Lost in Time: Savannah, Georgia; Tybee Island; Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub; You Can’t Go Home Again.

Leaving Rome, Georgia at 6:30am I found myself rushing. Not going too fast but thinking: “Ok, better not stop for breakfast – the traffic is going to be terrible the later I get to Atlanta.” I realized that once again I was leaving the present moment, projecting myself into the future, imagining what something might be like instead of BEING HERE NOW. That brought me back to the present and I began to relax and settle into just enjoying the ride. The sun was starting to rise in a blue/gray sky, the mist still blanketed the hills, I was on Big Red, my Harley and all was right with the road.

I-75 south through Atlanta, despite morning rush time, was easy, especially using the HOV lane.  I stopped for gas, Dunkin Doughnuts and coffee in Morrow, Georgia and memories flooded back. When I was a fresh, young philosophy graduate from the University of Georgia back in 1976 I managed to get my first real job and it was here in Morrow. I was hired as a child protection worker. I know, a philosophy major doing child protection work doesn’t make sense. I did the best that I could but I was still immature, under-trained, naïve to the realities of what parents could do to their children, and inexperienced in professional work. I saw some terrible things, worked some rough cases and did the best I could with 40+ families (the recommended load is 20). Still, I could have done much better. Driving around brought back memories of families I had worked with and children I had placed into care. I lasted a year and a half there before going to work at a psychiatric hospital.

I stopped in Macon, Georgia and visited with my oldest friend Joe. We met in our first year in high school and have stayed in touch over the years. He even visited me when I lived in Ireland.

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I-16 from Macon to Savannah is a long, let’s just say uneventful road. Pine trees, oaks, mimosa, and crepe myrtle, repeat for about 160 miles. The only exciting thing for me is to try and figure how far the Spanish moss has crept northwards since my last trip. The farthest north I’ve spotted it so far is exit 49 in Dublin and then its sporadic until closer to Savannah.

After three hours I entered the incredibly beautiful city of Savannah. Google it to see better photos than I could make (also because my camera, though packed at the time, was damaged in the dust storm I had been in over in Arizona a month earlier). I stayed at my favorite place, 1790, an old inn in the historic district. My great grandfather had built part of the house and lived there for a while. I highly recommend the place.

I did my usual things in Savannah – walking and sitting in the squares – they always mesmerize me with their huge canopies of live oak trees and swaying Spanish moss, and especially when the moss hangs on the crepe myrtle trees – the pink flowers, the grey moss, the green leaves, the peeling grey and brown bark.  I walked the cobblestone streets, shook my head at the beauty of the old colonial and gingerbread architecture and sat by the river. I ambled down the river walk to Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub. I had been coming there since the 1980’s. It has an ‘old world’ European feel about it and it has Harp beer on draught. It also has good Irish music 7 nights a week. When I lived in Ireland for 17 years it was hard to find it even one night a week.

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My grandparent’s house.

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The path by the Savannah River

An excellent musician, Carroll Brown, was playing at Kevin Barry’s. He took requests and surprised me by playing some of my favorite old tunes, like “The Mountains of Mourne” and “The Town I Loved So Well.”  Before I realized it, I was crying. Crying because of the Troubles Ireland had endured and because of my troubles there, my divorce, which caused me to leave the country that had been my second home. Twenty-two years was a long time to be married to someone.

Walking the streets of Savannah other memories came to me: of when as a teenager I had delivered calendars to the clients of my dad’s insurance business, C.F. Powers; of when I worked after high school as a lineman for Southern Bell Telephone Company and lastly, in the 1990’s, when I managed a child protection unit and did foster and adoptive home studies. A swirl of memories and emotions.

The next day I had breakfast at Clary’s and then rode my 2004 Harley Road King down to Tybee. The marsh road was just as I had remembered it. The cordgrass – green, gold and brown. The tide was out, and you could see the driftwood, mud and oysters. The oleanders were blooming, the sky was blue, and the breeze carried the scent of memory, freedom, and possibility.

