Back in the USA for the holidays

Oct 26, 2021

Scenes from San Francisco

In some respects this is a return home, but I no longer have a home here in San Francisco. In a very real sense, my home is my bicycle and the journey we are on. So, I am returning as a visitor. But being in San Francisco does bring back many good memories.

While I am here I stay in Airbnbs or hotels. I am lucky to have friends and family that extend invitations to visit. And I do occasionally take them up, but only for a brief stay.

Hosting Warmshowers guests from France

In early November while I was staying in San Francisco, I got a request from WarmShowers. Paul and Lucie from Lyon, France were passing through San Francisco on their trip from Seattle to South America. It was happy to have a place big enough to host them for a few days.

Paul and Lucie

It is good fun to show these cyclists around the city. I get to see it again from the fresh perspective of a tourist. We visited the Mission, China Town, Twin Peaks, Market Street, Castro, etc. They also wanted to see the Blue House, which comes from a popular French folk song. We also visited the Painted Ladies which are Victorian style houses.

Day Tour of San Francisco

Paul and Lucie go by Cyclo.Clean on Instagram. They have very big plans. I wish them well.

Sausalito Bike Trip

Ron Noack is my granddaughter’s other grandfather. I don’t think there is a formal word for this relationship in English, so I just call him my brother. We get along well. Ron has great suggestions for outings together. Last time we explored the jungles of Chiapas, Mexico. This time we went on a bike ride across the golden gate bridge into Sausalito. We stopped for pizza and beer on the terrace looking out over the bay.

We had some extra time before catching the ferry back to San Francisco, so we went out to see the Sea Planes in Sausalito. The company offers sight seeing flights over San Francisco. Along with us came Mark Noack and his friend Ivano.

Our cycling group talking with the flight control guy. The houses behind on the left are actually houseboats that are so typical in Sausalito.

The planes we saw here are de Havilland Beavers. These two in particular are a little older than I am, yet still running strong. The plane is very popular in Alaska. Some years ago I took a short flight in one of these planes there. On this trip we were just visiting, not flying.


One of the big reasons for coming back to California is the annual trip to my sister’s place for Thanksgiving. This year I give thanks for the family and its traditions that are so worth coming back to revisit. It is a wonderful moment to be part of this collection of friends and family.

In Ashland, Ruthe and her husband Jim put on a fine Thanksgiving day feast. This year my two daughters Cherissa and Carina attended, Carina with her husband Mark and daughter Arden, an ever growing family.

Their family will soon be four, five including the Samson, the family cat. Carina and Mark are expecting another daughter to be born in January, 2022. It’s a lot of work raising children. I have no doubt that Mark and Carina are up for the challenge. It is clear to me and others that they have been doing a fine job so far.

Christmas & New Year

Christmas is a low key holiday for me, though having a two year old granddaughter, Arden definitely adds to the moment. This year I joined the celebration with my family at the home of my former wife, Liane. Cherissa, Carina and her growing family were there. We spent the day together which included breakfast, dinner, and opening gifts around the tree.

I got Arden a balance bike for Christmas. It’s a bike small enough for a two year old, without pedals. You just push off the ground with your feet to move it forward, like a velocipede. I am hoping she adapts to riding it, and starts on the long path to cycling adventures that await her.

Grauwe Erwten

Grauwe Erwten is the name we use for a dish we have served at our family gatherings for many decades. We make it with an obscure pea called a capucijner, rice, bacon, raw onion, and bacon grease. Ingredients are cooked separately and mixed on the plate. I never knew how to spell it exactly.

When I ask the Dutch people I meet about this, they don’t know of it. In my search, I came to accept that either it is not really a Dutch meal, or I have been pronouncing it so badly, that it was unrecognizable. It turns out that neither is true.

Johan De Kleer is a member of our group of cyclists here in San Francisco Bay Area. He grew up in Holland and speaks Dutch fluently. Johan doesn’t know the Grauwe Erwten dish I described, but the links he found demonstrate one can find Dutch recipes that include capucijners, bacon and onion.

More importantly, he tracked down the word Grauwe Erwten. He explains in this video that the word means gray pea, using old Dutch. The links below make clear that this grey pea is not the capucijner, but similar. It also goes by the name rozijnenerwten, which means raisin pea.

A link to Grauwe Erwten. The word means gray peas and refers to a pea similar to capucijners.

A link to capucijnerschotel. This is a Dutch cassarole with capucijners, bacon and onions.

Texas Bound

So, It is January. The holidays are over. In order to preserve my status as a Cyclo Nomad, I best be movin’ on. With the help of the Adventure Cycling Association, I mapped out a route across Texas along the Southern Tier.

Currently, my recumbent touring bicycle is in storage in Barcelona. So for this trip, I will use an old steel mountain bike with 26 inch wheels and no suspension. Many years ago this bike was left in my care by Thor from the Northwest Territory. I have it fixed up with paniers and such. It seems to run well. I’ve done enough test rides to be fairly sure it’s road worthy. In two days I will board an Amtrack train to El Paso, Texas and launch eastward.

The days are short but the weather is cool. I think I could make it across Texas before February. In February I have plans to meet my friend Joel in Morocco. Except right now Morocco is closed to tourists, because of the pandemic.

So, hopefully the border will be open and I can stick with the plan. If not, I will continue cycling the Southern Tier, or maybe head into Mexico, I have friends there. I also have friends in Alabama it would be fun to visit.

We shall see.

2 thoughts on “Back in the USA for the holidays

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