Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday the 13th

Rain gear required.
I awoke (September 13) to rain. What? My Iphone says it's only cloudy here and cool, 50s. I decided to wait a bit, drink coffee and play on Facebook in hopes that the rain would pass.

Nope.  Not passing.  More gear.
My Facebook account had a message for me that was sad and so unexpected. A friend of a friend had messaged me that our mutual friend, David Houston Brown, had passed on Sept. 10. I was shocked … it wasn't expected … it was heartbreaking. David and I went back a long ways, to grade school in Whittier, Alaska. We had reconnected through FB last summer and had a great friendship. He followed me on FB; I followed him and found him to be amusing, smart and witty. It was more than rain falling today.

The man and his music.
I realized the rain would not pass and I finally got suited up and on the road about 8 a.m. The entire summer on the road in the Lower 48 I've only had to suit up one other time (in Canada when I went to meet the Alaska Rogue Riders in late-August) and that was not for very long. This did not look to be shortlived. Sigh.

Rain makes me ride slower mostly, and that I did. I only had a little over 400 miles to do and I knew the rain wouldn't be for all day. Phoenix would be hotter than hot so whatever got wet would get dry.

I hit Magadalena, New Mexico. It was 59 degrees, and cold. I stopped for a photo. Up ahead I could see the sucker hole, blue sky surrounded by clouds. As I rode on there was more blue sky and I knew I'd be coming out of the rain and clouds. Then the clouds closed in again. 

No sucker hole here.
The rain only continued for about three hours or so. But it was still cold up on the plateaus. I still welcomed it because I knew once I came down to the flatland below about 60 miles out of Phoenix I'd be wishing for the cold again.

Out of New Mexico and into Arizona, I made Springerville. I texted Verlie that I was getting closer. More rain. Good grief. I'm so done with this. But it ended and I continued. I needed to be in Phoenix, so you just go on, rain or not. If it had been a monsoon, then I would have stopped. I've had to do that before and just go in on a Saturday morning, but this was just normal rain.

I got to Globe, about 80 miles out of Phoenix, called Joe and Verlie and gassed up for the last time. Joe said he might come and meet me. That would be nice although I really can find my way to their house.

Finally a little sun.
The ride from Globe is one of my favorite rides, out of Globe and down to the flats. The road has the curves and twists that a person on a bike likes, it has the beauty of the desert, red rocks and water, and the traffic usually isn't too bad. The flats are where the hot air greets you and I'm not fond of that.

Today's ride was a bit different. It started out great and I stopped to remove my raingear. I was overheating and the rain was gone although up ahead it didn't look promising. I was riding in my jeans and a denim, sleeveless vest. I didn't know where my long-sleeved shirt was and didn't want to bother looking for it.

Near Miami, Arizona, this shrine has been there for a long time.  People light candles and there are dozens of photos of lost loved ones.  Or maybe they've just lost their way.
At a roadside shrine I stopped to take photos … and in going closer realized I could do something I've not done before … light a candle for my friend, David.

I've not lit a candle for someone before.  A first for you, El David.
And then it got ugly. I got to ride the Salt River Canyon with its twists and turns in the rain. I pulled over to let other traffic go by as I didn't want to hold up others. I doggedly continued through the canyon. I shot out the bottom, rain coming down hard. I knew that just around the next corner I'd be out of it. Not. Okay, the next corner. No chance. Next one? Nope. I was taking a beating, freezing, rain (perhaps some hail) hitting my bare arms like needles. I was crouched down behind my windshield as my glasses were fogged up and I didn't want to take a raindrop in the eye. When would it end? It didn't for more than 30 miles.

The bottom of the hills and I blew out onto the flats … I was running hard through the rain now as I could see the blue sky ahead. Then out of the black clouds left behind me I saw a streak of silver, then copper and a white shirt. Wow, that must be Joe. Sure enough, he came flying by me. He passed, grinning and waving and I grinned back. Life was good … or would be in another mile or two when we got out of the rain.

The clouds behind us are best left behind.
Finally. We pulled over and chatted for a minute. He said he had to do a little dirt biking with his brand spanking new 2014 Ultra Classic Limited. He'd seen me and waved like crazy. I didn't see him. I was crouched down paying attention to the road. He crossed the median, sliding around in the dirt, up and over, throwing up gravel in a spray as he crossed over and ran 95 … he said he couldn't go faster as he was recovering from the dirt biking incident. Haha!!! He did it. He caught me.

