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.


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?


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.


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.


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!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Traveling to Kerrville, TX

We left Casa Grande on the 4th of July headed to Kerrville.  I think we saw at least 6 highway patrol along the way.  Our little party of 5 kept tooling along with no unexpected stops by the law.  However we did add a new item to our check list after one person left her cell phone in a restaurant bathroom and another though she left hers behind.

Overall, we had good weather although we had some rain it wasn't awful and we did see several lovely rainbows.  We stayed in Las Cruces, NM.  Unfortunately all the restaurants within walking distance were closed for the holiday, particularly the one Clara had planned for dinner.  After some discussion we decided to call a cab and go to a place named Farley's which was recommended by the desk clerk.  The food was good and the atmosphere was interesting, I particularly liked the chrome bumpers on the bar.  The green chili stew was quite taste.  

While we waited for our ride back to the hotel we watched fireworks in the distance. By the time we returned to the hotel we were all ready for bed.

Saturday morning found us headed to Barnett's Harley Davidson where we found a few good deals on t-shirts but none of the take off parts we had hoped to find.  This shop had by far, the largest selection of bikes I have seen.  If you couldn't find the Harley you are looking for here, it probably can't be found.  Having had our fill of HD eye candy, we bid farewell to Barnett's and continued our journey to Fort Stockton.  No major events for the remainder of the day.

We checked into our hotel for the night and made plans to meet another pair of travelers for dinner at the restaurant across the street called K-Bob's.  Despite the great company, we also ran into another couple from California, the food was mediocre and the service even worse.  It took over an hour for our food to come out even though the place wasn't that busy.  Orders were wrong and incorrectly cooked.  We asked to see the manager three times before she finally visited our table, apologized for our bad experience  and adjusted our bills.  Needless to say I would not recommend that place to anyone.

Before headed to bed, we visited a while in the parking lot and made plans to meet in the morning to continue our journey to Kerrville.

Sunday morning was perfect riding weather.  Our group of 5 had become 7 and we knew that another of AZ gals was only a few miles behind us.  So while we waiting for her to catch up we took pictures at the giant road runner.  And then there were 8.

When Theresa arrived she also brought the trip theme song, Girls Just Want To Have Fun.  I imagine 6 women in motorcycle gear complete with helmets, dancing around and singing was quite the sight to behold!   At a brief stop at a picnic area, we had so much fun the first time, we did it again.  If the truckers there weren't laughing they must have been sleeping.  What fun!

Finally we got to our exit, 505 off I-10.  Trust me, you really want to avoid the gas station right off this exit.  Whoever planned this Exxon station didn't have a clue.  Between the cars wanting gas, the ones trying to get to the store, the cars trying to get up the road  and the condition of the really tiny parking lot this place are a set up for a real mess.  However we all made it through the obstacle course unscathed.

When we arrived at the Inn On The Hill, the place was teeming with Motor Maids and their guests.  More will arrive tomorrow when the official festivities will begin.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Traveling to Kerrville - Day 1

Hopefully the third time is the charm since I have written this twice already, hit save and have yet to find them.

We had a short trip yesterday which consisted of completing our packing and meeting the Pens in Casa Grande so we could all start in same place today.  Our trip was mostly uneventful with the exception of a minor traffic jam caused by a burning semi trailer.

Got to the hotel well before the dust storm which was followed by a thunderstorm.

Been tracking our Motor Maids as they all make their way to converge on Kerrville.  Have fun y'all we will see you there.

Oh and did I say it was freaking hot?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Feelings .....ooooo...oooo....Feelings....SUCK

We all have times in our lives when things don't go as we had hoped, in fact, they go so far in the opposite direction that we can't even see the hope that was once there.  Times when you just don't understand why people do the things they do. Times when you wonder if it is really you that is going crazy. Times when no matter what you do, it's wrong.

