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O Du Fröliche

January 1, 2023
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I love the holidays, and I have been looking forward to spending a Christmas season in Germany for a long time. After our disappointing first Weinachtsmarkt, I was determined to do better. Thankfully, this year there were *four* full weekends of Advent before Christmas so I had a lot of chances. But with over 60 Weinachtsmärkte in Berlin, it was hard to know which would be fun and which would not be!

2. Advent

The first weekend of December was the second of Advent and as it so happened, I crashed a friend’s work trip in Paris – so I got to go to markets in two countries. Also I had never been to France, so I walked up the first two platforms of the Eiffel Tower. (It was too rainy for it to be worth the ticket for the top. Also I wish you could walk all the way up to the top!)

On my return, I went directly from the airport to Alexanderplatz to meet up with Peter & kids with the hopes of ice skating at the Rotes Rathaus. Sadly, the Eisbahn line was a mile long, they were underdressed for the cold, and they had already been to a concert that morning – so we decided not to wait for the next skating session. Instead, we rode on the ferris wheel and the swings and bought more sugary food and Glühwein. It was fun but some of us were still not fully satisfied by the experience due to lack of ice time.

Nikolaustag

The next morning was St. Nikolaus Day, when children shine their shoes (or their biggest boots) and leave them out for the magical Bishop to fill with treats. Their boots are getting so big!! What is cool here, is that you can get a chocolate Nikolaus that is distinct from a chocolate Weinachtsman (Santa) – Nikolaus was a Catholic Bishop and wears a robe, different from the US version of St. Nick where they are conflated.

3. Advent

For the third weekend of Advent, we had to do some baking for the third grade. Schatzi’s class was doing an Advent calendar of daily treats, and Schatzi signed up to bring cookies on Tuesday. Then her birthday was on Thursday, for which we were on the hook to bring another treat for the whole class AND provide a birthday cake for her party in the afternoon. This got even more fun when Peter forgot to add sugar to the cake batter. At least we got the cookies done! And then we went to Schloss Charlottenburg, another fancy royal palace, which also had a Weinachtsmarkt in front of it. I didn’t take a lot of photos of the market but we had a nice time touring the palace and consuming more sugar.

Geburtstag

Schatzi’s birthday is just far enough away from Christmas to be separate and not during the vacation time. She wanted to decorate her chocolate cake with lots of sprinkles and have a scavenger hunt prepared by her big sister, and that’s what we did. We also asked friends from far away to send cards so that she’d have a lot of mail on her birthday, and it worked! Thank you! She had a fantastic 9th birthday.

Family Brewery

Another outing to fit into the December schedule was a trip out to Flessa Braü, the microbrewery of a distant family member on Peter’s mother’s side of the family. Peter and I took our bikes into Prenzlauer Berg to track down some beer and merchandise for ourselves and for gifts. Best IPA I’ve had on this continent – fermentation is in the family DNA!

4. Advent

For our final weekend of Advent we tried out the eco-market at Domäne Dahlem, a farm museum not too far away. Highlights: They have live pigs! There was a fire show! There was a brass quartet! Also delicious Bio-Glühwein and crepes, and lots of beautiful handcrafted gifts. I found a pair of legwarmers to complete my urban winter gear, the kids made (more) ornaments at a free kid crafting station, and we all had a good time. Then we watched the World Cup final, which was exciting but not heart-wrenching.

Bonus outing: Ice skating redemption

After the last day of school, I took the kids back to Alexanderplatz to see if we could get out on the Eisbahn. I figured Wednesday afternoon would not be as crowded as a weekend, but it was still good that we got in line 30 minutes early. It was quite magical to be on the ice at the end of the shortest day of the year (sunset: 3:54pm local time) and skate underneath the lights and the Fernsehturm, with cheesy pop music blasting.

And this is now so long, that I will have to put *actual* Christmas into another post…until soon!

