Arrival - Looking Back With 2020 Vision, Part I - CycleBlaze

December 17, 2019

Arrival

Arrival

With each passing overseas tour, it feels more like the overseas flight is the weakest link, the one that will cause us to decide its time to give it all a rest.  There’s so much about them - the stress, the discomfort and exhaustion, the physical difficulty from lugging and wheeling your luggage from one concourse to the next.  It isn’t getting better with age.

The flight from Istanbul to San Francisco is the worst flight I’ve ever experienced, other than the dreadful experience of flying home from Verona with my leg splinted after rupturing my quadraceps tendon on a skiing trip - hopefully that’s a lifetime worst that will never be worsted.

This flight has everything going against it.  I’m on the front end of some sort of flu-like ailment, apparently the same thing Rachael experienced flying to Istanbul last night.  For most of the flight I’m achy, have a piercing headache (very rare for me), and a cramping stomach.  The flight seems interminably long - 13-1/2 hours not counting boarding, sitting on the tarmac, deplaning.  It’s an enormous plane, a Boeing 777, so there’s a huge crowd with long queues and wait times at all ends affecting security, deplaning, and customs.  There are seemingly dozens of infants on the plane, and at least one of them seems to be crying or screaming for the entire flight.

It was bad.  I don’t really want to talk about it.

From a look at the Istanbul departure board it’s eas6 to believe Turkish Airlines’ claim to serving more countries than any other airline.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Leaving Istanbul
Heart 2 Comment 0

Waiting for the short, final flight to San Diego though it occurs to me that I’m not going to die quite yet, and am starting to feel better.  I’m encouraged by Rachael’s condition, since she started feeling better partway through the long flight.  There’s hope.  I allow myself to try a bagel with cream cheese while waiting for departure, and it seems to help.  

This morning I wake up feeling nearly normal.  A relief, because there’s work to be done.  The tour starts today.  I have to reassemble the bikes, and we have to reshuffle our luggage so that we can leave our suitcases here at the hotel until we come back for them at the end of the San Diego phase of the tour.

Rachael and I are both hungry, a good sign.  We walk around the block to a corner cafe and have a normal American breakfast, enjoying a change in menu and the ability to place our orders with someone who speaks our language.  Then, back to the hotel and the reassembly.  Today the only obvious workspace is the bathroom, fortunately just large enough for the job.  Actually it works pretty well, with the edge of the tub and the toilet seat providing comfortable stools for some of the tasks.  

In the operating room.
Heart 2 Comment 0

Reassembly goes well, although there’s a scare when I think for a minute I’ve broken another derailleur; but it’s fine, everything is fine.  Except that it’s such a dirty process.  I get grease on the tile.  I step on the tile, get grease on myself, and spread it around.  Grease everywhere.  It’s hard to clean up, because it’s a bit of a bootstrap problem; I have to clean some tiles before I can clean myself, so I iterate between clearing tiles, clearing myself, and then getting them befouled again as I move around.  I’m pretty sure I spend more time in cleanup than assembly, a new first.

Finally though, it’s done.  I’m clean, the floor is clean, the suitcases are packed, the bikes assembled.  we check out of the hotel and drop off the suitcases.  The tour’s on!

On the road again!
Heart 6 Comment 0

But we’re not going much of anywhere quite yet.  We can’t check in at our apartment for another three hours, so we bike next over to the San Diego Bike Store to drop off our bikes for a tune up.  They both need some work, and we this is the best opportunity to do so.  We had contacted this store while in Spain, and they said to just bring them by when we got to town.  At this time of year we should get a one day turnaround.

We drop them off, the owner gives us a quote, and says that with luck they’ll be ready by end of day; but tomorrow for sure, unless he finds a real problem.  We say that today would be great but tomorrow is fine too, leave our bikes and our luggage, and go for a walk while we wait for our apartment to become available.

Probably everyone reading this already knows about Balboa Park, the large public green space in the heart of the city.  We’d heard of it, but as usual hadn’t really given much thought to what is here until we arrived.  Balboa Park is a real marvel.  There is so much here - the gardens and trees, the zoo, the art museum, the natural history museum, the colossal exhibitions of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition celebrating the opening of the Panama Canal - it’s a place that would merit many repeat visits.

We make a large pass-through circuit of the park and on the way back to diverge near its north end to see the Spruce Street and Quince Street bridges, and then return to the bike store not long after 3.  It’s been 10 miles, and I’m starting to feel like I’ve done enough for one day.

