Friday, July 2, 2010

okay so I have been ignoring you

I found that some times making the time takes more time then you have to spend.
my complete journal for the 2010 Greek trip is now complete on crazy guy.
Back in the Hood,riding and wondering where my bike will want to go next.

Friday, May 21, 2010

It seems I have an obsession about the roads in Greece.

Today I will stop talking about the roads and or lack of. Getting directions at the local water fountain from a older gentleman who was there to fill his water jugs started my morning. He looked at my map pointed in several directions and spoke rapidly all in Greek, I nodded at what must have been the right places as he left me with a huge smile and a wave. I love that there are at times water fountains to be found along the road.
This morning finding one allowed a nice bath and refill of the water bottles. Okay so the bath was with refreshing cold spring water need I say more.

This section of the Island was barely populated with just a sprinkling of colorful houses. I had heard that the island boasted 20 million olive trees my count so far was a tad over 18 million 600 thousand. But I think I missed a few.
A sand road along the coast tied into a rough gravel road that boasted a military tank at the intersection.
This was the second tank I had seen ‘dug in’ as the say as a defensive part of past island protection. Both of these tanks were now abandoned left to rust with there guns still pointing out to the sea.

There was no real goal in mind for today's travels but (the infamous but) there was a town in striking distance that I have stayed in once before. Hell I even knew where the bakery was there.
With thoughts of fresh hot raisin buns I got slapped in the face with one of the longest and steepest climbs of the whole trip so far. Yeah I hear you all laughing. This was the 2 liter plus climb where another church that was spotted as a speck in the clouds would finally become a full fledged building.

Sheep are not my friends. I have already posted several shots of cute sheep herds that have shared or crossed my path. But sheep are not my friends. It as hot today. Fresh sheep dung from those oh so cute sheep attracts huge swarms of flies, riding through the herd allows the flies to abandon the sheep dung and become my new BFF or best friends forever. If I was luckily this would happen where I would have a spot of downhill or flat stretch to get enough speed to lose them. If it was as today on the uphill push you got to see the Greek version of Lord of the Dance. As I wasn’t getting the steps correctly I was able to practice this dance many times during the course of the day.

After several days of connecting the dots to travel from village to village I find myself back in the arms of civilization. Coming in from the coastal route I discovered a part of a village that when passing during my last tour I was totally unaware of. Sort of like in the states when the freeway passing a town and soon there is an newer town out by the freeway exit, All new and modern that has no real connection to the original town except the name. When I had passed this village once before all the trappings were mostly modern so I just peddled on. Coming in via the coast route I wasn’t sure that I was even in the same town. A huge church high up on a rock sitting right in the middle of the old village. How?? Had I missed this??
Must have been high on coffee and raisin buns.

I found my Pizza sign from last year.

As I topped the ridge the entire town of Molivos was spread out before me. The blue house was going to be my home for a few days as rain was once again on the agenda.

I lucked out and once again had the house to myself as the only other guests left in the morning. They were an uninspiring couple from Washington D.C. who wore the shell of totally out of they comfort zone tourist as they traveled.

Molivos is a great little village, tucked tightly again the ridge overlooked by the castle above. Lots of smiling people and good restaurants. I even found myself back in the same restaurant as I have eaten in last year. The owner a surly woman who lacked a personality made up for that with her cooking skills. Her husband was the opposite treating me to shot after shot of homemade amaretto. I told him he was a good man for they made a great couple together…

Monday, May 10, 2010

And what do you do for fun?

