Bathtub Meditation

Listen! About 3 years ago I spent a cold winter afternoon surfing YouTube; I stumbled across the YouTube channel of a man in Hastings, East Sussex, UK that uses the moniker "AndyMooseMan". I subscribed to his channel because I like his beach vlog videos and the fact he isn't railing on about politics or conspiracy theories or religion; he just talks about what he's been doing and what's going on with him. He has also gotten into Blogging, Tweeting and Podcasting. In early October Andy Tweeted that the Hastings Pier had burned down. A few weeks later he announced he and a few other people were compiling a music CD featuring local musicians and the proceeds would go to the "Save the Pier" fund. Having followed Andy's YouTube videos for 3 years, and being all for saving historical landmarks, I ordered one when they went on sale.
I have an Anglo-Saxon name. My ancestors migrated to the New World during the colonial period more than a hundred years before the American revolution. A member of the family tree that stayed behind later became the Bishop of Winchester and is buried in Winchester Cathedral - Hampshire. I understand he was a bit of a heretic. For someone who has clergy in his ancestry I am not particularly religious. I find my spirituality in nature. I think the winter constellation Orion is the most beautiful constellation in the northern hemisphere, and there is nothing more spiritual and awesome than a ripping good thunderstorm. Still, over the past few years I have engaged in a peculiar approach/avoidance dance with the propositions of Unitarian Universalism (UU). I frequently listen UU sermons via podcast. A few weeks ago I listened to a sermon by Rev. Mike Morran titled "The Space Between The Stars" [Listen (24m)]. My brief abstract cannot do his sermon justice. In the first half of the sermon he talks about the vastness of the universe and how we seem to vanish into the ever expanding emptiness of space; he concludes with the Monty Python Galaxy song. He is more poetic in the second half of the sermon. He contrasts our aloneness in the universe, to our being bound-up in the universe and to each other. The space that separates us is also the space that connects us. It is our relationships, chosen and accidental, that fill the space between us. He concludes with the proposition "there is a unity that makes us one and binds us forever together in spite of time and death and space between the stars." After listening to the sermon I drew a hot bath and took my iPod with me. I noticed that AndyMooseMan had posted a couple of new podcasts. Try to imagine this: I'm sitting in my bathtub with this sermon fresh in my mind, I have a dead relative buried in Winchester Cathedral, I'm listening to a podcast from the United Kingdom some 370 years after my ancestors came to the New World when I hear AndyMooseMan , who I met by accident on YouTube, announce he just mailed two "Not The End of The Pier" CD's to the United States - one to Wisconsin and one to Colorado.

I paused while I pondered the relevance of Mike's sermon and the sequence of events, over time and distance, that led to that moment in my bathtub.

How's that for the space between the stars?

Sunday ride through Red Rocks park

The weather in Denver was nice enough Sunday afternoon for some friends and I to get our motorcycles out and go for a short ride. We road out to Golden Colorado. After lunch we road through Denver Red Rocks park, south of Golden, and stopped at the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater.

Sally, TJ, Clyde, Todd

Red Rocks Amphitheater

Seeing Lawrence Way

I took a few minutes after lunch today to practice the art of seeing and sharpen my photographers eye. I walk past this arch every day but I'd never spotted the potential photograph until today.

When I look at this photograph my eye is immediately drawn to the sign, then it moves left to the globe and counter clockwise around the arch, across the walk to the cornstalks in the center, then it travels along the walkway into the distance.

The sign is very close to where the upper 1/3 horizontal and the right 1/3 vertical intersect - the arch fills most of the left 2/3 of the frame. The lettering of the sign stand out while the rest of the colors are subdued. My eye isn't distracted by the strong horizontal line of the overpass in the background.

I used a Nikon CoolPix P7000 in full auto with fill-flash, and held it over my head. There were people walking back and forth on the train platform and there were people walking past me on the sidewalk.

The placement of the sign, the arch, the walkway, and what's left out seem to invite me to explore Lawrence Way. For something so ordinary I'm very pleased with how well this photograph turned out.

