Friday, February 13, 2015

Buck ten: Almost died

Being a father has put a tail of responsibility to every decision made henceforth. As I type this, one eye is kept on the little gem.

Last weekend my trade brought me to Death Valley for some scouting but instead of going by preferred method of transportation I was relegated to the truck. Still had a great time but the itch to get the new bike out there and ride was like a fresh case of poison ivy.

Enter today, the rare day off. I woke up early to return some paperwork to the office and it was a very calm and clear. The bike was a must as it sits for a week at a time.

Paperwork handed off and I knew I had to go back to Death Valley. Permission was granted from the wife and I was off. A quick fill up just before heading out of town and the ascent begins to get out of the Vegas dust bowl.

Don't laugh because I roll a scooter! After eating, breathing, and living every facet of motorcycling and conquering the largest, fastest, and heaviest my final frontier is the slowest and most fun. You can say I no longer have much to prove.

This little scoot, however, is quite competent. The ride today proved this and the photos to follow should give you a decent idea.

Speaking of photos, after the picture above was taken, yours truly was almost turned to mashed potatoes. Kind of fitting that on a ride to Death Valley I almost died. Climbing Mt. Potosi, some impatient cager decides to pass around a corner on a double yellow(no passing zone) in his Hyundai Veloster. He is next to 2 other cars which are too close for him to escape my lane so I swing wide and am ready to bat his mirror as he passes.

I felt a slight anger but maintained composure an did not retaliate and continued on my ride without much fanfare. Later in my ride it started to weigh on me the possibility of leaving my daughter without a dad and even though this bike is a lot of fun and recently purchased, it may be time to hang up the jacket and helmet and quit while ahead.

Back to the ride; I climbed Mt. Potosi at a steady 59 to 61 mph indicated(scooter riders can appreciate this statement) and flowed down the back side at 70 mph not wanting to use much throttle. The little Yamaha conquered the mountain that the fuddyduddy Jerry claimed would bring a CVT equipped scooter to a halt.

Posing after the hill climb.

Before getting to Pahrump I almost always bypass it and head for Tecopa Hot Springs. Better scenery and less knuckle heads usually. Once over the pass you come to Resting Springs Ranch as well as the China Ranch Date Farm. Both are an oasis fed by natural fresh water springs. This is Resting Spring Ranch.

Just a little further in is Tecopa which is now a modern day ghost town. I took this picture more for the old truck.

This pic is of a pool in Hot Spring. I love how peaceful it is here.

Muddy Hills of Hot Spring.

In Shoshone there was a well kept Airhead from Montana complete with hack and trailer. Most likely the only vehicle I had a top speed advantage on.

We make entry to the Death Valley National Park.

Finally down "in" Death Valley. A little breezy but still holding decent speed. Badwater is still another 20 miles from here.

Telescope Peak at over 12.000 ft. has its snow cap in the background.

At Badwater(there is a tiny sign in white indicating sea level) you are 282 ft. below sea level.

I am getting hungry at this time so I forego any stops until Furnace Creek. I park next to a KTM 690 and head for the bar.

The food was over priced, looked decent, but tasted mediocre.

After lunch I felt the need to get back to the family so off we go.

Tecopa drew in a few hot rods.

The final shot is Mt. Potosi after conquering it in ease.

Friday, October 31, 2014

109. 2 and a half months with an angel

Last we left off prior to the birth of my daughter: Mona. She has arrived. Each sight of this cartoonish miniature of her parents leaves us in a deeper state of enamor. The child could not get any cuter. As luck would have it, she is an easy baby as well. Quickly taking to sleep through most of the evening and never whining or complaining. It is like the math of both of us parents worked out well: calm + calm= calm.

When she smiles, all is right with the world. And now into the 11th week she smiles and giggles aplenty. I am back to working long hours and when I get home and begin rattling off my baby talk she gives that toothless smile with squinted eyes. Be still my beating heart. Never had I known this type of love in my life.

Luckily with my schedule and my wife's we do not have to take our little girl to some sort of a sitter service or day care. The last thing I would want is this little gem receiving anything but the best of care.

Some pictures are in order.

