100th post

October 19, 2010

One hundredth

This is the one hundredth post since I started this blog back in late May.

Today it thunders and rains in the high desert, the birds are singing a symphony right now and in between each thunder shower, there is a chorus of joy, relief, in the air. Water to quench the dried earth and plants. Survival made possible. It started with a gigantic light show last night. It was a slow process, all day yesterday and Sunday the clouds gathered, an army of grays, first on the horizon by the mountains then getting braver and approaching town. The first strike was in the dark of night.

Righ now we’re under occupation. They have taken the whole sky and rain comes in powerful bursts, heavy, large drops pounding as hard as they can then bursting into smaller drops, then gathering in puddles outside. Puddles in the desert. Victory. Every single green thing out there seem to exult.

I sit and write. The bike rests safely in a nice dry garage. I have secured wi-fi and no check-out time. I have peace, space, singing birds and rain drops, dancing trees outside my window and a show of greening greens as the plants drink up. Party.

What do you say on the hundredth episode of one’s blog? You reminisce? Lately I’ve have no outstanding adventures or mishaps to relate… So I guess it’s time for facts and stats.

I’ve been gone for 146 days and covered 14 733 miles, wrote 100 posts on the blog up to now.

The mission statement at departure time was : No plans. Go south. Follow your nose. Go South morphed to Go West after about 7000 miles… follow your nose still works best for me, but the plans are forming. An evolution of sorts.

The bike : 1983 Suzuki GS 750 ES. A 27 year old motorcycle I owned for a year and knew not much about when I left. Now I know quite a bit more, we’re so tight we’re family, another evolving thing.

Mileage at start: well, I’m not sure, somewhere around 30 thousand miles if you trust the odometer reading, but I don’t since my speedometer cable already broke 3 times since I became owner of the bike… did it ever work on a continual basis?

the never changing mileage read out (in KM)

Before I left I got this work done :
New front brake pads, new chain, front and back sprockets, engine valve tune up, spark plugs, oil, lube all over, speedometer cable.

On the road :
Circa 1 500 miles San Luis Obispo : Front tire replacement.

Circa 3 400 miles Phoenix Arizona : Oil change, chain adjustment, lube, brake check and bleed. Speedometer cable broke a few hundred miles later in Flagstaff.

Circa 5 400 miles Huston Texas : Full tune up.

the crew in Huston

Circa 6 700 miles Nashville Tennessee : Rear tire replacement.

brand new rear tire in Tennessee

Circa 8 000 miles: Hagerstown : Major breakdown. . Zero power. Battery post was loose and completely melted down causing electrical overload burning wires, fuses and plastic. Needed a new battery and new fuses and wire repairs.

broken down in Hagerstown

Circa 8 600 miles Montreal : Oil change, brake adjustment.

Circa 9 600 miles Rochester NY : Major breakdown. Complete electrical failure. Stator, rectifier, regulator, wires, fuses, light bulbs, brake clean and adjustment, speedometer cable, oil change, new windshield and all sorts of adjustments and clean ups. Jim wanted to keep me going trouble free!

view from inside the tow truck to Jim's garage

Somewhere in rural Michigan the speedometer cable broke yet once again. I did not replace it.

Circa 12 159 miles, rear brake seizure. I managed to help myself and remove the caliper and brake pads. I rode without rear brakes for almost 1000 miles. You can get used to anything.

gettin' dirty gettin' er done in Salt Lake City

Circa 13 000 miles Los Angeles : new chain, sprockets, new set of tires, oil change, spark plugs, brake seizure problem solved after two more seizures, the cause : bad brake pedal adjustment from Montreal that eventually stopped the flow of oil. The mechanic also found a seriously loose bolt in the drive train, the angels were definitely with me…

Getting some deserved TLC at Cycle Depot in Eagle Rock

Circa 14 000 miles Lancaster CA : 1 set of clutch plates.

clutch innards

And now the biggest issue so far. At 14 733 miles…. my third gear is gone That means serious open heart (engine) surgery, with new transmission and gaskets… we’ve lined up the best doctor and the organ donors… waiting for a surgery room. The bike is still useable if I skip third. What did I say about getting used to anything? Oh and my starter is on its way out, it has been telling me for a while… Better address that soon.

I learned a lot about my bike and I am still learning. I learned a lot about patience and myself, still learning about that too. I learned I can face pretty much anything and deal with it without having to cry on someone’s shoulder. There has been moments where I was less than graceful but I tried to do that alone in a room somewhere so as not to be a sore sight to anyone.

Another rain shower comes down. It’s peaceful. My oatmeal and coffee are now cold. It’s all right, it’s still good.

