03/19/14

Completed Errandonnee!

by Jessie Kwak

Despite starting a bit late, I’ve successfully managed to complete all twelve errands of my errandonnee!

(What’s an errandonnee? Here’s what the hell I’m talking about.)

I combined a lot of errands on one trip, because I got started so late.

#1 & #2: St. John’s Jaunt (8 miles total)

Errandonnee - st john's ride

I biked out to St. Johns on a sunny afternoon in order to look for some camping supplies and stop at the grocery store. I hit up Ace Hardware and the nearby Gross Out (Grocery Outlet), although I was pretty thoroughly shut down at both locations.

What I learned: it’s too early in the season for Ace Hardware to have many camping supplies, and the Gross Out apparently only sells half and half in quarts (I wanted a pint). I bought a discounted bag of Tillamook shredded mozzarella cheese and headed back.

The photo is of this ravine that cuts across the peninsula. There’s a little park and bike path that goes along the east side of the ravine, and it’s quite lovely.


#3: Gettin’ out of the house (7 miles)

I totally forgot to take a picture of this errand, which I categorized under “Personal Care.” Rob and I had had a rough week, both of us staring at computers working until ungodly hours of the night, and both of us feeling crazed and behind on life.

In the midst of that frustration and anxiety, I convinced us to get out of the house and go for a bike ride.

What I learned: bike rides are the best for relaxing.


#4: Freelance writer’s meetup (5 miles)

Obviously, working from home can be taxing on my brain at times. That’s why I’ve been going to this freelance writer’s meetup group, which is filled with fun people, strong drinks, and only the occasional chat about writing.

I didn’t take any pictures of this, either, because I suck at remembering I own a camera.

Part of this trip was in the dark. MG asked us to say what lighting we used, but my headlight went dead on me a few minutes after we left the bar, so I basically used a little blinky in front, and my big flashy taillight in back.

What I learned: if you head the back way through the neighborhoods (as opposed to dropping down to the river and climbing back out into Southeast), you can avoid a lot of elevation loss/gain. Not that the elevation gain in this city is all that noticeable….


#5, #6 & #7: Books, and more books (5 miles total)

One problem with this errandonnee is that although I can think of lots of errands to do that involve buying things, I’m trying to avoid that at the moment. In trying to brainstorm an errand that didn’t involve me spending money, I remembered that I had a bunch of stuff to take to Goodwill.

Lots and lots of my old college books, among other things.

Normally I would have just left them for a car trip (we have 3 big chairs to take back, too), but I was inspired to try to carry it all on la Konita.

errandonnee - all loaded up

I packed up this pannier, as well as my Po Campo Loop pannier, and then bungeed another 10 pounds of books to my rack. I teetered the 1.5 miles to Goodwill pretty easily, then, my load lightened, I headed to Posie’s Bakery and Cafe in Kenton.

Once there, I realized that I still had two stowaways in my Po Campo pannier: a copy of Virgil’s Aeneid, and one of Dostoevsky’s Brother’s Karamazov. I passed those books off to the baristas, and sat down to enjoy a cup of tea and a delicious almond croissant.

errandonnee - croissant

After getting some work done, I slipped down the street to the library to finally get my library card.

(I know we’ve been in town less than 3 months, but for me that’s a long time to be without a local library card.)

What I learned: I can carry more than I thought I could; Posie’s almond croissants are amazing; and the library is busy with kids during the week days.


#8, #9 & #10: Working away from the office (4 miles total)

With the sun shining outside my window, I was beginning to feel cooped up in my little home office. I decided to head out to that cute little area around Vancouver/Williams/Shaver to find a coffee shop. (You know, with HUB and all the little shops? Does that area have a cute Portlandy name?)

errandonnee - livingscape

First I hit up Livingscape, which I’ve ridden by a dozen times and always wanted to check out. I thought it was just a nursery, but they also sell a random assortment of kitchen stuff and camping/outdoors gear.