This is fresh from the oven. She was delivered via C-section a few says after the anticipated birth date. Looking at her now, she was so skinny then. 7 lbs and 20".

I had to learn baby maintenance first while the wife enjoyed the medications which kept her comfortable from surgery. The lack of sleep was very difficult while staying in the hospital. I manned the bottles and diapers and time went so slow as I counted Mona's breaths it seemed.

Her cries were so cute as her lungs had yet to have the strength to give her wailing power. I still find her cries and coughs cute as they are so subdued compared to my own power. Yet somehow she packs flatulence like a 50 year old lactose intolerant man after drinking a gallon of 2%. That is always good for a chuckle.

I have a curse or gift of hypersensitivity with all of my senses except for smell. My sleep is usually deep and difficult to awaken from. This little girl so much as makes a peep and it is like a Marine Corps sergeant is shouting over me at 4:00am to get my ass out of bed. I spring up instantly. Faster than Mom does, even!

For the first few weeks I would have dreams that she was sleeping in the bed with me, that my head was laying on her, swaddled in a blanket. It would start a state of panic with me searching for her in the bed only to find my head resting on the pillow. Very bizarre.

Later on I would let her sleep in the bed with me. She sleeps very well there but I only do so for naps on occasion.

It feels as if she has been with us for decades already. We have been to the doctor for her check ups and immunizations twice now and she is gaining weight appropriately and getting taller faster than normal. In 10 weeks she has gained 6.5 lbs and grew 4.5". She is truly a happy baby.

Mom does not like having her pictures shown off so I will leave her out of the entry.

Here Mona is having a laugh at daddy.

When people see her when we are out and about they gush at the cuteness. I can't fault them. For the first month and a half since she has arrived my voice has been like a broken record to the sound of, "I can't believe how cute she is!" I must have said it a few thousand times already.

So far she has had no problems and is as happy as a clam so we could not ask for more.

Outside of the new life as a parent, things are going well on the job front. After the baby was born I went back to work and am in the process of opening my own business. It will sort of be like being a parent of a business as well. No other plans to talk about details as competition is ruthless and will try to shut me down. It happened to a company I worked for years ago in the same industry.

Things have changed for the better since the arrival of our little treasure. She has added a new found meaning to my life and no longer are decisions made on my behalf but on behalf of my daughter. It took me a long time to find her mother and thanks to her our efforts have resulted in a blessing.

Until next time we see you, whenever that may be...

Monday, August 11, 2014

108. Somebody to love

This goes out to my girls.

My love barometer for the past 7 or 8 years has been based on my immediate feelings of Billy Joel songs. His music was always a cornerstone from my all time favorite artists until I associated it with a few year love affair gone wrong. Sure it led to some of the highest natural feelings during my possession of this thing called a life. Unfortunately a bad love will be subject to Newton's Laws.

I am not blaming anyone for what happened. Sometimes the forbidden will steal a part of you even if you contain the strength to resist.

So, Billy Joel, my unborn daughter gets a kick- pun intended- out of your music. No longer do I despise your work due to the negative association drawn from that emotional corpse that was in tow.

Which song does she like?

I say she likes the song but truth be told, she gets active to the music. This could be her begging for peace and quiet. We won't know until she gets out and can verbalize, at least with body language, her opinion of the said piece.

The Yukester's mother is visiting from Japan to witness her first grandchild in the flesh. We will have three generations of the clan under one roof. Looks like 500 years of samurai blood will be continued with an Irish kick.

The fact that two people are about to experience the best moments in their live's is out there. We have been waiting so long for our baby girl that each day seems to lengthen in hours. Maybe this is life's way of slowing things down as prior to the engagement of legacy procurement the days were but a blur. It was great but now that g word does it no justice.

Even clothes shopping for the little girl is entertaining. Heck, you would be lucky to get me in a store, much less one without internal combustion engines attached to two wheels.

Depending on how Mona does on the birthing finale will decide if she gets a sibling. Should she pull off the miracle natural birth then we will try for baby numero dos as soon as it is safe. With the Yukester's age we are being cautious even if our first attempt has been nothing but seamless and healthy.

Estimated birth date is less than 48 hours away and it is looking as if she will be a little late. Ironic as I am like a Swiss watch with timing. Due to the Yukester's age the doctor is recommending an induction in the 40th week to avoid complications.

