Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Day 17- Gainesville, FL

The Valkyrie (the motorcycle) and I have been spending so much time together we are starting to become alike. I'm turning black and chrome and Val is thinking about writing a blog. Val told me she wants her blog's title and subtitle to be:

A life between two Asses -
His and the 'phalt

When "I said I don't get it" Val started laughing so hard I thought we would have to pull over for a bit.

Today was a good day of riding because I made a good decision. I almost took the freeway on a backtracking path to save time and miles. Glad I didn't. Instead I rode a highway through the Everglades and decided to enjoy the now rather than sacrifice the experience to the part of my brain that focuses on home as the goal. I took a nice two lane road with minimal vehicles and the sky was grey and the smells were good. I loved it. It was the kind of ride that makes me happy to ride and brings me back to motorcycles again and again. It was the kind of ride where I became part of the environment. At one point it started to rain and I was happy. Also, the rain helped me to finally stop sweating for a few minutes.

Along the way I stopped at the Everglades National Park. In one small spot I saw 4 species of fish, 2 large birds, and an alligator, just hanging out next to each other. It was like the postcard version of those unrealistic posters that show every creature of a habitat in one scene. Crazy. The fish were so plentiful it was like looking at a coy pond of a fancy hotel but this was nature. Very cool. And, I got to see an alligator in the wild. I was hoping that would work out. Eventually I had to leave on principal. See, I don't generally believe in free handouts. I made an exception at the park out of guilt. But after just giving away a gallon of my blood to any insect beggar that cared to land on me, I decided that was enough. These insects need to work for their food and not just mooch off the tourists. So back to the road I went.

Then I dried off. Then I started to sweat. Then I got rained on again. It was too hot to put on my rain gear and I figured out that the rain comes and goes fairly quickly so I just kept going. And then I got torrentialy poured down on. Soon I stopped counting how many times I had been rained on. I was soaked. At one point I made a fist to stretch my fingers and water gushed out of my black leather gloves. Maybe that has something to do with my black hands? Naw...

Among other things I saw miles of the Everglades, plenty of wildlife, those boats with a fan at the back and a flat bottom, lots and lots of swamp land, rain, and miles of quiet road before getting back on a freeway. A great day. About a hundred miles before the hotel, I was rained on for the last time today and I noticed that once again, the ground was higher than the water table.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Day 16- Miami, FL

In yesterday's post I mentioned that I was interested to see what the major differences would be between riding alone and riding with friends. I've done long rides both ways before but never one way so soon after the other. Well, one difference has presented itself immediately. I miss Nathan, not just as a good friend, but as a good laugh partner. Alone I have no laugh partner. A good laugh is best and easiest to achieve with a good spirited partner. On the scale of "things hard to accomplish alone" a good laugh places right between sex and tickling. It's not usually as satisfying alone but not impossible to accomplish either.

Subject change:

Have you ever seen a girl take off her bra without taking off her shirt. It's quite a sight. I don't know where they learn these tricks. Well, if you know what I am talking about, it's that little pull-twist-slide-pull out the other arm maneuver. I was wondering if I could do something similar in reverse with boxers. And I can. I'm sure I'm not the first to discover this, but for guys out there this could be useful. If you're wearing shorts you can slip your boxers on one leg, slide the rest through the crotch of your shorts, and if your boxers are stretchy and your legs flexible, you can pull and contort until your other leg is through it's proper place. Then, stand up, pull your boxers up through your shorts and voila! You can drop your wet shorts on a crowded beach with a family next to you and slip on your dry pants. And a bonus, you don't have to walk in the public bathroom/change-room with that questionable water content on the floor.

Do I just discover these things randomly? The credit of invention once again goes to necessity for today was a day of water and bridges; two things that make me happy.

My first stop today was Miami Beach where I got into the warm clear water and released the Pacific Ocean I have been carrying in my bike since day 1 of the ride from Santa Cruz, CA. Then, I filled the small mason jar with Atlantic Ocean that I now carry on its way to the west coast. I think it is so neat to do this water exchange. Some of the water molecules I am moving have been to both coasts several times over millions of years. And hear I come and just grab a bunch of the molecules and comparatively rush them over to a whole nother part of their cycle. Better, worse, or neutral, I was a force of nature in that act. That must be the appeal. Well, I act again with my precious select cargo that gets a rush west.

Then there is the bridge part of today's adventure. I love bridges- a lot. They are one of the coolest visuals we humans create. They dramatize the suspension of molecules above others, contrary to gravity. We are always suspended. No molecules actually touch; so your feet when standing are suspended above the ground, and that layer of ground is suspended above the molecules below it. There is a lot of space between the mass of the Universe. But we never get to see that space smaller than the wave length of visible light. A bridge brings this reality to light in a grand way compared to our usual visual experiences and raises us above so that we may see clear through the molecules that separate us from the molecules below.

