Sunday, November 29, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thelma and Louise

My friend and fellow field guide Peggy came out from Colorado for a visit this past week. It was awesome to see her, and her presence was a welcome breath of wilderness-y air in my tiny Brooklyn apartment. 

I mean that literally, actually. She brought me some wild sage from the Utah desert, but even better than that was her water bottle. It was blackened from who knows how many hours of sitting in a campfire, and I couldn't stop smelling it.

"I half expected to see you spooning it when I woke up this morning," she told me the next day.

She was here almost a week, which is peanuts compared the number of 
nights I spent crashing on her couch over the summer when I was doing the homeless thing. It was nice to repay the favor a little.

It was funny to have someone around who acts, well, kind of like I do. As we were cooking dinner one night, I said something about the lack of counter space. She said, "Eh, whatever," and plopped down on the floor with a cutting board in her lap. This is the kind of thing that tends to cause raised eyebrows around civilized folk but seems perfectly normal to people who scrub pots with sand and use Wag Bags to do their business.

Peggy and I trained at the same time, and I remember the very first day that we arrived at the office in Durango. One of the senior guides who led the training came in, took one look at us, and said, "I can already tell the two of you are going to be just fine."

"How come?"

"Because there are plenty of chairs available, and you're both sitting on the floor."

Playing with Photo Booth. Sitting on the floor.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I just made an exciting discovery. I can't believe it took me this long to find out about this society, because its mission is to provide exactly what this blog is all about. And it's based in New York.

It's called Adventure Society. They do archery, horseback riding, hiking. Holistic things like cooking, massage classes and yoga. Dog sledding. Cross-country skiing. I'm excited.

Some of their trips are a little too rich for my blood (dog sledding, $203 for non-members - yikes!) but others look doable in moderation. $65 for a winter Delaware Water Gap hike with optional beer tasting? I could get behind that.

I created an account to get on their email list and was asked a number of questions. My favorite of these was "What is your secret fantasy?" Cheeky. I like it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Just search for "Trekkie69"

Internet, meet Priscilla.

Priscilla is a 12-year-old Trek Mountain Track Sport 800. She didn't really want me to post this picture because she's sensitive about her weight these days - so many light-weight young aluminum models on the market and all - but I maintain that she looks pretty damn good for her age. She likes Tom Waits, long rides on leafy trails, and wax-based lubricants. She's got kind of a thing for Cannondales. Interested young studs can check out her full profile on

At first she was a  little irritated with me for leaving her in the shed all those years while I was away in college and out west, but we have too much history together. She can't stay mad at me. (If she can forgive me for that time I rode her up and down Killington knowing full well that she has no suspension, she can forgive me for anything.)

Twelve years ago, I was broken-hearted and disillusioned about bicycles. I had spent weeks trying to rehabilitate an old three-speed purchased at a yard sale for ten bucks, and what thanks did I get? A runaway front tire, a face-plant on the sidewalk, and a broken jaw.

I was slow to trust again. But Priscilla showed me that some friends will never let you down.

Yesterday, we took a nice long ride around Central Park. It was a perfect golden November afternoon, and while we found some cool little spots to go off-road, mostly we just moseyed around taking in the scene.

After that, we decided to play the game of "How close can we stay to the East River while making our way downtown to the Williamsburg Bridge?" Not an easy task. It involved many detours and a lot of backtracking, but it was worth it.

Twelve miles, three hours, and more hills than I would have believed possible in New York City. Spend too long here, and you start to forget it's built on an honest-to-goodness chunk of glacier-carved geography, bumps and all. 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Almost a gear post

The moment I saw her, I knew.

I had only been in New York a couple of weeks, and after living for almost two years in the worst dressed city in America, I was surrounded by people who looked like they just stepped out of "Sex and the City." It was freaking me out.

I watched with the fascination of an anthropologist as women sashayed down the street in stilettos so high that I tripped just looking at them. There was jewelry without the tiniest bit of hemp. There were skinny jeans and trendy gladiator sandals and onesies for grown-ups. (I later learned these were known as "rompers." Sure.)

Anyway, I met Sophia at an orientation get-together in the heart of New York's fashion district, and as soon as I got a load of her outfit, my heart swelled with sandalwood-scented joy. 

She was one of us.

Oooooh, she was crunchy, all right. She was wearing Chacos, pretty much a giveaway in itself. But what really sealed the deal was the cotton retro-print dress that she was wearing over jeans.

I knew then and there that we were going to be friends. (My first guess was that she was from Portland. Turned out she was from San Francisco. Surprise, surprise.)

The dress over jeans thing is a staple of my wardrobe. I have several light, casual dresses that I love and I refuse to go through a whole winter season without them. I am not alone in this. I have encountered female ski bums and wilderness guides all over the western U.S. who love the look.

I predict that the fashion plates along Seventh Avenue will be copying me 
by this time next year.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Out of this world

Between the NYC marathon and the insanity that was Halloween, it was a big weekend around these parts. There's also a certain team from hell in the World Series right now, which a lot of people seem to think is a really big deal, but whatever.

Watching finishers swaggering around in their metallic space blankets made me want to start training for next year's marathon immediately. Runners wrapped in those babies may as well have had "BADASS" branded on their foreheads. Crowds parted for them. Swathed in mystique, they flaunted those tinfoil sheets like battle scars. A gritty glint in their eyes said, "Yeah, I just ran twenty-six miles. Now get out of my way, because I'm about to puke."

I saw one guy running in a pair of FiveFingers, which made me happy beyond all reason.

This was my first New York Halloween, so I checked out the Greenwich Village parade despite the rain. It was as if a big soggy lingerie bomb had exploded in Manhattan. 

It was fun taking in the scene, but I also found myself jumping out of my skin because I hate not being able to walk freely. I relish stretching my legs with a nice long stride, and now that I think about it, crowded sidewalks are one of my least favorite things about city living. I frequently get the urge to punch slow walkers in the back of the head. 

Later in the evening, I headed back to Brooklyn where the costumes were a lot less slutty and a whole lot more ironic. They do loft parties right in Williamsburg - there was a keg of Brooklyn Lager. Good stuff.

As for my costume... well, lately I am tempted at least a dozen times a day to be that Red Sox fan starting "Yankees suck!" chants in the middle of Manhattan. So I chose to fully embrace that urge and go as Belligerent Bostonian Killed By An Irate Baseball Bat-Wielding Yankees Fan.

I pretty much acted as obnoxious as possible. It went over well.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Thank you, YouTube

I just stumbled across this little gem.

Lady, I wish I could help you out, but I live in Williamsburg. At first I was stoked because I thought there was an abundance of outdoorsy guys here, but that was before I realized that a flannel shirt in Brooklyn does not a mountain man make.