Monday, April 12, 2010

And I'm back

After a serious break from writing I'm back to it and have quite the sum to update. I'll be giving a full barage of stories and interesting points of my life soon, just checking in to remember how to make all this and see if I remember my codes. Since I do, I'll be back shortly.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wedding Week

Having successfully made it across the country, it was now time for the bachelor party. Wish I could remember where it was....dowtown Buffalo....near the Bucking Buffalo....maybe on main street? Eh, it doesn't really matter. Drinks were about what you would expect for well drinks. The food was surprisingly good, and kept getting better as the night went on. Remembering back to other days it seems to hold true that as sobriety goes down and random slop in front of you looks and tastes better. Tickets were being sold for raffles and 50/50 and there was some little awkward minglings between the two generations present. So jokes continued, the main one of the night......"hey look at his hands. Ok tell them the story of what you did". Thanks guys. So the typical debauchery rolled on: a blow up doll here, a power drill there, a poor waitress that will never work a party like that again. Enter now some pretty boy filling in behind the bar. Order a drink, sip it, think think think.....somethings missing........alright boy, a ruma nd coke is supposed to have two things in it. "Its got coke and ice". 5 moderately angry, slightly innebriated gents eye him up, "I'm going to guess you got that black eye for a reason, didn't you?" After that he very quickly restocked the liquor and was well behaved the rest of the night.


From here it gets a little hazy, very possibly from the oh so well known battle cry "A SHOT FOR THE ROAD". Sentence is hammered down.....Tequila shots are passed hand to hand. Here's to Milt. Gulp...slam.....recoil. Alright who is the asshole? That tequila was definatley no good. The bar tender grins very smugly and reminds us "the open tab only covered well drinks and I didn't want to charge you". You win this round pretty boy, but we'll be back and not nearly as well behaved.

To the limo, and oh what a parade it was. Drunk kid, drunk kid, blow up doll, two drunk kids carrying a box of various liquors, two more kids trying to walk out with the food, and a trail of uncles grinning about the waving parade that is having difficulty making it through the door. The plan as far as I know....."Tandy take a shot".....alright back to the plan......"A round for milt"......alright so....."hey get the blow up doll back inside the limo while its moving".....uh what the hell was I thinking about? much for a pre-emptive damage plan for the night, gonna have to wing it. Bottles continue to flow around the limo until the door i'm leaning on opens behind me. I turn, tuck and barrel roll into the parking lot like I'm in Vietnam clearing a hellicopter. The driver rushes to catch my arm appologizing for catching me off guard as everyone else slowly stumbles out laughing. Josh's voice echos in the background....he's not drunk thats normal. With all the adventure I stop look around and realize this isn't the bar hopping i was told it would be. So where the hell are we....blacked windows.....several limos in the lot.....only guys everywhere......big flashy sign.......stripclub. Hmmm....alright not what I was expecting, but whatever. Walk through the several sets at doors with less than impressive security guards between each one, and into the main show room. Glancing around brings me to one conclusion.....its clearly the B team on right now....oh look a bar. :ouis my friend car to join me for a drink? We are entirely indecisive. So the Bartender pours out 3 Soco and Lime shots. Certainly not my first choice but she likes to so whatever. Loius gags a little and we chuckle, she turns to me and says "19.50" and I gag a lot. Excuse me, did you say it was 6.50 a shot? Well that settles that, I'll be in the Limo if anyone needs me. As I'm wandering back out to the front Milt grabs me by the shoulders, turns me and yells "its Blenk! Go Get Him!". Well, well. Our highschool history teacher still driving limos because he couldn't get in anywhere else. Normally I would have no problem with that but once you meet this man its understandable. I wander towards him, we make eye contact and he turns and nearly sprints for the door.....haha guess he remembers me. For me not of the rest of the time there is spent in the parking lot with our limo driver Pete and the free liquor......6.50 my ass. Eventually everyone wandered out and we headed back to Josh's place and it all went down hill from there.

The week wait in between was rather uneventful. Very little riding weather. A few outings with friends, typical of Akron when everyone is broke.

