Wednesday, May 18, 2005

For Adrienne

Posted by Hello

Happy Birthday to You,
Happy Birthday to You,
Happy Birthday Dear 80!
Happy Birthday to You!

Happy birthday, Adrienne. You were a great travel companion and a fantastic help. I appreciate it more than this simple message can convey.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Master Words of the Highway

My baby and I went riding this weekend. I traveled over to Macon, the town where I finally started getting around to that unpleasant 'growing-up' business, and visited a few old friends.

The Maxim XS400 (My Baby) Posted by Hello

I also attended the graduation of the class that followed mine out the doors of my alma matter, but that's a different story entirely.

On the 180 mile trip to Macon, I was greeted by pretty much every other rider I came across, be it on a crotch-rocket like the Honda 1100, or a Fat Boy. There are a couple of waves that are common among the riding community that are almost unused by the rest of the world. They come out of the need to keep the bike balanced and easily controlled while offering recognition. If you're a rider, you know what these look like. If you're not, you may have seen them, but it's not really important that you know the types.

In any case, it brought to mind the concept of community, and how it plays out on America's hiways.

Before I owned a motorcycle, I owned a 1987 Jeep Wrangler 4x4, Sand Yellow, with a tan top to match. It was my grandfather's and was left to me after his death. Jeep owner's wave to one another. This isn't a universal tradition among Cherokee or Liberty owners, but if you're behind the wheel of a Wrangler, and you see someone in another, you wave. It's a tradition. You're part of a very exclusive club, made up of people with a passion for the descendants of the General Purpose vehicle, and that's worthy of note to the community.

If you drive a more common vehicle, it's possible you've never experienced this. One friend told me that Ford Truck owners have the same tradition, and I imagine there are other subsets of vehicles on our nations roads for which this tradition applies, but I don't know for sure.

As riders, most of us extend that tradition to anything with two wheels and a motor (Segue Owners: sorry, You don't count). I've yet to see a Vespa in the states, so I haven't had a chance to wave at one, but every other variation of the motorcycle concept is fair game. I've been waved to by solo riders on bikes that look like missiles, traveling at easily double whatever the speed limit might be for a normal human being, and I've been waved at by four or five Harley's, all doubled, with their riders and saddlebags covered in enough leather to make 8 cows.

I think part of this recognition of each other has to do with our outsider status. Motorcycle riders are not normal. We are in the minority. In 2002, The United States had 135,670,000 registered passenger cars and 5,370,000 registered Motorcycles. We are outnumbered twenty-five to one on our nation's roads. For the record, we also average 50 miles to the gallon, while passenger cars average 22.1. So there.

We know we aren't part of 'normal' society. We exist on the fringe by virtue of our choice of modes of transit. This feeling of being 'driven out' by our choices causes us to feel driven together. We signal to one another on roads. We smile and exchange stories and ask questions about each other's bikes when we meet in restaurants or bars. We respect those who can invest more money or time, or take greater risks than we do, because they are the masters of our particular community, and we pay homage to them as wolves pay homage to their alpha.

I like being part of this community. There's no obligation to talk too much or posture too often. Those that do are usually scorned for being more bark than bite. There's little need to travel with a group if you are a loner, or little need to assert your independence if you like traveling in packs. There's just the road, and the sensation of flying, just above the surface of the earth, sailing from place to place like a rock skipping along the surface of the water. And there's no companionship but your fellows, acknowledging with an extended hand or a nod that we are brothers on the highway. It feels ancient--almost mystic in its simplicity. It reminds me of Rudyard Kipling's Master Words of the Jungle, the manner by which the respected hunters of a given species could recognize one another.

"We be of one blood, ye and I."

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Table of Contents

Recent additions/edits are marked with a *.

The Road
I'm leaving, on a jet plane.
Money, Phones, and the most patient man in the world.
Now I'm scared. Just Kidding.
Ryanair! - Or how to escape London under the cover of night.
Where are the bins?
What do you mean, southwest?
Cologne Pictures *
Only Patrick.
"Only Adrienne"
Playtime! *
And on the 8th train, they rested. . .
Trains, Trains, and More Trains! *
The Hills Are Alive... *
Bienvenue vers Paris
Four Days in Paris
Paris: City of ...
The Blue Train
My Family is an Experience.
Chamonix, Church, and Chocolate.
From Skiing...
... To Champagne.
Reading in Sallanches *
Patrick: "Translation: The trains are f*cked."
Trains vs. Planes
Work in Progress.
We're back, we're bad.
Off the Rail again. . .
I don't blame you, Janet Keiller.
Palaces, Bullfights, and Cathedrals.
Reasons Patrick shouldn't leave me alone in strange countries...
Lovely Lunches and White Flamingos.
Well, isn't this Nice!
The Cabinet Files
Ah, Venice.
Ah, Venice II
Pictures from Venice.
Lunch in a Laundry-mat
Ping Pong Tourism.
A Bus Tour of Rural Tuscany for the Price of a Firenze Bus Ticket.
Welcome to the Nicest Mad House in the World
Lecce and Morizzo the Miracle Worker.
Confusion Ferry.
Patras, Pireaus, and Our Very First Greek Dog.
Where Have You Been?!
Beautiful, Frigid, Kavos Bay
The Temple of Aphea and The Hotel Attalos
Welcome to the Bus Tour.
Olympia I.
Olympia II.
Nafplio, Pastries, and Poseidon's Rage.
The Temple of Epidaurus.
Mycenae and the return to Athens
One Last Day in Athens
This isn't driving, it's crashing with style!
Camping Not-So-Fabulous
The Banquet.
Cold Centurions In Frigid Formations.
Train Report
Be Like Mike.
Tiny City Made of Ashes
All Roads Lead From Rome.
It has been a long week.
Welcome to Dublin
Live from Dublin, It's Saturday Night!
Cat Calls?
Dead Day.
"Oh! Ooh, this is fun!"
I'm leaving Wales today.
Where are you?
Cardiff and Swansea
I made it to London
An Inkling about Oxford
Theft at 30k
I'm back.
In Transit
More Updates Coming...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

More Updates Coming...

Just a note to let you know that even though Patrick is pretty much done with what we did each day, there are more updates coming. There are a few posts I have started to write as drafts, and pictures I want to add, but first I have to finish my school work. So look out for them late this week, or next week.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

In Transit

When I write the autobiography of my life, it will be titled "In Transit"

I'm back from Europe for less than 96 hours before I leave for St. Louis, to visit my grandparents. Now I'm in Atlanta, doing a small party with another branch of the family before returning 'home', wherever that is.

Don't fret though, dear readers. I still plan to finish my overseas adventure, and this extra travel just gives me more material for other stories, and other musings about travel in the States and how it compares to my other experiences.

More soon. I've got to go have breakfast (coffee and croissants--not nearly as good as the ones with 80 in Sallanches though) and socialize for a time!