photography

I Found Treasure!

Agate

Walking along the shores of Lake Superior, you might just find something amazing. Agates!

Little Girl's Point, Lake Superior

Last weekend I spent some time on the beach at Little Girl’s Point on Lake Superior in Michigan. This is a favorite spot for rock hunters. You’ll see miles of rounded pebbles and only 1 in 10,000 is an agate. So what is an agate and how are they formed?

 Agates are semi-precious gemstones. They were formed in the lava of a once volcanic earth. Air bubbles were trapped in this hot liquid rock and rising mineral rich water filled the air bubbles giving room for an agate to be born. This was a billion years ago, literally. These rocks were formed before the plants, before the animals, back when the atmosphere was methane and ammonia without oxygen. The moon was much closer then with a gravitational pull 100 times stronger than we know today. A 3 foot tide now would have been a 300 foot tide back then! Can you image a moon on the horizon, 100 times the present size in appearance? It was a far different world then. Continents were shifting and colliding; life was forming. 70,000 years ago, the glaciers started to move over our continent. They dug up the land and spread the agates around with their icy fingers. You can find them all over Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Lake Superior agates are known to be the oldest in the world and the most sought after.

Below you’ll see some of the stones I found last weekend at Lake Superior…

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Some of these are agates, most aren’t, but each of these stones has a story of its own. When I hold an ancient rock, I hold something older than life as we know it. Within these stones lies a living history, evidence of the early tides, volcanoes and lava floes, fossils, and mountain ranges. So next time I’m at Lake Superior, I won’t just look for agates, I’ll look at the landscape and the wonderful water, I’ll imagine what the world was like when these rocks where being formed and I’ll remember that the stones have a life of their own. If you ever decide to go rock hunting, I recommend you educate yourself before going so that you know what to look for. Check out this link for an informative website on agates in the area…http://www.superiortrails.com/rock-hound.html

I hope you find a ten pound agate!

Happy Trails,

-MJ

San Francisco

Hello Friends,

Greetings from San Francisco! I’m sad to announce that my bicycle tour has come to an unexpected ending in the Golden City 😦   I barely made it here and just scraped by the finish line last evening with fairly empty pockets, a heavy heart and a broken bike…

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Last time we spoke, I was just arriving in Fort Bragg and what a stay that was! I set up a stealthy camp in the woods right near the ocean and took four days off to rest and look for work. I got a job down on the harbor with a fishing company specializing in sea urchins (which they process and export to Japan).

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The employees (all Hispanic) arrived at 4 a.m. and set the fiesta music on party volume and we got to it. Some were cracking open the pokey urchins, some pulled out the insides and some cleaned the intestines and others preformed the final checks. What a weird assembly line. I knew the job wasn’t for me fifteen minutes into it but I stayed on and worked, donating a day of labor for the kindness that I’ve received on the road. Definitely a strange glimpse of freedom in America..

After work, I met a woman praying in the park, immersed in the celebration of silence and although she didn’t speak to me, we had a deep exchange. She cried as I shared my philosophy on speech. Words can be confusing and often times the labels that we put on things are unnecessary and inaccurate but the languages of the world have such a rich history and what a way to share complex ideas and emotions. She inspired me though and for two days I fasted and spoke not. It rained for 24 hours straight and I stayed in the tent and read three books and wrote tenaciously.

Back on the road, the route took me over some serious climbs and gorgeous views of California’s rugged coast.

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50 miles north of San Francisco, I began a long climb and switched into granny gear but my chain locked up and the shear force bent the steel on my frame and snapped off my rear derailleur.

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What now? Hitchhike? I was able to shorten my chain and MacGyver a single speed ride which I pedaled 20 miles to the next bike shop just to find out it was irreparable. What a bummer! Wanting to finish in San Francisco, I decided to complete the last 30 miles of the adventure with my one gear, stuck in 2-3. Not an easy task and a huge test of patience but I made it, barely.

My old Raleigh will find her resting place here in the bay area. Maybe I’ll ghost ride it off the Golden Gate? One way or another, we’ve had some wonderful adventures together (almost 4,000 miles this summer alone) and she deserves a proper burial. On our journey into the west, I personally replaced 11 tubes, two tires, one rear rack, two sets of brake pads, one pedal, one crank arm, and even a seat that broke in half. I rode her hard and we did it like no one before. And so the sun sets upon The Fox Trails…

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I have very little money left and I’ll be here in Frisco, riding around on my crippled lady while I work and put together the cash for my return. It was a helluva ride. A dream ride…and now I have two books to write!

Happy Trails,

-MJ

Craving California

Hello Friends,

I write to you from Fort Bragg, humbly yours and slightly older here in California after celebrating another birthday.

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A sunny day on the Eleventh of September, I met some lovelies on the beach in Yuchats and a tailwind blew me right over Cape Perpetua.

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3 soon-to-be nurses. Thank you for the birthday love. You inspired the climb.

