Savannah, Georgia, 1790 Inn, Ghosts, Sauntering through History, Craic, and Mindfulness on a Motorcycle Sojourn, Pascal.

I had a couple of days off for Fall break and so I decided to head to Savannah. Savannah is featured in my last two and latest book – The Adventures of Sid- novels and I wanted to make the scene locations as accurate and vivid as possible. You can check out all of my novels here: https://www.genepowers.org/ . The biggest anticipatory problem with driving to Savannah from Rome, Georgia is that it’s pretty much 330 miles and you have to go through downtown Atlanta. But it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Big Red, my 2004 Harley Road King cruised along beautifully, except for the red warning light about my battery that appeared and disappeared at random. I figured it was the regulator. I also figured that on a Sunday morning there wasn’t much I could do about it other than keep riding. After meeting with my buddy Joe and his family at Starbucks in Macon the battery light went to sleep for the rest of the trip.

I decided to stay at the 1790 Inn again because it’s in the center of town, where I can walk everywhere and because part of it was built by my great grandfather who lived there with his family for years. Supposedly there are ghosts there, but there’s no extra charge for that. The hospitality is always wonderful at the Inn which is probably why the ghosts like to hang around.

Not much I can say about Savannah that hasn’t been said before. My favorite bar is Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub and I have been visiting there for over thirty years. Irish beer on tap, Irish music seven night a week and no televisions or gaming machines. In 2016 it was voted the Most Authentic Irish Pub in the World, even beating out entries from Ireland, which is bizarre when you think about it. Some of my favorite places to eat are the Crystal Beer Parlor, Hilliards, the Pink House, and the Pirate’s House, which even gets a mention in the book Treasure Island!

But what I love most is simply walking around the historic district, through the squares filled with majestic live oak trees and swaying Spanish moss. And traipsing down the cobblestone ramps to River Street.

The historic area is not a great place to ride a motorcycle in, because of all of the stop and go traffic, the blind spots, pedestrian walkways, and the cobblestone roads down to River Street. Better to park the bike and walk. Save your riding for the beautiful trip along the marsh, palm trees and oleanders down to Tybee Island.

Before I headed home I spent a couple of hours in the Inn’s bar. Nice comfy place with a lot of folks I could tell were regulars. However, every 15 minutes or so a wave of people flooded the place, having been dropped off for a drink by one of the Ghost Tour Operators. It was fun talking with some of them and hearing their thoughts on Savannah and on whether they’d seen any ghosts. None had so far and they didn’t seem to care. They were just enjoying the craic, as they would say in Ireland, the fun of it all.

I spent about six hours each way on the bike and although it was all interstate I enjoyed it. Personally, I don’t listen to music. One of my favorite philosophers, Pascal, once said: “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” I just enjoy thinking and meditating, riding with awareness, mindfulness and gratitude, especially gratitude. Pascal also said: “In difficult carry something beautiful in your heart.”

Day 14: Billings, Montana; Tried to Give Divine Providence the Day off; You Know Where You Ought to Go?

