Monday, March 31, 2008
Slowly waking up one lazy Summer Saturday morning for cartoons and an afternoon of fun in the country, a loud train whistle in the distance jolts me upright. I look out the window, to the top of the valley that surrounds our farmhouse and see an old steam engine chugging along with several passenger cars behind. I rub my eyes but the locomotive is still there. Only six years old or so, my brain even then could remember no train tracks in the area. Consciousness still fuzzy, I dart down stairs yelling, "Mom! Mom!"
She is in the yard hanging clothes on the clothesline. Running over to her, I look up the hill again to where only a few minutes ago there was a steam locomotive from the late 1800's. I remember being confused.
"Mom, are there train tracks on the hill?"
"Oh, no," she smiled. "Why don't you run on into the house and get some breakfast."
Even more confused, I walk slowly and quietly, looking at the top of he valley, straining my ears to hear the train whistle. After a hearty breakfast and an hour of cartoons, the imagery of the train was pushed into the back of my brain, and filed under the category of weird dream. Caught in an altered state, just between dream land and the real world, my adolescent consciousness did its best.
The second was pure dream with no intermingling or intertwining of consciousness beyond the understanding that it was a dream. I am sitting on an outside porch, a very young child of three or four, playing with a rather chubby baby. To the side was a very young version of my father washing his hands and face with cool fresh well water from a wash basin. Since I was in my early teens when this dream occurred, the time frame was fairly easy to determine. It was the early 1900's, maybe 1930's or so. The dream mostly took place at an old house that wasn't so old within the time frame of the dream. It was white and nicely kept.
The next frame was of me, a little older, dressed in mourning black, riding in a wagon next to a crying woman and another man, both dressed in black. In the back was a simple casket. I knew the destination but the road looked unusual. The sun was at an odd angle. I awoke simply thinking of this as a common dream.
Decades later I become interested in the history of the place I grew up. Maps and stories and family trees and histories were for the most part easily accessible in the internet.
My first entry into odd feelings of deja 'vous began in 2003 when I found online, a very late 1800's Illinois railroad map. The dream became vivid in my mind and goose bumps ran down my back. There, near the top of that valley where I grew up, ran the telltale hash marks of a railroad. Running from New Boston, near the farm, then up to Rock Island. No other maps showed this line, either before or after.
The originator of the map told me by e-mail that the it also showed lines that were planned for construction, as well as existing lines.
Then I looked at an old plat map. It was from the 1920's if memory serves. I notice something odd. The road I remember as a child, that ran from our farmhouse to the cemetery was not there. Instead there was an angular road at that time, now gone and covered by a corn field. The other dream jumped from my deep memories. THAT explained the odd angle of the sun.
Riding my motorcycle out into the desert and places less traveled, there are times when I swear I can hear people talking, children laughing. Dust clouds rise and rumbles in the distance for no apparent reason are the norm.
What is it that separates the now from the then? What separates the now from yesterday's other possible futures? Maybe they are all riding along together with only a thin film between.
If this is the case, and yesterday and tomorrow and today and yesterday's other tomorrows are all intertwined, and night time dreams and fantasies are merely peeks to other times and possibilities, there is but one type of person who will discover it.
That person will be a motorcyclist, riding down a desert trail or jungle road or snow covered tundra. That is the only type of person who could grasp the entirety, the concept, the Zen of everything and nothing in an instant.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
To the east of Sloan Canyon this desert road undulates up and down, right and left, just a bit, around small mountain foothills. This is knows as Dutchman's Pass. Between Dutchman's Pass and Sloan Canyon is a mine, and supposed ghost town of Quo Vadis. Unfortunately my Honda Rebel is just not the right vehicle to get there. But, before I leave the area, I WILL get there.
I am not sure why there is this attraction. Quo Vadis was a very small, very short lived town, supposedly with a few saloons, a church and a few houses. I read somewhere that only a foundation for one of the saloons still exist.
Perhaps it is the feeling, the drive, and perhaps the need to explore; to do things that are not of the ordinary. This was not an ordinary ride... nearly 20 miles of desert riding on a Honda Rebel.
