Thursday, October 29, 2015

On the road to nowhere... again

    This post is late due to a lot of riding interfering with writing. 
    I guess its going to be a yearly tradition, wherein I pick coffee places and do not go to them either due to them not existing or because reasons. In my defense, it was hard to establish whether or not I'd be again riding to another non existent place. Also, in dragging someone else with me I had to compromise distance, which meant picking a closer place. However, there are some things I won't compromise on, like whimsy.

     Yeah, not only am I small enough to wear children's knee high socks, but I rock the Twilight socks. Also, wings. 

Now 20% more awesome
     Fun fact, ladies who are into My Little Pony are called Pega-sistas. Much like, bronies, only we're inherently magical. And yes, that's a child's zip-up hoodie. Somethings never change. Like my height and tastes. The weather made it perfect to at last give a decent initial test of my new Cleverhood.

Pinkie, Blinkie, and Brownie
Corduroy isn't just for teddy bears

     I had hoped to do this year without hitting a single Starbucks, not because I have a specific bean to grind, its just as a corporate entity they've created a world where its a fun challenge to find a place they don't own and support it. I'm not saying a corporate coffee shop can't also be a local one, I've just found a boring uniformity that comes with it, along with other reasons that have, frankly, nothing to do with cycling. However, they are a corporation with roots in my location, so going there for coffee is my own way of showing local spirit, since I don't care about the football team that is so adored and equally corporate.
     I recalled seeing a shop on my old commute, I never stopped there since there was a coffee shop literally in the parking lot of the previous employer, and stopping on the way there was less convenient than stopping there. Though really, since I've had issues with drive-up stands before I don't know why this didn't occur to me as a solution other than, I really hate stopping in the middle of a ride. So we tried stopping at the Coffee Shack on 15th instead, only they were closed on Sundays. Opting for expediency, we settled on the Starbucks on 15th and 145th. It hadn't changed at all since the last time I'd been there, still no bike rack. However, Barry and Scamper were quite glad to get in out of the wet.

    I opted for a hot chocolate and a pumpkin cream-cheese. As we sat down and I felt a bit morose about it all. It was the fifth coffeeneuring trip I'd made this run, and yet, that made it all the sad for me. Its the stretch of finishing, not beginning. Sure, there'll be posts throughout the year on the Facebook Coffeeneuring page, but I debated whether or not I'd even count this trip, not because it wasn't worthy, but because I could use another weekend.  On our way back we stopped at the grocery store across the street, I was out of tea, and yeah, I love the new packaging:

complete with the quote by H.G. Wells cyclist splatoon everywhere
   In the end, I counted this trip, because there is something comforting about the familiar, even if, for myself, it breeds contempt, there is something of the symmetry of the fifth one that wasn't a part of the others. The sense of going down 155th and knowing exactly where to lean in the lane to avoid huge bumps and dips (like the one near the Anglican church) that make it more dangerous to ride in the lane than the street. 
  Also, the fact I got to wear my cape at last, I mean, the weather has been super cooperative lately but, you notice how you get new gear and then the conditions refuse to line up? Ugh. Anyway, the cape actually took some getting used to, as you might've noticed from the pictures, its a little big on me, which made the initial gripping of my handle bars a bit weird, and the magnetic clasps were a bit hard to get while riding, if you don't get them at the right angle water just pours into the open spot. However, once I got the knack of it I was pretty well set. I ended the ride mildly damp, mostly my legs from the gap between the wellies and the cape, and my hair and face since the hood is made for a helmet, not for someone who puts their hair in a pony tail (pro tip, no hoodie is ever made with the idea you will wear a pony tail, because perky warriors don't wear hoods) so next time I'm probably going to say I'll put my hair in a half tail, but then I'm going to forget and wonder why my hood won't stay up.
   The sixth and final coffeeneuring ride will have to wait, since this next post will be covering the Bikery party. I will be doing at least one coffeeneuring this weekend, but I'm not sure if I'll be finishing this weekend or next. But *knock on wood* I will be finishing.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Pack ride to Bark Espresso

     I have to admit I'd been hoping it'd be nice enough out today by standard standards to go for a ride. While I enjoy the rain, neither of my usual riding buddies care for a sky full of water, and I picked this spot especially to go to with my buddies. Fortunately the sky had cleared, but not so much as to be cloud free. Since we were going to Bark Espresso I figured these would be the best funky socks, and Mac seemed to agree.