Look ma, no hands.  Boy, I sure do hope his mama doesn't see this photo.
We ran home in sunshine with the temperatures rising to over a hundred. I'm glad I was so cold since it took a little while for the heat to get to me. By that time we were home, and Verlie had cooked spaghetti, my favorite food, and we had some excellent chat time. What a great day.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Five days and then two days until reality

The sun was coming up as I left JGayle's.  It was red, and gorgeous, although this photo does not do the beautiful morning justice.
Monday (September 9) was my day to head out of town, and I left about 6:30 a.m. when Jgayle left for work. While my ultimate destination for the week would be Phoenix and Joe and Verlie's, I had five days to get there. So I looked at the map and decided to head north … mostly in an effort to get away from the heat before I entered the blast-furnace bowels of hell called Phoenix. But part of the fun is also searching for green (scenic) roads.

You just never know what interesting things you'll find along the road.  There are a lot of metal sculptures and I could not photograph all of them.  But horses always draw me.
The south end of this north-bound horse was a radiator.  How unique is that? 
There are some strange ways to welcome folks riding through various towns.
The maps say Kansas has some green roads, so I decided to head in that direction. To get there I rode through some of Oklahoma. It's so desolate in some of these areas. When you stop the bike for a photo, out in the middle of nowhere and just stand there, the wind whistles across the plains and you can imagine how it was to be a pioneer … wandering through the country alone. It's much like that now on some of these secondary roads. Sometimes there's not even a cow, a horse, and seems like there's nothing living anywhere.

I was tired, or maybe I was just hungry since I'd not eaten since 5:30 a.m. and it was now 3:30 p.m. But I felt like an Iditarod dog who just wanted to lay down and say, okay, I'm done, and not go any further. I'm staying here. Maybe it was the desolation. It was just very strange to feel that way. I never feel like that about riding. Riding always cures what ails me.

On Tuesday (September 10), I was feeling some better and hit the road. I love riding alone, but yet, I'd ridden with friends so much this summer I guess I was missing that.

On the road by Buffalo, Oklahoma, I found a memorial. I like to stop at these and take photos because Hobbs knows then I'm thinking of him.

Memorials draw me and I photograph many of them in my travels.
Our freedoms come with the price of many.  Thank you.  Many countries would stone the likes of me.
This one's for you, Hobbs.  U.S. Marines, Vietnam.
The wind was nasty. There's nothing to stop it, or break it up … no trees, nothing.

Wind generators always attract me.  And in this part of the country there are lots of them.  Lots of wind and nothing to stop it from whistling through, or turning the blades of the generators.  It's hard to hear them, though, because of the wind.
I made Kansas easily. There's a green road up towards the north that loops around and I figured that would be the one to take. I decided to call my friend, Ruth, who lives in Topeka to see if she'd like to meet me. Sure, why not.

Ruth would come west, while I would go north then east and we'd meet in a town called Osborn. I never got a call saying what her arrival time would be (think we lost cell coverage), so while I knew she'd called me there was no message. I called and told her to call and leave a message. Then I just kept going, that little energizer bunny told me to keep moving, moving, moving.

Kansas has some not very well marked roads and I ended up making a few u-turns. Actually, I made quite a few of them until I got onto the road I needed. It was not nearly as scenic as I'd hoped. In fact, it was rather boring. Maybe I was comparing them to some of those in Missouri that were gorgeous and so fun to ride. I stopped and checked my voice mail … Ruth had called and was in Osborn. I called her and we decided on a meet place. I told her I was an hour or so out.

In the Heartland there's always equipment either next to the road or on the road.  I found both many, many times and so enjoyed seeing it.  John Deere rocks!!!
Then I was running hard, avoiding showers, hitting a few. Nothing slowed or stopped me, and I arrived at the meeting place in about an hour and 15. Pretty much what I'd figured.

Ruth had brought Penny, her little Silky. What a sweetheart. She rides on the back of her mom's bike and appears to enjoy it.

Penny's a feisty little thing ... and I don't know that she realizes she's just a little girl, not a big one.
We went and had a bite to eat and then wandered to the hotel to see if they'd let a little dog spend the night. Ruth hadn't really intended to spend the night but it had gotten late so the plan changed. The hotel let Penny in and had special rooms where you could have dogs. Yay!! Ruth bought a toothbrush and we were in occupancy.

Our pet-friendly room had the perfect painting ... a Beagle.
Getting ready for bed I realized I'd lost a favorite earring, one of a pair Jgayle had given me, little stars to remind me of my Texas friend. I wear them a lot when riding and it must have caught in my helmet strap in the wind. That made me unhappy. So I've put the other in a safe place. Otherwise, it was to an enjoyable evening that ended all too soon in sleep.

My favorite pair of riding earrings, and I'd lost one of them. 
Wednesday morning (September 11), a special day in the memory of Americans. As we got on the road, I said a little prayer for all of those who lost their lives or a loved one September 11, 2001. We will never forget.

Penny was in her space on her bike, ready to go.

Penny's doggles don't always stay on as she paws them off.  She did allow me to photograph her in them.

Lindsborg, Kansas, reminded me of my mom and her dad, Swedish heritage, with these horses.  My mom had some of them, the red ones, which I now have in my horse collection.

