Friday, September 29, 2017

Is it too early to be thinking about spring rides?

I know that it's barely fall, but I've started to think about spring rides already.
I'm thinking along the lines of riding to baseball games. The Springfield Cardinals play in the Texas League, a AA minor league organization. The northern division consists of the Cardinals, two Arkansas teams -- one in Little Rock, one in Fayetteville, and a team in Tulsa.

All of those are easy day trips. Tulsa and Little Rock are about 200 miles (one way) and Fayetteville is around 125. A midweek day game would be a perfect outing -- nice ride out, Springfield Cardinal baseball game, nice ride home!

The four teams in the southern division would pose more of a challenge. The Frisco team isn't too bad at around 400 miles (one way), but Midland and San Antonio come in at over 700 miles and Corpus Christi at around 850, making all of those overnight trips and long rides each day of travel.

However, I could add the Dodger's AAA team in Oklahoma City into the mix and pair that with a game in Midland TX. I'd have to count on my big sis taking me in for an overnight stay and I would still have an overnight in Midland and one day of 700+ miles.
The Cardinals pair the Corpus Christi team with San Antonio for a May road trip meaning I could see a game in CC on a Thursday and SA on Friday. It would still be two overnights and two long rides, but just one long trip instead of two.

For now it's just thinking about baseball and riding.
I did ride to St. Louis and back for a day game this season, but missed a trip to Kansas City.
Maybe next year.

There is still plenty of riding to do in 2017, just not much more in the way of baseball.

John <><

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Can We Talk?

The internet is full of opinions on the peaceful demonstrations of black athletes during our National Anthem. Coaches, owners, fellow athletes, broadcasters, and of course -- politicians are weighing in on the means of the demonstration.

Unfortunately, I'm seeing very little actual  talk about the purpose of the demonstrations -- the unjust treatment of African-Americans by our police forces and justice systems.

Even though I am Asian-American by birth, I have spent my life within the white privileged society and wouldn't be considered anything else except by the strictest white nationalist sects of our society. I think that I am the least Asian looking of my siblings and many people are surprised to hear that I have an Asian mother.
I have no idea of what it is like to be a black man in the United States  (or any other minority, for that matter). For all practical purposes, I am a white, Christian male and have the privileges associated with that standing. I can live were I want (and can afford). I can go where I want without fear of being stopped due to racial profiling. I can shop where I want without raising great suspicion that I'm going to steal something. I'm not suspected of being lazy or of slopping at the government trough (although I am on a government pension). I live in a part of the country that is nearly uninhabited by minorities.

I say all of that to say that I recognize that I am a part of the problem -- at least up to the point that I allow the problem to continue without some sort of dialog and change.

We, as a society, have responded in a typical way. The instinctual response of any accused is to justify our actions or redirect the blame for our actions on the accuser. It takes great character to admit that we may have been wrong; that our action (or inaction) has caused someone harm. Such an admission means that we have to be the ones to change.
As long as we make the demonstration about something other than its initial purpose, we can insist that the victims of this injustice change their method of demonstration while we continue to allow the racially motivated injustices to continue.

There will have to come a time when law enforcement agencies and criminal justice systems have to acknowledge that the statistics are damning and a change is needed. We (the privileged) can be the motivating segment of society to get our elected government officials to listen to the complaints rather than to dismiss them or deflect them so that they go unaddressed.

Kneeling during the Anthem has never been about disrespecting the Flag, our nation, nor anyone that serves our society. It's time we stopped treating it as such and address the real issue.

John <><

Monday, September 25, 2017

Another Monday Morning...

Somewhere in northern Missouri, someone is asking a co-worker, "How was your weekend?"
And that co-worker is responding with, "I'm glad you asked that. You see we had a guest preacher at our church and he challenged us ... "

Yes, another pulpit challenge to tell people the simple message -- "God loves you. Jesus died for you."

I always put myself into the challenge, although I doubt that anyone will ask me how my weekend was. It's not because nobody cares (nobody really does), but because I probably won't have much contact with anyone during the day.
I also always invite churches to hold me as accountable as they hold each other, but they rarely do.
Somehow I suspect that I'll be getting a tweet or two asking for my story of sharing this simple message.