Open spaces

Saturday was too nice a day to spend indoors. With a chance of snow on Sunday and Monday it will be the last 55F (17C) day we'll have for awhile.

I needed to get out of the apartment so I got on the motorcycle and took a ride out to the Plains Conservation Center. It was easy to get to and looked like a good place to spot some hawks. I saw several large hawks and a lot of prairie dogs.

Over the past few years I have come to value our parks, trails, open-space and wildlife preserves more than I use too. I buy an annual State Parks pass each year as a way to help support the parks. Living in the big city for the last 30 years, the parks and open-space preserves provide a place to go for a few hours to get away from all the hustle and noise of the city.

For no particular reason

For no particular reason I decided to go out and just take pictures last Saturday.

I let the camera do all of the work so I could pay more attention to basic composition.

I tried to make sure horizontal lines were horizontal and vertical lines were vertical.

I tried to be more aware of background and foreground clutter.

And, I tried be practice the use of the rule of thirds and natural framing.

I think the outing was a good exercise and I am pleased with the results. I want to practice making use of depth of field next; I might be able to use depth of field to eliminate some background clutter. I'll take a tripod with me next time too.

Closed on Sunday

A friend and I went for a nice easy ride Saturday. We took US-85 north to the small town of Severance. There is a bar & grill there that is popular with recreational motorcyclists.

Listen! I had Rocky Mountain Oysters for the first time at Bruce's bar in Severance Colorado. In case aren't familiar with Rocky Mountain Oysters they are Bull testicles, usually served breaded and deep-fried. I was not impressed; they weren't gross or anything, they just weren't very tasty or satisfying. They looked like Pop Corn shrimp but all I could tast was the deep-fried breading. After feasting on Rocky Mountain Oysters in Severance, we stopped in Eaton on the way back to prowl through a junk shop there. A sign in the front window read "We buy junk and sell antiques" - I think they could have left out the second clause of that sentence. It was a pleasant ride; about an hour and a half one way - 147 miles round trip. I signed up for a class at the Unitarian Universalist church that I attend occasionally. It's rather odd, having been an anti-religion mad dog atheist for the last 40 years, but summer is over so it must be time to get all spiritual again. I read an interesting article in the October issue of "Quest", in which Reverend Peter Morales asks: "What do we love so much that we are moved to tears? What gives us unspeakable joy? What gives us peace beyond understanding? What do we love so much that it calls us to action? What do we care about deeply that we willingly, enthusiastically, devote our lives to it?" To be perfectly honest, I don't have answers for any of those questions. This afternoon a friend and I stopped in at a tiny little Japanese restaurant for an early supper. The restaurant is run by a husband and wife who are probably both in their mid to late 60's. It's very small - two small booths and a couple of sit stools - but the food was fantastic! I had California rolls, Teriyaki chicken bowel, soup, and hot Gun Barrel tea. For me, a meal that good is rather rare. I will definitely go back again. I doubt I can pronounce the name - it is Yoisho, and it's at 7236 E Colfax (corner of Colfax and Quebec). Closed on Sunday's.

Recipient of the 2010 Top Hand Award

I was awarded the Rocky Mountaineers Motorcycle Club of Colorado "Top Hand" award for 2010 Saturday night for my work as the clubs Dispatcher (Webmaster).

When life gives you Lemons, pucker-up and squeeze real hard

Not long ago someone told me they watch my videos but they thought they were boring - "All we see is the road; you don't show any of the scenery." I think my videos are boring too. I've thought about not doing them any more but I have too much fun making them.

I bought a pair of new camera mounts for the motorcycle. They're real easy to put-on and talk-off. The mounts let me have a camera aimed off the side to record the passing scenery. Hopefully with this setup, and some better narration, I'll be able to make better videos.