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November recap

December 10, 2022
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Here’s a look back at the rest of November in photos…starting with Schatzi getting proper attire for ballet classes!

Schatzi in new ballet gear
She is really loving dance!

Peter and I rode out to the northeastern part of the city for our Covid boosters and there was a lot to see. On the way there, climate activists had superglued themselves to the street in a large intersection and a choir was singing as the police unglued them. On the way back, we rode past many major sights of the city, including the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe which I realized is visible from the Reichstag (capitol building).

That weekend, Fruitbat had her first swim meet, which happened to be a big international affair and the first meet since pandemic for many age group swimmers. It was held in the big swimming complex that Berlin built in their failed bid for the 2000 Olympics and the simulcasting was pretty fancy! She swam free, back, and breast events.

Coach spelled her name wrong, alas.

I got a long-desired bike basket and now the Bananabike is even more ridiculously yellow.

The downside to a bright yellow bike: it shows the dirt.

We got our first dusting of snow!

Just a wee bit of accumulation – ground was not yet cold enough for it to really stick.

Peter and I continued our Friday museum outings at the Humboldt Forum, where we only got partway through a cool exhibit about many different aspects of Berlin. One section included a recreation of an installation piece “Rent Grave” that an artist had embedded in the sidewalk, to mourn the rising housing costs. So familiar.

The large bouquet is from AirBnB, “We will rent you out” instead of “we will remember you.”

We all went to the Reichstag for a guided tour.

Afterwards I demanded a photo at the Brandburger Tor, which I require every time we go to Germany. Here’s the comparison with our last trip in 2018.

Not long after, I woke up for an early run to a real snowfall!

We had a relaxed American Thanksgiving weekend…

…followed by the first of Advent and the beginning of holiday season!

Welcome, December! More about that next time.

Greece!

November 20, 2022
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School closed for two weeks, so we took the opportunity to head south to Greece during a not-sweltering time of year. I took too many photos, so I’m going to try to sum it up in 10 images. Interested parties can look through the whole album here.

1. Ferry to Crete

We spent the first week on the island of Crete, based in Iraklio on the northern coast. We took an overnight ferry to get there – I had a dream of sailing between islands but that was kind of impractical for the amount of time we had. So, we got a cabin with a window and slept our way to Crete, home of the myth of the Minotaur and as we soon learned, a lot more!

2. Cats

Upon arrival at our rental place, the two most striking things were the gorgeous view of the Mediterranean and the pack of feral cats that immediately started hanging out with us. Of course this was not a problem for our poor, pet-deprived children, who spent hours hanging out with the cats. I was kind of worried that the kitten pictured here was going to come home with us. (Fun fact: one of the cats I grew up with was captured as a kitten from a feral cat pack in Old Lyme, CT, so I have some nostalgia for street kitties.) Everywhere we went, there were cats – the beach, the ruins, the cafes, etc. As a result, this is the first time I have ever bought cat food on vacation. Fruitbat made a whole photo album of “Cretan Cats” that is available on request.

3. Ruins

Of course the initial draw to Greece was driven by Fruitbat and my interest in mythology, and Crete in particular to go to Knossos, where the mythical King Minos had housed the Minotaur. Knossos was neat, but later in the week we went to Phaestos on the south side of the island, and that was even more impressive to us. This is a photo of one of the three great plazas in the middle of this palace complex, which has a view of Mt. Psiloritis, the highest mountain on the island. Certain members of our party were not impressed, but generally we followed ruins with beach time and that helped.

4. Hiking

Did you know that the longest gorge in Europe is on Crete? This is Samaria Gorge, a national park with an 18km hike from the head of the gorge south to the sea. We joined a tour bus to be able to do the one-way as a day trip, but after the first few kilometers we had a lot of trail to ourselves. It kind of felt like being in Yosemite. Normally the park closes down mid-October, but thanks to the drought, it was open longer this year. There are so many other cool gorge hikes – we did one other short one – and then mountains to climb that we didn’t even attempt – I don’t know if I’ll ever get back here but I could easily spend several vacations hiking here. Just not in summer!

