Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year!

The weather has not been the best for riding lately, at least in my humble opinion.  Tonight I don't have a ride report or motorcycle photos as the Beemer is tucked away safely in the garage.  So with that in mind I thought I would wish all of you wonderful fellow bloggers and non-bloggers a very happy and safe New Year.  Thank you very much for visiting this blog this year and for your much appreciated comments.

This holiday weekend is a great time to not only reflect and be thankful for life and all the blessings we have but also to look ahead to plans and goals for the coming year.

My darling wife, Amber, surprised me with an iPod Touch 4 for Christmas and I must confess it's been hard to put it down since then.  Last night all of our family came over to celebrate Christmas.  This afternoon I put together an entire video including photo images and music.  It was an entire iPod production using iMovie.  I just might turn into more of a video guy.

The image above was taken a couple of weeks ago from the hospital room where our new granddaughter was born.  The house on the slope is facing the sun as a new day dawns.  As we face the coming new year I wish you peace and joy along with many safe riding miles.

God's speed.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

(A manger scene along the road near our house)
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."  (Colossians 1:15-17)


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Portland Area Tram

The hospital were our new granddaughter was born last week has a Tram that carries people to another location with medical buildings along the river.  The Tram was completed about four years ago and has already become an icon for Portland.  I thought I would share some photos.

(Mt. Hood in the background)

 (Mt. St. Helens in the background)

God's speed.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Traffic in the Country?

Coming home tonight after working at the jail I was surprised by the mile-long line of traffic going the opposite direction.  I know this road like the back of my hand and I've never seen this before so I had to pull over and record it.  It's really no big deal but traffic isn't suppose to happen in the country is it?  I mean that's why it's called country.  There are less houses and people.

One bonus out of the event was turning the camera sideways and including the almost-full moon.

I got some interesting looks from the drivers while they passed by slowly.  My side of the road was smooth sailing until further ahead at a stop sign.

This shot is blurry but captures the unusual sight.  Ordinarily one or two cars might pass by while swooping around this curve.

I usually take the long way home but tonight in a small town at about the half-way point the road was closed due to construction.  For a split second I was bummed but then I realized it meant being on the bike longer to double back.

I don't care for traffic when on the bike but tonight I was just glad to be holding the handle bars again.  Maybe the traffic was a result of the detour or maybe an unusual infusion of Christmas shoppers.  Who knows.  All I know is it was good to be riding on an early evening in mid December with a full moon.

God's speed.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Not Enough Riding Lately

I rode briefly Friday which was only the third time in three weeks.  And late this afternoon after I got home I hopped on the bike and went to the vet to get medicine for one of our dogs.

Each day of not riding has had it's reason(s).  Some days have had unusual reasons like one day when I couldn't ride because I had to ship a fly fishing rod that I sold on eBay.  Some days I have too many phone calls to make so riding is too restrictive.

The ride on Friday was just right for peaking the desire for more.  It brought an awareness of not only how much I miss it but how one gets a little rusty on the skills after only a short while.

The other night I read an interesting article in BMW ON (Owners News) Magazine.  It's about a woman named Voni Glaves who happens to be on track to reach the one-million safe mile marker before her next birthday in December 2011. I tried to find the article in an electronic version on the BMWMOA's website but it's not there, so here's a link to another article about her.

Riding that many safe miles certainly gives her the ability to garner attention when it comes to advice.  Here are some of her successful riding tips. Some of these are obvious but they're good for review.
  • Wear conspicuous clothing, her color of choice is red. (It's surprising how many people wear dark colors).
  • Stop often for breaks to help stay alert. 
  • She waves to drivers when she's in an intersection positioned to make a left turn so they notice her.
  • "Riding the blue highways and only use the interstate when necessary."
  • Keep emotions in check.
  • "To maintain a safe riding zone, ride five miles an hour or so above the flow of traffic."
  • "She doesn't put herself in a place that gives other vehicles the ability to control her."
  • "When an aggressive driver comes along, Voni gets out of their way."
  • When someone is tailgating her she flashes her brake-lights then when it's safe she pulls over to let them go.  She wants them out of her life.
  • She avoids riding after dark but sometimes it can't be avoided.
  • She has a flashing brake-light and Motolights on the front which give a "Safety Triangle" appearance. 
  • She stays in good physical and spiritual health to stay on top of her game.
  • And finally, she says she keeps it simple and stays focused.  Failure to focus can spell disaster.
(Early autumn along Rte. 6 in the coast range)
On these evenings after a day of not riding it's good to settle in to my favorite chair with a cup of tea and a good motorcycle magazine.  It doesn't satisfy the void of not riding but in a small way it takes away some of the sting.