Tomorrow evening will be another appointment to plan the course of action.

This kid will have an amazing life. Showered in love.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

107. Possibilities

It is rare these days that modern music inspires much outside of appall. This ease of access to the masses and the marketing of image over talent leaves much to be desired. Just look at any musical entourage pre 1990 and then skip to 2000 and present.

The artists used to be all about their wares. The talent rose to the top as the music is what was being marketed.

Thankfully there are gems here and there in our present. I can't get this one out of my head at the moment and not one bit minds:

Most of my writing was accomplished during 2005 to 2009. It was a time when I could still find music that tugged the right strings upstairs and the words flowed. Those days are missed as good music has mostly been mined for my interests across all genre of most decades since the recorded note.

Speaking of notes, I still sing to the baby that is one month from her first cry. She likes music with violin the most. When there is an orchestrated tune with the higher pitches of violins or violas she gets jumpy. Excited is not even the word to describe our excitement. My plan is to skip the 'baby' things as much as possible. No annoying baby music and the least amount of baby toys as possible. I want this girl going straight for the good stuff.

The Yukester has been a trooper but the baby's size is finally putting stress on the host. Yuki has this maneuver where she goes and gets this wooden massage apparatus with two rollers and sets down next to me. She knows I am mind reading-like intuitive/attentive so she never gets a chance to use the thing before my magic hands dig in to repeal the burden of gestation.

We are about ready for the birth. Just a few more items to acquire but all of the majors are covered. Bought diapers for the first time in my life. Maybe it is the natural state of becoming a parent but the whole process has not been negative or scary. When we started trying it happened faster than we were anticipating. Other than the surprise of efficiency it has been smooth.

It also helps having family that just had a child with all of the tips you could imagine. That and studying Youtube for swaddling, diaper changes, bathing techniques, baby calming measures, etc..

Regarding possibilities, the title, we may move to Japan. I really want to. Not just because of the new found love of ramen. That or the Japanese culture being one of super coolness. I would fit in with the orderly and mannered society. Plus they have all of the motorcycles I have lusted over for years.

Although teaching English would most likely be expected of me I would gravitate towards an export business to share the sweetness of the forbidden fruits among my also denied brethren. It would be grand.

With my appetite for learning and inhalation of things unknown(to me), it would be a much needed mental exercising.

This concludes this evenings session.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

106. The last hurrah... for a while

You may know that I will be on daddy duty in about a month so my adventures, which I normally have not written much of until lately, will be few and far between. While I partake in my morning Niacin flush, fresh off of yesterday's 17.5 hour ride, let's reflect on the run.

The initial plan was to go to Utah for the day and maintain some altitude to avoid the heat. Upon nightfall my route would thread back through Area-51 to watch the dark sky for anything abnormal before returning home preferably when the temperature eased back below the ton.

On my way towards the highway that heads north out of town traffic came to a halt as the northbound highway was blocked off by the Highway Patrol. My route is altered to continue past, exit the highway, attempt gaining access from the other direction but to no avail.

Factor in the already climbing temperatures and I decide to go south and maybe head home. It is going to be another very hot day and the goal was getting away from that. While headed south I began to cycle through alternate options and 'Angeles Crest' burbled to the top. South it is!

Angeles Crest is a name given to Highway 2 running through the Angeles National Forest. It is 70 some miles(I forget how long the section of twisty road is) of sandpaper tarmac where straight sections of road are rare. My old group of riding buddies and I would go out there twice a month from Las Vegas during summer months to storm the twisty roads.

Every time we would go to this road someone in the group would crash and I think when my brother crashed, that was our last time. Since that event the road had suffered horrendous weather related issues such as mud slides, wildfires, etc. that put it out of commission for years.

Back to the adventure, as soon as you get to the road you start to smell the trees and assorted vegetation. Pine is aromatically delicious. Sure beats the smell of flatulence that welcomed me upon arrival in Vegas at 1:30am.

That new role of daddy crept into every decision while on the ride. I didn't take any sort of aggressive body off of the motorcycle instead just opting to take it easy and stay in line with the bike. Good thing too as two police officers were out running radar and had no luck with one of the only sportbikes on the mountain.