My ride to Chillicothe MO (The Home of Sliced Bread) was warm and uneventful. (My last ride to Chillicothe was when I lost all my stuff.) I arrived in town shortly after 3 PM with all of my gear intact. I unloaded the things for my magic show at the church and then went to the home of Steve and Pam Miller. The Millers were my host family for the weekend. They live in a grand old house, built in the 1880s. They are doing a lot of work to renovate and keep (and restore) the original character of the house. Perhaps it will be a bed and breakfast place in the future.
Oh! And speaking of breakfast, it looked like a magazine or TV show breakfast.
Coffee, OJ, stuffed French toast topped with blueberries, strawberries and whipped cream, and a side of patty sausage. Beautiful and delicious!

The Saturday evening magic show went well and I believe that a good time was had by all. The church put on a nice event for the neighborhood and community. The program began with a very good puppet show that was put on by a troupe from another local church. While being entertained, the kids (parents, too) enjoyed popcorn, nachos, cotton candy, and lemonade. There was a brief intermission and then the magic show.

I should mention that I believe many churches would pass on such an event simply due to the number of workers necessary to pull it off. The fellowship hall was very well decorated. There were lots of kitchen workers to prepare and distribute snacks. There were greeters and there were plenty of people to clean up and reset the hall for Sunday morning.
Just looking at (or anticipating) all of the popcorn and chips scattered on the floor would prevent many churches from doing this. But the clean up was fast and fun -- yes, I said fun -- as it looked like the people were genuinely enjoying their service to others!

Sunday morning was more of the same hospitality and joy. Pastor Rob is truly blessed to be serving a people that show their love for one another and the community around them. The young staff is energetic and tends to infuse their enthusiasm into the rest of the congregation. It is so much easier to preach to a church full of folks that are happy about serving and worshiping our God and Savior.

After church I changed into my riding gear, loaded up the bike, had lunch with the pastor and headed home. The day was warm (low 90s, 33-34c) and traffic was light. As I neared Springfield, the wind started to pick up and I could see rain ahead. I stopped to check the weather radar for the route and decided to push on. Later, I stopped again to put on my rain gear and did run into some rain before making it home. However, I was treated to a bright and magnificent rainbow as compensation for my short ride in the rain.

I doubt that I'll get much riding in for the remainder of September. I've a lawn to mow, groceries to buy, and other household chores to tend to. On Saturday, I get to celebrate with a friend as he gets married.

It has been a grand month.
I hope that yours has also been a fun adventure.
Finish it well.
Tell somebody -- God loves you. Jesus died for you.

John <><

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Road Trip; the little guy

I was blessed to be able to be the first member of the Hill side of the family to greet our newest member.

I left my lunch meeting in Virginia and headed westward toward Fletcher NC, adding NC as the 15th state to enter on my journey. Jessica missed our family reunion this summer since she was late in her pregnancy and leave management for a young family can be an issue. Originally, I wasn't sure if a stop to see them would work out and I really was concerned about adding to an already overwhelming situation.

When I arrived late in the evening, Jason was out picking up some things for dinner. Jess came out to greet me and introduce me to the dogs. Bella was not a happy dog.
Before making my way to the back gate, Jess had me remove my jacket, gloves and cap. Apparently, Bella already has issues with strange men and those things don't help.

I was the first unfamiliar person to come to the house since baby Jacob arrived and Bella was going to do her best to make sure that I was okay. It took her quite a while to relax. Jason's arrival helped, but even then she positioned herself on the floor between me and who ever was holding the baby.

I got the home tour, enjoyed dinner and our visit, but also worried about being an intrusion as they make adjustments in their new world of life with an infant.

Although they offered their couch, I knew that a less than a week old baby was enough and opted for a nearby motel. Jess' mom was there and using the guest room, so one more person and a nervous dog was an unnecessary burden.

I enjoyed our visit but also wanted to leave when Jacob started his post dinner nap. I know that sleep time can be a precious thing for new parents and wanted them to be able to take advantage of his sleep time to get some of their own.

It had been a good day.
And the next day was the ride to the Dragon!

John <><

Here's a pic of me with Jason, Jessica and Jacob.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Road Trip; more people

After meeting with Bill in the DC area of NoVa, I traveled south until Fredricksburg where I overnighted at a cheap motel. I was able to sleep in a bit before traveling to meet an old friend from my days of being active with our controllers' union.

