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WHAT A RIDE: Mountain biker Don Nolan is getting back his land legs after circum-cycling the entire Bay Area.

Nolan, the chef at the Redwood Empire Food Bank kitchen, pedaled for 13 days and 550 miles on the Bay Area Ridge Trail. All along the way he kept track of the elevation he climbed: a total of 68,000 feet.

Sponsored by REI, Nolan made the unassisted ride to promote the ridge trail and blaze a path for future riders. He blogged while he rode, and took photos. You can find his commentary here.

While pedaling the ridge trail “I felt true inner peace and tranquility,” Nolan wrote. He praised the trail as “an icon for the conservation of open space” and an essential safeguard of “wildlife, native species and the lifestyle of Northern California.”

Now, he rests.

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Let’s catch up with the outpouring that’s come in response to news that an alleged embezzler had siphoned off all the money for the Project Grad safe-and-sober party at Rancho Cotate High and the Cotati-Rohnert Park area’s smaller high schools.

Even kids from outside the schools have rallied to restore the stolen funds. One is Clare O’Brien of Cardinal Newman High in Santa Rosa; Clare and fellow CN students raised and donated $500.

Another $500 came to Project Grad from a Dollar Drive by students at Rohnert Park’s Lawrence Jones Middle School.

Still coming are a couple of public benefits.

From 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday, some Rancho Cotate alums will host a musical fundraiser at Spanky’s Bar in Cotati. The band Unbalanced will perform, $1 tacos will be served and a healthy share of every buck spent will go to Project Grad.

And don’t forget the pancake breakfast May 13 at the Rohnert Park fire station at Golf Course and Country Club drives. Members of the Rohnert Park Public Safety Officers Association will cook and serve, then donate all the proceeds to assuring that Project Grad thrives despite the ripoff.

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IN THE BAG: Saturday, May 13, is the day that your postal carrier will leave your mail and pick up whatever nonperishable foods you leave beside your mailbox.

Members of the National Association of Letter Carriers will deliver the groceries to local pantries, for distribution at no cost to families in need.

Folks sometimes wonder what types of foods they should leave for their postal carrier.

A good rule of thumb: We might give the same foods that, were the situation to be changed by a few degrees, we’d be pleased to receive.

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“YU” MEANS QUIET and “gen” means profound.

Put together, Yugen is the name of a Japanese-American theater company that will perform in Santa Rosa’s Juilliard Park during Sunday’s Matsuri festival.

Theatre of Yugen is based in San Francisco and rooted in a 600-year-old tradition that delights in word play and satire that tickles spectators and deepens their appreciation of Japanese culture.

If you’ve been to a previous Matsuri, you know the stage performances, food, taiko drumming, origami demonstrations and tea ceremonies make for a exceptional day in downtown’s classic downtown park.

Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this column contained an incorrect date for the National Association of Letter Carriers' food drive.

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