Friday, December 31, 2010

The Gratitude List

Sometimes we just can’t get out of our own way. This has been me for more of 2010 than probably even I know. I plan and strategize, set goals and always it seems I’m thwarted at every turn. Then the grumbling, complaining and moaning to friends beings, while I point the finger to others as the source of what plagues me. Then one day came words my way that I readily rejected; “whatever you are feeling about a situation is all coming from inside of you.” What the heck?

From that moment on it seemed I had my very own personal life coach, who was soon the next person my finger enjoyed pointing too. Never-the-less, the audio books continued to arrive and I listened dutifully back and forth on my long commutes to work. The months went on endlessly without any light for my troubles at the end of the tunnel, and all the pretty words flowing from the car stereo sounding to me like a load.

Then a funny thing happened on the way to work one day. I was listening to Stephen Covey’s “The 7 habits of Highly Effective People” and something clicked on inside my head. Stephen was saying some very interesting things indeed. I listened to this book three more times and then received a hard copy from the life coach for my very own. One of the most cherished bits of wisdom that I gleaned from Stephen is helping me understanding myself better, and what makes those closest to me tick. For from the very center of who we are flow our perceptions of what is around us. Or in other words “whatever I am feeling is all coming from inside of me.”

I could go on all day about Stephen Covey, but then I wouldn’t have time to tell you about Shawn Achor and his book “The Happiness Advantage.” Again this audio book was listened to several times and then the hard copy came to reside on my desk right along with “The 7 Habits.” Interestingly enough, Shawn too has 7 principles; 7 principles of positive psychology that is helping me turn and see the positive aspects of the events of my life. Have I stopped grumbling? No not yet, but the grumbling is shorter. My inner eyes grow tired of the perceived complaint and I begin looking around me for the “path up.”

One of the simplest suggestions that I took to heart is keeping a gratitude list. I’m sure you’ve heard this one a million times. I did too, yet never have I practiced this until now. At the urging of my personal life coach I began a gratitude list. At first we exchanged a few items with each other daily. It seems forced a bit, and then the words began to flow more naturally. I’m realizing something else too in the words of a Chinese saying my friend likes to spout often. “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time is now.”

If you are thinking 2010 had nothing worth taking with you into the future, start your own gratitude list and be faithful to it. You will be surprised at what you come away with. Because for everything we believe is fact, there is a counter fact; one we can all be grateful for and hold in our hearts. I’m stepping into 2011 better for it. Thank you 2010 for all the life lessons and as you wave me into 2011 hold on to your hat, because you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Knowing and the Doing

I roll Blaze up the ramp for the last time this season. It is always a bittersweet moment. Images swirl like a vortex, complete with flashes of light as the neurons fire across the memories of the season’s travels. I look at Blaze affectionately and see each inch of her as I inspect how she fared this year. For me, Blaze has a personality all her own, and so unlike Jade. Like each of us, she is an individual unto herself. Strong, steady, sure. She’s calm amidst crazy traffic, sure “footed” on rain slick hardtop and pebble strewn gravel. She’s powerful, yet has no need for public antics. Responsive, gentle, steady and kind to her rider’s backside; qualities that at first sound understated, but upon reflection hold a value like none other. She’s been good to me, and I return the favor. Sta-Bil for the gas tank, removal of the battery to keep protected indoors on trickle charge, cleaned, lubed, and covered. It’s the best available under our circumstances. Yet, though it doesn’t seem enough, I know she will fire on the first try come spring. It’s who she is.

Last year at this time, I was intent of crafting a route for our Maine Lighthouse Tour; scanning the internet, generating GPS coordinates and mapping out possible routes. The planning was almost as fun as the trip itself. My mind is now on to next season. Where shall we go? Andy has always wanted to do Sturgis; while I’m not opposed, I have to consider our time-off restrictions. Then there is the copy of RoadRunner’s Riding America’s Backroads. There are several possibilities here, all need examination and consideration. The book has an abundance of great destinations, and attractive photography to lure the wanderer in anyone. It will be my companion through the long cold winter months ahead.

