Sunday, September 23, 2018

Yosemite Aftermath

The day after we returned from the day trip to Yosemite was another day of vegetating. Then I was able to run some errands, probably powered Walfed, a generic version of Sudafed from Walgreen. After that, a funk set in: happy chemicals dissipated and all that was left was fatigue and weakness. I struggled to get the laundry done like I used to. I had to have my wife to carry it downstairs and load it up in the car, and then haul it back up when I was back from the laundromat.

Another penalty of 3 days, it was all so predictable. And to think I was going to bike 12 miles today. I'm just an incorrigible optimist.

I used to distinguish the post-extertional struggle and post-exertional sickness. Now I think they are the same thing that are only different in degrees. When I was constantly struggling with ADLs, the 3 day penalties used to completely knock me out. Now that I function quasi-normal when I am rested, the 3 day penalties mean I struggle with ADLs; it feels like I'm back to being my old CFS self. Maybe the post-exertional struggle will eventually go away too and be replaced with DOMS or plain post-exercise fatigue.

DOMS, too, could be the same kind. There was a paper that biopsied CFS patients in PEM and found that there was no micro-tear in their muscle fiber and therefore concluded that PEM is not same as DOMS. But micro-tear is only a hypothesis for the cause of DOMS and DOMS could be caused by inflammation with or without micro-tear. Even if the micro-tear is the cause, the tear for CFS patients could be so minute that biopsy may not be able to detect. And CFS patients, being hypersensitive to inflammation, get knocked out severely for 3 days after a minimal exertion while healthy people only get DOMS after a prolonged maximal exercise. CFS patients further face the peril that a severe case of PEM could chronically worsen the condition. I ought to know, I've done that a few times in my early years of CFS.

So, there you have it, inflammation hypersensitivity as the unified theory of CFS. Inflammation not only explains CFS phenomena, but it also encompasses the post-exercise phenomena of healthy people: it satisfies the correspondence principle.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Mist Trail, Conquered

I'm not the one to let good money go to waste. I once again invested $80 on the national park pass when we were at Crater National Park and I had to make use of it to get my money's worth. So we decided to go back to Yosemite almost on a whim, before it gets too cold.

It was a day trip this time. I figure I would be completely spent after a day hike and pretty much useless the next day. It's better to come home and rest on my own bed anyway, instead of the dumpy Half Dome Village tent that cost $140, $160 if heated.

I aborted the hiking on Mist Trail the last time and that that's been on my mind. I know how dangerous it can be to be ambitious -- I got another sample of that 2 weeks ago after climbing Telegraph hill -- but we were tantalizingly close to Vernal Falls Bridge the last time and I wanted to come back and try again.

Turned out, we weren't that close the last time. It was quite a ways uphill from where we turned around to the bridge. Then it was another 0.7 miles from there to Vernal Fall, for the total of 1.5 miles.

We made it all the way to the fall. I walked very slowly -- probably less than 50 steps/min -- in zigzag going up. And I had to lean on my wife on the way down. But it was 3 miles with 700 feet elevation gain, so this one goes in the book as a bona fide hiking.

We made stops at El Capitan picnic area, waded water for a while at the beach right after it, took pictures at Bridalveil Fall and Tunnel View before turning around and driving into the sun. It must be nearing the Autumn equinox -- the sun set at 7:05 PM on the Central Valley.

The day ended with 17,000 steps on my fitbit, the most ever since I got sick. That topped 16,000 steps I did in NYC last year.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Not Out of the Woods Yet, #3

After the ordeal was a day of vegetating.  The day after that, I fully recovered and my pace was up to 105 step/min. I did some house duties and then walked at 95 steps/min to Starbucks 2000 steps away.  Then I woke up with the familiar heaviness that goes with post-exertional sickness the next day.  It must've been the pace. Obviously I'm still not out of the woods yet and I'll have to continue to watch my walking speed.

When you are biking on a flat terrain, you are not exerting much. You only exert in spurt when crossing intersections. Walking, on the other hand, is a constant pace activity. Do that at a higher speed, I still suffer.

It would've been nice to rest, but we soldiered on to SF as planned. I needed to swap the stem on my bike -- I'm going with 80 mm for comfort and agility since I'm not planning on riding fast. By the time we were done charging in Fairfield, the fatigue partially dissipated. It was a deja vu of Witherville.

After dropping off wife at Westfield and the bike at the shop, and I went straight for Telegraph Hill. Something I meant to do the last time we were here, but ran out of time then. The steep incline above Broadway was still a challenge and I zig-zaged at 60 steps/min. 20 minute of rest at the top, and I came down Greenwich Steps. I descended like a normal person till Union Street. Then I became a polio victim with knees locked and  hands clutching the rail. I hardly could take another step by the time I got to the Levi Plaza. On F tram, I was looking for an empty seat like I used.

Still, it was a vast improvement. Before, I had to rest several times go up and coming down. This time, it was only one rest at the top. And the weakness dissipated by the time I got back to my car in Castro and I was walking fine again.

