Posts Tagged ‘travel

26
Jan
11

Waiting for godot? or valentine smith?

One day I stumbled into owning a motorcycle. I loved the bike but it was no fun on longer rides and it went too fast too quickly. Sensing death I sold it and bought my current ride. The clouds of impending death parted, the sun shined thru and I thought a motorcycle vacation would the thing to do.

..what? ..

Traveling on a bike is usually a solitary experience rather than with a troop of scouts or family, or a troupe of musicians in a van. It would be similar to a solo canoe trip in terms of serenity but with occasional exposure to the irrationality of people.

None of this is of importance to anyone, but … I made the not unusual mistake of opening my mouth one day amongst a group of riders and in no short amount of time someone had begun blogging about “The Rufus Method” as though it were the spiritual equivalent of ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’. All well and good as far as I’m concerned, but it’s obvious this blog is a series of posts that must build thru a crescendo of tension with a final and climactic ending. Thusly the posts did build intensity to a soft forte, third movement, and then, and then …

nothing

That’s right, nada, zip, zilch. So an attendant readership is forced to (metaphorically) zip their gumpy back in their pants and go home. Sheesh 🙂

Obviously, reports of Blogger Death are later found out to be exaggerated, the wheel of life still turns around, and things are as they are, so at some point in time the aborted subject will be completed in fantasticus fashion.

Anyway, I did take that vacation. Bourbon Street in New Orleans is major fun especially for a musician. I quickly developed some simple rules, not because they are GOOD RULES, but because they are good for me. No need to chisel these damned things into stones or debate them with burning bushes.

1. When I returned from that first trip I needed a vacation to recover from my vacation. That was not supposed to be the result. I’ve finished many a long evening playing drums, and although tired I was not beat to death, there was a renewal of spirit. I have never again gone on “vacation’.

2. I am a bad tourist. I mean to do or to see something just to say you saw it seems kinda superficial in its intent. Other than that it’s like I have ADD or something. I can be bored in 10 minutes, easily. Don’t get me wrong, I do touristy things, but I have no idea when the mood will strike, so to plan for stuff is a waste of my time.

3. I generally dislike restaurants. I hate when the waiteress comes over 6 times to ask “Is Everything OK???”. I don’t like air conditioning so I LOVE eating outside, that’s one reason I like Mexico. I’ve been known to spend an hour searching out that hole in the wall place where locals eat.

4. Don’t look for adventure, it’s just like hookers, which are everywhere. I’ve never been anywhere you couldn’t stumble across a hooker 🙂 Same with adventure, or unexpected totally cool stuff. Like my second trip to our south coast. I skipped NOLA and stayed east of Ponchartrain and rolled into Pass Christian and asked about motel rooms; “Downtown is probably full up.” I found a room at a small place next door to the swank hotel. Next day I’m holding down the beach with a mega-Long Island Iced Tea soaking sun and sea breeze. The beach fills with babes in bikinis doing all sort of cute babe things, there’s even a few guys out there taking photos. Hmmm. The hotel next door is hosting the Miss America contest. You can work out the details from there.

5. Something is alive.

The weekend before my first trip I loaded up the bike with all my travel gear for a test ride. I went 30-40 miles and pulled into to the same Quick-Trip I always stopped at for the customary coffee and Dolly Madison powdered donuts. I caught a smile and then a nod from folks walking in and out from the pumps while I checked my travel bags. I went inside, got my stuff, and the clerk says “Where ya headed?”. I look up and “Memphis, to visit my brother” jumps out of my mouth.

“I’ve never been there, but I hear it’s a fun place” he says. I smile in response and add “It’s ok, but I always enjoy the scenery and people around here when I go thru”. He smiles and hands me my change, we trade ‘have a nice day’ and I go outside to enjoy the road food. There are more smiles and parking lot conversation with the patrons. I light a smoke while I have a nice chat with Rod Serling.

He explains what has transpired; something about the Cowboy Mystique .. riding off into the sunset and how it brings out a something in other people – a hope? an aspiration? a simple joy of the moment? “It could be many things, unique to each individual, but a common thread that sews us all together.” he says.

I rode home.

06
Dec
10

ify:3 radiated baby

Drive through Sequoia

Drive through Sequoia

The folks set out in 1951 with me in tow to see the sights in western America. Sequoia trees, Yosemite, Painted Desert, Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam. I find out we have been to Phoenix and Pueblo, CO where sis was born, and other places all over the west. I remember when Mom woke me up inside the Great Sequoia back when the road went through the tree.