I'm still a little upset about our ride back from the mountains a few days ago. One of the motorcyclists with us doesn't ride very often and is not a skilled rider. He's a great guy but I, and another rider that was with us, thought he put our lives in jeopardy a couple of times. Maybe he isn't aware how problematic and dangerous his lack of skill is. I have some good video of the ride and would like to find a way to use it, but I don't want to risk embarrassing him or hurting his feelings.

I had a bit of a let-down this week. A friend of mine called and asked if I wanted to go riding this weekend. Of course I said yes, but over the course of an hour he revised his plans several times. What started out as "Hey! You want to go riding this weekend?" turned into "I'm heading off to Los Vegas Saturday and won't be back for a month." During all the chaos he also canceled a trip we had planned for September. I don't think it was anything I said - I suspect he was exited about his vacation and might have had a couple of drinks. Never the less, I'm disappointed about canceling our trip in September, and I'm annoyed about being asked to go riding then getting revised off his schedule.

I've grown accustomed to let-downs. That might be why I'm so withdrawn and don't engage with people very often. It's my own fault. I expect too much of others. I'm always disappointed when I discover they are merely fallible mortal humans - just like me.

lazy Sunday afternoon

I and two other motorcyclists rode our bikes to Breckenridge over the weekend; one of the riders has access to a condominium there. The weekend was cut short by one day because the condo wasn’t available until Saturday afternoon. We rode up on Saturday and came back on Monday. We had an easy ride from Denver to Breckenridge Saturday though the traffic on I-70 was awful - it was slow-n-go in many places.

We dropped our gear off at the condo then went to Dillon for a late lunch. We took Swan Mountain road over to US-6. The road has a few fun little twists and curves but is not particularly challenging. Dillon’s annual Barbecue festival was that weekend so we didn’t have any trouble finding a place to eat but we did have a little difficulty finding a place to park the bikes.

The removable touring pack I ordered for the Road King arrived earlier in the week so this was the first time I’ve used it. It worked great! We picked up groceries on the way back to the condo. I was able to carry all of the groceries and a 6-pack of beer on my bike with room left over.

We were joined by a fourth Saturday night and had a late supper. The original plan was to ride to Leadville on Sunday for their annual Boom Days, take a ride around Turquoise lake, then loop around through Red Cliff and Vail, but by Sunday the sky had turned gray with intermittent rain and the tops of the mountains were hidden in clouds. We all felt lazy and not interested in doing anything Sunday so we just hung out at the condo.

We fixed breakfast burritos Monday morning, did laundry and cleaned & vacuumed the condo, before heading back to Denver.

Again, which right am I suppose to turn left at?

The motorcycle club held the 25th annual Cruise Against AIDS run Sunday. This was the second year I attended. The weather was great this year; it was cold and rainy last year. There were a few more riders this year, I counted 18, which is better than last years eight. I've been told there have been as many as 60 riders in past years. I was a member of the planning committee this year but it came as quite a surprise when I was told I was going to be a Road Captain.

I’ve never Road Captained before so I wasn’t sure I could handle the job. Four of us had scouted the route a month earlier and I was tasked with making a map and writing the directions, so I knew the route. I’ve ridden number 2 behind Trail Boss for the past year and I had an occasion to ride with a different group a couple of times last year - not all Road Captains are the same. As Road Captains go, I don’t think I was terrible but I wasn’t great either.

The riders were divided into 3 groups. I led the second group comprised of myself and 6 other bikes. Trail Boss led the first group out, then I led my group out, and the third group followed us. Everything went well for the first 2 turns then I missed the third turn at 8th Avenue. I like to think my mental autopilot had taken over and was guiding me home, but more likely I simply wasn’t paying attention. I realized my mistake when we reached 6th. I had to do some quick thinking and take the left lane so we could loop back around to 8th.

Once I got us back on track everything went well until we got to Morrison. The stop light was red and there was a pedestrian waiting to cross. I started to go after the pedestrian had crossed but the light was still red! Fortunately everyone else saw the red light.

The rest of the ride seemed to go well. I didn’t go over the speed limit; I was under the speed limit much of time. I still found myself having to slow down, then slow down even more. I’ve heard this same lament from other Road Captains at other runs, so it must be normal.

