The Outback is squealing when I start it up in the morning. Probably some belts need to get tightened up. More of a nuisance than anything since I don’t have my car and Raquel had to drive me to and pick me up from work. Might be time to think about replacing it while it still has some value. I’ve had it over 6 years. It’s served me well. But I don’t need the AWD as much since I stopped skiing and the beast only gets 20 miles to the gallon on a good tank. Something a little more economical might be in my future.
It started out nice enough. Cool winds in the morning in SF lead into a beautiful day of cycling in Marin. Cruising up the Embarcadero. Hauling my bike up Fort Mason. Across the Presidio along Crissy Field. Over the Golden Gate Bridge.
A brief climb up Conzelman which was aborted at the top because of the construction. Still we descended behind the Headlands. Twisted through Fort Baker. Dropped into Sausalito. Whipped down the Bike Path. Up and over Camino Alto into Corte Madero. Past San Quentin. Raced around the Tiburon Headlands, saw a few pre-shot deer and hit up Caffe Acri for brunch.
It was almost perfect.
There was this one guy without a helmet riding on the bridge towards the city screaming at us to “get out of the way, ass holes!” which was more funny than anything else.
After a nice leisurely brunch we headed out of Tiburon through Belvedere and then back then back the way we came. On the Embarcadero, less than a mile from the BART station, thing started to unravel for me.
An amazing streak of good fortune came an abrupt end. I got a puncture. It’s the first flat I’ve had this year and the first on any Yellowjackets ride since 2008.
The change didn’t exactly go smoothly. First, the CO2 cartridge I was carrying was empty. I must have forgot to swap it out after my last flat in 2009. Chris lent me a cartridge which I proceeded to blow before I could get it on the stem.
Then it was time to manually pump tire. First with Chris’ little micro-pump and then, when it was taking too long, Dan busted out his super-foldo pump with foot stand and psi gauge and I was able to get it inflated to 120 with no problem at all.
Then came mounting the tire. This is where things got a little dicey. I was having some trouble getting the tire to sit correctly. I put it and the missed the chain. Then it got jammed in the wrong place and we had trouble getting it out. Chris helped and we finally got it mounted, but somehow in moving the bike the release for my Garmin (Edge 705) was depressed and it went flying off the bike and into the road where it was promptly (I think) run over by a bus.
The reason I say, I think, is because I’m not 100% sure. I didn’t see it directly. It all sort of happened in the my peripheral version. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something fly off the bike. I saw something land in the road. I saw a bus come by roll over it (not sure if the wheels actually ran over it).
When I realized it was my Garmin I rushed out in the street to get it and nearly got run over by a bus myself. What a stupid idiot. I had to raise to my hand to get the bus that was barreling down on me to stop.
I reached under the bus and grabbed my computer. It was all jacked up. The LCD screen was cracked and showing a shinny rainbow pattern. The case was cracked. It wouldn’t turn on at all. I was stunned. My Garmin was dead.
Then Fred rolled by and when he saw what happened said, Let it go Drew. I tried, but I just couldn’t believe it. What the fuck just happened?
I rode the BART home in shock. The thing cost several hundred dollars. It cost more than my first car (not really, but close). What a nightmare. On top of that, I’d lose all my ride stats from today, plus stats from a few other rides that I hadn’t yet uploaded to Garmin Connect. More annoying than anything.
A few days later I called Garmin Support to tell them what happened and they were totally cool about it. I guess this sort of thing happens frequently. Usually it starts with a crash and not a Vaudeville skit that my puncture devolved into, but they were going to send me a replacement for 120 bucks (shipping included). I couldn’t believe it.
My Garmin is dead. Long live my Garmin!
Miles roughly 51 mi
Ride Time about 3.4 hours
MPH more or less 15 mph
Max Speed around 44.1 mph
Elevation Gain perhaps 4,747 ft
Flats exactly 1
More stuff here:
Here’s the route map:
My little female cat Fil has been missing since about 2pm yesterday and I’m just sick with worry about her. She’s escaped from the house a few times, but I’ve always managed to catch and get her back in within 30 minutes or so. Last night, we stood out on the porch and called her, left the door open, to no avail. For the first time in the last seven years, I went to sleep at home with Fil. It made me awful.
