Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road

They said it was hard to adjust to driving on the opposite side of the road.

It is.

I’m back in Colorado and that’s where I’m having a problem. It’s pretty weird. Every once in a while, I catch myself making a wide turn and being on the wrong side of the road. I’m driving Irish in America. My friend, Dreena, who has been to Ireland, sometimes reminds me that I’m on the wrong side.

Figuring out how to drive on the opposite side of the road in Ireland wasn’t hard for me. Being mindful that I should always be on the inside of the road and driving a standard car were enough to keep me on the proper side. After 23 years of driving stick, trying to shift with the left NOT the right was reminder enough that I was no longer in Kansas. The pedals are all the same. The gear sequence is the same. You use your left to shift. I felt slightly stupid struggling through what was instinct back home.

After a couple small trips to the grocery store, it was almost as if I had driven this way my whole life.

With the exception of driving the country roads.

On my list of “Almost Pooped My Pants” moments is seeing a bus loaded with tourists barreling at me from a sharp turn down a hill on a road that barely fits the bus much less a tiny, beat-to-hell Peugeot that smells like wet dog* and we’re trying to pass each other. The driver didn’t even flinch. He must be a magician because there is no way in hell we should have been able to pass each other without one of us going off the road. Maybe Moses is a distant relative of his and he can widen the road like Moses parted the waters. Who knows but I’ll take it as miracle.

I think I’m going to add that phrase to my arsenal of metaphors. Perhaps I can use it when someone departs from their normal way of thinking/doing things without warning and potentially dangerously. For example:

“Sally just broke up with Brad after 7 years and now she’s going out clubbing every night, doing drugs, and missing a lot of work.”

“Wow. She’s totally driving on the wrong side of the road.”

Or maybe as a way to say someone is not thinking straight:

“Maybe you should go BASE jumping to add some spice to your life?”

“You are driving on the wrong side of the road. No way!”

Hmmmm….

* This fabulous Peugeot I speak of was purchased for a whooping total of 850 euros. It smelled strongly of wet dog and farm and there was mold growing on the dash and console. One morning, I opened the trunk to find a large snail hiding out where the trunk lid and trunk meet.  IMG_7145The suspension was pretty done which made hitting anything that resembled a bump feel like I hit a boulder. Though, if I was driving fast enough and hit a bit of a kicker, my imagination said I was Luke Duke and jumping over Rosco with the General…

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Back To My Old Tricks…Kinda…

It’s not easy raising a tiny human. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past 5-ish months.

Which is why I haven’t been writing anything.

Tiny humans take up a lot of time. It’s also not so easy to type with one hand. Or maintain a train of thought longer than, “Did you just go poop?”

I’d like to say I’m settled in and back to my old ways, but I’m not. Right now, I’m in Ireland for an extended amount of time doing…well…alot of kinda nothing…but it’s an important kinda nothing. So…

The other day I was sitting in Oslo with Galway Bay Brewery staring me in the face with a double IPA named Of Foam Of Fury and it hit me like a screaming banshee. My mini-series while I live here shall be named:

Fact, Fiction, and No Feckin’ Way!

Kinda says it all.

Anyhoots, there you have it. I’m back. And with a mini-gypsy in training.

Watch out world.

The Great Love of Your Life

This phrase has been haunting me for a few months now. It keeps coming up at random. So I’m finally putting my 2 cents in on it.

If you feel you lost the great love of your life (not due to death), you haven’t. You lost what you perceive to be it up to that moment in your life.

I feel that the person who is the great love of your life never leaves you. It’s a bond that never goes away. Neither of you can walk away from it because you both know what it is.

It’s an unconditional two-way street.

Which can really suck sometimes because your brain might say to walk away, but you can’t.

Looking back at my long-term relationships, one could say that I lost the great love of my life. I don’t feel that way. Yes, I had some super intense, head over heels, you’re the only one relationships, but they all ended for whatever reason. If it was THE great love of my life, why would it end? Is life itself too hard to hold onto something so precious? Is the universe as so cruel as to rip that type of love away from us, just so we can regret it for the rest of our lives? Or maybe it wasn’t what we thought it was? Maybe looking back on it, it was flawed and we just couldn’t see it? Or perhaps it was another lesson in love so when that great love of our life finally walks through the door, we can recognize it?

Maybe it’s the hopeful romantic in me that refuses to believe that the great love of my life has come and gone and now I have to settle for less.

Maybe I’m a fool for believing in love at all.

At least I still have hope and faith that the greatest love of my life hasn’t passed me by.

And you should too.

Great American Beer Fest: Tips to Enjoying It, Instead of Puking

Beer in your futureA long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away, beer was just beer to me. It’s heartbreaking…I know.

