Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 4, Little things revisited.....

    More little things.....wow.....  If you get enough little things, the big things get drowned out and you don't even notice them anymore.  This trip started kind of odd for me.  The night before we left I got an odd urge to look up my old friend Russell on the internet.  I do it every once in a while, but I don't look that hard.  This time I found him.  A part of me kind of wishes I didn't.  It turns out he died in 2009.

    Russell was a very good friend, a surrogate big brother, a very good mentor.  We spent a lot of time travelling, partying, and doing things best not committed to paper.  He fell off the map back in 1994 when I moved to Austin and he moved out of state.  He was a tattoo artist and a biker.  One of the things I always thought of when I travelled was that I could run into him at any random Denny's or coffee shop, or gas station somewhere in the country.  Maybe we would be going the same direction and ride together, maybe we would just ride off in different directions.  There is a slight possibility that he may even punch me in the mouth for not keeping in touch better.  Either way, that was always a possibility that was ahead of me when I started my bike.  I started off this trip with a bit of sadness over that new discovery.  This time I knew for a fact that I would not run into him in somem dive restaraunt.  The Kel summed it up best when she called him Shrodenger's Biker.  If not observed, he is both alive and dead, around the next curve, or not.....  Now I know.  He is not. 

    This would have been a sad moment for me, but while we were riding the Talimena Skyway we were passed by a pair of riders.  One on an old Moto Guzzi, one on a newer R1200GS.  We let them pass at the beginning of the ride because we were going fairly slow.  We actually met up with them at a scenic overlook and chatted for a few minutes, but let them go ahead of us because we didn't want to slow down ther pace.  We eventually got in to the Queen Wilhelmina Park Lodge, and started getting gear off so we could hit the restrooms and get some lunch.  About that time, those same two guys pulled up and started shucking gear.  I got to talk to the guy on the GS for a bit.  It turns out that the guy on the Guzzi is a bit older and much more experienced rider, the guy on the GS was younger and fairly new.  The older guy was leading the trip and showing all of the out of the way places, and fun that could be had, and the younger guy was following along trying to absorb everything as fast as possible.  That was when it dawned on me that even though Russel died, he really wasn't dead.  He is still out there in the form of every other pissy old biker that is pulling a rookie around with him showing him how to squeeze a bit of fun out of life. 

    After we got inside to get a table, they were totally empty except for one couple.  I dumped my gear on the table to hold our spot.  When we got a good look at the other couple in the restaraunt, it turns out that it was The Kel's Dad and his travelling companion.  500 miles away from home, in an empty restaraunt, and who do we see?....Dad.....wow.....talk about a bit of exploding head syndrome.  We ended up spending much longer at lunch than we expected, and then took a bit shorter route back to the hotel.  Very good roads up here, must come back soon.

    To close it out, we are heading back early.  Our house alarm has been going off every day at 5:30.  No idea why, but it has.  Today was the third false alarm in a row.  It is going to take us 2 days to get home, but that means we will just have one more false alarm before we get there.  Then we can figure out what is up with it.  This is where the little things come in.  Most people would see ending a vacation early as a disaster.  It does kind of suck out loud.  Either way, I got some awesome riding in, saw some beautiful scenery, met some awesome people, and closed out a chapter of my life.  I guess now instead of looking forward to running into Russel on the road somewhere, I should just look forward to turning into a slightly shorter version of him.  I guess that is a fair trade on some level.  Who knows? 

Here is the video for today:

Some footage from my bike.....

Some footage of The Kel

Here is the picture set for today:

Here is the route for today:

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Day 2 and 3

     Yesterday we just kind of poked around Paris, TX.  Kel had never seen the Texas Eiffel Tower or the Jesus in cowboy boots.  I got a few pics, they are up on yesterday's entry.  Today we are in Poteau, OK.  The ride up was pretty much straight through the center of the Choctaw Nation.  There is some very nice scenery up here.  When I get a bit of time, I am going to put some video up of the ride today.  The video is kind of shaky, but it isn't bad.

     We ended up fighting some wind today, but it was worth it.  Tomorrow we are going to explore the Ouachita National Forest.  That will be cool.

     The best part about the ride today was the fact that my mind has finally cleared.  The noise has finally died down and I got the chance to just hang out in my head and not think about anything but the ride.  Basically, we hit the break over point.  It will take us more than one day to get home no matter what we do.  That means we are gone.  I like that.

     This morning in Paris, we hit the cold front.  We rolled out at about 65 degrees.  After a couple months of 100+ degree days, that was downright chilly.  We actually pulled our wind liners out for our jackets.  They didn't stay on past about noon, but that is not the point.  WE USED THEM!!!!!!!  YAY!!!!!!

     Here is todays route.

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Day 1, a bit late.......

Day One,

    It was a very nice ride today.  We managed to get out of Austin about 8:30 or so.  Road trips have a tendency to take on a theme.  Regardless of what you try to force on it, it will develop on its own.  I have a sneaking suspicion that this trip has already picked its theme.....The little things.

    When I first started riding, I really enjoyed the fact that once you get moving you are on your own.  The only things that really matter are the day to day events that affect whether or not you get home alive.  All of the stuff at home, all of the stuff at work, all of the silly stuff that pollutes your brain and distracts you from just being alive.  When you ride, especially for distance, your entire life is on the bike.  One minute you are admiring the view, the next minute a deer comes out of the brush and sends you sliding down the road.  Any little thing can get you.  Things as small as a bird hitting you or an odd little crease in the the asphalt are all it really takes.  Understanding this, and accepting it, gives you a sense of freedom from the daily noise and lets you really think with a clear head. 

    Getting your brain into this mode makes you notice little things.  The little things that could be deadly, the little things that could be a trip ender, or little things that make you laugh so hard you total your underwear.  Today was all about the little things.  The Kel blew the zipper on her riding pants, she also lost the back half of the sole from a boot.  We also ended up getting trapped for about 15 miles behind a truck pulling a mobile home that was shedding insulation the whole way.

    Now we are sitting in Paris, TX.  Tropical Storm Lee is hitting the gulf coast and making a big mess with high winds and heavy rain.  Our plan is to spend the day around here and shoot some pictures locally.  Then on Monday, we will look how the weather is doing and see where we want to go.  I will get some pics up tomorrow, right now, it is time for bed.

Here is the route for today:

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Here are some pictures:


Have fun,