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I drank a gallon in Old Town with a guy who made 2 million dollars last year playing World of Warcraft. I confronted him about a tip he left, Larry David-style..probably jumped the gun. I’ve still been out here drinking and smoking, making mistakes and rubbing elbows with the craziest characters I can find -jotting down dialogues, conducting interviews and social experiments. The journal overfloweth.

Birthday =’d Overindulgence.

With the Dunes in the dust, the remainder of Oregon’s Coast was promised to be the most scenic. However, I found it to be draped in a curtain of fog, the ocean blue, her immensity concealed within a misty veil.

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Not a drop of rain for all of Oregon.

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Over 80 state parks and recreations areas can be found on the Oregon Coast. I explored them extensively, slowing my days down to 50 or 60 miles in order to see the sites. Bittersweet farewells usually lead to new hellos.

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This trip, exploring freedom, has also been about refinement and evolution. What are the chains that bind me? To quit smoking and drinking has been an illusive goal. Now I find myself in California, the mysterious trees and Humboldt County. It permeates the air.

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Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox make another appearance, far larger than the ones I saw in Bemidji. Do you see my bicycle by his ax handle?

My first time in the Coastal Redwoods and I ride the Avenue of the Giants.

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It feels prehistoric here among the ferns and the 300 foot kings.

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A challenge to photograph, much like a beautiful nude woman might pose a problem to paint. Too eager to make love.

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Shallow, earthquake-proof root structures.. Redwoods can live for over 2,000 years, surviving floods, fires, bugs.. even the force of man.

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In 1850, there were 2 million acres of Coastal Redwoods in California. Due to logging, 100,000 or so remain. I see enough logging trucks and bark scattered along the roadside to make me believe it hasn’t ended in the least and I pass another huge log mill…

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It rains hard while I roll through this old growth forest and the ancients drink greedily. It hasn’t rained in northern California since March. Wet, yes, but thankful I was able to smell this place after the storm. I camp at Elk Prairie and catch a few photos in the morning light.

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I’ve been staying at the hiker/biker campsites along the coast but ended up in Weott with a rainy flat tire #10, right at a bar filled with cannabis workers. They put me up for the night on the property and it seemed as if my fantasy to trim weed would come true. I slept on it though and left with the morning light, passing up the potential opportunity to work as a trimmer. I even manage to pass on the grass all together lately -a step in my evolution long overdue and what a better place to have this triumph than in Hippieville with the S.A.T’S of testing before me. If you’re scared to sing, go to open mic.

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100’s of traveling kids flock to Garberville and I have no desire to stay and seek employment here. I see the medicine in Marijuana for what it is and I realize that like all strong medicines, there will be side effects. I’ve smoked ganja on and off (mostly on) for 20 years.  Finally, I say with clarity, it isn’t worth it to me. When I smoke, I become tired and hungry, shy and lazy… states not in harmony with my travels and current lifestyle. Hunger should sharpen the senses like a tracker on the trail. The time has come to leave the green behind and move forward with this step that I’m ever-happy to take in this place where it matters the most -very important for character development. I do believe I’ve found a great secret in these Redwoods, a mystical, magical place.

It’s been 2 months on the road now, living simple if you could call it that. Cravings and thoughts of consumption abound. The endless ocean cries to wet my unquenchable thirst. I do see a more beautiful ending to the story now and what I’m beginning to crave the most is stillness and the chance to bring to life a fragment of the beauty I’ve seen. I think Peter Pan just grew up. The California coast is over 1,000 miles long and I’m back on the ocean again. I’ll be stopping to work a humble job somewhere small and quiet, where I might write my storybook ending with a pending return on the horizon. I’ve been craving this moment…until next time.

Happy Trails,

-MJ

A Birthday Kiss

Dear Friends,

Reporting live from the Oregon Coast in Lincoln City. I’ve always loved Oregon and this coast is truly a bicycle dream ride. My legs are sore (but not from biking) from climbing a mountain and I’m taking a break in the city to recover. Much has happened since Anacortes, WA. Widbey Island was extremely challenging to cycle. I rode it during the busy time of the year and the road was filled with sight-seeing tourists driving rented camper trailers for the first time. Narrow roads and salt water bridges like Deception Pass provided me with a heart-wrenching afternoon.

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 With cannabis legal in Washington, I thought I would see it being used more liberally but that wasn’t the case, although I did spot this headline from the local newspaper…

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I met a medical card holder who held the opinion that the young kids that voted in the recreational law are the same kids that will most likely mess it up for the people who really need the medicine. That’s an interesting standpoint and one that I’d like to hear more opinions on. I’m sure I’ll have the chance as I progress south. Many ferries depart from Whidbey Island in different places, some carrying 150 cars and leaving every 15 minutes. I took the ferry from Clinton to Mukilteo and bikers are considered pedestrians so the ride was free of charge.

