Day 5 through Day 8 (August 5th through August 8)

August 5, 2006 – Saturday – Day 5
PA TO TX, KEY WEST AND RETURN – SUMMER 2006
Miles Today – 201 – Total Miles – 1208
12:30am-4pm – 3.5 hours
Atlanta,GA to Tuscaloosa,AL
(-staying at a Sleep Inn-)
(States: GA, AL)
– A LATE START – PROBLEMS – THUNDER STORMING! –

One’s mettle on a trip like this is tested not by the days that go swimmingly well like the last four have, but by the days where there are enough problems to make one think, “Why did I ever begin such a journey?”
Today came close to being one of those days.
One of my camera battery chargers appeared to be missing. I think we used it this trip, but it was nowhere to be found this morning. Could I have left it charging somewhere? Arghh…
Got a call from my sis late morning, and she needed computer help – but because of all the things going on, and the lateness of the morning hour I couldn’t give her the help I wanted to provide. Arghhh…
We spent too much time talking this morning. It was comfy in the room. But we just spent waaayyyy too much time talking and not getting the day started… Mostly, well somewhat Arghhhh….
Because of the lateness we decided not to run this morning but rather wait until after the ride. And I know that is never a good idea…
Spent so much time sending out the last two days worth of journals (what with getting logged off all the time) and working on the AOL problem that developed that we ran past the 11am checkout time, and the room cleaners kept knocking on the door. Thank goodness we weren’t billed extra, but that could have been a problem.
Among the other problems was a billing misunderstanding with my on-line service, AOL. Because there was no wireless internet last night I had to log on using AOL’s 800 number which is $.06/minute ($6/hr)… No problem and I don’t mind paying that – but when I logged on this morning, I got a notice saying that I had been using the 800 number for 20(!) hours now, and so they were going to log me out. Which was promptly done! Now that was aggravating – but not anymore so than later around noon in the Subway when I was on the phone trying to get a hold of a live person with whom to talk about the problem. Finally did break through those damn recorded messages to a live breathing someone who had a pulse! But she said that it didn’t look like I was actually billed, she couldn’t tell for sure…. Arghhhh…..
The signage for I-20 west was non-existent. Because of that we went right past the entryway and went several miles and a good half-hour out of the way. We asked several folks and finally got pointed in the right direction. Argghhh…
(Right before we got onto the right way, a nice lady in a car came alongside us and asked if we were lost. She said we looked hot, that if we wanted to stop by her home, we could get a nice cold something to drink, and could cool off.)
We actually didn’t leave the area and on the big road west until about 1PM!!! Arghhh!!
It was the kind of day where almost everything didn’t seem to go right. And my experience with such days is to just hunker down, take a short day, be extra careful not to make things worse than they already are, and then get a good early start the next day.
Stopped into the Alabama Welcome Center. We hoped to get some motel coupons there, and came up with a couple booklets of them, which did help save about $15 later in the day. As we were leaving an older gentleman came up to me and exclaimed, “What great suits those are! So visible!”
Out on the parking lot, a fellow motorcyclist came over to us, and we chatted a bit. He said a couple crotch rocket guys had just gone by them on the highway doing 90, and one of them was standing on his bike doing a trick at that speed. The guy said it scared him just watching!
The weather was a BIT cooler but still in the mid-to-high 90’s. Again, we didn’t much mind it, but May was warmer than usual.
We were aiming at about 200 miles as goal for the day. Around mile 190, at about 3:15pm as the sky began to get a bit darker, we pulled over to the side and slid on the protective covers to the tank bag and the main bag on the back rack. (We would have put plastic on over our boots, too, if it wasn’t so close to the end of the day.) Then just as we hit mile 196 or so, the rain came spattering, then pummeling down. We had been watching dark cloud gatherings for the latter part of the day to our south. And when the road turned south the bluish cloudy sky of earlier was obliterated by darkness and ominous grey. Then the lightning show began as thin ribbons of light sliced apart the black heavens. Then huge booms, and THEN the sloshing of big buckets of rainwater came pounding down with gigantic drops. Many cars put on blinkers, a few moved to the emergency lane. We saw three or four motorcycles under a particular bridge, and the folks huddled up where the wind would not get at them quite so much.
At a gas stop ($2.85/gal), we walked around the little air-conditioned store for a bit. There were bottles there with wares that one would never see up north – pig’s feet for instance.
I immediately stood on my pegs and was very comfortable in peering over the spattered windshield. I backed down the speed, and enjoyed the immense power of the big storm. We pulled off a couple exits away at a Tuscaloosa turn off and headed for a Sleep Inn which earlier I had seen billboard advertised as having wireless internet.
After parking under the front portico, we waded into the lobby like a couple of wet rats through the wind and blowing rainwater. We checked in.
By now the wind was wailing something awful and great gushes of wind and water were sweeping in waves against anything outside including the Shadow. A wet woman had launched herself out of her car, and rushed in as I had finished up at the counter. I said to her in all mock seriousness with a twinkle in my eye, “Oh sorry, I just got the last room..” But the joke was played back to me, as she chuckled and said, “Well, I have reservations!” We both laughed….
Later after the rain subsided May and I dried off the motorcycle and put the cover on. Then we went for a run to pick up some dinner, and when back we plotted out miles and days to Texas and her family members. (Oh, and on that run back May found yet another penny on the road!!) I caught up on keeping the money-spent spreadsheet, and though May had a bad upset stomach, we went to sleep in the comfy room.