I hope you've been riding these days and have been keeping it simple and safe.

Stay focused and God's speed.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Granddaughter!

Yesterday morning, by the grace of God, Abigail Marie came into the world.  She weighed 10 lbs. 4 oz and was 21-1/2" long.  She and our daughter are doing fine.  We're the proud grandparents for the sixth time.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Stopping by the Big Field

This was the sunset this evening as I stopped by the big field near Jackson Bottom Slough.  What a gift it was.  I worked at the county jail this afternoon.  This was a dramatic change in scenery only ten minutes after leaving confinement.

It makes me appreciate freedom.

God's speed.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Flying a Quick Mission

I haven't ridden since last Saturday due to the weather.  We've had temps in the 20's & 30's (F) all week with a touch of snow and ice.  The other night while looking through some photos I found this intentionally underexposed, I mean overexposed shot and decided to post it. Maybe it could be a photo for an article on Germany vs. Italy... or maybe not

My wonderful wife, Amber, bought a Dyson vacuum cleaner on Tuesday.  Having two dogs and two cats our kids keep telling us that we certainly qualify for a Dyson so we splurged and are now proud owners.  Wow, that thing really... picks up.  I won't say the other word.  Since I'm the designated vacuum guy at our house, I'm now in hog-heaven!

Anyway, yesterday we noticed that many retail stores, including Home Depot,  have the same vacuum on sale for "Black Friday" for $39 less than what we paid on Tuesday.  So my mission today was to go back to the store with the ad in hand along with our receipt.

I was surprised at first because the return lady seemed like she wasn't going to honor the new sale price.  She said it was a special deal for this weekend only.  So I asked her to price match Lowe's, Best Buy, and others. Eventually we got it worked out and all was good.  Working in retail on Black Friday has got to be a challenging ordeal.  Amber did it for many years in our early lives.

The trip to the store and the return home were dry but while inside the beemer got a little shower.  I find that a ride after several days of not riding to be a little sweeter than usual.

As I rode up the hill towards our house, feeling the pull of the bike and hearing the high pitched hum of the motor, I felt the warm feeling of gratitude again. Several things came to mind but the ongoing enjoyment of riding a motorcycle for transportation usually triggers the gratitude.

Even quick errands on Black Friday are a gift.

God's speed.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What a Privilege

As I write this the temperature outside is 35 (F).  They say it'll snow tomorrow but we'll see.  Snow or not it's too cold to safely ride, in my humble opinion.

Yesterday morning I rode to a breakfast meeting in light rain at 39 (F).  The photo above is not from yesterday.  I decided to post this one because it reminds me of the delight I get from beginning a day of riding.  What a privilege it is.

At the breakfast meeting I was asked why I ride a motorcycle.  Actually the question was, "Why do you ride a motorcycle at your age?"  I said, "Because it gets in your blood."  I guess there will come a day when I have to stop, but until that day I'm grateful for the experience.

God's speed.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Leaves Everywhere & Foggy Scenes

I've probably written this before, so please excuse me if I have, but this is my favorite time of year.  The cool crisp air and the autumn colors trigger an internal awareness that the holidays are fast approaching.  It's a great time for family, food and photos.  And of course riding through the colors and the unique lighting are both special too.

When I was a kid my dad and I would rake the leaves each Saturday morning.  I was highly encouraged to do this weekly ritual before playing with my buddies.  Now a leaf blower does the trick.  I wish we had one of those back in the day!