I could have done better my first time being Road Captain but I did well enough. I don’t think I want to Road Captain on a regular basis.

also see: 25th Annual Cruise Against AIDS

My boots don't suck anymore

Last week a friend of mine tactfully counseled me with "Your boots suck!", so this morning I got the new suckless boots.

I blame Voldemort

I’ve recovered from my first camping trip; I still need to open-up, clean-up and air-out some of my gear. I captioned and posted pictures on Monday. Tuesday I wrote an article for the clubs blog about the event. Wednesday I finally wrote a more personal post about my experience.

I didn’t remember I had a video camera until the trip was over and we were getting ready to start back. I shot some video of the ride back but was really disappointed how it turned out; the camera’s automatic exposure didn’t do very well and the video was too dark.

The bike got covered with red dirt and mud during the trip so Thursday I washed the bike. I didn’t do a very thorough job; the spokes are still dirty and there is still dirt in some of the tight spaces. I could have done a better job had my big belly not gotten in the way. Oh well, it’s only going to get dirty again anyway.

Friday I needed a vacation from my vacation so I bought a box of cookies and started watching Harry Potter movies on DVD. I get the wide screen DVD’s because I like to see the movie the way it was filmed - I don’t like pan-and-scan. I told myself I would only eat six of the cookies a day. I ate the first six cookies then told myself another six wouldn’t hurt. By the end of the first movie I had polished off the entire box - 45 cookies! That’s 3,000 Calories! I blame Voldemort.

It was back on the motorcycle Saturday. I and a couple of friends rode around Denver putting up posters for the 25th Annual Cruise Against AIDS to be on Sunday July 25th. We started the day by attending a pancake breakfast to benefit the Colorado Anti-Violence Program. They had a huge turn-out! I think they were a little overwhelmed by the number of people that showed up. From there it was off to hang posters. We went into some real dive bars. I don’t find it at all flattering that drunks like my motorcycle. Why would anyone spend their Saturday sitting in a dingy bar getting plastered at 11 O’clock in the morning?

I had a craving for Burritos Sunday night so I went to the store and got the fixings, made Burritos and watched TV. PBS aired an all new “Pairot” staring David Suchet. There are two more new episodes airing the next two weeks. I really like David Suchet.

I was back in the office Monday morning. I didn’t think about work at all during my 2 weeks off and I made it clear I would not be checking email or answer the phone. I spent most of the morning reading email - I was able to delete most of it. It was back to the same old routine; I just don’t know how they got along without me. Monday afternoon someone in another department was let go and I had the task of disabling their access and grabbing their hard-drive. That can be an unpleasant chore so I usually try to dispatch a junior to do it.

Three of us plan to ride our motorcycles to the top of Pikes Peak this Saturday. A couple of us will stay over night in Colorado Springs and attend the Gay Pride festival Sunday. Next weekend is Cruise Against AIDS, the week after that is Mount Evans and Trail Ridge Road, and the week after that is a weekend in Breckenridge and Leadville. We have to cover the miles while we can - summer is short after all.

Clyde goes camping

I went camping last weekend. It was a whole new experience for me. Camping isn't something I would consider doing myself, I'm not the rugged outdoors type, but I wanted to hang out with the guys, go where the guys went and do what the guys did, so camping I went.

I bought a 2-man quarter dome tent, a self inflating mattress, a +40 degree down filled sleeping bag, and an LED lantern. I didn't need to consider food, cooking utensils or latrine gear. I also took clothes, rain gear and my camera. I might have been able to pack everything onto the bike but a friend offered to haul my gear in his truck.

I and five other guys rode our motorcycles to the camp site. We went over Berthoud pass, stopped in Winter Park for a few minutes, then rode on to Walden where we ate at the Moose Creek Cafe. From there it was another 90 minute ride to the camp site. The dirt road into the site is challenging enough when it's dry but it was raining by the time we turned off the highway.

