A 250-mile roundtrip motorcycle ride between San Francisco and Monterey happens to be a fantastic way to spend a sunny Memorial Day Sunday. This particular excursion proved all the more memorable, not just for my riding companionship, nor merely for our lunchtime company, but also for the fact my odometer hit 20,000 miles. (I’d say it rolled over, except for the fact we’re talking digital in this case.). In any event, my SV is now heading into the 20 thousands, one year after first hitting five digits. To this I simply say, finally.
Monthly Archives: May 2011
Any Day Now…
From the rear it looks a lot like a BMW. Facing front, it definitely shows itself to be the Audi it is. A few lines and curves may have been slightly enhanced, but on first glance it does not strike me as something entirely new. Rarely does Audi have this effect, after all.
Then, on second glance, and third, and so on, the newness does begin to set in, I will admit. You might not even know at first it’s a hatchback. It might be able to give the BMW 5 Grand Turismo a run for its money, but no matter what anyone might say, it’s certainly no “answer to the CLS.”
There goes my opinion again, to say the least. We’ll let the new Audi A7 speak for itself, and speak to me, as soon as I spot one for the first time in my neighborhood…. any day now I expect.
Goodbye & Hello
Watch the sun disappear on the horizon over Kona, jet 2300 miles across the Pacific in a fast and smooth 4.5 hours, and be on the ground well in time to see the brightest star reappear over San Francisco Bay. Such the case it was for me last night into this morning, following my relatively late decision to choose the red-eye KOA-SFO flight over the usually more comfortable daytime crossing. Given the current off season’s openness of seats, my choice proved positive. I do not, however, recommend this nocturnal journey in the dead of summer or during the holidays, at typically full capacity. Either way, it’s a safe bet the sun will be there for you, to say goodbye and hello!
“Nou Kou Hale”
The final day of my short trip to the Mauna Kea this past weekend could not be ending more beautifully or peacefully. For 30 years now, the Island has brought me home time and again, to a magical spot of relaxation and rejuvenation, filled with memories old and new. The unparalleled spirit of the property is very much alive and ready to welcome you, whether once again or for the first time. This I joyously offer you: “Nou kou hale.”
At 2:30 PM the sky yields solid gray, the ground quickly grows more wet, and the wind of yesterday has ceased, as drops continue to bounce off the stillness of the suddenly darker ocean water. Not since 1994 have I personally witnessed such steady and prolonged rain on the usually sun-filled Kohala Coast. This weather is more rare than my filet last night, to say the least. The Island is crying, for reasons unclear. Nonetheless, of course my limited and cherished time back at Mauna Kea remains untarnished.
Another Day, But Not
Poolside always comes through as the prime spot for a comfortable afternoon nap, aided by a chilled Pinot Grigio no less. Plus with a rather sudden flare up of trade winds today, the grassy area around the pool has proven all the more a welcome refuge from flying sand. Not that I’m complaining; trade winds are a trademark of the Kohala Coast. And today they’ve come to wish Mr. Todd Mitchell a most happy 50th birthday. In paradise, another day it is, while any other day it is not.
At least the most important things don’t change. The Batik Room and the Mauna Loa Suite are no longer, and the price of a Hau Tree mai-tai continues to creep upward. Beyond this, however, comes the unmatched serenity of being back home at Mauna Kea. This above all else remains, along with the view from 736.
I’m sorry to see them go. At the same time, I’m not all that surprised. As storylines grew increasingly silly and often confused, key cast members dropped off while others appeared inconsistently. For the past year it’s been clear to both me and many others that the show was on the decline. How many more deep-seated family secrets could possibly be revealed? And how many more times could one’s paternity be questioned? By the season-ending episode one week ago, it seemed all the clearer that the Walkers have run their course.
Now it’s official. ABC announced last Friday the cancellation of “Brothers & Sisters” after a five-year run. Granted, various plots of late seemed rushed and certainly eye-roll inducing. The unpredictable appearance of various family members often proved disappointing. And the ongoing scattering of scandals, conflicts, revelations and “big” decisions, typically yielding a collection of “horrified” facial expressions, were growing tiresome.
Still, I would like to have seen where the Walkers went next, as this last season did turn out at least a few stronger moments. However, perhaps herein lies the problem: There may very well be no where more for them to go, at least not without further redundancy and ridiculousness. Five seasons and more than 100 episodes is an impressive run in television these days, while some famous programs in history have no doubt stayed around TOO long. This said, perhaps it’s better we’re saying farewell to the Walker clan before they’re completely ignored and forgotten.
Farewell, Walkers. For better or worse, you clearly brought a unique and distinct style to prime-time television that will be missed.
And that’s my faithful-viewer opinion.
Like Riding A Bike…
There’s always something very rewarding about a full day in the saddle, leaving me with positive feelings of sustained exertion and expected though by no means day-ending fatigue. It’s even more satisfying when such a lengthy cycling trek has not happened in a while, which was indeed the case for me yesterday.
Most simply, despite my few extra pounds and frequent selection of the less-taxing throttle, I’m happy to say I still have it in me. My body’s overall physical performance has by no means failed me, as I remain, as I often like to say, “permanently trained?” I’ll include the question mark, mindful it may not last a lifetime, at least not without continued effort.
My cycling career has made a distinct shift in the past few years. That is, I clearly transitioned from the sustained long distances of centuries, to the much shorter and faster world of races. In 2007 century events, meaning cycling 100 miles in a day, were my most frequent choice of cycling recreation. Come 2009, I was most often pedaling as fast as I could to try to beat my competition in road races that spanned anywhere from 15 to 40 miles. Suffice to say, these are two very different types of cycle exertion.
