Thursday, April 09, 2009

Tranquility amidst chaos.

As I mentioned earlier I was summoned to the Mothership for a day of meetings on Tuesday. I decided to go up the day before and spend the night. The other option was to leave home at 3 AM. I've gone that route and it makes for an extremely long day when the meetings end at 4 PM or so. The trip is a bittersweet thing for me. The sweet part is riding so far. It's funny how we all get a reputation for certain things. Among our group I'm known as the bike guy. Gee, I sort of wonder why. Whether to our retreat in Idaho or a trip to headquarters it's expected that I'll ride. I used to get ribbed about riding when I could be more "comfortable" in a car. Now I'd get ribbed if I didn't ride.

The bitter part is the location of our corporate office. A journey there means dealing with Seattle area traffic. Granted, we're not right in Seattle. Our office is in Kirkland. To me there's not much difference. The traffic and big city feel extend their influence over an extremely large area. Seattle's just the central hub. Traffic and activity funnel in and out in all directions. This post isn't really about that part. It's about finding the places off the beaten path. Tranquility can be found by one willing to wander a bit.

I do want to mention the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes, though. Motorcycles are allowed in these lanes, as they rightly should be. Sometimes that does me some good and sometimes it doesn't. Jammed up is jammed up no matter what lane you're in. Monday afternoon, though, found me in just the right time slot. One of the slogans I've seen is,

"If only the passing lane had a passing lane!"

Well, I'm here to tell you that this came true for me on Monday. It was so glorious! Mile after mile passed speedily below the bike and I. Once in a while we'd catch up to a bus in the HOV lane. No problem. We'd slide into the regular hammer lane and pass the bus. Then back into the HOV lane. We even busted a move on an old couple in a sedan. The old man had absolutely no friggin' idea that the whole point was to be able to roll a little faster. Okay, I admit it's a conservation thing, but we all have our own interpretations, don't we? All the driver knew is that there were two people in his car so, by gum ( sorry for the old guy pun ) he was going to drive in that lane. At an electrifying 52 mph. His interpretation and mine didn't match. So long, Buddy!

There's something about riding a motorcycle that puts us into a different state of mind than cagers. Sometimes that's bad. We're more likely to find ways to get into trouble, you know! On the other hand, or maybe just the other side of the same hand, I find myself so much more open to the world around me. I see more, feel more, and thus experience more, than when in a car. I find myself so much more willing to wander off the beaten path. The age old question. What's down there? Let's go find out. I'm not so likely to bother with it in a car or my truck. On a bike, in vivid contrast, I'm ready for adventure at a moment's notice.

I think most people who ride experience the same thing. Using a bike for regular transportation amplifies the effect. I spend a lot of time on a bike. So I also spend a lot of time in an open and inquisitive state of mind. It's become a regular trait of mine. Riding is a Zen-like journey. There's so much personal growth that comes as a result of, but not directly tied to, riding. Thus my journey Monday evening.

I found this restaurant in 2006 while wandering around Kirkland. Cafe Veloce, as you can surmise, is an Italian place. What makes it neat is that it features a vintage Italian racing theme. It's primarily focused on Italian motorcycles. In another life I must have been Italian. I love Italian food, at least. By the way, I don't currently believe in reincarnation but I did in my past lives. While I dined I got to drool over a new Aprilia on display. Word of my arrival into town must have spread. I pulled in a few minutes before six and I was the only customer. Just before I left a couple wandered in. The wait staff to customer ratio was most excellent.

Actually, I think everyone was enjoying the sunshine and doing something outside. I've put photos of this place in the blog previously. On summer nights the place is crowded with sport bike riders who park their bikes in the lot and eat on the patio.

If you look to the left of the cafe, you can see another building. It's called the Yuppie Pawn Shop. Handy in case you spend more than you have in your pocket on food and drink, I guess. Then, I got to wondering what the other building is. You can just see the peak of a roof in the background. Now I had to go see what's down there. Turns out to be a quiet little hotel called the Carlton Inn. It's the kind of place you'd never find unless you knew about it already or stumbled onto it when wandering. Kind of a familiar theme isn't it? Wandering on a bike often reveals unexpected gems.

It's interesting to read how they describe themselves on their website. I think Jack Riepe must have written that spiel! Anyway, I usually stay at a Comfort Inn. Now that I've discovered this new place I plan to change my habit. Again, word of my arrival must have preceded me. There was hardly anybody staying there. Can you say peace and quiet? In literal distance the hotel really is near the high volume buzz of I-405. On the tranquility scale, it's miles away from the hustle and bustle.

The actual hotel was more like a well maintained older bike. Clean and functional, easy on the eyes, and still exuding a little elegance. Here's a quick shot of my room. By the way, after spreading my stuff out, I couldn't believe all that crap was actually packed on the bike. It all went back just fine. Before I posted the photo I had to do a quick check and make sure nothing incriminating was visible!

The road to the hotel dead ends just past it. The building you see is a small condo. Look at how empty the parking lot is. This picture was taken through the window of my room.

I was able to park Elvira just below my room where I could make sure she wasn't up to any mischief without me. Notice that I'm not averse to the mischief part. I just want to be a part of it!

Here's me trying to be "artistic" with my photo! This is from outside the hotel. After dinner I decided to wander around on foot. You can call it exercise if you want. It was actually spurred by a guilt trip over all the chicken parmigiana I ate! Armed with my new Gorilla pod and the Nikon, I succumbed to a combination Steve Williams / Conchscooter mood. I was determined to get some good photos of the area around me. I wanted to be able to post some good shots with witty little comments on each. I was at least successful on the first part. Minding Steve's gentle coaching to go back to my firearms training, I literally told myself to "squeeze the trigger" on each shot. Thanks, Steve!

