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Topics - hppants

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1
Your Ride Reports / Share It With Someone Else
« on: December 09, 2017, 04:16:28 PM »
Over the 2017 Labor Day weekend, I rode to Arkansas with 3 buddies.  MikeP introduced me to Randy and Tom about a year ago.  They’ve known each other through bicycling and Mike thought we would all be a good fit for motorcycling, and he was right.  Over the year, we’ve ridden together on weekend day trips, including Randy’s stepson often as we run the back roads around southern Louisiana.  Everyone enjoys being together as our riding expectations and interests are similar.  It became something to really look forward to.

During stops on our day trips, Mike and I started dropping hints about going a little farther.  Maybe take a few days and explore something more adventurous.  As the summer wound down, the idea took root and it became apparent that the Labor Day weekend felt right for our first big adventure.  We talked about destinations and given the circumstances, the Arkansas Ozarks seemed like the best place to go.  It’s far enough away to feel like you’ve been somewhere, but not too far given our 5 day limitation.  We decided not to camp, and Mike made hotel reservations at places we knew were decent. 

As go day on Thursday approached, the weather forecast started getting iffy.  A cold front approaching from the northwest threatened crappy rainy weather for Thursday/Friday and the guys started getting cold feet.  But I know that often the forecast changes and by Wednesday, it did.  Thursday would be rainy but not cold, and then the rest of the weekend would be cool, but nice.  So Mike and I convinced the others to go for it, and it worked out great.

I will readily admit that as a younger man, I cherished things much more selfishly.  I had this paranoid attitude about things, always wondering if something bad would happen, and if it did, would I be able to deal with it?  As I got older, I learned much more about the error of my ways.  I’m not sure if that happens from having experience, confidence, a reduction of testosterone, all of these, or even something else.  I suppose it doesn’t matter.

One product of this revelation for me is the true inner satisfaction of sharing.  I get a sense of pride and happiness watching others enjoy whatever it is I can give them.  Of course, that might apply to something tangible, but it doesn’t always.  Mike and I know how to ride Arkansas, and it was our pleasure to share that with someone else.

I hope you enjoy the pics.

Day 1.  Lafayette to Mountain View, Arkansas

As expected, I woke up to a crappy radar.  Nothing to severe, but widespread rain all around.  I can see it’s gonna move through later today, though.  We meet at the gas station in Lafayette, everyone covered in Frogg Toggs.  Considering the conditions, we decided to just slab it north to make miles while the rain and wind were falling on us.  I took the lead and set my cruise control at a safe 68 mph.

Tom uses his cell phone for GPS and about a hundred miles in, he got a severe thunderstorm alert on his phone, and motioned to me to pull over.  We took the next exit off and sought shelter at this gas station.  Randy has several motorcycles, and calls his 1000 V-Strom the “Bumble Bee”.



After about 30 minutes, the tail edge of the front is just about on top of us, and we pressed north on Hwy 167 hoping for improving conditions.  Just across the border near El Dorado, Arkansas, we stopped for lunch at this place, which was recommended by a local.



I can’t remember the name of this place, but it was kind of neat with a bunch of nostalgia lying around.



After lunch, the rain started and stopped and we found ourselves playing the rain gear shuffle.  Tom likes his Wee Strom and I do to.  He bought a Givi top box for the trip.



Mike’s Versys 1000 LT is the perfect bike for him right now.



Later in the afternoon, the rain finally pushed through and that was just in time for us to cross I-40 and get into the good stuff.  We stopped at Greer’s Dam, which was also a historical Ferry location back in the day.



If this dam ever breaks, the Little Red River is going to cause some major havoc on peeps down stream!





The Wee and the Vee!!



As we ride further north, the roads start getting nice and twisty.  Early evening, we find our destination in Mountain View, Arkansas.



My new friends look like they are having a nice time.



We settle in and pop open a cold one for some relaxation.  Mike offers his warm salutations and greetings!



The gal at the hotel desk suggested this fish house for dinner.



Not too bad.



After dinner, we rode around the town square just to check out the place.  Mike took a right on a street that looked inviting and 3 blocks later, we stumbled upon this bunch of pickers messing around.



They were playing bluegrass mixed with some gospel oldies and they were fantastic.



I wanted to ask the banjo player for a snort of this stuff, but I thought he might think I was rude.



We enjoyed doing a little knee slapping with this music, and when it was time for us to move on, I asked a patron where I could leave my tip in thanks.  She looked at me funny, explaining that “these people don’t do that here.  They just like to share their talent with others.”  I get it, I really do.

