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My good friend David (aka Chops) visited for 3 weeks from America.  We rented a car, loaded up the bikes and explored the hidden Gems of Slovenia, while visiting friends.
We started in Tolmin and stayed at Camp Vili,  Little did I know this would turn into the Ping Pong Tour Championship of Slovenia.

Our first day we biked to the Tolmin Falls & hiked the gorgeous gorge.

HEART ROCK WEDGED IN GORGE

BEAR FACED ROCK-SEE IT?

COFFEE & COLD WATER AFTER A DAY OF BIKING AND HIKING

CAMP VILI SPECIAL TROUT DINNER YUM!

We drove up and over the Vrsic Pass.  I’ve bike over it and there were cows laying at nearly every switch-back.  This time, the pass was covered with sheep.

Were they stoned?

I didn’t have permission to take the car out of Slovenia.  So we parked in Kranjska Gora & biked to Italy.  Chops bragged about biking to Italy and drinking Cappuccino in Italy! We hiked the Vintgar Gorge (photos), visited Lake Bled (rode bikes around the Lake).  Since we had the car we took the back road to Lake Bohinjsko.  The Ping Pong Tour continued at the mountain top sports center, both pool & ping pong.  Then visited friends Mateja, Anna & the twins in Jezersko.  They were in the middle of making raspberry syrup, when we arrived.  They also grow & gather wild herbs for making teas.  We cooked dinner for everyone.

FUZINE LAKE

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I was bike touring around Slovenia, with Stanley from France, a few years ago.  We stumbled into Kamniks Festival-KamFest.  They filled the old town with high quality crafts, chopper bicycle show, food, music and “FREE BEER” from Mali Grad Brewery.  I biked back last week, to re-live this great event.

THE RAISED & SEPARATED BIKE PATH MAKE PARTS A SAFE-ENJOYABLE RIDE.


Sometimes the bike route was a shoulderless somewhat unfriendly bike route.  I’m confident riding nearly anywhere, put I prefer carfree.   I enlarged the phone map and found a gravel route that followed the river.

NICE COW BARN 

IT DOESN’T LOOK THAT ORGANIC, BUT THIS TECHNIQUE OF GARDENING SAVES TIME AND WATER 

MUCH BETTER UNPAVED PATH THAN IN CROATIA LAST WEEK

I MISSED A TURN AND THIS TRAIL WAS THE LAST KILOMETER BEFORE KAMNIK

SLOVENIA IS “INVESTING” IN HEALTHY BIKING INFRASTRUCTURE

I’m camping next to the community swimming pool, yep I go.  I visit the pub/hostel across from the street from camping.  The Mali Grad brewer is there, I ask if he’s giving free beer again this year? nope (shit).
I head to the local museum, how wrong can a 2.50euro admission go?

KAMNIK MUSEUM

LOVE THE KEYS

SO MORE KEYS

THAT’S ME, LOOKING AFTER MY HEART

HANDMADE WOODEN CHEESE STAMPS

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EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO BIKE & CAMPOUT IS HERE.

Someone told me about the FLOATING CASTLE FESTIVAL when I was at the Kranj Fest last week.  I was on the fence about going, but on Friday I packed up and took the bus to Sneznik Castle.  Camping for only 5 euro + 20 euro for a 2 day all events pass.  It’s  a weekend of music, puppet shows, comedy juggling, and yep Slovenian Crafted beer.  Watch out Portland & Oregon, we’re taking over.

NICE ADDITION AND SAVING SOME OLD TOO

ROUTE FROM BUS STATION TO SNEZNIK CASTLE

TENT CITY

VW BEER VAN, I MAY HAVE HAD ONE OR 2?

Music is the main focus, there was music all around the castle and with various stages in the woods too.  My favorite band from Skofja Loka, THE DREAMS, played.  I know the guitar player some and after the show, he brought me beer.  I thought you were suppose to buy the artist the beer?  I wish I could count how often that happens.  I felt like I stepped back in time, there were “hippies” everywhere.  I consider myself an old hippy, but we’re talking young hippies.

SNEZNIK CASTLE

I FELT LIKE I STEEPED BACK TO MY HIPPY DAYS.

VOCAL GROUP

AT THE ARTIST & VENDOR CAMPOUT

FYI, I WAS HERE FIRST!

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I’ve been settling in my new apartment in Ljubljana (Slovenia).  All the paintings are hung, got health insurance, extended my stay so I celebrated by  jumping on the train with my bike.


