Life on the road can be crushing. But I was beckoned by the clarion call to mount my bicycle steed, which had been covered by a veil of cobwebs in a corner of the garage.


I was promised that well-being was just down the road, and beauty would flourish from unexpected places.


   Road flower edit


Inveterate back vertebrae, an achy arthritic knee, arrhythmic heart heaving, problematic prostate pressure, and general malaise notwithstanding, I am at least attempting to get with the program of physical enlightenment, as part of the current national bicycle promotion.


Besides, where else am I going to wear that body-contouring, cellulite-clinging spandex I once bought online while in a zombie-like trance after binge watching hours of very early morning Tour de France coverage?


After all, I was already an accomplished wannabe (yes, an oxymoron, I know) in multiple outdoor activities.


An added bonus the bike shorts afforded was the large bulge I was packing in front, which I was convinced would impress certain members of the female persuasion.


Speaking of members, once I eventually realized the large padded area in the crotchal region (as Ron Burgundy called it) was not for carrying an extra bike tube, my reputation—among other things—suffered severe shrinkage.


Speaking of shrinkage, just pity the poor snake whose only sin was a thwarted attempt to cross the road.


   Road kill edit


Why DID the snake—almost—cross the road?


Beats the hell out of me, but apparently it WAS a crushing experience.

“Care for a cocktail?”


How many times do you hear someone accepting an offer for an adult beverage by claiming,


“It’s 5:00 p.m. somewhere.”


As if there is some arbitrarily acceptable alcohol tipple time.


Well, over the years, I have come up with my own personal schedule as to when it is time to let the good times roll.


Rumpleminze bottle

Back in the day, when I lived up closer to the backwoods and drove an old Ford pick-up truck, replete with the requisite gun rack mounted on the back window, it was pretty much de rigueur to pack a six-pack on hunting and fishing trips, and for those really early morning, sub-freezing conditions, a flask of 100-proof Rumplemintz (schnapps).


Hell, it might barely be 5:00 A.M. by the time we were warming ourselves…from the inside.


Walking around the woods with a loaded weapon after a few belts of booze…what could go wrong?


Years later, when I found myself a lot closer to San Francisco than Woodsy Owl, I discovered what Coach Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) typified as “Early Drinking.

That’s part of what is becoming a rabid fan of English Premier League football (soccer), and by “rabid fan,” I mean be willing to get up at 4 a.m. to watch a game live.


     early drinking


I have spent many an early morning at Maggie McGarry’s pub trying to decide between a warming Irish Coffee, or a chilled glass of Magner’s cider, or a frothy mug of Guinness.


And, by “decide” I don’t necessarily mean which one, but rather, which one first.


“Oo To, Oo To Be, Oo To Be A Gooner.” 


As I am a real opponent of driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs…or texting, thank goodness I get to sleep it off on BART on my way back home.


Let’s see, where else have I found a lame excuse, I mean weak rationalization, I mean plausible deniability of good judgment in early A.M. imbibing?


O.K. I have no fear of flying—as what good would THAT do—but, as oft mentioned in this space, I have been known to enjoy an early morning airport Bloody Mary, while waiting for a flight.

(Hey, I don’t even ask for a double; the bar at SMF just pours them that way. Oh darn.)


What harm could that do? I have no position of responsibility for the safety of a massive flying transport containing hundreds of humans.


Or do I?


On a recent flight to Maui, I opted to pay for an exit row seat, primarily for the extra legroom. I have this personal preference to not having my knees scrunched up into my chest for any flight lasting over five hours.


What I did not initially realize, was that the upgrade came with another perq (which, given my C.V., you’d think I would have noticed immediately):


     AA free drinks


So, in one moment, I am sternly told of my stated obligation to the safety of my fellow passengers, which they require a verbal acknowledgement and acceptance of responsibility, and then almost in the next,


“Would you like an alcoholic beverage, say a shot of straight whiskey?


And, as it happens, on a five-hour flight, they make multiple passes down the aisle with the drink cart, bless their hard work.


“Why yes, since you offered…I will take another.”


         Maui exit drink4


I thought that was more than generous, but wait…there’s more.


As we approached the Magic Isle of Maui, lo and behold, EVERYONE on the plane was offered a Mai Tai.


“Wait, what…ANOTHER drink?!?”


       Maui exit drink1


Hey, don’t worry. In the one-in-a-gazillion chance they call on me, I guarantee I’ll be the first one to open the door and lead you to safety.


