Monday, June 30, 2014

Lights, Camera, Action

That morning I got to grab some coffee with Colt and catch up on how life has been for him. I get so excited and happy for the success of others especially those that I had grown up with as a kid. He had a busy day ahead of him and his crew, so we parted ways and I went off to grab some breakfast. Everything was within walking distance and the well-known Griddle House was right around the corner. The place is praised for it’s HUGE DELICIOUS PANCAKES, but after seeing them on everyone else’s plate I could not fathom eating the whole thing on my own, muscle omelet for me with egg whites and spinach.

Upon entering the house the buzzing energy of the place was hair raising. The creative atmosphere was amazing and I settled in along with them to catch up on some photo editing and writing. Hundreds of phone calls were being made, scripts written, videos edited, and sound mixed. This was the Hollywood Hustle at full blast. Culprit Creative had been asked to participate in a film festival and they where pulling all the strings to line things up for the weekends shoot. I relished in the glow of productivity silently on the couch. Caught up on a lot of material along with them and soon ran off to have an early dinner at Greenblatt’s Delicatessen. I asked the waiter what was their signature item and he said, “anything with our pastrami.” He was definitely right, I have never tasted pastrami before and they raised the bar that first time to the ultimate high.

Later that evening another high school friend and a Portland friend came to visit and catch up. Same story here, left home and made things happen. I ran through all of the other instances and noticed that those that left where they grew up had been doing some very ambitious things. Granted there was a difficult period but I think that it tested them and allowed them to find out what they are truly made of.

Decided to crash a bit early and head out first thing in the AM to San Diego. Before falling asleep I assured myself that I would need to come back here and spend several days to see some more Hollywood magic. It will happen soon enough, especially now that I will be living on the west coast in about a month. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Wear some flowers in your hair.

I felt so rested and my soul was complete. I had just finished my visit in Portland and finished the ride yesterday feeling that this stretch of riding was going to be the most memorable. I took a few extra minutes opening my eyes. I let my sense of hearing and smell paint the picture before I saw it. The air was fresh and evergreens balanced out the tart sea salt being kicked up by the pounding surf not but several hundred yards away. I was far enough in the tree line where my tent walls rested motionless away from the ocean breeze. The sharp thick smoke from the neighboring infant, crackling fire made it's way through the mesh screen of my enclosure. After soaking in as much scents and sounds I finally mustered up the will to open my eyes. By this time I had taught myself how to sleep on my back laying motionless throughout the night. Prior to this trip I could only rest on my side with my head resting in my arm. The hard surfaces that I had been setting the tent up on had made this difficult and my arm would get numb and I would need to switch arms every 30-45 minutes. From my back I was in the front row seat to what was happening directly above me through the mesh screen. The massive trunks of the Douglas Firs shot straight up. Branchless for the first half or so they stood watch over all the campsites, grounded and unaffected by the ocean breeze. The branches finally came and put an end to the meaty stock. There was a perfect proportion of visible sky and the branches and needles that were obstructing the dawns light from fully penetrating to the surface below. I could hear the neighbors coffee kettle and cups clinking and clanking as they set up the stove to heat the water. "Coffee would be perfect right about now!" I thought to myself. I remembered that I had not burned through the wood I had purchased and figured I would offered to extend the life of their flame for a fresh cup of NW Java, after I get up and out of the tent of course. The sound of the tents zipper confirmed my waking up starting the day. A visit to the bathroom for the usually morning routine and a warm shower. By this time the coffee had brewed and I was reminded of not letting my firewood to go to waste. A Golden Retriever, mother, father, and daughter had set up camp in the neighboring campsite.

They lit up with the idea of more firewood and conversation. It is amazing to meet so many random people and stop to listen. Everyone has a story, everyone is coming from somewhere and on there way to a destination. Everyone’s journey is another perspective and it’s a worthwhile exercise to teach yourself to see it through the eyes of others. I was hoping to get a cup of coffee and instead I got two, that and fresh layer of Golden Retriever hair on all my cloths. The dog was a leaner, from the term coined in “Friends” when Joey would lean and say the “how you doing?” line. It would come up to you nudging your hand above its head and spinning around being careful not to break the contact with it as my fingers would continue down its back. It would pull up next to my leg and lean on it making sure it was a comfortable distance as to make it as convenient as possible for me to continue petting her.