We rode back to the motel for a warm shower and some night night.  It was a great start to a great trip.

Day 2:  Mountain View, Arkansas to Jasper Arkansas.

I woke up rested and refreshed, that mattress was better than I expected.  We made do with the crappy hotel room coffee and I even had time to wipe down the red horse.



Randy’s ready to go!  Me too!



We packed up and rode a short distance to this diner in town.  As you can see, the weather is going to be just perfect.



2
Your Ride Reports / Scratching The Itch
« on: November 26, 2017, 07:00:56 AM »
This year, Thanksgiving was a breeze for us.  We took the easy way out and went to a local restaurant.  After dinner, I watched football and snacked all afternoon.  By early evening, I was itching for something to do on Black Friday.  My wife and daughter started plotting their shopping extravaganza, and I made it abundantly clear that I was having no part of that.  Well, to be more accurate, I didn’t have to say a word.  They know I’m not going shopping on ANY day, let alone Black Friday.

I wanted to go fishing, so I called my dad to see if he was interested.  Unfortunately, my dad was pooped out from cooking and cleaning dishes at my sister’s house.  I remember those days.  I went to bed and slept on it.

Friday morning, I woke up to a cloudless sky and about 38 degrees.   But as soon as the sun broke the horizon, I could feel its heat and knew that it would warm up nicely.  I felt like riding, but I also felt like fishing.  So I packed the bike with my fishing pole and a lunch and scratched both itches.

I hope you enjoy the pics.

By the time I left the house, it was about 8:30 am and around 45 degrees.  I plugged in the heated liner, but never turned it on.  I rode south on Hwy 82 to Abbeville and stopped to buy some shrimp.



They had some nice 10-20 count shrimp for a good price, so I bought a few pounds and stuck them in my soft chest to cook this evening for dinner.

I stayed on Hwy 82 heading southwest toward the coast.  By mid-morning, the temperature is warming up well and I’m enjoying the ride.  The crawfish farmers are already setting out their traps, even though it’s a bit early for that.



This is Suire’s grocery, and it has been open for as long as anyone can remember.  They have delicious plate lunches and if I was even the slightest bit hungry, I would have stopped to eat.



This farmer is flooding his field.  He doesn’t have Black Friday off.  It seems that a farmer’s work is never done.



This is a natural gas compressor station.  The product comes in to our coastline via pipeline from off shore, where it is pulled out of the ground.  It is pressurized at the compressor station and sent up the line to places all over the country.



I crossed the intracoastal canal and the view from on top of the bridge is pretty good today.



As I get closer to the coast, the topography changes a little.  Here, there is more water and the coastal marshes are a special place to visit.



The road here is very straight, but I’m enjoying the scenery so much that it doesn’t matter.  I creeped up to the Harley and staggered behind him politely.  After a quarter mile, he moved over and waved me around.  We waved at each other as I passed.



I slowed down in the village of Pecan Island, which is mostly comprised of some duck hunting and fishing camps.  These are raised high above the ground in preparation for hurricanes.



I stopped at the Pecan Island Food Store and filled up my bike.  I didn’t really need gas, but these fine folks gotta eat too, so I threw them a little money.  The Harley couple stopped too and we talked a bit.



The Harley rider didn’t know what to make of my bike.  He never seen one like it before.



I got back on the road heading west.  It’s a great day to ride.








Great day for birding, too.  The Louisiana coast is one of the best places to watch birds during the Fall and Winter months.  This Cooper’s Hawk has a great vantage point from which to watch for prey.



Pretty quiet at this fishing camp this morning.  The tide is still going out, so I’m hopeful for good luck at the spot I’m heading to.



Obviously, this is not Yosemite or Mount Rushmore or the Blue Ridge Parkway.  But it’s still beautiful in its own rite.



This bicyclists is ATGATT.  Well, sort of…..



I crossed the Mermentau River and the tide has slowed down, but I’m here, so I’m going to fish it anyway.



All of these bridges along the coast are turntable styled, to allow for water vessel navigation.














I stopped to fish here, just off of Pumpkin Ridge Road.  This is a little off shoot no name bayou that feeds into the Mermentau.  I’ve had good luck here before.



Plenty of birds here too.  This red tailed hawk is hovering over what is surely a field of mice.



I baited my hook and caught a few small redfish within a few minutes.  Things got slow for a little while and just when I was contemplating moving on, my cork sank abruptly.  I set the hook and landed this nice redfish.

 

I like the composition of this picture, but I think it’s a bit over exposed.



