Archive for the ‘outdoors’ Category

Here We Go Again. Again.

Monday, April 30th, 2012

According to EastsiderLA blog, some dastardly jackass cyclist on the LA River Bike Path this past weekend reportedly knocked down and slightly injured a volunteer helping with the Friends of the Los Angeles River’s annual Great LA River Cleanup. And didn’t even bother to stop. Sigh.

And of course the moment such preventable things like this happen, Elysian Valley residents get quoted saying things like “We need to do something more than has been done about this shared-path conflict,” and “Let’s not wait until a serious injury occurs before we take some more positive action.”

While I couldn’t agree more at the face-value of such statements, ultimately the subtext beneath the “more” that needs doing and the taking of “positive action” comes loaded with a bias against cyclists who, through the thoughtless inconsideration of an individual, all get painted as being the cause of the conflict.

Because gawd knows, no peds ever do anything self-centered or careless. Not this speed-walker salmoning upstream fully hogging the wrong lane.

Nor this group of dog lovers with every one of their one, two, three, four pooches off-leash (click the images for bigger pictures):

Nah. Nothing wrong in these two encounters that yet ANOTHER sign pointing the finger at me on my bike telling me to slow down and share the path under penalty of law WON’T HELP.

I’m all for more the more that needs to be done and the positive action that needs to be taken regarding getting ALL users to be more responsible and less selfish and therefore make the path a safer place. But while I’m holding my breath waiting for that to happen I’ll just continue like most cyclists and ride conscientiously and carefully so as not to negatively impact anyone else on the river — especially those who negatively impact my enjoyment of it.

 

 

 

 

Straight Outta Steinbeck

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

When we entered the south end of Joshua Tree National Park early yesterday morning I wondered rather hopefully but doubtfully to myself if Susan and I would be so gifted as to see both a bighorn sheep AND a desert tortoise during what was our inaugural visit.

Then we went about making our way north through the park awed at the amazing scenery and solitude. By the late afternoon it was time to head home and pretty much as expected we hadn’t encountered either of the two animals. But then, at the last opportunity we literally intersected paths with a desert tortoise crossing the road about a mile from the exit at Joshua Tree.

Being a huge fan of Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” I immediately drew a parallel between this tortoise and the metaphorical one found crossing the highway in that book’s third chapter.

With a crowd of other passersby gathering there was concern the creature might stress and void its bladder (aka “drop its water”), which can often be a dehydration death sentence to a tortoise out there in the dry and wild. But any drama as to what to do with the tortoise who was really in no hurry to get off the warm asphalt, was nicely resolved when a park ranger happened upon the scene and moved it safely (and without dropping its water) well away from the other side of the road. What an awesome way to end our first visit to this amazing place. Next time: camping, for sure!

They Call It Swarmy Monday…

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Ranger’s bark by the backdoor yesterday brought me to her to find something absolutely awesome: A large transient bee swarm had came from who knows where to literally hang out in the backyard fig tree for a spell, and of course I got footage of the experience from various angles, accompanied by my narration that won’t be making David Attenborough or Jeff Corwin nervous anytime soon.

In this first clip, being such an awesomely unusual event of course I ventured outside among them for a closer look:

After checking them out from the ground (in part 1), I went upstairs to look out the bathroom window and get a brief and closer look at where the bees had massed in the fig tree:

Then I set up the cam  with the  spotting scope to get an up-close look at the teeming bee mass up in the tree:

Lastly and most coolly, I was onhand about an hour later when the bees decided it was time to move on. What I most like about this clip is that as the group breaks up you can see what lies beheath: the living infrastructure they’ve built amongst each other to hold the mass together:

Off We Go Into The Wild Blue Yonder

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

As part of a media event at the new Navitat Canopy Adventures, I was excited to be among a group of bloggers who got to experience this amazing new facility in scenic Wrightwood, Calif. And as a person with a distinct aversion for leaving perfectly solid ground and/or structures to go flying through the air, I was also more than a little bit terrified.

In the above helmetcam clip, I ride the longest segment of the course, a quarter-mile long cable strung across a deep canyon between two massive pines that can get you moving at 50 mph-plus. It’s literally mindblowing flying above and through the forest, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced or participated in ever before in my life. As you’ll see at the end of my ride, a come up little bit short on the end thanks to some serious winds and so I had to hand-over-hand it the last few feet to the platform. But after being unhooked by our lead guide Joe, I capture our other guide Lexie coming across and in for a textbook perfect finish. What an AMAZING place. Navitat’s season opens March 31.

