The Exhilaration of Slowing Down

How do you convey an emotion with a photograph? How do you set the tone and allow the viewer to feel what you felt? Real photographers have been pondering and struggling to answer these questions for a century and a half now, with varying degrees of success.

I’m no artist. I take photos for fun. So, my photos may need a bit of explanation to create a ‘feeling’.

Here’s the setup:

I like to mountain bike. David and I love to share being in the woods on a bike with others, so when our neighbors showed an interest, we were happy to show them ‘our’ trails. The day was spectacular. Sunny skies but not too hot and barely humid. Still in high summer, everything was lush and green.

Problem was, our neighbors are 20 years younger and a whole lot more fit than me. Adventure Race fit. Personal Trainer fit. Now, don’t get me wrong, they were as gracious as could be and really were enjoying the day. But, after a couple of hours of desperately trying to keep up with my nice friends, I’d really had enough of being the anchor. The ball and chain. The person who makes the ride last twice as long as it should because she’s so slow!

So, I begged off, taking another route through the woods. I know the trails well so David was sure I’d be fine. David, by the way, can hang with almost anyone on a bike. One young admirer said David has ‘old guy strength’. I would dispute the ‘old guy’ description but David is very strong on a bike!

For a while, off on my own, I rode at my typical slower pace, thoroughly enjoying nature all around me. The birds were outdoing themselves singing their sweet songs. I startled a young deer. After a while, I saw a side trail I’d never used before. I knew it would be short since it appeared to be a fisherman’s trail down to the water. So, I took it.

Around a bend, I stopped. Oh, it was a beautiful spot! Very peaceful and calm and beautiful, beautiful. Time to relax here for a while! Do you ever find yourself somewhere, or perhaps with someone, and get a sense of ‘right-ness’? Like you’re in the exact right spot at the exact right time? That’s where I was!

I pulled out my camera and took some shots. Can you feel it?





– Jane

The Importance of Summer Evenings – Baltimore Bike Party, July 2013

Deep in winter, when the weather is steely and cold, I dream of nights like this. When the air is a soft caress and the night is inviting. Languid. Delicious. There’s no huddling for warmth; no running for shelter from icy winds. Instead, amid the singing of katydids, the night invites you to stay. Maybe extend your arms into the sultry evening air and take a few spins. Is it the spinning making you giddy or the extravagantly pleasurable evening? Hard to know and hard to care. Life’s delights are to be savored, not analyzed.


At the midpoint. As night fell, this woman’s dress came alive (with David’s spare batteries to the rescue, as she had forgotten her power source)!

On Friday, we took a ride with the Baltimore Bike Party on such a night. Each month, a bike ride is organized, guided by “The 3 R’s”: RIDE, RESPECT and REVELRY. The ride through Baltimore City as night falls is short. Just five or six miles through wildly divergent neighborhoods. Parks and slums. Mansions and museums.


We rode in golden midsummer evening light

The thousands of people on bikes make this ride a safe one. Safe enough for even the most timid and safety-minded individuals to take a tour down the hard-bitten streets that are home to Baltimore’s poorest citizens. And those citizens come out onto the sidewalks to view the parade passing by in the warm summer evening.

We, the cyclists, have a unique opportunity to send them some love by way of a happy greeting. A smile, a wave and an invitation to join us next time on the last Friday of the month. Maybe, just maybe, one or two of the folks we see can gather a little hope from us. Or, perhaps they just enjoy the spectacle of thousands of nutty people on bikes shouting, singing, waving, laughing and having a really great time.

Make sure to turn your sound on to enjoy the party!

Can you spot these things in the video?:

– a small person shadowing us, riding a small bike on the sidewalk

– two rats on bikes

– people out on their stoops and sidewalks

Each ride has a theme. This month, it was “Moonlight Madness” with as many lights on bikes as we could muster. (Last month, the theme was the ’80’s. See David’s post). David rigged our bikes with a Dewalt drill battery pack and plenty of LED lights from Ikea. Other folks found ways to add lights, too. Almost all of the bikes were sporting head-and-tail lights. What an awesome pageant of lighted bikes it was! A turn around Lake Montebello revealed the parade to be more than a mile long.


David’s bike was a sailboat. The red light in the middle is his tail light. He added extensions to front and back to create this fantastic ship in the night!

There’s always a stopping point about halfway through the ride. The revelry starts in earnest here! Meeting new friends and greeting old friends. Lighted bikes were admired. There were some truly awesome rigs! Those so inclined break out the alcohol and make it a real party atmosphere. Even David and Jane partook of a generously offered cold(!) beer.

