Monday, September 29, 2008

Chance encounters

"The pool is open!"

All the divers know what I mean by that...

I am not sure how many of you have seen these videos or have heard about Matt "Where in the Hell is Matt" (a guy that has gone around the world dancing). I have listed a couple of links here (I think the second one is 2007 and first is 2008) for your enjoyment AND I thought I would play a little game. As you can see below, I have a number next to my name. That number represents each place that Matt has been that I have also been to. I am not talking about the country, but the actual city or town. 

Feel free to share your results... or don't. It is just for entertainment purposes, but if you have less than 5 on the first and 10 places on the second, it is mandatory that you should go out and, either get a passport OR get a plane ticket somewhere. Get out and see stuff!

If all goes as per plan, I can add a good half dozen to a dozen new places on this trip alone. Come out and play:-)

Bret = 25 of the places that Matt has danced
Bret = 19 of the places that Matt has danced''

Wine country... pardon all the underexposed or grainy photos for this post. They are not what I consider worthy, but...

Now keep in mind, Matt hasn't danced in all the places that I have been, nor have I been to all the places that he has been to, but these videos have given me new places to look into. I don't feel a need to compete with someone on travel, but if you have seen the push-pins in the maps in my office at home you can see that I do keep tabs of where I have been, I am just of the belief that it is important to experience as many places and things as one can before he (or she) is laid to rest. 

Wow! How civilized is that? "Laid to rest"... how very organic and politically correct! Why do we not say what we mean without descending into the "soft" cliche or tidy little words? Is it out of fear of death? I for one feel it best to live without the thought of the inevitable. When does it become time to start thinking of "that" time? Do we celebrate a long life by waiting until we are of the age of George Burns who had a spectacularly long, cigar-filled life, and was able to gather his thoughts of his dying, or do we lament the shortness of a person's life as we should Daniel Pearl's who was kidnapped and killed in Karachi, Pakistan without much planning whatsoever? Should we say, "rough air" when we really mean "turbulence"?

Either way, both men chose a way of life that was suited for their comfort levels and a desire to experience those things that challenged them. Perhaps they both were able to realize that they lived in the way they were meant to and had satisfaction in that at the end. It is hard to think that Daniel Pearl had satisfaction, but I hope that he was at peace with his life at the time of his execution. 

Whoa! Don't get me wrong. I am not at all thinking on the end of my life so early, but the celebration of living the way that one choses is of utmost importance. That was reaffirmed this weekend upon meeting some living legends and others of their/my ilk. More on that in future posts. 

After almost four months on the road, the many amazing people met, the many miles ridden and many gallons of wine, beer and whiskey that have passed my lips, I  have found a renewed passion for my trip. The person in the center wearing the blue shirt is Ted Simon who, in 1973 got on a motorcycle for the first time and rode around the world for 4 years ending in 1977 during a time when the world was a little less connected and riding a motorcycle around the world was not a regular occurrence. 
I randomly stumbled across this motorcycle rally during a phone conversation while booking my 18,000 mile service. Isso, the Service Manager for BMW of San Francisco told me that people were going to camp out, have barbeque and do a short ride and it would all start at the Rio Nida Roadhouse which was just 14 miles from where I was staying in Sonoma. 
It was great to talk with folks that are familiar with the challenges that I have been through and the issues that I will have as I continue. It was also amusing that I had read some blogs of a few of the folks that were here. Go Darth Peach!!! Keep riding girl! I love the posts and the photos!

