Wednesday, June 5, 2013


The Story Thus Far
All my life I have kept journals. I wish I had them all. I don't. The viciously peripatetic lifestyle I have lived means many things were lost along the way. Many things were lost, and people too. Abrupt changes of residence, sometimes in the middle of the night (and frequently not-sober) means things lost and not missed until much too late. Also, there are those dark nights of the soul when, reading the notes from my many adventures and mishaps, I was less than impressed with what I had to say about them. That resulted in some book burning, alas, torn pages fed to the fire between solemn swigs of rum and that delicious melancholy that comes from tripping down memory lane.

But then around 1993 I got my first computer, a venerable IBM Aptiva that almost instantly became my best friend and confidant. The learning curve was stupendous, but a couple of those “...for Dummies” books and one massive manual that came with floppy discs (remember those?) set me on the path of learning and so I have a fairly unbroken record of my comings and goings ever since.

Did I Ever Mention...
Then, two years ago, I made my blogging debut on the international stage of the World's Greatest Cycling Blogs when I got guest posted at The Fat Cyclist and the journal-keeping ended and I started airing my dirty laundry and spreading my fertilizer here at the 
Trailer Park Cyclist. It has been a heady experience, to say the least. I now have a massive following of dozens of people and the voices in my head, once a raging chorus of angry villagers, has melded into one more or less calm and semi-benevolent Voice that (while still a bit of a nuisance) I can listen to without wincing or breaking into manic laughter or descending into a violent maelstrom of rebellion against myself.

Nuisance? You consider me a nuisance? I think I have the phone number for the Angry Village People around here somewhere...

“No, no, Voice, you must have misunderstood! I said you gave me a new sense of life! We're pals!”

Uh huh. By the way, there's a Voice convention in Kalamazoo next month and I'm going to need a few days off.

“Then you're going to have to use sick days. You used up your vacation time while I was out in L.A. last year.” These Voices, I'll tell ya...

Let's it is. Angry Policeman Village Person...1 800 I'M ANGRY...

“Ok, Ok, take as long as you need.” I can't win.

So Anyway...
But: for some reason, I am keeping a journal again. I have a spreadsheet I use to keep track of various expenditures and where I also chart my cycling miles and maintenance. I record my daily electric usage and how much water I use and if this current stretch of (poverty induced) sobriety continues I may start keeping track of caloric intake and output and drop these thirty pounds that bedevil me when the wind is in my face or I am pedaling up the wrong side of a steep Florida drawbridge. So as I write down these numbers (a long habit from a lifetime of keeping track of payroll and materials and progress and keeping score) I also type in brief notes on the weather and my mood and just what is going on in my life that I might want to remember later. These notes soon expanded into...

You better explain about the electric and the water.


Most people don't keep daily records of how much electricity and water they use. It makes you sound a little odd.

“Well Voice, sounding only a little odd is an improvement, don't you think?”

But I'll explain: there are two reasons I am writing down the minute details of my existence in proper spreadsheet form: One is that everything sucks right now and it keeps me from spinning out of control. It grounds me and acts as a kind of buffer, or inner refuge. It reminds me that things have been bad before and then got better and that it will get better this time, too.

The other reason is more mundane. I'm just figuring out what kind of gear would satisfy my needs if I were to think about solar power and rain catchment systems and so I'm a nerd and keeping track of stuff is a lifelong habit, hence my lifelong habit of keeping a journal.

But now that I have successfully segued a full circle I have forgotten what the point was.

No, seriously, I just reread this post and it's gone, whatever I was going to say. I've got to start writing faster...

So I'll Just Make Something Up
It was probably something about how I often read back over the years and it is a little embarrassing how one year is like another; but there is good stuff in there, too, stuff that I think kicks ass but that I would never put on here. What is it? I knew you were going to ask. Figure it out. Open your closet and rattle the skeletons in there and listen to the music the bones make. Then imagine that you are a twice-married maniac who has been self-employed for life, who never really had anyone to answer to except God and my probation officer and imbued with a taste for strong drink and wild ladies and the places where both can be found. Add more than two decades of working on the road throughout the Gulf States and going at night to those places and indulging in those things...

I'll Never Tell...
I once had these two girls in Alabama convinced that I was the Prince of Alaska and the next day when I finally made it to happy hour the bartender said the first drink was on him and those girls had been in earlier and he had heard all about last night, Your Highness...

