Camping with Betty-Sioux

Many of my friends know that I like to camp. But when I camp, I usually pack my backpack as light as I can, walk a few miles into the mountains, set up my hammock, start my jet boil, hang up my bear bag, and enjoy life. But I’ve decided to try a different style of camping, and that will mean a different approach.

This is Betty-Sioux. She is a 2015 Indian Chief Vintage. My wife semi-affectionately refers to her as my “mistress.” That color is a throwback to a 1957 Ford Thunderbird. The sheepskin seat is from Alaska and only needs to be fed once each week.

So, I have almost the same problem when I take my wife camping as when I take my “mistress.” Sweetie-Pie doesn’t like to stay in hotels under 4 stars. Betty-Sioux doesn’t like to dip her tires off the pavement. Fortunately, my motorcycle doesn’t get to vote. Sweetie-pie on the other hand has been exercising her veto power over accompanying me on camping trips for a long time. Although she does sometimes pick me up after I’ve been a few days in the woods. I am very grateful that she drives hours sometimes to haul me back to civilization, and I don’t even complain that she makes me keep the windows down all the way back home.

After a bit of research I found a campground just off the Blue Ridge Parkway that is oddly enough called the Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground. They offered everything I was looking for in a camping spot, and I was very pleased that the trail around the campground was a tightly packed gravel and dirt path. Not bad at all.

View of the Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground’s cabin area

So I spent one night sleeping warm and snug and letting the creek serve as my lullaby. The chill in the mountain air in the morning still let me know that this was truly camping. And as I piloted my bike up the hill and onto the Blue Ridge Parkway that morning I decided that I need to do this again. Soon.

Nice campsite

Dusty, isn’t it?

I thought I’d come into this blog and see if the lights would still come on.

Wow, some cobwebs and dust, but it’s still part of the viable interwebs.  Well, since we’re here…

Every since I could remember anything, I’ve been aware that I get a kick out of looking forward, anticipating, planning.  From planning the next round of cops and robbers, to mapping out plans A, B, and C for our family Disney vacation, I was making maps, dreaming up “what if’s,”  and imagining the fulfillment of all my hopes.  These traits have always been a part of my personality.  Maybe growing up with mountains around me opened up the pathways in my brain to always wonder what was just over the next hill.  Maybe it’s just something God put into my wiring that helps me get up out of bed and want to begin a plan or project.

You may think this character trait would lead to restlessness but for me it has really only stoked the fires of passion and discovery.  I like to see a plan through to the end.  It may not end the way I thought, but at least I’ll be there at the finish line to learn something for the next one.

This blog started as a way to document the preparation and experience of my cross country ride.  Since then it’s been on the back burner of my creative outlets.  I’ve only picked it up to throw in a picture or two, or turn loose a thought that was sloshing around in my brain for too long.

Well, it’s time for another project that I think may fit pretty well in this space.  I know the world has lost it’s collective mind a bit more than usual over the last year.  I know that anyone that reads this is all too familiar with discussion of infection rates, masks, and social distancing.  The shake up of jobs, lives, plans, and families has us all looking for peace in the middle of the madness.  Some people are eating their way through the crisis.  Some people exercise.  Some express themselves creatively.  Some crawl into isolation like a warm blankie on a stormy night.

Me?  I went a little nutty and committed to another crazy idea.  Well, really, two crazy ideas.  I’m once again on track to challenge myself and check something off my bucket list.  Last August I rode my first Iron Butt Saddlesore 1000.  Yeah, it’s a real thing.IMG_7594

The IBA (Iron Butt Association) certifies various motorcycle endurance rides and gives certificates marking them for the rider.  The baby ride is 1000 miles in 24 hours.  Yeah, that’s the shortest one.  Last August I rode with a group from Indian Motorcycle of Marietta as part of Southeast Iron Butt Inaugural ride.  At the last second I was given the title of “ride leader.”  This was my first attempt and now I was supposed to ‘lead’ the group.  Yikes.  But(t) we did it.  We finished it in about 20 hours through some rough weather.  We made it.  We are now official Iron Butts and along the way we raise some money for https://operationhomefront.org/

After I could walk without a limp, I apparently forgot how difficult it was.  So I signed up for the second Southeast Iron Butt Tour.  Again the money raised will go to help veterans and their families through Operation Homefront.  Again, I am the ride leader.  This time, though, I have experience.  One whole ride.  We leave at 4am on April 30th and finish that night at American Biker Indian just outside Charleston, South Carolina.

Last time I got to see my older sister and nieces at a stop.  I’m hoping to find them again this year at some point in the journey.  They have the world’s best cookies!IMG_7582

Over 200 bikers will be funneling in from 15 different states, all doing their own route of 1000 miles in 24 hours.  After we all get a few hours of sleep there will be a party on May 1st from 12-5.  We’ll give out awards, have a silent auction to raise some more contributions, and just avoid sitting on our bikes for a few hours.