I went home for a few hours today and Quel & I plastered the neighborhood with flyers, offering a 100 dollar reward. We tried to go down the Oakland SPCA to file a report, but it was closed. I’ve got ads up on Craigslist both in pets and lost and found. Short of that, I don’t know what to do.
I hope that she just wandered into someone’s house and since she doesn’t have a collar, they didn’t know what to do with her. She’s such a friendly and precocious love whore, that she can charm anyone. Since she doesn’t have a collar, what are they going to do with her? Keep her, of course.
My neighborhood is full of speeding cars and pit bulls, so there’s always that, but I think Fil is too smart/scared to get near the roads or the dogs, but she is only a cat, right?
Hopefully the flyers will produce a lead. I already did get two calls from neighbors, but they were both false alarms. Just other tortoise shell tabbies wandering around the neighborhood.
I guess I’m stuck with my clunker for a little while longer. The Subie is a great car, but it only gets 20 mph on the highway. I don’t even want to tell you the city mileage. As gas has crept up past 3 bucks a gallon and my daily commute from 0 to 35 miles a day, this has become a serious pain point.
When you live with cats, your going to, occasionally, notice a slight acrid urine smell around the house. It’s just part of the program.
For the most part, these smells are isolated to the litter box, which is how it should be. Every once in a while, I’ll notice a smell outside the box, which means that one of my cats, usually Fil, has decided the litter box was not clean enough for her liking and she decided to improvise her own box. I have two boxes for them and I’ve become fastidious about keeping it clean, but she still pisses on various throw rugs, newspapers or piles of clothes, now and again.
I’m sort of used to the odor by now, having lived around it for six years, and usually I can find the litter box du jour and toss it in the washing machine or dump it out in the trash. But every once in a while, I catch the whiff of cat piss, but can’t for the life of me locate the smell. There’s a hint of an acrid smell in the air, I search for it, can’t find it, and then it goes away. It hits me again, then I lose it.
This happened today. It took me all morning to realize that FIl had peed on my pajamas and I was carrying the smell with me all over the damn house. Fucking cats. Can’t live with ‘em. Can’t drown ‘em.
It’s been two days since my backpack was snatched off the beach at Vina del Mar. Of course, I’m still annoyed by it, but I’m not going to let it spoil my holiday. At least I didn’t lose my passport. That would have been a serious nighmare. Instead it’s a mild irritant and an expensive object lesson.
Almost everything I lost was replaceable. The major loss was my camera. Not only did I lose 4 days of what I think were some beautiful pictures, but I lost the ability to take more pics. I have a camera on my Blackberry (blessedly not stolen) but it’s not the same.
This is what was taken (I think):
Blue JanSport backpack ($35). Of course the pack is replaceable, but not having one now means carting my shit around in a plastic bag until I can find a suitable one.
Canon G9 ($450) I already found a replacement on craigslist for 295. The trouble is, it’s in San Rafael and not in Argentina. This was a great camera. I was just starting to get used to it as I’ve had it less than a year.
Canon G9 case ($90) bought specially from a vendor in Japan because the case they sell in the USA is total crap. The one I had a classic rangefinder feel to it, made of hand tooled leather.
Grabzilla tripod ($40) Just bought this thoing at REi before the trip. Tried to use it once in Santiago but it was too weak for my G9. I was going to take it back when I got home.
4GB SanDisk Extreme III Memory card ($18). Not so much the money but the hundreds of photos I’d taken since I arrived in Chile all gone. I’m going to try to remember and describe them in another post.
50SPF Banana Boat Sunblock ($8) almost empty anyway. Bought a replacement in Mendoza for 25 pesos. It’s about 3.5 to the USD.