For my entire career, Adell Humphreys was the lady that kept NATCA running smoothly. Even while the officers of the organization changed, Adell was always there to maintain the office and acclimate new officers to their posts. It's true that she worked for NATCA and she has recently referred to me as one of her 15,000 bosses. But her leadership in guiding the office staff never went unnoticed by those of us that were privileged to work with her.

I have to admit that I always felt that my role in NATCA was pretty small and insignificant and am somewhat surprised that I have Adell and a few past officers as social media contacts. In any case, it has been more than a decade since I have been to any NATCA events so I was looking forward to this meeting.
I think Adell retired from her service to NATCA a little before I retired as a controller. Retirement is looking good on her. Like me, she has taken to motorcycle riding in retirement and is learning to enjoy the road on two wheels. She is engaged to be married and her guy, Stan, seems like a great guy. I was so pleased to get to meet him. I always enjoy talking cigars with someone that enjoys a good smoke and we exchanged a few cigars over lunch.

We met at a truck stop just off the highway and then rode our bikes to lunch.
Stan said, "John, we're taking to to lunch at a gas station!"

Some of the best places to eat are local dives.
This little BBQ place was busy for the lunch hour. Four state police cars were in the parking lot and several construction workers were there as well as a few local couples. I figured that they were taking me to one of their favorite places for a reason. I had a pulled pork sandwich with slaw and a little spicy sauce and was not disappointed! I don't remember the name of the place, but I'm sure one of them can help me by leaving it in the comments.
Once again, the conversation was easy and I think Stan and I did most of the talking with Adell just listening. I doubt an observer would have guessed that we just met.

I still had several hours of highway ahead of me, so they guided me back to the highway and we said our goodbyes. Stan gave me a good route to follow (was one of google's alternate routes) and I figured to take advantage of his experience over google (remember the ferry in Detroit?).

It was great to hit the road with a full belly and a light heart.

John <><

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Road Trip, a few of the people I met

Several years ago, I was looking at some random blogs (something I haven't done in a long time) and ran across one that was written by a fellow air traffic controller. I started following his blog and found out that he is also a minister!

He was active in his NATCA (our controller's union) local (Boston Tower) and I had also been pretty active in NATCA. It turns out that Tom (TC) and I have been to several NATCA events, but never met each other. After retiring, Tom returned to full time ministry and now pastors the oldest Congregational church in the US. It was founded in 1623!
We have been friends on Faecbook and he has been one of several NATCA people that I was looking forward to meeting.

We did!
I managed to make it to Boston in time to experience the afternoon rush hour.
When I left Steve's place in Vermont it was 56 degrees (13.3C) so I opted for a light shirt and left the lining in my jacket. By the time I reached Boston, the temp was mid 80s (30C) and I was regretting the lining -- especially with traffic moving slowly or not at all.

Imagine for yourself:
It's almost 90 degrees (32C)
You're in a long tunnel filled with cars and trucks adding engine exhaust to the heat of the day
You're wearing a lined motorcycle jacket, heavy denim jeans, and a helmet
You're sitting on a hot running engine

It was pretty brutal.

But I made my way to Weymouth on Boston's south side and met up with TC at his church office.
He took me out for a wonderful dinner of pan seared scallops and lobster risotto. We visited like old friends and it didn't feel at all like this was our first time to sit down and visit over a meal. He took me back to the church where I reloaded the bike and made my way on down the road another hour or so before stopping for the night.

The following day I was on the road to meet with yet another long time blogging friend in the DC area of northern Virginia. Bill has met a number of his blogging friends and added me to his growing list. I don't have as many followers and have cut down on the number of blogs I follow, but I have managed to meet a few of you and would love to meet more.
I met Bill at a little diner at the Springfield Mall -- Springfield VA, that is.

One might think that two guys that met for the first time would have a difficult time with conversation, but that just wasn't the case. It was an enjoyable respite from the road, especially when you consider that I also managed to hit DC for the evening traffic!

We managed to get our waiter to take the picture and it turned out much better than if I would have attempted another selfie shot.

Then it was back into traffic for another hour or so to move a little further down the road.

I'll post more from the road trip tomorrow. If you're a reader and want to meet, let me know. I'm sure that there is a highway that connects us and a future road trip to be planned.
(And if there is a major or minor league baseball team nearby the odds of a visit increase dramatically!)