I planned a route towards Billings. I wrote the highway numbers on a yellow sticky sheet that I keep in the see-through bag on my gas tank. This time I would follow directions. Maybe give Divine Providence the day off. Well, I went about 20 miles and saw a road to the left and instead of going the way I had planned, I thought: That road looks interesting and so I went that way.
It turned out to be a great choice and I got to see the huge landscape of the snowy mountains in my side mirrors.
I stopped at McDonald’s in Cutbank, “Where the Rockies meet the Plains”. Going inside I found the usual group of retired people who always seem to congregate at this fast food places. Cheap food, senior coffee and conversations with people your age. It’s great. I’m looking forward to it. It cuts down on the feelings of social isolation. I overhear them talking about their medical problems – strokes and heart attacks, and laughing and joking. One calls me aside and talks to me about his years racing motocross all over the country and Canada. He talked about his wrecks and his injuries – how he broke his back twice, has had surgery on his shoulders -and can’t hold his bike up anymore. (It weighs 700 lbs, like mine.) He told me about his victories. We chatted for a while and my food came and I went to sit in the back.
A few minutes later a man came in, dark tanned skin, black hair, carrying a bag. I smiled and said hello and he asked me for a few bucks to get a hamburger. One of the principles of this trip is to give money to anyone who asks so I gave him some cash. He said “thanks’ and asked if he could sit down. I welcomed him to. And then I heard his story and here are the bits I can remember…
His wife of 22 years had a stroke and was put into the hospital. His son told him he had to pull the plug on her. He did, but he felt like he had killed her. He went and talked to his priest who told him that he had released her from suffering, but he still felt guilty sometimes and had dreams about her. He said he owned a cabin, next to a stream with trout. His grandfather told him that the end of the world was coming and technology would fail and people would try and take things from him. He said he was not worried. He had been in the Army and had lots of weapons, rifles, ammunition, grenades, C4. Besides, he said, he believed that if you treat people with respect they will respond that way. I treat people with respect.He said. You do too. I asked you and you gave to me. You will be rewarded 10 times. Then he talked about being on Highway 66 and sleeping out and that it was a ghost town. When he left he said he spread tobacco on the ground. He explained that Indians believed that if you spread tobacco on the ground it will keep the devil from the restless spirits. Where are you heading? He asked.
I said Billings and then I thought to myself: Please, please don’t suggest I go somewhere!
“You know where you ought to go?” He said.
I rubbed my head. “No.”
“Valier, it’s just down the road past the airport. Gotta nice lake. Lot’s of bikers go there.”
We talked longer and then he thanked me, wished me a safe ride and left.
What could I do but turn around and drive to Valier, Montana?
Divine Providence never takes a day off.
That trip, and the rest of the day, I’ll have to report on tomorrow. I’m too tired.
Good night.

Day 5: Ludlow, California

It’s been a good ride so far with one exception. A few miles back I was passing a truck, doing about 75 mph and there was a car a good ways back in the left lane. I assumed they’d slow if they needed to but they kept coming. I’d guess they were doing about 90 mph. They kept coming at the same speed and ran up about 10 yards behind me before they slowed. Meanwhile, I gunned the bike to about 80 and got back in the right lane while they zoomed past. Scared the bejesus out of me. So, I decided I’d take the next service exit, which was Ludlow.
I’ve always liked the name Ludlow. It’s mentioned in one of my favorite poems:
Terence, this is stupid stuff, by A.E. Housman
I particularly liked a few lines that I memorized years ago:
“Oh I have been to Ludlow fair
And left my necktie God knows where,
And carried half way home, or near,
Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer:
Then the world seemed none so bad,
And I myself a sterling lad;
And down in lovely muck I’ve lain,
Happy till I woke again.”
I couldn’t find Ludlow Fair at this exit but I did find a Dairy Queen and a biker gang who’s colors were:
Old coots on scoots.
They were a tough, mangy looking group, old as the hills like me, probably 15 bikes – Slingshots, Harleys, three wheelers and Indians. I waved as they left.
I decided not to try going to LA tonight as my son would be at work. So I’m heading to Barstow. Let’s see what excitement awaits!

Dead Battery, Running Out of Gas (petrol), Getting Soaked Equals: Practicing for My Cross-Country Trip