I spent the next 3 days in horizontal position, however. The sustained walk down Greenwich steps must've taken a toll and my calves were sore. (DOMS and PEM coincided, more on this later).  Another proof that I'm not out of the woods yet.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

15 Mile Biking Along American River

I took my left hand off the handle bar for a moment to relieve the fatigue on my triceps. The next thing, I was on the ground. The 25c tires were no match for the gravel no matter how sticky they were, and the bike slipped down the side of the elevated trail. I might have saved myself if my feet were free. But they were bound to the pedal. I went down clean and a chunk of skin on my left elbow and arm were scraped off.

That was soon after I made out of the woods at Paradise beach. It was quite a walk on sand and through the woods to get to the river from the trail. On the way back, I ended up in dead-end trail several times. I braved through the thickets for a while before finally gave up, backtracked and found the way out.

The meandering through the woods and the subsequent fall took quite a bit out of me. By the time I got to the Skate Park on B Street, I was beaten. I had to sit on the side of the road for a while to gather wit. Then the trail was closed shortly after and I had to back-track again and detour via C Street to the Bikeway Bridge. I was getting dizzy and about to black out by then. I had to lie down by the trail. My heart rate was up to 130 and did not show any sign of coming down even after 20 minutes. I got up, picked up the pieces and cross the bridge to the split trail just before the turn toward REI. I lied on the picnic bench there for a while again. The ranger came by to check me out. He made sure that I had enough battery left on my phone, gave me a bottle of water and moved on. REI was right around the corner, so there wasn't much to be concerned.

This was way more than a CFS patient should be able to. If I don't get sick for the next 2 days, I'll declare that I recovered.

Did I say how much I like this bike, btw? It is not only responsive, it is also super comfortable. The D-Fuse carbon seatpost working with cromoly rail and the tubeless tires does wonders for your bottom. My butt was just about the only part intact by the time I was done. I highly recommend Giant Contend SL. SL 2 at $900 would be a steal of the century.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Oregon Coast

As our expedition moved from Columbia Gorge to Oregon coast, we moved our lodging westward accordingly from Gresham to Portland, and then finally to Hillsboro. My niece lives in Beaverton, so the final location worked out well. We plugged in our car in Beaverton, had dinner with her and her husband and then checked into Courtyard Marriott in Hillsboro.

We checked out early in the morning. We had 400 miles to go and dozens of stops for sightseeing along the coastline. At the end, it still wasn't enough; we skipped all points of interest after Bandon and drove straight to Crescent city. We got there well after dark.

One could be excused for thinking Oregon coastline is an extension of California coastline. Oregon retains some ruggedness of California coastline, with bluffs and phallic rocks sticking out of the water. But it is not rugged like Big Sur. It also has more sandy beaches and streams and rivers emptying into the Pacific. Take Waldport at the mouth of Alsea River for instance. It is covered with sandy beaches, sandbars and tidepools all over. For each river emptying into the ocean there are a dozen streams splitting beaches or creating lagoons where they meet the sea.

This is a two day excursion. It will be a much more enjoyable trip if you stop at estuaries and wade the tidal pools or get baked in the sun at any of the mile long pristine beaches for a while before moving on.

View of Netarts Bay From Cape Lookout, I think

Seaside, our first stop, was a tourist town. We couldn't even find a parking space there. I figure it's just a beach with boardwalk -- been there, done that -- so we moved on after charging up the car. Cannon Beach, about 10 miles south, was a quieter and more pristine breach. It was a bit tricky to get to it. We got off the freeway, drove down a residential street and parked on the shoulder. And then we found stairs leading down to the beach, hidden between houses.

Cannon Beach

We continued on US-101 and then OR-131 to Cape Meares. We skipped Tillamook Creamery -- we had enough butter in our freezer to last another year or two -- and skirted Tillamook Bay all the way up only to find that the road to the cape was closed. We turned around and traced back to Netarts Bay to get to Cape Lookout. A few pictures of miles long sand beaches and the Netarts Bay there, and the morning was done.

Siletz Bay

We stopped at Lincoln City for charging, had in-car lunch with leftovers and hung out in the shopping mall. It was the last chance for tax-free shopping. But we didn't find anything that struck our frugal fancy and came up empty handed once again.

Shortly after Lincoln City was Siletz river and Siletz Bay Wildlife Refuge. It was yet another estuary that wasn't on the Drive #9 of the guide book; another beautiful river emptying into the Pacific with wide sandy beach and sand bars; and another place that we could've stayed over to make the trip more leisurely and enjoyable. We'll come back to it someday.

View from Cape Foulweather
22 miles south of Siletz River, past Lincoln Beach and Depoe Bay, was Cape Foulweather that claims to be 500 feet above the sea where the history of Oregon began. With rugged cliffs, it was more California than Oregon; you'd be forgiven if you mistook it for Santa Cruz or somewhere north of Big Sur.

We skipped New Port, Waldport and all other river-meets-the-Pacific estuaries on the way to the charging station in Bandon. But we did stop for the Dunes Recreational Area. It was infested with ATVs so we took a quick look and then turned around.