For now, I’m content to scroll through the photos of this past season. I’m amazed at the places we’ve been, and the miles we’ve logged. My other love tugs at me too. I know there is a book here. A book unlike any I’ve read. A book not just of destinations, photos and routes, but what is inside each of us when we travel by motorcycle; the physical and philosophical. What touches our hearts, awakens our senses, gives up pause, and all wrapped up is the gratitude that we go, experience, arrive and return; with returning unscathed at the top of the list. For while we motorcyclists know full well there are dangers always close at hand, and we do what we can to minimize them, always we should give consideration to our motorcycle safety training. We all know for example what is good for us; eating healthy, alcohol in moderation, exercise. However, as is human nature, the knowing is not always the doing. With motorcycle safety, we must always be doing as the knowing is never enough. As this season closes, and especially at this time of year, join me in being thankful for not only the knowing, but the doing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

“There is a season and a time for every purpose under Heaven” *

As Blaze fell in behind her partner to enjoy an unseasonably warm November day, little does she realize where she is taking her rider this day. From my vantage point in the saddle, it is a fender pointer only. The lead rider’s whim is the only compass we use. We head for the roads less traveled, and find our way via quiet back doors to surrounding towns. In an instant, the images of times long past begin flashing like a video documentary across the movie screen in my mind.

We ride backward from my teenage years to my childhood. The time it took to live these years, now feel as fleeting as the afternoon ride. The first inclination that I’m dropped so suddenly and unexpectedly into the past, is the tingle traveling up and down my spine when we drop into New Boston by way of Joe English Hill. We pass Molly Stark Lane, where my best high school friend spent her own childhood. Memories wash over me of the good times we had together, and the pranks we pulled on others. The faces of other friends flash across my minds viewing screen, and I am again feeling the joys and sorrows we experienced back then.

Me and Karyn

The experiences then were all so new; a time when emotions would swing from tender to raw. We take a turn and follow Mountain Road along the Uncanooics past where the old boyfriend used to live. The tender moments remembered are sweet; the first infatuation, the intensity of our first love. Yet the raw continues to be raw, when remembering how we first faced death and began to understand for the first time that nothing here is guaranteed. I wonder what kind of people those who left us early would have grown to become.

We pass the high school and ride toward my childhood home. The faces I am now remembering are younger and more innocent. Our carefree play along neighborhood streets flood back, and as we near the old neighborhood, I bid Andy to turn right on Plummer. I have not been here since my parents sold the house many years ago. We stop our bikes and sit examining every inch of this transformed home. It’s larger now and expanded; yet with the extra living space, comes a price. The pear tree and apple tree have been sacrificed. The three season porch which I so enjoyed on warm summer days no longer exists. Yet, I can still smell the apple blossoms, and hear the buzzing bees busy at the fruit that has dropped beneath the pear tree.

Our Childhood Home

Andy comments that the railing at the front door looks original. And yes, so it is, and I am once again standing on the stoop with my siblings in our Easter outfits, having our photo taken. I know I am chuckling out loud now remembering those Easter hats that were so mandatory back in the day. One photo in particular comes to mind in which I am six years old. I don’t look too happy in this photo, as I want church and photo over with so as to dive into the Easter basket. Some priorities never change.

Yet our journey is not yet over. We visit Manchester’s West Side, my mother’s own childhood home and loop our way to Auburn and Chester and finally Derry where Dad spent his youth. We take a right on Wyman to where my Aunt and Uncle once lived. My brother lives here now, yet I haven’t been inside since he’s owned it, and it’s been many years since my feet have crossed the threshold. As I do, I’m a kid again here for a family gathering. My Aunts and Uncles voices like white noise in the background, as we kids get busy playing with cousins or walking out with fists full of chips or cookies. It is here that I first experience the concept of home movies. Uncle is holding a camera but I’m instructed to walk around as the end picture will be motion and not still. What a concept!

Me and a few siblings with some Derry cousins.

