Baby Boomers and Bacon

It’s almost like I fell off the face of the earth. I know in one of the last posts I wrote said I was going to get out of this mental funk and start blogging again. Well, the road of life has a way of taking you places, doesn’t it? For a guy who rides motorcycles almost every day, I really never saw this coming. I think some of the mental block I was experiencing was actually from riding my motorcycle. In the last couple of years I rode to Boston, L.A. and Sturgis a couple of times and the many miles of local roads can sure put a lot of stuff into perspective. But it also took some of the fun out of it. I wouldn’t trade any of those miles for anything, but I was at a point where I was riding without appreciating the fact that I was doing what I love so much. Instead of riding to clear my head and put my life – past, present and future into perspective, I was just rolling along with my head in this thick cloud of stuff. I’m not sure, but at one point I decided I needed a change. A big one. One that makes you question your own sanity and shit your pants. Sorry, but that is the only real term I could think of. So without too much hesitation I made a complete career change and now I’m transporting recreational vehicles from the manufacturer to their dealer destinations. In simpler terms, I move RV’s around the country. I know, right?

Since I started my blog I have written so much about riding my motorcycle and the random thoughts that roll around in my head and the life I’ve had growing up in the small town of White City Kansas. I’m sure if you have read any of what I’ve written you will get to know me pretty well. And I must admit this blog has opened up so many doors for me in the powersports industry and I’ve had an opportunity to not only get so much better at this but to also meet so many great people along the way. And it goes even further than that. I have also been contacted by several organizations to be a consultant within the powersports/financial community, talking trends about local, regional and national stuff in the business that I won’t bore you with. Who would have thunk a small town kid from White City would be contacted to write articles for magazines and talk with investors about what goes on in and around my small world? Thank you Jmadog Blog. So with all this I became less carefree and more of a stick in the mud. I think so anyway, others may say I was riding a wave. And what do I do? I take a break from writing and although the riding was still a big part of who I am, I still felt like I needed to figure it all out. Besides, the grandkids and my beautiful daughter moved back to Colorado Springs and I realized how important this was for them but also how difficult it would be for Paw Paw. Did I mentioned I made a career change? Let me tie all this together for you. So I started following the RV industry. Sounds boring, doesn’t it. Well, with all this talk about where the powersports industry was headed – with an aging Baby Boomer customer base and no generation coming in to take their place – I started doing my research. The RV business is on a steady incline and has been for a few years and then it hit me; This is where the powersports/Harley-Davidson customer is going. they’re buying Side-by-side off road vehicles (a growing segment in the industry) and RV’s. But wait, that’s not what made me change careers. I was coming back from Oklahoma after picking up a motorcycle from another dealer and on the radio they were talking about FEMA moving RV’s to Texas and along the coast after the hurricanes and at that point I wanted to be a part of something that made a difference. Not that I didn’t think someone buying a Harley-Davidson wasn’t changing someone’s life but c’mon I think you know what I mean. And so here I am. After traveling twenty-six states in the last two and a half months, driving as of today, 34,000 miles, I can say without hesitation that at this point I’m doing what I need to be doing. I also have plenty of time to think… Just the other day a memory came to me from when I was a kid and we were visiting relatives in Benkelman Nebraska. My folks and all my aunts and uncles would go out for the evening and leave us kids at Duane and Bonnie’s house to entertain ourselves. Great memories with my cousins for sure but when the adults came home my Uncle Duane would cook breakfast and to this day I can still see him doing this and smell the bacon. I haven’t thought about that for a long time. There’s more to this story but I’m sworn to secrecy.

I’m not going to kid anyone. This change has had a steep learning curve when motorcycles came so easy for me. I’ve made a couple of sacrifices and I’m willing to do it to achieve my goals. I’ve never doubted my abilities to adapt to any situation and let’s face it, I’m a pretty likable guy. Just sayin’. As I gather my thoughts and shift a few gears, I will see where this takes me.

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Mental Ditch

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It’s easy to get pulled into the ditch. I can remember in my early teens, driving my ’72 Dodge Charger around town in the winter snow, looking for snow drifts to plow through. This was a great car but it didn’t do well in the snow. Those after-dark Friday nights driving around White City in the snow would often find you getting the front-end pulled into the ditch, often due to a heavy right foot and an out-of-control back-end. Right up there on the center console, next to where your cell phone would have been had we had one, was your gloves. Someone was getting out to push.

So what does this have to do with a mental ditch? I thought you would never ask. It’s easy to get pulled into the ditch of negativity. Sometimes it happens faster than we can react and we find ourselves sliding into a bad attitude or mood. Despite how we felt before it happened, it can suck you in requiring someone else to push you out. We need friends riding shotgun with us to make us understand that we are responsible for our own attitude and that we aren’t responsible for the attitudes of others. And besides, they are willing to get out and give us a push in the right direction – just like we would do for them. Literally and figuratively speaking.