Now, if you will pardon me, I need to go figure out how I can afford to get a little Yamaha TW200. No way can I do a lot of desert riding on the Rebel.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
A friend lost, knowing not why nor for certain how. Accepting is all that can be done. Accepting that I lost a friend. Accepting that my home, a place of peace and growth and healing may not exist; may not come to be. Perhaps it is all for the better. There is no looking back, only wishing the best for those behind.
And I ride alone.
Monday, March 24, 2008
For the past several weekends over the course of a few months I have been spending considerable amounts of time attempting to repair my ex-wife's car. It wasn't in terribly good shape when we bought it. We were told that it needed new struts, new engine mounts and a little oil change, and that was it.
Well, I don't think the guy was completely straight up with us. One of the spark plug cables was busted. Two of the spark plugs were completely destroyed to the point where the little four cylinder engine was only running on two cylinders. The heater hoses were in such a state of disintegration that they were literally falling apart. Several weekends, a few skinned knuckles and probably too much money was spent repairing these, as well as some other problems.
The car was at the point where I felt safe riding in it. The motor seemed to be purring and not overheating or clanking. New tires let the car track straight and true down the highway and there was a certain satisfaction to driving this machine around.
Apparently she had had enough. This weekend, on the way home from picking up my daughter from the airport, the engine threw a rod. That car is now, for the most part, scrap.
Ebb and flow.
Saturday was quite the opposite adventure. I awoke about eight, fired up my bike and headed out of town. I rode out of Las Vegas to the West, past Red Rock Canyon. There is always a smile on my face when I can see Las Vegas in my rear-view mirrors.
Out on State Route 160, traffic was light and the ride beautiful. I was surprised at how willing my little Rebel was behaving. 75 miles per hour was no problem at all.
I arrive in Pahrump, NV for smokes and coffee. After a pleasant chat with an elderly gentleman about motorcycles and trucking, I continue North to Johnnie, Nevada. For the most part, Johnnie is a ghost town. There is a house trailer, and another building that could pass as a house, but that is the only thing there that could be classified as recent.
Old mining equipment and remnants of buildings still litter the desert there. Twenty minutes or so of riding the trails and I am back on the asphalt to Crystal, Nevada.
There isn't much there, in the little town of Crystal. Two legal brothels, a Museum of Brothel Art (that just happens to be closed for renovations), very small bar, a Piper airplane on a desert landing strip and a few houses. After a brief chat with the owner of the plane, and a more than brief lamenting that I had no camera, I left on the road I came in on. It is little more than asphalted desert rubble.
Purple and white and yellow desert wildflowers are blooming all throughout the area. Some sort of small cactus is blooming as well. Its blooms looking more like a tangle of red hair than a flower.
I stop again at Pahrump and have lunch at the Pahrump Cafe. Should anyone ride your bike through this quaint, quiet little town, I highly recommend it. Just stop at a gas station and ask for directions.
I try to delay my inevitable return to Las Vegas by riding a lonesome desert road out to California. There were more motorcycles on that road than cars or trucks. It was beautiful.
Returning, riding past Red Rock Canyon, I feel the pressures of Las Vegas begin their assault. I will miss the adventure of riding out into the desert and its inherent solitude, but I will not miss Las Vegas.
So, 250 miles later, I park my bike and crack open a beer.
It's all ebb and flow. Fighting against it will only tire you out and piss you off.
View Larger Map...This map is not accurate and shows the route where I rode into California incorrectly. Click the "View Larger Map" for a more accurate representation...
Friday, March 21, 2008
Do some motorcycles just catch your eyes? Do some look spooky or menacing or just down right scary? Well, they are supposed to. Researchers call it "conspicuity enhancement".
According to Honda scientists, slanted headlights on the front of a motorcycle designed to look like a face, giving it an 'angry' look, are "significantly" more visible to other drivers. Chrome and bright colors may do a lot to grab cagers' eyes, but these scientists are even using Functional MRI to confirm their statements and support their research.
Many other motorcycle manufacturers, such as Triumph, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Ducati and Buell are catching onto this as well. Many of their bikes have face-like qualities to them, usually menacing or angry instead of warm and fuzzy. This is because the human brain recognizes these sort of features in a face and relays it to the conscious very quickly. That way, drivers' brains force the motorcycles into perception rather than filtering them out.