We head for home with the setting sun blinding us to our path, and we need to take great care for our safety. Yet despite the concentration it takes to ride westward into the setting sun, the analogy is not lost on me. I too am making my way to a sunset. We all are, it is the human condition. While the ride may seem happenstance to some, it does not feel so to me. There are reasons for events and I believe there are no coincidences. The young girl of so long ago is with me still. I wonder about her path and what lead her here to her present. Is she using all her gifts? Is she applying all her power? Is she giving away too much? Does she love fully, care deeply, forgive easily and make the most of her circumstance? I will be holding these thoughts in my mind. My journey continues and I still have time to bring the girl fully to the person she was meant to be.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Walking Backward Through Time

The clouds scuttle across the sky and the sun plays tag with the shadows cast by them as the fallen leaves race ahead in childlike enthusiasm. Today is our anniversary*; with the weather replicating our special day as if on cue. We have no hard fast plans for a magnificent celebration. We have after all been married now for 34 years. As any who have traveled a lifetime together know, it is no one day that makes the celebration. The path to this day has seen joys, sorrows and strife. Yet, we are here together still. While I am one to always be looking ahead, I give him a gift he so often enjoys, the looking backward. This is how we come to visit Benson’s; to walk hand in hand in this newly repurposed park, to pretend we are living our infatuation again.

From Benson's Wild Animal Farm

Benson’s Wild Animal Farm, once a cherished destination of so many and closed since the 1980’s has found new life as a town park owned by the town of Hudson, NH. Volunteers tirelessly restore old barns and animal cages, care for the grounds, and blaze trails throughout the nearly 200 acre site. It is here that we hold hands and select one of the trails to walk. This one will take us past the elephant barn, the cage that once was home to Colossus, the 500 pound silverback gorilla. As we make our way, I feel an unmistakable prickling along my spine. Images of two of my children, very young and impressionable, pop into my mind. If feels to me that this is the place where Crystal first discovered her compassionate self and asked that we release the animals to freedom; and where Stephanie lost her favorite “little pillow” which she never traveled anywhere without. Our friend Ron, then a teen, is remembered fondly and I chuckle with the memory of his teenage antics.

From Benson's Wild Animal Farm

From Benson's Wild Animal Farm

From Benson's Wild Animal Farm

Though the rides and amusements are long gone, I can smell the cotton candy and popcorn as I come around the bend. While there are many people here today, it is not their voices I hear, but the laughter of children, and the distance trumpeting of an elephant. The real live people here are dedicated volunteers, some with scouts doing community service, other’s just regular folk wanting to give back to the community and restore a place they remember from their own youth and still dear to their hearts. It is here we meet and speak to many people, something that did not happen back in the day when we were more interested in the next ride, or treat. Many dog breeds are out walking their people. They stop politely to inspect us and allow us conversation for a moment or two, until they tug on the leash that tells their person it’s time to move along.

Near one of the former bird cages, we find John and Diana Crafts, wiping their brow, as they struggle with roots and weeds. They have adopted this spot and plan the flower garden that will occupy this place next season. It is no easy task. The more they pull the more they find. They are not discouraged however and point to another former bird cage as an example of what can be achieved. It is giving them perseverance in their task.

From Benson's Wild Animal Farm

From Benson's Wild Animal Farm

I have a bit of fun of my own, and enter the gorilla cage. It’s a somber place, as I peer inside the secret places by which Colossus used to escape the crowds. Yet as Andy takes his turn within the cage, I snap a few photos and teasingly remark that it should not take 34 years to finally have control over one’s spouse. Andy thumps his chest and stalks around the perimeter, and I know full well, that in whatever confines he finds himself, he is the master of his world. Knowing that Colossus spent a great deal of time watching television here, it isn’t so far away from what Andy enjoys too. All that is needed is an armchair and a glass of rum and coke.

From Benson's Wild Animal Farm

While pretending to be infatuated again was great fun for a day, it is not what sustains two people for a lifetime. Benson’s is the perfect place to visit in this regard. The people here are examples of this concept. It is not the cotton candy, the wild animals or the rides that call them here to service. Despite the excitement of these having long ago faded away, they know it was not these things that made Benson’s special. It was the connections; family, friends, community, that live long after the infatuation and excitement faded, that has them holding hands to keep Benson’s in the community for generations to come.

*Wedding Anniversary October 16th.

