Day 15: Celtic Christianity, Circling Prayer, St Patrick’s Prayer, Death Valley

Celtic Christianity, Circling Prayer, St Patrick’s Prayer, Death Valley

I haven’t managed to do my Tai Chi every morning but I have managed to do my circling prayer. Someone asked me about my circling prayer so here’s some more information on it.

To the early Irish and Scottish Christians a circle was considered a sacred place, a physical representation of the universe. Celtic Christians believed that time was circular, that God was the  Creator and that He dwelt in the center of the universe and time. This belief manifested itself in the Caim Prayer.

This is the Caim Prayer I use:

Circle me O God
Keep hope within
Despair without.

Circle me O God
Keep peace within
Keep turmoil out.

Circle me O God
Keep calm within
Keep storms without.

Circle me O God
Keep strength within
Keep weakness out.

(David Adam: The Cry of the Deer)

I add a few verses of my own.

To pray an encircling Caim Prayer, extend the index finger of your right hand, and turn clockwise drawing a circle around yourself in the air. Imagine yourself  and those you are praying for surrounded by the safety of the God’s care and protection.

To make your own Caim Prayer simply insert the name of the person you are praying for and change the wording to suit the circumstances.

Circle (name), Lord. Keep (name the good you want revealed) near and (name the evil you want removed) afar.

Circle (name), Lord. Keep comfort near and discouragement afar. Keep peace within and turmoil out.

Circle (name), Lord. Keep hope within and despair without.

This helps you tune into the encircling presence of God.

I should include a line:

“Keep oil within and no oil out.”

This was Saint Patrick’s Prayer:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.


Now onto Death Valley and Henderson Nevada!

Day 14: Yosemite, No leak and Leak, Snow, Independence

Day 14: Yosemite, No leak and Leak, Snow, Independence

When I checked the bike this morning it wasn’t leaking any more. I cranked her up and let her run for 5 minutes to see if she’d leak when the engine was warm.

While we were waiting some guy came up to talk with us. Initially about bikes but then he moved on to Buddhism. He had just spent some time at a Zen Buddhist center in San Francisco.

“Here’s my prayer breads. They were blessed by a monk. As I was leaving he told me:

‘Go with the flow and be at peace.’ Hey, same to you guys! Be safe, go with the flow and be at peace.”

We shook hands and wished him well.

 Back to the bike. Still no leak.

“It’s your call Bub,” Jeff said.

“Let’s go for it.” I replied.

So we took off and headed towards Yosemite in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which was about 40 miles away.

We stopped and had breakfast and I checked the leak. Leaking again. Jeff tightened up some of the bolts, a few I’d missed.

You can Google “Yosemite” and see better pictures than I could ever take and better descriptions than I can relate.

We travelled through one of the most beautiful landscapes that I have ever seen. It took us over 50 miles to cross it but the views were stunning. Granite mountains and cliffs with jagged peaks, rounded domes, canyons, valleys sculpted by glaciers, meadows, rivers, streams, lakes and ancient giant sequoias. The highest point we rode to was Tioga Pass elevation over 9000 feet.  Snow was there, as well as it lying riddled in the mountain cliffs and jagged peaks around us. Smoke belted out of the chimney of the forest ranger’s cabin. Jeff and I were cold and I put on my heated gloves.

The whole experience was one of awe and gratitude.

We took some pictures and hopefully Jeff will post some soon.

As soon as we left the park we had to get gas. This time it was $5.15 a gallon. (The highest I paid was at Big Sur, a whopping $5.99 a gallon!)

 We rode down to the town of Independence and are now staying at a great old fashioned motel called Ray’s Den. My favorite motel so far!

Tomorrow we head through Death Valley, skirt around Las Vegas and are aiming for Henderson Nevada, where they conveniently have placed another Harley Davidson dealership.

On the bike today, as on many days of this trip, I was at times overcome by a sense of freedom. Not just because I was on the bike and exploring new lands but because of all that I have gone through in the last few years, all that I have given up.  I was reminded of a quote by The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh who said: “Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.”


A Picture Speaks Louder Than Words?

I remember a saying about picture having an impact on words. Is it that a picture speaks louder than words or that a thousand words create pictures in the mind? A picture is worth a thousand words? Maybe it’s better to have a picture in mind rather than two pictures in a bush. Which came first, the picture or the word(s)?

