Monthly Archives: September 2015

EUROPEAN VACATIONS AND A SLOVENIAN BIKE TOUR: JEZERSKO-LUCE-KAMNIK

We’ve gone on several vacations this year, but none compare to my solo bike tour around Slovenia.  First we spent a week in Croatia on Murter Island, just laying in the shade at the beach.  It was very hot all day.  Natasa & I got up before sunrise and rode bikes to the bakery then to a coffee shop along the dock, we rode about 25 km each day.  Our next vacation we camped overnight at the same campsite where we first met.  We biked up to the Fuse Lakes in Italy (photos).   Then we biked to Lake Bohinj  and went swimming (photos).  Then Natasa and I visited Zagreb, Croatia for a couple days.  I think Zagreb has more museums than any city of it’s size.  We visited “The Museum of Broken Relationships”, “Torture Museum” and “The Contemporary Art Museum.”  We biked along the river and through JARUN Sports Park that had signs with photos and accomplishments of Croatian Athletes, Drazen Petrovic  played for my Portland Trail Blazers.

Those were nice vacations, but nothing beats a bike tour.  So Natasa’s  4 weeks of vacation was over and she’s back to work.  When I flew back from America this last time I grabbed the airline magazine that had a bike ride reviewed.  The ride is done by some in one day, but I decided, I could make it a 4 day,   I love having time to explore an area, meet people and maybe go swimming too, this trip was all of that.
I had a bike ride from my house in Portland, Oregon, that looped Mt. Hood and ended with a visit to Bagby Hot Springs, where cedar logs are carved out to make the baths (another thing I’ll miss in Oregon).  I really like the idea of riding from home, no car, bus, train or plane, just biking.  This ride does that too, I was able start and end my tour in Skofja Loka.  The ride is about 120 km, so some easy 30-40km. days.

DAY 1 SKOFJA LOKA TO JEZERSKO
It’s paved farmers fields paths to Kranj, then ride through some small villages and then uphill to Jezersko. I always go to the tourist office, they know? and in this case they knew,  The packaged teas on the tourist desk caught my interest.  The Jezersko tourist office  called and set a time for me to meet the local herbalist, Matej Tonejec..  I felt so lucky to meet him, his family had owned the house for 500 years.  He said in the early 90’s they use to rent rooms.  They use to do eye surgery in town because the weather was conducive to the eyes healing.  So patients and visiting families use to stay. The hospital closed when Slovenia broke from Yugoslavia, the rooms were empty.

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MATEJ NOW USES THE ROOMS TO RUN HIS TEA BUSINESS.

I camped at Senk Farm, the oldest farm in the area.  I was greeted by some chickens.  The food in the local restaurants is good and cheap,  I’m not cooking on my next bike tour.
PHOTOS FROM DAY 1

DAY 2 JEZERSKO TO LUCE

My goal is to leave by 9am.  I made my famous oatmeal and coffee bikers breakfast, I was climbing the minute I left the camp. At the top was Austria and the old border crossings check points that are no longer needed. I met a couple guys in the coffee shop, they said there was a skating event that day.  There were 200 skaters and a few roller bladers.  So I parked myself at a turn and waited, 3 buses of skaters came by, then they close the road for 1/2 an hour and let em’ go downhill.  It’s a skate camp weekend, you pay $200 for camping and 6 or 7 runs a day, including the bus rides up. I walked uphill pushing my bike for an hour and a half.  I met a cyclist along the way who is doing the route in the one day, like in the article.  He caught me walking, but he was in full sweat, so I didn’t feel so bad.  He also had no gear-non and I was loaded for camping.  I crossed back into Slovenia and received a few messages from Natasa.
I was trying to get to this certain campground, so I started getting more serious about riding.  Then I came to the Logarska dolina.  It’s a national park and it cost money to drive in but you can bike in for free.  It’s the end of the day, there’s no way I’m riding with gear up-to the water fall.  Then I notice an electric bike sitting there,  I start talking electric bikes with him and before I know it, I’m riding for free to the water fall (go figure).  It’s basically all uphill, I flew by some Lycra riders, and yelled “watch out for the e-bike”  I met a family of 5 with 3 little ones (2 on bikes)  They rode from the campground to the waterfalls and back, my hero’s.
I opt for my 2nd choice campground, it’s getting too late.  My camping neighbor brings me some hard liquor in a glass, I took a sip in front of him, but that was it, holy shit that was strong.

