Friday, July 17, 2009

Traveling lightly.

Where among all this stuff did I put that? Fortunately, when traveling on a bike, that's a question I never need to ask. There's not much room to fill up on a bike. The saddle bags on Elvira hold a bit less than Sophie's did. Besides, on this trip I had a passenger as well. I had to make a trip to Medford for our training program. That's a little over a couple of hundred miles south of here. With a few essentials in the bags and my soulmate riding pillion, what more could I want?

I've written this before, but I'll say it again. I'm firmly convinced that the less stuff you take on a ride, the more fulfilling it will be. A lot of people try to take too much of "home" with them, be it on a bike or in a car. I believe that all the extra things tend to lessen the sense of adventure and discovery. The more "stuff" a person has along, the more it acts like a bungee cord or something. They might be having a little trip but they're still pretty much tied to home. They are always operating out of a secure "base", as it were.

Having very little "stuff" along seems to produce the opposite result. At least it does for us. Carrying just a few essentials forces me to change my "base" to wherever I might be at the time. My focus is very much outwards. Since I'm tied to so little, both mentally and physically, it's so easy to move freely about in each new environment. Adventures are easier to find. I also find I connect more readily with local folks. I'm totally immersed in the new environment because I brought so little of my own with me.

A classic example is last summer when we were in Klamath Falls. Katie wanted to see Crater Lake again. Which meant we needed to change our previous plan and leave much earlier. We literally each put on our gear, picked up a small bag which we stashed on the bike, then took off. Literally a ten minute operation. It was a great adventure. If we had faced the mental hurdle of repacking a bunch of "stuff" we probably would have missed out on it.

Anyway, I'm probably not explaining myself as clearly as I could. The beauty of riding is that we all come at it from different angles and find our own meanings in things. This is just how I feel. Your results may vary.

This is the equivalent of Steve Williams' "plate of food" photos. There's a couple of notebooks on the bottom of the trunk. I needed these for my work in Medford. Katie has a liner she puts under the 'Stich if the mercury goes down too far. One ziplock bag has Fig Newtons in it. The bigger one has a bottle with ice water. We wrap it in the towel to take care of the condensation factor. We each have a hat. This time I took the point and shoot digital since the Nikon takes up more room. In each saddlebag is a change of clothes and toiletry items. The tank bag has a couple of pens, antacids, painkillers, and, shall we say, a personal protection device. Pretty spartan.

I was actually surprised to be on the bike instead of driving. This was going to be quick trip. Originally, the plan was to work Saturday, stay an extra night, and goof off down there on Sunday. Then circumstances changed. We had to be back home for a Sunday afternoon family event. Katie still wanted to come along. It's pretty darn sad when she has to travel with me to get time together! So I offered her a choice. Katie picked riding. She assured me that she was making that choice for her sake, not mine. You gotta love a woman like that! Her t-shirt is one of my old ones from the Oregon Motorcycle Roadracing Association. It says, "Life begins at 45 degrees".

Actually, I think she wanted to try out her spiffy new helmet. Our old matching Arai helmets are nine years old. Man, how time flies, doesn't it? I scraped up all my cans and bottles and bought us a couple of new ones.

When we arrived at the hotel I was surprised to see hordes of dogs roaming about. Ok, not really roaming. They were on the ends of leashes as they walked their owners. A large dog show was being held at the fairgrounds. Interestingly, despite the canine abundance, things were quiet during the night.

The dog photos are with the point and shoot through the hotel window. It seemed like a constant parade of dogs was passing by the bike. I really wanted to shout out the window a reminder that the bike tires were not fire hydrants or flowers and should not be watered!

I never saw any urinary infractions involving Elvira. By the way, the reason she's parked head in is that the spots slope sharply uphill. Sometimes, "cool" has to give way to practicality.

I accomplished my mission on Saturday. The reason for my visit was a sort of quality control spot check. We call them Site Audits. Sites are visited once a year and the dates are set before the instructor assignments are made. The audits therefore aren't targeted at instructors. Those of us who conduct audits check up on the facilities, supplies, etc. We watch the instruction with an eye to making sure all the sites in the state are consistent with the program standards.

Mid afternoon saw us back on the bike and headed North. There wasn't much time for scenic stuff this time. As you can probably see, most of the photos are either from the hotel or at rest areas.