It is the love of bridges that drew me to Key West, Florida and the fact that it is the southern most point of the U.S. land that made it even more desirable to include in this cross country ride. Today I was there. And..... I rode over a lot of bridges to get there. The picture shows me at the "Southern Most Point" of the U.S. After that I went and had a good time at the beach and discovered a trick with boxers...... well, we already covered that.

Eventually I did ride out of the Keys and am now in a diner in Miami, Florida. Tonight's fare? Veggie Burger Wrap and a Long Beach Tea.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 15- Lantana, FL

We started the day walking through the historic part of Savannah, Georgia. What a great place to walk. There are parks, called squares (guess what shape they are), between the residential blocks. That's a lot of parks. You can see one in the picture. Some have fountains, some statues, all have many old trees, benches, and paths. After a nice morning walk and breakfast in Savannah we got onto highway 95 and headed south.

Half way through Georgia, Nathan and Laurie and I parted company. We were going to be going our own ways soon according to plan and our riding styles and preferences were already diverging. So I suggested we go ahead and part ways today. I hear they had a good ride and they are spending the night in Vero Beach. I rode a little longer and got a room in Lantana, Florida. I had a good time riding with friends but that was only part of the plan for this trip. I am looking forward to the rest of this trip alone to see where my thoughts will go. It is interesting to me how different of an experience this ride is already. All distractions are my own. All decisions are made without consideration for others. Even my thoughts are different. In physics, there is a principal that the observer always affects the observed. I believe that traveling partners do the same. I am curious how a few days of thinking and experiencing this trip alone will compare to previous days. I have enjoyed myself both ways so far.

Traveling on through Florida I found highway 95 mostly flat and mostly straight, most of the time. The sky is huge and the clouds were big today. Once in a while the road would rise to go over a water way, train track, or another road. That was the best time to look all the way around at the sky, especially during sun set. It was neat to see the several areas off in the distance where it was raining in distinct sections of sky. As the sun went lower, the greys turned orange, pink and purple and the feeling in the air was calm. Riding was peaceful. My mind became calmer. There are times riding home from work when the sun is setting and I think "I could just keep on riding for-ever." I'm in luck now, I get to keep on riding. I feel good on the bike. I could do this for a long time. Not forever and not in the current reality. I would not want to miss the life Tami and I will have with The Kid. But under different circumstances, I could do this ride-every-day traveling-thing for at least a couple of years.

I also saw a gigantic road sign this morning that said "Who is John Gault?" How cool is that? That was the first philosophical road sign I had seen today and the only one that didn't mention Jesus or abortion on this whole trip. If you are not familiar with John Gault, he is a character in Ayn Rand's book "Atlas Shrugged." It is a thought provoking book that I enjoyed. There was a time when I had "Who is John Gault?" written on my college binder in large letters. The road sign said nothing else. I liked it. Of course, the sign may still have been trying to drum up business. But, I hope it was put up by somebody with some extra cash to spare who realized more people would see the road sign than her or his college binder. Wouldn't it be cool if people put up thought provoking signs with no other motive than to make people think?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day 14- Savannah, GA

Today was a day of smells. Not mine. You wouldn't want me to write about that. It's 87 degrees right now at 11 o'clock in the night and we just came in from our evening walk. It was 101 in at least one place we were in today and it was in the 90s most of the rest. Well, you get the idea.

Every once in a while when riding through South Carolina there would be this delicious smell and I would take in a deep nose full and look around for the blossom. I never found it. Then we got closer to the southern part of the state and the sun was setting and it smalled like parts of northern Arizona. I think the smell is hot wet trees. Then, right before we crossed the big, very big, bridge in to Savannah, Georgia I got a whiff that reminded me of a hot summer evening in Hawaii. I wish I knew what that sweet good smell along the freeway was. It was very good.

Other vegetation interests include a vine that grows here and there and will occasionally grow 50 feet to cover an entire tree. And rarely, it will cover every tree and bush in a ten thousand square foot area rectangle along the highway. This makes for an interesting vegetative high-rise landscape smoothed out in a green curvy organic vine-iness. That might be a botanical term.

In gastronomic news, I had fried green tomatoes for breakfast today. Good. And breaded. Did you know they were breaded? I have read "Fried green tomatoes at the whistle stop cafe" twice (super good book- I highly recommend it) and I've seen the movie "Fried green tomatoes" that is based on the book and still I never caught on to the fact that fried green tomatoes are breaded. Maybe they are not always, but they were when served in a North Carolina restaurant that opened in 1906. I assume that they know what they are doing by now.

