Music

I was driving down to Ft. Carson this morning for a Spartan race.  It’s about an hour and 45 minutes so I put on Slacker.  Normally I have a “favorites” channel, but with all the time on the motorcycle and roadtrips lately I wanted a break so I listened to Front Line Radio.  I wrote about that hear and highly recommend you give it a listen.  You can follow this link to listen to it.

Two songs struck me this morning.  One was “Drive On” by Johnny Cash.  I honestly don’t know if I’d ever heard it before, which is surprising considering how many Cash CDs are floating around this place.

Not much more needs to be said about that song.

The other one?  I’ve said frequently that I normally hear music but not the words.  There’s a quote that I like that goes “When you’re happy you hear the music, when you’re sad you listen to the words”.  That’s been true for me usually.  And when a song resonates with me when I’m sad, I can’t turn that off.  I can’t NOT hear the words when I’m happy again.

“Times Like These” by the Foo Fighters has been a favorite of mine for years, probably since the album came out in 2002.  Maybe not.  I was deployed for some of that year and it took some catching up.  So maybe 2003.  But it’s been in regular rotation on my road-trips for over a decade.  I’ve sung it (as best as I’ve understood the lyrics) at the top of my lungs while driving.  And never really thought about any of it.

This morning, they told some backstory behind the request.  The service member who requested it said that they left the military almost immediately after their last of several deployments and when they did, this song was on almost constant replay for them for awhile, strictly because of the lyrics “It’s times like these you learn to live again” and “It’s times like these you learn to love again”.  Then they played the song.

I teared up a little and choked them back.  Instantly I was transported back to my 3rd deployment.  Before the deployment, being almost certain I wasn’t coming home and then when I realized I was, trying to figure out what that mean.  I hadn’t made any “after” plans.

Character

Tonight was an interesting study in human character.  A couple years ago I worked with this guy who’s about my age.  He was never military, but has had a wide range of experiences.  We have similar interests and kind of hit it off, even though we were in different departments and at different levels of hierarchy.  A couple of years ago he decided he wanted to get into motorcycling and asked me to help him shop for a new motorcycle.  We’ve gone on photowalks together, I’ve sent customers to buy hand made leather products from him, etc.

He likes this particular brand of motorcycle gloves.  I’ve always thought they looked like gardening gloves.  I tried some on in person and they were just awkward and uncomfortable.  I left that experience believing they were just a hipster badge, like drinking PBR and wearing flannel and beards.  If you want to spend your money on that, no problem.  But they aren’t for me.

When I did this last ride, I realized that my gloves suck.  I like wool, so I started searching online for wool lined gloves and the only ones I could find were made by this company.  So I ordered them, at $95/pair.  They showed up last week and were terrible.  I soaked them in water and wore them for an hour, that helped them fit better.  The next day I wore them to work.  On their website they advertise them as “winter” gloves.  When I rode to work it was 50 degrees and my hands were still cold in them.  So they officially got a “hell no” from me.

I’ve been upfront about them.  I don’t know what my end goal is, but I’m trying to grow my “brand” on social media.  I’m never going to stop being an IT guy and start being a full time photographer (at least until I retire) but I’d rather have options than not.  So I’ve been posting stuff online and building a base.  When I got the gloves I started taking photos of them, tagging the manufacturer online, etc.  And I’ve been honest.  When I didn’t like something, I said it, in public, in a public forum and I tagged the company so they could respond.  They chose not to.  And my comments haven’t been “they suck!”, they’ve been thought out and solid.  Not always as verbose as possible, given the medium, but the channel was there for the company to contact me for more in-depth feedback.

I met up with 3 Army guys after work tonight.  People I’ve entrusted with my life over the years.  I’m not going to say they’ve been perfect.  They’ve failed.  But they’ve picked themselves up and tried again.  And while we were drinking tonight we were honest again.  Told one guy how much we all hated him when we first met him.  One guy told me I needed to stop talking because my opinion wasn’t valid anymore because I’d been out of the Army too long and my info was dated.  That stung, he knew it did, but I got over it.  The mutual respect and admiration was palpable.  And because of that respect we could have different opinions and still be friends.

