“I’d ride in your tail wind anytime.”
March 10th, 2013
My motorcycle friend, Debbie, said this to me on the first fuel stop of the second day of our Spring Break ride to Las Cruces, NM this last March. I was absolutely staggered someone should say something so profoundly nice about me.
What did I do to deserve that?
Well, it seems I have this habit. This compulsion to find the most forlorn and remote places I can find and then travel there. The thing is, besides being out in the middle of nowhere, many of these places are profoundly beautiful. Among those that have backpacked, camped or ridden with me over the years, my penchant for waking early and being deep onto the wilderness by dawn has become legendary. I have a knack for finding adventure.
I have always done this, however it has been only recently I have begun taking groups with me on these outings of mine. On every single trip we reach that point, usually by mid morning of the second day, when people start asking, “How did you find this place? How did you know this was here?” The answer is buried deep in my backpacker soul… topographical maps! Not a GPS navigation system… which I despise with a venom surpassed only by my complete disgust for cell phones. Not a danged Garmin, a Tom Tom or an iPhone… but plain old, 2-D, topo maps! Nothing compares… except maybe Google maps… which I absolutely LOVE! It’s like piloting a rover on Mars… remote control exploring. (Scotland and Northern Italy are two of my favourite places to explore.)
I am doing it again… nosing around in Google way too much. For those of you that want to explore in Google I have two points of advice.
- Find water… and choose the roads that follow along the water.
- Find ridgelines… and explore roads that crisscross high places.
Just to put this within some more meaningful context see the expanded map below.
Of course, how could I possible resist the visceral attraction of the Google street view feature? (clickable images)
This is the stuff my dreams are made of…
So it seems… for me at least, maps are critical to my well being.
As Tolkien wrote… “Not all who wander are lost.”
Some of us are just doing the best we are able, to manage the neurotic compulsions visited upon us by the life we have been dealt.
There are roads and roads… they call, can’t you hear it?
One of the coolest things about being a motorcycle owner/mechanic is that it allows me to unleash my totally obsessive compulsive nature in a positive way.
It’s driven by my compulsion to make all things new. To find the neglected and forgotten. Clean out the goo, the gunk and the dirt. To pick the debris out of the grooves of finely made machine parts with dental quality tools. To wipe, clean and burnish. To polish what needs to be polished. to paint what needs to be painted. To break loose frozen bolts, chase the threads and renew, replace the rubber and plastic parts. To drain, purge and refresh fluids. To add needed or overlooked modifications to make the bike more suitable to… well… to make the bike more suitable to me. My needs. Which I feel probably pretty much represents the desires of the average MC tourer.
My oldest sister once told me that motorcycles are like Barbie dolls for grown men. You mix, you match, you accessorize.
The problem is that generally speaking motorcycle parts are expensive. The level of attention to detail and the resourcefulness required to manage such repairs/restorations is considerable. I would attest that working on MC’s is similar in nature and skill required of the ladies I know who cook seriously… or quilt… or crochet. It is a craft… a hobby… a partially managed compulsion. A compulsion that sometimes has to be righteously and overtly indulged.
Witness here a few examples of the financial burden of owning two aging “classic” motorcycles.
I know it doesn’t look like much but this is a before and after image of what mother Honda calls the right hand fender cover for my 1996 Goldwing. Price: $145.00 + shipping. For a single 5″ wide painted plastic part! Many folks say; “Why not look for a used one on eBay?”
Well… I do concede that I spend a good deal of time browsing on eBay… looking for stuff that I need or stuff that someone I might know might need. But even amoung Goldwings, my Blue Ox is a rather unusual critter. It would seem my beloved Ox is the only Goldwing ever produced over a 30 year span, painted Crystal Pearl Blue. This makes plastic body parts on eBay extremely rare. In fact… in three years of steady looking I have never seen even one body part painted Pearl Blue for sale on ebay. Ever! I guess I could buy parts other colours and paint them to match… but that would entail buying factory colour-matched paint. The Ox, (as with most Goldwings) is a “candy/clear coat” finish. It’s a complicated process that requires a three stage painting process. The color matched paint is easily available but the cost is exorbitant. If I were to buy what I needed to paint one single part, I could easily clock up $200 or more just in paint.