The picture today is from Charleston, North Carolina. That was a very upscale and attractive shopping area where I enjoyed every ice crystal in a glorified slurpee that I bought from a nice girl on the street with a glorified ice box. I have no idea how it tasted as my only care at the time was something cooler than 90 degrees. But, it sure was rejuvenating and after that I was able to enjoy the scenery.

Day 13.1- Wilmington, NC

Why is this post Day 13.1 instead of 13? I was so tired yesterday that I fell asleep right after dinner and never posted on day 13. It's now the next morning. Thus, you get a little .1 of a bonus in your update.

Let's start with the bonus .1 first. I'm in bed. It's really the start of Day 14 now. Well, that about covers that part. Now, back to day 13.

When I was in 5th grade in San Jose, CA, I had a friend who transferred into our school for only half the year. I asked him where he was from and he said North Carolina. That sounded cool, a state with two names must be special so I asked what it was like. He said it was nice, and it had a lot more trees than San Jose. Pretty articulate guy, for a 5th grader being questioned by a stranger 5 minutes after meeting him. We got along great. I still remember having a tooth come out in the Now-n-Later candy I was eating in class when the two of us were in a corner as reading partners. We were always reading partners. Worried I would get in trouble about the candy when asking the teacher if I could go to the nurse and stop the bleeding, I pulled out the tooth from the thick candy and asked my North Carolina friend if he could hide it and trash it when the teacher was distracted with me and my dental issues. He took it in his hand. What a horrible gross thing to ask a friend, I think now. "Please hold my slobbered on and slightly bloody candy, would ya?" But he did it for me and I would have done the same . Probably not just out of some sense of noble friendship but because this was also that stage in growing up where friends would lean over and drink water from the street gutter runoff to show 1) we were cool enough and 2) because it looked a little bit like the cowboys on TV stopping at a river. Yeah, gross. But, a small price to pay for the glory a 5th grader could aspire to.

Oh, yeah... day 13.

So, my friend was right. A lot more trees than in San Jose. The highways we took through Virgina and North Carolina were mostly tree lined. A nice sight. At one point we got off to get some southern bbq in North Carolina. That's when I was reminded something. We saw a good looking highway for miles but the other side of that is that we didn't see as much of the land behind the trees until we got off that rode. And wow, what a sweet looking town we pulled into. Simple houses surrounded by plenty of fence-less grass. Property lines rolled onto each other and the street. Brick in abundance. Trees quite different from what I see in California towns with lots of trunks close together and branches that don't start until a ways up. Very nice and comfortable looking place to be. I liked what I saw and I got to thinking. I have not seen the U.S. I have traversed the U.S. but I should not let myself get to thinking that I know the country, that I have seen the country, or that I understand the country. I have see a small sliver along the rodes I have traveled. I have sampled culture in small 10 minute increments here and there, and I have added some reality to my imaginings of what the country is like. But it would take a lot more to know the people and the places. Going cross country was for the adventure and to some degree for my ego. I won't know for sure how much was for my ego until some time has gone by and I notice how often I slip this trip into my conversations. The reminder to myself here is that I should remember, regardless the needs of my ego, that I don't know the places I have visited. Though, I have certainly learned and developed as a person by visiting- that's the adventure part.

How was the southern bbq in Rocky Mount, NC? Completely different from that of Missouri. I'm staying a vegetarian now so I did not sample the meat but there were way more vegetables to choose from. You can see my meal in the picture. Collard greens, black eyed peas, green beans, hush puppies, banana pudding, and lemonade. Yum. I was most looking forward to the collard greens and they were good. The interesting thing about the foods that I noted was that everything, including my vegetables and the meat and cole slaw on Nathan's and Laurie's plates, was cut up really small. Not sure if this is representational of southern bbq. It was good. I tried the cole slaw and it was more tangy than I have had before, and it was yellow rather than white. I was glad to eat an entire plate of vegetables again. Delicious and a new experience in style of cooking. It was funny when we sat down and there were two squeeze bottles on the table. 'What are those" Laurie asked. "Those are your vinegars" the server answered. "Well what do we do with them." "They are for your bbq." Laurie chuckled and said, "you're gonna have to teach us how to eat." Then the server understood. Turns out you put the vinegar, white is plain and red has chili, on the meat and it is also good on the collards. She was right, it was good on the collard greens. You should have seen the long pause and the mental calculation when I asked what a hush puppy is. Good times, good meal, and desperately needed air conditioning. That was Gardens BBQ restaurant.

