2 Wheels To Adventure

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Alaska/Canada Trip--2006
Two "Adventure" Bikes

Ride boldly, Lad,  fear not the spills! (From "The Man From Snowy River," by Banjo Paterson) 
 
I'm not the man I used to think I was. (RBW)
 
"Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!"
(William Butler Yeats)

For a looong discussion on motorcyling in general and Adventure riding in particular, see the archives (or scroll down) for the first post on September 28, 2006.
It gives some opinions and ideas, along with a bit of philosophy; one (old) man's view of the world of 2 wheels.

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New Scooter---2014 R1200RT
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Cap'n Ron in the Straits of Georgia
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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Unity

October, 2007 is just about upon us, and September drifts into the past. I have been in a bit of a blue funk the past several days, and things are looking gray, although I have no real reason, from a personal standpoint, for it. I am without problems in my life, in apparent good health, with adequate resources to enjoy these golden years without restriction.

Still, I am discouraged. Life is truly good, but I see the situation in this country, and indeed, in the world, as bleak. We are engaged in a protracted conflict (I can no longer call it a war, because it defies the definition we generally accept), with economic problems expanding, and a nation that is divided against itself more than ever before.

Yes, we have had schisms before, perhaps the greatest two-sided one being the Civil War, but even our misadventure in Vietnam did not split us into so many varied and divergents factions as we now face. And I am at a loss to explain it. At least in the Civil War, there were two factions, yet now we have as many factions as there are greivances or causes, probably more.

We were at one time a nation. Here is one definition: A large aggregate of people united by common history, descent, culture, or language, inhabiting a particulary country or territory. 

Another definition, in part: ...a body of people occupying a country and united under one general government as an independent political unit,  or state...

I suggest the former is less what we are today, and they both are qualified by the key word "united." Are we in fact "united" under one general government? I tend to think not. We are less than united about much of anything. We do live under one general government, but even that is diluted by the fact that we live under multiple governments: We have federal, state, county, city, neighborhood, and in some cases, homeowners. We are in no way that I can see united about much of anything. We generally refer to ourselves as Americans, but there is a strong tendency to sub-refer to ethnic divisions as well as racial or religious, lessening the overall unifying term American.

There was a time in my life when being an American meant that we were members of a nation that tried to do what was right for most of us. I shamefully admit that we failed to include huge segments in that effort. Non-whites were and still are excluded, by and large. We excluded women, and powerful forces still attempt to limit them---over 50 per cent of our total population!

Our national motto was once "e pluribus unum." Out of many, one. It was changed in 1956, and now our motto is "In God We Trust."  Whatever your particular religion or philosophy, you must recognize that "In God We Trust" is not all-inclusive, because, like it or not, many citizens of this country are neither Christian nor religious in any sense. As a matter of fact, it is likely that the largest group of people in the county is the irreligious contingent.

There was a time when we lived in this society with compassion and a sense of duty to the less fortunate. We had a large segment of our population, as well as the federal government that tried to help the poor, the ill, and the aged. Now it seems that we have an "every man for himself" outlook. If you are poor or ill you are considered a drag on the rest of us. I give you New Orleans as a prime example. I have heard all too many profess the wish that New Orleans be abandoned, both by people on television as well as people in the street with whom I have conversed.

Without taking political sides here, I want to say that these divisive elements have weakened us as a nation and as a people. We have to ask ourselves, "What kind of people are we?" We have a president who is about to veto a bill that would provide funds to insure some 35 million children on the grounds that many of them come from families that make too much money. So, rather than insure those unable to afford care, we wil deny them and 30 or so million other children because of cost. This in a nation that is about to appropriate another 200 Billion dollars in the boot-with-a-hole-in-it that is Iraq.

