Ready, Set: Tickets for World of Wearable Art on Sale

WOW red dressTickets for the World of Wearable Art go on sale today. You might have written February 1 on your calendar, but if you are in the US or Europe, New Zealand is a day ahead and should go on-line today for the best selection. One show per evening is scheduled from September 25-October 12 (Monday and Tuesday off) in Wellington. Make it the highlight of your visit to New Zealand.

The World of Wearable Art is an inspiring entertainment event if you are interested in fashion, art, or textiles. If you are a crafter you will marvel at the techniques. If you appreciate beauty you will find yourself saying “Wow!” over and over throughout the evening. I loved it!

There are tickets at a variety of price points from NZ$50-165. Also VIP tables for dinner at stage-side seats are available. A discount is available if you order with your American Express.

Postcard: Bicycling to Winters, CA

If there is an upside to the worst drought in California since 1977 it is that I rode to Winters, California in bright sunshine with no wind on dry roads on the third weekend of January. Wow!

Mecca for cyclists in Winters, California

Mecca for cyclists in Winters, California

It was a gorgeous ride. I left my house about 10:30 for a ride of indeterminate length. It is a psychological game that I play with myself. I leave the house prepared to ride as far as Winters and back but I tell myself that I will just get out there and see how it goes. I arrived at the Three Palms Nursery (about 4 miles down the road) feeling great, so I kept going. Then I reached Putah Creek Road and still felt great and reached Winters, CA (12.5 miles out) feeling good.

County public works has one of those solar powered signs that tells you your speed to get you to slow down before the bridge work at Winters. It confirmed my hunch: I averaged about 10 miles per hour.

I hung my bike by the seat at Steady Eddy’s and ordered a bagel and cream cheese and diet coke. (I waited for my order remembering that it is steady not fast Eddy’s) It was just before noon and the place was crowded with riders drinking coffee and eating healthy snacks from their pockets. Winters is a mecca for cyclists from all over the west side of the Valley. I shared a table with someone who rode over from Vacaville and I realized that when I am ready I can easily ride 50 or 75 miles from my house.  The challenge will be finding some hills!

I made slightly better time on the return trip. My shoulders got tighter and my hands and feet needed shaking to keep the blood flowing. I enjoyed the ride. There are lots of people on the road–cyclists, rollerbladers, horseback riders–and the occasional “hey” or “morning” was enough company for me today.

I accomplished my first set of goals for the new year. I get to buy clipless pedals!!!  I also feel more at ease on my bike. My next goal is to keep riding (4-5 times a week for at least 40 minutes; this includes commuting to town on my cruiser) and to sign up for a bike maintenance class.

The Thrill of Watching a Bicycle Race

When I share that I intend to follow the Tour de France 2014 from start to finish, some people look at me like “why?” No one in the US questions if you are an avid baseball or football fan, or rugby in New Zealand; but especially since the Lance Armstrong scandal blew up, people just do not get why I am still enthusiastic about bike racing.  So imagine how thrilled I was to find a passage in A Moveable Feast on the allure of bike racing by none other than Ernest Hemingway.

(In a conversation with his friend Mike about the difficulty of giving up betting on horses)

“What do you see that’s better?”

“Bicycle racing.”

“Really?”

“You don’t have to bet on it. You’ll see.”

Belgian cyclist called "the Sioux"

Belgian cyclist called “the Sioux”

(A little further down)

I have started many stories about bicycle racing but have never written one that is as good as the races are both on the indoor and outdoor tracks and on the roads. But I will get the Velodrome d’Hiver with the smoky light of the afternoon and the high-banked wooden track and the whirring noise the tires made on the wood as the riders passed, the effort and the tactics as the riders climbed and plunged, each one a part of his machine; I will get the magic of the demi-fond, the noise of the motors with the rollers set out behind them that the entraineurs rode, wearing their heavy crash helmets and leaning backward in their ponderous heavy leather suits, to shelter the riders that followed them from the air resistance, the riders in their lighter helmets bent low over their handlebars their legs turning the huge gear sprockets and the small front wheels touching the roller behind the machine that gave them shelter to ride in, and the duels that were more exciting than anything, the put-putting of the motorcycles, and the riders elbow to elbow and wheel to wheel up and down and around at deadly speed until one man could not hold the pace and broke away and the solid wall of air he had been sheltered against hit him.