More to come...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Highway 1

It truly is hard to find my way off the dirt roads and back to the pavement, but I really want to get to the coast. Perhaps tomorrow...
Before tomorrow came, I found a "drive thru tree". I had looked for the other two that are still in existence (a fourth fell a few years ago), but since I didn't have a good map for them and I was too busy having fun, I just kept going. Too bad I didn't have a bit more light...
Ahhh... Mendocino! What a quaint little town, it made me think of the Alfred Hitchcock movie, "Birds". I should have walked around a bit and shopped. I should have also eaten here. Perhaps I should have stayed a few days. Instead, I ate a handful of cashews, some beef jerky, a banana and the last of my water while overlooking the water. It seemed the thing to do at the time.
Somewhere down the coast I stopped again because some f*ck was riding my *ss (he could have at least pulled my hair!) and wouldn't get off it. Good thing I did. This part of the coast is interesting enough that you could stop almost every mile to look at something new.
My white balance wasn't set correctly, but I did like this view of the road below so much that I didn't want to part with it. It is a small example of how twisty the coastal route (1) is. What a treat!!!
Ahhh, wine country. This was a vineyard in the Russian River hills.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tall trees and blue oxen

I fully expected Barney to come out asking Andy where his bullets were. Cars just aren't made this way anymore. 
No motor homes or trailers allowed on these roads through the Redwood National Forest. It may be obvious why to some, but by the looks of some of these trees lining the road, there are still a few people driving that don't read the signs and get stuck.
What a view on the coast! This is what I was thinking of when I think Oregon coast. Craggy rocks, jutting from the floor of the ocean with waves crashing overtop. Perhaps it is the clear, sunny skies that does it for me and was absent while riding through Oregon. 
I just don't seem to feel the need for pavement these past 70 or so miles. Sure, I could ride the main route, but when it is so amazing here... why would I want to?
Paul Bunyon and Babe are definitely on scale with the Redwoods that surround them. Even still, they are dwarfed by all but the smallest of these trees (as is my bike).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Real life

I have traveled 18,000 + miles on this trip so far and I am running into realities that I never thought I would bump into. Those realities are the ever glaring unresolved issues I was working on before I left Denver and had assigned an attorney to help sort out. As with anything that is complicated enough to involve an attorney, this one is just not going away. Perhaps I will have better information in the next few weeks and I will be able to continue on. If things can't be resolved from the road, I may have to head for home. 

I also have some banking issues in Texas that need resolution - stuff that I thought I had taken care of when I was there, but I have been embrangled in a flurry of notary, ID and certified documents for the past three months and seem no closer to sorting out the issue. It may take a quick flight to Corpus Christi to finalize this stuff.

All of that is just emphasized by the current financial crisis that we are enmeshed in. With the US in a panic and no solution in sight, I am feeling a concern growing that I am avoiding my realities and should be paying a little more attention to what is going on in the stock market. Every time I hear someone speak on this crisis, I want to strangle them. Not a single person has touched on the singular reality that we need to create regulations for WORLD banking. I keep hearing "national" regulations on financial institutions. This is a "global" problem and we cannot miss that.

That leads into the upcoming election - I have not seen my absentee ballot come across my email. I will NOT not vote in this election. This one is too important to me to ignore. If the candidate that I don't think is right for the job is elected, I plan to liquidate, sell my house and move to a country less offensive to my intelligence level. Of course, if my candidate is elected, it will restore my faith in country and the intellect of the people. (You will know who I voted for after the election by the country that I reside in)

What all this means...

If, in the next month, I can sort out what I have been trying to sort out for the past two and a half months with little success, (granted, I have been in places that are a little less than ideal {Alaska, The Yukon, Etc...} for electronic banking  and business support.) I will continue. If I cannot, I will be heading home. I will just have to reschedule the rest until I can sort everything out.

I hate reality sometimes;-)

The Oregon Coast

As promising as the coast of Oregon was, I just never got any "take your breath away" moments like I thought I would. Sure, there were some nice places, but they were only doubles and triples - no home runs.

Another Oregon disappointment was that fires blocked my route to Crater Lake, and when I went around the smoke and clouds made it impossible to see into the lake, so it was a complete wash... Time for California and the Redwood Forest...

Friday, September 19, 2008


What should I say about Seattle that most of you already don't know? It is grey and overcast in the winter and sunny and hot in September. It seems that I am always here in September! 