(NOTE: If you’ve missed any posts, you can now go to www.joelperlish.com and click on the 2006 link to catch up.)
Note 2: May’s stomach was all better by morning.
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APPENDIX ONE:
Perhaps some folks are interested in all that’s packed on such a trip as this… here’s the working list below:

PRE-TRIP
HAVE MC TOOLS NEEDED
“IMPORTANT INFO” SHEET LEFT
(ALARM INFO, IMPORTANT #’S)
NOTE TO NEIGHBORS DISTRIBUTE
GET AAA MAPS (and usa ones)
BUNGIE CORDS/TIE-DOWNS, LOCK(S)

PACKING
JOEL BATH STUFF
FLIP-FLOPS
RAZOR, SHAVING CREAM
EMERY BOARDS
Q-TIPS
SOAP, LOOFA
SHAMPOO/CONDITIONER
NAIL CLIPPER
PACK TOWEL, WASH MITT
TOILET PAPER
FLOSS/TOOTHBRUSH/PASTE
GLASSES – REG – SUN – CLOSE-UP
SKIN CREAM
LENS-SOLUTION/CLEANER/CASE/SPARE/SUCTION TOOL

JOEL CLOTHING
1st SET:shirt,shorts,socks,hndkerchf
2nd SET: shirt,shorts,socks,hndkerchf
3rd SET shirt,shorts,socks,hndkerchf
Set of LONG PANTS,LNGSLEEVE SHIRTT
SHOES – RUN
BOOTS, MC PANTS AND JACKET
JACKET
WATCH
HAT,HELMET, LINERS

MAY CLOTHING
1st SET:shirt,shorts,socks (undrwear)
2nd SET:shirt,shorts,socks
3rd SET shirt,shorts,socks
Set of LONG PANTS,LNGSLEEVE SHIRT
SHOES – RUN
BOOTS,MC JACKET, PANTS,RAINPT
JACKET
WATCH
BRACELT,EARRINGS,NECKLCE,RINGS,WATCH
HAT,HELMET, LINERS

MAY BATH STUFF
EMERY BOARD
TOWEL, WASHCLOTH
SHAMPOO
RAZOR,SHAVING CREAM
TOOTHRUSH,PASTE,FLOSS
GLASSES- SUN,REG
MAKE-UP, DEODORANT
SOAP, SKIN CREAM
FLIPFLOPS
HAIRBRUSH/COMB

OTHER,MISC.
CAMERA/COMPUTER STUFF
DIGITAL CAMERA (S)
VIDEO CAMERA/TAPES/CHARGR
EXTRA CAM BATTERIES
EXTRA CARDS
POWERMAC & POWER CORD
TUNGSTEN T (& POWER CORD
PHONE CORD FOR COMPUTER
CELL PHONES/CHARGER RECORDER,TAPES
EARPLUGS
USA MAP (MC&BICYCLE)

THIGH BAG STUFF
MONEY
TRAVELERS CHECKS
LICENSE/CREDIT CARD

TANK BAG STUFF
KNIFE
RADIO
BINOCULARS
BUG REPELLENT
SUN BLOCK / CHAPSTICK
BUSINESS CARDS / PENS
RUBBER BANDS
MAPS, NOTEPAPER

STATIONARY ITEMS
LABELS – ADDRESS
LABELS – BLANK
STAMPS,ENVELOPES
PENS – SHARPIE, REG

WATER: BOTTLES/CAMELBACK MOIST TOWELETTES
FLASHLIGHTS / EXTRA BATTERIES
FOOD STUFF, VITAMINS
WOOLITE
FIRST AID … ASPIRIN
POETRY PAGES
NEWSPAPER ITEMS
EXTRA LIST:
•glasses,sunglasses, contacts,
close-ups
•EARPLUGS

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August 6, 2006 – Sunday- Day 6
PA TO TX, KEY WEST AND RETURN – SUMMER 2006
Miles Today – 454(!) – Total Miles – 1662
9am-5:30pm – 8.5 hours
Tuscaloosa, AL to Marshall, TX
(-staying at La Quinta Inn-)
(States: AL,MS,LA,TX
– MOST MILES EVER IN A DAY – AN MC DAY TO WRITE HOME ABOUT – INTO TEXAS!