The ride today from Monterey to Mariposa was visually captivating. We rode through wine, cattle, and orchard country backdropped by golden hills and supplemented with miles and miles of 14 carat fields of grain. Motoring happily over the coastal hills into the mid-state flatlands we ate breakfast at the Cafe Rose in Hollister, CA. I asked the waitress how it was that some fact about Hollister pestered my memory. “Well” she said with a smile, “It might be because Hollister is the town first terrorized by motorcycle riders back in the day. Everybody was truly having fun but things got out of hand.” “I’ll say”, I didn’t say. This was the town of the event memorialized by the movie, “The Wild Ones”, starring Marlon Brando. Hollister is also the town that certain motorcycle clubs visited again to enhance the past memory; and I think I read that enhancement indeed took place and made the news throughout the land. The waitress gave me a flyer promoting, “The Hollister Rally; July 5th and 6th. The Birthplace of the American Biker!” Say, will this rally be sort of like Daytona Bike Week or the Sturgis Rally? “Honey, those events are Hollister wannabe’s!” DANG!!

The sidewinds started just outside Hollister and judging by the bent trees, helmet strap scab, and stiff neck I mark ’em at 30-40 mph constant velocity. The dust pulled up by farm tractors stung my face and went up my nose and I am high torque sneezing. I am tired and soft of mind. I know, I know…

I apologize for being shallow with words regarding my ride on Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway – El Camino Real. Riding the coast yesterday was a fine slice of Heaven and a tiny bit of the other place. The road and cliffs, vistas and bridges and twists and turns were a seven course meal for the senses; the Pacific Ocean with white capped depths and hues of blues was the main course. 50-70 mph gust’ added spice and fright. At one stop my bike was pulling off the kickstand.

Enjoy the pictures as they tell it better than I can.

Day 13 Continued: A Leak Appears

Day 13 Continued: A Leak Appears

I didn’t mention this in my previous post but after a long stop to refuel and rehydrate today I noticed a few wet spots on the asphalt under the bike. I didn’t want to see it. You know what I mean. Later, after we got to the hotel, Jeff and I checked the bike out. I lay down on the concrete next to the bike and started feeling around for the leak. I found it. Jeff gave me a tool and I tightened up a few bolts but I could tell that wasn’t going to solve it. So, it’s back to the Harley dealer again. The closest one is Jamestown about 50 miles up the road, the opposite direction we were heading. Doesn’t matter really. Since I lost my clock, time is no longer an issue. Should it ever be?

Day 13: Monterey to Yosemite National Park. Hollister and Time Literally Flies

Day 13: Monterey to Yosemite National Park. Hollister and Time Literally Flies

 When I woke up this morning I wasn’t well. My head hurt and my brain was a bit fuzzy. I was still reacting to yesterday’s trip. Today’s goal was 200 miles and Yosemite and we almost made it but I was getting too fatigued. We had hoped that today would be a smoother ride but it wasn’t. The crosswinds returned and the roads were bumpy. The wind causes you to be extra vigilant, and tenser as you hold the handle grips tighter. Jeff said: “Bud you don’t look that well. Let’s hole up here and do Yosemite tomorrow.” I’m one of those people who normally want to just keep going but Jeff was right. I wouldn’t enjoy the ride, plus it wasn’t safe. So we stopped at Mariposa, 40 miles away from our goal, hunkered down in a Burger King and checked hotel prices through the Wi-Fi. All of which led us to the Monarch Inn at 2:30 pm. In a matter of minutes I was in bed and slept for two hours. I feel much better.

One nice stop we had was at the Country Rose Café in Hollister. Hollister is famous for a 1947 4th of July motorcycle event that got way out of hand. 4000 motorcyclists descended upon the town of only 4500 residents. This is where the “bad biker” image began and was cemented in the film based on Hollister, The Wild One, which starred Marlon Brandon.

But back to the café. When we came in we noticed posters for the next 4th of July motorcycle rally. The townspeople and the bikers have clearly made up. We had a hearty (not healthy) breakfast and coffee. The usual menu items plus the Mexican twist. For example, Huevo Rancheroes and a Sante Fe Omelet. Chillies, jalapenos and salsa were standard; ketchup was for babies. Well I was one of them staying safe with eggs, chorizo sausage, cottage potatoes and toast. The folks were friendly and the service was great.

And what about time flying? I hit one too many bumps and heard something fall off the bike, the sound of metal clattering on the asphalt. There was too much traffic behind me to stop. I double checked to make sure my bags were there, my phone and camera still in their magnetic bags clinging to the gas tank and I rode on.  A few minutes later I noticed a hole where my clock used to be. Tempus fugit.

