Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sunday Wallpaper: Bike Camp

NOB HILL--The Bike Coop sponsored a youth bike camp last week. The kids would gather each morning in front of the store before they all rode away.

The Sunday Poem: Wesley McNair...Hymn to the Comb-Over

American Life in Poetry: Column 122


The chances are very good that you are within a thousand yards of a man with a comb-over, and he may even be somewhere in your house. Here's Maine poet, Wesley McNair, with his commentary on these valorous attempts to disguise hair loss.

Hymn to the Comb-Over

How the thickest of them erupt just
above the ear, cresting in waves so stiff
no wind can move them. Let us praise them
in all of their varieties, some skinny
as the bands of headphones, some rising
from a part that extends halfway around
the head, others four or five strings
stretched so taut the scalp resembles
a musical instrument. Let us praise the sprays
that hold them, and the combs that coax
such abundance to the front of the head
in the mirror, the combers entirely forget
the back. And let us celebrate the combers,
who address the old sorrow of time's passing
day after day, bringing out of the barrenness
of mid-life this ridiculous and wonderful
harvest, no wishful flag of hope, but, thick,
or thin, the flag itself, unfurled for us all
in subways, offices, and malls across America.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright © 2006 by Wesley McNair. Reprinted from "The Ghosts of You and Me," published by David R. Godine, 2006, by permission of the author. Introduction copyright © 2006 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Eating Cheap at the Route 66 Casino

RIO PUERCO--The billboard said the $7.95 buffet was '2 for 1' on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Well, that was enough for The Artist Ken Saville and me. We went. Then, a week later, we went again...this time with friends. Here is a scouting report.

First, the buffet is large and full of a great variety of things. There are 3 hot food lines, 1 large salad island, and 1 dessert island. One of the hot lines has what might be called 'western' food, including barbeque and tacos. Another has 'home cookin'...items like roast beef and mashed potatoes. The other line contains asian cuisine: fried rice, noodles, and various stir-fry offerings.

Ken and I visited every line and island. It took three an extra two trips to the dessert section (small plates at that island).

I wouldn't say that it was the best food I have ever had, but it was certainly above my minimum standards. But then, my standards are heavily influenced by PRICE.

So we got a group together and went out there again. Everybody seemed satisfied. There were enough healthy items as well as comfort food to give everybody something to grab.

One thing. You need to get a Player's Card to get the special price. And then there need to be 2 of is not $4.00 each--it is 2 for $7.99. Some people were teaming up with strangers at the cashiers desk. Without a card the price is $12.00.

And another thing. The compliementary Player's Card comes with $5.00 worth of gambling chips in it when you get it. So there's that.

Just stop by the service counter to the left when you go in the casino to get your free card. Bring a carload. You won't regret it...unless you lose more than the five bucks.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sunday Wallpaper: Elk in Velvet

This elk we saw near Lake Louise on the Icefields Parkway looks like he has had a hard winter. There's not much to eat up there when the snow covers everything.

The Sunday Poem: Mike White...The Wind

American Life in Poetry: Column 121


A large white umbrella blown into the street, and an aproned waiter rushing to the rescue. A poem need not have a big subject, but what's there does need to add up to more than the surface details. Notice the way this poem by Mike White of Utah moves beyond realistic description into another, deeper realm of suggestion.


Not a remarkable wind.
So when the bistro's patio umbrella
blew suddenly free and pitched
into the middle of the road,
it put a stop to the afternoon.

Something white and amazing
was blocking the way.

A waiter in a clean apron
appeared, not quite
certain, shielding his eyes, wary
of our rumbling engines.

He knelt in the hot road,
making two figures in white, one
leaning over the sprawled,
broken shape of the other,
creaturely, great-winged,
and now so carefully gathered in.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright © 2006 by Mike White. Reprinted from West Branch, No. 58, Spring/Summer 2006, with permission of the author. Introduction copyright © 2006 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Friday, July 20, 2007

MaryAnn Takes Train Home: Rochester, NY to Albuquerque, NM

FIRST & CENTRAL SW--I pulled up in front of the Alvarado Station and there she was...smiling, happy, beautiful, holding her suitcase. What a wonderful day! She had been away in New York visiting her sons, brothers, and sisters for three weeks. Welcome home!