This part… the one you are looking at here, sells regularly on eBay in any colour for about $90+. If you add what I would have to spend to repaint it to the correct colour, it could very likely be $250 bucks or more. Hence the reason I elected to pay mother Honda $149.00 for this. A plastic part the size of my hand that just randomly fell off my bike one day while I was riding.
“Don’t skimp on your mattress or your shoes.
If you’re not in one, you’re in the other.”
In the summer of 1977, I met some nameless guy on the trail in the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, NM. This encounter as with all my Philmont experiences, along with my mother’s advice changed my life forever. This “guy”… was wearing a pair of boots unlike anything I have ever seen on the trail… before or since. As a fledgling back country hiker, I asked him about his unusual choice of boots. At the time, I listened, collected and stored this data… into my limited and flawed mind:
- He described them as “paratrooper boots.”
- He told me they were cheap… available at any decent military surplus store.
- He told me good used ones were better than buying new ones. Used ones are already broke in.
Since then I have often ruminated upon this conversation. My little pea brain cobbled together this line of thinking. Gee.. if anyone out there knew anything about proper foot support under impact, and hiking under heavy loads, it was probably a manufacturer of paratrooper boots.
Decades rolled past… and yet I still remembered those boots.
Theses days we have this thingy called the internet. About six months ago I was thinking about the boots I first met on some long by-gone trail. Even with only the information in my three bullets listed above… five minutes later I had located the manufacturer and was browsing used offerings on Ebay.
Okay, to cut a long story short… it is totally amazing what $38.00 will buy on Ebay to the savvy bidder.
Today was quite possibly the best day I have ever had in west Texas… my best friend from Georgia is here, riding with us. (He’s the tall one in the near left center.)
Tomorrow… Marfa, Presidio, FM 170 and the National Park.
The hits just keep on coming! Clicky-clicky on the image for the gallery link…
If you are here looking for the Texas Horn Toads Spring Break 2012 registration page… click HERE!
As is typical about this time of year since almost before I can remember… my soul is longing for my desert homeland… again!
“It used to be I was really free
I didn’t need no gasoline to run
Before you could say Jack Kerouac
You’d turn your back
And I’d be gone
Now days I got two good wheels
I seek refuge in aluminum and steel
It takes me out there for just a little while
And the years fall away
With every mile
Back out on this road again
Turn this beast into the wind
There are those who break and bend
I’m the other kind
Steve Earle, 1991
Ya know, for a guy that likes his bike to be spotless, I surely do hate washing motorcycles. However, there are only four weekends left before spring break and the time has finally come to begin scraping the grime off my girls.
This is the wing, my beloved Blue Ox, about one third of the way done. I suspect I have about two more evenings of wiping and detailing yet. Spring break is coming! Whoo-hoo!
“Texas droughts end in Texas floods!”
In typical Texas fashion, an absolutely brutal hot and dry spell stretching back to October of 2010 was only marginally alleviated today by profoundly heavy weather.
Just after midnight, a massive Pacific storm rolled in and brought what my mother calls a “frog strangler.” Here in San Marcos we had over 6″ of total rainfall within a 12 hour period. One of the things about being so dry for so long is that it makes you lazy. This is an image of a bucket I had casually been using as a trash can behind the Culleycave.
It was completely empty and dry 24 hours ago…
Oddly… the ground is so dry, this has done little to nothing to end our 30+ inch 16 month drought. Mixed with the ash from the wild fires of last summer and fall… this is a real mess. A burnt ring in the course of future tree fossils. Another drastic and sudden environmental change laid down in the fossil record of this planet. We delude ourselves of our own importance.
I have said it before and I will say it again… anyone that doesn’t believe that climate change is indeed “real” needs to come to central Texas and hang out with me for awhile. The earth is changing… it is turning into a desert.