The rehersal dinner at the new salvators was amazing. The steak dinner quite literally melted before it could be chewed. The small crowd was more than entertaining. In normal form for him, the groom attempted to get everyone's attention for a speach by tapping on a glass and it shattered. After the dinner the groomsmen headed back to Milt and Jenna's for the night. Nothing overly eventful because we undoubtedly had a long day ahead.

Wedding details to come.....

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Riding in

Wake up, roll over, observe the lake falling from the sky amongst bangs of thunder.......screw it.....roll back over and go back to sleep. Finally get up and watch the weather maps for a bit, then find a break. Road like a bat out of hell between two storms, angry clouds in front and back. Roll into Buffalo late Friday night, and stop at Mighty Taco. So the over view: 13 states, 2737 miles, 5 days. And the big question is, Now What? After this trip I have decided that I will undoubtedly do it again, only when I have at least one other person with me and have a lot more time. So what do I do next? I've realized in a hurry that the list of crazy and seemingly impossible things to do in my life is getting rather short and I'd like to believe I still have a lot of life left. The first question I got when I came back....."its one hell of an accomplishment, how does it feel?" And honestly its not as amazing as one might think. When I pulled into the driveway I certainly laughed, thinking "I can't believe I actually just did that". And then the reality of "what next" sank in. There was a lot of time and mileage for reflection. One of those getting to know yourself experiences, and honestly I think I'm sure of less about life before I really gave myself a chance to think about it. One thing I am certain of: I took a trip in my truck down the street to use the ATM before Milt's stag party, and it just didn't feel right. Nothing about riding in an enclosed vehicle seems natural now. So now Buffalo for another week waiting for the wedding and then looking at the unknown again.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Day 4

Up at 530am with the sun, thank you chirping bird. On the road by 630am, to goal for the day, Ohio. Eastern states are quick to go by, at least faster than the west coast. I believe someone told me that if you end up in another state on the west coast you meant to be there, while if you don't pay close enough attention on the east coast while driving you could end up in another state completely by accident. I suppose its kind of true. Today was Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana, maybe a little of Ohio. Very easy riding. There was considerably more traffic that previous days, but the roads are kept up pretty well. There were a few points that the highway was closed and alternate routes were needed. Minor inconveniences, but it did allow me to spend some time riding along the Mississippi River which was a nice sight. Really nothing special about the day, other than the excitement is starting to wear off of the large trip and the new excitement is starting to settle in of "I've almost completed this". The only difficulty while driving came from a semi driver upset with the fact he was tailgating the car in front of him and they weren't speeding up, decided to merge into me. The car in front of me passed by his cab and he turned his signal on for one blink and immediately began to swerve even though I was right next to his door. I swerved to the left, over the white line but not off the road, while laying on the horn and opened up the throttle. I was able to safely speed by the engine as the car in front must have seen it and sped up as well to give me some room. When the semi driver noticed me he didn't alter speed but turned pale white with shock as I stood up and proudly awarded him the one finger gold star award for excellence in driving. He continued to stare blankly until the next rest stop where he pulled off and I lost sight of him. Afterward, it was just driving hard. It seems as though when you have a goal in mind or an area become familiar it takes, infinitely longer to get anywhere than if you just decide to go and see how far you get. But about 8pm I rolled into western Ohio and stayed with my brother Chris (TW). A nice dinner at a gourmet grilled cheese store/pub that really is pretty amazing, watching some typical punkish bands down town and then some much needed sleep and waiting for the storms that rolled in to pass over. I should eb able to make it to NY tomorrow (friday). Total today 716 miles.

