i’ve meant to write about my adventures, but being at a keyboard seems to… cheapen the experience. i apologize for that. i tell you what: it was a pain in the ass blogging (something i never thought i’d be important enough to do) from my phone. and now it feels very unnatural doing it from my own keyboard. i’ll do my best.

i saw my friend mike. mike was kinda the catalyst for doing this whole idiotic trip: telling someone you want to do something and then being told you should. i was… ‘lucky’ enough to remember committing to it one night, and ‘lucky’ enough to have not blacked it out once i woke up.

Alex, the supre mega cute girl texted me one night, well, she texted me something that’s very important to her, “don’t forget who you are or where you came from.”

honestly, i think that was kinda the point. i’m not from anywhere. i’m nomadic and kinda searching for a place. somewhere i can call my own, somewhere i can call home. i’ve always felt… transient. i’m blessed enough to have a home base to return to, and maybe this is it. i don’t know. 

she gave me a st. christopher and a st. jude. i never once took them off. i’m not catholic, but they’re very appropriate: the patron saints of travel and of lost causes. i never once took them off.

here’s an exact quote:

” i hope you do not feel so alone. and if you do i hope it brings you strength. i hope that you are not tired. but if you must be i hope it is from the exhaustion the past can bring. i hope you are not hungry, but if you are, i hope you are hungry for an incredible epiphany. i hope the world treats you well and find it to be a thoughtful teacher.”

i’m not sure i had an epiphany. maybe life will reveal it to me. if i learned anything at all it’s that life is worth living. it’s that there are people who value my company more than i ever could. am i a different person? absolutely not. and at the same time, completely. i thought i respected others, and i was wrong. i thought i knew hardship, and i was wrong. i thought i knew poverty, and i was wrong.

i am so incredibly blessed to have the friends and family that i have.  i have multiple mother/father figures, when many have none. i’m in no position to adopt, so the best i can do is show my appreciation to those that have been there for me. there are those that i had no question would be there for me. there were also those that i never thought i’d see after highschool, and i was welcomed with open arms. 

i’ll tell you something: when someone you haven’t spoken to in 17 years offers you a couch… not only offers a couch, but welcomes you into his home after so long… it gives you a special feeling. and that feeling can’t remotely compare to the feeling when you actually interact with that person or persons. 

somehow time stops. once you’ve caught up, you revert back to the age where you were most intimate with that person. you laugh at fart jokes (because they’re funny) like you’re the one who dealt it. you’re amazed by their level of responsibility, and their girlfriend’s ability to condone it, or even participate in guitar hero, yet the childlike enthusiasm to extend this fleeting and inevitable maturity knows no bounds. 

 

i relish my immaturity, and i mourn its passing at the same time. it’s time to be an adult, and that shit sucks.

 

Damien’s girlfriend Jen washed my dirty clothes. What a sweetheart. I hit the road a little after ten.

Here is a natural dam made by mineral deposits and a big red mountain:

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Just west of Albuquerque I found the cheapest gas of the trip at $3.31. Not far to Arizona. There’s only one boarder between me and home now.

I-40 in Arizona sucks bad. Between the broken white lines dividing lanes, there’s an indentation that makes passing a somewhat harrowing experience.

Somewhere east of flagstaff I had a revelation. Friday night starts the San Luis obispo chapter of the vampires mc annual big ass ride thing. I’d planned on camping somewhere and having drinks in Anaheim with my buddy Jason. Instead I’m doing the iron butt thing home so I can hop on my Suzuki sv650 and go with them. Some time around dawn I’ll be back in baby’s arms.

A little after flagstaff I prepare for rain. That’s what the darkening mountains ahead mean. Luckily, I got very little of it. A little after the mountains the shitty indentations in the road disappear and I can pass without clenching things.

Somewhere in bat country I found the most expensive gas on the trip. $5.09, holy cow.

I noticed in the mountains east of Bakersfield that my headlight got brighter when I pulled in the clutch. This strikes me as odd and backwards. Twenty or so miles later, the bike cuts out altogether and won’t restart. Fuck.

Out comes the triple a card. Unfortunately, it only works for my mom’s car. Fuck.

Its okay, I have roadside assistance through progressive. After giving a ton of info, I’m informed that I do not, in fact have roadside assistance through progressive.  What the fuck, I’ve used it before. I guess when you renew a policy you have to specify that you still want it. This is madness, not Sparta and I’m pretty fucking livid now. I tell her to get me a tow and I’ll just have to pay for it. Only this pillar of mental accomplishment can’t figure out where I am. I thought “westbound highway 58 about 20 miles east of Bakersfield” was reasonably specific. I thank her for being exactly zero help and hang up. My phone is nearly dead, despite being plugged into an external backup battery. Fuck.

