Sunday, August 9, 2015

Traveling to Moncton....Part 3

We say goodbye to Bangor, ME and Stephen King heading toward the Canadian/US border and Moncton.  A brief gas stop and we are on our way, well, not exactly.  The engine and battery lights on my bike came on shortly after leaving the station.  A stop on the side of the road, remove the seat and we discover the EMC module has popped out of place.  Given some of the roads we have travelled the last couple of days it isn't surprising that something had been jiggled loose.  We tighten all the nuts and bolts, return the EMC to its proper seating  position, put everything back together and we are rolling.

Almost.  A  few miles down the road the lights on my bike come on again.  Stopping at a gas station we begin removing the seat and calling our friend, Pigpen, who can give us some suggestions on what to check.  Rechecking all the nuts and bolts, re-seating the EMC we decide to head to the nearest dealership to get things checked out.  However halfway to the dealer the problem has not reoccurred so we decide we must have tightened everything sufficiently and agree to bypass the dealership.

Calais is where we plan to cross the border into Canada.  It is a small town on the St. Croix river with an old city flare and some beautiful old buildings and homes.  It is also home to the newest border crossing.  Neither Debbie nor I have crossed the border since passports have been required so this is a first for both of us.  Fortunately, it is early in the day, it isn't very hot as we slowly inch our way toward the booths where border agents question each person prior to admitting them to Canada.  At least the scenery is nice while you are waiting on the bridge across the St. Croix.

Finally it is our turn.  Debbie pulls up to the first available agent and a few minutes later I move forward as well.  The agent takes my card, asks me a few routine questions like where am I headed, how long do I intend to stay, etc.  I notice that Debbie has already cleared the border and is slowly headed around the corner out of view.  Meanwhile, I am still answering questions and beginning to get concerned.  Eventually the agent returns my ID along with a yellow form.  She instructs me to park in a designated area and to go inside the building.  Now I am really sweating, thinking that some extremely poor judgement 25 years ago is going to keep me out of Canada and prevent me from attending the convention.

I park my bike as instructed and head into the building.  I don't even take my helmet off hoping that will help me get in and out quicker.  I'm also concerned because Debbie is probably around the corner wondering why I haven't come through.  Inside the building another agent asks me pretty much the same questions as the first.  I mention my concern to the agent who explains that there is an area for people to wait.  That helps but what if they don't let me in?  I'm getting antsy when the agent takes the yellow form and tells me to enjoy my stay.  With a heavy sigh of relief I am out the door and on the bike and ride into Canada where Debbie is waiting for me.

We have crossed 20 states, been on the road 9 days and finally we are in Canada.  Once we are out of the little town on the Canadian side we are on New Brunswick Route 1 headed towards Moncton. It doesn't take long for me to identify the differences between Interstates highways in the US and those on the Canadian side.  While the scenery is as beautiful as many areas of the US some of the standard roadside staples are missing in Canada.  There are no billboards except for a very few near the cities and they are overall smaller than those in the states.  At the exits where in the US one would normally see a collection fast food restaurants, in Canada these are missing as well.  Just a couple of the difference I notice during our time there.

Finally we are in Moncton.  Our hotel, the Delta Beausejour, is located in the heart of Moncton near  the river, parks, restaurants within easy walking distance.  As we pull up to the entrance we are thrilled to see familiar faces of other Motor Maids and friends.  The area outside the entrance that is reserved for unloading while checking in and out is crowded with motorcycles, Motor Maids, their roadies and hotel staff. As I let out a breath I inhaled the feeling of having come home, almost 8,000 miles from my home, there I was, surrounded by my Motor Maid sisters and family so, yes, it was like coming home.  For the next few days we will have a reunion of sorts as we laugh, talk and most importantly ride together.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Traveling to Moncton.....Part 2

Leaving Danville, IL to head east.  Riding through Indiana it was a little chilly and the roads definitely leave something to be desired.  We will beat feet to make up for a wasted day yesterday.  One night spend in Macedonia, OH.  Up and off early again the next day.  Nothing terribly interesting happening on the road.

We rode the NY turnpike end to end, at one of the rest areas we stopped at there was a European lady who was so excited to see us.  Who knows why?  She had to have her picture taken with us and the bikes.  We smiled and posed for pictures with her despite our urgent need to tend to bodily functions.  Watertown was our stopping point for the night.