There were so many kinds of racing. The straight sprints raced in heats or in match races where the two riders would balance for long seconds on their machines for the advantage of making the other rider take the lead and then the slow circling and the final plunge into the driving purity of speed. There were the programs of the team races of two hours, with a series of pure sprints in their heats to fill the afternoon, the lonely absolute speed events of one man racing an hour against the clock, the terribly dangerous and beautiful races of one hundred kilometers on the big-banked wooden five-hundred-meter bowl of the Stade Buffalo, the outdoor stadium at Montrouge where they raced behind big motorcycles, Linart, the great Belgian champion that they called “the Sioux” for  his profile, dropping his head to suck up cherry brandy from a rubber tube that connected with a hot water bottle under his racing shirt when he needed it toward the end as he increased his savage speed, and the championships of France behind big motors of the six-hundred-and-sixty-meter cement track of the Parc du Prince near Auteuil, the wickedest track of all where we saw that great rider Ganay fall and heard his skull crumple under the crash helmet as you crack a hard-boiled egg against a stone to peel it on a picnic. I must write the strange world of the six-day races and the marvels of road-racing in the mountains. French is the only language it has been written in properly and the terms are all French which makes it hard to write. Mike was right about it, there was no need to bet…

Hiking in Humboldt County

There are so many hiking options in Humboldt County. I have lots of choices within 20 minutes of my Trinidad doorstep. I went on a longer 5 mile hike and then a short 1.6 mile hike–both with ocean views and lots of up and down.

The hike began along the beach in the refreshing fog.

The hike began along the beach in the refreshing fog.

On New Years Day I took advantage of the California State Parks kick off to their 150th year celebration in 2014. They hosted over 40 hikes at state parks including one at the Humboldt Lagoons State Park. I arrived at the park just as they took the group photo–over 30 people of all fitness levels looked forward to the 2.5 mile hike to the lagoon and 2.5 miles back.  We trooped across the beach and then headed up the trail. I am not one for group trips and it felt a bit like a wagon train walking up hill and over dale. If I had been a part of a pioneer train I would have volunteered to be a scout to get a chance to see off in the distance.  Occasionally the park ranger leading the walk would stop and give us information about flora and fauna.

A variety of woodlands framed the trail.

A variety of woodlands framed the trail.

We arrived at the lagoon and people spread out to eat their lunches at picnic tables and along the shore. I decided to head straight back so I could have the trail to myself and walk at my own pace. It took much less time to get back. There is only a shack like outhouse at the lagoon so I was happy to see the slightly nicer version at the parking lot. The hike began at 11:00 a.m. and now it was 2:00 p.m The parking lot was overflowing and a few groups had built campfires.

Lagoon.

Lagoon.

I enjoyed the solitude on the return hike.

I enjoyed the solitude on the return hike.

I overhead lots of conversations and while some people are regular hikers, most people seemed to be acting on resolutions for 2014. It was a great way to start the new year whatever the motivation.

Douglas Fir

On another day H., N. and I took the dogs to Trinidad Head. You can park at the Trinidad State Beach or walk from the parking lot at the Marina and Seascape Restaurant.  We walked from my rental home across the village.  As you head up the hill you can turn right at the trail or continue to the left up the road. Going to the right is clockwise and involves a lot more up. The trail is protected from the wind by lovely hedges. There are numerous breaks with seating for whale watching or staring out to sea. It is not hard to imagine shipwrecks just off shore.

The dock and Seascape restaurant are next to Trinidad Head

The dock and Seascape restaurant are next to Trinidad Head

Gorgeous views all round Trinidad HeadGorgeous views all round Trinidad Head

Friends framed by hedge archway

Friends framed by hedge archway

The hike is only 1.5 miles round the head and over a mile is up if you go clockwise. Near the “top” is a cross put in place by the “club women”.  The return on the road is a steepish downhill. The views of the bay and village are lovely. As we returned we were passed by an older gentleman who appeared to walk this trail everyday–a rigorous and healthy routine.

The walks to the Old Home Beach are too short to be called a hike. You can reach the beach from the Memorial Lighthouse in the village or from the Parker Creek trail. Both routes involve serious stairs and were a challenge to Radar’s creaky back legs. He was a trooper; although he could not see the sea lions just offshore and I dutifully kept him on leash, he really enjoyed the the variety of smells and sights along the shore.

cross at Trinidad head

Yummy Eating in Trinidad

Lighthouse Grill

The mashed potato cone is surprisingly yummy.

The mashed potato cone is surprisingly yummy.

