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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Charleston with Reedus and Chappelle

I have to be honest, I don't watch that much TV.  So if I'm jumping into the second season of Ride with Norman Reedus a little late, don't hate me for it.

I was inspired to write this for a few reasons.  1)  I already did a review of the first season, and it seems if someone took notes over at AMC.  Although I'm only commenting on this one show, it's improved.

2)  I used to live in Charleston, SC for a brief time and I know Savannah, GA pretty well.  Charleston speaks to my soul and there is just something about that city that says "I'm home."  I have friends in Charleston today that I've known for close to twenty or thirty years.

3)  When I lived in the area I often took the same route that Reedus, and his riding partner - Dave Chappelle - did.  They crossed the same bridges that I crossed, rode the same roads.  Although they obviously didn't drink in the same bars or go to the same haunts that I did in my early 20's.

In other words I'm feeling a bit nostalgic.

Even way back in the early 90's the two cities were completely different.  Charleston was a painted lady of a bygone era, full of old money and a feeling that the world could carry on around it.  That nothing was going to change it.

The last time I was there it felt that the city was, begrudgingly, entering the 20th century.  

Savannah on the other hand felt like it was out of place a bit.  It seemed a place that would accept the odd and unusual.  The artist, the musician...and a young man still trying to figure out his place in the world.   When I read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil the events portrayed in that book were still fresh in the cities collective memory...but instead of being an open wound, were seen as scars of pride.

Savannah, with it's one way streets and near impossible ability to get anywhere directly also adds to it's mysterious atmosphere.  It's been nearly 20 years since I last stepped foot in Savannah, and based on what little I saw of it with Reddus...nothing has changed.

Depending on the route it would only take about 2.5 hours hours to get from one city to the other, separated by about 110 miles.  Due to the wonder of television however, it takes our brave travelers two days.  OK, I'll grant they just getting up and going would be boring and a very quick show, plus, the most interesting stuff I've always found is off the highway and on the back roads.

They started in Charleston, riding the flat and boring route 17.  This would be, or was the last time I was there, scrub lands.  Swampy ground broken up for the most part by long barren stretches of pine forest.  The road is a nice two lane highway but the challenge for the rider is to stay awake.

While I'm sure I've traveled on State Route 21 through South Carolina at one time or another, I can't tell you much about it.   It travels deep into the salt marshes and winds it way through Beaufort.  If memory serves it's full of some wonderful wildlife and some beautiful sunsets, but I only had brief adventures in places like Saint Helena Island.

In a way, I'm glad they stopped in Saint Helena.   When I lived in Charleston I was introduced to Low Country cooking, which can best be described as a mix of seafood, fresh veg, African spices and rice with a little bit of French thrown in.  It's not quite Cajun, but not that dissimilar.  Trust me, you haven't eaten till you had authentic low country, and both Chappelle and Reedus do.  Plus a history lesson about one of the first majority black communities in the United States.  Reedus and Chappelle treat this place with the gravity it deserves and, unlike the first season, it doesn't come off as "jokey" or lightly touched upon.  "Gullah" history, traditions and language are unique to the American experience...and they treat it with honor.

Finally, in a way Reedus and Chappelle find a kindred spirit in each other.  They don't spend a lot of time talking about bikes, although there is a running joke about Chappelle leaving his blinker on.  They talk a little bit about the creative process, about family, about the pressures of being on something successful that then gets out of your control (which is a veiled comment about the never ending Walking Dead I'm sure).  Chappelle in particular seems to have built up a myth about him, intentionally or not, which questions why someone would leave a successful career to simply disappear for a bit.

There is no ground shaking revelations, no laugh out loud moments, Chappelle plays it mostly straight and Reedus; wisely, lets him.  In the end what you got is something closer to the original Bourdian "No Reservations" show that "Ride" is based on.  It's good to see, and enough for me to want to watch a little more...and get back to Charleston and Savannah soon.

In the end it ends on a positive note..."We will ride again.".   I hope so too.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

I just don't know yet.

For the first times in months I rode.  For the first time since the accident, I was on the back of a bike.

A woman in my community is selling her former husband's Honda Silver wing.  She is asking a fair price for it and Sue prompted me to go and take a look.    Sue knows how much I enjoyed riding and owning a bike.  The owner told me the year but I don't remember exactly.  I think it was within five years old and she had a tad over 17K on her.

In didn't take me long to grab an old helmet and a borrowed set of gloves to take her for a test spin.  I'm not sure why I consider motorcycles women, but to me they are.

So I started her up and she didn't roar to life, she didn't have the "oomph" that Kimmie did despite being a bigger engine.   Of course, she was also a bigger, heavier bike than my old Xciting and that matters.

I rode her around a bit, through some local twistie's I know of on a back road, I opened her up slightly on a straightway and I did feel comfortable, despite wearing none on my safety gear except a pair of borrowed gloves and an old helmet I picked up somewhere along the way.

It felt.....odd.  I don't know what I expected, taking her gingerly through a turn.  Where was the excitement?  Where was the feeling of awe?  Of being on the edge?  The tires seemed a little squirrel'y but they were brand new, still having the nubs on them and the bike had sat for about a month  so the pressure was probably off.   I took my time and was careful.

I knew I was also probably gun shy too.

There were things I like, the former owner had put a Givi windshield on it and that would come in handy on the cooler days or in the rain as the wind and rain where whipped around me and not into my chest as with Kimmie.   The storage was nice, and the previous owner had placed a pretty decent, but now great top box on it.  All the storage departments locked with a singe key.  He really did take good care of the bike and it had undergone a full maintenance review about 1000 miles ago.

Maybe it's just the fact that I never really cared for the looks of a Honda Silver Wing.  Maybe I'm still afraid, still touchy after the accident. Truthfully Sue and I can afford the bike and still have a good chunk of change left over, so I can't say "I can't afford it."

I just don't know if I'm ready yet.  Maybe I never will be.  Maybe this is just not the bike for me.  I just don't know yet.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A question of....

This morning I woke up and Facebook told me that I bought a new Suzuki 4 years ago today.  Which I know is wrong because this very blog states that I bought Kimmie in February 2013.

I guess it's alternate facts for the reality we now live in.
Happier Times

So I owned Kimmie for just under four years.  I've been wondering if and when I'll be getting back on a bike.  A local place near me has a Honda NC700  which as my five to ten regular readers know I've had my eye on for some time.

I've not stopped in to ask about it, I've not climbed up on it...for the very same reasons I've stated before.  I made a promise.  That does not mean that I'm not tempted to.  Sue asked me about that the other day...and I told her my reasons again.

It's not fear of crashing or dying.  It's fear of losing those I love and care for.  It's not a subtle difference.  Still though when you see the biker across the way lean into that curve, a tree lined avenue where your transported back to when your a kid and you stick both arms up and out....your flying.

Riding a motorcycle they say is freedom, and I disagree.  It's about feeling connected to the road, the earth, the weather.  It's that mindfulness you have as you lean and feel the bike react under you....that being on the edge.  It's knowing that letting your mind wander....even for a second or two can result in an accident.

That's what happened to me.

I'm healing.  The accident itself was not that bad.  My gear did it's job.  My head is still attached and functioning.  My scabs are healed and other than a little pink area you would never know that I suffered some road rash.

My wrists took the worst of it, and the strength is coming back in each of them stronger than it was before.  I still have my Fox gloves..they didn't even rip and I have every intent to never buy cheap gear again...if I ever do ride again. 

Truthfully I think I will.  Just not now.  I want to heal, I want to get my small half-assed financial business off the ground first.  As of February 1, 2017  I can hang my shingle in the window so to speak  I am doing this in addition to my regular 9 - 5 job.  So no more Saturday afternoons off for a while.

No, I'm not going to start up a financial or insurance blog (although you can visit the website here).  I am planning a website but you have to get approval from the various carries and that takes forever and a day.  I'll link it when the time comes if your really that interested.   I have to smile however.  I worked in banking for over 10 years, then got sick of it during the Depression.

I literally argued with my boss over what we were doing and why it was going to end in chaos.  It did, I lost a 65K a year job and then spent the next five years pursuing my first love.  While my time at 3M was good, it ended badly as well.   Maybe...just maybe I'm better off working for myself!

Recently Sue and I picked up another delivery route which is under a 12 month contract, I was ready to let that small end of the business die but that contract alone makes our business twice as profitable.

I have 12 months of car payments on two cars and the largest debt I have is gone.  I will be 51 years old and completely debt free, at least till I need a new car.  My retirement plans may be moved up five years if this continues.

So its a question of time...and if there is any more bounce in this old bumble.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Passing through - 2016 year in review

Scooter Bob hanging with the cats.
Despite the crash and relative bad luck that was November and December of this year...I can honestly state that 2016 was a good year at the Wilson home.

My dearly departed Kimmie and I managed to put some 6000+ miles on her before her death.  It's hard for me to believe that a mere 3 weeks ago I was looking forward to the adventures of 2017.  Now we are in the closing moments of 2016 and I'm seriously debating if I'll ever get on another bike again.

It's been a year of connecting with old friends and making new ones.  It's been a year of kitchen remodeling and getting involved with projects that took up a lot more time than I originally expected they would.  While I loved having Scooter Bob here, I was unable to do everything I wanted with him due to my work schedule and other issues.  He hung out with the cats a bit more than I would have liked. 

I raised over 600 dollars to help fight Prostate Cancer and Men's Health issues.  I received a very nice imprinted poster for my efforts.  As well as a wonderful feeling that I was part of something bigger than me.  As I rode with some 150 other bikers in and around the city of St Petersburg and Tampa proper I was truly the happiest I've ever been on Kimmie.  I'll probably have that poster framed one day, although I'm not sure where I'll hang it.

It was a year where I finally got out of my comfort zone and rode out to the central parts of the state.  Spending time in Winter Haven and around Orlando.  These are roads that I wanted to spend more time on in 2017.  It was nice to finally take the time and ride over to St Pete and that part of the Tampa Bay area in general

I guess that won't happen now.  Or at least not for some time.

For now I'm looking at physical therapy although I do feel relativity well.  Despite a overnight stay in the hospital because of the accident I walked away from it more or less intact.  This one though...honestly has put the fear of God into me.

We will see what the future brings...but I could not let the year pass without some sort of review.  Some thing to keep up with tradition. 

So I want to wish each and everyone a Happy New Year.  May you be healthy, safe, wealthy and wise in the coming year. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Holiday's to the blogging world.

I have a lot to be thankful for this Holiday Season.  I'm not a religious guy, preferring the world of math and science to any spiritual realm.  It's been a week since Kimmie and I went down and even though their is nothing that physical therapy and a little bit of grit can't fix...I've been hurt in other ways.

For the first time in a long time I've been reminded that my actions affect others.    Well a Can-am or a trike may be in my future, Susan feels they are more stable and therefore "safer", I'm not sure if and when I'll climb back on.  My faith in myself and my ability has been shaken to the core.

So I just want to thank my friends, my family for their support and love during the last few years of this blog.  I have met a few of you.  I have smiled and laughed at your adventures.  I've made friends.  I've gone on adventures that I would not have otherwise; and hope that you smiled, laughed and enjoyed the ride as much as I have.

I don't know what lies ahead.  Maybe I will take up cheese making, or finally get around to that home brewing kit that I've threatened Sue with for years.  All I know is this...your always welcome into my life and into my home. 

Happy Holiday's my friends.  May the New Year be full of adventures.  I'll be reading them.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The final post?

Oh poor Kimmie

This may be the final post I make on this blog.

As some of you know, I was involved in a motorcycling accident on Saturday, December 17th 2016.  It was completely and totally my fault and was the third such accident I've been involved in in the six or so years that I've been on a scooter.

It may also be my last.

I made a promise to the woman I love that if I was involved in a third accident that I was done.  I fully intend to keep that promise, interestingly enough Susan is seeing this from a different perspective than I am,  She thinks that I should continue to ride, although on a three wheeled machine.  At some time in the near future I may change my mind and climb on a bike again.  At this time though...I'm done.

Beloved cycle
My day started simply enough, I was riding around on Kimmie through Zephyrhills and Dade City.  I had a plan in mind to slowly make my way down towards Ybor City and my favorite watering hole.  It was a clear day, warm and sunny.  I jumped on the highway and started making my way down towards Ybor.  I don't like riding the highways because things can happen so quickly but at the same time they are open and give you a bit more "escape routes" if something does go wrong.

I was less than 5 minutes from my destination.  In an area that I know can have stop and go traffic, I was traveling in the far right lane near the emergency exit lane for that very reason, leaving myself an exit lane just in case.  That just in case happened.  The brake lights of the car went on suddenly and I saw them a second or two to late, pulling back hard on my brakes...then I started to aim to the emergency lane....then, sadly, I ran out of room.

It's funny how the mind works, I don't remember hitting the car or going over.  I do remember the tumbling.  I can tell you exactly where my visor broke off my helmet.  What I was thinking..."Try to tumble away from the car"..."That's it...I'm done riding."

I'm not sure where I stopped but I knew it as I slowly got up.  Something, somewhere, was seriously wrong.  Nothing felt broke...I was in pain but that is understandable.  I went into diagnostic mode.  I was lightheaded and sick to my stomach. I was conscious but dizzy... "Call 911."  I told the other driver.  "I'm seriously hurt."

I took off my helmet (which on second thought I should not have done) and watched another biker set Kimmie upright.   A 30 second look told me all I needed to know...poor Kimmie was dead. The biker and I exchanged one or two words.  Than another biker pulled over.  The other driver let me sit in her car and I laid down in her back seat.  

It took longer than I would have liked but the ambulance showed up shortly.  My blood pressure was 70 over something.  It was low, to low...I had guessed right, I was going into shock.  They started a IV with saline solution and within a few minutes my pressure started to climb.  Now the EKG was showing something that worried them.