But there are times when even my motorcycle can’t get me out of this mental ditch I find myself in. The best people in my life know when I need a push.

We are at this point in the year where I normally talk about riding my motorcycle and all those wonderful thoughts that roll around in this pretty little head of mine, and believe me those blogs are coming. But there are times when even my motorcycle can’t get me out of the mental ditch I find myself in. The best people in my life know when I need a push, and will gladly get out and give it all they have. After all, we have to be home by midnight.

Ready to Roll

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Sometimes you just need to get away and I think that time is coming for me. Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out if a short ride to wherever could possibly put a damper on this feeling but one thing is for sure, that well worn path from home to work just isn’t cutting it. I’m known for saying that we need to travel outside the familiar landscape that surrounds us to truly feel like we’ve gone someplace, and this time of year gets me looking off into the horizon. State lines, mountains and oceans for a Kansas boy would be a good start.

 But the usual routes I’ve taken are getting to look a lot like the familiar roads I travel around home. I can always appreciate the feeling of chatting it up with someone I don’t know at a gas station in a town with no name.

With Sturgis less than sixty days a way, I know the probability is high that I will return to the Black Hills. But the usual routes I’ve taken are getting to look a lot like the familiar roads I travel around home. I can always appreciate the feeling of chatting it up with someone I don’t know at a gas station in a town with no name.

I’m not sure if it’s intentionally that I ride to sort my thoughts and to feel the wind as it blows through my thinning hair, or if all of this happens naturally because I ride. I do know that as I get a few hundred miles from home I feel the gentle release of my home town as it eases its steady hold on me and the overwhelming desire to go even further take its place. I’ve always wanted to travel this great country without an agenda and with the freedom to follow whatever whim comes my way, but the reality of work and responsibilities can make one feel guilty for even trying to.

So back to this year’s Sturgis Rally; I know this year it will be different because of my current frame of mind. By carefully planning to not make any plans, I’m hoping to change it up enough to convince myself that this trip won’t be like any before. Sure, there will be some sort of general plan but for the most part I just want to point and shoot without feeling like I need to be somewhere at a specific time. It should be easier for me to fly by the seat of my pants, and I do a pretty good job of making as few plans as possible, but there’s always that voice in my head secretly planning and weighing my options.

So as I go about my daily routine for the next few weeks, I’ll be planning on what to pack for the trip to South Dakota. Secretly I’ll be making a few decisions on which way to go, but the weather will also have a hand in this. You have to be flexible enough to go around the bad stuff if need be. But other than that, I’m winging it. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Stretching the Truth

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 But one truth that is hard to stretch, let alone find the words for – is the natural beauty as the day begins and ends.

A small break in the winter weather found me riding my bike the last couple of days. Yeah, it’s cold in the mornings but the ride home was generally a nice one and it also helps not only physically, but mentally that the sun is hanging around a little longer to see me home. But the mornings have always been one of my favorite times to ride, and even though the temperatures keep you honest this time of year, it is when the road is mostly mine.
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The last couple of days have had me thinking about the serious side of life. There are a certain amount of expectations required by any responsible adult and I would consider myself somewhat responsible. The fact that some people may think by me riding a motorcycle I smell like exhaust and alcohol, I’m wearing the same clothes since the last beer-drinking-bonfire-slash-rally and I’m itching to pick a fight if you look at me sideways. Well I do smell like exhaust a good portion of the time but aside from that I’m just a normal guy. And I have a clean shirt on.

If there is one thing about a motorcycle blog, it gives you plenty of time to write about the sunrise and sunsets on a regular basis. Since most days start and end in this manner it almost seems redundant to mention, but I do anyway. Mostly because they are just that beautiful. Throw in a couple of local landmarks into the shot and anyone who grew up here and around White City can take it in as well. Although we all share the same sunrise and sunsets, we don’t always have the time to take it all in.

It’s hard to think about those long hot summer days when a morning ride might start out in the 30’s here in February, but they’re coming. Soon, these cold morning rides will be another memory and when they get shared to a fellow rider, I might even embellish how cold it really was. But one truth that is hard to stretch, let alone find the words for – is the natural beauty as the day begins and ends.

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The Skiddy Basin

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Early this Saturday morning during my usual ride to work, I spent a few minutes trying to put some thoughts together. It seems to me on this cool, damp ride that my head was as foggy as the Skiddy Basin as I passed through it. Listening half-heartedly to the radio, Lee Brice was singing I Drive Your Truck setting the framework for my mood and giving me plenty to think about as I followed the road to prosperity.

There are so many triggers throughout our day that cause us to pause or stop and reflect. If you read anything I write you know I spend a lot of time reflecting on life and events that have happened. This is a direct result of my surroundings which by the way, is full of said triggers. The road I travel to work on is a road I’ve downed many times over the last 45 years, and while it’s bumps and curves remain the same my view of it has changed. That old road will always lead to somewhere but it is always taking me back.