Respecting the ancients, it looks like they built the fence around this fallen tree rather than just sawing it up.
Heart 3 Comment 0
The view from the Cabrillo Bridge, Balboa Park. As fine as this huge park is, it’s a counter-example to Valencia’s Turia Gardens. It’s a shame that the city decided to split the park by running a freeway through the heart of Cabrillo Canyon.
Heart 2 Comment 2
Jen GrumbyAn ugly scar, at best.

I wonder if there are many areas in the park that are free from noise pollution?
Reply to this comment
7 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyIt’s actually not bad, because the freeway is sunk so deep in the canyon. Fortunately, a later attempt to double up by adding a second tier to the freeway was beaten back, or it really would be a problem.

On the other hand, the park is directly beneath the flight pattern for the airport, whisch is only about three miles away. The planes seem close enough to touch when they fly over.
Reply to this comment
7 months ago
The California Building, Balboa Park. So strange to be looking at this after our last three months in Iberia. It wouldn’t look too out of place in Andalucia or Salamanca.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Another flash of renaissance Spain in Balboa Park.
Heart 5 Comment 0
Waiting for a friend.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Surrounded by an elaborate rose garden, this fountain in the botanical gardens could be a setting in Malaga.
Heart 2 Comment 0
The Prado Building
Heart 2 Comment 0
In Balboa Park
Heart 3 Comment 0
The Natural History Museum occupies a corner of the Balboa building.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Balboa Park has some spectacular trees. This one, a Moreton Bay fig from East Australia, is one of the largest figs in California and predates Balboa Park.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Here’s another beautiful tree, and one new to me. We first saw the small one in the background and thought it was just a shrub until we came to a full grown example.
Heart 2 Comment 0
So what is this tree? It reminds us of the string of red peppers we saw hanging in a village a few weeks ago.
Heart 2 Comment 3
Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like coral tree. Not too long ago, I looked this one up for someone riding in South America.

https://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/showimage/74782/
Reply to this comment
7 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltGee, do you think? Did you look at the caption on the photo in your link? It was taken in Balboa Park. I think it’s the exact same tree! Must be a new record for you in accuracy in identification.
Reply to this comment
7 months ago
Bill ShaneyfeltTo Scott AndersonWell, I did use Balboa Park in my search...

Sometimes I get lucky and sometimes not so much. This time it worked.
Reply to this comment
7 months ago
The Spruce Street Suspension Bridge, built in 1912, spans Sessions Canyon. It was built to provide access to the new 4th street streetcar line for residents living across the canyon.
Heart 1 Comment 0
It’s a somewhat unsettling bridge to cross, feeling it gently sway as you walk above the floor of the canyon seventy feet below.
Heart 4 Comment 0
The Quince Street Bridge, just a few blocks from the suspension bridge, was also erected to provide access to the new streetcar line. Built in 1905 at a cost of $850, it was condemned as unsafe and slated for demolition in 1987 until protests by the local citizenry saved it. It was restored and reopened, at a cost of $250,000.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Two cycling vagabonds on the Quince Street Bridge.
Heart 4 Comment 1
Jen Grumby.. shadows fully intact.

Cool photo!
Reply to this comment
7 months ago

The San Diego Bike Store

After our walk we stop by the bike store on the way to our apartment, to see how work is progressing.  If they’re ready to go, we’ll pick them up; otherwise we’ll collect our panniers and carry them the few blocks to the fortunately close-by apartment.

The bikes aren’t quite ready yet, but they’re getting close.  Mo, the owner, is glad we came by.  On the counter are my two disk brakes, and he’s trying to decide whether to replace the pads on them at an extra cost.  A conscientious person, he doesn’t want to set us up with an optional cost without clearing it with us first.  Easier to have the conversation in person than over the phone with us.

Of course we want the pads replaced, if he thinks it prudent and has the parts at hand.  While he has our attention he gives us a well meaning and I’m sure well deserved lecture about bike maintenance - we use too much lubricant, the chain picks up too much crap and it grinds things down.  We tell him how these bikes have been spending the last three months, and he lights up a bit.  He loves Spain, was just there this summer; and he lived in Spain for a year as a young man.  We rave about the cycling there, tell him a bit of what we’re doing with our lives, and he counsels us to buy a winter home in southern Spain.  An attractive idea.

