Exploring the American River

Day 12: Davis Nightlife

The ultimate lounging machine

Before I go much further I want to tell everybody that I have joined a band of vagabonds: Revolutions Southwards.  I met them while riding a path in Monterey and when they told me they were riding through Central America I decided I had to stick it with them.  Plus, they are making a documentary and so I couldn’t pass that opportunity up.  Check the site to see video episodes of our journey and meet my new friends Acey, Julie, and Davin.  Holed up in their home of Huntington Beach for Christmas and maybe more.  Right on, sweetness.  Right on.

See my other post to get my full analysis of Davis.  I am going to use the preceding travelogue to highlight the fun parts.

The night I rolled into Davis I went to a coffeeshop to use the internet to confirm the address of my couchsurf spot.  Based on his couchsurf profile, my hookup Jason, seemed like a rad dude that was very involved in Davis’ bike scene which is exactly what I wanted to see.  After drinking a cup of coffee I went to my bike and the cashier followed me out and proceeded to tell me how his long distance girlfriend of one month had broken up with him and how sad he was.  I tried to cheer him up, but sometimes saps like that don’t want to be cheery.  I read on Jason’s profile that he worked at Bike Fourth, the local bike co-op, and so decided to head there before anywhere else.

It was exactly how I imagined it.  A small garage space in the middle of apartment

Just another kick ass bike co-op

complexes.  Three bike stations allowed members to work on their bikes with all of the necessary tools around them.  If you haven’t checked out a bike co-op before, you must.  I built my first bike, Izmar the Stinger, at Eugene’s Center for Appropriate Transport (CAT) and I owe my love for bikes to that shop.  Jason was working so I introduced myself and talked to him about Davis, bikes, and the shop.  Other members were interested in my bike and I in theirs so I got the opportunity to just geek out for an hour and snap photos.

The wind and rain started up so I helped bring in the tent in front of the shop before it blew away.  Jason gave me directions to his house and I beat him there to unload all of my wet equipment.  I had the laundry room all to myself which was incredible.  It was big enough for my stuff and nothing more.  He had a foldout bed that hung from the ceiling by chains over the washer and dryer.

I made a dinner of chiyote (which is a spiked Mexican squash) and mashed sweet potatoes with a hot toddy.  Once Jason arrived we loaded up our bikes and headed out to the Davis Bike Film Festival.  We volunteered and so got to enjoy the show for free and I chatted with the local Safe Routes to School coordinator about how the program operated in Davis.  It felt good to be an expert and to offer advice in such a bikey place.

Jammin’ on N Street

Jason and I jetted out early after stuffing our pockets with delicious homebaked goods to check out a jazz singer playing at his house.  He lives in the N Street Cohousing, which was the first ever cohousing development in the States.  It started as a single 5-person cooperative house.  Later on the house next door was for sale and some of the roommates bought it and tore down the fence to create a communal yard.  Then the next house was bought and another house decided to tear down the fence for fun too and before you know it there are 14 houses all sharing one giant space and a mammoth two-story community house.  Inside the community house they were serving beer and wine as an Ethiopian jazz singer from San Francsico, Meklit Hadero, and her trio performed.  Meklit has a stunning voice and her songs are enchanting, but my favorite part of the show was her trumpet player.  He was the most playful trumpeteer I have ever heard.  He would add the perfect little bursts and bubbles of sound that just brought a smile to your face.  At one point he had a solo that was so goofy and fitting that I sat there and laughed.  Instrumental pieces that make you laugh, now that’s my music.  After the  show there was a party where I met a lot of the community and even got to kick it with Meklit herself.  But the real highlight of the party was the impromptu jam and dance party that started up afterwards with the community and Meklit’s band.  Verdict: Davis is fun as hell.