Rob and I just dropped a ton of money on plants for my birthday, so I’m on a plant purchasing freeze at the moment. I’ll be back, Livingscape!

I took a left and turned up Williams, where I spotted Poa Cafe. It looked inviting, so I hopped in for a cup of coffee. I was missing the accessory of the hour, however – a small child.

Apparently Poa is where the neighborhood moms get together to day drink. There were about 10 women and between 15-50 kids (so hard to count when they’re swarming). There’s a great big play area and chalkboard wall, and although it wasn’t the least-distracting environment I’ve ever written in, it was still way less annoying than working in an office. So there you go. The food looked delicious, the coffee was good, and Lacey, we’re definitely coming here next time you bring down the kidlets.

After I got my fill of screaming children and my computer battery was kaput, I swung by the New Seasons to pick up some soap, then wandered back home.

errandonnee - soap on a bike

What I learned: Livingscape is a cool store; Poa Cafe is not the place to go if you want to get work done; New Seasons sells the soap from that little store (Camamu) that used to be next to my old roommate’s old Portland apartment before the store moved to Sellwood and she moved to Seattle just in time for me to move to Portland. I’m sure you remember the one.


#11: Date night (8 miles)

The only photos I got of this were blurry, so I’m sparing you the pain.

Did you know that St. Johns Theater & Pub has a beer, burger and movie deal on Tuesday nights, where you get all 3 of these things for $12.75? Apparently no one knows about this, because Rob and I went this last Tuesday, and there was only one other couple in the theater.

The burgers are tasty, the movies are second-run, and the beer is, well, made by McMenamin’s.

Ah, McMenamin’s! I love your little nooks and crannies, your fantastic reclaimed spaces, your quirky decor! I just wish your beer was a bit more delicious.

We saw Jack Ryan: Ghost Reboot. It was fairly straightforward (this bad guy wants this, that good guy wants that), and after our binge marathon of House of Cards, simplistic motivations are less than interesting. There were the requisite number of car chases, gunfights, and explosions.

Also, St. Johns Theater has a fantastic little patio out back, with secluded bike parking so your rig isn’t sitting out on the street corner while you enjoy the movie. Super cool spot.

What I learned: I’m over watching movies that star New Kirk as lead. Nothing good can come of them.


#12: Overlook Park (3 miles)

errandonnee - overlook park

I had plans for a more exciting ride today, but I spent the day feeling absolutely exhausted. I still needed to get out of the house, though, so I took a quick ride to Overlook Park to explore our new neighborhood.

Overall, that’s what this Errandonnee has been about for me. I’ve forced myself out of my usual traffic patterns, and gotten a chance to see more of our new neighborhood than I had in the prior months.

The Errandonnee may be over, but I’m inspired to keep up my explorations. I’m promising myself that I’ll ride my bike to one new spot every week – even if it’s just a new coffee shop where I can work for a few hours.

What I learned: There are so many nooks and crannies! I can’t wait to explore them all.


Did you errandonnee? How did you do?

03/10/14

Errandonnee is a word with triple double letters

by Jessie Kwak

You remember Encyclopedia Brown, right? I loved those books when I was a kid. One mystery he solved involved a broken watch that was supposed to be given as a prize for a spelling bee. Encyclopedia Brown figured out who broke the watch because the culprit deliberately threw the bee, thus not winning the watch, which he knew was broken.

Encyclopedia Brown knew that the kid threw the bee (threw the bee!) because the final question was “Spell a word that has three sets of double letters,” and the kid couldn’t spell one, even though he worked as a bookkeeper, and therefore should have known.

Totally shaky circumstantial evidence, but there you go.

Anyway, my point is that maybe the kid could have used “errandonnee” – although he may have then been disqualified because it’s a made up word.

It was made up by M.G. of Chasing Mailboxes, and she uses it in a sentence thusly:

“It’s time for a March challenge designed for the utility cyclist with lots of errands to do, even in winter – the Errandonnee!