Trinidad can boast a lot of really great places to eat for such a small town. The Lighthouse Grill is casual, affordable and delicious. The hamburger buns and ice cream are homemade and the fish is fresh from the Trinidad bay. Their most famous dish is the mashed potato cone. It is mashed potatoes with gravy and bacon in a cornmeal waffle cone.  I have eaten here a couple of times and ordered the mashed potato cone, fish and chips, tuna fish sandwich and cheeseburger. Everything was delicious. It is a fun place with indoor and outdoor seating. The location in the Murphy’s Market parking lot is not picturesque, but they make up for it in original and good tasting food. Just watch the fat intake (or look the other way)

Larrupin’s Cafe 

Consistently excellent Larrupin's Cafe in Trinidad

Consistently excellent Larrupin’s Cafe in Trinidad

Our dinner meal on New Years Eve was one of the best in memory. The service was topnotch and the interior is elegant and cozy. Until the sun set we had a view of the pretty garden. We went for the food and it lived up to its reputation: YUM! My friend started with the barbequed oysters: excellent. I have been eating the Larrupin’s red sauce (bbq-esque) for over 20 years and it has been almost that long since I dined in the restaurant. Why did I wait so long?

The wine list is comprehensive and you can buy anything by the glass or bottle. Entrees are priced between $25-38 and is a good value because it includes the appetizer board, salad and a choice of potato or vegetable. We varied our orders so we could taste more but we all ordered the twice-baked potato–old school and so delicious. I am not sure if they still sell their salad sauce; they should. It is amazing.

I ordered the lamb chops, Harriet ordered the chicken in phyllo, and Brian ordered the prime rib special. The prime rib was truly amazing. I loved my lamb chops and the chicken in phyllo was excellent.

We didn’t have room for dessert but our friend Jodie is the dessert chef so I had to try one. We all ordered coffee (it was a long time until midnight) and it was excellent. So many times restaurants do not get the coffee right. This Trinidad institution still delivers consistently excellence after all of these years. The triple layer chocolate cake with amaretto creme filling and caramel topping was out of this world. H and I said we’d only take a few bites and then it was almost gone!

Wow! beautiful and delicious

Wow! beautiful and delicious

I am not waiting 20 years before I eat at Larrupin’s again!

Jodie’s chocolate cake

Simply delicious chocolate cake

Simply delicious chocolate cake

I eat really well when I am in Humboldt County because so many people in Harriet’s family are terrific cooks.  Jodie is a pastry chef, Matt is also a chef. Nora is a great cook, and so is Jenny, and Harriet. When everyone gets together it is delightful and impossible to eat moderately. Steph and Jodie hosted a holiday open house and Jodie made this simple chocolate cake. I took my first bite and thought “this is what cake is supposed to taste like!” So many times you bite into cake hoping for this. Oh my.  I asked Jodie for the recipe (he is generous that way) and he went to the recycling and dug out the notes he made while he made it. It is all in grams and is missing some of the usual information about oven tempurature and how long to bake it–just the notes an accomplished baker needs to stay on track. I may frame it!

Trinidad Bay Eatery and Gallery

I started eating breakfast here on my first morning and went almost every morning during my stay.  I tried the Parker Street pancakes with banana and pecans because I’m staying at Parker Creek Cottage. Other mornings I ate the oatmeal, or buttermilk pancakes, or eggs over medium, or a ham and cheese omelette. It was a great way to start the day. Michelle, my waitress, would brew a pot of decaf coffee for me and make sure I had what I needed. There are a lot of regulars eating breakfast and I did not mean to eavesdrop and I learned a

Parker Street Pancakes

Parker Street Pancakes

lot about the character of the town. There is a lot to like.

Seascape Restaurant

Seascape Restaurant with Raven

Seascape Restaurant with Raven

The last place I tried is located down at the fishing pier and is on the water. It recently got a new ramp and entrance but the indoors have not ever been remodeled! I was craving clam chowder so we went to the Seascape for lunch.  The service is the best part of the experience at Seascape. Our waitress was very sweet and competent. The food is good and nothing memorable. There is a lot of fish on the menu and the prices are reasonable.

Beachcomber Cafe

It was the only restaurant of note (beside the casino) in Trinidad that I did not try because it was closed with the owners on vacation from December 24 to January 3.  From the menu on the door it appears that breakfast seems to be focused on bagels and they have a commitment to organic food and not using throw away dishes. There is another sign on the door that explains that you can take their real mugs to go if you bring them back.

I also tried the Murphy’s Market deli–they made a ham and swiss sandwich for my New Years Day hike. I requested Larrupin’s mustard and it was made to order and tasty. Of course after hiking 5 miles, sandwiches taste exceptionally good.