I preferred the green three-dimensional one more, but they were all beautiful.
I'd wanted to ride to Colorado and New Mexico, but the weather was not cooperative, so the plan changed. Glad I could be flexible for one more day. Ruth and I rode west and finished riding the so-called scenic route. Then we turned south then east and followed a fairly nice road to Council Grove. This is where we'd part company. A bite to eat then I turned south and Ruth continued on to Topeka.

When mom is riding slow, Penny sticks her head up.  When the speed increases she ducks and lays down.  Smart girl.  Notice that she's gotten her doggles off by this time?
I'd picked an excellent route south although I didn't know it at the time. Highway 177 south. It was the scenic road I'd been looking for and probably the most beautiful one in Kansas. It's got trees, green grass, rolling hills, lakes or rivers. Everything you want for a beautiful and easy ride.

Electrical workers sometimes make for a beautiful photo.
Riding along I noticed a group of cows all standing around either a round water trough or feeder. They were very busy doing what cows do, with their butts all facing out and their little tails wagging. It was cute and I'd have liked to take a photo but I needed to be within a thousand miles of Phoenix by nightfall so I didn't have a lot of time to stop for photos. I'd have two days to do the thousand.

This area had received a lot of water so there were trees in standing water.  It was beautiful, though.
I got to Augusta, near Wichita which put me in position, a little over a thousand miles away. I'd want to do a long day Thursday because Friday going into Phoenix and the heat would be brutal.

By the time I reached my stopping point I was riding nearly past sunset, which I don't like to do, but I did need the photo.
 Thursday (September 19) it was cold and I needed my gloves and hoodie. I could have used my chaps and electrics for a while but was too lazy to drag them out of the saddlebag.

It was an interesting day of riding. There were clouds and showers all around, but I mostly avoided them, as the roads would turn away from them almost all the time, or I'd ride under rain clouds that had already dropped their precipitation. At one point I started running into some real heavy weather and turned back a mile or two and decided to take a lunch break. By the time I'd finished lunch, the rain had moved on. A shower or two was inevitable, but there wasn't anything that soaked me, or even caused mild discomfort.

With the clouds and not much sun, the sunflowers couldn't decide which way to face.
I saw two 18-wheelers pull U-turns on four-lane roads. I was behind the first one when he pulled way over to the right, then started going left through the pass through and onto the two-lanes on the other side. What? I'd never seen that before. And then, much to my surprise, the other 18-wheeler up ahead did the same thing. All I could figure is they were together and were going the wrong direction. It made me feel good to know it's not just me that's directionally challenged. Guess it's to be expected. I'm on the truck route. Here a truck; there a truck; everywhere lots of trucks.

No matter where I've ridden this summer there's been construction of some sort.
More riding and then I came upon yet something else … two train engines and their accompanying cars sitting side-by-side on the tracks. It looked as though they were ready to race. Another photo op missed.

Passing through a town there was a four-way-stop, two lanes of traffic going each way. I sat in one lane with a truck next to me. Each of the other three stop signs had two trucks, one in each lane. It was another interesting situation as I watched the trucks turn or go straight, each waiting their turn. I don't expect to see that again.

I even found some red rock in Kansas although it was hard to see with the clouds.
I've passed a few Harley shops in the past few days. Guess I've finished because I've not even been tempted to stop. Who knew you could max out visiting shops on a road trip? I'm living proof!!!

Dalhart, Texas. I sure wouldn't want to live there. It must be the feedlot capital of the United States. As I rode through there were feedlots on both sides of the highway, with thousands and thousands of cattle in the pens. Ugh!! The smell is overpowering and I don't know how folks can stand it. It's bad enough when cattle haulers go by but it's only for a moment or two. This went on for a mile … nasty. But I'm still eating burgers.

And there's always some interesting roadside attraction.
I had a great day of riding nearly 700 miles without getting soaked, finishing in Mountainair, New Mexico, at a high altitude and a small motel that was motorcycle friendly. I had two rooms with a bed in each, a desk and chair, a kitchenette and a nice bathroom. What a find.

A little television and some pistachio nuts and I was in heaven. Although it started raining prior to me shutting out the light I figured it's okay that it rains at night when I'm in for the evening. Hopefully it would pass as I had a bit over 400 miles to finish on Friday.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

What to do in Texas ...

What to do in the Lone Star State?
I overslept Saturday (September 7), and didn't get up until nearly 8 a.m. That's late for me. It was nice to just sit and relax, drinking coffee. But I desperately needed a haircut so we got ready and headed to JGayle's local beauty salon. I got my hair cut by Fancy. Yep, that really is her name. I asked, Reba? Nope. The original song by Bobbie Gentry, remade by Reba.