See all the photos here.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Aiden’s Magical Mystery Tour

As is so often the case, it is the unplanned and unexpected that turn the simple things in life to fond memories. With Aiden’s arrival for a weekend visit with Mommy and Brent, we head out for a day of photographic play and childlike adventures. Visiting the word through Aiden’s imagination is like stepping through the looking glass with Alice. We find ourselves joining forces with brave knights to battle fierce dragons. We scale precarious fortress walls, live to tell tales of walking the plank, and endure a siege to win back the keys to the castle by our very bravery.

From Adventures with Aiden 2010

From Adventures with Aiden 2010

From Adventures with Aiden 2010

From Adventures with Aiden 2010

From Adventures with Aiden 2010

From Adventures with Aiden 2010

From Adventures with Aiden 2010

We bow low to the maidens in the castle; and promise to return. Off we go to more magical places, where turtles and fish live in harmony with fairies. The vibrant tropical pants that thrive here in this northern climate owe their survival to the dancing fairies that sprinkle magic dust upon them daily. The ornamental cabbages and mums quietly divert attention from the delicate among them by standing guard at the entrance. They are the hardy souls here. They demand attention, and by their very nature, draw evil doers away from the inner sanctum. We pay homage to the fairies, who sprinkle their magical dust upon us. We are forever protected from harm. Fortified with power puffs, disguised as popcorn, we are now ready for our next adventure.

From Adventures with Aiden 2010

From Adventures with Aiden 2010

From Adventures with Aiden 2010

From Adventures with Aiden 2010

From Adventures with Aiden 2010

From Adventures with Aiden 2010

Aiden’s bravery is always present, but never more so then when we visit Madame Sherri’s Forest. Aiden is the first to detect monsters just beyond the dark dank arches behind the mystery staircase. He warns us all of the evil voices coming from the depth, and we tread cautiously. Though we are protected with fairy dust, even brave knights, such as we, are not fools. We make wide circles and tread quietly by the arched openings to the monster lairs.

From Adventures with Aiden 2010

The staircase to nowhere beckons the brave boy, but his wise old Memere disapproves of the climb alone. Papo volunteers to accompany Sir Aiden to the top. What Aiden discovers can only be seen with the eyes of the innocent, and we are shocked to learn the truth. We, hardened by life, and victims of skepticism, could never see, and would never have known if not for the innocence of childhood eyes, that these steps are not an ascending spiral to nowhere. Instead, they lead to the very portal of a parallel world. Papo holds tightly to Aiden to keep him from stepping across into this parallel reality. Papo is wise and knows that hard hearted skeptical people worn down by life cannot cross this threshold. It is a place for the innocent only and we selfishly hold fast to Aiden and keep him for ourselves.

From Adventures with Aiden 2010

From Adventures with Aiden 2010

Before we end our day, we stop to admire a covered bridge. Again, it is Aiden who realizes we have not just crossed a bridge. In traversing the span we have unwittingly stepped back in time. The horse drawn carriages surround us. We even witness a fine being levied to one for trotting his horse faster than a walk across the bridge; a law which is strictly enforced in these parts. We notice the sun is setting and if we do not hurry back across the waters of this river via the covered bridge, we will be forever relegated to living out our lives in this long forgotten century. Our fairy dust serves us well this day, and before long we are home safely again. Young Sir curls in his Memere’s lap for the evening and she strokes his hair. While the movie drama plays on the screen before them, they both know, there is no better adventure than to spend a day with your family.

From Adventures with Aiden 2010

From Adventures with Aiden 2010

Be sure to see all of the photos from Aiden's Magical Tour.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Madame Sherri's Forest

October brings to mind, harvests, pumpkins, brilliant fall colors and Halloween with its ghost, goblins and spooks. What better time of year to visit ruins? This is what is so intriguing with Dave’s invitation to assist at this particular photo shoot. We find our way to Madame Sherri’s once glorious country home in the forest now crumbling and in decay. Formerly the site of high society parties, it is now visited by wildlife, hikers and curious visitors like us.

I see this place with the writer’s eye, but Dave sees this place through the lens of a photographer’s eye and has been itching to get back here and do a shoot with subject, lights and meters. Dave’s passion for his photography is palatable. You can tell in the way he works himself into lather as only one does with a lover. Once at his work, you cannot distract him. He is focused and serious.