Yesterday ended with a nice camp along a remote section of beach. What from a distance looked soo inviting turned out to be a serious letdown upon my arrival. The winding mountain roads had finally brought me back to some semblance of civilization. Hell there was even pavement for a few hundred yards.
Then gravel, then pavement, then gravel, I could keep this going but I think we all have the picture. Do not take any of this as a complaint as I am just passing on the conditions I went on while I sang badly at the top of my lungs, happy to be on tour. Several miles around this bay sat an old abandoned fisherman’s shack along a single track trail. I made my way over thinking that there would be some flat ground nearby to pitch my tent. I was in for a surprise as all I found was large rocks and garbage. Lots and lots of junk, everywhere. My options were limited as to what I should do as daylight would leave me stranded before I would be able to retrace my route back to a suitable camp spot. Make lemonade was the best solution as I rolled out my ground cloth right on the path that got me here. I cleaned a circle of junk away from my camp area and started a blaze with the debris. What started as a five minute project to clear a space around my tent became a hour as I cleared off a large area on the rocky beach of plastic bottles, jugs, buckets, old nets and other junk that had be washed up by the water to this shore.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fire up the kettle
Woke up once again long before first light, did a little reading in the tent using a headlamp as I waited.
This year I packed a good set of polar fleece pants along with a polar fleece jacket to sleep in. They make comfortable sleeping gear also they are great to wear around camp in the morning when the sun had yet to warm the ground. I packed a Helly Hanson long-sleeved winter undershirt a new addition to my touring gear. In the past I would stop for lunch or at the end of day. Hot and sweaty but rapidly cooling to the point of getting a chill I would toss on a jacket that soaked up the sweat and kept me warm. This time I would pull off my bike Jersey putting the HH shirt on. Designed to wick away the sweat but as opposed to a cool max shirts these kind of winter wear under shirts are used to help keep you warm even when wet. What a difference as it worked better than expected. I would cool down but didn’t get cold. Was much easier to rinse out and hang dry then a jacket.
Breakfast had my Kettle flaming for some killer oatmeal and hot coffee. Sun was rising up on the cliffs I started to pack up but was stalled, the dew on tent fly needed to dry. What is the old saying about if you can’t move the mountain then move to the mountain? I gathered up the tent fly and walked up out of the stream bed to a rise that the sun was already shinning on. Laid out here it dried while I finished packing up.
The next village was barley awake when I arrived. Had another cup of coffee from a sleepy café owner who was on his first cup of the day. It hit me that I hadn’t a clue what time it was except morning, as for the day of the week I would have to count back sleeps to get to the a day of the week I actually knew. Such a bad thing…
As I left I spotted a small church poised high on a rocky ridge some miles away in the distance. Amazed that someone would have the tenacity to haul the building materials to such a high and remote area.
Today was also episode 27 of the ongoing saga of you can’t get there from here. When I pointed to the back road I wanted to use to get to Sigri I was told no way, dirt road, take this fine paved road that is also going to Sigri.. There was a lack of understanding that I wanted this high mountain dirt road the hugged the coast over the main road that yes it would get me there easier and faster but wasn’t the way I wanted to go. I told them in my limited way that if the road got to rough I would turn back and visit with them later for a beer. Not two miles down the dirt road came across a small church that had a covered well sporting a new shinny bucket. Under the shade of a large oak I took a great refreshing bucket shower.. okay I am lying it was a frigid icy cold, freeze my butt off wash that was wonderful. Clean duds followed felt 100% better. Off to tackle the back road route. It wasn’t long before that church that I talked about earlier; you know the one high up on that ridge. While I was climbing and climbing and now I was looking down on this same church in one direction and in the other more climb. but wait in the other direction more climb yahoo There is nothing I can put in words here that would accurately paint you the picture of the feeling of awe when I crested this next ridge. I was now going back in time as with the acceptations of this gravel road the landscape was green rolling hills with a few stone fences this area was devoid of modern mans influence.
Again road is an large encompassing term here for anything from almost a wantabe jeep track to a paved highway. The down side to this remote adventure highway was the fact that the un-marked spur roads that jutted off in several directions were sometimes as large or small as what I will call this main road. Many long minutes were spent standing at a crossroad or spur doing a mental coin flip on what road should I venture down. As hard as it is to believe never once during this days back- road trek did I have to reverse course.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Great day to be alive, better day to ride.

Great day to be alive, better day to ride.
At last clear baby blue skies in every direction. That dark threat of rain that chased me on my ride yesterday only to pour after I had arrived here had given way to a bright sunny morning. The daughter of my host who spoke English made me coffee while welcoming me back to the island. She said that her mother going out in the street to offer rooms well last night was a first. We could at this point get into the discussion about cosmic alignments and how all things that happen in the universe are meant to happen but we didn’t. They were so nice as they made me a sandwich to put away for my lunch. The road was calling my name so with sunshine on my back I wheeled out along the beach front road. I did make one small detour as my memory said that the bakery was a few blocks back from the main square. The bakery was even at this early hour close to being sold out. Racks that once had been piled with long brown loafs now showed just crumbs. I with the others that were showing up to buy were taken into the back where off right from the oven pans the baker was handing us our choices. This done I was officially ready to roll.
Low to no traffic, but the old high school mathematical problem haunted me all morning. You know the one that goes “If Mr. A leaves his house at 6:32 am and travels at 45 mph north on HWY 101 and Mr. B leaves his house at 7:07 am and travels south on HWY 101 at 58 mph. At what time will they meet?
The Answer is simple. They meet just as Chris on his fully loaded touring bike starts to cross a single lane bridge. I had to laugh for all morning while the road was wide I had it all to myself as soon as it narrowed down there would be a large truck or a rash of autos to share it with. It’s so fun to dance with the devil.
Today officially was the first real day of this tour. Body and mind were now clicking in sync. Huge long climbs that gave away to sweeping views. Green hillsides covered with brilliant flowers, add to this the total loss of day and time. Soft music drifting up from the headphones that rested around my shoulders. I was in the moment and loving it.

