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Rolling low and slow across the real America

Rolling low and slow across the real America

By Chris Bateman Amtrak’s Texas Eagle is on the outskirts of San Marcos, getting gas. It isn’t a scheduled stop. “But our locomotive is low on diesel and now we’re waiting for a tanker truck,” the conductor tells us over

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Writer exits comfort zone to bare his soles and more

Writer exits comfort zone to bare his soles and more

A writer sheds his clothes and lives to tell about it.

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 12: All aboard for farewell climb over Alps

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 12: All aboard for farewell climb over Alps

Bateman’s Blog After 10 days of cycling on New Zealand’s South Island, Ben and I make the obvious decision: to do it again. But not on heavy touring bikes laden with gear. We’re not about to pedal up the same

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 11: You won’t believe what’s left hanging

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 11: You won’t believe what’s left hanging

Bateman’s Blog Wed., Feb. 10: Wanaka to Queenstown Distance: 50 miles Elevation gain: 25 feet After more than 40 years in journalism, you’d think my instincts would be better. Yet today I pedal right past a bra fence with nary a glance.

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 8: Comfort food powers pedalers through Southern Alps

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 8: Comfort food powers pedalers through Southern Alps

The cyclists we have met don’t care how long or short our ride is. They are helpful without fail, giving us tips on the roads, cafés and water sources ahead – along with plenty of encouragement.

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 7: Okarito to Fox Glacier

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 7: Okarito to Fox Glacier

Bateman’s Blog Journalist Chris Bateman, 69, and son Ben, 28, continue their 500-mile ride across New Zealand, from Christchurch to Queenstown. Okarito (Pop. 30) to Fox Glacier (Pop. 375) Distance: 51 kilometers.  Net elevation gain: 640 feet    We played tourist today,

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 6: The terrible trouble with possums

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 6: The terrible trouble with possums

Once we got to Okarito we found it had no restaurant and no store. And we had nothing left to eat in our panniers.

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 5: New saddle eases ride to Hari Hari

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 5: New saddle eases ride to Hari Hari

Here I am, riding through some of the most beautiful country on earth, and all I’m thinking about is how much my butt hurts.

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 4: Dodging kea and low-geared trucks

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 4: Dodging kea and low-geared trucks

Journalist Chris Bateman and son Ben make a white-knuckled descent from Arthur’s Pass to Hokitika.

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 3: In search of the mighty moa

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 3: In search of the mighty moa

Journalist Chris Bateman and son Ben make a nine-hour climb from Springfield to Arthur’s Pass.

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 2: Land of sheep, paintball and doughnuts

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 2: Land of sheep, paintball and doughnuts

Journalist Chris Bateman and son Ben journey from Christchurch to Springfield, enjoying the scenery and pie along the way.

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 1: Father and son embark on adventure

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 1: Father and son embark on adventure

A father-son cycling duo reprises a 2008 trek across the U.S., this time on New Zealand’s South Island.

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Water district puts rate hike on spin cycle

Water district puts rate hike on spin cycle

Say your girlfriend has leaned over backwards to please: For months she’s cooked your dinners, cleaned your house and put up with your quirky, irksome friends without a complaint. Yet you know your relationship is on borrowed time and that

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Time for parched foothills to seek divine intervention?

Time for parched foothills to seek divine intervention?

  Now that we’ve gone O-for-January and not much better for February, maybe it’s time to rethink T.Y. Atkins’ proposal. Summerville Elementary School’s principal went before the Tuolumne Utility District Board last June and suggested that prayer just might be

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The skeptic’s guide to man hugs

The skeptic’s guide to man hugs

You lead with your right hand, ready to bid farewell to a fellow guest at your neighbor’s dinner with a firm shake. Then you look up, and the guy is advancing with both arms wide open. Yeah, you met him

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Battle of the backwoods barons

Battle of the backwoods barons

Are you a backwoods baron? Take this quiz to find out.