5. Beaches

We swam in the Mediterranean Sea! After a rough start that involved surprising contact with a defensive (we think) octopus, we found swimmable places that were free from invertebrate hugs. This shot is from our last day on Crete, in the Libyan Sea on the south shore. Despite warnings from locals that “you can’t swim, it’s winter” we found the climate – air temps in the high 70s and water temps in the low 70s – to be quite hospitable. I was extra nervous of wildlife after our octopus encounter so I only got in one real open water swim, but again, I could spend weeks swimming around here. Even moreso in the summer!

6. Food

We are not usually restaurant people when traveling, but we had a fancy meal at a Cretan-cuisine restaurant that was amazing. And we splurged on a cooking class that ended up being private for just our family. We made two stews, cheese pies, and the dessert above, called Loukomades, which are deep fried dough balls coated in honey. Yum! And on our way to our return ferry, Google sent us to a really un-fancy but delicious neighborhood restaurant where we discovered that our picky eater Schatzi will gladly eat Tsatsiki, although her avowed goal for the two-week trip was to eat ice cream 5 times. (She succeeded.) Also, everywhere we ate, whether we ordered dessert or not, we were served dessert and shots of Raki, the Cretan distilled liquor. It felt like we were not allowed to refuse dessert! So, even if we were stuffed, we ate the dessert. And I liked the Raki so I brought a bottle home as my souvenir – although I think maybe what I really liked was the ritual of it?

7. Athens

After a week in island adventureland, we returned to Athens and landed in the Thesio neighborhood just north of the Acropolis. Urban Athens by foot was a very different experience from Crete, with street art (above: modernist Medusa) and narrow old streets and fancy coffee places and abstract paintings to see…but the themes of our visit remained the same…

8. More ruins

There were more ruins than we could visit – such as the Roman Agora above, at dawn with the Acropolis behind it, that I jogged by on a morning run – and basically every time we left our rental place we had a view of the Parthenon. I thought this was awesome but the kids were less impressed, especially since we couldn’t just zip to a beach after every forced historical experience. Finally, on our last day, I figured out that I could play an audiotour on my phone for them as we walked through the Ancient Agora, and that made a huge difference. Thank you Rick Steves!! Unfortunately, that was only after they complained their way through the Parthenon, the Temple of Poseidon at Soucio, and other world heritage sites. Now I know.

9. More cats

The cats of Athens were just as numerous as on Crete, if not more – but definitely not as cuddly. So after a few days of failed attempts to pet the street cats, the kids started counting cats. I think they counted over 70 on our last day out and about. Peter and I were most amused by the cats lounging on scooter seats.

10. More food

Food in Athens was harder to suss out since we were in the heart of central, aka tourist, Athens. We tried a place recommended by Lonely Planet that turned out to be mostly grilled meat – which worked for Fruitbat, but not as much for the rest of us – and then on our last day just went to one of the places down the street from where were staying. Jackpot! I do not know what they did to those mushrooms, but they were incredible, and the fava dip was also a surprise hit. Eating a large midday meal is still odd to me, but this one I was glad to enjoy twice in the same day. Athens restaurants did not, however, provide gratis dessert or after-meal liquor, which was probably healthier for us but after Crete I was spoiled. Luckily we were a few blocks from a fantastic bakery so we tried a bunch of sweets from there instead, in addition to meeting Schatzi’s ice cream quota. (Okay, maybe it was good we didn’t get free dessert everywhere.)

Bonus heritage photo

While enjoying ice cream cone #4 or #5 (I can’t remember – we definitely hit six), we noticed that we were on Flessa street. Flessa is Peter’s mom’s family’s surname. While they’re not entirely sure, one possible origin story is that their family name comes from a Greek immigrant to Germany. Also, the letter Φ (phi) is one of my favorite Greek letters. So, here is evidence of the possibility of a Flessa connection to Greece.

