Thursday, June 26, 2008

The best invention EVVVVER!

No, really! 

DRAGON(fly) Slayer

I killed 3 Dragons (okay, they were dragonflies) today. It is very disturbing to see a yellowish/greenish-blue ichor the size of a baseball appear on the windscreen. The first one gave me pause - I didn't know what it was that I hit. The second one hit the lip of the windscreen and "sprayed" me right in the face of my open helmet. Very good thing that I ride with my mouth closed... You can't imagine how much juice is in a dragonfly until one hits your sunglasses!

Perhaps Daria and Michael can tell me why all the local (NOLA) weather guessers state that there will be a 50% chance of rain every day. They need to grow a pair and just say that it is going to rain or it isn't. What is up with 50%? That is about as accurate as if I flipped a coin to tell the weather. It seems like what the weather gurus do here. I have brought the rain gear and not been rained on. Then I leave the rain gear and get caught in a Tsunami. What gives? Now I just take everything with me all the time.
I have finally discovered a use for hair dryers... and as you have guessed, (it isn't for the "skullet" that I am thinking of growing. Can you imagine me with a "skullet"?) ... it is now a good way to dry my jeans after I get caught in the rain. Usually riding until my clothes are dry is the method of choice... not so easy when it doesn't stop raining.
Perhaps in my ardor to make it to Alaska by August, I neglected to look into weather patterns of Texas, New Orleans and the South (NOLA is not the South - it is much too gentile to be the South - perhaps more intelligent than the South).
Pic 1: Typical sight along the way. Always a drive thru with whatever you may need
Pic 2: That is one fine looking fountain!!! Even better looking inside where it is beer flowing freely
Pic 3: LaFitte's Blacksmith Shop - the oldest continuous drinking establishment in NO. The place is still lit by candles, but they have found a way to get electricity to power the refrigerators and the TV.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Come on... Ireland?

Ok, it was amusing that I was mistaken about being from New York. I had a good laugh about it. I am a bit perplexed about today's case of mistaken identity... Ireland. When the waitress said that she hoped I would come back again, I told her that I doubted I would get back this way again (even if I did, the service was crap). Her response was, "Your accent is strange. Where are you from, Ireland?" I couldn't think of anything else to say other than, I have no accent and I sound like people on TV and the movies. She seemed very perplexed at that. I didn't tell here that I thought she had an accent (She is was about the most Cajun person I have met so far), but I made it very clear that her IQ was 10 points lower because of what she said.

The first situation I just attributed to her being from Texas. And Scott, before you get all uppity and defensive about that comment, let me just state that I now know where you get all that hot air. Shit, when Texas doesn't suck... it blows! What a crazy hot place to travel in. I don't know what is worse, West Texas where the roads don't curve and there isn't a tree in sight? Or, Central Texas where the roads don't curve and there isn't a tree in sight. Perhaps it is South Texas where the roads do curve (a little) and there isn't a tree in sight AND it is humid. Actually, Houston was about the time that Texas started looking better - yeah, I know that Austin is the best place in Texas, but I didn't make it this time so I didn't include it. I did like the area around Katy and some of the other areas that I road through.

And THEN I come to a place called Galveston. Sure, it is a beach community close to a large metropolis, but what the fuck is up with the 3 pyramids? It really doesn't compute for me. I never did see the Sphynx, but I did see plenty of chain restaurants. That seems to be all that Texas has. 

 I never thought that I would say that I was immensely happy to cross into Louisiana. What a nice change of pace! Other than the folks from Leesville that I worked with in Iraq, I have nothing but good from LA. It would be a place I could consider living in... Even my bike looks happy as it leaves Texas (no offense to my friends that live there).

I found the axe to be a bit of a puzzle. Don't you usually need the axe to break the glass. Aren't these the axes used in case someone needs to go on a murder spree or just kill a bunch of teenagers at a remote lake wearing a mask. And why frame it? Are they celebrating the fact that it has been used before?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

New York

Things that make me go, "hmmmm!"

Upon checking into the hotel tonight, the front desk clerk asked me, "What part of New York are you from?" 
My reply was simply, "The Denver part." 

To which she answered, "Your accent doesn't sound from the mid-west, you must work with people from New York."

When did Colorado fall into the category of "mid-west"? 

Friday, June 20, 2008

Memories of a small island

There is something about coming to Corpus Christi that will always stir up memories of family. As I rode into town and across JFK Bridge onto Padre Island I couldn't help but think about the last few times I was here. There aren't many words that can describe how I felt coming over the bridge but I might start with nostalgic, lost or perhaps just sad. As I pulled up to my parent's old house I was filled with all the memories of the times I had spent here. Whenever I have come back here it feels incomplete. Perhaps because I don't have closure on this part of my life. Perhaps it is something else... 

My goal was to come here, sort out some issues that I have let slide for several years and retrieve a few belongings that I left here and mail them home. Unfortunately, I didn't have the right keys to the house and couldn't get in. This means that I will have to come back when I am done with my trip or I'll fly back here sometime after the Alaska leg. I am guessing that I will have to sort everything out before I go into Mexico. At least I know what I have to do and how long it will take and that I will have to plan to be here during the week, not the weekend. 

Once I left Denver I entered the world of "closing time". Nothing like being in a town full of chain restaurants (Chili's, Joe's Crab Shack, Outback, Applebee's, etc...) that close by 10:00 PM, but some close as early as 9. Not that I would be dining after 10, but I WOULD be looking for a beer at that time. Even the hotel on the beach closes at 10 - that is just ludicrous!