A few nights ago Sunny brought me this fuzzy, soft as can be, thick sage green blanket. Since then my sleep has changed. Like a safety blanket, I can just let go. Just be warm, cuddled and abandon all resistance. Thank you, thank you. It’s one of those little things that just mean so much. Women are so good at that…

Sunny and Steve… they have been amazing. I mean really, totally, incredibly. I don’t want to gush but they’ve been just amazing…. giving me a home, a key to it, a place to just be, rest and figure out what comes next and they have been so supportive.

Sunny's, Steve's and my bike hanging out on a first meeting

The rain pounds in the desert.

100th post.

What is next? Well I just finished recording my 5th album in Nashville with Perry. That in itself is close to a miracle if you know the trials and tribulations it took to get there.

I got my guitar. That was the thing I missed most during my journey. I play it every night, unplugged in my quiet room. I’ve been restless about it because it’s both a joy and a responsibility. Don’t want to lose it, break it, don’t want to be without it, but I don’t know how to have it and the bike at once. So it’s hard to leave and leave it behind and it’s hard not to leave and stay in one spot…

I went on forums and searched to see if anyone had a solution to carry a guitar on a motorcycle, and not on a cruiser with loads of racks and boxes and hardware and stuff to hang stuff on… On a sport bike… with the added bonus of travel luggage… I do need the sleeping bag, cold-hot gear, tools, tent, air mat, etc. to be independent on the road.

I talked to the mechanic about building some sort of rack and there are structural issues to consider, vibrations could seriously damage the frame’s integrity. Not good. And a guitar standing up behind me could break my neck if something happened… not good either.

I went to the guitar shop looking for “small”. Small anything : guitar, amp… then travel cases, hard cases, soft cases… checked out the internet… no solution in sight and lots of talk of the guitar acting as a sail or hitting the helmet : can you turn your head with that thing on your back? (!) I looked into travel guitars, but as convenient as they are, no one said anything about how they sound… they say things along the lines of “great to practice on a flight” or “ I can do my scales by the campfire” nothing like “sounded so good I was blown away”. One of them seem to sound better : the Voyage air, an acoustic guitar with a foldaway neck that might be an option. But when it’s all said and done, I’ve always played an electric… I want to feel comfortable when I am performing so I can give my all and do my best…

I did not quite realize to what extent this whole thing was eating up at me. I never liked to hear people say “ it’s impossible” that always irks me to no end. And that is what I was hearing from most parties. It was when I was in Montreal that I started to have the vision : traveling on the bike, playing music, seeing the world. But to that end I have to figure out how to carry my instrument without destroying it or the bike or myself in the process.

That was where I was at in my thinking when Steve said : we could build a case… custom case to fit on the passenger seat… Wow. Yeah we could… so we went into the garage with the guitar and started looking at the bike and the guitar together, trying to visualize this concept…. It could lay down, so no air resistance or vibration issues, in such a way as to be able to pack luggage over it, with hooks and brackets to attach it to the frame tightly and securely… use some high tech foams to protect the instrument, carbon fiber shell for in-destructability… the idea was launched.

With this prospect in the air, my spirits rose dramatically. OK, there is a way. I won’t find it at Guitar World, we will have to create it. Cool, really cool. My spirits rose because in my mind, the next step to this journey is to hit the road with the guitar, play everywhere, camp, travel, meet all these people… On my bike. And of course with Leo. The little family all together.

A troubadour.

So when I look at everything it actually is perfect. I was balking and wondering and wavering at the inertia but there is work I need to do as a sedentary entity. I need to prepare to deliver the CD, the book, revamp the web site, the social networking stuff, press kit and more. I can see now, as the rain falls and the earth sighs a sweet relief. As much as I yearn to ride out, there are tasks to accomplish so that my vision comes to life, full bloom. Chisel and hammer to get to the horse out of the stone.

I need to get my computer down here… or find a computer with the software that will allow me to do these things… or figure out a new way to do these things…

Hmmm, hmm… this is all about flexibility. The ability, or willingness to look at things differently in order to find a solution so to exist on one’s own terms. The patience to allow the new ideas to come to life. Like watching the rain fall and knowing the poppies will cover the hills because of it in the spring. Can’t wait to see that…

Happy 100th. There will be more to come, more miles more wild adventures, more oil changes and thunderstorm dodging.

Trust me.

Leo says hi


One Response to “100th post”

  1. Erika Says:

    Yes happy 100th!

    It’s funny I wrote my 100th post last evening on Rhea Phoenix’s blog. See http://www.salonunidad.posterous.com

    Hoping to tweet and be a twit for you tonite. At home with boys now eating Damien’s gourmet waffles made in Steveston Village, just came back with hallowe’en costumes….the earliest I’ve ever accomplished this, a win-win for all involved.

    ps. people who use twitter are twits, they tweet, chirp and carry on all day long….its utter madness…says I who has 3 accounts….the secret is to know who you want to follow, know who you want to block and keep your vision pure, that is stick to your guns or in your case your motorcycle, be who you are and its all good…..:)

    ttys, exo

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