I was once in the back seat of a helicopter where smoke came billowing into the cabin as we were getting ready to take off. As soon as the co-pilot turned to the back seat and motioned to exit, I was quick to open the rear door and the first to get out.


The “funny” thing was, I wasn’t even the passenger sitting next to the door.

(This is an absolutely true story.)


So, in the case of an emergency, just follow my footprints on the guy’s lap who was sitting next to me.


You think a drink, or two, or even three will slow me down…think again.


You’re welcome.

That near-death life experiences are the fodder for many a travel story is as apparent as the abundant Amazon adventure book (virtual) aisles.


You will recognize the genre when you see clichéd chapter, or book title with some version of,

“No shit, there I was…”


But, the reality of it is that for some of us, we might rather exclaim,

“Oh shit, I wish I wasn’t…”


For famed travel authors that have inspired us for decades, like Tim Cahill, it might be a drowning death in the Grand Canyon, with a miraculous second chance at life—or given Cahill’s predilection for adventures that could kill him, maybe his third, or fourth, or…


Or, for us wannabe imitators, it might be some latent arrhythmia that prematurely ends an intended adventure along the remote Panamanian coast, with my own miraculous second chance discovery of a previously unknown cancerous hitchhiker.


Contrary to the old adage, “What doesn’t kill you, will make you stronger, ”if you happen to need a kidney, I ain’t got a spare no more.


I don’t know if Cahill has yet jumped back on the horse, or into the whitewater raft again, but it has taken me a full year to venture away from my trusted medical support, and into a country where English is not the native language.


But here I go.


I decided to take heed from a sign I happened by on a recent ski run.


  keep moving sign


I took that as a celestial hint, so for the next week I will be spending some time three flights distant and under the warm Caribbean waters.


However, I have every intent of staying above ground, if you get my gist.

gin and tonic

For George Thorogood, it was bourbon, scotch, and beer.


For many—and me, until one fateful night along the shores of Eagle Lake in Lassen County—it was tequila.


But, for most of my adult life, it has been gin.


What was the question?


Gin and tonics, GNT’s with ice and lime (Gin, No Tonic), gin martinis, and as was de rigueur while on desert camping trips, or on river trips, or on remote road trips when the ice ran out, drinking directly out of the “blue bottle.”



     blue bottle Lon and frank


If you don’t know what the blue bottle is, well I assume your alcoholic affinity tips towards the aforementioned bourbon, scotch, beer, or tequila.


At any given time, you will find multiple bottles of the fermented fruit of the juniper tree safely sequestered in our cellar, security provided by an easily agitated Australian cattle dog.



           juniper berries


Imagine my horror upon hearing that worldwide gin supplies were being threatened by some obscure tree infection.

“The plant integral to the production of gin is being killed off by disease, according to a new report.”


I mean, I have a sufficient supply down there, but not THAT much.



                  tub of gin1


Apparently, I must have been dozing during  forestry classes on the subject of serious tree diseases, and by serious, I mean possibly, in some distant future, affecting the source of gin that I would someday come to crave, after almost dying drinking the evil fruit of the blue agave plant.

(At least, I felt that I wished that I had died.)



                juniper spore



Having long since dumped my dusty forest pathology tomes, I relied on the power of Google to find reference a serious sounding tree ailment, and by serious sounding, I mean I can’t come close to pronouncing it.

Phytophthora austrocedri (P. austrocedri) is a fungus-like pathogen which poses a threat to juniper trees.”

“The recent discoveries of the pathogen are a concern because of the often fatal nature of infection of the host plant.”



         fungal spores


(FULL DISCLOSURE: I strongly suggest you do NOT do a Google image search for “fungal infection,” as I mistakenly did. No really…don’t do it.)


Given the serious  nature of this dilemma, I am looking into possible crowd-funding remedies. 


I wonder if GoFundMeGin is already spoken for.


Otherwise, I might end up, to paraphrase Captain Jack Sparrow, by asking,

“But, why is the gin gone?”


In the meantime, here is an artist’s concept as to my next generation of gin supply, which I wish to put up for possible upcoming tough times.



         Bombay gin shelves


I may need a bigger dog.



                James Bond gin martini



I have barely begun with my Wild Animals That Have It In For Me series.


My intent was to limit my stories that were (more or less) true tales that actually happened to me.


But, speaking of barely, I could not resist posting a recent bear tale, which supposedly happened, but to someone else.


To my taste for making shit up—and I know piles about that—the story seems barely for realz.



   bear claims kayak



The news headline speaks for itself,

Woman thanks Alaska bear for not eating kayak; bear promptly eats kayak.