Gold Beach

Final charging stop in desolate Bandon. It was a good sized town but there was no soul around except for the scruffy chump on a bike who knocked on my window while charging. He went on telling me how he saw through the construction of the charging station and where to stop to charge on the way to Crescent City. He said he has a Tesla though he didn't look like the type. He sure knew a lot about Tesla though. By the time we got to Gold Beach, it was getting pretty dark. We stopped for a quick shot and then headed to Crescent City.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Colombia River Gorge

The Coke can in Bulgogi, a Korean eatery, at the SW end of NE Sandy Blvd said 1.50. I figure that should be about $1 USD.

I keep thinking this is Canada. It may as well, with the sun laying low on the horizon. It's late August and the evening melancholy hour goes on and on. Not quite as long as in Alaska where the sun rides the ridge forever, but certainly longer than in Sacramento. Our day trip to The Dalles along Columbia River Gorge ended as such and we headed to Rodeway Inn on the other end of Sandy Blvd.

We checked out early from Days Inn in Gresham. With millions of stops along the way it was going to be a full day trip to The Dalles and back. It is the Drive #8 and #10 of the Most Scenic Drive in America. We were going up the river on the South side and then come back on the North bank.

View from Crown Point
The air was still hazy in the morning sun when we got to the Crown Point perched on the cliff overlooking Columbia river. It cleared up a bit by the time we got to Multnomah Fall. We had to take a long detour to the fall. The Historic Columbia River Highway was closed and we had to turn around and come back to Crown Point to get back on I-84.

After the charging and in-car lunch lunch in The Dalles -- the food didn't look too appetizing in that cow-belled restaurant and we had enough in the car --, it was time to trek back to Portland.

Panorama Point in Hood River

Under the Route 197 bridge just north of The Dalles, black rock slates were climbing out of the river on top of each other and the crystalline water sparkling in the afternoon sun was lapping them energetically.  I could've stopped for it. But I was too tired by then to turn around. I'll come back for it someday.

The north shore of the river along Lewis and Clark Hwy has many streams emptying into Columbia. We were going to follow one of them, The White Salmon River, to Trout Lake. But we were running out of time and electrons by then.  So we stopped and admired the river instead.  The river was about 30 feet down and and there was steel rope tempting you to rappel down. I couldn't resist.

White Salmon River

About 20 miles west was another White Salmon River, Little one this time. It was draining into, well, Drano Lake. The lake was a man-made one with a levy on Columbia to support the road and the levy encircled the bay turning it into a lake. At the mouth of the river was a dead salmon floating belly up. And we understood why it was called White Salmon River.

White Salmon River

We were all done with streams by then and the sun was getting pretty low in a fall-like day. We made a stop at Home Valley Park, rested on the picnic table by its secluded beach for a few minutes and then continued on to Beacon Rock.

Home Valley Beach

I could've made it to the top of Beacon Rock -- it was only about 20 stories tall, so it seemed -- if I didn't leave my wallet in the car. I didn't want the car broken into, so we turned around half way up. It would've been the first completion after giving up so many times. Instead, it became another abortion.

Beacon Rock

The Cape Horn Viewpoint was our final stop. Soon after we crossed I-205 bridge with another spectacular view of the river and we were back in Portland traversing NE Sandy Blvd.

Cape Horn Viewpoint

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Portland OR

After driving 700 miles to get here, I crashed early and slept 9 hours. I was feeling much better this morning. Trip is more enjoyable when you are not fatigued. Who knew?

There was nothing that piqued my interest in Top 15 Things To Do from Trip Advisor. So we checked out the neighborhoods instead to see how people live. That's what I usually do when I visit a new city anyway. Matator Network had an excellent article on Portland neighborhoods and I'd recommend it to anybody visiting Portland for the first time. We hit all 5 neighborhoods today.

In all, Portland looks like a cross between SF and Sacramento, Nob Hill and all. It hugs a river like Sacto instead of a bay. the Riverfront trail was too
bustling though. I prefer the quietude of Sacramento's river trail.

Powell Books and the Pearl District was the first order of business. Paid $8 for a used copy of In Cold Blood, had a coffee and then walked to Pioneer Court Square. Next we drove to Lan Su garden, peeked inside from outside -- we were too cheap to pay $20 to get in -- and then walked to the Riverfront Trail. We returned via Skidmore fountain, a European looking square occupied by homeless people.

23rd in Nob Hill looked much like Fillmore in Lower Pacific of SF with shops and eateries lined up on the both sides of the street. It was nothing new to us, so we walked back to 21st, a plebeian version of 23rd, and then back to the car parked in front of Trader Joe's. By then we got hungry so we went over to Boke Bowls for fusion Japanese.

There wasn't much to see in Central Waterfront so we drove directly to Boise, a working class neighborhood going through some gentrification. It's a workable neighborhood. Certainly is not an upscale, but there were lots of greenery and gardens in homes there.

Over all, very pleasant town full of friendly young people. Another 12,000 step day ended back in Gresham.