Or the time I went into the post office after my second marriage went away and I was going to get a stop put on my mail because I was leaving town. But there was an unusually long line and I never, since I got out of the military, wait in I drove home in my old step van and just pulled the mailbox out of the ground, post and all, and threw it into the back of the truck. It was still there a month later when I was sitting at the Crooked Angel Saloon before opening time, drinking Bloody Marys on the tab with the crew on a rain day. The old man who had been delivering our mail in this little village for the last twenty years came in the back door with the saloon's mail, saw me sitting there and said, with all the authority vested in him by the U.S. Government: “Don't move! Stay right there!” then went out and came back in with a big paper grocery bag filled with court summonses and past due bills and fan mail from my ex and her lawyer. He dumped it all out on the bar and then gave me a mocking salute before heading back out. “I think we'll need another round,” I said...

The Flocking Incident when Skinny Bates and I grabbed a big trash bag full of popcorn from the Mermaid Saloon and went down to the north end of the beach where all manner of seagulls were wintering. We started feeding them and suddenly found ourselves surrounded by more damn screaming birds than you have ever seen in your life. We jumped into Skinny's jeep and careened back up the beach towards town while I kept throwing popcorn. It was highly Hitchcockian and we almost did not make showed up on radar at the Coast Guard station and they scrambled a chopper to go see what the hell this...mass was heading south down the beach...

One drunken night fighting with a girl I had only met the night before, her screaming about god knows what before storming out of my apartment...I stomped around cussing and suddenly remembered that she had paid for the stuffed shrimp sizzling away in the oven. I felt bad and ran outside to call her back and suddenly heard a screeching of tires and a horrendous THUMP! as I looked to the highway to see a human body flying through the air. “It's a deer!” I said to myself, knowing damn well that it wasn't a deer and I went running down there, wondering if this made me a murderer...but it wasn't her, it was some other drunk who I also recognized. The cops got there damn quick and I ran back to my apartment “to get a blanket” but also I didn't want those shrimp ($12 a pound) to burn...

That guy lived and I was telling this story to him over a beer a couple years later. Some time after that I found out that he walked into traffic AGAIN a year later.

Yeah. And he lived AGAIN.

One day leaving the crew on the roof, saying I had to go take care of some business at the bank, only to stumble across my sailing buddy Cromwell. He already had the Hobie hitched up and the cooler loaded and I got into his truck, saying “don't go past the job,” (it was right across the street from the beach ramp) but of course he did and I'll never forget the things those Christian young carpenters of mine screamed from the roof of the new restaurant as they saw us drive by...

There are a surprisingly large number of female visitors to our town who actually believe that there are maritime laws against wearing bathing suits when sailing past the three mile line...something to do with sea turtle safety, or was it manatees...

There's more. Hundreds more. But I would never tell these stories in public. Never.

That's why I keep a journal.


Whispering Pines Trailer Park and House of Secrets


  1. TJ,

    Simply outstanding! Your ability to write just enough of never tell stories is exquisite.

    What a joy to see a new post from you, my friend. I always drop whatever I'm doing to read it, immediately and you never disappoint.

    I'm working on a couple of ride reports, should have something up early next week.

    Stay well!

    Your pal,
    B in VA

    1. Hey Brian. Thanks so much. I was wondering if you did the 100 MON over at Fatty's. He's putting up guest posts about the rides and I wondered if I would see one from B in VA...


    2. I was too slow to get in on the 100 MON, unfortunately; I love all those posts, too. Hoping to catch it next year.

      My bride and I rode in the Cap2Cap 50 miler last month and I just completed the Tour de Cure for Diabetes century ride up in DC on Sunday. Hoping for a few yucks from those. I'm also proud to say that I raised $1800 for Diabetes cure with more coming in.

  2. TJ,

    Brian is right - those little teasers, like the intro line to a good story told at the bar, just grab you when you read them. I've read your stuff and re-read it, trying to figure out how this easy flow happens - no idea, but it WORKS. Very entertaining to read.

    And yeah, some of the best stories from our own personal archives never get told - and others never get old. Hope body and soul are keeping together down there.

    And keep on thinking about getting off the grid. Lots of interesting possibilities...