A long climb up into a valley to a town perched on the hillside. I was proud as I had made good time and the turn off that would let me follow a more remote coastal route should located here in this town.
A group of guys sitting at a roadside café yelled for me to stop and have a beer. I am getting to like this as this is the second free beer bought by strangers for me since I have been here. I had my map of the US printed on a silk cloth that I showed them. It list how far Oregon is from this Island and how far all the cities that most of the people know of in the states are from Oregon. It is fun to watch their eyes get wide when they say New York and I point out that it is only 4k from Oregon. This group got my wide eyed reaction when I asked about the turn off road and they pointed out that I was yet to be in the right village for the turn off. I was still ten good climbing miles away from the right village. I am laughing now. But hey beer is fuel. There was a treat that as I sat there the waitress brought out a plate of unknown to me fresh cooked sheep liver. They insisted that I try a bite. It was great..
As the day started to come to a close I wandered up a small dirt road and pitched camp next to a dry river bed. The ground was so tough I bent a few tent stakes getting them in. Another first on this trip was the real world use of my Kelly Kettle. From Ireland this is a jacketed kettle that boils 3 pints of water in 5 to 6 minutes using twigs and leaves as fuel. This camp area was covered in fuel for this kettle. So I was ready with a package of dry soup poured in to a bowl, sliced turkey waiting to be added. Red wine, fresh bread, then chocolate for dessert. But once again I am ahead of myself. A little kindling in the fire pot, a quick zap of the lighter and as advertised it was rocking fire. You feed more fuel down the chimney till the water boils. Easy, soon I was pouring the boiling water into my soup dinner was just minutes away. I had brought one item that Kelly Kettle should offer with their kit. A silicone pot holder allows you to pick up the hot fire pot base. As it was somewhat windy it was easy with the pot holder to move the open flaming base down behind a rock where the fire would die out.
I am having fun..

Friday, April 23, 2010

gimmie shelter

Dark rain clouds had been littering the sky for most of the day. I knew before long I was going to have to find some shelter for the night. What had shown on the map as a possible camp site turned out to be a water side restaurant with a nice tourist sign. Surprised at how busy it was I took the recommendation from the others dining here who were all sitting with plates of fresh fish and prawns. The owner led me back into the busy kitchen where I picked out a nice fat fish. I was really getting into this vacation shit. I ordered a beer that when delivered was paid for by the group at the next table. As two of the three spoke English we talked about (are you ready) bike touring, cameras, and music. As nice as it was chatting, those dark rain clouds had me worried that I was soon destined to get soaked. There was about 15-20 miles of paved riding to a large village getting there before the rain was my new goal.
After coming to a crossroad I turned heading for the bright city lights still another ten miles off. For the first time on this trip I was in sorta familiar roads as last year I had passed this way though in the other direction. When I came to the road construction that hadn’t progressed since my last trip I to laugh, I did as I had done the year before turning off the narrow paved main road and riding up on the empty wide smooth under construction roadbed. This was the best bike path yet. As I cruised past the shops on the narrow streets I wondered where I would find a room. The ten block Main Street busy with shoppers its café crowded with locals drinking Turkish coffee. I found the real recipe for good Turkish coffee (melts the spoon a prime indicator that you have made it right). I had always thought the ratio of coffee to battery acid was one to one but in reality it is one to six. The way you get that full burning effect in every cup. A lone taxi driver gave me the bad news that the Easter holiday had filled all the local rooms. Another six miles down the road was a beach side town that should still have rooms.
Déjàvu was this a repeat from last year. The same town he directed me to was the same place I had holed up from the rain last year. At least this time I knew the shortcut and peddled furiously as dark was chasing me. This is where it got weird. Just as I pulled into this next town I was forced to get off my bike as the streets were crowded with people on foot. A short lady popped out of the crowd. Looked right at me and said ROOM. I had to smile as this was the same owner’s wife from the same place I stayed last year in this same little village. With a big smile I followed her back to the same room as last year. If the sign had said Hotel California I would have run screaming. Now you have to know that she doesn’t speak a word of English. This whole exchange is being done just with nods and smiles. Settled in my room the rain came hard and fast for all of ten minutes. There was a festival going on and here I was right in the middle of it. A parade being led by a monked robed priest, tons of firecrackers going off, a huge bonfire, and me sitting back with a front row seat drinking some ouzo thinking this is pretty cool.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Road? What road? We don’t need no stinking road.