Errandonnee

My cyclisty friends were all a-tweet about it last time she ran the challenge, and I vowed to play along the next time it happened.

Well, it’s happening, and I’m just now noticing. That leaves me with a fair amount of catch up by March 19th, but I think I can do it.

Is anyone else playing along? Let me know in the comments, and leave links to your blogs if you have them!

You can follow the Twitterness at #errandonnee.


(P.S. And now when you’re trying to remember how to spell “errandonnee” in your various tweets and blogs and letters to grandma, you’ll think of Encyclopedia Brown and thank me for the mnemonic device. You’re welcome.)

12/20/13

Oh, all the roads I’ve rid in Seattle

by Jessie Kwak

As we get closer to our impending move to Portland, I’m starting to feel quite nostalgic about biking in Seattle. I keep thinking about all my favorite places to ride, but because of how busy I’ve been – and how cold the weather’s been – I haven’t had much time to go out.

I’ve written about a lot of my cycling day trips outside Seattle, like the Bainbridge to Bremerton loop, Whidbey Island twice, and the Cedar River Trail, but I realized I haven’t written as much about the the roads I’ve loved in the city itself.

View of downtown from Jose Rizal park on Beacon Hill

View of downtown from Jose Rizal park on Beacon Hill


This is only the smallest of lists – I could wax poetic on another few dozen favorite spots, but I wanted to keep it to places I rode frequently and will really miss. So here’s a little homage to some of my favorite roads, trails, and places.

What are yours?


Interlaken and Cheasty

People complain about Seattle’s hills, which are certainly plentiful, but you just can’t get the delicious thrill of descending if you don’t climb, too. Some roads are obviously of an easier grade than others, but I want to highlight two that actually manage to turn a grueling climb into a pleasure.

When I lived on Capitol Hill, I would sometimes need to clear my head in the midst of a day of writing. A quick bike ride would do the trick, letting me come back to the page fresh and full of new ideas. The best thing about living on Capitol Hill was that it was easy to get motivated to ride your bike somewhere – after all, it was almost always downhill. The problem was in the return.

Unless you climbed Interlaken Boulevard, a winding, forested road that’s almost entirely devoid of cars and homes. Interlaken is fun to descend, too, but for some reason I almost always descended 10th Ave N, then turned right in order to loop back up to climb Interlaken.

It was always magically quiet – similar to Cheasty Boulevard on Beacon Hill. Suddenly the honking horns and and whirr of traffic dies away, and it’s just you, a road, a beautiful wooded area, and a gentle-but-epic ascent.

Cheasty and Interlaken were both designed by the Olmsteds as pleasure roads – in fact, Interlaken was originally a bicycle boulevard.

Seward Park and Lake Washington Boulevard

Living in Georgetown, I developed a different route to clear my head when I was spending all day writing. I would climb up and over Beacon Hill, taking Swift Ave S to S Myrtle Place, then climbing out to Seward Park. The park juts out into Lake Washington, and I loved to ride the perimeter trail along the water on sunny days when families were out walking, together and picnicking on the beach.

Then I’d head up along Lake Washington Boulevard, joining the scores of other cyclists that take that route on nice days, grinning as the sun sparkled on the water, and Mount Rainier held court in the distance.

I never actually made it out to Bicycle Sundays along Lake Washington Boulevard, but it’s a nice ride even sharing the road with traffic.

Mercer Island

I’ve written about Mercer Island before, but it stands out still as one of my favorite places for an afternoon ride. Even on a gloomy day there’s something magical about the way the rain glazes the mossy trees and glitters in the little pockets of emerald foliage. And oh, man, those rolling hills – climb, descend, climb, descend. Amazing.

Green River Trail

There were parts of my commute to my office job by the South Center mall that I hated, but not the 9-mile stretch that followed the Green River Trail. It was peaceful, and I almost always had the entire trailway to myself.

