Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Velocipedes: Penny Farthing to Salmon Haulers (Port Townsend Visit)

Canada Day to Independence Day we took a mini vacation over at Cheryl’s house, to go to Port Townsend, see a Farmer’s Market, watch the stars, light fireworks and buy American Candy. It is like the dream summer days of being a kid.

As we used so many different types of transport, or saw many (including aided by a bike shop in Port Townsend) it seemed that Velcipede was a good theme – it is a term for a human powered vehicle, usually bicycles, but started on our trip when, due to road closures, we had to take the ebay books to post, our luggage and wheel (Linda walked) down to the Black Ball Ferry. The concert in front of the Parliament was going on, and lots of kids were dancing, rolling back and forth on the grass and laughing (that whole tactile overload), and girls playing tag in the trees and rocks by the Olympic Hotel. I wanted to rest and so parked myself in the wheeled rack. This, I was told, was NOT where those on wheelchairs go. Alas.

On the way out, the water still and calm, we saw two of the big cruise ships docked, with others waiting for unloading/loading out at anchor in the land lee. The purser and captain both said they had not seen killer or grey whales this year, the first pod seen only for a moment just the week before. Usually the pods come through starting in late April, and can be see on the way to Sakura-con, but this year, they haven’t shown up. I hope that water pollutant or other human causes have not stopped the whale migration and birthing patterns.

On the other side, the Victoria-Port Angeles passenger ferry and dock were aglow in the ‘golden hour’ of sunlight.. It was the late sun of 9:30-10:00 pm which exists in summer, where light lingers in a summer twilight. We wheeled off, and I spotted and talked to the family in an original restored 1934 Jaguar. Sweet!

The next day we headed up to the Farmer’s market in Port Townsend (take the sign to Port Townsend, then the left turn as soon as you see the hill, up the hill, then a zig and zag and you are there – the market oddly has no disabled parking AND is bounded by two streets with no curb cuts at all, which means wheeling down the middle of the street before making it to the market). We parked across from the old Theatre (another one is in the lower town) from 1897 which still shows movies each day.
The market is a true ‘Farmer’s Market’with growers both in and out of town coming to sell wares from Farms, breweries and workshops. Here you can see some catnip in bloom, a rare sight, but for sale along with other flowers.
I inquired at the cabbage themed shop, selling Kimchi,wanting to know if it could be posted. They said that as it was on ice, it needed to be sent with dry ice and so the $5 Kamichi, a favorite Korean topping, would become a $30 cost. Sorry, if you want the fresh Kamichi (or other ‘kraut products) you need to come here.

I talked to a woman from North London who worked at the Embassy in Washington D.C., and we talked about what we missed from the UK, and the rhyming slang we tended to forget unless we watched BBC (‘take a slash’ I do remember as it is both visual and makes me think of men and how they piss in the snow). It seems that mobile phones are making NEW slang, as more money is made by texting (10 pence a text, a few hundred million texts per day), and in the UK, there are more phones than there are people – a mobile phone for every baby and great-grandfather. The North London Afro Caribbean influence makes ‘Cah’ (‘Cah di man wanna fly up North today’) mean, “Let’s meet up tonight (in North London)”. While the common rhyming slang is not only nouns but verbs, like the Cardiff Police were so ‘bales of cotton’ that they had to replace the head with someone from london due to deaths of minorities ‘falling down stairs’ (Bales of cotton=Rotton).

Aside over, back to the Market. There was a knife sharpener there, which made me wish I had brought my own knives as the things you have at home don’t SHARPEN them, they ‘straighten’ them so that they cut easier (for me, a knife which cuts a tomato skin clean and slices down under the weight of blade alone is my standard). Linda thought that coming over with 10 knives might make customs a wee wary.

There was fresh Baked Bread of all kinds, made in a stone oven, at the shop behind. We picked up a loaf, which had that hard crust and the lovely soft inside, with warm butter (yum). The shop has won ‘Best Cinnamon Bun of the Northwest, and is a place I plan to visit again.

As I was late, and only had 90 minutes, and I tended to talk to people and get the stories, I didn’t see all of the market, like wood stove, 10 feet tall including chimney, which had been wheeled there to make pizza’s. I was facinated by the idea of a Baja Fish Taco, as though I love my Mexican food from living in LA, I was not familiar with that. But you can see a cyclist filling up on hot sauces for their Baja Fish Taco (sorry, that just sounds wrong, shouldn’t it say WHAT fish).