It’s been a tough month, riding the 90-mile round trip to work, on Big Red, my 2004 Harley Road King Classic. The bike wasn’t the problem though, it was me. If you’ve read some of my stories from the last few years you’ll know that I’m one biker who makes a lot of mistakes. It’s not unique to my motorcycling either because I make a lot of mistakes in pretty much every area of my life. At least I’m consistent. So, it came as no real surprise to me when I left my lights on and had to get a couple of guys to push me, which didn’t work and then I had to get a car to jump me off. I ran out of gas two times, and yes, Big Red does have a warning light, and I was watching it, but she died on me. Each time though I managed to shake the bike left and right enough to get some gas flowing so I could ride and then coast into the gas stations.  Running out of gas on the Trans-Canada Highway last summer should have taught me a lesson, but I’m a slow learner. I also forgot to bring my rain trousers and so I got soaked a few times. I’ve decided to just call it all” “Practicing for my Trip”.  The only thing I haven’t practiced is getting lost, but then I don’t really need any practice with that. I’m an expert. This year I’m heading to California for my daughter’s graduation from university. When I leave California, I’m going to leave my next destinations up to Divine Providence, which has at least one thing going for it: you can’t get lost if you don’t know where you’re heading. I’ve gotten the bike all spruced up in preparation. She’s just shy of having 92,000 miles on her so she needs tender loving care. I got all the oils in the bike changed, two brand spanking new whitewalls and I replaced my windscreen, so she’s ready to go.

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And hula girl is properly installed. Doesn’t she look good for a 13 year old bike!
I’ve been practicing too. I’ve been eating granola bars and beef sticks and dining at some sketchy restaurants. I also bought a new Saddlemen S3500 Deluxe sissy bar bag to hold all my belongings and a Nikon Coolpix P900 camera so I can get good photos of the graduation and the trip. To top it off I bought 10 nice Acid Kuba Kuba cigars to put in my travel humidor for the trip. I like to smoke a good cigar when I’ve achieved something or when Big Red’s broken down and I need to Zen out and think.

We head out on May 12th. Last year we rode from Georgia to Alaska and then down the west coast along the Pacific Coast Highway to Los Angeles. After that we headed home. You can read my previous blog entries if you want to see how that trip shaped up. As Hazel the maid from TV used to say: “It was a real doozy.”

This year, after California, I don’t know where I’ll end up. When you abandon yourself to Divine Providence and Fate you can’t pick and choose your destinations. So, stay tuned.

Autumn is Coming, Pirates, Hungry kids, Random Acts of Kindness

Autumn is coming. Trees on the hills are gossiping about their changing colors.

Despite having put 10, 000 miles on the bike this summer I can’t stop riding Big Red, my 2004 Harley Road King Classic. I enjoy it so much. We’ve been having a drought here in Georgia so every day’s been dry. And hot too. So hot that chickens have been laying boiled eggs; men have been proposing to tall women just for the shade. You get the idea.

Yesterday, as I headed home from work the rain started falling. It wasn’t too bad at first but then it became heavier. At this point bikers usually look for an overpass they can park under to either wait it out or put on their rain gear. Or maybe they start looking for a gasoline/petrol station where they can hunker down for a while until it lets up. That’s what I did. I knew there was a station just a few miles down the road so I kept going. While riding there, rainbows started to almost crowd the sky. It was like they had been waiting for the damn drought to be over so they could show off their beautiful colors. Rainbows to me are always harbingers of hope, reminding me that we all can learn to be at home with insecurity. Leaving the gas station a drizzle continued and I watched the mist, rising off the hot asphalt and the fields near the road, and watched it kissing the low lying clouds. Romance is everywhere.

Rode Big Red up to work to teach my class, and since it was International Talk Like a Pirate Day I dressed up. Hopefully, I can get a picture attached.

I also rode it up to the free meal program I volunteer at and enjoyed the excitement of the little kids who climbed up on it and tried on my helmet. I don’t do much at that program other than read books, make paper airplanes, talk to folks and mop up. I can swing a mean mop. I offer my students extra credit if they’ll go to the program, not tell folks they’re students or what they’re doing, mingle a little, have a meal and write a paper about it. I usually only get a few students who’ll do it but they always find it a profound and humbling experience. It’s one thing to read about poverty and see it and another to feel what it’s like. No one wants to ask for help, or be seen receiving it.