I packed up the gear and went out to the beach to see what I had been hearing since last night. A stream flowed into the surf and rocks scattered at its mouth. The shallow flow of water over the rocks disturbed the otherwise smooth sand downstream from where the stones had lodged themselves. I watched the surrounding people enjoying the beach and let it be my calm before the storm readying my mind for the goal I had set for myself today. I wanted to make it to LA and it was a hefty 740 miles away. I was excited though, I knew the landscape would keep my mind alert and sharp. No time to waste it was off to the races.

The ride started with the great gentle giants of the west coast, the Red Woods. Several sections of park were ahead where I could witness these massive tress. Each time I would pull into a section of forest it would get a shade darker and cooler. The massive trees seemed to absorb everything around them to maintain their survival leaving a void where cooler temperatures and darkness snuck in. Amazingly the trees would sprout from the ground not disturbing the ground around itself. The roots stayed hidden deep beneath the surface and only the straight solid stalk of the tree pierced the surface stretching towards the fog that hid its branchy cap. Some sections of the Redwoods would make it right to the coast on the sides of steep cliffs.

The closer I would get to the coast the thicker the fog would be. I would look over the guardrail hoping to see the ocean below but the fog would consume the cliff sides before they could expose the crashing waves. The road would pull away from the coast and the sun would shine and warm the surroundings up an extra 10-15 degrees. Back towards the coast and the cold would come back with a vengeance. Before pulling into San Francisco I passed through thousands of acres of vineyards. The road lay in a  valley and the fields lay flat within its parameters. Beyond the valley the green fields would fallow the contours of the hills that imprisoned the narrow valley. Here and there a Italian Style Casa would find its place among the fields usually with a long straight roadway leading to it lined with tall evergreen arborvitae.

The fields gave way to the hills once more and the fog rolled in as I pulled into San Francisco. A friend of mine had a busy day working so I decided to pass through in a hurry and continue on to LA. I had to make just one stop, the Golden Gate Bridge. As I pulled up the viewpoint there was a group of bikers there that also wanted the epic view of the bridge in their photos. We got to talking and they were here from Croatia and rented Harleys in Orlando Florida and rode here to San Francisco as their final destination. They had finished taking their photos and waited for me to finish mine. The bridge leaped off the shore, on the end that I was at, and before it could even get over the water the fog would swallow it whole. There was no escaping it and all I got in the pictures was the base of the north side of the bridge. I joined up with the Croatian group and guided them through the city. We waived our goodbyes and I continued on through the city leaving just in time for the rush hour traffic to back up behind me.

The Pulling away from the coast I was back in farm country where the sun’s rays were on full blast. The straight roads made for quick progress down the map closer to LA. As I neared the coast again the fog picked up and so did the gusts of wind. These gusts where strongest to-date. I gripped my handle bars with everything I had and tensed up as each gust would nearly blow me off the road. The passing cars would try to pass by quickly not wanted to be next to me when a gust would come along and shift my direction of travel into theirs. To my right was a dark Pacific ocean not visible to me but rather inferred by the lights of the large ships traveling in a long line just off the coast. At first I thought it had been land but in the lights I could make out shipping containers. The highway pulled me inland as the city of LA reared its head. I made it to my destination quickly as the traffic had been going 15-20 miles above the speed limit and I dared not to go slower than the flow around me. My destination was a high school friend who had been making a name for himself in the film industry in Hollywood. He and 2 other partners had created Culprit Creative and worked their asses off and recently been featured on Forbes 30 under 30. Siri guided me to their home and headquarters in the heart of Hollywood off of Sunset BLVD. The 740 miles did not come easy but surprisingly I did not find myself tired, but regardless I called it a night after an introduction to all the crew that lived and those that were visiting the house.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

East to West

Today we hit the road from several days of rest... Well sort of. The several previous days spent in Portland had been hectic to say the least. It felt good to strap in all the packs and saddle bags to Cindy. Her new tires made me confident in the next stretch of curvy HWY 101 road.