DAY 2 PHOTOS

DAY 3 LUCE TO NATURAVANTURA CAMPGROUND
Naturavantura was the campground I was trying to reach the day before, but no.  It was a short nearly car-free ride to the campground.  I was welcomed with a glass of the traditional Slovenian blueberry wine.   I knew I had found a great campground.  They had a all the amenities for a great camping experience: tents & cabins, communal kitchen, dinner/breakfast available, hammock area, cold river swimming, and WiFi.
I was invited to sit around the nightly campfire, laying in my tent I thought, OK.  It was just me and the 2 camp hosts.  We sat up till mid-night sharing stories and laughing, I was glad I got up and out of my tent.  I picked up a map that had several local bike rides.  I’m planning on coming back and staying 3 or 4 days exploring the area.

PHOTOS FROM DAY 3

DAY 4  NATURAVANTURA TO KAMNIK

I don’t like to backtrack so they suggested I go further down the road and turn right, OK.  They told me there was a climb going that way, I’m a professional bike walker, so I’m ready for anything.  It was a great ride, till the hill.  I never walked, but there was some serious climbing.  I love going off the beaten path.  I passed some hemp farming and several small villages. Slovenian is known for it’s honesty and what I saw only confirmed that.  I went by a propane storage shed that was locked-with the keys in the lock.

DAY 5 KAMNIK TO VELIKA PLANINA by CAR

Natasa drove to Kamnik to join me.The tourist office suggested I visit Velika Planina.  It was a cable car ride up and an optional chairlift, Natasa made me walk the second half.  It was a traditional high  mountain grazing area in the summer, but now it’s more of a tourist thing, which I’m a tourist so let’s have some fun.  There were lots of people there, but the mountain is big and scattered the crowds throughout the area.  After hiking around we headed back to Kamnik to a local trout farm for lunch,  Ribogojnica-Mihovc

I put the bike on the car and we drove back to Skofja Loka.  I watched the road for bike friendliness, no.  Taking the bus or getting a car ride seems the safest way home, good call.

I hope you enjoy this bike tour, I know I did.

Jeff

NEXT: SLOVENIAN COAST BIKE TOUR USING THE TRAIN

WHAT ABOUT ALL THE FRIENDS & FAMILY LEFT BEHIND IN PORTLAND?

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HIKING AROUND SLOVENIA (yes hiking)

I promised a Slovenian Bike Tour post, but no.  I want to finish my Portland move to Slovenia.This is the most difficult post to write: What about all the friends and Family left behind in Portland.  I’ve lived in Portland 35 years and had a few friends, not as many for as long as I’ve lived there.  I was married and divorced in Portland, volunteered at several different organizations,  had a political campaign, organized many bike rides and tours,  but that didn’t seem like enough for Portlander’s to invite me to their party.  When I was drinking, I was invited to some gatherings.  But once I quit drinking I found those invitations fell off too. I’m not sure that’s relative but whatever.
I recently unfriended quite a few people on Facebook. Why?  I was disenchanted with what qualifies as a friend on Facebook.  I don’t hate people, I have a super life and love to share it and laugh a lot too.
So why is it so difficult for me to maintain friendships over time?  If I knew that maybe someone would have accepted our invitation to help celebrate our wedding here in Slovenia.  But I sent maybe 20 invitations, yet not one person came.  I rarely got an acknowledgement that they even received the invitation.
I listened to one friend tell me he had to work on his house. He’s been working on his house for almost 40 years and if he died, it would be torn down because it’s still mostly unfinished.  They couldn’t find 2 weeks to visit., I guess people are too busy, I don’t miss that part of America.
Then there’s the person who I was the best man at his wedding.  He was invited to join me on the Mediterranean bike tour, said he was coming several times, but when the plane left, he wasn’t on it..  I extended several invitations for him to visit me in SE Asia and Slovenia.  He said he always wanted to come to Thailand, I told him, get on a plane and we’ll travel together, he made plans to visit Mexico, instead. WTF  After 5 years of reaching out to him and being turned down, I got the message. I guess “No means No.” I finally told him I couldn’t  reach out  to him anymore.   I’ll go to my grave never understanding his reluctance to make some memories together. “Make it a great day.” as his phone message use to say.  Apparently he doesn’t listen to it.
I had one person I unfriended on Facebook, write me and ask if were still friends?  When I was in Portland I had 3 or 4 events, I sent him invitations to all of them.  He was a no show to all of them.  He was doing some work for me, while I was in Slovenia,  but I wasn’t getting an progress reports.  I called him several times, from Slovenia, at a time he specified, but he was unable answer the phone.  I finally had him stop work and I went in another direction.  He had done some work, but never sent me a bill or anything.  So I sent him $200 and told him if it’s not enough tell me how much more I still owe or if it’s too much, buy your new son something.  He never acknowledged the money, with a thanks or “I bought my son a whatever.” I’ve sent him multiple cards, a wedding card and Xmas card.  He asked for my address several times, but I’ve yet to see one card? Are we friends? You tell me. I’m tired.

