Day 8

Mom, Dad and I (mainly Mom and I behind Dad’s back) had decided that I’d stay home with Dad on Day 8 while she went to work.  When I woke up on the morning of Day 8 he and I went for a walk.  The two things he’d been told to do were walk and drink a lot of water.  I got home at about 1:00am and was supposed to walk with him at 6am.  I wasn’t totally with it, but we went and did and it was pretty much a non-event.  But when we got home, mom told me that while I’d been gone, he’d gotten pretty sick and spent a fair bit of time vomiting the night before.  So she’d called work and told them she was taking the day off.  The argued at first, so she told them she’d retire then if she needed to.  After that, they decided maybe she could have the day off after all.

Since Mom was going to be home and Dad was feeling a lot better, I was kind of unneeded.  But I couldn’t take off, we decided we’d make a judgement call on Friday (Day 9) about whether or not I should stick around.  My friend was still in town, so I picked them up and we went up to downtown Gilbert, Az for brunch.  Snooze is a restaurant that started in Denver and has spread to Az and California.  It’s one of my favorite restaurants, but it’s really hard to get into on the weekends, so I decided to take advantage of the week day to get in.  It was great, as expected.  After that we wandered a bit and I dropped them off.

Dad was doing good that day.  Was sitting up a lot more, we went for a couple more walks and things went well.  So it was a pretty uneventful day.  Caught up on reading, napped and decided that if he continued to feel well, I’d head up to Page, Az to try to make the most out of my trip.  I’ve always wanted to photograph the Horseshoe Bend.  So I made reservations in Kayenta and Albuquerque for my return trip.

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 6

So.  I woke up on Day 6 feeling a little weird from the night before.  But I also felt better.  I don’t know what “closure” there was, but it was there and I slept well.  Got up and walked the campus in the daylight.  Went into the bookstores to see if there was any UofA schwag I needed to buy.  Went into the art store and drooled over art supplies even though I didn’t need them, then went back to the hotel, got packed-ish and headed out to lunch at Trident Grill, a military bar.

After lunch I went back to the hotel and finished loading the bike up and headed out of town.  I stopped by the north Tucson Harley dealer to pick up a poker chip.  I have to figure out what my “rules” for those are.  Do I have to go to the dealership on a motorcycle to get a chip and display it?  Or if I’m in the area on business travel and stop in does it count?  I’m pretty sure if someone gets one for me I won’t ever display it unless I was with them.  That was fun.  The front counter girl was really cute and waved to me across the parking lot when I pulled up, then came part way out to meet me when I stopped to take a picture of a VIP parking spot they had reserved for Purple Heart recipients.

After I left, I headed back up to Phoenix going the back way.  Back through Florence to Coolidge to Chandler.  I wasn’t in such a rush this time, so I stopped along the way, taking photos of the Pinal Pioneer Parkway sign, at the Tom Mix memorial and of random things on the way.  At one point I passed a 6 foot long rattler sunning himself in the other lane.  At Florence I stopped for gas and chatted with another dude on a Harley who was kind of goofy.  He was wearing camo pants that weren’t US military issue, was open carrying a pistol and claimed to be a vet from 11th group.  I’m going to call BS on that one.

I made it home and it was kind of shocking to see Dad.  He was in a lot more discomfort from the operation that we really thought he’d be.  Some of the past ones had gone so well that he’d kind of gotten cocky and was fairly nonchalant going into it.  But as soon as I got home,  I headed back out the door to get his prescriptions filled and to get some other supplies.  For the first time in years he was having me fill the prescription for painkillers, “just in case”.

It was pretty uneventful after that.  Just hung out in case the family needed anything.  Did a little more research on the return trip and coming up with some contingency plans.  Originally, when I was leaving Tucson, I thought “Oh, well the doctor said that Dad can’t drive, but nothing says he can’t ride.  Maybe we’ll still roadtrip.”  But as soon as I got home and saw how much discomfort he was in, that went out the window.   Then I started thinking that maybe I could still see my Army buddy in Las Vegas, but instead of going home through the snow after that, I’d head out to LA, see an Army buddy there, then come back to Phoenix, check in with the folks and spend the night and then head home.

Day 2

Day 2 started out well.  A friend works for a hotel chain and has a generous friends and family discount, so I had a decent room in Albuquerque without a huge hit to my trip budget.  Hah.  I said “trip budget”.  As If I planned that well.

I had conference calls from 11:00-1:00.  So I got the bike mostly packed, gassed up, took my calls and then hit the road for Arizona.  Albuquerque to Gallup was gorgeous.  Clear blue skies, gorgeous terrain, good roads but windy as hell.  40mph gusts, but after rain and hail that seemed easy, the wind just kept me focused.  After a quick stop for gas and food I headed out for Holbrook, Az.  Same thing, gorgeous terrain, heavy winds.  In Holbrook after a quick stop for gas, I jumped down onto 77 to Showlow.

It was funny, in Gallup a random stranger introduced himself in the parking lot and started talking to me.  He started telling me about how his truck broke down and I thought he was going to ask me for money but he didn’t, just want to talk and wished me a good ride.  In Holbrook someone saw the military emblems on my bike and we had a quick chat before I headed out.

After Showlow was the highlight of my day.  I jumped onto Route 60 and hit the Salt River Canyon.  It wasn’t quite Deal’s Gap, but it was still a blast.  Lots of great curves, and traffic was moving at the perfect pace.  Frequent pull-outs for the breath-taking views and photos.

Before the trip I bought a new leather jacket.  It’s a re-release jacket and there’s a picture of one of the originals made over 50 years ago with the new one.


The company that makes it has a funny, snarky guy who handles their social media.  When you look at the picture, you can see how it was originally whiskey colored just like the new one.  But you can see how most of it has darkened, a lot with age.  OnFacebook, people keep saying stupid things like they should’ve made the jacket in the darker brown.  Their social media rep said “It took 50 years to make that jacket, but we have confidence in you, you can do it!”

That jacket was perfect from Denver all the way to Superior, Az.  But once I hit Apache Junction and started transitioning into Phoenix it hit 92 degrees, even though the sun was down and I started sweating up a storm.  I’ve only had the jacket a couple weeks, I’m well on the road to that 50 years of patina.  This makes me happy.

The sun started setting just outside of Globe.  It was tough, I really wanted to get to my folk’s house.  Other than getting home at the end of this trip, there isn’t a real schedule to this, but I wanted to get here Friday night so I could have some time with Dad before his operation on Monday, so I didn’t stop to take a lot of photos.  But the sunset was so amazing on 60 outside of Globe.  I’d pull over on the shoulder, take a photo, get back on the bike, then start riding again, and 200 feet down the road, the scene change just enough that I wanted to pull over and take another picture.

It was great to hit my parent’s place after 8 hours on the road and 900+ miles in 2 days.

Jacket Liner

I ride motorcycles.  Not a lot, I’m not fanatical about it, but I’ve done it for over twenty years.  Sometimes it was my only means of conveyance, sometimes it was just for fun.  about 14 years ago I treated myself to a heated jacket liner that you wore under other jackets/coats.  It came with a lead you attach to the battery on the motorcycle.  Then you plug a controller into that lead and the jacket liner into the controller.  There’s a knob on the controller and the further you turn it, the warmer it gets.  I’ve ridden my motorcycle in below freezing temperatures and been relatively warm.

I made a small modification to my motorcycle last week and took it in for maintenance before a ten-day trip I’m planning at the end of the week.  With a little luck, I’ll do 4000 miles on that trip and I’m excited about it.  I wanted to ride the bike to work today to see how the modification and maintenance did.  It was about 37 degrees when I left the house so I put the liner on, and in doing so, noticed a seam starting to fray on the elastic cuff.  As I was riding to work I noticed a couple of cool spots and a couple of warm spots, it wasn’t heating evenly anymore.

I got to work and pulled up the manufacturer’s website to see what they had to offer these days.  Here’s a link if you’re interested.  I can’t recommend them enough, mine lasted 14+ years, and still works.  Figuring I paid $250 back then for it, I’ve more than gotten my money’s worth out of it.  They had two models that I couldn’t decide between so I called the number on the website and had a good talk with the guy who answered.  He told me about a trade-in program and when I went through the purchase process it dropped the price of the liner I wanted to under $200.  So I pulled the trigger.  Can you tell I just got my tax refund?

A couple hours later I got an email from them with an RMA number.  The lady said that instead of sending the jacket liner in, to just cut it up and send them pictures.  I couldn’t do it.  It still works fine, it’d be great as a back-up or as liner for a passenger.  There are too many memories that go with it, it served me too well to cut up.  So I called back and the call was actually answered by the owner.  I explained it to him and offered to pay full price for my liner.  I said I’d rather do that and keep the old one than cutting it up.  We talked for a bit, found out he’s an Army vet.  I told him I’d taken the liner to Iraq with me and used it in the turret.  He ended up telling me to just keep it and canceled the RMA and still gave me the discount, almost 1/3 off the original price.

Great service, but it was a funny reminder of the loyalty I develop to certain things and people.  Some people might call it sentimentality, but it seems like that’s a wrong word for it.  When something has served me so well, I just believe it deserves a better ending.