The rain stopped long enough for us to set up our tents. I didn't have any leaks in my tent and was able to keep dry though some of my gear had gotten wet. The first night was a little challenging and I didn't sleep very well. I forgot to close the valve on the self-inflating mattress which promptly deflated when I crawled into my sleeping bag. I also managed to foul the zipper on the sleeping bag and it took some effort to straightened out. The next two nights were problem free and I slept reasonably well. I did find the small tent difficult to get in and out of.

I wasn't looking forward to using the out-house. My past experience with privy's hasn't been pleasant, fortunately these privy's were properly ventilated and well maintained, but I still wouldn't want to return to the nostalgic days of yesteryear.

I passed up an opportunity to go 4-wheeling the next day, after day one I wanted some down time, now I regret not going. I hung around the camp, helped take out the kitchen trash, dried my gear, went for a short walk, and snapped some pictures. There were also people games and bike games in the afternoon.

The club brought a full kitchen up to the camp so there was no shortage of food, and there was live entertainment every night. Latter in the evening we had a camp fire where we all sat and talked - we did not sing camp songs. The rain cut down the enjoyment of the fire the first night but the next two nights were very pleasant. I didn't stay up as late as some of younger guys did - I'm such an old fart. I wish I was better at making conversation.

Camping probably isn't my thing - not that I actually have a thing. I enjoyed the ride there and back, and I enjoyed hanging with the guys. I doubt I'll make camping a regular part of my life, but since it is only once a year, I'll probably do it again - with a bigger tent.

Also see: Jason Went Spying.

How I wound up at the D-Note

Last Friday we had some really big storms build up over the mountains that moved east over the planes; they dropped heavy rain and hail from about 3:30 PM until about 11:00 PM, and several tornados were sighted. It rained most of Saturday and Sunday too. It was wet enough Sunday morning that I and my motocycle buddies decided not to go on the Molly-Dharma benefit run. The bad weather had cleared out by Monday morning, but the weekend was ruined.

Four of us got together and went for ride Wednesday evening. Camron, Cathi, Todd and myself rode up Bear Creek Canyon Road (C74) to Evergreen then over to Conifer. From Conifer it was a short hop on 285 to South Turkey Creek road and Tiny Town. Back in Denver we took Wadsworth Blvd all the way to Arvada to have dinner at "Gunther Toody's" but they had just closed when we arrived. We ended up eating at an interesting place called the "D-Note" in old town Arvada.

I didn't enjoy the ride up Bear Creek because the sun was low over the mountains and shining in my eyes, and it cast long shadows that I couldn't see into. Those dark shadows were hiding twisty mountain roads! It made for a difficult ride.

We are all looking forward to riding our motorcycles at the head of the Denver Gay Pride Parade Sunday morning. I'm going to try and mount one of the Go Pro cameras on the Road King; I probably won't wear a helmet in the parade so won't use the helmet camera.

Todd, Cathi, Camron.

Night ride and evil road spirits

I and a couple of friends, Todd and Camron, went for a long motorcycle ride Friday night. We rode north to Fort Morgan and ate at a fast food restaurant. We hung out for over an hour at the fast food joint and the local park. We decided to extend our trip by continuing north on C52 out of Fort Morgan then taking C14 west to US85.

Twilight was fading to night as we rode north out of Fort Morgan. There was something about the twilight, the smell of the grass and the asphalt in the headlight that triggered a dormant memory in me. I use to go deer hunting with my Dad when I was a teenager. We would spend most of the day in a pickup truck pounding around the country side where there were no roads. Once we didn't bag our game until sunset so it was dark by the time the game was dressed out and loaded into the truck. We bounced our way over hills and through ravines, in the dark, back to the highway for an hour drive back to town. Having to negotiate a few turns in the road brought me back to the present moment.

It was 10PM when we pulled into Greeley and took a break at a local dive bar. While there weren't any unpleasantries I can't say it's a place I would visit again. When I sat down, one of the local crack heads asked me if I was a Cop - I pretended not to hear him. It was after 11PM when we started back to Denver.