I invite you to click on the link to the story, here, then watch the 2 1/2 minute video.


It will be time well spent, if your idea of good time spent is a woman whining woefully at a bear wandering around her camp. Spoiler alert: virtually all…make that all…of the commenters are rooting for the bear.


And, I invite you to judge whether this video is legitimate or not. Remember, this person is ostensibly on a solo, 107-mile wilderness kayak journey in Alaska.


Not that you could tell by listening to her “narration” of the video.


Let me know what you think.


Oh, I guess I can end with a quick personal, wilderness bear encounter, which involved tent invasions, bacon-wrapped aerosol cans (which did NOT explode as intended) and a national park ranger with a handgun that “our” bear could apparently smell, thus make himself scarce.


The bear, that is.


Unfortunately, we are out of time, so maybe later.

goose attack bike rider

This story continues from our last episode, where the wannabe writer/ overly costumed bike rider encounterd aggressive avian species.


Before (damn close to) drowning to death on the Grand Canyon, Tim Cahill claims that he was once Pecked to Death by Ducks.


You mean those cute little, beautifully colored birds that peacefully ply your neighborhood park pond?


Hmmm. And I thought him the rugged adventurer of the wild outdoors.


I wonder if he has ever been face-to-face with a really pissed off goose…you know, those massive Canadian Honkers with a wingspan that reaches over six feet across.


I have, and it was a horrifying experience, as we stood there in shotgun-to-slightly-bloodied-body combat, which may explain why the big bird was extremely agitated at me.


   attack goose


Before you excoriate me with extreme prejudice, I admit that I eat meat.


In my earlier years, I attempted to obtain at least some of my animal-based protein myself, legally, with great care and respect, and sans post-hunt wall mountings. Truth-be-told, if I depended on my hunting prowess, I would have starved to death.


My “successes” included a few game birds that my hunting buddies gave me because: a) I couldn’t hit shit, b) they felt sorry for me, and c) I brought the beer (for after, when the guns were put away, of course).


Oh yeah, and I did once bring home an unlucky buck that I am pretty sure died of either a heart attack from my near misses zinging by, or quite possibly, of laughing to death at how many times I did miss.  See item “a)” above.


While I have not become a vegetarian, I have long since given up all forms of hunting, except catch-and-release fly-fishing, which, if you have ever seen me attempt, is pretty much the same as not doing it.


elmer fudd down

Back to my goose face off, this occurred many years ago, along the shores of Honey Lake in Lassen County, up in northeast California.


After that bird had the misfortune to fly into a pellet or two, that may, or may not, have come from my general direction, the hapless, innocent animal landed in the cropped straw-colored field nearby.


My buddies, who were in their hunting blinds, yelled over that I needed to do the humane thing and go over and “dispatch” the wounded creature, as well as get the bird for the meat that was supposedly the purpose of the process.


So, I walked over, with shotgun in hand, to do…what? I had not really thought that through.


When I got within a couple of feet of the mostly stunned creature, it dawned on me that I certainly could not shoot it at that range, as it would obliterate any meat that I was planning on taking home to create some gourmet dinner entrée that you see gracing the cover of food magazines.


Unfortunately, mine more often resembled—and tasted—like one of the deflate-gate footballs.


In other words, my cooking acumen of wild game was at the same level of expertise as my obtaining of said menu ingredients.


I couldn’t hit shit, and, I couldn’t cook shit either, which, if you think about it, kind of complemented each other.


I guess I could have charged the very large, very much still alive, very much unhappy wounded animal with my hunting knife held in my teeth, and tackled it, but this thing was really big up close and was really, really giving me very dirty looks and rude hissing noises.


   goose facedown


So, I  grabbed the barrel of my shotgun and decided to club the poor beast to put it out of its misery…and maybe mine.


Imagine the scene as I chased this bird around the open field, wildly swinging my long-gun towards its head, as my buddies were hysterically cackling—well, like geese—at the spectacle.


Yes, you did read that I was holding the business end of the barrel, clearly in my attempt to gain admission to the Darwin Awards finalists (with emphasis on finalists).


This went on for some time until both the goose and the hunter became completely exhausted. All I can say is that it did not end up well for either one of us.


   goose revenge


No, luckily I did not gut shoot myself, as some PETA members might have preferred to see.


I had to go home and pluck about “one million” feathers, as they wafted up into my nostrils and mouth, and over most of my body, then butcher the bird, which details I will spare you, except to say, I’m still trying to get various goose bits out from under my fingernails.


Let’s just say, the next time you eat that Thanksgiving turkey, which I suspect you got in the neatly bagged, bare skin stage, you might include that fact in your thanks for the day.