The folks took a break from touring in ’54 and found a trailer park in Las Vegas. I rode my bike to kindergarten every day, rolled out the mat for ‘nap time’ on the floor and rode home to play in the desert or swim in the pool at the trailer park. On occasion we cooked out when they blew an A-bomb over at White Sands, totally cool. Some nights dad took me outside and we watched Sputnik circle the globe, once every 90 minutes. Mom had me check with the government a few years ago, we were unfortunately 2 blocks away from the radiation dispersement line for the A-bombs so we can’t get a “reparation payment”. I guess I must be radiation free. 🙂

Chevy Suburban

Chevy Suburban circa 1950 - the orginal SUV

Dad helps build the Showboat casino and saves money, I don’t meet Bugsy on those occasions when we go to the strip. Then we take off for Anchorage, Alaska. Back then you had to have $200 to drive thru Canada. We take about 3 months to get there and I realize much later in life that house and home mean entirely different things, up until now home has been the front seat of a Chevy Suburban or a tent.

This is great, driving thru Canada up the AlCan highway, gravel rattling on the undercarriage, stopping to check out each creek, river and lake. If it passes the test we might camp for a day or a week. Hunting and fishing for grub to go along with a bit of store bought goods.

Just living, having fun.

Anchorage and Mt McKinley

Anchorage and Mt McKinley

Juneau, White Horse and Dawson’s Pass, Skagway with giant totems everywhere. We rent a quonset hut in Anchorage up on top of Government Hill which requires that we share the bathroom the with lady who rents the back half.

Mt. McKinley sits out toward the north and it’s like living in a painting, blue/green glaciers sliding down into the lake in Denali Park. Matanuska Valley is about an hour east where they grow the giant vegetables.

The salmon run twice each day in the creek in downtown Anchorage, silvers and humpbacks are the main catches. From almost anywhere in town you can hear the occasional iceberg calf off in Cooks Inlet.

Space in the schools won’t fit all the kids at once, so we do split days – morning and afternoon shifts. Morning kids keep supplies on the left hand side of the under desk, afternoon kids on the right. Sledding is like the state sport and you can ice skate everywhere downtown. Once a year the place changes completely as downtown is filled with dogs and sleds for the start of the Iditarod, Aleut and Inuit are camped everywhere, and everyone keeps an ear to the radio for the ‘moose alerts’. A scared and hard charging moose running thru the city is a danger to all.

Early in my 3rd year of school there the folks decide my newest baby sister needs to be born in the USofA not in some territory so we wing home on a DC3 to Springfield, Mo. Dad stays on and goes out to Kodiak in the Aleutian Islands to help build up the army base there, as two of the islands had been occupied by Japanese forces during WWII.

So my 8 year long ‘trip’ takes a turn to the unknown land of Ozark Mountains and what’s called house & home.

I’ve learned you don’t lick a flagpole 🙂

04
Dec
10

ify: a custom touch

Red's Giant Hamburg, Route 66, Springfield, Mo

Red's Giant Hamburg

My favorite eatery in Springfield, Red’s Giant Hamburg, was about 15 blocks from the house. A converted former motel/gas station into a cafe. Standard issue was a burger, fries, and root beer from a barrel. Motel courtyard with picnic tables in the back.

World’s 1st drive-thru, you can see the service window on the right of the building. Your options at the window were not what to order, but how many. Ray had the grill right behind the window and separated from Julia and the inside seating. You ordered it and Ray cooked it.

This was before some idiot invented ‘fast food’, back when you went into the gas station and someone came out to fill the tank, clean your window, and chat about the day. Interacting with the necessaries of life was not an inconvenience to hurry through, but a custom touch to savor. We never “waited” for our order at Red’s, it was part of the experience, an anticipation. A bit later Ray set up a speaker at the window and another at the grill and he could chat with customers while he cooked your order.

Later, when Ray set up a speaker out at the end of the hedge (out of his sight) the full drive thru experience was complete and the personal touch was degrading. You were then one step removed from personal as you had to stop out front and order, then pull up to the window. Certainly unnecessary for us ‘old pros’.

Ray brought the order to the window and slid out a large paper tray filled with fries, root beers in the corners, and burgers on top and we’d pull into the back courtyard and have a family dinner on one of the picnic tables.

