Sunday, April 13, 2014

5. Wait, I've done this long ride before...

I recently realized that I've done this trip before.  One month, NY to CA and back.  It was 1978.  I would have turned five during the trip.  My father reminded me the other day that he turned 40 in 1978. Now I'm 40 and planning a similar excursion.  He thinks it's some sort of mid-life crisis.

In 1978 my family of five piled into the brand new two-tone brown Ford Econoline van and basically lived in it for a month.  Camping our way out west and back.  I don't recall the trip given my age.  My brother Eric was 11 and John was 7 so they remember more.

I think that van may have been the first new vehicle my father ever bought (and the last for some time after).  He finally sold it 1997.  It was an integral part of every vacation as I grew up.  That van took us on innumerable camping excursions in the summer and Disney World trips during mid-winter break.  It eventually took us all off to college.

I wish I had a picture of the interior.  My father set it up himself.  My brother Eric picked the van color, brown, but it had a tan roof so it would not get as hot.  It had a bench seat about two-thirds of the way back.  We added brown paneling to the walls, orange carpet to the floor and orange curtains on the windows since we would be sleeping in there some nights.

I fondly remember the wars my brother and I had when he crossed over the seam into my portion of the bench seat.

Behind the bench seat, at about the same height as the top of the seat my father put in a piece of plywood (orange carpeted of course) which acted as a bed on the nights when the five of slept in the van.  All of our stuff was underneath.  We even had a porta-potty.  It was also brown.  I guess with three kids my father didn't want to stop every time one of us had to go.

It was a lovely shade of brown.
Home sweet home rolling through Sequoia.
From what I'm told we went from NY and took a more southern route to the west coat then came back via a northern route.  That is the opposite of what we are doing this time around.

The photo album my Mom had starts in Colorado with Pikes Peak and Mesa Verde (or Mesa Verdi as my Mom spells it).
Air Force Academy in Colorado (that's what the pic said)

Eric in Mesa Verde.
Next up was the Grand Canyon followed Sequoia National Park. Then we hit California. I'm not sure exactly where the picture by the Pacific is taken, although I do see pictures of the San Francisco Zoo and the National Forest in California.  You will see in the picture below that we are all backing away from the Pacific.  I believe the threat was that if any of us got wet it would be peanut butter and jelly for dinner again.  If we stayed dry, we got McDonald's.
Grand Canyon.  I think we all had the same haircut.
Stay dry!  No more PB&J!!
After a sweep through Utah to visit family we were off to Yellowstone, Devils Tower and Mount Rushmore.
Dad & John at Devils Tower.  The only pic that had both people and tower.
I just realized I still have that same haircut.
Then finally, what was probably the highlight of the trip for me was Bedrock City in South Dakota.  I even got to shake hands with Fred!!  I haven't washed that hand since, it's actually kind of gross, but I always want to carry a piece of Fred with me.

Yabba Dabba Doo to you.  I kept it professional.
The only picture where the three of us are smiling at the same time!
Now on to current time.  We are six weeks away from leaving.  I'm still giving the trip a 40% chance of actually happening.  I'm siding with pessimism so I can be pleasantly surprised if/when we actually pull this off.  I did figure out how to link the blog to HVMP's website and it is now available at both and

I've definitely been riding more.  I took a 45 mile route to the post office that is three miles away last week.  I tested out the wireless hot spot and it works well.  Our newest purchases in advance of the trip include a Stubby tire changing tool, a valve replacement tool and white LED lights to mount on the front of the bikes.  Those were all purchased by my husband.  I went to Walmart and bought a compact mess kit.  Different priorities I guess.  I also bought a couple more freeze dried food packages. We tried to find them cheaper on the internet but by the time shipping was added it made more sense just to go and buy it at Walmart.

So 35 years later it feels like I'm due for this trip again.  Slightly different mode of transportation and altered route.  Still camping (we'll see about that).  So I guess as my father shakes his head in disbelief at my endeavor it is really all his fault.  He started it.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

4. The Long Rides 3rd Companion: Technology

I'm not sure if I should worry that we are leaving in 7 weeks and I've only ridden my motorcycle once.  I took it out to the post office and to visit my parents late last week.  We are planning on riding a bit later today as well.  Time to get back into the swing of things.