That concludes my recap of Greece. It is nice to remember the warmth of Cretan winter, now that Berlin winter has started in earnest…but more on that in another post.

Schwimmen

October 16, 2022

There are over 50 lakes within the Berlin city limits, and where we live, there are several right near by! Berlin is actually the first place our kids experienced a “summer” beach, after growing up near the churning, cold waves of the northern California coast. I will always feel a bit sheepish about their astonishment upon first visiting Wannsee Strandbad – “The water is SO WARM, Mama!” – although the ice cream stand also probably helped make that one a fave.

Last spring I read “Turning” by Jessica Lee, in which the author swims in a different lake each week for a whole year. Inspiration!

Due to back injury and pandemic pool closures, we have increasingly become a beach/swimming family over the past few years. The kiddos barely hesitate before launching themselves into San Francisco Bay or a cold mountain lake. And their swimming skills are much stronger since they each worked their way onto a swim team over the past 18 months.

So when we arrived this August, and the waters had been warmed by a combination of drought and heat wave, we started going swimming almost every day! Our closest lake, the Schlachtensee, was basically a grand swimming pool for the neighborhood. Any time we went, there were water shoes at our get-in spot and people walking and running the perimeter. It is sort of like Lake Merritt, only with more trees and less gunk. The water temperature was a lovely 75 F! Fruitbat was the only one to brave the rope swing…

Peter and I brought our swim buoys and started also swimming fitness laps in the Schlachtensee. Dodging rental rowboats and paddleboards, as well as the other swimmers, was a bit challenging. 95% of swimmers here seem to do exclusively heads-up breaststroke, gliding casually along, often in conversation with a friend. Our weirdly focused crawl stroke does not fit in.

We also made several outings to other lakes in the area. The girls’ favorite, which we did twice, was to take the ferry to Alt Kladow, stop at the pirate-themed playground “Räuberland” for the fantastic zipline, then bike to Große Glienecker See and swim, before heading back to the ferry. We did not make it into other lakes on my list (Teufelsee, Sacrower See, Griebnitzsee) but there will be time for those (I hope!).

Groß Glienecker See – another not-sunny swim, lake all to ourselves

During the week, I started heading to the Schlachtensee as soon as the kids left for school in the morning. It was really lovely to swim daily in a gorgeous lake, but challenging to not have my swim buddies to pace with. To keep myself motivated, I set a goal of training up to swim the length of the lake and back, which I estimated as 5000m. There is a cafe right on the edge of the far end of the lake so I figured I should start and end there, where the distance to hot beverages was minimal. I also did one excursion to Krumme Lanke, the next lake past the Schlachtensee, where I had a good swim after I negotiated entry with the swans!

I do not have bread for you, birds.

Almost immediately on September 1, the weather started to feel cooler and the lake temperature began to drop. Still not SF Bay temps but also I left my wetsuit behind…my days were numbered. On September 12, I went for it, and made the round-trip swim in about 90 minutes. I was warm enough afterwards to bike to Butter Lindner – the fancy bakery a little ways from the lake – for my reward, hot cocoa and cake.

That week I had a trip back to California and got in a few Bay swims – so salty! When I returned, the Schlachtensee was too cold for me. So it was time to get acquainted with the pool.

While I was away, Peter got Fruitbat hooked up with the Z88 swim team and Schatzi into their lessons (that are too easy, but we didn’t know what Bronze – Silver – Gold levels meant, oops). Fruitbat’s team is the right skill level, but a higher commitment level than we want. Five practices a week, with Tuesday and Sunday off, and kids are expected to regularly attend four days. Two days a week they have land training in addition to pool time, for a total of 2.5 hours of workout. This is a lot for sixth grade! But she is really happy with it so we’re trying to do the four days.