I made a stop at Newcomb's Ranch. Nobody was home other than the police officer who was following behind me who proceeded to hide behind a tree. Hilarious. I should have took his picture but I didn't.

A lot of the terrain was not recognizable due to wildfires. My stops were few so pictures are limited. I did see a Yamaha SR400 on this road. That would be a pleasant ride through these parts.

When I do my rides I never use navigation through my headphones and also do not keep visible GPS or directions. Upon stops I will consult the phone for maps and remember directions. On a ride like today there wasn't a motivation or direction outside of riding Angeles Crest. After completing that task I wanted to go to the beach.

I headed due west and randomly ended up in this town, admittedly lost, when this place stuck out like a sore thumb.

Century Motorcycles in San Pedro. I was blown away with what they had inside. So many bikes I had read about but never seen in person. Ariel Square Four anyone? Here is a quick video of one side of their showroom.

The owner had a Suzuki OR-50, another bike I had seen pictures of but never have seen in the flesh. It was his mother's bike! Cool people and amazing historical motorcycle collection.

Once I could drag my attentions away from this vintage goodness I sought out another motorcycle shop before needing to finally eat. I say finally eat because I had not done so since 7:30am and it was now 5:30pm. My M.O. had been hydration and not once did my body tell me to eat. Always have been able to bend the rules like that.

Right near the last motorcycle dealer I spotted a Mexican restaurant and stopped in for a surf and turf burrito and two beers. It hit the spot and to continue the improvisation of the trip, intuition led me back to the coast and south to find a decent viewing of the sunset.

Homing in on the holiday weekend, it is starting to get crowded so some journeying further south until about 20 minutes before sundown the location was had. It was a scramble to get there before then sun dropped! San Clemente was a great place to watch the action.

If the train was slightly faster, by 5 minutes, it could have been in the video for extra dramatization. Just in front of the bench where I sat were these red flowers giving off a wonderful aroma. The ocean whisking in the cool humid breeze with a steady and soothing soundtrack. Beyond peaceful.

For the sake of adventure, the entrance to the Ortega Highway was very close, it was a must ride. Even in the dark it was a gas going through the twisties and and descending into Perris/Corona before jumping on the I-15 and flying back home.

As luck would have it, and an extra sharp set of eyes, I was cruising at a high rate of speed in an unlighted section of the highway when the barely perceptible reflections off of a highway patrol appeared in the median. Rolled off of the throttle and thought for certain my goose was cooked. Maybe he/she was on facebook or otherwise distracted and nothing happened.

And so it was for the remainder of the ride back. Cruising at a quick clip and getting in at around 2:00am. Even with all of the riding I was still energized. Certainly that is why I do it.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

105. Personal injury suit fail

I served on jury duty for the first time last Friday. Can't say I knew what would happen as my only experience with the court system has been with my rap sheet of tickets during my late teens through the mid twenties in the endless pursuit of the adrenaline rush.

Upon arrival we got to pass through a metal detector on our way to being herded into a large attendance room capable of housing well over a hundred people. During roll call they were letting several people go and like most the hope was to have your name called to be released from what feels like an imprisonment.

Later my attitude would change as I got to play a key role in shutting down an over confident personal injury attorney playing up a false case against an older woman with no shame in asking us jurors to raid the woman's savings or future earnings for $10,000 at minimum.

The defense attorney was not much better. As a matter of fact he was over dramatic and anything but succinct in focusing on key points of the case. So over the top was he that I caught myself and the judge smirking at the ridiculousness of his banter.

The movies and T.V. shows displaying the common courtroom objection was all too accurate as to the real goings on. The whole process seemed kind of archaic, really. You could hear the pettiness and insults of these childlike lawyers as they credited each other before discrediting each other's tactics.

I think very few people actually grow and mature.

To the case itself, a personal injury, it is what this town is famed for. The plaintiff was rear ended by the defendant and claimed back and neck injury. The plaintiff contacted his attorney friend before going to a chiropractor for pains suffered during the collision.

Nine days after the accident the plaintiff consulted a doctor for pain medication for the pain which he considered a 3 on the 10 scale for pain threshold. That is a long time to wait for medication for neck and back pain.

