Monday, November 29, 2010

Fortyfive.

If I was a safe combination, I’d be a couple  numbers short...
If I was a speed limit, I’d be a on the slow side...
If I was a fifty-word essay, oh, never mind.

If I was growing a beard, it would look like this.  And so would I.
From New Album 11/29/10 16:29

Instead I’m partying like I’m 90% of the way to half a century.  Part of that party included lunch in Tortilla Flats.  There is only one restaurant there, and the bar stools are old saddles.
From New Album 11/29/10 16:29

Some of the locals may have taken the cowboy theme a bit too far...
From New Album 11/29/10 16:29

Jana and Carl joined me for lunch, although they drove, I rode a bike. 
From New Album 11/29/10 16:29

From New Album 11/29/10 16:29

Notice the wall paper?  They used dollar bills.   Apparently real wall paper is really expensive there.

The ride was 32 miles to lunch and the same distance home.  A birthday-bike-ride is an tradition of mine that goes back almost 20 years, to a birthday I celebrated alone.  I was feeling bummed that day, and decided a mountain bike ride on the snowmobile trails was just what was needed.  It was well below freezing and when I hit the far end of the trail, I was 25 miles from home and had to work that afternoon.  I pushed hard to get back on time and worked up a sweat, then got a minor case of hypothermia.  I took a long hot shower and was still shivering when I got to work.  Good times.  I don’t manage to get a ride in every year, but I try.  No shivering this year, it was a nice 60 degrees F.  
From New Album 11/29/10 16:29

From New Album 11/29/10 16:29

From New Album 11/29/10 16:29

At the end of the 60-mile bike ride I felt great, and some say I looked 5 years younger.  I checked the ride profile on the GPS.  It tracks your climbing and descending and draws a picture of the whole ride.  Naturally, my ride looked like a “W.”  
From New Album 11/29/10 16:29

This “S” is going to be a challenge.
From New Album 11/29/10 16:29

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

El Paso to Mesa

Another week on the road.  I spent a few days in El Paso sightseeing.  They have the usual stuff: scenic views, Russian helicopters, parking lots with tanks... okay, maybe not the usual stuff.

From El Paso to Mesa


From El Paso to Mesa

There was a neat museum for the Border Patrol but I didn’t have my camera with me so you’ll just have to visit it yourself.

A state park in El Paso includes this cool tram ride to the top of the mountain.

From El Paso to Mesa

I wanted to use the tram cable as a zip line to get to the bottom but the staff said no.

From El Paso to Mesa

And I was able to visit my friend Roxi.  She’s a wonderful friend; let’s me win at dominos and Wii bowling.  

From El Paso to Mesa


From El Paso to Mesa


So, welcome [back] to Arizona.  I camped once on my way to Phoenix, and checked out some small towns.  Its nice to be back out west, always seems like good campsites are easier to find.

From El Paso to Mesa

I found this hitch-hiker in the van.  He said he was a coffee drinking extra from the movie “Men In Black” but I thought he was really just a Walking Stick.

From El Paso to Mesa

My van is just visible in the lower half of the right side of this picture.

From El Paso to Mesa

 A downside of being in the west: country music radio stations dominate the airwaves and that is a drag as I still find country music can depress me faster than an email from an ex-girlfriend telling me how great she’s doing.

From El Paso to Mesa

This dumptruck is 12 feet wide...

From El Paso to Mesa

...and parked in the bed of a much larger truck.

From El Paso to Mesa

And that is about all I have this week.  Not every week is going to be the adventure of a lifetime.  But for you, I’ll keep trying.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Guns! Frozen feet, and white sand.

The Gun Museum
After leaving Missouri, I headed west through Oklahoma.  Driving through Claremore, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a sign.  I couldn't read the entire thing, but I saw something about "guns" and "collection."  Of course I had to stop.  
From OK TX NM

Turns out it was the J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum.  Over 10,000 or over 13,000 guns, depending on what sign you believe.  Either way, it was a lot of guns.  Mr. Davis began collecting after getting his first gun at age 7, and collected until his death in 1973.  
From OK TX NM

Also in the collection was an impressive display of beer steins, horse holsters, some war memorabilia, uh, other stuff.... Really, the place was about the guns.  The other stuff was just there for people who might get bored while looking at 10,000 guns.  As if.  I was there for over four hours.  Check it out if you're in Claremore and check out the website HERE..
From OK TX NM

From OK TX NM

From OK TX NM


More pictures HERE if you're really interested.