First things first, went to see my daughter before I hit the road. She got to meet Cindy for the first time. She happily jumped on and snapped a picture before I headed out, perfect motivation for the road. After that needed to run out to Gresham to line up some work for my relocation back to Portland. Meetings all went well, and it felt like the man upstairs is helping me make it possible to move back and work being a better father. Grabbed some Hawaiian food with a friend to wait out the traffic and then off to my cousins house to see my niece. It's crazy, how we kids have kids now. It's even harder to believe for our parents. "Our little children have little children!" They would think to themselves.

The visit to Portland was very fulfilling. Before when I lived here I had my priorities mixed up and a clouded mind. Coming back with a clear one it will be nice to develop healthy and long lasting relationships and surround myself with people that are on the same path. This weekend was a good start to this. Spent some time with some amazing people and I can't wait to build my new definition of friendship and those that will fills its ranks.

Just outside of Portland is her hilly countryside. I rode through on the way to the beach wishing I could just continuously inhale without having to exhale. The smells where amazing and the fresh air that the lush green environment provides is always there. Landscape farms, U-pick berry farms, vineyards, cow pastures, hay fields, and fruit trees would wiz past me and I would inhale through my nose as much as my lungs would let me.  Portland could not have me leave without raining on me so I had to stop and gear up as some clouds moved in. Eventually the fields gave way to a hill climb and I was on my way over the pass that would eventually lead me to the coast. The smooth bends in the roads were a joy to ride. You get to maintain your speed and lean the bike from left to right at each corner. With every lean building muscle memory and leaning further on the next turn. Before I knew it I was on the 101 but with no ocean in sight. Caught a glimpse of it in the distance between homes and streets but needed to find a view to end the day on. Dusk was approaching and I pressed on to find my trophy for the night. Then I saw it! Pulled over and couldn't wait to pull my ear buds out to hear the crashing waves. The surf was strong and was kicking up a mist that was advancing further and further in from the shore. I needed to take a leak really bad but found myself chained to this place. I could stop listening, smelling, watching all that was happening around me. A massive rock formation that was out in the water 30 or so feet would peak through the water then disappear again and again, making me realize just how big the waves are. I stayed and waited for the night to bully over the day and rode out to find my resting place.

Rode another 20 miles and got to my campsite. Set up camp, started a fire and sat down to let it all soak in. I could hear the constant rumble of the surf just beyond the trees somewhere. This was the most fulfilling miles of the trip I have had thus far. I only rode 120 miles that day but each one had my heart jumping with joy. I cannot wait to call this place home again. I left the cover of my tent off and through the mesh above my head my small fire would flicker just enough light to hint at the massive Douglass Fir trees towering above my head. They stood watch as I began to fade out. That's I remember was the sound of crashing waves, they had snuck their way I to my dreams.

3 Sheets

Today I am taking it really easy before having to get back on the saddle and ride hard. Breakfast with Tahnee and Alex at Kornblatt's. I will have a meeting tomorrow that I need to be cleaned up for and Tahnee got me all spruced up. If you ever need a good cut she is the one to go to. Back to a GQ rider rather than an overgrown biker.

The weather was perfect and my longtime Italian friend Massimo hosted us on a boat ride down the Willamette River. The weather brought out all other Portlanders hungry for the elusive sun and we quickly tied up to another boat that was packed with shorts and bikinis. The sun felt different from when it was hitting my arms while riding. Then it was business, now it was pleasure. My legs finally felt its rays, kind of difficult before with jeans and chaps over them. I love it on the water and I always replay the time when Massimo had his sailboat and he took me out in that for the first time. Ever since experiencing the motorless speed, and hearing nothing but wind and water slapping up against the side of the boat, I fell in love with sailing. When I run out of roads to travel I will travel the seas. Or maybe I should do both, when the roads end sail to the next place where they pick back up again. This is how I imagine my retirement.

Made some new friends that joined us in Portland City Grill. Happy hour with delicious Calamari and Salmon cakes.

Rode out to Gresham afterwards to meet a friend who I used to go four wheeling with, another adrenaline fix of mine. Oregon is perfect for an adrenaline filled life with all of the environments, like playgrounds for extremists. He has since moved on and built a Jeep and acquired 2 Harleys. We chatted up as long as we could and before I knew it night was upon me. Rode around all day jacketless and the night brought with it cooler temperatures. Sergei barrowed me his riding jacket, I was fortunate enough that he is a similar size as I am and the ride back to “home” was a warm one.