Here is a nice article about this research: The canada.com website.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
- The Honda EVO 6
- BMW Website
- Triumph Street Triple 675
- Lois Pryce
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
see more crazy cat pics
This is not a blog entry about motorcycles and riding, per-se. This is about the loss of a fantastic author and thinker. The world of science fiction literature and telecommunications technology lost a great mind today. Arthur C. Clarke died at the age of 90 at his home in Sri Lanka.
He was born in England and served the Royal Air Force during World War II as a RADAR Specialist. He was knighted in 2000 by the Queen of England, and in 1945 described the utilization of geostationary orbiting satellites as perfect platforms for stable, global communications. Hence, the Clarke Belt.
I attribute much of my early development as a person, science fiction reader and amateur writer to many of his books, including Rendezvous with Rama, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Childhood's End, Against the Fall of Night, and 2010: Odyssey Two. As a matter of fact, I have a copy of The Fountains of Paradise on my book case at work.
Please, take a moment and say a silent 'thank you' to Sir Arthur C. Clarke for what he has given us. May he rest in peace.
Special thanks to Daniel Meyer for finding the cat picture. I had no idea he had died until I read Daniel's blog, and the picture he found was perfect. You may read more about Mr Clarke on his Wikipedia page.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
She forgot it. Oh well. Such is life.
There has now been two days of problems and compromise here. My cold and the beautiful riding weather. My website was shut down because I forgot to pay for it... for the last six months. The want to get my daughter some nice new clothes for her trip, but my severe lack of money. My dead cell phone because i can't find the charger and can't afford a new one until my next paycheck. The list goes on.
Well, nobody has punched me in the mouth and it doesn't cost any money, so I just smile.
And I am smiling! This Saturday I am planing on one of two little day trips. One will be a little ride to Mesquite, Nevada through the nice quiet road near Lake Mead. Total of 205 miles round trip.
View Larger Map
The other possible trip is through the high desert to Pahrump, Nevada. Total of about 140 miles round trip.
View Larger Map
Either way, I hope to go for a ride, have a nice little meal, drink a beer and enjoy a little quiet socializing. I hope I can borrow a camera from someone at work. That's one thing my daughter didn't forget!
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Just kidding! Maybe... Sort Of...
Seriously I am not looking at this point, but if I were... and if I were to post a personal ad, it would be something similar to the above. I have gone back and forth on the subject of personal ads. On one hand there seems to be a certain desperation to them. On the other, a sort of optimistic light, as if coming from an individually unique light house. Riding down a back road, who's to say that woman riding the BMW doesn't thrill to the thought of watching a wall cloud and just happens to be single?
Perhaps when I am ready you may see the above posted somewhere. It's not a call of desperation, just a CQ of sorts. And, if you are piqued by my posting above, and know what a CQ is, maybe you should contact me at your earliest convenience. :-)
Anyway, after overdoing it today, once again I feel like crap... Happy crap, but crap none the less. So, here I am on the couch, reading the Adv Rider forum and Rebel 250 forum and playing with Google Earth and so forth. Anyways, what follows is an attempt to post my little motorcycle trip from Henderson to Nipon, CA.
View Larger Map
Thursday, March 13, 2008
So, today the couch is my place of residence. My daughter has been sick with this, off and on, for the past two weeks. Typically my body is able to fend off these microscopic intruders, but not this time.
No work, no lunch meeting with pizza, and most importantly, no motorcycle ride. Seventy five degrees outside in the calm desert air. Thin strato-cumulus clouds overhead. Very light western breeze. I am not sure which is worse, the cold symptoms or motorcycle riding withdrawal.
There will be other days to ride, not not another today to ride.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Several weeks ago my truck started exhibiting a rather odd symptom. I would press on the clutch pedal but the clutch would not completely release! After a week or so of parking the truck on the street, I decided to attempt my own repair. Parking the truck on the street had nothing to do with it's poor behavior. The street angles downhill slightly, giving the advantage to a poor, clutch challenged pick-up.
After buying a repair manual and a few other necessities, I decided the time was right. I dug in. After one other trip to the parts store and a little crawling underneath the transmission, the drive train was running fine. I had done it! I am HUMAN!