Lincoln National Forest
From Oklahoma, I did a quick two-hour crossing of Texas (panhandle), and I stopped for a couple days of camping in the Lincoln National Forest.  It was nice, but the first night was probably the coldest I've ever experienced in a tent.  My electronic thermometer threw in the digital towel and said 34.8 but I knew better.  There was too much ice and frost clinging to the inside of the tent.  I was zipped into my mummy bag and covered with every blanket I had.  Despite four layers on top of the mummy bag and the thickest socks you'd ever see, my feet were freezing.  I woke up every hour with cold feet (not the kind I usually get) and wondered how cold it was.  If there was a plus side, it caused me to have some crazy dreams featuring almost every woman I've ever dated. It was nice to see a variety of faces for a change.  
From OK TX NM

The second night had me worrying; I didn't have any more blankets to add to the pile.  Instead I strategically folded what I had, layered them on top of the mummy bag, and zipped the entire pile inside a fleece sleeping bag.  I'd like to say my idea worked, and I was warm as toast, but it only got down to 19 degrees.

White Sands National Monument
From OK TX NM

On my way to El Paso, I stopped by to see the white sands.  Miles of sand dunes.  Once you are inside the park, you're free to get out and walk around or even sneak a ride on a bicycle made for snow.  Also, I finally found the environment where my van's natural camouflage really works.
From OK TX NM

From OK TX NM

I’ll be hanging out for a week in El Paso, then heading on to Phoenix. Read all about it here, as usual.
From OK TX NM


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Missouri

This week I visited one of the best known historical monuments in the country.  
From The Arch

No, I was talking about The Arch.
From The Arch

I think I've driven or ridden past the Arch seven times in my life, never stopping, always just driving by.  Tradgic.  But I don't do that too much these days.  Time is my biggest asset, so I stop a lot.  Sometimes I laugh to myself, imagining someone traveling with me, putting up with my stopping at everything that looks remotely interesting.  I stop at garage sales, thrift shops, pawn shops, almost any small town with stores open, book stores, coffee shops, historical markers, cafes... 
From The Arch

Oh yeah, the Arch.  The visitors center is underground, you enter near either foot of the arch.  Important note: if you go to one entrance and there is a long line, check the other side.  I discovered this after waiting in a very long line at the north entrance, only to see nearly no line entering from the south side.  D'oh!
From The Arch

Inside there is a very nice museum highlighting, among other things, the voyage of Lewis and Clark.  Earlier this year, I stayed at a campground that was the site of the death of Meriwether Lewis, and I am currently about halfway through the book "Undaunted Courage," a story of the efforts to open the American west by Lewis and President Jefferson.  Pretty soon I might start thinking about a bicycle trip along the path Lewis and Clark took from St. Louis to the Pacific.  Take a look at the map and then get back to me if you're interested in riding along.
From The Arch
So you buy a ticket ($10) and get in line, then cram yourself and four new friends into a tiny, round, elevator.  Round because the path to the top is along the inside of the arch, standard elevators only go up or down, this one is more of a "wonkavator" with no headroom. 
From The Arch
At the top, you can peek out the tiny windows and see, well, St. Louis.  And beyond, a bit.  You can't feel it swaying, but you can stay up there as long as you like.  Which isn't that long, it turns out.  Look out the windows the east, look out the windows to the west.... Done.
From The Arch

From The Arch

The Arch was well worth the time it took.  I wish I had stopped by the other seven times too.  

There are other things in Missouri that interest me, but I've got places to be and people to see, so I'll be heading on down the road.  And as usual, you can read all about it here. 




Thursday, November 4, 2010

Leaving Michigan, skimming through Indiana

Last days in Michigan. I got to hang out with Amelia and Justine,

From Indiana

and carve a pumpkin.

From Indiana


From Indiana


From Indiana


Fun or scary?  Trust Uncle Will.

From Indiana
"Was that a pumpkin or my thumb?!"

From Indiana
'50s poodle girl and witch or candy-zombies. You decide.

From Indiana
I spent quite a bit of time in Michigan this year. It's a great place, full of great friends. I'm not sure when I'll be back, and saying good bye was tough. But these days every good bye is. Each one reminds me of the big ones; the ones when someone near to me left, or where I was forced to leave. Those empty feeling comes back but instead of wanting to stay, I find myself wanting to get moving, maybe get a little farther away.  Like wearing two watches so I don't run out of time: if I never stop to see you, I never have to say goodbye.

For now it is very nice to be home.

From Indiana

I spent a couple days camping and hiking. I'm sure you can tell from the geography, this is Indiana.  Really.

From Indiana


From Indiana
Some old guy on the trails...

From Indiana


From Indiana
No climbing shoes because climbing was not allowed.

From Indiana
no swimming...

From Indiana
No fishing?

From Indiana
The squirrels were frantic with the approach of winter.

From Indiana
Nice pecker.

From Indiana

I stopped to see the Crowders. I first met them in 1987 when my motorcycle broke down near their home when I was trying to ride from Wisconsin to Charelston, SC. I finished the trip on a Greyhound and made some lifelong friends in the process. If the bike had not broken down the I'm certain trip would have been less rewarding. Is there a life-lesson in there? "The interuptions are the journey" or some such?

From Indiana
So for now I'm making my way towards Arizona where I'll spend at least part of the winter.  Stay tuned....