Have you ever asked yourself why it is that health care is not a right in the richest nation in the world? Is it our fear of "socialized medicine?" That seems high on the list of reasons, yet we do not flinch to sending our congressmen and service men and women to medical care that fits every definition of "socialized." We have no qualms about socialized fire and police protection. We have a socialized postal department, that, despite cries for its elimination, moves enormous quantities of mail at what are still rather nominal costs and reasonable surety and speed.

Our streets and highways are socialized, as are most other aspects of our basic infrastructure.

But we hate government, and we hate taxes. We want streets and highways, an army and navy, and all the other services provided by good government, but we do not want to pay for them. We have been fed the lie that taxes, any taxes are bad, and that they are "taking money out of our pockets." What do those of us who buy that line think we would do if they were in private hands, corporations that have to make a profit to remain in business? Do we actually think things would be better and cheaper? Will Haliburton give us better electric power for less cost? Do we really think a company like that, that has overcharged millions in Iraq would do better if given a contract to rebuild all the bridges in the nation?

We have become a nation of small individual groups, and if rich enough, individuals, each crowding and shoving in hopes to get ahead of the others, be it in material wealth or personal privilege. We have an alarming "Screw you!" attiitude these days. It is every one for himself, because the other guy is going to crush you if you don't look out for yourself "number one." Well, old Number One is going to need the rest of us someday, somehow, and we are all in this boat of nationhood and life together. We have to look out for each other. We crawled out of the caves and came together into social groups that eventually became civilizations and nations in order for that society to do things for the good of the many. These were things that we could not and cannot do for ourselves. 

Our consumerism has reduced us to materialists. We no longer strongly believe in the Four Freedoms. Sure, we mouth the words liberty, freedom, democracy, but we no longer believe in them, and scarcely know what they mean. Freedom seems to many the freedom to agree with the majority or with those in power. Liberty means the ability to go along to get along. Democracy is the freedom to elect one of two candidates for any and every office, but no others, because the powers that run the country see to it that only two candidates receive any media exposure. Choices are limited by those big powers, and we have the liberty to accept it.

Here are the Four Freedoms:

Free Speech

Freedom from fear

Freedom from hunger

Freedom to worship in any way (or no way)

One out of four. Not good even in baseball.

Its still a grand life and a grand adventure.

Excelsior! 

 

4:24 pm mdt 

Monday, September 24, 2007

We have had a change of weather here in sunny Arizona. The temps have dropped to below 100 for the past couple of days, and we had some rain showers. I took a long stroll this morning at 0600, and thought I might need a sweater until I had walked up a bit of a "glow." By the time I finished, 40 or so minutes out, I was comfortably warmed up, but had to put on a leather coat for my morning ride down to the nearest Starbucks for a cuppa. Sitting outside, with the NYT and a medium-sized (I have trouble enunciating a call for a "grande"---grande ain't medium!) americano, it was most pleasant. 

We do not have a proper autumn here. It is more of an easing of the blistering summer, without the customary turning of the leaves. Palm trees don't drop their leaves, and there is no harbinger of winter since there is no real winter. We do get some days with a touch of frost, but in general our winter consists of three or so months of charming weather---lots of sunshine and balmy days that erase the memories of life-threatening, cruel, blast furnace heat. This summer set a record of 29 days with temps above 110 degrees. Even natives, of which there aren't many, were affected by this one. The ones I have talked to think this one was worse than any they remember.

Well, it gives us something to brag about, and the good part is we do not have to shovel it. The bad part is, or should I say the bad parts are things like electric bills. Last month ours was $467, in July $559. We've got to find someplace cooler for our summers. I don't want to think of another spent in this oven.

3:23 pm mdt 

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Search For Identity

I read the other day that in the 18 to 50 age group, one in four people have tattoos. Personal observation is that it is at least that common, maybe moreso, and those are just the ones that are visible.

Now, I come from a bygone era, where tattoos were a mark of just a couple of things. Either the wearer was of a class of people deemed "lower" by my peers, or he was someone who had been A) in the military, and B) had gotten drunk at least once while there.  Women ("Ladies") did not have tattoos, or, when they did, they were without doubt "slutty." These were not facts, they were perceptions, and I am still emotionally attached to them.

