Saturday, December 23, 2006

Out in the storm.

8:20 PM. I hear "uh-oh!" and the line goes dead. Fast reverse to last Thursday when the big rain and wind storm hit. I'd been on the phone with Grandma. Our power went out a little before 6. I'd called Grandma to see how she was doing in the storm. Trouble is, she takes her hearing aids out and doesn't hear the phone. I'd finally made connections around 8. Now I'd lost her.

I was pretty sure where the problem was. Not long ago she'd gotten a new cordless phone. Don't ask me why. This woman has resisted any technology newer than the 50's for years. All of a sudden she had the urge for a cordless phone. We had some teething pains with it. There were just too many buttons to account for. For the first few conversations she'd been trying to make friends with the earpiece volume control. I'd hear a series of beeps and clicks. Then she'd say,

"Can I hear you now?" I don't know, you'll have to tell me!

I'd cautioned her to keep the old phone plugged in somewhere. With the cordless phone she'd be out of touch when the power went out. I was pretty sure that was exactly what had happened now. Still, I had to be sure. Grandma lives in Lebanon which is about a 25 minute ride for me. She's nearly 90 but insists on remaining in her house. So far she's doing ok. Who am I to tell her differently? I just make frequent trips over there.

The heaviest of the rain had stopped but the wind was still gusting fiercely. I decided I was going to ride anyway. Our old CM900 got called into service. Just in case it ended up in a position other than upright there was no real bodywork to worry about. I can hear you thinking,

"Who in their right mind would ride a motorycle in 65 mph wind gusts?"

You may have gotten a glimpse into my personality by now. I have some deep seated urges to do things that most people think I can't. Over the years I've learned to control it somewhat. I no longer cross that line into what you might call "foolhardy". On the other hand, if you mention taking calculated risks for a good purpose, I'm all over it. I love the idea of being the man that comes bursting out of a blizzard in a big four wheel drive truck bearing hot coffee and supplies. I've actually done that several times for family stranded in the snow and with no power.

Haven't you ever pictured yourself as something similar when riding? You can see yourself as a wooden sailing ship's Captain. Braving the wind and spray while expertly tendng the helm. You can picture yourself as a person of adventure. While most of the world says that riding's too dangerous you're out there riding. Heck with them. They'll just never know how much enrichment they're missing by playing it safe. We're not being reckless. We just know that there's rewards that can only be gained by taking risks. Once we reap those rewards we feel pretty darn special. It's addicting to me.

Are we attracted to riding because we have these personality traits? Or, does riding create those traits in us?

Katie understands my needs but tries to help keep me grounded. She finds these humorous little ways to remind me not to get carried away. Here's an example of a beer she brought home for me.

I guess her point is to go have all the fun I want but don't ever look down on anyone else who isn't comfortable pushing as far as I do. Not everyone is a freak of nature like me. Point taken, my dear bride.

Off I go to Grandma's house. Gusty winds are fun to ride in. Like I said earlier, most of the rain had stopped. This storm had brought the temperatures up. It almost felt balmy. I find it so invigorating to ride in these conditions. Ok, the wind was a little too much to be ideal. You know those times when a storm's blowing in? The air has that eerie look to it. The wind's swirling the warm air around. I love riding during those times. This night was real similar.

I made it to Grandma's house with little problem. It's harder in the dark because the visual clues of wind activity are hidden. You have to hang on and be ready. I knocked on her door but she didn't answer. I finally let myself in. She was sitting in the dark looking out the patio doors. No hearing aids, of course. She turned around and looked so surprised to see me.

"What are you doing clear over here?", she asked.

I asked her what she expected after being cut off like that. Grandma's Old School. Not much ruffles these folks. I guess I worry about her more than she worries about herself. Her electricity had gone out like I suspected. She'd figured to look out the window a while and go to bed early. After making sure the old phone was plugged in, I kissed her goodbye and rode off into the wind again.

