Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Home Again

June 12th I pulled up to my local auto garage, Garden State Gulf, Maplewood, NJ, to say hola to my boys: Ira and Boris.
"Did someone say cerveza?"
"When did I get back?"
"Just now."
"Have you been home yet?"
"That's my next stop."

Back where I started 9 month earlier.

Nostromo resting...

The full route.
32,5000 miles
21 countries
9 months
4 rear tires
2 front tires
3 sets of rear brake pads
0 sets of front brake pads...
Countless stories...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Blast from the Past

"A blast from the past"...I pretty much hate that expression. Yet, its the closest I can come when trying to fit two people, two unique individuals into the same blog post. Backing up. Understand that over the years I meet a lot of people. A wild a wooly pageant of characters, unsavory types and freaks. These are usually my favorites encounters over a given year. And over the years I try to stay in touch with the best. Some that are deserving of continued contact fall through cracks, victims of the distractions of daily life that pile up into weeks, months, then years. Some I struggle in desperation to keep the pulse going. Concerted effort is sometimes required. Rarely have good ones completely slipped away under the dark waters of time. There is one out there in the Rocky Mountains that I will continue to try for a few more years before giving up. For the moment, I send semi-occasional missives and wait patiently for a reply.

John and Charles are two of them, the people that I will stay in touch with as time wears away at my life. Returning from the first foray into Latin America, a.k.a. the motorcycle trip thru Central America in 2008-09, I met John and another guy named Tom on the road in northern Costa Rica. We were all on a schedule to get back the U.S. so we rode, every day for 8 days through 7 countries, stopping for gas, food and to sleep. Our tires rolled over 3000 miles until we closed on the US/Mexico border and went separate ways. Corporate team building exercises try to mimic the intensity of this kind of situation in canned off-site events. Good luck with that.

Johnny B dipped on and off my radar for the next few years. He dropped out of contact for reasons of his own, and given glimpses of his complicated time over the past few years, I don't feel slighted, not one bit. Because its so off the wall modern I will mention that at one point we were reconnected because I gave him a picture that he used for a nom de plume Facebook account...which Facebook used to suggest as friend for me. I hope you can follow that. So, it had been 4 years of digital contact and I figure it time to catch up with my out of touch Florida boys. When you are already gone for over 8 months, what is another week or two on the road? After a stop in Gainesville I pointed the moto to Deerfield Beach.

Johnny doesn't realize it, but he is made of the stuff that they make movies  about. Yeah, he is that cool. " I don't wanna die without any scars." (Fight Club) comes to mind.

Charles goes way back to my early teen years, then connections jumped every 5 years. Before I knew it 10 years slipped by since I was in northern Florida and pressed the flesh, wasted a few brain cells and reconnected with Mr. Counts. 

As cantankerous as he is deep, Charles is a soul to be reckoned with. Whatever he is into at the time almost certainly annoys me. It is only later that I realize how 'fashion forward' he is and that quirky the thing he was into is now breaking everywhere...but much later. When the final apocalypse comes and dark and turbulent waters are flooding everywhere, Charles go out into the chaos, strip naked, press his palms together and chanting ancient words. His body will simmer and glow, then radiate blue light. With a loving gaze he will connect one last time with those around him, then rise up into the air and shot off into space, to be received, with more sparks of life fleeing the dying planet, by the mother ship. Yeah something like that could happen to Charles. 

 I got to see him in Gainesville on entry in to Florida, then a second visit as I headed north, stopping in Daytona/Deland. From there I had a couple days to get north and a few old friends to check in with.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Miami Minute

I broke away my visit with John, leaving him in the surf. It was hard to pull myself away from the warm  for middle of day and It was an interesting ride an hour and a half south from Deerfield Beach to Miami.  and lunch with Bob Olmedo, an old friend from my WorldVistA days. It had been years since we saw each other last. Talked about healthcare and his plans to pick-up a boat that is being built for him France. I have a loose idea to help get an open source electronic healthcare system translated into Spanish. Bob is game to help. All that is really needed is for me to get my act in gear...

Traveling north from Miami back to Deerfield Beach the rain started, again. I hit rain as I entered Florida, drove through a full day of down pours from Gainesville to Deerfield Beach and now I was getting soaked one more time. I would encounter heavy rain the day I left Deerfield Beach and nearly get into an accident because of it. Well, the near accident was caused by lunatic driver who decided to cut across from the third lane to one of two exit lanes, in a last minute attempt to exit I-95 north bound. In heavy rain the driver failed to control the car, such that the car slid sideways into my lane, 20-30 feet in front of me. Once the car finished sliding slideways across lane two and into lane one, the car then drift backwards, sliding back across lane two (again in front of me), returning to lane three. Not sure if the car would slide back in front of me, I elected to turn gently to the right and twist the throttle to pass idiot before the car drifted back again. After passing, the car spun 90 degree and stopped, facing on coming traffic. My pants were already wet from rain.
Turns out there was a tropical weather event that would wash over me for my the last 5 out of 6 riding days. This was the greatest number of consecutive days of significant rain encountered for the whole trip. Sure I got drenched a couple days here and there in Brazil and I got hit hard in northeast Venezuela by a full day of rain that would not quit. Welcome back the U.S.A., here's a towel.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Southern Express

Two nights were spent in San Antonio, resting and basking in the familiarity of being back the US. Now my sights were on meeting up with old friends in Florida, some 16 hours of riding away. With no interest in setting earning an Iron Butt certification by riding over 1000 miles in one day, a plan emerged to make the 16 hour trip through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi to Florida in two days. My rear end was ever so grateful for this plan.
I hoped to see my friends Adrian & Danielle in Lafayette, LA, but just missed them as they took their boys to Disney World one day before I could reach them. In a shining example of southern hospitality I was invited to stop and take a dip in their pool. Adrian and Danielle, you guys are the best!
Around midnight I stopped for the night outside Mobile, AL, after putting in 10 hours on the road. The next day I reached Fort White, FL, where part of the Gainesville gang have a country place. Dave & Naheed have a sweet spot surrounded by pine trees and plenty of space for their band, Driver, to rehearse. Chuck flew in from San Francisco that morning, to make the “wayward sons return” complete.FILE1018-001Chuck enjoying rain and beer, of course.

Later that day we loaded into a car (four wheels and all) and headed into Gainesville. First stop was the grocery store, so I could pick up the ingredients for the Jamie Oliver pasta dish that I mamke when I am visiting one place long enough. That night we dug into into bowls of farfalle, egg, cream, bacon, Parmesan and mint until we could eat no more.

Later that night we descended upon The Palomino Pool Room for tear up the felt and do our best to drain the beer reserves.