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Let’s get stinkin’ serious about saving water

Let’s get stinkin’ serious about saving water

So now the Tuolumne Utilities District is telling us it’s for real: We really do have to cut our water consumption in half if we are to make it to the next rainy season with as much as a few

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2013’s  Bottom 10 List

2013’s Bottom 10 List

February’s here and you thought you could finally kiss 2013 goodbye. Well, that’s about as likely as keeping your pie-in-the-sky – or pie-off-the-plate, for you dieters – New Year’s resolutions. Just when you thought you’d seen the last of those

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The test he’s trying to forget

The test he’s trying to forget

I’m in our pantry, scanning the shelves. “What the hell did I come here for?” I ask myself.  “I knew just seconds ago.” Or maybe I run into you on Sonora’s Washington Street.  “Chris!” you say. “Great to see you

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Amid holiday rush, a scant nod to mall gunfire

We were in the Cost Plus World Market checkout line with a couple of bottles of Arrogant Bastard Ale when some arrogant bastard – or gang banger, crankster, meth head, dirtbag or nutcase – fired a few shots. They rang

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Tale of the Mystery Miner

Tale of the Mystery Miner

In 1955, Kyle Atkins and two cousins found a dead man in a remote cabin near Jamestown. In the newly released Winter 2013/14 Issue of Friends and Neighbors, Atkins tells of that boyhood fishing trip gone awry. Fifty-eight years later, Chris Bateman picks

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Requiem for a Pilot

Requiem for a Pilot

Here Rests a Good Car Jan. 17, 2005-March 20, 2013 Age:  187,470 miles We’ve never been much on naming cars, so I guess 2HKYF18565H535397 will have to do. That’s the VIN number for our late, well-traveled 2005 Honda Pilot, probably

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Slow? No problem! Join the crowd at April 20th Old Mill Run

Slow? No problem! Join the crowd at April 20th Old Mill Run

Running was my religion 30 years ago, and I went to church a lot. Once I put in 150 days without missing a run. At my obsession’s peak, I’d log 70 miles a week, pounding pavement in rain, wind and

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Recital promises more fun than you can shake a catheter at

We’re throwing a party this weekend, and most of our guests will be “of a certain age.” That would be my age, 67, and maybe a decade on either side. This means a couple of things: First, the party will

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What’s in a name? Eternal internet infamy

Who were they? And should we care? We’re talking about the seniors caught by the cops having sex in the back seat of a Ford Taurus parked at a Sonora barbecue joint last month. And doing it in broad daylight,

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How our $1,000 chicken laid a golden egg

How our $1,000 chicken laid a golden egg

“A thousand bucks? To fix a chicken??” My outrage echoed through the Twain Harte Veterinary Hospital lobby. A gaggle of waiting cat and dog owners looked up, suddenly alarmed that their own bills might also be unexpectedly high and perhaps

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Tuolumne County’s Road to Nowhere: Hang ‘Em High Way?

Tuolumne County’s Road to Nowhere: Hang ‘Em High Way?

“It doesn’t exactly roll off your tongue.” So said one critic when the Tuolumne County staff in November suggested naming a short road leading to the new Law and Justice Center site “Justice Center Drive.” County supervisors delayed their decision

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Three Little Words that Translate Into ‘You’re Screwed’

Three Little Words that Translate Into ‘You’re Screwed’

“Some assembly required.” The words get my blood running cold. Add that an Allen wrench, a screwdriver, and a pair of pliers are necessary to transform dozens of parts into a useful appliance or piece of furniture, and I’m tempted

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Digging Deep for 2012’s Bottom 10 List

Digging Deep for 2012’s Bottom 10 List

Had enough of those year-end Top 10 lists – Top 10 news stories of 2012, Top 10 sports highlights, Top 10 people who died in 2012, Top 10 new thing that causes cancer, Top 10 Top 10 lists and more? Good, because it’s time to plumb the depths.

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Warm Holiday Greetings Not in the Cards for ‘Current Resident’

Warm Holiday Greetings Not in the Cards for ‘Current Resident’

Here’s how desperate Christmas in our household has become: Cards from a state senator and a propane company are enshrined on our wall of Yuletide good cheer. That wall years ago would have been covered with cards from friends, neighbors,

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Partisan Potholes Cause a Sinking Sensation

Partisan Potholes Cause a Sinking Sensation

As a rookie reporter back in the 1970s, I knew our five county supervisors pretty well. I knew their wives, their kids and what they did for a living before getting into politics. I knew the cars they drove, the

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Setting Sail in a Virtual Ocean

Once you’re done reading, check your fingers: If there’s not a trace of ink on them, what you’ve read isn’t really journalism. Until shoved to the brink of the Digital Divide, that’s what I’ve always thought about my chosen profession. 

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