For anyone who loves to put miles on a motorcycle THIS was the ultimate day! A true day to write home about – glorious weather, most miles in a day ever, new friends met, and good companionship throughout….
—–
I was up early and figured out how to post to blogger.com. That way late subscribers – or anyone who has missed journal entries can go to www.joelperlish.com and click on the trip link at the top of the page. It was fun refiguring how to do it, and I most appreciate friend web designer Carl (http://www.thecarpetedwall.com) Baldwin’s time in setting up the process for me and helping to explain it to me.)

May went out and got the continental breakfast served here at this Sleep Inn. I was still typing notes on the bed and she brought me back a delicious banana and waffle. She said that last night she just wanted to die with that upset stomach, but this morning it was all better.
Here’s one for the book of Might Have Been A Tragic Outcome: In the hurry to get out on the run we were shuffling at the bathroom counter, and I was about to put in my contact lenses. Half sleepily I reached for my lens solution, but grabbed my plastic bottle of peppermint soap instead. I was JUST about to squeeze some on my lens and pop the little plastic disk in my eye when I realized the mistake! Whew!
We went on our run in the sunny morning out on the big highway. We were on our way back, and just as I was thinking we’d return without it happening darn if May didn’t find yet another penny. We had almost passed it by, but then she glanced down at it, and said, “Look, here’s a riggety penny, it must have been run over a thousand times!” It was quite remarkable! (“Riggety”?? “Riggety”?? What kind of word is that? It’s like I’m sometimes learning a cute foreign langwitch here. May said she COULD have used the word “calabidated”… I am noticing that she is slipping into the southern drawl and words more and more as we reach closer to her homeland.)
One of the first days out May felt a vibration coming from the packed bags as she got them ready to go in the morning. We took them apart a few times but couldn’t find the culprit. We suspected the electric battery-run toothbrush, but that wasn’t it… Well, it happened again this morning, and we discovered it to be, of all things, my new Gillette blade razor with the tiny battery and moving cutting edge. What a world we live in, eh?
The days are just skittering along now. It’s hard to keep track of them. Hard to believe that tomorrow ends the first week on the road.
As I came out of the food place at the gas station next to the motel a lady entered and she had what to me looked like a very weird contraption strapped around her stomach area. It looked like something that might have a baby holder attached to it. I inquired if that is what it was, and she smiled and said, no, it was a bone stimulator. Seems she had some kind of degenerative bone disease. “But I’m still here!” she said with a smile. And I thought, “Now, THAT’S a good attitude!”
Most of the mileages today panned out as using about 35-38mpg of gasoline.
The tree-rimmed highway was ours for much of the morning. It was ours! It was straight and long and flat to the horizon. In the distance, above the end of the road, the dappled light-purple-and-whitish puffs of clouds were bunched in pairs or trios – just waiting for us to arrive under them. In fact, this was perhaps the most delightful morning for a motorcyclist in motion that there ever has been since the beginning of the world.
We had some wonderful 100-mile chunks today. It was nice and cool – at least compared to the previous days. Often on the road as we dip or turn a corner, a cool breeze will hit us. And also sometimes a hot wind will touch us. Hard to say when either will come, but the cool breeze is certainly more welcome. I just don’t know what causes either other than the changes somehow in the geography of the land and its relationship to the weather patterns. But man, that unexpected coolness is sure appreciated and enjoyed…
We notice that the gas is a bit more expensive with the newer charge card pumps. The older station pumps – where one has to go in and pay are generally $.03 to $.05 less expensive.
As I mcycle along I’m always scanning the roadway, of course. But I’m also working on my poem memorization, and sometimes I get lost in those poems and the wonder of the words. Today, for instance, I gave one of the best recitations of Poe’s The Raven I’ve ever given. Too bad no one heard that rendition. For the recital hall was just the narrow confines of the inside of my Nolan helmet – where it’s just me with the earplugs, and my tinnitus as background music moving down the highway.
The bike is holding up well with the miles. But I did notice today that one of the bolts on the windshield is gone. Will have to replace that, but for the moment there are plenty of others holding it in snugly there.
We got numerous ‘thumbs up’ today… friendly smiles giving us little bits of energy as we made our way down the highway.
May was stretching her legs at one point, and when I reached back to grab her knee as I sometimes do to give it a friendly tug through the thick gear, but here knee wasn’t there where it usually is. I had a brief feeling of terror in my throat as I was afraid she might have fallen off a few miles back.
Occasionally, if I lean just the right way, and May is leaning just the right way I can see a fraction of her wonderful smile in the rearview mirror. And occasionally, I can also spy a bit of her bright blond hair shining and waving in the wind. It’s a wonderful sight, and it just sets my heart racing!
We had a little rough road riding through the Jackson, Mississippi, area, but mainly we appreciate that for the whole trip so far the fact that we have been the beneficiaries of mostly newly paved smooth riding roads. The interstates we’ve been on have all been well cared for and in good shape.
I was so sorry to have missed the Vicksburg things I had remembered from my 1985 bicycle trip through here. But we were across the bridge over the Mississippi (the span seemed way different than the one I had crossed), and we were way far from the riverboat on the river before there was a chance to turn around.
We stopped in at the Louisiana Welcome Center on the other side of the big river. The super squinty-eyed lady there behind the counter studied me for a minute or two and remarked, “It looks like you have just come from the moon!”
We stopped at a Taco Bell in Tallulah, Mississippi, from 1:30 to 2pm… A real nice local guy named Donnie came over and was curious about the ride we were taking. We told him the particulars and he said he had a Goldwing. That perked up our eyebrows and we asked him a bunch of questions about it – and got all positive replies. Then we got to meet his wife, Linda, and his son and his son’s girlfriend. Friendly folks, and it was good meeting and chatting with them. I gave Donnie the email address so he could get the journal notes if he wanted.
At a gas station just before leaving Louisiana I went in to pay the fellows behind the counter and one said, “Where y’all from?” I said, “We’re six days out of Philadelphia, PA.” They looked surprised. I said, “Well, I told my girlfriend I’d bring her to where she grew up in Texas, and now we’ve both got the sore butts to prove it.”
At exactly 18,000 miles on the Shadow odometer, and it was exactly 100 since getting gas, and it was 400+ miles since leaving this morning – it was all those numbers JUST as we rolled into Texas… I leaned back to May and shouted, “I TOLD you I’d bring you to Texas on a motorcycle, and here we are!”
We were both pretty punchy tired when we got in at 5:30pm. But perhaps all the sun really had gotten to May from the eight-and-a-half hours of riding…. She needed help in getting off the outer layer of her thick motorcycle pants and lay down, and she said that she felt ‘hunchbacked because of all the riding on the lawnmower today…’ Hello? We had a good continuing laugh over that one…
We walked over to the nearby Waffle House for some supper at around 8ish. It was May’s first time in one of the cute ubiquitous little food places that can be found all over the south, but not too much in the northeast.
Our backs ached a bit from the long ride today, but nothing that wouldn’t feel better in the morning. It was a fabulously successful and wonderful day of motorcycling and friendships.

