Monday, October 19, 2015

Shark watching at the Farallones ~ with

Yesterday I went on the Silver Fox boat from Fisherman's Wharf out to the Farallon Islands with about 22 other people with similar interests. The trip was organized by and marine biologist David McGuire who has been researching sharks and working on conservation for some time now.

We were looking for natural predation activity of the sharks on the seals and sea lions out there that is very frequent at this time of year (also known as Sharktober) and didn't see an actual strike but nonetheless, the day was amazing with plenty of sea life to observe including humpback whales and lots of sea lions, seals and sea birds.

At one point while we were slowly trawling and pulling behind us the "seal pup dummy" (see photo below), we were to the east of one of the guano covered rocks and the stench with the breeze was so overwhelming, it smelled like death. So bad was the smell that I had to cover my nose/mouth entirely. This lent itself in my mind to the history of the island being known as "Islands of the Dead" by the American Indians.

This trip also brought into acute awareness of the amazing accomplishment by Kim Chambers, another member of the Dolphin Club (like David McGuire and myself) who successfully swam from the islands to the Golden Gate Bridge with only a bathing suit (no wetsuit) only a little of two months ago. Read more about that here.

Lastly,  the talk on the boat occasionally fell to the recent occurrence of a shark feeding on a sea lion near Alcatraz as seen in this video.  That doesn't slow down the Dolphin Club, everyone is still swimming along as if nothing happened. I love these people... to hell with living in fear, they won't do it.

heading west, going through the swells, bouncy to say the least

the Google mapping catamaran hurried by on the way to the islands!

this is one of the two "seal pup dummies" that we towed out at the islands, they do work!

that white stuff, all bird poop ~ for centuries

view leaving the islands

getting mesmerized by the wake and falling asleep on the return trip

the channel buoys heading back in toward the Golden Gate Bridge

Sunday, October 4, 2015

surrounded by inspiration ~ motorcycle adventurers with Horizons Unlimited

Last weekend I attended my fourth annual Horizons Unlimited event of about 275 adventure motorcycle travelers in Mariposa, California. I find myself coming back each year to hear the stories and meet the people doing these assortment of amazing trips. If ever I felt like I found "my tribe", these folks might be it. To be in the company of so many people that refuse to see limitations is impressive.  It's the whole "what are you waiting for?" feeling that I leave with on Sunday that strengthens my intention to work toward a trip of my own to Patagonia one day.

Here are five of my favorites:

Alex Chacón came to this year's event as he did the previous year and went over some of the computer software tools he uses to make his legendary motorcycle travel videos that are world famous on the Internet, making him a social media phenomenon. This one is still my all time favorite even though he has spent another year of being extremely prolific.  It was interesting to hear which of the social media tools were beneficial for motorcycle travelers and what might be a waste of time.

Nevil Stow undertook an around the world trip on his motorcycle in 2013 and more can be read on his blog here. What made his presentation interesting was that his motivation came after he had suffered a stroke in 2009 and decided when he got well again that he was going to do this trip. His closing messages that if we're going to undertake a journey even half as adventurous as his, to do it while supporting an organization one believes in and not just for the pursuit itself.

Elisa Wirkala really got my attention this year. I didn't know what to expect when walking in and seeing her motorcycle in the room, a 125cc compact red Honda motorcycle that looked almost new. She blew me away with her story of travel and a gorgeous website that gives terrific detail both narrative and photos of her journey from Santiago Chile to her home in Seattle.  She did a terrific job about outlining the financial discipline she went through in the year preceding her trip. Everyone could learn a thing or two from this intrepid traveler.

Michelle Lamphere gave a presentation about her two year motorcycle trip from her home in Sturgis South Dakota with her now fiancé Brian on their two motorcycles and her courage in overcoming an accident early on in the trip that didn't dissuade her from continuing. More details can be seen on her blog. I picked up her book that she signed for me as it does have some interesting information for going to El Fin del Mundo on a motorcycle. Her presentation was excellent and very engaging.

Walt Fulton and Nancy Foote of Streetmasters offered an off-road all day course on Saturday that I gladly participated in. We reviewed some basics about off-road riding and then took our own bikes on a 15 mile dirt road between Mariposa and Yosemite. Fun was had by most of us.