Big Red brought me over to the river the other day so I could walk on the tree lined path that accompanies it. It was hot and I got pretty sweaty. I had a Harley shirt on and some jeans but I must have looked a little rough when I stumbled into a barbecue joint to get some ice water. After sitting there munching on ice for a while a man walked up to me and said in a low, gentle voice: “Excuse me sir. My family and I are were talking and we wondered if we could buy you a meal?” I was surprised, smiled and told him thanks, that I was alright. What would you have said?

They must have thought I was homeless. That’s fine with me. But heartfelt, courageous, random acts of kindness are so beautiful they fill me with hope, just like rainbows.     wp_20160919_15_08_51_pro

One Day Until I Head off to Alaska: Saying Goodbye; Thoughts on Mortality

This week has been a tough lesson in saying goodbye. First, my senior students graduated on Saturday and so I rode Big Red up to Dalton and donned the cap and gown and walked in the procession during their ceremony. I’ve known them for three years since they took my Introduction to Social Work course. I’m so proud of their accomplishments and yet so sad to see them go. All 20 have gotten job offers and over 75% have been accepted to graduate school.

Then we had to pack our offices up. They’re remodeling. It reminded me of my last packing in Ireland,  when I left there 4 years ago with just 4 suitcases, after having lived there for 16 years. That was a tough goodbye, but it taught me some profound lessons; letting go, trusting, risking, humility and compassion, to mention a few.

Then it was saying “goodbye” here in town to the many kind friends I’ve made since I moved to Rome. I’ve been told they’re taking bets on how far I’ll make it. How many times I’ll stop at Harley shops along the way. It’s the usual ribbing, the taking the Mickie out of me, by friends, mates or “muckers”, that lets you know they care. Okay, well some of them. (You know who you are!) I know that I should be back in a few months’ time but motorcycle trips have a way of causing everyone to think about the rider’s mortality, especially the rider. Still, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing. All true adventures have an element of peril in them.

I am excited and optimistic about the trip. I figure it’ll take me about 14 days to get to Alaska and I hope to keep posting everyday along the way. From Alaska I’ll head down the west coast and spend some days on the Pacific Coast Highway all the way to LA.

But for tomorrow, I’m aiming to get to Paducah, Kentucky!

 The Summer Day – Mary Oliver

… I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

St Columbanus! Irish Patron Saint of Motorcyclists. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

According to the Vatican and the Harley Davidson company who made a medal promoting him, the Patron Saint of Motorcyclists is St. Columbanus of Bobbio. Despite the Italian ‘Bobbio’, this guy was an Irish dude! What a surprise! During the dark ages when the Irish were saving civilization and Christianity he ventured away from Ireland wandering up and down Europe in the sixth and seventh centuries, starting monasteries and spreading the word about Christ.
But who was this man? How do we know he was Irish? Apparently what cinches it is that that we know he lived at home with his mother into his 30’s, he wasn’t married, and he didn’t have a job. Ha ha! (Old Irish joke).
Unusually, he was tall and good looking and the girls chased him (I can relate to that except for the tall bit, and the good looking part and…). He was also a bit of a rogue, as they say. A holy woman put the fear of God in him and he decided to change his ways. When he decided to become a priest his mother tried to block the door physically with her body, but he just stepped over her, signed up and got his traveling orders. He traveled throughout Europe to Germany and Switzerland and ended up living in decadent France for 20 years, establishing three monasteries there before he moved to Italy. He carried his Celtic Christian ideas and practices with him and was always riling up “the Man” (the Popes and Bishops).
He lived in a cave for years, was very pious and is said to have wrestled a bear. But unlike Davy Crockett he didn’t kill it; instead he tamed it and yoked it to a plow.
He is quoted as having said, “Love is not orderly.” You gotta love this guy!
Miracles credited to Columbanus include:
Once after being surrounded by wolves, he simply walked through them
When he needed a cave for his solitary prayers and a bear lived there he asked politely for the bear to skedaddle and he did.
When the Luxeuil Abbey granary ran empty, Columbanus prayed over it and it refilled.
He cured several sick monks and gave sight to a blind man at Orleans
But my favorite is that he multiplied bread and beer for his community. We’re talking about craft, micro-brewed beer here! Bikers love their happy, hoppy beer!
If Columbanus were alive today I imagine him riding a Harley Fat Boy. The Fat Boy is a living legend. Arnold Schwarzenegger rode one in “Terminator 2”. Its got a 1,584cc pushrod V-twin engine, six gears, massive torque and you’ve got to love those shotgun-style tailpipes. It’s nimble, has no saddlebags and is perfect for itinerant monks flying around on those twisty heathen roads in Europe. Combine all this with Christianity and you can’t be beat! Love and a Fat Boy can conquer all!
I like what the Monk Jonas wrote in the seventh century about Columbanus.
A while after, Columbanus went to the monastery of Fontaines and found sixty brethren hoeing the ground and preparing the fields for the future crop. When he saw them breaking up the clods with great labor, he said, “May the Lord prepare for you a feast, my brethren.” Hearing this the attendant said, “Father, believe me, we have only two loaves and a very little beer.” Columbanus answered, “Go and bring those.” The attendant went quickly and brought the two loaves and a little beer. Columbanus, raising his eyes to heaven, said, “Christ Jesus, only hope of the world, do Thou, who from five loaves satisfied five thousand men in the wilderness, multiply these loaves and this drink.” Wonderful faith! All were satisfied and each one drank as much as he wished. The servant carried back twice as much in fragments and twice the amount of drink. And so he knew that faith is more deserving of the divine gifts than despair, which is wont to diminish even what one has.
His Feast day is the 23rd November
May he always help us keep the shiny side up and the rubber side down.

