Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Road to Vashon

Jenny and watched the not so uplifting adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road the other night. Filmed in mono-chromatic landscapes filled with the scars of industrialization, director John Hillcoat did a wonderful job of painting a haunting picture of a post-apocalyptic world void of all but the most resilient, amoral and sometimes cruel beings.
Riding from Seattle to Vashon this weekend, Jen and I stopped under the West Seattle Bridge and spent several minutes just taking it all in. The eery similarities to the film captured us both. Above us towered thousands of tons of concrete that if left unmolested will stand for a thousand years. Under us what was once Duwamish River looked more like and industrial dump site than a natural resource. We stood in wonder of how long ago Salmon ran so thick through this waterway that one could walk their backs shore to shore? 100 years, 200 years ago? Surely a blink in the history of this place, but in that same blink look at we have "accomplished". I turned on the TV at the B&B Jen and I stayed at and learned that I will likely live to see the extinction of the Orca . Apparently they are starving to death. If we can not save this icon of our beautiful home, what makes us think we can save ourselves? We live an illusion of infinite economic and industrial expansion amidst finite resources, it seems to me part of a larger global race to the bottom. Everywhere we went this weekend I found myself saddened by the destructive hands of man on the order of nature; but in the midst of this destruction there is always life claiming it's place and fighting back. We too shall come to pass.
When I started riding bikes they were nothing more than a fitness tool, a means to fill the a void left in my life by chronic running injuries. Over time the bike has come to shape the way I view the world and taught me lessons about life. The bigger your life gets, the more it weighs you down. The faster your life goes, the more you miss. Less is more. Last is first.
While the direction that our world is headed causes dark times in my life, I am thankful for the opportunities I have to enjoy the beauty and joy that is around us. I will do my part to preserve it by approaching it on two wheels.



Concrete Jungle.

The moss will eventually win.

Sky Scraper.

The world will be a much better place after I shave my one month attempt at a moustache.

The Captain and Me.

Every day is a great hair day.

The Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie has a long and rich history in the NW. A great place to have hot coffee on a cold day and a look around.

The sign reads "Objects found in beans between 1984-1989 here at the Roasterie R1"

The Bicycle Tree, Vashon Island. Nature wins again.

Nature's Recyclers

Jenny loves the feel of my moustache against her face...

...and is saddened by the thought of me shaving.

Pretty OK winter day at the beach.

Equal parts Styrofoam and natural sea detritus. Charming.


Not your average cinnamon roll. Monkey Tree Cafe, Vashon Island.

A professional. This guy ran after us for 2 miles uphill before I caved and gave him a chunk of my meat stick. I think he would have came home with us if he could have kept up.

Spin with a view. Open all day every day.

As usual, it is important to rehydrate after a ride.

News spreads quick on Vashon, a barn fire north of town the culprit here.

No photography skills here. Just dumb luck.

Home sweet home.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Bike, a Train, a Truck and an Elevator

To long has it been since I could wake up early in the morning and ride a bike with the freedom of not knowing exactly where I might sleep that night. Pack the essentials, make a reasonable plan, put a smile on your face and see what happens. With a forecast of heavy snow I set off at 6 am from Greenwood and caught the Amtrak at King Street. Hours of West Coast visual bliss landed me in Bellingham and 4 inches of snow. Looking particularly screwed on my two wheels, a local guy Mark offered an unsolicited ride. Not too proud to recognize my predicament, I accepted. Dropped off at Grossme Outlet, I rode-pushed (rushed) a grueling three blocks to my old climbing buddy Alan's house in the York Neighborhood. A hot tea and a ride in the Toyota down Chuckanut Drive to Blanchard delivered Alan and me 30 miles of pedaling snow-free 28 degree pavement. Living the dream.
Beers and booze at the bus, George's welcome home party, wood fired hot tub under a sea of stars, spoon with Mikey, 6 am alarm, spin to Mount Vernon, rails to Seattle, beer at the Dray, dinner with Jen, a warm bed.
It felt nice to just let things unfold this weekend. It may be crazy to suggest, but what if more of us simply got on a bike and rode somewhere cool next weekend? What if you figured out a way to visit an old friend without using your car? Maybe you would meet some folks along the way that restore some of your faith in humanity? Maybe you would realize that faster isn't always better? Maybe you would discover that everything you need really is just out your front door?
Hard to say not knowing?