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APPENDIX TWO:
I’ve frequently mentioned that I recite poems while riding along. I have two favorite trip poems, both introduced to me by fellow travelers. The first is Ithaka. I was way up in the Rocky mountains on one of my bicycle trips in the ‘80’s, and I came upon a family of four picnicking up there. I had mentioned I was a schoolteacher visiting former students across the country, and somehow we got into talking about words and poetry and the such, and I recited Casey at the Bat for the young kids there. The mom insisted that I become acquainted with Ithaka which she said would be a perfect poem for all my travels… the main subject of which is how important the “getting to” someplace is as opposed to just “arriving”… She took my name and address and after I got home the following poem arrived from her. It’s been one of my favorites ever since… I’ve since learned it was recited at Jackie Kennedy’s funeral… When I say it just right at some of my poetry presentations at libraries or old age homes, I can see tears streaming down the faces of some in the audience….

ITHAKA
-by Cavafy (1863-1933)

When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon – do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
as long is your thought is lofty, as long as a rare
emotion touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon – you will not meet them
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raise them up before you.

Ask that your way be long.
At many a summer dawn to enter
– with what gratitude, what joy –
ports seen for the first time;
to stop at Phoenician trading centres,
and to buy good merchandise,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensuous perfumes of every kind,
sensuous perfumes as many as you can;
to visit many Egyptian cities,
to gather stores of knowledge from the learned.

Have Ithaka always in you mind.
You arrival there is what you are destined for.
But do not in the least hurry the journey.
Better that it last for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth.