I knew within minutes of the opening arguments what was going on and wished there could have been way to tell everyone to wrap up discussions and let us decide. Listening to the lawyers sling bullshit necessitated pain medication.

The plaintiff was inconsistent in his recalling of what hurt and whether he took pain medications or not. He also indicated his life was unaffected by the accident. Even worse were the pictures of the damage to the vehicles. The plaintiff's vehicle being grazed on the corner of the bumper leaving a minor scratch at less than 3 mph. The plaintiff is also seen in the reflection of his car damage pictures kneeling over without back pain.

When we finally got to the jury room for deliberation I was nominated as the jury foreman. Why are people so afraid? Anyway they left it up to me to get all of the opinions and hash out what we were going to do for the outcome. The first juror immediately sided with the defendant. She did not indicate much other than that.

The second juror, an older woman, was undecided but was leaning toward awarding the plaintiff at least $3,000. She was also reading between the lines with regards to what was really going on here. She was more or less following the precedence that the city has set regarding personal injury cases and an at fault accident equals a check from the 'at fault' party.

The third juror was undecided on which way to go. He was on the fence to go either way.

Now it is my turn to come out swinging. I am not letting this old lady get hung out to dry over a mistake which could happen to anybody. Some of the initial points made were that the plaintiff contacted his attorney friend before taking medical action. Then proceeds to consult a chiropractor, not even a real doctor, for back and neck pain. My fellow jurors were unaware that a chiropractor is not a doctor so I hope they learned something there. Next, the fact that the plaintiff's life was unaffected by the accident and his car was repaired by the defendant's insurance followed by his inconsistency in recalling where the pain(s) were and that his story about which way he was going was inconsistent with the damage location on his car.

The details were stacked so hard against this bastard and yet he(and his attorney) has the audacity to lie under oath to try and make a quick buck. I hate this system and it was a pleasure working on the two jurors who were willing to let the plaintiff and his attorney freely steal the money from an old working woman's pocket.

The way the prosecuting attorney was trying to ask for a bigger and better paycheck was unreal. The fact that four people have the deciding factor over the finances of all parties involved is also amazing to me. If I was not there to fight hard and pick out the important and unnoticed inconsistencies and even point out some of the overlooked details like the angle of the vehicle strike and what average damages cost for more severe accidents this old lady could have been out of a large chunk of change.

In no way am I claiming hero status. Fate has a way of falling in it's own unguided way.

The old gal was lucky in fate that day.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

104. No aliens today

I told the significant other that my trajectory would be toward Utah in search of cooler temperatures. What one says and one does can often differ. Luckily this matter concerned not with the maintenance of intended course.

These are my last days before fatherhood begins so these adventures are like a farewell to irresponsibility before being stapled together and trimmed proper for the new role.

The journey started by heading to Lake Mead by way of Lake Mead Boulevard east out of Las Vegas. Sadly the gov has set up a fee station to utilize the roadway now and after levying $10 collapsed my lungs and opened wide to inhale high speed sweepers for the next hour or so. When cracking along at high speeds on familiar roads I don't care for stopping and taking pictures. For that, my apologies.

With regards to the Utah trajectory, I was not feeling the ride and decided to head home after reaching Glendale and the I-15 freeway. The temperature was not flaring yet but highway construction made the going slow and being cut by the weaving nut in the recently bought, used Honda Accord, fueled a desire to not be in the same zip code for the ride back.

From this point the decision to visit Area 51 was made. I turned off onto highway 93 north towards Ely, NV. This the same road which I recently took to Caliente when looping back through Utah and home. I like this road since it is infrequently traveled and the peace afforded by an open road and unfettered nature are second to none in my book.

My first brazen move of the day was when I passed a van of the Lincoln County Sheriff's department. He was cruising along at an actual pace of speed limit minus 2 mph. I usually keep a 5 to 10 mph over the limit pace. My motorcycle has a 10% over optimistic speedometer. Nothing came of my higher pace and I continued down the road pacing faster moving traffic until the turn off for the Extra Terrestrial Highway.