I call half a dozen tow companies. All either aren’t equipped to handle a bike or don’t want to get out of bed. Fuck you chino, wake up and do your fucking job. Never call chino’s tow at night. I apologize to chino for the great inconvenience I’ve caused him and hang up.

I start pushing up a hill thinking I’ll try push starting it coming down the other side when I encounter a call box. The nice and helpful lady got me a tow and informed highway patrol of the situation. The truck came reasonably quickly. The dude tells me that the call box lady never informs PSOE that using it nets the user quite a markup. An arm and a leg later and a few miles I’m dropped off at the uhaul where tomorrow I’ll rent a trailer and wait for family to pick me up for the last hundred and fifty miles or so.

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Until then, I’ve got a 24 hour donut shop.

I’m grateful that this happened so close to home. I’m wondering what went wrong. I travel led coast to coast and damn near all the way back. Close enough that I’m putting it on my resume. If I saw that is give that badass an interview, you bet your ass.

Current and final trip mileage: 23,226.6

Also: rear tire looking better suited to a car:
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And the 6805 mile moustache that’s about to come off:
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Met an old buddy in Albuquerque and followed him and his girlfriend up to the jamez mountains. Vodka and Gatorade and fosters oil cans. Its nearly nine thousand feet and the high altitude buzz is rearing its awesome ugly head. Damien’s mom Connie showed up and we all talked and laughed and that was about it. Oh, and there was some Huey lewis, too.

Here’s a big ass gnarly as shit spider
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So I woke on the couch and thanked everyone for the generous hospitality and hit the road.before I knew it, I was in Oklahoma and it was pretty hot. I stopped at lunch at cracker barrel, which I’d never been to and have no desire to experience again. It wasn’t that the food was bad, it just wasn’t that good. And it was noisy as shit in there. I tried to blog about yesterday but got no signal. Thinking nothing of it, I ate and left. This, friends, is what we call foreshadowing. Check out all this talent I’ve got. Also, here’s the only thing convenient enough and photo worthy, from Shawnee:

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In Oklahoma city, I tried to use my card. No dice. Fuck. I tried to call the bank to tell them that I am me, I’m still traveling (there’s only one L in traveling? No shit. I’m usually really good at this. Thanks, autocorrect. Usually you suck.), and gimme me my shit, mofo. I have no service. Fuck.

Get directions to bank. I suppose it’s the one advantage to banking with a national greedy scum fucking institution like bank of america that I’m able to deal with this on a person to person basis. My account is fine. No holds. Probably just because my magnetic strip has seen so many miles. Seriously, I can’t use it at the pump anymore. I gotta go inside where they put a bag on it to coerce the thing into swiping properly. I withdraw almost everything I have just in case. Enough to get me home and buy some booze for the side of the road. There’s actually a bit of a cushion, which surprises my balls off. Miserly frugality has worked out mightily well.

I glass up and on the way to the interstate I spot a Verizon store. We’ll get to the bottom of this. The dude doesn’t believe me when I say I’ve tried switching every option off and back on and rebooting the phone numerous times. Of course he doesn’t. Half an hour later we’ve gotten precisely nowhere. He goes in the back for twenty minutes or so and comes back stating that I’m apparently the third customer with this phone to have this problem in Oklahoma. The two others are waiting for phone replacements. Fuck. This is not only not an option for me, but seriously, you have the phone in stock, why the shit can’t I have one of those? Some bullshit about serial numbers. Bullshit. I may have mentioned that. So, new Sim card. Except they activated it in some totally different phone first and then stuck it into mine. After two hours I’m back on the road. And quite honestly grateful for the fix.

Oklahoma city was pretty fucking hot. Not far west of there I found wet roads, the shade of clouds, and an exhilarating coolness that I drank up like wine. It lasted to about 45 miles to the Texas boarder. I feel lame using the word sweltering to describe something as conventional as heat, but it’s apt. We’re talking close to central valley of California heat here.

Somewhere I saw a flatbed trailer carrying what could have been nothing if not the fuselage of an f-35 lightning II. That was pretty neat.

Then there was Texas. Have you ever driven through the fat, flat part of Texas? I have. Let me tell you, I-40 through the panhandle is the preferred method, in spite of the whole world’s-largest-cat-box smell west of the charming (stupid and lame) metropolis (skid-mark) of Amarillo. Luckily just after that cat-box  was the familiar just-missed-a-storm cool that was most inviting. So was seeing Albuquerque on the mileage signs. Almost as good as seeing the Hardee’s signs fade into Carl’s Jr. signs. It must seem  minor, but these are harbingers of home.