     Putting the basket on Scamper got Mac into an immediate frenzy. It was pretty warm out, but I decided on the flannel blanket, just in case, and it is a bit chilly going downhill. 

the jaunty kerchief is just because
    We actually went the way I usually go on my new commute. Cutting down 155th, going up 1st, heading down the turn off into the suburban neighborhood near Roosevelt and Northgate. Its sad because through the whole neighborhood there's signs telling people to slow down for various reasons. The ones near my home are all Vision Zero signs, proclaiming 20 is plenty! Which is largely ignored by everyone capable of going over 20 mph, In the area near Roosevelt and Northgate are remind drivers its a deaf child area, and that they love their pets and children, who by the way, play here. There's all kinds of traffic calming ideas, round-abouts, inset curbs. It doesn't matter, people not only ignore it, they will drive as close as possible to me to pass. Usually having a dog in the back gets people go blink and go "oh hey another person" but today was one of those days where I wondered if my whole little family was going to be wiped out by someone's idiot miscalculation. The three dead squirrels we passed didn't add to my confidence.
     We hit Roosevelt and to our surprise there was work being done for the bike lane there. We rolled up to the coffee shop, and yeah, because it was on Roosevelt, I sort of expected there to be a bike rack somewhere. To my surprise there was no rack to be found. At all. There was a handicap railing, but I wasn't going to lock up to that (it would block the ramp).

We elected to lean them against the outside walk railing. Well, after I got a nice shot of Barry on his first coffeeneauring ride. Pinkie sat this one out, but even with Mac strapped to Scamper, I had to moderate my pace so I didn't drop him. The coffee place is actually a set of shops, sort of a pet center of sorts. We only went into the coffee side. As you can see in the above left picture there's a second door, that's the Hound Lounge, where you can go in with your dog. It was nice, with dog art on the walls, prints stacked on the side, and a few tables. It would've been a lovely place to sit, but we decided it was too nice outside to bother with bringing the bikes in, preferring to make use of the outside tables.

    While Ben got coffee, I got a pumpkin steamer, and we shared a couple of breakfast sandwiches, making it a sort of brunch. Mac had a peanut doggy latte.  We watched the other people and dogs come and go. I have to say my steamer was a bit watery (oh goddess I sound like a snob, but if you don't use whole milk it ends up that way), but nicely spiced. We stopped by another shop on the way back, and at the intersection, both bike and dog were admired greatly. A group of nice folks wanted to know why I rode a folding bike, how old was my dog, and did I know how just amazingly cute he is with that kerchief? (I totally do know and that's why). The usual, out biking with my dog stuff, except when they told me they didn't see many people out with there dogs. I feel I see a lot of people out biking with there dogs, maybe that's because of all the bike blogs I read. It does tend to make me feel like the things I do are totally normal. Making our way back we decided to stop at the Doughnut Plains, its a nice place to take a break.

All and all the trip was about 6.5 miles, Not bad. We might've added a bit of blacktop to our ride since we took a hook from 1st to Meridian.  It was such a lovely ride, Aside from the cars and the road kill, and the sharrows that did absolutely nothing for traffic calming. Although we did have a funny moment when the car next to me at one intersection had a little dog too. Ben thought it was funny I've gone to 4 shops and only 1 had a bike rack, and that one was kind of an anit rack at that. Still, I've got three shops left so my odds are good one of them will have bike parking. Right? Next stop is Chickalatte, no matter the weather. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A sunny ride to Kaffeklatsch

     The sun came back out this Sunday, shining bright upon bike lanes filled with storm debris. Feeling up to snuff today, I set out on a much further route, this one 7.6 miles, to Kaffeklatsch Seattle in Lake City. I  don't enjoy riding to Lake City, and lately I've had no call to venture to the northern most aspects of Seattle. The bike lanes there are sketchy at best and confusing at worst. Also, the south bound sidewalk along Lake City Way contains some of the worst pavement you'll find. I would've taken pictures, but unfortunately didn't have the opportunity to do so without putting a pedestrian out. 
         Getting ahead of myself a bit, first, I donned this ride's funky socks, my Hemmingway Kitty Socks 

Because five toes. Get it? 