This bulkhead makes a great picnic table for me.



After lunch, I fished for another hour or so, and only caught a few small ones.  The peace and solitude was nice, though, and I had a great time with my thoughts.

It’s early afternoon, and the weather has warmed up to about 62 degrees.  So I’m going to take the long way home.  South Cameron High School is the home of the fighting Tarpons!





I turned north on Hwy 27 and stopped at the Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge headquarters.  The latest cold front has blown in thousands of Canadian geese.



This was something to see.



Farther up the road, I turned East on Hwy 14 and stopped in the small village of Bell City, Louisiana.  All day, I’ve enjoyed virtually zero traffic, as I suppose everyone else ran to the big cities to shop.



This is a flock of maybe 1000 black and white Ibis’s.  They were just magnificent to watch.



Now heading generally north and east in the direction of home, I stopped in Lake Arthur to drink some water.  The city park here has some beautiful live oak trees



I took the short walk on the pier and enjoyed the solitude of this peaceful lake.



From Lake Arthur, it was a pleasant 45 miles back to the house, with the sun behind me.



Back at the house, I fried up a couple dozen of those shrimp for my wife and I.  She enjoyed hearing about my adventure.  I was a great day.

Stay thirsty, my friends…

3
Your Ride Reports / See for Yourself
« on: November 05, 2017, 03:44:14 PM »
I just returned from north Alabama having visited the Southern FJR Owners (SFO) 2017 annual gathering.  Our host Turk and his lovely wife Jana put on one heck of a show at their getaway property in Jemison, Alabama outside of Birmingham.  I wasn’t planning to attend this year, but my circumstances changed and at the last minute, I packed my tent and my bike and made the trip.  It was great to see old friends, and make some new ones as well.

Anyone that thinks southern hospitality is dead has certainly not been anywhere near SFO because I’m hear to tell ya – Turk and Jana are the epitome of that term.  For weeks prior, and for the 4 days we were there, they slaved over us like we were some kind of royalty.  And we might as well have been royalty because we ate like kings and queens.  I’ll get into that more later.

I rode almost 1300 miles in 5 days, and my bike never missed a beat.  The weather was hit and miss.  Thursday and Friday were great, with cool morning temperatures and abundant sunshine.  But things turned rainy on Friday night and Saturday, it was cold and rainy so we didn’t ride much.  By the time I left for home Sunday morning, the temperature was 40 degrees and damp.  I packed everything – 3 pairs of gloves, rain gear, even a set of long handles, and was in good shape all weekend.  My FJR will haul the load just fine.

Our FJR forums are having a healthy discussion and debate over our purpose now.  Some say it’s only a source of technical information about the bike.  Others like myself think that it is much more than that.  The forum is a tool where friendships are formed.  They are long distance friendships, but thanks to our motorcycle and our sense of adventure, the distance is not as great as it seems.

When we are together, there can be no doubt in my mind regarding our purpose.  I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Day 1:  Lafayette to Jemison, approximately 510 miles.

I woke up early with a goal.  Get my ass on the other side of Baton Rouge before 6:30 am.  This is a work day for most, and I’m not going to spend 3 hours in stupid B/R traffic.  So I stuck the clear shield on my helmet, and at 5:15 am, I’m taxiing out of the neighborhood.  Reluctantly, I merged onto Interstate 10 East and set my cruise control at 80 mph.  It was a tad slow going over the Mississippi River bridge at 6:20 am, but I made it and that would be the end of my Interstate riding for the day.

I crossed the Mississippi State line near Liberty and jumped on US 84, which is a terrific road if you are traveling East/West and want to make some decent time without resorting to Interstate 10 or 20.  Then I turned north on Hwy 35, and stopped in Raleigh, MS for a rest.

Raleigh is the Smith County seat and things are pretty quiet this morning, as I imagine they are every morning.  The courthouse is very stately looking there.



There’s a veterans memorial at the courthouse, and I glanced over it paying my respects.



My wife and I were recently in north Georgia and its apple harvesting season, so I bought a big bag of Fujis and boy-o-boy, are they delicious!!



After my snack, I mounted up and continued north into the Bienville National Forest.  Although not well known, the Mississippi State highways are in very good shape and many are curvy enough to keep the rider entertained.

Around lunchtime, I stopped at this little village just outside of Philadelphia, MS., where there was exactly ONE place that served food.



The chicken tender sandwich was decent, but certainly not award winning.