Traveling through the Adirondacks was beautiful.  So green and lush, especially to us desert folks.  We stopped to take a few pictures and enjoy the scenery.  That is where we found this little park with a small river running nearby.

The roads through the Adirondacks were pretty good as far as the quality.  The view from some of the mountains as we crested them was breath taking.  Sadly, I forgot my camera at home so there are no pictures on the road, only those taken while stopped.  The air was so fresh, you can smell the pine in the air.  We saw some original Adirondack chairs and other furniture.  In general, it was just a really great ride.

Our goal for the day is Warren, VT, home of our friends Audrey and Jack Mosley.  Getting to Warren was a bit of a challenge due to the conditions of the roads.  There were a number of potholes and frost heaves throughout the winding road that lead us to Warren.  Upon our arrival we were greeted with a closed road that we needed to travel.  It seems that Warren is one of the top 10 places to be on the 4th of July, as a result the town was swarming with tourist and the parade had recently ended.  A kind police officer has pity on us and told us how we could get around the block party going on so we could continue to our friends' house.

Jack & Audrey live in this darling old home with the Mad River running through their backyard.  The house has some lovely little quirks, like some very steep stairs, old fashion fixtures and uniquely shaped rooms.  Jack & Audrey have added to their and it is a sunny yellow, representative of Audrey's personality.  There is a quaint covered bridge practically right next door and the view from the back deck is beautiful and peaceful.

In Warren, our friend Audrey is affectionately known as "the bird lady" because she rescues injured birds, nurses them back to health then releases them back into the wild.  While we were there she was preparing to release a little robin she had been caring for.  It was a lovely place to have a slight break in the trip since we stopped early and left late the next day.

The following morning we bid farewell to Jack & Audrey, who thankfully gave us a better route out of Warren then the way we came in.  We were on our way to Bangor, ME.

Unfortunately while in Bangor we didn't see any fog, clowns, people with strings attached to their heads, old diners with portals to another time or Stephen King.

Next time.....join us while we cross the border and head to Moncton.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Traveling to Moncton

Each time we leave for the Motor Maid convention I swear I am going to do better about blogging during the trip and each year I fail.  So once again, here I am writing about it after the fact.

We left home the morning of June 27 taking US 60 through Globe, Show Low and Pietown.  It was definitely cooler.  However north of Show Low the rain started, not heavy but steady.  By the time we reached Pietown with the combination of rain, altitude and wind it had gotten a bit chilly.  When we stopped to put on more layers there was hail on the ground, so we were lucky to have missed that part of the storm.

Our first couple of days on the road were a bit frustrating for a couple of reasons.  The week before we left I had picked up my bike from the dealer where it had an oil change and work done on the CB which has been giving me problems from the time it was installed.  A couple of days before we left we checked the radio to confirm it was working properly.  It wasn't.  I could hear Debbie talking to me but she couldn't hear me.  Of course there was no time to go back to the dealer, who when I picked up the bike and my helmet which they had requested for testing purposes, assured me that the radio was working fine.

When we were testing the radio I noticed large scratched area on the back of the helmet that weren't there before.  If the radio is fine, then the problem must be in the helmet, right?  And since it had been damaged that didn't seem to far a stretch.  In the meantime we decided that since I could hear Debbie and she could hear my mic when keyed that we would use that as a form of communication. Debbie would ask me questions and I would key the mic, twice for yes, once for no.

Our first night was spent in Mountainair, NM, We stayed as a little motel called the Rock Motel. The motel was comfortable and the owners were very friendly and accommodating. I did think the rates were a tad high.  Dinner was at Jerry's Ancient Cities Cafe where they have some rocking green chili. The clouds were starting to build up for a major rain storm, so we covered up the bikes and called it a night.

While I was getting ready for bed that night I confused some new medication and instead of taking my evening meds I took my daytime meds - triple the dose!!  Of course, I didn't realize it until the next night.  As a result of the mix up, I got next to no sleep that night and was dragging the following day. Thankfully, that was the only side effect.