Ithaka gave you the splendid journey.
Without her you would have not set out.
She hasn’t anything else to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka has not deceived you.
So wise have you become, of such experience,
that already you will have understood what these
Ithakas mean.

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Cavafy (1863-1933): most famous of modern Greek poets. Ithaka was the kingdom of Ulysses, an island off the west coast of Greece. Ulysses, one of the Greek leaders of the war against Troy, did not return to Ithaka and his wife Penelope until after an absence of 20 years. His fabulous journey is narrated in Homer’s epic, The Odyssey.
Laistryogonians: a savage race of cannibals that was encountered by Ulysses during his wonderings.

The second traveling poem was givem to me by a fellow bicyclist I met in Alaska. He was quite the character! He was a lawyer from southern California, and he’d work just enough to get the money to go on bicycle rides around the country, and when he’d run out of money, he’d just go home and make more… he gave me this one:

AT LEAST I TRIED
Though your bones have got arthritis
and your bowels have got colitis,
You’ve got galloping gallop-itis
and you’re thinking it’s time you died.
But when you’ve been a man of action
though you’re lying there in traction,
You can say with satisfaction,
“Well, b’jeesus, as least I tried.”

Three others which are travel-related and are fun to recite each day are two Frost pieces, and of course the John Masefield below…

STOPPING BY WOODS
ON A SNOWY EVENING
– Robert Frost – 1874-1963

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
– Robert Frost – 1874-1963

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as long as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passage there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

SEA-FEVER
– by John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song
and the white sail’s shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea’s face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way, and the whale’s way,
where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

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August 7, 2006 – Monday – Day 7
PA TO TX, KEY WEST AND RETURN – SUMMER 2006
Miles Today – 307 – Total Miles – 1969
10am-5pm – 7 hours
Marshall, TX to Austin,TX
(-staying at Terry & Andrea Wyatt’s home, Andrea is May’s sis-)
(States: TX)
– RAIN! – RAIN! – RAIN! –