We tote our luggage the three long blocks to our apartment (reminding me of downtown SLC, San Diego has huge blocks and very wide streets - the only thing about the city I find unattractive so far) and settle in to our new home for the next five nights - a huge, attractive apartment that is very comfortable.  We both go into a bit of a zone - I’m tired and my feet hurt from the long walk, and jet lag is starting to show its fangs; and Rachael’s stomach is feeling queasy again.

At 5:30, Mo calls.  The bikes are ready, we can pick them up.  The shop closes in 30 minutes and by now it’s dark out, so I thank him and propose that we just pick them up in the morning.  He sounds very disappointed, saying that he and his team have worked to get them done today as we said we wanted (which we hadn’t - we’d made clear that it would be fine to pick them up tomorrow).  I feel bad, say we’ll be right over, and he immediately starts laughing.  Gotcha!  Joke!

He’ll be off duty tomorrow though, so we rush right over.  We chat some more, he comments with a hint of regret on how lucky we are to have this to share, he gives us a few more maintenance tips, we exchange a warm handshake as we leave.  A new friend.

Mo, the owner of San Diego Bike Shop, wishes us safe travels as we bike off on our newly rejuvenated rides.
Heart 4 Comment 0

On the Road Again

Returning from one tour and immediately starting a new one is a head snapping experience.  Overnight so many things have changed, including all of the issues we’re focused on.  Spain is quickly slipping off the mental stage, and anxieties about the ride ahead start rushing in from the other wing.  

Foremost in our thoughts is the weather.  The weather is perfect here now - sunny, highs in the mid sixties - and should remain so until about when we leave town.  Then though, right around Christmas Eve, several days of showers are due to roll in - right when we’ll be crossing the mountains between here and the Anza-Borrego Desert where we’ll spend Christmas.

The mountains are significant.  Julian, where we plan to stay when we cross over and again three nights later when we cross back, sits at over 4,200’ above sea level.  Our preferred route, with an overnight first in Alpine, requires crossing a pass at 4,800’.  Julian’s weather forecast looks marginal for the days we’ll be there, with nights around freezing, highs in the forties, and a chance of snow for exactly the time period we’ll be there.  A concern.

Deja vu all over again.  We were planning on staying in Julian on our previous tour here too, but stopped short because it was snowing there and stayed instead in Wynola, lower down on the slopes at a mere 3,700’.   That was quite bad enough: dropping down from Wynola the next morning is one of our coldest cycling memories.  So some rethinking of the itinerary may occur.

Assuming we stick with it though, here’s the plan for the San Diego part of the tour.  After spending these first five days here in the city, we’ll bike east and into the mountains to start on the two week loop below before returning to the city.  Should be a fine loop, as long as we make it through the mountains.  And back again.

Heart 0 Comment 0

Rides stats today: 1 mile, 0’

Today's ride: 1 mile (2 km)
Total: 1 mile (2 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 10
Comment on this entry Comment 7
Jacquie GaudetThanks for writing about Balboa Park. I, for one, had never heard of it. I'll be sure to visit should I get to San Diego!
Reply to this comment
7 months ago
Tricia GrahamGlad you are back on your next tour as it gives me something to relieve the boredom of sitting in a wheel chair waiting for my tendon to heal Agree with you abut long flights the 19hours from Dubai to Auckland is a real killer especially as it comes on the back of a flight frm Eurpe to Dubai. Hope the snow doesnt come while you are on the mountains
Have fun
Tricia
Reply to this comment
7 months ago
Jen GrumbyI agree with Mo .. and would love to visit the Chez Anderson Winter Home in Southern Spain!

I hope you two take plenty of time to get caught up on rest while you're there! Sounds like the weather may demand well-rested minds for potential adjustments to the itinerary.
Reply to this comment
7 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Tricia GrahamThat flight to NZ is a killer, alright. We did it once before, and even with a stopover in Hawaii it was awful. We’re planning on coming down next winter, but thinking of the flight gives me pause. Better to do it now before I get any older though.

Thanks again for following us along, and best of luck with your recovery.
Reply to this comment
7 months ago
Suzanne GibsonHigh time you get yourselves a small abode in Europe where you can leave your bikes! Spain fits the bill.
Reply to this comment
7 months ago
Scott AndersonYou’re the third vote for that idea, Suzanne. Maybe we should pool resources and CycleBlaze could invest in a time share. You can have August.
Reply to this comment
7 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonWe're in!
Reply to this comment
6 months ago