Day 13: Old Friends

Backyard farming animal in its natural habitat

I spent the next day exploring Davis’ bicycle infrastructure and found a lot of great stuff, but also noticed some disappointing trends.  Although it could have been written better, the analysis is in a different post.  The best part of the journey was hanging out at the domes at UC Davis.  Great people and a really cool community.  Davis almost made me stay for a week, but I needed to stay dedicated to the road.  I gave this post the title of “Old Friends” because Davis is an old friend of the bicycling world and I headed out this day to Sacramento to see my buddy, Zach.

There’s a path that goes from Davis to West Sacramento.  This is a fantastic little bit of bicycling paradise, but its a little hard to find.  I made three u-turns because of confusing signs and unknown routes.  The new developments of Davis don’t have signs for their bike routes and the frontage roads outside of town wind a bit out of the way from the freeway and don’t tell you where you’re going.  But finally I did find the path and hopped on for the short 20 miles ride to Zach’s.  It was the most terrifying path I have ever been on.  It is attached to highway 80 which is an 8-lane highway.  Cars blur by at 65 mph and the only

Nothing glamorous about this noise tunnel.

thing separating you is a concrete barrier and chain link fence.  I surprised birds because they could not hear me.  I got to thinking about how the birds might evolve if the loud highway were permanent and so was the bird population.  Would they evolve to rely more on their sight and less on their ears?  Would they even have ears?  Would the birds even whistle anymore?  Oh, I don’t want to live in a world where birds don’t whistle.

I arrived in Sacramento and was immediately lost again.  There is an official bike route from West Sac to Sacramento, but there was a detour and it didn’t seem to work for bicyclists.  Fortunately I found another cyclist and followed him to where I needed to go.

Didn’t know Sacto could look so nice.

Zach is studying law at University of the Pacific, which just so happens to reside in the ghetto of Sacramento.  Zach’s got a great story of how a crackhead stole his wallet on Halloween.  Ask him.  When I showed up at campus I saw a guy riding down the street on his bike with 3 briefcases dangling from his handlebars.  At first I smiled at him and his determined use of the bike, but then I got closer, saw his toothless gape and caught him eyeing my bike.  Right then I wanted to get me and my bike safely inside.  It was right around finals when I showed up and it was so funny to see all of the students see me with my bike and stop to stare.  They seemed to be completely confused that I could have my whole life on my bike and smiling without a care in the world.  Bogged down with papers and test prep there seemed to be no joy in their lives.  Zach was busy as well, but Zach knows how to relax and so we went out to the grocery store and got groceries for a bacon and eggs breakfast and fettuccine with alfredo.  Oh, and of course beer.  Zach and I spent the night just hanging out like we used to – talkin’, jokin’, gamin’, laughin’.  It was great.  Nothing exciting.

Day 14-15: Realizing How Far I’ve Come

The next day was another car-free trek to Folsom, a mid-sized suburb where my aunt and uncle live.  Started out riding through downtown Sacramento via a well marked bike route.  This bike route was the best on-street bike route I’ve seen.  Way better than anything I found in Davis, and about on-par with Portland.  It was easy to get pointed in the right direction, but finding the American River Path which goes all the way to Folsom.  At Sacramento State, which is right at the entrance, none of the students had a clue what I was talking about when I asked them, “Hey, which way to the bike path?”  Seriously, I asked about 20 students.  I found it and enjoyed a mellow, car-free ride along the American River Estuary.

I rolled into Folsom and made the turns to be at my aunt and uncle’s house.  That was when I stopped and thought, “Wow…I’m here.”  I’ve spent many a Thanksgiving and Christmas at the house and to be standing in their driveway clutching onto my handlebars fully illuminated how far I’ve come and exactly what I am doing.

It was a blast kicking it with my family, enjoying steaks and pasta and getting a real taste of luxury.  They left the next day to go up to Portland to see my family for Thanksgiving and so I spent the next day there doing a whole lotta nothing.  It was a nice break, but over the next 3 weeks, ended up being more of a trend than needed rest.


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