Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Shalshelet cross-post # 2: More bike content

(This is the second cross-post from my music blog; content here has been edited for my bikey readers)

Monday started out really mellow and great. Jim had some work to do, even though it was a federal holiday; so I took the opportunity to venture out and say a bit of a goodbye to Miami Beach. I rented a bike (this one required me to manually un-bend the badly bent left brake lever so it would actually function -- someone had crashed it into a wall or something) and rode a big loop, over the bridge at 41st Street and around what I call Old Jewish Miami Beach -- lots of kosher cafes and stores, and spottings of large orthodox families walking their broods of kids (who were also off for the holiday).

Sights of my last ride through Miami Beach:

 Yeah, it's a palm nut, about the size of a mushball (bigger-than-normal softball).
Heavy, with liquid sloshing around inside. I'd never seen one up-close before and here it was just lying in someone's front yard.

I wondered how the milk might taste, but didn't travel with a pocket knife and didn't really have time to stay and find out (I'd only paid for a two-hour rental), so I continued on.

This is the same shop I visited on my last trip to Miami, some 15 years ago. I bought a little hamsa pendant that still hangs on my guitar case at home. (Sadly, Bob's Texas Kosher Barbecue, where I'd enjoyed lunch, seems to have gone The Way Of All Things.) As I didn't have a lock, I didn't go in.

Here's my obligatory Miami Beach Bike Panda shot, taken in the one reasonably-sized bike lane I found in the area on Indian Creek Drive. This was actually a pleasant part of my ride, and I sped along happily, feeling the burn in my legs and wishing I could've found a way to make a trip like this work with a bicycle. Two short rides (4 and 6 miles, respectively) just wasn't enough. I've really missed riding!


Also added a shot of the rental bike up-close showing the generator-powered headlamp, which is neatly positions in an indentation in the front basket for added protection. The lights runs no matter what time of day, most likely for insurance purposes and because it's easier to set up that way.

(Note to Miami visitors: The rental kiosks can be found all along Collins Ave. and down in the South Beach/Art Deco Districts. You can return a bike to any kiosk, not just the one you got it from. And if you have a problem getting a bike in or out of the magnetic rack, each kiosk has printed on it a 24/7 phone nuumber to call for help. The first bike I tried to pull from the rack on Friday simply wouldn't budge; I called the helpline and they talked me through the process with another bike, making sure my card was only charged once. Definitely a bike-sharing program that seems to work at least reasonably well.)

I stopped at a coffee shop in the neighborhood and was able to get outdoor table service without leaving the bike unattended, so I ordered coffee and a muffin. It has long been a complaint of mine, that at many kosher restaurants and cafes they work so hard to make the food kosher that they forget to make it taste good; happily, the kosher muffin did not suck and the coffee was reasonably acceptable. (I've learned that coffee in Portland is coffee and coffee many other places is dark brown water impregnated with caffeine. That's just how it is, and I've learned to roll with it. End of Foodie Snob Moment.) I sat at a table next to the front door, where the hours and such were painted on. At the bottom of the glass door was an admonition warning, "Baby carriages not allowed in cafe by order of Fire Dept." Seconds later, two families with about eight kids and three strollers between them emerged from two mini-vans and attempted to enter the restaurant. Minutes later. the two dads came out with the strollers and put them in the mini-vans, looking somewhat chastened, as an older woman wearing a waitress apron followed them, scolding in Yiddish. I tried very hard not to smile too broadly, but the young mother at the other outdoor table saw the same thing, and we looked at each other and giggled.

I returned the bike, walked back to Jim's apartment and left for the airport. I was three hours early for my departure, but that was fine by me. I found a spot between an airport shop and the parking corral for the suitcase carts, sat on the floor, pulled out my guitar and played for half an hour for anyone who cared to listen. Most did not, but two families with kids stopped and listened for a minute or two each, their young children staring at my guitar and the parents tapping their feet in time to the music. As they left, they dropped a dollar bill in my case. I smiled and nodded thanks while I kept singing.
Two bucks wasn't enough to buy a cup of coffee in this very expensive town, but it was enough to make me smile. I de-tensioned the strings and re-packed the guitar for the trip, and went to the gate.

The flights were horrible. In both Miami and Houston (my lay-over city), planes were delayed and sat on the tarmac for nearly 90 minutes each, grounded by the ATC because of thunderstorms moving through the Houston area. The delays only added to the unpleasantness of air travel, and made me glad I'd ridden six miles earlier that day.

Houston Airport, something like 9:00 pm Central time:

I got home at around 1:30 am Pacific time this morning and fell into Sweetie's arms, and bed, utterly exhausted.
A little more than 12 hours later, I've had some sleep but am still so tired that I've opted to skip a bike ride and just relax at home. Tomorrow I'll be taking my guitar back to work on the cargo bike and getting back to density.

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