I loved the spring, especially, when the flowering red current would begin to bloom, and the baby geese would go spilling down the banks to splash into the river whenever I zipped by.

Geese on the Green River Trail

Geese on the Green River Trail

I loved the crisp fall days before it got too dark, when there was frost on the ground, and I could see that I was only the second or third cyclist to blaze through it that morning.

The only bad thing about the GRT was that I had to ride for 3 miles on East Marginal Way to get there. As much as I’m going to miss Georgetown, I’m certainly not going to miss any of the roads you have to take to get anywhere from here. I’ll be happy to wash my hands of East Marginal Way, Airport Way S, 1st Ave S and all the rest of those semi truck-infested roads.


I’m sure I’ll come across favorite routes in Portland, and I’ll definitely blog about them when I do. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments. I’ll be working entirely from home when we move, so I’m really going to need to get out and ride!

10/7/13

It’s raining in Seattle, or, a long ramble about Lopez Island, wet feet, and dollmaking

by Jessie Kwak

In which our heroine rediscovers craftiness

If you’ve been reading along lately, you may have been wondering whatever happened to the second part of my blog title. I’ve been blogging about bike rides and bike camping, but have said nary a word about crafting.

Well, dear readers, It’s actually been a long time since I’ve sewn anything for fun. I’ve done a few jerseys for clients, but I haven’t had much desire to create something just for the joy of creating.

It wasn’t for lack of projects—every crafter knows that there’s ALWAYS a wishlist of projects—rather, it was a complete lack of desire.

I’d wander about aimlessly, poking around in my sewing room for something to do, only to come up blank. I would watch movies without anything in my hands. It was horrifying.

I started an X-Files binge during a week when Rob was traveling for work. I’ve had a lot of wrist pain since I started waiting tables again, so I would ice my wrists while watching in order to pretend I was doing something with myself.

When Rob got back I felt guilty about just sitting around watching X-Files, so I took my computer into my sewing room in order to pretend to sew something. I puttered about for a bit, eventually organizing my scrap heap basket while Mulder and Scully took down the bad guys.

As I began to organize scraps, an idea took hold:

I would make a doll.

Ladies and gents, I’d like for you to meet Carmine.

Carmine

She’s made of scraps from my old red coat, with black fleece hair from a hoodie I made for Rob. Her dress is made from scraps of brocade fabric Rob got me for Christmas, with a bodice of silver silk charmeuse from a dress I made for myself.

I love her.

I sewed her entirely by hand, because for some reason that seemed appropriate—spiritual, even. Her dress fastens with snaps in case I get another fit of doll-making and want to sew her another outfit.

Although it’s kind of hard to match colors with her skin tone….

At one point over the week it took me to make her, Rob commented that I was a really dedicated aunt. “There’s not a chance my niece is going to get her grubby toddler fingers on this doll,” I said, instantly defensive. “Carmine is for me.”

He gave me an odd look.

Sewing Carmine was a creative release for me that I can’t quite explain, but I’m glad it happened. I feel like my old self again—ready, even, to tackle a long-needed cycling sewing project

In which our heroine gets caught in the rain

Bike camping on Lopez Island should technically be considered cheating, if you do it like Megan and Jason and I did, and drive to the Anacortes ferry terminal. From the terminal, it’s only a 5-mile ride on fairly flat roads to Spencer Spit Campground.

Because we’d never want to be considered bike camping cheaters, however, we decided to choose the stormiest most rainiest weekend in September to go.

Megan_sad Jessie

I finally have a good rain jacket, and my fleece tights keep my legs toasty, but I discovered one very weak link in my rain gear: my Dr. Martens.

The rainstorms came and went, but within minutes of the first deluge my feet were soaked. Megan and Jason had their fancy gaiters, but I’ve never gotten around to buying any—mostly because I’ve always planned on making some.

Obviously that had not yet happened.

