May 17, 2010

I wonder if bears have ADHD too?

Where I’m from, there’s a lot of wildlife. Opossums, coons, rabbits, skunks, and coyotes everywhere. And you can’t even swing a dead cat without hitting some dead squirrel road kill. Needless to say, I see my fair share of wild animals, but what I saw yesterday up on the Santa Ana River Trail between Angelus Oaks and Seven Oaks makes those other animals look like a bunch of novices.

I stared death in the face yesterday, and if it wasn’t for one fallen tree across the trail that divided me and a Lazy Boy recliner-sized black bear, I could be dead. Or worse yet, badly disfigured.

I was coming to a stop and trying to decide whether or not I was going to go under or over the dead tree that lay across the trail. I looked below the tree and there was not enough room for even me to squeeze underneath. I gazed over the tree and that’s when I saw him. He was hauling ass down the trail in my direction. I tell ya, he was a quarter ton if he was a pound. I yelled, “Easy big fella!” (or something like that) and it startled the great beast. At that very moment, he planted his big bear paws and made a hard right turn, careening down the mountain side and uprooting the small trees and bushes that lay in his path. The ruckus sounded like someone drove one of those smart cars off a cliff and into the forest. And like that, he was gone..

Kelly arrived on the scene just in time to see the savage killer scramble down the mountain. He has seen bears in the wild before, so he seemed slightly less haunted, but this bear was my first; my virgin bear. If this sighting occurred 20 years sooner, when I was young and impressionable, maybe it would have changed the course of my life. After an encounter like this, maybe I would have dedicated my future to studying bears. Maybe I would have even gone to live among the bears. I wouldn’t mind sleeping all winter.

It’s too late now though. When I actually was young and impressionable, I was more impressed by the wild lives of motorcycle racers, musicians, and beat authors, and less impressed by wildlife. Hey, wildlife reminds me of the Van Morrison song “Wild Night.” Damn, that’s a good song.

He was this big!

May 12, 2010

Tour de East Valley

It’s spring time so everything is in bloom. That’s not good when you’re trying to ride trails that aren’t ridden much and are rarely maintained. Last Saturday, I thought I’d show Trish the Lower Workout ride in the foothills of Mentone Beach. And it’s a good thing she likes flowers so much because the flowers definitely over-powered the trail. Flowers and lizards everywhere you looked. I’ve ridden Lower Workout more times than I can count and I still had trouble following the over-grown route. Nevertheless, we survived and found our way to Mill Creek, where we almost died trying to cross the creek.

Okay, we didn’t almost die, but I nearly fell in and in that instance, my phone and iPod would have drowned. After about a half hour of trying to find somewhere shallow and narrow enough to cross, we finally gave up, flipped it, and headed back toward Green Spot on a boring old dirt road. Then we rode up the levee to the south side of Crafton Hills and I tricked Trish into riding up the singletrack to Zanja Peak. It was her first real singletrack experience and she didn’t “get out of control and go plummeting off a cliff to her death” (as she puts it), so it was a success.

From Zanja Peak I descended to the regional park via the singletrack and she opted to take the dirt road back down to the college. On her own free will, she almost followed me down the singletrack, but decided she wasn’t quite ready to take the plunge. After all, it wasn’t long ago that this mountain bike transform was crit scum. (I’m sure that’s gonna warrant a comment).

After topping off the bottles in the park, we reunited at Chatman Heights and finished off the ride by rolling down in to Redlands and then back up to her house. Not a bad ride considering we were never more than 10 miles away from home. It will probably be one of my last rides on the Ferrous before switching over to my new Superfly, which is almost done being built at Cyclery USA.

It is almost done being built, right Steve?

May 5, 2010

Outtakes from work

At work I started writing a story about Culver City's economic development plan, but then some stuff happened and it ended up on the cutting room floor. Since I don't update this hack blog anymore, none of my writing can go to waste so I'm going to publish the lead to this dead story here. And even though I hate Los Angeles, there's a little place in my heart for Culver City. After all, it's the home of Jeopardy, NPR West, and the filming of Citizen Kane.

As the native home of world famous movie studios, Southern California's Culver City played host to the filming of early screen classics, The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, and Citizen Kane. Culver City remained a hot spot for movie studios throughout most of the century, with more recent films such as, Grease, Raging Bull, and E.T. As the 20th century came to a close, competing cities coaxed the production of films to other locales. Culver City found itself with a depleting film industry and in turn, a stagnant local economy.

Restaurants and shops of the once bustling main drag, Washington Boulevard, were hit hardest by the decrease in the big-spending of movie-studio moguls. With profits shrinking, businesses could devote less money to structural improvements such as building facades, landscape or exterior lighting, signage, paint, and stucco. Many shop owners called it a wrap, while intrepid storefronts grew dingy. Investors shied away, and the trickle-down effect impacted residential areas of the five-square-mile community.

Culver City officials knew they had to implement some type of redesign and area-improvement plan to encourage new investors and businesses. The plan needed to be carefully developed and outlined before it could be pitched to the city council. Yada, yada, yada…

Sadly, this is the most interesting thing I've written for work in months.