Then, before we knew it, we were at the end of the ride, in Druid Hill Park. We lingered only briefly in the velvet dark, lit by decorated bikes and illuminated party pavilions. My bed was calling, loudly by this time. A day of driving had preceded the ride for me, so off we went into the night, back to the car and home. But, not without being extremely grateful for a night like this one. A happy, happy bike ride on a beautiful summer evening…

– Jane

An AWESOME Spectacle of ?

A Double Rainbow Greets and Tantalizes

A Double Rainbow Greets and Tantalizes

? Love, Hope, A Future ?  Sorry, I’m an optimist, but I live in a city where good friends tell you: “You really shouldn’t go downtown and ride your bike in those neighborhoods”.  They are right, you know, we have just experienced a spike in shootings and murders.  Baltimore and we Baltimoreans seem to casually accept our place in the urban competition of gun and gang homicide statistics.  We even had a popular eponymous show; Homicide: Life On The Streets (airing from 1993-1990).  Averaging 300 murders per year we seem to look the other way.  The toll this year is up to 116 already.  Just since last Friday, still counting at 32 shootings with 8 fatalities; young and old, men women and children targeted or caught in the crossfire.  Why would I want to go there on a Friday night after work?

Though I hate to spread fear and bad news, I don’t want anyone to think I don’t calculate my actions.  I was a home care PT for 6 months in these and worse areas.  The families had a universally warm reception, and lived in safe warm nests like your own.  They do face a different reality outside their door though.  It is not so comforting to check out the statistics:

But, there we were.  Hoping for nothing more than a good time.  A couple thousand of us strolling into a battlefield?

My sister and my lovely wife

My sister,  myself and my lovely wife


Our path went into and around areas that have seen better days, but perhaps our presence gives hope for better days to come?


Believe it or not the joy on wheels was astounding.  Neighbor’s reception was astounding!  Smiling people in the gritty, half-bombed-out houses line the streets to watch us roll.  They stood in joy, children at side and in arms.  They lined up as gleeful as we riders.  Smartphones capturing us.  Tablets tracking our wheels.  Videographers turning slowly to create their “movies of us” as we passed through their streets. IT WAS AN AWESOME SPECTACLE OF ACCEPTANCE AND CELEBRATION OF HUMANITY.  Bikes are love.  Bikes are Glee.  Bikes change people, at least in the moment.  Do you remember the first time you rode a bike?


The Baltimore Bike Party grew from a movement called Critical Mass.  I don’t know the history well, but part of their mission was to draw awareness to the needs of cyclists on the streets.  Trying to be visible and supported in urban centers, add bike lanes and safety.  This couldn’t be more needed still today.  A wonderful, sparkling co-worker was struck by an SUV on her way to work at Sinai Hospital last Wednesday.  She was on her way to help and work with victims of just such accidents.  I rode Friday with her in mind.  Bike Parties are the last Friday of each month, meet at 7, roll at 7:30 end with a party.  Simple enough.  We even hear our Mayor attended this month.

The ride began at the Washington Monument at Mt Vernon.  Themed as an “Eighties” spectacle, many of these riders were conceived  during that decade, some not even born yet.  Some of us were out partying then, some were growing families those years.  The children we were having are counting on us to give them a safe world.  I won’t go too far in my diatribe because surprises are everywhere.  If you “stay home to stay safe”, if you live the life protected, you may miss a few things.  If we live the life protected, don’t we accept the unacceptable norm that spreads as the plague?   The indoor world offers a level, entertainment and televised view of life and the World.  If you just sit by to watch, you may miss the truest spectacles.  There we were on streets that probably had shell casings or yellow crime scene tape within days or hours ago and then…A RAINBOW GREETED US AT THE MID-STOP AT Robert C Marshall Park!  The neighbors again came out and laughed at us in our bike-costume-foolery.  Once again, Whimsy Struck its POWERFUL BLOW!


A worthy re-post: Who doesn't smile when the unexpected is 3 feet away?

A worthy re-post: Who doesn’t smile when the unexpected is 3 feet away? Whimsy from last month at the Kinetic Sculpture Race…

Everyone wants a safe home.  Everyone wants their kids to sing and dance and play.  Everyone wants to get along.  I believe even gangs grew from wanting to get along, to belong to something.  I want to keep planting seeds even where they may not grow.  (In the near future, you are likely to see this blog/forum as an early connection for social action of my dreams)

I may suffer or die in my own pursuits and endeavors, but I won’t wonder “what’s going on out there?”  I’m just living each day…

...and doesn't every day or good saga have storms hovering somewhere on the wings

…and doesn’t every day or good saga have storms hovering somewhere on the wings

How do you follow an amazing ride where we stopped traffic at every intersection for several minutes as ~1700 bikes rolled through?   Only a very, very few cars (Pardon me, drivers), could be seen with any sign of impatience.  I only saw 2 or 3 cars all night turning around to avoid our spectacle.  Most just parked at the lights, leaning out the window smiling, video-ing, and probably gawking in memory of 1980-something?