John <><

Monday, September 18, 2017

Road Trip, Home

It's Monday morning and I am sitting in my home, drinking coffee from one of my favorite mugs.

I've been perusing Facebook and thinking that I should start writing about the adventures of my journey.
The thoughts that come to me this morning are that I am so blessed to be able to do such a ride. Even though Chris has no desire to ride, she is very supportive of my doing so and is willing to stay home while I take to the road.

The early retirement (and good retirement package) that I enjoy from my service as an air traffic controller is not lost on me. I know that few people find themselves in my position at this age. We are not wealthy by any means, but we are doing quite well as middle class Americans.

Because I was traveling alone, I didn't do much sight seeing that couldn't be done from the road and on the seat of my motorcycle. I'm not disappointed about that, but it seems necessary to mention that this trip was more about the ride ... and the personal visits.

In the end, if I had to pick a favorite part of the journey, it would be the one thing that started the whole process -- visiting with my brother in Vermont.
Steve lives in a small, seasonal cabin on Lake Champlain. He lives where other people vacation or go to get away from their normal lives. He hikes and camps in the Adirondack Mountains, kayaks on the lake or on any of the mountain rivers and streams. He'll have to vacate his cabin in the winter (lake living is seasonal and some services like water and septic are off during the winter) and find another place to live for a few months. Last year, he wintered in a house on nearby Mt Philo.

As I was preparing to leave, Steve picked up a voice mail from a friend asking if he was going camping on the weekend and if they could tag along.
Yep -- when others are starting to think that it's getting a little chilly to escape to the lake, he's packing up for a primitive camp in the mountains!

I really enjoyed our visit. We talked about our kids and what great adults they've turned out to be. We talked about life, family, work, and whatever came to mind. We ate a pizza by the lake as the sun set over the mountains, hiked up Mt Philo, toured the Shelburne Museum, walked the lake walk in Burlington and visited some of the shops, and we took the kayaks out for a paddle on the lake. (I kind of got my fat ass stuck in the kayak!)  I ate Steve's vegan diet at his place and indulged in a burger at the Vermont Pub and Brewery in Burlington, and a roast beef sandwich at his friend's after our hike.
In spite of the activity, it was a relaxing couple of days.
Did I mention that it was my favorite part of the journey?

Because I'm not much of a selfie picture taking guy, I regret that I didn't snag a pic of the two of us. I didn't think of that until I was riding through the Green Mountains on my way out of Vermont. I also missed the early photo ops with Mom and Dad, Aaron and Jenny, and Jo and Gord.
At least I was able to get a few pics with people after that.

I'll have more on the people, places and food in future posts.
Today, I'm going to enjoy being home.

John <><

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Road Trip, Riding the Dragon

Today was a short mileage day, but a fun mileage day.
I checked off a motorcycle bucket list item and rode the Dragon.
Along the way I had some great conversations with shop owners and other riders.

As with the rest of the trip, I'll work on posting more about the ride when I get back home and have time to sort it out in my head. Until then, here are a few pics from the day.

John <><

Road Trip, Day 11 Changing plans

So one of the freedoms of no schedule is being able to change plans mid-trip.

I'm to the place that I can ride two pretty moderate days or three pretty easy days to wrap things up. I'll be honest -- I'm looking forward to being home. Living out of a suitcase when you're staying in one place for a week or so is one thing; changing locations everyday is a figurative pain in the butt.

I'm thinking of going two days and I think I'll stretch them a bit and swing to the south and add a few more states to the list. If I head south to Huntsville AL, I'll drive the eastern part of Tennessee, cut the corner of Georgia and then pick up Mississippi and Arkansas on the way home. I'll miss Kentucky (which was on my planned route), but gain the four other states.

So far I've managed to touch MO, IL, IN, MI, VT, NH, ME, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, DE, MD,VA and NC. I also managed DC in rush hour and traveled two Canadian provinces.

I guess if I'm going to do that, I should get going! I'll write about the journey when I'm sitting comfortably on my own sofa and sipping a cup of coffee.
Until then, here are a couple of pics from the people I visited with yesterday.

The lady that kept NATCA together for my entire career and her soon-to-be husband

My new great nephew

...oh yeah, and his parents!

More later.
Be safe and keep an eye out for old guys on motorcycles.

John <><

Friday, September 15, 2017

Road Trip, not an update

I know I should be keeping up with the daily reports, but freedom is a wonderful thing and I just haven't.
I had planned to over coffee this morning, but find that my laptop is dead and it's too nice to have coffee inside. I'm going to continue sitting outside and will have to update you when I have my laptop charged and am not thumb tapping on my phone.

Let's just say that I am enjoying the ride!
I've visited with family and friends. I've met some new people and seen some of the beauty of the land.

I'm sure today will be another grand day!
Be safe!

John <><

Monday, September 11, 2017

Road Trip, Day 6

Yesterday afternoon I arrived at my brother's place in Charlotte VT.
The ride from Cornwall, Ontario was just beautiful. I probably should have stopped and taken a few pictures when crossing over the St Lawrence Seaway, but that isn't really my thing and I'm sure that the pictures wouldn't be an accurate representation of the beauty of the waterway.

I crossed the border into the US along with a couple of Canadian riders out for a Sunday ride. It was a husband and wife team, each riding their own Harleys and each in their upper 60s to around 70. We chatted briefly while waiting in line and then after crossing. They noticed my Missouri plate and were just asking about my ride. Earlier, I had met a man on his way home to Connecticut from visiting his girlfriend in Chicago. We had both stopped for fuel. I was leaving when he was going to get something to eat.

Last night I really enjoyed visiting with Steve. We picked up a pizza for dinner and found a place by the lake to eat and watch the sunset.

This is really a beautiful place. We watched the sun set, enjoyed dinner and marveled at peace and serenity of the lake.

This morning we had some tasty pancakes for breakfast -- banana, nuts, blueberries! Yum.

We picked up a neighbor's dog on our way to Mt Philo for a nice hike.
The dog was along to help us find our way down the trails since Steve admits to getting lost on occasion. Yeah, Daisy saved the day -- twice!

We made it back to Daisy's place and had a nice lunch while talking about Vermont and my travels when I leave here on Wednesday.

Here are some pics from our hike.

We also visited the Shelburne Museum this afternoon.
It's dinner time. I don't know what Steve is preparing, but it smells delicious.

John <><

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Road Trip, Sunday morning, Day 5

I know.
I haven't been very faithful in posting updates, but it's mostly because I've either been visiting or riding.
Or sleeping.

I'm using the wifi at Starbucks in Cornwall, Ontario this morning while munching on an Oatmega protein bar and sipping the usual Venti 5 shot Americano.

So let's back up and begin with Day 3.
I arrived in Chicago Thursday afternoon after having breakfast and lunch at Mom and Dad's place in Metamora. Traffic going into the city was a little heavier than I expected, but not too bad. Aaron and I met Jenny as she was walking to the condo and then went to Lagunita's for dinner. I had a spicy curried pork bowl that was very good and probably more healthy than my normal Lagunita's Hogunitas sandwich!
Our visit was pretty short since the kids have that adulting thing to do in the morning. I decided to just get up and leave when Aaron left for work, getting an early start to the day. It's a good thing I did because I forgot about the time zone change as I was heading east.

I rode the morning traffic out of Chicago and was in northwest Indiana before I stopped for coffee and a breakfast sandwich at Starbucks. I expected to be able to ride for a while before stopping for gas, but that all changed when it started to rain. I pulled over, filled up early and donned the rain gear. It was a light manageable rain and lasted for about 30 minutes. Since the day was cool anyway, I just rode with the added layer and was comfortable.
I had selected a route on Google maps that showed a ferry crossing from Detroit into Canada. I began to have my doubts as the road to the ferry went through a rather industrial area and then turned to a gravel road for about 1/4 mile or so. It ended in a quaint little yacht club with some nice boats -- but no ferry dock!
There was I nice guy working in the club house that informed me that Google had lied to me. There was no ferry. He directed me to the Bridge to Canada and I wound my way back through the industrial area and Detroit city streets and eventually made my way into Canada. At the border, the Canadian crossing guard asked me what I was doing in Canada and I told him I was visiting friends north of Toronto on my way to Vermont. He also asked if this was my first visit to Canada. I told him no and he asked when I why I had come in the past. I told him last September to visit the same friends. He said, "So this is an annual thing?"
I said, "No, but I like the way you're thinking!"

The drive across Ontario to Toronto was pretty uneventful -- other than the occasional rain showers and miles (or kilometers) of construction and single file traffic. About the time I reached Toronto and needed the navigation, my phone died. Through it all, I ended up at the campground much later than expected. Dinner was ready -- smoked ribs! -- and it was delicious!
It was grand to visit with Jo and Gord. Jo insisted on sending pictures to Chris, guaranteeing my banishment to the proverbial doghouse. We sat out and visited until late. It is really amazing the connection we made with these friends that we met on a Mexican vacation several years ago.
It was well past 1AM when we turned in for the night. Gord had to work Saturday morning, but I got up early to have coffee with them and then spent the morning visiting with Jo before getting on the road and heading eastward again.

I spent the night in Cornwall, Ontario, bringing the trip mileage to 1400 so far.
The scenery across lower Ontario is beautiful! As I moved further northeast along the seaway, the leaves on the trees began showing their colors. Ugh! I'm not a fan of fall.
There is a border crossing here in Cornwall, but I'm going to travel a little farther east to check off another Canadian province. I'll turn south after crossing into Quebec.

I'll write more later. For now it is past time for me to get on the road.

John <><

Friday, September 08, 2017

Road Trip, early Day 3

I'm just taking a morning coffee break at a Starbucks, somewhere in NW Indiana.
I left when Aaron left for work and rode the early morning Chicago traffic until clear of it and now I'll enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee or two. The downside is that I'll have to make another stop relatively soon after starting again, but that's the price one pays for indulging in the very nectar of life.

I zipped the liner into my riding jacket this morning and went with just a t-shirt underneath. I was thinking I might be a little warm while I was loading up the bike, but feel pretty comfortable on the road.

I'll be back later with a full day's update from the highway.

John <><

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Road Trip, Day 2

Today was an easy day.
I slept in and then we went out to breakfast.

Last night Dad told me that when Mary (my sister) was home last week, they took her out to dinner and a movie. He said that's why we had dinner at home. I kidded them about needing to be the first kid to visit. Maybe that's why they took me out to breakfast!

We went back to the house and visited until after lunch when I loaded up the bike and started out to Chicago. I encountered a little more traffic than expected, but made it to Aaron and Jenny's without any problems. We walked to Lagunita's for dinner and are back at the kids' place to visit and watch a little Cardinal baseball.

Tomorrow will be the first long day -- 560 miles.
I'll get an early start and take my time along the way. I imagine I'll stop for coffee and breakfast once I clear most of the Chicago traffic. I really don't know what the day will hold or where or how often I'll stop. I'm hoping to make it to the Canadian camp ground in the early evening.

Today's ride wasn't as windy as yesterday, or it didn't feel as windy with some of it being at my back. That may be the case again tomorrow. I might use my helmet radio for a little while tomorrow. Maybe not. I enjoy riding with nothing but the sound of the wind and the bike.
Not much in the way of adventure today, just some relaxing visiting with family.

John <><

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Road Trip, Day 1 (and a bonus story)

Back when I was still working for a living, most of the conversation as an air traffic controller at SGF was either about air traffic stuff, complaining about management, or deciding where we going for the shift's chow run.
Since the one thing that we all had in common outside of ATC was that we all liked to eat (every day as it turned out), food was a common topic. We talked about places we had been, places we'd like to try, food we created at home, etc. I'm not sure if it was that way with everyone because I heard (more than once), "How come we always end up talking about food when I work with you?"

And it wasn't just controllers.
Once we had a private plane that flew in from LOT, which is close to where we used to live. After asking the pilot if Romeoville/Lockport was his home base (it was), I asked him if the Pagoda House was still there. His response was, "Oh man! That's our favorite restaurant!"
My trainee was like, "So do you know a restaurant in every city?"

During another food conversation with the same trainee, he was telling me about a place that had the best fried chicken gizzards in a little gas station near where he went to school. I stopped him and asked, "Is that the gas station at Buckhorn?"

He just looked at me with his mouth hanging open.
When he finally got it working again, he said, "How could you possibly know that?"
I told him that I stop there all the time and even though I don't get the gizzards, I do get other things like the fried catfish filets, chicken tenders or fried mushrooms!

Anyway, this little place isn't too far from home but just the right distance if you've put away a pot of coffee before hitting the road (about 85 miles).
I stopped for lunch at Lion's Choice in Sullivan since I was going to need gas soon anyway. Two roast beef sandwiches, a diet Dr Pepper and a full tank of gas lasted me until Springfield IL.
I took a little time to re-hydrate, walked a bit, talked to another guy that pulled in to fill up his bike and then finished my ride at bit over 400 miles for the day.

Mom had dinner ready when I arrived.
Chicken and pork adobo, rice, garden fresh green beans, sliced tomatoes (also garden fresh) and deviled eggs. YUM!
We had a nice visit, watched a couple of ballgames and made a call to my nephew and his wife in North Carolina. They are expecting the birth of their son any day now! Once again I will be officially declared a GREAT Uncle. If Irma will cooperate by keeping her rain to the coast or back out to the North Atlantic, I may get to see the little guy on my return trip. We shall see.

All in all, I am declaring the day a good day. It was cool and a bit windy, but a fine day to ride. Traffic was easy and my pack provided a nice back rest. Tomorrow's ride (Thursday) will be short -- just 125 miles or so to Chicago to see Aaron and Jenny.

John <><

Just a thought...

Megachurch pastor Joel Osteen has recently come under fire for his response to Hurricane Harvey. I haven't said anything nor responded to posts about him because I really don't feel I know enough about his situation to weigh in on the issue.
What I will say is there is a definite (and expected) disconnect from the reality that the majority of Americans deal with and the life of those that are privileged beyond what we can imagine.

Not long ago, I checked on the contract of a major league relief pitcher -- not a star, just a guy in the bullpen that sees some action once in a while. Even though I was amazed by this 20-something's salary, it was far below the league average of over 4 million dollars/year plus a $100/day meal allowance.
And that is nothing compared to Osteen wealth or Trump wealth or any number of celebrities that get the money and the platform to speak out and be heard. There are a number of celebrities that I follow on Twitter or Instagram. On one hand they often seem to be very genuine and the kind of person I might like. On the other hand, they have no idea what it is like to live in my simple world and would doubtfully take the time to say a few words to a random fan if I were to encounter them somewhere (I can't imagine where) along my life's journey.

St. Louis Cardinal Matt Carpenter said he would donate $10,000 to Harvey relief for every home run he hits for the rest of the season. Pitcher Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals said they would match it. That's great and I'm glad they're doing that. Matt's 2017 contract is for $10 million and Adam's is for $19.5 million! These guys make more in a 3 hour ballgame than most people make in a year!

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not begrudging them their wealth. I'm just pointing out that their world is far different from the majority of us. Their kids will never be among the millions of kids that look forward to school simply because they know they'll get a good meal (or two) each and every school day. A car breakdown or bad appliance isn't going to stress the budget or mean no vacation to the campground this weekend.
The truth is -- even in my middle class life in the Ozarks, I live in a far different world than many of the people of my community.

And I often feel like I have no voice and no platform from which to speak.
How helpless and hopeless other must feel. Even with a disaster, they are not much more than a temporary news item. Their personal life disruption will go on long after the media attention and the money go away.

I don't really know if this little rant has a point or not.
Maybe I'm just realizing that some people may not seem to care -- not because they are uncaring, but simply because they have no idea of the struggles going on in the lives of the people around them.

John <><

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

It's Time! (well almost)

It is the eve of The Road Trip!

I am pretty much packed (with the exception of a few things like my C-pap machine, computer, etc.) and ready to go. I gave the bike the once over today, cleaning it up and checking the fluid levels, lights and such. Even though I did pack a couple of sweaters, I almost forgot to pack the inner lining to my motorcycle jacket. I have my rain gear packed and expect that I may be needing it somewhere along the way.
I'll be keeping a watch on Hurricane Irma and where the rain tracks once she makes land fall. I may skip the southern return route and end up at UFC Pittsburgh after all.

Be safe.
Watch out for old guys on motorcycles. I'm one of 'em.

John <><

Sunday, September 03, 2017


With the calendar advancing to September and Labor Day weekend upon us, it is the unofficial end to summer in the US. Chris and I spent yesterday at the lake with friends which is a fine way to spend a day.

Late summer/early fall is hurricane season for the coastal states, and as the Texas and Louisiana states recover from the effects of Harvey, Florida and the east coast states are keeping an eye on Irma.
I am also keeping an eye on Irma as she has the potential to change my ride plans in the coming weeks.
I suppose that sounds pretty trivial and insensitive to those that may experience great damage compared to my inconvenience, but that is just how the storm track may affect my plans.