80GB iPod Classic ($299) that’s what I paid, but certainly not what it worth, which is next to nothing. It stopped working properly a little more than a year after I bought it-out of warranty, of course. The iPod would reboot every few minutes, so you’d be listening a song and it would just crash and restart. In order to get it to work semi-properly, I had to download special software to install old as fuck firmware. Still the volume controls didn’t work right. Details can be found on this site by searching for iPod. Serves whoever ends up buying my iPod from the theif that it won’t work right. I’m bummed that I won’t to be able to listen to music, learn spanish or entertain myself with audiobooks on the two 17 hour bus trips I have ahead of me, but ill live.
Headphones ($13) left my earphones at home and had to buy a cheap replacement at Hartsfield. No major loss here.
Hotel Keys (n/a) replaced quickly, easily and with much sympathy by the ladies at the Reloj de Flores which almost absolves them of running one of the worst B and B’s in the world.
Oakley Rx Glasses ($175) looks like contacts at night for the rest of the trip. Two years old. Scratched and kind of tired. Needed to be replaced, but still cool. Never saw anyone else with them. I called my optometrist to have them email me my Rx and I will go about getting a new pair in Buenos Aires. I should just get my eyes tested again. Como se dice “better, same, worse?” en Espanyol?
US Bank Visa & WAMU Debit MasterCard (n/a) both canceled. Temporary card on it’s way to my hotel in BA.
Black Leather Wallet ($20) totally falling apart. Have been looking for a new one since I arrived in South America.
Cash (about $30) split between one USD20 and Chilean pesos.
BART ticket ($5.25) can someone pick me up at SFO?
Lonely Planet Chile (free) Picked it off the free shelf at Book Soup on Telegraph ave. in Berkeley
Various: gum, zip locks bags, small value Chilean coins for foreign coin collection, 3/4 empty water bottle, 2 pens, 1 mechanical pencil, body shop sunblock for face (hardly used), one small gift.
There were probably a few other things, but nothing major. I have insurance through my credit card company, but I didn’t have time to get a police report so I doubt ill recover anything. It sucks, but it could have been a whole lot worse. Most of my money, my passport and my bus ticket from Vina del Mar were safely locked in my bag at the hotel. I could have been broke with no passport and had to find my way back to Santiago somehow.
Luckily, I had remembered to store the telephone numbers for both my credit cards in my phone so I was able to cancel both quickly before either were used. After some difficulty dealing with US Bank to get a replacement, they finally put me through to Visa international who were extremely helpful. They are going to send the temporary card and offered to wire me money, which wasn’t necessary, but nice to know it’s an option.
In some ways I feel unburdened without the need to lug my backpack everywhere nor take photos of everything interesting. If that sounds like a massive rationalization, it’s because it is and I’d much rather go back to bearing that minor burden.
On the bus to Mendoza, I was talking to this older (he was born in 48) couple from Brooklyn, Paul and Doris. When I told them about my theft, they told me the story of how the were in some tiny town in Guatemala about 10 years ago. While they were walking around, someone slit a hole in Doris’ handbag with a razor. They didn’t notice it at the time, but everything fell out including all their money, their passports and their plane tickets. Here they were in a small town in the north of country and they had to get back to Guatemnala City to replace everything. First they had to return to Flores where they were staying and they managed to get a free ride on the bus. Then the woman at their hotel called Amex. They were on the phone for two hours getting everything sorted out, including being able to get money at the back with a verbal password since they now lacked identification of any sort. At the time, I’m sure it was a painful ordeal, but given the perspective of time, it’s now just a story to tell.
Time + Tragedy = Character + Story
Anyway, Paul is very sanguine about it. He says to me, look, if you’re going to leave your home and travel you’re going to lose things and be robbed. That’s just a fact. You can choose to stay home, but think of all the experiences you’d miss.
I couldn’t agree more.
As someone who was robbed and could have been shot 100 yards from my front door for my Blackberry, I know that this sort of thing can happen anywhere. I wasn’t hurt, physoically anyway and I’ll live.
