Dienstag, 19. Juli 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.

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