     Anyway! Ben came with me this time, riding Pinkie Pie. The bike lanes were still full of Seattle tumbleweeds, and there was a dead squirrel on the sidewalk along 155th. Nothing like a reminder of life's fleeting nature to add a bit of zest to your early morning ride. The ride itself was the usual amount of suburban streets and bike lanes, until hitting the main thoroughfares like 15th ave NE and Lake City way NE. Frankly Lake City way was so harrowing to ride in the street we attempted to ride on the sidewalks. This was a horrible error as the sidewalks formed platforms that, while as a child I would've loved to jump, created a horrible situation in terms of passage.   
       Arriving at Kaffeeklatsch Seattle we were pleased to note they had a bike rack installed. Then Ben went to lock Pinkie Pie to it, and things got hilarious. I did park Scamper outside, but retrospectively I wonder if it wasn't less a bike rack and more a memorial rack.

Antithetical to its creation 

      Kaffeeklatsch was very much part bakery part coffee shop, with decor that seemed fairly normal until you noticed the evil carnival monkey staring at you, absorbing your soul as you wait in line.

     I got an incredibly-bitter-for-some-reason decaf caramel frappachino with a slice of banana bread. Ben had the apple turnover with the German name, and a very sweet and delicious drip coffee.

    It was a nice little place, very open, with a kids corner wisely placed near the bathrooms. Over all not a bad place to stop for a cup if you're in Lake City, but I don't recommend what they have outside for a bike rack. 
    We stopped for groceries on the way back, having put it off yesterday because of the stormy weather. One of the nicest things about fall is the variety of apples it brings, you go from having a selection of say, four or five different kinds, to six to eight. Right now I'm favoring the ambrosia, its like how I always wanted a green apple to taste like. 
    Well coffeeneuring ride number 3 is done. Next stop is Bark Espresso, which I have to admit I'm looking forward to since it means riding to a place I know my dog will be welcome. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Coffeeneuring trip #2 - Return to Cafe Aroma

     On a stormy Saturday, when really I wasn't at my best, I set out, undaunted by the rain, though somewhat dismayed by other happenstance, to return to Cafe Aroma. It was a good choice because it is the closest of all the challenge spots, just a cruise down Meridian, a jaunt up 155th, and a meander further north on 5th. Though it is the closest of all the coffeeneuring locations I've picked, I haven't gone again because well.. parking. But I wanted someplace close because I hadn't been feeling well and the rain and wind had created some soggy circumstances.
     The rain had somewhat abated when I set out on my sojourn, socks for the theme matching my earrings put me in a spooky mood.

    The weather made it a perfect opportunity to test my new boots. Previously, I had awesome zebra stripped knee high galoshes, though visually appealing they were rather standard fare. Neither particularly warm, nor particularly sturdy, and frankly annoying to ride in, owing to the movement of my calf muscles. I have mighty calves that yield not to the flimsy rubber of man! Wanting, however, one pair of boots that would function both on and off the bike I debated at length the solution that works best for myself. Deciding I needed something that gave adequate coverage, would not hinder my movement, yet would keep my toes snug against the biting gale winds. And, if possible, not terribly ugly. Behold!

olive masterpiece right there

    They come only halfway up my comically short shins, and on a walk with the dog, proved adequate for puddle muddling. Now came the real test, if I could use them in the majority of my mobility. I'm pleased to say that it worked out rather well, the faux fur made it quite warm. With Alistair Mook strumming in my headphones, I slowly made my sojourn.
     Cafe Aroma still had the same vibe as last year, the neighborhood coffee shop. I sat across from the window, occasionally looking up from my book as families passed on their way to the Crest Cinema.