It saved me a day of riding that I’ve ridden several times before. I stayed at Kamp Kamne, where I met Natasa 5 years ago.  I asked Anna if I should set my tent up in the same spot? I asked her “Is it a good luck site?”  I’m planning to stay at 3 different campgrounds, 2 days at each.  Slovenia is slowly connecting it’s many bike routes.
For me best thing about bike touring is setting up your camp, then having your bike to go exploring a region.  I belong to a Bike Touring  Group on Facebook.  Someone wrote “How many miles/km should you ride each day?”, I replied “to the next great place”,  Someone posted they did the California coast in 8 or 9 days, riding 100+miles a day (boring).  When I rode the California coast  last summer I learned the saying “It’s the journey, not the destination.” It’s so true.  After 45 years of bike touring exploring an area, swimming, hiking, eating out, meeting people beats riding your bike on the highway with cars and trucks all day-everyday.  After camping at a place for 2 or 3 days, I my self dreading getting back on the road with all the traffic.  I love bike touring for all it has to offer, but now I’m sure to do ALL the activities a region has to offer, yea retirement is great.
The next day I rode my bike up to Italy & the 2 Lakes at Fusine.
https://goo.gl/maps/2qujL4HMsFF2
The bike path follows the river all the way except the last 1/2 km.

“WHERE IS THE FINISH LINE?”

 
1 beer later I head back down and it’s ALL down.  I love blueberry’s so I stop at a little cafe the specializes in Blueberry Cobbler and well it goes pretty good with a beer too!

WORLD’S BIGGEST WOODEN BIKE?

HAY RACK

GUARDING THE BORDER DURING WW1 OR 2?

https://goo.gl/maps/45P6us98Knq

When I rode the back road to Lake Bled 5 years ago, it was gravel-it’s paved now, no dust.  I stayed in a campground that sits on the lake.  The lake is super touristy, but there’s a reason, IT’S BEAUTIFUL.!  I’ve learned that visiting the expensive hotels in town can be rewarding.  I asked if they had a pool, yea on the top (5th) floor and it’s free.  I met a couple American tourist who were on an 11 day tour: Dubrovnik Croatia, Slovenia, then Italy-all in 11 days.  I told them I retired here and they “asked what do you do?” I looked at them and said “the same as you, swim at the nice hotels.”

WERE ALL CAMPING

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I have so many thoughts about what I saw while biking through Oregon and California. Since high school the environment has always been a major concern (religion) to me.  I was proudly recycling bottles & cans back in 1972.  Back then my Dad told me it was cheaper and easier to just throw them away, as he was throwing a beer bottle into the garbage.  46 years later lots of America’s still have that attitude.  The worlds resources are just for them to use once and toss into the garbage.

To start, both Oregon & California are suppose to be the U.S. states leaders regarding environmental issues.  I thought campers were even a more select slice of Americana that was environmentally concerned.  How wrong I was.  The recycling effort at the campgrounds was next to nothing.  I always saw paper, cans, glass bottles and plastic bottles inside the garbage dumpsters.  Yet, the recycling containers were right next to the dumpsters. Then there’s the gas guzzling GIGANTIC campers, that were also towing another vehicle., camping?  When I was in San Diego, there was either 8 or 9? lanes of traffic going in one direction and still congested.

When I met some 20-30 year old.’s at the campgrounds, I always talked about Climate Change.  I said the U.S.’s inaction on Climate Change is a generational war and they are the losers.  They said they never heard anyone my age, showing any concern for their future.  The chant of “America First” dissected is, “Me First and Fuck You.”  America should be so ashamed of itself.

This is the hardest part to write.  I thought my friends, that I took the time to visit, had environmentally leaning lifestyles.   I was a little shocked and embarrassed by what I saw and heard.  Americans think their money allows them to live in a bubble that is unaffected by the environment.  How wrong they are, their inaction (dialing down) their lifestyles has alienated people around the world who are being negatively affected by Climate Change.
Here’s a few examples of what I saw at friends houses:

*One friend said he took cans and bottles to the recycling center and they asked him to separate them.  He said it wasn’t worth his time and just started throwing away the cans, bottles along with his organic waste into the garbage can.   At least his organic waste could be used in his garden, but no.

*San Diego is in the desert, you wouldn’t know it with all the lawns and landscaping.  2 rivers that fed the Salton Sea are now being diverted to San Diego.  Half the birds of North America stop at the Salton Sea.  The Salton Sea is going to dry up and on the bottom are pesticides and DDT, a windy day will be deadly.  I asked my friend about conserving water.  He said if he conserves water that will encourage more housing developments & more people moving to San Diego. So the water was just running, it was killing me.