Mike Begins Bike Ride On His Own


I arrived in Astoria the evening of the 13 of July. I found the Bicycle and Beyond bike shop on the corner of 11th and Marine Ave. You can’t miss it because it is conveniently located next to a coffee shop. That night I set up my computer in the coffee shop had a salmon salad that was excellent. The band began playing around 8:00PM and serenaded the locals with a variety of old time favorites.
The next morning found me at the same location for breakfast. At nine I went next door and put my bike together. The folks at “Bikes and Beyond” charged me $10.00 to receive my bike and they let me use the facilities and tools to put it back together. Not to mention the free suggestions and words of wisdom.

I begin this ride bombed because my companion rider and good friend Jon Knudsen had an unfortunate event that prevents him from beginning his trek across the nation. Needless to say I was and still am a bit apprehensive about riding alone, but the folks at the bike shop assured me there was little to fear. Plenty of bikes were out on the road and I wouldn’t have any difficulty sharing my day with a number of bikers and gracious locals. My first day started out after lunch. I grabbed a piece of BBQ chicken for the road and headed south. The ride along the coast is outstanding. There was a slight breeze from the South but not enough to slow me down too much. Once in a while a few drops of rain would cool me down but for the most part a good day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mike Moye Summits Mt. Rainier

NOB HILL--Even though I could not take the plane to Portland to meet Mike Moye and start our Transamerican bike adventure, I was only half the story. Mike was already in the northwest. He had just climbed Mt. Rainier and was to meet me in Portland.

Mike went on his own to pick up his bike in Astoria and started without me...not across the U.S., but Astoria to Eugene. That's about 250 miles. Mike called last night from Cape Lookout State Park. The sun was going down. Man, I wish I was up there.

I have added Mike as a contributer to this blog. I only hope he can find some hotspots from which to post along the way.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sunday Wallpaper: The Icefields Parkway

What is more beautiful than the Parkway going between Banff and Jasper? Nothing.
Not only that, look at the lack of heavy traffic. Look at those wide shoulders. This is bike country!

The Sunday Poem: Kim Noriega... Heaven, 1963

American Life in Poetry: Column 120


The loss of youth and innocence is one of the great themes of literature. Here the California poet Kim Noriega looks deeply into a photograph from forty years ago.

Heaven, 1963

It's my favorite photo—
captioned, "Daddy and His Sweetheart."
It's in black and white,
it's before Pabst Blue Ribbon,
before his tongue became a knife
that made my mother bleed,
and before he blackened my eye
the time he thought I meant to end my life.

He's standing in our yard on Porter Road
beneath the old chestnut tree.
He's wearing sunglasses,
a light cotton shirt,
and a dreamy expression.

He's twenty-seven.
I'm two.
My hair, still baby curls,
is being tossed by a gentle breeze.
I'm fast asleep in his arms.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. From "Blue Arc West: An Anthology of California Poets" (Huntington Beach, CA, Tebot Bach, 2006), 117. Copyright © 2006 by Kim Noriega . Reprinted with permission of the author and Tebot Bach. Introduction copyright © 2006 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Science Project in Roach City

NOB HILL--During my days at Monte Vista Elementary School the first 5 or 6 years were spent teaching in the basement. One thing was constant: cockroaches. Those things got so big and were so numerous, they could not be ignored. At night, when a picture that was taped to the wall would fall to the floor and land with the tape side up, the next morning there would be several cockroaches stuck to the tape.

At any rate, Andrea Fliss took a couple of those beasts home with her and came back with the most remarkable display, the exoskeletons of those roaches had been peeled back and the long, skinny cockroach hearts were fully exposed and explained.

Andrea is in the middle row, second from the left. She was in my first class at Monte Vista, 1984. She somehow found me and sent the most beautiful email. Here it is:

Subject: hello from 1984 monte vista alumni...