This morning’s run brought yet ANOTHER May penny. I stepped right over it, and she reached down to get it – a shiny penny with a rim of corrosion on it. Unbelievable.
Perhaps it’s just that May has a way of coming across money. She was driving back from Colorado one winter with her relatives we were going to visit tonight. They were some place in the mountains, and money just started flying up from the road – dollar bills all over the place. Of course, there was no way to find out where it all came from, and they collected as much as they could.
As we came back into the motel a cowboy-type guy was sitting on a bench by the front door killing himself with a cigarette, and he had the most amazing eyes. Blue as all get out. I mentioned it to him wondering if they were blue-tinted contacts. But he said they weren’t, and then went on saying, “Yeah, my one sister wants my eyes, and my other sister wants my eyelashes – everyone wants a piece of me!” He must have told about that a hundred times before today, but it did get a laugh.
And then in the lobby the woman behind the counter smiled a big one, and I noted so she could hear, “Now THAT lady has a great smile!” She chuckled.
After starting to move around a bit we could feel yesterday’s big day creeping up on us – I could feel it in the little tenderness in my right elbow, and May in her lower back. It had been quite the effort!
After a good breakfast in the motel lobby area which included Texas-shaped waffles which were made from griddles on the spot, we packed up leisurely and left to gas up by 10 under threatening skies and predictions from all of rain coming from the south… the direction we were headed.
Anyone who knows me well knows that when I sneeze, it’s a bunch of sneezes in succession. That makes a flip-up helmet mandatory for me. And I was able to get up the face mask part up JUST in time for a succession of about 8 sneezes out on the highway today!!!
At one of the stops May got her real initiation into motorcycle riding. No matter how many times one is warned about the hot pipes, eventually one gets a burning from them. She had rolled her pant legs up on the protective suit to be a little cooler, and shortly thereafter, ZAPPO!, the million-degree pipe bit her. I think everyone who rides gets bitten eventually – usually in the beginning of their motorcycle experience, and usually never again thereafter.
There were amazing skyfulls of clouds all day. They ranged from friendly puffy whites to dynamic broad expanses of darkness that seemed to threaten to engulf the entire viewable sky. But mostly, and memorably, there were contrasts in the heavens where one side was menacingly dark and spewing lightning bolts. And the other side completely tranquil and fit for planning a picnic day.
At a gas stop we lingered and were treated to a show of forked lightning and double bass drumming of thunder. (It’s always a guess as to weather to out wait a pattering of rain – or to get going – since it MIGHT get WORSE… In this case we got going – and it seemed to be for the best. From late morning until about 5pm we rode rain to varying degrees, but none as bucketful as a couple of days ago. We got very adept in May passing the towel to me, and my wiping my visor, the top of the windshield, and my sunglasses, then passing the towel back.
The rain was a minor inconvenience. But because of the rain there were huge pockets of coolness for us to ride through. In fact, there were a number of times that we were downright COLD! (“Freezing cold,” as May would put it!) We had to zip up our pit-zips, zip up our arm vents, and May even put gloves on! Hard as it was to believe this hot hot summer, it WAS freezing cold in some spots for us on today’s ride!
We’d seem to be heading to the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel all day, but then the doorway would shift, and we’d get poured on anyway. Once we went rolling down the road between two ominous weather systems with it dark on both sides and a slim tunnel of light for us to move through.
We got to the Austin area at around 4:30 and then had to negotiate the beltway system. It was mostly clogged with traffic and the worries about the weather which was in the just-threatening stage again… at times we were pummeled with huge blobs of raindrops, the type which normally precede a downpour. We never got the downpour, but we did miss an exit in the roaring traffic and the expanse of overpasses and bridges and skyline.
A fellow motorcyclist on the beltway – this guy on a chopper and looking every bit out of a movie, threw us the peace sign, a huge smile, and the big greeting, “Welcome to Texas!” He was a happy looking guy with the beard and the bandana and the boots, blue jeans, tattoos, and chains and riding a Harley.
After turning back and exiting we found our way to the Wyatts in suburban Austin. Andrea Wyatt is one of May’s ten(!) siblings and she’s married to Terry, a softspoken guy with a wonderful smile. She’s just about a year younger than May.
In timing that just could NOT have been planned as well, May and I pulled into the driveway about 10 seconds before Terry arrived home from work as a county comptroller. In the first of quite a number of aspects of him that reminded me of me, before he even said anything, and before he even got out of the car, Terry had a camera up to his face and took a picture of us as we stood by the bike.
We shortly met Andrea who to May’s surprise was home from the hospital where she volunteers – being in charge of the gift shop.
The sisters who had many similar characteristics in appearance and manner seemed to have a good time reconnecting. May, when seriously ill a couple years ago, spent quite a bit of time recuperating at this home. I made it a special point of thanking Terry and Andrea for taking such good care of her.
I mentioned how my one little camera needed a charger for the battery, and Terry right away took out the phone book for the nearest Best Buy.
When I said I didn’t want Terry to go out of his way, his eyebrows went up, and he remarked, “Best Buy. Out of my way to Best Buy??” I liked that as it’s just something I would also have said.
Terry and I went to the big electronics store shortly. And though they didn’t quite have what I was looking for (a specific Sony charger type), it was wonderful spending time with an immensely likeable guy. We talked, we joked, we shared likes and dislikes and interests. I watched as Terry just plain out and drooled in the big screen tv department. (A little embarrassing actually as they must have had to get a mop bucket to dry off the floor there after we left.) He took a picture of me with the fake full size gorilla which the Best Buy folks had set up behind the Customer Service desk. (SOMEONE in corporate America has a sense of humor!!!)
When back, and after he prepared it, we had a delicious supper of green beans, guacamole, spinach salad, and potato. Later in the evening we had a delicious slice of Andrea made-from-scratch dewberry pie. (It was the first I had even heard of dewberries – which are a variety of blackberry.)
Andrea is a seamstress and has one room here with five, count ‘em five, sewing machines. May got my shorts that had a hole in the pocket. (One day last week in a store I put the fistful of change I had gotten from the counterperson into my pocket and it dribbled out all over the floor!) Andrea stretched out that pocket from the inside out, placed it knowingly into her computerized machine, and zip, zip, zip, the pocket was repaired.
There’s no wireless internet here, and so Terry and I tried to figure how to use the Ethernet which came into the house – but we were unsuccessful at getting the settings right. So I checked email using the 800-number (must remember to just use the local access number next time). Then I worked on the journal a bit while May visited.
I went downstairs to the cozy living room, and May was visiting with Terry and Andrea and their daughter Kelly, who will be attending her freshman year of college in the fall. (“Visiting” is a term I’ve just gotten used to. It seems to be synonymous here in the south with ‘talking with’. As in ‘you go and visit with someone.’)
The five of us chatted a bit, then we got to look through some photo albums for younger pictures of May, of which there are very few. It was somewhat near 11pm before we went up to shower and get ready for bed. There are a number of personal and household items of May’s here that she left before coming north. They range from little elephant statues, to a tennis racquet, to a lamp, to a marble rolling pin.
We should have fallen right to sleep, but instead we again talked long into the night (in quiet hushed tones since the other bedrooms were right nearby – and it was a bit past 1:15am before we finally drifted off.