Overall there are 10 different ziplines, three rappels and skybridges so I’ll have more clips and stills to come but in the meanwhile, for more info on Navitat Canopy Adventures and how to go get some of your own, visit  http://www.navitat.com.

First In An Occasional Series: Bikeway Peds Behaving Badly

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

With the completion of the stretch of the Los Angeles River Bikeway through Elysian Valley have come conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists. Certainly a percentage of inconsiderate individuals from each side are responsible for these negative interactions, but inevitably blog posts about the topic will be published in which proprietary pedestrians seems to relish making broad generalizations about cyclists as the creators of the friction while righteously holding themselves entirely harmless.

It’s a similar infuriating us-versus-them attitude I’ve seen time and time again from hikers/equestrians who can do no wrong and mountain cyclists who they seem to believe unconditionally suck as a whole.

The thing is, whether it’s on roadways, trails or bikeways, my time in the saddle involves only a very small percentage of aggravation because I’m one of those cyclists who actively strives not to suck. As such I found it a bit ironic that during yesterday’s amazingly enjoyable 20-mile morning ride in which the streets I pedaled upon were almost completely empty, I had two encounters with pedestrians on the bikeway, both of which were caught on my handlebar cam and demonstrate the irresponsible behavior many pedestrians simply refuse to acknowledge — while at the same time getting taxpayer money spent on biased signage that strives to reinforce both pedestrian entitlement and cyclist inconsideration.

As such I’m going to begin this “Pedestrians Behaving Badly” occasional series, starting with the following stills culled from yesterday’s timelapse:

In this first one, I began slowing while ringing my bell at about a one-second interval more than 100 yards away from this bikeway bogarting couple and their three canines (two unleashed), increasing it in intensity and decreasing my speed as I drew closer.

Thanks to their inattentiveness (which wasn’t broken until I had passed them at less than five miles per hour), the smallest dog drifted into my path, but saw me at the last moment and abruptly changed direction with an understandably startled growl as I passed.

Continuing on past the startled couple, I have little doubt that despite my best efforts to show a consideration and caution they weren’t willing or able to reciprocate they found no fault in themselves and complete fault in me.

The next image below shows a jogger coming toward me, a pedestrian heading in the same direction as I was, and two  unleashed dogs. Take the dogs out of the shot and this scene is full of awesome, with both people moving comfortably out of the bike lanes on the shoulders of the bikeway. Trouble is both dogs belong to the jogger and as I approached they were roaming freely and unchecked back and forth across the width of the bikeway.

Were the dogs aggressive? Not in the slightest, but that’s not the point. Did their guardian seem like he was completely entitled to disregard the city’s leash laws? Absolutely. Fortunately neither dog impeded my progress and instead of having to take some sort of evasive action I was able to proceed around the bend where I soon passed another posted biased reminder whose unspoken intent is “Because Peds Don’t Bloody Well Have To Yield To You.”

 

 

Ranger Goes For A Swim

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Susan and I took Ranger for an afternoon out-and-back along the east bank of the Los Angeles River downstream from the Fletcher Drive Bridge, and Ranger unintentionally ended up  getting very upclose and personal with the water as shown in the still above (click it for the bigger picture) and the video clip below:

I’m not sure what’s more ludicrous, Ranger going for an unplanned dip (her first-ever swim, by the way), or my reaction to it.

UPDATE (11.14): The obligatory slow-motion snip of the dip:

The Early Bird Gets The Paddle

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

The historic Paddle The Los Angeles River pilot program begins next weekend (continuing Saturdays and Sundays through September 25) in which the public will be legally allowed to kayak/canoe in the Los Angeles River for the first time in I don’t even know how long… decades, at least.

Now, it’s not something as easy as dropping a raft anywhere along the river that you’re willing and able.  The event, a culmination of efforts between city officials, the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and a variety of volunteer and environmental organizations, is hyper-organized, super-supervised, and takes place specifically along the section of the river in the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area between Balboa and Burbank boulevards. And it’s not cheap. Tickets run $53.74 a person.

None of that hindered the 280* tickets available from quickly selling out after they went on sale this morning. Given how dear I hold the river to my heart, of course I was there at my computer when they became available at 7 a.m., reloading the registration page impatiently until it went live and I was able to order up two for August 21. A lot of other people weren’t as lucky. Less than an hour later they were all gone.

*Why so few? This inaugural program aims to assess the feasibility of the river for future recreational
uses, and its short timeframe only allows for a limited number of participants.