On the way home I decided to stop and check on Katie's little sister. Her husband had gone to Seattle earlier in the day. He does a lot of work for a big department store chain and has to go where they send him. Cindy and the kids were home alone. I pulled into the driveway and was immediately hit in the helmet by a flying roof shingle. There's a huge open expanse to the South of their house. Plenty of space for the wind to build up speed unimpeded. It had ripped shingles off the back of the house and thrown them onto me. How many riders can say that they've been attacked by flying roof shingles?

That was the wildest part of the ride. All in all a fun time. Was it risky? Sure. Was it worth it? Definitely. People could spend a lot of time trying to "psycho-analyze" me to find out why I take risks. It really comes down to a couple of things. I still crave adventure. Maybe there's some sort of lack in my personality. Maybe I have some deep seated need to keep proving myself. Probably not. I think it's fear. The fear of getting to a point where I'm living but not really alive. That's my scariest nightmare. Slowly becoming less active mentally and physically. Rotting away little by little until there's a body but no fire. That fear keeps me pushing.

Speaking of being alive, I finally feel alive again. I've been down with the flu these past few days. This is the worst I've ever had it. I seldom get sick. Guess it was time to make up for all my good fortune. I was so sick my hair hurt! It still feels like a family of farm owls is living in my head. Sorry if this post reflects that. I'm hoping to be in good shape for torrow afternoon when the kids all come by for Christmas Eve.

Miles and smiles,



Bill Sommers said...

YOU are old school. You must have gotten that from your Grandma. Either that or you have Pony Express riders blood in your veins.

Have a real nice Christmas.


Steve Williams said...

It sounds like it was quite a party Dan. You're definitely an adventurer and I suspect climbers, divers, and the whole spectrum of adventurers have similar conversations related to their specific activity.

I have to say that the label on the ale applies to me, not the good part, but the part that says I'm not worthy. Almost everytime I read one of your posts I'm left with that feeling. You are the man!

I hope I absorb some of your spirit.

Ride safely and best wishes to you, Katie, and the entire family for the holidays!

irondad said...

Grandpa and Grandma raised me so it must have worn off. I was riding horses before I could walk ( ok, I was sitting on the horse while Gramps did the work ). Does that count for the Pony Express thing?

My posts are never intended to make anyone feel unworthy. When it comes to understanding the real meanings in life YOU'RE the man! I'm like the field officer. Smarter minds make the decisions and I go make them happen.

Merry Christmas to both of you and yours!

Combatscoot said...

Good to see there are still "sane" folks out there. You have to be a little crazy to be a public defender/servant. How would you like to take-off on a perfectly good airplane in that kind of mess, just to look for some fishermen that are more likely to be dead than alive? Or, surely you went out on patrols in stuff like that when you were a policeman? Or how about a domestic violence call?
Sometimes, I comment to my wife that I would like our life to get boring for awhile, but I really don't mean it. I don't want to slow down so much that I lose motivation to live. There's something about being on the edge of disaster that lets you know you're really living well. I don't know how to explain it...

Anonymous said...

Dan, there you go, doing that thing again... I understand perfectly.

What's a CM900? I know all about the CM500, of course, but didn't know the CM came in a larger size.

Your question intrigued me:

"Are we attracted to riding because we have these personality traits? Or, does riding create those traits in us?"

I really think it's the former. Riding affirms those traits, but they had to be there in the first place as impetus.

Guys like us belong to another time. We were called things like Warrior, and Explorer. These days, you have to be a geek with a PhD in order to do any real exploring. All the frontiers are in technology, inner or outer space, etc.

Warriors end up becoming cops, whether here or overseas.

Well, this is getting long. Merry Christmas, Bro.

Ride well,

Anonymous said...

Combatscoot and Gary,
I'll come back to the meat of your comments a little later. I need to reply when I have a little more time.

Right now I'm responding to the CM900 thing, Gary. My mistake. I've been helping service our training bikes and there's a number of CM250's I've been looking after. I have "CM" on the brain as a result.

What I meant to write is CB900C. I have a 1981 with the dual-range transmission. I bought it in 1988.
Sorry about the confusion!