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.

New Scooter---2014 R1200RT
Cap'n Ron in the Straits of Georgia
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

11:01 pm mst          Comments

Every Growing Boy Needs a Dog

We have been without a dog for several years now, since we lost the last of our two Greyhounds. They were sweet, sweet dogs, and I miss them: Phoebe and Annie. They were rescued track dogs, Phoebe the first, a brindle bitch, and although not the smartest cracker in the barrel, she was a dear friend. Annie, acquired a few months later, was a Red, somewhat larger than Phoebe. Annie was built more like a Doberman, and the stop in her muzzle was a bit more pronounced than a typical Greyhound. She weighed in at around 80 pounds, somewhat large for a bitch of this breed. We had those dogs for nearly ten years, and I took them to the Idaho place when I was there, which was most of the time, as there were plenty of open spaces there for them to run, and run they did. They loved to get out and let out all stops, running free for the first times in their lives. The first time I took them out on an open prairie and let them out of the back of the Blazer, they looked at each other with what I interpreted as shock and surprise, and took off across the terrain like two streaks. I despaired that I might never see them again as they disappeared over the horizon, a good half mile away.

After a decent interval, here they came back, tongues lolling, and thoroughly pleased with themselves at their first run outside of any fences or artificial barriers. That was their life there. They got a good outing every morning, After my second cup of coffee, they would start to pace around, nuzzling my leg, seeming to say, "come on, come on. Let's get going!"

But, time took its toll, and after several startling incidents, when they attacked and killed marmots that populate the area, they began to show signs of some aging. Annie went first, with a large malignant tumor on her chest. The Veterinary said that it was attached to at least two ribs, and operation would be dicey at best. She was thirteen at the time, and it looked like even if the operation were successful, it would require removal of parts of the ribs, and the prognosis for complete recovery and a good life was not good. After several more weeks, it became apparent that she was in some physical distress, and I had to suck it up and take her in to be put down. It ain't easy, folks. If you never have done it, I cannot describe the pain it causes to sit by her side as they do the injection, and watch her light go out in a matter of five or ten seconds.

I cried like a baby, and it was most embarassing. No one likes to see an old man weep...

Pheobe made it for a couple more years. I left her in the yard one day, while I ran into town for something. This is dangerous, as you never know where they might race off to, but I took the chance. When I came back into the driveway, she saw me, and started racing wildly around the yard, showing animation I had seldom seen, as Greyhounds are unusually reserved in their comportment, and rarely show great activitiy as in most other breeds.

She was racing around in circles, leaping and running, and as she started around the stone fence to come out into the driveway, she slipped on the damp grass, and crashed headlong into the end of the stone fence, just out of my sight. She let out a scream of pain, and I raced over to where she lay, on her left side, shrieking in agony. I was beside myself, as I tried to lift her, and the slightest movement caused her to protest in the loudest cries. I ran over to my neighbor's, and he came back over with me to see what he might do to help. She was clearly paralyzed, and in severe distress, her visible right eye rolling wildlly in terror.

We tried to get her onto a blanket, so that I might put her into the pickup to take her to the Vet, but she could not stand it. She moved her mouth over my hand a couple of times, gently suggesting that she did not want me moving her. I thought I could hold her muzzle shut with my hand, as it was a typical slim Greyhound snout. I wrapped my hand around it, holding firmly as Jack and I tried to shift her onto the blanket. She howled in agony, wrenched herself from my grasp, and clamped down very hard on my left hand, cutting a jagged hole in my thumb and palm. It was definitely inadvertant of her, but the distress was too much for her. I looked at Jack in desperation. What was I to do? I briefly considered running inside for my 9 MM Beretta, but quickly realized that I do not have the guts to shoot my dog, no matter what the situation.

I ran in and called the Vet. They do not make house calls for pets, but I had known these doctors for several years, and they made an exception and came right out. They got her into their truck and took her back to the clinic. But, there was not much they could do. I went in that afternoon, and the X-rays showed she had crushed a cervical vertibrae---Apparently she had struck the stone fence full on with her nose (it was slightly bloody), fracturing the vertibrae and causing paralysis and inoperable injury.

We put her down the next day, and it was tough. I held her paw, said goodby, and they injected her. It was over in mere seconds, and you could see the spark of life snap off in an instant. There is no mistaking death in an animal like that. The life is gone, and there is no doubt. More sobbing from an old man---that ain't pretty either...

I thought I had it pretty well together the next day when I stopped by my daughter's house. My granddaughter, about 15 or 16 at the time, was there, and I embarrassed myself greatly when I lost it as I told them about Phoebe. It was quite revelatory to them---neither of them had ever seen grandpa blubbering like a big baby.