Susan amazes me with how she gives for Dave. It is not a warm day by any stretch, and the weak rays of sun do little to help. Yet she is costumed in clothing suitable to wearing under much warmer weather. While I feel extremely self conscious in front of Dave’s lens, Susan is a natural, at easy with herself and those around her. She jokes, makes suggestions and takes direction all with grace and style.

I have my pocket camera with me, not for the reasons Dave carries his camera, but for a visual record of the day. Indeed as I review, I remember arms full of equipment as we trudge our way uphill to the ruins. The crunch of autumn leave beneath our feet, the crisp air and tangy scent of decaying forest foliage that fit so appropriately with the crumbling remnants before us.

Barry is here too. He is a better help than I with all things photography and understands what Dave is about. I am better at holding the umbrella stand and keeping if from being victim to the wind. He is compassionate too, and offers Susan warmth when the cold begins to pucker her flesh just a bit too much. We both do what we can to assist Susan along areas of little foot traction, or in quick costume changes that preserves one’s dignity.

Yet as I stand back and watch, I feel that I am the one being watched. True there are many visitors to Madame Sherri’s Forest, yet the prickling of my own flesh has little to do with the cold. Is it possible that there are active spirits here who still enjoy the lavish parties that progressed into wee hours of the morning? Or am I sensing residual activity, a haunting that will forever touch this place? It may be possible this is the very thing which brings us back here time and again.

See Dave’s photos here.
View my photographic record of the day here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Super Heroes on our Alien Planet
2010 Fall Foliage Ride

I want to start this post with a disclaimer. The next photo you will see is not for the faint of heart; especially when you consider riding without the benefit of electric vest or gloves.

Scary! I know! Yet year after year, Andy and I mount the bikes and head off fifty miles to the start point for the New England Riders Fall Foliage ride. It’s not for the faint of heart. I have to admit that I seriously considered staying under the warm covers. Had I done so, I would have missed some very valuable lessons about life.

EasyEd put together this ride and promoted it suitable for couples; enough “flower sniffing” for the ladies, mixed with just enough fun twists for the gents. On this day EasyEd and his lovely wife BikerTrix are our hosts of the day. Don’t you just love those handles? They sound like a couple straight from the Incredibles.

Their hero sounding names prove to be an accurate assessment when out of her super saddle bag BikerTrix pulls some hand warmers and selflessly offers them to me when she sees me wringing my cold hands.

EasyEd’s power to organize a group ride is just a small part of the powers this Incredible duo are capable of, and only the beginning of how I will remember this day.

It’s interesting how we each perceive our environment. While I admire those that fear not the cold, they show themselves in other ways by the remarks that are overheard. Some see the bare branches of the trees that have lost their color, while others express joy at the colors still clinging there.

We are all looking at the same world but I realize that my perception is not someone else’s; their perception is just as valid from their eyes as from mine. Interesting. Same world, different definitions for what we see.

Autumn often brings with it thoughts of harvest and preparations for the long dark winter to come. Yet in the midst of this “end of life” theme there are splashed of vibrant life that thrives with the cooler temperatures.

I begin to feel as if I’m visiting an alien planet, where contradictions abound. Life rejoices in the face of immanent death that autumn heralds, and I try to see the world as others are seeing it. Through this kaleidoscope of images our super heroes lead us. Along paths of wonder we are adventures in a new and beautiful land.

In the end, I remember a favorite recurring theme that runs through the history of the New England Riders. “It’s all about the pie.” It’s then that I understand; while the pie is sometimes literally meant, it’s the perfect metaphor in how we remember the day.

It really is all about the pie.

(Photos by Bob Fesmire)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Embracing Life

My promise to share my experience at Dave’s photo shoot and post some of the snap shots I took with my own camera will have to wait. I want to give Dave the opportunity to post up his photos first. It is only then that you will be able to appreciate the contrast between a snap shot and professional photography. As with all of us, Dave was up to his eyeballs in work related responsibilities and is now off for a much needed break, away from technology and off the grid.

With Dave away, I turned my focus to the family. While I have left Blaze waiting to test out her new front tire, I had the pleasure of watching Conner discover the world with first time experiences. When watching a child filter new experiences we often wonder and marvel at their reactions to the world. There are many personality types among our population. Some stand back from what is new with reservation, trepidation and even fear. While some embrace that which is new, are curious, investigate, and travel life as an adventure. Conner approaches all of his new experiences with enthusiasm. He shows no fear in the face of the unknown, and in fact greets all with acceptance and a sense of wonder.

In watching Conner, my first thoughts were how wonderful it must be to hold such acceptance of the world and all with newness and wonder. Yet something here nags at the back of my mind; and upon reflection, I realize that there are many things that are new to us each day. Yet in our jaded minds we color and clothe them in preconceived notions, past experiences and judge them before they are fully revealed to us. Often standing back and failing to move forward and investigate for ourselves, we accept the words of others in how something is or isn’t.

You know of course that I’m speaking of motorcycling as an example. How could I not? It is the one experience that continues to be new each time I straddle the saddle. It is also the comments and questions from people and their preconceived notions that show themselves in the words and reactions that come my way. Below are just two examples I’m talking about. I’m sure you can think of many others.

When Andy and I first met Blaze on a brisk March day, she was pulled out into the lot in anticipation of our arrival. That morning she was in the company of other motorcycles all sitting out on the tarmac, the fringes of which held the last vestiges of winter snow. Other patrons were inspecting these other models and considering which suited them best, as we all do when comparison shopping. Andy and I stood, inspected Blaze, and then I took the key, started her up and guided her around the lot; kicking it up a gear or two with each loop.

It was on the last loop that I realized what was really going on. The patrons (all of them male) were standing open mouthed. They had made assumptions it seemed that Andy was the person who was bike shopping. Then to watch this woman get on and ride around the lot, AND discover that this was a 1300 cc their attention was diverted and all just watched in amazement. I scratched my head and in turn wondered what was so amazing.

It is this that amazes. People don’t expect women to ride, and if they do, they are delicate and timid creatures who ride between 250cc and 650cc motorcycles. Indeed I did ride a 650cc for a time. It was the motorcycle I selected because of advice from others, not my own discernment. Don’t we all do this? We ask, investigate, read articles and use the judgment of others to tell us what is right for us? I have to admit that I have done this too. Yet watching Conner move ahead, not caring what other people decide is correct or appropriate, he is making judgments for himself and loving life.

I am often asked questions about motorcycling that I don’t believe my male counterparts would ever be asked. One such question is this; “what was the hardest thing about learning to ride a motorcycle?” Can you imagine it being asked of your buddy? I can’t. Although my answers are authentic and truthful it typically isn’t what they expect. In considering an answer to this last question, and remembering the limited size of my first saddlebags, it was this; “downsizing my purse.” I don’t really care about the blank stare that returns with that statement. It’s true. To those other comments about “aren’t you afraid?” I have this “am I supposed to be?”

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Looking Behind
Planning Ahead

Typically I am very conscientious about posting soon after a ride, yet here I am a week in arrears. While the memories are vivid, the intentions true, sometimes there are just too many balls in the air to keep them all up. So I will recap our excursion with the Amherst Motorcycle Club, which I suppose is the looking behind, and what’s on the agenda this weekend; which for me is looking ahead.

Riding with the Amherst group is interesting in that they are a much smaller and more loosely organized club than the New England Riders. With the NER, the time specified for kick stands up, is adhered to and we file out of the parking area typically right on time. With the Amherst group, kick stands up is an approximate; so we are discovering. This doesn’t bother us; please don’t interpret things that way, not at all. In fact I like days when there is no rush about anything. You have time to enjoy the people you are with, and the places you are going.

On this day, there is a delay as we wait for a few stragglers. The stragglers arrive, and we all mount and the leader files us out of the lot. I notice behind me there are fewer bikes than I thought there should be. Yet, the lead bike continues on, so I think I’m mistaken in the number. We are halfway to our lunch destination, when we pull over and in the discussion that follows, we learn that we did indeed leave two behind. One rider relays that we were waved ahead and two of them will catch up at the lunch stop. While we chat, the stragglers pull up behind and we are all together again.