    I sipped my pumpkin pie steamer, content to let the storm drip out what seemed the worst before starting back. A slight miscalculation, the rain had stopped, but the wind chose to pick up. The ride back became a battle against the elements that I did not feel up to fighting, though a slight tail wind on the Meridian turn around did give some cheer. 
   All in all not a bad ride, just a typical damp and windy one. Well, ride two is down, and next is Kaffeeklatsch Seattle, which is really in Lake City, which I haven't figured out yet if its like Shoreline and technically not Seattle. Besides, I included Lake City last year and it'd be a shame to leave them out. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

And so it begins!

     Its the first weekend of coffeeneuring and the clear blue skies call every cyclist, participating or not, to sample the asphalt one last time before it becomes part river, part roadway. At least, here in the Pacific Northwest. I recall the same sweet call back North, before the snow completely  buried the pavement.
     For my first cofffeeneuring trip I put on the socks I'd been eager to don, I think every female cyclist has this pair at this point:

   Theme firmly beneath my personal firmament, we began our ride. As Barry is still down for repairs, Ben rode Pinkie Pie, not his favorite ride, but sill nice she got to come along again for the first trip since she was my ride last year.  One Cup is close to our home, making the whole trip 2.2 miles, though we probably could've extended it, or made it even shorter, but we went through the residential streets instead of doing a straight shot to Aurora. Besides, I love riding down 165th and riding the gap  between speed humps. Its fun because cars will try to speed up to pass you, but then they have to break on the hump while you cruise through. Exceedingly satisfying.
    Sadly, we did have to go down Aurora eventually, and I denote it as sadly because Ben always points out that "they ruined the Main Street of this town by making it a highway," and he's right, but its sad, and seeing it sad. Ugh. On the curious side, the Uber garage is right next to the Uhaul, which is right next to a car dealership, which is right by a motorcycle shop. The insane level of car-centric shops right next to homes is just... Well I digress, but its just so symptomatic of the street, and that shapes Aurora into the sort of place that encourages it into the sort of place that every store along it requires a key for the bathroom. Where I'm from that's just the prerogative of gas stations.
    We arrived at One Cup and I have to admit I was hopeful, I mean it did appear to be a very coffeeesque place
note the car dealership nearby
But alas, it had no bike rack. In spite of clearly catering to the college crowd it had a fucking railing as an excuse for a parking spot. Naturally I just folding Scamper and took him inside as Ben lashed Pinkie to the railing at the end of the handicap ramp of the church. Because its Shoreline, so of course its a coffee shop connected to a church.
        The set up inside was the perfect storm of Northwest awkward. Lots of bar stool seats and communal tables, big leather chairs all set close to each other, and a kids table off in a corner away from anyone trying to study, but without a spot for their adult to hover nearby. We ordered our drinks, coffee for him, hot chocolate for me, and after picking a suitable spot, placed Scamper by the table.

     There was wifi, but it wasn't issued with the receipt, which seriously, who doesn't give you your change and tell you the wifi password? Places that have it posted by the drink pickup, right? Not here. No parking, no wifi. How was the hot coco?

     Meh. I mean it wasn't bad  but foam for a hot coco? I uh, I guess I'm used to whip cream or such. It was quite creamy, so I'll classify it as "okay," or at least something warm to sip while I looked around. 

      Finding neither the drink nor the decor had much to offer I debated whether or not I would come back. I supposed perhaps, if I was with other people who were stopping there, but not of my own volition. Overall, I'd rate the place a C- if you're a cyclist. I mean, don't get me wrong, its Shoreline, so its not like they'll put in a rack. I bet, much like the Coffee & Pub place the Bounty, they'll be satisfied with people locking up on railings. Bully for them, but I'll take my business elsewhere. While its a pretty nice ride, the ride does not the destination make.
     Speaking of elsewheres and destinations, I'll be snarkily sipping at Cafe Aroma next. Cheers! 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Coffeeneuring 2015!