Later, I ate shrimp and grits, and crab stew at the Pink House while listening to the piano player play the standards and joke with the crowd. I couldn’t face another evening at Kevin Barry’s, so I walked around the city. I remembered the last time I had brought my father to town. He was 94 years old but still wanted to make it to one last Savannah St Patrick’s Day celebration. We walked the streets one last time together and he was so happy. He died a few months later. Tonight, I just enjoyed the salty breeze and the fragrance of night blooming flowers and looked for more traces of ghosts I once knew.

Thomas Wolfe wrote “You cant go home again” and he was right. Home changes the moment we leave it. It’s never the same when we return and, thank God, neither are we. But in Savannah things change much more slowly and the city always leaves a piece of what was, behind, in the old colonial and gingerbread architecture, the cobblestone streets leading down to the river, the blooming azaleas and the scent of jasmine, all left as a path to follow into the doorway of memories.

 

Announcing!!! My Latest Novel: Hope: The Adventures of Sid, the Buddhist, Ninja Detective; Motorcycles included.

Now available on an Amazon site nearest you. Ebook too!

https://www.amazon.com/Hope-Adventures-Buddhist-Ninja-Detective/dp/1090295529/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1553443881&refinements=p_27%3AGene+Powers&s=books&sr=1-1&text=Gene+Powers

 

In Georgia’s sultry Savannah, under the canopy of live oak trees and swaying Spanish moss, there’s been a bizarre murder in an historic square. Sid, the Buddhist, Ninja detective has been called in to help solve the crime. While some murders have no leads; this one has too many – a broken romance, a victim who worked for a mysterious international art gallery, even the death of a former prostitute twenty years earlier. Sid needs the help of retired, former detective, Rory Connor, but first, he must track him down, which won’t be easy. Last time anyone saw Connor he was hightailing it south on his motorcycle named Rocinante, on a quest to resurrect the Laws of Chivalry in this callous, modern world. Somebody’s got to do it. Find love, murder, hope and redemption amidst the blooming camellias, azaleas and resurrection ferns of Savannah. Ride along with Sid on the cobblestone streets and help him solve the mystery before someone else is killed. Let’s face it; he’s going to need all the help he can get.

Here’s a link to my other novels:

https://www.genepowers.org/

 

 

Your Compensator Nut Might be Loose, Broken Hula Girl, Back on the Road

In my last blog I was down at Tybee Island for Thanksgiving. I had a great time there but a rough ride home. The traffic was “stop and go” south of Atlanta, it was colder than I expected and the bike started making a bad noise. It was a grinding sound that seemed to come from the engine. I pulled over and checked the bike to see if anything was loose – heat shields, engine mount, exhaust, brackets – they were fine. So I continued on and the sound continued too. As I listened the sound became more familiar to me and I finally figured out that it was a loose compensator nut. The only reason I guessed this was I had had the misfortune of having the nut come loose twice in the past. What is the compensator nut? It keeps the compensator on tight. And the compensator absorbs the shock of the chain going tight and slack.

Personally, I think I have problems with my own internal compensator nut. I struggle when life is accelerating too fast and then suddenly, when it moves into the slack times. My compensator nut comes loose and I need some psychic tools to tighten her up.

Anyway, I managed to get the bike home on that trip and then tucked her in the garage until I could find time to get her down to the Harley shop. That time was today. As I rode her up to the service door two of the mechanics were outside and staring at me because of the grinding, crunching sound the bike was making.

“You guessed right.” The mechanic said twenty minutes later. “It’s the compensator nut. Want a job?”

“I’m an idiot.” I told him. “I’m the last person you would want repairing a motorcycle.”

Within an hour the bike was fixed and washed, the only casualty being a broken hula girl. In the four years since I’ve owned Big Red I’ve had a hula girl, on the steering stem cover, to remind me to enjoy the ride and not take things, including myself, too seriously.

Now that the Harley’s fixed I need to find a new hula girl. And as for my internal compensator nut? I think I need to let go of some expectations, take a few more walks, enjoy the present moment, recognize that what I do have in my life more than compensates for what I don’t have, what I’ve lost. If I can just torque that thought tighter into my head and my heart I’ll get a few more miles out of me.

How’s your compensator nut?