Cheryl noticed the Penny Farthing, which I immediate wheeled over and started talking to the guy. He has a shop where he makes and restores many of these. Indeed much of Port Townsend (which is having a bit of a recession now, with emtpy storefronts on main street), caters to making or selling Victorian/Edwardian lamps and shades, books and arts. He affirmed that it was an original and showed me the brake (which is a metal that clamps on the top wheel). This he said is not the best thing to do with the hills of Port Townsend (he had come up one to get there and needed to go down the BIG HILL to town). He said that the brake doesn’t clamp hard enough and if it did, you would simply clamp the wheel and be thrown face first over it and down. If it is a small hill, you can back pedal, as it is a fixed axle, like those bikes of youth. OR, what is best is to have one hand on the brake, put your chest on the seat, and put one foot on the mounting bar (just above the small wheel on the frame) and the other as drag on the small wheel to slow you down. It sounds like it takes practice and is a bit of an art form.

He let me know when he was going to ride the Penny Farthing away and first he ran it, getting the bike momentum to give him time to mount, then stepped up on the mounting wheel as you can see here, with his back foot off the ground. Then, still holding on to the ‘mustache handlebars’ he kept it straight while mounting up to the saddle, and then it was both feet on the pedals and away he went.
The Penny Farthing cycle in 1870 was an technological advance on the ‘BoneShaker’ (term used for a Steam Punk Novel a few years ago) as the Boneshaker had fixed wheels and a rigid fixed axle in the FRONT wheel so the bumping was considerable. This is called a Penny Farthing (or an ‘ordinary’) because if you put an old British Penny (big wheel) and a Farthing (little wheel) next to each other, it makes the shape of this Velocipede. This ‘high cycle’ started cycling as a sport, as it was mass produced both in the UK and US for the next 20 years. The hazards for females of bustles, propriety and long skirts made this shape popular for MEN, while women used the older designed three and four wheelers (which look a lot like a modern recumbent).

Cycles are a big part of Port Angeles and we met Helen, the next door neighbor to a husband and wife Salmon fishing team. Helen had spent 15 years on the boats (and had that look you see in women on the west and east coast of Canada that do the cold water fishing) but now delivered the Salmon….on her cycle. She had a Surley elongated cycle attached to a rig holding three full chests of iced fresh salmon (200 lbs of Salmon), which she rode up the BIG hill and then down again. She rides delivery to restaurants and markets and does over 2,500 miles a year as she is six miles from town, but always hauling the salmon. She says that people wave at her and she has had no problems on the road of anyone cutting her off, since she can’t slow down quickly (I should have asked how often she has to change her brakes). I asked how she gets up the hills and she says she weaves her Surley back and forth a bit (but keeps the trailer rig steady) and stands up, but the leg power gets it done.

It was 2:00 p.m. and time for the market to close, but I had to stop by to take a picture of this moon charm/pendant and the theme that went with it (yah!) as well as pick up from Robert the last bottle of Raspberry Cider from a local brewer, Eaglemount. As you can see by the apple in front, they mostly do apple, but also pear (Robert was sold out of Pear Cider as it is his favorite so he talks it up more). It was good, and we just drank the last of it, without a vinegar aftertaste, but not the hard crispness of many B.C. ciders, more like a dessert wine.

Leaving we spotted this senior citizen who with backpack and three wheeler was ready to take on the hills. The one thing about Port Townsend is that it is a place which seems to hold many aspects of time. The barns and wooden fences behind the cyclist could hail from the 1900’s but more like the 1970’s, as he himself exudes a ‘free spirit’ of the 60’s and 70’s.

We even saw a man who was walking his dog while riding his recumbent cycle. Off they go, cyclist and dog, which was on a leash making me think that was a well trained dog, or a disaster waiting to happen.

Last time we came we took pictures of the Victorian architecture, so this time it was the 1950’s and 60’s I was interested in. This 1961 Bel Air shows the fading of paint, the scrapes, repaints, love and wear of a classic car. After we investigated the alley’s and gardens of downtown, Cheryl taking on the hill back up to the lower town,we were hot and hungry, so on to FOOD.

