yosemite by bike and mono lake

yosemite_mono_lake-2yosemite_mono_lake-1yosemite_mono_lake-3yosemite_mono_lake-7yosemite_mono_lake-6yosemite_mono_lake-5yosemite_mono_lake-10yosemite_mono_lake-9yosemite_mono_lake-8yosemite_mono_lake-13yosemite_mono_lake-15yosemite_mono_lake-14yosemite_mono_lake-19yosemite_mono_lake-18yosemite_mono_lake-25yosemite_mono_lake-26yosemite_mono_lake-27yosemite_mono_lake-29yosemite_mono_lake-21yosemite_mono_lake-31yosemite_mono_lake-24yosemite_mono_lake-23Look at us, already nearly through July. It’s still summer and summer is for adventures. The whole year is for adventures!

We had big ideas about going on a longer trip over the 4th of July weekend but delayed planning until the last minute. Amazingly, we found an opening at housekeeping camp in Yosemite. Though we’ve visited the park several times this year, we have yet to stay in the valley together. After our recent Ojai bike ride we really wanted to bring our bikes to Yosemite. There are about 12 miles of bike trails around the valley which means you get to explore more without getting in a car. This was amazing on a crowded weekend like the one we visited where the notorious traffic jams clogged up the loop around the valley floor. While visitors in cars sat waiting, we were able to fly by.

On previous visits we sought to avoid crowded spaces in search of more secluded trails. Summer is different though. There is a distinctly camp vibe around the whole place: families gathered around campfires, everyone playing in the rivers. It didn’t feel as touristy, I’m sure in part because we were edging around particular view points on our bikes, but also because people were really enjoying the nature around them. Visitors seemed settled, rather than just stopping in. In housekeeping camp, large groups set up compounds at their rental sites, stringing lights together and setting up rings of chairs around fire pits. I imagine it must be great to spend a whole week with friends, biking around, grilling and swimming.

The following day we drove over Tioga Pass, the road to the Eastern Sierras. This road is closed for a good portion of the year due to snow, so it was exciting to finally get to drive across. We passed through Tuolumne Meadows and enjoyed the beautiful mountain scenery.

Once on the other side, we made a stop at Mono Lake. I had wanted to go swimming because it had been so warm out and Mono Lake seemed like an ideal spot with its high salinity. I dreamed of floating in the lake until we arrived. Unfortunately I forgot to bring sandals and the floor of the lake was too rough to walk on without them. I’ll know for next time. It’s a beautiful and surreal place. The tufa towers you see were only exposed in the 80’s when the water level dropped due to tributary water being redirected to Los Angeles. The lake only became protected in 1992 and it has been rising since, though not to previous levels entirely.

We also made a stop at Devil’s Postpile near Mammoth Lakes. I wish we had more time to explore, but it was still cool to see. I personally enjoyed the bus ride to the site, where I got to listen to various backpackers talk about their travels.

As the sun set and we made our way back home, I asked Shawn to pull over so I could try to take a photo of Mt. Whitney. Though my photo was questionable, we decided that there was no time like the present to make some dinner. We dug out our stoves and made some ramen on the side of the road. It was perfect, particularly since there wasn’t anywhere else for us to stop to get food. Some cows came to see what we were up to, then just went about their business.

most photos by Shawn Bannon, except the oddly shaped ones

ventura to ojai bike ride

ojai bike ride 6ojai bike ride 4ojai bike ride 3ojai bike ride 5ojai bike ride 2ojai bike ride 8ojai bike ride 7ojai bike rideojai bike rideojai bike ride 1Summer Solstice! Shawn has been asking me to go on this particular bike ride from Ventura to Ojai for ages. We have done it a few times in the past but, as I haven’t been riding my bike nearly as much as I used to, the mileage has scared me off from going again. We’ve been having tons of fun going on our backpacking adventures recently but I wanted to give my knee a break since it’s been bothering me on most of our hikes. I thought the bike ride would be a good alternative, even if it might be a stretch to do the 30 miles. It’s not crazy far, I’ve done it before, I thought I could do it again.

We set off late in the day on Saturday, picked up some vegan pork banh mi sandwiches from Vinh Loi Tofu and headed towards Ventura. The ride itself is a nice separated bike path with a gentle incline all the way to Ojai. It was warm out but not unbearably hot. There were lots of flowers blooming on the side of the path which was a nice treat. About ten miles in I really started to feel the miles and all I could think about was getting a cool drink when we stopped. It probably would have been better to do some shorter trips before embarking on this one but sometimes you just have to go or you’ll never go.