Now we are in Wilmington, North Carolina. The people look just like they do in California, but they have accents. Glorious accents by the bucket full, not just isolated bursts of audio flavor. We are swimming in accent sauce. There are large trees shading the streets, some handsomely bearded in what I am told is called Spanish Moss. Impressive looking. In this historic town, there are many huge square houses and many of them have historical plaques. They look great with the big trees and Spanish Moss. I wonder how these large square brick and wood homes look neat and the new large square homes by my house are not very attractive to me. Could it be the stucco? The years? The trees? Well, here and there it is nice to walk around. So, off for breakfast and a walk in historic downtown.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 12- Frederiksburg, VA

What a great day. I am physically and emotionally exhausted. I have heard that it would take at least a couple of days to see all of Disneyland. It must take weeks to see all of D.C. It must take years to learn just about the highlights.

We started early and went late. Still, we saw only the smallest portion of the sights. The simple version of the day's events went something like this: a walk in the business/hotel part of D.C., breakfast, walk around the gate of the White House, visit the Washington Monument, walk The Mall, go through the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, go through the Smithsonian Art Museum, visit the back side of the Capital, walk The Mall past the reflecting pool to visit the Lincoln Memorial, visit the Vietnam Memorial, and then it was 7:30pm.

What were the big deal highlights for me? Just about everything was worth so much more time to contemplate. Touching the rock fragment from the moon was among my favorite parts of the day. Seeing some phenomenal art was another favorite part of my day. I devoted the largest portion of my time to the art museum. Stunning examples of beauty, emotion, and talent. To be able to look at the brush strokes as close as I cared to stand, without touching the art of course, was a treat. Try seeing the brush strokes of 500 years ago and then stepping back to see something beautiful. It was indeed a great day. I took plenty of pictures and I will certainly upload them to this blog when I get home. The truth is, I can not begin to articulate the experience I had today properly just yet. I could spend days taking in the art and the monuments and trying to put my thoughts into words.

There is so much we did not see. Between the memorials and the two museums we did see, I would need a day of recovery before returning. As it is, I will have to review my thoughts, impressions, and photos from afar. This visit was not the entire adventure and tonight we sleep in the outskirts of Fredericksburg, Virgina. We are conveniently across the street from the Waffle House where we have dined well and consumed the requisite nightly allowance of sweet tea. My laundry is washed and ready to attach to the back of my bike in the morning. My mind is floating in colors of paint, sadness, respect, admiration, love, and appreciation of life.

Touching Moon Rock (the black stone in picture)

I touched a rock from the moon! I touched a frick'n MOON ROCK! There is a moon, and it had a rock on it, and I TOUCHED IT! The rock from the moon.... yeah, I touched it. That was me. They call me Randy Moon Rock Toucher. Many people will look back on June 25, 2009 and think about what they touched that day. Answers will vary from touching third base to touching one's self. As for me, I touched a frick'n rock from the frick'n moon.

If you want to touch the moon rock too, it's in the entrance room of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. I highly recommend it. There are some pretty cool and important items on display in that room like the Bell X-1, first to break the sound barrier. And, right upstairs is a jacket and a plane (obviously not the ones she was in at the end) of Amelia Earhart whom I find fascinating. And much more. But the moon rock, so unassuming in it's little display made open to the fingers of Earth's humans.... a basalt so special for what triumph of humanity it took to get it here, and for what a seed it is to the fertile imagination... to touch it was and is awe-inspiring. I feel great just knowing it is there for all to touch and to do so free of charge. The American people's treasury held open to the world, with this treasure of humanity in the form of a rock, for all to connect with.

I don't remember my dreams often, but if they are based on the events of the day, tonight I will dream of hugging Amelia in her leather flight jacket while grasping the moon rock. I will likely have tears in my eyes after having held the rock out for her to touch, a dream-visitor of the future. I hope I dream this. She deserves to touch that rock even if only in the belated dreams of an average guy, a pilgrim to the beauty and development of humanity.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Day 11- District of Columbia

I've come to realize that I could stop eating on this trip, I don't need the food for calories. I'm just eating to give my stomach something to play with. I am pretty sure I'm getting all my necessary calories from sweet tea. Gallons upon barrels of sweet tea. Well, maybe a slight exaggeration, but much sweet tea has been consumed in recent days by the two of us. About 1.2 metric bladders full per hour. That's a scientifically verifiable number.....