From now until then I have to try and stay excited.   Aw, who am I kidding?  It’s not like I have to try and stay excited.  I actually have to try and keep a lid on things so I don’t attack people with the passion of a vegetarian/crossfitter/activist.

So, as I’m dusting off the shelves in this blog I will have something to talk about.  Our group, and all the other groups could use a few prayers for safety.  Oh, and if you ride and would like to join us here’s the link – https://sites.google.com/view/charityironbuttrides/home

Meanwhile, I hope you are staying well, and loved, and mustering through with your own brand of coping craziness.

It doesn’t get any better

Father’s Day 2017

4 hours of riding through North Georgia. 

A quick stop for a terrific smoked pulled pork sandwich and a sweet tea. 

Arrive home to both daughters and my wife. 

Grilled rib-eyes, baked potatoes, sweet corn, and carrot cake. 

Watching the sun go down as I sip bourbon and smoke the cigar I’d been saving for a very special occasion. 

God, if heaven offers even more than this, how will I be able to stand it?

Good Days

The last week has been fun.  Everything from friends celebrating my new ride with me, IMG_5451to co-workers grabbing rides to lunch meetings,IMG_5444 to a ride today with my brother-in-law.

This morning started by seeing my 17 year old off to take her ACT’s.  It felt like another string was cut on the way to launching her out to her own life and family.  Don’t get me wrong, I want her to be her own person and have her own life apart from my values and authority… but the sound of each one of those snapping strings that have tied her life to mine from before she was born… well, it’s not an easy process for any of us, is it?

Then I went to get my brother-in-law back out on the road.  We’ve ridden the Blue Ridge Parkway together, and gone on some day trips around North Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina.  Lately, however, he’s been sidelined a lot from a bad knee.  He can’t ride for more than a few hours without it becoming a painful distraction.

Today he braved it.  We rode out and found ourselves rediscovering roads that led us by marble quarries, orchards, coffee shops, minion planters, trout streams, blue grass players, gold museums, and of course BBQ!

 

His leg lasted about half a day.  Not bad.  And much better than languishing on the couch.

After that my day went to the gym, the grill, the table, the shower, then back to the patio where I enjoyed some time with a friend.

Good days.  I guess they’re all good days, aren’t they?

She’s Home

I admit, I’ve been a bit obsessed with this brand.

And now that it’s in my garage, there’s a piece of me that understands I certainly do not deserve it.

But I like it. IMG_4715

I like it when the mother of my children talks about getting a new jacket so she will look good going for rides with me.

I like it when my 17 year old daughter meets me in the driveway and wants to go for a lap around the neighborhood with me.IMG_5416

This is one smooth riding machine that has been on my bucket list for a long, long time.  And now my plan is to fully appreciate every ride I am blessed to have.  I hope to see you out there.

Happy Mother’s Day

Today, I rode home from Macon on my 2015 Indian Chief Vintage.  Riding always helps me think.

I remembered my Mom.  For as long as I can remember, I would ask my mother what she wanted for Mother’s day and she would reply with something that would benefit me; new shoes, new clothes…  Selfless in every conceivable way, she loved my kids like that too.  2001 was the last Mother’s day I was able to celebrate with her. joyce 2

I remembered I owe so much to the people around me.

I remembered that the woman who drove me down to pick up the bike and was following me through Atlanta traffic was the most amazing influence in my life.  Without her, I’m not certain there would be a me.  I am certain there would not be a me that I liked.  She has shaped the lives of our children with the power of her heart.  Her quiet, constant, beautiful care has changed lives of people around her, lifting them in ways so extraordinary that even she refuses to believe she had anything to do with it.

There will be time here soon to detail my new, undeserved ride, but right now, please, help me remember all the people in our lives who let us take them by the heart, and give of themselves in ways that overwhelm us, lift us up, and give us a better path, but somehow, they never feel as if they’ve done enough.

I wish we could all tell them, that what they’ve done is so much more than enough.  So much more than we deserve.

It’s been a great ride.

Oh! That Jacket

Some of you already know about my obsession with certain brands and vendors.  I don’t know why, but sometimes I get hooked on certain manufacturers, or shops and they build in my brain to nearly mythic proportions.

Weber grills.  Ferguson’s Meat Market.  Brooks running shoes.  Busse Combat Knives. Hennessee Hammocks. Indian Motorcycles.  Langlitz Leather.

Each one of these brands holds a special place in my dreams, …or wallet…or memory.   So, in the spirit of me being without a ride today, I think I should give a report on the leather jacket my wife got me for Christmas.

See previous post here – https://themotorcycletourer.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/on-a-warm-winters-night/

I was wearing this jacket on my last motorcycle ride.

See previous post here – https://themotorcycletourer.wordpress.com/2017/04/02/goodbye-old-friend/

And after finding that my bike was a mess, and I wasn’t too bad, I started going over all my gear.  I credit the Langlitz with saving me the trouble of picking gravel out of my arm and back, and slightly cushioning the blow to my hip hitting the pavement.