After I left the bar I saw I had a text.  I’d thought my former coworker had posted a photo and tagged the company that makes the gloves.  Actually the glove manufacturer had re-posted my friend’s photo.  I’d said “I’m sorry, but I can’t support you on this one, I think they’re glorified gardening gloves”.  His text was frantic.  Did I realize it wasn’t his account that I’d posted it to?  No, but I didn’t care, I’d say it to their face.  That was fine, but I shouldn’t drag him into my displeasure with their product.  How was I drawing him in?  I said I just didn’t agree with his opinion?

Well, turns out they were upset and contacted him.  They didn’t have the nerve to contact me, even though they’d admitted to him that they knew I wasn’t pleased with their product.  They weren’t willing to discuss the merit of my opinions.  But they’d helped him get some exposure as a photographer and were threatening to black-ball him in the community.  And even though he agreed that they were way over-hyped, he was scared to admit it.

I’m trying not to judge him.  I don’t know his personal situation and I don’t know what he’s going through.  I don’t know him well enough to know what motivates him.  But I do know that the timing of our conversation definitely makes me appreciate my real friends, my tribe, more.

Day 11

The last day.  I woke up in the hotel and typed out the post about having my photos accepted into the museum exhibit and my “last day” post.  Then I got up and started my day.  When I ate dinner in the hotel restaurant the night before they way overcooked my steak so they gave me a coupon for breakfast which they totally screwed up as well.  After breakfast I packed my bags, loaded the bike and headed out for the Albuquerque Harley dealer to pick up a poker chip and see if they had any better gloves than what I was wearing.  They didn’t, so I got on the road.  I had enough gas to make it to Santa Fe and they had a Harley Davidson dealer as well, so I stopped there, got gas and scored at the dealership.  They had heated gloves that were compatible with my heated jacket liner.

“Uh, sir.  Are you sure you want those?”  “Yeah, why?”  “Well, it’s just that they are women’s.”  “Are they pink?”  “Well, no.”  “Sparkley?”  “No, they look just like the men’s gloves, just smaller.”  “Well, let me try them on then.”  I found a pair that mostly fit, they were a little tight, but they worked, so I got them.  Best part?  They were on the clearance table.

That made the ride a heckuva lot more comfortable.  I got back on the road for Denver, stopping along the way for various photos and to make adjustments to my gear to make myself warm or more comfortable.  I stopped in Trinidad and Colorado Springs for gas and at a gas station at some little town for gas-station pizza.  The whole trip, whenever I stopped for something on an Indian reservation someone would ask me for money, but I never had cash.  When I was getting off the interstate for lunch, someone at the bottom of the off-ramp asked for money.  Again, I didn’t have any but after saying “no” so many times, I felt guilty and got money out of the ATM when I got my pizza and gave it to him on the way back out of town.

I got home around 7 and unloaded the bike.  The house was still standing and was actually relatively neat.  So the kid did ok.  And the dog looked like he hadn’t been forgotten to be fed to many times.

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He was also excited to see me based off all the face-licks I got from him.

It was a good trip, something I’ll be remembering for years to come.  The best part of it?  The next morning my Dad’s pathology labs came back good.  So many great sights, opportunities to help my family out and friends.  Chances to meet some new people.

The last morning

I’m laying in bed in a hotel room in Albuquerque, Nm.  I’m sick, exhausted, sore in some areas and in a lot of pain in others.  And yet it was an amazing, wonderful trip.  There were some moments of misery, but at no time was the trip miserable, if that makes sense?  There were a couple of interpersonal moments with friends and family that sucked, but they would’ve sucked anyway, whether I was in the trip or at home.

It’s been a great distraction mentally and emotionally.  We still don’t have Dad’s pathology reports back yet, work is a mess, there’s some ugly relationship stuff going on.  And I didn’t dwell on any of that while traveling.  Thought about it, yes.  But didn’t dwell and obsess on it til it made me miserable.