The current plethora of decorated skin is still shocking to me. I see all manner of people sporting all manner of design and all levels of artistic expression. The wearers, or should I say, owners of these life time designs range from hard-body teens to elderly matrons with white hair and drooping breasts, to psychedelic panoramas that look like they should be featured at a circus sideshow.

I cannot divine what is the motivation that brings people to have their bodies decorated with drawings and representations that will follow them into the grave. It transends the stage of faddishness. Tattoos now appear to be a mark of the age, a ticket to the show, or a badge of belonging.

These owners are not restricted to any age, race, religion, economic or educational level, or any other grouping that I can determine. It is an expression of non-conformity that has ironically become a measure of its antithesis, conformity. I am an outsider, bereft of the hip status a well-wrought tattoo can signal. I am once again, or I should say, still in a minority, and the feeling is comfortably reassuring. There may have been a moment when a tattoo was neither low class nor conforming, but it was fleeting, and now those vanguards are unceremoniously lumped in with the clamoring masses that flock to the ink needle for decorations, to make statements, but significantly, to "join the club."

Unfortunately, the statements often have short half-life, and the decorations fade with the years, literally and symbolically. Today's political rant writ large will change with time, as will the rose dripping blood or the profession of true love to "Suzy Q," or "Nancy," or the love of the week. The clubbiness may well become merely a mark of impulse indulged. Time ravages all, and the work of art can become a blurred and unrecognizable blotch of pale color.

My next-to-last uncle had been a marine in the thirties. In those days, as mentioned above, young he-men who went into the "corps" were often lured into tattoo shops in Singpore or Hong Kong or Panama by macho bravado fueled by booze and the urgings of companions. Mick had "US Marines" on his right bicep, done in script (cursive), with the words in blue with red outline. By the time he died, in 1993, the message was all but unreadable, and had receded into the skin that held it. It had been there for 60 or so years, and time had done its work, as is its wont. But, "once a marine, always a marine."

It seems to me that tattoos promise an individuality, and the masses yearn to stand out from the crowd. We are in a complex society in this Twenty-first Century, and individuality is hard to find. We are but faceless, nameless numbers to our employers, our government, and often, to our neighbors. We are part of society but mere parts of a whole that functions with us or without us, and most of the time we seem to not exist at all. We are here, and that is the extent of it. 

So we seek respite from the anonymity with skin decorations or any sign that can say "I am different. I am not an atom in the body, but an individual. Look at me." We seek this in a variety of ways, and it is only arrogance and hubris that makes me aloof. Who am I to judge others' choices? Intellectually, I know this. I acknowledge that we all seek some stand-out that will set us slightly apart. We don't usually seek complete separation from the herd, only some small sign that we are individuals, and we do it in our own way. We wear pins, drive cars, wear clothes, have beards, pierce body parts, use language, or live in mansions, all in an attempt to show that simple fact: "I am different. I stand out. Look at me." The more complex and populous societies become, the more yearning to be apart. The ego hungers.

So, wear your body decorations, and to Hell with me. I will putz around on a motorcycle, my stickers and decals childishly proclaiming what I have done, and we can disregard each other while we celebrate our uniqueness in our own way.

 

 

12:52 pm mdt 

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Life Is Short...

I went for a ride yesterday with 4 other geezers. We met at Ben Avery Shooting Range, just off the I-i5 at Carefree Highway at 0800, and took of on AZ 71, past Lake Pleasant and onto US 93 to Wickenburg.

It was a beautiful morning, one of the coolest in months at around 70 degrees, quite a change from the usual 85 degrees (or higher). Our leader kept things right at the maximum speed limit, and there was lots of time for looking around and taking in the scenery. I brought up the rear, and kept a good interval between me and the number 4 rider, who was on a Yamaha VStar. The other riders were on VStrom, Yamaha V650, and another BMW R1150GS. I was on Der Klunkenschiffter, and in ATGATT, along with my new back protector, just received via UPS.