Hi Mr. Knudsen,
I can't say that you would actually remember me, but I was delighted to come across your blog on the Internet. You were my most favorite 5th grade teacher! Me (Andrea Fliss) and my best friend Caitlin Erickson thought you were the best! Our 5th grade class (of I think it must have been 198...4?) met down in the basement of Monte Vista Elementary! I made a display board for the class... The basements 5th grade class Mascots...the cockroaches!!! If you don't remember me, or any of this, I suppose this is all very silly, however in all seriousness, I just wanted to let you know that we, your students are still out there, and are definitely thriving! I am now living in California, I am a fine artist, (Silversmithing), and am now enjoying parenting myself. I have three lovely children, and can only hope that they will in turn find teachers who were as caring and dedicated as you, Thank you for all you did for us.
Anyway, Hello from long past, and nice to see that you have such interesting things going on.
Best wishes for the future,
Andrea Fliss (Berkey)
Monte Vista Elementary Alumni
P.S. Do you still teach at Monte Vista???

I know printing this sounds self-serving, but I just love it when those kids write me!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

No Trip... but What a Cliffhanger!

NOB HILL--"What a cliffhanger!" said the email from Frank Zoretich. How true. Roughly 26 hours before I was to leave for the airport Dr. Sotelo informed me I had completely ruptured my ATF ligament. I didn't even know I had one.

I would like to thank everyone who emailed me or commented in such a nice and encouraging way. That meant so much to me. Especially now that the fickle finger of bike fate seems to have written me out of the picture for a few months.

They are boxing up my bike again in Astoria and sending it back. It would have been such a sweet, sweet adventure.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ankle X-Ray Shows Nothing, MRI Next

NOB HILL--I wrote a piece for the Duke City Fix this morning detailing my visit to the Doctor's office. I went to Dr. Sotelo yesterday to get the second of my cortizone shots for the pain in the ball of my foot, a condition called neuroma. Anyway, Dr. Sotelo didn't bother with the shot, once he saw my ankle he sent me straight over to Anna Kaseman to get it x-rayed. I brought him the pictures this morning.

He couldn't find anything, but said he was going to schedule an MRI. I don't know whether this is a cause for celebration or not. "The only thing that is certain," he said, "is that you aren't going to need surgery."

I'm all packed. My trailer is boxed. My bag is ready. The clothes I'm wearing on the plane are sitting on top of the bag.

I can only wait for his phone call.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sunday Wallpaper: Going to the Sun Road...Glacier National Park

Around every turn something new strikes the senses. This time it was the strong shadows of late afternoon. This shot was taken on the eastern side of the park--heading toward Logan Pass. That's St. Mary Lake on the left.

The Sunday Poem: Joseph Stanton...Banana Trees

American Life in Poetry: Column 119

I'm especially attracted to poems that describe places I might not otherwise visit, in the manner of good travel writing. I'm a dedicated stay-at-home and much prefer to read something fascinating about a place than visit it myself. Here the Hawaii poet, Joseph Stanton, describes a tree that few of us have seen but all of us have eaten from.

Banana Trees

They are tall herbs, really, not trees,
though they can shoot up thirty feet
if all goes well for them. Cut in cross

section they look like gigantic onions,
multi-layered mysteries with ghostly hearts.
Their leaves are made to be broken by the wind,

if wind there be, but the crosswise tears
they are built to expect do them no harm.
Around the steady staff of the leafstalk

the broken fronds flap in the breeze
like brief forgotten flags, but these
tattered, green, photosynthetic machines

know how to grasp with their broken fingers
the gold coins of light that give open air
its shine. In hot, dry weather the fingers

fold down to touch on each side—
a kind of prayer to clasp what damp they can
against the too much light.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright © 2006 by Joseph Stanton. Reprinted from "A Field Guide to the Wildlife of Suburban O'ahu," Time Being Books, 2006, with permission of the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2006 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Post Ride Carb Intake...Lam's Chinese Restaurant

CENTRAL & RIO GRANDE SW--Yesterday I tried out my ankle on what turned out to be a 35 mile jaunt. It would have been longer except for an incident as I was riding past the Hispanic Cultural Center.

