Thursday, October 27, 2005

Hollywood, CA

Friends: When I'm off on one of these bike adventures camping wild, I can't always bathe as often or as thoroughly as I'd like. Cleaning my clothes is much less of a challenge, as I can generally find a sink or a faucet every day or so to give them at least a cursory hand wash. Clean clothes in the morning is almost as good as a shower. I'll only wash my clothes, however, if I can count on them drying by the end of the day, since I don't carry much more than a single back-up attire. Drying isn't usually much of a concern, as I can readily dry my wash either on my body, when it is warm enough, or dangling in the breeze atop my gear held on by a pair of my trusty bungee cords.

In the desert clothes can dry in moments, but down the northern coast of California this rainy time of the year, body heat is about my only hope of drying anything, and even that is an iffy proposition. So neither me nor my garb has been getting cleaned as often as I'd like these past nine days since I've resumed my tour of the west. Fortunately I have friends to visit every 250 miles or so, where I've been able to shower and wash and rest and even watch the World Series. Oakland was my first stop, visiting a friend from my college days, my predecessor as head manager of Northwestern's football team. Yesterday I visited friends from the Telluride
Film Festival
who live outside of San Luis Obispo. This weekend I have a pair of friends to visit in LA. Then its on to Phoenix and then Marfa, Texas and finally Dallas.

My mind is kept well occupied anticipating the visit to come and reflecting on visits past. When I haven't had a friend to overnight at, the camping has been exceptional, one night amongst the redwoods, another in an avocado grove, once in a forest of eucalypts, but always near enough the ocean that my tent is drenched each morning from fog drip. Even after the fog burns off by mid or late morning, a breeze off the ocean can keep the air misty all day. If the sun comes out, there isn't enough warmth in it for drying even my flimsy neckerchief.

The 50 degree temps don't discourage many of those with convertibles from putting their tops down. There is quite an array of sports cars galvanating along the windy, climby coastal route. Rarely have I been subjected to one testing its limits. I've seen more Corvettes this past week than I see in a decade in Chicago. This is the off-season, so the traffic is fairly limited. It also meant that the Henry Miller Memorial Library just south of Big Sur was closed--more than a small disappointment, especially since a local newspaper said its restroom "defies description." But there were still hundreds of elephant seals sprawled along a stretch of beaches south of the Hearst Castle and a cluster of condors, each with a number stenciled on a wing, perched among the rocks a little south of Big Sur. They have been successfully reintroduced to the region and are very camera-friendly.

I've only encountered two sets of cyclists in the 600 miles I've come since resuming my travels, and was able to cycle along with each for a spell. I unknowingly spent a day with one of them a year-and-a-half ago atop L'Alpe d'Huez. He wasn't touring on his bike then, though he'd brought it with him. He drove within 20 miles of the Alp, until he was stopped by French police, who weren't allowing anyone without credentials to drive any further. He biked the rest of the way and was amongst the million or so fans on the mountain the day Lance won the time trial to its summit and clinched his sixth straight Tour win.

This week's Hollywood Reporter has a story about "George the Cyclist," film reviewer. A film critic/reporter who kept seeing me at film festivals around the world with my bike and followed my Cannes reviews at figured I was worthy of a story. I'll be biking through LA this weekend. I don't have any delusions about being discovered, though one never knows who might be looking for what in LA-LA land, but I'll be curious if anyone recognizes me, as the story is accompanied by a photo taken at last month's Telluride Film Festival. After a Chicago Tribune story about my travels a few years ago people were continaully asking me in the weeks afterward as I was messengering if I was the bicycle messenger who traveled the world that they had read about, some even jumping out of their car to shake my hand.

Later, George

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