Why Pay Day Takes So Long to Come. Zeno’s Paradox. My 41 Year Old BMW Hits the Road.

There’s a philosophical reason why payday always seems so incredibly far away. To disrespectfully borrow from the Greek philosopher Zeno it would go something like this. Today is Monday and payday is Friday. For me to get to Friday I have to get half way there, say Wednesday. And for me to get to Wednesday I have to get half way there, say Tuesday. Maybe you see where this is going. For me to get to Tuesday, I have to get half way there, which is about 4 pm today. Then there’s half way to that, and half way to that. In other words, there’s an infinite number of half “times” I have to reach before payday. May not be scientifically true but it certainly explains psychologically why payday always feels as if it will never come!
It’s Monday morning and as usual it looks like payday will never come. I’ve got to go to work. I stare mournfully at the back tire on the Road King (AKA Big Red). I have almost 9000 miles on that tire and there’s an angel hair’s width of tread still on her. I’ve needed a new one since El Paso, Texas, almost 2 months ago. Harley whitewalls aren’t cheap. About $300 installed. There’s 4 days until pay day when I can get it replaced. I like to pay cash. And it’s the same 4 days on which I have to make the 100 mile round trip to Dalton, where I work.

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R60/5 with the toaster gas tank

I was out in the garage staring at Big Red’s back tire, shaking my head when the Old Knight, the 1973 BMW R60/5, whispered to me to let her out of the cage. She could do the run up to Dalton she promised. I tilted my head and stared at her. I had been riding her around town for the last year and she’s done alright. She’s had a few problems but nothing you couldn’t work through or around when you ride her. The thing is that she’s 41 years old. She has four speeds, a 599cc engine (Big Red has five and most new bikes six) and doesn’t have a windscreen. She has Mikuni carbs on her which work far better than the custom Bing ones. (“Why do they call Bing carburetors Bing? Because that’s the sound they make hitting the trash can.”). Why not give the Old Knight a try?
There’s nowhere to stash the coffee thermos and no saddlebags so I just “bungeed” my laptop bag to the seat and took off. She handled beautifully as she always does. Engine’s quiet and she just thumps along. The acceleration’s not fast but it is consistent. After a while I relaxed and just enjoyed crossing the rivers and watching the mist rising in the hills and mountains.
But then I hit Interstate 75 for my last 20 miles. Cars and trucks whizzed by as the bike slowly gained speed. She was straining, but happy and still had more throttle left when I got her to 80 mph.That’s when the problem with the tachometer needle started. These old BMW’s are notorious for having bad speedometer/tachometer units. For the last month my rpm gauge has acted like a metronome with its needle flipping right and left. Now it started going wild. For a while it ran all the way to the right and stuck in the red zone like I was redlining it. It remained stuck there all day Monday.
On Tuesday the rpm gauge tip finally broke off and the base of the needle began spinning around like a fan or like the newspapers hot off the press in those old movies. Slightly mesmerizing if you stared at it, so I just didn’t. Besides, who needs an rpm gauge? My Harley didn’t have one.
On Wednesday a loud whirling sound, related to the engine speed, started coming out of the headlight unit, where, of course, the speedometer/tachometer is located. On the way home the speedometer needle started bouncing around like it had the hiccups. One moment it showed I was going 40mph and the next moment 80. It finally settled down and stopped, showing me riding at a cool 120 mph.
Thursday morning, one more day to go,and the Old Knight put her brave face on again. Who can resist the pleading grin from that shiny chrome toaster tank? I strapped on my laptop bag, cranked her up and rode her down the driveway and out to the main road. That’s when the clutch started slipping. I managed to turn her around and ride back up to the house but the clutch kept slipping and she couldn’t make it up the driveway. I parked her on the street, grabbed my backpack and sped out on Big Red, fearing I was going to be late for class. I was there 2 minutes early.