Day 3

-The first state sign I have seen
-The sun setting over Adair, Iowa

Up and ready to roll about 830am in whatever time zone this is. Later than I wanted but still not bad. Within the first hour I had crossed the border into Nebraska. Hey look, clouds, haven't seen those in weeks. Everyone warned me, "Nebraska is long and flat and boring. Be careful or you'll fall asleep while riding" so I decide to do the smart thing and put my Ipod in one ear so I can still hear traffic but have some music going to entertain me. The headphones I had were borrowed and painful to have in with a helmet so I decide at the next stop I need gas, I'll pick up a cheap new set that fits me better. So I stop right at the state border, fill up the tank and wander into the store. There were two middle aged women working at the counter that eyed me up as I walked in. I greeted them asked if they had headphones and was laughed at "why would they be in this town?". Puzzled I mentioned to them that I was just passing through to which they both got excited about my first time in Nebraska and went on a 15 minute discussion between themselves about where I should stop along the way to see the sights. The ultimate conclusion was that I was incorrect when I needed headphones and instead my next stop would be in Sidney where I would go to Cabella's and check out the "really neat" wildlife display. I exit the store, paused for a moment to regain myself. After 15 minutes of smiling and nodding and sounding like a cop recording a statement of a UFO sighting, "ooooo......AHHHHH.....really?", I paused outside looked around wondering "what just happened" and then went about my way deciding I would not be making any more stops, other than for gas, that encounter was quite sufficient for me. So through Its was amazingly exciting. The process was about to repeat for a third time when something different happened, the car in front of me swerved wildly to the right. There is something laying in the crown. Red flags, warning sirens the works start going off. Alright options, swerve left....hit the car next to me; stay straight, buckle down and ramp it...potential of puncturing tires, having it pick up by the front tire get tangled destroying the bike and throwing me, losing control when the back tire hits; swerve right.....there may be enough room in the median for me to sneak by, loose gravel on one side means loss of control but it is well paved, worst case i loose control and skip into the grass, least possible damage to the bike and myself, we have a winner. So I swerve right, cross the line, cross the roll strip and just before I go off the road cut it back, Everything slows down, I see the front tire passing by the crown, and see the metal reinforcements shining out of the end of the tear watching it come close and....oh shit....THWANG. I"M HIT....the tail end of the bike hops sideways a few times, and just like from the movies text starts pouring over the inside of my visor with damage possibilities, the part of the bike that was hit flashing in red, required actions. Ok I am not in control....I'm sideways....what did Dale and Kathy (rider training instructors) say to do.....Clutch in, throttle down, downshift, gun throttle, swing hips while releasing clutch. The bike roared in disgust with the gear selection, the tire squealed as it regained the pavement, and everything went back on path as I threw my weight over. Pull over and think. Pulled over, first thing go back and pull the damn crown out of the road so no one else hits it. Next check me, boot is cut....hmmm minor at best but i need to take my helmet off, My heart is pounding so hard every time it beats I get choked by the chin strap. Now the bike....crash bars ruined....front tire and fenders fine.....all cables still connected....radiator/coolant lines protected by the crash So the crash bars did their job. To give a rough idea of the force of hitting this crown, the crashing which i talk about is a 1 and 1/4 inch chrome pipe that sits in the front of the bike to protect my legs/engine if i fall or hit anything. They were sitting about an inch in front of the foot pegs and have now been bent over 6 inches over top of my foot and shifter. Have you ever bent a chrome pipe? Its not easy. The next town thankfully had a Harley Davidson store. I had been stopping for gas but rode there to see their mechanic. He looked it over, chuckled and shared a story of when the same thing had happened to him many years prior. I wandered around the store as he did his best to beat the bars back to the shape they should have been in. When he finished it didn't' look all that bad. Frustrating to me because I can still tell the difference but the average person wouldn't notice. So now that I've calmed down, had a bite to eat, joked around with another rider, I'm back on the road and about an hour and a half later, crossing into Iowa. The rest of the ride was extremely smooth. I continued to Adair, Iowa; about 50 miles west of Des Moines. Parked at a rest stop and was impressed. The rest stop offered wi-fi connection, was beautifully built and landscaped, had interactive weather maps, and assortment of vending machines (ranging from coffee and juice to candy and sandwiches). And touch tv screens that allowed you to explore Iowa from the rest stop. The walls were covered with stories about agriculture, the loss of top soil, the creation of hybrid corn by Henry Wallace and other stories that it was very interesting to read. So as I waited I first pulled out my US map and layed it out. Within ten minutes there was a group of approximately 12 people around looking at the route I had taken listening to the stories I had so far, looking at where I was headed and how I planned to get there and taking turns to run out look at my bike and come back in and ask me questions and share their own stories. Everyone there had the same opinion, "I always wanted to do that". A few of the wives around commented about don't even think about it, and one gentleman, traveling home with his bike on a trailer went far enough to say "dammit woman, next year this is how we are traveling". So definitely a scary day overall, but with the landscape, and the people I've met, it was definitely the right decision. Nothing beats riding through and being able to tell the produce by the smell in the air. Total for the day 634 miles.