We made it to Minneola, KS where we stayed at the Super 54 Inn.   It is a tiny little motel that could be better.  We were hot and tired so I asked the person who checked us in to put us in the room with the best AC. Unfortunately, if our room had the best AC I hate to think what the worst one was like. I get it though, these places mainly have traffic during the winter season.  Outside of the AC the room was comfortable, clean and tiny, so no major complaints with that.  Dinner was across the street at a little place where I had the best quesadilla I have ever had.  It wasn't traditional style but it was very tasty.

Up and out early in the morning. headed to Omaha, NE where we will have dinner with Debbie's boss and a co-worker.  Along the way we stopped in Kinsley, KS, which happens to be the halfway between San Francisco and New York City as well as home to a boat load of gnats.

Arrived in Omaha earlier than expected which gave us time to get cleaned up before dinner.  Had a nice dinner and then an early night.

Finally, having had enough of being unable to  communicate, we decide to detour a little bit to Litchfield, IL where the nearest authorized J&M installer is located.  Char at Niehaus Cycles was a huge help.  I spoke with her on the phone several times to troubleshoot what may be wrong with my headset.  When I was unsuccessful with the various suggestions Char offered, we spent the night in Litchfield, so we could be at Niehaus when they opened in the morning.

One new helmet and headset later and I am still unheard. We backtracked to Springfield to visit Hall's Harley Davidson where they locate the crimped wire that is causing the problem and we are off again.  The day was pretty much a waste between running around for the helmet, Debbie's battery, then the back to Springfield so we didn't get many miles.  We'll start again in the morning.

To be continued.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Some Days

Like today, I can't even pretend to be normal. Nothing seems right, nothing appeals to me, I don't want to go anywhere or see anyone.  I have problems finding joy in things I once did.

Most days, I work like a fiend, keeping my mind occupied with reports, problems, interviews, meetings, all so I don't have to think. Or I guess I should say think about someone who really matters, the one who is missing from my life.

A few days ago, my grandsons were here for the night.  I look at their adorable little faces and I see their mother's face smiling back at me.  Their laughter so much like Amanda's at their age.  I wonder what their lives will be like without their mother.

Things feel so different now. No, things ARE different now.

I believe that eventually all our lives will be more "normal".  I won't have to pretend to be normal.

Maybe I will be able to write something that isn't so sad and depressing.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Why My World Will Never Be The Same

My blog has been calling to me for quite some time now.  I've ignored the call because, really, how does one talk about the everyday things when your life has been so dramatically changed?  How do you write about the fact that your life will never be the same again? That the pain you feel cripples you when you don't want bring everyone else into your anguish?  Or sound like you are looking for pity?

I still don't know the answer to those questions but I know that I need to write.  So, it begins.

On October 25, 2014, my daughter, Amanda, was shot in the head and died as a result of that injury.  It was 4 days before her 30th birthday.  She has left behind two adorable sons, ages 2 and 7, a husband who was her best friend and loved her beyond all reason, an aunt who was as much a mother to her as I have been, a stepmother who loved her and a mother, me.  It was the day my world changed forever.

Throughout her life Amanda had experienced periods of instability and about 5 years ago was diagnosed as bipolar.  She tried medication for a while but, like so many others, did not like the way it made her feel.  She loved her sons greatly and called her husband the love of her life and best friend.  Amanda tried so hard to be a good wife and mother.  

It was because of her disease that Amanda often trusted the untrustworthy and was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  While in the home of Rose Perry, someone she knew, sitting on the couch, she was intentionally shot in the head by Mark Anthony Barquera.  The shooting was unprovoked.  There are many things I can't say because of the criminal case pending.  Barquera is currently under indictment for Second Degree Murder-Intentional and Felony Drug Possession/Use in jail while awaiting trial.  This is all a matter of public record.

What is not specifically in the public record is that all the people present at the home of Rose Perry at the time this occurred, knew Amanda's name and some, at least, knew how to reach her husband.  Yet no one gave this information to the police.  As a result, it was at least 8 hours from the time Amanda was shot until her husband, stepmother and I could be by her side.

I pray that no one who reads this ever has to call the police and say "someone said my child was involved in a shooting" then has to go back and forth with the police regarding identifying marks and tattoos.  I pray you never have to have a detective show you a picture of a tattoo and have to identify it as belonging to your child.  I pray you never have to come around a corner in ICU and see your child, your baby, in a bed on a respirator, tubes and IVs everywhere and a large bandage around her head that continues to ooze her blood forming a surreal red halo.  I pray you never have to make the decision to discontinue life support.