From Sept 25 with AMC

It’s at this stop that one realizes he’s lost his oil cap. There’s a Harley dealer in the general area, and he and another rider drop out to head there for a replacement cap. We continue on to the lunch stop where we hope they will meet up with us later. Yet, once we are in the lot of the restaurant, one club member says he’s heading back home. This is an oddity that I’ve noticed with the AMC. With the NER, once on the ride, the group sticks together like glue, and you couldn’t shake one loose if you tried.

From Sept 25 with AMC

From Sept 25 with AMC

From Sept 25 with AMC

The day continues in this disjointed fashion, but the ride itself is great. The fall foliage has begun, and the color is in places I least expect. While we enjoyed lunch on a deck overlooking the Connecticut River, there was no color here as one would expect by the water. Yet, along some quiet sweeps back on the New Hampshire side, the color pops unexpectedly ahead.

From Sept 25 with AMC

Back home early enough to enjoy our evening, I realize my purse is still sitting on the deck at the lunch stop and Andy and I head back to Vermont. While some things seem like inconveniences, we enjoy the unseasonably warm day, the color while daylight lasts, and recounting our day,s ride. In the week since this ride, we have endured high wind and torrential rain which leaves me wondering how much foliage is left. We often don’t realize our blessing until we look behind.

Tomorrow I’m off on a photographic adventure with my riding/photography friend Dave. I’ll be assisting with equipment during an outdoor photo shoot. I’m looking ahead to that, and will post about the experience. In the meantime, take a look at this older post where there is a hint of where we will be. With the people involved tomorrow, I expect to enjoy my fly-on-the wall adventure.

Enjoy the slide show below.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

To Write or Not to Write

In an uncharacteristic move, I stepped away from the motorcycle over the weekend to attend the first meeting of the Monadnock Writers’ Group’s 26th season. It seemed timely as the back flared up again in twinges of pain at the slightest move, and I had a bushel of chores to deal with, which had grown and festered unattended since the last bit of snow melted from the drive last spring. It wasn’t easy let me tell you. Not only were there motorcycles everywhere to be seen, but they were traveling in miles long convoys.

I once witnessed above, the most glorious assembly of geese flying in formation. More geese than one could count, on the wing well into the heavens. They were so small and yet so immensely large by their sheer volume in numbers, that it stirred my soul. The faint and distant sound of their call raised the flesh on my arms and the back of my neck. Watching the motorcycle convoys pass was like that. All were intent on a destination only they knew. Yet, the muffled rumble of engines, the graceful way they leaned into the turn one behind the other in graceful formation brought to mind those geese of long ago.

As is my habit, the emotion turned to desire to express in the written word, not only that I saw a hundred motorcycles, but how it felt, inside my soul, and have you feel it too. I’m not always sure that my expression touches you, but that it feeds my desire to set the vision free is satisfying in itself. So imagine my shock, when in the course of dialog with our guest author, I heard the comment, “if you are blogging, you’re not writing.” While I was taken aback by this, I can also understand it from some points of view. I suppose if you are intent on your novel, blogging may seem a distraction. Then too, some people have a novel inside them. I have moments to precious to keep in a silk covered journal with a tiny lock.

I have to admit that I have met people who boldly told me they were riders too, only to discover they rode a 50cc scooter. I confess I did snicker behind my hand after they left. Maybe that is how novelists view us bloggers? We tell them “we write too!” They nod and smile and then snicker behind our backs. Well, I have learned a valuable lesson in all this. Who am I to say a scooter owner is not a true rider? They may be even more courageous than most! Those cars and trucks are terribly large and formidable not to mention FAST and any scooter that can survive those dangers deserves some credit.