As it turns out, it was just as well we headed home when we did. Elvira's thermometer showed either upper 80's or low 90's depending on the elevation. We climbed some passes in the 2,000 foot elevation range. You have to love the horsepower on tap with a big bike. Elvira never noticed the climb.

If we had waited another day to ride home we'd have been in the middle of a huge thunderstorm. The winds even ripped a large limb off the century old tree in front of our local courthouse. As Katie told me, I was definitely crazy enough to like to ride in that stuff. As for her, she's at a higher level of civility and prefers not to do stuff like that. We're a typical Badman married to an Angel couple!

Like I said, it was a quick trip. Still, a fast 500 mile jaunt is another chance for fun on a bike. Another reason to travel light. I'm ready to go at a moment's notice!

Miles and smiles,



Allen Madding said...

500 miles certainly seems like an ideal motorcycle ride to me. Glad y'all had some quality two-up time.


Charlie6 said...

I've got to learn how to ride two-up so I can have such adventures as you two have....

one hint re taking people's pictures though if you don't mind, don't pose them so they're squinting into the sun....overcast days are better than sunny ones for people shots.

Bryce said...

Speaking of is Sophie with the new owner?

And the current photo of Katie unadorned puts everything into perspective, old man.

Me? Well may have made a horrible error; your e-mail address though is not functioning.

Krysta in MKE said...

I'm curious why you didn't use the bike-sized parking spot? There were plenty of the larger ones, yes, but were you maybe leaving it for a couple of Vespas? ; ) Or is the perspective screwy & Elvira really wouldn't have fit?

Conchscooter said...

dogs are much quieter than children especially in motels.

Steve Williams said...

"...a Steve Williams plate of food picture..."

I guess it's good to be known for something. I always thought it would be something more heroic though...

New helmets. That reminded me that I need to get a new one. Not sure how long they last but mine is getting a bit ratty.

Your description of traveling light is excellent. Fantastic even. The less stuff you have the less of your brain you need to allocate to things that just can get in the way of just going.

I thought my Vespa was simple but I have a bunch of stuff under the seat and in the glovebox. The past couple days I have been riding a Triumph Bonneville around and it is absolutely spartan. Anything I wanted to take had to fit in my pockets.

I've always fantasized about being able to walk out the door and go at a moments notice. Fly to Rome? No problem. Grab my wallet and passport and walk out the door. I'll buy what I need on the way...

Like I said, a fantasy.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Lance said...

Sounds like both a fun and productive ride. You are fortunate to have a lady like Katie to ride two-up with!

irondad said...


A nice little jaunt, indeed. It's always nice to know she's back there, for sure.


Thank you for the input. I'm still overcoming years of the old "just have the sun coming over your shoulder" thing. I will think more specifically of techniques for posing people.

The good news for people pictures is that we have a lot of overcast days!


The new owner lives about three hundred miles away. I really don't know. Now you have me worried by the "horrible mistake" thing.

irondad said...


I thought about using those smaller spots. The slope doesn't show in the picture. I was also worried about all the cars backing out and hitting the bike. So I decided to tuck her out of the path of travel more.


Good point! I can't remember ever seeing a dog running screaming down a hallway.

Take care,


irondad said...


I really meant that statement to be a compliment. You take things that I would never consider interesting and make them so in your photos. Like a plate of food. You've got me looking at things in a new way. It has been a fun journey.

Heroes come in different forms.


I couldn't agree more with the "lucky" part.

Take care,


Lucky said...

Great post! Frankly, I love the minimalism imposed by my motorcycle: cut away everything but what you need to survive and only add back those things which will dramatically improve the quality of your experience.

Now if only I could apply the same theory to all my crap around the house...

Bryce said...

"Me? Well may have made a horrible error; your e-mail address though is not functioning."
and Ironman's reply...
Now you have me worried by the "horrible mistake" thing."

I made the error Dan.
Assuming riding was over, for me.
IN long discussions with my oncologist, and others have confirmed much of my thinking has
been faulted, not just motorcycles.
Other items as well.

Seems chemotherapy does horrible things, not to just the disease of cancer but other organs, and the brain.

Basically decisions made in the past may well not be valid then, or in the future.

And I suspect too the non-ability of
my Honda Goldwing Interstate not
being sold is perhaps it has a hidden agenda of its own;
to get back me up and in the saddle. Maybe not this year, nor even next year, but eventually.

If the horse is sold, then, what do would I ride?