Fancy gave me a haircut I love, very, very short. Of course, since then I think one young girl told her mom she thought I was a guy, and another called me sir!! HAHA!! I still like the hair cut.

Fancy hair ... short, short, short!!!
Which reminds me … on Friday heading to JGayle's I saw a couple of interesting things … a first, I think, was a guy coming out of a ladies room. As he passed me, he said, “Sorry. I couldn't wait!” Well, I could certainly relate to that since I was about in that position waiting for someone, him, it turns out, to come out of the women's room. I'd been contemplating the men's room. No damage done, though.

And then, I was in a convenience store, and saw a haircut Hobbs could relate to … a VERY bad one, like Hobbs got from me. This one went up and down in the back, to a point on one side, and then it was cut up over the ears about two inches on either side. Are you kidding me? I had to laugh to myself but as the guy drove away with some other guy, it was a pick up like my dad had years ago in the 70s or 80s, a green and white Chevy. Memories.

JGayle has great taste.  She bought a gift for her brother.  Top of the line.
Anyway, back to business. We just ran around, running some errands. Jgayle needed some dirt for the foundation around her house which was pulling away due to the heat. So off we went to the nursery to get the dirt.

What she did NOT tell me is that the nursery guy's wife has a boutique, Brown Eyed Girl. I might be off the Harley-Davidson motorcycle-riding shopping tour, but now Jgayle was moving me on to the girly-girl shopping spree.

Need I say more?
Jewelry galore, clothes like you've never seen, embellished hats, oh wow. And then the sales person from hell stepped in, the one that makes you want everything, the one that will go and find whatever it is you think you need to match something else you've chosen. Her name is Isabelle. And she was a master of sales. But you sure couldn't hate her she was so very, very nice. No hard sell. Just extremely helpful.

Isabelle, JGayle and the Brown Eyed Girl (yes, I know her real name, but like this better).
The Brown Eyed Girl is a tall, duh, brown eyed girl, and there comes the shop name. She and Isabelle were friendly, personable and felt like friends after we'd been there a bit. They are one-of-a-kind.

The three of us.
It also did not hurt that The Brown Eyed Girl adopts animals. Currently she has dogs, some chickens and who knows what else. I met Barney, an adoptee who meets and greets everyone who comes into the shop. He likes to have his tummy rubbed and barks at you when you stop, usually. He did not that day when I moved on to do other things … probably because there were so many people coming and going he was very busy meeting and greeting.

Barney.  He's better than any WalMart greeter.
There are items in this shop I've not seen elsewhere. Jgayle and I had so much fun trying on things, saying yea or nay. I did not buy the cute little sneakers or shoes but I so wanted a pair because they were just so unique. We must have been in there for two hours, and I can tell you … we came out with way more than just dirt. Dirt. Sure. Suckered me in on that one. What a great time we had, though.

We had been in a special duo of businesses and the experience was fun. I mentioned to Jgayle that the rapport shes developed with the small-business owners in the area is truly awesome. That comes because she prefers to shop local and so it's fun to go those places.

If you want to check it out, she's on Facebook, Brown Eyed Girl Inside Ron's.

Shopping can be very exhausting so we had to have a bite, and then, of course, followed it up with Braum's. I'm thinking I could be their poster child.

Texas Roadhouse ... one of my favorites and I have JGayle take me there every time I visit.
On Sunday we invited Jgayle's neighbor, Charlie, to go riding with us. He'd recently bought a Harley, a Heritage Softail, and so he was game. We rode out a ways and what do you know, found a gun shop. We thought it was pertinent to visit it because Jgayle needed some ammo. Wouldn't you know they'd have an indoor shooting range? We figured we should take advantage so we ran hoodlum back to the house, dropped off the bikes, grabbed guns, ammo, ear and eye protection, hopped into the hot red Caddy and hightailed it back to the range.

Targets are set up at whatever footage you want them to be.

Geared up ... eye protection, ear protection.  Let's shoot something.

This is one Texas lady you do NOT want to mess with.

It had been a while since I'd shot this piece.

I may not have hit the head every time, but you can bet this guy would have been ducking!
Shooting becomes all women. It empowers you, it gets rid of anxiety and stress, and is at least as good as playing defense on a hockey team (which is also wonderful as a stress-releaser). We didn't practice long, but we sure had a good time.

Charlie.  I thiink he enjoyed the time he spent with us, but we are kind of a handful ...
Then as once again, shooting builds up an appetite, we hit a barbecue place as I had a craving, and then dropped Charlie off. I think he was a bit tired out by all our gallivanting. We are a lot to handle together … double trouble plus!!!

We stopped by Williams Square which is where JGayle works.

The horse sculptures in the square are breath taking.

They look like they will come alive at any moment.

And there's always room for a little horseplay.
And by the way, I saw gas at $3.29 near Mesquite, Highway 80 and Belt Line.