The pool is unfortunately not super close – a 35 minute bike ride, or about 25 minutes by transit or car. The upshot is that Fruitbat is building independence by taking transit alone. So far it’s going pretty well, although we all get a kick out of the repeated very stern reminders to wear a warm hat and not go outside with wet hair, or you’ll catch cold. “Even just walking from the pool to the car is long enough to catch a cold!” warned one recent email. I will have to consult with my trusted pediatrician friends, but we are pretty sure that viruses and people, not wet hair or being outside, are the main vectors for colds.

My swim window remains in the morning – and there are apparently no swim teams with morning practice here – so I am going to lap swim and trying to entertain myself. Six things that are notable to this foreign swimmer in Berlin:

  1. You are required to take off your shoes at the door. There is a “shoe removal zone” with cubbies, and I’m sure I would be scolded if I tried to wear my street shoes into the locker room.
  2. The locker room is not gender segregated. The showers and bathrooms are, but outside of those areas naked people mingle unconcernedly.
  3. I have to pass through many, many doors to get to the pool. Entry to the locker room is through changing stalls – one door to enter, go out the door on the other side to exit. Then a door into the showers. Then a door to the pool. If you need to use the restroom, that’s two more doors (one to the bathrooms and another for the stall). It just feels like a lot of doors!
  4. In the pool, no one yields. There are always two double-wide lanes – full of people doing heads-up breaststroke at a glacial pace – and slower swimmers do not move over to let you pass, they do not stop at the end of the lane when you are on their heels. They just ignore you.
  5. If you need to pass, you just pass. There is no communication, and no problem with buzzing someone as long as you don’t hit them. It’s all “you do you” and it kind of works! (Except for that one day when I ended up in a regular single-wide lane with a dude doing snow angel arms for his freestyle stroke…that was treacherous. But I survived.)
  6. You need your ticket to leave as well as enter. I don’t know if that’s an extra prevention measure for freeloaders? It seems excessive to have to clock in *and* out of the pool. Unless it gives them data that no one is left in the locker room at closing time? I don’t know, but I don’t like having to keep track of my ticket for the way out.

The pool itself is gorgeous, with huge floor-to-ceiling windows through which I can see autumn leaves and sunshine. So far I’ve only been there when it’s set up for long course – lanes are 50m – and that is lovely for rhythm and also for not passing folks as often. We learned that the pool was built in 1937-38 as a training facility for SS soldiers, which is NOT lovely, and I thought about finding another pool. But given that it’s now a fully public pool that hosts school swim classes daily and is home to 2-3 swim clubs, I think that it’s been reclaimed for good.

Finally – we could not swim yesterday because the pool was closed for a competition. I scoured the web for info – what kind of competition? Could I sign up? But nothing, and the people working at the pool on Friday also did not know. So the overall swim scene remains a mystery to me. I missed a big open water swim in August and I have no idea how to find out about others – it would be a big loss, not to participate in some open water event before we leave here – but in the meantime, I just wish I could join the adult swim group to have someone to work out with! I guess I could take up tennis instead?

Schulerinnen

September 30, 2022
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Six weeks into the school year we have learned a lot about German schools – or at least our school in Berlin, Dreilinden Grundschule.

The school logo in tiles on the front of the building

First, we got a very long and detailed list of school supplies from both teachers. We had quite a shopping spree at the Schreibwarenladen (writing wares shop), which maybe wasn’t the most cost-effective place to go, but the proprietor was extremely helpful and friendly in explaining new vocabulary and directing us to the proper items. Everything from magazine holders to store workbooks in the classroom, to fountain pens (with blue ink), to half a dozen different sizes of paintbrushes, to specific notebook colors and line spacing sizes for each subject. If my kids were not organized before (they weren’t really) – they are now! Also coming from urban US public schools where art class is maybe paid for by PTA fundraising, the many different art supplies signaled serious art class offerings and that was exciting for our kids. Woohoo! We don’t really do back-to-school shopping usually, so this was a fun splurgey thing to do.