In retrospect I probably should have booked a room in Vina del Mar before I arrived. It’s become so easy with the Internet (more on that later), that it just doesn’t make sense not to. But I didn’t. Mainly because the place I wanted to stay, Casa del Sol, couldn’t be booked online. I could have had the guys at Hotel Don Santiago call for me, but I didn’t. I just rocked up and hoped for the best.
When I reached Vina, it was mid-day and it was a long sweaty walk from the bus station to the hotel. I had directions, but it was still tricky to find, even using Google Maps, because the place was set in amongt the winding hilly streets to the north of town.
I wasn’t sure I arrived at the hotel, because, like the Don Santiago, there was no sign. For security reasons, I suppose. I rang the bell and woman answers “hello”, and I asked if this was the Casa del Sol and she said yes. At which point I expected the door to open, but it didn’t. I felt like an ass, but I had to say “can you open the door please”. There was a couple, English guy and Chilean girl who had just alighted from a taxi waiting. And they laughed. At the situation, not at me. But the door opened and we went up into the hotel.
So it turns out that they didn’t have another room, but there was one avalaible at the sister hotel, the Reloj and if I could just wait a few minutes while she checked the couple in, she’d take me down there.
Half an hour later, Marina is walking me to the hotel. She tells me it’s 32 dollars a night including breakfast. It seems expensive, but then all of Chile seems inordinately expensive to me. I don’t want to deal with finding another place. Plus if it’s anything like the Case del Sol, ill be very comfy there. When se asks me where I’m from and I say California, she tells me I look very Californian and asks if. I know Brad Pitt. Sure, we best buds.
We arrive at the hotel after a brief walk. Outside, the place is very nice. A smoky red building with shimmering white crown molding and an elegant etched glass sign mounted outside. I guess there were no security concerns here. Maybe it something to do with the angle of the street which was monstourous, like a 25% grade. When I was trying to decide if I could ride my bike up it (probably not), Marina figured out which key to use and led me inside.
There was a sunny common room with a lightly flapping white linen sheet canopied below the sunlight with the room a distincly warm and breezy feel. Benches covered with pillows lined the perimeter. There was a kitchen off to the right and a computer with Internet to the left. I thought, this will do nicely.
Then Marina showed me the room.
She opened up the French doors to the room and revealed a space like a postage stamp. There was room for a twin sized bed and little else, but somehow they were able to jam in a TV and an end table. There was no place for luggage. No place for anything. There was a door that out to a small balcony with a view of the Pacifc through some buildings which was nice.
I was hesitant. For 32 dollares Americanos, I expected a bit more. But I didn’t feel like dealing with finding another place, so I relented and paid for two nights in advance. As I became more familiar with my room, I’d realize what a mistke this was.
Marina then showed me how the shower worked. In order to get hot water, I had to go into the kitchen and start the hot water heater. I’d halso have to not set it too hot or I’d get a scalding shower. Then she gave me a map and told me how to get to various places and not to be sucked by the craft dealers in Valparaiso when I get the same thing for tenth the price at the Feria de Artensas in Vina, which was helpful. Then she 3:34:46 PM and I never daw her or anyone else who spoke English again.
I got organized headed to the bus station to get my ticket to Argentina and then to the beach. I got back to the Reloj about 8pm, before the sun was setting. I tried to take a shower but it was a disaster. I got the water heater started after a few attempts, but I couldn’t get the water to stay a constant temperature. It either unbearably hot or shockingly cold. It was torturous.
It was when I went back to my to enjoy the evening on the balcony with an empanada de pollo for a snack and a good book that I realized some of the limitations of my room. The French doors locked from the outside with a padlock. From the inside, there was not only no way to lock them, there was no way to secure them. So they just kept flying open. This was never more true than when the balcony door was open as the evening breeze would swing my French doors wide open. There were latches on the bottom of the door, but no one had bother to drill the hole necessary in the floor. I suppose they get an A for effort.
The balcony door was clear glass and there was no curtain. That and the front door that wouldn’t behave made changing a trick. There was also a hole about half a dollar in diameter right at the eyeheight of the average Chilean. Not that I thoght anyone would look in, or that it mattered because I couldn’t keep my door closed anyway, but I stuffed the end of one of shirts in the hole and it made me feel better.