As to the comment part, I can't say, yet. You see, I seem to have reached some sort of threshold for the amount of photos Blogger will allow me to post here. At least I think that's what is happening. It refuses to let me upload any more pictures. The site is blaming some sort of internal error. Maybe Blogger is trying to tell me the post is getting too long and to shut up, already. So consider this the beginning. To quote the late, beloved Paul Harvey, stay tuned for the "Rest of the Story".

Miles and smiles,

Dan


12 comments:

Charlie6 said...

Irondad

I totally agree about being more willing to explore when one is riding a motorcycle than in a cage....sometimes, you get the best shots when off the beaten track.

Your comment about being ribbed if you don't ride to a destination is similar to the comments I get. There could be snow and ice outside, and they'll say to me: What? you didn't ride?

Looking forward to the rest of the pics!

Conchscooter said...

A note on not being allowed to upload- you only get a certain amount of free storage space and have to start paying at that point. I know because I use a lot of pictures and had to fork over $20 for 1 gigabyte total storage capacity for the year. You may have the same problem.

bobskoot said...

Irondad:
I host my photos on Webshots and Photobucket and get nearly unlimited storage. You just have to link your photos.
As Conch says, there is a limit to how many Blogger will let you upload to their server.
I always like to travel off the beaten track too. The less crowds the better. I'm always looking for new roads and places where normal people don't go
I also ordered a Gorilla pod so soon I will try to venture out in the middle of the night, under cover of darkness. We can't let Conch have all the fun
You've outdone yourself, I've never seen you post so many images. You're putting Mr Jack "the scooter" Riepe to shame

bob
bobskoot: wet coast scootin

richmond said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Ruth

http://ramupgrade.info

Conchscooter said...

Dear Richmond.
Give him hell. It's accepted practice around here. Especially when he doesn't post enough photos.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear IronDad:

I applaud your efforts to use more photography in your posts. And I am delighted that your photographic abilities more closely resemble mine. The competition was getting a little thick around here.

You can't beat Steve Williams and Domingo Chang (Redlegs Rides) for etherial shots of the outdoors, and the occasional architectural view. BobSkoot is another one with more image-gathering gear than the CIA.

Furthermore, you can pick up some great tips from the amateurs. One is to use the same pictures over and over again (varying the contrast), while just giving them different street names.

Fondest regards,
Jack Riepe
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

PS: Happy Easter.

Jack

Steve Williams said...

Once you establish yourself as a rider in the minds of others they almost seem disappointed or consider it a failure if you don't ride. I saw it on people's faces this past winter a dozen times when I told them, "No, I didn't ride today. There is a lot of snow on the road...". We all have our burdens I suppose.

HOV lane. What's that? Is that the little deer path that goes between the stream and the mountain top?? You need to watch out for ticks on those right?

I definitely relate to how riding seems to embrace wandering off the beaten path more than a cage does. Just yesterday on the way home from work I found myself on a dirt track in the middle of a field. I would just never do it in the truck. You are exactly right about the mind being open when riding. It is more difficult to space out on a bike so all that attention goes somewhere. Or maybe it's because the scooter seems unobtrusive and benign that I can go places unseen.

Hard to imagine running out of space for images in Blogger. They give you 1 gig of space. After years of posting pictures I am only using 10 percent of my quota. I do optimize my images though to 72dpi, 900 pixels on the long dimension. And they are saved at a JPEG quality setting of 60. I checked some of your older images and a lot were at much larger sizes and higher resolution. I downloaded and processed a few as I normally do and the file sizes are 1/2 to 1/3 the size.

If you have run out of space then you either have to resize or delete old images of start putting things into something like Flickr or Webshots and inserting links manually.

Anyways, your pictures look nice and sharp.

Your a riding warrior/artist/imagemaker dude.

I have to get back to work now. I am resisting something badly and need to put my head to the wheel....

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Conchscooter said...

I am going to direct Richmond to Riepe's site so he gets a few compliments and swells to a size that he explodes.
So, what does a raod warrieor eat at cafe veloce? Photos please. If I'm ready to feel like a dork taking pictures at the table so can you.

irondad said...

Charlie6,
And then if you do ride in the snow, they accuse you of being crazy! I don't know about you, but I like messing with people.

Conchscooter,
Thanks for the heads up. I'll have to check that out.

Bobskoot,
Great, now I'll have to figure out how to do something new. As if this blogging thing doesn't take up enough time as it is.

You'll like the Gorilla Pod. I'm liking mine but I'll leave the middle of the night lurking to you!

Take care,

Dan

irondad said...

Richmond,
Thank you for your comment. I'm pleased you find this place of some value. Unlike those who use it just to harass me.

I followed the link to the ram upgrade. Believe it or not, this old computer is working on 512k RAM. It's definitely time for an upgrade.

Michael,
I can't tell you how comforting it is to be among friends.

Take care,

Dan

irondad said...

Jack,
You're on to me. It's good to find a kindred soul. First and foremost I am a motorcycle professional. I can stand solidly on that. Photography is a second small hobby that really started because of this blog.

Having found I really have no talent for it, my motto is to brag about my gear, talk about my intentions, and generally blow smoke. I figure I may possibly obtain a great reputation without having to actually produce quality photos.

Happy Easter to you, too!

Take care,

Dan