Elisa with her bike, talking about her trip from Patagonia to the US

me with an illustrious group of intrepid motorcycle travelers

getting ready for the Off Road class on Saturday

me at the half-way mark of our off road ride, feeling lovely
Reg Kittrelle took some photos during our adventures on the dirt, this is one of them of me

taking a break in the heat on the off road exercise

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Who gives a rat's ass?

My inner critic is a crotchety old man. He's always smoking an annoying cigar and looking too closely at me (mostly silently) as if he's about to wipe a booger off of my cheek. He appears when I'm searching for meaning in my patterns of creative expression.

He says “You'll never weave a complete story from all this rubbish. Who gives a rat's ass about what's happened to you? You think your experiences are unique? Hell no little girl, it's all been said before.”

From him I learn how to outsmart his pessimistic anachronistic presence. I write in order to get him to show me that almost imperceptible elevation in his left bushy grey eyebrow. Aha, what I've written gives him pause. He's at a loss for words. When he's quiet, I need to go forward down that road. The swinging gauntlet of giant medieval axes at the castle door is how I picture a bad day with Grumpus Criticus. But I can ignore him.

He teaches me how to persevere. I'll outlast him and tell him to shut up. He needs a nap now.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Vulnerability Hangover ~ it's really a thing

“Pain grows bitter with age.” Dominic said in the writing class I took last week. How could pain do anything else? It sure can't grow sweeter with age. I have a “vulnerability hangover” from last week. I was somewhat familiar with this term from Brené Brown when I read some of her work six months ago. It's one thing to read about it and another to experience it on a somatic level.

It feels like some kind of “psychic surgery” was performed on me by a loving group of people who all seem to share my best interests. It went something like this… I revealed parts of myself to the18 other people through my writing, they did the same with me and the rest of the group. Then we pushed on inside of ourselves through creative writing to unhinge the bits we needed to express. I was forced to hang up my virtual suit of armor and talk about difficult things. Sitting with the painful stuff and drawing it out. Sometimes these things were the stuff where one doesn't want to bother others with such talk. It would be too heavy and crying would ensue. I cried my eyes out and sometimes couldn't stop. It was crying from a cellular level. Then sweet Elizabeth overheard me talking about crying “fuck the crying, I'm done with it” I had said. Elizabeth is 88 years young and she calmly replied “just be careful not to cry too much if you have grey hair, then they'll really lock you up.”

The week long workshop was taught by Ann Randolph at Esalen. We were also fortunate to witness Ann perform her LOVELAND to a private audience last Thursday night.  No other words can really describe how it shifted me on a deep level toward a sense of calm and peace, but shift I did.

inside the beautiful Porter's Yurt all week

Ann Randolph (Left) with me in the middle and Marcia McMullen

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Kite Foil ~ knifing through the water at great speeds

The first time I witnesssed a kite foil last Friday zip by me at about 20 knots, my mouth fell open. It's like watching something from the future. Or maybe we ARE in the future and this is proof. I volunteered working on the St. Francis Yacht Club Race Committee Boat stationed at the finish line for the second day of qualifying races. Ten races throughout the afternoon made me fairly famiar with the sport and the individuals. Below is my photo of Johnny Heineken taken as he crossed the finish line first in the first race of the day. The sound the foil makes at certain speeds at the mast as it slices through the water is a high wine as well as the constant knifelike "shhhhhhhhhhhhh" sound.

This video below was composed of a series of videos I took on my iPhone while documenting the racing. The one that really intrigued and scared me a little was the yellow jersey man who wiped out very close to our boat and I wondered if the foil was going to decapitate us for a moment. Also, here's an interesting piece of drone footage video of the action last weekend.

2015 Kite Foil GoldCup in San Francisco from Anna MacKinnon on Vimeo.
This video is about the international 2015 Kite Foil GoldCup held in San Francisco July 30 - August 2. These images taken from the finish line.

me at the finish line 7-31-15

Sunday, July 12, 2015

GS Trophy ~ First Women's Team this year

Since the BMW Motorrad GS Trophy began in 2008, it caught my attention but when this year they put a call out for women to submit their video application with cover letters, I put my piece together in three weeks. They're planning to announce the team tomorrow and I wasn't selected but they sent a nice note saying they had a total of 119 total submissions worldwide. I am glad that I am one of those women. I will try harder for a future submission with more intense video and ride style as well as brush up on my off-road skills.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bucolic life but look closer and you'll discover...

"We lost twenty five chickens last night, we think it was a pack of coyotes."

