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Saturday, February 26, 2011

bus 260

Bus 260 goes up and down Fair Oaks Ave in Pasadena. It’s a great route for me. It goes somewhere else after hitting Huntington Drive at the south end of Fair Oaks but I don’t pay much attention to it after that.

It’s super easy once you figure it all out and get over the mental blocks to transit. It’s a dollar fifty each way. Almost expensive but pretty reasonable if you go at least a few miles. Get on a few blocks from home. Get off a block from Club 72. Get half off drinks and see a few friends for a while and then reverse the same route to get back home. Not a bad evening.

Also, on the northern end of the route it goes all the way up to the top of Fair Oaks, way up there to the top of the foothills. I haven’t done this yet, but someday soon I’m gonna take an adventure bus ride up the hill and go for a hike on Echo Mountain (the trailhead is just a few blocks from the top-most stop) and then after the hike walk right down into the best veggie restaurant/grocery in the world, well, in my world, Oh, Happy Days…

Why would someone so into the bicycle be posting about the bus? Well, it’s because of rain (and in the case of hiking, the hills prior to the hills and a bit of that continuing OCF, one-car-family experience.) But “it never rains in Southern California,” you’ve heard. Well, that’s just so wrong I can’t even tell you. It can rain a lot here. Five centimeters (2”) just last night. Mostly it rains all within a few months and it’s true that there are stretches through the summer when we get very little or none but that just makes what we get, our annual, all the heavier.

I’m sure you’ve heard that Portland, Oregon gets a lot of rain. It’s one of those rainy places in our mental geography. Well we here in three-blocks-north-of-LA get as much rain or more than Portland through the winter. And we get it super concentrated into a few storms per season. I know you don’t believe me, but I honestly believe that I’m speaking the truth.

So… when it’s raining here, it’s really raining, it’s the monsoon. And no matter how much you like to ride it’s no fun to ride in the monsoon. You get soaked, super soaked, double soaked.

Last night was actually a multimodal (walk/bus) trip into Old Town. Walking up I was reminded that I’m one of those people that can’t go out in the rain without getting soaked. Some people have a knack; they go out in the rain and somehow, miraculously, they stay dry. In fact, most people seem to be able to pull off this magic trick. I however, can’t figure it out. I get so soaked, so soaked. It’ll stop raining and I’ll think, “hey, okay, I can shoot out real quick and be right there and I’ll make it clean and dry…” No. As soon as I hit the point of no return the deluge arrives and I end up walking or riding around like a drown rat – wet, wet – and then it will let up and everyone will be staring at me because I’m the only one that’s soaking wet and they’re all dry because they’ve been inside and inside their cars and they’re all like, “why’s that guy so wet,” and I’m all, “dude, because it’s raining…”

So when it’s raining it’s really nice to take a break and ride the bus. “Get on the bus” as they say. One tiny little push button pop out umbrella will keep you mostly dry for the sprints on either end. It’s probably healthful, even, and humbling to allow yourself to be a little less mule (stubbornly forging ahead) and a little more mindful (flexibly aware with the moment). That’s the story of Bus 260, a good monsoon season friend of Mindful Mule and Me.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

cool mini flash flood

…running down in the arroyo this morning… right along the channel next to the fence, I heard gushing behind me. I looked back to see a rushing wave of water complete with sticks and other floaty junk traveling twice my speed downstream through the cemented flood control channel of the creek and carrying about twice the volume of water that it was overtaking.

There’s some more rain due this weekend so they’re probably flushing out some of the dam water to add space. A very small and safe and man-made flood but pretty cool to witness all the same. Like a little science experiment to demonstrate the power and speed of a real flash flood.

Just downstream of where the water quickly passed me by the flood crashed with all its force into a small naturalized area with no channel but only managed to scare a few ducks into flight, the flood’s energy easily dissipated by nature's superior flood guidance system – below which all was calm, not even a ripple.

Monday, February 21, 2011

winter on brown mountain

It must be very quiet up there these days. No visits from the Mule. It snowed up there over the weekend. Very nice to gaze upon that ridge-like peak from down below in town. Black in the depths of the canyons, brown rising up the flanks to a heavy streak of white across the top under blue sky, passing shadows and clouds. A deep, cold rest. Sleep well my mountain, my friend.

Friday, February 18, 2011

post arroyo run snack of champions

Half a cup of blueberries.
Half a cup of (mixed, raw) almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts.
Half a cup of leftover coffee (a different kind of cup.)

fluffy arroyo

More “snow” in the arroyo this morning. This time it was falling from the sky. Still not real snow and not frost again either. The willows are sending off their fluff to repopulate the earth. It really does look a lot like lightly falling snowflakes, each fluffy seed forming it’s own little crystalline flake and getting blown into low drifts along the side of the trail. Someday it will snow in the arroyo for real. It will be beautiful. In the mean time, it’s enough to know that there are other arroyos out there in the world with other folks wandering through them and light snowflakes falling peacefully.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Devil’s Gate Nature Run of Patience

It’s been a little while since I’ve gone up the Devil’s Gate Trail. But I made it up there today for the first time this year. I kinda got out of the habit after my weird ankle/river/tumbling experience last Fall. I think I’d been back since to “get back on the horse” but once that was accomplished I drifted away. Part of that drift was that it got a little cooler and there’s sort of an ideal temperature range for making that run work smoothly, especially as it requires a bicycle ride before and after. You want it to be cool enough to go running and warm enough to go biking. You also don’t want to ferry too many different levels of clothes along in the bike basket or bother with changing at the trailhead. And you don’t want to ride in “running shorts!” In the seventies works well. Sixties could work too.

