Saturday, November 27, 2004

Maiden Voyage

10:30 a.m.

Home. Anxious, because I'm not sure if Jessica is going to pick me up or not. Left messages for her, but I haven't heard back and, for that matter, have no idea when I'll hear. It's frustrating when one has to rely on youth! (Then I turned this frustration and anxiety back upon myself. How often do I leave others wondering whether I'll follow up on a commitment?)

It rained last night and this morning, raising more concerns about picking up the motorcycle today. My body tense and achy, more stress than anything. Dona has a couple over helping to clean her house and yard, so I've got activity around my "cage", which also sets off the animal. (It doesn't like being observed in its domicile.) Oh, and there's a full moon out there somewhere, tugging at the body and brain.

***

Jessica finally called around 11:30. She was feeling better today and all was right with the world again. Jess and Sergio showed up around 1:00. I called Jeff at BMW of San Francisco and said we'd be there between 2:00 and 2:30, which was fine with him. That would allow him to take care of another test ride.

Jess drove to the city, Sergio and I exchanging travel tales. He talked of his experience in Thailand and Laos. I gave Jessica a hard time for approaching 80 mph.

"Maybe you should set a better example," she suggested.

"You're supposed to learn from your parents' mistakes," I shot back.

I asked Sergio "do you ride?" completely forgetting that he has a Harley Sportster. I also forgot about where his family lives (Santa Rosa), and numerous other facts. I was pretty distracted.

An incredibly crisp, clear day. As we approached the Golden Gate Bridge, I could see a quarter-mile-long line of traffic waiting to exit to the Vista Point at the bridge's north end.

I was impressed with Jessica's driving in the city, especially negotiating the hills. Arriving at the BMW dealer, my new motorcycle was staged outside the showroom with several other bikes. It was all set up with panniers and top box...and it was intimidating. I looked it over with Jess and Sergio, almost afraid to touch it.

Jeff was with another customer, so I went to the parts department to collect the helmet I had ordered. It didn't look quite as "attractive" as I originally thought. Jeff gave me the keys and invited me to load up my things. Jessica and Sergio (who I began to notice look quite cute together!) went across the street to the Harley-Davidson dealership.

Fiddled with the bike, uncomfortable with my ignorance and lack of confidence. Practiced taking it off, then putting it back up on the center stand while standing alongside it (until Larry came out and - somewhat anxiously - told me that I should get up on the bike before rolling it off the stand.)

Jeff provided the delivery run-down. I didn't have questions. My mind was kind of a blank. I know there will be many...later. He didn't have a cover in stock that was large enough for the bike with mounted panniers. I'll have to take a "rain check". But I gave him the agreed-upon two bottles of wine in trade.

Both Larry and Jeff stood by as I prepared to leave. (Did I look hesitant? Well, I was.) I could delay no longer. Climbed aboard, started 'er up, nodded "good-bye" to the fellas and took off. At the first intersection, half-a-block away, I encountered a wrong-way driver.

A half-block further (out of view of the dealership, I made sure), I had to pull over. My face shield was fogging up. "Okay. Settle down!" Jeff had suggested a restaurant called Polkers restaurant over on Polk Street. Jess and Sergio had gone on ahead to find a parking spot.

Pulling out into traffic on Van Ness Street, I felt completely vulnerable. On Polk, as Jeff indicated, there are actually free motorcycle parking stalls. "This is great!"

Polkers is a "gourmet burger" shop. It's pretty good. The "youngsters" were hungry. Jess ordered a "Mushroom Swiss" burger and caramel shake, Sergio a Bacon Cheeseburger" and beer, and for me, a "Chicken Burger". Outside the restaurant, we split up. They were meeting a friend in the city.

The moment of truth. It was now dark. I really didn't want my first ride to be at night, but there was no choice. Fortunately, I found the bike's lighting to be excellent.

A very cold night, with a strong north wind. I was protected enough by the small windshield to still find the ride fairly comfortable. At Penngrove, I pulled off the freeway to don my new electric vest. I didn't really need it tonight but wanted to try it out. Continued on to A'Roma Roasters in Santa Rosa, the vest actually becoming too warm by the time I arrived there.

Found a new parking spot for the new machine, alongside the Visitor's Center. Went into A'Roma's and got a coffee to go. Only after exiting the coffee shop did it occur to me "what am I going to do with this coffee cup on a motorcycle?" Walked over to the bike and stood by, drinking my coffee.

Drove out Bennett Valley Road, and up Sonoma Mountain exercising extreme caution. Too many deer up here. The motorcycle handles very nicely on the rough and winding mountain road.

Squeezed the bike into our carport alongside my car (and slightly scraping the car in the process. The bike takes more space than I expected.) Removed the panniers. "Now what do I do with these?" They ended up on the bedroom floor of my tiny apartment, along with the 20 cases of wine, 5 or 6 folding chairs, rolling suitcase and other "crap".

My legs were well-chilled. Only now was I aware of it, but it immediately brought back that old familiar feeling of being chilled to the core. I talked with (brother) Jeff tonight. He's jealous, and now must buy an R1200GS.

I also talked with Drew. A check he was expecting from his publisher failed to arrive on schedule, so there's some anxiety about this month's bills. Meanwhile, here I was spending $20k on a "toy" (several people have now referred to it as such, though I beg to differ.)

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