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A MEMORABLE RIDE

It looked like the perfect weather for a ride, so last Friday afternoon I headed off for a motorcycle ride to Eureka Springs, Arkansas in hopes of finding great riding roads with lots of hills, twisties, and foliage, preferably with some fall color.  The first leg was an uneventful ride to our country home in Henderson, Texas.  While there, I reacquainted myself with the Great Pyrenees dog that began following me while walking in preparation for walking the Camino de Santiago in 2013.  He more or less adopted me, but since I am not a full time resident in Henderson, I could not keep him, and gave him to my good friend in Henderson, Johnny Hudson.  As you can see, he is no longer a puppy, and he cries like a baby and jumps all over me every time we are reunited.  I love that dog.

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The next morning was crisp and clear and due to a detour off my main road, I ended up riding through New Boston, Texas where I went to the first and second grade when my dad was a minister there.  I think this is the first time I had been there was 1949.

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The church is no longer a Methodist church and the parsonage where we lived is no longer there, but I did find exactly where we lived and went to church.

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From New Boston, I had a wonderful ride into Eureka Springs, riding through Oklahoma and Arkansas once crossing the Red River just north of New Boston into Oklahoma.  I arrived in Eureka Springs just before dark and checked into the Swiss Chalet motor hotel.

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I have had that jacket since I first started riding in 1993 and had the flag and eagle painted on it on my first trip to the huge Harley rally in Sturgis, South Dakota in 1994.  Love that jacket.

Got up the next morning and decided to take off just before sun rise.  It was an unpredicted 35 degrees, but no worries, I had leather jacket, leather chaps, and great leather gloves.  I have two pair of leather gauntlet gloves and they are always clipped together, so when I was packing a threw one pair in.  Unfortunately, the “pair” I threw in consisted of two right hand gloves.  So, resourceful guy that I am, I made a glove out of a pair of socks, which, with my heated handlebar grips, worked quite well.  Somehow, I have lost the picture of the sock glove.

Decided to head back to Henderson Sunday night so it would be an easy ride back to Houston on Monday and wandered in and out of Oklahoma and Arkansas again much as I had the day before, but on different roads.

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Saw some pretty vistas and scenery riding through Oklahoma Sunday afternoon.

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About 3:30 on Sunday afternoon, I crossed the Red River into Texas and thought I would again stop and make a picture of entering the state, so I pulled just off the road to take these pictures.

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So, after these pictures, off I went for the final 100 miles to Henderson.  Well, after about a mile or two, the bike began to feel kind of mushy.  At first I thought it was the road, but then the rear tire started smoking and I knew I had a serious flat.  Actually, any flat on a motorcycle is serious.  I got safely stopped on the side of the road and pulled out my cell phone to call Harley Davidson roadside assistance and realized I had only about 7% battery left on my phone.  I called roadside assistance and told them exactly how far I was from Oklahoma and the Red River on US Highway 259, but I guess to this day, they have no idea where I was.  It was inexcusable.  No Harley dealer is open on Sunday or Monday, and the closest one was about 60 miles away anyway.  I was 12 miles from a tiny town, and 40 miles from the nearest motel (New Boston again) and 60 miles from a rental car.  Bottom line, I was screwed, it was getting late, and I had no cell service.

I began to attempt to flag down one of the many cars that were whizzing by, but to no avail until I noticed a crew cab truck coming along with a trailer and a four wheeler on it.  I kept waving and low and behold, he pulled off the road ahead and came back.  Now, what are the odds of having a guy with a truck, trailer, ramp, and tie downs come along.  I am convinced he was a messenger from God.  Well, he agreed to get me off the road, so we started loading that 900 pound motorcycle onto his trailer, and would you believe it got caught on high center with the front wheel on the trailer and the rear wheel on the ramp, and would not move either way.  Now, not only am I stranded, but my new best friend is also.  Eventually, we were able to flag down two more guys who helped lift the rear of the motorcycle to get it on the trailer, where we tied it down securely.  No pictures of all of this because no cell phone.