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APPENDIX THREE – HOW A MOTORCYCLE WORKS – HOW TO RIDE ONE
It seems to me that some of you readers may not know anything about motorcycles. Here’s a primer on how they work. I am surely no expert, so perhaps you should take that into account when reading.
Well, a motorcycle usually has two wheels – but there are also trikes out there.
It’s my understanding that the gasoline put into the engine sets off a sparking bit of energy that makes some cylinders of some kind go up and down, which in turn moves a chain or leather belt that turns the wheels. (Millions of years’ worth of prehistoric animals died for this – a tip of the hat to you dinos and others, and thank you!)
There are various complicated other ways the above happen, but I think you get the gist of it. Anyway, one used to start a motorcycle by kickstarting it. That created the force to get the whole process going. As far as I can tell, all bikes worth anything now have a little button that works as an electric ignition.
Well, after the bike is turned on with a key, that ignition button is pushed and assuming the bike gears are in neutral, the engine should start purring away. (If the bike isn’t in neutral, and the gearshift lever isn’t held in, then the bike may buck out of control.)
Okay, on each of the handlebars there is a lever. The right handlebar lever is the brake for the front wheel. (A lever near the right foot operates the brake for the back wheel.) On a motorcycle, the most important brake is the front wheel one. It is the opposite for a bicycle, where the back wheel’s brake is most important. This is because of the particular weight distribution of the machine. Normally, however, both brakes should be applied evenly.
The left handlebar lever is for the clutch. One squeezes this to engage the gears, much like pushing down on the clutch with your foot in a car. Motorcycles usually have five or six gears I think. The toe of the left foot moves the gearing. A little lever there pushed down is first gear. Lifting the lever with your left big toe (usually in a boot) moves the bike into neutral. Then lifting the lever again with your toe moves the bike into second gear. And so on up to the bike’s highest gear (for when you’re moving really fast). When you go slower or faster you push the gears down (or up) – and it MUST be in tandem with pulling in that gearshift lever on the left handlebar.
So after lifting your leg over the bike, one straddles it. Then one engages the first gear, slowly releasing the clutch while at the same time turning the end of the right handlebar (the accelerator). Then you lift your feet to the pegs and off you go.
Much of the above needs to be done at the same time as looking ahead of you, of course, and taking glances in the rearview mirrors.
When riding there are generally two positions. One with feet on the regular pegs (the right one near the brake lever, the left one near the gearshift lever). Or if one has crash bars (bars that curve out from each side of the bike to take the brunt of a fall should the bike tip over), one could put cruiser pegs on these bars and put his or her feet up on these pegs. It’s good to change positions occasionally on a long trip. And sometimes I ride with one foot up and the other down.

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August 8, 2006 – Tuesday – Day 8
PA TO TX, KEY WEST AND RETURN – SUMMER 2006
Miles Today – 109 – Total Miles – 2078
Noon-7pm – 7 hours (w/visitin’)
Austin,TX to San Antonio,TX
(-staying at Roger & Jennifer Roycroft’s home, Jennifer is May’s daughter-)
(States: TX)
-VISITIN’ – “A LITTLE WAYS OFF” –

As I lay typing these notes on the Wyatt guestroom bed I could smell the blueberry pancake aroma wafting up the stairwell to me. The flavor was rich and full in flavor, and I just knew it will be a life memory. (Smells can do that, can’t they? Several come back to me for no other reason than they were powerful. One of the best: In 1980 as I bicycled out of a little Pennsylvania town on the tail end of my coast-to-coast ride, I lifted myself over a little hill and the fresh smell of a newly hung laundry line of clothing came washing over me.)
And when coming down to the kitchen, the pancakes themselves, made from scratch by Andrea, did not fail to match the smell in taste and deliciousness. I gobbled down three and May had two.
Terry had left around 7:30. May and Andrea chatted some more. May and I ran in the hot morning sun for a mile – no penny, but then we didn’t expect one in this residential area. When back we plotted out our trip days ahead. More relative visiting and then scooting across the Gulf States to Key West. Our timing seemed good, and well within our time for needing to be back for end of August photo shoots.
It was to be a relatively easy day travel-wise. And the next few days would be that way, too, what with visiting so many of May’s relatives.
Kelly, Andrea and Terry’s daughter going to college soon, had never been on a motorcycle, and wanted a ride. So we put the big jacket on her, and a helmet, and we went on a round-the-block trip. She liked it, but said she didn’t think she could deal on the heavy protective gear.

