Training Report from the Reluctant RAGBRAI Biker

Okay! I couldn’t help myself. I had to take a distressed biking selfie. TheReluctantRABRAIRiderDangerous while riding, yes! But the headwind on Foothill was dreadful and I wanted proof that I was riding in it. As I peddled at a mere 5.5 mph, I imaged the gale was so intense that if I crossed it, I’d be knocked over into oncoming traffic. No positive thinking for me.

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The Goodbye

Years ago in conversation with my mother, she admitted to me that she’d hardly shed a tear after her mother’s death. Why, I’d asked her perplexed. Don’t people cry when a parent dies? Mom reasoned that grandma had been comfortable with dying, and that she was convinced her mother and God would be waiting for her at the time of death.

My mom’s explanation comforted her, and I have pondered it for the past 28 years. And then, my mother who suffered dementia, died last year on December 18th. When I heard the news, I cried; but truthfully not long. During the year since, I’ve waited for more tears, but none have come. Perhaps it’s because our relationship was complicated, or because I harbor unresolved anger towards her? Perhaps. Instead I reason that even with mom’s dementia, she and I managed to say goodbye—a goodbye that requires no more tears. (more…)

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Golden Poop!

Fanning away the heat on Saturday in Ubud.

Fanning away the heat on Saturday in Ubud.

How do you sightsee in Bali when the heat and humidity is oppressive? Hire a driver. Thankfully we met I Wayan Suta on Saturday, when he rescued Ed and me from our unsuccessful foot-tour of Ubud in the raging heat.

The tour Wayan laid out for us via email was action packed: Mas art village of wood, Tohpati village of batik, Celuk village of jewelry, Batun village of painting. Then see rice terrace, Holy Spring Temple, organic plantation, volcano panorama, etc. (more…)

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Rice Farmer Ed!

Rice Rows

Family rice paddy in Sayan village. Rows of rice are approximately 2-months old.

Did you know that Ed grew up on a farm outside of Fairfield, Iowa?

One of my favorite stories about Ed’s upbringing is how his dad gave Ed and each of his three siblings a cow. The family had land, but not always cash and Senior McCracken wanted his kids to go to college. The McCracken kids could have any feed grown on the farm for free to feed their livestock. But if they needed something additional like feed supplements or veterinary visits, the kids would have to pay for it. The caveat, Senior McCracken would co-sign loans, which, of course the kids had to pay back. (more…)

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This is Bali?

After a two-and-a-half hour KLM flight from Singapore to Bali, Ed and I landed at Denpasar International Airport. Five minutes passed until someone brought up the gangway. When the doors of the plane opened, I scurried after Ed. He wanted to beat the lines at customs.

Suddenly a short bald man ahead on the gangway called out, “The escalator’s barricaded.” (more…)

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Shanghai – No Size 40!

Before we arrived in Shanghai, Ed asked me if I’d feel out of place in China because of my height. If I were blond and tall I concluded after arrival, it would have bugged me. Instead what caused me distress were my travel shoes—four pairs of sandals. I’d left the cute German red-leather sneakers behind in California. (more…)

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Shanghai Favorite #1

Shanghai Favorite # 1 – The Fairmont Peace Hotel where we stayed. A landmark art deco building built by prominent businessman Sir Victor Sassoon, and is located on the Bund facing the Pudong area over the Huangpu River.

Stunning art deco lobby at the Fairmont Peace Hotel.

Stunning art deco lobby at the Fairmont Peace Hotel.

The hotel touts itself as “truly a fusion of ancient and modern, Eastern and Western, and was built in the Gothic style of the Chicago School.” Go figure! There’s that Chicago architecture thing “again.” (more…)

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Shanghai – A Skyscraper Sprawl

What to say about Shanghai? In my wildest dreams I never imagined a skyscraper sprawl like the one Ed and I encountered. It boggled my mind. But when our tour guide on our last day proudly recounted that Shanghai city proper is home to some 12 million people, and that the city outskirts contains another 12 million, I imagined skyscrapers are necessary.

Pudung by night

View of Pudong, Shanghai’s chief financial center, across from The Bund. Taken from the Cathay Restaurant at the Fairmont.

Pudung by day

View of Pudong by day.

At night Shanghai’s signature buildings are ablaze in colorful lights – just like Las Vegas. (more…)

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Meet Me at Facebook Anonymous Anyone?

On Thursday, October 17th, I woke in Shanghai dazed and confused from jet lag. Reaching for my iPhone, I clicked on my Facebook App intending to type my first honeymoon Shanghai post. It took awhile of watching the little syncing circle spin relentlessly, and for Andre Walker’s post from the 14th not to update to a New Story for me to conclude: “Something” was amiss with Facebook in Shanghai, China.

“Maybe it’s God’s way of telling you, you should just enjoy our honeymoon in Shanghai, and that you don’t need to post about it,” Ed said as his eyes lit up, and his lips curled up into one of his dashing smiles.

“Are you nuts,” I snarled. “How can I not post my adventures and observations on Facebook? My Public awaits,” I blubbered. (more…)

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Germans—The World’s Best Drivers

When I was ten, my family moved to Stuttgart, Germany. My father was a university professor and our family of four lived on a tight budget leaving little money to purchase the Audi, Mercedes or Porsche my brother and I dreamed about driving someday on the Autobahn. Typicallyautobahnsign on our road trips, my brother David and I sat facing backwards in our VW station wagon to warn my dad about oncoming cars when he dared to use the passing lane. One day we spied blinking headlights off in the distance. (more…)

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