  Gibara is a town in the municipality of the province of Holguin.  The map below should orient you as to the location on the island.

Almost every place you visit is a photo opportunity.  Anyone with a camera and an eye for framing a picture that tells a story can easily be a great photographer in Cuba.  This morning a visit to the Loma De La Cruz (Hill of the Cross) before our flight home.

DSCF9800.JPG

 

 

The rest of the story is not as easily told.  Perhaps its too soon to come up enough expressive words.  First, imagine learning you have a half sister on your fathers side and then visiting her; now throw in an uncle on your mothers side; then later an uncle and aunt in their 80’s; then add a bunch of cousins you’ve never seen; then top it off with a visit to a cemetery and final resting place of grandparents on your mothers side you don’t have any memory of ever knowing. Yeah, this visit was something like that!

Just some random shots with no rhyme or reason to give you an idea of the experience you too might see.  Random guy offering to sell us fish.  Coca cola sign probably worth hundreds in the USA.  Average park in the town square lit up at night.  Just an average Cuban meal at a restaurant in Holguin.  And last but not least I am sharing with you a photo that to me more accurately describes our visit to the province of Las Tunas.  Guy killing and butchering a hog on the street; blood and guts running down the dusty dirty street.  The town I am told probably still has no cats.  And if you can read between the line then no further explanation is necessary.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Habana Story

On my second day of old habana travel I walk roughly five miles from hotel to old habana, ducking into a restaurant; literally missing a huge down pour by minutes.  The restaurant is across from the malecon whose mostly walls of prison cell bars provide constant fresh air and people watching opportunity.  The $2 mojitos on the chalk board catch my attention and I order one and a bottled water.

Within minutes I start a conversation with a guy from Brazil – Paulo, sitting at the next table.  We continue talking to one another the entire time without once moving from our own table.  Paulo tells me he is in Havana fulfilling his mother’s death wish that he visit Cuba and also become a Cuban citizen.

He goes on to explain that when he was just a baby just after the revolution his family migrated to Brazil.  His family never returned to Cuba, not even for a visit, and both parents have since passed away.  He goes on to tell me that part of his citizenship requirement is to stay in country for a period of one month.

What the hell I say; after noticing that my mojito glass is much smaller than his!  We both laugh after deciding that his mojito is off the main menu and will likely cost twice as much as my $2 special.  The time is now near 11:00 a.m. and we’re on our second mojito waiting for our main course to arrive.  Life has a way of slowing way way down in old habana way. Not holding onto or even carrying a cell phone probably played a big role.  We continue reflecting on our life’s curves and near misses.

Paulo and I decide that you cannot do any travel justice without doing a lot of walking, talk to the locals and see life, even if for a short period, from their perspective.  By the end of our lunch we both feel we are extremely fortunate to have run across each other.  Such is travel.

“With the notable exceptions of rum, drinks, black beans, fat brown cigars, the smiles of pretty girls, hot yellow sunshine, and fat men with guitars and bongos playing mambos, rumbas and boleros late into the night, nothing in Cuba comes easily.”    – J. Miles

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More Havana

A somewhat typical day; hotel breakfast included.  The food to me was only bearable.  Breakfast for me usually consisted of terrible American coffee, a mystery juice, a roll or two, some 1/8″ sliced cheese and a type of lunch meat.

My Day 1 Spending – Note a CUC is the Cuban currency for tourists.  To me it looks and feels just like monopoly money.  Unfortunately one US dollar roughly equates to about .87 cents give or take up or down.  In Havana I always encountered bad math, i.e. your food bill is 15 CUC’s.  You pay with a 20 CUC bill.  Lo and behold your change comes back in 2 or 3 CUC’s.  The mojito was 4 CUC’s.  You pay with a 5.  The guy says drink up, I don’t have change so will keep filling your glass up.  I win.

25 CUC – Taxi from Airport to Hotel (New Russian Lada taxi) Gave the driver one of the baseballs I brought plus pencils for his kids

10 CUC – Hamburger and a Sangria (Why?  Because my brother drops me off at the airport at midnight on the day of my flight; I thought the USO would be open all night like in LA; not, they close at 2100 hours.  For a 6 a.m. flight check in started around 4 a.m.

2 CUC – Beer at the pool

10 CUC – Gave five each to two groups of five kids fishing in some god awlful smelling water near old town and cruise ship terminal.  They didn’t seem to be catching much.    I nearly started a riot when I picked the leader of each group and gave each one 5 CUC for ice cream.  It was almost like throwing a bone into a pack of hungry wolves.  They all wanted to be the boss.  Thankfully I picked a strong leader in each group then just walked away and let them handle it.

14 CUC – Dinner and two beers; plus a mojito, water

5 CUC – Bicycle taxi – The guy tours me around old havana as I had hundreds of pencils I needed to give away.

3 CUC – Lemonade

10 CUC – Tip to a 6 piece band playing at the Hotel Vedado (Gal on a flute, singer, drums, two guys on guitars and one on maracas.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment