Saturday, May 22, 2004

Checking out the BMW R1200GS


Stopped at the BMW motorcycle shop in Santa Rosa today. Finally took a look at the new R1200GS motorcycle, considered the perfect bike for traveling the world. The salesperson gave me a glossy sales brochure picturing the new bike taking on the wild mountain roads of Peru.

It's a remarkable machine, but HUGE! Perhaps it would be the best "equipment" for a 20,000-mile trip around the Americas.

I browsed the displays of riding gear: clothing, boots, helmets. You "need" $1,500 in accessories just to ride these days. Am I just being a typical "American"? We need to be properly equipped to face all eventualities. The mere thought of outfitting myself for such a trip is daunting.

Maybe I could just do it on a bicycle?

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Shaky

Dropped in on Jessica unannounced. She was preparing for finals. "When do I get to ride your bike?"

She had purchased a Suzuki 250cc "Ninja" on E-Bay and had it shipped from Pennsylvania. She gave me the key, and a few pointers on operating the motorcycle.

I climbed aboard. (It was a little like sitting on a small scale train.) The last time I rode a motorcycle was in 1982 or 83, and then only briefly, delivering my brother Jeff's motorcycle from Santa Barbara to North Hollywood.

Awkwardly drove around the apartment complex parking lot, and eventually out into the street. Riding with a fairing was something new to me, where leaning into a turn, it looks like the bike is still going to go in the orignal direction of travel.

Less than ten minutes in the saddle was enough.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

A dream of travel

11:45 a.m. Waiting in my car outside the Village Barber Shop, fifteen minutes early for my appointment. I feel strange, numb, and tense.

The frenetic movement of people and traffic in Santa Rosa, the congestion. For some reason these things are bothering me more than usual. I feel disconnected, detached and lacking others' sense of purpose.

I don't have anything in common with these people, yet I have everything in common.

I had stopped in at the local Safeway supermarket. Inside, it's a barrage to the senses (and sensibilities.) The carefully constructed, and controlled corporate environment, the advertising that silently screams for your attention,the subtle manipulation that makes your choice their choice. (In this emporium of things, or stuff, choice is an illusion.)

Just a few minutes inside is enough to send me hurrying for the door. Final, parting assaults come in the form of outrageous tabloids, displayed for the entire family to enjoy as you await your turn to be "scanned and checked-out".

***

5:45 p.m. seated at "my" window table at A'Roma Roasters coffee shop, Santa Rosa. After having my hair cut, I drove out to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park for a hike. A windy, cool day. Perfect. It was a vigorous hike up to Bald Mountain, without stops. I probably hurt myself again, as heart and lungs worked to capacity. (Something doctors warn against: infrequent, but heavy exertion.)

My mind kept drifting to thoughts of doing that long-dreamed-of motorcycle ride from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Take a 4- to 6-month sabbatical (or, if necessary, resign.) Maybe my daughter Jessica would like to go?

I started thinking of the timing: head north in May or June, then turn south from Alaska in June or July. August and September passing through the Southwest and on through Mexico? Awfully hot! It's complicated. Maybe it would be from June to November?

And I started thinking about the gear required, about carrying a gun, about contacting the State Department for travel advice.

2005! That would be the time.

Half-consciously, I noticed pale yellow wild irises growing beneath the oaks and madrones. "That's odd. They're usually pale purple."

***

Yesterday, coincidentally, I finally arranged to look at a used BMW R1150GS motorcycle. For months, my friend and co-worker Josh has been nagging me to look at the bike his neighbor had sitting in his garage, rarely used. Josh claims his friend's wife wants the bike disposed of.

It was BIG! But I was intrigued by reports of a new model being rolled out by BMW: the R1200GS, which would actually be both lighter and more powerful than the 1150.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Foreword

This on-line blog was actually launched May 30, 2005 in Prince Rupert, British Columbia.

Posts prior to that date were added later and were taken from journals, e-mails and other media.

For more on this adventure, see the later post: Some Background on This Journey.