Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Dallas again.

It seems my review of Dallas seemed a bit harsh to some people. Obviously these are the people who think Dallas is the epitome of civilization. Allow me to state my position.

We lived in the Dallas suburbs (Irving) when I was a high school freshman. Dallas and its environs had potential, growth, opportunity, and even a mystique about it. The magic went on for 40 years and I kept returning to Dallas as my center in between coasts.

But over time, the metropolitan cities along with Dallas have succeeded in turning the entire area into:

Los Angeles

Not Newport Beach. Not Hollywood. Not even Long Beach. Just Los Angeles.

99.9% of the people I know there are wonderful. I have no complaints about Dallas' basic humanity. I just don't like 'the place'. I feel like I'm visiting an empty warehouse.

So for those of you who took umbrage at my being "over it", get over it. You live in a place that might be perfect for you, but it doesn't suit me any more.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Some cleanup and perspective

First, let's get the trip's only problem out of the way. If you know me, you'll understand how difficult this is for me to admit. I had a failure of a system I installed. This is a bad bad bad thing in my book. Bad.

The issue was/is that the cruise control and GPS circuit tended to die at any ambient temperature over 96 degrees. Hard to trace on the road, so I just didn't worry about it much. Every time it happened, I just operated the bike in analog mode instead of 'set and forget' digital mode. In other words, I had to ride the motorcycle sometimes instead of pushing the buttons and sitting there for the ride.

Maybe I oversimplify. Hopefully most motorcyclists will understand.

Regardless, this created a seperate minor issue. The GPS trip data is wrong. When the GPS shuts off at point A, and resumes some hours later at point B, it extrapolates a straight line distance that eliminates the curves and roadway that got you there. I'm saying LOTS of mileage was left out, so I did it the old fashioned analog way. I looked at some of those gratuitous data shots I took and did simple math. The actual trip, by the FJR's odometer, was just 1.5 miles short of 5000. Yeah, 4998.5. I'm calling it 5K total. Whatever, it's just a number but 5K is just easier to explain when I'm telling stories.

I gotta rewire the source of that circuit.

OK, now here's the story of Simon and Lisa from

On Thursday, June 5th, 2008, I looked into my crystal ball (the internet) and made a bad decision. I thought it would warm up. So I removed the thermal liner from my suit and headed south toward my presumed sunshine and 80F temperatures.

Never happened. So early in the afternoon, about 2pm, I realized I probably shouldn't continue to lose body heat for much longer. I found a hotel, a cheap joint. They wouldn't rent me a place for just 2 hours, so I rented the room until the next morning for $75. The money wouldn't kill me. The heat loss could.

My intention was to insert my liner, put on a set of thermies, and reheat the extremities. Maybe clean up a little bit. So I did. I got everything done in just about an hour and a half then returned to the bike to reload and move along. 75 bucks just saved my brisket and I was ready for the next step down the road.

So I went out the door with my load(s) of tikitaki and started to strap down. From the adjacent hotel, I heard a pair of DP bikes start and make the the short run between the parking lots.

A big BMW DP roared up toward me. It was obvious this thing had been everywhere. While still rolling, the rider opened his flip-face helmet and asked "'scuse me mate, but what's the rate here?"

Opportunity knocked for both of us. I explained what I'd just done with the hotel room. I explained they could have my room until morning for $50 cash. He was happy. I was happy. It was wierd. Anyway, we talked a bit. They did a little video. (No, it's not on the site. Not important.) They were doing a midway stop while en-route to a presentation they were giving in Denver. Lisa was tired, having recently had some core surgery. She's a tough and dedicated lady, believe me.

Simon and Lisa have been on the road on two wheels for the last 5.5 years.

Things like this only happen to motorcyclists. Maybe it's because motorcyclists are the only ones who do it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Flagstaff and beyond.

I'm home. 4663.6 miles by the GPS. A million miles on my ass. A billion miles on the brain.

Solitude and odd publicity. No one to talk to for hours but lots of interaction in the doldrums.

It’s amazing to me that a simple set of tiger ears and tail can have such a huge impact on others. Women and children speak to you spontaneously at fuel and rest stops. Younger guys just walk by trying to suppress their grins. Older guys just start talking. Hundreds of pictures, and I mean that quite literally, were taken of me from cars. Sometimes it got stupid. Those are other stories.

I pulled in for fuel and food in Beaver, CO. Fuel, park, go get some grub. Next thing I knew, the FJR was surrounded by brand new Harleys. Turned out they were a tour group from Germany. They had a minivan following them. The only thing they needed to carry was a fresh do-rag. Interesting concept – Fly from Germany. Load your stuff in our van, then ride around the 100F dessert. Hopefully they got some mountain time too. Beaver, CO isn’t the rider capital of the world. They asked about the ears.

It was in Beaver that I met Ann. She fell for the ears. Ann is in her 70s by my guess. She’s actually a Katrina displacee who’s living with her daughter in Beaver. Ann is one of those pleasant, talkative, intelligent women who believes there’s something good and interesting in everyone. She’s the one who found out the details on the tourists. She advocated helmet use. She bemoaned the recent (helmetless) loss of a relative down in the Carolinas. Ann is nice…. Cool in fact….. I wish her well in her new situation. She seems quite happy.