The metal bed frame was so rickety that even the slightly movment would cause an echoy squeak in the whole room. Having sex in the bed would cause a cacophony of sound that wake the house. Having freaky circus sex would wake the neighbors and involve Chile’s equivalent of FEMA. Lucky for everyone within earshot, I was alone.
There was a light on the endtable but. Was fitted with a new eco-friendly fluorescent bulb that was s weak I could barely see in the room after dark and sported a shade designed for a standard incandescent so it listed like a staggering drunk.
Right as I settled into bed, I saw my nemesis, a hovering mosquito. I tracked it along the white ceiling but lost it in the red painted wall behind my bed and woke up with a fresh, swollen bite in my left arm.
I’ve stayed in smaller rooms. I once had a room off Kao San Rd in Bangkok that was so narrow I could touch both side walls at the same time. But that place cost less than 2 dollars and included a banana pancake and fresh juice for breakfast. But I had never stayed in a room with so many little problems. And certainly not one that cost this much.
Despite all this, I slept well. I woke in the morning very refreshed and went out to breakfast. Since this was not a hostel, but fancied itself a B&B, I expected great things. That was a mistake.
Inside the little kitchen there was a table set for 8 people, but no one was around. Each setting had a piece of fruit, either an apple or banana, a small container of yogurt and a microscopic bowl of cornflakes. There was a thermos of hot water along with Nescafe, sugar and something that looked distinctly like powdered milk. There was also a sandwich on untoasted bread with one slice of some kind of indescribable mystery pressed meat. This was truly disheartening.
Just to put this into perspective, the Don Santiago (in Santiago), which is a hostel and not a B&B, served up fresh coffee, lightly scrambled eggs, toast with fresh strawberry jam and a fruit plate of banana, cherries and oranges, all in seemingly unlimited quantities. My room there was spartan, but it was spacious, the door locked from the inside and it now seems like an unbelievable bargain at 22 dollars a night.
I tried to make Nescafe with the powdered milk but it would dissolve and I couldn’t drink clumpy coffee so I chucked it down the sink. There was a toaster, so I chucked the mystery meat in the basura, made toast and scrounged in the fridge for some butter, finding some unnatually looking yellow substance called mantequilla which I know means butter but looked more some sickly margarine. I don’t know how long ago thew table was set, but it was long enough that the yogurt was warm and runny. Perhaps some people like it way. Not me. I ate my banana and left the dry cornflakes and I didn’t think they’d be all that appetizing sprinkled with powdered leche. This was just a sad and pathetic attempt at breakfast, one of the hardest meals to fuck up and it had been done on what can only be described as a masterful level.
My bus tomorrow leaves at 9 in the morning which means, sadly, I have to miss breakfast which is served at the Reloj at 8:30. Then again, juding from the temperature of the yogurt, the breakfast table might be set the night before and I can grab my baloney sandwich on my way out the door.
I was robbed at gunpoint by 2 kids at 545pm as I was walking home from the bus stop. All they got was my blackberry before they got scared and ran off. I’m still a little freaked out. I’m not hurt. Didn’t lost my wallet or any money, but I don’t have a phone, which really sucks. More details after I calm down a bit.
Okay, here are the details for the morbidly curious:
It happened around 5:45 as I was walking from the bus stop to my house. I was walking down the street reading the New York Times on my Blackberry (obviously a mistake in my neighborhood). Two kids, African-American, probably between 17 and 21, maybe younger, I don’t really know, wearing identical white hooded sweatshirts, baggy blue sneaker and white high tops, came up behind me. One jammed a gun in my lower back and when I turned around, told me to drop my cell phone. I thought he was kidding at first. I couldn’t believe I was being mugged in daylight on a busy street with cars going by, but I was.
