pecunium: (Loch Icon)
7,800 miles, and 9 weeks, leaves a lot of fleeting impressions in the mind, so I'm going to jot them down.

Helmets: I love them. Yes, there are a few things about them which chafe (literally, my forehead was getting raw by the time I got home, mostly from the way the wind moved the helmet when I was looking to the side/rear), but I can't imagine not using one.

1: It's my windshield. Above about 30mph, and the wind is annoying. Above 80mph, and it's blinding.

1a: Bugs. I cleaned the fairing yesterday, and my jacket today. There were a lot of dead bugs. I got to watch a lot of bugs die. Some of them most dramatically (I think I killed a dragonfly in Nebraska. There were a lot of them about, and something large hit the visor; a bit outboard of my left eye). Since some of the larger flying insects can do 20-40 mph (like dragonflies) and are hard, the thought of an impact velocity of 100-140 mph is a bit frightening.

But I saw lots of people not wearing them. Some croggled me. The guy in Flagstaff: Calif. plates, and his helmet (full face) on the sissy-bar. The guy in Salt Lake, with the armored jacket, heavy pants and bare head. Dude! I'd worry a lot more about cracking your skull like a hard-boiled egg to be peeled than I would about the road rash.

Sunsets... Lake Huron in the late evening. The Bonneville Salt Flat in the steel-blue gloaming, gorgeous (and the better for a dark visor).

The UP, and upper Wisconsin, desnse trees, and water everywhere. Little pockets of early autumn, with a single set of bright red, or orange, leaves, in the sea of green the road tunnels through.

Bikers: By and large (New Hampshire excepted) they were all friendly. I cannot being to estimate how many I dropped a hand to. When I was stopped, they came to chat, even guys who weren't riding a bike at the moment. Yeah, I have some issues with Harleys (I think them sort of ugly, and the sort of "statement" they make is problematic. GoldWings are too "cushy, for my taste too), but that's mostly aesthetic. I never had one give me grief. The only folks I pulled over for were pushing a Harley, and if I could I'd've helped (neither of us had a gas tank, so there wasn't any way for me to help them out. I hope the five miles to Fernly weren't too hard; because there was a lot of uphill; if one is pushing a few hundred pounds of motorcycle).

Bikes: Get much east of the 109° 02′ W and BMWs become thin on the ground, but the groups of bikes tend to be more heterogenous.

I put about 1,000 miles of 2-up riding. I also did enough rough road (about 20 miles) to feel fairly confident.

Toll-plazas are evil. The ground is slick, and the stop/go aspect of them makes it a bit treacherous. The worst spot is right at the point of payment.

Cops tend to ignore bikes. Not completely, but the trick of estimating speed for a bike is harder, and (by reports) it's harder to get one in the radar gun. I do know I thought I could have gotten about three tickets in speed traps, and didn't.

Passing sucks. This is mostly about 2-lane roads (i.e. opposing traffic), though fools who don't pay attention to what's coming up behind them on roads with passing lanes abound. In that case it's more a nuisance than a hazard.

Photography is doable, but I wasn't rigged for it. Next time I will be.

Friends: It was a great trip for meeting friends (some of whom were not yet possessed of voices/bodies to go with faces/personalities). I was blessed with wonderful hospitality along the way, and the chance to stop at homely places and relax, with other people, was priceless. All in all, the visiting (both the planned stops, and the offered ones) justified the whole thing.

New York is amazing. I can see why those who grew up there hold it so dearly; and all I saw, to speak of, was mid-town Manhattan. I shall have to go back, and explore it with more vigor. There was some really good food there, and some confused food, but the stereotype of the rude New Yorker makes no sense to me. I was, everywhere I wandered (uptown, downtown, midtown, and over to Brooklyn), treated with openness and friendly manner. Conversations on streetcorners, discussions on bridges, answers from cops (about traffic issues). It's expensive, but expansive.

Next time I will plan/announce better, and try to arrange to see more people.

Borders: The way to smuggle, is on a motorcycle. No where was I given more than a cursory glance. I crossed three borders by myself (into/out of Canada, into Calif), and two with a passenger. My passenger was of a different nationality than myself. No one cared. Entering the US, all the cars had their trunks opened, and coolers too. My luggage (topcase, duffle and two hardcase saddlebags) ignored. Same in Calif., where I was waved through.

I'd do it‡ again, but without the deadlines (going out I had two deadlines, coming back I had one, sort of. I wanted to be back not later than next Saturday). I think I'd like to do some of it with people (a support vehicle, and some other bikes. The one so I don't have to have all my gear on the bike, and the other for company), and some of it as noodling to here and there (maybe a side trip, with a rendezvous planned some days away).

It was, in some ways, a bit of retreat. I spent a lot of time in my head. I didn't think about much, there was a lot of, "no-mind", and lot of singing to myself. There was also the slow scrolling of the horizon, the birds, the pronghorn, the possibility of elk, moose, bear, and deer. There was the calculus of movement, the peering into corners for hazards.

There was peace, and fleeting moments of anxiety. There were friends to relax with, and passing acquaintance to remind one of the shared identity of the nation.

It was so very worth it.

‡I had to leave Memphis out of that list, because Google Maps will only allow 25 points.
pecunium: (Default)
I now have, after a fashion, pretty much all my worldly goods again. Marna and I went to LA and collected them from "the bunker" at Maia's folks' place. She also was kind enough to load all the stuff which was in the outbuilding which used to be our room.

Now I have to go through it and see what I still want. I've not seen some of it for about a decade.

Classes have started again. I have a really rough schedule. It's very left-skewed. Mondays I have 40 minutes of open time, from 0800, to 1700. On Weds I get done at 1400, and Fri. I have a single class, for an hour, at 0800.

The motorcycle continues to amuse. I've put 70 miles on it in the past two days. I've bought some new gear: gloves, helmet and jacket. The helmet is to make sure the old one wasn't degraded in the scooter crash. I also bought a tinted visor for it. The tint is a light (about 5%) grey, just enough to take the edge off the sunlight.

The jacket is a synthetic, with removable liner, good venting, armor and padding. It's got pretty good options for adjustments. I had to open the vents to avoid overheating today. It's also rated as raingear. The gloves are problematic. They aren't as close fitting as I'd like, and I don't really feel I have as secure a grip on the throttle. On the upside, I've gotten much better at engaging first gear, and maintaining speed (it helps that I've a much better idea of the desirable RPMs).

I suspect I shall look for better gloves, and relegate these to winter.

I still need riding pants, and (perhaps) motorcycle specific boots. The planned road trip to Ottawa this summer (by way of Tennessee and New York; perhaps a stop in Boston) is looking a lot less crazy. Marine Bio will help, as I have to make four trips to Santa Cruz and one to Monterey.

It's been, all in all, a good week.

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