When I got home, after parking Big Red, I went down to tinker with the BMW. I got her started, took her for a spin and then managed to ride her back up the driveway to the garage. There she sits, proud but with a slightly burnished ego.
Friday, I drove Big Red down to the Harley dealer and had a new tire put on the rear.

The next repair work will be on the Old Knight, next pay day, of course that’s if it ever comes.

Wild and Unruly Thoughts: Biker Bars, Biker Nights, Stuck in the Realm of Sensual Immediacy: Part One

Biker bars – If you’re not a biker what images come to mind? If you are a biker what scenes are playing in your head? I plan to write some real descriptions of bars that I have been in.
Pick-up trucks and Harleys are parked out front. Cardboard sign on the door has scribbled on it that the credit and debit machines are broken so you have to have cash. It’s Friday night and there’s a special band playing so there’s a cover charge of 5 bucks. I know the band. They’re worth every cent. This is a beer and soft drinks only bar. Cans and bottles. Nothing on tap and nothing foreign. Boiled peanuts boiling on the counter. Smoking is allowed in this bar and people are, but it’s not stuffy. Neon and metal beer signs hang on the wall. There’s an old lit Miller Lite sign from the 1970’s. Taste’s great; Less Filling. Ancient air conditioning units frozen in time are growing out of the concrete block wall. The floor is wooden and you can feel the vibration from the band’s instruments coming up through the wood. It’s like being on a vertical magic fingers bed, if you can remember that far back. Innervating, your body tingles in unusual ways and places, which can be disconcerting! Overhead fans that look like large hamster wheels suck the frowsty air up centrifugally and throw it out the side. In the back some folks are shooting pool. In the center, in front of the band, people are sitting at side tables or up dancing. Regular clothes, some leather vests with a club name on them. Some women sport vests with Property of …. (club name) on the back, just in case sitting in a guy’s lap wasn’t enough of a hint for you. One white cowboy hat, one purple doo rag, the rest mostly baseball caps, or folks topless. Guy wears a tee shirt that says “Real men pray every day”. Others wear Harley shirts with dealership names on the back. Two guys with overalls on. One has his cap backwards, ready to rally.
Some folks are up dancing. One man, tall, bald, stiff stork legs shooting out of naval green shorts, has a white cotton polo shirt, his butt back, head arched forward like he’s doing a frenetic funky chicken or caught in a whirling St Vitus’ dance. He’s moving around, parallel play-wise, a slightly chubby woman with her black hair in a bun who’s shoeless and sporting peppermint striped socks. Two other women are up dancing, wearing tight blue jeans, with big belts and hot pink tops. One woman dancing by herself has her arms stretched out in front of her shoulder high and she’s shaking left and right like she using one of those old vibrating, jiggling, exercise belt machines. It’s a shimmy to put all others to shame.
I’ve come here with a friend and that makes it easier than being on my own. Plus, the place has a counter bar and lots of places to stand around so you can strike up a conversation with folks beside you. “Do you ride?” “What kind of bike?” “From around here?” The guy beside me pulled out his phone and showed me pictures he’d taken, not of his kids, which he has, but of his bikes. Proud papa.
The atmosphere is friendly, peaceful in places and frenetic the closer you are to the band, which is belting out fast rockabilly blues. The double bass player occasionally spins his bass as he plays. The thick rumble echoes through the room.
Folks are happy, excited, the dancers oblivious, frenetic and carefree. Friday night at the biker bar.