When someone else allows free will to run amok and it causes havoc in my life I have so many mixed feelings in my head and heart.  Sadness for the one running amok as well as all those who are impacted by the insanity. Frustration and helplessness at my inability to understand or help.  Frustration because I've tried to help in so many ways only to have a back turned to me.  I have to remember that I can't help someone who doesn't want to be helped.

And I worry.  I worry about everyone in the blast radius.  Anger at what is going on and my inability to prevent it.  Fear of what will happen to the ones I love.  Resentment. Helplessness. Love.   My heart aches and I feel like I have been punched in the gut.

In my head and in my heart, I know there is nothing I can do to prevent the self destructive behavior. So I turn to the things that have kept me sane and safe in the past, God, prayer, my loving spouse, my church family and some passages of the Big Book. I believe that nothing happens in God's world by mistake but I don't have to like it.  I pray and pray that salvation comes before it is too late.

Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today....

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Why I Drove 600 Miles This Weekend.

If you have never heard of the Great American Youth Circus you have no idea what you have been missing.  If you live anywhere within driving distance of Redlands, CA, you really need to check this out.  This event takes place each May, is sponsored by the Redlands YMCA and is comprised primarily of children,some as young as 3 years old, and young adults.

The Redlands YMCA trains these young people in acrobatics, clowning, juggling, aerial performance, unicycling and many other things.  Think Cirque du Soleil with kids.  Check out this video from last year's performance.

These kids are amazing, as are their instructors, volunteers, families and supporters.  They work hard to prepare a show that lasts about 3 hours including the intermission, even then they are still working the crowd.  Doing three shows each weekend for 2-3 weekends is a huge commitment, not to mention the practices throughout the year to prepare for this show. Many of these young people do this year after year, even when they "graduate" from the program, many come back as adult volunteers helping with the younger performers.

While it may sound like fun and a way to keep children busy, you have to think of the life skills they learn in the process.  They learn discipline, team work, commitment, work ethics and self confidence.  This circus not only gives them a creative outlet, it gives them a sound foundation for life.

Hats off to the Redlands YMCA which has been sponsoring this huge endeavor for nearly 75 years.  Congratulations to the coaches, instructors, parents who have worked with these young people to make this circus possible.

Last, but certainly not least, thank you to all the performers in this year's CircuSea Treasure.  Well done, see you again next year.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Why the United Church of Christ?

This past weekend I had the honor and pleasure of attending the annual meeting of the Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ.  It was a mixture of laughter and tears, education, reacquainting with old friends and making new ones.  Most of all, it was a time of witnessing how the Holy Spirit is moving throughout our denomination in support of social justice.

I am humbled by the lengths our clergy and lay people go to in support of immigration reform, the poor and the LGBT community.  Promoting Marriage Equality in Arizona is one of our conference's goals for 2014 and a goal they will continue to pursue until it has been accomplished.

On Saturday, I listened to the pastors and members of Church of the Good Shepard UCC in Albuquerque, NM share their experiences in support of marriage equality in New Mexico.I've included the link to that panel discussion and encourage you to take time to view it.  Keynote Address on Marriage Equality.

One think that was stressed throughout the weekend, is that you cannot underestimate the power of our straight allies.  In fact, we can't win this battle without our straight allies, including and especially those clergy who stand with us, not because they have to, not because they need to, because they believe it is the right thing to do and God has moved them to stand with us.

Maybe like many of our LGBT brothers and sisters, you have been hurt by organized religion, have sworn against the conservative religious right, sworn never to have anything to do with church ever again.  If so, I'm an deeply sorry for your pain and I understand.  However, if you should encounter members of the UCC at Pride or other LGBT venues, remember, these are your friends, no matter who you are, no matter where you are on life's journey.  Should you ever find yourself in a position where you need a religious friend or other support, look for the Comma, rainbow or red, and know that you are welcome here.