I wish I could’ve seen more and done more.  I wish the weather didn’t suck as bad as it did.  But this close to the end, I have to say that it’s been perfect and everything that happened, happened for a positive reason.

Day 9

Lessons learned:

  • Bring base layers and/or grid fleece pieces.  They aren’t doing me any good back home in my dresser.
  • Bring spare fuses
  • Bring a long sleeved Under Armour tee – again, not doing me any good at home
  • Bring a hat to hide the helmet hair off bike

Dad did great the day before.  Multiple walks, sat up most of the day and was in great spirits.  Woke up Friday and he was still doing good so after we went for a walk, I took a shower and got ready to go.

Once upon a time I worked for a company that was a political nightmare.  3 partners owned it, and I was regularly butting heads with the brother-in-law of one of them.  Even though I demonstrated the ability to pay for my entire team’s salary for years in operational savings I was still laid off when push came to shove.  A year or so later, my former boss at that job started texting me out of the blue, then called me, then added me on LinkedIn and Facebook.  It was so weird to me, that I stayed in touch with him out of curiosity, wanting to know what his end game was.  He recently moved to Phoenix so when he saw I was traveling through he started reaching out a lot to see if I wanted to get together.  He was kind of on the way to the next stop on my tour, so I agreed to meet him for lunch.

That was nice.  It was a good drive and basically even though he can’t say “I’m sorry”, that’s what  he wanted to do.  Apologize for the way things went down.  We probably won’t ever be close friends, but nice not to have any anger towards him.  After lunch in Cave Creek at a biker bar, I got on the road, taking the Carefree Highway to I-17 to Flagstaff.

Once I got to Flagstaff I pulled out my phone to start pulling up instructions to page and found out it hadn’t been charging.  My bike has a pigtail attached to the battery to connect it to a battery tender.  I’ve got a cigarette lighter adapter that I can plug into the pigtail, then I can plug a charger into that.  My phone had been plugged in for the whole ride up.  What had happened, was that the factory installed the pigtail on the exhaust side of the bike.  At some point, the pigtail had slipped from the ziptie they used to attach it to the passenger’s peg and the end had hit the exhaust and melted a titch.  Once it melted it shorted out on the exhaust and blew the fuse.

I’ve been collecting HD poker chips, so even though it was out of the way I ran by the dealer and bought a new pigtail and a chip.  Then I installed the pigtail in the parking lot, this time routing the cable to the other side of the bike.  Once it was done I got on the road to Page again.  That ride got a little dicey.  Crazy winds, some rain and some snow, but it was well worth it once I got to Horseshoe Bend.  It was gorgeous!

A friend of mine owns a company that hand makes longboard skateboards.  They recently started selling HydroFlask bottles with their logos on them.  I brought one along on the ride to get some “lifestyle” photos for them.  I’ve propped it up along the way, on the bike or on some fence post, but didn’t have any pics of it with someone holding it.  On the walk from the parking lot to the bend (3/4 of a mile) I started talking to one girl.  Turns out she had an incredibly attractive friend, so when we got to the bend, I asked her friend if she’d be my model and if she’d mind if I posted the pics on social media.  She was totally cool about it.

On the walk back, some Russian girls where on vacation started talking to me.  They were doing a tour of the major monuments and parks in the southwest.  When we got to the parking lot, I left them when we passed my bike.  As I was getting geared up, one of them came up and asked what direction I was headed in.  When I told her I was going to Page, she asked if I’d be willing to give her a ride to the Wal-Mart there.  Her friends took my bag in their car so the seat would be open.

It was fun.  She was whooping and hollering back there she was enjoying it so much.  I felt totally guilty, it was only about a mile and a half in a straight line from the parking lot of the Horseshoe Bend to the Wal-Mart parking lot.  No curves, no bends, no real fun.  But she loved it.  After I dropped her off and got my bag remounted, I refueled and headed out to Kayenta, Az.  The sun had sent and it was freezing, literally.  By the time I pulled into the hotel I was a Seansicle.  I didn’t even eat dinner I was so cold.  Just cranked the heat in the hotel room, took a hot, hot shower and crashed.