So comes this weekend and the weather here is beautiful. Temperatures in the 70s, sun shining and brilliant, one could barely ask for a better day for auto repair. New spark plugs in one hand and tools in the other, I take on the task of performing a minor tuneup on my pickup. In two hours, she was puring her enjoyment as if I had freshly groomed her.
Testosterone was flowing. Another trip to the parts store and I was elbow-deep in the grease and grime and gunk that thrives under the hood of my ex-wife's paperweight of a car. Four spark plugs, two ruined grease rags and a set of spark plug cables, and while the little car wasn't necessarily purring, she was definitely operational and running.
Finish it all off with two or three beers and an hour washing my motorcycle as the sun set over Black Mountain. For all those years I had been told to, "...just let the mechanic fix it." Forgotten over the past 20 some years was the simple joy of performing minor repairs; simply fixing something. There is so much simple joy in these actions.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Several months ago, I became a little curious about dating again, now that I am single. So I signed up with bikerkiss.com Just for curiosities sake, mind you. I had the impression that dating sites were like meat markets where you show up, pick a cut that pleases you, and, well, get together. I was admittedly wrong... I think anyway.
Even thought I have posted there a few times, dating is not in my realm of interests right now. I think I will leave the account open. Worst case, maybe I will go on a ride with one of the members. Who knows. That is why the account will stay open. The unknown, unseen road.
YES, it is that time of the year, folks. Browse over to http://www.mbiweb.org/2008/vote.html and cast your ballot where it counts. No “hanging chads” or “...she's a monster..” comments or other political rhetoric. Cast your vote in the 2008 Riders Choice Awards. It's fun, interesting and if the wrong candidate wins, it will likely not set any nation into an economic depression or cause global chaos.
That Damn Game!!! With the best of intentions last night, I sat down on the couch to accomplish a little planning for my trip. Coffee steaming on one side, maps on the other and computer on my lap, I settle in for an enjoyable evening of fantasy roads and adventure.
Then my daughter comes out, “What level are you now?” she asks.
“14 or so. You?”
“HAHA, NOOOOOOB. I'm not telling!” And she dances back into her bedroom.
As I log into the game, I think, 'Friggin teenagers.'
It is a game called Mabinogi by Nexon & DevCat. For me, this damned game is rather addictive and fun. DAMN IT! So, 1AM comes and I level to 16 and log off, coffee cold and cat sleeping on the unopened maps. She comes out, “So what level are at now, noob?”
“16,” I stick my tongue out at her.
“You kill a bear yet?”
“No”, I say under my breath, logging back in. She grabs a late night snack & goes to sleep as I am quite soundly trounced by a bear or two. 2:30AM and my blurry eyes and I log off, put the maps away, dump the coffee and fall into bed.
Damned teenagers! Keep your fun and interesting games to yourselves! I'm too old for this crap! Oh... and Stay Off My Lawn! XD
Thursday, March 06, 2008
And here we have it boys and girls. A rough map (from maps.google.com) for my planned quixotic journey. I will start in Las Vegas and ride the United States from there to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Places I plan to visit on my little journey include: Laughlin, NV; Flagstaff, AZ; Socorro, NM; Lubbock and Sherman, Texas; Ft. Smith, AR; Springfield, MO, my pseudo-home town, New Boston, IL; some Chicago suburbs; and Dayton, OH.
In all reality, there are only three places that I absolutely MUST go through. These are Sherman, Texas, New Boston, Illinois, and Kitty Hawk. All other places and routes will probably be flexible up to the time I ride on the actual road.
I look at that map and think to myself, 'Am I insane?' Maybe just a little. A certain amount of controlled insanity is required for any adventure.
I know cross-country trips have been taken before, and they are not terribly un-common in the world of motorcycling. Several members of Motorcycle Bloggers International ( http://www.mbiweb.org/) have taken, or plan to take similar rides. What is unique among all of them is the journey. We are all born, we all die, it's the journey that is unique.
Playing the part of Rocinante in my little adventure will be a challenging little steel horse known as a Honda Rebel. Not even 250ccs of engine and I plan on riding 3,300 some miles. Now that's unique.
Or is it? Lois Pyle rode a little Yamaha XT225 Serow from Anchorage, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina! I read of a fellow who rode a little Kawasaki Ninja 250 from the East coast to the West. I read of a person who rode a Rebel from Florida to Las Vegas. While not common, it can, and has been done.