It was 12:30AM when I got back to the apartment. I can't remember the last time I was out so late. The windshield collected a lot of bugs on it (and so did I). Round trip was 230 miles.

Four of us: Todd, Camron, Cathi and myself rode the twisty canyon roads on Sunday. We went west up Golden Gate Canyon road (C46) then north through Nederland and down into Boulder on Boulder Canyon drive (C119). Both roads are challenging but Golden Gate Canyon thoroughly tested my skills. We ate lunch in Boulder. We stopped at a Harley-Davidson dealership in Dacono before heading back into Denver. Round trip was 119 miles.

Todd, Clyde, Camron, Cathi

I was presented with a Guardian Bell to hang on my new motorcycle today. Legend says the bell will keep you safe from the Evil Road Spirits that live in the road. The Evil Road Spirits get trapped inside the bell and driven insane. Tradition says you can not buy a Guardian Bell for yourself, someone has to give it to you, so I consider it quite an honor to be given one by my friends. Thank you Cathi, Todd and Camron.

Camron, Todd, Clyde

Breaking in the Road King

Me posing with my new Harley-Davidson Road King
Rockey Mountain Harley-Davidson, Littleton Colorado June 2, 2010.
(Cathi took the picture with her iPhone)

Thursday evening Cathi, Camron, Todd and myself took a fast ride out to Watkins Colorado to test out my new wheels. We stopped at the gas station there to have some Ice Tea and visit before heading back into Denver. We stopped just outside Watkins to take group pictures (one of the few times I didn't have a camera and tripod). I opened up the new Road King on the way back and shifted it into 6th gear.

Camron, Clyde (me), Todd.
Watkins Colorado June 3, 2010.
(Cathi took the picture with her iPhone)

Todd cooked a pork roast with vegetables and we cut fresh garden greens for salad; this was all followed by home made brownies and ice cream. After dinner I watched while Todd and Camron put a new High Tech bulb into Todds head light.

We are planning to ride to Fort Morgan for Root Beer floats Friday evening.

I bought a Harley!

I went shopping Harley's today. I already knew what I wanted but it was a good thing I had a friend come with me. The first dealership we visited had a Flame Blue Peal Road King fully equipped with ABS, cruise control, heated grips, security system and detachable sissy bar/luggage rack. Of course my response was "I'll take that one. Who do I make the check out to?" Fortunately my friend insisted on, not only getting a quote in writing, but also visiting another dealership.

The truth is I don't really need ABS or the heated grips and they weren't going to give me the full book value for my Suzuki so I reluctantly went with my friend to another dealership.

I worked with Dave at Rocky Mountain Harley-Davidson Motor Company in Littleton Colorado. He had several different Road Kings on the floor. I picked out a two tone Flame Blue Pearl/Brilliant Silver Pearl with cruise control but without the ABS, heated grips, security system and detachable sissy bar/luggage rack; I then added the detachable sissy bar (without luggage rack). When we inked the deal, not only was the retail price less than the other dealer, but Rocky Mountain gave me full book value for the Suzuki and they installed the mounting hardware for the sissy bar for free.

The Road King is air-cooled, 1584cc with 92.6 foot pounds of Torque (@ 3500rpm) - more than double of the Suzuki I traded. It holds six gallons of gas and weights in at 812 lbs. The bags are much larger than the bags I put on the Suzuki and these actually lock. The bike comes stock with passing lights, engine guard, 2-up seat, lockable removable hard bags and chrome bag protectors (that's the chrome peace infront of the bags). Everything else is extra.

The key is used to lock and unlock the ignition but once the ignition is unlocked the key can be removed. That's what the "security system" is about - the security system adds an electronic key fob that disables the ignition if the key fob is more than 3 feet away from the bike; I'll have that added after I've paid for the license plate and all the checks have cleared.

I'm ready to ride! Too bad I have to go back to work tomorrow.

Ride to Deer Creek Canyon Park

This weekend was Memorial Day weekend so we had a 3 day weekend.

