Life Off the Bike

There’s more to the San Francisco Bay Area than just San Francisco. A lot more. The Bay Area is made up of zillion* other cities, towns and hippie holdouts.Some of them you’ve probably heard of – like Oakland or Palo Alto but others not so much – Komandorski Village, Dogtown, and Farwell, for example. We’ve got all kinds of towns in the Bay Area that sound like they belong somewhere else, Pittsburg, Newark and, in case I’m homesick for Texas, there’s a San Antonio and Alamo right here, just a short drive away.

When I talk to friends back in Dallas about my life here, I can’t help but think most have no concept of where I actually am in relation to the places they may have heard of in the Area. So, to put things in perspective, I created a map. Given my unfamiliarity with the Bay Area, there’s a strong possibility that this map is highly inaccurate. It is not at all intended for navigational purposes.

Enjoy and check back, updates to come as I continue to explore my new home.

*Note: not an actual statistic.

My map of the San Francisco Bay Area, with important (more or less) landmarks.


Noah, my 8 year old, wants to be Pikachu for Halloween. There were no Pikachu costumes in stores, not surprising given Pokemon’s waning popularity, but online I was surprised to find only one option. I was so irritated at the shoddy materials and design that this weekend I decided to make the costume instead. Halloween was two whole days away. Plenty of time. How long could thing stupid thing take, anyway? You just need something yellow to wear and a big tail, maybe a hat…easy.

Saturday night I discovered that stores close at 7pm in Marin County. Crap. So much for my Saturday evening trip to the mall for a yellow sweatshirt. I also discovered that kids must not need foamcore for last-minute social studies projects and science dioramas. I went to three drug stores and two grocery stores and couldn’t even find posterboard, much less foamcore. (Note to self: Plan ahead when the kids have projects and dioramas to do for school.) Well, I guess it’s bedtime.

Sunday I woke up to find Audrey curled up next to me, I shooed her out, went back to sleep, missed my ride, had some weird dream about Audrey kicking me in the back, woke up again, and got to work on the tail.

Cut out two lightening bolt pieces from a television box.

Cut out a matching lightening bolt shape from 1-1/2" foam. Don't worry, Noah, the tail won't be pink.

The flat cardboard looked...well...flat. It looked much cooler with the foam padding to create some depth.

Tacky Glue makes my day pretty much every time I use it.Foam glued in place between the cardboard bolts.In retrospect, a three dimensional tail for a two dimensional character seems silly

After cutting out the shapes I glued the top half of the foam to the cardboard. Originally I thought I would try to leave the bottom half out and taper the bolt like the illustrated character’s tail. For the record, Pikachu is not a real thing and the illustrators apparently did not think the laws of physics were necessarily relevant when designing Pikachu. However, since this tail does need to exist in reality, I eventually realized I needed the foam all the way down the bolt for structural stability.

Cut still more lightening bolt shapes out, this time from yellow posterboard.

Well, that only took most of the day. Time to wrap this thing up…..After debating how to cover the tail, I decide to go with yellow posterboard. The complete, opaque color coverage and structural rigiidity allow me to correct some irregularities between the pieces

of foam and cardboard. At this point it’s 4:00pm Sunday, the day before Halloween, and Brian thinks I might be obsessing just a tad. (There is precedent for his opinion, e.g. last year’s paper mache Jango Fett jetpack.) But whatever, I’m feeling crafty and I’m all hocked up on spray adhesive and hot glue gun fumes, so it’s OCD I go…

Glue the patches for the inside corners in place...(It's like 6pm by now.)

With posterboard in place I work on some quick suspenders while B drills a hole in the base of the tail.

Earlier in the day I went to Joanne’s and picked up any and everything I could think of for securing the tail to the costume. Brian can’t stop giggling every time I say “boning” so instead I use the 14″ embroidery hoop and a large bolt. Rather than trying to affix the hoop to the costume, I make suspenders to go underneath the shirt. Poor Noah is trying really hard not to squirm around and this almost becomes the story about the time Noah lost his eye while Mommy was sewing his tail in place, but he stays still long enough for me to sew and Brian to drill. By now, the tail weighs about as much as Noah does. No worries, it’s nothing some fishing line can’t support….

Suspenders for the embroidery hoop, which Noah models in his pj's as it is now 8pm.

Hey! The needle catches nothing but facric and the embroidery hoop makes a great base for the costume. Pika Pika!

8:30 pm. All it's missing now are the stripes. Okay, Noah, you can go to bed now.

Noah is no longer needed for fitting purposes so I kiss him goodnight and happily discover that I have, indeed, NOT sewn Noah’s costume onto his pajamas. I cut some quick stripes out of brown felt and use fabric adhesive to affix them to the shirt and tail. No problem! That only took twelve hours and a triple digit trip to the craft store which is, by the way, immensely faster and cheaper than last year’s jetpack.

Stripes in place, this costume is good to go!

So I never got a ride in today, although Lord knows I needed it, and I didn’t put in a load of laundry, which I’ll regret the next time I shower and want to wear clean clothes, but I did have a ton of fun today channeling my inner Martha Stewart.


Alpine Dam, smooth as glass.

A few photos from my Saturday of riding. First ride, the Studio Velo Saturday ride which normally goes to Olema but it was so cold this morning we decided to get to the climbs as fast as possible. After climbing up BoFax Road and Ridgecrest, we all felt quite a bit warmer. We also all agreed we were pretty amazed we lived in such an amazingly beautiful area. Breathtaking.


The SUN! Suddenly Jeff and I didn't feel so underdressed.


Alpine Dam is one of my favorite loops. It never gets old and the views are always spectacular.

After a quick bite to eat Brian and I rode into the city to scout out his commute to the office via bike. It was pretty beautiful along that route too. All the bitching aside, I do love living in Marin. Not a day goes by that I don’t find myself staring at my surroundings, awestruck by the majesty of it all.


Have a seat. The urban landscape around here is pretty cool too.


Looking out at the Bay from underneath the Golden Gate Bridge.


The Golden Gate Bridge, viewed from Fort Baker in the Marin Headlands.




I’m staring out my dining room window trying to muster the courage to go for a bike ride. The move to California was more than a little stressful (more on that later.) The past two weeks have left me feeling depressed, lonely, and out of shape. The new house is off Montfort, a 9% climb. At this point, I may need to be sagged home. Seriously.

But everyday I don’t ride I feel moreĀ  and more disconnected, slow and fat. Better give it a go while it’s sunny and warm outside. The next few days have rain in the forecast. Today is bright and beautiful. The perfect day for a bike ride, right?

Keep you posted….

With surprising difficulty I have begun telling people that I am moving to Mill Valley, California. The last week has been a roller coaster of a ride for me. A month in California was awesome but I’ve missed so many elements of my life here in Dallas. Returning to my friends and my classes is good. I adore these things and it is hard to leave them all behind.

I grew up in Oregon, my most treasured childhood memories are of the lush mountains with their spires of redwoods and rocky beaches dotted with tide pool mysteries. Years later, when I visit, I cannot help but feel like I did when I was a child, awestruck at the majesty of it all. It is my past. It is my home.

It is also my future. At the end of September Brian, the kids, our dog and I will move to Mill Valley, California. Home is waiting.

Muir Beach, just a few miles from our soon-to-be home.


The view from Tam's East Peak. A short ride from the new house.

I will miss everyone in Dallas – my friends, my work, and all the people in my classes – but I won’t miss the city itself. Come visit me and we’ll go for a ride!