Well, It Is Their Turf

We are the interlopers.

Several years ago, I traveled to the west coast a lot for work. I always took my skis or mountain bike with me and enjoyed some of the beautiful outdoor recreation places that the west has to offer. Some of this wilderness has been compromised by building and commercial developments. It is progress, I know, but it often encroaches on land that has been the home to wildlife for centuries. Take this scenario in Laguna Beach, California where I did a lot of mountain bike riding back in the day. Beautiful trails in the Laguna Wilderness Park with majestic vistas of the Pacific Ocean around every corner. I was surprised when I saw this sign at the trailhead but it made sense. With all the beautiful homes popping up in and around Laguna with incredible views, it made sense that the development had squeezed some privacy away from the natives- that being mountain lions. A rare sight to be sure but nonetheless something that you had to watch for and if possible ride on trails with other riders and hikers.

Laguna Wilderness Trails

The American Black Bear

On another cycling trip to the Skyline Drive in Virginia, my friend Frank Habay and I rounded a corner on our road bikes and came to a screeching halt when we saw two black bears in the middle of the road. I looked at Frank, he looked at me, and the bears looked at us. I knew we would not out run or out ride them, but they rambled up over a wall and into the woods. After breathing a sigh of relief, we continued and the conversation between Frank and me was that they don’t bother humans anyhow. Easy to say after they left but at the moment, it was a little un-nerving.

My wife and my son were visiting friends in Tahoe and during one of our hikes out there with our friends, my wife became concerned about seeing a bear. They are in the neighborhoods and if you have birdseed in your backyard, they are coming for a visit. Our friends had many experiences with the visitors when their bird feeders were out. We did not see any on the hike and when we were safely in our car, Janet lamented that we had not even seen a bear. I told her and Jack not to speak too soon because there, right in front of us crossing Rt 50, was a big black bear heading to a residential neighborhood looking for his next meal. I commented to my son Jack that it looked like he just came out of Starbucks. Probably had a latte this morning on his way to the neighborhood. We laughed but the reality of the fact is that bears are becoming more used to people as a result of development. As Joni Mitchell used to say……….” they paved Paradise and put up a parking lot.” There are consequences.

I see a lot of wildlife in my local park and also in the mountains near us. My one friend likes to look for rattlesnakes in the mountains. I tend to look from a distance but the more people develop property and move towards the wilderness, the more they will see wildlife that has been displaced and looking for new homes.

Beautiful creatures just wanting to be left alone.
Hi there!

I guess the point of all of this is that you can’t stop progress but it is nice to see that there are still places in the world where life goes noninterrupted in the wilderness. Locally, it is nice to see entities like the Allegheny Land Trust and the Hollow Oak Land Trust reserving land space for us to enjoy as well as provide a habitat for animals who are looking to thrive in a natural space. Sean Brady, Executive Director for Hollow Oak, told us on a recent hike that the stream that runs through the property has 23 species of fish that were endangered by development. Recently, a country club closed it’s doors locally and the thought was that it would turn into another housing development. Kudos to the residents of the area and their local municipality to turn the space into a park with trails and a natural setting for the neighbors to enjoy. It also provides a home to animals who would have been displaced again in favor of development. Again, I get progress, but there has to be some consideration for the generations to come.

So, the next time you are out and about in the mountains, on the trails or waterways, value any time that you can see wildlife in their own habitat. Nothing to be feared but instead, look at the sight with wonder. Take the time to get to natural places and take in the silence, the fresh air, and the beauty of our natural world. I am happy when they don’t pave Paradise and put up a parking lot. Thanks for reading.

Don’t be a “Slam Clicker”

IMG00214-20100708-1448IMG00221-20100709-1421 For thirteen years, my wife Janet was a flight attendant for USAirways. She used to say that there were crew members who would go right to their rooms upon landing and close the door and lock the lock and never come out again until it was time to go back to the airport. They are known in the airline industry as “slam clickers” Slam the door shut and click the lock. What a waste. In my mind, if the company is paying you to fly somewhere, why not see what you can see? Be social and see the sights of the different cities and states. Take me for example, when I go to New England, Colorado or the Pacific Northwest, I either take my skis or my mountain bike. If I can fit it in after my work schedule, great. If not, I take a vacation day and enjoy the place with my friends who are scattered all over the country. My friend Norm says the axiom should always be to get your work done first, then play. I adhere to that for sure but if I can catch a Mud Hens game in Toledo at night, I do it. If I can get a run or a ride in, I do it. If I can get a ski day, I do it. But I get my work done first. Imagine gettting injured and not being able to perform your job after the company flies you somewhere. Not good for job security. So…………I adhere to the axiom.

Now occasionally, you run into some business associates that like to do what you do. Take the three guys above. One is a Coke guy and the other manages a large distribution center in LA. They are both avid cyclists and our supplier and customer. I have a couple of others who ski. Like my man Chris in Salt Lake. He is in the McDonalds system like I am and we take time to ski and get together. No slam clicking in Salt Lake. There are always good things to find in all cities and states. You just have to take the initiative to find them.

Take the other picture above. This is taken of me at the Laguna Wilderness Trail System which is part of the Orange County Park System. http://www.Lagunacoast@ocparks.com When I go to LA, I don’t miss going out here to these fabulous trails which overlook the Pacific Ocean. There are many miles of trails which have spectacular views. I take my own bike. Many people ask how I do that and I tell them that I travel with a bike box. I can disassemble my bike in minutes, pack it up, schlepp it to the airport, check it in and pick it up at the end of the line at John Wayne Airport. I have the routine down. Yes, it is a hassle but it is well worth it when you have your own bike to ride. I do the same with my skis. Yes, I could rent high performance skis but I like my own stuff and I make the effort to schlepp it. It is well worth it and for a little extra effort, you can have a memorable experience. If you want to rent a bike, that can be done at the fabulous Laguna Beach Cyclery. This shop on Thalia Street in Laguna Beach is eye candy to the max. They have everything high performance, and if you need anything, you look up Christian and tell him that the McDonalds guy sent you in. He is a very knowedgeable and friendly guy. A hell of a road racer too!!! http://www.lagunabeachcyclery.com You can start your ride right from the shop and ride Thalia Street to the top of the park system. When you are finished, make sure you stop at the Stand Natural Food Restaurant right next door. Amazing vegan food that is absolutely delicious. Smoothies, shakes, sandwiches with fresh baked breads. Amazing. I usually start my rides from the Crystal Cove State Park. You can unload your bike box, assemble your bike with lots of room around you. You pay 13 bucks to park but it goes to the preservation of the trails which is well worth it. Always check the weather. If Laguna has had storms, they close the trails because of the fragile ecosystem.

All in all, some of the best times I have had is when I eliminate the pain in the butt thinking, and just haul the gear and go for it. Work first, then some play is a great trip. I always travel with my toys if at the very least my trail running shoes because I can always find a park or a golf course near the hotel. Even if you entertain in the evening, if you can squeeze some exercise or some fun in, the beer and the food taste all the better. Don’t be a slam clicker. Enjoy life, be social, and explore. We have a great country, go see it. Thanks for reading.