My first GABF was 11 years ago. I did what many people do: get trashed and not make it to even half the breweries. More than likely, I visited only a quarter of them. I lacked the wisdom and taste buds to be discerning. Don’t get me wrong, I had a shit ton of fun until I found myself releasing the demons of that fast and furious 4 hour session onto 14th Street and at a porcelain throne in a bar.

Things change.

Long past are those days. Now, I have a game plan when I go in. So for all you newbies, I’m sharing this in case your only plan is to try some beers.

1. Choose ahead. Whether it’s a style of beer, a region, specific breweries, or medal winners, be specific in what you’re going to drink. It’s a HUGE amount of beers and even to someone like me, it’s still overwhelming and extremely tempting to jump off course.

2. Use your will power. Stick to your choice because once you jump off the wagon, it’s hard to get back on.

3. Don’t feel obligated to drink everything you try. For many years, even with sticking to my chosen beer path, I’d get tanked because I drank every bit that was poured, whether it was bleah or awesome. If it doesn’t impress me, I dump it because I have long list to get to and I’d rather save my wits and taste buds for awesomeness. Sometimes, I even spit.

4. Go with friends that understand or alone. There’s nothing worse than having to wait for a friend in a long line at a brewery that you’re not tasting at. This can contribute to getting off your beer course. Going with peeps that are okay with not seeing you for the next 4 hours because your beer interests vary is important. Or find beer buddies that have the same plan as you. Personally, I’m a fan of going alone. Let’s be serious, beer people are friendly and if you go alone, you’re not really alone. You’re with the best extended family in the world.

5. Bring beer snacks. Nuts, pretzels, potato chips…whatever your preferred drinking snack is, bring it. This will help with not getting tanked. It also helps in not wasting time standing in line to get a snack. As dorky as they are, I appreciate the wisdom of pretzel necklaces. It also doubles as a good way to make friends or to hit on beer girls. You’ve had a lot of beers and you’re peckish? Would you like a pretzel?

6. Get tickets for more than one session. If you have the funds and time, it’s totally worth it. There’s a lot to do besides tasting beer.

7. Map your game plan in advance. The floor map, events, and breweries are on GABF’s website already. The beer list comes out on Wednesday, Oct 1st. Which means you can have your tasting experience mapped out and ready to go before you step into the gates of heaven. Of course being flexible in the plan is important: beers get tapped out, there’s longer lines than expected, you get distracted by the really cute guy/girl you offered a pretzel to, people keep asking to take photos with you because your outfit is cool… distractions happen. If you know where you want to go and where that booth is, you don’t have to waste time trying to find it.

This year, I won’t be attending GABF. Yes, I am super sad but sometimes there are more important things in life (hard to believe, I know). BUT I will be attending some of the fun extracurricular activities, like the Great Avery Boulder Fest at the Fox Theatre in Boulder.

Have a great 2014 GABF and I’ll be back for 2015!!

P.S. Cut a rug for me at the Silent Disco!!

Will the Higgs Boson Destroy the Universe???

I have to repost this, because on the inside, I’m really a super geek.

Of Particular Significance

No.

The Higgs boson is not dangerous and will not destroy the universe.

The Higgs boson is a type of particle, a little ripple in the Higgs field. [See here for the Higgs FAQ.] This lowly particle, if you’re lucky enough to make one (and at the world’s largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, only one in a trillion proton-proton collisions actually does so) has a brief life, disintegrating to other particles in less than the time that it takes light to cross from one side of an atom to another. (Recall that light can travel from the Earth to the Moon in under two seconds.) Such a fragile creature is hardly more dangerous than a mayfly.

Anyone who says otherwise probably read Hawking’s book (or read about it in the press) but didn’t understand what he or she was reading, perhaps because he…

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The Joshua Tree Epilogue

It’s been 6 months since my trip to Joshua Tree National Park.

Life is very different from what it was before the trip. Even though it looked like I transitioned back into the hum drum pretty well, I didn’t. I don’t think anyone really does after adventures like that. It’s as if your brain chemistry changes. Nothing is the same ever again.

There is the eternal itch to pack up my bicycle and just ride.

To anywhere.

To nowhere.

To oblivion and back with a detour through hell just for shits and giggles.

To ditch everything I’ve built here in the Denver/Boulder area and just disappear on the open road. As much as I love to ride, it’s hard now to get on the beer bike to commute or get groceries because all I want to do when I start peddling, is to keep going.

When I first started biking (instead of buying a car) in March of 2011, it was just a means to and end. To get somewhere I needed to be. To not spend money on something I didn’t need and saving my carbon foot print for flights to far off destinations. It was practical, logical, and reasonable. Never did I think I would love biking, that it would become so intertwined with my contentment. To go longer than a couple of days without biking, I would become mean, moody, and hate the world.