After lunch, I crossed the Alabama State line near Gainsville, and continued generally east toward my destination.  I rode across the Tombigbee River and floodplain, and through a section of the Talladega National Forest.  Alabama State roads are very nice, with good smooth blacktop and a tree line that is set away from the shoulder about 25-35 feet.  The traffic is light and I found the drivers to be very courteous.

And the State troopers there are very nice as well.  At one point, I set my cruise at about 10 over and noticed a Tahoe pacing me for a few miles.  We both stopped at a little store for a cold drink and I learned that this was an Alabama State trooper with no roof top lights.  My radar detector was quiet the whole time.

(Pants)  “Good afternoon, officer.”

(Popo)  “Good afternoon, sir.  Are you having fun today?”

(Pants)  “Yes sir, I am.”
(Popo)  “You have a safe ride, ya hear?”

(Pants)  “Yes sir, officer.  Thank you.”

By 4 pm, give or take, I crossed Interstate 59, and stopped at the exit liquor store for some cold brewskies.  Then it was just 1 mile to Turk and Jana’s oasis.



Craig and Jana were already in party mode, so I joined them.



I pitched my tent and soon, others joined us.  Jena was nice enough to take a group photo.



Not sure what this is about, but Jena’s purple toenails are purdy.



Jena prepared a delicious Chicken and Sausage Gumbo for us, and my first day on this adventure was just fine.

Day 2:  250 mile loop around north central Alabama.

I had a scary experience in the Porta Potty last night, but otherwise slept very well in my tent.  I rose to about 50 degrees and a crystal clear sky.  Turk and Jena made coffee for us and slowly, everyone started stirring and getting ready for a day of riding.

We met the hotellers and others at the Shoney’s for some breakfast and tire kicking.



We decided to split the ride into groups.  KJ and Debbie led my group, and I enjoyed getting to know my Noooh Yawker friends.



The others seem to be having a nice day too.



We had a great time riding through the Alabama countryside.



Mid morning, a planned stop was Lake Martin.  This is nice place to walk around.





Brian (left) has joined us from his native Australia.  Yeah, you read that right.  This guy flew halfway around the world to be with us this weekend.  And he met us on the Internet.



Then it was back on the road for more rollercoaster.  Gary rides this BMW 1000RR and when he lights the candles, it sounds pretty sweet.



It’s a great day to ride.



We stopped at this place to look around.  It’s a nice park built at a location where Andrew Jackson fought the remaining Indians that refused re-location.



I walked through the visitor’s center and looked around.














There were lots of kids there on a field trip.  Come to think about it, the BIG kids are on a field trip too!



We gassed up in Lineville, Alabama about noon and parked the bikes about 2 blocks from the restaurant and walked.





No food porn, but I ate a delicious pork sandwich with sweet cole slaw.

After lunch, we rode a short distance north to another section of the Talladega National Forest, and stopped at the High Falls trailhead, near the Cheaha State Park.

As luck would have it, the other group of riders was just getting there as well!



The way Tyler was walking toward me, I thought I was in trouble.  Turns out she just wanted to give me a hug.



The trail is a short walk with many falls and it was nice to stretch my legs out a bit, even in my riding pants and boots.



Everyone was having fun exploring the forest.



The spring fed falls offer some crystal clear water and it is very beautiful.





This is my favorite picture of the entire trip.  I know it doesn’t look like much, but to me, this picture sums up everything I felt that weekend.

This is what a good man looks like.  Without pride nor prejudice, he offers up his home, his resources, his talents, his family, and his heart for people he hardly knows.  In his soul, he truly wants everyone to have a good time and will stop at nothing to make sure it happens.  He loves his motorcycle and he loves his home State and he is so proud to show us the sights.

This is my very good friend Turk, whom I met on a motorcycle forum.



From the falls, about half of us broke toward the hotel, and the other half (including me) continued north to Hwy 281, also known as the Talladega Scenic Byway.  This is one of the best roads in Alabama.  Very smooth and curvy with many scenic views along the way.



We just didn’t have enough time to run the whole byway.  It was starting to get late, and we’ve got some partying to do tonight.  So we turned south and burned it on Hwy 9 toward home.  And when I say we BURNED it, I mean we were FLYING.  When Turk is ready to go, we go!

The anticipated cold front found us late in the afternoon.  It started raining in Clanton, so I put the Frogg Togg pants on and we made it back to Turks just fine.

Jana moved the party indoors because of the weather, and everyone was having such a nice time.



Tonight, they prepared a shrimp boil for us, complete with corn, potatoes, and smoked sausage.  I thought it was scrumptious, as the seasoning was just right for my taste.