September also brings the beginning of football season in the US (that's American football, for my international friends), or so I'm told. As I have mentioned before, I do occasionally watch football...
...after baseball season is over (which it pretty much is for the Cardinals)
...and if there isn't a hockey game on.
Fortunately, MMA has no season and it is pretty easy to find a fight to watch on any given weekend.

Tuesday, Sept 5, is our 36th anniversary. We're taking advantage of the weekend and will be out later today for an early celebration. It has been an incredible journey to this point and I am looking forward to what the future has in store for us as we continue this road together. I am especially looking forward to when Chris retires and the schedule no longer includes work days!

Perhaps it's a good thing that Chris has to work Monday and Tuesday of this week because I have plenty to do to get ready for my trip. September is also grass growing season and I'll need to mow the lawn before I hit the road. I also need to do laundry and pack in a way to carry on the motorcycle. The bike is ready, but needs a good pre-trip cleaning, as well as a final check of everything. Wednesday morning is travel day #1!
I am looking forward to the solace of the road and the sound of the wind. Although I have intentions to write as I travel, I also hope to disconnect a bit from the pull of the internet and social media. We'll see how that goes.

Enjoy the weekend!

John <><

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Sons and Daughters

As a parent, there is nothing quite like seeing your kids become adults that you admire and like to be around.

This past week, mother and daughter (Chris and Hannah) joined with a few thousand other Southwest Missourians in a peaceful demonstration as POTUS #45 made a brief stop in Springfield. This was their second joint demonstration. Perhaps, one day I'll be bailing them out of jail.

I'm happy that Hannah has found her political voice and is willing to exercise it in the public arena. She is articulate (like you'd expect of an English major) and can clearly state her position and her objections to the position of others. She is not hateful, but she can be a bit fierce at times. If you are an underprivileged or disadvantaged person, she is on your side and will fight for your rights and benefit.

Aaron is also someone that I am quite proud of and I am looking forward to seeing him next week as I begin my long motorcycle trek. The following is his response to the Nashville Statement that you may have heard about. If you haven't read it -- you can do so, here:

This is put together from his response on twitter, his social media network of choice.

 Via Twitter @aaronbaronhill: "Ok. Here goes. My thoughts on the Nashville Statement. It's lazy theology. It does not include a single explicit scripture reference outside of the portion of Ps. 100:3 before the preamble. It does implicitly reference many times the practical theology of the charter signers. I argue that by not explicitly referencing scripture throughout the charter signers elevate their held beliefs, and this statement above the Word of God which is exactly what the Statement accuses the LGBTQ+ targets of doing: putting their own desires above God's.This is to say nothing of whether I am in agreement or disagreement with the content, but EVEN IF they are 100% in line with God on this they have still idolized their own wisdom and knowledge above the very Word of God by not citing where the biblical basis is for this. I'm not going to go into great detail how I feel about the content here, but I'll say there are parts I affirm and parts I deny. But all of it is lazy theology, and even lazy theology that is grounded in fact destroys more than it helps. God has strong feelings about when his people attempt to do a good thing the wrong way. In 2 Sam 6, David commissions a team of men and oxen to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. Rather than having it carried by Levites, he had it pulled by a team of oxen. The cart it is pulled on breaks and Uzzah tries to save it by catching it. God killed him immediately. It was good for David to bring the Ark to Jerusalem, but he did it the wrong way & 1 of his men was punished. Maybe if David had consulted the scriptures before authorizing a movement like this Uzzah wouldn't have died. It is not easy to tell from the Nashville Statement whether or not the charter signers consulted scripture. I hope for their sake and the Church's that the punishment is not as severe as in the case of Uzzah. Finally, I pray for my friends who are feeling less human today because of this statement. I love you and so does the God of the universe."

I like his response in that it address the theology of the statement (by theologians) rather than attacking the statement directly. It is well thought out and distilled into several 140 characters or less statements -- brief and to the point. (I should mention that the story of David returning the Ark to Jerusalem is one of my favorites!)

Anyway -- I have things to do this morning (like go to the lake for the day).
I just wanted to take a moment to brag on my kids.

Proud dad,
John <><

PS -- If you are enjoying this Labor Day weekend or the benefits provided by organized labor (and you are), thank a Union member!