It’s not all disappointing, I had super friends help me at the Estate Sale, Jim, Kim, Jill, Mike, Mary, Steve, and my new friend Handsel.  I want to get along with everyone and forever. I’m happy and love to laugh.  I actually like being around me, I’m not depressed or using drugs or alcohol to “be happy.”

I’ve written one of these friends 4 times and have never heard back.  He told me he was going to Italy, which is next to Slovenia.  I guess he couldn’t find the time to visit us, I don’t know?   Another said they were buying a plane ticket and were coming to visit, yet never heard another word from them.  Another said they were coming to visit too- they went to Spain instead, have fun.  Another said they’re visiting in September, then I looked closer, 2016.  I was organizing a super (budget) event to tour Slovenia,  They all want to visit at different times (or not at all?).  I had a couple come visit, I drove them around, all day, they never offered to pay the gas, when we stopped for coffee, they didn’t even offer to pay for my $1 coffee..  I took them on hikes, admission was $3, yep.  We visited Lake Bled, they wouldn’t pay the $5 to park, so they asked if I would sit in the car why they went down to the beach, for only a few minutes.  I’ve been to all the places  people want to see, multiple times.  I have some old friends coming to visit in 2 weeks from California.  He was married to my high school sweet heart, who passed away from cancer 10 years ago. I think they’ll cover my coffee.  When I travel and am staying at someone’s place.  I take them to lunch, buy them coffee’s, if their lucky I wash their windows too.  Hosting isn’t easy, people have busy lives and I want to be invited                        back.
The computer helps me not feel so isolated from my friends and America.  I read my local paper daily and check Facebook once a week.  But the longer I’m away, the more our decision to move to Slovenia was the right choice.  The fast paced self-centered American lifestyle isn’t for me.
I have some friends who live several blocks away.  They helped me manage my house during the bike trip.  I paid them very well and did several extra things, like Trail Blazer tickets and gifts sent from overseas for them and their child.   I worked 5 weeks preparing my garage sale, they showed up the day before the sale, to get some things.  Then told us she’s seen what she wanted cheaper somewhere else, then buy it somewhere else, were busy. Were talking about maybe $3.  She never came by during the 5 weeks to help me sort, clean or price stuff.  Then she offered to post the sale to her friends, but wanted to charge me.   I was here for 2 months eating frozen pizza, never once did they invite me to a home cooked meal, nothing.  I’ve tried to maintain a friendship, but it seems so one sided, I’m burned out. Maybe I don’t know what is expected of friends?  I’m willing to see I could be wrong, but I know how I feel.  I’m fairly well off and maybe people feel money can take care of whatever, it can’t.  It still only serves restaurant food, not homemade meals, that mean so much more.
One friend finally realized what I was up against and knowing how trapped I was at home,    she brought me a great vegetarian Falafal, Thanks so much.
I had one friend I’ve know for 35 years, I called him and tried to talk with him, while he continued shoveling dirt at the same time.  Then he dropped the phone in the dirt and it hung up. He called back and I said “can’t you put the shovel down for a minute and talk to me?” In so many words he basically told me , “see you later.” Haven’t talked with him in 10 years.
Maybe it was time to move, ya think?.
Then there’s the fellow bike touring friends(?) Who I traveled with and posted on my blog about their website and business-several times.  I asked them why they never posted about my blog or bike trip? No response.  They did do a story about a touring cyclist who was hit and killed, not very inspiring.  I think my story would inspire more people to hit the road and maybe internationally!
Did I leave anyone out? Yea,
This is someone I’ve known for 57 years.  I was on my way to visit them at Christmas, but not before I stopped to watch The Oregon State Football team play in Las Vegas.  I asked him to come meet me in Las Vegas, watch the game, then we’d drive to his house for Christmas.  His response when I asked him? “Why don’t you go find some friends to do stuff with?”  This is someone who I drove to Ohio from Oregon to help him with his self-induced medical emergency.  I stayed a month, cooking him meals, cleaning his gross house I even brought him a car that I allowed him to make payments on.  I flew home and paid for everything. To his credit,  he finally did meet me in Las Vegas. We kept in contact during my bike trip and he commented several times on the blog.  I had some issue with someone and I posted both correspondences on my blog, I don’t pretend to have a perfect life, I post nearly everything.  When we talked on the phone, he started yelling and screaming at me and telling me how wrong I was, I promptly hung up on him. We tried to “talk” again on the phone, but he was yelling again about some other shit, enough, I hung up again-bye.   Maybe I should stay home like you and grow grass in the desert during commercial breaks..  That way I would never have a conflict and life would be awesome!  I choose to have relationships with people and try having a great time together..  Sometimes it doesn’t go so well, life is an adventure and shit happens. Most of this person’s life choices have not ended well.  I don’t any take advice from them. I suggest he google both our names and see what he gets.
This person is my brother.
My mother passed away several years ago.  After I caught her stealing from my grandmother (her mother), we never really got along. At one point she said she didn’t want to see me.  She got her wish, that happened 20 years before she died.
My father kicked me out of the house 2 weeks after I turned 18.  I went back to try and reconcile the relationship, at his front door, before he let me in the house he said–“You just want my money.”  First, I had no idea he had any money.  He use to tear paper napkins in 1/2, I guess we weren’t worth a whole napkin?  He did everything he could to try and insure my failure.  Instead I’ve succeeded without his financial or the more important, emotional support.  While I was enrolled in college he promised me $75 a month, after 1 payment, he stopped, said he changed his mind.  At the same time he was having tailors come to his house to make him custom suits.I knew then he wasn’t to be trusted and I was going to have to make it on my own. I use to send him Birthday and Christmas cards, but he wrote me and asked me to stop sending them.  That was actually a relief, Thanks for telling me I was wasting my time. In the end, it has worked out well for me,  Now I’m totally free and independent.  I feel sorry that he hasn’t been able to share in my life, but that was our choice.

