Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Summer Vacation - Day Two

The last time I saw my dad before he passed away, 7 years ago this month for both instances, I was packing the bags on my bike, getting ready to leave, as he watched. He had a look on his face, not his normal look of disapproval, but something else. Quizzical, I guess is a good word for it.

"What?", I asked, as I cinched down a strap.

" Motorcycles mean a lot to you; don't they?" he said.

I looked at him for a moment, then answered, "Yes, Daddy, they do. Motorcycles are a big part of my life."

Then, someone else walked up and the conversation took a turn. Daddy and I didn't speak of it, any more.

A couple of weeks later, I was flying back to Tennessee for Daddy's funeral. As I sat on the plane, drinking a vodka tonic, I thought back to that conversation. In truth, I wondered (and still do) if it actually took him over 35 years to realize that my love of motorcycles was not a "phase". Or, was there some deeper meaning behind it that, due to the interruption, I will never learn?

You see, Daddy and I never really got along.  He constantly disapproved of everything I did, and let me know what a disappointment I was to him. To the day he died, if he saw me with a guitar he would say, " Nice guitar. You should learn to play one, some day... "

So, as I thought about his motorcycle comment, I was trying to figure out some negative context for it. But, I could not. I have to hope and believe that he did, indeed, just finally figure out just how much the motorcycle means in my life.

I was thinking about that as I crossed the state line from Kansas into Iowa, this morning. I was heading to Des Moines, where I planned to turn toward Grand Rapids on US 6. The miles were going by smoothly, overcast skies kept the temperature down to a comfortable low-80s range, and the scenery was knocking me out.

I live in a place where majestic mountain vistas are easy to find, and I love it. But the Midwest farmland I was traveling through, today, has a majesty of its own. The green fields of corn flow across the landscape like waves on an ocean. One hundred fifty year-old farmhouses appear around every turn, and lead me to ponder the history soaked into the walls and floorboards. Do the descendants of the original owner still live there? How many doorframes are marked with progressive heights of generations of kids, now grown old or ... dead for decades?

Travelling slowly and forgetting to get in a hurry; those are my goals on this trip as much as getting to my various destinations.

I stopped alongside the road to snap a picture of this tank which guards the entrance to an RV park.

And, I pulled off the highway and explored the small town of Lucas, Iowa, just because the old architecture pleased me.

I ended up getting to the motorcycle museum, in Animosa, 45 minutes before closing time. The gal at the entrance gave me a two-day pass so that I could take a quick look, today, and return tomorrow for a more thorough visit.

I had a great ride, today. Rain sprinkled me outside of Des Moines, but not enough to worry about. The bike is running great, and I'm feeling good.

Motorcycles do mean a lot to me, and today reminded me of that at every turn.


Saturday, July 01, 2017

Summer Vacation 2017 - Day 1

In June of 1974, I got my first motorcycle, a Suzuki TS-100 Enduro. I immediately started dreaming of riding to glances far-flung. For the most part, until I was in my late 30s, those dreams went unrealized. About as far as I ever rode was from Memphis to Nashville, to visit my uncle.

In 1998, my wife and I separated and I was, for the first time in my life, a single adult male. I answered to no one, and I could make whatever plans suited me. The next year, I rode from Denver, Colorado to Savannah, Tennessee, on my GSXR-1100, to visit my parents along with my sister and my nephew's who drove down from Pennsylvania. That was the first of many trips back to visit the parental units, via motorcycle. Probably the best of those included riding my 1996 Trident straight through, 1238 miles in 20 hours, back to my apartment in Sherman Street.

Nowadays, I limit the mileage to 500-700 miles per day. I'm no longer young and flexible enough to randomly throw down 20+ hours in the saddle.

Today, I rode about 610 miles in 11 hours, from my house in Denver to Cameron, MO. Along the way I stopped at a motorbike museum in St. Francis, KS, and rode past the prettiest cornfield I have ever seen (what wasn't corn was mowed and manicured like the fairway on a golf course). I've seen that field before, and it always looks like that. It's impressive, but also a bit puzzling...

Speaking of corn, I noticed that for every 100 miles I rode toward the east, the height of the corn in the fields increased by about a foot. I figure the corn in Pennsylvania will be about 15 feet tall once I arrive!

Riding alone, with no music or conversation, I always realize how much I miss just sitting and thinking in my day to day life. I want to hear the bike running, and the traffic around me, as I ride, do I don't wear earbuds. That leaves me alone with my thoughts, for long periods, just like the old days before constant internet connection made idle time and daydreaming obsolete.

I love it.

Weather as perfect (sunny, peak temps in the high-80s), except for a bit more wind than I care for out on the plains. But, it's always windy on the plains.

The forecast for tomorrow is more of the same. I hope my luck holds.

Time for bed, now. Tomorrow, I Head for Iowa and The National Motorcycle Museum.

(For  some reason, Blogger won't let me post photos from my phone. So, no pictures, today...😕)