I focused on Trinidad restaurants during my stay and there are many more options if I drove into Arcata or Eureka. This is also the home of Cypress Grove goat cheese–my favorite is “Purple Haze.” I have places I want to try–guess I will have to return one day soon.

I Brake for Pie!

I just finished a 5 mile hike and was driving away from the State park, when I spied this sign across the highway from Humboldt Lagoons State Park:

PIe and coffee--it is a siren song!

PIe and coffee–it is a siren song!

My car was running on fumes and I needed to find gas within 15 miles, so I thought “Why not check this place (pie) out and ask about the closest gas station?” The Elk Valley RV Park and Campground turns out to be a happy place. The people who manage it were organizing a New Years lunch with salmon pate and bouillabaisse. Woowhee. A step up from hot dogs and beans.

The blackberry pie was just coming out of the oven, so I decided to go put some gas in my Passat up the road in Orick and come back for a slice of pie.

Got Gas? Nope. Please sell me some Betty.

Got Gas? Nope. Please sell me some Betty.

The spot in the road that is Orick is just 5 miles down the road and one of those places time forgot. Betty sold me $20 worth of gas and I used one of the oldest gas pumps I have seen in awhile!

Gas pump circa?

I went back to the Elk Valley RV Park and finally got my piece of pie to go. When I got back to Radar at the rental I took my first bite. Oh my!  The pie crust was flaky and the filling was sweet, sour, and berry good.

Pie worth waiting for!

I learned a couple of things while I was hanging out waiting for pie. There is a local wild elk herd of about 60 cows that roams through the campground about once a day. I saw them from the highway about 8 miles north of Trinidad on my way back!  And I thought someone told me there is a rock band called “There will be pie later.” When I tried to google it other pies came up: Humble Pie and a Russian band called Apple Pie. And then there is the classic Don McClean “American Pie”. (I may have to make a pie themed mixed CD.) I could not discover the Pie Later band, so if you know it please share. Apparently after their concerts spontaneous pie potlucks happen.

Remember if you are following me on the highway, I brake for pie!

Telling the World: goals not resolutions

About those cycling goals I am telling the world (or you my blog readers)…  Even before I read the article “Tempt Yourself Thin” by Lisa Marshall in the January/February issues in Bicycling magazine, I learned that setting goals and breaking them into “bite size chunks” works well for me. I do not make resolutions in the new year; however, I do spend time reviewing the goals in my journal and making new ones. This article helped me better understand how rewards can help me stay on track.

Eat my vegetables!

Eat my vegetables!

The article also includes profiles of six people who have been transformed physically through cycling and exercise. I found these inspirational and full of practical tips, including:

  • “I map out my riding schedule at the beginning of the week, anchoring it around my long ride on the weekend, with smaller rides during the week.” from Trish
  • “…mounting research suggest that tantalizing dieters with material rewards (or the threat of material losses) helps them lose weight and keep it off.”
  • “Don’t put work first. Put yourself first.” from Anne.
  • People are motivated the first week or two..but as time goes on, it’s harder to maintain self control, so if you have a lot of weight to lose, make your rewards incrementally larger.

In the next two weeks I will eat my vegetables everyday, and bike 2 times a week for at least 30 minutes (using the trainer if it rains) and one longer ride of an hour or more. When I accomplish this I will reward myself with clipless pedals and a bike fitting at the bike shop that makes me drool.

Reward: clipless pedals

Reward: clipless pedals

I will continue to set goals every two weeks. I may experiment with the website gym-pact.com where I can earn money if I meet my goals and pay others if I do not.

On my way to the Tour de France I will need to build up to being able to ride 50 miles on rolling hills with ease; to maintain my bike and make repairs (especially to flat tires); to shift gears, use clipless pedals, and travel at higher speeds; to speak more basic French phrases.  Also I want to lose at least half the weight I would like to ultimately lose, or 20 pounds.

I decided to enter the Bicycling magazine “You Lose You Win” contest. I submitted the following paragraph to describes my goal and commitment to weight loss. If selected, I win coaching from Selene Yeager and the opportunity to earn a brand-new Raleigh road bike.

After years of watching the Tour de France from my couch, I am committed to following it in person from Yorkshire to Paris. I am part of a Trek Tour in England and must be able to cycle 50 miles at an average of 15 mph. Today I am 40 pounds overweight, cannot shift gears very well and have never used clipless pedals. I am sharing my journey on my blog Adventures of American Julie. The testimonials in Bicycling convinced me to ask for help meeting my goals of becoming a level 3 cyclist and shedding 20 pounds by July. 

Before.

Before.

Wish me luck!