What better for hunger and hot than to go than to get a Malt, which is made with real Malt Machines rescued from the midwest and west coast, restored and going strong. An order gets you a full fountain glass and the steel shaker besides, full of chocolate and malt. Linda meanwhile was picking out songs, which are still 25 cents, from Love Potion #9 to Runaway. We split a burger and fries and then it was back to Port Angeles for a long nap and then a steak BBQ on Cheryl’s new gas grill.

The previous night I had gone up the hill to where it was dark and the night sky seemed to leap forward, just out of reach. The little dipper was just in front and as I lay there watching Venus, I saw a small streak then with Linda a little later a long streak of a meteor entering the atmosphere and burning up.

One thing I had never done, not as a child, a teen or an adult was to buy and set off fireworks. Now while Cheryl was a pryo, the kind which must have had her well known by the police force in town, and her becoming a law enforcement ranger with LOTS of time on her hands (and lot of other rangers with a love of things going ‘BOOM’) meant she had lots of stories. Indeed, these were stories which got worse and filled with more risk for the boom soe so much I looked to see if Cheryl had all her fingers. It was a surprise to me that she did! Linda took my $35 down and bought a bag full of fireworks and so after the BBQ, at 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. We set off snakes that whizzed and erupted in flames of green, red, orange and white as they spun around the empty street. Then we had the launchers which sent up the bursts of erupting colour and light. My first thought was ‘MY GOD! LOUD!!!!!’ But Cheryl assured me that her neighbors would, the next night, do fireworks even later. Oh, if I live another year, get me a cot and bring me out to do that again. I guess I like the boom too, good thing I did not have time on my hands with people who knew how to make 'boom', I just set fires instead (cause that's SO much more healthy!)

I couldn’t actually light the fireworks as they required throwing, and for me to light it, and then throw it instead of drop it into my clothes…..way too risky. After I asked, Cheryl did intertwine the fuses from the launcher so they sent up a bam, bam series of bursts, where one erupted in colour and light just as the last was finishing. They may not have been as impressive as the ones seen at festivals by hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands of people but in a way these were better because it was a private show: for an hour. I hope to make a short 30 second video of the best of the fireworks but I am glad that was something I did before I died.

And so the weekend came to an end, back to bed, and then packing and heading back to Black Ball to catch the Ferry. getting back home in Victoria. It was fun and I got to see a lot and take a lot of great pictures. I hope you enjoyed the show as well – I may not be able to get out much, but I try to see all I can, while I can.


Linda McClung said...

Hi Beth,

I loved reading your blog and remembering our fun weekend. You took beautiful photos and did an amazing job preparing them and writing the commentary. How many days did it take you altogether?

I had never seen catnip in bloom, nor had I ever seen a Penny Farthing cycle up close before. The fresh bread was delicious as was your malt shake I kept helping myself to.

I hope we can do it again next year - firworks and meteors included.

wendryn said...

Beautiful pictures - sounds like a great trip!

Karolina said...

Hi dear,
I love how positive you stay. You are incredibly strong. I sent you a postcard a while back, I hope you got it :)


Kate J said...

What a wonderful trip! Loved the photos of the farmers market - the bread (!), the kimchi and the rainbow chard. And the fireworks! Almost feel I'd been there with you - wish I could have been. Seems you, Linda and Cheryl had a great weekend together in a great place.
And now I'm trying to imagine if they could make a penny farthing wheelchair especially for you - steam punk perhaps!
Next time I get to a really good craft market or farmers' market I'll be thinking of you, and the pleasure you take in the colours, scents and tastes all around you.
Love & peace

Neil said...

What a perfect photo of lovely Linda! Or should the be a lovely photo of perfect Linda? :)

The photo of you in the bicycle rack is cute at first, but then a little unsettling; *I* wouldn't lock you there and leave you while I went shopping.

Mmmmm, velocipedes! When we win the lottery, I'm heading to Australia to order a Greenspeed recumbent trike in person.

Thank you for not risking yourself with the fireworks; the photos are enough, and very good.

Uh, TEN knives? You didn't take them all at once, did you?

What a wonderful trip! I hope you haven't had to pay too much for it in healing time.