There was one section that had been reconstructed from our last visit, adding a nice bridge over a creek. From what I gather, this addition removed a fish barrier so that trout can now breed upstream again. Below the bridge is a nice little watering hole, where some families were swimming. It was a nice spot to rest and get out of the sun for a bit.

When we made it to Ojai, I picked up some ginger lemonades from a market and we ate our sandwiches in the park. While I relaxed for a bit, Shawn popped into the natural food market to pick up some more treats. I had declined any desserts but when he came back with Sweet and Saras I had to steal some. We got back on the road, which was thankfully down hill the whole way back. My muscles were tired and my shoulders achy. Every time we passed a mile marker for the last 4 miles, I would sing a little song of joy. Despite our late start, we made it back before the sun set.

I like this ride because it’s not hilly and you don’t have to deal with cars much so it’s pretty stress free. It’s not terribly far but long enough to make a day trip out of it for someone who isn’t a well trained cyclist like myself at the moment. If you ride more frequently, it’s a fun, easy ride.

I realized that I could have just kept saying no to this ride, that I could let worrying about whether I could do it comfortably get in the way of just actually doing it. So I decided to just say yes and we spent a lovely day outdoors on the summer solstice, enjoying each others company and the California landscape.


ciclavia 2 ciclavia 5 ciclavia 3 ciclavia 4 ciclavia 1 We had a great time at CicLAvia this Sunday. After such a terrible week of bad news, it was a relief to be outside, doing something positive. Venice Blvd was packed with cyclists and I couldn’t help but dream that a giant bicycle highway was possible. I love riding my bike in Los Angeles, but even I’ll admit that sometimes the car situation makes it a bit too stressful. Today, over 100 thousand cyclists (and skaters and runners and walkers) all road together across town which honestly made me feel better about humanity.

photos by Shawn Bannon

work out


Let’s face it, I’ve gotten lazy. Lazy isn’t even the right word, as I’m often busy, often working on projects, often accomplishing things. The real word is sedentary. I spend most of my time sitting in front of a computer as I think the majority of us do. While previously I’ve had activity built into my life, bike rides and occasional hikes (see the above slightly dorky photo), all of that seems to have evaporated and I find myself just sitting almost all the time. It’s partially unavoidable in terms of getting work done but I am really starting to feel the toll on my body and know it’s time to take action.

The problem is that I am the worst at exercising. It’s not that I hate it or can’t commit, it’s just that I need clear routine and I can’t seem to figure one out. I might go for a jog for a few days in a row but without a plan I just stop. This might have some broader implications on my ability to focus on nonspecific goals, but let’s put that aside for a moment. For example, the circus classes I took last summer were awesome because they were for a set amount of time and had a goal of a performance at the end. Sadly, they are a little too spendy for me to take up again at the moment.

I wish I could say that I’m just going to incorporate more active stuff into my every day life, much like I have in the past, but I can see that I need to do something a little more proactive. A jump start if you will. I’m not looking to morph into an Olympic athlete but I wouldn’t mind having a few muscles again instead of feeling like jiggly-puff. I like yoga and cycling and most anything that doesn’t involve going to a gym. Also, jogging or running are great but I’m not gonna run any kind of race. I know there is something out there that is free (or cheap) that I will enjoy but I just haven’t been able to put my finger on it.

What works for you to keep active? Is there a yoga routine you do every day or a set number of days your run every week? How do you commit to including activity in your schedule? What do you do to keep it interesting?

bike week

thanksgiving bike ride

This week is bike week here in Los Angeles, which means there are a few cool events going on sponsored by Metro. I know a lot of people feel like this city is not very bike friendly (and I don’t entirely disagree) so projects like this make me super happy. They are a great way to spread the bike love.

Tweed Ride 2010
Tweed Ride 2010
Tweed Ride 2010

It’s no secret that Shawn and I met on a bike ride, so social rides will always have a special place in my heart. Look at how fun this tweed right from a few years back was (you can tell it was long ago since Shawn is sporting a beard). Everyone dressed up and having a grand time riding around the city together. I truly believe that the best way to experience any city is by bicycle.

bike rides

Pasadena also has some great events planned, like a bike ride around the Rose Bowl with the mayor and a bike in movie showing Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. So if you’ve been looking for an excuse to get back on your bike, now is your chance. Hope to see you on the streets.