Hey guys, how about posing for a picture?

(thanks)



After dinner, Turks friends who happen to be incredible professional musicians, played 2 hours of great tunes for us to enjoy.  These two guys are amazing. 



I was working pretty hard on one of my shampoo bottles and I had a good time with the music.  During the second set, they started playing some really good Led Zepplin and about the same time, Mark (Poolboy) sat next to me with what looked like a 5-gallon bottle of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey and I started getting loose!!

It was a great party and we all had a wonderful time.

Day 3:  Not much riding, weather was pretty stinky.

About 3 am, it started raining pretty hard, but my Marmott tent kept me dry and I slept in until about 7-ish.  We took a look at the radar and the forecast and it didn’t look like very good riding weather.

Josh had a tire shipped to Turks and his pit crew seems to have mattes well under control.



Hang in there, Coach!  They’ll figure it out.



Meanwhile, Turks buddy has already fired up his smoker for tonight’s feast.  That wood smells very good.



Mark’s got a pretty good game plan going of his own right there.



After lunch, the rain quit and some of us were getting a little stir crazy, so we decided to go take a short ride.
















Hud calls his suit the Big Banana and I can kind of see why.



Randall’s pillion is looking a little thin.  I don’t think she had much shrimp last night.



We rode to the Cycle Gear in Birmingham so Josh could exchange some gloves under warranty.



I led us in circles on some county roads back toward the camp, and we arrived as the sun was setting.  Turk’s brother brought his awesome drone and I got to wear the goggles for the show.  That thing is fantastic.



After about 3 hours of happy hour (he he he), dinner was served.  The brisket and pulled pork was very good, but the bark on those short ribs was just perfect.  I ate 4 ribs and I was full like a woods tick.



Nate and Andrew were helping Mark with some kind of trailer lighting problem.  I thought about getting involved, but by that time, I had been drinking and thought discretion would be the better part of valor.



Another highlight of the evening was when Turks friend came home from the weekend motocross with a 1st place trophy!!!  Boy, the look on his face says it all.



It was another great night at the SFO shin dig.

Day 4:  Jemison, AL to Lafayette, LA, approximately 510 miles.

I woke up Sunday to cold, cloudy, and windy.  I packed up my camping gear and bid everyone a goodbye with mucho thanks.  Nate will ride back part of the way with me.  Mid morning, the skies cleared and it warmed up a little.  I just reversed my Thursday route to get home.  Nate and I stopped in Philadelphia for lunch (great Fajitas), and a little thereafter, he broke away for the interstate to get home in time for church.  I arrived safely at home about 6 pm, and as is always the case, my wife was happy to see me and hear about my great adventure.  Uncharacteristically, I took no pictures on Day 4.

So the debate regarding the purpose of a motorcycle forum goes on.  It may never be solved and that’s perfectly fine with me.  Who cares if the chicken came before the egg?  I won’t let myself get suckered into that impossible quandary.  To do so would be missing the forest for the trees.  Regardless of that, I believe that these forums are about much more than a certain kind of motorcycle, and how to fix it.

If you doubt that, come to a rally and see for yourself.

Stay thirsty, my friends…..

4
Your Ride Reports / I Went To The Edge
« on: August 06, 2017, 12:30:00 PM »
Not too much of a ride report here, but we had good time this morning before the rain showers ran us home.  Randy, Tom, Andre, and I were game for anything this morning at the gas station.

(My camera lens was fogged up in the humid early morning air)



But the highlight for today was my nephew Jacob, who just picked up this 2003 Honda RC51.



This is Jacob’s 4th bike, as the last one, a Honda Hornet 919, was short lived after a very low speed tap from behind. The insurance company for the at fault vehicle totaled his bike, as we all know that is doesn’t take much to tally up a lot of damage expense.

Jacob wasn’t very interested in a salvage title, so he let them have the bike.  He decided that he wanted to try a sport bike, and oh my goodness did he pick one.

Jacob rides as mature as anyone his age I’ve ever seen.  But he is 22 and full of testosterone.  Uncle Pants did the only thing he could.  Off to the levee road we go.



This is a great place for some high speed fun.  Zero cross traffic, very little if any on coming traffic, and wide open road with tons of visibility.  I turned ‘em loose at the levee and told them to stop at the pontoon bridge for some photo ops.  Jacob said he passed the small turn off sign and never noticed it.  Down the road, they turned around and came back.

I grabbed my camera and told them boys to go have some fun.  I got some nice fly by shots as they ripped past me at WFO.



When this baby is coming toward you, she sounds pretty good.