My own rides have most recently remained shorter and faster for the most part, with the very occasional 50 or 60-miler thrown in. Then came yesterday, yielding me 85 miles in the saddle altogether. Looking back in my very complete ride records, the last time I rode this distance or more was on the Solvang Century in March 2009. The precise type of fatigue I felt last night, I have not felt since that last century. This feeling is by no means a bad one; in fact it’s quite thrilling and adrenaline inducing. The fact my legs felt heavy and stairs were exhausting is merely an observation and not a complaint. I ended up dressed for the evening and out late, on my motorcycle no less, with merely an extra yawn here and there. Many thanks to muscle memory, no doubt!
My body knows how to perform when called upon, even infrequently. While there’s always space for performance improvement, I’m in a self-satisfying and “permanently trained” physical place. It’s, um, like riding a bike. What more could I ask?
Well, here’s one thing: Another fast descent down Panoramic Highway into Stinson Beach. It’s truly the best I’ve found in the area thus far! Check it out for yourself, and I’ll be there to race you to the finish! 😉
After almost a year of intent, I finally made it. The small coastal town of Gualala, some 120 miles north of San Francisco, welcomed my motorcycle and me for a brief yet lovely stay this week. Actually, it’s my fabulous lifelong friend and her hoot of a husband who did the welcoming. The town itself, fortunately, seemed to be on board with my arrival.
Altogether, this 250-mile roundtrip motorcycle journey was scenic, relaxing and of course on some stretches of twisty Hwy 1, challenging! Coming just after an oil change, new brake pads and new brake fluid earlier this week, my sturdy and reliable SV could not have performed better, at least not at the still-somewhat gentle hands of its cautious handler.
With a business appointment already scheduled in Santa Rosa this week, I figured I was already halfway to the residence of my dear friend, so why not? My conclusion: A trip most worthwhile, especially thanks to ideal weather conditions. The route to Gualala is beautiful, the town warm and inviting, the views spectacular, and last but certainly not least, the food absolutely delicious!
If and when you find yourself rolling along the northern California coast, whether by two wheels or four, or more, make Gualala one of your stops. If you’re lucky enough to hit the town on taco night at Trink’s, you’ll be in for a true and unexpected culinary delight. Crab, shrimp, pork or beef, or one or several of each, these generous and flavorful gourmet tacos far surpass any that I can recall in the “big city.” Be sure to get there early or prepare to wait, because despite any visible life on the streets, the place was packed! And on a Wednesday no less!
Join me sometime soon, preferably on your own motorized set of two wheels. You too might just find yourself saying “Gua-la-la!”
Not Another Sunday
Driving back into San Francisco yesterday afternoon, I exited the freeway onto Harrison St. at 4:55pm. In another minute the corner of Harrison and 12th “greeted” me– or would have I should say– on this somewhat warm and very sunny Sunday. At this moment my own eyes caught for the first time what many people throughout San Francisco hoped never to see.
The first word on the sign taped to the door is the only one that really speaks, boldly presiding over all others, lunging out like a slap in the face to all who approach it. At just about 5:00pm on a bright and clear May Sunday, the corner of Harrison and 12th was practically lifeless; I didn’t see a soul around. What an ugly and unwelcome difference, I thought as I drove on, compared to the several hundreds of Sunday afternoons preceding this one.
Anything could happen, the future remains uncertain, and at least a few shreds of hope remain alive in the face of some largely concealed wheels of business negotiation. Whatever comes tomorrow, however, does not change the fact that today, right now, the door notice remains up. San Francisco has lost a historical and iconic gathering spot, and I along with several of my friends have lost a favorite– and most certainly unmatched– social space.
The Eagle Tavern is now closed, as of May 1. While yesterday marked the second Sunday of this current and quite possibly permanent situation, socially and emotionally speaking this was not another Sunday at 12th and Harrison. Unfortunately, however, it looks like we’ll be seeing more Sundays like this one for the foreseeable future.
Quite A Climb…
While making my way on bicycle this week north on Canada Road from Woodside, I improvised a new route in order to get around current bridge work on Skyline between Bunker Hill and Crystal Springs. My iPhone-assisted plan took me east into San Carlos and then north toward Belmont, planting me unexpectedly on one very intense and exhausting climb.
Such topography is hardly unusual in the area, but this steep upward path certainly made a lasting impression, perhaps for the intimidating fact of being able to see most of it all at once. I decided when I got home — and yes I did get home — to do an internet search for “Crestview Drive.”
Here’s what I found, most academic and thorough to say the least. “The southern end of Crestview climbs up from Edgewood to Melendy in San Carlos. The street is very wide and fairly straight, so the 30+ mph traffic can leave you room to climb.” (Courtesy: Lucas) Obviously my impromptu “discovery” already exists as an established cycling feat.
Suffice to say, I’m always happy to acquaint myself with yet another cycling challenge. This one was, to say most simply, quite a climb. And for once at least, this is not just my opinion!
Improving On Success
As I’ve previously discussed, Mercedes-Benz styling is on a refreshing upswing these days. While several models have recently been reemerging more handsome than ever, here now comes one more.
The 2012 CLS is simply stunning, all the way from the aggressive and muscular nose to a smooth and refined backside. While the first-generation CLS has certainly been unique and eye-catching over the past six years, the second generation clearly and boldly improves upon success. In addition to looks, meanwhile, the mechanics of the new CLS may very well prove superior to those of often-troubled rival Jaguar XF.
As the reviews trickle in, I look forward to witnessing this welcome new member of the MBZ family take its rightful place on the open road.