The kid had the gun wrapped in the sleeve of his white hooded sweatshirt. I could see the muzzle and it looked enough like a real gun. I wasn’t going to risk being shot over my phone, so I dropped it. The other one picked it up and then demanded my wallet. I was stalling and something scared them and they took off back up the street.
I wanted to call 911, but I didn’t have a phone and I don’t have a land line at home, so I tried stopping cars. The first couple ignored me, but then someone stopped. When I told him what happened, he said he just saw the cops stop a couple of kids up the street. I didn’t know if it was true or not. I ran back up the street, but didn’t see anything. It was too much to expect that they’d be caught that quickly, let alone at all.
As I was walking back to my place, I saw one of those white “unmarked” state police vehicles going the other way. I flagged him down, told him what happened and he called the Oakland PD. I gave a statement, told the cops I’d help with the investigation and prosecution in anyway, but I don’t think this will exactly be a top priority case. Officer Moore said something about new technology that would enable them to track cell phones, but I’m skeptical since he didn’t ask for any information about the phone other than the number, which I now have with a new phone. We’ll see.
So they only got my Blackberry. As irritating and expensive as it is to replace a phone, at least I didn’t have to cancel credit cards or get a new driver’s license. I had most of my addresses/phone numbers stored on my Blackberry. It’s probably a good time anyway to check in and get updated contact info. So please send me your phone numbers and addresses and I’ll start the tedious work of rebuilding my digital address book.
When I finally got back to my car after the ride, it was dark. I was exhausted, dirty and just wanted to go home. I had dragged my bike, bag, tent and sleeping back from where to the bus stopped to the now almost empty parking lot. I looked at my car and noticed the gas door was open. And I thought, well, that’s sort of weird. Except it was probably more like, WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?
I don’t think I had filled the tank in weeks. Sort of surprising that it would be open. I wasn’t really thinking straight because I was so tired. Then I noticed that the back seat was up, which was even more odd because I had put it down to transport the bike from my house to the parking lot adjacent to AT&T Park, which was the staging ground for the MS Waves to Wine event. I didn’t put it up, did I? No, I don’t think so.
I walked around to the driver’s side and the door was unlocked, the glove compartment was open and there was stuff strewn all over my car. Fuck, someone has definitely been in my car. It’s been tossed. All the doors were unlocked. The stuff I had behind the front seats was now sitting on the backseat. Everything in my glove box was on the floor. The console in the arm rest was empty. (What did I have in there again?)
It took me a while to realize that the portable Garmin GPS and dashboard mount that my brother had given me for my birthday/holidays last year was gone. One of the best gifts I have ever received, vanished on a cold, dark San Francisco night.
I guess I was stupid to leave it in the car at all, but this was supposed to be a secure, protected lot. There should be a reasonable expectation that my car wouldn’t be forcibly opened and my possessions rifled while I’m away on the ride, right? Maybe not. Maybe I’m just an idiot and I have to take my medicine.
Anyway, it was a fucking shitty way to end what was otherwise a great weekend.
This morning I was standing waiting for the Transbay F bus at Market and Stanford and the bus which normally stops right in front of me, just kept going. I was stunned. I hesitated because I was so stunned. And he who hesitates misses the bus.
I went running down the street chasing the bus. It was stopped at the red light at Adeline, but right before I could catch and pound on the side, it took off. I was left a panting sweaty mess.
About 15 seconds behind, the local came by and I jumped onboard, asked the driver if she could catch the F. She said she’d give it her best shot. At 40th, the F made a right, I jumped off the bus I was on and went running again down the street, fantasizing about the tongue lashing I was going to give the drive, but I never did catch the damn bus.
Not only was I going to be late for work, but I felt disgusting. My shirt and my jeans stuck to my body. I was fuming. There was nothing I could do, but wait for the C to come down 40th and take it across the bridge.
I ended up about 30 minutes late for work. I didn’t miss any meetings, but I was pissed. I don’t know why the driver didn’t stop. I took a later bus than I usually, so I didn’t have my normal driver (didn’t have any driver, in fact), but that’s no excuse. If I’m waiting at the bus stop, the bus ought to stop, right?
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