Saturday I and a couple of others rode around and visited several of the motorcycle dealerships in the city. I looked at motorcycles while they talked to the dealer about sponsoring the Cruise Against AIDS motorcycle run event in July.

From Deer Creek Canyon Park

At one dealer I was able to test ride a Harley Soft Tail Deluxe. It was the first time I'd ridden on a Harley. It had more than twice the horse power and torque than my Suzuki. Its shifting was much easier and smoother than mine too but it didn't fit me very well; my legs felt cramped and I didn't like the seat.

All I did Sunday was watch Television.

From Deer Creek Canyon Park

Monday I rode the motorcycle to Deer Creek Canyon Open Space park south west of Denver. I didn't do too much hiking because I forgot to bring a hat and only had my riding boots. I still snapped a few pictures. I continued west on Deer Creek Canyon road after leaving the park. It's a fun twisty road, a little narrow, but in good condition.

From Deer Creek Canyon Park

I left the apartment at 1:15 and got back at 4:30. Round trip was 64 miles.

Tomorrow is another work day.

How I wound up in North Platte NE.

I and another guy rode our motorcycles to North Platte Nebraska and back Saturday. It was a little cool when we set out, at 8:15AM, for Sterling where we met-up with two more riders from Scottsbluff. On the way we made a quick stop so I could tighten the bolt on my throttle lock.

We spent more time in Sterling than we planned but we had a nice visit with Mom & Pop from Julesburg; they showed us their wiener dogs. It was Noon when the four of us headed out of Sterling for North Platte. Our group was comprised of 2 Cruisers and 2 Sports bikes (Harley, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki).

From North Platte

We had a side wind the whole route (I-76 & I-80) but it wasn't too bad; we could still smell the feed-lots we past. (Imagen a sheep dog that got all wet with sour milk then multiply that stench by 1,000 - a pleasant flowery smell it is not.)

We stopped in Sutherland Nebraska for gas and a short break. While we were there a pickup truck pulled up to the pump; the driver jammed their gas cap into the pump handle and went inside; a minute latter the tank overflowed and pumped several gallons of gas onto the ground before someone ran over and turned the pump off.

Twenty minutes later we were in North Platte Nebraska. We found a Burger King and ate Cheese burgers and French Fries for lunch. We circled through Cody park and spent a few minutes riding around North Platte. I was hoping to find a place where we could park the bikes and get a picture of the us, the bikes and the big train yard that's in North Platte, but we couldn't find a good photo spot.

We started back to Denver at 3:30PM; by then the wind had changed direction and was stronger. Because of the wind we didn't get as good of gas mileage and had to make an extra gas stop. We arrived back in Denver at 7:45PM. Total round trip mileage was 539 miles.

I didn't shoot any video or take very many pictures. I should find an easier way of including myself in some of the pictures.

It could have been worse, and it almost was.

My buddies and I set out on a motorcycle trip from Denver, CO to Liberal, KS Saturday morning. It didn't take long for us to run into trouble.

The weather forecast had been pretty iffy all week; at one time they were calling for 14 inches of snow but by Friday afternoon they were forecasting an inch of snow on grassy areas and the storm would be gone by morning. We prepared for rain and wet roads but expected to be on dry roads by the time we reached Limon Colorado. We didn't make it that far.

It was dry with clear skys when we left Denver but we ran into light rain as we went south to Parker. We encountered snow as we rode into Franktown. As we turned east onto CO-86 the snow was starting to stick to the road, our windscreens and face shields. Within a minute of turning onto CO-86 I couldn't see the road in front of me. I was able to reach my hand out and wipe a small patch of snow and ice off one corner of the windscreen to see through.

I was between the lead rider and the tail gunner. I was able to keep up with the lead rider for a short while but I slowed down when the motorcycle started fish tailing. I had already lost sight of the tail gunner and I lost sight of the lead rider a few minutes later.