*My brother lives in the desert of Phoenix AZ  He wouldn’t let the family use the dishwasher because he thought it wasted water. Actually a loaded dishwasher uses less water, than washing one dish at a time.  That aside, he keeps his lawn green, a huge waste of water.  I watched him set up the hose and leave it running trying to green up a dry section.  He hadn’t rained in Phoenix in 5 months, yet he had a lush green lawn.

* Portland’s former mayor Sam Adams, best accomplishment according to me was offering weekly food waste & yard debris pickup.  Food waste dumped in a landfill creates methane, which is roughly 30 times more harmful greenhouse gas than C02.  I stayed at a friends house and she stated “I only compost coffee grounds”.  She said it was too bothersome.  The garbage can and coffee compost bin were less than a meter apart.  I was shocked, but I was a guest and said nothing.  Hopefully she reads this and changes her ways, not just for her, but her son’s future.
After reading this, I called my garbage company at the apartments and started food waste recycling, we’re all responsible for preventing Climate Change.

*I was talking to a friend (who has kids), about Climate Change.  He stated “What about China?”.  I looked around his house at all the Chinese made TV’s.  America is the largest importer of Chinese goods.  That makes America  partially responsible for China’s Carbon Footprint.  America’s self-entitled & borrowed lifestyle still pollutes 2.5 times per person than China does.  Personally I would be more worried about my kids future than China’s carbon footprint.

A supposed world leader needs to lead by example, but it’s not. Trump wants to withdraw from the Paris Climate agreement, that could set world back preventing or slowing Climate Change, we don’t have time to waste.   Now Trump is undoing clean air, clean water, conservation policies, gas mileage standards and more. America will now be known as the leader in environmental destruction.  America should be so ashamed of itself, but I guess, jobs and money at any price are worth it, no matter what it costs or who it hurts.

I’ve been in the EU for the past 5 years and I LOVE IT!  I like some parts of Capitalism, but  I also like a government that gives people access to health care and education. Slovenians sometimes complain about this or that, like wanting to earn more money.  After I compare their lives with what American’s face daily, they get it.  I’ve been in both countries long enough to know of what I’ve seen.  Trump’s America throws billions of dollars of borrowed money at the military, wanna fix American infrastructure?  Americans will be digging into their pockets.  Health Care here is unaffordably broken, I pay $630 a month and must pay $7,000 for any & all care, before I can get any benefit or help.  My doctor friend pays $1,000 month and she’s a doctor!   I can’t wait to get back to the EU and Slovenia where people come first.

I don’t want to bad mouth America too much,  it’s given me opportunities I wouldn’t have had in other places around the world.  The Climate Change issue is too big an issue, to leave to politicians and business to solve, they’ve had 20 years.  It’s time for the people to stand up for future generations.  What’s going on, is so unfair.

Millennials maybe our only hope for their future.  Bernie Sanders biggest supporters were the millenials, a good sign.  They didn’t want Brexit, they want a more socialistic-democratic government.

That’s the bad first and the next blog is about the good times I had in America.

thanks for reading.
Jeff

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I HAVE THE LONG SLEEVE VERSION OF THIS I BOUGHT ON MY LAST TOUR HERE


This is the last leg of my tour and to my surprise a 30mph tail wind.  Not a side wind, full on tail wind, hallelujah!  I stopped for a coffee at Amargosa  cafe and opera house.   I thought about staying in the hotel, $100 per night, nope.  I was about to head out, then I saw a giant dust cloud heading my way.   My tail wind changed direction, now a 40 mph head wind carrying sand and debris.  I waited 2 hours for the sand storm to clear, but it was still super windy.  It was too unsafe to ride into Death Valley. So I hitchhiked in and we picked up another bike tour guy along the way.

I love Death Valley, in the winter.  It’s a comfortable 70-75 F (21-23C).  The Oasis resort has a warm spring fed swimming pool.  A local made a comment that “Death Valley is the only place in California without a water problem.”  I’m not sure that’s true?
The park service offers various hikes so I biked out to Golden Canyon for a hike.  Then I continued my bike ride to the Artist Pallet loop.

DEANNA OUR HIKE LEADER

TOUGH UPHILL RIDE

ARTIST PALLET DRIVE,  MINERAL COLORED HILLS

NATURAL LAVA SCULPTURE

I was pretty lazy, watching sports, swimming in the pool and kicking a few.  I met Lucas from North Carolina, he offered me a ride to Las Vegas, super.  He was in Death Valley for a marathon, (no thanks).

LUCAS, LISA & ME

DEATH VALLEY DUNES

SHOE PRINT AT DUNES

LIVE MUSIC

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