   Its that time again! Wow, the year has flown by, and already its time to get that fall maintenance over and done with so coffeeneuring can begin. For those of you who've never heard of it it goes something like this; you bike a total of two miles, consume a warm drink, write about/take a picture of it, and you do it at least once a weekend for seven weekends. That's the basic gist of it. There is, of course, a bit more to it, so check out the Official 2015 page to learn about it and get started.
    Of course I've already picked out which spots I'll be heading to this year, as well as back-up-places in case a grand fail like last year's spectacular laughable case, wherein I hunted down two shops before I settled on one without walls. I picked out the spots back in September because, in spite of factors that limit my own caffeine consumption, its just so much fun. Don't worry, if you have caffeine limits too there's plenty of other options, (tea, cider, hot coco, etc). As for myself, its probably going to be a lot of decaf tea and steamers, but really, its about continuing my quest.
    I still haven't found a coffee place like the ones I had back North. I was, though by no means monogamous, fond of the places where I partook of the sweet black nectar. In spite of seven attempts last year I was unable to find that special place for me. That one shop that I'd go to at least two time a month, not because I can't make my own coffee, but because that's where I enjoy going. Though to be fair, I have found my favorite yogurt stand, which is pretty good, but I digress.
    This year I continue my quest! That noble pursuit of any writer worth her salt. Not the completion of some grand work, no, the true core of any writer is seeking a coffee house where they both add a certain atmosphere, and really take up that one sweet table spot for like, way to long. On top of which, as a cyclist, I really ought to be ashamed I haven't found a good spot. I mean, honestly, I ride all over the place, I'm pretty sure I've been down most of the streets of Seattle on Scamper. I just rarely ever stop. I mean, yes I stop to rest myself on occasion, but I've been far to focused on forests to be hunting any haunts.
    Though speaking of Scamper, this will be his first year as a coffeeneuring bike. Pinkie Pie is actually back in use by my husband since Barry is down for repairs. Therefore, its up to scrappy little Scamper to pick flag.
Without further ado, here are the coffeeneuring shops I've picked:

*10/3 or 10/4
One Cup Coffee Co
16743 Aurora ave N Seattle

10/10 or 10/11
Cafe Aroma
509 NE 165th St Seattle

10/17 or 10/18
Kaffeeklatsch Seattle
12513 Lake City Way NE Seattle

10/24 or 10/25
Bark Espresso 
11335 Roosevelt Way NE Seattle

10/31 or 11/1
Chickalatte Aurora
10733 Aurora ave N Seattle

11/7 or 11/8
Lylas Family Espresso
8958 Aurora ave N Seattle

11/14 or 11/15
Cloud City Coffee
8801 Roosevelt Way NE 

Now you may have noticed there is one place that's a repeat from last year, Cafe Aroma, while it was an okay shop, not certainly that special place I was looking for, it is probably the closest shop. That's pretty much the only reason it gets an encore. Since I haven't been to the shop since last year I feel I ought to see if at least one of the places I went last year installed a bike rack. And, no, Bridgewater Coffee House, as far as I know, never fulfilled their word on getting a rack put in. 
    This weekend I'll be hitting the One Cup Coffee place, which is pretty new. Hopefully one of the seven places will have a bike rack some should since they're in Seattle and not Shoreline, I've cruised past Bark Espresso a few times and it seems quite promising, if a bit far for me to pick as a regular place. 
   Lastly, since themes are the thing this year I've decided to be as bold as I'm capable of being in terms of themes (college made me very wary of any event involving a "theme") and decided with the theme of.....

Funky Socks! 

Yeah, look at that, you know those socks will... knock yours off? Actually, I'm not entirely sure I have seven different pairs of weird socks, but I know I have more than 3 and I can always steal a pair of my husbands mustache socks (sorry love, but I mustache you to let me!) to make it work. Huh... I'm going to go count my socks...

*I may hit two shops in one weekend, I may skip a weekend, these times aren't a pledge, just a rough idea.