Sunday, June 27, 2010

Paying It Forward

I can and do get lost in my own backyard. I have no sense of direction. I get turned around very easily and am prone to panic attacks if I suddenly feel confused about my location. This is not a good combination of attributes when balancing on two wheels. One false move could prove fatal. Unlike Andy or Debra who can lick their finger, hold it in the air, look at the angle of the sun and know their exact longitude and latitude, I have no such skills.

My first GPS unit was a Magellan eXplorist. I could not understand this unit to save my soul. It also had serious limitations. The buttons were tiny and I often fat fingered between two getting error results with my calculation. Additionally it did not reroute if you went off course. I maligned and bad mouthed the poor thing mercilessly until one day during a group ride it leaped in a suicidal arc from the handlebars. Nomad Willie behind me attempted a rescue.

“I have good news and bad news. The good news; I rescued your GPS. The bad news; three bikes ran over it first.”

A group of riders stood around me in a circle, heads bowed in solemn respect as Nomad handed over eXplorist cupped respectfully in the palm of his hands. Chinnook, one of the on-lookers in the crowd offered me his old Garmin Quest. Knowing the value of GPS units I did not feel comfortable accepting such a generous offer.

“You could sell it on eBay and make a few bucks.” I said to him.

“I’m unlikely to do that” he said. “Besides, it’s just sitting in my sock drawer. I already know the way to my sock drawer.”

In the end, I accepted, with the promise that when the day came for me to invest in a new unit, I would put it back into the group and pay it forward.
When Garmin released the Zūmo 220 in March and I read the specifications and feedback from others, I felt the time had come to invest in a new GPS. It is the more affordable model in the Zūmo line and incorporates the Nuvi platform, another popular a model from of the Garmin line. It is the best of both worlds, the popular Zūmo mated with the Nuvi platform. (More on the Zūmo in posts to come.)

Now came the time to pay it forward. I made my way to the New England Riders forum and posted a note.

“If you have never used a GPS, where thinking about it, not sure you need one, or don't want to spend the money until you can see the value of ownership send me a note. I will happily pack it all up for you.”

Then came a correspondence from Nate. Nate is the son of one of the New England Riders. He’s a college student, took the motorcycle safety course, got his license, and worked for a year saving money to buy his own motorcycle. He spent a torturous year searching for just the right bike and finally came home with a 1983 Nighthawk. (Nate has a story of his own about this) When I read Nate’s note I knew he was the right candidate for paying it forward.

Today I had the privilege and pleasure of meeting Nate and handing over the Quest. I know it’s in good hands. Nate will most likely use its features more fully than I ever did as his Dad is adept with Garmin products and will surely coach Nate in its use. When the time comes, I have no doubt that Nate will, in turn, pay it forward.

Enjoy Nate! Keep the shiny side up and happy travels to you.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Puppy Dog Tails
Conner Joseph
June 8, 2010

In the gloom of the misty ocean fog that rolls in off the shore, I rise to a quiet and reflective Sunday morning. It hasn’t been so these past few days. I typically find a soul or two rocking silently in this spot or that, eyes cast down at the small face cradled in their arms. This morning however, there are no people to be found in the usual places; this new family is finding its rhythm and they are all still fast asleep.

So it is in homes where a new baby has come to live. We spend our days counting fingers and toes, adjusting to schedules and looking for ourselves and others in the small perfect face that is nestled near our hearts. We soon come to know without a doubt that there are no other infants in the world that are as special as this one little baby boy.

At times like these there are no kick stands up adventures, not places to go, no other place that calls us more than to stand ready to take watch, hold this baby close, breath in their essence, and monitor the rise and fall of their chest with each tiny breath. When baby stirs I am ready, to help with diapers, and advice (when asked) but mostly to hold and cuddle. New Mom’s have good instincts and don’t really need their own mother’s. Yet, this Grandma is happy to be one of the first voices to be heard, faces to imprint upon, and safety to be felt when held.

It is not too many days into this new life, when Conner looks up into our faces and rewards us with a smile that lets us know all is right with his world. While he may not remember this particular day long into the future, he will never-the-less walk this world with an inward knowing that he was long awaited, instantly loved, and never far from our minds and hearts.

Soon I will be back to the world and its hassles and taking the bike for a weekend escape. However, for now Blaze sits idle while I witness the start of this new ride; the beginning of a new life adventure, one where I cannot follow. Yet it is important for me to be here at the beginning; this starting waypoint.