This BP is a replacement for the back protectors that are in my two riding jackets. Usually these built-in pads are little more than extra padding, and a real back protector can offer some real protection in the event of a "get off." I have recently read several accounts of people who went down, (watch it!) and the people wearing extra back protection fared much better, usually with no injuries other than minor scrapes suffered when sleeves shifted or protective gear slid away from the soft and vulnerable skin it was meant to shield from the abrasions of the cold, hard roadway.

My riding companions all wore protective jackets, helmets, boots, and gloves, but only two of them had any trousers other than blue jeans.  These two guys had heavy gauge denims with knee pads and some kind of kevlar lining---better than nothing. When I pass riders in T-shirts and cutoffs, with neither boots, gloves, or helmets, I shudder. 

Approaching Wickenburg we passed several signs that proclaimed: "Speed Restriction. Accident Ahead."

We slowed, and after rounding a couple of turns came upon a group of police and emergency vehicles blocking the inside lane of the divided 4 lane Highway 93.

Then there was a bicycle in that lane, badly twisted. Approximately 300 feet further up the road was a shrouded figure, face up, with shoe-less, white stockinged toes pointing skyward. A couple of patrolmen were assaying the scene as we puttered by, and, another hundred feet or so was a taxi pulled onto the median grass. The driver was standing by the left rear fender, apparently unperturbed. It was unclear if the cab was involved in the crash, but what was unmistakeable was that someone had died not long before our passing.

It was a sobering scene. Someone's troubles are over.

We continued our ride, turning onto Arizona 89 a few miles northwest of Wickenburg, and cruised up Yarnell Hill, then turned left at Kirkland Junction and took Arizona 15 (?), came  through Skull Valley and into Prescott, where we had a nice lunch with some old pals from our cockpit days.

We came back via 89, which has some nice curves, great pavement, and is a great ride. We stopped for ice cream north of Wickenburg, then headed home, peeling off one by one to our respective residences.

All in all, it was a grand day for us. Not so for the poor victim of the bicycle crash and his family. Yes, life is all too short. 

7:13 pm mdt 

Monday, September 10, 2007

Alive Day

Short post today.

Did you watch "Alive Day" on HBO last night (Sunday, September 9th)? Every Ameridan should see it. No matter where you stand on the events that are unfolding in Iraq, you should see this film.

We have no idea what our troops there are undergoing, and nothing short of service there would give us a real sense of it, but we can get a clue by watching "Alive Day." It is the least we can do. 

9:26 pm mdt 

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A Bit Of Local Excitement

I rode Der Klunkenschiffter over to the local Starbucks at Scottsdale and Indian Bend this morning, to have a cuppa and peruse the New York Times. I got there about 0650, got off the bike, and wandered inside to place my order, then took my cuppa and the paper outside to one of the tables there.

I hadn't paid much attention to the two or three Scottsdale police milling around with some other people in front of the jewelry store next door when I arrived, but now I saw that there were several emergency vehicles pulled up, and several uniformed police and fire personnel there. There was also a motorcycle parked on the walkway in front of the shop.

It seems that the rider had pulled up to the parking place directly in front of the jewelry store, miss-judged the turn-in, side-swiped a new VW Toureg parked there, and then further lost control and surged, apparently under full throttle, onto the sidewalk and through the glass ground-to-ceiling window at the front of the shop and 15 feet inside, stopping against the display case and counter at the rear.

There was broken glass everywhere, from the tempered glass window itself, as well as several large shattered pieces of 1/4 inch thick plate glass from a couple of destroyed display cases. The rider, who had his helmet conveniently carried on the helmet carrier of the bike, instead of on his head, was extremely lucky. He only had a fairly minor cut on one forearm (there will be stitches), and a few small nicks on his neck and head. The bike, a FJR 1300 (I think that is a Yamaha), only had cosmetic damage to the front plastic and headlights. It was brand new, and had but a few miles on it.

