Summer must be a day away

It’s February 19, and 70 degrees of wonderful Fahrenheit sun-shining goodness here in North Georgia.  Yes, I have been riding through some not-so-wonderful days.  Rain, cold, gray skies that can help teach us all that the sun will come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow… Okay, sorry, it’s just that today was so beautiful it made me think I was actually in a musical.

Most of my rides through January were errands, commutes, or just because I wanted to get the bike out of the garage and shake my fist at winter.  There is always a day here and there in January where you can ride comfortably in North Georgia.  The trouble is finding that day and coordinating it with the rest of your life.  It doesn’t always come when my calendar is ready for it.

Although I did manage a ride or two to grab some food.img_5286

 

 

 

 

Also, there’s a one hour round trip from my house to Awesome-ville Dawsonville Georgia – the root of NASCAR nation.

The Steelers made it to the first quarter of the AFC Playoff!img_5277

 

 

 

At the end of January there was a four wheel trip to take in a motorcycle show with a friend who I’m trying to convince to buy a bike.  These weren’t bike salesmen…img_5283

My hand was obviously shaking when trying to take further pictures at the show.

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My Scottish friend with some strange blurry super biker girl with a plastic cross bow.  This is not the bike he will buy.

Today was a three hour loop through Blue Ridge, and then down from the tip top of Georgia’s border with North Carolina and Tennessee all the way down Hwy. 60 into Dahlonega.

Blue Ridge is an amazing town with history, and breweries, and restaurants (The Black Sheep is featured in the picture at the top.  Don’t tell my wife, but I want to take her there for our anniversary), stores that love dogs, and a scenic train.

No more pictures.  I was too busy riding some curves that I hadn’t seen since last fall.

Groundhog day has come and gone, and I’ve lost track of how many weeks we’re supposed to be hoping for a reprieve from salt, sand, and sitting on a couch by the fire.  Amazing riding today.  Just thinkin’ about tomorrow clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow ‘til there’s none.   Tomorrow, tomorrow, there’s always tomorrow…

 

On a Warm Winter’s Night

It’s cold (for Atlanta), and raining, and gray. The days are short. The dark nights are getting longer. But if you look, there are bright spots. Houses lit up for Christmas. Fireplaces with crackling logs (yes we have fireplaces in Georgia, mostly for looks). The smell of baked goodies that you will get in trouble for nibbling on because “those are going to be gifts!”

I confess, I do not like winter. The cold doesn’t make me feel alive. It makes me feel attacked. But I do so love some of the things that come with the cooler weather.

And that brings me to the subject of jackets. Specifically, motorcycle jackets. More specifically, the greatest leather motorcycle jackets produced. Anywhere. Period.firstlanglitzjacket-300x204

Ross Langlitz was working at a glove makers shop when his love of motorcycles and need for gear led him to build his own leather jacket. His riding buddies wanted one like the one he wore, and it wasn’t long before he opened his own shop. He started making leather gear in 1947 and now his granddaughter is carrying on the family tradition.

Each jacket is carefully measured, cut, and manufactured to the customer’s specifications. The quality is unsurpassed and you have to admit, Ross was quite a character.rosscolumbia-150x150

This past summer I got to tour the shop. I met the staff, and saw the same sewing machines that have been stitching out jackets for decades of people you’ve seen in movies, and on the road. Bennie carefully took my measurements, and patiently went over options. Then he went over them again. And then one more time. This place really wants to get it right.

It’s cold now. In a month or so, I should receive my own Langlitz jacket to keep me warm out there. Actually, the thought is making me warm right now.langlitz

 

The Last Generation to Look Out the Car Window — Fuzzygalore.com – Girlie Motorcycle Blog

Are we 40-somethings the last generation of kids to sit and look out the car window? Will we be the last backseat-sitters to watch the world pass by – miles and hours at a time? We didn’t have portable DVD players, handheld-games or smartphones. We just sat there looking, imagining, dreaming. We read books and…

via The Last Generation to Look Out the Car Window — Fuzzygalore.com – Girlie Motorcycle Blog

This is one of those posts you read, and think … “Wow, I was thinking that…I think.  Or at least it’s exactly what I meant to be thinking.  She just wrote it before I did.”

Great post.

Overwhelmed

Honestly, when I began the blog I wasn’t sure what it’s purpose would be. Maybe a record of the trip (it was). Maybe a way to stay in touch with my friends and family who would want to keep up with my adventure (it was). Or maybe a way to get those inside-my-own-helmet thoughts down in some coherent form (yep). Today, I think this blog is “D” – all of the above.img_5138

I’ve been neglecting this blog. Life offline has taken a much bigger priority since I completed my cross country trip. But today I have a few minutes to catch up and reflect. My heart mind and soul are in a peaceful and extremely grateful place today. Not just because there’s a national holiday celebrating food, well, maybe a little, but mostly because much has been entrusted to me. More than my portion. More than I will ever deserve. I’m in my chair, with my coffee, dog at my side, and sipping good strong coffee in my jammies, watching the Macy’s parade playing on low volume, and listening to my girls cook, and craft, and plan in the kitchen.

Life is short. No one get’s off this rock alive. But even in the most chaotic, burdened lives, I believe there are moments to celebrate. Breathing. Sunshine. Holding hands. In all of time and space, can we even begin to comprehend what miracles these moments offer us? No effort earns them. No charity can give them. They are mercy and grace beyond anything mankind is capable of generating.img_5147

My prayers today are wide ranging. I pray that you are riding this wave of unspeakable gratitude in your spirit along with me. I pray that you are awake and alert to the warmth and love in that fleeting glance, or the smell of baking bread. I pray that your rides are safe, and you put the kickstand down somewhere you will get a bear hug from someone who has been waiting for you.