So that was then end of my two big dogs, and I miss them still. But, what with the motorcycle trips, and now the sailboat, it has not been convenient to acquire another dog. I am partial to large dogs, but they just do not go well on a bike, and having a dog like a Greyhound or other big canine on a 40 foot sloop is just not going to be fair to the dog, in addition to being almost unworkable when asea for several days and in fould weather. I do not picture an 80 pound dog trying to relieve itself in 40 knots of wind, with seas breaking over the bow and stern.

Little dogs are more amenable to the two modes, but I have not been sure I could handle the temperament  of a little critter after the laid-back demeanor of Greyhounds. The adoption people do not refer to them as "couch potatoes" for nothing.

And that brings us to the new dog in our lives. It came about when the daughter of My Dear Wife's cousin, doing her veterinary internship came upon a severely injured pooch, and needed to find a good home for it. But, more of this on the next post...

10:59 pm mst          Comments

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

'Tis a dreary day here in British Columbia. Sunday was pretty nice, and I got OH MISS out onto Stuart Channel and found enough wind to sail all points of sail for a few hours. It never topped 10 knots, but was just enough to give a bit of practice tacking and gybing without too much strain.

Yesterday was also pretty nice, and I took the opportunity to take the Genoa off the forestay and stow it for the season while it was still dry. Glad I did. That big 150 Jenny is an armful though, and we wrestled for about an hour and a half before i got it flaked into some semblance of a bundle, more of a pile than anything, and  stuffed it into the sail bag. It was like a python trying to swallow an elephant, but after a good deal of grunting and cursing, with sweat rolling down my wrinkled cheeks, I got 'er done. The bulk was too large to fit through the forward hatch, so I had to wrangle it into the cockpit, down the entry, through the salon, and finally onto the V-berths. It was too large for the sail locker, which is filled with storm sail, Gennaker, working jib, deck awning, jib sheets, and sundry. The Jenny and bag weigh at least 80 pounds, and there was some doubt as to whether the sail or I would wind up stowed, but  persistence prevailed, aided by some singular curse words. I staggered back into the salon and collapsed onto the settee for a well-deserved rest. Sailboats are a lot of work!

After a rejuvenating nap of half an hour or so, my strength rebounded to a level where I felt enough guilt to take my daily walk. I had missed it on Thursday and Sunday, and pangs of conscience stabbed despite my attempts at justification, claiming to myself that I got enough exercise leaping around the boat undocking, sailing, and docking. Not good enough, so I betook myself for my daily; a walk from the marina out to Highway 1 and back, a total distance of just about 4.7 miles, done in an average of one hour and five minutes, enough to get the heart rate up and fill the lungs a few times.

The newly installed AIS (automatic identification system) works quite well. It is required on all large vessels, and sends out a signal of ship parameters such as course, track, speed, tonnage, length, beam, draft, name, and destination. The receiver, when installed tells all this and computes the closest point of approach in miles and fractions, the time of closest approach, and plots all transmitting vessels within a selected radius. It does much more, and is better than radar in reduced visibility or at night as long as one remembers that it only plots transmitting AIS vessels. One can purchase (for small or private boats) receiver only, or transceiver. I chose the latter, which gives AIS vessels my boat's vitals as well. Pretty nifty!

Still waiting on a transducer for the water tank gauge. AM/FM radio quit suddenly the other evening. I guess that the antenna connection is bad, because it still works for CDs, and there is static on the AM/FM bands. When in "scan" it searches constantly for a frequency strong enough to fixate on. Always something!

The windlass part came, but now I cannot find the chain cap part that I took off. I put it somewhere, but it has escaped somehow, and is hiding either somewhere aboard, or maybe back in PHX where I may have carted it for some insanely stupid reason. Why would I take it there? I am betting that wherever it is, it is right where I left it. Bah!

11:03 am mst          Comments

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday, Sunday

A spot or two of sun the Sun-day. It is chilly, but the airborne water drops are gone, for the nonce. Still no breeze to speak of, so it may be another day of no sailing. Pity.

I am forced to admit I have broken my sugar fast. I have slipped back into a diet that partakes of the occasional all-too-frequent sugar indulgence. Is there a Sugar-bingers' Anonymous? I try, I really try, but the sweet tooth prevails. Last evening, snuggled into the main cabin on OH MISS, the diesel heater maintaining toasty temps, engrossed in a semi-trashy novel (Post Captain, by Patrick O'Brian), I consumed an entire large Hershey bar, the last of three purchased three (3) days ago. This in addition to a large tray of chocolate/coconut cookies consumed over just a couple of nights. The guilt, the guilt!