Love and zen hugs to you, and your gorgeous wife, and Cheryl too!

Noisyworld said...

I hadn't even realised catnip *did* blooms :/
I love the firework photos- they're my favourite kind! lol
I previously thought Penny Farthings were plain dangerous but it's different when you see a professional :)
Thankyou for taking us with you on your trip :)

Elizabeth McClung said...

THanks for the comments. Linda asked how long it took, and it was 4 night to do the photos (27-29 in all, not sure if used all of them). Then research on cycles and then just five hours straight or 5.5 hours writing and matching the photos. No picture of the meteor.

I really like a lot of the photos, the one of Cheryl walking up the alley is great, as is the Bel Air, and the many types of bikes was fun. I like taking good pictures and this had a really great sunshine.

I changed my photo for my ID to one from last year, so it is within 12 months of now. The edema radically changes the body shape and size, and nothing I can do to change that - what used to change over 3 days now takes about 70 minutes, as being in the sun for an hour can make me literally swell up like I am that blueberry girl in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I guess that is part of the death process.

Kate J: I wouldn't mind one of those 4 wheeler's with recumbant they had for women in 1857-1890's, they look quite comfortable. The bicycle shop had some comfortable women's saddles, and when all the women in the shop were talking about them, it seem to get quite erotic with all the sounds of satisfaction and 'ahhhh, ohhhhhhh' filling the air.

monnsqueak said...

The best photos! You look absolutely gorgeous, wonderful to see you out, smiling, and in the sunshine. *huggly-squee* It looks gorgeous, love the penny farthing and you trying to get your chair into the bike rack most of all. LOL xxxxxxxxxx

Raccoon said...

Actually, the wheelchair rack use out in the weather. I can't imagine you wanting to be parked there if it started to rain.

Uhm... I thought kimchi was more of a side dish. I mean, yeah they put it on stuff, but when I go to Korean restaurants, there's generally a couple of different kinds in small bowls on the table. But yeah, not really something that you want to ship across country.

I read an article recently that said that, worldwide, there would be more connections per person than people by 2015. And that's even counting the currently "hidden" population, like the tribes in the Amazon. Fax, telephone, computer, laptop, PADDs/tablets, book readers, cell phone... I know I'm forgetting a few here.

In San Francisco, there's a Dickens Christmas Faire every year. It was there for a while, then there was five or six years when it wasn't, then it started back up again in 1996. It was down on the wharfs, so it was fairly flat. One of the guys there had two of the penny farthings. One where the seat was about 4 feet off the ground, the other was about 5 feet off the ground. That was one of my jobs at the Faire, along with playing at the "Faerie Tale Theatre." That was fun, too. I played Cinderella in one telling of the story -- the two ugly sisters played football when they were in high school. And "Jack and the Beanstalk," where I was Jack, the cow was played by some little yip dog who, when I handed it off to the salesman, started peeing...

Good times.

It's actually not that difficult to ride a penny farthing. You can't turn on a dime, and if you stop peddling but keep your feet on the pedals you will fall over. And it's only got zero gears, so you don't want to go up many/any/steep/lengthy hills. My friend didn't have any brakes on his, that I can remember. And there are a couple of places that still make them.

I'm very familiar with Blackthorne Dry, and there''s a few places to get peach, but I don't think I've seen any raspberry. Now, mead is very sweet, and often times has a bit of a fruit flavor. I don't think I've ever finished a (wine sized) bottle without a few friends.

Bah! The picture was too small to see which version of Runaway it was.

So I'm watching a video about a 10-year-old with cerebral palsy teaching an old age home how to make art, and the YouTube suggestions had a guy in a wheelchair teaching defensive martial arts moves. The YouTube suggestions for that one had this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRDwCoyirQ0 . 1:46 from August of 2007.

And half the suggestions at the end of that video were you, too!

cheryl g said...

That was such a great weekend! I loved having you over and the day in Port Townsend was a lot of fun! Your photos of Port Angeles make it look really pretty. The vintage Jaguar was really cool.

I really like the Port Townsend Farmer’s Market. The bread was delicious. I bet the baja fgish tacos would be delicious too. Around here fish tacos are usually halibut or cod.