Today we met more of the nicest people. It came to my attention a couple of days ago that my estimation/hope that my tires would make the 7 to 8 thousand miles I intend to ride was a bit optimistic. So, I hoped they might last anyway. Then I decided to hope they would make it to Arizona, then Florida, then...... well, then reality set in, and tires are pretty important on a road trip. So, near D.C., in Woodbridge, Virginia we went and got my Valkyrie some new tires and got Nathan's Goldwing it's first oil change. Not only was it a couple of hundred dollars cheaper to buy and install tires here as compared to in California, but it was the nicest and most amusing service that Nathan or I had ever experienced in a motorcycle shop. Seriously, they were washing bugs off of Nathans windshield and joking with me about the parking break on my bike (there isn't one) before they had finished the initial paper work to start the service. And that was just the beginning of the conversations. It was a good time talking with all the guys in service, accessories, and in sales. It was model service. It was exchanging stories. It was considerate people. And because the service duration was a couple of hours long, a salesman suggested a restaurant within walking distance where we ate and drank.... you guessed it.... glasses full of sweet tea.

After all was done we rode back towards D.C. passing the Mount Vernon exit that we had taken before the service stop. Mount Vernon is the name of President Washington's home and we had stopped there and walked around previously for a bit because we were running early for our service appointment. You can see the entrance to the Mount Vernon property in the picture.

Riding to our hotel after the service, the scenery got very cool in a different way. D.C. came into view. The monuments came into view. The seat of our country's government came into view. Stunning in it's significance, I found myself super excited at the sight of it all. I am so looking forward to tomorrow when the three of us will walk around and tour D.C., the museums, and the monuments. You heard right. The three of us. Nathan is picking up Laurie from the airport as I type this in the hotel room, four blocks from President Obama's house.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day 10- Hagerstown, MD

In the last 30 hours I have smiled because of the sky, laughed at the jokes of others, quieted my mind, seen clouds like in "The Simpsons" hovering over Pennsylvania, talked with strangers, eaten at the Waffle House twice, recognized that I am not as far along with respect to overcoming racism as I had thought I was, traveled through several beautiful states, and achieved 20 days without smoking, just to name a few of the highlights. Pretty good for 30 hours.

We started in Ohio which I really liked and which reminds me a little of California in some ways. Right from the start the weather was perfect today. Humidity had dropped and the sky had more blue than grey. From there we went to West Virginia which I instantly fell in love with for it's lush green grass and trees, architecture and feel. Then came Pennsylvania. Also beautiful, with little purple flowers in the freeway median and similar vegetation to the other states of today's ride. We spent more time in West Virginia and then Maryland. Most of this day was riding through the Appalachian mountains and so the ride scenery was naturally gorgeous and covered in vegetation. The amount of lush grass everywhere around here is impressive in addition to the number of trees. We stopped in a town called Flintstone, Maryland for a nice dinner on a patio as we worked our way out of the mountains. You can see the Flintstone post office in the picture. We're out of the bigger part of the mountains now and spending the night in Hagerstown, Maryland. And what does this place provide besides a place to sleep, cool clouds, and sunsets? It's very own fireflies. Sweet.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Day 9- Columbus, OH

We rolled in four states today: Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Of course, we woke up only one block and half a river's width from leaving Missouri. But we still rolled in four states today.

The picture is from a stop in Indiana. The whole day was a good ride through pretty land punctuated by stops for sweet tea. Ohio is now my favorite of the day for providing a Waffle House when I was hungry after having spent the day, and the day before, looking for one before we had to eat. Also, they had the biggest welcome sign of any state so far, and that's cool. And, the red barns every where are a nice touch. I've enjoyed every state so far, though.

Which reminds me, there are a lot of nice people in the world. People just keep talking to us. One guy, our server in an Indian restaurant in Missouri spent about five minutes talking to us, needing no encouragement other than a "yes" to "are you a vegetarian." How cool is that? By the way, he is addicted to chicken. It's the kind of thing you learn about someone, when you listen for five minutes while he holds your curry-sauced empty plates.

And the friendliness has been fairly constant. Servers in restaurants and people on the street saying hello or stopping to chat or joke or comment on our bikes or whatever strikes their fancy. It's nice to be treated kindly when so far from home. And the smiles have been great. Lots and lots of smiles.

Ode to Waffle House

O, Waffle House
How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways

I love the laminated-placemat-menu like a colorful comic book that I would happily read again and again
I love the brown squiggles that decorate your plates, though your cups no longer match
I love your hash browns smothered covered and diced
I love that you can order hash browns with words like smothered covered and diced

I love your grits with butter and just a dash of tobasco
Is that wrong? I don't know. I'm from the west....
But you let me enjoy your grits how I please

I love the way the employees become you
I love the old lady in Arizona asking "What would you like Honey?"
I love the paper-hatted pimply boy with ladle and a spatula preparing my Waffle House goodness
I love the young server in Ohio who saw me taking pictures of you and tells me "I love Waffle House too"
I love that he said "do you want a paper hat?"
Hell YEAH!
And he gave me two!