It's all in the journey. More to come...
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
One thing I enjoy about riding is the lack of verbal communication. I only ride solo, and as such, talking is not needed. I like it that way. That doesn't mean there is no communication.
On the contrary. When piloting a motorcycle there is a huge amount of communication going on. Palpable, physical vibrations from the tires, motor, brakes, clutch and transmission must be processed. The rider must listen and interpret many things like noise from the wind, bike motor, tires and even wind and tire noise from other vehicles. Visual communications is SO important for safe and efficient riding. Riders must always be alert for visual communications.
Communicating requires a dual pathway for information to flow. A rider communicates with their bike through body movements. Most bikes don't typically understand yelling. Physical communication from the rider is what it understands. There is a syntax and structure and even accents. Twist and lean and brake and shift is part of it's language.
Safe, efficient and enjoyable motorcycle riding is all about perception and action. Communication.
So, those riders out there, if you are like me and feel a little insufficient when it comes to verbal communications, don't worry. If you ride a motorcycle, chances are good that you communicate just fine.
Sunday, March 02, 2008
On a shoestring, of course...
Above is a picture of a small... very small something that passes as a luggage rack, or more properly, a mini-rack. Truth be told, this rack is quite short and narrow. Its functionality seems to be limited to carrying small things like cat food or a two liter bottle of soda or maybe a small extra fuel container.
Part of the problem with farkling a Rebel is the fact that Honda placed the rear tail light and turning signal stems back from the end of the fender. This makes placing larger racks or saddle bags on the bike, a challenge.
Enter ingenuity with a dash of circumstance! Parking my bike yesterday, after our trip to Nipton, I saw a stack of wire mesh squares in the garage. My ex-wife picked these up for a craft project of some sort, but other uses were going through my mind.
They are one foot square and have a reinforcing loop of wire around the edge. My mind started working. If I place one of those on the pillion and bungee it down, I have a nice square platform to strap light groceries or other things to. Perhaps functional for light things, but not really good for heavier items.
Mind still working, I remember some 1/4 inch Aluminum rod stock in the back yard. I can cut those to length and use little metal hose clamps to secure them to the wire mesh, thusly reinforcing it. That buys me a few more pounds but now stability is an issue.
I am still working on this but there is definitely something functional in my mind. I should be able to provide a nice sturdy foundation for dressing my Rebel with these things! No fear. I shall post pictures and a full description after it's all worked out.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
It was not without problems, or rather should I say irritations. On the way out, I experienced a headwind of about 20 MPH. My little Rebel struggled at times to keep the speedometer at 55. It wasn't just the wind; the uphill riding had a lot to do with it as well. Coming back, with a tailwind, she easily maintained a speed of 75MPH.
Just outside of Searchlight, Nevada there was a guy on the side of the road with a stalled Kawasaki. Big bike. I pulled off the road and with my limited toolbox, helped him take his seat off and check his electrical system. After about 45 minutes of pondering and poking and going through all the fuses, he found the master fuse. Sure enough it was blown.
So, he puts in a spare and the bike starts right up. But why did it blow? He poked around and found it. For one reason or another, several wires were routed next to the exhaust. The heat melted the insulation and zap. It shorted out the electrical system.
I poked around alongside the road and found a partially unused roll of electrical tape! Imagine that! It's funny the things one can find along the side of a desert road! He wrapped the wire in tape, we shook hands and off we went.
Here is a rather poor picture of Searchlight. Unfortunately I couldn't find the camera for this trip. Next time I definitely will not forget it!
At any rate, this was a very nice ride. I contemplated quite a few things as the asphalt rushed by. One is my seriousness with regard to having fun, relationships and enjoying the here-and-now. While in Nipton, I sat outside enjoying a Gatorade, a smoke, great weather and the view of 20 some motorcycles in the parking lot.
As I sit there, a younger woman, maybe 35 or so, curvy, attractive, comes out of the store and playfully yelled something to some other bike riders. She grabbed her breasts and yelled "woo hoo" a few times. I smiled, enjoying the very real, free, somewhat sexual playfulness she had. Somewhere I have that too. I wonder if my bike will carry me down the path to find it. Maybe???