So please forgive my boldness at describing myself a writer, but it will not keep me from expressing wellsprings of joy, heart wrenching grief or moments of wonder. Every day cannot be a novel, but every day is something to celebrate and write about.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

(Pat's Wild Ride)

I knew what I was getting myself into when I raised my hand to join EasyEd on a chase through some of Vermont’s most notorious twisties; or so I thought when Andy and I packed our bags and headed to Stowe Vermont to join the New England Riders at their annual Birthday Bash. It’s a cool ride up, but unlike last year, no rain dampens our clothing or spirits. For the most part too, it’s an uneventful ride except for the scattering of about 15 wild turkeys making for cover to every point on the compass as we come barreling around the bend. They all make it to safety although our hearts are probably racing as much as theirs.

My first surprise when arriving is seeing Kathy on a sports bike. Now Kathy started out on a vStar 650 as I did, but unlike me she soon graduated to the 1100. I would scratch my head in those days, looking at this petite woman handling this 1100 and think “if she can do that so can I.” It took me a bit longer, but I finally graduated to Blaze, my 1300 vStar. What a revelation that was in understanding just what a difference a few more cc can do for a person. Now, I’m looking at her and listening as she tells me how much easier and more fun the twisties are for her on this sports bike. As much as I enjoy Blaze, I feel a twinge of something I can’t quite define. I need to experience this feeling of total control in the tight turns she’s talking about. Jack is on a sports bike too. Wow, that is a big switch from a Goldwing.

Saturday, Andy and I head out to meet up with EasyEd. Ed’s left early to make up lost riding time from yesterday as he had to work unexpectedly. We make our way through Smugglers’ Notch, always a hair rising experience. The road is extremely narrow with tight turns and outcroppings of granite to obstruct your view. On this day, however, a few of the larger pickup trucks are actually stopped as we come around some of the outcroppings. Even they know there isn’t enough room for us and them. We meet up with Ed and the group in Cambridge and the junction of route 15 and Pleasant Valley Road. It’s then that the chase begins. Chase? Yes chase. Me, full throttle on my bagger trying my best to stay with this pack of sports tourers as they blast around Vermont.

With only a short breather at the end of Pleasant Valley, we blast our way along Trace Road through Jericoh. In Richmond, I’m regretting not wearing my camera around my neck, because I miss a fly by photo op of the round church, which Ed slows enough to point out. And so it goes through Huntington to Route 17 and the Appalachian Gap. Andy and I rode this a few weeks back with Lee and Deb. While Lee will take it hot all the way through, I’m happy at my own pace. Not too slow, yet civilized (in my opinion.) When I pop out the other end this day, I have a feeling the sports bike engines probably had enough time to cool while waiting. Good grief; and we’ve only just begun.

Fortunately for me, we are now on 100 heading south, and I can manage the pace. Ed stops us at the Warren Store for lunch. I’m glad for the break, but my relief is short lived when Ed proclaims with a grin like the Cheshire Cat that he has a treat in store for us coming up. Holy cow, I’m thinking, how will I get out of this with my pride intact? To make me feel even more inadequate, Andy is asking me questions on the radio. “Did you see this? Did you see that?” Like I have time to see anything but the next bend in the road! We leave 100 and head east on Bethel Mountain Road. Then pick up 107 to 110. A look at any map will show you there isn’t a straight line to anywhere along any of these routes. From 110 we connect with 302 which brings us to Ed’s surprise for us this day; newly paved 232, one seriously wrinkled ribbon of road. With the asphalt smooth as silk the sports bikes are off like a shot from a cannon, and I’m taking up the rear trying my best to keep pace. After a bit, I’m not even trying to keep up, but instead trying to preserve the aforementioned dignity. Halfway through this stretch two other sport bike lovers blast by in the opposite direction, the zing of their passing like being grazed by a bullet. When I get the end, they’re waiting, bikes parked and helmets off. The pride is now gone. Next to these folk, I’m feeling like a Sunday riding flower sniffer.

Phil takes over and leads us on a stretch he’s familiar with and we all eventually arrive back at the Commodores Inn safe and sound. I’m thinking the worst is over (in the blow to my pride) and planning on ways to regain my self esteem. One NER’d kindly suggests that there are tools for every job, and bikes are no different. These sports bikes are built to do just what they did. We enjoy the feast that evening and then hit the hay. I’m soon out like a light from so much excitement. In the morning however, I’m no more rested than if I hadn’t slept a wink, because in my dreams I chased Ed through the state of Vermont all over again!