Day 12: The Best and Worst Ride of My Life

Day 12: The Best and Worst Ride of My Life

I left LA around 7am this morning and arrived into Monterrey at 8:30 pm. Now it’s 9:15pm and I’m still decompressing. I did 375 miles which isn’t the most I’ve done, but it was along the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway, the most amazing road I’ve ever ridden on. It hugs the shore of the Pacific. From Malibu to Monterrey over 250 miles. To be honest, I’m too tired to write much about the ride. The views were incredible, but the hairpin turns, the 60+ mph winds and driving along the cliff edges was absolutely exhausting.

Over the last 30 miles I pretty much completely lost it. I had started singing the song Lydia, the Tattooed Lady, which is never a good sign. I had begun shouting: “Help me Mr. Wizard I don’t want to be a motorcycle rider anymore!” Then there were even more winds! And a deer crossing sign. I shouted: “Come on deer! Bring it on! I’m ready!” Okay, the next sign I might have imagined but I’m fairly sure it had a picture of pigs crossing the road.

You know what? I’m shattered but I’m whole, happy and still feel thankful and grateful.

Just Like That: Day 8 and 9 Back Update

We left Victorville, CA on Saturday afternoon after getting the bikes shipshape at the Victorville Harley dealer. The previous day several folks at the dealership recommended a stay at the GreenTree Hotel. Some had stayed there before and some had danced at the lounge and eaten at the restaurant. Oh yes, they said, It’s a nice place and I’ve never begun itching the morning after! The GreenTree Hotel and Lounge is a large multi-winged overpriced dump. I felt like an uninvited cockroach. I usually ask local merchants how this or that hotel accommodates and I finally caught on when the waitress at the diner or the lady in the clothing department advised, “I’ve stayed there a couple times and it seemed to be ok.”?

Traveling across the Mohave was fascinating. Not long after we crossed the Colorado River I began seeing cactus type little trees that I later learned were Joshua Trees. Wikipedia told me that Joshua Trees were identifying markers for the Mohave Desert. The Mohave has other small plants scattered on the ground and they are seen as far as you can see until your eyes run into the base of a mountain or a large tan bald spot, way out there, with no plants on the ground. The rock formations and mountains appear burnt. Burnt up to a crisp rocks and mountains that threatened to eat my bike and me and burp us out in puffs of black nasty smoke. I spent my time at 80 mph looking back and forth for Gila monsters, rattlesnakes, and the incredible 50 Ft. Colossal one eyed loinclothed man that was created in the Mojave during 1950’s atomic testing. Word has it he was captured and offered live cattle for meals but he threw the cattle down and pouted because the beef was so tough and well done. Riding into Newberry Springs I started noticing black rock again, lava flows! Soon, far to my left and oozing out of a black and red canyon was what appeared to be a glacier like lava flow. I love witnessing these wonders of geology and I realized I was seeing these shapes, flows, and contortions as if they were happening before my eyes. I could ditch TV and be entranced and entertained watching this landscape instead. Again I checked with Wiki and learned that all of the area around Newberry Springs and Barstow were lava flows and spews. I yearn to visit craters and locations that produce these rivers of fire and brimstone.

Heading south from Victorville on I-15 we descended steeply to the base of the San Bernandino Mountains, through the pass, onto US 210 (N) south of Pasadena and headed north towards LA and the San Fernando Valley. As I eased onto 210 I was struck with terror. All 5-6 lanes were heavy with vehicles hammering 75-85 mph. We eased far left into the HOV lane because it was legal and lighter yet proved to be aggressive, fast, and with uneven paving. My heart was racing and I looked for a slower safer place to be. Far to my right was what should have been the slow lane and the cars over there were pounding it faster than I was. Oh well, I’ll stick where I am for the next 20-30 miles. The shoulder to my left became a concrete wall at the edge of the lane and I reminded myself to breath. I mentioned to Gene prior to leaving Victorville that we should effort to keep it safe and slow and just saunter on in. My eyes were glued to the road and to that wall while scanning behind and to my right. A deep screech of brakes entered the right rear of my mind while an instinctive glance into my right mirror showed the front left red fender angled @ 6 inches from and towards my rear right side. I gunned it forward and snapped my head back to watch the red car overreact (thank you Father) and swerve right three lanes over. Huh! WHAT?!?! Did that just happen?? My mind went blank and I watched the red car pass me two lanes over and then move again into the lane to my right, ahead of me. I rode on for a couple of miles a bit lightheaded, still tailing the red car. I remembered I don’t share a two step without at least a nod of the head. I sped up next to the car and looked at the driver and he looked at me and waved an apology. I nodded my head and sped forward. He made a mistake in judgement and almost wrecked me at 80 mph. My heart told me he felt bad and was probably more frightened than I was. We were both blessed and spared by Grace. I’ve never known the feeling of being gone in the blink of an eye; just like that.