Steve bought some sheepskin and put in some grommets so we can secure it to the bike, so there will be some extra cushion on my seat.  I find that my backside often has the most difficulty acclimating to many hours of saddle time.  Yesterday he also installed supplemental LED brake lights on both bikes.  Pictures of both are below.
My fluffy seat cover...oh and my HVMP bar ends!

The added LED's are on the back fender.
The idea of getting out on the open road is quite romantic  Just leave all your worries behind and enjoy the ride.  Nope.  Not going to happen.  I'm not there yet.  I'm bound to my technology and it is one of the main areas we are investing in prior to this trip. 

First, it started with the spot locator which arrived this week and Mom kindly offered to pay for.  Yes, I'm 40 and can pay for it myself, but what she is really buying is her own peace of mind. I did not grow up in a motorcycling family, so when I started riding in my 20's my Mom was very accepting, but that doesn't mean she's thrilled about it.  So, we have a deal.  No matter where I am, at the end of every day I call her and let her know we are safe and we are off the bikes for the rest of the day.  Whether it's a call after a quick ride to lunch or from the hotel near the Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland, she appreciates it.  I've even called her after a ride that she didn't know I was going on.  It's just a thing we do now.  It's never my goal in life to cause her stress, so if a quick phone call will put her mind at ease, I'm all for it.

Now for a ride of this scope, there is obviously an intensified sense of worry.  The spot locator will allow me to send her a message via satellite that will basically tell her that we are safe but we have no cell service.  It will also allow her to track our progress as we make our way across the country.  Anything to keep in touch with not only her youngest but her only daughter....and I'd like to think favorite child.

It also has this nifty feature where if we get in real serious trouble we can hit a button and the spot locator will call for emergency services to come to our aid.   Hopefully, we will never have to use it but I think we will feel better having it.

Second, came talk of the communicators.  Our new helmets are set up to hold the blue tooth communicators.  So the idea of being able to speak to one another is appealing, although it may get old fast.  In the past I did not think it was necessary.  If I wanted to pull over I either passed Steve and stopped, or I would just stop and eventually he would figure it out and turn around.  But I guess it will be nice to be able to chat.

Steve will also be able to hear his GPS and music (I'm not really the music listening type while riding).  I like the ability to receive phone calls, although I wouldn't make a habit out of it.  I think we are going with a Sena, but unfortunately the newest model won't be available until May that is going to be a late arrival. 

Third, was the laptop.  We have a cheapy, clunker of a laptop.  It does what it's supposed to do, but is not all that compact.  My home desktop runs Windows XP which will soon no longer be serviced by Microsoft, so I was planning on getting a new desktop.  But I have recently (like literally just last week) started working full time from home so my previous office desktop is now in my home office.  So instead of replacing my personal desktop we decided to replace the laptop.  I can hopefully log onto my day job if need be.  It will also allow us to log on and print out the HVMP shipping labels so my trusty bro-in-law can run the business while we party.

We bought this very lovely Lenovo Yoga which has a solid state hard drive (Steve says that is more better) and is kind of half tablet, half computer.  I have all of my Microsoft Office programs that I may need for work stuff, but it can be folded and is touch screen and has apps and is super light and I'm trying to figure it all out along with Windows 8.1.  I will say the Microsoft version of the Blogger app is crap.  You can only read blogs not edit your own.  I have to go on the internet to do that.  On my I-phone Blogger app I can write new blogs (which is also more better).

OK, so now we can talk and message Mom, call an ambulance and fire truck, listen to tunes, get directions, have conference calls, create spreadsheets, argue with one another and keep up with Orange is the New Black on Netflix.  Not very Easy Rider of us.  There was still one missing piece.

Fourth, and hopefully last, is today's latest purchase.  My own wifi hot spot doodad widget.  This contraption can supposedly connect to 2G, 3G, 4G, etc. and then make a wireless haven for up to 10 devices.  I have no idea how it will work, but I'll report back once I know.  It was a simple add to my wireless plan.

Steve is in charge of making sure everything can be charged on the bikes while we ride (except the laptop, that will wait for hotel time).

My feelings are mixed on remaining so connected.  I do hold on to this fanciful notion of life on the road.  The idea of feeling free spirited, wind blowing through my hair, grit in my teeth and maybe even little smelly is wholly appealing.  But, as a product of a responsible family I have been generally well-behaved and stayed on a path of being both dependable and accountable.  Going on a month long motorcycle trip is as bad-ass as I get. 

Although, who am I kidding?  I'm writing a freaking blog.