    Steve Z

    1. It is an obsession, Steve. Not off the grid, completely, but at least supplementally so, not such a slave to the keepers of the power. Right now I am living without air conditioning and refrigeration. I never had a television. My electric lights and computer and box fans consume about 2 kwh per 24 hrs. That's nothing! I will be writing an upcoming rant/post about the subject. Cars will be in it, as in how we need to get rid of them.

      Thanks for the kind words...I'll be by yer booger in a little while.


  3. I can't top what Brian and Steve have already said - excellent post your Highness. All hail Timofei Joseph Stanislav Konstantin Nikolay Pavel Grigory Evgeny Vladislav Komstockovic Prince of all Alaska!

    1. Where did you get that information? It is supposed to be classified! By the way, where's that blog post about yer Handsome Devil? And you never wrote about your Velo Orange addiction..and why is that Guest Post you wrote way-back-when getting more hits than MY stuff? I'm starting to think you might be working for the Alaskan Secret Service...

      Blog Up, Dude!

      the blogger formerly known as Prince

    2. Mea Culpa Mea Cupla - I know I know I have a half completed Raleigh Record in the stand I hope to complete and blog about soon and lots of other projects, including the VO bike, I should be finishing but that whole work thing really puts a big hole in my day. Soon, Vasily soon.

      Like Steve I would love to hear more about your "off the grid" thoughts, had a few of those myself. I have seen some cool latin adaptations of the bicycle to power certain machines -

      Ryan - the lazy blogger

    3. Dear Rip Van Ryan: I'll be getting back to the subject. Probably a rant. I wanted to fictionalize it but fiction is too much work. And why bother? "Real" life is funnier and all I have to do is copy it down. soon...

      BTW: Do you know how to rig comments so when someone leaves a link like you did it trns blue and works directly? I had it working, I think, a while back but it went away.

  4. So happy to find this today - I needed a TPC fix. Love it and love the teasers. :)

    I think we would all like to be off the grid in so much as the cost of power these days is crazy when compared to what it could be. One of my favorite pet interests is in Solar, specifically solar updraft chimneys.

    Keep the posts coming and keep the pedals turning!


  5. I have spent some time this last month wallowing in the nostalgia shallow end of the pool. You see, when rooting around in the nostalgia pool there are no bills to pay, work was nothing but fun times and all the girls were pretty and said yes!
    And, best of all the stories were funny or touching.
    It can be a slippery slope this escape from the moment at hand.

    One of my ideas (of many!!) for my run to the White House is windmills for individual houses, not those ginormous bird killing eyesores, but small compact units that provide power for each home. Not only to get off the grid, but sell excess back for everybody to share. Maybe could be used in Comstock Estates!

    Good Post my friend.

    1. Comstock Farms.....not Estates

    2. I've wondered about that too. These huge wind turbines seem to be catching on as possible additions to our collective power supply, but the first that I remember hearing about harnessing wind power was a Mother Earth News project where folks had made a vertical axis wind turbine out of old 55 gallon barrels sawed in half. Hardly ever see info about home base wind power any more.

      Steve Z

  6. Hey Guys! I was rained in yesterday and not able to get to any wi-fi. These alternatives are real and proven but will never catch hold until we get off the Middle Eastern Tit and learn to do without. That means my highly unpopular idea of no private ownership of automobiles. It would solve almost everything, I think, including diabetes and cancer and immigration.

    More coming.

  7. TJ-
    Almost feel like we are drinking buddies sometimes.

    I was gonna write something smart after I chased down the word "paripatetic" for a half an hour but got lost in the interwebs along the way.

    I did however, learn that Aristotle explored the idea that actions could (or should) be teleologic. That is, the experience should happen for the sake of the experience rather than the outcome it might produce. I had to get tutored through college philosophy and I was raised in Snohomish so I could be out in left field here, but what I think he is saying is that the journey is important, not the destination.

    Looking to be in the great State of Flordia in November.



  8. Thanks, Matt! While a sense of accomplishment for achieving a goal is rewarding indeed, it is in fact the little memories of the trail that stick with us. I know that, as a mountaineer, you are all too aware of that fact. The small moments...


  9. TJ, I love your stories. If you just wrote every random event of your life, I think you'd keep your readers glued to their computer screens for all of it! The way you write paints a picture. I can totally imagine it like a movie playing out in front of me. You have a gift.

    1. Thanks so much, Angie! Positive feedback really makes a difference!