The last legs of this trip have been visually quite distinct. It’s amazing you can have such altitude without features. I often traveled at over 5000 feet without a reasonable feature on the horizon. Northern CO, southern ID, NE Oregon, southcentral Washington make west Texas seem exciting.

Oh, a little thing about northern Arizona. I got another performance award. The page is numbered above 501 million. Yeah, 501 million in Arizona alone.

How in heck do you make a state highway pass thru miles and miles of miles and miles and set the speed limit at 65 mph? I knew I was pulling up on a squad car from miles away. Yeah, miles. He turned on the lights and I just pulled in front of him. What kind of job is that? How much job satisfaction can you get from sitting in the desert waiting for the next set of numbers to pass by?

Apparently the job is to pull people over, see if they’re Kosher, write a warning citation, and then wait for the next prairie dog to pop his head out the hole. Whack-a-mole. 73 in a 65. The citation shows 65+ in a 65. No fine, no court, no use.

Wanna know how silly it was? Arizona is an “open carry” state. My gun was sitting in full sight in the clear case on top of the tank. He never asked me to separate myself from the weapon or show my face. I never took my helmet off. I never lifted the dark shield above an inch of venting. All he saw was perfect paperwork, a gun, and some tiger ears. There was never a visual ID.

He seemed a nice guy. He spoke in a manner I’d call “police book professional”. His statements were factual. But I genuinely fear for his safety. Really. Do the visual. Someday he’s not gonna be talking to tiger ears. Somebody is gonna knock him down. Somebody is gonna hurt him. It was sad. I thought I was getting a smog inspection or an oil change.

I had lots of interesting experiences on this trip, but this was bizarre.

For the record, I reportedly broke the law in Oregon too. I pumped my own fuel. Believe it or not, this is a major offense. Police supposedly watch gas stations more often than they sit out waiting for prairie dogs. It's freaking stupid and I'm such a hooligan.

Close to the location of my "Arizona offense".

I don't know why the camera didn't pick up any shots of my return into western Washington. It's beautiful green country. The temps were in the 60s and it wasn't raining over Snoqualmie pass. Beauty and pleasantries for the last 90 minutes home. Ultimately the camera failure was my fault. May be I want to remember it as it appeared in my head instead of how it appeared in reality. Who knows.

But I'm home now.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mileage is the mission

I hadda string a pair of seven hundred mile days after Flagstaff. Well, I got my first one. Tomorrow will only be about 600-650 miles. Temps a are cooling and the going is easier. Pics and story as soon as I get home.

On Wednesday they'll do a bunch of blood tests before they fill me with glue. Betcha I fail the tests. I think I'm too anemic.... we'll see.

Batman returns

It's 5:15 am. Batman returns. I'm packing, loading, eating, going.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

New route

The new route out of Flagstaff, AZ is US 89 North to merge with 1-15.

I need two consecutive 700 mile days. I intend to stop somewhere beyond Twin Falls, Idaho tomorrow.

Dexamethasone in at 11:20 pm. Going to bed now.

Flagstaff, Arizona

I'm in Flagstaff, Arizona. It's not very far from Phoenix if you check the map.

Truth is, I had to crash. Physically crash. Chemo crash. I was going down hard and fast.

I pulled into a hotel room at 1:30. I turned the A/C to "Siberia" and I slept while my system rehydrated. I'll do my steroids in a couple of hours and get my system reactivated for tomorrow early.

For some reason, I've always liked Flagstaff as a landing zone. Dunno why. It's just a decent little place in the mountains. 7000 feet of altitude. Pine trees. Clear skies. Nice temperatures.

Flagstaff area.

The reason for Phoenix.

I haven't seen John and Lori for decades. Literally decades. John is my mom's oldest brother. We needed to connect at this juncture. The time-space continuum said it was time to bounce our molecules off one another now. We did. Lots and lots of words could have been used and were. Family. Europe. Commonality and history. Distance and time. Sadness. Happiness. Futures. Pasts.

It was right for us. They're good people. Good in the absolute sense. Just good. John and Lori are as lucky and happy as Ed and I. As lucky and happy as Rick and Gary. I'm incredibly pleased for them. Really.

Actual trip report stuff.

I left Dallas on Friday morning sorta early. My brother Rick and his hubby Gary saw me off kinda. Coffee and well wishes lasted lots of miles.

Since I was headed west and hadn't seen my bud Brad, I took the offramp to his office and we did a little brekkies at Whataburger. It was good seeing him. I genuinely hope he continues to spread his contagious good nature around. If you Wiki "nice guy", Brad's picture appears.

In fact, here's his Wiki pic standing next to some Kaczynski looking fool.

And then...... and then...... west Texas. The thrill, the distance, the dullness, the heat. On and on into Las Cruces, New Mexico. Very late arrival. Very early start in the morning.

Just west of Ft. Worth, TX. The beginning of a LONG day.

The middle of the long day.

Can you see the excitement in my eyes?

Finally some visible geology on I-10 south of the New Mexico border.