This was the answer to the 3am hullabaloo involving the dog barking that I briefly heard.

And this was about the third sentence after "good morning, did you sleep well?" that was spoken by Natalie the morning after I stayed at her beautiful cottage in Fall River Mills, California. I found this cottage using, a personal favorite I resort to whenever possible.

The fact that Natalie was my host and yes indeed the chicken deaths were unfortunate, I felt like I had been part of the family for less than 24 hours while staying in their vintage cottage. The history was alluded to in the guest book when one person wrote "we enjoyed speaking with you to learn the history of your cottage." The building was constructed and used by Natalie's great great grandfather as his dentist office. Years later, a woman named Mott had lived their for 30 years and babysat all the children in the valley for which my host was one. Present day, this self-contained place is a spot for weary travelers like myself to seek refuge for a night or several instead of camping or the limited lodging options in that area.

So that morning when I woke up to go pack my motorcycle, I noticed two large dog paw prints on my motorcycle's seat. I offered that perhaps the dog had tried to ride my motorcycle and Natalie said the dog had run away after the chicken massacre at 3 a.m. At 9am, I headout down their dirt rode admiring both Mt. Lassen and Mt. Shasta in the distant horizons. I spied a lone chicken wandering around near the ditch looking confused and realized it was one of the lucky ones that got out without being attacked.

view from the kitchen at the end of the day
For the next few hours in the crisp morning air, I ruminated about the challenges of farm living that few people would be aware of if not experiencing it first hand. Through the unique situation of airbnb, I was able to have that short term inside look at a different kind of living that looks so picture perfect from the veneer of just driving by.

nearby Burney Falls State Park ~ worth a stop just for the waterfall!

inviting cottage with green grass in a fenced yard

view out to the cow pasture from the edge of the property

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Tom Ritchey ~ the man behind the name

Tom Ritchey of Ritchey Logic visited A Bicycle Odyssey recently to speak with Tony Tom as part of the Odyssey's "40-years-in-business" celebration. Watching two masters (Tom and Tony) have a conversation about the evolution of cycling and the equipment involved was truly informative.

The video profiles some things we found interesting from our 90 minute interview. 

Tom Ritchey at A Bicycle Odyssey from Anna MacKinnon on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Babysitting in Portland

For several years now since the television series Portlandia has been on the air, I've had people suggest I watch it because "it reminds them of me somehow". Two nights ago I began watching some episodes on Netflix for the first time because I'm physically staying here in Portland so why not? Some of the sketches are good and spot on for me and some are like a Hieronymous Bosch painting, where they leave me with a sense of irony and ambiguity and wondering if I should be appreciating them while being stoned.

As I write this post looking out on a fog laden sky, I'm hearing from a neighboring house the occasional wailing screams of a baby. Therefore I have to share my favorite sketch I watched on the show which does indeed "remind me of me" and might be what I would have done with a baby.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

My race is run, beneath the sun

In 1973 my parents brought home the newly released Angel Clare by Art Garfunkel, his first solo record album. I was nine years old and I used to play this record by myself in the living room until the grooves practically wore out. I'd stare endlessly at this man's face who was my parent's age. He seemed so very nice from the picture and his voice and the percussion of the instruments would transport me so that I quite forgot myself.

This one song though (the second one on the album) left me puzzled. I'd listen carefully to the lyrics and wonder why in the world would sweet Art do these things to this girl Rose Connolly. It wasn't until I read the WIKI on it that I understood the origins of this ballad. To think that there is a whole genre of music called murder ballads is noteworthy and something a nine year old wouldn't really understand anyway. My Irish heritage understood some deep connection though for which this song can still touch me the same way all these years later.

To listen, click here :

"Down In The Willow Garden"

Down in the Willow garden
Where me and my love did meet
As we sat a-courtin'
My love fell off to sleep
I had a bottle of Burgundy wine
My love she did not know
So I poisoned that dear little girl
On the banks below

I drew a sabre through her
It was a bloody knife
I threw her in the river
Which was a dreadful sign
My father often told me
That money would set me free
If I would murder that dear little girl
Whose name was Rose Connolly

My father sits at his cabin door
Wiping his tear-dimmed eyes
For his only son soon shall walk
To yonder scaffold high
My race is run, beneath the sun
The scaffold now waits for me
For I did murder that dear little girl
Whose name was Rose Connelly