Monday, June 6, 2011

Some Like It Hot

I still can't figure out if it's spring
or winter yet!
Is anyone melting yet?  I mean really.  This goofy weather is just getting weirder by the minute.  We go from highs in the 40's to highs of 90-ish in about 3 weeks.  My poor bike doesn't know whether to wrap up in a blankie or stretch out on a bath towel naked!  And to make matters worse, allergy season has hit me like a ton of bricks. Every time I mount up to ride I start sneezing and hacking up fur balls like the cats in our house.  Its hard enough to ride on Ol' Melissa but compound the problem with allergies and that's a recipe for ugly happening on the road.  I guess on the positive side of things my arthritic knee isn't quite as painful, especially given I am trying to get into a more active regimen.  I guess the best thing is we have not had the tornadoes that some states have had this year, and hopefully won't see any time soon.  All my prayers are with those folks in Joplin and Tuscaloosa.

Saw this gorgeous 2011 CVO Electraglide a
couple weeks ago.
Riding has been ok, but a few weeks ago I was walking back out to my bike from making a deposit at the bank, and took one look at my rear tire and my jaw about crumbled.  It was bald. Not down to cords, but there was no tread left on it.  It was almost totally smooth like a racing tire, and if I were to ever get caught in the rain - that would be bad.  When I checked my rear tire mileage it said only 5480 miles.  That's not much, but remembering last summer, I got talked into putting a set of Screamin' Eagle tires on, which are a performance tire - not a touring tire.  Nothing scares me like the thought of blowing a tire doing 75 mph down the interstate.  After consulting a couple folks, I ended up going to J&P Cycles just up the road about 30 miles and getting a whole new set of tires - Metzelers to be exact.  After some nifty finagling, I got the tires mounted balanced everything for a bit under $500.  Had I purchased those tires from the dealers, well, that would have been really spendy.  Morale of the story - inspect your bike as often as possible and look for those things even just going to the grocery store.

Mary seems to be doing a little better these days.  She was given another epidural in her back, only this one went into the spinal area from the side, and she seems to not have nearly as much pain but there is some weakness.  Our neurosurgeon will confer with her tomorrow on her progress and then some decisions will need to be made.  It is likely she will need these shots for the rest of her life, but as long as the frequency stays down she can live with one every now and then.  The concern is how long this epidural will last, and it is likely if it does not last as long she will need additional surgery.  Employment is also a factor, as things are happening at her office, and we all know how that goes when you are away for too long.  Between the medications she has and the shots she keeps getting, its been a rough patch, but things look like they might be improving for now.

Mounting up to escort a soldier
coming home from Afghanistan
Took some time Saturday night to do a Welcome Home/Escort event for a soldier returning home from Afghanistan.   Earlier in the day another soldier was laid to rest after an IED took his life.  With Mary being a little shaky I decided to attend the Welcome Home since the funeral run would take me about 110 miles to Ottumwa - Radar's home!  The Welcome Home would be right here in Cedar Rapids, so I went.  About 40 bikes or more showed up just to escort this young man home.  As he shook my hand after deplaning I was struck at how utterly young he was. He hugged practically anyone and everyone in the terminal, but then came the escort ride to his hometown of Van Horne - about 30 miles west of here.  To put it mildly - this was going to be a nerve wracked 30 miles at best.  Note to those cagers - if you see a mass line of motorcycles with lights blinking and turning - don't pull in the middle of their formation.  That happened twice, the second time right in front of me as the road narrowed from four lanes to two.  Another note - bikers don't stop for law enforcement.  Deputy sheriff came at us with lights and sirens a blazing, and we didn't even try to break formation.  Sorry Roscoe - soldiers coming home are more important this night!

Bikes pulled into Van Horne
Its at this time I make a confession.  Most folks who know me well, know there are just certain rules about riding any motorcycle I will not break.  I always wear jeans, boots, helmet.  I NEVER drink any alcohol while on the bike or when I know I will be on it.  EVER!  I always try to use the mantra "If I ever get into a problem where my safety is compromised it must never be my fault" and all those rules have served me well.  But this night I broke a rule of wearing a jacket.  In fact I broke that rule three times last week.  In my defense it was over 90 degrees, and even looking at that leather jacket made me hot.  You wont ever see me in shorts and Birkenstocks on the bike - like one of my fellow riders did.  I wont ever ride without a helmet.  I tried that once or twice and just didn't care for it.  Something my uncle told me "if you do something fun - do it safely!".  I always try to be as safe as I possibly can on the bike.  It is something I promised myself so long ago.  Helmet glasses leathers or at least a jacket and boots.  This night I wore a long sleeve denim shirt with my leather vest, the shirt something that would never have held up if I had laid the bike down.  So now I am looking into a vented jacket that would offer a bit more cooling while on those warmer rides.  Its probably not the best idea to wear a denim shirt on the way to work, but at highway speeds, that's not all that smart.

The sun setting as we prepare to ride
It was nice for a change to get out on the highway and twist that throttle some.  Between Mary's health and me working too darn much, its been quite hectic.  I had hoped to make a run for South Dakota BEFORE the August insanity of Bike Week there.  I have never seen Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower, or the Badlands.  Its a trip I dreamt about in the navy.  Being out at sea does a number on your imagination, and I always had hoped I could visit Rushmore just once to see that place, and the Badlands to feel the spirits moving me.  Not sure I can make the trip this year what with gas prices, Mary's reduced income, and the housing industry just not doing well.  But - at least for one night I got to enjoy a short ride, and maybe get a little air under my wings.

I couldn't end this without making a note of June 13th - a day which will live in...wedded bliss! Mary and I will celebrate 26 years of marriage next week.  I suppose a lot of folks MIGHT ask what took us so long.  Some others might be a bit in wonderment as to how Mary could have POSSIBLY put up with my temper and wake up to my mug every morning.  Have pity on her! Whatever your view is - we celebrate this year I think being more IN love with each other than anything else.  To me - Mary is the love of my life.  I hate the term "soul mate" perhaps because it sounds a bit corny, maybe a little too high schoolish.  We have stood the test, and made it through.  I always have been adamant about making sure that three things come before anything else in my life - God, my wife, and my kids.  We have been steadfastly dedicated to each other and to our family.  Haven't always made the best decisions, but always made sure each other came first.  Sometimes that has been a source of ridicule and admonishment, but ask me if I care.  When you take an oath, whether it be to our country or to each other it should be for life.  Period.

I love you sweetheart! 

Our "wedding" day - I had been in my navy uniform all day and didn't
want to see it again and didn't have a real suit.

Mary and I sharing a quiet moment at her mothers house.

Peace & Love Everybody!!