The day before embarking to Shattuck

I woke early, not quite rested because I didn’t have my sleep apnea jaw insert. I instantly knew that trying to fall back asleep would fail.

Out in the living room, Mom was already at the computer reading political news. Everyone wanted to know just how much chaos was coming between the end of the election and the installation of the new president. Would the old one start a war? Hijack the courts? Or just gripe for a few months about how he couldn’t possibly have lost and then slink away?

I moved gear around in the van and the garage, packing a small suitcase with bike touring items I might add to my main pile in Simi Valley. With the van squared away, I handed the keys to Mom, and she placed them in her desk.

Dane enjoys masks.

Dane in thee olde countree.

My nephew Darren woke up, and we assembled the laptop in the living room and played Castlevania IV with a tiny little USB game controller. Not a flashy game, but decently fun after all these years. Mom returned from her doctor appointment and fixed all of us “the special Darren omelet”, which was a well-cooked pile of eggs with bell peppers and cheese, plus toast.  We ate around the table and then I told my nephew it was time for me to visit with grandma again.

Mom and I sat in the back yard and caught up, talking about houses and cohabitation.  I was feeling optimistic about my current relationship. I was also acutely aware of how much experience I had, and how it changed my behavior. I talked about how much more connected to Berkeley I felt than to other places in the country, or even the rest of the Bay Area.  Mom hunkered over my phone and poked the map, and showed me where she lived as a kid in Berkeley. We used the street view feature to explore a walking path near her house. Modern maps are astonishing.

Soon it was time to pack up and go.  We loaded everything into the trunk of Mom’s car and drove to the station.  I took a roundabout way there, getting lost, just like I had last time. At the station Darren and I contemplated getting french fries – not because we were hungry but because there was a fast food kiosk right there at the depot – but there wasn’t time.  We saw a homeless weirdo walking around, with a mask pulled down below his chin, muttering to himself.

The train arrived a few minutes later and we dashed onboard, walking through several cars to find seats.  Along the way we passed through a car with the homeless weirdo in it, flanked by two train attendants who were telling him to show his ticket or get off the train. He kept yelling, “This ain’t your train! You can’t tell me where to sit!” over and over.

We sat in our seats for almost half an hour and the train didn’t move.  Eventually a woman announced on the PA that they were waiting for the police to arrive because a man on the train was refusing to get off. 15 minutes later the train started, and when it reached the next station my nephew and I saw three police officers manhandle the homeless guy – flailing and screaming – down the aisle of our car and outside the train to the platform.  A few minutes later we were moving again.

Darren and I busted out the laptop and did some silly photoshop stuff, grafting his older brother’s head onto various Smash Brothers characters.  Then we opened the game emulator again and played Actraiser for two hours, building up several cities and fighting boss monsters. Like Castlevania IV, the game had aged pretty well.

Playing Actraiser with Dane.

We arrived in Simi Valley almost two hours late. We got a ride to my sister’s house and immediately sat down to dinner — a delicious beef stew she had been cooking.  We passed the gratitude candle around and I talked about how grateful I was that we all had the resources to weather this COVID storm without real hardship.

For many hours after dinner, I took over the living room and turned it into a giant staging area for collecting and packing equipment, making very sure I didn’t lose anything or include anything I didn’t want.  I packed the bike bags and stacked them by the door, then told Nick he could use any of whatever I’d left out.

Organizing a lot of stuff.
Zeke the cat enjoys gear.
Zeke the cat enjoys sitting on gear.
Zeke the cat attacking a face mask.
Zeke the cat likes bike seats. All cats like bike seats!

Then there was nothing more to prepare. I retired upstairs to sleep, thinking about how I hadn’t shared a bike tour with anyone in five years, and how interesting it was going to be spending some time with my eldest nephew Nick.

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