I give you a tour of Bassano del Grappa

My former flat-and-workmate recently moved to the nearby village of Bassano del Grappa. This is where grappa is made, hence the name. (For those of you who don’t know, grappa is made from the stems and seeds of the grape. It’s terrible.)

My friend seems to attract gentlemen of either the elderly and married sort. She remains remarkably naive to the fact that  they are interested in more than friendship, and because of this they are willing to do her favors and endure her friends for a while, until she confusedly wonders whatever happened to their friendship when the man stops communicating with her. So when I went to visit, her most recently gentleman friend– still in the stages of tolerance–loaned us a couple of bicycles which I believe belonged to his wife and one of his children.  They were nice bikes, too.

Then he took us on a little tour. We road through town and alongside the river, which is a defining feature of the town.

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An ancient bridge, the Ponte degli Alpini, is an old wooden bridge on the Brenta River connects the two sides of town. Spectacular homes surround the bridge, many are land and factory owners. Though some of them are uninhabited altogether, and have been for sale for years.

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On the outskirts of town are fields and more rich people houses. Or rather, they used to be rich people and now land ownership isn’t what it used to be. Some still live in parts of the giant old residences with the other parts remaining vacant or being rented out.

This place even had a moat:

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Along the river is a pretty beach. And some mountains and fields and stuff.

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Oh I almost forgot, later that evening I did see a Bimota Vyrus in the town piazza:

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We ended the day refusing his offer to make us pasta in his home. I explained to my bewildered friend that that would only open the door to him inviting just her over to his place for their next meeting. She tried to believe me, though wanted to think his motives were innocent and so I wasn’t surprised when I heard a week later that after she refused a private dinner at his place, she never heard from him again.

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Facing my loss

After the MotoGP weekend, I made it down to my house in San Diego, currently occupied by Joel, his big hairy dog and his sweet little cat. I asked him if I could have an afternoon there myself and he agreed.I wanted some time to go through some things and I knew it was going to be tough.

And it was. In the entryway is John-Mark’s signed helmet from his memorial along with the big photo of him. Around the house, photos  us are stashed in drawers and our racing photos are on the walls. TI was taken by surprise by a few things, like his dirtbike helmet that still smells like him, and his finding the under armor shirt they cut off him. I don’t remember leaving my house this way, I don’t remember all of these things. I don’t know what I have given away and what I still have. I just remember feeling compelled to make many, many changes to the house including paint and furniture and selling all kinds of things. Then I couldn’t take either so rather than sell my house at a very bad time in the market, I left to make a different life for myself over here, one that did not remind me every second that  it couldn’t ever be the same.

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I am still working out all my feelings, in fact I believe I have just started. But the episodes of spontaneous bawling in inappropriate places seem to have stopped. They aren’t sneaking out like they had to before, I actually give them time now. But facing my feelings led me realize I need to make another big change in my life. I am isolated and alone out here – I have no transportation and very little contact with more than a handful of people each day. I just don’t see people for most of my time here and that is not good for me. It is hard to live here for many reasons – but for this reason it is too hard. So I resigned from my job.

I will be moving back to Spain in a few weeks. From there I’m not positive what will happen, but rest assured, it will be interesting.

California Love, continued.

So where were we?

Oh yeah. Suz and I hit the town Friday night.

We caught up with our Catalan friends at the Mucky Duck in Monterey. It was pretty gangsta on a Friday night and at first we were wondering why the hell they would want to stay, what with all the sideways ball caps, 4ft x 4ft 22 year old single mothers of 3, and pop-inflected rap tunes. But then we figured it out. It was where they picked up all their dance moves for the year.

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Suz gets a lift, though I am not sure why. Usually you pick up cute, little people, right? Not the six footers?
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Though I don’t recall this photo being taken, I guess it was my turn for a lift.

After goofing off outside the club for an hour after closing,  I found a cab and immediately upon climbing in, my brother called.  He insisted that I have the cab go to the Carl’s Jr. drive through and that I buy 20 dollars worth of burgers and fries, because he and Jeff and another friend were in the room withering from hunger, and too much beer. THEIR cabbie wouldn’t go through the drive through at 3am, so I was their only hope.

Not wanting to allow my kin to suffer unnecessarily, I obliged and directed the cab to the drive through. Three guys behind the cab walked through the drive through behind me, making car noises. They honked at my cab a lot. Surprisingly, they got served.

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I made it back with the bag full o’ burgers and three noisy guys with many drinks inside them cheered me like a hero. One of those guys was none other than Christian Fletcher. Shawn met him on one of his many extended surf trips to Bali, where Christian was residing at the time. I guess CF is back in California now, and digs motorcycles so he went to the GP. My brother met up with him and he hung out with us all weekend. He was funny and honest and not not nearly as intimidating as I always heard him described as.

Side Note: If you surf, you know that this guy is one of the most influential surfers of all time. I remember hearing about the crazy things he was doing 15 years ago on a surfboard – he was a living legend at 25 year old and his name struck fear in people who had to compete against him or even paddle up next to him in the surf line up. Descriptions of his personality used words like dangerous and wild, and people who knew him said he was crazy and out of control.

Jeff, who was staying in the house, had a man crush on Christian since he was a kid. So hanging with him Friday night made him school girlishly giddy, and the next day he made me take a nonchalant photo of him and his hero.

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Jeff and his man-crush, Christian.

The rest of Saturday was a long day of meeting up with friends and eatin Ducati Island hospitality food.

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Breakfast of champs – tall boys and doughnuts.
I ran into some folks from the US offices and they corralled me into a garage tour with Randy Mamola. We ended up standing outside of the Tech 3 garages while Randy talked.And surprisingly, two designers from the Italy office were there. It was a shock to run into them as I had no idea they would be there. Incidentally it was the first MotoGP race one of them had  ever been to.
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The Italians listen to Randy.

Did I mention there were a lot of people in the house? Well there were and I was the only girl. Fabio proclaimed the living room smelled like wet dog. I agreed.

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Every evening we had a nice dinner somewhere, our big group give or take a few, and usually some other stragglers.  Then I would head out with my brother, Susanna, and occasionally some of the other guys. But sometimes they weren’t up for going out, and Jeff let us know.

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