This morning there was a sun hiding up in the haze that failed to make it warm. Thank god for the three mile climb that allowed my body to warm up before the sun broke through. Had that going for me to start the day. This morning I needed to find a store, a bakery and some sun screen. Bakery was easy, chocolate croissants still warm from the oven, a smiling baker wrapping a large loaf of fresh bread wishing me good cheer to start my day. A little cheese from the store, a banana and then the sunscreen.
Sunscreen choice was a total of one bottle of SPF 20. My sunburn factor so far SPF 2000. Cost was $20.US, need factor out weighted cost factor so I was more than happy to find it. In reality was actually surprised to find some in this small village. I normally tour with a small bottle of sun block that I have emptied and refilled for years. I know when I get home I will find it waiting for me as it sits out on the counter wondering why I left it behind.
Today should take me to a hot spring area that was one of the major reasons that I chose this island as a place to tour. I drank my juice and devoured the croissants before pushing off following a winding stream up the valley. A major hurdle was accomplished this morning as I had finally adjusted to the weight of the bike and here I was using most of my gear range. Stone bridges, hillsides ablaze with red poppies, low traffic, this is why I tour.

Found the first hot spring, closed up but with signs saying it was open. The guard dog became friendly as I shared my bread with him. People drove in, shook the door, and peered inside at the empty office then left.
Hidden from the main buildings was a local using the hot water to clean a few birds. I wandered around taking photographs before leaving. Not sure of the age of these buildings but from my understanding there has been some type of a hot spring bath house here for roughly two thousand years.
On the map it showed that the next town also had a hot spring so I pushed off not knowing if this was going to be an still closed or not. The Greek equivalent of a lawn and garden center had an enormous amount of clay pots along with all kinds of statues. There is one photo in this set that tells it all. No it’s not the “K’’ factor photo where a stone cold beauty fails to talk to me. It is one of the others.
When looking at Google earth of this Island there was what looked like a long landing strip just outside of this village though it had no building or if it was a military strip, no bunkers for planes. A road crossed it and I guessed an air strip when looking at it using Google earth but still wasn’t sure. Today I crossed it and it was an air strip with posted military signs warning that I was not supposed to take photos. I will just have to continue to look at it using Google earth..
You know sometimes there are parts of a ride that just piss you off. I climbed a good sized hill under a blazing sun to the next town and knew something was off when I finally came to the turnoff and it was a downhill coast. Not a bad downhill coast but I was rapidly losing the entire climb and actually back tracking towards the town I had just left. Following the hot spring signs I coasted lower and lower still wondering was I coming back to the other village. Popping around a bend the off in the distant was the other village actually closer then the village I had to pass thought to get here. I could have come from the first village to here without a climb. Not fair.. Okay So I will just have to soak in the hot spring baths as a reward with a cold beer. Maybe two. The folks who ran this place were really nice said to choose either the old or new bath house and have a soak. The old bath house needed some renovation so I choose the new it being only 400 years old, the other bath house was around 800 years old.
Leaving here was a gravel road that skirted the coast I was told that it did continue to the next town but they had never used it as it was gravel. This was not for the weak of heart as gravel gave way to sand and then the sand gave way to a track by the water. For several miles that seemed like hours I pushed on following the shore not knowing if this path was just going to give up on me or ? I saw a house way off in the distant that I knew must either have a path or a road leading to it. I was at the point that if this road did not reappear by the time I came to this house that I would have to back track and find another route. Luck was smiling as the house had a road in front of it. The roads still not more than gravel was better than the path. Happy I stopped and took pictures of the road.