Andre is only 17 years old, but he also rides very good.  His Honda CB500X is a wonderful motorcycle, and he’s done some fantastic upgrades to it, including re-worked forks and a shock swap from a GSXR750.  I really (REALLY) like this bike.



But the little CB runs out of nuts when Jacob lights the fuse on the Beast.



They made 5 or 6 runs back and forth while Tom and I watched.  Then I took a turn on the Beast.

No pictures, none worth taking anyway.  I didn’t get too squid-ish about it; I just ran her up through the gears and took a few high speed sweepers.  The RC51 is a serious sport bike with some wonderful torque and that aftermarket can sings you a song that is addictive.  One must keep his right wrist in check, and his helmet pushed forward to the fairing, or the front end is going to get very light.  The brakes on this bike are incredible, perhaps the best I’ve ever tested.  The suspension is tight and rigid.

But this bike is like a roller coaster for me.  It’s about 90 seconds of pure adrenaline, and then I’m ready to get off.  It kind of felt like I was humping a football.  I could never ride this bike more than about 50 miles in a day.

But I went to the edge and I looked down.  That will be quite enough for Uncle Pants.

Be that as it may, Jacob loves it and that’s all that really matters.  We had a good ride this morning.

5
Your Ride Reports / Carpe Diem!!!
« on: June 22, 2017, 11:47:14 AM »
Earlier this year, I completed the longest bike tour of my life, covering basically 1/4th of the country in 16 days.  I’ve had dreams of visiting Yosemite National Park since I was a kid, and when some FJR owners suggested a June 2017 gathering there over a year ago, I signed up immediately.  All told, we were about 75 participants from all over the country gathered for the weekend in Mariposa, California.  It was epic and something I shall not soon forget.

In review by the numbers, the tour took me over 6300 miles and 8 States throughout the American southwest.  My average fuel mileage was just under 44 mpg, and on one impressive tank, I got almost 51 mpg.  My FJR ran flawlessly and once again proved (at least to myself) that this bike is indeed the perfect mechanical companion to take me wherever I want to go.  I did burn out both high beam headlights within an hour of one another on the trip, an occurrence I’m told is common with the FJR.  I changed the bulbs on the road and otherwise, had no problems with the bike.  After one does this for a while, he learns what he likes and what he doesn’t.  Truthfully at times during this tour, I found myself just grinning with happiness and pleasure at how fun it was to ride this motorcycle.

The weather was varied, to say the least.  The temperatures I observed ranged from a low of 42 degrees F to a high one horrendous afternoon of 105.  Preparing for that range of temperature on a motorcycle takes creativity.  I choose the textile jacket and the mesh pants (with liner if necessary) and was glad I had done so.  Even though I brought the cooling vest, in the end, I found that just wetting my T-shirt with the jacket vents open was actually longer lasting and more effective than using the cooling vest.  Rain wise, we got about 1 hour of a moderate shower on about Day 5.  On Day 12-ish, I got about 15 sprinkles over 3 minutes as I was coming down a particularly high mountain.  Otherwise, dry.  And when I say dry, I mean DRY!  I found myself in a perpetual state of dehydration on this trip.  This climate was far different from the sauna in which I live.  Different, to be sure.

As seems to be the case over the past few years, my travel companions varied along the way.  My good friends Andrew and his Pops accompanied me from the start and for about 7 days until we left Yosemite.  We’ve traveled together before, and we truly enjoy each other’s company on our common bikes.  While there, we were accompanied by others in large (but manageable) groups of riders.  After the Yosemite gathering, my good friend Josh and I spent 4 days riding together in a general east and south direction, camping and touring great and wonderful places.  The last two days, I rode basically alone, and this gave me good time to think and reflect on my adventure, and to be thankful for my great and fortunate blessings.

Despite my preference to the contrary, riding a motorcycle for over 6,000 miles in two weeks takes some planning.  If you throw caution to the wind on this ride, you will miss opportunities and a chance like this doesn’t come very often.  So Andrew and I talked and visited a bit before the trip.  I was glad that he resisted the urge to make nightly reservations at exact locations, pinning us down to a strict itinerary.  And I suspect he was equally pleased that we decided generally on a route to get to Yosemite, ensuring that each of us got to see important and desirable roads, views, points of interest, etc. along the way.  In the end, it worked out just wonderfully, as I knew it would.