Needed to start the day off quick. Opened up my new parts and went at it replacing the headlight, foot peg, and turn signal. I was bound for Crepes at Vivace in NW 23rd neighborhood with two beautiful ladies Tahnee and Elle. If you are ever in Portland that street is well worth the visit. Cozy shops, restaurants, and lots of Portland weirdoes. Portland’s motto is “Keep Portland Weird”, and it makes for a very diverse atmosphere. The conversations flowed freely and I did more listening than talking. I usually do all the talking and it was nice to sit back and watch and listen to the interaction unfold. The dialog was passionate and filled with emotion and topics that were close to heart for the two of them. I just soaked it all in like a sponge.

Rushed off to train after a few days of stiff riding. Called ahead of time and made the introduction over the phone with Portland Thai Boxing. I was going to have a friend join me for a first ever Muay Thai session. The gym is in its own building and spacious. Large matted area in the main section and the rear has a full ring, and bathrooms and showers were in the mix as well.

Started with the basics, fighting stance, the rhythm, jab, cross, and a few kicks. We partnered up and did some free style pad work. We would pad holder would motion a kick and partner would check and check and return a switch kick landing forward and throwing a cross then hook. The class continued working several other combinations that included the fallowing;

1. Jab, cross, left hook, step out at a 45 degree on the lead leg to open hips for a rear kick to the leg or body.

2. Jab, cross, left hook, as the hook lands step to the left and inside of the opponents lead leg. Once your foot is planted throw a rear kick to the leg or body. If you are close reach in to clinch the neck and land a knee.

3. Jab, cross, left hook, as the hook lands fallowing stepping to the right. With your rear leg kick to the opponents thigh or to modify together with kick extend right hand to push opponent in opposite direction of your kick to sweep.

and Kru Ricky pulled aside my first timer and I to work a combination of our own. He padded up so he eat some kicks and had us throwing a lead inside leg kick, landing forward, cross, hook, right chop kick to the lead leg of the opponent.

Awesome group of guys here and I will definitely be back here when I move. In search of a gym to call home and glad the search started here.

Showered up and ran off to pick up My friend Tahnee to take on her first motorcycle riding experience ever! I was excited to show her the ropes. Half of the fun is leathering up for the ride and she had just the gear for it, and the tattoos that made her fit the part perfectly. Another visit to Latus in Gladstone, on the way out of the gym had to stop suddenly and slid uncontrollably. That was my cue to get some new tires to replace the bald ones that I had been riding on for the last stretch of the trip. We walked around and looked at all the shiny toys while Cindy was getting a new pair of stilettos. Got to see the excitement of a new Harley owner wheeling her new girl off the lot. Many happy miles and sunsets ahead of her no doubt. Randy also sat Tahnee on a Harley that anyone can ride. It was strapped in on a trailer and rear wheel raised to allow riders to get a feel for operating a bike. Tahnee was shifting through the gears like a pro in no time. Deep down inside I was hoping the seed had been planted. I need riding partners in my new home when I return.

With the new tires installed we rode off back to NW 23rd to Bamboo Sushi to continue the conversations started earlier that day, this time with another friend Katie joining us. I felt far more comfortable taking the corners with the new treads. I could feel Cindy sticking and not acting out like she was the previous few days. Food was delicious, company was amazing and dusk was on its way in. The weather was perfect for an evening ride and we met up with a biker couple. It was dark by now and we headed for the west hills. Skyline road is an amazing stretch of road just outside of Portland. One sharp turn would introduce you to the next one and before you know it you are just leaning from left to right without any straights. I would reach back and make sure my fun-size passenger was still on board. Riding is something else, and I was happy to have provided that experience for my friend. The warm and cool spots, the occasional spots where some flowers just bloomed, and smell of freshly cut grass, and so much more. The rush was short lived and we stopped by Papa Hyden’s before we split off in our separate ways to call it a night.

Just perfect, training, amazing souls, and a night ride with desert to cap it off. I cannot wait to move back.