Day 3 and 4: Random Thoughts, Motorcycle Blessings, Secret to Happiness, Finally in Hannibal, Missouri

Day 3 and 4: Random Thoughts, Motorcycle Blessings, Secret to Happiness, Finally in Hannibal, Missouri

Sitting outside at a café In Hannibal having a Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy. It is delicious. I made it to Hannibal about 2pm and set up my tent at a campground on the Mississippi. Climbed inside and slept.
Sunny and about 65 degrees. Perfect.
Random thoughts today. We have the Irish saint Columbanus as the patron saint of motorcyclists but what about a motorcyclist’s blessing? The old Irish blessing fails in the first line: “May the road rise up and meet you”. No thanks. When you’re on a bike I can assure you that the last thing you want is a road, any road, rising up to meet you. We need something else. A blessing less lethal.
I was thinking about the secret to happiness today. I have often thought about this. I’m still working on it but I know it consists at least of this: low expectations and short term memory loss. I would add expressing gratitude, kindness and compassion to the list. Have, do these and you’re on the right track. Be in the present and let go of expectations and judgments. Add your own suggestions as comments please.
Across the street some young people in fancy clothes are being photographed. Takes a while but I figure it out. They’re Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher. Makes sense since I’m in Mark Twain’s hometown. I remember reading those books to my kids. I often think of my two boys when I remember one of the quotes attributed to Mark Twain: “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.” I’m still hoping this realization will happen to them some day.
A train goes by and I hear its warning horns blasting. Behind me are three German men who parked outside on Main Street a few moments ago riding Triumphs and BMW’s. Boy, are those guys tall! I like Germans.
Yesterday not much happened. Played hide and seek with Highway 61 and enjoyed the pleasures of serene, pastoral landscapes along with stop and go strip malls. When you avoid the interstates you get the good with the bad. I stayed in Troy Missouri last night. Decent enough hotel with a Mexican restaurant a short walk away. This morning heading off early I stopped on the shoulder of the highway to readjust the bungee cords holding down my camping stuff. Literally, within one minute a guy stops on the other side of the road and whistles at me. Am I okay? I signal him that I am and he gives me a thumb’s up and takes off. I tighten the cords and within a minute another guy stops by. Am I okay? Yep. He hopes to be riding in a few minutes and that it’ll warm up. Safe riding, he says. You too, I reply with a thumb’s up again. It’s the code of the motorcyclist: never leave a man by the side of the road without asking if you can help him.
Now I hear the sound of a steamboat whistle!
I am having a great trip but I miss folks. The gang back at Old Havana, my family in Rome, my road buddies, Jeff Stafford and Kevin Grigsby and a certain lady friend back in Rome who’s none too happy I’m taking this trip. But soon I’ll see my daughter, son in law and number 2 son! So I’ll ride on. Being in the moment, giving thanks and remembering what Anne Lamott says about prayer. That the three essential ones are: Help, Thanks, and Wow. Amen. Travelling mercies to you all