Shogani, a particularly gifted photographer, writer, and adventure rider on the AdvRider forum, recently gently reminded me that lurking about isn’t participating in a community. Yeah, I’ve been a member there for a while, but mostly lurking. For some, a heavy cruiser isn’t an adventure bike. I know otherwise, but somehow I’d forgotten that others would understand that too.
She also reminded me, as I read through her Alaska trip (a must read by the way), as I laughed with her, cried with her, and relived some of my own memories, pains, successes, and failures on that route, that by lurking about I managed to miss some of the damndest threads.
So, here we go. A ride report. AdvRider style . . . (well, sort-of) . . . I’ve included more pictures than I usually do . . . but not as many as I was striving for. The camera would have drowned you see . . . well maybe you don’t . . . but that’s part of the story.
Y’all (that’s a technical Texas term) will forgive me a bit of a preamble?
I’ve always striven to include more in my writings than the simple, “I went here and did that” type of narration. To understand our experiences . . . to effectively communicate them, I feel that at least some of the rider’s motivations and state of mind have to come through. A good story doesn’t just tell us where and how, but also why.
I’m not claiming that I’ve always succeeded. Why? Hell, half the time I don’t know myself. The other half of the time I’m not sure. The next half I think I know, but probably don’t. Oh, what? Three halves don’t make a whole? Heh. That’s probably part of the problem. There’s a couple dozen more halves to make an accounting of yet.
We are more than we can see. We are more than we can say.
Anyway, that’s the reason for any “non-riding” stuff that follows.
Alexandria, Louisana on a Saturday Night
subtitle: (Do I know it? No, but I can hum a few bars....)
A random song lyric popped into my head, complete with the music. Ghaaaak! Sometimes that just plain hurts.
We’re just living with the hope
Only love can save us now
Cross that river to the shore
With no one else around
See those angels on the air
Smiling faces never show
With the joy you can’t compare
Watch the daylight come and go
(shine on, shine on)
Watch the daylight come and go
Carey, my wife, looked sharply up at me. She knows me well, I guess. Something in my tone had alerted her to the fact that I was about to do something unusual. Hmmm . . . maybe "unusual" isn't the correct word. I do "unusual" things all the time. "Leap" might be a better term. She was alerted that I was about to "leap."
She raised an eyebrow, “What?”
“Well . . . I think I’ll go for a ride.”
That’s not unusual. I commute daily, and take my machine everywhere possible. I ride so much that I’m invariably surprised when I go get in “Big Iron”, my faithful 450HP V-10 Dodge truck, and she actually starts. Heck, every time I got in her last year I had to renew some annual registration, inspection, or whatever. At least I’ve driven her more this year than usual. Heck, I can think of 5 or 6 times right off hand!
Yeah, that's Big Iron. A picture 'cause I can!
She already knew this wasn’t gonna be some around the town thing, and looked a bit alarmed. “You have to work tomorrow.” She knows how close to the edge I’ve been. How little it would take to push me that little bit needed to simply walk away and leave the company I’ve invested 21 years of work into, laying behind me in the ditch.
Yeah. Work. That’s been part of the problem. My company’s been outsourcing, and in a long, drawn-out, and highly improbable series of overtly incompetent events, has jerked us around for nearly a year. I just now got a job offer. I accepted, but I’m still not sure I did the right thing. It came down to the money. Believe or no . . . but for me . . . before last week . . . It. Has. Never. Been. About. Money.
I’m not sure what part of me I just sold, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t get enough for it.
“Honey?” her voice sounded far away but called me back to the real world. I’d drifted off. It’s happened more than normal lately. My soul was somewhere out on the road, wondering where the rest of me had gone.
Carey’s one of the reasons I don’t just dump it all and run. Fifteen years we’ve been married and still I dream about her. Fifteen years and still, when I’m out on the road, it’s her that calls me home.
Music is a passion of mine . . . intertwined into my life, influencing and punctuating it’s events. I thought of her and a lyric drifted to mind, along with a flood of the intense and confusing feelings of pain, loneliness, accomplishment, joy, and the simple, raw lust that permeate me after a month alone on the road.
I can’t stand the distance
I can’t dream alone
I can’t wait to see you
Yes, I’m on my way home.
“Honey?” It was more urgent this time, yet somehow gentle.
I looked sharply up. “Hmm? Sorry.” Damn it! I’d been gone again. Long gone. Maybe close to lost. The soul of a wanderer is a pesky thing. I blinked and decided I'd better go find the wretched thing soon.
She repeated herself, “You have to work tomorrow.”
I smiled at her. “Yes, I know. I’m not going tomorrow. I’ll go Saturday.”
But the thought went unbidden through my mind, “Yeah, if I can wait that long. I ride to work . . . maybe tomorrow will be the day I just keep going.”
Carey’s eyebrow raised again and she smiled quirkily. I’m sure she knows what I was thinking, but she didn’t comment.
“So, what’ve you got in mind?”
I grinned uneasily. My soul makes the demands, dictates the desires . . . it doesn’t always give me a hint of how to express them.
“The Killdares are playing. I think I’ll ride over and see ‘em. Should be a nice night-ride home.”
The Killdares are a kick-ass Celtic Power Rock band. Heavy percussion, steel guitar, bass guitar, Highland bagpipes, and fiddle. With a unique, dynamic, and powerful sound, they can absolutely rock the house down. Seriously. You’ve missed out if you never heard them. They’re from right here in Dallas, Texas and we go see them every chance we get. Yeah, I sound like a commercial. No, I've got no finiancial interest/dealings with the band. I'm passionate about music, remember?
Carey’s eyes lit up. “Really? Cool. I’ll come with you.”
That was the tough part. Carey will ride with me, but doesn’t do long distances. She’s also not as heat-tolerant as I am (I was born and bred here in Texas and love the heat). This was not a minor ride.
Those of you that are married know you just can’t say, “No.” and then explain. You have to answer with the explanation or you’re doomed to a horrible fate.
Even if you are correct.
I grinned a bit, “They’re playing in Alexandria.”
She looked thoughtful. “Is that a new club?”
“Ur. No. That’s a city.”
Her eyes widened. “Alexandria, Louisiana?”
Alexandria is over 300 miles from Dallas. And that’s the short way. The heat warnings had been up for days. We were on our 30th day or so of over 100 degree temperatures, and it wasn’t dropping below 80 at night. For the unprepared and un-acclimatized, riding in the Texas heat can be downright dangerous. There was no way she’d make this ride.
“Ah.” She was obviously disappointed. “Let’s just take the car. I’ll come with you.”
It just got tougher. I smiled. “Honey, I’d love to have you with me. You can meet me there if you’d like, but the destination is only an excuse.” I took a breath and looked toward the window. I desperately wanted to see the sky. “I’ve got to ride.”
That last was said in strained, clipped words. All she had to do was ask again and I’d say okay. We’d take the car.
That’s when she got it. Often times she understands more than I do.
As long as I can remember I’ve taken long rides nearly every summer. Last year I did Route 66. The year before I did Alaska. Before that it was the Midwest. Every time it’s different, even if I go the same place. Every time I come back a better man than when I left. Lord only knows where I'd head next time. Then I realized with a start . . . Lord only knows if there'd be a next time.
This year I’ve not been out. Mostly I’ve commuted, and I attended a couple rallies, but I’ve not taken one of those long, soul-changing trips. I’d put them off due to the uncertainties about my job, and now that I have one again, I find I’m not any more certain about the situation. Besides, vacation at the moment is difficult to come by.
More music ran through my head:
And the days and the nights of my childhood
Drained through my hands so fast
Receding waves lost in the ocean
Grains of sand trapped in the hourglass
Somewhere in the back of my mind I’d realized I wasn’t going to get out this year. Somehow I’d realized that my soul had left without me.
Carey had just realized that too. She nodded at me and her eyes softened. “You need a ride. Go.”
So, what’s with work that makes it so bad? (shrugs). That’s a long a sordid, complicated, boring, depressing, and not quite completed tale. Even I’m not interested in that . . . but I will post some pics of my office, just for grins.
It’s the old bomb shelter. We’ve got glorious concrete beam ceilings, exposed pipes and wires, unshielded, and direct florescent lighting (the remaining few that actually work). A professional atmosphere it’s not. Yeah, I’ve worked in worse places, but at least I could see the sky.
Lately, we’ve got rats, crickets, and days where the sewer gas leaks into the work area and it smells like . . . well . . . it smells.
It’s a dank pit. Any wonder I like to get away?
Note the double caffiene shot...a coffee and a Diet Coke! One of the signs taped up over the pics of my book covers says, "Never meddle in the affairs of dragons, because you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup". Works well, since I have a nickname . . . or "handle" of Dragon. Yeah, I know many picture that being acquired in some testosterone-soaked chest-thumping incident that involves very little brains and an abundance of alchohol, but it's actually a much longer, complicated, and older story. Maybe I'll tell it sometime.
The cube farm:
This is actually a flattering picture...as the camera did fairly well in the low light conditions. To be fair, not all are burned out. We have to take the bulbs out of the sockets above the desks or we cannot see our monitors in the glare.
Yeah, this is an environment condusive to creativity, productivity, and employee health...(did I mention the sewer gas?)
songs on this installment (in order of appearance)
Daylight (Come and Go)--The Killdares
I Will Always Return--Bryan Adams
Alexandria, Louisiana on a Saturday Night Navigation:
--Index-- --Part 1-- --Part 2-- --Part 3-- --Part 4-- --Part 5-- --Part 6--