I have a ritual every time I come here and it never seems to vary. I have a dozen oysters and whatever is on the special at Elliots and a dozen oysters and whatever fish is on special at Brooklyn's. Why oysters? Well, for one I like them and secondly, they are so fresh at either of these places. 

When I was in Charlottestown on Prince Edward Island the oysters at Cladagh Oyster Bar were identified by the bay and region then separated on the menu by bay.
For instance the Malpeques were separated by the bay they were farmed in. When you order them in PEI you order by the bay, not by the region like you would in Denver, Houston or New York. In each of those places you would order Malpeques and get whatever of the bays they had on hand... they could come from any of the 12 or so bays that consist of the Malpeque region, but each bay has a distinct flavor and just as the the Kumamotos might have a, firm texture and a rich creamy flavor with a finish that is buttery-sweet and mildly fruity and just a hint of briny flavor, while a Penn Cove oyster might be crisp, have a briny flavor and a fresh finish. Anyway, I think you get my feel about fresh oysters. Unfortunately, all oysters are not created equally. While in Sonoma I had some fresh bay oysters and while nice, sweet and briny, they were barely more than a thin slime on a shell. Tasty, but not all that complex.

WOW! Enough on the oysters! 

What is the main thing that Seattle is known for? Well, you'll have to settle for the Pike Street Fish Market sign and accept that I realize that everyone knows what the Space Needle looks like and then move on.
Damnit! Would someone put the stopper on the plug that fills the Puget Sound? I seem to have taken this photo at an angle that makes it look like this ferry will slide into the drain.
There is something about a sunset over the Olympic Peninsula that can make one's evening complete. What a spectacular evening. Too bad the whole year doesn't offer up this faire - there might be less depressed people in Seattle during the bleak, grey winters.
I found this sculpture immensely intriguing. It was created from a myriad of motorcycle parts from all brand, makes and models of motorcycles. The artist even threw in a pistol (I think it is a Magnum "Baby Eagle") along the opposite jawline.  Look at all the pipes, cogs, tanks and fenders that might look at home on any bike on the road. The creativity of people never ceases to amaze me.
Nor does the destruction of man... The clear cutting in Washington was worse than I have ever seen it. It is also worse than what I saw in Quebec and Ontario. For some reason the Canadians seem to be less invasive when removing timber.

Childhood pleasures

There is something so  amazing about watching children that have are still unaware of grown-up realities. I really do find stories about my friend's children so satisfying and amazing that I find it important to share some childish humor. 

One of the great pleasures of Rachel's children is to go out onto their Aunt Sherrie's boat. Here is Emma racing around behind the dinghy at a speed that was, perhaps for a moment, just a little faster than Emma desired... but that smile tells all!
Is that cheeky little girl sticking her tongue out at me? Shame, shame!
What isn't seen here is a picture of Graham the day before when, after he was pitched into the water by his life-vest, he pops out and tells his mommy (Rachel), "That is not good, not good at all!" It amazes me that a three year old can immediately just spew out language that belies what, I perceive,  is beyond their age. I do so enjoy being surprised by children. As much as I know they are just little people, I still have preconceptions based on not having children of my own. 

I thank all my friends for allowing me to share all the fun moments, that don't include diaper changing, tantrums or vomit with their children. I am most impressed with the intelligence and interest that they show. Granted, this group is limited to Chris and Caprice, Rachel and Garth, and (so to a lesser degree due to their infancy), Mark/Heather and Scott/Gretchen. I haven't had the chance to meet Kelly's girls or Mike and Conzuelo's boy Kiev, but I expect that I will be just as amazed by who those children are too. 

There was a time when I was set against having children, but a good friend of mine turned me around several years back. Apparently I am not done being a child myself to deal with diapers yet. I am still that little boy sitting on a motorbike with that shit-eating grin... Oh, wait... That is just Graham!
I kept worrying about Graham and Emma falling off the bike and not being able to catch them due to my "gimpiness". 