Dads and Daughters and Heart Drives

Hannah and Her Dad

Hannah and Her Dad

Dads and Daughters and Heart Drives  

It’s been great these last few days visiting my daughter and her husband, of whom I fully approve. Not that my opinion matters, or should. She was raised to think for herself, to trust herself, to be independent and strong and to follow her own path. I told her that she was not in this world to live up to my expectations, though in fact she has exceeded them. I’m one lucky dad.

Bill is a great guy. Funny, witty, talented, kind, but most of all he’s great to Hannah. I love watching how playful and loving they are with each other.

It’s going to be hard to leave. Harder on her because all her family is so far away; I’m in Georgia and her brothers, mother and closest friends in Ireland. Thank God Bill is such a wonderful and supportive husband. I hope to be like him when I grow up.

But tomorrow we hit the road again. A bit of my heart will stay here and a bit of hers will go with me. In computer terms these bits go into our “heart drives”. That’s the way it is. Hopefully, the bit of my heart will remind her that she is always loved; loved simply for who she is, not what she does. The bit of her heart that goes with me reminds me that I am loved, no matter how silly, clumsy and lost I can be at times.

In about 12 hours we’ll be back on the Harleys again, heading up the Pacific Coast Highway while Bill and Hannah are back to work and school. But we are here now, savoring these last moments, storing them in our heart drives.


You CAN Go Home Again

Special Note:
I wish to thank the couple that have lived in the home in Burbank, CA where I spent my childhood from 1956 to 1966, prior to moving to Marietta, GA. Endi and Dawn were gracious loving hosts for over an hour and I said goodbye to them having added two family members. They will always reside in my heart. Dawn’s parents moved into the house in 1968 and handed the house down to Dawn. Forty eight years have past since my last visit here and I have dreamt about the house and hills, flowers and fruit trees, and the enchantment and magic of childhood for these many years. I was apprehensive about visiting the house and neighborhood; my elementary school and junior high. What ghosts might I find? What memories were myth, fiction, etc. The house was built in the 1930’s during the urban sprawl throughout LA and into the San Fernando Valley, the growth I imagine a result of the Great Depression and the exodus of families devastated by the drought and dust storms in the wheat belts of Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, Kansas, and Nebraska. All of the folks traveling via Rt. 66 to the promises and agricultural richness of California.

We moved from Arkansas when I was 3 and lived in Tulsa for a year as Dad took a job with Douglas Aircraft in Tulsa and a year later Dad took a job with Lockheed in Burbank, CA. We loaded up the truck and moved to Californy via the same Rt. 66 when I was 4. In 1966, by my best recollection, my Dad came home one night and told me that mom and I were flying out the next day to Marietta, GA where he had been transferred and we would now live. Adventure @2300 mile away! Uh, where and what is Georgia?
The next day I checked out of John Muir Jr. HS, saying so long to my pals with a wink and a hitchhikers thumb swing and that night mom and I landed on the airstrip at Dobbins/Lockheed in Marietta. Just like that…I was gone and my childhood, best pals, beaches deserts mountains church playgrounds sports and sense of place were gone too, forever done and over.

My visit to my childhood home, with Endi, Dawn, and I sharing memories and absorbing the unchanged essence of the house, neighborhood, schools, city, apricot-orange-tangerine-plum-qumquat tree elixir opened the gates and components of my spirit and soul creating an alchemy of ecstasy within me resulting in a climax of CLOSURE. Happiness, joy, fulfillment, gratitude, love and an inner warmth I never knew was missing. I wrote Dianne last night that other than the day we got married and the days Chelsea and Elise were born yesterday was one of my happiest/fullfilling days during the last 48 years. The circle has been completed and unbroken. Thank you God for your mercy and miraculous gifts, thank you for making me whole, and thank you Endi and Dawn for inviting me over for a steak dinner.