And, sad to say, I have gained back a couple of pounds, up to 157 from 154.5 at one point. Too much of the munchies (no, not pot-induced!) in the evenings. Able to fight off the sugar compulsion, I fall to cheeses, almonds, and sometimes slices of salami or bologna filched from the meat compartment of the Fridge.The horror! The horror!

But at least I have begun walking again. In PHX, I have a circuit I try to do once a day. It is just under four miles, and I trudge around it in a smidge over 40 minutes. Here in B.C., I walk from the marina out to Highway 1 and back, a round trip of 4.6 miles, done in about 1:05. This eases that terrible sense of sin that pervades over the sugar addiction. The flesh is weak. I have sinned. Forgive me, Father!

Discipline is the key. Self-denial is good for the body and the soul, should there actually be one. One needs deny oneself from time to time, just for practice. Many folk, my Dear Wife included, do not comprehend the concept. "What's the point?" They ask. The point is, well, the point is... The point is that one gets a feeling of control, a sense that he is in charge, not the Fates, not mysterious forces from "out there." It may not be the case; we may in fact be pawns controlled by Another. We may not have free will, and our fate may well be determined well ahead of our existence, but the illusion of free will matters to most of us, whether true or not. And, if we do not know the predetermination, if we think we exercise free will, what matter? If it is an illusion, are we the worse off for it? This entire existence may well be an illusion, an imaginary world that exists only in MY mind. Who is to say otherwise, since "who" may be but a figment? I think it is called "solipsism:" The theory that the self is all that exists; that everything I see or experience is imagination. It is all but a dream... Ah, my brain aches...

11:44 am mst          Comments

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Upcoming "Veterans' Day"

I am back in Canada for a few days, getting OH MISS put to bed for the winter. It is chilly and damp today and yesterday, and, it looks like tomorrow and Monday as well. Thursday was pretty nice, and we got out on the water for a few hours, although the wind was capricious as usual, driving sailors mad, luffing, tacking, and gybing, trying to keep the sails full, barely making headway as the breeze flits and starts this way, and then that. Furl the canvas and the wind picks up; unfurl and she dies until the sailor gives up in frustration and jams the throttle forward, glumly heading for the slip in dark mood.

The blood-red poppies are proliferating in the shops and stores hereabout, leading up to the 11th; "Rembrance Day" as it is called here. You see poppies worn by many people, and a young woman I just spoke to here in the Beantime Coffee Shop in Ladysmith told me that they really observe the day in Canada. She said in Tenth Grade they study World War I  ("The Great War"), and know that November 11 was in remembrance of the end of that "war to end all wars"; the armistice was signed on the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month, 1918, and the guns were silenced it was thought, forever. She also knew about the origin of those red poppies as the symbol of that event. I wonder how many Americans of her age, or of any age for that matter know what "Veterans' Day" signifies? We seem to have let slide the meaning of so many holidays in the USA.

I am all for honoring veterans, but November 11th, originally known in the US at least, as "Armistice Day," has lost the oriiginal intent. If we wish to honor veterans, and we surely should, it should be a day for them, and not an incursion into a realm intended to specifically remember the MILLIONS of French, British, Australian, Canadian, and American soldiers, as well as Germans, Austians, and Russians who died in that conflagration. I maintain that the conflation of veterans in general with the specifics of WWI dilute the true meaning and symbolism of it. When we do this, we forget, and in forgetting, we continue down the same dreary and dreadful paths of war, war, war. When will it all end? Are we trapped, as some hold, in "human nature," from which we cannot escape? Will we never learn? Does our collective intellect remain subverted by emotion, rage, revenge, and greed?

Speaking of the poppies, how many Americans remember how the poppy became significant? Do any of us recall that in Belgium and France, where the war was fought, the fields of fire and carnage bloomed every Spring bright with the blood-red poppies. I have read that the earth, churned by countless artillary shells shellls, tank tracks, and the hobnails of countless trampling feet, reinvigorated sleeping seeds that resulted in blankets of red blooms covering over the sites.

In Canada, they all know the poem "IN FLANDERS FIELDS" by Lt Col. John McRea 

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago

We lived, felf dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up your quarrel with the foe:

To you from falling hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break the faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders Fields.

We ought not forget---but we do.





1:04 pm mdt          Comments

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For future use

Our New Best Friend, TRES

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

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