Day 2 Continued

Both are of a lake between Salt Lake City and Wyoming. Amazing blue water, red cliffs and green hills.....and amazing place to ride

After getting out of salt lake which was an adventure in itself the rest of the riding went very well. The state park north of Salt Lake City and the land into Wyoming is by far the most beautiful place I have ridden. The roads were very well paved and wide, the hills around the ski resorts were dark green with flowers in full bloom, there were red rock cliffs lining the road as I traveled farther north and breaking into Wyoming there were painted rock bluffs. I call them painted because I'm not entirely sure how to describe them, large rock cliffs and hills that were at least 5 different colors. It was certainly amazing, the only down side was the wind in Wyoming. Riding over rock bluffs and into valleys gave wind bursts that were literally like being punched. A few times I even had to push my helmet back so that it was facing forward. Looking back on it, the most interesting part of the day probably happened in the salt flats in Utah. The temperature was in the mid 80s, the wind was moderate compared to where I rode elsewhere and I have adjusted my backpack so that I could lean back on it and put my legs up on the crashbars for a little lounging while I drove. While doing this, pondering the ground looking like it was covered in snow from the salt; wondering if it could be ridden on, since there were tire tracks doing donuts in some places and tracks leading to pits where the vehicle undoubtedly got stuck in others; I was startled by a semi cruising by. When I say cruised by I had enough time to look over and see the back end of the trailer fly by. I regained my position because I was clearly doing too much day dreaming and not enough riding, so I looked at the trailer pulling ahead, leaned forward and checked my own spedometer........85mph? Hmmm.....tap spedometer, slow down, speed back up.....nope its responding, it must be right. At this point the semi trailer has gotten far enough ahead its just a spec on the horizon. I grinned slightly thinking "wow, he had to of been doing at least a semi.....hauling....wait a minute....." Recapping what I had a chance to see as it passed: Trailer construction means its a non-pressurized liquid; plackard on the back was bright orange = explosive; oh come on memory what where the numbers 3. 1? 3.2? eh doesn't matter its explosive either way and the code 033_ ugh, I didn't get all of that number either. What to I remember from class.......number starting with 033.......blasting agents. Now proud of my identifying skills and sad at the realization that I really am a nerd, the reality set in that I was just passed by a vehicle carrying several tons of blasting agents at over 100mph. Of course at that point I slowly let off the throttle, hit a cruising speed of between 75 and 80mph even though the "recommended maximum speed limit 85mph, minimum 60mph", sat back and waited for the mushroom could in the distance. Thankfully it never came but I was a lot more attentive to the cargo loads on the road with me after that. Other than that excitement, it was an uneventful ride into Laramie, Wyoming. As I didn't have a cowboy hat, the right kind of boots, a horse, or a wad of tobacco in my lip on my way to that there casino, I made a lot of friends in a hurry with people wondering who the new guy was. Despite being a college town, the locals seem rather surprised when someone new shows up. Total for the day 578miles.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Day 2

I left Wells, NV about 8am PDT. And am currently held up in Salt Lake City, UT. It been a very nice ride so far minus i've only gone about 200miles and its already 3pm GMT. Thank you construction and the highway being closed so me needing to find an alternate route. Nothing really special to report yet. Went through the Utah salt flats where they do all the racing to break the speed of sound and various other things of that nature. 50miles of the straightest flatest most boring rode you can imagine. The have a sign at the entrance giving how many have died there each year and have signs all along addressed to "drowsy drivers". So now I'll continue on and push as far into Wyoming as possible