Here they are on the first day of school, holding their art folders (size A3 as stipulated on the list):

Schulbereits!

The next thing that was different was school lunch. At home, even after pandemic relief funding resulted in free school lunch for all kids in all of California, our kids rejected school lunch and we kept on packing them their midday meal. Here, the hot lunch is so attractive that they have started printing the weekly schedule and posting it by the door.

The weekly schedule, with added highlights
(because the school materials list required multiple colors of highlighters and they must therefore be put to use!)

Friday always includes salmon, I think because fish on Fridays? The meal is served on real plates, and the water dispenser offers a choice of still, medium-strength, and full-strength fizzy water. There is great excitement about all of this. The one odd thing (to the kids) is the flooding of many dishes with sauce. As Fruitbat describes: “They put the meat in the dish, then the potatoes, then – whoomp! They cover the whole thing with so much sauce.” This is hilarious to them, and they say the sauce is good.

Instead of packing full lunches, we have now acquired Brotdosen, literally “bread cans,” to pack a sandwich and fruit for snack time. This the kids pack themselves, which is a nice break for Peter, the parent usually on lunch duty. We are also not using any plastic bags, which is a nice break for me, the parent who usually washes out the plastic bags for reuse. We are definitely bringing these suckers back to CA:

Okay, then there’s the school part of school. Both kids have very structured schedules, although school ends at different times on different days, and it’s not the same for both of them. This means that three days a week, we get Schatzi home from school 90 minutes earlier than Fruitbat. I am very glad they can walk themselves to school!

And grading…very different from our experience in Oakland! Sixth grade is serious, because this is the final year of elementary school, and kids have to apply to the next level of schooling, which is tracked. Third grade is also serious, because it’s the first year of grading, and they are trying to teach kids and parents alike how it works. The grades are 1 through 6 (instead of A through F) but distributed differently – to get a 1 is like an A+, you need to score 97% or higher. Our kids are used to being above grade level, but not having much specific numerical feedback. I think it’s good practice for them to get grades, but it’s also less pressure than other kids (especially for Fruitbat’s level) because we are going home again after this year.

We cannot, cannot, cannot be more grateful to Kita on Kains and Kinderstube and BAKS+ for all the German language support that our kids received in California. A shout-out also to Oma for ensuring a steady stream of German children’s books over the years!! They aren’t used to doing dictations or having as many tests as they have here, but their German is strong enough that they’re both completely at home speaking with their teachers and classmates, and for schoolwork they are doing just fine overall. Both of them have some catch-up to do on capitalization and spelling in German – one day a week is still not quite the same as full time school. And both of them find English class to be a riot, as it is entirely too easy and also focused on British English. “Why do you say ‘I have got a sister’? That’s not necessary, just say ‘I have a sister,'” complains an exasperated/amused Fruitbat. I don’t know, but you better get all 1’s in English, girl!!

All in all, the school part of this adventure – the main reason we’re here! – is going really well. The independence of strolling around the block to school is fantastic for all of us. Both kids have made friends, and Schatzi has already been to two birthday parties, which alleviates my anxieties about whether they’d fit in or be miserable outcasts (mom fears). We didn’t realize we could opt out of Religion class, so that’s been interesting – we are not religious – but we hope that some familiarity with the Bible will be useful in future literature classes. And Herbstferien (fall break) is right around the corner…

Hallo again!

August 21, 2022
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Well, it’s been a minute since I posted anything here. Many things have changed since May 2013, including the size of our family, my job, the POTUS (and then again, thank goodness), the climate (and still changing, y’all), and most recently, our location. We are spending this school year in Berlin, Germany, primarily to strengthen our kids’ language skills and cultural ties. And also to have a little adventure!