But, O Waffle House,
Why did you scorn me?
You popped up on this road trip first, like the honey filled flower that you are, only after I had just eaten
Next day I rode 200 miles for you, but you would not bloom nor show your yellow until after I had eaten again
Do the fine folks of Illinois and Indiana not love you enough to grow you everywhere?

Why did you torment me?
But I forgive you if you forgive me for being so long gone
Because in Ohio my belly is full of your goodness
And my head is happy in your paper hat

O, Waffle House, I love you so.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Day 8- St. Louis, MO

Check us out. That's the view from our roof top pool. We're on our way for a swim next. Thanks Laurie for getting us this cool place over the internet.

In the background you can see the Mississippi River and the Arch. We spent the day walking around them and took the ride to the top of the arch. It is huge. I can say it's huge and you can look at pictures, but that won't likely get the picture across. It's 630 feet tall and super skinny for a tall building. Oh, and it's an arch. Huge. The effect of the design, I think, makes it more interesting and appear taller.

Here is a super cool update about yesterday. We saw fire flies! How cool is that? Fire flies! This was in Columbia, MO on our way to the movie theaters. Little flashes of orange flame jumping across the grass. Amazing how little flashes of light can inspire happiness.

We saw the movie Year One. Hilarious! I laugh at least once every other hour remembering the movie. I'm already looking forward to watching it again.

For now, up to the pool.

Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day 6 and 7- Columbia, MO

We are hanging out in Columbia, Missouri for two days. As it turns out, we are ahead of schedule and this college town is so nice we thought we would hang out a little longer. The University of Missouri is all brick and impressive to walk around. There is a little downtown next to it with lots of shops and places to eat. There is even a hotel in the downtown, which is where we are at.

Yesterday we walked around town and ended up in a cool bar playing pool for hours. Today, we are just relaxing. We've had breakfast at a Mediterranean coffee shop and we might catch a movie later.

As for the ride yesterday, it was great. East Kansas had a lot more curves and trees. Then, we cruised around Kansas City, Missouri for a while building up our appetite and sweating like crazy. It was worth it because we found a perfect small town a little later to sample the famous bbq. We were lucky to find the place and it was delicious. I dropped my mostly vegetarian lifestyle and environmentalism at the door. They were still there when I got back- nobody would steal those.

We had found the bbq restaurant in an itty bitty town called Bates. Free of my usual habits, I had a disposable plate piled with three types of meat, pickles, and two pieces of white bread. On the side were two styrofoam bowls filled with baked beans and potato salad. The white bread was the only thing common about the food and I only took one bite to make sure the bread was as plain as it looked. The rest of the food was D-Licious! The bbq was excellent, especially the ribs. I have to give special mention to the beans. Without a doubt the best baked beans I have had. Yum. After cleaning our plates and styrofoam bowls, we had to go for a walk. There was no way we could ride just then. So, we walked around an antiques store to help the food go down for what must have been four times longer than it took us to eat it. I had no idea antiques stores could be so full of joke material. There were tears at one point. Lots of fun and a cool place to walk around. Even after all that time and laughter, we were too full to ride so we went for a short walk on the railroad tracks. That did the trick.

So now we are here. Downtown Columbia. A good place to be.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 5- Salina, KS

Colorado is not the same all the way through. A little after Denver it is a Little House on the Prairie. A good time to let your thoughts wander and see where they take you.

As a science lover, especially of physics, I found Kansas to be most fascinating. I recommend that all like minded science loving individuals go to Kansas. Drive down hwy 70, most parts will probably work but it will be especially easy in the western quarter of the state. Then, look out onto the horizon, that special Kansas horizon without obstacles. Look out and you can see clear back to the Big Bang! And in case you are curious, it appears that grass has been there since the beginning.

I have created a visual aid to help you. Take your height in inches and substitute it for h in the following formula and solve for s.


Next, print out the photo in this post. Hold it at arms length in a safe area while you look at it. Then, spin around s (the number you solved for) times in less than a minute while looking at the picture. Spin carefully, you'll be spinning fast. It may help to make rrrrrrrr-rrrrrr engine noises.

That's it! That is approximately what it would have been like to have been riding next to me for a mile through Kansas!

You feel like you are right here with us don't you?

Sit down. You must be dizzy. I'll tell you more while your head comes to a stop.