I would. I should. I did.

Yep, I’ve been away a while. Thinking, digesting, sulking, and not really finding a reason to keep posting here without an ongoing narrative of my travels.

After reaching the west coast and having some mechanical problems that changed my TENTATIVE plans, I flew home, made arrangements to ship the broken bike back, and went back to work. It was an odd time. A lot of people asked about my trip, and said they’d love to have gone, and they listened as I chose a single experience to relate that might in some way represent the entire trip…but it always fell short. I’m sure both in their understanding and my telling of the story.

And then there was the empty space in my garage. It wasn’t just the empty garage, it was an empty piece of they way I spend my time. It was a space where I used to walk out of my house and chose to take some time for me to recharge, and refocus.

Now, instead of getting out of bed, packing up my gear, and heading out into an unfamiliar landscape, meeting new people, and breathing in some stress-free air… well, I am ashamed to say, I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. I spent time online seeking advice on how to repair my broken bike. They all agreed that I was going to have to crack open the transmission; an expensive process. I sulked some more.

I honestly do not like the idea of being that attached to a piece of metal. I also honestly have to admit…I certainly am.

Well, the piece of metal arrived on a huge truck. Thank you haulbikes.com. After recharging the battery and hopping on to refill the gas tank, I confirmed that indeed, the transmission was not downshifting. I knew it wouldn’t heal itself, but still … eesh. Dollar signs were multiplying in my head. How much would I spend? Was it really worth it to spend a couple of thousand dollars on a bike that was probably worth $5,000?

The day came where I knew the next morning I would take it into the shop and brace myself for the professional bad news. I stood in my garage looking at the bike. Then I thought…”Well, I can’t really break it.” So I grabbed a couple of wrenches and started taking some things apart. There is a small panel on the underside of the frame that is designed to keep dirt from accumulating on the end of the gearshift link arm. It’s also designed very well to actually collect the dirt at a point that impedes the arm from easy travel. In other words – there was a big hairball on the end of the rod that was keeping my shifter from working! After about 20 minutes with some WD-40, a rag, and a few wrenches … My bike shifts like butter.

I WAS ELATED!!! I saved those imaginary thousands! I had a working bike again! Then it hit me.

I had at least three days on the west coast that I could have been riding. I only needed a rag and some WD-40 and I could have… I should have…

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That’s been some of my journey since I last posted. I’ve come to the conclusion that I will not live in “Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda.” I’m so grateful for the time I was given to make my trip. I’m so grateful to have that empty space in my garage again sporting a shiny piece of working machinery. And I’m grateful to be out on the roads in North Georgia enjoying the fall weather. I am truly a blessed man.

Seaside and Cannon Beach

I know many of you have suffered through my “point my phone, shut one eye, and shoot” system of picture taking.  I thought you may enjoy a few shots from time my cross-country trip officially ended at Seaside Beach in Oregon, and the celebration continued at Cannon Beach.  This time Ken Hawkins, a real live published photographer had the camera.  I hope you enjoy seeing them as much as we did making them.

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My cross-country trip is ending in a way that I did not expect.

Last night I had the honor of spending time with a friend and his family. He just had some great news from a doctor. It was one of those trips to the doctor that could have gone either way. He gathered his sons and wife close to him to have dinner and talk about what had just happened. It had gone well. Very well. They celebrated together. They celebrated with each other. They celebrated because their lives had each experienced a rattle that shook them up enough to appreciate what they had.  They saw the miracle of what they take for granted each and every day.

I think, the time spent on the road didn’t open up any windows where I could peer into heaven. It didn’t give me insight into who I really, Really, REALLY am. No angel appeared with a sword in hand advising me to not go down a certain road.

As I was riding through the Black Hills of South Dakota I took a scenic diversion route (Some may call it a wrong turn but I was on my motorcycle so it doesn’t count). I went up through a shaded valley floor lined with occasional houses with their backs up against the hills. Every time someone came out the front door of their house, they had a view of a gorgeous creek meandering down through the center of a perfect green valley pasture, and trees reaching up toward the sky, and rocky gray cliffs serving as home to deer, elk, and bear. As I rode up through this community I wondered if they ever stepped out and didn’t notice how incredibly blessed they were. The thought of being surrounded by so much… and yet allowing the urgency of daily moments to cloud it over …it rolled around in my brain for the rest of the trip. I wondered how many times I’ve missed a moment of beauty, grace, love, or compassion because I’ve been focused on being on time, making sure I got my fair share, or simply missing the fact that I’ve always had so much more than I could ever deserve.

Last night I thought about it again. When I was around the table with my friends laughing with relief and joy, relishing the moment given to them.

As I stepped out onto the sand of the Oregon coast, I took the bottle of water I had been carrying since leaving Tybee Island and poured it into the Pacific. It was a marker. Another year and another milestone accomplished from the bucket list. I’m tired. I’m relieved. I’m a bit giddy at times thinking that it’s over, and remembering a few of the roads I’ve travelled.

Maybe the loudest concept speaking in my soul right now is to not take any ordinary moment for granted. There are none. Outside my door is a world of miracle after miracle after miracle. Inside my house is an opportunity to thoughtfully and humbly be grateful for each friend, each rare-precious-beautiful loved one. I have been given the ability to be aware of each conscious breath I take inside a living machine I did not build and do not have a long-term lease to operate.

Thank you, God, for letting a fool like me see a few of the things you have made and love. It’s been a great ride. So far.IMG_5043