My new friend, John Williams of Avery, Texas then agreed to drive about 30 miles out of his way to take me to a Holiday Inn Express in New Boston, and he agreed to leave the motorcycle on his trailer and take it home with him.

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I then called my best friend in Henderson, Johnny Hudson, who also has a Harley, a truck, trailer, ramp and tie downs, and he generously agreed to drive the 100 miles to come get me Monday morning.  We then went to John Williams house and were able to back Johnny’s trailer up to John’s trailer with a near perfect match, and with the help of John Williams’ dad and neighbor moved the bike with the flat tire from one trailer to the other without incident.

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IMG_4683My new friend’s John’s dad and neighbor.  Two more angels.

We made it to Henderson without further incident and rather than waiting till Tuesday and taking the bike back to Longview, Texas to the nearest Harley dealer, we took it to a little generic bike shop in Henderson where the guys jumped right on it and ordered a tire for Tuesday morning.  We were able to offload the bike without any difficulty, and I sighed a sigh of relief.  Moving a 900 pound bike on to or off of a trailer is a very dangerous and precarious maneuver without exactly the right type of ramp, and we did not have the right type of ramp for any of this.  But we made it.

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The tire was replaced without any more problems and the bike ran great back to Houston.

IMG_4688All ready to ride again.  Whew!!

Having a flat on a motorcycle is a harrowing experience.  It happened to me in 1997 on a freeway in Los Angeles, but amazingly, I was able to fix that one on the side of the road.  Not so, this time.  I bought a cigarette charger for my cell phone today to leave permanently on the motorcycle.  Having no cell phone made it a really scary experience.  I can’t say enough about the guys that helped us along the way.  What are the odds that a perfectly equipped vehicle would stop and come to our rescue.  Eventually other good Samaritans would have stopped, but what could they do.  I am convinced that John Williams was an angel from God, and everyone else that helped were his helpers.  I am just amazed to have been so lucky.  And as you would guess, not anyone would take a dime for their help and time.  I am just so grateful to all of my new friends, and of course to my friend Johnny Hudson from Henderson who not only was generously willing to come pick me up, but who also had the equipment to do so.

Thank you God for good Samaritans, wherever they might be and please allow me to pay it forward the next time I come across someone in such dire need.  I was seriously afraid I would be spending the night on that lonely stretch of road a long way from nowhere.

SUNDAY MORNINGS PAST

When I last lived in Houston, 15 years ago, I would typically go riding with a few buddies on Sunday mornings or perhaps all day. We would pick some out in the country destination for breakfast or lunch. The rides and the fellowship were always great.

I bought my current bike last August, but the winter was too cold and wet to get much riding in. I had the bike in the country town where i was living north of Houston as you might know from an earlier blog. I brought it to Houston last Thursday since I will be moving into my condo in a couple of weeks and wanted it here full time. Well, today, I did my first Sunday morning ride in 15 years, and with one of my oldest biker buddies, his wife and his neighbor from Norway. Joe is one of my two closest friends in Houston. We have breakfast every week when I am in Houston.

You talking to me?
This way. Over this way.
 
I’m just happy to be here!!

The friend from Norway not only rides Harleys but is a bodybuilder as well. How much better can it get. He’s a big cool dude. Really liked him.

Newman’s Bakery. A place one would be likely to find Bill Bennett writing for gs food blog.

Cool bikes outside.


 

Check out this hidden brake light/tail light.

This guy had tons of money invested in this tricked out motorcycle. And wore his intellect on his helmet. I remember in my cooler days I had a banner on my helmet saying “I live life my way”. I think I might could have done a better job living it someone elses way, but then I would not have been me.

As you can see my “skull” is on my chest, not my tail light. Bet his cost a whole lot more than mine. 🙂

It egan to sprinkle a bit and my friends headed for home. I don’t care much for riding in the rain, so I decided to wait it out and ride some more alone. Here I am waiting for the skies to clear.

Watching trains, bikes, and automobiles. Could not see planes for the clouds. I watched three trains go by before I hit the road again.

On the way back to Houston, I learned again that it is not so bad riding in the rain. I went through two really big storms with lots of rain, but I was all dried out by the time I got back to Houston. Stopped at my favorite Starbucks and got my usual double espresso over ice and a turkey sandwich. All’s well that ends well.

Riding in the rain again is part of my conditioning ride before heading out west in late July. Never know what weather will be encountered. On August 1, 1996, I rode across the Big Horn mountains going from Cody, Wyoming to Sturgis, SD and it was 20 degrees and snowing for 75 miles with no where to stop. That was my worst day or riding ever. Thank goodness, we all made it safely, but it took my almost frost bitten fingers 6 weeks to stop tingling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DOVES PIGEONS AND A SQUIRREL OR TWO

I have been staying with my sister and mom in Houston while waiting for the condominium I just bought to close. One of my jobs is to feed the birds each morning. She has been feeding them for years and I suspect several generations of doves and pigeons have come to breakfast. The feeders are right outside the breakfast room windows, and they bring untold joy to my 97 year old mother who loves to have breakfast with the birds.

Hope I look that good at 97. Heck, I hope I am around at 97.

Back to the birds. We all know that pigeons are city dwellers as they like to roost and nest in buildings. Well, yes an occasional rural barn or two.

But when I think of doves I think of wheat fields and rural areas. Well, these are city doves. When I go out with the feed pale, you can hear them calling the flock together and they sit in the trees waiting like vultures over a kill. Look carefully.

 

Normally they will not come down till I leave, but today, I guess they were too hungry. They started shifting from tree to tree, then a pigeon or two came first and then the a dove came down without incident, and then they came in mass.

 

 
 

 

My dog Bubbie found the whole thing curious, but not very interesting.

Then the real acrobats joined the crowd, but the birds usually vacate when the squirrels arrive

Occasionally a blue jay, cardinal or mocking bird will join, but they seem to be timid around the doves and pigeons. Last year for about a month a little blue parakeet showed up each day and held his own with the big birds.

Now, on a different note, my dad died 4 years ago today at 94 years old. He always thought and said he would make a hundred, but it appears he delegated that job to mom. They spent 72 happily married years together. They lived in a country house on 55 acres about 3 hours north of Houston in a small town where my dad once served as the Methodist minister. I referenced it in pevious blogs and I spent a lot of time there in the last year before finally deciding to make Houston home again.

They fed birds and I remember how my mom and dad could spend hours watching the birds at the feeders outside their breakfast window. I thik they knew each one by name. In the country, not only would they get an occasional squirrel, but a raccoon or two as well.

This is a picture I had to take with my iPad from my iPhone, but I think you can get the point. It is my favorite picture of my parents. It might be from 8 or 10 years back. Their romance and love never wained with age.

 

RANDOM THOUGHTS OF A WANDERING MIND

This morning I was at our country house and outside having coffee with Bill Bennett, via is blog. As most of you know, Bill is an Austalian film producer and director, author, and photographer and all round accomplished guy. We became great friends, half a world away last year through our respective blos, and then met person to person in April as we walked part of the Portuguese Camino from Porto, Portugal to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. And finally, he is in the states raising money for a new film he is directing on what he calls Personal Guidence System (Intuition). Jill and I are his first investors. We met again in Palm Springs, California last week with Jill. A great time was had by all.

But back to this morning. After a little communication back and forth, I realized how great Bill is at finding interest in little everyday things and simple photographs. So, I took a picture of my iPad and coffee that were connecting me to Bill. A simple thing in a simple country setting.


Soon I was joined with my “almost brother-in-law, Doug Gill and my sister Lynn Langham. They had been in Kerrville playing at a music festival and were on their way back to Nashville, TN.

I hitched a ride with them to the country place as my motorcycle was there and I wanted to get it back to Houston where I will be living permanently when my new condo closes this month.