I believe there comes a time in every man’s (or woman’s) life when he realizes that he is not going to live forever.  I think when it happens, it is not meant to be some kind of morbid shock to the system.  People my age start to feel the reality of their mortality.  You don’t necessarily get lazy about it (although that can happen), but rather you become complacent and accepting in the realization that you only have one life and when it’s gone, it’s gone.

That time came for me a few years ago.  I can’t state the exact day, but it was definitive.  It happened on a sunny afternoon as I recall.  I don’t even remember the circumstances that prompted my revelation, but it really doesn’t matter.  What matters is that on that day, I realized in my heart that the end is closer than the beginning.  How close, I cannot say.  I don’t have any control over that, the quantitative part.

What I can control is the qualitative part.  I can do everything in my power to make sure that I enjoy every single day.  I can dismiss childish grudges and animosities and agree to disagree.  I can love my wife and my kids and my friends and support them in whatever matters most.  I can be thankful for my health and my resources and not squander or take either for granted.  And I can see the world, both literally and metaphorically for what it really is – beautiful and good.

And I can seize each day!  Carpe Diem!!  I hope you enjoy the pics.

Carpe Diem #1:  Reunion, Catfish, and Redemption

Lafayette, LA to Comanche, Tx. Approximately 525 miles

I woke up a little tired.  The excitement of leaving on this wonderful adventure had me tossing quite a bit during the night.  Andrew and Pops were coming my way, and giving them a head start meant that I could take my time in the morning.  Still, I was itching to roll and already giggling inside day dreaming about riding and discovering. 



I checked my horse twice, pulled up on the Rok straps one last time, kissed my wife tenderly goodbye, and left the neighborhood before the morning commute traffic.  Andrew and I planned to meet about 40 miles from my house, and I got there on time, which is a little unusual.  Soon thereafter, the other two arrive in perfect ground flying formation.



Pops tanked up and joined me in the shade.



Seeing him on that new bike brought warmth to my heart.  The last time we rode together, things went terrible.  Pops crashed his 2007 FJR and was air lifted from the scene to the hospital.  He spent over a month in the hospital with multiple surgeries and his recovery was painful.

That experience haunted and inspired me simultaneously.  At first, the reality and brevity of what happened scared the living 0000 out of me.  He could have died that day.  My selfish ways led to fear the consequences that could have transpired.  I would have had no chance to say goodbye.  No chance to make sure, 100% sure, that he knew how much I respected and admired him.  No chance to tell him that I’m so proud of him, proud to know him.  No chance.

But that didn’t happen.  He’s here in the flesh.  I’m looking right at him.  And he’s on a beautiful red motorcycle, just like the one I’m riding.  His son is with us and somehow right there at that mundane gas station, the world just seemed right again.

The God that, at 51 years old, I still struggle to understand and accept, the one that I only pray to only when I have no other choice – that God has rewarded me with the priceless inspiration of this reunion.  If I do nothing else over the next 2 weeks, this man is going to know how I feel about him.  And for the rest of my life, to whatever extent my foolish pride and humility can allow, so will the rest of my loved ones.

Since we are in my neck of the woods, I took lead heading generally west.  There are faster ways to get where we are going, but we’ve got plenty of time.



We ran through the piney woods of south central Louisiana and stopped at the eastern shore of Toledo Bend.  I’ve been there many times, but to my surprise, my friends had not.  All riders should embrace the concept of finding new adventure in their own backyard, and then seek it with passion.



We crossed into Texas and turned north on Hwy 87 into Milam, where we stopped for lunch at a place I like to eat where the fried catfish is especially good.

We might as well get this out of the way – there is going to be food porn on this ride report, and LOTS of it, so settle in and grab a paper towel to wipe the drool from your mouth.



There are plenty of nice roads to run in East Texas, but we have got be moving more directly in a westerly direction.  So after lunch, Andrew took the lead.  Our primary objective is to avoid Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth.  Texas is a HUGE state; this was not much of a challenge.

Somewhere in south central Texas, we stopped to pee and drink some water at a smoke house/tourist trap kind of place.  I bought a slug of some Bison jerky and shared.  I don’t think the old man cared for it much, but as is typical of his gentle nature, he wouldn’t show it.



Hydrate, my friend.  Keep drinking.



We get back on the bikes and continue on the State roads that head generally toward the west.  We find endless one horse towns to slow down for and stimulate my imagination.  I think about the Wild West days when a posse of horseman would trot into town from the wilderness on the main street.  Shopkeepers and ladies staring at them in wonder, admiring their beautiful horses.

Well, no shopkeepers or ladies stared at us, but I still felt like a nomadic cowboy at times.