On the run, just after passing through the dam (there’s a pedestrian/equestrian tunnel) I came across a couple of walkers that were stopped over at the side of the dirt road waiting for a big dump truck to pass by. I joined them under their oak tree while the dust settled. They told me about a big construction project that was just getting started there above the dam, below JPL, that will be ongoing for 3 years. I forget the exact details but something in the neighborhood of 30ish dump trucks a day for those three years will be hauling out debris from behind the dam that has washed down from the mountains. That’s a Devil’s Gate Damn lot of debris.

He knew a lot about the project and the area. I didn’t get around to asking but I had the impression that he was a part of one of the community groups that is active in the area, maybe The Arroyo Seco Foundation or Save Hahamongna or one of their friends. I was glad to get some information about other projects going on in the upper Arroyo too.

And then we all went in our opposite directions and what he’d said started to sink in. The consequences, the construction, the removal of hundreds of trees, the dust, the noise, possible closures! I can’t take any more closures. “This aggression will not stand, man!”

I understand, though. You have to clean up behind the dam or it won’t be a dam for very long. Which is exactly how I’d want it and I’m sure that guy with the info too. But many people like to be able to build houses and golf courses and stadiums and freeways in flood plains and they probably want it the other way, dammed.

A little further up the Arroyo at about my turn around point I went out to the creek where it was meandering along quietly. It was a nicely naturalized area just above the dam. It was all sparkle and flow and real and awesome. A pristine nature-takes-it-all-back moment. Soon to be removed. Labeled “debris” and trucked off to become fill dirt and concrete. Useful stuff to have access to but today a bit of a tough thought.

Looks like we’re in for some more patience. Not really what we needed as they just re-extended, again, the closure on Brown Mountain, another year… Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one dying from this, but today at least, I came across a few people* that are in it with me.

*Also another walker asking me about the creek cross-ability at the top of his loop as it’s been flooded a lot lately – it’s been flooded because they’ve been draining the water off behind the dam so they can dig it out. We had kind of a moment of shared understanding and connection to place as I too quickly understood his line of questioning and why he was asking and how long he’d been cut off by the water flow and how glad he was about to be to be able to cross that creek and go on above (and secretly knew that he’d be bummed when he figured out about the construction too but couldn’t bear to tell him then) and all of that all exchanged with a few words and looks within a few seconds.

Friday, February 4, 2011

another snippet (to Noah); Or, the art of blowing off a run up Mt. Wilson

I'm close to saying yes to this. But I'm not quite there. Maybe I need to let it filter through my head for a while and join you on the next one. I have trouble with early mornings and I have trouble with cars. (But I don't have trouble with dogs!) I know this makes things difficult for the average trail runner out there. But there are occasions when I'm awake early enough to ride to a trailhead. And there are occasions when I'll accept your generous offer of a car ride. I mean one could make the argument that if you're going there anyway, picking me up isn't that much of a load on the earth, you know. So let's say, keep me in mind for future running adventures and let's hope that I come along eventually. I hope this doesn't sound totally ridiculous. But I know that runners have their ways and sometimes it just takes a little time to fit two runners together. How long is the trail anyway, like 14m round trip with 4000'?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

white arroyo

It was fairly cold this morning. Ice in the birdbath again. I can’t find the post from the last time this happened but it did and I posted it and well I don’t really feel like searching for it but some other winter I guess. The thing that’s interesting about this ice in the birdbath thing is that I don’t think it actually got down to freezing last night or the time before. Maybe the time before but not last night. So how can you get ice without freezing temperatures? Uh, well, you probably can’t but what you might be able to do is create a localized colder temperature zone in the birdbath by accident.

So here’s my guess: The birdbath is just a ceramic bowl, a cat bowl, I think there’s a little image of a paw on the bottom, ahh. And there’s some water in it. Not much last night – just what was left over from last weekend’s one centimeter of rain (the only rain we’ve had all calendar year.) The cat dish is resting on top of a steel cake pan that fits perfectly inside of the opening at the top of the chiminea. Why is there a cake pan in the top of the chiminea? It keeps the rain out of the chiminea and the wood dry – that’s the idea anyway, it sort of works a little. Now that I think about it I don’t really have a guess about why or how the H2O or bowl could be colder than the surrounding air, but those are the physical conditions, the parameters, that surround the magical birdbath that freezes at above freezing temperatures.

So… on my run through the Arroyo this morning there was white all over the ground in the shadows. Not snow. That would be awesome. Someday. But frost, it was. Frozen dewdrops or transpiration drops on all the low lying grasses and other weeds that are choking the Arroyo groundcover to death. It was pretty cool, figuratively, well, and I guess literally, too. I missed the best part of the show having arrived there a little too late in the morning. If I’d been there earlier it would have been coated in white just about everywhere. As it was I only got the remnants in the deep nooks and shadows. No wonder my feet were cold…

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

message snippet to a guy named sorcery bird

Yeah, but either south or north of the Rose Bowl is much nicer. There's a great trail that starts up at the northwest corner of that Rose Bowl loop at heads up along the left side of the golf course over Devil's Gate Dam and into the area below JPL.

South of the Rose Bowl and the Aquatic center from about Holly St Bridge under Suicide Bridge past the Casting Ponds and/or Archery Range depending on which side of the "creek" you're on and on and on with a few tweaks and turns all the way down to Deb's Park as far as you want to go.

Speaking of jogging and Deb's Park, I'm considering this:
4 Mile Hill Challenge