And, I give thanks every day that the only stalking I have to do to get my next meat-based meal is at the supermarket, while avoiding crashing my shopping cart into any wild kids running down the aisles.


Nowadays, that’s wild enough for me.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I have been in hiding.


It is difficult to crank out blog posts when you are hiding under the desk.


Maybe it had something to do when my last bike ride almost turned into an horrific scene reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds


Opening scene: The camera pans a bucolic country road of rolling hills and then focuses on an old farmstead with fading paint and a picket fence, and a stand of stately cottonwood shade trees.


Along the barely two-lane road,  the picture picks up a pack of strolling peacocks, some of which were strutting colorful plumage in a perfect picture of rural serenity.


Then the camera zooms in on an approach of a Tour de France wannabe, replete with body-conforming Latex bike shorts and a colorful skintight biking jersey, which leaves the viewer with no doubt that body-conforming is not necessarily a good thing.


As the background soundtrack rises to a menacing crescendo. the peacocks turn in unison, glaring in annoyance of the advancing bike rider. The pudgy, hirsute bike rider skids to a stop just at the sight of the larger-than-you-might-think birds as they appear to be sharpening their claws on the roadway.


   angry peacock


In a rare instance of good judgment, I…I mean the bike rider in the movie…flips his bike towards home and pedals furiously while frequently peering over his shoulder, checking if a flock of angry birds have taken flight in his direction, knowing that they can fly a lot-better-than-you-might-think.


Unbeknownst to the bike rider, like an unending Grade-B horror flick, the dangers had taken but only a brief hiatus.


Just as the hapless central character of our story makes the final turn for his home, he glances at a troop of wild turkeys strolling peacefully down the middle of the road.


     turkeys in road


Given the encounter with the peacocks just moments prior, and now seeing the very large turkeys beginning to form a gauntlet along the only road to home, as the background music foretells that a character in the movie is about to bite the dust, a flashback begins of another wild bird encounter some many years previous.


      turkey attacks bike rider


Like a Quentin Tarantino saga, alas this ends the story contained on Reel One.


Stay tuned.


      turkey versus bike tire


In the meantime, it’s back under the desk.


Cue, woeful, haunting melody as the credits roll.

Senior Citizen models

The expanding image of the typical American has broadened as a trending topic on a large scale.


Yeah, I get it. We have gotten fat.


As we travel the world, our image—as our bellies—have grown yet another trait that identifies us in a not very complimentary manner.


Speaking of our manners, that is exactly what birthed the concept of the Ugly American. Going back to the 50’s, many a foreign resident viewed us as being,

“…loud, arrogant, demeaning, thoughtless, ignorant, and ethnocentric…”


Thanks to fast foods, high fructose corn syrup, and 24/7 digital distractions, we have added our girth (literally) to that litany of negative credentials.


I feel it every time I get stuck in the middle seat on a nine-hour transatlantic flight, with some overweight guy bulging well into my personal airspace.


Of all the thoughts that go through my mind in those instances, that this guy is really the new image of a sexy body is not one of the top ten that I think about. Not even on the top one hundred.


Of course, truth be told, I need only look in a mirror to see that guy might be me, especially if the wife-person keeps baking plates of incredible sweet treats, like the amazing dark chocolate dipped, marzipan-tasting, almond cookies I found on a plate on the kitchen counter.

(Which, I later found out were for her club meeting the next day…oops.)


The result of all my high calorie grazing is, now that I have topped 60, my weight keeps inching up, along with my belt size.


I have been thinking about doing something about this, which is not to be confused with actually doing something about this.


Now it comes out that I don’t have to do anything about this; I could have gorged myself on the entire plate of treats.

(Hey, I was already in deep doo-doo.)


What momentous, life-altering event changed the world view of my physical condition?


Thanks to Breaking News from Jon Stewart, I learned that it was no longer necessary to suck in my ample gut whenever I was in sight of the fairer sex.


If this story was legitimate,  I could breathe out knowing that my ample belly was now considered not only desirable, but even—gasp—sexy. The news goes that I am packing what is a highly desirable manly bulge above my beltline.


According to a recent story in the New York Daily News,

Women are lusting after dudes with “dad bods” — a little extra gut around the middle.”


Even Hollywood heartthrob megastars have been seen sporting the look.



           dicaprio on boat dad bod



Kristen Schaal, on the Daily Show segment said,

“You don’t have to be a dad to have a Dad Bod, you just have to be really lazy.”