I was on my own now and I knew I had to get off the road. I thought I saw a tractor plowing a driveway on my right and snow piled up next to the driveway. I tried to slow for the turn but the rear tire came around front and passed me by. The bike and I went down and skated along the road several feet before stopping. Fortunately there was three inches of slush on the pavement to cushion the fall (I had all my gear on too.) All traffic on CO-86 came to a stop while I, and the guy in the SUV behind me, picked up the bike and pushed it into the driveway. The guy on the tractor came down to help too.

The tail gunner caught up with me about the time traffic started moving again. He had pulled off the road a mile back. He had already decided to abort his trip and had been trying to signal me for several miles to pull off. He came on down when he saw the traffic stop. While we were discussing what we should do, we saw the lead rider pass us by heading back to Franktown. He didn't see us because his eyes were glued to the road - I'm not sure he would have been able to stop anyway.

We were offered a ride into Elizabeth or we could stay at the farm house. We opted to wrestle the bikes up to the farm house and call a friend in Denver to come and get us; we left the bikes at the farm house. Assuming they don't get any more snow, we will go out on Sunday or Monday and ride them back (getting out of the muddy driveway could be a problem).

Lessons learned:
  • Everyone is responsible for their own decisions. No one forced me to go on the trip. I knew the weather was questionable; another rider had already opted out. We all share a degree of responsibility for each other but each of us is ultimately responsible for our own skin. Ride your own ride.

    This wasn't a weather or planning issue - it was a safety issue. I rode into an unsafe situation and didn't react quickly enough. I had ample opportunity to react. I could have opted not to go, I could have backed out at Parker, or I could have pulled off at Franktown when we got into snow.

  • Know your limits and ride within your limits. I know someone who rides his motorcycles the year around; it's his only mode of transportation. He has ridden motorcycles his whole life - he rode mini-bikes and dirt bikes when he was a kid. His skills and reflexes are in top shape - my skills and reflexes are nothing compared to his. He is able to ride a motorcycle on snow packed streets in sub-zero weather - I can not.

  • Be prepared and have a plan. I had the right gear, but I don't have towing insurance or road side assistance for the motorcycle - I need to get some.

  • Get off the road at the first sign of trouble, if only to wait it out.

We might have missed the snow if we had delayed our start by two hours. The storm has already left Colorado and is now over Kansas City, Kansas. We might try again later in the summer.


Snapshots and Whatnots

I spent a couple of evening learning how to use DVD Pro then put together a playable DVD of Ron's Karaoke party. The DVD has a main menu with some annoying music that loops over and over until you select the "Play Movie" button; it also has a chapter index and a slideshow.

Denver had a few days of fair weather so I got the motorcycle out and rode it work several days last week. I decided to put the saddle bags back on yesterday even though the locks and latches don't work; I think I'll take the latches off and try securing the lids with velcro. I went for a ride Saturday afternoon; I went north on Quebec and circled around the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge then did a loop around Cheesman Park - there were a lot of people in the park.

I went for a walk this morning and decided to take my camera with me. I didn't see a single bird but could hear Flickers calling all around me. I still took a few snapshots of things that caught my eye along the way.

alleyI did a double take when I walked past this alley. I said to myself "That's strangely appealing" and snapped a few pictures.

Besides the obvious - there aren't cars and trucks parked in it, no dumpsters rolled out into it, and it isn't cluttered with litter - I think its the parallel lines of the downward slopping alley, the vertical lines of the polls and buildings, and the coloring of the lavender bins dotting both sides that caught my attention.

LimesI was looking around for something to take a picture of when this caught my attention from across the street.

I first noticed the color, then the rectangular shapes of the panels, then the arrow, and then the sign. I didn't notice the bench or the urn until I drew closer. I didn't become aware of the door until I looked through the view finder. This picture has been cropped just a little on the left and right.

moonI've tried taking pictures of the moon several times with little success. My last attempt was in December; I put the camera with the big telephoto lens onto a tripod and took several shots; I thought I deleted them but this morning I discovered they were still on the camera. Of the 6 shots I took I think this one is worth keeping.