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In Mukilteo, I connected with a great woman named Marci who lives in Edmonds via Warmshowers which is a website like Couchsuring but only for touring cyclists. Marci was a wonderful host and a total nurturer. She has a traveling daughter and it was intriguing to hear a parent’s pride and concerns. Marci sewed my ripped guitar case and added two bicycle patches and even gave me a tour of the city, riding down into Seattle with me the next morning..Thank you, Marci. You are wonderful!

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My brake pads needed changing after the hills but I arrived downtown on the day of the Seattle Seahawk’s home opener vs. the Green Bay Packers. I know they won the super bowl and whatnot but seriously, these people are nuts. Maybe being on the road for this long has changed me but I just couldn’t take the noise and the commotion. The city was chaos and rather than playing my guitar and trying to make some money like I’d planned, I paid $9.00 to take the ferry from Seattle to Bremerton to escape the madness as quickly as possible.

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I stayed that night at the Twanoh State Park and hit it hard the next day, riding along the Hood Canal and then all the way to the ocean at Bruceport Park. I met some interesting characters along the way, spending time with a young lady who just signed a record deal and is moving to Miami and I helped out a rubber tramp and gave him some food in exchange for a few of his stories from the road. The ocean was waiting though and I’ve come a long way to see her. There’s a number of advantages to biking the country from east to west like I did…number one: in the early mornings, the sun’s glare is at your back as well as the back’s of any vehicles that might be attempting to pass…number 2: one has to cross some desolate land before a mountain is in view and of course to climb a mountain is necessary to see the ocean so there’s always something to look forward to. I’ve been waiting to see the Pacific and my first night camping near the water was lovely..

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My time in Washington was coming to a close but not before the Lewis and Clark grand finale. I followed some of the trail on the way west and here where the Columbia River meets the Pacific, so too have I met my end with the Corps of Discovery’s mission. I have mixed emotions on the whole Lewis and Clark thing but they did something amazing and I’m happy to have studied it so deeply. I say farewell to Washington and cross the 4.3 mile bridge, taking me into Astoria, Oregon.

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I meet another hitch hiker not too far from Seaside. He’s bleeding and I stop to help him, giving him food and water. These guys always seem to have a dog. I roll into Cannon Beach and the tourism is at its peak. This is one of the most photographed parts of the Oregon Coast and everybody wants a picture of Haystack Rock.

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I played music in town for a bit and made a little coin. I was almost ready to head out and then I met some real characters. Tony came up with the sax and his entourage behind him. This guy is a real performer and a pleasure to listen to.

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Tony and Andre

They’re from Portland and they drove out to the ocean for the day to hang out. Along for the ride was also Ashlin, Arrow and Sam. I decided to stay in Cannon Beach for the night to camp with these kids. We had a wild one: drinks and music, stories and stories and very little sleep.

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I really learned from Tony, watching him play for the people. It’s one thing to sound good but to captivate an audience is a whole different talent and he is amazing at it. I hung out a little longer than I imagined I would and found it hard to say goodbye when it was time to roll out. Up the road, I encountered the first of two tunnels in my path along this route. Riding through a tunnel is dangerous, especially when it’s uphill and missing a shoulder like this one…

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Thankfully, there was a lighting system to notify drivers when a cyclist is inside. The sun was beginning to set but I decided to take a side trip as I entered Oswald State Park. I stashed my bike in the bushes and began to climb Neahkanie Mountain. I carried my bedroll and guitar along for the trek. My plan was to camp near the summit so that I could see the ocean more clearly, like a vision quest. Not a huge mountain by any means, I’ve climbed far larger, but a challenging trail nonetheless. Darkness came and the wind off the ocean was really kicking up the mist. I must have hiked at least two or three miles up a steep route and eventually found a flat place to sleep behind a tree. I woke up two hours before the sunrise and mounted the summit where I sat in silence. I brought no food or water as I intended to fast and think about my time with the kids in Cannon Beach. When the sun finally came up, all I could see was a mountainside covered in a misty fog. I waited and waited but it seemed to thicken and for a moment I was disappointed that I couldn’t see the unsurpassed views of the ocean from the summit… but then I realized that the ocean came all the way up here to kiss my cheek. It was a profound thing to learn and definitely well worth the climb.

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I found other mountains shrouded in the ocean mist that day as the clouds dispersed and the sun broke through. My legs are extremely sore from the climb as I strained muscles differently than I’ve been used to, but I find myself in Lincoln City now. My 125 mile marathon days are over and I’m taking it easy as I coast along this gorgeous scenery. I used to say I’d like to live here. I’m not so sure of that anymore. My birthday is on the 11th and it’s bittersweet to be away from family and friends. This is the deep spiritual part of my journey where I focus and grow the most -sober and humbling. It is true that I’m surrounded by beauty and I’m doing what I love but I also miss home and I wish that I could kiss your face…but wait a moment…maybe I can???

I’ll check in soon. Newport Beach is just down the way…

Happy Trails,

-MJ