The joys of biking to work

And sometimes you realize you have gone months without a good adventure.

There had been too many weekends in front of a computer, and too few weekends among the rocks and trees. There had been too much time logged at the steering wheel, and not enough time with an adventure pack on your back. There had been a lot of good food, but not enough peanut butter and banana sandwiches eaten in the sun.

A few weeks ago, I reached this realization.

I had driven 220 miles roundtrip to cover an event – on a Sunday – and couldn’t bear the thought of getting back in my car the next morning to drive to work. So that Monday, I hopped on my black-with-pink-letters used bike, and rode to work. I was at my desk by 7:30 a.m., and started writing on deadline, my heart still pumping vigorously from the ride.

That morning, I tweeted:

The joys of biking to work: Brainstorming stories to be written by 11 a.m. deadline. Waving to @KurtisInValley. Feeling ALIVE.#ibikefresno

Since that morning, I’ve biked to work maybe four more times. When the road was beginning to feel a little worn, my daily biking adventures have added a new spark to my step (or pedal?)

Do you bike to work? If so, do you shower at work – or just embrace the alive-smell? If you haven’t tried biking to work, what’s stopping you?

*Thanks to Jefferson for suggesting this blog post, and for reminding me that, “adventures can be in your own backyard.”

Good Reads: Adventure Slide Shows

 

For your weekend viewing pleasure, here are three adventure slide shows definitely worth clicking through!

Hot Tub, Ice Machine – Ice Climbing in Ouray Ice Park (New York Times)

Competitive Yoga – Scenes from the New York Regional and National Yoga Asana Championship (NYT)

The Nutropolitan Museum of Art – Peanut butter inspires art (Peanut Butter & Co.)

Enjoy the weekend!

Life in full bloom

This weekend, I had planned to blog about our Epic Sister Adventure in Joshua Tree National Park.

But then spring came early in the San Joaquín Valley. The temperatures reached the 70s, just as the beautiful pink blossoms were appearing on the region’s fruit and nut trees.

So instead of investing time in this blog, we hit the Fresno County Blossom Trail.

We drove toward Sanger on Highway 180 East, which is lined with patches of brilliant yellow daisies and orange poppies. The pink blossoms on the trees and the grapevines contrasted magnificently with the snow-capped Sierras, which we could actually see.

We had lunch at the new School House Restaurant & Tavern, which features pretty good food and great ambience. Then we continued just a minute down the road to Cedar View Winery, where we picked up our next shipment of wine.

And sipped Zinfandel, while taking in the beauty of the day, the landscape, love, and life.

 

‘Be in Love. Eat Soup.’

“Soup is the food that can get us cooking again, easily, happily. Anyone can make a good soup, and therefore a home-cooked meal, and therefore a better day” – Anna Thomas

Yesterday, in recognition of National Soup Swap Day, I got together with two girlfriends to make – yup – soup.

It was not a traditional soup swap. We didn’t each bring six quarts of soup to exchange, as the Soup Swap guidelines stipulate. But we did each bring ingredients – and our culinary specialities – to Gosia’s cozy Tower District kitchen.

First, we opened the wine, and had bite-sized very veggie frittatas.

Then, we made a black bean and kabocha squash soup from one of my favorite cookbooks, ‘Love Soup,’ by Anna Thomas. It seemed fitting to choose a vegetarian soup from this book, since its mission is to bring people together to share soup.

“It seems to me that soup is the last best hope for home cooking,” Thomas writes in the book’s introduction.

While the soup was cooking, we made homemade corn tortillas.

While that was cooking, we made an apple crisp, which we devoured with spicy ginger ice cream.

 “There is an old Spanish saying, much repeated, ‘Of love and soup, the second is better,” Thomas writes. “But I say, why choose? Be in love. Eat Soup. Love soup!”

Ice skating, peanut butter, warm fires

 

On Sunday, Heather and I went ice skating in Yosemite National Park, partaking in the only winter sport possible this snowless winter.

And what a winter treat it was!

We arrived around noon to the Curry Village ice skating rink, and glided around the rink for about an hour, taking in glimpses of Half Dome and the park’s other awe-inspiring granite faces with each lap.

We considered eating our lunch with groups of families, who crowded around the rink-side campfire to roast s’mores, made from pre-packaged kits sold in the rink gift shop. (Awesome.)

Instead, we ate our peanut butter and banana/almond butter and pomegranate jelly sandwiches by the historic Ahwahnee Hotel’s magnificent fire places.

Something about the pure, child-like joy I experienced while skating, coupled with a warm fire and my favorite food, made me think about life – and adventure. Do we work hard so we can enjoy the calm/exhilaration of adventure? Or could we be fulfilled by adventure along?

Part of the adventure of life, I guess, is learning to balance these passions.

Adventures on a plate

As part of today’s 31 Days of Adventure challenge, I learned how to make Vietnamese-style spring rolls.

This evening, we sat down to a table covered with the essential spring roll elements. The dogs sat down with their heads in our laps.

“How do we do this?” I asked my friends.

They softened a hard, flat, rounded piece of rice paper in a pan of warm water, and layered it on my plate.

Following their instructions, I placed a line of shrimp in the middle of the rice paper, and then surrounded them with pickled carrots, avocado slices, cucumber rings, cilantro, and sriracha sauce.

I rolled it up as if it were a burrito, and spooned out some homemade peanut sauce.

With a giggle, I took a bite. Adventure on a plate!

Pictured above: Nacho under the table; Danny squeezing sriracha; Sora posing with a perfectly rolled roll

31 Days of Adventure, starting now

I’m excited to be participating in 31 Days of Adventure, a project designed to challenge you in many different ways. As part of the project, an adventure is delivered to your inbox each day during the month of January.

I think it’s funny that the pictures I’ve chosen to accompany these early challenges are caffeine-related. It must have something to do with needing a little jolt in order to see the world clearly, and from a fresh vantage point.

Day 1: Find a new perspective – see things in a new and different light.

A soy chai tea latte at Big Sur Bakery.

Day 2: Notice the little things.

Bike wheel-carabiner coffee mug rack at Fresno Brewing Company.

Another plus of joining this project? I’ve stumbled upon some great adventure, rock climbing, and yoga blogs. I’m sure they will provide the inspiration I need to keep the adventures going during my Year of the Adventure.