All because of a bicycle.

The beer bike has become more than just a piece of equipment or a means of transport. It’s a symbol of the the ideas I love most in life. Simplicity, hard work, freedom, perseverance, and as the Taoists say, being the uncarved block, or pu.

In Joshua Tree, I found what so many search for. The stillness of inner peace and the contentment of love and being one with the universe. Every time I get on my bike, I feel it all over again. That’s now why I ride and why I will never stop.

To anywhere and nowhere and all points in between, it’s just me and my bicycle.

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Part VIII: The Way Back Home

I remember flying through the valley but it’s more lush. Flowers that I hadn’t seen on this trip were blooming. The bushes looked green instead of brown. It was still desert, but different. I dip into what looks like the Pinto Basin and then hug the mountains until I see him. He holds out his arm and I settle myself on it. He speaks kindly to me in a language I’ve never heard but oddly I understand. His face is a mix of Mayan and some other Native American. We’ve been here before…

Often I dream of flying. I’m usually a very large hawk or an owl in these dreams and meeting up with an Indian man. I’m never quite sure if he’s a medicine man but I always feel like we’re looking for something.

Waking from this dream, I notice the sky not being so dark. It’s probably about 6:00am. The dream weighs heavy on my mind and I lay there so I can commit it to memory. I dread climbing out of my cozy down sleeping bag, knowing what I must do today.

Leave paradise.

Sunrise over my camp.

Sunrise over my camp.

Breakfast, pack, check the tires, load the bike.

My heart hangs heavy as I start my journey back to Palm Springs. The only motivations for biking a decent speed are the possibility of a hamburger and definitely a shower, though it isn’t that motivating. This road is familiar to me since I had biked it on Sunday to grab supplies. Once I get out of the town of Joshua Tree, it’s unknown territory amidst cars and large trucks. So what do I do? I lollygag through the rest of the park.

 

Do I really have to leave?

Do I really have to leave?

That thing is HUGE, like bigger than my hand huge.

That thing is HUGE, like bigger than my hand huge.

You'll always be in my heart, Joshua Tree. You were my first.

You’ll always be in my heart, Joshua Tree. You were my first.

After having biked I-10 at night, I was hopeful that route 62 wouldn’t be worse.

I started to wish I had taken I-10 again.

Route 62 has a lot of local traffic: cars, small trucks, the occasional semi. The down side is that on many parts of the road there is very little shoulder and it’s in super crappy condition. The super downside is the areas you want a shoulder, there is NONE. For example going down all the hills…there is no shoulder, there is a super strong head/side wind, and it’s curvy with concrete dividers. Even if you hopped the divider to get to what could be a safe spot, there’s no land to step on. It’s pretty much a cliff.

I had the fear of death on I-10 but at least there was a 5 foot shoulder the whole way. Route 62 scared the living bee-jeebus out of me.

When you crest the hill, the shoulder magically disappears as you gain light speed in a head wind.

When you crest the hill, the shoulder magically disappears as you gain light speed in a head wind.

Normally, I would take a food/water break. I took “get my nerve back up” breaks instead.

With the worst of route 62 behind me, I found myself looking at Palm Springs and the massive wind farms that preside to the North of the city. Almost there! Wait…what’s that sound…

With the little bit of shoulder I had and being careful to keep one eye on traffic, I start searching my bike for a strange whirring sound. Turns out, I lost a screw on the bottom arm of the bike rack so the rack itself was resting on my back tire. Fortunately, I had brought with me the extra screws for my clipless sneakers. It was a perfect fit. No MacGyvering it with duct tape and zip ties!

I exited Rote 62 onto Pierson Blvd, then took North Indian Canyon Drive all the way into the heart of Palm Springs. Civilization again. It was much hotter down here than in Joshua Tree. Exhausted, hot, and smelling horrendous, I arrived at my Air BnB hosts’ house. After dropping off my stuff, I hit the local bike shop to pack my baby up and get her shipped back home to Denver. With that done, I can relax.

Thank you to the bike dudes at Palm Springs Cyclery for all your help!

Thank you to the bike dudes at Palm Springs Cyclery for all your help!

Shower then food.

It was the weirdest thing. Even though I had a good burger, it just wasn’t as satisfying as I thought it would be. I found myself wanting a salad instead. I guess that is what happens when you eat nuts and fruit for a week straight.

I can’t remember what time I fell asleep. I just remember laying on the bed, which was so comfortable it became uncomfortable, thinking, “How the heck do I assimilate back into my normal life after this? Is it even possible?”

Not really.