The shop owner later told me that the rider, a man of 40 or 50, said he had been riding bikes "all his life," but that the throttle had apparently stuck. It is one of those new, clutchless bikes, he said, and when you get much over 4 or 500 RPM, the auto clutch kicks in. Apparently in trying to avoid striking the Toureg, he wrapped the throttle, or perhaps the impact with the SUV threw him back and his right wrist involuntarily wrapped the throttle. In any event, he propelled himself into and through the window and into the showroom. He was wearing gloves, and that may have prevented more injury, but all in all, he was most fortunate, not to say very embarrassed and chagrined.

I chided myself for riding that morning without my riding pants on. I repeat, these things happen when you least expect them. The rider in this incident had apparently been wearing his helmet shortly before, and had for whatever reason just removed it prior to this accident. Had this incident occurred a couple of feet to the right, he would have plunged into Starbucks, where several people were seated inside, likely injuring someone. 

The jewelry store owner happened to be in his shop. He had recently been forced to move from a site on the other side of Starbucks by the landlord, who wanted to let out that spot to a restaurant or some such business that could utilize a corner location with outside tables. The jewelry guy was not happy about the move, and had been in the process for several weeks, remodeling, painting, and so forth, and was just about to have his grand re-opening. The window will take some time to replace, and he is going to make the best of it in the meantime with a boarded up front. He seemed pretty relaxed about the whole thing, but when I mentioned that, he allowed as to he was upset, but, what the Hell, you adapt to these things. I think he took it better than I might have. He was sitting in his office at the rear when the bike entered, and although he could not see because of venetian blinds, he said he knew from the sound that some sort of vehicle had paid a visit.

It could have been worse. It could have been me... 

4:03 pm mdt 

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Helmets and Helmet Laws
The crash my daughter witnessed the other night was one of those cases where gear would not have made a difference. From what she described, a tank might not have helped, but there was no helmet in evidence, and that brings up the question, what about them? My views are clear---no helmet---no ride, but what about helmet laws? Should the state have the right to legislate whether you are free to break your skull if you are of a mind to ride with your punkin unprotected?This goes directly to a political question, as do most things if pursued far enough. A liberal view might be that the government has a responsibility to protect people from their own stupidity, not that I am making a judgment here about non helmet wearers intelligence. Should the government have the duty to protect people from themselves? I suppose a conservative would take the stance that you cannot legislate against bad judgment, yet we do that all the time. We have all kinds of laws that protect us from ourselves. We used to have laws against suicide, although now I think all states have rescinded them, and now we only have laws prohibiting assisted suicide.We have laws against the use of drugs that society selects as "wrong." Ostensibly, these drugs are illegal for the cause they might harm others, but I suggest that most drug users only hurt themselves, and if the law is actually aimed at protecting others, then we are punishing "illegal" drug users for crimes they might commit, rather than for the crimes they do commit. I guess this is something like invading a country because it constitutes "an imminent threat," as in a "re-emptive strike." But let me slide away from that touchy topic and assume that the anti-drug laws are to protect agains self-injury, as it makes my point.So, why not protect less than prudent motorcyclists, and require helmets? This is social engineering at its best, or worst, depending upon your point of view. A dissenter might say that we have come a long way down the road to "Big Brotherism" wherein the government knows what is good for us, and makes sure that we comply.While a supporter would argue that bikers who break their unprotected heads become a burden on all of society because they become medical liabilities and push up insurance costs. I have never seen figures as to how much motorcycle accident head injuries affect insurance, so am not prepared to refute that argument. I can only say that there are ways to legislate to cover people who choose to risk head injuries by riding unprotected. It could be a matter of higher insurance premiums for those who ride naked, with penalties if the lower premium rider decides to go helmet-less and suffers a brain injury as a result. It cannot be that hard to cover, so I reject the argument, regardless of whether un-helmeted riders are contributing to higher costs or not.My stand is that it is your head. If you do not value it enough to spend a few bucks for a good bucket and then ride with it on all the time, that is, or should be your privilege.I make an exception for minors. People below the age of consent need guidance by virtue of the fact that their adult judgments have not yet been developed, and they do not have full rights as citizens yet. The fact that many people well past the general age of adulthood (18 in most venues) never develop adult judgment is irrelevant. You have to draw the line somewhere, and 18 seems generally accepted as "adulthood."This argument for helmet laws could be, and often is carried to the extreme by those opposed. If we are going to legislate helmet laws, why not laws that say you must wear protective jacket and pants? Why not just outlaw bikes altogether, as the accident rate is too high. And, of course, the argument, carried to what some would say is the ridiculous, why not legislate against fat people, because they have more health issues, and cost us all money, blah, blah, blah.I guess this is my libertarian streak (small "L" there) coming to the fore. I think we as a society need to let people alone if their actions are not hurting others. Citizens should be free to harm themselves through bad choices, and we cannot ever write enough laws to prevent stupid people from doing stupid things. Besides, who makes the rules as to what is and what is not stupid? Many people enjoy skydiving and BASE jumping. While I do not think these people at all stupid, their choice of recreational activities is not mine. I know several people who are sure that I am either stupid or crazy for riding a motorcycle at my advanced age. I do not make a very cogent argument refuting their view, but am hoping that they don't get laws passed that keep me from my endeavors. That is my  business, and they are welcome to their opinions. I feel the same about helmet versus no helmet...There is an unpronouncable acronym in some bike circles, ATGATT. It means All The Gear All The Time. Good advice, hard to follow. I have been riding down to coffee in the mornings or to the old guys' Silver Eagles lunches here in Phoenix every Wednesday without protective trou, and today I broke the cycle and suited up for the ride down and back. Yes, it was hot, but not that much hotter than with just Levis on, and would have been "nice" if today was my day for a "go-down." Guess I will ATGATT...
4:19 pm mdt 