At this train stop, we met a couple of bikers heading home nearby from a ride to Florida.  We told them that we were going to California for two weeks.  I can’t explain it, but my MP3 player is able to pick up communications (C/B, Sena, etc) if I am close to the transmitter.  After the train passed and we continued, I could hear those two riders talking to each other through their comm. system:

(rider 1) “Riding to California, can you believe it?”

(rider 2)  “I can’t believe they can get away for 2 weeks.”

Truthfully, they are right.  We are blessed, and we know it.  Very few people get this chance.  We got it, and we took it.  Life is good.

As we accelerate from these small towns, the road gets straight and flat, but we have it all to ourselves.  I’m content to just set my cruise control, sit back, and enjoy the experience.





All of these towns in Texas are cut from the same cloth, but they are part of Americana and beautiful in their own rite.





We pushed a bit to make miles, but the day still went by like a fart in the wind.  Late in the evening, we arrived in Comanche, TX and chose a simple motel for the night.



I really like these little independent motels because you can park the bike right by the door.



After settling in, Andrew pulled out this bottle of Scotch and poured us each a snort.



We toasted each other, but honestly, I can’t remember exactly what we said.  It’s not really important, though.  Ms. Tyler, an “internet only” friend from California, sent Andrew that bottle of Scotch after Pops’ crash.  Two years ago, she sent me a similar bottle after my own unfortunate crash.  Having crashed herself, Tyler represents the club honorably.  She gets it.  She knows the feelings that riders get when they fall.  She knows the hurt, both the physical and emotional hurt, which accompanies it.  And she knows the elation that follows when a rider gets back on the horse and conquers his demons.

The significance of that Scotch is priceless.  The accident Pops had was horrible.  The recovery was long and painful.  But the reunion was realized.  The 500 mile ride today was basically uneventful from a scenery perspective.  But the redemption of physically seeing Pop behind the handlebars, following his son’s lead to new adventures, well, that was incredible.  Washing that redemption down with a mouthful of good fermented grain, knowing from where that bottle came from was my spiritual icing on the cake. 

I felt complete.  That chapter is finished.  Tomorrow we will move onward to new things. 


Carpe Diem Day 2:  The Crow’s Nest

Comanche, Tx to Carrizozo, NM, approx. 535 miles

I slept OK, but not well.  It always takes me a couple of days to relax to the idea of sleeping in different environments every night.

We load up the bikes fairly early to take advantage of the (relatively) cooler morning.  I soaked my T-shirt and the Redfishes are ready to go.



Today picks up exactly where yesterday left off.  The roads are straight, flat, and empty.  But the speed limit is 75 and we making decent time through it.





Lunch at this place was pretty good.


















Andrew caught me methodically adding crushed ice to my water bottle.  In these temperatures, every little bit counts.



Occasionally, we pass through an oil field of pumpers.



And at one point, we ran adjacent to this high wire that supported a bird nest on every pole.  Some were hawks, but most were for crows – the proverbial crow’s nest.



As an amateur birder, I found this enlightening.  There are no trees to be found.  But despite their literal bird brains, these creatures have made the very best of their situation.  Their home is only inches away from imminent danger, an electrical voltage that could vaporize them. But they fear not, and use whatever resources they can find to build a wonderful home that will protect them from predators and weather, offer them comfort when they need it, and a way to raise their babies.  I shall try to remember that in my own challenges.

By mid-afternoon, the heat is on and I’m sweating pretty good. 



But more so now than ever, I’m convinced that the textile jacket was the right choice.  The vents are flowing a little, but for the most part, I’m keeping that hot air off my skin.

After hundreds of miles, we find a hill.  It presents itself like an island oasis and I find myself staring at it in disbelief.



And shortly thereafter, we cross into New Mexico and the topography changes instantly.





I led us to Ruidoso and quickly learned that this is a Casino tourist trap.  I found no hotels available for under $150.00 on this Memorial Day weekend.  So we pressed on northward, heading toward the Interstate, where we were sure rooms would be available.

My friend, the planner in our fine organization, is wishing we had made a reservation months ago.  But to his credit, he puts up with my need for adventure and the unknowing.  I hope it brings some balance to him, but I fear in reality, it just pisses him off.



It always works out, and at the cross roads otherwise known as Carrizozo, NM, we found our stop for the evening.





Again – clean as a whistle, park the bike at the front door, and for $50.00, I’m stoked.

But I need a beer!



Delicious!



We walked to the local diner and dinner was very good.



After dinner, I settled into my own crows nest, content to rest and look forward to whatever comes tomorrow.

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