What was not inviting was the lighting, beautiful though it may have been, and still to this very moment is. just inside new mexico, stray raindrops are frequent and nearly the entirety of my visor is home to nearly constant shocks of purple. I stopped for gas next to a dude with (I think) an Australian accent on one of those big ass Kawasaki tourers. He’s going the opposite direction and clearly pit way more thought into his journey than I did. He warns of storms and high winds and wishes me.safe travels and I rode to the next town and got a room. I don’t remember who told me about the biker getting struck by lightning, but its starting to get wet, and I’m pretty spooked.

I had a good run today though. Twice I found myself riding directly between two great columns of storms, dumping wet hell on somebody. I think I’m done being that guy on this trip.

I’ll post tonight (day 16), I just didn’t want to forget the mileage.

Okay. So I awoke in Knoxville to my clothes still pretty much soaked. Since there would be about 45 miles of more storm, I just put them back on. Rode through Tennessee, which really is some beautiful country side. In Nashville I got lost downtown for a bit and then went and saw the grand old opry. Just rode by, I wasn’t about to take a tour. In Memphis I got off and saw Graceland, again no tour. Who has time for that shit? At a gas station I met a dude on a hayabusa who had just gotten back from Texas. He gave me a heads up on some construction in my future.

Nashville has a cool skyline and horrible to navigate downtown mostly due to construction:
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Oh, the coils. Three or four times the engine misfired and operated only on one cylinder. Twice it actually died. I knew it was getting air and fuel, so clearly the spark was the issue. The coils on these bikes are a known issue when they get wet. Luckily, it stopped happening and hasn’t done it since.

Did I tell you that everyone in the east rides busas? I saw a whole flock of them at the autozone where I adjusted my chain. I think that was north Carolina. Seriously, I saw maybe half as many hayabusas as I did Harleys. So it was a whole fuck lot of them.

I also forgot to tell you about the beemer. About 15 miles east of Knoxville, soaked to the bone, I got passed by a dude and his girl on that super awesome fast as fuck BMW. Something something numbers RR. As they went by, I did the “we’re probably of diminished mental faculty” gesture – circling the ear with an extended index finger. He just threw his fist in the air and punched at the sky a few times. I very much enjoyed that.

Okay, back to day whatever this is. I crossed the Mississippi into Arkansas and had a destination. After a brief unintended detour in little rock, which seemed like a decent place from the interstate despite hearing otherwise, I met up with KoffinKase from /r/crippling alcoholism and his buddy Nathan. We met at a cheap hotel bar. The place was actually nicer than most bars I frequent, but had cheaper beer. Conundrum indeed. I had three and the boys had much much more. Here’s us:
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Nathan on the left and levon on the right. They’d been there for a couple hours, and cheap beer goes down especially easy, so this happened while waiting for the designated driver:

Followed by us (well, levon) getting kicked out for this:
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Once we were stationary, I broke out the pint of Jameson I’d picked up somewhere in Tennessee, and we drank and bullshitted mostly about music until 3 or so. We had a good time despite being in Arkansas (Nathan seriously seems to have an aversion to small town life. And, understandably, the epochal idiocy of dry counties), and as always I am very appreciative of the roof. In fact the whole house was roof. It was an A-frame, which I now understand stands for anarchy.

Oh, I can’t leave this out: levon was apparently named after levon helm of the band. The band The Band. Which is pretty bitchin’

Left ft Bragg feeling pretty good. That lasted until the Appalachian mountains. It dumped so hard. I honestly think I should be dead. There were times where my heels on the pegs were immersed. Sorry, redditors, but I know god saw me through that.

So here I am, in the nastiest motel I’ve ever seen in Knoxville Tennessee. After I receive and eat my pizza, I’m getting wasted. I fucking need it. I’d planned on just buying a bottle and getting into my feelings in my room, but I think I’ll find a bar instead. The old guy in the adjoining room sounds like he has tuberculosis. And not in a cool way like doc holiday. Remember when val kilmer was cool?

Edit:what in the actual fuck, Tennessee? No liquor on Sunday? This is fucking outrageous bullshit.

Edit numero dos: took a cab to get a twelve. Mother fucker FELL ASLEEP at a stop sign. I hope its dry tomorrow, I want the fuck out of here.

Yeah. Virginia sucks. An entire state of jammed traffic. Seriously, is deliberately trying to cause a collision more important/less illegal than me squeeking between stagnant traffic? How about you shelve your butthurt, virginia, until you can figure out the proper way to utilize a fucking passing lane? How about that? We’ll agree to disagree until you give up the vigilante justice and learn courtesy. You’re not the goddamned batman. It took me two and a half hours to get through the clusterfuck you call roads, and that was me cheating, the way you seem to feel. Piss off Virginia. For lovers my ass. Virginia is for jilted drivers.

In ft. Bragg with, surprise surprise, old highschool buddies. A few beers (read: a dozen) and some hilarious conversation has been loads of fun. Gonna about face and head home in the am. Potatoes.

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