So I'm lying in the gurney in the emergency room hallway, trying to stay lighthearted as each and every Doctor and Nurse that pass thank me for wearing a helmet.  Even the cop that takes my statement thanks me.  The nurses poke for blood work that needs to be done, as the machine I'm on beeps intermittently.  One of the doctors tells me they are keeping me overnight because they think I may have had a very mild and very brief heart attack according to the EKG.  But they won't know till the blood work is in.

Thanks love for the undignified photo. 
So I am staying the night.     All the blood work, thankfully, comes back negative and the EKG settles into a pattern that the doctors feel is normal.  No heart attack...just shock.

Overall things could have been worse.  I have scrapes, I have bruises.  I have sprains and swelling.  I had to suffer the indignity of going to the bathroom in the hallway. I am however very much upright and alive.
It could have been much worse.

It's not the accident that got me scared.  Going down is part of riding.  If your afraid of that...then you should not be on a bike in the first place.  I already miss riding, I truly do love the freedom and peace of mind it brings me.  I was finally starting to feel "part of the local two wheeler community" whatever the hell that means.

Kimmie and I had plans.  Plans for longer trips to the center of the state and to explore the south of Florida a bit more.  I was planning on running her down to my favorite winery in the state sometime after the new year.  For the first time in a long time the future looked bright for Sue and myself, and getting out on the bike was part of that future.  I had already managed to put some 6000 miles on her, which was about 1000 more than I had in the last two years.

For hitting the back end of the car and a scary hospital stay, I'm actually in wonderful shape.  I have bruises and scrapes to my knees and a nasty abrasion to my right foot.  My left wrist suffered some soft tissue damage but nothing that time can not fix.  I walked away...thank God for good gear.

The jacket tore and I got a minor scrape
What "scares" me is hearing the fear in Susan's voice as the paramedic tells her they are taking me by ambulance to the local Hospital.  What scares me is her telling me...that she does not want to buy a funeral dress anytime soon.

What scares me is my elderly mother and father not being prepared for their son's demise.  What scares me is putting anyone through that.  Riding is selfish.  It brings pleasure only to ourselves, but in a case like this, it shows it's ugly side.  Accidents effect everyone...even if they are not on a bike with us.

I know...I know.  It's an accident and accidents happen.  Funny thing is that this one is my own fault and I know it.  A second or two longer and it would not have happened at all.  Playing "if only" games however don't change facts.

I'm also 50 years old and am not bouncing back like I did 25 years ago.  It takes time to heal and I don't want to break a leg at 53 or 63. 

So I'm not really sure what the future holds at this moment.  I may climb back on a bike within three weeks or three months.  I may sell what good gear I have and never climb up on it again.  I can honestly say I don't know.

Goodnight sweet chariot

I am however going to say this.  Please, please, please get good gear and wear it at all times. 

Be Well and Ride Safe.

Rob Wilson

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Almost the end of another year

Later on today I'm supposed to pick Kimmie up from the mechanic.  Her new rear wheel cost me $175 bucks (including labor).  It's a price I'm not that worried about.  Even though the tire didn't look that damaged and I feel pretty confident that the sidewall was not damaged, I decided in the end not to take that risk.

I've driven cars where the brakes have failed.  I've driven cars where a tire has blown.  I've no desire to push my luck on a motorcycle tire.

Road hazards happen, belts will break, oil changes need to be made, accidents will happen.  Generally speaking it seems that 2016 was a year of repair.  It was also a year of accomplishment.  It's been the first year in a while where Susan and I were in generally good health.

We have traveled to caves, to the worlds smallest post office, an old friend came for an extended visit, we had to deal with two hurricanes this year and I got to take part in a world wide motorcycling event.   I rode to places that I normally don't ride to; pushing Kimmie a bit further out each time to take in the lakes, hills and curves of the center of the state.  I even managed to go to a rally. 

I even got a new toy or two.

It's not over yet, I still have about 3 more weeks to add to my millage, which is already over last years total making me a very happy camper indeed.  My main goal for 2016 was to ride more.  To do more, I feel that I've succeed there.

My main goal for 2017 has not been determined yet.  Susan and I are looking at some options.  We're considering our options, and yes a new bike may be in the cards.  Although I'm against it for a few reasons, I would like to get at least two more years out of Kimmie.  Maybe a bit more.  She and I are not done exploring yet.

I'm not saying it is....but it may be

Even though I consider myself to be solidly agnostic, I've been blessed.  Looking ahead to 2017 it seems full of promise which, considering the last few years, seems odd.  So I for one am looking forward to new adventures.  Happy Holiday's everyone!