So do I miss some friends?  Yes of course.  But I feel born again living here with Natasa.  Being around  her parents and daughter, gives me feeling of what a real family should be about- Love and acceptance.  I’ve said this before I feel like I rescued the last part of my life by marrying Natasa.

Thanks for reading, it was nice to get it off my chest and onto this blog for all to see, life isn’t always easy and perfect.  I’m retired. but not from life, the work continues.

NEXT: JEZERSKO BIKE TOUR

Take Care, Jeff

LEAVING PORTLAND OREGON PART III(b): SELLING A LIFETIME OF STUFF

The blog post about selling my American collection of stuff (shit) got a little long, so this is the part b to finish it.

5 weeks of digging out and getting ready to sell the American Dream.  I really wanted my friends to get some of my stuff, but that said, I was now selling to anyone with the money.
                                                                  SALE DAY

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                                  PEOPLE LINED UP EARLY

When my Grandfather passed away my Grandmother gave me his collection of woodworking tools.  I proudly used them in several different craft business’s.  The tools enabled me to become quite an accomplished woodworker, thanks Grandpa and Grandma.  The tools were the best type inheritance anyone could receive.

I tried to sell stuff during the week and the next weekend, but it cost more than I received in sales.  I set a table on the street covered with stuff.  I came home and everything was gone-including the table.  When I came inside the house I found a note from someone who took the table and said I could call him if I wanted the table back. Nice.

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KIM SHOWING OFF HER NEW LADDER

 

LUNCH BREAK

LUNCH BREAK

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                                     THE LAST OF THE GARAGE SELL GOING TO THE DUMP

The consumer economy of America is a the biggest hoax being played on Americans.  When you buy something new, the value is only in it’s use for you.  The idea of receiving any value for something you bought new is a joke.  Your lucky to get maybe 10% of what you paid.  I will only  shop at estate sales in the future, there are some great values to be had.

After selling everything I stopped by Steve & Kimberly’s  house,

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                                                         HE NEEDS TO HAVE AN ESTATE SELL TOO.

IMG_4078I ASKED KIMBERLY WHAT WAS THE FIRST THING THAT STARTED THIS MESS, HER RESPONSE WAS “THE DAY WE BOUGHT THE SHED”
The American appetite for more and more materialism is just plain and simply: UNSUSTAINABLE.  I wish I knew how to slow it or for that matter stop it.

IMG_4567THIS IS EVERYTHING  I’M BRINGING BACK TO SLOVENIA: ROCK COLLECTION, ART AND SOME CLOTHES.

I still regret selling my Grandfathers tools, that was probably the hardest thing I had to do. But that said, what a relief to have cleaned up my past in Portland and prepare myself for my future with Natasa in Slovenia.

NEXT:  post about the 4 vacations around Europe, one an epic solo bike tour.

Thanks for reading
Jeff

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