God is still speaking, to everyone, not just the chosen few.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Few Words of Advice to Scooter Riders

Earlier this week a man on a scooter was killed hit by a young driver turning into a fast food place.  There were a number of contributing factors surrounding this incident including the reported fact that the young driver was unlicensed and that the vehicle he was driving may have been stolen.  While those are definitely issues that need to be addressed during the police investigation, that's not what I would like to address.

My focus today is on scooters, those small 49cc things you see all kinds of people riding around on these days.  Scooters, like motorcycles, are a great way of getting where you need to go as well as being fuel efficient.  Unfortunately, many people do not realize that these scooters are just as hazardous as motorcycles, if not more so.  What's that, you're thinking?  How can they be that dangerous?  They only go 25-35 mph!

Many, not all, motorcyclist go through some sort of training and pass a test at the DVM before getting out on the streets.  This is not the case with the majority of scooter riders.  Next time you pass one on the street take a moment to look at the rider.  They are men and women of all ages, often dressed in work or school clothes, sometimes shorts & flip flops.  Rarely will you see a scooter rider wearing a helmet, much less a protective jacket or gloves.  While it is true that you will also see motorcyclists wearing the same things, motorcycle riders know and understand the risks that they take.  They understand that going down at 25 mph can be just as devastating as going down at 55 mph, as a result, most dress for the fall not the ride.

Judging by the way the majority of scooter riders dress and ride, it appears that they do not consider buzzing down the street at 35 mph dangerous.  When  my daughter rode a scooter, we made sure she always wore a helmet, jacket and gloves.  We also spent a great deal of time teaching her how to ride safely, be aware of her surroundings and avoid hazards in traffic.  We rode with her, giving her feedback and pointers on her riding.  We did this because we love her and we wanted her to be as safe as possible.

As a motorcyclist, I can't tell you how many times I have heard, after an accident, "the driver said he never saw him [motorcyclist]".  Now, imagine a scooter next to any motorcycle that you are familiar with, odds are that motorcycle is considerable larger than the scooter.  So, if drivers don't see a motorcycle which is significantly larger, they are even more likely to miss seeing a scooter.

Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to discourage scooter riders.  In fact, I think it is awesome that so many people are getting out there and getting their knees in the breeze, regardless of the speed.    I just don't want them buzzing around thinking people are watching for them and thinking they are safe.  Because you aren't, the only person looking out for you is YOU.

Be aware of your surroundings, assume no one sees you, even when you have the right of way, sometimes it's best to yield. Wear good shoes or boots, long sleeves or a jacket and a helmet.  You can get seriously hurt, even at 25 mph.  Most of all, have fun and live to ride another day.

Keep the rubber side down.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

No Shirt, No Shoes, Homosexual, No Service.

Yesterday the Arizona Senate passed a bill that will allow businesses to blatantly discriminate against homosexual and transgender individuals.  The Republican House is expected to pass this bill today and have it on Governor Jan Brewer's desk by the end of the day.  

It's like a flashback to the 1960's, only instead of the signs saying "White" & "Colored" they will say "Straight" & "Queer".  

According to the Center for Arizona Policy this law is needed due to the "growing hostility toward religion".  Gee, I can't imagine why considering conservative religions are supporting anti-abortion laws, fighting same gender marriage and a host of other policies that infringe upon the rights of Americans.  According to Republican Senator Steve Yarborough this measure is "about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith".  Really?

Call me crazy, because I don't see anyone beating down the doors of religious institutions forcing people to let homosexual and transgender individuals into their places of worship. Nor do I see anyone persecuting Christians, more often it is the Christians who are doing the persecuting.  Most religions encourage their congregants to love thy neighbor, not drive them away.  I don't see organizations that support the homosexual & transgender communities refusing service to conservative religious members.  Could it be because those organizations, religious or not, are actually doing a better job of living the word of God than those who profess to be his messengers?

Please explain to me how it is ok for you to infringe on my rights?  No, on second thought, don't tell me because it will not make any sense.  However, if you are the owner of a business, or know of a business that supports this invitation to discrimination, please, please, please let me know.  I want to make sure you don't get any of my money and I'll be happy to share your company's name with everyone I know so you don't get their money either.  

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Different Kind of Church Dinner

In downtown Phoenix there is a church with a long history.  In 1893 the Smith Chapel was built at what is now 546 East Osborne Road.  As the congregation and church buildings grew, it was renamed Bethel Methodist Church.  The Bethel Methodist Church building is a traditional mission style building with several very large stained glass windows, a cathedral ceiling with open beams and many other beautiful features.  Adjacent to church building were school and fellowship buildings.

In 2012 the Methodists made the decision to close the church and deconsecrate the building. The property was purchased by a local development company seeking to revitalize the area.  While keeping the historic atmosphere of the church, the main building was modernized and converted to a restaurant named Taco Guild.

Recently I had the pleasure of dining at the Taco Guild, with, appropriately enough, my church's supper club.  When looking at the web site, I was impressed with the unconventionality of turning an old church into a restaurant and looked forward to our dinner there.  The interior of the building looks much as I imagine the Methodist left it, including the beautiful stained glass windows & the framed church bulletin board which now houses an electronic jukebox.

The vestibule is now a cozy dining area, perfect for larger groups. The main dining room was spacious and tastefully done.  Where once there stood an alter, there is now a bar.  Other furnishings included padded pews, candelabras, wrought iron chandeliers and old photographs which may or may not have been original but certainly could have been.    I can't remember the last time I was so enamoured by a restaurant's building and atmosphere, that alone makes Taco Guild worth visiting.

Of course the main reason people go to a restaurant is to eat, right?  So, let's talk about the food.  The menu is rather limited, consisting mostly of, guess what, TACOS!  But these are not your ordinary everyday tacos, a couple of examples  are the AL PASTOR PORK grilled pineapple, jalapeƱo bacon, pickled red onion and THAI SNAPPER coconut green curry, sweet Thai slaw.  Each taco is available on a corn or flour tortilla about 4 inches in diameter.

Being a bit of a traditionalist, I was a bit hesitant about the menu.  So I went the safe route and ordered the braised beef and chipotle cherry steak.  Both were scrumptious, as was the grilled corn off the cob.  The entire meal exceeded my expectations and days later I am still thinking "damn those were good tacos".  I also want to add that the service was excellent, our glasses were kept filled along with our bowls of chips and salsa.

If you are a Phoenix local, this is definitely a place to visit.  So, go have a church dinner.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

You have to start somewhere

So today I start here.

This year I will seriously try to update my blog more often.  Not because I think anyone else is dying to hear what I have to say but because, well, isn't that the whole point of having a blog?

A lot of stuff has been happening in the last few months, some good, some not so good.  Christmas, especially, resulted in some difficult experiences and confrontations.  There have been wounds inflicted that I'm not sure will ever heal.  There is a place in my heart that will forever remain empty except for the sadness there. I know that as a result relationships will never be the same. My heart hurts for those involved directly and those who have been in the fallout zone.

My grandsons, Ian and Lucas have been and continue to be a joy in my life. They are a true blessing.  I am even more grateful they are no longer 8 hours away. Over the last year it has been wonderful to see them grow and change, enjoy their hugs and kisses.  I will make more time to spend with them doing fun things.

I want to give a huge shout out to my Motor Maid sisters and their families for all the great times we have had, on an off the bikes.  Bend, Tucson, Phoenix, Vegas.....everywhere we've been has been an adventure as well as lots of laughs.  I have said this before, I'll say it again, joining Motor Maids has been one of the best motorcycling decisions I have ever made.  The years to come will be filled with many more miles.

Finally, I wish to thank my wonderful partner, Debbie, who stands beside me day in, day out, supports my efforts, celebrates my successes and commiserates on my failures.  She has been, and continues to be the rock in my life, sharing in my joys and supporting me in my sorrows.  I love you, honey.

My ramblings have come to an end now.  To those who have seen it through, I thank you.