These leaf shots were taken yesterday on the campus of Oregon State University.  A few weeks ago I wrote on the other blog that when I see scenes like this it reminds me of pumpkin pie or eggnog. I guess another internal trigger.

The fog was rolling in on the ride home this evening after working at the jail.  I've lightened the photo a little to make things more visible.  To the right is a familiar field that I call "The big field".   Most recently corn was growing there.

Here is part of the field with fog muting the trees in the distance.  Next spring the field will be filled with water and look like a lake.  It's a favorite spot for taking photos depending on the lighting.

After taking the photo above I turned around to walk back to the bike.  I noticed flashing lights.  It was a county sheriff motor-cop who stopped to make sure I was okay.  We've waved to one another on this road before.  I told him I just stopped to take photos of the distant fog.  He agreed that it's a good spot.  I thanked him for stopping and told him I appreciated it.  Pretty cool, tax dollars at work.

I take a longer way home on Fridays.  I think of it as sort of a treat after the work-week and being sprung out of jail.  Not that those two things are bad but rather it's the first time of the week where I don't have to be somewhere at a certain time.  The official beginning of the weekend and what better way to start than riding.

As it got darker and foggier the lighting became more intriguing.  More evidence of the season.

As the days get shorter I seem to get a little sluggish; feeling like I don't have as much drive to work on unfinished projects around the house.  Maybe I should be gathering pumpkin pies for hibernation.  Nah, better keep the projects going so I can ride guilt free.

God's speed.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thoughts While on a Southern Oregon Trip

(Grave Creek Covered Bridge - Josephine County, OR)
Wednesday morning I left for Southern Oregon for a couple of days of work mixed with short times of being a tourist.  Okay, I was pretending to be a tourist after enjoy the travels of Gary's USA Tour on a Harley and George's Riding the USA.  The weather was forecast to be dry and the temperature to be relatively mild with the high both days in the mid 60's F.  That translates into, "Go ride!" - especially in November.

As I headed down I-5 in the dark it was slightly overcast with gusty winds.  About 25 miles south of Portland the wind was gone making for an enjoyable time to watch how the sunrise would develop.  Cruising along like this I like hearing the high-pitched hum of the motor below me.

By the way, is it possible to fall asleep while riding?  I've always had the ability to fall asleep anywhere and at anytime.  Being a salesman for almost 40 years I've logged many miles behind the windshield of the various cars I've owned.  Thank God I haven't fallen asleep but I've come close a number of times.  In the late 70's I use to leave the house twice a week at 6 am to drive to part of my sales territory in the desert near Los Angeles.  One morning I was startled by the raised pavement markers between the lanes.  I guess I should call them "Wake-up markers."

I've been thinking that it would be hard to fall asleep while riding.  Maybe it's like falling asleep while walking - there's just too much going on.  I ride with a slight touch of fear.  Then there's the necessity to keep the eyes moving and anticipate what others could do.  Those two factors alone should be enough to take away the threat of sleep.  Plus there's the ability to crack the visor and keep cold fresh air flowing.  Well, Wednesday morning I think I was on the edge of testing this question.  The first warning signal for the potential to fall asleep was riding in not much traffic.  The threat from others was taken away.  Then I began to day dream followed by a yawning fit.  Then I got a little drowsy.  Just the thought of being drowsy while riding gave me the same jolt as the "Wake-up markers".  Then everything was okay again.  Whew, I don't want to test that theory again.

The sunrise was nice and at times I saw places where I wanted to stop and snap a photo.  I usually think about it when I make this run and it's tempting to stop but too dangerous on I-5.  About 75 miles south of Portland and just north of Eugene the weather turned foggy and cold.  The fog lifted in Eugene but a low overcast remained until Roseburg where I work for most of Wednesday.

Just north of Grants Pass, OR there is an area nestled in the mountains called Sunny Valley.   The Grave Creek covered bridge is one of the few remaining covered bridges in Southern Oregon.  I've stopped here before but not put the photos on the blog.  Wednesday afternoon about 4:00 I stopped to get some shots with the sun low in the sky.

At one time (in the early 1920's) Oregon had as many as 450 covered bridges.  Now that number is down to 50.  I have a plan to visit as many as I can in my travels.  The plan is also to get the beemer pictured with each one.  You can see a map of their locations on this link.

Thursday morning in Grants Pass was foggy and in the high 40's F.  It's really feeling like autumn lately.  The parking lot looks empty and November looks like a bleak month here.

The continental breakfast is good, it's just that they don't have a place for people to sit down and eat.  So you have to pack as much as you can in your pockets so that you can unlock the door to get back into the building and your room. 

After seeing some accounts in Grants Pass I rode south about 30 miles to Medford and Ashland to visit more customers.  I made it back to Grants Pass for lunch then saw another account before working my way north.

I have to confess, I have this little routine when I make this trip.  I stop at a Dairy Queen in Sutherlin just north of Roseburg.  It's the perfect snack at just the right time of the afternoon.  It gives me the chance to stretch, get fuel, and use the facilities.  Another confession; the older I get I seem to be what the cup above says... a chocoholic.

The next stop was the Rochester Covered Bridge.  This bridge is about 3 miles from the Dairy Queen.  It was almost torched years ago but managed to survive and was remodeled in 1969.

The bridge has a nice sound when cars pass through.  The floor-boards rumble giving it an old-time sound.

My next stop is the rest stop north of Eugene.  It was beginning to get dark so it was time to change to the clear visor.  I've seen this biplane crop duster before making his exaggerated oval pattern early in the morning.  Because his property is right next to I-5, he makes some of his turns low and right over the highway.  He was flying late on Thursday.  It was quite a sight.

The beemer looks anxious to get back on the road so we do.  With about 80 miles to go it was a nice ride while the sun is setting.  It was dark when I got into the Portland area.  It was another nice mini-trip which makes me only dream about taking an extended one.

This summer when I took my rear tire to the dealer to get a new one installed, I was waiting for the place to open when I met some people gathering there for a ride to Mt. Saint Helens.   A Harley rider showed me photos still in his camera from a ride with a couple of buddies to the Grand Canyon.  I told him I'd like to do that someday.  He said, "You just have to do it.  Don't keep talking about doing it, just do it."

Good advice.  Maybe next year.

God's speed.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

There is Hope

 (Route 6 heading west into the coastal range)
Have you ever had a hard time coming up with a beginning to a post?  Since starting the blog again I've already written about such subjects as cancer and job loss, both of which are not positive and uplifting topics.  So I've been challenged a bit coming up with a beginning.

This post has another subject that's not popular so I want to say from the outset that my intentions are not to make a pattern of this.  It's just the way things have unfolded in the last month or so.  I'll begin by saying as I've mentioned before that we've had a little place at the coast for a number of years.  The first year we had it we went there almost every weekend.  It's been a place for special family times and our grandkids will probably treasure the memories for the rest of their lives.

It's in a quaint neighborhood with people that you get to know by having conversations from the backyard while barbecuing or out in the street after coming back from a walk on the beach.  Many of the houses are second homes for Portland folks so the full time neighbors keep an eye out for anything unusual.

Three-day weekend holidays are fun.  The whole town bulges with tourists and extended families.  And then there's the 4th of July parade that has all the charm and excitement of small town parades.

Last Tuesday night we got a call with some bad news.  The kind of news that seems to make time stand still for a few moments.  It's the kind of call that's difficult to make and to receive.  Our next door neighbor died suddenly last Sunday.  I won't go into detail except to say that he was relatively young.  He leaves his wife and two young daughters.  His memorial service was yesterday.

 (Along Rte 6 and the Wilson River)
I left about 4:30 Friday afternoon to ride over to the coast.  The weather was clear and in the low 50's F.  Sometimes on a ride like this I'll listen to the iPod but this ride I wanted to reminisce.

 (Route 6 - Tillamook State Forest)
Do you think it's possible that a quiet two-lane highway in the forest can be like a cathedral?  I think so.  Except for the fact that I had to keep an eye out for the big three.  Deer, Elk, and the newer threat foraging bears.

Over the years our neighbor and I have had many conversations in front of our houses on the street or from our backyards.  Topics varied between our families, local government, world issues, weather, neighborhood news - the usual stuff.  Occasionally and at appropriate times I would bring up religion and things of God.  On those subjects he wasn't too interested in going into detail and that was okay - we didn't.   It was an interesting relationship that grew despite the 90 miles that separated us.

I came out of the forest and onto the straight-away that precedes Tillamook as the sun was just setting.  This is the spot where you see many of the dairy farms.  You not only see them you smell them. 

After making the usual stops at the store then Subway to pick up dinner I headed up the coast towards the house.  By the time I got to the ghost hole on the east side of Tillamook Bay the sunset was peaceful and the bay was calm.  I stopped to take it all in.

In February our neighbor had a bad accident at home.  He slipped while in the shower and hit the side of his head on the edge of the tub.  It did quite a bit of damage and he lost the use of his eye.  In the months to come he had a few reconstructive surgeries which helped bring him almost back to normal.  The accident, though, had taken its toll on his outlook on life.  Already unemployed he started to spiral into a time of despair.

One night in April while we were on the phone he said that he wanted to talk about God.  He wanted to have a talk about Him in person.  I told him I'd be there the following Saturday. 

That next Saturday afternoon while we sat in his darkened living room, God opened his heart to receive Christ as his Lord and Savior.  Later as I left I hugged him not realizing that it would be one of the last times that I would see him.

As I rode home yesterday after the service I took my time and made many stops in the now cold and drizzly forest.  Each day is such a gift and I fear sometimes that I'm not making the best of each one of them.  Robbing the title of my last post, events like this really put things into perspective.  

 (Men fly fishing on the Wilson River)
The emptiness of not being able to see him and talk with him is there but the assurance that he'll be reunited with his family and that I'll see him again one day is a wonderful promise that God has made.  And I believe it's true.

There is hope - there is always a way provided for hope.

God's speed.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Putting Things in Perspective

Those of us in the northern hemisphere are about to head into the time of year where the weather can be stormy.  I was thinking the other day about how this can translate into what we experience while riding on two wheels and being exposed to the elements.

While riding, at any given time we're either in a storm, we've just come out of a storm, or we're about to head into a storm.  And so it is with life isn't it?  With the storms of life we are in one of these three positions.

Each Wednesday during the lunch hour there's a meeting held in one of the buildings along the Park Blocks which is near Portland State University.  It's called the Downtown Bible Class and is well attended by people from all walks of life including students.  I try to go when I'm downtown and don't have something pressing with work.  Not only is it interesting to go for the teaching but it's a great place to meet people.

This past Wednesday after grabbing a bagel and cup of water I sat down at an empty table to see what new adventure might happen.  Within a few minutes a well dressed man sat down at the table a couple of chairs away.  As we made the usual small talk about how often we come to the class and what we do for a living, he said he was just laid off from his job the day before.  He was in the financial industry and his sales were not meeting the expectations of the company.  He's been laid off before so he said that he's preparing for "What's to come."

I thought a lot about him the rest of the day.  I still wonder how he and his wife are coping with the jolt to their lives.

These life experiences tend to put things into perspective don't they?  You know how it is.  Sometimes you find yourself complaining about a cold or aches and pains then you see someone in a wheelchair or a blind person.  Or you complain about something at work then you meet a person who's just lost their job. 

Once and awhile I think my riding skills are beginning to come together and my confidence gets a little distorted.  Then I either read or hear about a bad accident which puts things in perspective again.

If we're not in a storm we can be sure that one will come.  Life is a series of storms and there are no guarantees in this world.  I purposely said, "In this world".  There are guarantees and when we find them they do help put life in the proper perspective. 

God's speed.