Now that I have made it to CC and done what I could, I feel as if I am about to just start the trip when I leave here tomorrow morning. The rest of the trip is a series of destinations, not a 1200 mile trip just to get to the first destination. Since Denver, my goal was to get to Corpus Christi. From here on out I will be taking my time, seeing the sights, not pushing on even when I am tired. I don't plan on riding 400 miles a day until I get to Canada, well... perhaps a day or two in Florida, but I may want to stop and see what is there (or skip the peninsula all together and save it for another day.

I don't know if anyone caught the small article in one of the papers the other day, but it struck me as one of the most ludicrous things that I have ever heard of. Officials in St Paul, MN plan to mix contraceptives with bird feed to reduce the local pigeon population and clean up the streets. Their claim is that they (the pigeons) make the buildings and the streets dirty when they crap all over them. This is being paid for by the tax payers... what next? Drilling for oil on our beaches? A Tea Cup Museum? A Mule Museum? (those last two REALLY were funded by they tax payer and ARE actual museums now).

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

President Above

Odd thing about taking a road trip, you just never know how far you are going to get. As much as you think you can get another 100 miles, there is always something that comes up to set you back. The first day was lack of sleep the night before, the second day was a late start, the third day - well I did pretty well the third day. The fourth day I got jacked up by the heat. There is nothing more draining than 100 degree wind hitting your face and wicking away the sweat before it cools you down. I just couldn't make the last 100 miles to Corpus Christi so I stopped some place that looked like it had good AC. 

My whole goal is not to find myself riding all day like I have been. The goal is to see the sights, but since there aren't any sights in Texas (I haven't been through the Austin area on this trip, so I am aware that there is some beauty in this dog-forsaken state) I am just trying to get through to CC and then Houston as fast as I can. 

I do suppose that I have done a few things more than sit on my bike and ride. I had a few beers with a truck driver that had a political opinion about everything and even had an amusing idea about running for president. His idea is to legally change his name to "None of the Above". That way he would always be on the ballot and with a poor selection of candidates he might have a chance to be elected. He was a good drinking buddy, but then again, I heard the same thing about our current president. Both have about the same amount of common sense and intelligence...well, actually the truck driver might be a bit sharper than Bush.

As keen as I am to be camping out, there is something about riding all day in the heat and then setting up a tent to sleep in the heat. If there was a single tree between Raton, NM and San Angelo (other than the scrub oak), I might have considered it. Instead I have stayed in some flea bag motels. Some have been decent, others had cockroaches that were bigger than my bike. Here is a word of advice to all of you that have travelled and will travel...turn on the lights when you get up in the middle of the night to pee. You may end up like me and have to clean the bug juice from betwixt your toes. 

Jedi-Jack...if you are reading this I have one question for you. Latte!? WTFO! I come to visit you in Houston and you want to go get Lattes! I know it was the morning, but a LATTE? I suppose you could've said an iced, soy, caramel, mochacino and I might not be surprised. I find it more than slightly amusing that the toughest marine I know would suggest getting lattes. This is the same marine that used to tell his staff that he would stab them in the eye as a motivational technique. The same marine that I would think twice about fucking with. Ah shit! I forgot rule #1 and didn't think twice - I am not very smart sometimes!

Miles rolling onward
Blistering heat nauseates
Sweat rolls down my back

Sunday, June 15, 2008

It begins...

So far this trip has had several beginnings, one start of this journey began years ago with the spark of an idea to ride a horse across the Silk Road, then it morphed into sailing around the world on a 45' Ketch and now it is Denver to the East Coast of the US to New Brunswick, Canada to Prudhoe Bay, AK then onto Ushaia, Argentina and back (or beyond). 

This is probably the best of the three choices since I know where to put the fuel on a motorcycle and would be hard pressed to be able to keep a horse fed and watered and my sailing experience is just a 24 day trip from Auckland, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia as "crew". That meant that I did everything to support the trip except actually sailing the boat. Sure, I held the wheel, trimmed the sails and learned tons, but I know about as much about sailing as I do about horses. Perhaps one day I will own that boat and sail around the world, but not is all about day 1.

Short version of my planning is that from the time I got a new bike, to replace the one that my brother "lost" one year while I was away, until now, I have been trying to find the most multi-purposed items to take that will streamline what I bring. I feel as if I am bringing the bare bones stuff, but when I look the bike fully loaded I have to question that. In the next few days I have to repack, review and pitch if I can't use it or is duplicate (not to be confused with redundant).

I need the tent and sleeping bag. I need all the camp stuff. I need clothes. I need the tools and spare parts I put together. That is about 3/4 of what I am taking. What I don't need are the cameras and my fishing gear. I don't need the two books I brought with me. I also don't need the computer and the MP3 player. I just can't imagine not taking pictures, not fishing in Alaska and Patagonia and Maine and Canada and Belize and... I also can't imagine having a book to read or music to listen to. I suppose I could chuck the computer, but it allows me to edit the photos I take and write. I have also copied all the manuals for the cameras onto the hard drive. I have videos of a tire change, a clutch overhaul, tune up and other maintenance needs in lieu of a shop manual. It is also my map.

It is funny to think that this is all that I will have for the next 9 or more months to keep me entertained or keep me warm and dry. When you look at it like that, I am not bringing much. Some people would skip the SLR camera and stick with the compact point and shoot - after all, some point and shoot cameras are solid cameras on their own. I wanted the SLR because I don't have to get close to the bears in Alaska or Jaguars in Central America, I can stand at a safe distance and "shoot" them without scaring them off. No sense in becoming something's lunch by getting too close. 

The fishing gear is for those once in a lifetime fishing holes that I might find in Maine, Canada, Alaska, Patagonia or even Belize for bonefish. 

There is one thing that I would like to point out among what I am bringing along. It may be the most important thing in my kit. If you focus on the upper right hand portion of the top picture you may see...and no, I am not talking about the toothpaste (although oral hygiene is high on my list).

(One note about the photos - you should be able to click on them to enlarge them.)