Oh yeah, there was an “after party”:  The Lexington Market was a scene of more “getting along”.  Again, black and white, tan and pale people laughed into lines to get food and beer.  The Lexington Market after dark!  Bikes have taken over the World!   Even the revelry letting out of an Orioles game was no match for a bike party.  There we were.  Ever question the estimates of people provided by news reports.  I counted an average of 15 bikes per rack on rows of 31 racks on the parking lot: 465 bikes.  Thing is, half the riders had gone home by then.  thing is, those rows were DWARFED by the incredible rows and piles and piles of bikes, OUTSIDE of the parking area.  There were SO many more bikes Outside of the parking area….I think 1700 is a way low estimate.  So thousands of people smile Friday night in the city.  And our presence made thousands more smile.  And younger kids grabbed their bikes to join us.  Impressing all with their wheelies, rolling in an around our ranks they became us as we became them.  Baltimore Bike Party.

In my day, it was Richard B who could ride for blocks on his rear wheel

Greeted again with smiles by the kid who could ride for blocks on his rear wheel.  He weaved in among us and we were the ones whose smiles cracked even bigger!


80's Party Style

80’s Party Style


what Party is complete without Cupcakes?

what Party is complete without Cupcakes?

Bikes are accessible, here are a few links:

Where is the Tramper Now?


While rebuilding that “old camper” and dreaming of a voyage, we accepted a built-in apology for the inconveniences of having a big trailer in the driveway.  Carrying tools, insulation, appliances and materials through the narrow and bushy passage was just part of the job. But after returning home from The Voyage to unrelated jobs, car maintenance, home and woodworking projects  (knowing the first voyage was over and we had to adapt to life at work) there was this behemoth in the way.  I love the Tramper, but while it waits for who knows how long til the next journey, we had to come up with a solution.  Storage is expensive at commercial lots, and sealed-up places can get dank, buggy and moldy.

An earlier blog post showed the narrow squeezed passage to the workshop and prompted input from friends.  Mike in Mt Airy said, “You can keep it here”.  Wonderful, less than an hour away, we could access it off of I-70 if we planned a little trip.  Thoughts of storage covers, mouse proofing and freeze proofing came to mind.  But the thought of The Tramper becoming “just another stored old camper”  in a field along a highway was none too comforting.

Then Dru contacted us and made another great offer.  She and her husband Homer, tend an organic farm and CSA in nearby Pennsylvania.  Dru writes a very entertaining blog, all about life on the farm. Click HERE to visit.

Their farm operation is fertile with innovative ideas about how to grow things better as well as yummy, chemical-free food.  The offer for Tramper berthing included allowing Interns at the farm to stay in the Tramper.  It started sounding better already.

The Welcoming Committee!

The Welcoming Committee!

We’ve been meaning to get “up the farm” to visit for a while now and mutual benefits are always attractive to us.  Besides, Homer is a craftsman and creative handyman like someone else I know.

Here's Dru in the Hoophouse. Caught you with your eyes closed! Sorry, Dru!

Here’s Dru in the Hoophouse. Caught you with your eyes closed! Sorry, Dru!

The delightful home I created in the Tramper will be better off “lived-in” than sealed off and musty for months or years.  The principles of simplicity, small and comfy living will blend with solar-powered, self-contained homes and surely find a good audience and exposure on Sunnyside Farm.

In place and waiting for guests!

In place and waiting for guests!

Such a good temporary home for the Tramper!

Such a good temporary home for the Tramper!

Visit the farm here:

– David

Photo of the Week #11 – The Mysterious White Van

You remember the White Bronco, don’t you?  You know – O.J. Simpson’s getaway car? Nineteen years ago this week, the White Bronco entered into infamy as OJ tried to flee. He didn’t escape his fate. Not then, anyway. He actually did escape his fate later, though, during the ensuing trial. By being found not guilty of the murder of his wife and her boyfriend. Now, in 2013, OJ has a sad little life. In jail, awaiting a judgement on whether he can have a new trial for a mess he got into in 2008 when he was found guilty of breaking and entering.

Enough about OJ. He’s not really worth any more words. But, our Photo of the Week #11 is!

Day 176 of the Voyage of the Tramper 03/05/2013

Trailhead – Zion National Park, Utah


Another notable white vehicle. Not a white Ford Bronco. A white Ford minivan. And, not infamous, just interesting.

A Google search of  “White Minivans Against Oppression” turns up nothing at all. So, we think it’s a just a bit of wordplay that doesn’t mean anything. A gently sardonic phrase meant only to adorn the side of said white minivan. Painted on there by an artist with absolutely no respect for the sanctity of the American minivan!

Here’s a couple of shots of more good art on the van:


Thanks, minivan artist, for some interesting pics!

– Jane