We are in the second Salina of our trip. This one in Kansas. The last 60 miles were rolling hills and some gigantic wind power turbines. Very nice. We're sitting in the swimming pool in a parking lot of Motel 6 watching two rabbits play in the grass between us and the IHOP. Great temperature out here and the sky is changing colors a bit. Very peaceful.

Absence is making the heart grow fonder.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day 4- Louisville, CO

Today we are in Louisville, CO staying with friends Chris and Ailla. Both work in the wine business and Chris tells me we will be opening some good bottles tonight, so I'll keep this brief.

We came out of the Rockies today where we saw plenty of motorcycles which makes sense considering the views and quality of road. Goldwings were by far the favored bike followed by various Harleys.

Getting into town, Chris took us to a cool vegetarian restaurant in Boulder, CO called Leaf. Good tofu salad and a wine that was biodynamic, a new term for me. All good.

Tonight will be fun. I can tell that I could learn a lot by spending time with Chris and Ailla so I will do my best to take in as much as I can before we part ways tomorrow. We 're on our way now to meet their friends before returning to a feast here in their home. All in all, happy to be here and enjoying the adventure.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day 3- Glenwood Springs, CO

The day started in beautiful Utah and went on to a different type of beauty called Colorado. How fun it is to ride a sinuous road along a river's path. How impressive to snake through a canyon as if part of the thousands of years that shaped it.

We stopped for lunch in Grand Junction, CO. A very cute town with the most street art per capita of any town I have ever seen. A sample is the prince piece you see here. The local channel 5 news team interviewed us in downtown regarding our opinions on medical marijuana. "Do famed motorcycle travelers Randy and Nathan support the local munchy economy? Find out tonight at 11." It was the first time either of us had been interviewed for television.

After such a busy day, we cruised on down the highway and finished up with a nice soak in the hot springs of Glenwood Springs, CO. Then, an Italian dinner, a bottle of wine, and a walk about town surrounded by the Rockies.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Day 2- Salina, UT

Utah. It must be easy to get photos for calendars here, surrounded by beauty in every direction. What a gorgeous ride. Rocks of red, white, brown- mostly red. Gorgeous plateaus and interesting uplift and weathering patterns. Nice people; everyone we've met.

In Arizona, which we were in briefly, we went through a beautiful gorge crossing the Virgin River several times. So beautiful, I thought it would be the highlight scenery of the day until we rolled into this part of Utah.

Before all that, we went into Las Vegas and spent some time hanging out there. The picture is of us on our way to brunch in the Belagio. Crab cakes benedict. Wow, so good. Nathan decided to play $10 on keno during brunch. He won 2 of his dollars back. The keno girl was so smooth at telling him he only won $2 back on his $10 spent, that Nathan and I thought it fun to imagine how it was possible to improve upon her talent. The winners we came up with were "2 dollars! Only in Vegas can your dreams come true." And.... "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas..... just like the other 8 dollars."

While we're at it, honorable mention for funny comments today (and there were many) goes to Nathan describing over the CB how his butt was not so sore after our Vegas break with "After Vegas I got my second ass wind."

I've been laughing for almost a minute just reading what I wrote.

So, now we're in little Solina (so-leye-na), UT. We went to the only bar in town, and were the only customers in bar, to play some pool and drink some beer.

Before changing the subject, it's also worth noting that we actually rolled in 4 states today: California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah.

In The Kid news, Tami went to the doctor today and it looks like all is going well. Tami tells me we've now found the doctor we will stick with and she loves me, Tami that is. The doctor hasn't met me yet.

So, all is well in the world.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Day 1- Barstow, CA

A good day's ride.  Moderate weather, changing scenery, smooth roads, feeling good, and made it to Barstow, CA (about 150 miles more than our slowest plan).  Here, Nathan had his bike blessed by a guy with nearly 400 thousand miles on his 1975 Goldwing.

In other news, I just washed my socks, boxers, and shirt in the sink.  Maybe I should have used that as the picture for the post.  (Instead, you see the start of the ride in Campbell, CA.)  I brought 3 sock pairs, shirts, and boxers with the plan to always wear a set, have a set ready, and have a set drying on the back of the bike.  I heard backpackers do this.

I'm still quite excited about this trip.  I'm also just fatigued enough that I expect to sleep well tonight.
A good day.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tomorrow is the big day!

In honor of graduation week for so many students, I have attached a picture of Nathan and I at our 8th grade graduation.