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Getting

The Qwest man showed up this morning when expected! What an auspicious start to our entry into the 21st Century in this household.We now have cable TV and high speed internet. The dial-up was driving me insane with the molasses loading. We are finally up-to-date members of the new, electronic society, and I can once again feast on "The Daily Show" Now, of course, we are going to need a couple of new television sets, a router for wireless internet throughout the house, and god only knows what other gee-gaws and accessories to make our navigation in this technocracy.

My Dear Wife, who has been hunkered down without cable or broadband, is now whining about more movie channels, faster internet, and HD TV, and we haven't even been hooked up for an hour. I may have created a monster...But, such is the price of progress. You want to be in the mainstream? You pay for it in many ways, Bunky, in many ways...

 The question might be posed, "Does all of this gim-crackery really make us any happier? Are we better off for all the technology we now cannot seem to live without?"I got a cell-phone several years ago, and another for Sweetcakes, so we could call cell-to-cell with unlimited minutes from Eyedeehoe to here in Blazing Arizona. Worked pretty well, except at the place in Buhl, I had to stand on one particular spot on the deck, with my head cranked around to an uncomfortable angle, and then be prepared for the dreaded "dropped call" which was sure to prematurely terminate any and all calls. 

 "Can you hear me now?" Became my hallmark, and often the silence following was mute evidence that the answer would have been, "NO! "Selling the house up there in the reddest of the red states negated a real need for the cell-phones, but we still have them, and have sunk to the level of calling each other from the farthest reaches of the house to convey useless information or ask silly questions.I am even shopping for a Bluetooth headset for my MC helmet, that my Dear Wife will be capable of ringing me up at any point in a ride to tell me, "So-and-so died." One of the most recent was a call while I was trapped in the slow lane of the 101 loop at 65 miles per hour. The phone buzzed, and I made haste for the nearest exit, pulled off, stopped, put down the side stand, shut the bike off, took off my helmet, gloves, and removed my earplugs. I then hung the bonnet on the handlebars, struggled beneath my jacket to find the phone and call her back, as the buzzing had ceased.