Spring Tune-ups; Getting Ready for Alaska

Both Big Red and I have had check-ups and tune-ups lately. Big Red is running beautifully and is all ready for the trip to Alaska. Me, not so much. The doc has a few things he has yet to figure out about me before I’ll be ready to go. (And this isn’t the psychiatrist, although…) But I’m still going. And it’s also looking good that my old college buddy, Kevin Grigsby, will be meeting me in Fargo, North Dakota and riding with me (he, in a car) the rest of the way up to Alaska. I plan to spend some time in Fargo tracking down old friends and visiting the Dorothy Day House in Moorhead, where I volunteered. I lived and taught at a college there for two years.
It’s hard to explain to people that have never ridden a motorcycle, how exhilarating it is when you get out on the open road. I have to take I-75 to work each week and it’s so tempting to just skip the exit and keep on going. Especially when Spring welcomes you with its sudden warmth and beauty. Here, in Georgia, temperatures have been in the 60-80’s the last few weeks. The roadsides are glowing with the lavender/purple flowers of the rosebuds, the brilliant white of the pear trees, the yellow glowing forsythia, the merlot colored red maples, and the snowy pink of the cherry trees.
When I was down in Savannah, Georgia recently, the beautiful scarlet, lilac and fuscia colored azaleas were blooming, along with the camellias. The ride from Savannah to Tybee, along the palm tree lined road, through the tidal marsh and wetlands, filled with green and copper marsh grass, feeling the sun on my face, was actually thrilling.
Traveling alone, off the beaten track, you meet a lot of people. This time I met a real estate tycoon, a man traveling around the country building gas stations, a red headed nurse, a Japanese woman recovering from a stroke, and a lively, fascinating woman who had a live macaw on her shoulder. I was lucky that they shared with me their stories. Certainly enriches me.
Right now I’m sitting down by the Oostanaula River in Rome, watching it flow. In the last few days I finished up the first draft of my latest novel so I can now take a break from it, come back to this blog and the planning for the Alaska trip. I missed this blog!
Winter is a season when deep in the soul a voice can whisper: Maybe I’d better not. The eruption of warmth and life in Spring signals to us: Maybe I can. I believe you will. I hope Spring is treating you kindly wherever you are and that beautiful, sacred flowers are blooming in your heart.
Ride safely.

Day 23: Longview Texas: 438 miles: Lowest Rate on Trip-$39.32: Dangerous Road Gators: Bad Motorcycle Driving: Highway 80: Journey Almost Over.

Long day in the saddle. I’m exhausted. Found a really nice Motel 6, $39.32, the lowest rate I paid on the whole trip. Had a few close calls today. There were loads of road gators (bits of tires thrown out onto the road) lurking on the highway. You have to give yourself plenty of distance so that you can spot em and react in time. I dodged almost all of them until a truck in front of me started peeling off the rubber shrapnel and I hit a small piece in the road. Thankfully, nothing happened. Later, the rain began falling lightly. I remember saying: “Wee! as I enjoyed the coolness in the changing air. The rain started falling harder so I turned off the interstate to seek refuge in a truck stop.
Braking as I got to the frontage road the rear wheel of the bike started sliding, the front wobbled and I thought I was going to crash but somehow, I won’t take credit for it, the bike stabilized. Thank you God. And be more careful Gene!
I waited for a while under a shelter until the rain slackened, put on my rain jacket and headed back out. After about 30 minutes the sky cleared and the rain stopped.
Later, a bike passed me going about 85-90 mph, the engine sounded as if it was at full throttle, the driver leaning over the tank, cutting in and out of lanes, juked left just as an 18 wheeler moved into that lane. Somehow, he survived it.
I managed to make it to my goal: Highway 80. Growing up in Savannah, Georgia, Highway 80 was sort of a mythical road for me. I learned early that it went all the way from Tybee Beach near Savannah to San Diego. As a child I remember stopping at a traffic light on Victory Drive in Savannah with my dad and him pointing with his pipe and saying: “Turn left there and keep going and you’ll end up in California.”
Highway 80 became for me an alchemical road. It promised all the things I wanted: distance, freedom, change, transformation through transit. Highway 17, which also went through Savannah, only promised Hardeeville, South Carolina or Darien, Georgia. Nice places, but not for a youth with dreams.
Today, I made it to the western terminus of Highway 80 today and hopped on it. Tomorrow, the 4th of July, I’ll take it toward “home”, and maybe end this journey.