That old road will always lead to somewhere but it is always taking me back.

As a kid, the 23 miles to anywhere from White City always seemed to take forever, but the older I get the distance seems insignificant. What’s 20 minutes in a lifetime? Although there are days when I wouldn’t mind sitting on a front porch looking out at an old truck in the driveway, contemplating the sunrise or sunsets.  I suppose my blog wouldn’t be about motorcycles if that were the case. A small town guy riding and writing about rocking chairs doesn’t quite fit, does it? Hmm.

There is something about a quiet country highway on a motorcycle, a couple of bridges and the early morning to help you think. A country song on the radio doesn’t hurt either. Maybe the mixture of all the above is the perfect concoction to clear the fog and shorten the old road to anywhere.

 

A Stone’s Throw

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Yesterday I pulled over on the short side-road next to the Skiddy cemetery to help a large turtle cross into the ditch. With my new-found friend safe from harm and turtle pee on my boot, I looked towards the southeast at the small town of White City off in the distance. I’ve seen this image many times as I come home this way every day. I laughed to myself about the illusion the grain elevator and the water tower give of being so far apart from each other, but I know they are only about 3 blocks apart. It’s a small town, so what isn’t 3 blocks away? I took a minute to think about a few things like the upcoming 4th of July celebration and how this week has always been one of my favorite times of the year. For a small town, White City has the ability to pull things together by putting on a parade, ball games and fireworks all infused with that old magic ingredient called home.

I know White City isn’t the only community in which this happens, but it’s the one I live in so I can speak first hand about it. I also sat there for a minute and thought about friends I haven’t seen for a while. Once in a while a name or face pops into your head and you wonder what they’re doing now. From my vantage point at the cemetery the town seems so far away, but the fact is it’s only about 8 miles. Just like old friends, at times they too seem like a distant memory but actually they’re not that far away. We can always pull a memory or two out of nowhere closing the gap between time and distance, and by scanning the horizon I know some of those friends are just a stone’s throw from town. Much like the illusion of the grain elevator and water tower.

Now that social media has played such a large role in getting us all back in touch, it’s easier than ever to know what everyone’s up to. But, I will say there is nothing that beats lunch with a friend and the laughter that follows. We take so many things for granted when we’re young and reckless that we never saw the wave of life coming. Some caught that wave out of town while others hung on tightly to the city’s edge. Neither being wrong or right, it’s just the way things ended up. We still have those friends whether or not our paths ever cross again. Of course it can never be too late.

We take so many things for granted when we’re young and reckless that we never saw the wave of life coming.

Who knew helping a turtle across the road would give me so much to think about? Was this his big break from the small ditch he grew up in to a bigger world where the pace is much faster and the grass is taller? Do turtles have a “fast pace?” Was he returning back to a place where he grew up? Was this turtle a symbol of small town life? Crazy questions for a small town guy like me. I may never know the answers, but it made me feel good to get him off the road.

After a few minutes of taking in the scenery, I fired up my Road King and headed into town. Another confused turtle saved from what might have been, and some memories of friends that will always be…friends.

Old Friends and Home

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I can still hear the laughter from my friends as we hung out on main street in White City. Standing in front of the pool hall watching the same cars pass by, as we talked about what we should be doing or where we should be going. Back and forth, cruising the four blocks of that red brick street, making endless U-turns and unconscious waves to the cars we passed in opposite directions. That was our independence. The football field lights still shining bright after a home game and everyone is uptown hanging out, happy for a win, or bummed from a loss. We all knew each other, and growing up together in a small town was what you did. Voices still echo from those sidewalks as cars pass by, heading nowhere, waiting for the clock on the City building to let me know I was going to be late getting her home.

Those years can be looked upon as “the good times” and even though they were good times, we had no idea that the best years of our lives were yet to come. You could see all four blocks of that street and you knew that a U-turn was going to bring you right back. Those that had the courage to not turn around at the locker plant knew how it felt to return on those special occasions to find the front yard beneath their feet was still there, reassuring them they were home. Walking past the boot scraper, up those concrete steps and into the kitchen, remembering the smells that somehow still linger as the door opens to rooms full of memories. Photos are taken, hugs are given and small talk is made, then it’s back to the world that pulled them away.

I still hear the laughter of those friends, but now it’s through the words they type in texts or emails – I swear I can hear their voice in the words I read. Their smiles are the same and their laughs haven’t changed at all. Even though kids don’t turn around on the main drag in town anymore, it doesn’t mean the world stopped turning around. Friends that left still come back for graduations, weddings, reunions and funerals, so we get a quick word, a handshake or hug and then it’s goodbye…for now, only to return another day.

There are a lot of miles on that old main street, and there are a lot of miles between old friends and home. I miss those days when we were close enough to say it in person, even if it was just a two finger wave from your hand on the steering wheel. Maybe someday I’ll know what it’s like to not turn around at the locker plant.