I was on my #3 bike, that beautiful road tourer, just cruising like a sonofabitch, when a bee popped out of the bushes and flew into one of the vents on my bike helmet. I tried to brush it off, but it couldn't get out. I was shaking my helmet as best I could (since it was still on my head) and hoping the bee would work its way to freedom. It stung me as all this was going on. Not only that, it kept stinging me until I could stop the bike and take my helmet off. Right on the top of my noggin.

Well, I decided to cancel the 50 miler and settle for the 35 miler...especially since my ankle is still more than a little tender.

I stopped at Lam's on the way home. I usually do.

For me, a good lunch starts with the word "Cheap." Ideally it would also be tasty, fresh, low-fat, and good carbs. As I said, I usually stop at Lam's. It is west of Rio Grande on the south side of Central Ave.

I ordered my favorite: the #6 off the luncheon menu. This is their jumbo portion of Szechwan chicken. It comes with egg drop soup, an egg roll, and a mountain of fried rice. Cost: $5.25! I usually splurge and get an iced tea. They bring a pitcher and put it on the table. That's an extra dollar.

The portions are so big, I have never been able to finish the meal. I take home enough for supper. They serve lunch until 3:00. It is always a pleasant way to end these long rides.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Robert E. Lee & Ken Saville... Which Is Which?

NOB HILL--How the Artist Ken Saville managed to get his picture on the cover of U.S. News & World Report I will never know. All I can say is he never wears bowties anymore...the magazine must have paid him a pretty penny to get him to rummage through his closet and come up with that outfit.

What's more, he does claim to be a distant relative of Robert E. Lee. "Everybody from the South says they are related to him."

Ankle Still Swollen but Tomorrow I Ride

NOB HILL--Look at that picture. Still, the pain is gone and I even walk just fine. I'll do a ride tomorrow and see what happens. I soaked it in epsom salt today. Not sure it helped. Thanks to everybody who emailed suggestions. I leave for Oregon a week from tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Bikeway Accident Causes Concern Right Before the Trip

NOB HILL--I had been slacking off. Although I rode 175 miles last week, I didn't ride last Sunday. Then I had a Dr. appointment on Monday morning and a Duke City Fix post that was due Tuesday morning. Those posts take longer than one might think: this one took 7 or 8 hours by the time I was finished about 8:30 A.M. yesterday. So I didn't ride Monday either. Yesterday I started out doing the south Bosque Trail, but felt really hot and tired and so quit after 15 miles or so. I think it was little sleep and high heat.

So today I vowed to ride about 50 miles. That is, I thought I would do the bosque end to end and then do the south side twice. 34 + 16 = 50. Great. I took my #3 bike, a Novara Randonee from REI. It is a touring road bike.

The excitement started in the 25th mile. My chain popped off as I started going up the hill on Rio Bravo. I got off the bike and was fooling around with the chain bending over the bike to do so. Suddenly a big gust of wind came and blew my bike off the pavement and me too. My bike fell to the ground right beside the bike path. I was falling on it and stepped beyond it to keep from squashing the bike under my feet. I turned an ankle on the steep embankment and tumbled head over heels down through the brush, coming to rest about 15 feet down the embankment.

I was bleeding a little, but otherwise seemed unhurt. I got up, fixed the chain and continued on.

By the 35th mile I was back at Kit Carson Park where I had started from. I bought an ice cream sandwich and relaxed on a bench for a while. I looked at my legs. They were pretty beat up. I wondered if I should just go home after the ride instead of stopping by Lam's Chinese Food for a late lunch as I had intended.

Well, I got back on the bike and started down the south loop again. Everything seemed okay except that I was pretty tired. I blamed this on the high termperatures and gusting winds. Oh, and my left ankle felt warm...very warm. Anyway, when I finally finished I just packed up my bike and went home.

Later, when I took my socks off I found this pretty large amount of swelling on my left ankle. I can't really even walk on it. I iced it down for half an hour. I hope it heals quickly. I don't want to start this trip on crutches!

By the way, the cortizone shot in my left foot has all but cured my neuroma. This swelling of the nerve sac on the ball of my left foot had kept me from wearing anything except an extra-soft pair on NewBalance shoes. It is getting better and better.