The man with the Penny farthing certainly made the mounting and riding look easy. I think I would prefer the four wheeled recumbents the Victorian women used. The cyclist who delivered the salmon was certainly very fit.

I love the soda fountain in PT. The blackberry shakes are incredible and they do yummy burgers.

It was also nice to star gaze with you and shooting fireworks off was great fun. I haven’t done fire works for a while so it was a real treat. I like to think I have become safer about fireworks since I have come to the conclusion that I am really not invincible.

SharonMV said...

Dear Beth,
Thank you for telling us about your trip and the night of stars, meteors & fireworks.
I always enjoy going to the fairs with you. I wish there was a program that provided a basket of lovely produce from a farmer's market to those of us who can't get out to shop The pictures are great - what resplendent blooms on the catnip. The penny farthing bicycle was neat. I aways wondered how one got on the thing. I didn't know that stopping was so problematic.

I agree that you got some really good photos. You look great - the smile, I love seeing that. And Linda's smile was enchanting in her close-up.


Olivia said...

What a great trip and so beautifully documented (as you always do). I know that a post like this is a lot of work. Setting off and watching the fireworks looks like great fun. I'm guilty of being a bit blase about fireworks in general, and not keen on amateur ones after getting too close at a party or too. They were legal in my city until only a couple of years ago - people would come from interstate for our pron and fireworks.

Neil said...

Noisyworld, you're correct, in that penny farthing bicycles ARE dangerous. If you hit a big enough bump, you will go over the handlebars in what was called a "header," face first and down. Since roads weren't as smooth as they are now (dirt roads, cobblestones, presents from passing horses...), riders tended to do a lot of headers. And when coasting downhill, they would put their legs over the handlebars to get them out of the way of the pedals, and to help them land on their feet when they hit those inevitable bumps.

Raccoon is correct, though; they aren't difficult to ride. They're just sometimes difficult to keep riding.

SharonMV: you have the perfect description of Linda's smile: enchanting.

Beth: I hope the bread smelled as good as it looks. It has my mouth watering as much on the second reading as it did on the first. You're a very good photographer!

Love and zen hugs to all,

Lorna, Bob and Liam said...

Wow, between your photos and the descriptions of... well, everything... next time we do the Black Ball over to Port Angeles we'll stop over and check out the area.

Thanks, as always, for the incredible effort you put into sharing your experiences...

Baba Yaga said...

You do make the most of your outings: it looks wonderfully interesting, & pleasingly relaxed photos of you all. The photograph of Cheryl in the alley is quite arty.

I was never sure that sure penny-farthing was a terrifically convenient form of transport - dodgy brakes and probability of going head-first make it sound even less appealing. But if other people are so splendidly loopy as to ride them (somehow I'm unsurprised that Raccoon and Neil know about penny-farthings - you have a high class of reader), I'm all for it. They're wonderful things to look at from a safe distance.

Lene Andersen said...

What a wonderful description of your day! It felt like I was there. Loved the wings pendant and had no idea catnip bloomed. I also got all nostalgic about the late twilight - it reminded me of my childhood in Denmark where it never got dark until way late.

Thanks for this post!

jump2narnia said...

You, Elizabeth McClung, are the bravest woman I've ever seen. A better woman than I'll ever be, for sure. I don't know if you've seen or even heard of the Japanese movie called "Midnight Sun", but you so remind me of Kaoru...the girl in the movie with the rare skin condition which only enables her to come out at nighttime. And when she does go out at night, she plays her guitar for the citizens of Japan. Like you, she is a true artist and as her condition becomes terminal, she remains strong and positive.

I know this sounds cheesy and all, but you really are my hero and I hope you know what a truly beautiful person you are, through and through. <3

-Amanda Brown (fellow lesbian)

Aviatrix said...

Kate's right. After reading this post, I really feel as if I spent the day with you. I keep scrolling between this post and the following one, and hope that this won't have been the last you ever write, but if it turns out to be you'll have spent a life as captivating as that day, and gone out with a boom as exciting as the fireworks.

w5ego said...

I love your blog! I love your courage and your sense of humor and your drive and determination. I was married for 25 years to a great lady with very much the same drive and courage, who had MS and Fibro and Lupus and a whacking great brain tumor. You remind me so very much of her.

Here is your *hug*, from someone who has seen the outside of these things UPC close and very personal.