Schaal even claimed that,

…women are lining up at the Dad Bod buffet.” 


Well, I’m here to tell you that either the story is bogus, or I have been lining up at the wrong buffets.


I have tried three Old Country Buffets and two Sizzlers and I keep getting the same looks of disdain from all the women I parade by. This was especially unexpected, since I was sporting my outfit of yoga pants and a lycra top.


In the meantime, the wife-person has started to get suspicious why I want to go eat at yet another buffet, and more worrisome, why I keep strutting up and down the buffet line over and over.


I was starting to get skeptical, but even Jimmy Fallon acknowledged the Dad Bod phenomenon in his Pros & Cons segment. Here are a couple of them:

PRO: No longer worrying about what you see on the scale.

CON: Because your gut is blocking the view.

PRO: Being comfortable of having a soft, flabby body with zero muscle tone..

CON: Realizing you still need to lose 75 pounds to attain that [Dad Bod] physique. 


Well, since this news is on the internet, it must be true. So, maybe I will go try a big slice from that berry pie I saw in the refrigerator.


I’m sure she made it for me.

There are many lessons one obtains by surviving over six decades of an active life; such as, a tennis ball rolls off a roof better than a frisbee.


One tag for this post might be travel insurance, but before you tune out, let me assure you, I am not talking about the type of insurance that—excuse the non sequitur—some television lizard is hawking.


You are in the wrong place if you want a detailed description of the best monetary travel expense coverage; for that, I suggest you go read the renowned travel advice dude, Christopher Elliot for guidance in that arena.


No, I’m thinking more about how to ensure your return from your travel adventures, and specifically, who you travel with may be the most powerful protection.

Along with some good fortune, of course.


I have had a (relatively) long life, apparently by being blessed with more than my fair share of blind-ass luck.


As I am about to briefly recount some of my karmatic chapters of travails survived, I wonder what they add up to.


Let’s see, the first I-could-have-died instance was flying out of the backseat of a moving car and landing on  my head. This was while riding in the family Hudson along the shores of Lake Merritt in Oakland.


Oh, should I mention I was on my mother’s lap at the time? Hmmm.


Some years later, there was my stuck-at-sea adventure on a too-short-for-me windsurfer in the middle of the Sea of Cortez, off the coast of Baja.


And then, almost drowning myself, along with a couple of family members, while non-whitewater rafting on the Green River in southern Utah.


O.K. I think I am going to fast-forward to my most recent event, so I do not get even more paranoid than I already am. Hey, even cats have their limited number of lives.


Earlier this year, I was on the far side of Panama for a few weeks of sailing, snorkeling, and scuba, when the heartache I began to experience was well beyond my natural missing of the wonderful wife-person.


Three and a half days later, I was back home, heart issue shockingly resolved, but informed of a totally unrelated superfluous protuberance perched on an internal organ, which I was told required removal.

Ironically, this was discovered by a “cat” scan, although no cats were found therein.


In a number of those tales, part of my luck was having travel companions willing and able to offer a timely hand.


Maybe that factor is the best form of travel insurance there is.


Just ask my travel writing mentor, and sometimes—O.K., just one time—travel companion, Tim Cahill about that.  Tim recently died (not a hyperbole), but thanks to the proximity, skill, and immediate action of his whitewater raft mates, to be forever known as the “Colorado River Miracle Team,” he lived again to tell the story.


You just never know where and when your time is up, or, apparently, for some of us, when our nine lives have been fully accounted.


In Cahill’s account of his Grand Canyon reawakening, he does not get all philosophical about life’s kismet. No, he realized how much he enjoys playing “roof ball” with his dog, Dexter.


After my latest (perceived?) near-death experience, once again I attempted to emulate my longtime, one-way, literary bromance with Tim Cahill by taking the dog outside and flinging the frisbee on to the roof.


As Foxley the dog eagerly anticipated retrieving his favorite toy as it rolled off the roof, alas, I was reminded of yet one more thing I don’t do as good as Tim.


As the dog looked upward, I hunted for a long pole to retrieve the frisbee, which lay flat on the roof.



             Foxley frisbee

Worst trip of my life

I have returned from my weeklong treacherous travail to the edge of the Coma Canyon abyss.


My torso has become a palate of deep purple, yellow and green, against a canvas of pale skin.


I am minus one organ, which I am convinced was pummeled into submission before being sliced out, leaving a trail of over a dozen industrial-grade, stainless steel staples.


Somewhere along the path, I was shocked with electrical paddles.


I am Frankenstein.


And, I have the T-shirt to prove it.


       I am Frank