We interrupt this regularly scheduled program…

… for this breaking news:

Earlier this month I submitted two photos for a juried art exhibit at a museum.  The exhibit starts in July and runs through November.

I got the notice for the call for submissions late last month, then hemmed and hawed about whether to submit for a couple days.  Then procrastinated for a few more.  In the end, I ended up submitting two pieces with just a day to spare before the deadline.

Both pieces were accepted!  I’m going to have two of my photos hanging in a museum!  Looks like more travel in my future, they invited me to attend opening night.

Day 7

Woke up on Day 7 at my parents’ place.  Dad was feeling pretty craptastic and would get up for a few minutes, walk around, try and sit, hate it after a few minutes and go lay back down again.  He was still pretty wiped out from spending the night in the hospital.  He had his work done at the Mayo clinic, which is an incredibly nice facility but at the end of the day it’s still a hospital.

He and I had been looking at an old laptop when I was there a couple days before, trying to decide whether he needed a new one or not.  I’d send him a solid state hard drive (SSD) a couple months before for another project and he hadn’t used it.  I thought that might speed things up a bit, so while he was napping I rode the motorcycle to the local Fry’s Electronics and got some goodies.  I came back, made a bootable USB thumb drive with a Windows 10 .iso file I’d downloaded while I was gone and installed the new SSD into the laptop and installed Windows 10 with the original installation code.  This project kept me busy most of the morning and early afternoon.  Once I got the laptop up and running, it was a little zippier and I started updating it and configuring it to his specific preferences.  He seemed engaged and happy with it.

Dad seemed to be doing pretty well.  Mom had taken a bit of time off, between a month at the end of 2016, two weeks for their Europe trip and then the weekend and some days earlier this week for the surgery so she felt like she needed to get back to work.  We talked about it and decided I’d stay another day or two so that Dad wouldn’t be alone.

I had a friend in town and Dad seemed to be doing ok and Mom was with him, so I headed out to hang out with them.  They were only here for a short while, and had never seen Arizona before, so I took them out on 60 to Superior because it was close, has great view and I wanted to turn around at Superior and come back into the city as the sun was setting.  We timed it perfectly and they got some gorgeous views.

After totally geeking out for awhile, we went to the Alamo Drafthouse and saw the live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast”.  Mock all you want, I’m okay with it.  A) I’m a sucker for a good musical B) I’d seen the animated version and it was fun to see the transition and C) it had Emma Watson and she’s a cutie D) they had this Mr. Pineapple beer that was amazing and I was happy to sit anywhere for 2 hours and drink one of those.

Dropped my friend off at their hotel and headed home for the night.  It wasn’t an exciting or super productive day but it felt good to help Mom and Dad out a little and to see Dad doing better.  And even though it wasn’t a super long ride, I still got a couple hours in with gorgeous views.  It was pretty neat to see the difference in downtown Gilbert and Chandler since when I lived here.

Day 1

I’m writing this from the Fairfield Inn in the Albuquerque University district.  I packed and filled the motorcycle with gas and am just waiting for two conference calls to get back on the road.

I rode from home to here yesterday, about a 458 mile ride.  It should take about 6.5 hours, but ended up being closer to 9 hours.  That’s largely because of the 100 miles I rode in the rain and the 3 hail encounters.  Those might’ve sucked a bit.  I got to Trinidad just as I was getting to the edge of the rain.  I stopped at the Big R there and got new glove and wool socks.  The heated jacket liner did a great job keeping my core warm but my hands and feet had had enough.  After I got the new socks on and got back on the bike, the storm caught back up to me, with big hail.  Fortunately I was still in the Trinidad city limits so I was able to pull off at a truck stop and wait the hail out.

I had wanted to take I-70 to Glenwood Springs, spend the night there, then head out again today, going through Moab.  But because of me trying to beat the rain, I took I-25 all the way down.  Stupid weather man.  According to all the weather outlets (accuweather, weather.com, weather underground, local news websites) as long as I got past it in Colorado Springs, I was fine.  It was just supposed to be windy from there out.  They lied.  Just south of Fountain it opened up and dumped on me.  I was feeling confident and fine until I came up on a sign that said “Heavy rains, beware of standing water”  WTF?  Standing water?  That’s the last thing I needed to hit at 70.  That ended up not being a problem but the weirdest thing was the mag chloride.  They use it to de-ice the roads here instead of salt.  The rain pulled it up out of the pavement, so in some spots the road was solid white instead of black.  For a second I thought I was driving through snow.

Once I got past Raton, NM, the rain/hail finally stopped.  I went a little further to stay ahead of it and got to a rest stop and was treated to a gorgeous sunset.  Those last couple miles of daylight I kept thinking that there was a life lesson there.  Keep pushing yourself to go far enough/long enough and eventually you’ll hit blue skies again.  Lame, I know.

The ride into Albuquerque was pretty decent.  Dark, so I couldn’t see anything, cold and windy as hell, but ok.  And the best part was that I got to meet up with an old friend, my boss from my first trip to Afghanistan.  He came by the hotel to pick me up and we went out and had a couple of beers.

All in all, a great ride, although after 9 hours I’m a little sore in the shoulders.  Today I’m off to Phoenix.  Taking I-40 out of the city, then jumping off to 60 at some point to go through the Salt Valley.

Lessons learned:  Wool socks.  Better safe than sorry.

Solitary Man

That songs been running through my head for awhile now.  I leave for a ten-day motorcycle trip tomorrow.  When someone hears about it, their first question is usually “Where are you going?” and the second is almost always “Who are you going with?”

I’ve never understood motorcycle clubs (MCs).  When they first started exploding in popularity it was after one of the world wars and a lot of vets were returning and joined for the camaraderie and a lot of the MCs still have rank structures similar to a military organization.  But considering how few people are actually veterans today, I don’t get the appeal.  What’s especially funny to me is when you see a guy wearing a “lone wolf” type t-shirt under a leather vest with the colors and patches of a MC that he’s a member of.

Personally I prefer to ride alone.  There’s a couple people that I wouldn’t hate riding for extended periods with, but it’s never come up, because most of the people who know how to just enjoy the quiet don’t own motorcycles.  While there’s something about having a cute girl on the back of the bike with her arms around you, even then, it’s only fun for a little while, it’s not something I dream about when I think about taking a long, multi-day ride.

Motorcycles are loud.  Sure you can add a 1up seat, but at speed unless you buy an intercom system it’s hard to carry a conversation.  They’re inherently dangerous.  Not only are you assuming a lot of extra risk for yourself if you have someone on your bike or on a bike adjacent to you, you’re assuming additional risk for those with you and around you.  Just by nature it seems like it should be a solitary experience, forcing it to be a communal thing has always seemed weird to me.

I rode the bike that I’m taking on the trip to work today so that I could stop for gas on the way home to be ready to go.  As I was coming through one intersection a guy on a motorcycle pulled into the lane behind me and at the next red light pulled up next to me.  We proceeded to have an awkward conversation that he initiated while we waited for the light to change.  Why, oh why, couldn’t we just have done the manly head nod of acknowledgement and left it at that?  He had earphones in, just keep listening to your music.

It’s going to be a fun trip.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t super excited by it.  But the part of me that is awkward and hates small talk is dreading all the stops on the way for gas or food or a hotel for the night where someone is going to want to strike up a conversation.


I don’t know why…

…but this is just funny to me.  For some reason, a couple months ago I decided that I wanted to contribute to Google Maps.  Part of it is their point system, and the different levels with various “access”.  Make something exclusive and I guess I want to be a part of it.  Smart marketing on their part.  Some of it was forcing myself to take more photos, even if with just a phone.  Composition is composition and I can practice it with any type of camera.

So in the last four months or so that I’ve been doing it, my photos have garnered 86000+ views as of this morning.  My most popular photo?  Of a guy running the grill at Waffle House.  It’s up to 41k views and it’s only 3 months old.  Who the hell is looking at reviews and photos of The Waffle House?  Don’t you just know what you’re getting when you go there?