Still an hour and a half from El Paso, TX.

Las Cruces, New Mexico to Phoenix, Arizona. Jeepers was it HOT. I left Las Cruces pretty early in the morning and thought it was wonderful when the temps were at 86F. Speed and temps came close to matching for a while.

My cruise control was set a little faster than his.

Perspective of the west. How did the settlers see this? No roads, no water, just vast expanses. Day after day after day after day after day........

I've been told the average wagon train could do 20 miles a day. I hurtle along at almost 40 times their speed and complain. There are many different perspectives. Look into the future in one pic. Look into the past in another. Where am I besides here?

Phoenix bound.....

If you've ever been west, you know this. It's been an icon for more than 50 years.

Stunning Yucca plant at the side of the highway. Anyone have a guess how old something this tall must be? Would a century be out of place?

Rocks. Lotsa rocks.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The update

This might be a little sloppy. Using a strange laptop and I took my sleepy time pill.

Got a phone call from the SCCA allo team with a schedule. Looks like August 4 is when they'll drop the bomb.

3 weeks prior to that is when they prep me for the fall. Point being, after August 4 I'll be a boy with no immune system and no energy. Life will suck for a while.

But Ed will be stuck in Canada because he'll have no valid US visa. Yeah, that sucks because I'll be dying on one side of the border and he won't be able to cross.

Yeah, we're doing paperwork about that right now, but in the mean time, we're calling on all of our connections, friends, volunteers to do what they can.

We're not worried. We have PEOPLE. Good people who will contribute what they can simply because they're our people.

No, I'm not talking about money or food. I'm talkin' about the kinda folk that come over and wipe your face and drive you to the hospital. We have those people and I really consider us lucky. Our friends are the best.

Yeah, this is sloppy/rambly. I hope you get the point. If you're gonna volunteer to look in on a crotchety old grouch, just let us know.

Quick update. Will backfill soon.

West Texas into Las Cruces, New Mexico very late. No blogging, no contact.
Up early in Las Cruces to Phoenix with family. 109F and the F doesn't stand for Fahrenheit. I thought I was gonna melt.

Will blog/pic/post maybe tomorrow as I head north to Flagstaff.

Side note: I've lost 14 pounds in the last 9 days.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Wednesday report

I put Ed on an airplane back to Seattle this morning. We had an eventful and fun time here together. Visiting friends, seeing people, updating lives. It's been good. We have lots and lots of friends here. I missed them before we arrived. I'll miss them after we leave.

Friday morning is departure time for me. Saddle up and ride, cowboy, into the west.

Oh, people have asked about the mileage so far. The GPS shows just over 2300 so far. The route back will probably be 2500.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Ed and I have been back in Dallas for a couple of days now. Recognize that his is where I grew up. Recognize this is where Ed got his first few years of US experience. It is where he and I bonded. It is our history collectively and individually.

I guess it's time for a re-evaluation.

I miss the people. I miss some of the activities we had. That's all. I don't miss the place. Dallas is featureless on almost every level - geographically, culturally, experiencially. I'm over it.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The last day into Dallas.

Most of the good pics are already up. My last day made the long run into Dallas from Colorado City, CO. Scenery? Not much. Fun? None. Heat. Boredom. Winds. 100F in the Texas panhandle. Strong winds can be seen in the last photos. Yes, I was riding in a straight line. There's no wonder why this kind of trip is intimidating for newer folk. There's no wonder why few are prone to try. It's not "fun" when you get to this part of the journey.

When I arrived in Dallas, I was SPENT. Gone, done, finito'. I'm just getting back to the land of the non-zombie some 20 hours later. Thankfully Ed landed in DFW today. I feel so much better with him here.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Very weird day.

I't roughly 11:30 pm in Colorado City, CO (Hayes?). I'm tired and have been travelling for about 13 hours. I'll blog a bunch more tomorrow.

Couple of high points. Nice Wyoming State officer gave me a performance award for speed. Blue paper, no signature, no fine, no dates, no contact locations. Asked lots of friendly questions.... legitimately friendly, not the fishing kind..... He actually liked the tiger ears.

About an hour before that, I met Simon and Lisa of

I'll tell the story later. Coincidence is a strange thing.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

What a day!

The simple story. Words and pictures.

I entered Yellowstone National Park at the north entrance. There were bison within the first mile. Then it rained. Then it snowed. Then it hailed. Then the sun shone and I went to go see Old Faithful. It was.

Since I wanted to see the whole park, I elected to go back north to my original entrance and take the other side of the loop back down to the east. Some time into the voyage, I was reminded of the hail, the snow, and the rain. The temperature was 34F so I turned around again and went beyond Old Faithful on the western side of the loop. Temps rose into the 40's.

I saw moose, elk being stalked by wolves, lots of interesting birds, and the aforementioned bison. I also saw some of the most breathtaking scenery on the planet.

Spectacular is an overused term..... but today was truly spectacular in every sense. How many places are there in the world where you can cross the continental divide 3 times and the 45th parallel in the same day while seeing wildlife and majesty?

I'm in Jackson Hole, WY right now.

Old tourists:

Old snoozy:

Old Faithful: