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.


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.

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 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.


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 5

Day 5 was kind of weird.  Normally when I visit my parents it’s an incredibly relaxing experience.  I don’t know if it’s them, their house, the heat that bakes the stress out of me or what, but normally I leave their place calm and centered.  That didn’t happen this time.  And Dad and I had some difficult conversations while driving.  He asked me whether I blamed him or held a grudge for moving so much as kids and my opinion on some of his other parenting decisions.  Day 5 I was just exhausted.  I woke up a couple of times during the night and didn’t sleep super long.  I spent a couple of hours hanging out with a good high school friend.  He joined the Navy about the same time I joined the Army, so all our stories and shared experiences don’t end at high school.

That was fun to hang out with him, but at some point when I got to the hotel I just crashed.  I remember telling myself it was kind of late for a nap but next thing I knew I was waking up a couple hours later.  I wandered down the street to have dinner, then met up with my buddy for beers again at a new bar just a couple blocks away from my old dorm.  After he headed home I toured the campus.

It was a weird experience for me.  So much was the same, so much had changed.  Partly I didn’t walk it during the day because I was beat and slept in late, partly because I wanted to walk it at night.  When I went to school here, 25 years ago, I used to wander the campus at night when I couldn’t sleep or wanted to be alone.  Or we’d get drunk and ride our mountain bikes from frat house to frat house, hitting every flight of stairs along the way.  It seemed more natural.  But it was surreal.  There’s a building across the street from my old dorm.  It’s got a very distinctive style and when I saw it, I realized that I’d dreamt of it numerous times over the years.   I don’t really remember my dreams when I wake up, but when I saw it, snippets of them came flashing back to me.

There was a little sense of failure to deal with walking around.  I always enjoyed my time here, and in hindsight, I’m having trouble remembering why I left exactly.  And there was some guilt about being here instead of at the hospital with them, even though I know if I were there, THEY’D be feeling guilty about it.

There’s some antsy-ness.  I want to be on the bike, riding and just leaving a lot of stuff on the road, I feel kind of trapped right now, like I’m wasting valuable time.  Then there’s the news that snow is coming to Denver about the time I was planning on heading home.