Have I mentioned yet that I crashed here in Seattle? Yeah! It was crazy. I saw the trolley tracks, noticed that they were at a 33 degree angle to the road, tried to compensate and hit them straight on, but ultimately I was pitched off the bike into the oncoming lane. There is nothing as humbling than lying on the ground and knowing that everything still works ok, but you are now separated from your wheels. Ugggh! 

A person in one of the cars in front of me got out of his car and asked if I was okay. From the ground I gave a big thumbs up and he drove away. Seconds later I realized that it might have been nice to get help lifting the bike since my knee seemed a bit wonky. No worries on that account either. I used a technique that a Goldwing rider mentioned several months back and the bike went right up. It is a good thing that I pay attention to little useful bits of information on occasion. Now that the bike was upright and I was upright, I evaluated my injuries and decided that ice was required and I was in luck that there was a place I could secure it just a block from where I went down. Minutes later I sidled up to a bar and asked the pretty and pert bartender for a bag of ice and a double Captain and Coke. 

Nothing better than being able to medicate immediately to ease one's injuries.

Monday, September 15, 2008


This is a (relatively) new BMW HP2 ridden by a 62 year old man that just arrived back on the Casiar Highway from The Yukon. That cowling around his gas tank is actually a snow shovel. The duct tape on his seat is an upholstery job to lower his seat (and add an old mountain bike inner tube). The widened windscreen is a series of other cobbled pieces of clear plastic and hardened solid plastic. All of this he covered with camouflaged tape to hide the fact that he is on a BMW (or so I think). This guy doesn't carry a tent, he just lies down and covers himself with a moon blanket. This latest trip he just got back from took him away for 4 weeks and all he took was that little duffle bag.  I have a tent AND a sleeping bag! I also have tools and a fly rod and tackle. I have three changes of clothes and rain gear. I have two pair of shoes and this computer. I also have two cameras and three lenses. 

When I compare all I am toting around and compare it to that little duffle... I feel like such a poser!
Not the first totem I had seen, but certainly the shortest.
Now that is a house boat. You can't see it, but there is a very large tug boat pulling these two barges.
The mainland. It seems like I have been on a boat for many days lately. I sort of like that feeling of being "out of touch" with the real world. As I said that, I realized that I made an unfair statement and there are two different realities of that statement. Those that live on land and those that live most of their lives on a boat/ship/vessel. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Vancouver Island and Around

There is just something about Victoria, BC that really makes me smile. Perhaps it is the fresh halibut, dungeness crab, lingcod and oysters that is so appealing. Maybe it is the people... I was stopped at a stop light in the middle of the city and someone asked, "How many 'klicks' (kilometers) do you have on the bike?". The typical question is, "Nice bike", which usually gets a nod without conversation. Instead it turned into one of the few times that I would have liked the light to stay red a bit longer, since it was an attractive blonde asking...  
Yeah, the people here seem warmer than anywhere since Nova Scotia. 

It could be the skyline too...
Or the sunsets...
The history and architecture...
Some of the typical transportation offers a viable quick way to get to Seattle, Vancouver or the Olympic Penninsula...
Or perhaps it is simply watching nature do its thing... (sorry about the clarity of some of these pics - it is hard to focus when you can't determine when the whales are going to breach, but sometimes you get lucky). 
Too bad this one isn't clear - what a great action photo if it were.
These next few aren't the quality of what I usually post, but I still dig the spy hopping!
Several pods of transient orcas were just as inquisitive as we were. According to the naturalists on board, this was a great day for them too. Apparently the whales were putting on quite the show - at least the guides that do this daily were as excited as the people on the boat.
Okay, for some reason the shots of the flukes (whale tails) turned out best and I put most of them in. Yeah, a bit redundant and repetitive... but what isn't?