Unfortunately, there is hardly a mark on the jacket.  It will be a completely useless prop as I relate the story of the last ride on my C109 Boulevard.  If I showed them the scuff, everyone listening will think I bumped my arm on the bar reaching for the next beverage.

It’s one fine jacket.  I can’t wait to find another ride so I can wear it again.

Goodbye Old Friend

You could not ask for better weather to ride than right now in Georgia.  Spring has sprung and unfortunately between my work hours, riding hours have been few, and it looks like they’re going to be fewer for a while.

I haven’t been writing on this blog because life has been clipping along at a pretty fast pace.  But, hey, I’ve got a little time this afternoon, so let’s catch up.

On Saturday, March 25th I was out running a few errands.  I found myself heading toward the local Indian motorcycle dealership to drool over the bikes and ask if they had any discount tickets to the motorcycle flat track races at Dixie Speedway later that night.  I turned onto a two lane highway and traffic was unusually thick, even by local standards.  It was stop and go, stop and go, stop and go.  The car in front of me stopped.  I stopped.  The car behind me was still on “go.”

As I looked up from the asphalt trying to feel my fingers and toes and evaluate what just happened, I heard a voice from the lady driving the vehicle that just hit me.  “I was putting down my window!”  Apparently Cadillacs have a unique window system that requires the driver to use both eyes before adjusting.  She continued, “This is my second accident in the last few weeks.”  Strangely, this information didn’t make me feel any better.

After finishing a few moment of self-evaluation I was ready to start some movement and see how sitting up would feel.  But by that time a small crowd had gathered and expressed a distinctly strident opinion that I should not move until the medics got there.  Two in the crowd claimed to be nurses.  One in the crowd was a biker.  They all voted and agreed to keep me on the ground by relating stories of the horrible effects suffered by friends of friends who now were completely paralyzed and in savage pain because they moved too soon after a minor accident.  Reluctantly, I stayed down and tried to determine if any important fluids were leaving my body without permission.

As I was lying on the ground discussing with the people standing over me my own ability to move, I really couldn’t survey the scene completely.  I think I missed a lot of the action.  The lady that caused the accident apparently melted into a puddle nearby.  I never saw her again.  My bike had travelled far enough forward from the impact to hit the car in front of me.  The two people from that car suffered minor damage to their bumper and were amazingly supportive.  From my vantage point, I couldn’t really get a good view of my bike, so I had to ask the most important question.  “How’s my bike?”

Now, there are bikers, and cagers and the difference was immediately apparent.

ME – “How’s my bike?”

CAGERS – “Oh, it’s not too bad at all.”

THE BIKER – “Dude…”

ME – “Really?”

THE BIKER – “Yeah.”

I knew it was a mess.

Eventually, the medics got there, sirens, lights, and all.  We squeezed hands, followed moving fingers, and talked convivially about a free ride to the emergency room.  They gave me a hand up, helped me remove my helmet, and I kindly refused their offer for a ride, promising instead to take the trip with my wife as soon as she got there.  They left, and I began discussions with the police and a local wrecker service.

Oh, yeah.  I needed to call my wonderful bride.  I have to be honest, I was not looking forward to her reaction.  Had I just taken my last ride?   Well, I still don’t know why she agreed to marry me nearly a quarter century ago, and I’m completely at a loss to explain why she’s stuck by me all that time, but her reactions have never failed to surprise me.  She was as calm and controlled as a combat veteran going to the grocery store.  I love her so.

After I learned I could stand, I also learned that I was sore, and swollen, and stiff.  I kept walking, with a fine John Wayne limp, so I wouldn’t lock up too much later.  We saw my bike loaded onto a flatbed, and we drove off to the emergency room to get a few pictures of my insides.

She was 800 pounds give or take.  She had custom pull backs, custom fuel controller, home made custom air covers, Corbin seat, high flow air filters, and few other odds and ends that made me happy to log the miles.  She saw me through Sturgis, and Yellowstone, and trips with my girls.  She took me home to West Virginia, and only once failed to bring me back to my home (through no fault of her own).  Goodbye old friend.  Even though you were only a machine, I am sure you helped make me a better man.

Now, I’m not saying that it was a sign from above, but at the emergency room my doctor was… an INDIAN!  Although I never found out what tribe Dr. Patel was from, I’m still fairly sure the almighty was giving me a direction for my next bike.

So, nothing broken.  Still a bit sore.  A few bruises.  All my safety gear did exactly what it was supposed to do.  It’s why I wear the boots, gloves, helmet, and Kevlar jeans all the time.  In twelve years of riding, it was my first real life test for all of it, and I hope the last.

So that’s the situation today, as I sit on my back contemplating the hole in my garage with a glass of wine, and a cigar.  I’m waiting to hear the next step from the insurance company.  There is no argument of who is “at fault.”  The adjuster that saw my bike hinted that it was a total loss.

I think I just heard a bike going by and I’m jealous.  I wonder if it was an Indian?