 "Michael Deaver died." She intoned.

 "I don't think I am going to be able to make the funeral,"

I answered, and proceeded to reverse the previous steps preparatory to resuming my death-ride on the 101.

 Once I get blue-tooth of course, I will be able to make my sarcasm on the fly, thus saving valuable time and saving untold amounts of energy. 

 BTW, did you know this:

 Bluetooth was designed to unite computer devices and telecommunications. Thus, Bluetooth creators thought it quite fitting to name the technology after the Danish King Harald "Bluetooth" Blåtand. The Viking leader is known for uniting the warring factions of Denmark and Norway and bringing Christianity to Scandanavia (Cellular). Contrary to popular belief, "Blåtand" does not mean blue tooth; it means dark-complexion. It is said that the Danish king was given the nickname Bluetooth because he was so fond of blueberries that his teeth were stained blue (Palo Wireless Bluetooth Resource Center). However, this is mere speculation. [Taken from http://mysite.du.edu/~ccfergus/bluetoothweb/history.htm]

 See, there is always something to learn...

1:57 pm mdt 

Monday, September 3, 2007

Dog Days Of Summer

Labor Day is here and soon will be gone, so I suppose summer is gone with it. The forecast today is for only 109, with two-digit figures along with rain for later in the week. I guess we will not spontaneously combust after all...

My daughter was unwilling witness to the aftermath of a motorcycle crash Friday night, not far from their home in Buhl, Idaho. They were returning from dinner in Eden, a town about 30 miles away, using State Highway 25 instead of the freeway. They came upon a young man who had just struck a bike head-on. He was completely traumatized by the incident, and soon, so was everyone else, as the rider was dead beyond doubt. My daughter discovered the body in the barrow pit, and says it was the worst thing she has ever seen. She described the man as "turned inside out." She is not the dramatic type, and usually understates things, but she said she had difficulty controlling her emotions, as she kept the young driver away from the dead man. She said it was something he should not see. The bike apparently crossed the yellow line and struck the SUV dead center, the impact strong enough to set off all the airbags as well as the horn. Her husband, Byron went to cut the horn wire, but came back telling her that the front of the Suburban was heavily damaged, and that there was a lot of blood and evidence of human impact. Whether the biker had been drinking is not known, but the 18 year-old driver had not. 

The point of this is that life is short. I am not a proponent of fataliism. "His time had come," never set well with me. I prefer "you go when you go." It is much simpler, without mystic overtones, and a clear, undeniable fact, whatever one's predisposition to believe in magic, miracles, or mystery. We may have some effect on longevity, but if one thinks he is in control, he is whistling past the graveyard, almost literally.One needs to be aware of mortality. "Memento mori," (Remember, you too must die) but do not dwell on it. Live your life however you see fit, but live it! It is yours. Use it well.

 

12:46 pm mdt 

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Now What?

Since returning to Blowtorch City, I have been tooling around on Der Klunkenschiffter. I still love this bike, I am happy to report. I rode up to Cave Creek this morning for coffee with the bikers who congregate there every Sunday AM, instead of going to church. Well, maybe this is their church! It was almost cool when I left the house, I would guess not much above 89 degrees...

Yeah, so now the question is, what next? Dunno. When Sweetcakes takes off for work this week, if she goes, I will probably take a spin over to the eastern part of the state and ride "The Devil's Highway," so remembered because it used to be US 666, renamed 191 due to the concern over the "mark of the Devil," i.e., 666. Yes, but we are a rational society!

When Bob and I bought our Cessna 210 years ago, the guy who sold it to us told us he had an FAA inspector refuse to ride in it because the tail number was N666X. He couldn't abide those three sixes. And some of these people deride "savages" because they are "superstitious!" Go figure. Well, for you doubters, when Bob sold the airplane last year, the guy who bought it pranged it on landing not long after he bought it. Coincidence? I don't think so!