Back then we took the time to enjoy life, to experience, to revel in it. It didn’t make sense to call it an inconvenience, or turn things into “waiting”. It was always over too soon for me, and I always looked forward to the next visit to Red’s.

In the 80’s some buddies of mine did a video featuring Ray and Julia, so I hope the guys in “The Morells” won’t mind a link to their YouTube video. Please enjoy 🙂 and yes, that IS Ray and Julia.

05
Aug
10

htrbbq3: prelude to cat herding

After dinner at the first BBQ

The 3rd annual BBQ at the Redneck Ranch is only about a week away. I made the first one two years ago, a small intimate group of about 6 folk, good food and conversation, my kind of get together. HTR said that lots of people showed up last year (say 30 to 40?) and locals get an invite, not just riders, so that keeps the conversation on the diverse side and plenty of folks to play redneck golf or washers.

There may be even more attendees this year as the main dish is comprised of 12 god damned roasting hens! So there will be some serious fire tending on Saturday morning.

Wanting some sort of task to do (or to avoid the crowd) I volunteered to offer services as sous chef. I have the time to arrive early, I enjoy cooking, and I used to hold dinners for 4 couples back when I sold Saladmaster cookware.

To complicate the weekend, HTR has invited an additional group to arrive on Friday for an extra day before the regular crowd arrives, so that ups the potential count of people over a growing length of time. So we may be looking two evening meals and Sat. & Sun. breakfast. Since none of these folk are arriving in a tour bus, but dribbling in one by two starting a midnight Thursday night (from both coasts no less!) thru Saturday afternoon, the event has no formal start time which makes meal planning a farce. At least we have a set dinner time for Saturdays big feed, but that’s it.

So I got an email last night that started the planning and I offered some suggestions. I couldn’t offer up any advice, per se, but I’ve always got a suggestion up my sleeve. I’m planning on chaos, but if we can sprinkle that with some advanced planning we can pull it off. I hope, maybe .. 🙂

By arriving early I get my pick of yard space for the tent. From the size of the event, I suspect the Redneck Ranch is gonna take on a Haitian feel when all the campers roll in and get set up.

27
Jul
10

Travel or Tour?

Have scooter, will travel

Since the 1st of July I have essentially been busy camping out on the motorbike. Two weekend camping trips and the rest of the time has been spent camping at a house I’m helping to remodel with no A/C and lots of outside work in 90+ summer sun. I am officially one whipped puppy. When you are on the road you upset your circadian/sleep cycle, eat differently at different times, don’t sleep in your own bed, etc. which can take it’s toll. Someone I know has a sig line that reads:

Sometimes the most urgent and vital thing you can possibly do is take a rest

So I’m taking a rest today and will lay down some thoughts on a subject which has been a popular discussion during the last few weeks. Among bikers it is usually stated as “How many miles do you ride each day?” but that isn’t a fair question because it doesn’t broach the subject of “How do you like to ride?”.

A trip to New Orleans from my house is about 550 miles which can easily be done in one day of traveling or trying to cover ‘X” distance. It would make a long day of riding (10-11 hours) and you sure wouldn’t stop and see much, and you’d be tired that evening and maybe next morning. Course I’m a hell of a lot older today than I as way back then 🙂

If I were to tour to NOLA I would take two days, wander all sorts of small roads and communities, see all kinds of cool stuff, meet some people and have bags of fun. 250 miles a day is fun and relaxing and casual and I would not be tired on arrival.

There are places (or destinations) where you just need to burn miles like thru the great plains, Texas, the desert southwest or Big Sky country. Maybe they can be done at higher than normal speeds as that makes a big difference. I remember the days before the Double-Nickel fondly.

No matter what that day’s ride is going to be, I start early, stop at least every 100 miles or each hour for a break. I have a drink on the handle bar and some type of trail mix/nut/fruit stuff to munch while riding, and fruit or cheese in the cooler. You can spend a lot of quality time in the saddle and cover lots of miles but most folk who try to do long term consistent high mile days find that on day two or three their mileage has dropped almost 50%, and each succeeding day loses you an additional 10%.

So riding a bike like we’re talking is a skill that you can practice to suit your style and pace and “what” that days ride is really about. Be aware of your sleep and rest, eat well, stay hydrated, and take your breaks.

A tired and cranky rider is NOT a safe rider, so enjoy each ride safely, as part of each ride is the next ride.

Keep the shiny side up.




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