Done chuckling yet? Okay, here is the plan:

Nathan and I are heading out to Santa Cruz on Sunday morning after breakfast with Tami and Laurie. I need to pick up some Pacific Ocean water as it's always been part of the way I imagined this trip. Then, we are off to cross the country. We will hang out in D.C. for a couple of days to visit the museums with Laurie who will fly out to meet us there. Then, the three of us will ride down to Key West, Florida to spend a couple of days. There, the Pacific Ocean will swim into the Atlantic Ocean and I'll fill my bottle with Atlantic Ocean. Laurie and Nathan will fly back home from Florida, shipping the Goldwing. I'll continue along the southern part of the U.S. to L.A. and up to Santa Cruz where the Ocean Exchange Program will complete with the Atlantic Ocean swimming into the Pacific Ocean. From there, it is short ride to home. All the while, I'll be missing Tami, The Kid, family, friends, and even Monte and Maggie (our dog and cat).

That's the outline of a plan. We'll see how the adventure fills in the gaps and shapes the expectations into a new reality. Looking forward to it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Kid is Growing Up Nicely

We went to the ultrasound appointment and all is going well and looking good. The Kid is now about 6cm in length, about the size of a plum. In this picture you can see a hand and a leg. And, The Kid looks like a baby now! This was a pretty cool appointment. I had been sad because I will be gone when Tami goes in for an appointment to hear the heartbeat. But today, the technician zeroed in on the heart and played the audio while we watched and listened. Very cool. The heart beat is way fast compared to an adult's at rest. So, that's our kid. We got a couple other pics too, and if you stop by, you will see them on the fridge. I am giddy with excitement. This ultrasound was like watching the coolest movie ever!

And something else. When Tami laughed, The Kid moved around and slid and jiggled for a bit until The Kid settled down again. That's what I do when she laughs. Must be genetic.

Ready to Go

As of 10am today, Friday, I am all packed up and ready to go. The trip starts Sunday. So, I'm a little excited.

Yesterday Nathan came over and we tested out our new CB radios. They work amazingly well. I had much lower expectations mingled with memories of my walkie talkies from years ago with the Morse code attached and the orange button of ultimate beepiness. These new CBs are very clear, provide a nice little beep after transmission (no need to say "over"), fully integrate with the bike's controls and displays, and automatically mute the radio when receiving. Very nice. Nathan's bike is 2008 Honda Goldwing so his was ordered from the dealer as optional equipment. My bike is a 1999 Honda Valkyrie Interstate and while the CB was a Honda option for my bike, the part is no longer manufactured. Thankfully, valkyrieblingandmore.com produces a CB unit that fully integrates with the stock controls on my bike. Matt and Nathan, Thank you both again, bought the CB and CB antenna for me as an early birthday present.

When Nathan left we decided to see how far we could chat. We were able to talk until he was about 2 miles away with my bike inside my garage and separated by city buildings and the like. Not bad at all. I imagine the range is pretty far on stretches of Hwy 5.

The trip is only days away and I'm wrapping up as many todo's as I can around the house while Tami is at work. Later today we go in for an Ultrasound so I hope to have a new picture of The Kid by this evening.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thanks Mitra

Thank you Mitra for the great parenting books. I've already learned some valuable information.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Trip Technology

Much of the early preparation for the trip is complete. Packing will begin in earnest shortly. Today I will sign up for life insurance. Tami and The Kid won't be rich if they need to claim it, but I will be comfortable knowing they will have something in addition to the love and support of our great friends and family should the fortunes of the Universe necessitate a world without me in the near future.

Also in preparation for the trip, we were able to justify these nifty G1 phones. Also known as Google phones, they use the Android operating system developed as open source by Google. The G1 phone, while super cool and with a drop down qwerty keyboard, is still small compared to a laptop so I plan to send short blog updates and a few pictures from the road as I travel. I'll also keep a paper journal and take more photos so that I may properly update the photo album and blog from a full sized computer after I return. I activated the Google Latitude feature so that, from the lower left side of this blog, you will be able to see a map of what city I am in as I travel. I will update the packing check list as I pack for the ride.

Essentially, I am trying to give Tami, and interested friends and family, the feeling of knowing all about my cross country adventure and a feeling of being connected to it. Okay.... and, this is a great excuse to play with some neat technology.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Tami is Pregnant!

This is the first picture of The Kid. We are VERY excited. We have been keeping this a secret for a couple of weeks, waiting until the fist trimester has completed and we are pretty much there. This is the biggest 'project' I have ever been involved in.

And as my first official act as Father-To-Be, I am leaving on a cross country motorcycle trip on June 14th. The coincidence in timing was not planned- but, wow! What an action packed year 2009 is turning out to be. Thankfully, Tami still supports me going on this trip. A trip I have thought about for years. This blog is my way of staying in touch with Tami and The Kid while I am traveling for a few weeks.