Saturday, May 24, 2008

Poison Oak Attacks Woman's Face - Change of Course for Memorial Day Weekend Plans

Here I apply the homeopathic remedy, Green Gunk, to poison oak on my legs. The next day, I resorted to the anti-inflammatory medicine, Prednisone. Sorry, no gruesome face pictures! Photo credit: Leslie Kefauver, aka, Mom.

"Karen, where are you?" my friend called.

"Over here," I said, laughing at the ridiculous predicament I was in - stuck in a bush.

On a group mountain bike ride this past Tuesday evening, I made a classic cycling error: I looked precisely where I did not want to go. In this case, I was rounding a sharp corner of a narrow, dirt trail. As I entered the turn, I panicked seeing a steep drop-off. Sure enough, I started to steer off the trail. At the last second, I realized the impending disaster and leaped off my bike. My bike fell onto the trail, but the momentum from the turn propelled me right over the edge of the cliff. I rolled several feet down the hill until I was stuck, up to my neck, in a big thicket of brambles. The rider ahead of me, Jec, heard me yell as I fell. She rode back to check on me

"Where are you?" she called from the trail above. "Oh, wait! I can see your red helmet sticking out of the top of the bush," Jec said. "Let me give you a hand."

She reached down the steep slope and helped haul back onto the trail. When she confirmed I was ok, we shared a laugh about it.

But I am not laughing now. As a result of that tumble, I have poison oak on my face for the first time! I look like a sci-fi character with my crusty lips, bright red nose, and spotted neck. Ick. Not to mention my arms, legs, torso also sport big patches of this miserable stuff - which is caused by my skin coming in contact with the oil in the leaf.. With my itchy, oozing blisters, I decided not to go out of town to Paso Robles for the Great Western Bike Rally.

I am confident that if there were a video of my mountain bike crash this past Tuesday, it would soar to the top of You Tube's most-watched list.

Another reason to skip the road trip: the raging wildfires in Santa Cruz County! Governor Terminator was here earlier this week and declared it an emergency zone. Another good reason to stay home - a lot of smoke in the air! Luckily, no bodily injuries have been reported, though homes have been lost.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Memorial Day weekend - reflections on Santa Cruz and plans for Great Western Bike Rally 2008

Memorial Day weekend 2008 marks my 15-year anniversary living in Santa Cruz, California. I never expected to make this my long-term home: as a native of Washington, D.C., I always imagined I would migrate to a bigger city, like San Francisco.

After a solo tour of the Pacific coast from San Deigo in southern California to Skagway, Alaska, the northern-most ferry stop in the Southwest Passage, I arrived in Santa Cruz in May 1993. I stayed at the local youth hostel, located a few blocks from the beach. During my stay, I walked along scenic West Cliff Drive and watched the surfers and seagulls play in the Monterey Bay. I fell in love with the independent bookstore called Bookshop Santa Cruz and had also had a fun night on the town at a live music club called the Catalyst. After one week at the youth hostel, I took my sleeping bag and backpack and signed a lease for a room in a 6-bedroom house on Grant Street. I did not know a soul in Santa Cruz, but I was an optimistic 23-year-old and had a good feeling about the town.

Through the years here, most of my 20s and 30s, I have established deep roots in my community personally and profesionally and treasure my enduring frienships. I love the size of this coastal city with its majestic redwoods and university atop the hill (UC Santa Cruz).

For this upcoming Memorial Day weekend, my plans are to attend the Great Western Bike Rally in Paso Robles! Should be fun. It will be road riding!

And in June, I will go on an organized bike tour in Montana with the Adventure Cycling Assocation - more road riding!

I have plans for mountain biking in Peru in the fall.