Now the interesting thing about these talented singer/songwriters is that Don Williams, who has been recording for 50 years put a song Doug wrote, “I Just Come Here for the Music” on his latest album, and the song was one of the top five nominated for a grammy in 2013. Don is cutting another album this year and Doug's song “Stronger Back” will be featured on it. Lynn wrote song called “Old Yeller Moon” which is the title song of Emmy Lou Harris' last album of the same name. This album won Americana album of the year at the 2014 Grammys. Nice to have that talent in the family. Before they headed out to Tennessee, we had a country breakfast of bacon, eggs, hash browns, pancakes, and coffee. Now Bill would have taken a picture of the food. I am still learning.

So, after sending them off to Tennessee, I went back to the house, loaded up the bike and cranked it only to hear click, click, click. Sitting most of the winter took it's toll on the battery, so the next bit of time was spent putting a battery charger on the bike.

So, while waiting for the bike to charge I drove in the pickup about 20 miles to the little town of Arp where I was given a speed trap ticket on March 8th. Not having a ticket in years, I elected to take defensive driving and get it dismissed, which I have accomplished, but needed to take the completion certificate to court for the final dismissal. A nice way to spend an hour or two while the bike charged. Thinking again what would Bill do, I asked the clerk if she would let me take her picture. I thought I was going to be arrested. How does Bill get all these folks to pose. She said I could take a picture of the building. So…..

 

Now you have seen downtown Arp. Watch your speed there.

Returning home I decided to give the bike a little more time to charge, so dropped some scrap iron off at a neighbor's place who crushes and sells such things. Last year while practice walking a Great Pyrenees puppy started following and walking with me along country roads. He was homeless, and I would have kept him if I was at the country house full time. Since I was not, one of my neighbors adopted him, but he seems to favor the neighbor close to him who has another dog named Fred. Well, to this day, when I go for a walk along the country roads Sarge and Fred accompany me. Well, when I want to the scrap dealer's place today Sarge and Fred ran up to greet me. I felt like an Afganistan veteran returning home and seeing his dog. Sarge, all 120 pounds of him, is just all over me anytime I have not seen him for a while. Crying, whining, jumping and slobbering all over me. We really have a special bond.

Unfortunately, the scrap dealer decided to give Sarge a summer haircut. Here he is with Fred. He looks like an albino lion.

I returned home, accompanied by Sarge and Fred, and put the bike back together and made my way to Houston without further incident. It was a hot 3 ½ hour ride. I need to get used to it though, because I am planning a trip to the Sturgis bike rally in August combined with my usual meanderings through Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. Probably be a bit over two weeks and between 4 and 5 thousand miles. Maybe that will provide a more interesting blog.

This blog reminds me of people who want to tell you what they had for breakfast on Facebook, but it is a start, and I promised myself and Bill that I would write a blog today. One day at a time, huh? Promise I will improve.

 

Portuguese Camino: Day 20 – Final Memories of Santiago

Today is the last day in Santiago. Tomorrow. It is back to Porto Portugal by bus and the plane to the U.S. Monday morning at 6 AM. The weather finally broke with partly cloudy skies, but it was,still windy and chilly.

The hidden highlight of the day was stumbling into a Steve McCurry photographic exhibit at the Pilgrims museum. My friend Bill Bennett, who put us all together for this Camino, introduced me to the works of,this world famous photographer last year. I have been following McCurry’s blog ever since. Bill was so disappointed to have missed it. I had no idea the exhibit was at the museum till I went to. The museum.

The curator of the museum wanted to know I had seen McCurry’s iconic and famous photographs of an Afgan girl, and then some 20 or so years later as a woman. I replied I had not, and about 20 minutes later he found me on another floor and brought the photocopy of the two pictures depicted above. How nice. The people here are very generous and friendly. A few of the prints from the exhibit are depicted below.

 

 

 

Photos of passing peregrinos or perhaps locals as well showing such diversity. All from one place near the cathedral. All were taken from this relaxed spot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a few pics of the feathered and furry locals.

 

 

 

Reluctance.

Adios from last,day in Santiago.