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Have been trying to pin May down about distance between places of relatives we’ve been visiting. A typical conversation might go like this:
“How far is it down the road?” Reply: “A little ways…”
“I know, but how far is that?” Reply: “Well, I guess it’s more than I thought…. It’s quite a little ways…”
And today I got a serious reply of “Not far… it’s a hop, skip, and a jump.”
Cute.
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Big Sky country. And it surely is…. in most areas the horizons stretch forever outward in this part of the country. The gigantic clouds dot the firmament as far as the eyes can see – generally unimpeded by buildings or trees or hillsides. An easterner like me has to blink twice and then take minutes on end to take it all in – to swallow the whole panoramic scene – which seems like pasted-together photographs in the round.

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Our perceptions of the world are so colored by how we were raised and what we were taught!
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We visited May’s uncle Lawrence and aunt Jody. They are off the main highway and situated on Canyon Lake. They own the adjacent properties and others in the area. Jody got a chuckle from me when she remarked, “It’s like neighbor management.”
We all shared some good conversation and May and her relatives got caught up on the divorces, the deaths, the births, the new marriages and all kinds of similar goings-on. For a time the tv was on low volume in the background with the daily soaps grinding out their unending stories. As the talk continued about the family successes and travails I pointed to the tv and mentioned that it was not at all unlike what was going on in that world, too… Jody nodded in agreement, and her eyes twinkled…
Another time her eyes twinkled when she handed May over a penny and said, “Here I thought of you when I saw this penny!” May put it back, but then Jody said, “No, I’ve been saving it for you, it’s yours!” Clearly reading the journal, Jody brought a nice smile to both our faces.
Lawrence and Joe (Lawrence’s son-in-law) were there. Joe is a master builder it seems and we walked over to a nearby house, which they were rehabbing. When May had been here, she had done a lot of work on that house, too. It was shaping up grandly.
There were semi-wild deer free-running all over the place – ranging from grown full-antlered animals to the little does still with their spots.
Jody told us how the lake was 5 feet lower than it should be at this time of year. She also regaled us with stories of how once they had a 17-inch snow there, and how one time how the lake, swollen by rains had come up the hill and into their ground floor!!
We left around 6ish and headed out to a gas station we had passed with an incredible $2.74 per gallon pricing!! A fellow with a big smile came over to us and we began talking motorcycles. He said he had a Goldwing, the type we’ve been thinking of getting. And, in an amazing gesture of friendliness he asked if we wanted to ride his Goldwing to see what it felt like. We were already a bit overdue at Jennifer and Roger’s (May’s daughter and son-in-law’s), but May made a quick call, and we headed the one-and-a-half miles to Herrel Scott’s place.
He got the bike out of a small garage and after a bit of instruction as to where the important buttons and instrumentation were, May and I rolled on our way down the small lanes on the huge bike. I was nervous. The Goldwing weighs about 200 or so more pounds than the Shadow, but it is a true touring bike with all the amenities for touring and comfort. I felt awkward, of course, with some of the controls, but I kept thinking, “Man, I could get use to this!”
The Shadow has become in many ways an extension of myself. With mere thought – and sometimes without thought – things are done to move along. The shifting is almost automatic now and I can “feel” the machine beneath me and react almost by instinct. After last year’s 11,000-mile ride, and the long one this summer, much of the riding is now intuitive and flowing: consciousness moving down the highway at whim – taking in all the sights and sounds and smells – while experiencing the breeze on one’s face and the joy of life itself.
As we got halfway through I joked with May, “Let’s leave the bike around a corner and trudge back to Harrel and tell him it got away from us!” I can’t imagine, though he denied it, that he wasn’t a little nervous.
It was a wonderful experience, and we told Harrel that if ever he was up in the Philly area he had a place to stay. He said he just might be at the beginning of next summer. We shook hands, took a few pictures, and then we were off down the highway ‘for a little ways’ to Jen and Roger’s home.
We were honored to be the first guests in the home. It’s a new one, and they’ve only been in it a month. And quite a grand home it is! Large rooms, well appointed, and with that wonderful new home smell. Yet, they had clearly done a lot of work there, and it somehow had a good lived-in feeling.
Jordan, their 3-year-old daughter was away for a week, and we were disappointed about the timing of that. But Roger, originally from New Zealand and still with a little accent, and Jennifer, five months pregnant were good hosts. And we sure appreciated the efforts they made for us.
There is wireless internet here, but we couldn’t come up with the password to let my PowerBook onto it. Roger said he’d give a call to his tech tomorrow and get it.
After seven days on the road and over 2,000 miles we were to spend two days here, and I was looking forward to the day off tomorrow – realizing how important that kind of thing is in the long-term scheme of things…

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