Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Wait

I have 3 days of work left.  Then I get to go to Peru for 2 months of eating guinea pig, running, drinking pisco sours, running, struggling with my Spanish, running, eating ceviche, and sleeping long and hard with no alarm to wake me.  Oh, and a decent amount of time spent marvelling at the Incan architecture.  I was looking back at some photos of our journeys, and I am amazed at how many miles we have travelled, how many countries we've visited, how many incredible meals in random places we've enjoyed immensely. 
Steak (a lo pobre) in Argentina- maybe 2000 calories on the plate, tender grass-fed beef, fried onions, french fries, and topped off with a fried egg.  Hot. Damn.  Anything with rice or rice noodles in Thailand, served from a roadside stand, the smaller and more rustic the better.  It is more flavorful when you order thirds, and the poor lady cooking looks at you like you are not only way foreign, but solidly mad.  Yup, and hungry.  The tortillas asadas as we biked up the coast of Mexico, made by a grandma with few teeth and served up with fried eggs, sometimes after biking for hours.  Along with that, the Jamaica, not the country, but the beverage.  Karinne and I arrived at a restaurant in a dusty, hot little town in Mexico, and the waitress took one look at us, and slammed down a big pitcher of Jamaica on the table.  It was heaven.  A pink, frosty heaven.  The seafood stew that arrived boiling in thick ceramic pots in Chile, only to be followed by a bunch of bananas (gratis!) that the proprietor thought would fuel us to the next town.  Procrastinating through a foggy morning at a tiny restaurant in the highlands of Laos over multiple cups of coffee and bowls of soup with another bike tourer, swapping tales of the road. 
It seems like bad weather makes good food attain an aura of gourmet- if getting into a restaurant gets us off a wet, windy, soggy road, we are primed to fall in love with the food.  And if the food is something we would never, ever encounter in the USA, well, that helps too.  Stout ice cream in Jamaica, fried cockroaches in Bangkok, grilled kidneys in Argentina.  That last one was particularly exciting- we sat next to the grill, and it threw sparks at us all through the meal, burning holes in the carpet and tablecloth. 
And don't even get me going on drinks, or I'll go all Anthony Bourdain on y'all. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012


As I type this, heavy rain is falling, keeping the dogs (one ours, one our friend's) glued to their beds in front of the woodstove.  The 2012 fire season is done, and it wasn't a good one for a variety of reasons.  The Reading fire scorched a significant chunk of Lassen NP, and tied us down for most of the season.  Some days were good, but many were spent doing rehab and cleaning up the mess that suppressing such a large fire inevitably creates.  While that was going on, the Ponderosa fire started moving towards our homes, prompting a lot of worry and stress for many folks living in Mineral.  One of my crewmembers was killed in a car crash, and several others were not very good employees. 
But in just a couple weeks, we are getting back on the road for another winter trip, this time to Peru.  We'll be running the Incan trails, eating guinea pigs, drinking chicha fuerte, trying to remember our rusty Spanish.  A fairly surprising development over the last couple years is how much Karinne and I are enjoying trail running.  When I was really into mountain biking, it seemed tedious and slow, but now I find myself loving it.  Karinne ran her first marathon this fall, and I ran a couple 50k trail races.  I'm looking to do a couple 50 mile trail races next year, and part of the agenda for Peru is altitude training along with tourism.