There are no words to describe what my life has been like these last few months.  The sorrow, pain, horror, not to mention the shame and guilt, wondering what I could have done to have helped prevent this tragic outcome.  The punch in the gut that suddenly turns you into a hysterical uncontrollable mess.  Wondering why he just shot her, why?

My spouse, son-in-law and I have attended each hearing.  I remember seeing him at the first hearing. The District Attorney knew we were there so she had Barquera brought up out of order so we wouldn't have to wait so long.  He is a scrawny guy with a hawkish nose, horn rim glasses and a cocky attitude.  The way he walked across the room, looking around to see who was there that caused him to be brought up ahead of schedule.  It made me want to vomit.

There isn't a day that goes by when I don't think of Amanda.  I see her in the eyes of her sons, I see her in the mirror. I ache for her husband and her sons, I ache for Amanda who will never have the opportunity to see her sons grow up, never see them graduated from college, marry or have children of their own.

This journey we are on is far from over,  I'm sure I will be posting more about this as the Criminal Justice system works it's way through the process.  One thing I have learned from all of this is that I am truly loved by so many people.  I guess I knew this before but the outpouring of love and support from friends, family and strangers has truly warmed my heart.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How Not To Get Killed In Traffic


They don't teach Driver's Education in most schools any more and I tend to think that is why we so many hazardous actions on the road these days.  Or maybe it is just common sense and courtesy that seem to be lacking.  So, I'd like to take this opportunity to share some of the things I've learned through educational opportunities and real life experience.

Bicyclists:

In most states a cyclist is required to follow the same laws as motor vehicles.  You ride on the right side of the road, if the traffic light is red, you stop.  If there is a Stop sign, you stop.  Crosswalks are for pedestrians.  If you wish to use the crosswalk, WALK your bike across, if you are riding you aren't a pedestrian.  Use a headlight and don't dress in all dark colors.

Most importantly, it doesn't matter how "right" you think you are, you are still a person on a bike, if you tangle with a car, truck, bus or whatever, you are going to lose.  Is it really worth it?

Pedestrians:

Crosswalks are there for a reason.  Use them.  Cross with the light, not against it.  Trying to run across a 5 lane street, at night, in dark colors is a recipe for disaster.  If you don't care about your own life, think of the kids you're dragging across the street with you.

Motorists:

When two vehicles come to a 4-way stop at the same time, the vehicle on the right has the right-of-way.  However, you don't want to be dead right.  Once you have mastered the 4-way Stop, think about this:  What do you do if you approach an intersection where the traffic lights are out?  You treat it like a 4-way Stop!  Everyone gets a turn, just like you teach your kids, wait your turn and take your turn.  Nice and polite.

Speaking of polite, do you know why they start putting lane closed signs so far back from where the lane is actually closed?  That's right, so you have plenty of time to safely and politely change lanes well in advance of the closure.  It doesn't mean rush right up the side to the blockade and force your way in.  This is in direct contrast to how you handle a Gore Zone, where you want to go all the way to the end before changing lanes.  In some states, like Arizona, crossing a gore zone will get you a hefty citation.

Lane sharing, except by two bicycles or motorcycles, is prohibited for all other vehicles.  Just because that bike is only using one third of the lane is not an invitation for you to join them.  Stay in your lane, be respectful of the your following distance.

Motorcyclists:

You didn't think I was going to leave you out, did you?  I don't care how rad your skills are wheelies, stoppies, trick riding and high speeds belong on the track or other designated course, not on the highway.  Be courteous, don't be cutting in and out of traffic, use your turn signals and if you don't have self cancelling ones, don't forget to turn them off.

I guess that is about it for now.  Remember good manners and common sense will help keep you out of trouble on the road regardless of your role.



Monday, July 14, 2014

Wow! What a week!

The Motor Maid convention in Kerrville was awesome.  Since we left the on Friday morning we have been to Gruene TX, Ft Stockton, again, Carlsbad Caverns, Roswell, NM and the UFO museum.  Stopped to avoid a storm in Hondo, NM where we took shelter in the workshop of William Gordon.  Now we are in Capitan, NM at the Smokey Bear Motel.

Having too much fun to blog so look for a series when I return.  Meanwhile I will be riding!