At Shark Reef Park. Tons of seals, absolutely no sharks eating them. A huge disappointment, despite the spot's stunning beauty.

At Shark Reef Park. Tons of seals, absolutely no sharks eating them. A huge disappointment, despite the spot’s stunning beauty.

It was an amazing trip despite the wet weather. We managed to get some good riding in during the dry spells, and to enjoy wine tasting at Lopez Island Vineyards and delicious wraps at Vortex during the deluge. If you want to see more photos, head on over to the Flickr.

I came back to Seattle with renewed creative energy—and an intense desire to have toasty feet on future rides.

In which our heroine makes herself some gaiters

So this weekend, I put aside all the other random things I should probably be doing, and sewed something just for me:

Cycling gaiters tutorial - finished2

They’re made of neoprene from Seattle Fabrics, with a reflective strip up the back and a buffalo nickle buttons to close them up.

They’re rad, and I can’t wait to wear them in the rain!

Cycling gaiters tutorial - finished3

I took photos as I went, so I’ll have a full tutorial up in a few days. I’m planning on another long ride on Vancouver Island this week, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that it rains. Just a bit.


I know I’m not the only crafter out there who’s experienced a creative slump. It was Carmine the red wool doll that got me out of mine—what’s the weirdest thing you ever crafted to get you out of your slump?

09/4/13

Joy Ride: biking Oregon wine country with Eola Hills Wine Cellars

by Jessie Kwak

If you’ve been around here for any amount of time, you’ll notice that I’m a total sucker for bike rides that involve stops at wineries. Add a pinch of gorgeous scenery, and I’m in heaven—so when Rob called to tell me about Eola Hills Wine Cellars’ Bike Oregon Wine Country ride, I was obviously on board.

This year was the 17th annual ride. What started initially as a one-time ride with a group of 30 cyclists is now a month-long event, with rides happening every Sunday during the month of August. The Sunday we went, there were around 300 cyclists taking part.

Eola Hills bike oregon wine country - lunch stop

(Sorry I didn’t tell you earlier—we went on the last ride of the season. Put it on your calendar for next year.)

It’s a fully-supported ride with breakfast, water stops, a catered lunch break, free wine and amazing barbecue for dinner, and support vans to fix your flats or give you a lift if you burn out. Plus, if you bought bottles of wine at any of the stops, the support team would drive them back for you. Is that amazing, or what?

The fabulous duo Jack and Robin from EnSelle Bikes were helping out with the support, and we owe them big for setting this up for us!

Enselle

One of the coolest things about the ride was all the different routing options we were given. We did the 70-mile route, but the map had shortcut options for people who wanted a shorter ride. There was even an alternate route to visit the Rogue Hop Farm if you liked.

We, of course, visited the hop farm. Because if there’s anything I like more than bike rides with wineries in, it’s bike rides with breweries in.

Rogue hop farms - Eola hills wine ride

Weirdly, one of the biggest highlights for both of us was the hazelnut groves on the way to the Rogue Hop Farm. Have you ever seen hazelnut groves? Here, look:

Kirk & sons hazelnut grove

Crazy, right? Check out how green that is. And here’s a hazelnut:

A hazelnut on the Eola hills bike wine ride

The ground was packed firm between the rows, so we did a bit of riding through the grove to take some photos and check it out. I felt like we were on a movie set.

Rob in hazelnuts

That photo doesn’t even do it justice–but it does help illustrate the fact that Rob was wearing the entire spectrum of known colors:

"Will you knock that off? I'm trying to take a professional photo here."

“Will you knock that off? I’m trying to take a professional photo here.”

Seventy miles is my longest ride to date, by about 20 miles. I rode the Lapierre, and I was surprised at just how easy it turned out to be—I mean, we stopped quite a bit for photos and wine tasting, etc., but I wasn’t completely dead by the end. A century almost seems plausible.

Almost.

I’ll let you know.