This is where the fun began because you start to see the signs reputation of the open Nevada desert. This first place, which I don't even know the name of, came out of nowhere just as I turned onto the E.T. highway. I saw the giant silver alien and pulled off the road immediately.

Just before I pulled off of the road a white Ford Expedition jammed up on my tail and I was unaware which made for a quick get off of the road. The Expedition piqued my curiosity and due to the nature of the area I was thinking he may be military. I decided to get back on the road and pursue.

He was moving quite fast as it took me a while to catch up to him. I would say it took me some 15 miles to get close and that is when I saw the cage in the truck and the exempt license plates. As I approached he pulled off of the road to let me by only to engage his police lights.

Quickly and safely I pulled off of the road and the officer approached and asked how fast I was going. My reply stated no speed but that I was "clipping along at a fast pace". He then proceeded to question my reason for being in the area. "Just doing a loop to see Area 51".

The officer took my license and registration to run my information. I sat on the bike patiently awaiting the outcome. While time passed I was looking all over to see any evidence of anything weird. Anything on the ground like flying saucer crash damage or military trespasser tracking devices. I turned my gaze to the sky for anything abnormal flying over and the only piece out of the ordinary was a little section of cloud that had a rainbow shining in it.

From that moment I had a feeling that this was my lucky day. The officer came back with my papers and said, "I am letting you go with a warning. Please keep the speed down as you could get hurt on that thing". I replied with my thanks to the officer and continued for maybe a minute before stopping for the next picture.

People love stickers.

From here you can see Little Alee Inn(sp?) of Rachel, NV. The police officer pulled in there presumably for lunch. I continued without stopping as I had a schedule to keep. Keep a slower pace I did as well.

Through the emptiness I kept searching for clues of anything odd or out of the ordinary. The only thing which seemed odd were the number of dust devil all over. One area it was like a mother with her cackle of youngsters with one large dust devil reaching up for a cloud and a bunch of smaller ones in the same valley.

The area was pretty. High desert with a little bit of green shrubbery and outcrops of mountains flanking the sides making the valleys. The vegetation was enough to sustain cattle but not much else.

At about 50 miles to my next fuel stop my low indicator started flashing. As someone who has run out of fuel in the middle of northern NV and the lack of help offered by folks nowadays my worry meter started flashing too. I took it very easy as I tucked in to the bike close enough to be a poor paint application and kept the rpm very conservative.

Finally I reached Tonopah where I could get gas and a bite to eat. Still had plenty of fuel as the fuel warning indicator is a bit premature but that is okay by me.

First came gas and then I started taking pictures of the vintage mining town.

At this time it was time to fill my gas tank so I stopped at the Mexican restaurant just south of where my  bike sits in the photo above. With food and a beer in the gullet the search was on for a few more pictures of the town before finishing off the 200 miles more to get home.

These next pictures are from Tonopah, NV.

The building to the right is an old hotel which had beautiful stonework.

The next series of photos are from Goldfield, NV. A lot of character can be found here if you can appreciate the weird, odd, and just plain old.

The reason I found the last two pictures was due to my seeing some vehicles I took pictures of back in the beginning of 2011. The cars were not in their original location as I passed through and it left a little bit of an empty nostalgic feeling. A tiny bit of sadness. Then I spotted them while passing through town.

They call this "car art".

The Volvo 240 above that has a Volkswagen 1302 carcass atop of it also houses a local cat. Artful residence. There was an elder gent who came over to talk to me when I was taking pictures of the cars. He gave me the run down of history of the vehicles and told me about the Car Forest. I saw they had a donation box so I dropped in all of the cash I had. $2. He said it was more than most give and that the funds will be for the restoration of the old high school.

This is where the cars are located:

The high school in need of restoration:

The last picture is of the "Car Forest". The elder gent said it was the largest of its kind. They couldn't afford Cadillacs so they used any old cars(and a school bus or two!).

I will add in the quick video I uploaded to Youtube of the Car Forest. First time I have taken my sportbike in the dirt. It did fine.

The rest of the trip was over 100 degrees F cruising the highway and dodging the police in small towns looking for their pay checks.

The best parts of the ride were the old mining towns of Tonopah and Goldfield. The rest is droning down the freeway.