Here’s Peter & the Fruitbat (now 11) in Frankfurt, where we had a surprise 8-hour layover en route to Berlin:

Peter and Fruitbat in Frankfurt

And here’s the “newest” addition to the family, who I’ll call Schatzi and is 8.5 years old (and who is the real fruit eater, but we didn’t know that when we chose her big sister’s in utero name):

Schatzi at Duppel

Here is where we are living for the next year, in an apartment that belongs to Peter’s family. It’s on the edge of Berlin, so there are lots of trees and yards and it’s really quiet. One of my running routes is along the Mauerweg, where the Berlin Wall once sliced through the nearby forest. But we can also walk to a train station that takes us downtown in about 25 minutes and there are people on bicycles, everywhere.

We’ve been enjoying summer days and slowly getting ourselves set up in the city. But school starts tomorrow…

Wind Riders 2013, Part One

June 5, 2013

Carbon Crushers ready to launch!

Carbon Crushers ready to launch!

Where did May go?  Last I checked, spring was just arriving.  Now my baby is 2 years old and we’re nearly a week into June.  Oh, that’s right: I did Climate Ride.

Woooooohoo!

First: giant, enormous, warm and fuzzy gratitude to all 101 individuals who donated to my ride, reaching an amazing total of $5,807.  I can’t thank you enough!  Your generosity means that over $4,000 will go to TransForm – and the rest will cover expenses and keep Climate Ride going to raise even more money and awareness to fight climate change in the years to come.

Read more…

The Green Jersey

May 18, 2013

Green jersey courtesy of 99 awesome donors!

Green jersey courtesy of 99 awesome donors!

I just checked in for Climate Ride, and soon, Team Tracey will hit the road.

At registration, I picked up my official jersey as well as another exciting item of apparel: a green jersey for being one of the top ten fundraisers overall.  Check it out!

While I knew my fundraising goal was ambitious, I never expected that it was enough to rank #9.  I can’t say thank you enough to everyone who’s donated and helped me raise over $5,700 thus far.  And if you’ve been meaning to give – or you’re freaked out by the recent news from Maona Loa – or you want to provide a little extra motivation as I tackle those crazy California hills – it’s not too late.  I’d love to break $6,000.  Click here to donate now.

Otherwise, final preparations for the adventure are almost complete.

Read more…

Peak training: 68 miles

May 10, 2013

Getting a different view of Mt. Diablo, from the east side.

Getting a different view of Mt. Diablo, from the east side.

About a month after the organized training rides visited the Morgan Territory, I set out to try this ride myself.  I would have liked to have gone earlier, to see wildflowers and green hills, but my restrictions – start at 6:00 a.m. before BART is running, minimize travel time to/from ride – meant that for me, it was a 60+ mile ride.  So I saved it for my peak training ride last Saturday and planned to head for the east side of Mt. Diablo starting from home.

While I was eating breakfast, my phone buzzed.  I get a text message every time someone donates, so at 5:30 a.m. I was hoping that it was an east coast online supporter – and it was!  My cousin Kevin got the day started right, putting me within a few dollars of my fundraising goal.  Loaded with lots of water and snacks, I headed out a few minutes past six.

Read more…

Taking it up a notch

April 29, 2013

Usually Peter gets to text me beautiful photos during the work day.  My turn!

Usually Peter gets to text me beautiful photos during the work day. My turn!

After a couple of crazy weeks at work with back-to-back events, I took a mental health day on Friday. I deposited A at day care and headed out for a mid-morning pedal.  Up to Inspiration Point, back over the top of Grizzly Peak, and finally down Tunnel Road for a total of 23 miles.  It was a glorious day (for which I paid dearly this morning at work) although I definitely remembered why I hate descending on Tunnel.  Awful visibility, slow, not that fun.  Much better to drop down Claremont and try to break my speed record until some driver cuts me off and forces me to go 20 mph on the curvy, steep road.

I guess I shouldn’t complain about people driving slowly.  I complain daily about people driving too fast on other roads.

Read more…