My Mark Twight "Disaster Style" pre-adventure gear photo was sabotaged by this cute girl. Bummer.

End of the easy part, snow in B-Ham.

In the event of Nuclear Holocaust or Rapture, edible food item will be found here for approximately 1000 years.

Two wheels, small brain. Perfect combination.

Destination reached! Alan, our fearless leader's house.

Alan Kearney fits the definition of a climber. Alan has lived the life a guide/photographer while putting up first ascents in Alaska, Patagonia, and Washington for over 35 years. If I have learned anything about climbing in the past 10 years, I can count Alan as one of my mentors.
Alan suited up at a moments' notice for the 30 degree ride. We didn't see many other folks out riding that day.

Andy is a little fatter than the last time we hung out, but it's winter and all and he still seems pretty content with life. Much can be learned by observing cats.

Trouble brewing.

Another magic bus ride with the usual suspects.

Good things happen in Mt. Vernon, Wa.


The Alaskan to Pike Elevator saves folks like me a hill climb....

..and gets me closer to the celebration beer at The Dray.

This fine morsel of health food was purchased at the Calico Cupboard in Mt. Vernon. My wife is a very discerning critic of the fine American Tradition we call the Cinnamon Roll....

...she approved.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


The last four month have been pretty dormant here at Front Door Adventures. I assume much to think anyone reads blog enough to notice the absence.

The truth is that Jen and I have been working pretty hard just to get back in the Front Door. The remodel was physically, emotionally and intellectually consuming. We spent our first official night back in the house on Halloween among stacked boxes and hoards of trick or treaters. It felt wonderful for neighbor kids to come by and walk in the Front Door uninvited. It's nice to be home.

Remodling our home was not easy in any sense of the word and created friction in many areas of my life..., I cannot begin to express my gratitude for my family and friends who turned this vision into a reality.

Thank you is not enough.

My brother Jeff owns and operates Fish Creek Custom Woodworking. The best value custom cabinets in the State of Washington. From start to finish, this project never would have happened without the help of my brother.

A small sample of the work. Jeff really helped me wrap my head around the realities of designing a custom chef's kitchen in a 500 square foot home. When we put a tape measure on some of my grand ideas, they simply didn't fit the space.

Jeff talked me out of a galley style table in the corner and replaced it with a pantry and broom closet.

Granite from the boneyard and more custom cabinets by Jeff.

Smart design by Jeff here as well. I envisioned a corner vanity and sink, but I learned how much function is lost in corners due to limited drawer pull and cabinet depth.

Where the magic really happens. Jeff at the Fish Creek Shop.

My Dad Jim told me I was crazy to tile a shower. He then proceeded to plan and execute the tiling of my not-s0-standard shower stall. My dad is a craftsman in every sense of the word, (he builds Flintlock Rifles from scratch for fun) , I am not. Fortunately I paid enough attention to my Dad at work not be a complete hack. Dad came down to help out with the skilled labor at a moments notice.

Amuater hour with the Alford men.

As you may have noticed, I have a soft spot in my heart for cute girls. My niece Sadie came and visited on the night that counter tops were delivered. Buffy was a big help as well.

Although Madaline currently carries a striking resemblance to my brother, I believe that she will grow up to be cute someday as well.

A photographic history of the interior of the house over the last 5 months.....

Without Jenny, I would not have been able to pull the house project off. Nearly every night I was greeted with a smile, a beautiful meal, and more often than not a cold beer (or two). Jenny doesn't know much about swinging a hammer, but she truly held me together through this journey. We build our home together.

I'm quite eagerly anticipating a long overdue Front Door Adventure this weekend.