But, to return to the prospective ride, It is a beautiful route up through the mountains on the eastern side of the state, with some great curves as I recall, not having been over there for nearly 20 years. The entire loop, from PHX to Safford, Morenci, Clifton, Eagar, Show Low, back to Phoenix is 600 miles, give or take, and in the interest of seeing the sights, I'll take two days to make the trip. Since my camping gear is stashed in Antigua, Guatemala, I'll have to forego sleeping under the stars, and "motel" it.  

I see that Senator Larry Craig has intention to resign. While admitting that my schadenfreude briefly runneth over, I am sorry that even a politician with whom I disagree on just about everything has to end his career like that. I'll forego the rant about hypocrisy lest mine own show too clearly, and just say that it is too bad things like sexual orientation are so seemingly important here in the 21st Century. I guess the state of society isn't very advanced. What concerns me is that advancement, however slow in the past, seems stalled completely. May it soon break free and move ahead.

12:18 pm mdt 

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Coming Home

The ride was over, and I took my good sweet time returning to the furnace known as Phoenix. I meandered from Hyder down to the Seattle area and spent a couple of days with old friends there, and stopped in the Beemer shop in the North End of Seattle to get new tires and a 12K service at Ride West on Lake City Way. They were kind enough to get me in for quick turnaround, and even loaned me a bike for the day. This is what endears LD riders to good dealers. These people are very accomodating, and I for one appreciate their service and courtesies.

Leaving Seattle, I made Boise in one day---piece of cake! At only 521 miles. My son and daughter-in-law were on a little jaunt to the coast, so I crashed at their place for a night, then rode south to Buhl for a few days at my daughter's. 

Later, I returned to Boise when son and D-I-L returned from their trip, and spent a couple of days there before striking out again for Redding, CA, and my uncle's place in Cottonwood. He is my mother's youngest brother, and one of the ones responsible for getting me into airplanes. He took me for my first airplane ride, when I was 16 or 17. It was a Luscombe, and I will never forget it. It was a hot day, and he was smoking. I got woozy, but didn't tell him. When he landed, we ground-looped, but made it without catching a prop or wingtip. Pete denies it now, but that is the way I remember it.

Pete was a B-17 pilot in the Big War, and flew lots of missions into Germany. He came back with what was then called "Combat Fatigue," the effects of which he still suffers to some extent. He is now 87, and still rides horses, a tough bird. He is my last uncle, and I am hoping he lasts forever...

After NoCal, I rode the coast and the Redwood Highway, then cut back inland and stopped to see an old cadet classmate who lives in Carmichael. He was watching his son, and couldn't get away for a ride, but we had a nice chat. I managed to stay off of politics, and the fur didn't fly...

Leaving there, I headed south, then crossed the Sierra Nevada via Tioga Pass and Lee Vining,  and spent the night of the 12 of August in Lone Pine, CA, just a few miles short of Death Valley. 

I got up very early the next A.M. in order to beat the heat in DV. By the time I got to the low point, around Furnace Creek, it was 102, and climbing. I exited via the road to Pahrumph, NV, and steamed my way into Scottsdale at 1430 with the temperature vibrating at 114. Hot! But, I was home, and it had been a screaming success. 

Miles for the entire trip, from Wed., July 17th to Monday, August 13, 12,991. 

2:33 pm mdt 


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For future use

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Our New Best Friend, TRES

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My Hero, Uncle Pete, two days short of his 90th birthday.

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Meet Mort--- Mortem "mors me cum equitat"
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The view from 50 feet up the mast
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The Old Guy At The Helm Of "OH MISS"
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Adventure Bound
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The Old Guy, Back Home Unscathed
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2005 BMW K1200LT, long gone to bike heaven
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"Der Klunkenschiffter" at age 4, 102,000 miles